Sunday, October 31, 2010

Weekly Releases: 10/31/10

Halloween has come and gone. Forget about gaming and go out to vote. Or not and stay gaming as always!
Significant Releases

Kinect (360)

Developer: Various
Publisher: Mostly Microsoft Game Studios

The newest control mechanism in gaming will be seeing its release this week: a motion control system which turns whole players into controllers. Much like the Playstation Move, this system will rely on a number of motion-based games which focus on the family. Also released this week is the newest version of the Xbox 360's OS which will allow those with Kinect to venture through the system without needing a controller. Along with the launch of Kinect is a myriad of titles to start off the software lineup for the new control system. In the next couple weeks, we will be looking into the software lineups for both Kinect and Move, comparing them to the currently available Wii control system. Note that the Kinect comes with Kinect Adventures or in bundles with new model Xbox 360s. Major Releases for its launch include Kinect Adventures, Kinectimals, Dance Central, Kinect Joy Ride, and Kinect Sports.

GoldenEye 007 (Wii / DS)

Developer: Eurocom (Dead Space: Extraction) [Wii], N-Space (Call of Duty 5) [DS]
Publisher: Activision

GoldenEye 007 is seen as one of the most influential first-person shooters of all time, introducing objective-based missions to the console gamer, along with the introduction to true 4-player multiplayer modes and scenarios. This product is a complete remake of the game, including a modernized version of the plot, level design, and game scenarios. The game will star the newest bond over the old, and the plot takes place outside of the Cold War. Furthermore, a good amount of emphasis has been placed on the game's multiplayer and use of the Classic Controller Pro. In fact, a gold CCP is bundled in one version of the product. Time to feel some nostalgia while experiencing something new and invigorating!

God of War: Ghost of Sparta (PSP)

Developer: Ready at Dawn (God of War: Chains of Olympus)
Publisher: Sony

The second God of War PSP adventure is now upon us! This adventure takes place during Kratos's reign as the God of War, and it acts as an origin story for both him, his mother, and his brother. The game takes its focus toward the great city of Atlantis, where Kratos has his eyes set on King Midas and Scylla, the great sea-beast. The previous PSP title is said to have pushed close to the limit of what the PSP could offer graphically; this project puts the power to its maximum. Expect a similarly fun and frenetic experience as you had while playing Chains of Olympus and then some.

PokePark Wii: Pikachu's Adventure (Wii)

Developer: Creatures (Pokemon)
Publisher: Nintendo

Players get to control Pikachu as he ventures through a new world filled with other Pokemon. The game is a combination of genres, taking players through a multitude of minigames and occasionally pitting the electric mouse against Pokemon in short-but-sweet battles. A simple adventure game, if that.

Ys: The Oath in Felghana (PSP)

Developer: Nihon Falcom (Ys Series)
Publisher: XSEED Games

Ys sees its next release on PSP, as XSEED continues to bring the series to American shores. In this adventure, Adol and his friend Dogi travel to Dogi's hometown, some time after the first two games (this game is a remake of Ys III). Unfortunately, evil has taken afoot in the land, and Adol must take aim to stop it once again.

Auditiorium (XBLA / PSN)

Developer: Cipher Prime
Publisher: ZOO Games

Auditorium is a musical puzzle game in which players must activate a number of music-producing containers by guiding rays of energy into them. Players do so by moving obstacles which deflect, speed up, and otherwise change the trajectory of the rays toward the containers. This game was the winner of IndiePub's first Independent Game Competition, alongside Terence Lee's Storm, still awaiting release.

Other Releases:
Blood Drive (360 / PS3)
Dragon Ball Z: Raging Blast 2 (360 / PS3)
Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage (360 / PS3)
James Bond: Blood Stone (360 / PS3 / PC / DS)
MegaMind: Ultimate Showdown (360 / PS3)
MegaMind: Mega Team Unite (Wii)
MegaMind: The Blue Defender (DS / PSP)
Hoard (PSN)
King of Fighters 2002: Unlimited Match (XBLA)
Battle of Giants: Dinosaur Strike (Wii)
Babysitting Mama (Wii)
Robox (WiiWare)

Previous 10 Weeks:
10/31/10 - Fable III / Rock Band 3 / BIT.TRIP FATE
10/17/10 - Kirby's Epic Yarn / Fallout: New Vegas / Super Meat Boy (XBLA)
10/10/10 - Medal of Honor / Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1
10/3/10 - Castlevania: Lords of Shadow / Shantae: Risky's Revenge / NBA Jam
9/26/10 - Dead Rising 2
9/19/10 - Civilization V
9/12/10 - Halo: Reach / Prof. Layton and the Unwound Future / Playstation Move
9/5/10 - Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep / Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions
8/29/10 - Metroid: Other M
8/22/10 - Mafia II / Shank / And Yet it Moves


Saturday, October 30, 2010

Keiji Inafune Leaves Capcom

Keiji Inafune, seen by many as the father of Mega Man and the head of development for all of Capcom, has announced that he is officially resigning from his position at Capcom and Daletto, leaving the company entirely, effective at the end of the month.

