09/01/2006

Everything Changes

by Matthew Hawkins

First of all, let’s talk about games…

- According to a report in the latest issue of PSM (PlayStation Magazine), a second generation PSP is on its way. Basically, the internal memory will get a massive boost, from 32MB to 8GB, it will be both lighter and thinner, and its going to have an EyeToy camera built in. No word yet if the screen will be better; you’d think that getting rid of the ghosting would be the top of the list of things to fix… that and the square button… and the digital pad… and a second analog button. Its going to support all existing games and UMDs (let’s all say it together: “UMDs, lol”), but what about those who already have a PSP? Will they be screwed and be forced to get another another system? Possibly. Is Sony that stupid enough to piss off whatever fans they have left? Oh, most definitely.

Many feel that it would be business suicide to tell the existing PSP users “Oh well, sorry about that, at least you can pick up a new system while getting your PS3″, but this is Sony we’re talking about (who I guess is reneging on their “You can’t improve a piece of art!” statement right after the first round of complaints about their handheld). But also consider that somewhat dumping an entire user-base in favor for a technological upgrade has happened before in the realm of ortable gaming. Remember Game Boy Color? I guess the attitude is that since its a portable system, which was prone to getting lost or broken on replaced, then its not such a shock. Also, this might allow Sony in their minds a good reason to start fresh with the PSP. If you checked out the linked article, you’ll notice that they brought up the iPod yet again.

Oh, and who else also thinks that the new system is going to make homebrew development even more difficult?

- Yakuza, Sega’s Japanese gangsta game that’s coming to the states real soon, is getting a big screen adaptation, and Takashi Miike is going to be directing! Excellent choice, but given how crazy his Yakuza flicks have been, I’ve got to wonder if the plot of the game might be a bit too pedestrian in comparison. Bear in mind that I never beat the game… gonna wait for the English release to do that… so maybe there’s some middle-aged women lactating near the end of the game.

- Another trailer for Project Sylpheed/Silpheed 3 has just been released, and if you have a BitTorrent client, you can get it here.

- Just found out about a new game for the DS coming from the UK called Chronos Twin. Its a bit hard to explain, so perhaps seeing the vid first might make things a bit more clear (kinda): you basically control one character in two different time periods. But I guess what you do affects the character in both periods. But the vid also shows the player controller on character independently, to set something up for the future, so the other character can move forward or something. Interesting… as a total sucker for anything time traveller, I’m already sold.

- Here’s the just launched homepage of Blood: One Night Kiss, that new Killer 7-looking game from its creators. And there’s a movie section that has a few commercials, as well as footage from a pair of boss encounters (at least, thus far).

One person who?s played the game over at Insert Credit described it as having the same exact Killer 7 gameplay, except with anime trappings, which naturally was less than encouraging. But after seeing the boss battles, I’m a bit more optimistic; at least the boss fights allow you to run around and not be confined to a single path. Plus swinging a katana always beats shooting guns any day of the week.

As for the rest of the game, if you’re stuck on-rails but are always indoors, like running down hallways, then that should be just fine. I actually liked that in Killer 7, because it literally kept you on course and prevented one from getting lost. But the second that style of movement was moved outdoors, I absolutely hated it. Whereas it makes sense to only have one path in a confined space, when you’re outside in an open are, you’re going to want to walk around and explore. Not being able to do so simply opened up so many fundament gameplaying problems, as well as being just frustrated. I know some might try to say that its basically the 2.5 platformer style to a certain extent (that how I’ve tried viewing it at least), but its just not the same.

- I also found out about an earlier game by Suda 51 and the folks at Grasshopper Manufacture called Flower, Sun, and Rain. And it would seem that the Killer 7 “look” is something that existed before that game ever happened (yeah, I know, not the best of shots). For more information (and which is in English), check out National Console Support’s page on it.

