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Archive For March, 2010

Best of FingerGaming: From muBlip to We Rule

March 30, 2010 11:00 AM | Simon Carless

[Every week, we sum up sister iPhone site FingerGaming's top news and reviews for Apple's nascent -- and increasingly exciting -- portable games platform, as written by editor in chief Danny Cowan and authors Mathew Kumar and Jonathan Glover.]

This week, FingerGaming covers the rhythm-puzzler muBlip and ngmoco's online kingdom sim We Rule.

Also within are the lists for top-grossing, most-downloaded free and paid Apps from Apple's store, as well as quick looks at Flick Bowling 2 and QRANK.

Here are the top stories from the last seven days:

- Ngmoco Releases Free Online Kingdom Sim We Rule
"Like ngmoco's other free-to-play titles Eliminate Pro and Touch Pets Dogs, We Rule allows unlimited free gameplay, though players have the option to speed up plant growth and building construction by purchasing add-on content."

- Top-Grossing Game Apps: Zombie Farm Makes Top 10 Debut
"Where's Waldo?, Monopoly and Street Fighter IV continue to see strong sales, as Playforge's microtransaction-supported FarmVille clone Zombie Farm finishes its debut week at fourth place."

- Free Daily Trivia App QRANK Pits Richard Garriott Against Monkee Michael Nesmith
"Following a grueling celebrity trivia battle, Nesmith ranked in at second place, narrowly beating Austin, Texas mayor Lee Leffingwell. The top prize went to Deus Ex designer Harvey Smith, who has proven himself smarter than any living human."

Blip Festival Tokyo Announced: Hip Tanaka, YMCK, And More

March 30, 2010 10:00 AM | Eric Caoili

With Blip Festival's annual chip music extravaganza in New York City and the inaugural European event last year at Denmark, it was only a matter of time before organizers announced a version of the show for Japan. Blip Fest Tokyo was just announced for September 4-5 (unfortunately for traveling game journalists, that's two weeks before Tokyo Game Show).

The two-day show will take place at Tokyo's Koenji High venue and will feature local artists like legendary composer Hirokazu "Hip" Tanaka (Metroid, Donkey Kong), popular chip group YMCK, Portalenz (USK and Maru), Quarta330, and Hally.

Western musicians and VJs like Nullsleep, Starpause, No Carrier, Bit Shifter, Trash80, Little-Scale, and Stu are also slated to play at Blip Fest Tokyo. Organizers add that they will eventually announce more acts; I'm personally hoping to see Omodaka and Kplecraft included on the list. This seems even bigger than Fami-Mode!

Smilin' And Toothy Gish Plushes For Sale

March 30, 2010 8:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Almost six years since the Cryptic Sea released the game, plush versions of Gish's eponymous hero are now available thanks to Bigshot Toyworks! For those who need their memory jogged, Gish was the indie action game from Edmund McMillen (Super Meat Boy) and Alex Austin that won the Grand Prize and Innovation in Game Design awards at IGF 2005.

The plush ball-of-tar hero comes in 4" ($8) and 8" ($16) sizes, each available with two different faces: Smilin' or Toothy. The figures are made of velour with embroidered detail, and Bigshot Toyworks says they're perfect for "perching next to your computer, hurling at irritating roommates, or just having a long heart-to-heart with after you get dumped by someone who just doesn't love video games like you do."

Ubisoft Trademarks Horse Gaga

March 30, 2010 6:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Offering little explanation for what such an oddly titled game could offer, Ubisoft registered a trademark for Horse Gaga last week, filed under "entertainment services, namely, providing an on-line computer game for others over global and local area computer networks and providing information on-line relating to computer games, video games and computer and video games related products".

A day before filing the trademark, the French developer and publisher registered the HorseGaga.com domain, which doesn't have any content at the moment. What could Horse Gaga be about?! Is it something as simple as a game for young girls who "go gaga" over horses?

Maybe it's a team-up between pop superstar Lady Gaga and Ubisoft's Horsez/Petz franchise (see picture)? Or perhaps it's a sequel to Dreamcast import Segagaga that Ubisoft licensed about a struggling ranch? Probably not, but please let me dream!