Posted directly on his blog on Daletto's website, Keiji Inafune announced publicly that he would be stepping down both as Daletto's CEO and as Capcom's "Head of R&D Management Group and Consumer Games R&D Division and Contents Management Division."

Daletto is Capcom's subsidiary specializing in online games and management, and Inafune-san saw being a CEO for it as meaningless for a creative person such as himself. He stated that he feels he cannot evaluate his subordinates properly nor speak about his ideas or dreams, two factors he felt were necessary for the position.

Meanwhile, he found that he had reached the top of software development with Capcom, with nowhere further to grow. Feeling that growth is required for a creator, he could not stand being unable to change and grow in stature in his current position, thus provoking his resignation. While he had been able to pull Megaman Legends 3 into production, he states in a 4Gamer interview that he just could not stay in Capcom any longer. Continuing his comments about Capcom, it is obvious that he felt dissonance where he was.

Capcom is truly a good company...I love Capcom. Probably more than anyone in the world. However, it's not always the case that your hopes are realized. Just as it was with the girlfriend I loved long ago...There was a chance that I could continue to be Capcom's power. I bet on that chance until the end. The means of both Capcom and myself to be happy. That was surely possible. However, now that chance is completely closed off."
-Keiji Inafune

He has stated furthermore that he has no plans to work with Capcom in the future. There is currently no information as to where he will be headed in the gaming industry if at all.

In light of his departure, Lost Planet 2 and Resident Evil 5 producer Jun Takeuchi will be taking over his position over the development teams at Capcom.

Keiji Inafune joined Capcom back in the 1980s and is best known for having been behind the Mega Man franchise since its inception (he had joined mid-development for the first but remained pivotal in most other titles). He helped produce Onimusha and, more recently, the Dead Rising franchise. His last major title with Capcom was Dead Rising 2, developed by Blue Castle. Inafune-san had been working heavily on Mega Man Universe and Megaman Legends 3 before his departure, but there is no telling what he may have been working on alongside those projects as well.

SOURCE: AndriaSang

Friday, October 29, 2010

Megaman Legends 3's Heroine is Chosen!

After a month of letting fans vote on their favorite character design for a new character in Megaman Legends 3, the company has finally unveiled the winning design.

After Capcom unveiled Megaman Legends 3 to the public, it opened a poll containing nine distinct designs for a new heroine to be included in the game. Each of these designs were drawn by artists in previous Mega Man games, and according to the poll, the design would have a distinct characteristic to the personality of the character.

The winning designed turned out to be the work of Shinsuke Komaki with over six thousand votes from the 23,000+ total votes from both America and Japan.

Thanks to everyone who voted for my design!! Being able to hear opinions directly from you the fans was a unique experience for me, and I am so thrilled to be a part of Legends 3 in this capacity. The work from the other designers are absolutely wonderful, and gave this project a very noticeable "premium" kind of feeling.
(The feeling of suspense was intense.)

Alrighty then, character designers on the Legends 3 dev team, I wish you luck with taking my designs and making them "Legendsdary."

-Shinsuke Komaki, MML3 Character Designer
SENSEI's character design went in second place, followed quickly by Tatsuya Yoshikawa's design. Check the source for the full listing.

This is not the final time fans will have input in the project. Soon, the company will be opening the "Legends Dev Blog," where people can follow up on the development of the new heroine as well as find more events in which they can participate and add to the game's production.

Megaman Legends 3 is a large-scale project which was announced to be in development for the Nintendo 3DS this past September, shortly after Nintendo held its Fall Conference to discuss the upcoming launch of the handheld device. The game will be focusing heavily on fan input, as this poll demonstrates. There will be other ventures for fans to chip into the game, including potential side stories to be written by the biggest of Megaman Legends fans.

A release for Megaman Legends 3 is still not known, as the game is in early development.

SOURCE: Capcom

NIS turns consoles into women!

Earlier this week, NIS America announced Hyperdimension Neptunia, a unique RPG involving women based on popular video game consoles.

Hyperdimension Neptunia puts players in control of powerful goddesses called CPUs, or Console Patron Units. These goddesses are based on consoles released in recent time, including the Wii, Xbox 360, and Playstation 3. Neptune is original, but in a way she is based on the Sega Saturn. Get it? Saturn? Neptune?

