News: Princess Debut trailer

princessdebut.jpgYou should actually care about Princess Debut. It’s developed by Cave, for one thing. For another, it is the first time that I know of that Natsume U.S. commissioned a project directly. But more than that, this is an actual good game for young girls – or seems to be. It’s not insulting, it’s cute, it has a proven game mechanic (it plays like Ouendan), and is basically just really pleasant to look at. Check out the video right here. Special thanks to the Natsume PR team for putting it on Vimeo when I asked!

You play as a princess, dancing with various partners, finding 20 costumes, and playing through an adventure mode (visual novel style) as well. The 3D is solid, the illustrations are competent and shoujo-y and nice, and if the story is well written, it might even be enjoyable as a light game for adults. I’m gonna play it, anyway! You dance with a bunny! The official U.S. site is here.

Payola: Wadjet Eye Gave Me Some Free Games

Where is that dang old sax player?
Insert Credit first covered Wadjet Eye Games back in September of 2007. It’s worth noting that we did not so much cover them as I talked about how I really liked The Shivah. As a result, I was put in contact with Dave Gilbert (to answer Brandon’s question, no, he is not related to Ron). Dave set me up with free copies of the other two Wadjet Eye games, Blackwell Legacy and Blackwell Unbound. Now I’m telling you about them, because they’re really excellent.

In brief: each game follows a member of the Blackwell family and their Ghost Buddy Joey. The Blackwells are a family of mediums, and with Joey’s help they investigate the lives and deaths of confused spirits, giving them closure of some kind which allows them to move on. The thing about the games that most impresses me is the way Gilbert has you play a story. In most adventure games, you’re working on the story, and you have to take a break to figure out how to use a frozen cat to open a steel door. The puzzles in Wadjet Eye games are always deeply ingrained in the story, and a realistic investigation method. Who do you need to talk to, and what should you ask them. While there is still an inventory, it’s almost vestigial, with a notebook of clues and leads replacing the majority of the random items the normal adventure game protagonist would carry in his bottomless pockets. The only real failing is that, aside from an easter egg in Blackwell Unbound, there are no badass Rabbis.

Recently, The Blackwell Legacy was distributed on Big Fish Games, a large casual game portal. The game managed to hang onto a top ten spot in the puzzle category for a few weeks despite the fact that Big Fish drops a game every day, and Blackwell did not have the industry standard 60 minute trial. Following that, they were picked up for distribution by Playfirst, and are currently working on an adventure game specifically for the casual crowd. Not willing to leave distribution entirely, Wadet Eye has picked up distribution for a new adventure game by Lively Ivy, the studio of Erin Robinson, sprite and background artist on Blackwell Unbound and creator of Spooks and Nanobots. I’m pretty sure she’s Canadian.

News: Old videogame patents

powerglove.jpg
Frank was browsing around the google patent archives, and happened upon a few game patents. Then I started poking around, and found a few more. It’s really worth browsing through in full…poking at ‘related patents’ is particularly rewarding. You can find tons of stuff that didn’t come out, or didn’t come out as initially devised. They’ve all got illustrations, which helps flesh things out. I’ll highlight a few of the interesting things I found for you here.

Nintendo:
early NES cartridge
unreleased official Nintendo adaptor for Famicom games(!!)
another NES cart revision
ROB patent with early robot designs. Submitted by Gunpey Yokoi himself.
unreleased keyboard housing patent from Nintendo of America!
early Powerglove patent, with rudimentary Powerglove design…quite different! You have to view the whole document to see the glove or anything interesting.
This isn’t Nintendo officially, but is related to the NES. It’s a button presser that you roll on the ground, and then it presses A and B for you, alternately. Extremely lame.

Sega:
crazy toy in which you drive a real toy car, mounted on the front of television, on a video track.
Sega VR Helmet from 1992
VMU. Hooray!

Fairchild:
Channel F cart

Konami:
portable arcade looking thing
handheld console – both of the above seem to be LCD systems though, sadly.

