Back in April I wrote about The Hit Squad , an upcoming animated comedy film I helped crowdfund on Indiegogo . Created by The Super Pixel Brothers duo of Chris Blundell and Jordan Fuller, The Hit Squad will be the world’s first feature-length 8bit film. Oh and did I mention it’s about a washed-up 80’s rock band? If there was ever a perfect marriage of my interests, it is this project. I’ve been excitedly following its progress and even submitted a photo of myself to be rendered as an 8bit background character in the movie. It’s not exactly the way I always imagined my movie career would begin, but I can’t wait to see pixellated me.
Yesterday the official first teaser was released:
Roddy Stones and his band ‘The Hit Squad’ were the worlds biggest band in the 80s, now they’re in 2012 they have run out of money, dignity and cocaine. They haven’t released a hit record in years. The world has moved on and the corporate Scourge Studios are going to buy The Hit Squad’s studio unless the band can raise $1 Million within a week.
Back in August I shared the trailer for Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller , an episodic point-and-click adventure game that was Kickstarted by Phoenix Online Studios. (I won’t be surprised if you don’t remember/don’t care; that’s probably one of the least-viewed posts on this blog. This one will probably suffer the same fate, but I’m OK with that.) A few days ago the first episode was released and I’ve spent a good part of this dreary Saturday settling into its serial killer murder mystery with a steaming chai latte.
It feels wrong to write a full-blown review for a game that only has one episode out so far, so instead I thought I’d share a list of first impressions which I’ve been adding to as I play through.
The 2D art style of the cut scenes and animation is very similar to Gray Matter. I hope that doesn’t sound like a complaint–I love Gray Matter, and I realize this is probably due to budgetary constraints.
Right out of the gate, this game goes to some pretty dark places. Within the introductory sequence I had to make a blood self-sacrifice and also attempted to burn a man alive. Huzzah!
Love the music. The intro song in particular (after you play through the mausoleum part) is fantastic. During gameplay the background music is chill and pensive with an undertone of intensity; perfect for murder investigations. There’s also some spacey synth music on the map screen that sounds like it was borrowed from this track on the Neverending Story soundtrack. This is not a complaint.
The interface is very well thought-out and intuitive. Inventory is a breeze to manage.
The cognition ability and the way you use it adds some unique gameplay elements. I like the way it was integrated into the puzzles, using flashbacks to understand how objects were affected in the past so you can manipulate them in the present.
Great story so far and interesting murder M.O. Definitely not cookie-cutter.
Decent voice acting, but it was hard for me to keep a straight face in some parts because of the Boston accents, which I find humorous. Nothing against you Bostontonians, but those SNL skits (“ You are SORET-AH-DED!” ) have ruined it for me.
In some of the close-up scenes–like when you’re examining the FBI’s wanted list, for example–the graphics look all choppy and pixelated. I can live with it, but it does make the game seem a little rough around the edges.
The 3D animation isn’t bad, but leaves a lot to be desired. The movement is a little stiff and unnatural. Also, sometimes the characters look down or too far to the left or right and the irises of their eyeballs disappear. It creeps me out.
In one of the scenes I found a poster for The Scarlet Furies , which is Jane Jensen’s step-daughter’s band. Ha!
Play the Game
Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller — Episode 1, as well as a Season Pass for all the upcoming episodes, is available for download via RainDG , GameStop , and Gamersgate . In the future it might also be coming to Steam.
This definitely qualifies as one of the coolest things I’ve seen this week, especially since I’m a huge adventure game nerd. You remember the point-and-click game Myst , right? Who am I kidding, of course you do. Hobbyist Mike Ando spent six years building what he calls ” A Real Myst Book “ which is a working replica of the linking books you see in the game that transport you in between worlds. But wait, there’s more! The book is also a fully functional console for playing all of the Myst games via touch-screen interface.