Moving on. The game focuses on customizations which change the CPUs' appearances and stats. Players will need to customize well in order to help Neptune save Histoire and fight the evil Arfoire as it attacks the world of Gamindustri. User-made images can also be imported for use as special summon spells or even as an emblem on Neptune's body.

Hyperdimension Neptunia will be releasing for PS3 in Spring 2011.

NIS America is the American branch for Nippon-Ichi Software, the development house responsible for the Disgaea series and spin-offs, as well as other titles including Phantom Brave and Makai Kingdom. The game is developed by Idea Factory's Compile Heart which opened in 2006; the company is perhaps best known for Cross Edge, a cross-over strategy RPG for Playstation 3 and Xbox 360.

SOURCE: NIS America's Website

Celebrate Mario's 25th in December

Nintendo of America has announced that it will be releasing a special limited edition product commemorating Mario's 25th Anniversary: Super Mario All-Stars Limited Edition for Wii.

Super Mario All-Stars, originally released on the Super Nintendo, is a collection of old Super Mario Brothers titles with revamped visuals and music compared to the original NES products. The games included are the original Super Mario Brothers 1-3 and the previously-unreleased Super Mario Brothers: The Lost Levels (which is the real SMB2 which did not come to the US due to difficulty concerns). Players can also save their games in All-Stars, whereas the originals required completed progress in one sitting.

While all of the original titles are available on Wii's Virtual Console (including SMB2j), the Limited Edition package will be the only means to obtain Super Mario All-Stars along with two extra items. The package includes a 32-page booklet featuring the series' history, a number of interviews, and special never-before-seen documents and sketches from the development process. Along with that, there will be a Super Mario History CD included, containing musical tracks and sound effects from the Mario franchise, from the first all the way to Super Mario Galaxy 2.

The product will cost $30 and release December 12th in the United States. It is a limited edition from Nintendo, so be aware that they are true to their word!


Zenimax does the Tango

ZeniMax Media, the parent company of Bethesda Softworks has announced that it has purchased Tango Gameworks, the new developer created by Resident Evil 4 and Vanquish director Shinji Mikami.

Tango Gameworks' mascot and logo

Tango Gameworks is the development group created and led by ex-Capcom director Shinji Mikami. At Capcom, Mikami-san was known for his development of the Resident Evil and the Onimusha series. He also produced Dino Crisis and Devil May Cry, and his final project was Clover Studio's God Hand, an intense beat-em-up for Playstation 2. Once Clover Studio was dissolved, a myriad of employees left Capcom to form new ventures, one of which was Mikami-san.

This purchase comes shortly after the release of Vanquish, the last title directed by Shinji Mikami alongside Platinum Games. He will not shift in position at Tango as a result of the purchase, and he will be the lead creative director on all titles developed by Tango, with a focus on AAA multi-console projects.
“Shinji Mikami has earned a stellar reputation as one of the industry’s finest game developers. He has repeatedly created hit titles that have earned praise from fans and critics around the world. We share his vision for innovative, genre-defining games and look forward to working with Shinji and his team at Tango.”
- Robert Altman, Chairman and CEO of ZeniMax Media
ZeniMax Media is a media organization with a focus on developing electronic entertainment, owning such companies as Bethesda Softworks, the publisher behind Fallout 3 and the Elder Scrolls series. The company has been making large purchases of developers recently, with the biggest being id Software, the developer of Quake and the upcoming hit Rage.

Currently, Shinji Mikami is working alongside Suda 51 on Shadows of the Undead for the EA Partners program, expected for a release in mid-to-late 2011 for HD consoles. Following this title, it is most likely that his projects will remain under Bethesda and Tango Gameworks.


Thursday, October 28, 2010

No More Heroes: Heroes Paradise Moves onto NA

This week, Konami has officially announced that it is bringing the Playstation 3 edition of No More Heroes: Heroes Paradise to North America in 2011.

Back in 2008, No More Heroes was released for the Wii. This product is an action-driven, extremely violent and altogether punk-inspired adventure starring Travis Touchdown, an Otaku who, after killing the Number 11 assassin, is dragged into an intricate collection of showdowns against maniacs and professional killers alike. Not to mention it has a myriad of small jobs to take on in order to afford the increasingly deadly fights. It received a number of decent reviews, and it sold well enough for a sequel, No More Heroes: Deadly Struggle, to be released in 2010.

Heroes Paradise, meanwhile, is an upgraded port of the original title for 360 and PS3, originally released in Japan through Marvelous Interactive. Konami will only be bringing the PS3 version to other shores, alas.

