You maniacs! You blew it all up!

When the GP32 was first announced, I got very excited. Finally, a handheld system that anyone could program for without any special equipment! It was going to be an open-source revolution for console gaming! Brilliant, free games would flow like wine in the streets, and everyone would sing out in glee! When it came out however, I didn’t have the money to get one. When I did have the money, a new, backlit version was announced, so I decided to wait. By the time that one came out, I’d lost interest, particularly because it had been a couple of years and my utopian dream had not been realized. In fact, it had ended up sort of gruesomely dystopian, by which I mean “Dyhard – with Infinite Stairs“.

Earlier this year they announced the GP2X, the amazing next generation version of the GP32, and I got excited again. I held off on buying one, though, since there were ZERO games available at release. And now, alas, I learn that they are horribly, atrociously buggy. Both kinds: country and western hardware and software. Oh well, at least there are still those plucky optimists in the PSP homebrew scene, fighting against “the Man” to bring sweet, sweet wine-in-the-streets free gameness to the masses… or at least lots and lots of Tetris and Pong clones. Sigh.

And no, before you mention it, I don’t have any faith in the XGP.

Season Stacker demo now available!

As threatened in the “about” page, I’m posting about one of my personal projects. Season Stacker is a “dropping puzzle” game for the Gameboy Advance, and my submission to this year’s Independant Games Festival. Check out the free demo, help generate buzz, and keep your fingers crossed that I at least make it to the finals, where I can show the game off to large numbers of potential publishers.

Also, please use the comments of this post for any feedback, suggestions, bug reports, love letters, offers of publication / money / candy, fan art, and erotic fanfic. Actually, maybe you should just keep the erotic fanfic to yourself.

Update: Alas, Season Stacker didn’t make the finals, but I’ve left the demo online for the good of all humanity, and to have something cool to show potential employers.

You know, this might actually work…

I would say I’m sort of a “medium” fan of Dead or Alive; I thought the mechanics of the second one were good, and had a lot of fun playing it against friends, but the whole “freakishly large breasts swaying as though underwater” thing just creeps me out.

That said, if someone were to ask me to make a low-budget feature movie out of the series, here’s what I’d do: I’d get a bunch of B-list porn stars to play the leads, because they’d have enough flexibility and stamina to do fake kung-fu, and wouldn’t be ashamed to play characters best known for their gravity-defying floppy tits. I’d film it in China, where everything is cheap, and crews who have spent their entire lives making kung-fu movies are a dime a dozen. I’d include as much “clever partial nudity” as I could possibly show and still retain the PG-13 rating necessary to draw in the 13-year-olds the games are aimed toward. Then I’d find some German company to finance the whole thing because, as Uwe Boll proves, they’ll throw money at anything with a video game tie-in. I’ve heard it’s actually some sort of tax write-off for them, but never bothered to learn the details.

Surprisingly, it looks like I’m not the only super-genius in the world, because someone else actually WAS tasked with making a Dead or Alive movie, did exactly what I outlined above, and created a trailer to prove it. My prognosis is that this is not going to be a cinematic masterpiece, but will do much better than expected, and may, arguably, turn out to be the best video-game-to-movie conversion yet, at least until Silent Hill comes out. I should note at this point that I’m often wrong.

Thanks to Kotaku for slogging through the slow trailer download and then reposting it somewhere not so slow.

Gunstar Superheroes hurts so good.

ss_gunstar_12I would just like to say that playing Gunstar Superheroes is like getting repeatedly kicked in the ribs by a boot made entirely out of pleasure. It’s really really hard. Harder than the original Gunstar Heroes. I would even go so far as to call it Dynamite Headdy hard, except that it has unlimited continues, which Headdy did not. Just like the XBox Ninja Gaiden however, it is NOT cheap, and all the difficulty is in the form of “skill you do not yet possess”, as opposed to the “screen so full of bullets that there’s nowhere to dodge at all and you have to get hit regardless of skill” that sometimes happened in Gunstar Heroes and often happened in Dynamite Headdy.

I love it.

