News: Shooters Roundtable

shootkingss.jpgThrough various machinations and extensive planning, Tim and I managed to get a group of shooting game creators together in one place to talk about a variety of things. We had Kenta Cho (ABA Games – left in photo), Jonathan Mak (Everyday Shooter – middle), and Omega (Every Extend – right in photo) all sitting around a table playing Everyday Shooter on Mak’s laptop. They discussed bullet techniques, enemy patterns, and things like that. It was incredibly cool to have Mak sitting there saying “this level was inspired by you (pointing at Cho), and this level was inspired by you (pointing at Omega).” I don’t think I have to tell you it was an awesome event to be a part of. The results of the conversation were recorded (sound, and a bit of video), and will probably go up on Gamasutra or something. If not there, then here!

News: TGS impressions part 2

More stuff I played.

Guilty Gear II Overture – it basically plays like capture the flag so far. You’ve got a base that’s sending out little red dudes (or whatever color you are) and they’re trying to get to the next little post that’s blue (or whatever color they are). You smack that post until it turns red with your dudes, and hit enemies along the way. Repeat this at each post until you reach the enemy base. I found it pretty boring. Everyone who was hoping it wouldn’t be like a Musou game will find themselves wishing it actually was a Musou game instead. The combat is ok, but there’s no dashing that I can see. At least it’s four player! Yeah.

Lux-Pain is a new game from Killaware, a company made up of ex Atlus people. It’s an adventure game where you have to get these viruses out of people using the stylus. The art is stylish, but the mechanics are pretty straightforward. Hopefully the story is pretty good.

Sengoku Basara 2 – This game is even more like sentai version of the Musou games than ever before. It’s really simple, but kind of fun if you like mashing buttons. Looks stylish and all, but like with other games in this genre, if you just stand around, nothing happens. Nobody comes to attack you or anything. But you’ve got two other characters with you at all times, who sort of do stuff, occasionally, and riding horses is fun. That’s about all I have to say about that.

Zak & Wiki – this game will be great, I’m sure of it. It’s essentially a 3D adventure game in which most of the puzzles are common sense, or based on just one extra bit of knowledge, which is that your little monkey pal can be rung like a bell to transform things, or open things, or dispel demons, etc. I played two levels and basically wanted to take the game home. I recommend getting it. I’ll bust my Wii out of the box for it.

R-Type Tactics – this game is out now, but I played it at TGS. Basically it’s really, really hard to figure out how to start a battle, even for people who read Japanese. Maybe the manual helps with that. Anyway, you first choose your units, then place them, then somehow start the battle – which turns out to be quite a standard affair. The battles are turn-based, and you can choose to counter sometimes if enemies attack you, depending on units. Honestly it’s a little silly to have ships that can’t attack simultaneously without special maneuvers, but hey. The coolest thing about it is the ships and environments, of course, which are really neat if you like R-Type. I’m not a big fan though, so for me this game was kind of a bust, even though I love strategy RPGS. I really wanted to like it!

Dragon Quest 4 – it’s Dragon Quest 4. But you can rotate environments. Looks ok!

Played some Virtual Console Neo Geo games, and they were ok, but had some slowdown in places I didn’t remember, like in Magician Lord. Luckily there’s no loading though, which I would expect them to fix, but still good to see. World Heroes played really well, and I was able to get off good, consistent 5-hit combos with Dragon, which I suppose means it’s about as responsive as it needs to be. The ports were done by D4 Enterprise, the company that also made the one-chip MSX and new console.

I think that’s all I played. Tough to recall…but there’ll be more posts about things as I think of them!

News: Tokyo Game Show things

I played some stuff.

Metal Slug 7 – pretty nice. Plays just like the rest, but that’s rather nice, considering I didn’t feel the GBA version played like the rest at all. You clear out black on the map as you go on the top screen, and everything works as it should. Confirmed Iron Lizard, Laser, and normal shots so far. I’m gonna assume there’s a Heavy Machinegun too. Only Marco was playable, and the demo was supershort.

Bangaioh Spirits – It’s a lot like the original, with specific goals for specific stages. Very fun and minimalist though, and the small graphics don’t really bother me. I couldn’t figure out how to get past stage 4, but I may be an idiot. There’s currently no graphical interface on stage select or anything like that, but I’m sure it’ll get there. It was in the D3 booth, which makes sense since ESP is majority-owned by D3 these days – maybe they’ll be the ones to bring it to the U.S. too?

