23 Mar 2012

Adventure Time DS Game Incoming

YESSSS, exciting news! Adventure Time is getting the DS game it greatly deserves.

Creator Pendleton Ward tweeted the announcement last night and provided some DS based drawings to go along with it.

Ideally this will be a fully 8-bit game or follow closely the style of the show, anything else will not be acceptable.
It was firstly announced as a 3DS game but since then further tweets have clarified that it’s actually a standard DS game, which I think is a shame, not because of a lack of 3D, but because the 3DS is more powerful so could mean a better looking game overall.

Wayforward Technologies are handling the development and however it turns out this will be a day one purchase for me. 

21 Mar 2012

US bill to put cigarette-style warnings on video games

Obviously this has come about because it works so well with smokers and now since these warnings about cancer and tar and harming unborn babies are on the pack nobody at all smokes because they're worried about the percentage of benzene, formaldehyde and hydrogen cyanide that is going into their bodies.
What? ...you mean that's not true? ...you're telling me that nobody actually reads those warnings and takes them to heart? Instead they simply smoke the sticks of smokey cancer death without a worry because they have been doing it for ages and a label on a packet will no way influence anything...hmmm..weird that.

Democratic Congressman Joe Boca has already tried this multiple times (essentially he seems like the American version of Kieth Vaz in British politics), he put forward similar bills in 2009 and 2011, but this time he's proposing any game with a rating of T and up (i'm guessing that's the equivalent of a 15 rating here) receive a label on the packet stating: "WARNING: Exposure to violent video games has been linked to aggressive behavior." for the full breakdown of the bill see the article on Kotaku.

Now I can't speak for everyone, some people are inherently mental, but I like to think i'm a well grounded intelligent individual with a fairly standard set of morals that would mean I can realistically play a violent game and not think "you know what, this shooting people in the face thing seems like a lot of fun" or "hmmm randomly attacking strangers on the street and stealing their money is a fantastic way to make a living". I'm not saying that this is what he's necessarily referring to when he cites "aggressive behavior" but you get my point, I think I can probably come off as aggressive when i'm particularly frustrated with a level and I have been known to throw a controller or two, but that's frustration at the game itself, not the game indoctrinating me to be a more aggressive person, i'm quite calm otherwise. Also it's not just violent games that do this, i'd guarantee that any study that proves a link to a change in brain pattern and games will also provide the same result with a less violent game, for example a racing game, or a platformer. In fact I think I’ve been annoyed with and therefore more aggressive when playing Mario more times than I have when playing something like Gears of War.

Basically i'd be amazed if this gets anywhere, not only is it unconstitutional but sticking a label on a game isn’t going to stop kids playing violent games, ultimately it’s up to a parent to make that decision, and im sure this label also won’t in anyway stop them buying it for a nagging child. If anything I would argue it needs a label saying “This game is only available to well rounded individuals who will not be influenced by the content, but instead enjoy the game for what it is meant to be, please present a valid IQ test score at the till”

If something like this is passed for games then there's no reason not to follow suit on films, books or music because at the end of the day there is nothing represented in a game that isn’t also represented in every other form of media or entertainment and is no more influential than anything else, it’s all down to how an individual interprets something.

*updated with header image from PocketLint's article on the same thing because it amuses me.

14 Mar 2012

10 Days to save Game. Walmart has offered a buyout.

According to a few sources, the troubled GAME Group UK has 10 days to sort itself out otherwise administration looms. That makes March 24th deadline day.

It's already been noted that Game are failing to stock major new releases over the coming weeks from Capcom, Nintendo and EA and that their current firesale might not be going too well as customers are using up reward card points to buy rather than cash.

Game have many a prospective buyer with Comet owner Hilco looking to get it's nose in as well as the believed current front runner in US giant Gamestop who don't currently have any UK high street presence, though their online store seems to be doing quite well. Coming out this afternoon however is news that the US supermarket giant Walmart have contacted game to enquire about buying the business. Walmart currently own Asda in the UK and it makes sense for them to try and expand their foothold outside of the US and lets face it, they're not lacking the funds to do it.