[Via Trademork]

GameSetLinks: The Fortress Of Game-Itude

March 30, 2010 12:00 AM | Simon Carless

[GameSetLinks is GameSetWatch's semi-regular link round-up post, culling from hundreds of weblogs and outlets to compile the most interesting longform writing, links, and criticism on the art and culture of video games.]

Well, I'm afraid GameSetLinks are more or less over nowadays, due to my overstressed schedule running all kinds of GDC and Gamasutra-related things. Luckily, it's been quite handily replaced by Eric's smaller individual posts and Ben Abraham's weekly round-ups of the best critical blogging.

But you'll still get catchups from time to time as I rotate through my feeds, and here's one, starting with notes on CSPAN's newly available video game-related archival coverage, and continuing with neatness on the Toy Soldiers Facebook game, the honesty of the Team Fortress 2 blog, and lots more besides.

What is it?:

1UP's Retro Gaming Blog : Things I Learned From the 1993 Game Violence Senate Hearing
CSPAN's video archives include some fascinating video game-related things!

Ton of Clay: At War With My Friends
Toy Soldiers tie-in Facebook game coded in-house at Microsoft? Super interesting, hadn't heard of this...

GDC 2010 Hub | Pixelsocks.com
Some nice in-person IGF interviews rolling out here...

7 of the Best #GDC Slideshows for Indie Social Game Designers - Facebook Indie Games
'GDC is over. Below I've assembled the seven most useful slide decks I could find from GDC for social game developers.'

WoSblog: Weird or Standard? » Blog Archive » The New Arcade
'Three main things characterise the games of the New Arcade movement. One is extremely low cost... another is instant playability... and the third is high-score competition, reborn as the online leaderboard. '

VideoGamePriceCharts: Welcome to Violence - Sega Wii Bundle
Sorry, this is old, but... Sega really released a Australian Wii game bundle called 'Welcome To Violence'?!

Team Fortress 2 Blog - Dammit dammit dammit dammit!
Really interesting design discussion on a feature that they didn't put into the game. Via Zack HiWiller.

Pride And Prejudice And Zombies Adapted For iPhone

March 29, 2010 4:00 PM | Eric Caoili

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a man in possession of a good novel like Pride And Prejudice And Zombies, must be in want of a video game adaptation. Freeverse is making just that, bringing Quirk Classics and Seth Grahame-Smith's Zombie-filled edition of Jane Austen's text to iPhone and iPod Touch next month.

The game follows Elizabeth Bennet's adventures in Pride And Prejudice And Zombies, focusing on her battles against the undead instead of her dealings with the insufferable Mr. Darcy. Hopefully, Freeverse will include key scenes from the novel such as Elizabeth's epic battle against Lady Catherine's cadre of ninjas.

The game's announcement comes shortly after Quirk Classics released a prequel to the novel, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls. If we're lucky, we'll see a video game version of that as well, along with similar adaptations for the publishers other novels: Android Karenina and Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters.

New Photos, Hero For Snapshot

March 29, 2010 2:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Over a year has passed since we've seen anything new about 2009 IGF Finalist Snapshot, a 2D puzzle platformer with a photography gimmick, but Phoenix-based developer Retro Affect (Kyle Pulver, David Carrigg, and Peter Jones) posted a couple new screenshots to show their progress on fleshing out its 2009 prototype.

Along with environments no longer looking like stages ripped from Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island, the screens show a new hero for Snapshot. Instead of a diminutive orange boy with a brown cap, Snapshot now stars a robot. His primary power is still taking photos of enemies and objects, then pasting them back into the scene to solve puzzles.

"We’ve added a decent amount of features since the prototype," said Retro Affect's Peter Jones in an interview with Games Fascination. "I think the one we’re most excited about is the ability to capture the physics of an object."

He continues, "So, when you snap a photo of a falling rock, that rock’s velocity is preserved in the picture. When you paste the picture, the rock will continue on its way. That, combined with the ability to rotate photos creates some really fun puzzles and hilarious moments. Physics is fun."

Retro Affect looks to release Snapshot on PC and "at least one console" in the fourth quarter of 2010.