Check it out:
The guy is obviously a huge Myst fan. Not only did he spend six years making this thing, he tracked down a copy of the same exact book that Myst’s developer Cyan originally scanned as a texture reference, so the physical book is as close as to the in-game book as you can get. Ando posted a detailed write-up here which includes technical specifications and some other cool information and photos about his project. It was clearly a labor of love.
Since the rumor back in February about Rocksteady working on a TMNT game turned out to be a bust and consequently almost crushed my very will to live, I thought it was pretty cool when I heard about this TMNT mod for GTAIV . Have you seen it? No? Well you need to. Check out the video below.
It’s probably the closest thing we have to a gritty, realistic TMNT video game, that is, if the idea of controlling the Ninja Turtles to steal cars, beat the shit out of pedestrians and pick up hookers appeals to you. (And why wouldn’t it?)
The textures seem to be based off the 2007 TMNT animated film. It’s pretty awesome that you can control all four Turtles at once. The skins were created by modder William Peddell (aka wapeddell ), who also created great-looking Zelda, Mass Effect and Halo mods for the game.
You can download the TMNT mod here . If you do, leave wapeddell some love.
After backing over 10 successful Kickstarters this year–two of which were north of $200–I made a deal with myself that I wouldn’t back any more projects in 2012, lest I die alone and penniless on the streets with nothing but a collection of crowdfunded video games and comic books to show for it. But for Shadowgate I will make an exception.
Shadowgate on NES was the very first adventure game I ever played–back before I even knew what an adventure game was. I will never forget my first experience exploring the eerie halls of Shadowgate, each room leading me further into the castle and toward my goal–or to my untimely death. It’s one of the earliest horror video games I can remember playing and used to give me a pretty good scare, especially when the panic music starts playing and there isn’t a torch in sight. (It’s also on my list of Top 10 Favorite Nintendo Game Soundtracks ).
I was psyched when I found out Shadowgate’s creators have taken to Kickstarter to crowdfund an all new version, or “reimagining” of this classic adventure game:
We are proud to announce that we are creating a new Shadowgate ! While we published the original game on over ten different platforms, this Shadowgate is NOT A PORT . It’s a re-imagining that includes a lot of new features, exciting updates and ingenious additions that will add even more to the mythology and expand upon the original story of our fantasy classic. This is the Shadowgate that we always wanted to make and we are thrilled that we have the opportunity to capture the unique excitement of the original while expanding on the world and mythos like never before.
I may be poor this month, but I can swing $15. I think.
If “Sissy’s Magical Ponycorn Adventure” sounds like a game that was created by a five year old girl, that’s because it is. Well, her Dad helped too. Ryan Henson Creighton and his daughter Cassie developed a charming little Flash-based game you can play right here for free that’s also available on iOS for $2.99. Cassie came up with the concept and drew all of the game’s artwork with crayons. You may have heard about it; it’s gotten a lot of press.
I don’t expect you to rush off to play a game about “ponycorns” (unless you really want to, in which case I completely understand), but my point in sharing this information is so that you’ll understand why this same five year old girl and her dad just gave a very inspiring TED talk:
In it, Creighton argues that “we should be teaching kids to be creators, not consumers.” Basically, the more simplified technology becomes, the more it simplifies us . And there are other issues too: Why aren’t we teaching kids programming in our schools? Why are our school system’s computers and software so antiquated? Creighton’s vision of the future is one in which using computers for developing games and other creative outlets is more accessible and easier for everyone to learn, especially children, and that these types of activities are more encouraged.
This quote says it all:
When we see kids using tablet computers, we say “Oh my gosh, it’s so amazing how well they’ve taken to technology!” and we clap our hands together and we call them “digital natives.” Folks, these devices have a touch-controlled interface and one button. If we’re amazed our kids can use these devices, we’re not expecting enough of our kids.
Watch the video; it’s only about seven minutes long. Be inspired.
Hey, guess what? October 15th was Sega CD’s 20th birthday! (Don’t worry, I forgot too. I didn’t even get a card.) Yes, twenty years ago, Sega gave us its CD add-on for Genesis with its 512 kilobytes of RAM, 320 x 224 display resolution, 64 max displayable colors and library of weird, choppy full-motion video games like Night Trap. Mmm…there’s nothing like grainy, pixelated tits and ass.