Whether this move by Walmart will force Gamestop into making an offer remains to be seen but wither way lets just hope Game is saved before the March 24th deadline as it will mean their many stores will stay open and staff keep their jobs rather than the bleak alternative.

source: MCV

Jet Set Radio HD detailed

The original Dreamcast version of Jet Set Radio (Jet Grind Radio if you're American) was released nearly 12 years ago and it is still probably one of my favourite games, it was so beautiful and infuriating at the same time, it paved the way for cell shaded games and boasted an amazingly varied soundtrack full of very listenable tracks. I’ve been hoping for a port of the game every since Sega announced that they were releasing the Dreamcast versions of Crazy Taxi and sonic Adventure on XBLA and PSN.

For anyone who didn’t have the chance to play the original or the 2002 sequel on the original Xbox, the premise of the game is a fairly simple one, you ride around on your super powered up skates tagging various areas of cities with graffiti to gain control of them, often covering up the work of rival gangs whilst trying to avoid the unwanted attention of the swat teams who seemingly want to pull you down and hug you to death in a large a group as possible, later the threat of hugging swat teams is seemingly blown out of all proportion by their unrelenting use of tanks, but as a futuristic skater your armed with the means to speed away from them, when it’s not the Swat teams getting you down there’s the threat of the Rival gangs themselves who will do everything they can to stop you from marking your territory.  (I swear it’s more appealing than I make it sound, watch the trailer at the bottom)

As the very open “summer 2012” release date approaches Sega are revealing bits about the game along with some new screenshots. The HD remake means that the game can be played in a full widescreen mode rather than the 4:3 format that the Sonic Adventure port mustered up.  Also as modern controllers have two thumbsticks as opposed to the Dreamcast’s solitary one Sega has added the ability to control the camera with the right analogue stick which means no more annoying follow cams which get stuck at corners meaning you can’t see what’s ahead of you. Also unlike some other Dreamcast ports the soundtrack is very much intact, it currently stands that 70% of the original music will be in the game with Sega working on getting the rights for the remaining songs before release time rolls around.

One of the notable features of the original game was for users to share their custom graffiti tags across Sega’s network, sadly this feature has bitten the dust but we are being treated to 18 new pieces of custom artwork thanks to a contest currently being held in the UK and US.

Expect arrival anytime between May and August on Xbox Live Arcade, Playstation network and PC

BBC iPlayer to Land on Xbox Next Week

The BBC's catch-up TV service is to land on the Xbox dashboard in the next week and will join the existing offerings from Channel 4 and Channel 5.

Microsoft have been trying to sort a deal out with the BBC for some time but stumbled on the beeb's refusal to go along with the Xbox's plan to only offer premium apps to gold subscribers. This was apparently in violation of the BBC's TV license agreements which is something along the lines of them not being able to charge for these services whilst being funded by public money. No word yet on who caved and if the app will be available to Silver subscribers as well.

With BBC, Channel4 , Channel 5 and Sky player now available through the Dashboard, we await the arrival of the ITV player later this year for the Xbox to be able to offer all major UK televisual content through it's service, something no other console can currently do.

9 Mar 2012

The Next Xbox Won't Use Discs: Why that's both Good and Bad

This is coming from MCV and if true it means that the daddy of all non disclosure agreements has been broken and I’m betting Microsoft will be pretty pissed off. Last month they held a developers meeting in London which is rumoured to have been the first time they’ve shown off their upcoming hardware to those that need to know about these types of things before the public do.
The rumour coming away from this leak is that the next xbox will not use a physical media format to play games, instead users will be able to stream or download the content directly onto the new device which has the current code name of Durango* (see the bottom for more on this). There will be some form of SD card to allow for game transfers or whatever it is you need those things for, I currently use a usb stick to move my profile between xbox’s so I presume it’s a similar thing. Also with this info comes the confirmation of a 2013 release date, which would then back up the previous rumour of an E3 2012 reveal.
In my opinion the rumour of having no physical media format is both good and bad for various reasons;

The price will be set by Microsoft – Much like the current slew of xbox games on demand, you’ll see titles holding their value for much longer, and currently they seem to expect everyone to pay over £20 for poorly rated titles which are 4 years old. The only way I can see this becoming a good point is if they allow for a pricing structure similar to Valve with their Steam Store, having daily deals and various periods of time where they heavily discount a certain publisher’s games. However this will be good for publishers and Microsoft as they can set the price they want and we have no choice but to pay.

