News: Border Break announcement

border_break_logo.jpgNow, before people get ahead of themselves; SEGA are making a new mecha versus arcade game. Specifically one that is fully online that supports up to 20 players (10 a side). It’s also being handled by SEGA AM2 and will most probably be on Lindbergh hardware (though the latter is an assumption on my part).

You could think this might be an update to Virtual On but that wonderful series of games has always been helmed by SEGA AM3. So it’s doubtful that this is a shiny new update to Juro Watari’s overlooked masterpiece (though not entirely impossible, as I know a Virtual On arcade game had been planned after Marz but got canned).

So why the resurgence then? Well, Senjou no Kizuna (the Gundam arcade game with a panoramic cockpit in case you’d forgotten) is making lots of money at the moment and SEGA probably want in on the act.

Border Break will be shown at the upcoming AOU show in February. Thanks to Alex Kierkegaard for the heads up.

News: Jaleco leaving game business

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According to various sources, Jaleco is leaving the game business, and has sold all game-related assets to online game purveyor Game Yarou for one yen, assuming the latter company will absorb all the former’s debt as well. 1up has a surprisingly good writeup of Game Yarou’s past and present relationship with Jaleco, which for some time has been owned by Hong Kong internet company PCCW. The forthcoming Kizuna was being banked on heavily by Jaleco, and there was rumor of some employee uprising at TGS, though it was quelled before I was able to investigate further. The DS edition of Ninja Jajamarukun was playable at TGS 2007, but not 2008 – but it seemed quite nice to me. Sadly the website has not been updated, and still says 2008. The official Jaleco site has not been updated with the news either.

Jaleco did lots of neat things, and hopefully won’t die out as the result of this transition, but I’m guessing it’ll exist more as a back catalog now. Games like Suchie Pai, Choplifter, P-47, Irritating Stick, and even Punky Skunk shouldn’t get brushed to the side. Curiously, Puchi Puchi Virus, slated for release by NIS America in the U.S. has still not seen the light of day. Will the relationship be further complicated by Jaleco’s psuedo-demise, or will it live on? Another legendary company down the toilet.

Update: Not Punky Skunk! It was only released by Jaleco in the U.S. while it still had a division here.

News: PS3, the new Saturn

saturn.jpgLest we forget our history, my GDmag coworker Jeff reminded me that almost everything Kaz Hirai is saying about the PS3 was previously said about the Saturn. Take note of the quote I linked below. Now read this statement from the aforelinked Saturn whitepaper: “This growth won’t be possible on competing systems that offer a simpler architecture. It may be easier in some ways for developers to create programs for the competition because there’s less to learn and work with from a technology standpoint — but that means that developers are much more likely to run up against the limits of the system in a short span of time. The simpler structure of competing architectures also increases the chance that games will be “ported” from other systems (other game systems or even personal computers), which results in games that are generic and not optimized for performance and special features.

In contrast, the sophistication of the Sega Saturn pays off for both developers and consumers alike over the long term. Developers will continue to discover new ways to wield their creative talents, and game players will have an ongoing supply of new, inventive, out-there, beyond-cool titles for their Sega Saturn systems.

That kind of logic is destined for failure. At the same time the Saturn is one of my favorite systems ever. Does this mean the PS3 will eventually be one of my favorite systems? The industry has changed enough that developers no long really “choose” a console, but rather develop somewhat agnostically and port as they can. The current climate does not seem conducive to the kind of quirky hardware differentiation of times past. So with that in mind, Sony had better learn from the past, or the ghost of Sega will come and have its revenge!

News: Playstation 3 official leader of game industry, I am official leader of game journalism

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Not very insert credit-y news, but Kaz Hirai has proclaimed PS3 to be the “official leader” of the game industry in a recent interview with Official Playstation Magazine, as reported by eurogamer. He basically just declared himself king, saying the facts don’t matter. Even more astounding is this statement: “We don’t provide the ‘easy to program for’ console that [developers] want, because ‘easy to program for’ means that anybody will be able to take advantage of pretty much what the hardware can do, so then the question is what do you do for the rest of the nine-and-a-half years?”

Apparently if you can easily reach a console’s potential, you’ll just get bored! That’s no fun, not having to struggle against a machine and focus on things like design or art. Much better to peel it in layers, like an onion, or a Sega Saturn. So, with Hirai’s bold step forward, I hereby proclaim myself the official leader of game journalism. Readers, sphere of influence, none of that matters. Having proclaimed it, it must be so! Other journalists will fall by the wayside within 5 years or so, my 10 year plan is the true measure of success. Further, we don’t create an “easy to read” website so that readers can just enjoy reading things, there’s no fun in that. That’s why we make every entry as obtuse as possible so that readers can enjoy researching things on their own! I could go on like this forever. Sony is king. I am king.