Speaking of really old PS2 games from Japan, does anyone remember TVDJ? Its sorta like those shitty make your own music video Sega CD titles from back in the day, but instead of INXS or Right Said Fred (I think they had one), you’re editing together a bunch of different television shows starring a cartoon fox. I believe it was timed, and if you screwed up the tape would start to get damaged and get worn, till it snapped. Then there’s that fighting game in which you pilot construction equipment (I’d pass along a link, but I can never remember the proper spelling). I’ve got to get my hands on those games eventually…

- I’m not one who normally likes providing spoilers to games, especially for something that just came out, but this is too hard to pass up. Xenosaga 3 just came out, and everyone might recall that the original Xenogears was heralded as some sort of masterpiece for its storyline that dealt with religion and creationism, which was pretty fresh and groundbreaking I guess for Japanese RPGs. Though it should be noted that what many consider to be innovative when it comes to story conventions in RPGs, as well as anime & manga, at least by their diehard fans, are things that’s been around in movies, books, and other forms of entertainment forever. For example, I dug Evangelion when it came out, but the whole kid hating his dad angle was hardly amazing as others have claimed it up to be. Sorry, but I simply can’t miss a chance to knock Japanerds any chance I get (gee, is it any wonder that Tokyopop didn’t hire me?), though I do want to clarify that I don’t hate all anime & manga… I’m a big fan of Mindgame and Sexy Voice & Robo for example. Anyway…

Well the virtually unplayable Xenosaga which has been continuing the tradition, but the latest game truly tops itself by introducing Jesus Christ into the game!

- Check out this music vid from Stepping Selection, a DDR rip-off from Jaleco, featuring the worst rendition of the Ghostbuster’s theme imaginable. When I first saw it, I thought I was watching one of the Kidz Bop videos, but then I realized that those are actually much better.

- A while back I passed along a FAQ for The Zombie vs. Ambulance. Well, the same guy just completed another, this time for the bitGenerations game Orbital.

- And I feel like a total creep for passing this along, but here’s a page featuring the girls from the very mediocre fighting game Bloody Roar 3 in assorted sexual poses, created by the game’s debug menu. Warning: its highly NSFW, so if you’re at work, or have a significant other nearby, forget about it. So why am I passing along? Because I pride myself for providing whatever ridiculous or horrific video game related website that falls under the radar, regardless of taste.

… Okay, time for Transformers!

First, here’s what Bumblebee’s new face is supposed to look like:

It’s actually very bug-like. Like a… Goldbug! Actually, he face was much cooler looking.

Second, here’s something that taken with a cellphone, so I’m guessing that its very top-secret; ladies and gentlemen, meet the new Optimus Prime:

You know… its not that bad. Well, it could be much worse (like the clusterfuck that is the new Megatron). In fact, when I look at it and try imagining the classic Prime voice (again, they got Peter Cullen to reprise the role), I kinda, sorta like it.
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Time for some personal notes…

First off, some might be wondering (and already a few have asked) if my book is done, since yesterday was the due date. And the answer is no.

Due to a lot of crazy shit happening in my personal life (which many of my friends are pretty familiar with by now), I simply haven’t been able to properly work on the project these past couple of weeks, so I had to ask for a deadline extension. Thankfully my editor was more than happy to oblige (aside from being kind and sympathetic, she confessed that she has a mountain of manuscripts to plow through before getting to mine). So now I have an extra month to submit a first draft that I’m happy with.

But the thing is, this whole month was already going to be busy to begin with, so I’m not too sure how much extra time I’m really getting. Aside from wanting to finally do more comic-related stuff for SPX next month, as well as the Philly Zine Fest in a few weeks, I’m also going to become more involved with the IGDA, which I believe has been mentioned already. Plus, I’m going to have a new column starting soon over at GameSetWatch! It’s going to be a somewhat of an irregular thing, maybe bi-weekly, but the first one should be up sometime next week (which I’ll be working on this weekend). Keep an eye out for it (or just wait for me to link to it once its live). Hence why updates to this site will continue to be somewhat sporadic and infrequent…

Finally, I just wanted to let everyone know that as of yesterday, I am officially no longer the lead game designer of PixelJump. Furthermore, I have decided to the leave the company as a whole.

I started PixelJump almost exactly four years ago with Jason, and I honestly had no idea what to expect when it came to starting up and managing a company. What was originally just a two man operation that was just about making games for cell phones, eventually grew in size and scope. Eventually PixelJump evolved into something else, a fully-fledged company that sought to create cutting edge mobile entertainment, beyond just games. But as things continued to morph, it eventually became apparent that my original vision for PixelJump and the course that the company was on was no longer the same, hence the decision to break away. From this point, I am once again a fully independant game designer.

As for my time with PixelJump, all I can say is that the entire experience was educational to say the least. I’d also like to wish everyone there the very best of luck with all their future endeavors.

  • TimeCard

    Careful with that picture of Prime, The color scheme is different than the press relese they’ve had so far…

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