The HD edition will contain a new "Rebout Mode" in which players will be able to fight old foes again, and a new Super Sweet difficulty is available in which each character in the game sports a new pair of digs, ripe for the mauling. Furthermore, the game offers players the ability to watch the game's cutscenes at their discretion, once completed, of course.

Those unsure about controls will be happy to know it supports normal controller and Move control methods. It is expected to be released in the Spring.


Monday, October 25, 2010

Weekly Releases: 10/24/10

Ready for Halloween? I'm not. If you don't hear from me on Monday next week, it is because I'm recovering from sugar lows.

Significant Releases

Fable III (360, PC version TBA)

Developer: Lionhead Studios (Black and White series, Fable series)
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios

Presenting the next large title from Peter Molyneux! This time, the focus is slightly more accessible than what the previous entries provided. The HUD seems to have been removed this time around; instead, the world will display what the players need to know. Looking at the non-adventuring aspects of the game, players will be rewarded for making their castles increasingly prosperous. Being a ruler, players will learn, is definitely more complex than simply throwing money at everything, having to face social problems including crime and poverty. Once becoming the true ruler of the land, you can even further expand into other, newer territories with the onset of war. All of this on top of the usual adventuring affair known within the Fable franchise. With all the changes and added content, will it impress its fans this time around?

Rock Band 3 (360 / Ps3 / Wii / DS)

Developer: Harmonix (Rock Band Series)
Publisher: MTV Games / EA

Rock Band is back and more complete than ever. First off, the game allows multiple people to sing at the same time for harmony, a feature introduced in The Beatles: Rock Band. Furthermore, the game introduces the new Keyboard controller, which can even double as a MIDI keyboard on the computer. For those who want to learn how to play the songs on real instruments, there is a new Pro Mode, in which the frets, chords, and notes are exactly as they are in reality. So now you can actually learn to play Bohemian Rhapsody on the keyboard rather than play by ear. Not to mention the series' massive backlog of songs already available, this is the pinnacle of the franchise.

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II (360 / PS3 / PC / Wii / DS)

Developer: LucasArts [360/PS3], Aspyr Media [PC], Red Fly Studios [Wii]
Publisher: LucasArts

LucasArts brings us back into the story of Starkiller, the secret apprentice of Sith Lord Vader. The sequel takes places one year before Episode IV: A New Hope, in which Starkiller escapes captivity and ventures forth to find his true identity and look for his love, Juno Eclipse. Meanwhile, Boba Fett seems to have his eyes on Juno, as well, but for a darker purpose. The game retains what made the previous game so good, with the addition of new Force abilities. The Wii version has a unique four-player multiplayer mode, whereas the HD games will contain its own set of new Force abilities.

Shaun White Skateboarding (360 / PS3 (delayed) / Wii)

Developer: Ubisoft Montreal (Shaun White Snowboarding series)
Publisher: Ubisoft

From the slopes to the streets, Shaun White takes his sights toward Tony Hawk's world. The player is in a city where the man has reduced the world of fun and excitement, but with the magic of skateboarding, the world can be brought back to life. Furthermore, the game has special areas where skating obstacles can be formed from the otherwise blase world, including extensions for railing and halfpipes.

Tony Hawk Shred (360 / PS3 / Wii)

Developer: Robomodo (Tony Hawk RIDE)
Publisher: Activision

From the streets to the slopes, Tony Hawk ventures to Shaun White's world. Using the RIDE controller, specifically, this game emphasizes both the skateboarding experience known for Tony Hawk and a new world of snowboarding. This venture also uses a unique cell-shading style to try and amp up the action.


Developer: Gaijin Games (BIT.TRIP series)
Publisher: Aksys Games

Commander Video and his friends chase after the evil being faced in RUNNER, but this time the battle goes in a much slower and yet equally hectic turn. In the fifth venture into BIT.TRIP, Commander Video is fixed to a line called a vibe which he can slide along left or right. All the while, players aim a reticule to shoot at enemies and obstacles in each level. As with every BIT.TRIP game in the series, the game is no cakewalk, filled with enemies and a disturbing variety of attacks covering the screen. Thankfully, our hero's friends can act as powerups to boost Commander Video's abilities.

