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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 March, 2010

ABCs Of Quarrel's Word Tactics

March 31, 2010 4:00 PM | Eric Caoili

If Quarrel's bewildering but intriguing pitch of board game "word tactics" -- a mixture of Scrabble, Risk, and Countdown -- doesn't quite make sense to you, worry not! Scottish digital toy and game company Denki have posted this first trailer for the XBLA game to explain the ABCs of its premise:

  • "A is for Attack Your Neighbours" (invade neighboring spaces on a world map to expand your own territory, as in Risk)
  • "B is for Best Word Wins" (form as long a word as possible out of a random set of letters given to you, as in Scrabble)
  • "C is for Crush Everyone" (repeat!)

See, it's pretty simple! The game uses Collins Official Scrabble Dictionary, so you'll have a wide selection of more than 114,000 words to choose from while leading your tribe of Quarrellers to vocabulary victory. Denki will release Quarrel to Xbox Live Arcade some time in 2010

[Via GamerBytes]

Romero Takes Over Latest Retro Gamer Issue

March 31, 2010 2:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Imagine Publishing announced that id Software co-founder game industry legend John Romero (Doom, Quake) served as guest editor for the latest edition (#75, Wolfenstein cover) of British magazine Retro Gamer for a "special celebration issue" of the figure's career.

Along with content picked by Romero, the issue will feature a huge 12-page interview with the id veteran about his thoughts on the industry and his current project. You'll also find comments, tributes, and insights about Romero from other game industry notables John Carmack and David Perry (Earthworm Jim).

Other items to look forward to in the issue include features on the Famicom Disk System, Tynesoft (Summer/Winter Olympiad), Rez, The Addams Family, Beach Head, Road Blasters, the Dizzy series, and more. You can watch editor Darran Jones flip through the magazine as he discusses its highlights in the video after the break.

The new Retro Gamer issue should be available now in the usual spots (Borders and Barnes & Noble if you're in the U.S.), as well as on iPhone.

[Image via psj3809]

Interview: The Life And Games Of Jeremy Blaustein

March 31, 2010 12:00 PM | Simon Carless

[In this mammoth GameSetWatch interview, put together by writer John Szczepaniak, he quizzes industry veteran Jeremy Blaustein about his vital translation and localization work on both vital and cult franchises that span Metal Gear Solid, Silent Hill, Castlevania, Shadow Hearts, Sky Odyssey, Senko no Ronde, and many more.]

As a married father of three with a black belt in matsubayashi-ryu karate, Jeremy Blaustein will happily speak about his love of Japan, his many cats, and telling his son Pokémon stories. He casts an unassuming figure – just a regular guy looking after his family.

Many people won’t realise the vast number of games he has worked on over the past 18 years. So many games in fact, that there is probably not a single person reading this who has not either experienced one of them or knows someone who has.

While he hasn’t yet reached Creative Director on a project, Blaustein’s work as a freelance localiser, translator, writer and voice director has given him a unique opportunity to work alongside some of the most prominent people on some of the best games in the industry.

He has had a hand in shaping for its western audience everything from established franchises such as Metal Gear Solid, Silent Hill and Castlevania, to lesser known cult-classics such as Shadow Hearts, Sky Odyssey and Senko no Ronde. He was even involved with the creation of Shenmue on the Dreamcast.

Read on for a full table of contents for this mammoth retrospective interview:

Boing Boing's Indie Rants And Dreams

March 31, 2010 10:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Though Boing Boing's alternate/indie gaming site Offworld is, for the most part, no more, managing editor (and Gamasutra alum) Brandon Boyer is still putting up great video game articles at the main Boing Boing site, including two recent pieces on indie developers presented in an attractive blogazine format instead of using the site's typical post template.

The most recent article, "Less Talk More Rock", is an approximation of a presentation given by artist Craig "Superbrothers" Adams at the recent Indie Games Rant, a GDC lecture in which a collection of indie developers (e.g. Thatgamecompany's Robin Hunicke) and game journalists (e.g. Area 5's Ryan O'Donnell) take the stage for five minutes and speak about their thoughts on the game industry.

Adams, who is currently collaborating with Capybara Games (Critter Crunch, Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes) on Sword & Sworcery EP, shared some of his slides from his presentation in Boing Boing's article, including the above re-creation of a famous Legend of Zelda scene.

In the artist's rant, which argues that "the native language of videogames can neither be spoken nor written", he describes projects as starting with a vision, moving into a phase in which developers plan and talk about the idea, then actually making the game. Adams calls on developers to skip that second step:

"Don't talk about it. Don't plan it. Dive in and start making it happen. If you do that -- if you can start rocking -- you'll get some momentum, and when you have some momentum then the project has a chance, because now you're into it. It's going somewhere, it's tangible. Sure, you'll still run up against problems to solve and decisions to make, but you'll approach these in the moment and solve them in the moment. You'll solve them so you can keep moving."

Once you've read that rousing piece, make sure you also take in Boyer's other recent Boing Boing article, "Caught Sleeping", a tour through Jason Rohrer's (Passage) upcoming two-player, storytelling PC game Sleep Is Death -- which sounds just as intriguing as his other current project, Diamond Trust of London for Nintendo DS/DSi.

Roll 20s While You Shower: D20 Soap On A Rope

March 31, 2010 8:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Pen and paper RPG fans looking to score a "critical hit against bad body odor" have a new and finely crafted item to add to their inventory: D20 Geeksoap On a Rope. The giant 2.5"x2.5", 4 oz. dice comes in blue, peach, seafoam, lilac, pink, or lemon (with a solid oatmeal formula available, too).

