News: S4 gameplay

s4.jpgWe mentioned S4 some time ago, as the new game from Pentavision, who also makes DJ Max. There are plenty of videos on youtube of the gamplay now, and the game may still come to PSP – though when I spoke with Pentavision in Seoul in November, they said they were still evaluating it, and that the video we saw previously was just a mockup of what it could look like on PSP… But since they brough DJ Max to PSP twice, it seems somewhat likely that they’ll try again! The game seems to have some interesting zipline use and an interesting system, but isn’t the Jet Set Radio-like game some of us were hoping for… official site is here (Pentavision is a NeoWiz subsidiary now, which is why the URL is off-site).

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News: Audition the board game

T3 has had huge success with Audition Online (though not so much with the PSP version), and will now be releasing a board game, according to this aving story. Apparently you use cards to represent the arrows that players hit in the game…can’t really imagine how that works, but then, this is already a dancing game where you don’t actually dance, so who knows. 4 players max. The game costs about 17,000 won, which is about $17 or so.

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News: Senko no Ronde figure

changpo_figurine1.jpgThe wondrous Max Factory will be rolling out a figure of the suitably demure Changpo from G.Rev’s oft misunderstood classic Senko no Ronde in April. She will be 140mm in height and cost a not too shabby 5,800 yen. For those that are wondering, the figure isn’t poseable but you can dress her (!). The timing is somewhat fortuitous with a sequel to the first game around the corner and knowing Max Factory there will most probably be more figures on the way (maybe even some of the minimalist mecha called Rounders).

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News: Teasers from Korean interviews

Nexon details MapleStory DS, slightly:
SL: You mean MapleStory DS? It’s not an MMORPG kind of game. It’s a typical kind of action role-playing game. It will have fairly different gameplay compared to the original version. It will be specifically adapted to the platform itself.

BS: So more local play than networked play?

SL: Right. Single player. We have some features that support multiplayer, but the main feature will focus on single player.

Then about their relationship with Nintendo:

BS: A number of companies have said to me that in Korea, there’s still not many developers used to making full, boxed end products. That kind of workflow and making complete products from the very beginning is very difficult. How have you tackled that?

SL: To be honest, we also don’t have that much experience with the complete, packaged kind of game. Most of the developers have grown up playing the famous console games and things. The basic idea is that we obviously have learned a lot from the development process, and we still have to learn more. Nintendo has been very helpful in that perspective. We obviously made a lot of mistakes as well, but we are very keen to… MapleStory is one of our representative IP, and if we’re launching it, we have to make it successful. We’re doing our best to make it a high-quality standalone type of game.

They also give some of the first details about the CounterStrike game they’re making with Valve, co-developed in Korea.

Webzen on console development, revealing a PS3 game they canceled:
BS: I’m curious to know your thoughts about PlayStation 3 versus 360, considering the Sony brand has always been much stronger in Asia. Also Sony had an office here for several years, and the 360 only just launched here more recently. But you’re focused on the 360. Is that western consideration, or… what is that?

SY: Not really. Honestly, I think the 360 is easier to develop for. The PS3 is a little bit harder. It’s not easy to find people who have experience in previous… like PS2 or PS3. It’s not easy for us to start to work on the process. Once we had a project for the PS3 called Endless Saga. We had trouble with it, and [it was cancelled].

Microsoft, confirming that Magna Carta 360 is still on track:
BS: So Softmax is discussing things with you, or talking to people in general? Or they keep saying it?

DL: Softmax already did a 360 game, and other than that, there’s nothing officially there. The next Magna Carta being made is for the 360. We’re still discussing with other companies.

T3, former GP32 developer turned insanely rich company due to the success of their Audition dance MMO, that has 300 million registered users, they say. With the money, they’re funding 10 original projects. Here, they talk about PSP numbers, and how they’re planning a game for the Wii:
BS: So you’ve got it in multiple game media right now. Why did you decide to do that?

YK: We wanted to show in the market that we’re not only just using the online game section, but also if something is happening in the market, we just want to make a variety of business. So the PSP was kind of challenging. We didn’t expect a profit from the title’s release — just 10,000, or something like that. It’s not that much. But it was a very good try for us, and once the company made certain general games, people just say, “Oh, how long is this game’s lifecycle?” or something. But if the lifecycle is going to be longer and longer, then we need to do something, not only online as it is, but in many different related sectors. That’s why we decided to make Audition musical, and Audition arcade machines, and Audition for PSP, and later, we could make Audition for the PlayStation 3 or Xbox or something like that.