Jajamaru Kun was playable in the Jaleco booth, and felt really nice to me. It’s a simply side-scrolling ninja game starring a cute little guy throwing stars. Works for me, but some other IC folks seemed to think D3′s Son Son DS sidescroller is much better. I haven’t played that one yet, but this game seemed very charming to me.

I played Tank Beat 2 a bit, and got instantly frustrated. Why can’t they just make this an action game? They’d sell more than five copies that way.

The new Nights game is not bad. Because the Nunchuck controller on the Wii has very little give, doing loops was tougher than I’d hoped, and certainly not as fast or smooth. But it was still pretty good. The stage and boss designs seemed rather uninspired, but I was playing at TGS, which isn’t necessarily the best forum in which to play anything.

No More Heroes was playable, and was a very nice game I thought. You start out in a port-a-potty, going to the bathroom, and the first loading screen is toilet paper. The main character has a shirt that looks like a Summon Night logo, and you attack people with a sword-y thing, and throw attacks. All in all, pretty fun, though it has hugely long cutscenes. Very stylish, but also enjoyable to play.

Omega 5 is an XBLA title made by Natsume folks. I found out that the 5-person team actually created older Natsume shooters back in the day, for PC Engine and SNES. Good stuff. The game itself wasn’t my favorite type of shooter, but I went back and played it twice in spite of myself, so I guess I like it after all. More stuff if I think of it later!

News: Interview with Trici Venola

hotelmario.gifTo answer your first question, Trici Venola did background art for Hotel Mario on the Phillips CD-i – and Black Moon project has got quite a nice interview with her, even though she expatriated to Turkey (and then contributed to a book about it!). I find it particularly amusing how she tends to describe the relative attractiveness of her ex-coworkers as questions are broached about them. Those game development ladies, insatiable, I tell you!

News: Shooting Watch DS 2

shootingwatchds.jpgRetrohead and Triforce have released a version 2 of their DS port of Shooting Watch (this thing). The DS version now has an online ranking board, and if nothing else, the website is extremely nice. The screenshots are pretty cute too! Ultimately it’s just a tester to see how fast you can press the button, ala Takahashi Meijin, but the extras make it worth the (free) price of admission! The creators are hopeful that some insert credit folks can bump up the leaderboard, so don’t let me down!

Off-Topic: Ridiculous PR stunt from HypeCouncil

I just got an email from PR company HypeCouncil, which ethically I shouldn’t reprint here, but people should know this sort of thing goes on. The email begins like this:

“Dear Webmaster of Insert Credit:

We are offering you $50 for the placement of Hellgate: London PR content on your website. In order to qualify, send us an email confirming your participation no later than this Friday. 9-21-07. Please include when you anticipate placement and send us a link and screenshot of the content once the content has been placed. It must be kept up for a minimum of 2 weeks. You will find the following assets at the URL provided below as well as in the body of this email.”

I don’t think I need to tell you why this is irresponsible (though actionbutton.net just promised me they’d give the game 4 stars if they send 5 copies), or why I’ve declined many such offers (including two to buy the entire site) over the last year, when this sort of thing really started happening. PR is having a hard time controlling internet opinion, even for a game like Hellgate, which will actually probably be pretty good – just not for insert credit. They even sent me some examples of things I could post, linking to other positive coverage…it’s basically advertorials. The big problem is that now I’ll look at any positive coverage of Hellgate: London with a skeptical eye, even though I already thought the game was going to be decent – the state of game-related writings is such that I don’t trust everyone to decline this offer, either. This is just going to start a very strange PR cycle for this game, and people should probably know about it. And just to note – I very much doubt the developers approved this. They’d probably know better.

News: Quick AM show update

deathsmiles2.jpg
The AM arcade show is already going on in Japan now, and a few videos have surfaced. There are more Basara X videos, showing clearly how little animation they’re putting in this. My optimism wanes!

There’s also a nice Deathsmiles video, showing off Cave’s new horizontal-scrolling maidfesta. Big bosses aplenty! Someone also cobbled together this giant screengrab/maid outfit collection for the game.

Then there’s Gundam vs. Gundam, which looks very Virtual On-like, even down to the graphical style.

The Gulti/G.Rev shooter Mamorukun has a video as well…seems really standard for them.

Francesco has a few things on his blog too – Square Enix’s Eternal Wheel, for one, though this is Taito technically. He also posted videos for Quest of D, Chase HQ 2, and a small news piece on the new arcade version of Half-Life 2 – looks much more standard.