Doshin the Giant

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Doshin the Giant

Format: GameCube Genre: God Game Released: 2002 Developer:Nintendo

I’ve got to admit that this game was a bit of a guilty pleasure for me. It’s obviously a kids’ game, and I obviously wasn’t a kid when I was playing it, but let’s face it, kids shouldn’t get to have all the fun.

Doshin the Giant - Nintendo GameCube

Doshin the Giant managed to suck me into its world entirely. At its core the game is incredibly simple, yet somehow utterly compulsive: you play a friendly yellow giant whose aim is to help four tribes scattered across several islands. The villagers’ requests are pretty simple – they generally amount to raising or lowering the ground or moving trees about – and every time you help them out they send a bit of love your way. The more they love you, the bigger you get, so that by the end of each ‘day’ in the game Doshin is usually towering above even the highest mountains. However, come the next day, he always reverts to his original size, although all the changes you made to the islands remain the same.

Doshin the Giant - Nintendo GameCube

A lot of the game’s charm comes from its visual appeal – all primary colours and smiling faces. More than anything though, it’s the sound effects that wormed their way into my head: there’s no music as such, but the background noise is a symphony of birdsong, animal noises, the lapping of the sea and the weird, high-pitched mewlings of the villagers. The whole soundscape is strangely hypnotic and relaxing: playing Doshin is almost like undergoing brain massage. Click on the video below and you can hear what I mean for yourself:

Doshin the Giant - Nintendo GameCube

It’s not perfect of course – the simple concept, although appealing, ultimately becomes repetitive – but it’s the way this game made me feel that ensures its place on the list. As you make your way from village to village, planting and landscaping, you can’t help but build up an affection for your tiny wards, and there’s a sense of fatherly pride as you watch your little denizens go about expanding their villages and building monuments in your honour.

Doshin the Giant - Nintendo GameCube

But there’s the catch – the ultimate goal of the game is to get the various villages to build all 15 possible monuments, but only half of these are ‘love’ monuments. In order to get the remaining ‘hate’ monuments, you have to terrify your villagers by tapping the shoulder button and turning into Jashin the Hate Giant, allowing you to destroy the villages and murder the inhabitants.

Doshin the Giant - Nintendo GameCube

After nurturing my villagers for so long, watching their families grow and listening to them burst into cheerful song at my approach, I was quite reluctant to rain down fiery destruction upon them, yet it was the only way to proceed. As they ran in terror while I systematically destroyed their houses, I couldn’t help but feel terribly guilty – and there are very few games I’ve played since that have managed to provoke such emotion.

Doshin the Giant - Nintendo GameCube

Who’d have thought a kids’ game could be so provocative?

Sonic Heroes

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Sonic Heroes was a good bit different than the Sonic Adventure games. While those games stopped the furious speed with adventure elements, this game was more true to it’s 2D roots. It was a pretty straight forward platformer with little distractions. ~Adam R.

Sonic Heroes

While Gamecube fans liked the ports of the two Sonic Adventure games, Sonic Heroes was the first original Sonic game for the system. Ironically Sega also produced PS2 and Xbox versions which gave Sonic a home on all the major consoles. Though most critics cite the Gamecube version as the superior edition.

Sonic Heroes - Nintendo Gamecube - Gameplay Screenshot

 Regardless of platform, Sonic Heroes was a good bit different than the Sonic Adventure games. While those games stopped the furious speed with adventure elements, this game was more true to it’s 2D roots. It was a pretty straight forward platformer with little distractions.
Sonic Heroes - Nintendo Gamecube - Gameplay Screenshot
 The game also made use of Sonic’s friends and enemies being forced upon the player. You can pick between four teams of three. So you had the good team (Sonic, Tails Knuckles), the evil team (Shadow, Rogue, Omega), the girly team (Amy, Cream, Big), and the weird team. The last team was comprised of the awful characters from Knuckles Chaotix. I have to give Sega credit for bringing back such strange characters for no reason.
Sonic Heroes - Nintendo Gamecube - Gameplay Screenshot
The game was received well by critics, and fans but nothing compared to the praise of the Genesis generation. I ended up never playing the game myself, but I was very tempted at the time. At least it wasn’t as awful or bizarre as some of the sequels that followed.

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker

Format: GameCube Genre: RPG Released: 2003 Developer: Nintendo

Wind Waker was a brave move on Nintendo’s part. Radically overhauling the graphical style of one of the best-loved game series of all time takes some chutzpah, and I remember it caused outrage at the time.

legend_of_zelda_wind_waker

Fans were up in arms when the first shots of Wind Waker‘s cel-shaded graphics were released, and some quarters were quick to cite the new game as a signal that Nintendo was trying to ‘kiddify’ the Zelda series. As the finished game eventually proved though, this was all complete nonsense and bluster: if anything, it just goes to show that the kind of people who spit and rave on internet forums about these kinds of perceived ‘faults’ are generally the kind of people you can safely ignore.

legend_of_zelda_wind_waker

In my opinion, Wind Waker‘s graphics are an absolute triumph – the game’s cel-shading is utterly charming and distinctive, and whereas most games from 2003 have aged badly in the terms of graphics, Wind Waker still looks as fresh as it did when it was released. In fact, I reckon the Wind Waker version of Link is even more iconic than the ‘traditional’ version – so much so that a friend of mine recently featured cel-shaded Link on her wedding invites.

legend_of_zelda_wind_waker

I’m playing through The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess at the moment, which is what got me thinking about the Zelda canon. And yes, I know you’re probably shocked that I’ve only just got round to playing Twilight Princessdespite the fact that it came out four years ago – we try to keep our finger on the pulse here at 101 Video Games, even if the patient died some time ago. And anyway, at least I’ve actually played some games, unlike a certain other blog co-author whose name I won’t mention… But I digress. The point is that unlikeWind Waker,  Twilight Princess feels like a direct sequel to Ocarina of Time – perhaps the direct sequel that the internet forums were baying for back in the early 2000s. And the real point I’m trying to make here is that Twilight Princessjust isn’t as good as Wind Waker was.