BS: In the current timeframe, do you have any interest in making games for the Wii?

YK: The Nintendo Wii? We are very flexible, so unless they suggest too tough of conditions, we’d really love to do it. Some of our titles really fit for the Nintendo Wii. They really fit. Luckily, yesterday, I met a Nintendo guy from here. He was interested in one of our titles, and next year, we’re going to have a meeting. Soon, I can show you another Nintendo version!
Com2Us speaking about development cost versus recoup levels for mobile games:
BS: In terms of getting back your development cost, and being more profitable on top of that. What does it take for a title to be considered successful? Does it have to be 100,000, or 50,000?

JP: Nowadays, our game development cost is going higher and higher, in fact. Now people will only pick what they want to buy. Over half of people buy games because of other peoples’ recommendations, so they are really focused on buying games. We need to do more on the culture side, and giving them new experiences. They make us spend a higher cost to develop. Right now, we put that 300,000 downloads — that means about $600,000 — then we put this game as successful in a year. But even after a year, if we see it’s a good game, it keeps selling. So in a year, if a game makes over 300,000 downloads, then we think it’s successful.

So, read some of it!

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News: Igarashi, Killaware Q&As

I did a short Q&A with Castlevania’s Koji Igarashi at E for All, and it’s up on gamasutra. It basically boils down to me asking him to make a Wild West Castlevania and him not really knowing what I mean, or possibly trying to get me to be quiet. It’s one of my weaker interviews, but it’s still Iga!

I also forgot to link this interview I did with Killaware a while ago. They’re a new company comprised of Atlus vets, currently working on Lux-Pain, which looks neat but will probably not be successful. Kind of neat to talk to a new company on the ground floor. The interview was longer originally, but has been somewhat shortened. The original is lost to the ages!

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News: Top 10 of 2007 (short version)

I decided to make a top 10 of 2007 list, but I’ve buried it down so it wouldn’t push new news off the page with its length. Full text is down here, but I’ll give you the list in this here box, from 10 at the top to 1 at the bottom.

Halo 3
Puzzle Quest
Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo HD
Senko no Ronde
Arcana Heart
Jeanne D’arc
Call of Duty 4

There are some honorable mentions down there in the full text, and I didn’t include any indie games or anything – just commercial releases for this one. I don’t feel I was up enough on the indie scene this year to successfully rank them, though I could do something…

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News: Pirate Revenge

piraterevenge.jpgPirate Revenge is a new shooter from Taiwan-based IGS, which is essentially an STG that scrolls into the screen in 3D. Check ‘Game’ and then ‘Game Demo’ to get a video. I’m not completely sure, but I think it’s 2D prerendered CG. The arcade cabinet has a captain’s wheel as the steering device, and you win tickets based on the number of points you get. And if you check the staff page, you’ll see the music is done by “Jimmy Morrison.” Suspicious! Meanwhile, I’m still waiting for a sequel to Martial Masters.

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News: Fate Unlimited Codes

fateunlimitedcodes.jpgClassic STG developer 8ing is back doing fighting games, and this time it’s Fate Unlimited Codes for Capcom. Interestingly they also did the PSP version of Tekken 5: Dark Resurrection. Anyway, the official site just opened yesterday, and apparently Cavia is involved as well, though perhaps just for licensing reasons. There are lots of movies on the site, and unfortunately it looks extremely standard, and all the sound effects are the same or similar. It’s an arcade game, and will be out on the rather old system 246 board – 2D gameplay, 4 buttons. If this got a port to any hardware, PS2 or Wii would be the closest, but not as close as if it’d been the System 256, which is based on PS2 hardware. Odd.

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News: Fragile: Tsuki no Haikyo

This is pretty old, but just in case it slipped under your radar, Fragile: Tsuki no Haikyo is a pretty neat looking Wii adventure game from Namco. Screens can be found here and here, with an official site here. There’s a teaser video right here – haven’t seen that linked anywhere yet. The game looks sentimental and very interesting visually. The protagonist uses his flashlight to investigate a ruined, faux-european world. Works for me! Producer is Kentarou Kawashima (apparently worked on Venus & Braves), and developer is Tri-Crecendo (Trusty Bell/Eternal Sonata, etc). I can’t help but get excited by images like this combined with music like you’ll find on the official site.

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