“Gamers love to look backward and celebrate anniversaries, but yesterday came and went with very little to-do about the fact that it marked 20 years since the U.S. launch of the Sega CD. I suppose that’s because, in the eyes of many gamers, the Sega CD was something of a flop. A disaster. A waste of time and money. I disagree. The Sega CD was one of the best and most successful console add-ons ever.”
He goes on to discuss how the Sega CD was a great add-on for the Genesis, the evolution of the Sega CD’s designs–including that elusive CD-X model which I always lusted after but never got–and explain, in general, why it’s a system that’s deserving of respect. There’s also a hand-picked, staff-contributed list of Sega CD’s best games.
My own personal list of best games for Sega CD would look something like this:
Lunar 2: Eternal Blue
Shining Force CD
Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch: Make My Video!
Rise of the Dragon
Keio Flying Squadron
…ahh, fuck it. There’s too many great Sega CD games to list them all.
Happy Birthday, Sega CD!
I was going to celebrate this momentous occasion by posting a picture of a Sega CD-themed cake, but a Google Image search turned up nothing. Really internet? None of you have ever made a Sega CD-themed cake before? If the internet has taught me anything, it’s that people routinely bake cakes and cupcakes decorated with all kinds of obscure, nerd-centric themes. I’m feeling pretty let down here, guys. Not to be discouraged, I fell back on my Plan B and used this Birthday Cake Generator , which I’ve been meaning to find an excuse to use anyway.
This week The League has been tasked with writing a step-by-step guide on how to do something, like destroying the Death Star . So far I’ve discovered that a few of my fellow Leaguers need a step-by-step guide on how to follow instructions , but at least the responses have been entertaining. I’ve only ever written one how-to guide on this blog before, which I was tempted to re-purpose for this week’s topic and call it a day, you know, because I’m lazy. But then I thought–
So start up your Windows 95 machines and step back into the pre-DVD world of 1995 with me–the Pentium I processor is firing on all cores today!
Just think about that last statement for a moment. In 1995 we didn’t have DVDs yet. In 1995, computer games were published on CD-ROMs. And in some cases, they were even still being published on 3.5″ floppy disks. If you were a PC gamer in the 90s then you know how painfully frustrating it was to install new computer games. It was a time when games started to get really advanced graphics (which are laughable by today’s standards but revolutionary for their time) and gimmicky new technologies like full-motion video were all the rage. As a result, the software was often too advanced for the hardware it ran on.
Go ahead and laugh, but this was probably a bitchin’ computer back in the day:
Playing a game on your circa 1995 computer typically involved typing a lot of archaic DOS commands, technical know-how, installing different drivers, guesswork, uninstalling applications to make room for the gigantic file sizes of graphic-intensive games, and a lot of praying that the damn thing would even work so you didn’t just waste $30 at Walden Software .
A single CD-ROM can only hold about 737 MB of data, versus a DVD’s 4.3 GB capacity. Therefore, computer games in the 90s typically had multiple discs and required you to swap them back and forth as you were playing the game. Phantasmagoria , for example, came on seven discs. SEVEN! Do you know how many discs that is? Well, seven, but it’s TOOGODDAMNMANY. That’s why I’ve chosen it to be my guinea pig for this assignment. (And also because it has extreme gore, violence, rape , and was banned in several countries.)
And besides, this game is one of the most sophisticated software packages EVER produced.
Let’s get this party started!
Step 1 — Read the instructions. Then ignore them.
Here are the actual installation instructions scanned from the game’s manual:
And for extra laughs, here are the DOS instructions:
But we’re going to ignore these because they’re worthless. Step 6, in particular, attempts to provide you with a false sense of comfort with the promise that there will be helpful on-screen instructions to follow. But that’s assuming your computer doesn’t crash or freeze up in the process of loading the disc and you can even get to that point.
Step 2 — Boot up your computer.
Does this sound familiar?