Other Releases:
LEGO Universe (PC)
Bakugan Battle Brawlers: Defenders of the Core (360 / PS3 / Wii / DS / PSP)
Cabela's Dangerous Hunts 2011 (360 / PS3 / Wii)
Monopoly Streets (360 / PS3 / Wii)
Pinball FX 2 (XBLA)
The Sims 3 (360 / PS3 / DS)
Blacklight: Tango Down (PSN)
Art Academy (DS)
Deca Sports 3 (DS)
ZHP Unlosing Ranger Darkdeath Evilman (PSP)

Previous 10 Weeks:
8/17/10 - Kirby's Epic Yarn / Fallout: New Vegas / Super Meat Boy (XBLA)
8/10/10 - Medal of Honor / Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1
8/3/10 - Castlevania: Lords of Shadow / Shantae: Risky's Revenge / NBA Jam
9/26/10 - Dead Rising 2
9/19/10 - Civilization V
9/12/10 - Halo: Reach / Prof. Layton and the Unwound Future / Playstation Move
9/5/10 - Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep / Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions
8/29/10 - Metroid: Other M
8/22/10 - Mafia II / Shank / And Yet it Moves
8/15/10 - Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days / Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Review: Speed

Game Title: Speed
Developer: Team 6 Game Studios
(Glacier 2, Pacific Liberator)
Publisher: ZOO Games
Platform: Wii
Price: $20

Racing games are a dime a dozen on Wii, and unfortunately the value of a majority of them are about the same. With the release of Mario Kart Wii and the Wii Wheel, a plethora of racing games have come out, and Speed from Team 6 Game Studios is just one of the many racing games out this year alone. Offering a focus on speed and a special Wii Wheel Controller Shell, does this game fire off in front of the others, or does it sprint forward only to crash and burn?

When purchasing the game, you can obtain it with or without a controller shell, and I happened to receive a copy with a controller shell. The game does not come in a case, in this bundle, and that immediately makes me concerned for the long-term storage of the game disc itself. The wheel, upon immediate inspection, appears to be made of fairly cheap plastic, but as I used it, it compared to the Wii Wheel accessory more than expected. It has rubber stoppers to keep the controller secure, and instead of having a unique button to push the B trigger, the shell has a hole allowing for easy access. There is even a hole on the side to allow the IR pointer to be used while the controller is inside the shell. Overall, if you do not already have a Wii Wheel, this is a decent substitute.

Enough of the hardware and onto the software. Speed is a racing game in which players drive exceptionally fast vehicles along selected tracks for the amusement of fans nobody really sees. Each racer chosen is part of a special Team, ranging from Team Fire to Team Forest to Team Sky and even Team Pink, as if girls did not fit into the other team names. According to the game’s booklet, these teams vary in racing strategies, and what the game itself does not tell you is that your teammates actually want you to LOSE! Do not think that the same color means friendly, when it comes to Speed. Either way, the basic concept of Speed is, well, speed, and crashing cars together for Burnout-like explosions.

The presentation is, in one word, basic. The font is extremely standard, and the menu seems mostly pointer driven rather than by buttons, which is odd as the game menu could move faster that way. The artwork for each Team is just a recolor of the next, still images without any more information than the name at the top. When it all comes together, the presentation is expected for a team of only six people, though after a few games, one should expect a progression in menu quality.

Graphically it looks nice, if a bit blurry.

The game’s graphics are not as basic but do fumble in more than a few ways. The vehicles are well-modeled, and it seems Team 6 Game Studios wants you to notice. The camera is located low on the ground to provide a more speed-centric vibe from each race, but as a result, there are instances where the backgrounds are completely blocked off by the barriers that surround the race tracks. If you can see over the barriers and other obstructions, you might see some good environments, but even so, they are muddled with a Vaseline filter to add to the blur effects of fast racing. Perhaps if the filter was toned down a notch, the backgrounds would be more delightful for people to see, but as it stands, the blur causes some tracks to feel similar rather than unique. The atmosphere is filled with techno beats along the way, and while the menu seems to have no idea what song to play, the music for the game is acceptable and, at times, catchy.

As Speed comes with the Wheel attachment, naturally it is easy to assume what the controls are for it. Players hold the Wii Remote, shell or not, on its side and turn the controller like a wheel in order to make turns. One button accelerates, and another uses the brakes. This control scheme appears to be ideal for racers, though all it takes for the game to collapse is poor motion control response.

This is Speed, not Burnout.

Unfortunately, Speed does not follow through with motion controls, and it runs into the pitfalls of most Wii racers with the wheel control scheme. While competing racers can be competitive, the turns themselves are the main foes of the game. Driving to each turn at super-fast speeds is as deadly as running into other cars, though it is humorous to see the Burnout-like explosions take place in the latter situation. Over the course of my playtime, turning the controller would not respond when I moved too fast, when I moved too slow, or at any other random interval. Making a perfect turn like the ones the computers will make is most likely impossible, and what makes the turns even more annoying is that the last level of the game contains two sharp turns at the very end of the track, just about ensuring your failure after a long race.

