News: Blasteroids, Manic Miner, Doom Miniatures

blasteroids.gif The excellent Red Key Red Door retrogaming blog has relaunched, and it’s sporting a link to Monument Miniatures, a tiny UK mail order firm which makes video game-related mini-sculptures. Choices for the miniatures are quirky in the extreme, from Blasteroids end-boss Mukor to the Mutant Telephone from Matthew Smith’s Manic Miner. [Also featured - the pink demon from Doom, Dizzy from Fantasy World Dizzy with removable hat, and Horace from ZX Spectrum classic Hungry Horace.] But best of all, the coming soon page lists Dobkeratops from R-Type: ‘Guardian of the Bydo dimension gate. The most famous end-of-level baddie of all time!’

News: XBL Arcade Mutant Storm demo

mutant-storm.jpg The June 2005 issue of Official Xbox Magazine in North America has a demo for Xbox Live Arcade on the cover-disc, and alongside trial versions for some naggingly addictive casual titles, there’s also a demo of the previously mentioned psychedelic shooter Mutant Storm from Pom Pom Games, which is well worth checking out – awesome double-analog oldskool controls and wonderful Minter-inspired psychedelic art. For anyone hooked up to XBL Arcade, $9.99 is well worth it for the full version of the game.

[Oh, and another one of the demos is for PopCap's Zuma, rather easily 'confused' with Mitchell's Puzz Loop/Ballistic. Interestingly, it seems that Mitchell is now doing web versions of Puzz Loop, and were apparently considering legal action over the similarity of the games late last year, according to an igda.jp post.]

News: Agetec’s bold E3 statement

splash.gif According to a representative of Agetec, the import-centric U.S. publisher that’s showing games like PoPoLoCrois for PSP and RPG Maker 3 for PS2 at next week’s E3, the company is fed up. But it’s not tired of life, oh no – it’s tired of E3 booth babes, and it’s not going to take it any more. Thus, we have the Anti Booth Babes website, a promise to give out ‘anti booth babe granny panties’ at its booth, and a vow from an Agetec rep that the company will have “ugly girls” demonstrating its games from 11am-2pm on each day of the show. Looks like Agetec’s new PR company is debuting with a ‘splash’ – though it’s unclear whether the pool has been dredged recently.

News: E3’s We LOVE Katamari ball

katamari.jpg Here’s the most important thing happening at next week’s E3 Expo, thanks to Namco and the King of All Cosmos:

“May 18-20, All Day – Namco Hometek – We LOVE Katamari Ball – Help the Prince please the King of All Cosmos at this E3Expo with the We LOVE Katamari ball. The King of All Cosmos has requested all attendees to provide items throughout the three days. Items should be lightweight enough to be attached and as nutty and creative as possible. Items should NOT be x-rated in nature or include clothing, books, magazines, papers or garbage. Those representing the Prince also have full right to decline any item.”

News: Turner’s GameTap – a big deal?

gunstar_heroes.jpg You may have seen yesterday’s news that Turner Broadcasting, part of Time Warner and the guys who do Cartoon Network/Adult Swim, are moving into the games-on-demand arena with GameTap, to launch later this year. It’s a monthly, “all-you-can-play” gaming service, launching with 300 games – you need to keep your subscription to keep playing the games. But.. which games? Here’s where it gets interesting.

For starters, GameSpot confirms that “Sega will provide… titles from the Genesis and Saturn consoles… Pac-Man will lead the more retro part of the service’s catalog.” There are also more contemporary games such as Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. In addition, a QT3 attendee at last night’s launch event in S.F. reported on example GameTap games showing on demo video, including Gunstar Heroes, Vectorman, Police Quest, Toy Commander, Tomb Raider, Asteroids, and more. More info will likely debut at E3, but this is definitely something to keep an eye on.

