News: D.Gray-Man PS2

d.gray-man.jpgD.Gray-Man is apparently a manga and anime title, and Konami is turning it into a game, as is their custom. They’re calling it a “kizuna adventure game”, or bonding adventure, perhaps. The interesting thing is that it’s actually got RPG-like battle scenes in between the adventure bits. See the official site for some images. There will be a drama CD with three different collectable labels, if you care about that. It comes out on September 11 for 6,980 yen.

Rumor: More about Tec Toy’s Genie console

I heard from someone whose friend worked in the U.S. Tec Toy office a bunch more information about the coming Genie console (not Jeanie as was previously reported). This is coming third-hand, but seems reliable, but let’s call it rumor for now. First, the console will be released in Brazil initially, as stands to reason. You should not be able to download games on a Brazilian console if you manage to take it outside of Brazil, and it will be heavily crippled by DRM. They are reportedly going to meetings in China frequently, which may be the second place the console is released. One of the partners is reportedly Gameloft. They will be targeting lower-economic countries as we know, which may be more accepting of the mobile architecture.

Reinaldo Normand is the creator of the Genie concept, and was previously at Tec Toy USA – but now he’s running something called Zeebo (beware of music), about which nothing is solidly known, but which does have Mike Yuen of Qualcomm on the board. Since the Genie is a product of Qualcomm and Tec Toy jointly, it stands to reason that Zeebo has something to do with it, especially as it’s offering SDKs. More on this thing that only I care about as it develops!

News: Creative Engineering and the horrors of animatronics

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A few people have linked to Creative Engineering’s arcade prototype Bin Laden Basher, simply because it’s silly. But this site really deserves digging through. First, let’s have some history. Creative Engineering was founded by a guy named Aaron Fechter. Fetcher actually created the Whack-A-Mole game, and then sold it to a carnival operator as a young man. That machine was found by Bob Cassada, who then copied it and copyrighted it. What did Aaron Fechter do? He co-founded a place called Showbiz Pizza in 1979, and bought more Whack-A-Mole machines from Bob Cassada than anyone else in the business. Amazing. Showbiz Pizza eventually became Chuck E Cheese, which as we know was started by Atari’s Nolan Bushnell when he purchased Showbiz Pizza. There’s more complicated stuff in that arrangement, but you can go here if you care. The important thing is that Fechter was an engineer and creator of animatronics. Horrifying animatronics. See here for some info and videos on the Rock-Afire Explosion, his most famous animatronic band. Now, without delay, check out this video of the special show created for Saudia Arabia. It is the most surreal thing you will see today (hopefully).

rock-afire.pngNext, you need to see Private Paul, dubbed the “world’s first robotic soldier.” This is an animatronic soldier created by Fechter for the U.S. military which tests the soldiers’ outfits for germ warfare and things. You must watch the video. First, the intro makes the following astounding statement: “Aaron Fechter and Creative Engineering Inc. look forward to the day that America will have robotic soldiers so sophisticated that they will be able to root out evil doers without risking human lives.” Because…of course…any enemy of America is inherently evil, and not human. The other amazing thing in the video is what comes after – a dancing Private Paul, against a snuff film-style white sheet backdrop, making disturbing motions to the tune of “I’m bad,” which I’m quite certain was sung by Fechter himself. I’ll explain why!

creativeengineering.jpgOne of Fechter’s later ventures is Loony Bird’s, a karaoke box with an animatronic bird, which I think was on a video screen only, but I’m not sure. Now, check out the videos. He’s got lots of videos of kids singing there, and says this: “If you’ve watched all of these clips and want more, let me know! I have thousands of adorable clips of beautiful children singing their precious, little hearts out, and I will add them as I get requests from people who have seen the ones already here!” That aside, be sure to watch this video of him demonstrating the product. Watch it all the way to the end for comments like “You kids remember the 80s?” He also explains the concept of how the machine will “really work” to a total of two people who are slowly backing away. It’s all quite amazing!