The opponents in Speed like to play mind games, as their competitiveness varies sharply from one moment to the next. When facing the other racers in the fray, explosions and collisions happen often, and the multi-car pileup usually results in a number of computers flying on ahead. If you are ahead of the swarm, they accelerate extremely fast and will collide with your backside as you attempt to make turns; making a longer-than-necessary turn will lose you about three places, on average. However, if you are in last place, you will find that the entire lineup of opponents is waiting on the final stretch for you to pass. It happened to me multiple times, so it was not a fluke, by the way. However, it doesn’t seem to happen at the last level, where the competition is as it’s fiercest. Note that the game provides two difficulties, but the second is not available until each level is individually cleared.

Good luck on that final stretch.

There is multiplayer for two people, but rather than have some form of unique versus mode, the game throws both players into the single-player grand pries. The game also has a Time Attack mode, but in order to unlock these, you have to beat the track’s single-player event. This second mode is actually useful for those willing to practice without the odd computer AI; without much of a way to share your scores, the Time Attack mode is strictly a local bragging right.


While attempting to diversify itself from the multitude of generic racing titles on the Wii, Speed stumbles at certain aspects that keep the game away from a high recommendation. The graphics are covered with too much blur to experience, but the music is fitting to the speedy gameplay. The control varies in stability, making pivotal turns hard to make, thus resulting in multiple losses for otherwise competent players. The computer racers are schizophrenic, ranging from pushovers to a swarm of the Stig. The cheaper price tag does make the game easier to swallow, and when the game actually works, it is enjoyable. However, the above reasons keep me from recommending it.

Unlike the drug, Speed is not entirely addictive; like the drug, it is not recommended.


Team 6 Game Studios has made racers before, and a number have not been too highly reviewed. I believe the team is headed in a good direction, if it tries to get more assistance at key spots. Personally, the level design is not a problem, but the control recognition needs to be worked on a bit more. Perhaps one more person should be hired to benefit AI differentiation or add to the presentation of future projects, as well.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Game On: Let's Play 1.05 - Super Troll Islands

Game: Super Troll Islands
System: Super Nintendo Entertainment System
Developer: Millenium Interactive
Publisher: American Softworks Corporation
Player: Charles “Chack” Ackerman

Game Overview

Platformers were plentiful on the Super Nintendo and the Sega Genesis, as were licensed games from “hip” 1990’s fads. One of those happened to be Trolls, small plastic figurines which bore jewels in their belly buttons and had large tufts of oddly-colored hair. It just so happened that when Trolls and platforming collided, they created this game: Super Troll Islands.

The plot is thus: a dark mist has covered the otherwise playful, peaceful islands on which four Trolls loved to play. In order to save the land, these Trolls decide to work together and destroy the mist which clouds up their otherwise content lives. There does not seem to be much else, scenario-wise, but when it comes to selling toy-based license games, plot is the last thing on developer’s minds.

The main purpose of the game is to colorize “windows” of the world, usually two platforms and two ladders creating a box. By colorizing these windows, the mist opens up within that space; once every window has been “opened,” the mist breaks apart, revealing the landscape and one very happy sun! Enemies do impede on this mission, however, and in order to defeat them, the Trolls must throw cupcakes at them in order to eat and vanquish them. Not only that, but each of the four Trolls have their own special abilities: Green can get hit one more time, Pink jumps extra high, Blue can dive underwater, and Red runs faster than the rest. Unfortunately, if one dies at a pivotal point (say, diving underwater or in need of a large jump), it might be close to impossible to finish the game itself. The game’s length is 50 levels, going through five worlds of increasing playfulness, or insanity, if you prefer.

Since then…

The publisher of the game, ACS, had a few decent titles published under its wing for the next generation, including Sanitarium, a point-and-click adventure game in 1998, and even the original Grand Theft Auto from DMA Design, before the series’ publishing continued under Rockstar Games. The Darien, CT-based publisher closed January 2000.

The developer of the game, Millenium Interactive, actually went on to release the game a second time, without the Trolls license and not on the Super NES. The UK developer ported the game engine and just about everything else from it to the Amiga, and rather than use Trolls, the new game used the Mr. Blobby license. Other than that, the Super Troll Islands game never became a series, and perhaps for good cause.

Millenium Interactive was better known for having developed the James Pond series on Amiga and other consoles. When the company started work on a larger project, Sony purchased Millenium, turning it into SCE Studio Cambridge. That project would become MediEvil. As for current releases, Studio Cambridge has mostly helped with LittleBigPlanet for PSP with Media Molecule, and its most recent release to date is the Playstation Move title TV SuperStars.

