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Archive For February, 2010

Rhombus! Adventure Time As Super Mario Bros. 2

February 26, 2010 6:00 AM | Eric Caoili

As the launch of Pendleton Ward's Adventure Time with Finn and Jake animated series on Cartoon Network nears, Fredarator Studios has been building up hype for the offbeat cartoon by posting production artwork and fanart on its Tumblr blog.

In this piece submitted by pixel artist Alex Campos, Adventure Time's stars -- Jake, Finn, Princess Bubblegum, Ice King, Rainicorn, and others -- are dropped into the title screen of Super Mario Bros. 2, itself a bizarre entry for the platformer series. Now someone needs to make a ROM hack of Doki Doki Panic with Adventure Time characters.

If you've somehow managed to not watch Adventure Time in the past four years, I've included the original animated short after the break. Cartoon Network expects to launch the series this April.

Interview: Gas Powered Games' Chris Taylor, The Independent Farmer

February 26, 2010 12:00 AM | Simon Carless

[Between feeding chickens and making games, Gas Powered Games' Chris Taylor has been talking to our own Kris Graft about the "go ask mom and dad" relationship between independent game studios and major publishers.]

Chris Taylor has a farm. It's not a big farm, but on that farm he has chickens and horse that he tends to daily. The animals rely on him for food, shelter, and for a few lucky chickens, cuddling - sometimes. The animals are completely domesticated and dependent on handouts.

In some ways, they're a lot like so-called "independent" game studios.

With over two decades in the game industry, Taylor has seen a lot. As creative director and co-founder of independent Redmond, WA-based Gas Powered Games, home of titles like Dungeon Siege, Demigod and Supreme Commander, he has experienced the hardship and toil along with the success.

Now, in the midst of a new project, Taylor wants to remind himself what it means to be independent: to have control of his destiny - to fetch his own chicken feed. He asks, "If you have the freedom that you wouldn't have if you were an internal studio or culture, then why not take advantage of that?" It's a question that he's apparently been asking himself.

"We [independent studios] don't have to go to a committee or a group of executives or people that are going to run a competitive analysis or a market study. I can go from my gut," he says, "which is 22 years in the business, believe it or not, since May 1998, and I can decide if I want to make something. And I can just go ahead and make it."

DJ Corsten's Spins Pulse to iPhone, PC

February 25, 2010 4:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Renown DJ Ferry Corsten and developer Virtual Fairground (Club Galactik) have partnered to create Pulse, a new rhythm game for iPhone and PC in which you can play and compose dance tracks. It will also feature seven new music tracks produced by Corsten exclusively for the music title.

In Pulse, players tap the screen (or keyboard) to the beat of the music to reach song samples, play notes to those samples, then integrate those samples into their song. Depending on how closely gamers follow the beat, they'll be able to access more elaborate samples and layer them with their track.

The iPhone version is expected to come out on March 27th, while the release date for Pulse's PC edition, which will include additional online cooperative and versus multiplayer modes, is still unannounced. Both versions will include a feature that allows players to post their scores to Twitter and Facebook.

"I was trying to combine my music and games for quite some time," says Ferry Corsten. "Then I met the guys from Virtual Fairground who showed me a demo of Pulse. With my experience and their game design skills we have been able to shape Pulse into both a great game and something that makes you feel like a DJ. I can't wait to see Pulse in the hands of players."

Hopefully, this will turn out better than that awful horror movie with the same name that came out several years ago. I can't believe I paid money to see that.

IGF, Direct2Drive Announce Finalists For $10,000 D2D Vision Award

February 25, 2010 3:00 PM | Simon Carless

[Once again, IGF download partner Direct2Drive is awarding $10,000 to a neat indie title at the Independent Games Festival awards in a couple of weeks time, and here's the rundown on the titles competing for the D2D Vision Award - including a couple of games that weren't Main Competition finalists but are still awesome titles.]

Independent Games Festival organizers and sponsor Direct2Drive have announced the finalists for the D2D Vision Award, with games including HurricaneX2 and Nyxquest competing for a $10,000 cash prize at the IGF Awards on March 11.

Digital game distribution site Direct2Drive, the event's official download partner, set up the Vision Award in 2009 to "honor independent developers whose games present the new ideas and concepts that will help spark innovation in gaming."

The winner, picked from the five finalists -- all indie games from the more than 300 IGF main competition entries -- will be presented live on stage by IGN on-air personality Jessica Chobot at the 12th Annual Independent Games Festival Awards.

The awards themselves take place on Thursday, March 11 during the 2010 Game Developers Conference at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, CA. The winning team will receive a $10,000 prize from Direct2Drive.

The five finalists for the Direct2Drive Vision Award for this year are:

Koichi Sugiyama Came Up With Dragon Quest Overture In 5 Minutes

February 25, 2010 2:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Dragon Quest's "Overture" is instantly recognizable to almost anyone with any familiarity with the franchise, as it's used prominently in dozens of main series games and spin-offs starting with the very first release. There's even a Dragon Quest Best Dance Mix album that you can grab with a Trance remix version of the music!

In a recent interview with Famitsu translated by 1UP, Dragon Quest composer Koichi Sugiyama, who was already a celebrity in Japan for his TV/film work long before he began working on video games, reflected on his 24-year history with the series and revealed that he came up with the melody for the iconic overture in just five minutes.

"It took about five minutes between getting struck with the idea and coming up with the melody [for the overture]," Sugiyama said. "People get surprised when I say I did it in five minutes, but I'd like to think I did it because I had fifty-odd years of living experience up to that point. You could say it really took me fifty years and five minutes."