GameSetInterview: Space Lions? Neptune's Pride Have a Word

March 29, 2010 12:00 PM |

NP%20GSW%205.jpg[Continuing a series of interviews with the indie developers who live on the edge of the cultural consciousness, Phill Cameron has a chat with one of the guys between the sloth of the PC browser based space-expansion RTS genre, Neptune's Pride.]

I haven't slept in weeks. I just try and occupy myself for five minute bursts so that I can justify checking on my empire again. I wonder if Ming the Merciless ever had this problem, or if he just chopped off intern's heads until one of them did it for him. I wish I had some interns. Or a guillotine.

Neptune's Pride is a browser based galactic empire RTS. That might make you think of Farmville with thrusters, but it's far more akin to something like Civ 4, or maybe even Solium Infernum. I mention that last because a big part of the game is diplomacy.

And by diplomacy I mean betrayal. And when betrayal is imminent, you can't sleep. Because you want to be awake when that knife slips between your shoulder blades, don't you? We chatted to Iron Helmet, headed by Australian-based ex-Irrational developer Jay Kyburz, to find out more about the project:

Can you explain a little about yourself and what you do?

Iron Helmet Games is a small group of independent developers interested bringing back and modernizing hard core strategy games. We don't believe strategy games need to be overly complex and in fact the games we most enjoy have simple mechanics and an emphasis on player interaction and diplomacy. We love board games and card games but were beginning to lose our passion for video games. We wanted to take a step back and make, and play the kinds of games that first captured our imagination.

Coming out of Irrational, what made you decide to develop a browser-based space strategy game, rather than continue with the whole first-person genre?

Many of us have been making FPS's in the Unreal Engine for over 7 years, it was time for a change. Strategy games gives us something new to think about, new problems to solve, new challenges. We hope to bring some of the polish of the Bioshock games to whole new genera and platform. We think it's an area that needs a shake up.

Come Out and Play Street Games Returns This June To Brooklyn

March 29, 2010 10:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Organizers for Come Out & Play, an annual New York City festival where players take part in street games that have them running around and exploring public spaces, will return this June 4th to 6th at Brooklyn's Park Slope and Gowanus Canal neighborhoods (each year's festival takes place in a different neighborhood).

The Brooklyn Lyceum, a 100-year-old bathhouse converted into a theater/gym/cafe, will host this year's Come Out & Play and serve as its headquarters, though the street games will extend to surrounding neighborhoods.

While a list of games planned for this fifth Come Out & Play aren't announced yet, festival co-founder Greg Trefry says this year's even will feature both games that don't take advantage of technology and those that do. He was particularly enthusiastic about location-based games that use smartphones and apps, according to ARGNet.

Festival sponsor SCVNGR, which runs a "geo-gaming platform", says it will present a location-based mobile game there this June. Trefry adds that Circle Rules Football, a popular game from last year's Come Out & Play, will appear again at this festival. He expects other "weird new sports", too.

Come Out & Play is accepting applications for both low-tech and high-tech games that "make interesting use of the city" until April 19th. The games will have access to a variety of areas in South Brooklyn, including Prospect Park, the Old Stone House, Green-Wood Cemetery, Gowanus, and "the streets, sidewalks, and other public areas waiting for the perfect game."

DICE's Unreleased Hardcore Genesis Game

March 29, 2010 8:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Long before it became EA DICE and released titles like Mirror's Edge and various Battlefield games, Swedish studio Digital Illusions Creative Entertainment worked on an unreleased and forgotten Genesis/Mega Drive game called Hardcore in 1994.

As the video above explains, the Turrican-esque run-and-gun shooter project was 99 percent complete with just "one bug left to squish" when Psygnosis cancelled 13 of its Genesis projects in an afternoon meeting after deciding to abandon the platform.

DICE co-founders Andreas Axelsson and Olof Gustafsson debuted this footage of Hardcore at Swedish demoscene show Datastorm last month. I really like how the bosses have a counter showing how close they are to dying. Also, make sure to watch the video to the end for the rotating Continue text on the Game Over screen -- very fancy!

Psygnosis and Sony still own Hardcore's license so DICE hasn't been able to release the game for free to Public Domain, but Axelsson says they're "working on that."

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