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GameSetWatch.com is the alt.video game weblog and sister site of Gamasutra.com. It is dedicated to collecting curious links and media for offbeat and oft-ignored games from consoles old and new, as well as from the digital download, iOS, and indie spaces.

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Archive For October, 2009

Halloween Special: 'Game Mag Weaseling': Family Computing For Single Nerds

October 31, 2009 4:00 PM |

['Game Mag Weaseling' is a weekly column by Kevin Gifford which documents the history of video game magazines, from their birth in the early '80s to the current day.]

fchalloween1.jpg   fchalloween2.jpg

Still haven't thought up a brilliant enough concept for your Halloween costume? Honey, it's not too late! Just find a box, tape, wire hangers, markers, a pair of pliers, paint, and a coffee can (does ground coffee still come in big aluminum cans?), and you too can dress up like a TRS-80 Model III computer for the big party tonight!

This spread comes to you courtesy the October 1983 issue of Family Computing, one of several consumer-oriented magazines in the early '80s covering 8-bit computers. It was written by Joey Latimer, who contributed a lot of stuff like this to Family Computing during its existence -- cute articles with kid appeal, quick little program demos, and so forth. "The TV screen or monitor can be decorated to look like a computer game, graphics, program listings, or anything imaginable," he writes. "Don't be afraid to invent your own fantasy game."

I'm surprised that I have not mentioned Family Computing in this column yet, especially since our family subscribed to it back in the day, from its 1983 inception all the way to 1988 when it changed subjects and became Home Office Computing. It was published by Scholastic, which launched it nearly simultaneously with a kid-targeted magazine titled Microkids (later K-Power). K-Power lasted until late 1984, after which it was incorporated into Family Computing in its own separate section -- but even before then, Family Computing was definitely written in a kid-friendly tone, differentiating it from the slightly more tech-oriented approach of rivals like COMPUTE!.

A full Family Computing archive has been scanned in by DLH and should still be available via torrent if you're curious. I would not call it an exemplary magazine -- like I said, its coverage was always pretty beginner-oriented and readers like me had a tendency to "graduate" from it quickly -- but it does have one unique selling point: it offered type-in programs and coverage for orphaned systems like the TI-99/4A and Coleco's ADAM long after all official support for them disappeared.

[Kevin Gifford breeds ferrets and runs Magweasel, a really cool weblog about games and Japan and "the industry" and things. In his spare time he does writing and translation for lots and lots of publishers and game companies.]

GameSetSpooky: Halloween Time With Mister Raroo

October 31, 2009 8:00 AM | Mister Raroo

Halloween Time With Mister Raroo

[In a change of pace from his usual GameSetWatch column, Mister Raroo treats us to a Halloween tale of gaming gone horribly wrong. As an added bonus, the story features guest artwork by death metal vocalist and illustrator Sean McGrath. You should think twice before you head to your favorite game store around Halloween, or you might suffer the same bad fortune as Mister Raroo. But don't worry, Mister Raroo's tale is only fiction. Or at least, we think it is. Now that we think of it, we haven't heard from him in a while. You don't think this chilling tale could be real, do you?!]

A Desperate Warning

Please hear my tale, dear readers, for it is through writing these words that I am attempting to confirm what is left of my sanity. I am still not completely sure that the events which transpired last night actually happened, as the mind is capable of strange and cruel fabrications. If it weren't for one horrible piece of evidence, I would write the whole thing off as nightmare. If only it were that had I ventured too far into the supernatural realms we visit while we sleep!

But no! I fear there is no escape, for even if it were all in my imagination, is there any refuge from the visions that fill our minds? When a moment arrives in which my throughts finally provide me with a brief respite from this terrible affliction, I hear her voice whispering in my ear. What a horrendous punishment! Why has fate chosen me to carry this burden?!

Mister Raroo Writing His Tale

All my life I have had a fascination with the macabre, an attraction that has permeated into my interests and hobbies. My friends and colleagues did their best to warn me that too much attention to grim pursuits would come back to haunt me. I always sloughed off their words, but now it seems their ghastly predictions have come true. It's one thing to enjoy an occasional visit into the shadowy recesses of the world, but the horror that lurks in the darkness is nigh unbearable when there is no escape from it.

It is only now that I am a prisoner that I see the error of my ways. When we lend our minds to the ghoulish world, it can take hold of us and steal our sanity. Dear friends, it is with but a thin thread of reason that I am even able to focus and write these words! So please, hear what I have to say, and take heed of my warning! For if you follow the same path I have tread, you may be the next vicitm of this abnormal, unnatural curse and you will be unable to free yourself from the horror that is this relentelss video game psychosis. Beware!