This brings us full circle to the Bin Laden Basher image. After seeing him in the karaoke video with his Hawaiian shirt, you realize that the man with no shirt in that image is in fact Flechter himself. He also peppers the website with comments about how the videos will stream on a 56k modem, in spite of the fact that he’s using RealPlayer 8, which is pretty new. You can also certainly imagine that he drew the company logo artwork. He just paints a picture of a troubled semi-genius trapped in the wrong era. Quite an amazing guy. Incidentally his warehouse is here, if you’re curious. He actually has several of the Rock-Afire bands new in their original cartons in this place – and you can just imagine a single man alone in a warehouse full of robots. Quite an image.

News: RayForce official site

starbreaker.jpgIn further failed PC Engine-related company news, in playing Miraculum for PC-fx recently I discovered that the developer – RayForce – still has its official site up (beware of cute sound). RayForce is best known for its Startling Odyssey series of RPGs and Star Breaker, and this site is essentially a loving tribute to a company that didn’t really make the jump to the 32-bit era. There is actually nothing saying that the company has gone into bankruptcy or anything like that, but the site hasn’t been updated since 1999, and no games have been released since then (the last was the remake Startling Odyssey 1: Blue Evolution), with Gamefaqs listing two PlayStation sequels as canceled.

The site has links to all their games, with extensive descriptions, screenshots, art and concept images, and descriptions of the music CDs released. There’s even a retelling of the tale of Startling Odsyssey by the original writer. These companies are somehow tragic and romantic at the same time. From this site you can tell the company really cared about these games, even if they weren’t the absolute best. If you’ve never heard of the company, this is a good time to check them out, before the website goes away.

News: Summon Night 2 DS official site update

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Summon Night 2’s official site for the DS remake has been updated with some proper things now. Click the bottom right link to get some movies, which have animation from Production I.G. if you care about that sort of thing. The main point with this game is that it’s a 2D tactics RPG, and is by Flight Plan, for whom I have an irrational love. It will also probably have way too much text, as per normal. I’m still waiting for a Black Matrix A/D port!

News: Ikatan update

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Remember my post about Ikatan? I’ve found out a bit more about this ‘mysterious’ DS title from Cyberfront. First, I didn’t realize that the page was launched on April 1, so that’s something on its own. Essentially, it seems to be some sort of viral marketing ploy, unfortunately, as on May 30 they put little dog prints on the Ikatan page, and said he went somewhere. It didn’t take much to find him on this Inigaisha page, which is a game based on a series where dogs wear suits and work in an office. Well, quite lame then! They’re still updating the Ikatan page with “clues” but they all seem to just point to going to the Inugaisha page. I’m guessing it won’t be a real game after all? Quite anticlimactic.

News: Live a Live, Sylvan Tale, and Aeon Genesis

livealive.pngThis is just a reminder that translation group Aeon Genesis exists. They recently released English patch 2.0 for Square’s Live a Live, and are still working (I hope) on great under-appreciated titles like Royal Stone.

Incidentally, if you’ve never played the Game Gear Zelda-like ARPG Sylvan Tale I very much recommend it. It’s a lovely little game, which is certainly not perfect or modern, but does a lot of things really well for the time. It’s got good atmosphere, and is pretty short, so not a huge investment. I recommend playing it on a GP32 or PSP for maximum happiness. Also, once you’ve played it you may want to read the end of this FAQ on Gamefaqs, as it has some interesting info from the (English version) script writer Shih Tzu. It’s quite a special game.

News: Fruit Mystery

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This flash game (beware of music and seizures) is pretty amazing. It teaches you about feeding fruit to animals, and other important life lessons. It’s deliberately misspelled, and over the top in its attempts to be stupid, but somehow it still managed to make me laugh. It comes from the Zookeeper Steve I’m Sorry page (I almost guarantee this will crash Firefox, so beware), which is some sort of reference to something, I’m sure. It’s all quite amazing, and really just has to be played to be believed. Thanks to Eric-Jon for the link.