News: Dragon’s Lair Blu-ray

daphne.jpgOdd as it may seem, Digital Leisure has released the laserdisc classic arcade game Dragon’s Lair on Blu-ray. This game has been on pretty much every disc-based format by now – Jaguar, 3DO, CD-i, you name it (no Turbo CD or PC-FX version though). They put it out on HD DVD some time ago, but are just now coming around to Blu-ray. It’s apparently a BD-J, or Blu-ray Disc Java, which is the way they get interactive content on Blu-ray, but still playable on DVD players. They say it’s got lots of ‘exciting special features’, but I’m not sure what they could be.

The official site doesn’t have a site for the BD-J yet, but the game is ‘coming soon,’ according to the postard they sent out, and in fact simon already got sent a copy, so we might find out more about the features in the near future. I’m guessing it’s that long-rumored princess daphne nude code. It must be hard to be a girl and have to be rescued all the time. Proper question to girls: is it hard to be a girl and have to be rescued all the time? (note: the picture to the left is not from the Blu-ray version, which is probably much more awesome-er)

News: Me at IGDA san diego

this is some stuff right hereI’ll be moderating an IGDA panel about ‘what makes a next-gen game’ down in san diego next week. You should go if you’re around, and in the industry. I think that’s a prerequisite. Maybe heckle, or bring rotten fruit to throw. I moderated some stuff at GDC too, so it may go ok… though there were some hecklers there too! It might be fun, or it might not, it all depends on the phases of the moon. dave halverson will be there, and he is crazy as a loon, so expect big things, maybe. To the left is a bonus HOT PIC of me admiring my work after pouring some mustard and coke into a champagne glass at GDC. You’re never too old to be in grade school!

News: Toshifumi Nabeshima interview

toshifumi_nabeshima1.jpgWhat with the release of Armored Core 4 in the US tomorrow and the 360 release in Japan a scant few days away, the American AC community has received an olive branch of sorts.

In an act of refreshing insight on the part of SEGA, the community was asked to come up with questions for the father of Armored Core, that being Toshifumi Nabeshima. Considering that all the questions originated from the fevered lips of Armored Core nerds, which I happily count myself as, the questions are suitably informed on the series. The interview was posted last week and it has some pretty interesting answers (Nabeshima is dead keen on doing an MMO, whether it be Armored Core themed or otherwise).

Finally, GameTrailers has decided to feed the beast of platform bi-partisanship and did a comparison video for the 360 and PS3 versions of AC4. Naturally, the focus is on graphical proportions rather than actually anything, well, meaningful.

News: Sega Tec Toy update

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For those who don’t know Sega Tec Toy, Tec Toy was formed in brazil in 1987 to create electronic toys. They partnered with Sega to bring the Master System and Genesis to brazil, and continued to release games for the SMS well into the 2000s, including a number of brazillian exclusives and impressive ports. The company recently released (in 2006) a version of the Master System with 120 games, some of which are brazil-originals (but no cart slot – see digital press forums for a good discussion of that), so apparently that business is still going strong.

tectoysaturn.jpgBut most people know about Tec Toy’s SMS ports – and maybe a few even know about their Mega Drive exclusives, like Duke Nukem 3D. But what grabbed my attention upon browsing their new site, was the Saturn and Dreamcast stuff. While (as far as I know) no brazil-exclusive games were published, it’s interesting to see which games they chose to release. Here’s the Dreamcast list, and the Saturn list. Mostly early titles, with a smattering of newer stuff, like Burning Rangers and Sonic Adventure 2, respectively. It’s also worth noting that they (apparently) released the smoke Saturn in brazil, which is quite hard to get over here. Shame Tec Toy didn’t really give the Saturn and Dreamcast a second life as with the SMS, but it’s still pretty nostalgaic to watch old videos of Dreamcast games… and the company is currently running the servers for Ragnarok Online in brazil, so it seems like they’ll be around for at least a little while longer. Incidentally, if anyone out there speaks portuguese fluently and wants to help me get a little more information, I’d appreciate an email!

Update: Just a few hours later, I’ve gotten several emails regarding this – thanks everyone! Having an international audience is the best!

News: Aspect – stealth developer

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simon showed me his new copy of Meteos: Disney Magic, and pointed out that it was developed not by Q but by Platinum Egg and Aspect, which also has an english site. I investigated further because I thought I’d heard of Aspect before…

Platinum Egg has only one other game I can find evidence of, which is Puzzle De Harvest Moon, but Aspect is a bit more interesting, as I’d surmised.

Much like Tose, Aspect develops titles for other developers (though is a much younger company, founded in 1991). According to the company history, Aspect started out developing games for the Game Gear. Mobygames sheds a little light on the situation, though Aspect’s links to some games, like Sonic 2 and Fatal Fury Special are a bit hard to dermine. I presume, if they did in fact work on these titles, they did the SMS and Game Gear versions, respectively. Interesting titles from this list include Sonic Blast, Sonic Chaos (Game Gear), Sonic Triple Trouble (Game Gear), and Virtua Fighter Animation, though that particular title was done either in conjunction with, or for the ever-bizarre Sega Tec Toy. Aspect also released one original IP for the Saturn, which they call Gaia Breeder, and Gamefaqs calls Gaia Blade – not sure what the disparity is there. This is why I had heard of them, incidentally.

vfanimation.jpgApparently, as of 2002, the company had released 100 games. The japanese site mentions that the company has developed super famicom games, but I can’t find any titles, unfortunately – and they’re still developing arcade titles, it appears. It’s worth noting that like Tose, they don’t always develop full games – sometimes just graphics, sometimes just sound.

