Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Hilarious bootleg NES game review: Titanic

The ever-irascible CinnamonPirate brings us another import bootleg review, this time of an NES game based on the popular flick Titanic.

Yes, THAT Titanic.

From the review:

I have a hard time imagining what possessed anyone to make this game. The board meeting probably went something like this:

President: OK guys, we have this terrible RPG engine for the Famicom. How can we squeeze more money out of it?
Developer: Well, Titanic has been popular with students studying English. What if we make a game based on the movie?
President: But how will it work? I mean, the only character you could play as would be Jack, and he dies.
Developer: Don’t you see! An RPG where the player’s character dies! It will be revolutionary!
President: Make it so.

Well, they made it so.

The result was the most unbelievably fucking awful game in history.

Read the whole thing so his suffering won't be in vain

Monday, March 17, 2008

Pontiac Ad References Spy Hunter Arcade Game

Pontiac cashes in on arcade classic Spy Hunter nostalgia with this awesome new ad:

XBLA Remake of Bionic Commando Dev: 2D Gaming Will Live or Die With Fan Support

A few months ago, I linked to this totally frickin' sweet preview video of the remake of the NES classic Bionic Commando for X-box Live Arcade titled Bionic Commando: Re-Armed. Capcom held a poll to determine the price it should sell for, and the gaming masses have spoken; the overwhelming choice to price the game at was $10.

Capcom's Ben Judd posted the official reasoning behind the pricing and faith in its fans thusly:

We first asked the question to our community about how much they would pay for Bionic Commando Rearmed here on the Bionic Commando community site.

Some people said it was stupid. Human nature dictates that people will choose the cheaper of two prices. Some people said we hated money. Well, while the results may suggest that $10 is the sweet spot for most people (in the US the final tally was 83% in favor of the $10 price point and 17% in favor of the $15 price point), there is another side of the story which wasn’t represented by the poll results – and that is the huge number of user comments that we received, where a majority were suggesting they would pay $15 or even $20 for the game.

When I first posed the question it wasn’t about whether people wanted something to be cheaper or more expensive. That answer is obvious. It was about whether people would be willing to pay more to support high-quality 2D gaming. 2D games are a bigger risk (no, they are not necessarily cheap to make. BCR has plenty of 3D models and uses much of the same tech and physics as the 3D version) because they are a harder sell. However, when we started the community site it was all about hearing from Bionic Commando fans and connecting with our community. The poll says $10 so that’s what it will be. Since the title will have to do quite well at that price point to break even (no, I’m not going to give you a specific number), I guess we have to roll the dice and see where they land.

Oh well, I’m tired of meta-emulated crap. These old 2D titles are where games were born. With some solid adjustments, new modes, and updated graphics they can still provide a hell of a lot of fun. Just updating the graphics isn’t paying them enough respect.

Besides, I’d rather fail having created the best game I could, even if the end result doesn’t justify 2D games like this in the future. So $10 it is for the XBLA and PSN versions (we haven’t decided on the PC version because it may have some additional content that can be downloaded later).

Let’s ride this train to the end of the line. Thanks for your feedback and your support.


(Hat tip to xblarcade.com for the source)

Official 2008 World Cybergames Lineup Announced.

The game lineup has been announced, along with the match=up type, and iut certainly looks interesting. From the ESA's press release the games this year will be:

Counter-Strike 1.6 (5v5) - (PC)

StarCraft: Brood War (1v1) - (PC)

Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne (1v1) - (PC)

FIFA 08 (1v1) - (PC)

Need for Speed: ProStreet (1v1) - (PC)

Command & Conquer 3: Kane's Wrath (1v1) - (PC)

Age of Empires III: The Asian Dynasties (1v1) - (PC)

Red Stone (4v4) - (PC)

Carom3D (1v1) - (PC)

Asphalt 3 (1v1) - (Mobile)

Project Gotham Racing 4 (1v1) - (Xbox 360)

Guitar Hero 3 (1v1) - (Xbox 360)

Halo 3 (4v4) - (Xbox 360)

Virtua Fighter 5 (1v1) - (Xbox 360)

Beta Build of Sleeper Hit Rythmn Game "Rez" for Dreamcast Released

K-Project, the beta version of Rez for the Dreamcast. The file is a self-booting image that will fit on a standard 80-Minute CD-R.

Here are the details from the .NFO file:

K-Project, the beta version of Rez for the Dreamcast. The file is a self-booting image that will fit on a standard 80-Minute CD-R.

