News: Taisen Hot Gimmick 5 ~Mirai Hegoo~

THG5_01.gif With one of the lousiest name tweaks found recently (the actual kanji reading is ‘Mirai Eigou’ -’Future Eternity’- but they want it to be read like ‘Mirai he Go’ -’Go to the Future’?-), X-Nauts has put up a pre-site for the fifth episode in Psikyo’s Hot Gimmick mahjong series. They already said it was coming as an arcade game for Taito’s Type-X system (so not everyone hates the platform), but now they reveal that five artists are doing the illustration works. Jun Tsukasa seems to be one of them, but also… Range Murata?

News: Xanadu Next & Falcom at AM Show

xanadu.gif Today’s Falcom Newsletter has a bunch of interesting information. First, it gives a link to a more exhaustive version of the Xanadu Next webpage, providing vital information such as what mindboggling goodies will be featured in the traditional “first press”. This time, faithful buyers will be rewarded with an enclyclopedia of the Xanadu universe, an arranged soundtrack of various episodes in the series, and a port of the acclaimed PC Engine version of Densetsu no Xanadu I&II. Also available are new screenshots and information on the game’s system (unsurprisingly it looks pretty close to your everyday hack’n’slash, yet with a distinct Xanadu touch).

A more surprising announcement is the presence of two Falcom IPs at the upcoming 43rd Amusement Machine Show, held next September 1st, 2nd and 3rd. The games presented will be arcade versions of dungeon crawler Sorcerian Legend and tactical marvel VM Japan (which had a port on PS2 earlier this year that turned out to be very disappointing, Iggy tells me).

Recap’s Note: Falcom’s arcade titles VM Japan ~Maboroshi Furan Senki~ and Sorcerian Legend are being produced and developed by Aruze, as they announced the past year after both companies’ agreement.

News: Takayoshi Sato interview

SH2angela.jpgOf all of the interviews I’ve done in recent months, this is my personal favorite. Takayoshi Sato created all of the CG for Silent Hill 1 on his own, and is the principal person responsible for the story, art direction, and some of the gameplay in Silent Hill 2. Recently, his work has been a bit more entrenched, with his latest work being in Goldeneye: Rogue Agent, for EA. This is one of the most candid explanations of the japanese game industry inner-workings that I’ve seen, and is even quite honest about what it’s like to work in a behemoth american company. Here’s an excerpt.

“Not many people believe that I did it myself – and it wasn’t like I wanted to make it all from scratch! I just had to do it in order to get credit. Plus, you don’t want to be credited in your game as assistant artist if you did everything. So it wasn’t easy. I didn’t go home for three years, almost. I lived there. I slept under the desk, and that midnight time I talked about, after everyone went home, was a real chance for me to work, because I had access to all of the computers in the office. We had over 150 computers or something like that, and at the time we were using the Unix operating system. So after everyone’s gone home, I can operate all of these computers to render my stuff. Yeah…I couldn’t go home.”

And if you check his personal site, you’ll see his early work on goldeneye. At the top, you see the final model, but take a look at his earlier ideas. Now that’s a character caught between worlds, who’s fighting against his friends, as the protagonist is supposed to be, eh?

News: 2600 to PSP

stella.jpg
Stella, the popular 2600 emulator, has come to the PSP. Here’s the info included with the demo: “This is a port of the Stella Atari 2600 emulator to the PSP. Original code by Bradford W. Mott, Stephen Anthony and Jeff Miller and many others. This PSP port was made by Alysa Habraken (aka Aenea). It’s not very optimized and not all games run or at full speed. Some have a little flickering, but this will be resolved in upcoming versions.

Download it here. Thanks to Wraggster for the news.

News: New M1 Music Player Released

The indefatigable R. Belmont has released, after what seems like a shortish eternity, a new version of his M1 music player. If you don’t already know, it’s a music player that uses MAME sound emulation to play music from over 1100 arcade games. This newest release adds a lot of great games, and incorporates the newest MAME sound cores as well as support for the newest ROM sets. Thanks to Toby Broyad for the news.

News: Squenix hopes to swallow Taito

puzbob3.pngNot exactly the most predictable move in the current craze of company mergers: Taito may be on its way to being absorbed by Square-Enix, which itself was already one of the stronger business alliances in the japanese industry (after Sega Sammy). Game Watch reveals that Squenix is buying out 247.900 Taito actions, which will make it the main shareholder with 67% of all shares. Taito and its current major shareholders agreed to the deal, and most of the transaction will be completed some time around september. The deal can be explained by Taito’s game catalogue being complementary with Square-Enix’s and also by Taito’s presence in the japanese amusement machines business through some arcade centers, numerous popular games, and their recent Type-X board. It might be coincidental, but Taito has also been in charge of adapting and releasing some Falcom role-playing games on the PlayStation 2 (though Konami has been doing it in the
US). Were they to continue that policy, Square-Enix would further strengthen its position as the major RPG publisher on consoles.

So you can have fun wondering what insane crossovers might come out of this merger, here is a list of various Taito intellectual properties: Space Invaders, Bubble Bobble, Puzzle Bobble, Elevator Action, Darius, Qix, Rastan Saga, Hat Trick Hero, Cadash, Layer Section, Violence Fight, Camel Try, Power Blade, Lightbringer, Estopolis (a.k.a. Lufia), Chase H.Q., Cleopatra Fortune, Runark, Metal Black, Don Doko Don, Kurikinton and Battle Gear among many others. Most of them can be found on the recent Taito Memories compilations for PS2 which we have mentioned numerous times on IC.