As for the lead designer of the game, Mike Ball, he went on to produce games for Sony but ultimately left and formed Just Add Monsters in 2000. The company would go on to become Ninja Theory, the producer of Heavenly Sword (published by Sony, no less) and more recently Namco-Bandai’s Enslaved: Odyssey to the West. It is currently producing DmC, a new title in Capcom’s Devil May Cry franchise.

Trolls have for the most part dwindled as a franchise, but games using them appeared briefly thanks to an attempt to modernize the product with Trollz. Trollz: Hair Affair for the GBA is the last known release of a Trolls-based product in the video game industry. If there is a newer one, please hesitate to tell us.

The Let’s Play

Chack wanted to play one more game after Star Fox, and seeing this game as it sat on the ground, it seemed like the only logical choice. Having never heard nor seen this game before, the audience agreed to give it a go, despite Chack’s obvious disdain toward the title.

He had never gotten further than “...mid twenties, thirties…” in the game, and it would quickly become apparent as to why that was the case.

As his last Let’s Play for Game On, it was certainly one to finish off, not with a roar but a whimper.


The abject horror of this Let’s Play becomes apparent only within the first ten minutes. The game is totally within the “Should not Record” realm: a boring, repetitive, and altogether jarring experience. Having watched this Let’s Play once after completion, the game is a chore to watch, and I honor those who watch it with us.

Chack never beats the game. Whereas with the previous two games in our “Night of Fail,” some success had been made, this game never seems to become defeated, constantly pouring its hellish giggles and bobbing heads in our wake. The previous two Let’s Play segments were failures due to the player; this Let’s Play failed because the game was despicable.

He made it to Level 25 in an hour. With the knowledge that the game is 50 levels long, I cannot fathom the results had we gone to the end. Having played video games for four to five hours solid and with the night long started, patience was low, and the boredom brought by repetitive music and gameplay made us lethargic by the hour’s-end.

In the end, there is some good humor in there, specifically about how bad the game is. However, the boring nature of the game makes it hard to sit through all at once. Certainly recommended to watch in multiple sittings. To this day I wish we could have recorded more with Chack, especially since his humor worked out quite well. He was too focused on his final semester to work on Game On, and afterwards, he moved on to better pastures. Or Florida. One of the two. Either way, I’m sure this is a send off he will not forget!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Sega continues Dreamcast Downloads

Not long after the release of Sonic Adventure along with the upcoming release of Crazy Taxi via digital download services, Sega has made it known that it is continuing its Dreamcast releases for XBLA and PSN with Space Channel 5 Part 2 and Sega Bass Fishing.

As with the previously released Sonic Adventure, the two titles will play in 720p and allow for widescreen display, though graphical upgrades to the games themselves will most likely be minimal. If pricing is similar to the first Dreamcast rerelease, expect each game to be the equivalent of ten dollars a piece.

Space Channel 5 stars Ulala, the top reporter for Space Channel 5, and in Part 2, she is investigating, and attempting to thwart, the Rhythm Rogues and their multiple kidnappings around the galaxy. The series is a rhythm-based adventure in which the the game announces a pattern which players must repeat via Ulala in order to progress, akin to Simon. Of course, unlike Simon this game has a lot more groove going on with it. It was rereleased previously on the Playstation 2.

Sega Bass Fishing is a fishing game developed for the Dreamcast which has become a popular title among Sega fans. Originally an arcade game, the Dreamcast release was further developed with a special fishing pole controller, and its graphics were lauded for what the Dreamcast offered. Despite these factors, the game's scope was narrow and thus sold poorly at launch. Over time, the game has grown on Sega fans for its arcade-paced gameplay. It has since been rereleased on Wii.

Both games should be seeing releases on PSN and XBLA in early 2011.

SOURCE: Siliconera

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Professor Layton and the Lawyer Crossover

In a surprise announcement at this year's Level-5 Vision press event, Level-5 announced Layton Kyouju vs Gyakuten Saiban, or in English, Professor Layton Vs. Ace Attorney, a collaboration between Level-5's Layton team and the Ace Attorney team from Capcom.

The adventure stars both Professor Layton and Phoenix Wright, along with their helpful assistants, as they end up within a new world together. The group enters a medieval place named Labyrinth City, where magic and witches exist and illusions distort reality. Together, the two will face off against the Story Teller, a writer whose magical pen brings what he writes to life. However, will the duo be able to work together, or will they end up bitter rivals in the new world?

It appears that the game will be split between game elements from both series. Professor Layton will face a number of puzzles to solve within Labyrinth City, whereas Phoenix Wright will have to focus on a "Witch Trial" to defend someone who is accused of witchcraft.

The scenario is being written by Ace Attorney designer
Shu Takumi, so expect some of the awesome plot workings from that series to be commonplace in this crossover project. Furthermore, as the trailer demonstrates, the game will contain fully-animated cutscenes which should only make the story all the more delectable to experience.