Here are the details from the .NFO file

==== K-Project ====
(Rez beta version)

Date: March 3, 2008
# of RARs: 7 x 20MB
Filename: kprjbeta

Some notable differences from the retail version:

- Debug menus appear in the beginning of the game; this can
sometimes disappear if this isn't your first time playing the disc.
- A mouse cursor appears during the beginning; a mouse can probably
be used to mess with the debug menus.
- Loading screen shows 'Project Eden'; the title screen says 'VIBES.'
- The menus are different from the retail release.
- Some of the sound effects have changed from the retail release.
- The music is mostly different from the retail release.
- The bosses act differently than in the retail release.
- The timing of the attack waves is less precise than the retail
version, and sometimes groups of enemies will appear and disappear
during transitional sections.
- The VMU displays a different animation than the retail version.
- The options on the main menu are different:
PLAY - Same as retail
EXTRA - Play all areas one after the other, like BEYOND mode
in retail, sans options
REPLAY - Shows a replay of your last played game
DEMO - Similar to HOW TO PLAY in retail, but can select
tutorial or short demos from stages 1 to 4
- Sometimes a small debug window flashes at the top right of the screen.
- Some of the graphics in-game are different from the retail version.
- The end-of-level score screen looks different.
- You can continue right where you died, unlike in the retail version.
- There is a unique intro to each Boss in the Boss Rush area which is
not in the retail version. You shoot groups of enemies that
form the name of the boss to earn bonus points.
- There is no music during the Boss Rush.
- The third boss in the Boss Rush is different.
- The final boss is similar to the retail version, but you start in the
center and gradually pan out at each evolutionary stage. The
video footage between each stage is also different.
- There is no ending, but the Boss Rush is labelled as Area 6 and you
are scored separately from Area 5.
- There's a sinister 3D picture on the options scrren.
- VMU saving, just like the retail version, works fine and takes 9 blocks.

== Nothing was ripped from the GD-R to create a burnable MIL-CD. ==
== This MIL-CD image was kept as true as possible to the GD-R in ==
== all possible ways, including the track and files structure. ==

Wow, this sounds like a hell of a find. Here's the original link:

Here's the megaupload version:

A hat tip to the Lost Levels forums, where you can also get a guide to the Dreamcast Keyboard commands for the debug menu for the Rez Beta.

Reminder For Those Robotech Fans NOT In The USA or Canada

From Kevin S himself, on the Palladium Message boards:

Please Note: We’ve forgotten to remind people in our last few Press Releases that, currently, Palladium can only sell the RPG in the USA and Canada. I know that must disappoint a great many of our friends and fans overseas. Each additional country costs an additional licensing fee (and a substantial one at that), so it just wasn’t cost effective for us to add even places like England, France, Germany and Australia. That may change in the future, depending on how many books our distributors in those countries think they can sell, but for now, only the USA and Canada can get the books. I hope you understand.

So, take any Amazon release info with a grain of salt. Aside from having someone you know in the US or Canada that could buy a copy and ship it to you, any other international orders seem to be out of reach for now.

Life Meter: Amazing Art & Creative Comics, All About Video Games

Hey, you!

You read The Code, so you obviously like video games.

You probably like art. You've maybe even read a comic or two in your lifetime, I'd wager.

Then you will love the happy mutants over at LifeMeter.

Edited by Zack Giallongo, Dave Roman, and Stephanie Yue, Life Meter is a collection of comics and cartoon art inspired by the artists' collective appreciation and love of video games. The site manages to show off a diverse range of art styles, while maintaining respect for the characters and their game worlds.

And contributors to Life Meter have racked up some pretty impressive recognition. Life Meter contributor Matt Loux's videogame inspired graphic novel, Sidescrollers,
was listed by The American Library Association as one of the Great Graphic Novels for Teens in 2008.

You can check out the art gallery or read up on the collection of comics.

(The art piece used in this post is entitled Castelvania by Bill Mudron and is one of many outstand fan works presented in the Life Meter art gallery.)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Two More Great Tributes To Gary Gygax

There are two more great articles released in the wake of Gary Gyx's death that I wanted to call your attention to:

Jeremy Parish and the 1UP.com editorial staff compiled a wonderful article entitled Five Things Games Have Learned from Dungeons & Dragons that shows just what sort of far-reaching effects on video games and computer games Gary Gygax has wrought.

From the 1Up article:

It's taken three decades, but videogames are finally catching on to one of the most fundamental elements of D&D: emergent gameplay. Because the rules and guidebooks for the tabletop game were merely a suggestion, a set of conditions and constraints for building an adventure, the actual content and outcome of every group and every session varied wildly. This wasn't a matter of the random math, though -- it was the human factor. The dungeon master was a sort of guide, nudging the heroes in the right direction and adapting rapidly when they strayed. Not surprisingly, videogames have generally kind of sucked at this. The computer serves as a dungeon master by proxy for the creators, and computers aren't known for their boundless imagination. But they're catching up thanks to canny design. MMOs are very much the successors to D&D, bringing people together to deal with the randomness that results from so many real players gathered in a single place (not to mention the occasional interference of the game masters). But even smaller-scale games like Battlefield and Halo 3 have become sandboxes for goofing around, and single-player games like The Sims and Grand Theft Auto give players enough freedom to make their own fun.

