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Archive For July, 2011

Powerglove's Batman Cover Is A 16-Bit Journey That Also Features Headbanging And Crabs

July 31, 2011 9:00 PM | Matthew Hawkins

Powerglove is a power metal band that specializes in covers of video games and cartoon openings. And while their rendition of Danny Elfman's Batman theme doesn't fall in either category, this recently christened video is relevant nonetheless.

Closely resembling a first generation SNES side-scroller (or to be more exact, an indie game trying to channel such a vibe), we see the band wage ware against an unholy alliance of bats and crabs, while also headbanging along the way. Though for a somewhat similar, yet decidedly different take, a video from the progressive (as well as Christian) death metal band Becoming The Archetype, is after the cut.

Top iPad Game Apps: Pirates! Beaten by Angry Birds

July 31, 2011 7:00 PM | Eric Caoili

[In this weekly column, GameSetWatch's Danny Cowan rounds up the most popular paid and free iPad gaming applications on the U.S. App Store as of today, with Angry Birds HD, Sid Meier's Pirates! and Mr Giggle HD currently ranking among the platform's top downloads.]

This week's top paid titles are:

1. Angry Birds HD ($4.99)
2. Sid Meier's Pirates! for iPad ($3.99)
3. Angry Birds Seasons HD ($1.99)
4. Angry Birds Rio HD ($2.99)
5. Cut the Rope HD ($1.99)
6. Fruit Ninja HD ($2.99)
7. Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty ($0.99)
8. Trainz Simulator ($0.99)
9. ZombieSmash HD ($0.99)
10. UNO HD ($0.99)

Sid Meier's Pirates! drops to second place in the iPad's sales rankings after topping the charts last week, as Rovio's Angry Birds HD rises up to reclaim first place.

Marvel's Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty enters the charts at seventh place following a recent theatrical release, while N3V's Trainz Simulator falls to eighth after an impressive third-place showing last week.

Twinkling Stars Above's Heartbreaking Intro

July 31, 2011 3:00 PM | Eric Caoili

The latest random indie project I've across is Twinkling Stars Above from Toronto-based "engineer turned illusrator" Hyein Lee, who uploaded this opening sequence for his video game prototype/thesis project.

It's a very sad clip, as no one wants to see a cute abombinal snowman crushed to bits by a UFO for no reason, but after seeing that, I'm all like, "Man, eff those dudes. I want to play this and avenge the guy, too!"

There's no gameplay footage to be found anywhere, but Lee has worked on this for at least five months now, and he was looking to have playtesters try out his prototype earlier this month. Maybe we'll see a public release for it some day, and we'll all be able to kick some UFO butt.

Street Fighter X Tekken Producers Face Off In Wacky Japanese Variety Show-Like Challenges

July 31, 2011 1:00 PM | Matthew Hawkins

When Street Fighter producer Yoshinori Ono and Tekken producer Katsuhiro Harada joined forces to produce Street Fighter X Tekken, one had to wonder if there was any spirit of competition between the two. Given how they've constantly been trying to one up each other's bodies of work leading up.

So how does one determine who is the superior fighting game producer? Pitting them in a virtual arena would be too simple. Instead, the challenges include who can keep their breath underwater the longest, do the most push-ups, drink milk the fastest, and eat the most hot dogs.

Filmed last weekend at San Diego Comic-Con, there is little doubt that the clip will become popular in their homeland, and perhaps lead to the formation of a new comedy act. Perhaps they'll become the next big thing on late night Japanese television? Or on Nico Nico Douga at the very least.

Cutesy Art For Diablo And Other Oft Overlooked Characters

July 31, 2011 11:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Artist Ashley Davis, of Once Upon A Pixel fame, recently kicked off a Tumblr specifically for her illustrations of video game characters. The market for video game fanart seems over-saturated, but her blog has a twist: at No Marios Allowed, she only draws figures who "don't get to be under the spotlight too often."

That means no Mario (hence the blog title), Zelda, Metroid, Sonic, Portal, Pokemon, Mega Man, Street Fighter, and other series that have been covered to death. Instead, we get wonderful pieces for Sparkster, Diablo, Monster Rancher 2, Guardian's Crusade, Monster Tale, Tengai Makyou: Ziria, and Milon!

Davis is selling prints for a few of her illustrations here, and she also takes requests for ignored characters you want to see drawn. Having collaborated with her before for a Famicase project, I can say she's a wonderful person to work with -- you should definitely consider her for commissions!

Top-Grossing iOS Games: Zombie Gunship Leads in Debut Week

July 31, 2011 9:00 AM | Eric Caoili

Every week, GameSetWatch rounds up the top-grossing iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad applications, as current that day in the iTunes App Store. This week's U.S. revenue charts see Zombie Gunship and Texas Poker earning top iPhone sales, while Smurfs' Village and Sid Meier's Pirates! emerge as big sellers on the iPad.

These charts allow end users to see who is making the most money on the App Store that day. It differs significantly from the Top 10 Games chart, which is ranked by sales, and therefore is dominated by lower-priced titles that sell more copies.

Data comes courtesy of Apple's public sales information. All titles in the App Store's "Games" category are considered in chart rankings.