For anyone who’s played the original, this is sort of a “reincarnation” of it; most of the levels and bosses return “thematically” (yep, the boardgame is back, and this time the dice are less random. Yay!), but they’re all vastly improved, and there are also many many additional levels and bosses. Like all things Treasure, the game also takes full advantage of the platform’s unique features, and there are all kinds of crazy “spinning” levels and scaling goodness. I haven’t played enough of it yet to determine if it’s better than Astro Boy, Treasure’s other masterpiece for the GBA, but it’s already very very close. Go get it NOW!!!

Pyramid Head, could you get the pizza out of the oven?

VideoGaiden is a Scottish video game review / sketch comedy show which runs on BBC 2 Scotland. The show used to be called Consolevania, and existed solely online, but some sublime genius at BBC 2 Scotland decided they needed more exposure. They mention Rez in their first episode, and give Psychonauts a glowing review in the second episode. They’re just that cool. The best part is, the first three episodes are available online for free, and even better are the three episodes of Consolevania available online. The only real downside is that the Scottish accents are difficult to understand for us damn dirty yanks, but that just means you’ll have to watch each episode a few times to catch everything, which is not a bad thing.

After watching all of VideoGaiden and all of Consolevania, my internal voice now has a Scottish accent, and I’m afraid to try to talk to anyone because my outside voice might have a Scottish accent too.

Update: For some reason the website has decided to start blocking anyone with an IP address outside of the UK from watching the VideoGaiden episodes, which is really really stupid. The Consolevania episodes still work, though.

Update Update: All six episodes are available as AVIs here, although it’s unclear how long that link will be good, so go get them now!!

Sony says: groin bad, camel-toe good

Those kooky Japanese, and those kookier Japanese who meticulously document the kookiness of the kooky Japanese. This site provides an in-depth comparison between the instruction booklet artwork in the Saturn and Playstation 2 versions of Langrisser III, focussing specifically on the removal of all “groin lines” from the drawings of women for the PS2 version. Does anyone even read the instruction booklets to games anymore? Meanwhile, this site (not terribly work safe) “carefully documents” the gratuitous camel-toe in O-Ane-Champloo (“Older Sister Remix”), also for the Playstation 2.


I thought she fought Nazis… maybe these are medieval Nazis?

One can only assume that the video game Bloodrayne was born from a night of heavy drinking:

Guy 1: Tomb Raider is really popular! Let’s make a game with a hot chick in it!
Guy 2: Yeah, but let’s make her hotter… like a red head!
Guy 3: Yeah! And a hooker… um…
Guy 2: A hooker assassin!
Guy 3: A vampire hooker assassin!
Guy 1: (barely able to speak over the giggling) Who’s bisexual!
All 3 Guys: And she fights Nazis!!

In the morning, as the coroner packed their alcohol-poisoned bodies into his van, a nameless vagrant found the bar napkin on which they’d scrawled their horrible idea, and sold it to Majesco for 8 hojillion dollars. Since then, Bloodrayne has appeared on every system imaginable (well, not the ZX Spectrum), and has even bared her misshapen, ham-like breasts for Playboy. Now, years later, Uwe Boll is turning it into a movie, chock full o’ actors at the ends of their careers like Udo Kier, Ben Kingsley, Billy Zane, and Meatloaf, and the trailer is now available, for all to revel in its horribleness.

I keep hearing people complain about how Uwe Boll is “ruining video games” with his horrible movies. Let’s have a show of hands of everyone who thought that Bloodrayne was a masterpiece, and will be “ruined” by Uwe Boll’s movie. Anyone? OK, how about Alone in the Dark? Dungeon Siege? House of the Dead? Sure, people liked House of the Dead (or “Hizzy of the Dizzy“, as it’s known in the hood), but no-one would call it a masterpiece. I’ll get upset if Uwe Boll makes a horrible movie out of Ico, or Klonoa, or Rez, but I really don’t see that happening ever. Meanwhile just sit back, quit whining, and either enjoy or ignore his painfully awful movies of painfully awful video games. Supposedly, the director’s commentary tracks on both House of the Dead and Alone in the Dark are absolutely hilarious.

Update: According to Ain’t it Cool News, the movie was cast only 2 weeks before filming started, Michael Madsen spent the entire production drunk, and most of the extras were Romanian whores. I can’t wait to hear the commentary track on this one!

But will there be potato pie?