Best Of Indie Games: Saddling Up for an Exploration

October 31, 2009 12:00 AM | Tim W.

[Every week, IndieGames.com: The Weblog editor Tim W. will be summing up some of the top free-to-download and commercial indie games from the last seven days, as well as any notable features on his sister 'state of indie' weblog.]

This week on 'Best Of Indie Games', we take a look at some of the top independent PC Flash/downloadable titles released over this last week.

The delights in this edition include a cave spelunking game with low resolution graphics, a Western-themed shooter with bullet time effects, a 2D platformer focused entirely on the aspect of exploration, a point-and-click adventure with delightful watercolour art, and a fighting game about two bandits out on a search for gold.

Game Pick: 'Excavatorrr' (Arvi Teikari, freeware)
"In Excavatorrr you play as an adventurer who is searching for rare treasures in an unexplored network of caves, equipped with only a pickaxe and some starting items strewn on the floor. Maps are procedurally generated every time you start a new game, and there is also a score submission feature that you can use to upload your high scores online."

Game Pick: 'GunFu Deadlands' (Christiaan Janssen, freeware)
"GunFu Deadlands is a 2D arcade shooter in which you play a cowboy out to prove that he is the quickest sharpshooter in the West. Similar to Max Payne and the recent Call of Juarez series, our hero has the uncanny ability to react faster than everyone else, although he can only use bullet time in short bursts."

Game Pick: 'Gretel and Hansel' (Makopudding, browser)
"Gretel and Hansel is a short point and click adventure loosely based in the world of Hansel and Gretel. Gretel overhears their parents discussing some 'money-saving ideas', and decides to embark on a pebble-collecting mission as per the story. It's definitely worth playing for the watercolour art - every little bit from the backgrounds to the character models was hand painted and scanned in."

Game Pick: 'Small Worlds' (David Shute, browser)
"Small Worlds is an exploration game created by David Shute for JayisGames' latest Casual Gameplay Design Competition. The controls for your character can be a bit frustrating at times but everything else about the effort shines through. Even if you take all the wrong paths, this adventure is still a rather short one that will only take roughly about fifteen minutes of your time to complete."

Game Pick: 'Bullets of a Revolver' (DieFox, freeware)
"Bullets of a Revolver is a fighting game for the most part, but also has dodging, dueling and dancing minigames thrown in from time to time. It tells the story of two bandits on their quest to discover the location of the fabled Golden Cave. There's also an arcade mode if you simply want to get into a fight, or Versus mode for those want to play against a friend on the same keyboard."

Homebrew Manic Miner In The Lost Levels Released For DS

October 30, 2009 4:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Last April, Retro Gamer and writer 'Reverend' Stuart Campbell spent four pages on Matthew Smith's Manic Miner, specifically discussing the classic platformer's non-Spectrum editions and all the extra levels introduced in those ports.

Inspired by the article, the homebrew programmers at Headsoft, who also coded the excellent Warhawk DS, gathered all those stages from the commercial Manic Miner ports and released the collection for free on the Nintendo DS (playable with an emulator or homebrew device).

"The tale of Miner Willy and his incredible adventures in the mines, and then the mansions, of Surbiton is legend. But like all legends, it doesn't tell the whole story. Most people know Willy simply as a digger who got lucky and lived happily ever after in decadent luxury. Far fewer know the secret - suppressed for quarter of a century by the government - of how he also saved Planet Earth from alien invasion.

It wasn't until an eccentric but dedicated historian writing a paper for a renowned academic journal (Retro Gamer issue 63) pieced together the complete saga of Willy's heroic exploits from fragments of scattered evidence - in the form of obscure retellings of the 'Manic Miner' folk fable in ancient languages readable only via long-obsolete machines - that the whole truth was finally revealed."

Manic Miner In The Lost Levels features a total of 50 stages, arranged in three sections. The Lost Levels portion includes 20 levels that were added (or modified) for the Manic Miner versions released on Oric, BBC Micro, Dragon 32, Amstrad CPC, and GBA.

Automatically Play Rock Band iPhone? There's A Robot For That

October 30, 2009 12:00 PM | Eric Caoili

There are already several robots constructed for the sole purpose of playing Guitar Hero and hitting every note using the game's guitar controller (we won't get into why these even exist in the first place), but this latest music game automaton is a different beast; it's built to dominate Rock Band for the iPhone.

Tinkerer Joe Bowers used ambient light sensors to detect the bright colored notes, which send data to an Arduino that tells a series of servos/synthetic fingers to tap the system's touchscreen. It's just a shame the squeaky fingers drown out whatever song happens to be playing.

With some trivial modifications, I'm sure this Rock Band robot could also work on Tap Revenge 3, another popular (and more fun) music game on the App Store.