legend_of_zelda_wind_waker

Don’t get me wrong, Twilight Princess is an absolutely brilliant game, but whereas Wind Waker was a breath of fresh air that drew me in from the very beginning, Twilight Princess feels a little samey and derivative. The designers have obviously done their best to throw in a few new gameplay elements, but many of them fall flat – the sections where you play as a wolf, for example, just aren’t as much fun as playing in your human form, and of course they pale a little in comparison with the wonderful Okami (perhaps an example of a Zelda-imitator beating the original at its own game).

legend_of_zelda_wind_waker

Basically, what I’m trying to say is that Nintendo went out on a limb with Wind Waker, and the gamble payed off brilliantly. I won’t bang on about all of the reasons the game is so wonderful (I’m sure you’ve probably played it yourself and can remember all too well), but I have to mention the sailing; there are only two games I can think of where travelling was just as enjoyable, if not more so, than reaching your destination, and this is one of them*. The fact that just moving around the gameworld was fun in itelf speaks volumes for just what an absolute classic this game is, and although we generally try to avoid including two games from the same series on our list, there was just no way for me to choose between this and Ocarina of Time. I might even put it on my wedding invites.

Luigi’s Mansion

Luigis Mansion - Gamecube - Cover

Format- Gamecube

Genre- Ghostbusters, but with Luigi

Considered an unrecognised classic by many, is Luigi’s Mansion really that good? I would say…no. It definitely doesn’t get the recognition it deserves, but it’s not up there with the greats. It’s ‘merely’ very good.

Now that mild criticism is out of the way, lets me just say what the game does well.

It’s quite obvious why Luigi’s Mansion hasn’t dated as badly as other games of its era. Very tightly designed, the game’s small, self-contained environments have actually helped to give it a somewhat timeless appeal.

Sure, the detailed graphics don’t look quite as nice as they did on the Cube’s launch, but they still have a rather endearing appeal, and there are some nice touches present throughout.

Luigis Mansion - Gamecube

The gameplay mechanics are also commendable, with a pretty much perfect take on busting ghosts. The pull-back analogue control for grabbing ghouls is the perfect mix of randomness and skill, and feels physical enough to be hugely satisfying. Especially with a rumble enabled controller (sorry Wavebird users).

Puzzles are a mixed bag. The majority are nothing too taxing, but the way the game squeezes as many ideas as it can out of Luigi’s limited moveset is admirable. But occasionally you do feel the game is struggling to design a puzzle that is different enough to a previous one. This doesn’t really detract from the experience to any significant degree though.

Luigis Mansion - Gamecube

It helps that the game isn’t too long. This means it doesn’t outstay its welcome and is a manageable (but not too short) size.

For the most part, you’re just happy to soak up the game’s unique atmosphere. Sure, you’ve probably been through a scary mansion before (Resident Evil), and you may have had the chance to play as Luigi before (Mario is *shudder* Missing!) – but have you experienced both those together?

Luigi is a lovable coward (his nervous humming of the game’s theme tune is priceless), and the supporting cast of enemies and allies is a memorable bunch as well. It’s a game you’ll want to revisit every few years, for sure.

Overall, it’s very obvious why this game is close to many people’s hearts. It may not be perfect, but it’s a hidden Gamecube gem.

Soul Calibur II

 soulcalibur2
Soul Calibur II was a huge hit on all 3 consoles, but I think many people opted out for the Gamecube version for one reason.

soulcalibur2

That reason was because Link from the Legend of Zelda was a playable character. Spawn was in the Xbox version while Heihachi from Tekken was in the PS2 version. I remember some fanboys of the other two systems saying Link didn’t even fit in the SC universe. Yeah I’m sure a weaponless fighter and an african-american demon from hell are perfect matches too. Link fit well with his master sword, bow, and bombs.

soulcalibur2

The rest of the game was good as the arcade version but with more modes and whatnot. Spent many hours playing this game. Unlocked all the characters, bought most of the weapons, even read some of the awful back-stories. My favorite in the series, and for the record I thought Soul Calibur IV was a big disappointment.

Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door

 Paper_Mario_Thousand_year_door
The sequel to the fan-favorite and practically only good RPG for the N64 was almost the hit as it was for the system that came before it.
Paper_Mario_Thousand_year_door

With the game-play and story-style almost unchanged, Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door did receive a good graphics boost. And when you have a decently fun RPG combat system, there’s not much room to complain when its not drastically different. I think all the Super Paper Mario haters can agree on that one.

Paper_Mario_Thousand_year_door

The second Paper Mario game has an epically long quest with lots of quirky humor (there’s a tranny ghost who has a crush on Mario; I’m completely serious), and interesting characters. Be warned that the difficulty jumps for no apparent reason right at the end. Other than that, I can say that Thousand Year Door is a worthy successor to not only Paper Mario, but Super Mario RPG.

Resident Evil (GameCube)

 Resident Evil - N64
Resident Evil was a huge hit on PS1, so it was kind of weird for gamers to see Capcom have a super-remake done on the Gamecube especially for it’s “kiddie” reputation.
Resident Evil - N64

The original PS1 version is a classic, but the game is dated quite a bit. Just think about it, we went from this

Resident Evil - N64

to this. Defiantly not a poor rush job on Capcom’s part. Not only is everything redone, but they added more areas, tweaked weapons, and made enemies even tougher.

Resident Evil - N64

I think my favorite part was the crimson head zombies. The regular zombie was no longer a threat, so after a few easy 9mm caps in their butts they go down easy. However after some time, the zombies revive into nastier and stronger version of themselves. The first time you see one of these guys wake up, will make you paranoid about burning or beheaded every zombie you meet.

Resident Evil - N64

The only bad thing I can say about it is that it’s a little bit too difficult. I think the PS1 version had a better balance of challenge. However it still was a fantastic job done by Capcom and really is one of the best remakes gamers have ever seen.