Rogue Galaxy continues to look awesome. Made by Level 5, the same team behind Dark Cloud 1 and 2, the game features improved versions of Dark Cloud 2‘s engine and graphics, and although the screenshots suggest a Final-Fantasy-style combat engine, it will actually play more like Kingdom Hearts. According to this preview at the Magic Box, the game will also include Shadow of the Colossus-style “boss-climbing”, on top of all the other wonderful features carried over from Dark Cloud 2.

Children all over the world wept openly and things looked bleak for Level 5 when their MMORPG True Fantasy Live Online was canned in June of last year, but they managed to survive, helped Square Enix get Dragon Quest VIII out the door, and are now releasing Rogue Galaxy next month in Japan-land, and hopefully here in U.S.-land soon after that.

For those who don’t remember Dark Cloud 2, here’s a quick rundown: You switch between two playable characters; Max fights with a wrench and a gun, Monica fights with a sword and magic armband. All four of those weapons can be upgraded, fused with other items, and turned into other, more powerful weapons. Combat is realtime in randomly generated dungeons. Once you clear a dungeon floor, you get to play golf in it. If there’s any water on that floor, you can also go fishing. The fish you catch depend on what bait you use. When you catch fish, you can either cook and eat them, or raise them in your aquarium to race them against other fish for prizes (races are held every few days). You can upgrade and change your golf clubs and fishing rods. Most dungeon floors also include “georama stones”, which give you new buildings to build in towns. Most of the NPCs in the game can be recruited to move to the towns you’re building by performing a specific, different quest for each of them. When you fulfill certain building and resident requirements in towns, you can go to the future and see the results of your additions, which will usually give you crucial items or advance the plot. Max has a giant robot named “Steve”, with tons of customizable parts, from fists to rocket launchers and from tank treads to roller skates. Monica can turn into monsters, but first you have to find out what kind of item that monster likes the most and bribe the monster with that item. Max also has a camera. You can take pictures of pretty much everything in the game, and invent new items by combining three pictures. Additionally, you can get prizes for taking rare pictures of monsters in certain poses and ghosts (which can only be seen through the camera). And that’s just the basics.

Assumedly, most of Dark Cloud 2‘s insane level of depth will carry over to Rogue Galaxy, and it looks like there will also be pirates and Spelljammer-y sailing ships floating through the aether between planets. What more could anyone possibly ask for? (You were going to say “cooking” weren’t you? Well don’t. It’s probably in there too.)

If you need any further convincing of Rogue Galaxy‘s goodness, just watch the trailer, and spend from now until it comes out states-side grinning maniacally and twitching like a junky.

The best video game music that never was.

Perhaps it was due to a childhood steeped in video games, but I’ve always been deeply enamoured of “chiptunes”, music created using only the sound capabilities of 80s and early-90s computers (which sounded, naturally, just like the music in the video games that ran on those same computers). Although most chiptune purists will tell you that MODs are the only way to go, some bands have made the transition to mp3 with their beautiful “oldskool” sound intact. One such band is Desert Planet, a Finnish “chiptunes” band, whose song Return of the Ninja Droids is a wonderful tribute to the 8-bit music scene. Find it and more of their music at their website.

Be sure to also check out their “Videos” section for the coolest NES-inspired music videos ever mande.

I should note that I first found Desert Planet at, a huge repository of sweet, sweet chiptune goodness.

A quick side-by-side

Boys Get: Girls Get:
MushiKing (“Beetle King”, with American word for extra hard-core-ness!), the giant beetle battling game! OshareMajo (“Smartly Dressed Magical Girl”), the fashion and tambourine game!
Feed the machine 100 yen to get a card and start the game!
swipe a card that represents your beetle, and swipe “special attack” cards to give your beetle an edge! swipe a card that represents your character, and swipe “clothing and accessory” cards to make her pretty!
use the 3 buttons to play rock/paper/scissors as the beetles fight until only one is left standing! use the 1 button to play your tambourine in time with the music until the song ends!
get extra points for…
demolishing your opponent quickly! uh… coordinating your outfits with the other player?
show you’re a true fan by…
buying a trapper-keeper! buying a trapper-keeper… and a purse!
coming soon to…
The toy section of your local Walmart? Please dear God, no. The only people who would play it would be greasy 30-year-old men, and nobody wants to see that.