News: Arc System interview

My coworker Christian Nutt did a very nice and rather lengthy interview with Arc System works around TGS time, which is finally up. Pretty neat stuff in there about their place in the industry, their techniques, and their staff. Note that they also use the technique of creating 3D models for the animations and then making 2D sprites from there. Last time I mentioned this being commonplace, a number of people mailed me saying I was crazy – but Arc System Works, SNKP, and Wildcat in Korea all do it, so…seems pretty common to me. Regardless, the interview is neat, even if (like me) you’re not the biggest Arc System Works fan.

News: Super Robot Wars K (DS)

srwk_logo.jpgThe latest entry into the SRW canon was announced in Famitsu this week and unsurprisingly it’s made its way onto the DS…again. The line up is pretty decent though and even features Virtual On again (though in the form of Marz, unfortunately). The full series list is: Dangaioh, Overman King Gainer, Fafner of the Azure, Virtual On Marz, Gundam SEED, Gundam SEED DESTINY, Gundam Seed SEED C.E.73 STARGAZER, Mazinger Z, Gaiking Legend of Daiku Maryu, Kotetsushin Jeeg, Zoids Genesis, Godannar, Godannar 2nd Season, Gun X Sword.

This will also be the first time a Zoids series will have been included in SRW, which is an interesting choice to be sure. Not to mention the fact that Getter Robo is absent. With any luck, this SRW will be made from the ground up for the DS rather than just re-purposing a GBA game (which happened with W). The game will be out at the beginning of April at around 6,000 yen.

For those that are also interested, a special edition of SRW Z will be released in March (under the imaginative title of Super Robot Wars Z Special Disc). It features a selection of new story and challenge stages, as well as extra mecha (though the Overman Xan has got me most excited).

News: 505 Games U.S. office

hotelfordogs.pngItalian budget publisher (and frequent Simple Series game translator) 505 Games (previously 505 gamestreet) is making its U.S. debut. While there’s nothing too exciting in there just yet, you can see a number of the games 505 Gamestreet translated previously over here, and hope maybe something will happen. For now, you get “Hotel for Dogs.” D3 isn’t bringing too many of its cheaper games out here, but with 505 Games in the U.S. now (since June of 2008 apparently) perhaps there’s a chance.

News: Doom programmer Dave Taylor sells Doom stuff

ddt.jpgThe package includes the Acura NSX that Doom bought, which I’ve seen Dave (shown left) driving around Los Angeles. Unfortunately for any prospective buyers, it already sold, alongside a doom shirt which proclaims “I wrote it,” and a doom sweater and framed copy of the sealed original game. Here are some item descriptions:

I am posting the car Dec 10, 2008, because it’s the 15 year anniversary of the release of the game Doom. I was one of the programmers, and I bought the car new with proceeds from the game in my 20s when more testosterone was pumping through my veins.

I’m also including some of my Doom stuff with the car. One is a Doom T-shirt with “Wrote it.” written on the back. These were only given to the development team, and there were only about 8 of us. It’s been washed many times and is one of those rare T-shirts that looks really good faded. It is XL, but it has shrunk to about L.
Another Doom goodie is a boxed copy of the original game for the PC that was framed unopened. I doubt these are very common, because I am pretty sure you had to mail order them, and they’re a funny size and don’t come in shrink wrap.
The last one is a hand-made, commissioned Doom sweater I had made in Dallas for about $400 by a lovely woman who hand-knitted it from scratch, doing a fine-grained, dithered blend from dark red to light red for the gradient. It’s extremely meticulous and well done, and she had to look hard for just the right shades of yarn. The colours are all spot on, and it’s a big sweater, can easily fit an XL.

I had a lot of grand adventures in this car, including key moments such as riding in the trunk, stuffing the passenger seat with two exotic dancers, and commuting between Dallas and Austin to make the game Abuse, amoungst many others. I think there are a lot of adventures left in it.

The Doom saga will always be a curious one, and this particular piece of it is no less curious. I only regret that I didn’t ask to drive it before it was sold.

News: Cloudphobia patch

cloudphobia1.jpgCloudphobia, Marsbound‘s doujin shooter from 2003 received a minor bugfix patch around christmas time, and it seems like a good time to re-introduce it to people. If you’ve never seen it, you can check out a demo video here and view the updated English manual. Apart from the trial version, you can also pay a rather affordable 1,575 yen for the full game. Personally, I love the mecha design as it’s very reminiscent of Mamoru Nagano’s work on Five Star Stories.

News: Gundam Senjou no Kizuna Portable announced

gundam_kizuna_portable1.jpgThe rumor we reported not so long ago has turned out to be true, as Bandai Namco unleashed this press release today. Stating that the original networked arcade game with a panoramic cockpit, pedals and joysticks will be ported to the PSP. Some concessions have been made due to the suitably massive shift in hardware and instead of the 8 vs 8 player, it’s been halved to 4 vs 4. How the controls will be simplified remains to be seen. The releases date will be indeed the 26th March and the price at a moderate 6,090 yen.