Weird games: Cubivore

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Cubivore

I think a game where you tear the limbs of enemies and eat them, have an ability called “Tale a Doo” and can mate with multiple females by going to the “Love Tunnel” constitutes a weird game. Cubivore: Survival of the Fittest is an action adventure game created by Saru Brunei and released for the Nintendo GameCube in 2002.

Cubivore - gameplay screenshot

In Cubivore your goal is to become strong enough to kill the top Cubivore known as the Killer Cubivore who is slowly killing nature due to gorging on the land. The only way to become strong enough to take on the Killer Cubivore and his cronies is to mutation and create offspring that will be able to defeat him.

Cubivore - gameplay screenshot

Most of the gameplay revolves around traveling the world fighting other Cubivore’s and ripping off their libs. You also collect hearts throughout the game that will allow the female Cubivore’s you mate with to have children. The process of mutation and creating offspring actually has a strategy to it even if the combat itself is simple.

Cubivore - gameplay screenshot

The game is definitely weird, but it is unique in its gameplay design. The graphics are extremely outdated and the music, while not bad can get old real fast. That really was the problem with the game overall, it became way to repetitive.

Long before Spore Cubivore introduced us to a weird new world of evolution and survival of the fittest.

What are the best-selling video game consoles of all time?

gaming-consoles

With the holiday season upon us, it appears each modern-day video game console is primed to do more big numbers.  While this is nothing new to video gaming throughout most of the past three decades, the sheer numbers are telling of just how much the industry has grown and how much more it may grow before it levels off.

The original “must have” game console was the Atari Video Computer System, later called the Atari 2600.  While it didn’t catch on right away, the 2600 was the clear sales leader of the early generations, selling around 30 million units in it’s lifetime, six times more than competing consolesIntellivision and ColecoVision sold combined.

Even with such numbers, however, the lifetime figures of Atari’s classic console have been beaten many times over.  While 1996’s Nintendo 64 failed to catch on like retailers had hoped, it still managed to outsell the 2600 in the end my almost 3 million units.  Nonetheless, it was tagged a failure by Nintendo compared to previous consoles.

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The biggest Nintendo console for some time was theNintendo Entertainment System, which moved almost 62 million consoles in it’s lifetime, saving the video game industry in North America.  Only recently did Nintendo manage to defeat it’s own sales record with the Nintendo Wii, which has now hit the 90 million unit mark.

The NES may come down the lifetime charts by the end of some other console runs, however.  The XBox 360 is nearing the 58 million unit mark with Sony’s PlayStation 3 not far behind it with over 55 million units sold as of this writing.

Even though it is in last place in the current console generation, the PlayStation 3 may still reach the top five selling consoles of all time by the end of it’s run, giving Sony three of the best selling consoles ever.  The PlayStation 2rules the roost with a whopping 153.5 million units sold, a mark that beat Sony’s own record with the originalPlayStation, which shipped over 102 million consoles.

While this article isn’t including handhelds it is interesting to note that the Nintendo DS has sold 149 million units (not including the 3DS model), a number that means it’s already trumped the unreal sales numbers of the original GameBoyhandhelds that had ruled the market for over a decade.

classic-consoles

Here is a list of the top selling consoles of all time, according to Wikipedia.  Where do your favorite systems rank?

1.  Sony PlayStation 2 (2000) – 153.5 million

2.  Sony PlayStation (1994) – 102.49 million

3.  Nintendo Wii (2006) – 89.36 million *

4.  Nintendo Entertainment System (1985) – 61.91 million

5.  Microsoft XBox 360 (2005) – 57.6 million *

6.  Sony PlayStation 3 (2006) – 55.5 million *

7.  Super Nintendo Entertainment System (1990) – 49.10 million

8.  Sega Genesis (1988) – 39 million

9.  Nintendo 64 (1996) – 32.93 million

10. Atari VCS/2600 (1977) – 30 million

11. Microsoft XBox (2001) – 24 million

12. Nintendo GameCube (2001) – 21.74 million

13. Sega Dreamcast (1998) – 10.6 million

14. NEC TurboGrafx-16 (1987) – 10 million

15. Sega Saturn (1994) – 9.5 million

* = Console still in production as of press time.

Evolution: Indie development in Russia and one company’s transition to the U.S.

The year 2011 – the year of hopes – is coming to its end and it is time to sum up the results. It is about six years of own game projects’ development and 11 years in the gaming industry. Next year means new goals!  For sure, they will be more ambitious than those in 2007, when the idea of Deep Black project was only emerging.

deep black

What was it like?

In the far 1997, when I was 18, I first saw PlayStation console.  I worked for a company that was doing semi-legal localisation of gaming software at those “wild” times in Russia. Working for the company was something beyond description – there were not more than 3 similar companies in whole Russia at that time.  I was very interested in software development and it took me three months to do first “game” that would successfully run on a modded PS1 console. That game earned me 1000 USD, which was very decent pay at that time in Russia – taking into account that I did both programming and drawing.

Starting with 1999, I worked as a producer of western products in the Russian market. It was easier, than developing games myself. My core tasks were to find indie games developed on GNU and buy them to publish in Russia. Indie developers were surprised, that they could earn some money in Russia.  Later there were Dreamcast, PlayStation 2, GameCube, Xbox and much more game systems.  Semi-legal companies would become legal or disappear, owners of companies would change, but the localisation issue was still important. A DVD-format came to Russia.

biart_logo

It was in 2002 when I decided to set up my own company – Biart.  A first version of the company’s logo was introduced and then changed in 5 years’ time.  We were a young team and didn’t think about business-strategies – things were going well anyway. So we started experiments with design, internet services, opened three sound-recording studios and two authoring studios.  And  I hoped  that one day we would  have enough potential to develop own gaming project. So why didn’t we start developing our own game at that time? It was because we understood that we didn’t know the market well.  Besides, we felt that everything had its time. You cannot force yourself.

In 2005, I met an indie developer with an interesting concept and as I also had similar ideas, I decided to make it a commercial project.  So I made up my mind to go into the project and started searching for a script writer, team, and product placement partners etc. We had a small office and some money to finance the development. The development took us a year. We worked hard and devoted our souls and hearts to our work.