News: Pre-E3 Announcements

magna-carta.jpg The organizers of E3 sent out a ‘sampling of “First Look” products’ email this morning, revealing a number of interesting points. Firstly, Atlus is listed as publisher of Magna Carta: Tears of Blood, the popular Korean-originated PS2 RPG that went over surprisingly well in Japan. In addition, Age Of Empires II for DS is confirmed as being published by Majesco and developed by Backbone Entertainment (Death Jr.) Also, Tecmo Classic Arcade is confirmed for unknown platforms, and will include “Tecmo Bowl,” “Rygar,” “Star Force,” “Solomon’s Key,” “Bomb Jack,” “Tecmo Cup,” “Pinball Action,” “Pleiads,” “Senjyo” and “Strato Fighter.” Also mentioned from Tecmo are “Trapt” for PlayStation 2, presumably the latest Deception game (“Protect your castle by luring your enemies into your booby-trapped world in this trap-action game”), and Fatal Frame 3.

News: March News Round-Up

Time for a quick round-up of some of the fun alt.goings-on this week, perhaps, from endearing Nintendogs movies, through sexy indie gamers, all the way to surreal text adventures:

– Touch-ds.jp has a bunch of new Nintendogs movies, including a photo diary of ‘My Life With Nintendogs’ from some representative and puppy-hungry Japanese girls.

– the finalists for the Sexiest Indie Gamer of All Time are up at TIGSource.com. These Adonis-es are handsome/beautiful, and they love indie games – a winning combination, I’m sure you’ll agree.

– Missed this one from a while back, but NewGrounds.com has a nice Alien Hominid-related photo report on visiting the Independent Games Festival and Game Developers Conference. We love teh (fiendishly difficult) Hominid.

– A report from the Taiwanese Digitimes site revealed that Iron Phoenix developers InterServ, the only official Xbox developers from Taiwan, are working on a game called Condor Trilogy Online for Xbox 2. In addition, it claims: ‘The development costs of an Xbox2 game is estimated to exceed US$ 1 million.’ No wonder outsourcing is so popular.

– The overall winners for the 2004 XYZZY Awards for interactive fiction (that’s text adventures, if you prefer) have been announced. Looks like the ‘surreal’ Blue Chairs cleaned up, and may be well worth checking out.

News: Kill Bill mod for Beats Of Rage

killbill.jpg The original Beats Of Rage by Senile Team has spawned a plethora of mods over multiple platforms for the Streets Of Rage vs. King Of Fighters ‘freeware’ original. The latest and possibly best turns the game into a strangely appropriate Kill Bill Vol.1 riff. There are multiple screenshots of the very brief but satisfying mod over at GP32Spain.com, and GP32News has a link to the GP32 PAK download itself. It’s also available for PC and for Dreamcast over at the BoR Revolution mods page – you’ll need the freely downloadable full game to run any of these. Oh, and other fun-looking (and entirely unofficial) BoR total conversions include a very gory DOOM mod, a whole other Kill Bill mod (DC only?), and even a Day Of The Tentacle mod (so far unreleased.)

News: Namco’s sweet tooth, respect for elders

pacman.jpg Namco’s latest financials have been released on a special English-language part of Namco.jp, and the detailed financial results [PDF] has some great trivia and randomness in it. For example, “There were two food theme park openings with Kuwana Ramen Kaido and Kobe Sweets Harbor… both have been well received.” Mm, a theme park with custom desserts. Also, “On October 1, 2004, the [Namco] Incubation Center opened the Kaikaya Day Service Center for the elderly in the Yokohama ‘World Porters’ shopping area.” Apparently, “Plans are on the table to expand this business going forward by offering services that incorporate an element of play that only an entertainment company like Namco can provide.” Wait, the lovable Japanese pensioners will be playing Pac Manhattan?

News: Atari Cosmos resurfaces

cosmos.jpg Over at eBay, there’s an incredibly rare Atari Cosmos for sale, for just UKP 9,990 (that’s only $18,600, currency conversion fiends.) The Cosmos was a 1981-era Atari prototype handheld that used 3D hologram backdrops with 2D LED-based gameplay. Atari Museum has more Cosmos information – apparently, the console was “the brainchild of Atari engineers Allan Alcorn, Harry Jenkins and Roger Hector, [and] was shown at the New York Toy Fair in 1981.” The auction includes holograms from unreleased Asteroids (the original, pre-arcade version was developed for the Cosmos!) and Superman games, but the handheld itself isn’t playable, unfortunately.