Interview: Nigoro Talks Retro Inspirations, La Mulana For WiiWare

October 30, 2009 12:00 PM | Simon Carless

[Notable Japanese indie developer Nigoro (Rose & Camellia) is now called Asterizm, and Brandon Sheffield talks to its principals about philosophies, design concepts, and taking retro 2D platformer La Mulana onto WiiWare.]

Nigoro was an Japanese independent game developer that has released a number of humorous -- and well-regarded -- Flash games over the last few years.

Titles like the slap-fest Rose & Camellia, and the skirt-flipping game Mekuri Bancho put the company on the indie map, but La-Mulana -- described as "a freeware free-roaming platformer game designed to look, sound, and play like a classic MSX game" -- is what really got them into the public eye.

The company has since become Asterizm, a proper (but still indie) corporation based in Japan, and is releasing La-Mulana on the Wii's downloadable WiiWare service, with a graphical upgrade that remains true to the genre.

In this interview, conducted during the Tokyo Game Show, we spoke with Vice president Takumi Naramura, and president Shoji Nakamura about what makes the company tick, the origin of Nigoro, and game influences:

Round-Up: Gamasutra Network Jobs, Week Of October 23

October 30, 2009 11:00 AM | Simon Carless

In our latest employment-specific round-up, we highlight some of the notable jobs posted in big sister site Gamasutra's industry-leading game jobs section this week, including positions from 5th Cell, Insomniac and more.

Each position posted by employers will appear on the main Gamasutra job board, and appear in the site's daily and weekly newsletters, reaching our readers directly.

It will also be cross-posted for free across its network of submarket sites, which includes content sites focused on online worlds, cellphone games, 'serious games', independent games and more.

Some of the notable jobs posted this week include:

Gazillion Entertainment: Project Manager
"We are seeking a Project Manager to be a key member of the Game Operations/IT Team. This is a full time permanent position and will report to the Director of Project Management - IT and Gaming Operations. Projects will vary from internal IT back office applications to key portions of a worldwide gaming operations infrastructure."

Insomniac Games: FX Artist
"FBI, ATV, CTU, ATF, SRPA, ETA, HR, TSA, OPEC, MIA, RSVP, RIP, CSI, WTF, WHO, FX, IMO, LOL - these are all acronyms- some real and some made up that everyone knows. Well we are looking for an FX wizard. We’re talking about creating those mind blowing fxs! Insomniac Games is looking for an artist to create effects to work and assist in gameplay, environment, and the cinematics of the game."

Save A Tree: Roro, Roll!

October 30, 2009 10:00 AM | Eric Caoili

The first game I thought of after reading Roro, Roll!'s title was Sony's LocoRoco, and while this indie project is nothing like the PSP platformer, it's almost as cute! Developed by a team of four calling themselves Cobbler, Roro, Roll! has you spinning a circle of fuzzy creatures to protect the planet's last sapling from waves of hungry Domo-esque enemies.

Depending on their color, each Roro group serves a different purpose -- red Roro automatically send out shots and can unleash a focused beam; blue Roro can grab enemies and send them wherever you want on the graph paper arena; and yellow Raro look like they can stop time. As your sapling grows into a tree, you can bolster your spinning army with new Raro.

I have no idea when Cobbler hopes to put Roro, Roll! out, but this trailer was created for the upcoming 12th Annual Independent Games Festival. This actually gave me an idea for my own similarly titled project, Mr. Raroo, Roll.

Noby Noby Pumpkin

October 30, 2009 8:00 AM | Eric Caoili

With Halloween tomorrow, now seems the time to get out the obligatory pumpkin post! Rather than share any pumpkins other video game blogs have already covered, I wanted to feature a couple carvings from my hometown, Cincinnati.

Emily Barrett uploaded this photo of a handsome Boy carving, and while it's more of a daytime design that doesn't hold up when you stick a candle in it, that doesn't make me love it any less. This is much more creative and colorful than the pumpkin I made this year, which basically just has a cat face.

And the other design Barret posted, a Brutal Legend pumpkin boasting two different scenes, one on each side, looks fantastic at night:

GameCity Squared's 15-Pixel Megamix

October 30, 2009 6:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Remember those 15-pixel interpretations of Noby Noby Boy, Parappa, And Street Fighter created for GameCity Squared? London-based design collective Alaskan Military School created those three "hyper pixel minimalist" clips as a preview of a much larger set, which you can now see complete above!

The Megamix begins with those familiar examples but shows a total of 12 games in its four minutes, like a quick clip of Nintendo's classic Punch-Out, a memorable scene from World of Warcraft, and even the docking sequence from Elite. See if you can name them all (without cheating and reading the Youtube comments)!

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