So in 2007 Diver: Deep Water Adventures appeared on PC platform. Deals were good at that time and we decided not to play with royalties and prefer a flat fee scheme. Publishers were more adequate then compared to the period after the economic crisis. Publishers were hungry for games.

But our German publisher cheated us and we did not get the last payment from them. It was a guy from Gost Publishing who sold rights to Frogster without paying to the U.S. No need to say that Frogster assured us that they had paid it all. Stephane Gonod – the guy from Gost Publishing – disappeared and half a year later announced himself bankrupt. It is funny that a year ago he set up a new company in cooperation with an ex-Frogster employee and when we accidentally met at a conference, his only words were “Shit happens”. God will judge him.

So the project was released and there was a question – what’s next? I always strive to set new, more complicated goals, so development for PC was not so challenging for me anymore. Everybody was talking about game consoles and I realized that we should slow down with Diver 2 for a few years and devote ourselves to own multiple platform technology’s development.  And accordingly, our new goal was now to create own engine for next-gen titles. I sent an inquiry to Microsoft and a miracle happened – we got a status of an official developer! Thank you guys, if not for you, we would most definitely remain one of those numerous PC-only developers from Russia. So I was one of the first who brought Xbox 360 devkit to Moscow. It was not easy at all to deal with the Russian customs, but once again, thank you to our account manager – Alistair, you are the best!

There was another challenging task – where do we get people and how do we get a team if nobody in Russia can program for consoles, optimise the code and – most crucial – artists do content of very low quality level.  But as they say, believe and love what you do and you will find people who will believe in you and in your project.  Another hint – feel and understand who you are going to employ, for someone without experience is able to learn and the other is only going to “eat” your budget.  Speaking of numbers – it took us a year to experiment with staff and content. The real development itself started in late 2008 – 2009, when the team got skilled enough.

PS3-Deep-Black

The project’s original title was U-Wars. Later we renamed it to Deep Black. Platforms – PC and Xbox 360. It is a third-person shooter with key moments being fought onshore and underwater. Special underwater mechanics, jet pack etc.  The idea of the game appeared after I read various articles about special underwater operation forces. We started doing a game about these Special Forces but then I changed my mind and we did it in the sci-fi genre, abandoning the previous script.

[youtube width=”600″ height=”480″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9FPSF8-d28Q[/youtube]

The period of active development of the game was 2010. At the same time, we went into agreements with publishers and started working on PlayStation 3 version of the game. It was not easy, but for sure it was a challenge for the team!

2011 is a year of the technology’s optimisation and content polishing. And now I am going to tell you about all drawbacks we had. I think this may be interesting.

  1. Content

We replaced our game designer three times. There are no experienced game designers in Russia, who know how to do shooters. In 2011, I took over and we spent the entire summer polishing and balancing the game.

We should have done feature cuts earlier. It hurt to cut when we had to do it later. Still even after the cut there were 10 hours of gameplay there. We also cut some game mechanics. Gradually you come to understand that it is better to do less but in decent quality.

The pipeline settled by the development’s final stage. I relied upon level designers’ common sense and some of them were wrong when incorrectly putting emphasis in level design.  For instance, level designers used to pay too much attention to places; a regular player would run by within three seconds and would not notice.

Our major problem was that we lacked experience. As a result, too many iterations.  If I started the project now, I could economize not less than 1.5M USD (total to-date budget 4.2M). The pipeline and exact task setting – this is what counts. When you feel that your ship is going in the wrong direction, do not be afraid to change your staff. I said good-bye to those who didn’t match our dream team in 2011. If you are an indie, fire those who only work for their salaries and who do not go with the level of your team.

  1. Technology

First, there was weak understanding of the architecture and some mistakes of the lead programmer.  Let me put it like this: we were unlucky with our technical architect and had to re-do the technology three times before we dismissed him.  Integration of new features to the render was changing the pipeline in terms of art. As said above, it took us one year to experiment with the technology and develop first toolset. To me, it was like a joker in the pack – the arts and programming departments would set some terms, but in reality it appeared that nobody had control of the situation. Difficult? It was. Especially when you invest your own money. And your employees do like to experiment 🙂 As a result – we finally got a working technology for Xbox 360 and PC in 2010… But our publisher then wanted PlayStation 3. I have to admit that we were afraid of it. And not in vain.

At that moment we had strong guys in our team and decided that we could do it. We got the hardware in August. And we realized that we had to do the impossible – once again re-write the whole architecture of the render and do refactoring of the engine, as our engine was not ready for PS3 architecture. And in October we had to show the Playable to the publisher.

Gritting their teeth, guys got down to work and analysed the entire code in every detail.  The publisher waited patiently for something playable for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. I, as a producer, had to look into it too – it was a serious step to do considerable refactoring of the code. But I trusted the guys and they did it.

biengine

At the same time, we provided for the possibility of the engine to easily add new platforms, as well as mobile platforms. The previous code was designed for Xbox 360 and DirectX. The new one became a real engine. Within three months a playable for PS3 was available. …. But how slow it was! 🙂

In 2011, while doing a team test and fixing multiplayer for Xbox Live and PSN, programmers were focused on optimisation of the engine code and PS3 render. Numbers? Ok! We raised these two-three times for Xbox and four times for PSP! We had 25-35 fps on PS3 without Cell optimisation.   At the final stage of development. We even used to joke about Stereo, but had already dealt with feature cut and knew the importance of total concentration on our tasks.

We reduced our staff by middle of 2011 and left only key people. It was clear now that it was not enough to do a game and fix critical bugs. One has to pass certification! And, let me tell you, this depends on the quality of testing. It is tough, as you start finding weak points in the code, when something hasn’t been considered well.  And at the same time, you keep on spending your money… And you do postpone your other projects. We had a three month delay and moved release date. Very hard times…

On the whole, the project lasted a year longer than planned. On the one hand, it was due to PlayStations 3 porting, on the other though, because of overestimation  of own abilities.

What now?