No pre-owned games or rentals – People will tend to be pickier with what they buy. There’s no doubt that half of the games I’ve played, I never would have if there was no rental or pre-owned system. There’s no way in hell I would’ve paid full price for titles like Iron Man 2. Again this is good for Microsoft and Publishers as they no longer lose money with people buying preowned, but may lose more with a lack of sales in the first place.

No special editions – say goodbye to statues, maps and artbooks

The end of the high street game store – The only thing you’ll need a store for is to buy the hardware and accessories. No boxed product to shift means no need for a store to sell it. This lack of stores also means a lack of competitive pricing, no longer will you go to one shop because it’s £1.50 cheaper.

Smaller console – A lack a disc drive will significantly reduce the size of any hardware.

Bigger variety of titles – Indie companies have a better platform to get their games into the public, the cost for a studio to develop for a digital only release is significantly less and would decrease the need for large publishers to advertise and to ship your game around the world.

Availability - You no longer have to worry about pre-ordering and deliveries arriving in time for release day, you no longer even have to leave the house, everything is available instantly. The only thing which may be an issue is your own connection speed, in that case streaming the game would be out and downloads may take a while.

No Piracy - Microsoft will handle the DRM on every title, much like Steam do for everything bought through their store.

Price drop on new releases – Let’s face it DVD’s are not the format for next gen games, often triple A titles are currently too large for one disc and require two or three, whereas the same release on PS3 all fits snugly on one blu-ray disc. Often this lack of space could mean a potential loss of sales for an Xbox title as well, the PS3 version is sometimes more desirable. For example on PS3 the latest Assassin’s Creed game also shipped with the first in the series on the disc as well, similarly the Bioshock Infinite will ship with a copy of the first on the same disc. But xbox users don’t have this privilege as there simply isn’t the room for it. Blu-ray is the only current disc related format that would be suitable for a high def next gen game, but then it costs to license the disc format, particularly when you think that Microsoft’s main competitor are part of the Blu-Ray Alliance and so would receive a cut of each license fee, then on top of that you have to print, store and ship the software. So bypassing this altogether saves money on development and publishing and may mean we see prices more in line with the current brand new PC release prices.

Overall the bad seems to be all about the potential price structure whereas the good would be availability and diversity. Personally I’m all for this, whilst I like having a physical product on my shelf and like going into a gaming store to maybe have a title you’ve never heard of catch your eye, or to find a bargain in the pre-owned section at the same time the lazy person in me sees this as a great opportunity to never get off the sofa because it’s there in front of me. But I’d like to hear if anyone else has any thoughts on this?

*Durango is the name of a town in Brazil. Microsoft currently have a trend of using Brazilian towns as codenames for upcoming hardware another example of this is the last offering, Kinect was previously known as Natal when it was under development.

*The console in the header is just a concept I found online, but it is quite nice.

[source: MCV]

8 Mar 2012

First Video of Tony Hawks Pro Skater HD

Watch Tony and his friend Chris Cole skate in real life while giving you one of the first looks at this summer's Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD. The game features a  remake of some of the best parts of the first two games whilst receiving a glossy make over for 2012.
The gameplay is much the same as 12 years ago with 2 minute runs on each level to complete various challenges, some previous skaters from the series return along with some new faces, no word yet if a mixture of songs from the amazing soundtracks will accompany.
The game will be out this summer on XBLA and PSN and with this and Jet Set Radio receiving an HD upgrade it's going to be an excellent season for downloadable games.

Blizzard Really Want You To Play Warcraft Again

The 'scroll of resurrection' is an offer that Blizzard have where an existing subscriber can grant account time to a  non-subscriber, usually it's just 7 days of free play but for the next 90 days Blizzard have buffed the scroll and instead now both parties get a few rewards. The subscriber gets one of the shiny in-game mounts that you'd usually have to pay for on the Blizzard store, the target party gets themselves one character instantly boosted to Level 80, a free upgrade to Cataclysm and a  free realm and faction transfer to the subscribers current realm.
All in all it's not a bad deal, especially if you havn't bought Cataclysm yet. But i just can't help feeling that it's a bit desperate on Blizzard's part, trying to scrape subscribers back from Star Wars and not to mention all of the current free-to-play offerings.

