Youtube: Guitar Hero On The Big Screen

picture (c) Neil Mills 2007Metalocalypse creators Brendon Small and Tommy Blacha (pictured) came up to Toronto this weekend to celebrate the upcoming launch of the show in Canada as part of The Detour on Teletoon, and they played the Dethklok song that appears in Guitar Hero II, Thunderhorse, on a cinema screen as part of the event. They weren’t very good – but Brendon was playing it on hard (then again, he did write the song.) It looked amazing on the big screen, though.

Brendon also let slip that they might be working on a Metalocalypse video game, too, so keep your eyes open for that.

News: The Quest for Blood Mountain

2007_01_11_blood.jpgIn what is the certainly the most unusual release of a free flash game to support the release of a band’s new album, Mastodon’s new(ish) album Blood Mountain is accompanied by The Quest for Blood Mountain, a retro-looking Super Mario Bros. clone that features angsty looking Viking dwarves jumping over wolves and collecting diamonds in the quest for “the Mastodon key”, whatever that is.

Anyway, it’s not any good at all, but it’s an interesting curio, and at least you get to listen to the Mastodon song Colony of Birchmen on repeat while you bore yourself stupid playing it. (I haven’t checked with Brandon, our resident overlord of what is hip, if it’s okay to like Mastodon, but I think it’s a good single, anyway.) Thanks to Stereogum for the link.

News: Miuchiz and Game Wave

2006_11_30_miuchiz.jpgAs a freelance journalist I tend to spend rather a lot of my time lazily flicking through the television channels in the middle of the day when I should be working, and more often than not I find myself distracted by the adverts for the toys currently vying to be placed on children’s Christmas wish lists, in particular the ones that are videogames, but do their best to pretend they’re not (by saying they’re “educational” or “for all the family” or something.) Just off the top of my head there are things like the Game Wave “Family Entertainment System”, and the ridiculous range of educational techo-mcguffins from Fisher Price, such as the Pixter handheld system, or the I Can Play Piano (which brings to mind the Miracle Piano system released for the NES.)

Recently though I’ve been most captivated by the advertising for the Miuchiz handheld system, which, while little more than a Tamagochi-esque trinket, when connected to a PC with the included USB cable, appears to allow the user to take their character into a fully 3D MMORPG, Planet Mion, where they can interact with other users, play games, and that sort of thing.

Is it any good? I have no idea. It’s for kids!

gamewave.jpg
Brandon’s note about Game Wave: I had meant to do a proper post about this, but mathew’s gotten the ball rolling already. All I really wanted to say was that it’s clearly the game system made “by Canadians, for Canadians,” as the parent company Zapit Games is located in the great white north (Mississauga). That particular system is also a DVD player, and comes with four ‘zappers,’ aka remotes, which allow you to interact with the screen in (maybe?) a Wii-like manner. Or perhaps you just choose up, down, left, and right, and it’s really *only* a DVD player that they’ve inexplicably tried to pass off as something else. If that’s the case, there’s a good chance their games will work on anything that plays the format. The only proper game-like game they’ve got is bejeweled, but I’m always entranced by these half-effort style things.

Mathew’s note about Brandon’s note: As far as I’ve seen from the adverts, there is no “Wii” like functionality; not to say that the games don’t have specifics that mean they could only be played on a Game Wave. What the adverts have is a jingle that promises quiz games and rhymes “big words” with “little nerds”, and is performed by the kind of session musicians that cry themselves to sleep every night.

Brandon’s newest of notes: I found that commercial, and it’s as astounding as he says it is. Check the youtube comments too, as they’re clearly written by people who are, let’s say, “concerned” about the success of the Game Wave.

Link: The Pickford Bros. “Zub Archive”

2006_11_30_zub.jpgI don’t think we’ve ever really talked about the Pickford Brothers on Insert Credit, have we? Well, they’re an astonishingly prolific pair of British siblings who’ve been in the industry since the days of 8-bit computers, and most recently have created Naked War, a rather lovely play-by-email game which is a lot more exciting than “play-by-email” makes it sound (though perhaps not as exciting as “naked” makes it sound) and that you should all check out if you have the time.

But what has piqued our interest most recently is that on their personal website, Zee-3, they’re just uploaded a rather in-depth article about the creation of the first title they worked on as a team, the ZX Spectrum title Zub, which is very informative for anyone interested in what went into making a game on home computers in the 80’s. They’ve also got an article on the creation of Plok, for people who remember the 1993 SNES title with fondness.

EJRW comment: Did you know the Pickford Brothers are actually behind some of Rare’s more interesting NES games, like Solar Jetman and Ironsword? Well, neither did I before I did some research a while ago. Now we all know!