We started developing concepts of two new projects in mid-2011 and are planning to release Depth Hunter game about underwater hunting and treasure hunting  by December, 2011.  It will be released for mobile platforms later. Yes! We are indeed developing a version of our technology for mobile platforms – IOS, Android.

And Deep Black is going to become MMOTPS. We are going to launch it as a Free-to-Play by the end of next year. Depth Hunter for mobile is going to be Free-to-Play too. We are eager to work on free-to-play for consoles. I do believe that this is going to be of top interest in 2012-2013.

We have registered an office in the USA (Delaware) this year. So far it is our legal HQ, but we are looking forward to getting money for Deep Black to move to the USA. Unfortunately our business is in Russia and it is getting more difficult to search for investments here, in Russia. Unreasonable loan terms and local investors who are eager to get a controlling interest at once make it challenging to do business in Russia.

The political situation in Russia is not predictable too. People talk a lot about it and do not trust the government. Guys, we do want to work and develop games, rather than wait for another revolution!

A Russian Association of Game Developers and Publishers of Game Industry and Interactive Technologies (http://www.radit.ru/) was set up in 2010 by a number of Russian companies. We were trying to promote development of simulator games and gain support to develop an equivalent of, for example, “Canada” in Russia.  But in our country you can only do business if you pay bribes. I spent two years and a lot of money trying to change things. I have held two conferences ACGI (2009, 2010, http://www.acgirussia.com/), but soon realised that they do not need us. I have no intention to have anything in common with the current authorities any more.

So at the moment I am busy transferring our contracts and licenses to the US, dealing with registration issues and searching for investors/ partners for a long-term cooperation.

We have always tried to develop not only original and quality games, but also high-tech games. I think that we have coped with our task in 2011. I am sure that we will cope with our new challenge – move to the US – in 2012.

Six years after the company set-up, we are facing a new stage of the company development. I am sure that the upcoming 2012 will bring success to all our games!

Konstantin Popov

Founder & CEO of Biart Company

Happy 10th Birthday GameCube: My Favorite Games

Gamecube Cake

Ah where has the time gone? I remember reading about the GameCube and thinking, really, tiny discs like that? Now you are 10 years old and as Obsolete as the rest of us. Yes, the GameCube is now known for the titles you can purchase for the Wii more than a game system, but it did have some good games that I enjoyed. Here they are in no particular order.

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door

papermario2_gamecube-box

I loved the original Super Mario RPG on the SNES and when I discovered Paper Mario was to be its successor I had to give it a shot. Paper Mario is a beginners RPG whereas it is very easy to play, at least this version. However, the ease did not make the game bad, on the contrary, it was very fun and the animation was unique and fit well with the storyline.

SoulCalibur 2

Soul-Calibur-2-gamecube-box

Fans of Soul Blade and the first SoulCalibur got a real treat on the GameCube version. Not only was the game put together well, but fans got to play as the exclusive character, Link and who could resist that. The music and graphics were well done and overall was a great year for the franchise.

Resident Evil

resident-evil-gamecube-box

Sure, it was a remake, but when it is done right giving people the chance to experience an updated version of the game they loved it deserves praise. This game was visually stunning and brought back all the fear you had from the original. The audio was redone as well and sounded fantastic, if you owned a GameCube and liked RE then you had to have this game.

F Zero GX

F-Zero-GX-gamecube-box

Fans of the futuristic racer could rejoice in this title that expanded on the original with new visuals and more ways to customize your vehicle than time would allow. This had everything fans wanted, the speed, the visuals, even the music and kept you interested in playing for a long time.

Resident Evil 4

resident-evil-4-gamecube-box

One of the best RE’s period and a must have on the GameCube. Everything about this game was well done from the storyline to the immersive factor to the music and graphics it was a staple for the series and alongside Codename Veronica, one of my all-time favorite survival horror games.

[youtube width=”600″ height=”480″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lRuNDkhU0is[/youtube]

The others

Now this is a short list. There were other fantastic games like Metroid Prime, Super Smash Bros. Melee and The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, but I leave it up to you to tell us your favorite GameCube Games.

Anti-Classic: Charlie’s Angels

Anti Classic Charlie's Angels gameplay screenshot 1

We have all played bad games, but there are some out there that deserve to be erased from the earth and sadly, most of them are based on movie franchises. Charlie’s Angels ranks as one of the wost movie games in history for a number of reasons as so has been deemed an Anti-Classic.

Charlie’s Angels was released for the GameCube and PlayStation 2 in 2003 by Ubisoft and no DRM was necessary because no one would want to play this game less steal it. It was based on the Charlie’s Angels movie, but really, it was more based on the women and not so much the story of the movie.

The style of the game was third-person and was a beat em up game where you controlled the three Angels are they went on various missions. The game starts off on a beach with the Angels in swimsuits. I assume this was done for the Beach Volleyball effect to get you to continue playing, but as soon as you starting fighting groups of enemies with bad animations, limited fighting moves and unfinished graphics even unlockables featuring images and video from the Full Throttle movie could not win gamers back.

Anti Classic Charlie's Angels gameplay screenshot 2

So if you take a look at the video which was done pretty well IMHO you can see right away that they hoped showing bikini clad women would make you want to play. Next, you see the running animation that just looked horrible. Seriously, the run like they are skipping off to see the wizard then we get to see the horrible fighting animation and lack of fighting moves. Perhaps you could enjoy the noises as each woman is hit, but better yet check out the jumping animation that looks like a ballerina on crack.

When you fight mobs of enemies, there is an invisible wall so you cannot advance and further. Now while the not being able to move on until you finish off the bad guys is nothing new, in 2003 game technology it was poorly executed. Now in later levels you had the ability to switch between the Angels so one could access something to allow the other to continue, but you could not switch between characters during fights.

Watch the video and be happy you did not buy this game or embarrassed that you did. Pretty much everyone in the gaming industry voted Charlie’s Angels as horrible and Obsolete Gamer considers it an Anti-Classic.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wy-hEDMUedo[/youtube]

My Favourite Games: 1

Hello.  I’m RetroKingSimon (or RKS to my friends).