Craftster Lesley Karpiuk says the handmade item is lightly scented with "an invigorating smell guaranteed to woo the opposite sex" (Charisma +2?) but can also be made frafrance-free. She uses pure vegetable glycerin and moisturizers, enriched with aloe and vitamin E, to create the soap.

The $5 D20 On a Rope is just one of several Geeksoap items available in Karpiuk's Etsy shop. She also sells D20 Massage, Embedded D20, Twitter, Star Trek, Star Wars, Warcraft, Pi, 1UP Mushroom, Binary, Gmail, and Cthulhu soaps!

[Via Craftzine]

In The End: Linkin Park's 8-Bit Rebellion

March 31, 2010 6:00 AM | Eric Caoili

In one of the oddest game collaboration projects yet, rock group Linkin Park and game developer Artificial Life have revealed Linkin Park 8-Bit Rebellion, a new 2D action-adventure game starring the band and featuring its music, releasing to iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad soon.

In the game, players must travel through 8-bit stages themed after each band member while fighting agents of PixxelKorp, an evil corporation that's stolen Linkin Park's music. Players can create and customize their avatars with hundreds of different combinations. 8-Bit Rebellion also offers lots of social gaming features like IM chats, in-app messaging, message boards, virtual gift sending, and player rankings.

Along with original, 8-bit interpretations of the group's hits like "Crawling and "In The End", the iPhone title features an exclusive new song titled "Blackbirds", which is unlocked after completing the game. Artificial Life says this is "the first time an artist has released a brand-new song through a mobile game app."

I'm sure Linkin Park fans will eat this up, but the mix of different and unattractive art styles seems jarring and reminds me of Sengoku Hime, which you might remember as 2009's "Kusoge Of The Year" award. Also, I hope the chiptune remixes of Linkin Park's songs aren't anything like what's in the trailer; those tracks sound awful.

This Week In Video Game Criticism: From Addiction Through Bob's Bad Company

March 31, 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 checks out stories on addiction, Battlefield: Bad Company 2, and McDonald's toys.]

This week, Tim Rogers published a multi-part Gonzo style documentary of GDC wherein he spends a week with Bob of ‘Bob's Game’ fame. Your mileage may vary, but there were some interesting sections and it’s certainly a unique take on the GDC experience.

Another big long article of note is Tom Bissell’s Observer piece on Videogames, Cocaine and addiction, which is simply stunning. One of my PhD supervisors actually emailed me to ask if I’d read it, so know that it’s certainly making the rounds, and with good reason.

Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet Headed To XBLA

March 30, 2010 4:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Cartoonist Michel Gagné and indie developer Fuelcell Games announced that they've negotiated with Microsoft to release their stylish shooter Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet to Xbox Live Arcade. When asked if the title is an XBLA exclusive, Gagné commented, "No one here is saying that there won't be a PC version ;)".

Fuelcell's CEO Joe Olson and Gagné put together a production team for the title shortly after the two met in 2007 and discussed the potential of "feature quality 2D animation" in a side-scrolling game. While the game seems to share a lot of similarities with PixelJunk Shooter, Gagné's visual design for ITSP gives the project a distinct look/atmosphere.

"We’ve assembled an extremely talented, dedicated, and passionate group of people around this unique project," says Olson. "The combined forces of our team of game industry veterans, Michel’s unique artistic style and vision, and Microsoft’s expertise in the downloadable game space is sure to make for a lasting impression on 2D gaming."

[Via Eastern Mind]

Uematsu's 10 Stories Released With English Edition

March 30, 2010 2:00 PM | Eric Caoili

You might have heard that Final Fantasy composer Nobuo Uematsu released 10 Stories, a collection of songs written by the composer during his high school years, released earlier this month to Japanese retailers and digital download shops like iTunes. The tracks are mostly in Japanese, but it turns out that, as with most of Uematsu's video game works, the album was localized with an English edition!

The songs in the English version, titled 10 Short Stories, now feature English lyrics, so you can actually understand what the songs are about without having to decipher the odd but colorful music videos put together by Uematsu's label Dog Ear Records.

Uematsu also elected to use a different singer for 10 Short Stories; a young girl named Carol Chiaki Nobuka sings most of the English tracks. Two other girls from Japan's Shichida Child Academy also lend their voices to "Here Comes Conga Boy" and "Coconut Castaway". Just comparing the preview tracks, the Japanese and English albums sound completely different!

[Via Nobuooo]

Interview: Intellectual Asado With Today I Die's Dan Benmergui

March 30, 2010 12:00 PM |

[In his latest interview for GameSetWatch, Patrick Dugan catches up with IGF Nuovo finalist and thought-provoking independent game creator Daniel Benmergui, quizzing him about his titles and his thoughts on game creation in today's market.]

Daniel Benmergui worked at Gameloft Argentina for years before saving up and going indie. With enough cash to live for about 18 months he started making small, experimental Flash games, eventually putting together a cadre called "Moon Stories" that earned him a place in the Tokyo Game Show's inaugural Sense Of Wonder Night in 2008. His 2009 title, Today I Die, was a 2010 IGF Finalist for the Nuovo Award.

We caught up with Daniel to dig deeper and explore making video games, inspirations, and the meaning of independence - particularly independence in his native Argentina.

You're an Argentino, how do you feel about that?

Pretty well... I'm sort of proud of being able to end up doing what I always wanted to do in my own homeland, despite the lack of supporting infrastructure.

Your games, I Wish I Were The Moon in particular, are popular among female players, what do you think it is about the design that made that possible?

Probably because the initial impression from those games are more closely related to our everyday life than most... you can make a very good game that is very hard to get into for non-gamers (VVVVVV), but most games out there won't cause a very good impression on first look (elves? marines? cute robots? what?).

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