This week's top-grossing iPhone titles are:

1. Zombie Gunship ($0.99)
2. Texas Poker (Free)
3. Angry Birds ($0.99)
4. Zynga Poker (Free)
5. Top Girl (Free)
6. Tap Pet Hotel (Free)
7. Tap Zoo (Free)
8. Smurfs' Village (Free)
9. High Noon (Free)
10. Original Gangstaz (Free)

TowerMadness creator Limbic Software leads today's iPhone revenue charts with the recently released Zombie Gunship. Kamagames' Texas Poker climbs up to second place, as Angry Birds and Zynga Poker trail at third and fourth.

Crowdstar's Top Girl and Pocket Gems' Tap Pet Zoo also remain big earners, while Happylatte's High Noon and Addmired's Original Gangstaz return to the charts at ninth and tenth.

Using An Old Chris Crawford Game To Understand The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Disaster

July 30, 2011 9:00 PM | Matthew Hawkins

It's not difficult finding information that pertains to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster; the real trick is making sense of it all. One solution is to interact with a simulator, like Chris Crawford's SCRAM. Produced in 1981 for the Atari 400/800 as a reaction to the Three Mile Island accident, Joel Goodwin hoped SCRAM would offer insight into what happened in Japan not too long ago.

Or so it was hoped. In the end, Goodwin concluded that he learned more from the massive instruction manual that was required reading beforehand than the game itself. Turns out, SCRAM overwhelms the player with so many problems that solutions came down to hitting a bunch of switches and being lucky, as opposed to pure thoughtful analysis.

Plus it just wasn't any fun, something that even the game's creator himsef would later admit in his book, Chris Crawford on Game Design. He notes that if he had the chance to do it over, there would be some significant changes. On a somewhat related note, Crawford recently began work on a remake of Balance of the Planet, another educational sim game of his, which deals with the earth's entire ecosystem this time.

While it won't be any more fun to play than SCRAM, Crawford does promise the most enjoyable method for learning such complex environmental issues. One can follow progress here.

Efforts Towards Restarting Mega Man Legends 3 Going Well

July 30, 2011 7:00 PM | Matthew Hawkins


Many have taken news of Mega Man Legends 3's cancellation pretty hard, but there's been plenty of evidence to suggest that the fight is far from over. Though instead of producing the game themselves as previous theorized, which again Capcom basically said they'd be cool with (which admittedly is quite the herculean task, a grassroots effort making their own 3DS game, hence the sentiment perhaps), disgruntled fans are determined to have work on the project reconvene.

The very first sign was the 100,000 Strong for Bringing Back Mega Man Legends 3 initiative on Facebook. There has since been a flurry of similar efforts, so much so that it's been impossible to keep track, though the newly christened Legends3.com certainly helps. Four basic steps have been suggested: join the Facebook page, sign the Capcom Unity petition, interact with Copcom's Senior VPN on Capcom Unity as well, and become a Servebot.

There's even been support from higher places as well. The game's programming director Yoshiyuki Fujikawa recently applauded the fan efforts, and CyberConnect2's CEO Hiroshi Matsuyama has also stated his firm would love to take over the reigns if the chance ever came. While Mega Man Legends 3 isn't quite back from the dead, things definitely look more encouraging.

Interview: Metanet's Sheppard Talks Toronto's Difference Engine Initiative

July 30, 2011 5:00 PM | Eric Caoili

Plenty of people are happy with video games exactly as they are, and more of the same is just fine by them. But to those who are truly passionate about games as the century's next great entertainment medium, we're nowhere near done yet.

Here's a theory that's getting too popular to ignore: Games don't meaningfully evolve because the population creating them never changes. Kid grows up playing certain types of games, and then he becomes an adult, who makes games for other people like him.

He's part of a team that shares his same general background and interests. The result is that a massive swath of game developers are a similar type of person, and that most games are created by that type of person, for that type of person.

Not only does that insularity limit gaming's audience and exclude other potential players, but it's a model that resembles genetic inbreeding, and as such has the same consequences.

When inbreeding happens in nature, for a few generations, certain desirable traits are emphasized. But it comes at the expense of others, and then beyond a certain point, homogeny begins to weaken the species. Sameness kills. Diversity is necessary to sustain life - and this is true in art as well as in nature.

We don't just love indie designers because they're quirky and scrappy - we love them because their freedom from corporate constraint and their relative disinterest in mass-market appeal results in games and creative expression we just don't get in the mainstream.

Portable Arcade Setup For Atari 2600's Enduro

July 30, 2011 3:00 PM | Eric Caoili

I've featured at least one arcade-like cabinets for an Atari 2600 game here before -- the Space Shuttle: A Journey into Space cabinet an 8th grade teacher built as an immersive space sim experience for his students -- but this one is particularly impressive for its portability.

Brazilian multimedia artist Rafael MSP created a racing setup for Activision's 28-year-old Atari 2600 title Enduro, complete with a racing wheel and pedals. It even has a chair you can sit in -- one cut from a folding chair, spray painted, and padded with foam for some cushioning.

Best of all, most of the parts that make up the cabinet (minus the CRT, of course) fit into a custom box that Rafael can lug around, allowing him to quickly break out and assemble the Enduro arcade machine when needed. Here's a video of him putting it all together:

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