News: So You Want to Be a Games Journalist

2006_10_31_journo.jpgReaders of insert credit may be aware that Brandon Sheffield, our evil overlord and master, is himself but a cog in the CMP machine, working on Gamasutra and Game Developer. Well, recently CMP had the audacity to publish (on their Game Career Guide website) an article called “So You Want to Be a Games Journalist” written by one Aaron McKenna, that managed to rile up games journalists Kieron Gillen and Tim Edwards so much that they arranged for as many games journalists as they could think of to publish their own personal and unique article titled “So You Want to Be a Games Journalist” simultaneously.

There are currently 12 entries, and you can read my take at my workblog, but readers might particularly be interested in the Triforce’s extended metaphor, John Walker’s frontal attack on the original piece, and Kieron Gillen’s completely straight (and certainly useful) guide. But there’s also Tim Edwards, Tom Bramwell, Suki, Bill Harris, Jon Blyth, Richard Cobbett, Stuart Campbell and Jon Hicks.

You’ve never heard of any of them? Well, as my guide explains, that’s practically the point.

Brandon’s note: I had no idea about this until just now! I’m sure I must somehow be to blame for this anyway.

News: Qwak demo released for GBA

2006_09_21_qwak.gifCalled “Team 17’s Finest Hour” by legendary games journalist Stuart Campbell (who has a bit of a history with Team 17, so he wouldn’t say so lightly) the fondly remembered Amiga platformer is in the process of being recreated on GBA, and there’s a demo now available for you to try out on your flash cart or emulator.

We’ve had a go, and it’s a cute and very playable (if not particularly special) little platformer, well worth playing, and well worth registering your interest in owning, as if enough interest is shown the game may be released in full as a cartridge or an online download.

News: Takashi Miike’s Yakuza

2006_08_16_ryu.jpgDespite unfortunately having to dub the English language version of Ryu Ga Gotoku to make Sony happy, and compounding the problem by wasting their money on celebrity voice talent, Sega have at least done the right thing by subtitling and releasing the Japanese promo movie for Ryu Ga Gotoku on the (European) Yakuza website.

Little to no fanfare about the movie is available on the site, but the film was originally available in two parts as Ryû ga gotoku – jissha-ban on Famitsu’s website (we can’t seem to find it now, though*), and listed Takashi Miike, the director of Ichi the Killer, Audition, and so on, as “Integration Director”, with the director listed as Takeshi Miyasaka, the director of several V-Cinema Yakuza flicks.

Only the first part (of four) has been posted so far, it plays in a tiny little window, and is as resolutely uncommercial as anything Miike has ever put his name to. Which is strange, because it’s a promo movie! It’s got some cheap looking blood and violence in it, too, so ask your parents first!

*EDIT: Apparently the Ryu ga Gotoku promo was taken off of Famitsu’s website on as Sega decided to sell it in on DVD in Japan for 4,935 yen. Thanks to Redlightning.

Competition: Retro Remakes 2006 Big Competition

2006_6_2_retro.jpgAfter the sterling success of 2005’s One Switch competition, where the aim was to make an original game or remake playable with one button (creating some excellent titles such as Sky Puppy and Strange Attractors) there’s a new Retro Remakes competition for 2006. This year’s competition has the request:

“Good remakes of good games that anyone can play, regardless of their ability”

That initially sounds simple, but becomes a bit more complex when you think of varying abilities of people who play games, but you’ll have to do your best if you want you win one of the amazing prizes (there’s a total prize fund over £4000). There’s a list of games already entered and a competiton forum, including an invaluable Top Ten Accessible Features Wish List which is something all developers should be forced to read, really.

Download: Toronto Game Jam 2006

2006_05_02_bubblething.jpgWell, the Toronto Indie Game Development Jam, a competition to create a video game in three days, has been and gone (it was during the weekend before E3). The results are now online though, and my favourite by far is Bubble Thing by Jonathan Mak, a strange sort of reverse take on Asteroids. <Brandon’s note: The official site for that game is here, and the author tells us there are mac and linux-x86 versions, too.>

If that’s not your cup of (carbonated) tea, then you might fancy the bullet hell of Zi-Xiao Liang’s Super Hamster Air Combat.

Download: Sensible Soccer 2006 Demo

2006_6_2_sensi.jpgJust in time for the World Cup, Codemasters have released a PC demo of Sensible Soccer 2006, the much awaited return of the beloved Sensible Soccer franchise. Now in 3d with bobblehead technology, it’s worth a playthrough if you have any fond memories of the original. No confirmed u.s. release date, but the europeans are getting it in 7 days, the lucky so-and-sos. A direct download of the title is available here (requires registration) so you’re better off getting the torrent from the lovely chaps at eurogamer.net.

Top Tip: When installing, choose the language of the team that you want to play as. So french, if you want to see Zidane’s cute wee bald spot.