Some of my many interests include retro videogames, movies, and anime, but I have been complacent in the pursuit of these interests for quite some time now, espically since I’ve been married. This is my attempt to make amends, and will offer the opportunity/excuse to sample some of the best, and no doubt worst, these subjects have to offer, including some that I’ve been meaning to try for many years, and will also allow me to re-evaluate some old favourites that should perhaps be better consigned to fondly-recalled memories.

In addition, I have a curious fondness for making random, and often nonsensical ‘Top Five’ lists, often with the help of Luke. These will also form part of my tomfoolery here, and are just for fun. Any of you that read these musings, I encourage you to make comments or let me know what you think, good or bad, but trolls and other hateful rapscallions can direct your bilge elsewhere. 🙂

Anyway, to mark my first post here, I thought it might be prudent to list my favourite games. There are 30 here, though I like many more of course, and with the exception of the first one, they are in no particular order.

Star Control 2 – 3DO (1994)

Star Control 2 Screenshot I

My favourite videogame of all-time? Without question! Not many sci-fi TV shows or films even have a story as engrossing as this game! It’s an epic space adventure game where, controlling a large, but weak starship, you must wander the galaxy searching for artefacts, forging alliances with or fighting against the many alien races, gathering resources, and building a fleet with which to take on the evil Ur-Quan Heirachy who have enslaved Earth and several other worlds. Featuring hectic real-time battles, hours of speech, and countless things to do, it’s a sci-fi game that has everything. You even get to score with a green-skinned alien girly for goodness sake! The best thing of all about this game is that you can download a conversion of the 3DO game for nothing and play it on any modern PC. Get it here (the game has had a name change though, it’s now called Ur-Quan Masters).

Burnout 2: Point of Impact – Gamecube (2002)

Burnout 2 - Point of Impact Screenshot I

Granted, there’s a lot of games I haven’t played, but right now this is the finest arcade-style racing game I’ve ever played. You have three opponents and racing takes place on long stretches of road also populated by civilian drivers ranging from cars right up to coaches and juggernauts. There are a few cars to choose from when you start the game and successful racing unlocks many more. It’s all fairly standard stuff, it’s just done so well. Control over the cars is precise, the courses are busy and superbly designed, and opponent AI is pretty good too. This all combines to make some pretty awesome, hi-octane racing! In my humble opinion, this was and remains the pinnacle of the Burnout series (and marks the final installment before Electronic bloody Arts bought the franchise and ruined it), and the arcade racing genre in general.

Wonder Boy 3: The Dragon’s Trap – Master System (1989)

Wonder Boy 3 - The Dragon’s Trap Screenshot I

Introduced to me by my good friend Luke, this game blew me away when I first played it in the late 80’s, and has remained a firm favourite. Despite its name, this is actually the fourth game in the convoluted Wonder Boy/Monster World series of games and almost certainly universally considered the best. The game, which takes the form of a sprawling arcade adventure, carries on directly from Wonder Boy in Monster Land, and sees Wonder Boy cursed by a dragon and turned into Lizard Man! And so Wonder Boy’s latest quest begins. He must brave many strange and distant lands in his bid to return himself to Human form, but not before he takes various other forms too! A top game when it was first released and it remains a top game today, arguably the best game of the Master System.

Gauntlet 4 – Mega Drive (1993)

Gauntlet 4 Screenshot I

Not strictly speaking a sequel, Gauntlet 4, released on the Mega Drive/Genesis exclusively, was more a tarted-up conversion of the original and features four different modes. The Arcade Mode is a near-arcade perfect port of the orignal Gauntlet arcade game from 1985, but with the addition of an all-new soundtrack, the Record Mode, which is a variation on the arcade mode tailored to achieving high scores, the Battle Mode is a multi-player fight to the death, and best of all is the Quest Mode, which is an all-new Gauntlet game where the player must battle through the ten floors of each of an ancient castle’s four towers before tackling the dragon dwelling therein. Including some RPG-style features, this is a whole game in itself. Overall, for any Gauntlet fan, this is the complete package.

OutRun – Arcade (1985)

Outrun screenshot I

Until the Burnout series came along, this was still my favourite driving game ever, and in many ways is responsible for my love of videogames to begin with. Everyone knows all about this classic by Yu Suzuki which is still as enjoyable today as the day it was made, in my view. Sure, OutRun 2 and Coast 2 Coast superceded it in many ways, not least graphically, but do they contain the spirit and atmosphere of the 1985 original? I can’t think of many driving games that don’t even have any opponents which are still as enjoyable as this! Simply cruising along listening to Magical Sound Shower is a treat matched by only a small number of other gaming experiences. It’s a shame so few people will ever get to play the arcade behemoth now!

That’s it for now, more to come.

David Costarigot: Zallag

Zallag logo
Zallag logo

Name: David Costarigot

 

Company: Zallag

 

Profession: Co-founder and Managing Director

 

Favorite Classic Game: Skies of Arcadia (Dreamcast and GameCube)

 

Quote: I actually discovered this game a little later than most gamers. As I didn’t own a Dreamcast I had to wait for the GameCube release a few years later. It was unfortunately not a big hit in France and quite difficult to find in stores. Despite these accessibility issues, I’ve had tremendous fun playing this game. I think it’s the RPG that occupied me for the longest time (120 hours). I’ve completed the main story and almost all of the secondary missions. This game is a must-have in my opinion because of:

  • Its unique universe (a whole world floating in the sky, flying ships, a great variety in the different areas…)
  • Its great sky battles with the flying ships.
  • It’s really captivating scenario.

 

All in all it’s the general atmosphere that fascinates me and the adventure actually reminds me of Star Wars mixed with the universe of pirates!

A very unique game which unfortunately didn’t have any sequel.


 

Bio: Established in 2009, Zallag is the first video games publisher specialized in the publishing, the distribution and the promotion of dematerialized games. Zallag is interested in all current platforms (WiiWare, Nintendo DSiWare, XBOX Live, PlayStation Network and PC) and also offers comics to extend the universe of its games.