Step 3 — Look at the game packaging while you wait…and wait…
Because you’ll need something to do while you wait for what seems like for-fucking-ever for Windows to start up and completely finish loading. Stare longingly at the box art while you envision yourself playing the game already, praying your computer meets all of the minimum hardware requirements .
Step 4 — Insert the first disc into your CD-ROM drive.
Get used to this process. You’re going to have to do it six more times.
Step 5 — Get irritated when something like this happens.
One of my most anticipated games for 2013–which has been listed on my Most Wanted page for what feels like forever now–is an indie point-and-click adventure horror game called Asylum . I’ve posted the trailer before on this blog and tweeted about it probably hundreds of times over the past year (which as far as I’m concerned isn’t enough). And now I’m going to post the interactive teaser because even though this came out last month, it somehow managed to escape my attention until today. Shame on me.
I spent a good 20 minutes or so exploring the condemned halls of Hanwell Mental Institute and I was more than sufficiently creeped out. The game seems to be shaping up to be a worthy follow-up to Scratches, the previous game by developer Agustin Cordes of Senscape . I consider Scratches one of the scariest computer games I’ve ever played. Here’s hoping that Asylum will soon share that honor.
In fact, a year after its intended release window and details on Lunar: Silver Star Story Touch have been basically non-existent. Until this morning, when SoMoGa emailed us to let us know that Lunar Touch was heading to the App Store later this week. No specific day is mentioned but we’d imagine it’ll come along with this week’s set of new releases on Wednesday night.
Lunar: The Silver Star , along with its sequel, Lunar 2: Eternal Blue , are two of my favorite RPGs of all time and one of the primary reasons you owned a Sega CD back in the day. I loved these games so much I used to draw pictures of the characters in middle school.
Both games later went on to be re-released on PlayStation with much better graphics, story enhancements and gorgeous cinematic cutscenes that put the Sega CD versions to shame–but both of those original games still hold a special place in my heart for introducing me to the world of Lunar , the Dragonmaster heroes, and the Goddess Althena.
Here’s the original Sega CD version of the opening sequence:
And here’s the revamped PlayStation version:
A mobile version of Lunar that I could re-play on my iPad will be awesome.
I say “ish” because a firm release date for upcoming indie point-and-click adventure horror game The Cat Lady hasn’t been set, but developer Harvester Games hopes to release the game by Halloween. We seem to be in the midst of a surge of creepy, indie horror games like Slender and Anna ; The Cat Lady looks like it has a lot of potential.
Susan Ashworth, known in her neighbourhood as the crazy Cat Lady, is a lonely 40-year old on the verge of suicide. She has no family, no friends and no hope for a better future.
One day she discovers that five strangers will come along and change everything… But those five, “The Parasites”, are also the most ruthless, deranged and cold-blooded bunch of psychopaths the city has ever known. They will stop at nothing to hurt Susan.
Unless, she hurts them first…
A playable demo of the game is now available, and here’s a teaser featuring a few minutes of gameplay:
You might remember Mari0 , that awesome Super Mario/Portal mashup game we saw earlier this year which armed Mario with a portal gun to solve physics-based puzzles in the made-over but completely familiar Mushroom Kingdom. Now Namco’s classic Pac-Man has been given the Portal treatment, so I guess adding portals to old, iconic video games is now officially “a thing.”
Pac-Man Portal is an indie game developed by user DJ_smart for Russian gaming site IGDC. It’s not quite as awesome or finely-tuned as Mari0, but it’s a fully-functional Pac-Man game. With portals. And hey, it’s free.
The game is in Russian, which might be a turnoff, but it’s freaking Pac-Man so it’s not like you need words to play it anyway. Move Pac-Man around with the arrow keys, and use the mouse buttons to aim and shoot portals–left for blue, right for orange. The IGDC site is also in Russian, so here’s a direct download link so you don’t have to bother with Google Translate. Just un-RAR it and run the .exe file.