6 Mar 2012

SW:TOR Patch 1.2 starts your Legacy

April sees the next  major game update for Star Wars: The Old Republic.  Arguably it adds alot of features which should have been present from day one, guild banks anyone. There's new flashpoints and operations and more intriguing is the legacy system in which you build a family tree from your existing characters and unlock rewards including a mailbox on your ship and the unlocking of new species (whatever that means). Add to it a (finally) customisable UI,  colour change options on armour, mini pets, new gear, new crystals, new dailies, new vehicles, legacy items and a few other bits and you get yourself a pretty meaty update.

ROCCAT aim to bring together your smartphone and PC for gaming.

ROCCAT, manufacturers of various peripherals for the PC have released pictures of what is to be their upcoming Powergrid range. Normally a list of upcoming keyboards and mice doesn’t interest me unless it’s the game tie-in sets from Razer or the infamous Art. Lebedev keyboard, but this has really hooked me in.

Firstly we have the ROCCAT Phobo gaming keyboard, you’ll notice something straight away that’s different form your standard gaming keyboard…there’s no numpad, instead there’s a great big hole. This hole is infact the key to what differentiates this from your average keyboard. It’s a smartphone dock and for once it’s not just for your shiny apple products, Android and Windows Phone users will get to play as well with the connection being either the standard apple affair or a micro USB or if the dock doesn't work for you then there's always bluetooth.

This combining of your phone and keyboard allows for some pretty cool stuff, all powered through the powergrid app on your PC and on your phone, more about the app in a second. For those who don’t want a new keyboard or would potentially need a numpad there’s ROCCAT’s second offering, the Apuri Dock 2.0, from what I can gather this seems to let you connect your Phone to your PC in much the same way as the keyboard dock.

Whilst the keyboard and dock are pretty nice the main draw here is the app, the idea is that you have a number of tabs to show you plenty of info and allow control over the PC and game, if you also need to use your phone there’s no need to undock it, you can use the keyboard to write out any texts you need to send and receive calls with your gaming headset, all this whilst keeping the gadget charged. The app seems to have as standard four separate pages or tabs, but this could possibly be increased by having a few different custom docks. 
The first is an ‘incoming center’ and houses your social messages and any alerts you set-up such as your CPU maxing out, this also allows you reply directly using the keyboard.
The second is a ‘system stats’ tab which will give you your CPU usage, RAM usage, internet stats and HDD info. Fairly self explanatory.
The third gives you ‘Sound Control’ and as the name suggests allows you to easily control the levels of your sound, particularly the microphone, master and music volumes as well as giving you a music control system with display for the currently playing song.
The last tab is the most interesting; it’s a custom one which allows you to build up blocks into usable buttons to achieve pretty much anything you want. This is obviously very similar to current macro keys on various gaming keyboard, but I think the draw here lies in being a more user friendly layout and also that you can map an image or text to a button meaning you don’t have to remember what each one does, this reminds me very much of the Optimus keyboard, but way cheaper. As you can see from the example image your custom buttons could include game specific macros, setting an alarm for your pizza being ready or giving you a heads up on the current ram use.
The system reminds me a lot of how you set widgets on an android homescreen, so building yourself a page should be fairly straight forward.

The Powergrid app system is to enter Beta very soon but you can only sign up if you’ve lined Mr. Jobs’ pockets. For those of us dedicated to the Android or Windows Phones we have to wait for it to be fully released which could be anytime between now and the latter part of the year, the best part of all this is that the app and PC companion are FREE!!! The keyboard and dock are expected in Q4 2012. No word on price yet for them, but if that dock holds my Galaxy SII properly then I’ll be seriously looking into buying it as despite the obvious gaming and control implications it’s the first time I’ve seen a proper PC dock for my phone that isn’t a flimsy, over expensive, glorified charger.