So a large percentage of the company’s portfolio will remain a mystery, but there are already some interesting indications in there. Let’s finish up with a quote from Aspect’s president, kazuyuki oikawa: We hope to provide wonderful value to customers and users by “earnestly considering and seriously creating entertainment which is fun, pleasant and makes people happy,” and we employ the slogan of “Seriously, Entertainment.” In the future, we will take the challenge to improve the value, creation and recognition of our company in various fields. We will meet your expectations.

News: Lost in Blue 2 preorder bonus

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fort90 was browsing around and found this on Konami’s site – the preorder bonus for Lost in Blue 2. It’s a twig-shaped stylus that ‘lights up while you’re making fire’ (and probably when you’re doing anything else), and a ‘tropical-themed’ screen wipe.

Some folks who preordered apparently already have theirs, in advance of the game. An odd little bonus, but much better than nothing!

Rumor: Sailor Moon Wii

sailormoonplus.jpgMy old pal vander fujisaki from ociojoven (OJgames) sent me an email with an interesting find – YesAsia has an entry for a japanese release of a game called Sailor Moon, from Namco Bandai Games. Working title though it may be, this certainly brings exciting possibilities to light for fans of the series – and the page gives a release date of December 31, 2007, which looks suspiciously like a placeholder. Unfortunately this remains a rumor until we can confirm that it really exists, which may take a bit of time. But I’ll try!

In other Sailor Moon game news, vander pointed out Sailor Moon Plus, a five-part game series using the Beats of Rage engine, which follows the story loosely through several episodes and iterations of the original tale, while also adding new elements at times. Three parts are currently available, with more promised. It’s generally fashioned after the SNES game (certainly using some of its sprites – the screenshot to the left is from SMP), but seems to be a fair bit better in execution. Seeing as it’s the Beats of Rage engine, this means you can play the game on a variety of consoles as well as PC.

News: Game Park Bankrupt, Becomes Shoe Store

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In some more catch-up news: while GDC was happening on this side of the ocean, Game Park, who created the GP32 some time back and were in the process of pushing the XGP and derivatives out the door, declared bankruptcy last week. Strangely enough, www.gamepark.com is still active, though now it hocks some attractive athletic shoes rather than portable devices with PSP-level aspirations. Also, please note that Gamepark Holdings (creator of the GP2X) remains in business.

News: More eroge closures

another deal gone downBack in february, says zepy, the eroge developer/ publisher Deal closed down (none of these links very work safe). Deal was reportedly the parent company of three different imprints; Plastic, Raccoon, and Tarte, the last of which, if you read zepy’s original post, was apparently doing quite well.

It’s very curious that a number of eroge and visual novel game makers are closing down, as the market shifts in japan. That makes Deal, Studio Miris, and more importantly, KID, all in the last four months. Even more curious when visual novels are finally making some headway in the u.s. market, in the form of Hirameki‘s proper offerings, the Phoenix Wright games, Ubisoft’s Sprung, and even Hotel Dusk, and games of that ilk.

Certainly the landscape is changing, but there is such a glut of these game makers that losing a few probably won’t harm that particular industry significantly. I don’t mean to say that the market is in crisis, and in all likelihood three companies pop up for every one that closes.

News: Trioncube commercials

trioncommercial.jpgTrioncube (or Kimochiyourensa Puzzle Trioncube – ‘Feelgood Chaining Puzzle Trioncube’) is a relaxing, semi-Lumines-like puzzle game for the DS from Namco Bandai. It came out in the u.s., in fact, which I realized only moments ago. The game itself seems nice enough, but what surprised me more than that were the japanese commercials (navigate on the right, press the pink remote control thing to play). The company put out nine commercials leading up to the game’s japanese release (technically two were during/past release day), in order to drive interest. I’m not sure if it worked, but it was a great idea, all done with a budget of about $100, a crappy camera, and some editing software.

The commercials all center around the game’s simple mascot demonstrating real-life versions of various elements from the game, such as the basic gameplay, the pleasant music, the versus mode, various backgrounds, and a not entirely bad little song thing. I think it was quite a nice campaign, really – I’m not sure if these aired on TV or were available only on their site, but if it were TV…I think it might’ve made me buy this. I’m probably buying it anyway, at this stage.

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If the game interests you, you can basically try it for free in the japanese site’s flash browser, or with different music in the american one. Direction keys move, z and x rotate the pieces. The rules are pretty self-explanatory.

Update: I missed something on the japanese site – little stories in the form of flash movies. They really went all out for this, sort of. I quite like the fireworks one! Bonus!