Halloween candy has always been the bane of the American Dental Association’s existence and every year it seems they’re out there, somewhere, actively promoting non-sugary Halloween treats and ruining everybody’s fun. I’ve always blamed them for those houses that give out raisins.
Well this year the American Dental Association is actually doing something kind of cool. They’ve teamed up with PopCap to offer free copies of everybody’s favorite adorable tower defense game , Plants vs. Zombies to “Stop Zombie Mouth.” (Zombie mouth = tooth decay, hurr hurr, I get it!) Treat-givers are encouraged to hand out these printable coupons marked with redeemable free game codes, which are valid from October 30 — November 10.
Of course, this campaign isn’t going to stop assholes like me from handing these out to all my trick-or-treaters in addition to piles of sacchariferous, tooth-rotting candy. That’s right, kids, I’m an enabler.
And for those of you too old to go trick-or-treating, hey, free game!
It was just a month ago that I was expressing my disappointment over the iPad’s lack of Pitfall , despite offering an Atari’s Greatest Hits app with 100 classic Atari games. As if Activision was reading my mind (or my blog!), last week, the Activision Anthology app arrived to remedy that problem and answer my prayers.
I also want to point out that the on-screen controls, as shown in the Pitfall screenshot above, are not your only option. The app gives you three different control options, including touch and tilt; whatever is most comfortable for your play style. However, not all of these control schemes are available to all games, BUT I do like that the app lets you set universal control preferences when available.
The Activision Anthology app itself is free and comes with a free copy of KABOOM!, but if you want the full collection of Activision games, including Pitfall, it will cost $6.99. Or you can purchase 11-packs of games for $2.99 each. All in all, not a bad price for so much mobile retro gaming goodness.
As I explained in an earlier post, I’ve been holding off on buying a 3DS because it’s hard for me to justify spending money on yet another gaming device when my old DS Lite still gets so much use . On top of that, there haven’t been too many 3DS games that I’ve been absolutely dying to play, apart from Kid Icarus: Uprising , Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir , and of course the Mario titles. Last year’s price drop wasn’t even enough to win me over.
I’ve said it many times before on this blog, if there is one thing that will compel me to spend money on a new gaming system, it is platform-exclusive titles, especially if they happen to be part of one of my favorite series (rare exception: Uncharted: Golden Abyss for Playstation Vita, which at this point I doubt I’m ever going to purchase).
The Phoenix Wright games, along with the Professor Layton series, have been the biggest draws for me on the DS platform. I’ve played every single (American) game in each series, and I’m still anxiously awaiting any news on that Phoenix Wright/Professor Layton crossover game; namely, whether or not it will be localized. Ace Attorney 5 coming to the west is a great sign.
If you’re not familiar with Beatmania (and there’s a good chance many of you aren’t, since a lot of non-gamers read this site lately), you might not be able to fully appreciate what it is you’re looking at here. But trust me when I tell you it’s impressive:
Beatmania is a music/rhythm game by Bemani (Konami’s music video game division), the same label behind Dance Dance Revolution . But unlike DDR, Beatmania never achieved the same levels of mainstream mass success in America. Whereas there was once a time you could walk into practically any arcade and find a DDR machine, you’d almost never see a Beatmania cabinet.
The game is played by pressing black and white piano keys and spinning a turntable in sync with the music notes that fall from the top of the screen. Most Beatmania music is extremely fast-paced Eurobeat or trance with heavy beats and catchy melody sequences, but there’s also a couple of laid-back, groovy tracks like Jamiroquia’s “Virtual Insanity.” My favorite Beatmania songs are “Remember Me” and “Yesterday.”
My introduction to Beatmania was through a friend of a friend back in 2002 or thereabout, who had a hacked PS1 and was running all kinds of pirated Japanese games. Beatmania 6th Mix was one of them. The game hadn’t been released in the United States yet, so pirated copies of the Japanese games were the only way to play them. Later on in 2006 I bought myself the PS2 Beatmania game , which was the first U.S. release of the game and came with a version of the IIDX controller (7 keys instead of 5). I was always disappointed it never included my two favorite songs, though.