 

Christelle Chandavoine and David Costarigot are both co-founders of Zallag. After more than 10 years of experience in the video game industry, they have decided to devote all their energy to the dematerialization market, which is currently in high growth. The tremendous success of Trine (digitally sold on PlayStation 3 and PC) on which they worked on speaks for itself: the game was granted the Editor’s Choice Award of the Best Downloadable Game (E3 2009).

 

 

Current Event:

  1. 1. We release in December 2010 the Minis version (Playstation Network) of the amazing iPhone game “SHIFT”. Called “SHIFT extended” and compatible with both PS3 and PSP, this version will offer twice the content from the original game.
  2. 2. We have just released Gods vs Humans for WiiWare and PC. A nice mix of a Tower Defense game and a God Game with adorable characters 😉

Haruneko: Haruneko Entertainment

Haruneko Entertainment logo
Haruneko Entertainment logo

Name: Haruneko

Company: Haruneko Entertainment

Profession: Game Developer

Favorite Classic Game: Eternal Darkness (Gamecube).

Quote: Eternal Darkness because this masterpiece is not known well enough: this game is just sheer perfection, the game system, the story, the characters, everything is crafted really well. This is an horror game like no others, sucks you in like a good book and entertains you like the best arcade you can think of. Eternal Darkness achieves to tell you a really complex and shocking story without being tedious or rely on hundreds of lines of text. I hope that someone who has a Gamecube (or, probably, a Wii), will read these words and get a glance at this unparalled work of art.


Bio: The company at the moment is focused on developing Indie Games for the Xbox.

Project: Akane – The Kunoichi

Project Info: After having released in 2010 our first game “Ace Gals Tennis”, we are looking forward to release our upcoming platform game “Akane – The Kunoichi” during Q1 2011 – more info about this during the upcoming weeks.

 

Ace Girls Tennis
Ace Girls Tennis

Bob-ombs: The Real Threat to America’s Safety?

bobomb
bobomb

Take a good and hard look at that picture, reader.

Since Super Mario Bros. 2, the Bob-omb plague has swept Mario games just like how Beanie Babies swept away the hearts of overweight, unloved women in the 90’s. At first glance, as a child these huggable creatures are adorable with their round cast iron bodies and cute little steps. They parade down towards Mario with an indifferent pace to harm the plumber. How endearing.

BUT LET US TAKE A STEP BACK!

Why does something so cute need a cast iron body? Did you know Mario’s Fire powers don’t hurt them? You want to know why? They are filled with explosives! Yes, they are bombs! But not just any ordinary bombs. Normally, you’d need a remote detonator to set off an explosion or physically be there to light the fuse. Bob-ombs are the future of impersonal terrorism.

“But Umar,” the reader of this article may find themselves saying, “They are just so cute and innocent. Surely they wouldn’t hurt a friend?” And it is right there where your young and liberal mind will get your arms blown off. Bob-ombs aren’t toys. They aren’t Pokemon Cards! They are sentient, living bombs! Their sole purpose in life is to cause murder, death, and ensure the incineration of all bio-organic beings. Do you not see the Nazi inspired design behind the Bob-omb?
1) They Goose-step toward you. If someone greets you with a Goose-step, chances are the encounter isn’t going to be friendly.
2) They patrol areas back and forth just like soldiers.
3) They have a short fuse. This is symbolic because they don’t have the patience to deal with your lesser race bullshit.

Still don’t see how this is true? You still can’t perceive the sinister motives that fuel their mechanical hearts? Just look them in the eyes. Look into those cute cartoon eyes as they lure you in for a hug. Do you know what kind of mind is behind those peepers? A sick sociopathic mind bent on your demise.

Go right ahead. Let him into your heart, into your home, let them sleep on the carpet in your child’s room. I can assure you the moment you touch that Bob-omb, this cute little monstrosity that you fed and picked up their poopies, he will glow an angry red. His glassy eyes will become stern and enraged. A fire will spark not only in his heart but on his fuse and before you know it, you’re gone. All your loved ones will be blown to bits. Your wife and children will be here and there. The dog will have little tidbits against the closet door. And God forbid you survive. What kind of weight will be on your shoulders with the knowledge that you mistakenly trusted this deceitful horror and now your family is gone and you’re are now left to live your life missing appendages? How long will it take before you finally can’t handle the guilt and bite your tongue?

“Umar,” our fair reader may retort, “The pink bob-ombs are nice, though. You can’t discriminate against all of them.” Pink bob-ombs are just the next step in their dastardly evolution. They speak to you, beg you for help, pour out their hearts about the prejudices they face against the other bob-ombs. They deplore you for assistance. They are the good guys, they say.

Really, Pink bob-omb? You’re one of the good guys? Tell me this. Why is it that you bob-ombs glow pink right before detonation? From what I can tell you’re closer to the edge than the black bob-ombs. At least they can keep their cool until provoked or before that bitter moment when they exact their plan. Pink Bob-ombs can’t even keep their oath of silence and become radicals that speak out. No thanks, Pink Bob-ombs. Stay out of America.

Let’s look at the track record of these Bob-ombs. In every single Mario game, they have made it painfully obvious their only true intent is the destruction of a living beating heart. They get involved in Yoshi’s story and even sports based Mario games. And you’d think they’d stop with their vendetta in the Mushroom Kingdom. No, they made their intents international when they appeared in Super Smash Brothers. They’d just randomly pop into a battle and indiscriminately hunt down Link from Hyrule, Charizard from Kanto, and Snake from America! Yes they initiated a global war and have even targeted America on their To-Do list.

Americans, I’m looking at you. Are we going to let this mechanical plague sweep our nation like a renegade brushfire? Are we going to allow our land, our freedom, our loved ones to be abused by these techno-organic racists?

I say no!
I will not give them shelter for their sick and their hungry.
I will not provide them with resources which us Americans harvested on our own.
I will not allow one to move in next door and will not allow my children to play with them.
This is America! Home of the brave, the bold, and the truly living!