The veteran composer also shared an interesting story on how Enix initially sought him out to work on its game soundtracks:

"I've always liked video games, and long ago I played a game called Morita Shogi which Enix released on the PC-8801. I wrote down my impressions of it in the little questionnaire postcard in the box, and my family sent it back to them without me realizing it.

Whoever received the note recognized my name and gave me a phone call asking if I could compose some music for them. I said yes, and that was how I began making game music."

See? There really was a point to filling out those silly questionnaire cards that came with your games. You could've been a renown video game composer if only you'd sent yours in!

COLUMN: Battle Klaxon: Yes, It Really Is Called VVVVVV

February 25, 2010 12:00 PM |

['Battle Klaxon' is a monthly GameSetWatch-exclusive column where traveling games journalist Quintin Smith fights to win a bit of glory for the beautiful, brave but overlooked games that people are missing in their lives. This month: cruel-to-be-kind indie platformer VVVVVV.]

This time last year the very hippest of the games industry's hip were trying to keep their cool while getting their asses handed to them by indie platformer Spelunky. Part masterpiece, part disasterpiece, Spelunky was and is a game about things going wrong. It's intricately designed to allow you to screw up in a thousand and one forehead-slapping ways, at which point it dumps you all the way back to the start. This is a game so mean that players discover by themselves that the damsel in distress is a viable projectile for fending off monsters.

Now? Now it's the year of our Lord 2010, and we have a new indie platformer with a retro aesthetic and rockin' chiptunes to enjoy. It's called VVVVVV. Like Spelunky, it's mean as a feverish mother in law and utterly brilliant, but unlike Spelunky VVVVVV isn't about hiding from death. It's about turning and facing it. You're no longer Spelunky's cautious, cute, chibi Indiana Jones, but the bold Captain Viridian.

Spelunky was a tease. It had you jumping at shadows and ducking danger, and it giggled as you fumbled with its fat mass of button-presses and items, it snorted every time you accidentally fumbled your weapon into a snakepit. VVVVVV's more zen than that. In VVVVVV you know you're going to die, as all heroes must, and you know you're going to do it with your head held high and no more than three keys on your keyboard.

Pay attention! This could be the best $15 you spend all month.

Minimalist Street Fighters Return As iPhone Covers, SSFIV Preorder Bonuses

February 25, 2010 10:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Remember that collection of "videogame minimalism" artwork by SCEE's Ashley Browning that simplified an assortment of game character faces? Capcom is now offering several of the Street Fighter characters (Ryu, E. Honda, Blanka, and Sagat) as iPhone covers given out as preorder bonuses for Super Street Fighter IV in Europe.

European gamers without an iPhone can instead opt to receive one of four limited edition Street Fighter shirts modeled after in-game outfits (Guile and Ryu shown above) or a downloadable pack of alternative "Super Classic Costumes" (e.g. Fei Long has a Green Hornet outfit, Blank wears a pink Dan dogi). It's a shame there's no minimalist Vega iPhone cover!

[Via Joystiq]

Neo Geo Museum Looks Back At 20-Year-Old System

February 25, 2010 8:00 AM | Eric Caoili

To honor the super expensive but much-salivated-over Neo Geo console's 20th anniversary, SNK Playmore has posted a Neo Geo Museum site to remember the 24-bit AES/MVS. Along with a retrospective article taken from the latest issue of Japan's Arcadia Magazine, NGM offers a full listing of every Neo Geo release and a small collection of Japanese advertisements (a couple featuring mysterious mascot G-Mantle!).

The real highlight for me, though, is the selection of shirts printed for the anniversary; the neat tee above features a shot of an MVS machine on the front and a listing of all the titles sold for it on the back. There's also a totally nerdy shirt with a famous Fatal Fury misprint from Gamest magazine that called the game 飢餓伝説 (Legend of Starvation) instead of 餓狼伝説 (Legend of the Hungry Wolf).

Neo Geo Museum is available in both English and Japanese, so you can still enjoy the site even if you don't understand the in-joke t-shirts!

[Via Andriasang]

Game Over: Hard Life For Gauntlet's Wizard

February 25, 2010 6:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Painter Jeremy Tinder has shared another piece from Giant Robot SF's returning video game-themed art exhibit. While his last work offered a totem pole re-imagining of Super Mario Bros.'s cast, this watercolor twists a familiar Gauntlet phrase in a new (and very depressing) way. Times have not been good for Blue Wizard.

The third annual Game Over exhibit kicks off at San Francisco's Giant Robot store and gallery this March 12th, the same week as the 2010 Game Developers Conference -- it's just a short drive from the Moscone Center, too!

This Week In Video Game Criticism: Drive Down Mulholland To Bayonetta

February 25, 2010 12:00 AM |

[We're partnering with game criticism site Critical Distance to present some of the week's most inspiring writing about the art and design of video games from commentators worldwide. This week, Ben Abraham looks at Bayonetta, Mulholland Drive and S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat, among other notables.]

Eric Swain has continued his tireless efforts of scouring the video game blogosphere for our collective benefit. In a yin-yang pairing, The Game Overthinker proudly proclaims “I heart Bayonetta”, while Gunthera1 writes at The Borderhouse after having played the demo of the game with some friends and concludes that “the game is the perfect visual example of male gaze”.

Swain also had a reaction to the Final Fantasy VIII “Squall's Dead” theory, which he and I encountered for the first time this week, comparing the idea to a similar reading of Mulholland Drive. (Confession time: I’ve never seen Mulholland Drive.) Swain also asked this week, ‘Where is the last 1/3rd of Brutal Legend?

Elsewhere, G. Christopher Williams brings his best game this week with two pieces at PopMatter’s Moving Pixels blog; “Is Suda51 the Alfred Hitchcock of Video Games?” as well as ‘How games might challenge the tyranny of authorship.’

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