Game.com
Game.com patent from Tiger. There are a few more, if you’re interested.

Tomy:
Tomy handheld console – seems to be LCD again. 1991.

Supervision:
If you don’t know what Supervision is, it’s a Chinese GB clone…very odd one at that. See here.
Supervision patent one
Supervision patent two
That Supervision ultimately looked like this.

Sony:
The Pocketstation changed a lot from its initial design:
Pocketstation rev 1
rev 2
rev 3
rev 4
rev 5

As you can see, I was mostly looking at older handhelds and related stuff. There’s plenty more to see if you look at the console side, peripherals…there’s tons of wacky game lore for you to find.

News: Tectoy releases Master System 3

Tectoy's Master System 3
Last week, the Brazilian Sega licensee released another iteration of the 8-bit platform they insist in keeping alive. It’s called the Master System 3 (not to be confused with the classic Master System III). The new console has a “modern” design remarkably similar to the 1990’s Mega Drive, and comes with 131 built-in, G-rated games. Opinions on the local blogs have been a bit harsh, criticizing the lack of a cartridge slot and steep price tag (about 133USD, or half a Playstation 2 in the gray market).



The Master System III comes with a pair of Mega Drive-ish six-button controllers — I’m not sure what for: as far as I know the only SGM game to use more than two buttons was Tectoy’s own Street Fighter II port, which is not included in the list (probably due to licensing issues). Somewhat amusingly, SGM3 also features composite video output — old hardware dressed for a new world.

Youtube: Megaman , Hatsune Miku style

This is perhaps even better, and equally Megaman3-y. Watch, if you dare, Megaman 3 stage done completely with Hatsune Miku’s voice as music and sounds. Some sounds are missing, but it’s pretty impressive nonetheless. The ‘landing’ sound is particularly good. That was part one – here are parts two, three, four, five, and six…you can find the rest, if you really want to.

News: Nostalgeo no Kaze update

nostalgeo2.jpg
Wind of Nostalgeo is indeed a joint venture of RED and Tecmo, with Tecmo handling the publishing – but it turns out RED is simply planning the scenario and characters, which they often do. The development is being handled by Matrix, the guys behind the Final Fantasy III and IV DS ports, which explains why the 3D is so competent. The character design is done by Torajiro Tsujino, the original character designer for the Tengai Maky

Update: Yu Suzuki still with Sega

Simon Jeffery mailed me to say that Yu Suzuki is indeed still at Sega, as a “creative officer.” We ran a corrective story on Gamasutra. It’s curious – he said he wasn’t at the company rather definitively at first. It could simply be that they want to keep the association, and so are calling him a creative officer, when he’s actually a contractor? It’s all very vague and mysterious, but I’d very much like to interview Suzuki some day…

News: Fighting styles in Melty Blood Actress Again

meltybloodaa.jpg
Spencer pointed out a new video on youtube of Melty Blood Actress Again, which showcases the game’s different fighting styles. The video isn’t self-explanatory, and it’s tough to see what the difference between the styles is, through presentation. So, I asked the erstwhile Spatula to figure it out for me, since that game and its relatives are kind of his realm. He got his info from Linalys. Here’s the deal:


Full Moon – can’t reverse beat, charges meter, different move
properties, can only activate at full meter.


Half Moon – gets auto shield counter, auto activate, auto spark,
different move properties, max is 200% meter


Crescent Moon – aerial spark, closest to current Melty Blood AC

So there you go!

News: Will Wright Minute

Hey, I’m linking to something on G4. Don’t worry, it makes me uncomfortable too! Regardless, this is a great idea. It’s called the Will Wright Minute, and it’s basically Will Wright talking about a thing he knows, for a minute. Will Wright knows loads of neat things, with a level of detail that many of us do not, and since he’s a game designer, he’s good at condensing these into bite-sized knowledge pieces. So if you want to learn about Russia’s space-station battleship thing, watch that video. I hope they do more!