Professor Layton VS. Ace Attorney will be releasing for 3DS, but the date has not been discussed.

SOURCE: AndriaSang

Time Travelers Coming in the Future

Level-5 announced the platform and first game details for Time Travelers, the company's first suspense game, at its Level-5 Vision 2010 event earlier today.

Time Travelers was originally announced via a teaser image amid hints at a mystery platform. During the Vision 2010 event, Level-5 CEO Akihiro Hino announced that the game would be heading to the Nintendo 3DS, the next iteration of Nintendo's handheld hardware.

The game stars two major characters: Skeleton, a terrorist, and
Mikoto Shinmichi, a young girl. While the two do not seem to have much in common, there is but one major connection: the two can both see into the future.

Time Travelers is being directed by
Jiro Ishii, known for his intense adventure game 428 by Chunsoft. The upcoming venture is labelled as a "time travel suspense" which will have massive scope, so say the developers. The game's main gameplay elements were not disclosed, so the game may be more than a year off.

SOURCE: AndriaSang

Fantasy Life Goes to 3DS

At today's Level-5 Vision 2010 event in Japan, the company announced that it would be shifting its Brownie Brown collaboration Fantasy Life to the 3DS.

One of four major 3DS-related announcements, Level-5 stated that along with the platform shift for Fantasy Life, the game would be shifting from the original Mother-esque 2D look to a cell-shaded polygonal affair.

Fantasy Life was originally announced as a DS title in 2009. Dubbed a "Slow Life RPG," the game would be a life-paced adventure akin to Animal Crossing rather than the faster, action-paced RPGs of late. Players create their characters at the start of each game, ending with the choice of a "Life," or rather, a specific job that person will have in the world. Each job has their own goals and activities, and even their own ending theme once the game is completed. Not only will players need to strive for these daily goals, but they will need to watch for their Happiness and Richness levels in order to survive in the Fantasy Life world. The official artwork of the game is produced by Final Fantasy artist Yoshitaka Amano, and the soundtrack is being produced by the famous Nobuo Uematsu.

This was not the first game which was moved from DS to the 3DS from Level-5. The Fukuoka-based company had already announced its first major venture to the 3DS at E3, that game being Professor Layton and the Mysterious Mask. While it was originally in development as a DS title, the game was brought to 3DS to add a new method of puzzle-solving to the highly-acclaimed series.

A release date for Fantasy Life is currently unknown, as are more concrete details of the game.

Brownie Brown is a Nintendo subsidiary comprised of Ex-Square developers in charge of the Mana series for GameBoy and Super Nintendo. Since its inception, the company has released Magical Starsign through Nintendo and two Mana titles for Square-Enix: Sword of Mana and Heroes of Mana. The developer has also dabbled on DSiWare with A Kappa's Trail, and it was behind the programming development for Mother 3, a Japanese-only RPG for the GameBoy Advance.

SOURCE: Siloconera

Monday, October 18, 2010

Curing the Sick with Dual-Stick Shooting

Electronic Arts and Naked Sky Entertainment have announced the development of Microbot, a dual-stick shooter inside the body for download services next year.

In Microbot, players control a prototype nanobot which is no larger than a blood cell. The previous iterations of the robots, developed to eliminate diseases at a cellular level, have unfortunately bonded with the diseases, spreading and multiplying the infection to dangerous and potentially lethal levels. It is up to the newest prototype to destroy these machine-disease hybrids in order to save the lives of the infected.

The game's added twist to the usual dual-stick shooter game mechanic is the inclusion of internal fluid dynamics. As players venture from veins to bones to organs, bloodflow and pulsing movements from the body cause changes in the battlefield, making movement more strategic and unique. Furthermore, the developer is aware that no body is exactly the same; each time the game is played from the beginning, the layout of each area is changed to present new challenges with each playthrough. The game will also provide upgrades for the Microbot overtime, catering to each player's gameplay preferences.
“We wanted to take gamers to a place they have rarely visited before — the world inside the human body. The fluid dynamics of the world and the customization of the MicroBot come together to create a unique take on the arcade shooter genre."
- Jason Haber, Electronic Arts
The game will also feature drop-in/drop-out cooperative multiplayer modes.

Microbot is expected for release Winter 2011 for XBLA and PSN.

Naked Sky Entertainment is an independent development company based in Los Angeles comprised of MIT programmers as well as a number of award-winning artists and designers. The company's first venture into gaming came with RobotBlitz, the first XBLA title to use the Unreal 3 Engine back in 2006. It has since developed Star Trek D.A.C. which released in 2009.


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