Though I was never very good at Beatmania (I’m much more skilled at playing fake guitar in Rock Band), at least enjoyed playing it for the challenge and listening to the kickass music. Every now and then I have a desire to hook up my PS2 again and dust off my Beatmania controller and have another go, but then I see videos like the one above and it just makes me want to cry.
Now you can find out for yourself! An indie developer from the AtariAge forums is in the process of “demaking” the classic Nintendo game Super Mario Bros. for the less-powerful Atari 2600. He’s calling it Super Mario Clone World , and as you can see from the above screenshot, it looks retrotastic.
Here’s a brief review of the game in-progress:
Not that I actually played the fantastic demo of this Super Mario Bros demake on a proper Atari 2600, but even an emulator can convey the sheer awesomeness of the experience. This is both a technical marvel and an excellent port of the traditional Super Mario gameplay to such an underpowered platform; the controls are excellent, the graphics recognizable, the enemies familiar and the music surprisingly decent. Even Mario can grow and shoot fireballs!
The last time gamers heard news about the upcoming Phoenix Wright/Professor Layton crossover was way back in 2011. Despite the long silence, Ace Attorney creator Shuu Takumi has said that the development process of the upcoming 3DS adventure game Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney was still going fine and, in fact, was nearing its end.
According to a Famitsu interview (viaAndriasang) featuring Takumi and Ace Attorney movie director Takashi Miike, Takumi said that his life is totally focused on completing the game. “The production of Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney is at its climax. While I still cannot say much, [the game development] is progressing well, so please wait a bit more.”
Sorry for the cheesy headline. I couldn’t resist. After 24 years, Nintendo Power magazine is ending. Joystiq reports:
Nintendo has chosen not to renew its licensing agreement with Future Publishing (the company that currently produces Nintendo Power) and has no intentions to take over the publication itself, according to insider sources speaking to Ars Technica. This information is corroborated by Nintendo Power senior editor Chris Hoffman, who tweeted that he and his staff will “try to make the last issues memorable.”
Reportedly “difficult to work with,” Nintendo is said to have taken no interest in working with Future on expanded online initiatives to strengthen the Nintendo Power brand. Editors and staff members were told that the magazine would be shut down sometime last week and have since begun transitioning to other Future publications.
For gamers, it’s truly the end of an era. The magazine has been a source of news, reviews, previews, tips and strategy for all things Nintendo since 1988. I haven’t actively maintained a subscription since the early 90s, but I’m still sad to see it go.
Just for old time’s sake, here are my favorite TMNT-themed issues of Nintendo Power through the years:
Earlier this week Westpaw Films announced Dungeons & Dragons: A Documentary , an upcoming film exploring the history of the fantasy role-playing game all the way back to its humble beginnings in 1974. From creators Gygax and Arneson’s original goal to “just sell 1,000 copies” of the game, to the formation and turbulent history of TSR, and how ultimately D&D became a worldwide phenomenon and major influence on society and pop culture.
Now the project has come to Kickstarter, where the trio of filmmakers–Andrew Pascal, Anthony Savini, and James Sprattley–are hoping to raise $150,000 by Monday, September 17.
Here’s the trailer:
And here’s a snippet from the film’s synopsis:
“In a very real sense, Dungeons & Dragons changed the world. From its early years, Dungeons and Dragons became a training ground for careers in the realms the imagination and has influenced generations of computer programmers, designers, writers, actors and many others. Its affect on society can be seen in everything from computer games to modern teaching theories and treatment for PTSD. Through interviews with public personalities, psychologists and sociologists, D&D:AD will explore how this game has touched the lives of everyone, even if they have never played the game.”
Though I was never heavily into D&D beyond creating one character and playing a few games (mainly because I never had anyone to play with–not to mention I’m like minus 15 in math IRL) as a gamer and all-around nerd I’m well aware of its influence on pretty much everything I’m into–video games, movies, television, books, collectibles, board games, art. What aspects of geek culture hasn’t D&D helped shape?