Nintendo cleared of infringement charges over controllers

Nintendo cleared of infringement charges over controllers

So the story goes that back in 2006 a company called Anascape Ltd. Sued Nintendo and Microsoft over specific technology used in both companies’ controllers. Microsoft settled out of court but Nintendo took on the fight and lost.

Wii Classic Controller

Nintendo was ordered to pay $21 million in damages and a ban was ordered on many of the game controllers for the Wii and GameCube. That ban was put on hold while Nintendo appealed the ruling and the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit overturned the 2008 verdict.

“In 2008, the jury determined that the Wii Remote and Nunchuck did not infringe,” said Nintendo of America General Counsel Rick Flamm. “Today the Federal Circuit’s ruling confirmed that none of Nintendo’s controllers infringe. We appreciate that our position has been vindicated.”

There has been no word on what will happen to the $21 million Nintendo was ordered to pay, but I doubt they own Anascape any money.

Dig Dug review

Dig Dug in-game
Dig Dug in-game shot

Dig Dug review by Honorabili

One Sentence Review:

“Pop that monster!”

Overall Score:
9 out of 10

Overview:

Dig Dug consists of you being this blue man in a white suit that digs your way underground to kill monsters in tunnels. You do this by impaling them with an air pump that has like a tip like Scorpion’s weapon in Mortal Kombat (weird, I know but it’s cute!). You them pump the little monsters with enough air until they pop like a balloon. The game keeps progressing as you kill more monsters and there are none left in that level. Each level is progressively harder (especially when multiple enemies come at you at once).

You can get an extra man every 20000 points and you can pick up fruit in the middle of the stage when you kill enemies in a spectacular way, accelerating your 1UP rate.

The original game keeps going for 256 levels with the remake having about 400 levels.

The game is available on most Ataris, the Intellivision, Apple II, Commodore VIC 20 and c64, for PC, NES, gameboy, Wii, and the TI-99/4A. The remake is also available under Namco Classic Collection Volume 2 for Xbox, Gamecube, and the PS2.

Fun Factor:

I always thought it was a trip to fill up cute little monsters with air and watch their belly burst. If you’re braindead like me then you will love this kind of action. As the game will become much harder later, you will have to react instantly to the onslaught of monsters and have to adapt to using the terrain to your advantage and tricking the game’s A.I. by timing your attacks. You will sometimes have to run like a little bitch for your life and that can be fun to do especially in an old game! Fun Factor gets a score of 1o out of 10.

Difficulty Versatility:

Dig Dug is a challenging game. It’s from an era where if you wanted to get a high score you had to be a good gamer. Continues? Never heard of them. You put in a quarter and you got a set amount of lives. If you lost them all, you had to pay again to replay from the beginning. If you like your games easy then Dig Dug is not a game for you. If you like a game where the A.I. will eventually come at you from every direction, really fast then this is your game. You do get one more life though every 20000 points.

The first levels are easy and the game constantly keeps acccelerating in diffuculty. There’s no way to alter that but the game is challenging enough as it is. Difficulty Versatility gets a score of 9 out of 10.

Value:

Since this game is so old now, most people will probably play the emulated (usually MAME) version which you can get for free.

The PS2 Namco Classic Collection version is now out of print and not available online. You can track it down either by calling your local game stores or finding it through ebay.

The Wii version you can probably get online from their store for probably a few dollars.

Overall, since you can either play this game for free or for a few dollars for the PS2 or Wii version, Value gets a score of 10 out of 10.

Replayability:

Most classic arcade games are highly addictive/replayable, unless you find them too hard/frustrating for you. You can pretty much set your own goal as you what you want your experienced with this game to be, whether to get to whatever number of level or whatever your high score will be.

Myself, I find this game fun and I often wonder to what level I can get to the next time I play. Considering I’ve played this game thousands of times since the 80s and I still play it, the game is a classic and very replayable. I give replayability a score of 9 out of 10.

Sound:

The sounds mainly consist of hearing the dragon roar (whistle) and your pump that fills up the cute monsters and pops the living hell out of them. For an old game the sounds are really well done and I think Sound deserves a score of 1o out of 10.

Music:

The music is so simple but it’s so catchy. The music is interactive in the sense that the little jingle will only play whenever your guy is walking. Mega64 makes fun of that fact and made a video where they go around harrassing people with it! Here is a video showing that:

It’s catchy and it keeps you playing this hectic little game. For a few simple notes, it’s a classic. Overall the game has like 4 little melodies but the main melody is the one that you will hear the most. Music gets a score of 10 out of 10.

Graphics:

The graphics look pretty cute for this old game and they are actually great. It’s fun watching the monsters blow up like a balloon and then POP! Graphics get a score of 10 out of 10.

Stability/Reliability:

This game actually has 2 bugs.

If you get to the end of the game, the game has a kill screen where you are basically stuck because the game will not progress any further. This happens when you get to the last level of the game (level 256) and beat it.

The other bug happens if you drop a rock on an enemy while you are pumping it with air and snuff it. It basically makes all enemies disappear making the level unbeatable but the work around is to trigger another rock to fall.

Other than those two bugs, mainly the rock one (because most people will NOT get to the last level), the game is rock solid. Stability/Reliability get a score of 8 out of 10.

Controls:

The controls are simple. Up is up and so forth, and the fire button always triggers the harpoon gun/pump which lets you kill enemies. Other than that you walk into the ground to tunnel and you make rocks fall by leaving a tunnel under it (to try to trick a monster into getting crushed). Controls get a score of 10 out of 10.

Performance:

The game runs flawless whether you play it on an arcade machine, emulation (MAME, etc), or on a console remake of it. If only all games could run as well as old games! Performance gets a score of 10 out of 10.

My history with this game:

This is one of the first games where I was impressed by an arcade game, specifically Namco and Atari. I remember seeing this around the same time I first played Ms. Pacman, another arcade favorite of mine. I’ve played Dig Dug over 1000 times, literally. It’s not as popular as the Pacman games but among the arcade community, it’s always a classic.

If you’ve never played Dig Dug, you are missing out on a major arcade game that is a corner stone for arcade gaming history. Go play it and stop reading this.