[Source: PCG]

5 Mar 2012

A New Look At Halo 4

I for one am quite excited about Master Chief's return as i'm probably one of the few who actually prefer the sci-fi shooter series over any war based offering such as Battlefield or COD, the main reason for this is that overall I just find it more fun. But that's besides the point, i'm not having that argument again. The main thing you'll get from the below video is that the new developers of the Halo franchise, 343, are bigging it up alot and rightly so, if you're not excited about the game you're developing then you shouldn't be making it.
Chief has new armour which you can see in the screenshot above (though doesn't his hand look odd?), the battle rifle is back, multiplayer is more promised to be more balanced and is actually fiction based meaning that there's a reason why spartans are battling it out. Said battles will take place across maps which aren't just based on story levels for once and are promised to bring more of  balance to multiplayer fights. Helping to change up the multiplayer slightly are many customization options ranging from changing the looks or your new Spartan 4 soldier to actually giving them something that will enhance abilities and your gameplay. The story mode is being touted as "more personal" but other than that not much more has been given away.
Halo 4 comes out sometime later this year, my money's on a late september release.

[source: Kotaku]

Fable Heroes is the next Lionhead offering

Yes it's another Fable tie-in that you're not interested in, or at least i'm not. The Kinect powered Fable: The Journey has already been shown off and from the videos shown that seemed like an on the rails magic shooter.
Now come another title that isn't the full RPG game that I and i'm sure many other people actually want. Instead we're to be treated to party game which reminds me alot of a mash-up between Mario Party and Castle Crashers. The premise seems to be controlling a puppet style avatar who is based on a fable character around a board game, getting further by playing mini games or brawling levels.

Here's the official description from The Xbox Live Marketplace leak:
Fable Heroes is a fresh spin on the beloved Fable franchise in which up to 4 players play both cooperatively and competitively in this hack-and-slash adventure. Work together as heroes of Albion to defeat familiar foes and new enemies while collecting as many gold coins as possible to unlock upgrades, characters, and items in both this game and Fable: The Journey for Kinect for Xbox 360.
The game has only been leaked at the minute and an official launch is expected at GDC this week.


4 Mar 2012

Artwork: Adventure Time 8-bit Game Intro

So Adventure Time is pretty much the best thing on TV, it deserves to have a decent game tie-in, and if it did have a game then obviously an 8-bit sidescroller is the only way to do it justice. 

This is one imagining of how the intro would/should look.  Have a watch. 

This is from http://mikegaboury.tumblr.com/ he does some pretty nice looking viedo game artwork so go have a look.

Mari0 - The Portal/Mario mash-up is now available

Mari0 was announced last year and the video was pretty damn impressive and spread across the net like herpes. Now the day has come, the download has just gone live and best of all it's free.

Available in Windows, Mac and Linux flavours. You could do worse than download and play this right now, I mean you could be kidnapped by Somalian pirates and tortured with Celine Dion songs...so... you know...download it and play it.

get it here: http://stabyourself.net/mari0/

3 Mar 2012

Valve are Building a Console

Chalk this one up as a surprise, just when you think that the home console fight is destined to be a threeway forever, in steps Valve to change it all up. The difference between Valve and anyone else looking to get into the race is that they have the clout to actually pull it off.
Valve currently own and operate the massive Steam platform which currently accounts for at least 50% of digital game sales and pretty much anything is available on it so partnership isn't exactly an issue. The fact that any other software would be allowed on the device won't hurt as well,  EA's Origin would be a prime example of a potential candidate. With a rumour floating that this console/set top box will have an i7 CPU, 8gb of RAM and a GPU from Nvidia it puts it instantly ahead of the pack and should have no problems playing anything made for a good while yet. The main draw for any potential developer is that there's no licensing fees, making it an instant playground for potential indie titles.
Multiple USB inputs should be supported meaning you could play a game with a regular controller, movement sensing device or even the good old keyboard and mouse. This would include the below patented device that allows you to hotswap different parts of the controller to suit your needs. If all this stands up and we see this 'Steam Box' appear at E3 then I for one won't be upgrading my PC anytime soon, not when Valve can provide it for me at (i'm guessing) a much lower price.