And Wired has a great article chronicling the life of Gary Gygax, and includes lots of little-known games and some photos from Gygax's family. A choice personal bit of trivia from the article:

Gygax and a few of his buddies carried that DIY spirit even further, devising a game of their own around WWII tank combat. He was determined that his game would avoid the "goofy bell curve"that resulted from rolling a pair of six-sided dice (2s and 12s are rare, while 6s, 7s, and 8s are comparatively frequent). To achieve a more linear curve, he determined that players must pluck 1 of 20 numbered poker chips from a hat, so that there was an equal 5 percent probability of each outcome. Gygax later found the perfect replacement for this clunky system: In a school supply catalog, he discovered dice shaped like all of the Platonic solids, including the icosahedron: A 20-sided die.

But don't just take my word for it; check 'em out!

Dungeons & Doggerel 2: Electric Bugaloo

Remember my previous post detailing spell poems I wrote for my 2nd Edition D&D Bard?

Reader R^2 has contributed a few more! here they are:

Time Stop--
For this spell all the Mythal is beckoned
And the power of aracnists reckoned
All reality twists
While this spell exists,
But it's Time Stop, so I've got second.

Prismatic Sphere--
If you're as dangerous as you appear,
I'll defend with a Prismatic Sphere.
You've got seven dispels
Before this ward is quelled
While you do that, I'll go get a beer.

Power Word, Kill--
I've patiently waited until
your health dropped below 60. Now we'll
Allow no saving throw
'Cuz when it comes, you go;
That's what I mean by "Power Word Kill"

The gods themselves laugh and chortle
At reality at the whim of mortals
Let's pop open this Gate
To see if we can relate
Because now, we're thinking with portals

Dungeons And Dragons Special Martial Arts

In the aforementioned houseruled 2nd edition Advanced Dungeons and Dragons games my gaming group runs, players are continually encouraged to come up with new or unique ways of doing things with one's character. One of my characters, a half-dragon thief/martial artist, has a few maneuvers I've created that may be of interest to anyone that used martial arts in either 2nd AD&D or the Oriental Adventures handbook setting.

Long Talon Heart Strike:
Forgoing all other attacks for the round, on a successful hit with this maneuver, the opponent struck will take no damage. However, once the opponent has moved a total of 15 feet (or ten feet if the opponent is size Small or smaller), they must immediately make a saving throw vs. Death Magic. A successful save means the opponent is stunned for 1d2 rounds. A failed save means that the opponent falls, instantly dead.

The Long Talon Heart Strike may only be attempted once on an opponent. If the opponent's save is successful, then it is immune to the attack forever after. This attack will automatically fail if used against undead.

Heart of The Dragon Kata:

Once/day the martial artist may apply half of their level (or level of Martial Artist, if they are multi-classed) as a bonus to one's Strength score. This bonus lasts only one round.

Relentless Midnight Kata:

Once/day, if the Martial Artist has been wounded to half or more of one's maximum hit points, the Martial Artist may spend one melee attack to gain temporary hit points equal to four times the Martial Artist's level. These hit points are temporary, lasting for 1d6 rounds, and the martial artist will suffer damage at the end of the 1d6 duration if healing has not been performed.

Pac-Man, Space Invaders, Tetris With A Twist: Retro Sabotage

Retro Sabotage, at first blush, seems to be a collection of mini-versions of classic arcade games like Space Invaders, Pong, Pac-Man or Tetris... but there is more than meets the eye.

Some of the games, like "pong 2.0" are pure parody. Others, like "Compromise", have some very interesting nuggets of gameplay.

They update every Thursday, and if you have a single pixel's worth of gaming nostalgia, or a sense of humor, you'll want to check it it.

Remembering Gary Gygax, co-creator of Dungeons and Dragons

Last week, Gary Gygax, co-creator of Dungeons and Dragons, the grandfather of tabletop roleplaying games, passed away at the age of 69.

On a personal level, news of his passing made me very sad. I had hoped to meet him at GenCon some day, shake his hand, and thank him for creating a product that had such a profound impact on not just the person I am today, but the writer I strove to become. The house I live in now, with the friends I have down here in Texas, I would not have if it was not for D&D. My work with RPGX? A fellow D&D player in our gaming group introduced me to RPGX's head honcho. One of my best friends, a man who became ordained just so he could be the one to officiate at my wedding was someone I first got to know via a few sessions where he ran some amazing Dungeons and Dragons games.

Tributes have been pouring in from all over the 'net in ways personal, profound, profane, hilarious, and heart-warming.

Here's a run down of some of the best tributes:

Web comics:
Online Communities:
Also of note are three illuminatingt looks at Gygax: a cute interview with Gygax from 2001,
and video of Gygax reflecting upon the influence of D&D in the movie Uber Goober: A Film About Gamers, and an article about Gygax from The Believer published September 2006.

Every tabletop or fantasy gamer owes this man a debt of gratitude. I'd say if you're a nerd of any stripe, you probably have a memory of your first encounter with Dungeons and Dragons.

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