You don’t get the show #4: I got your Pokemon right here


Pokemon Go has taken over and we discuss the dangers of it happening in Miami.

We also talk about the guy who impersonated an Apple employee and stole 19 Iphones, how the surrender button in League of Legends is driving J.A. crazy, how Katsuhiro Harada of Tekken 7 summoned a horde of SJW’s and a parrot that makes sex noises.

Oh, we also talk about games including Evolve going free to play, Final Fantasy getting released on Android and iOS and Starbound finally getting a release date!

Apple Bandai Pippin

Apple Bandai Pippin
Yes Apple was into gaming (besides Macs) long before the iPhone. They teamed up with Bandai to make a console of their own.
Apple Bandai Pippin
The specs were pretty much like a Mac computer. It even ran on the same OS.
 Apple Bandai Pippin
Controller was a little plain and goofy though. Also less than 20 games were made for the system. Yikes…..

Arcadie Review

Arcadie

It is quite exciting receiving goodies in the mail. This time around, we received the cool looking Arcadie. On first impressions, the unit stands out – I love anything that looks like an arcade machine. Upon closer inspection, the packaging doesn’t give away too many details, just minimal information on the compatibility and the website of the manufacturer for more detailed specifications. I guess with finite real estate on packaging, you have to grab potential customers’ attention with colouring and buzz words.

Build Quality

Arcadie

The Arcadie feels quite sturdy and takes a bit of punishment. The joystick is nice and tight and centres itself, while the buttons have a nice click when depressed – no hint of sponginess. Can it withstand years of punishment? Well, having had the unit for a few weeks, that is difficult to determine. Only time will tell. Unless you wrench the stick and abuse the buttons beyond their normal use, then there should be no reason for the unit to breakdown any time soon. When playing games, we did find that we had to tilt the unit away from us so that we could get a better viewing angle of the screen.

Arcadie
Arcadie Alien Invaders is a beefed up Space Invaders clone that plays quite well.

Compatibility & Games

Straight off the bat, the Arcadie is compatible with Apple’s iPod and iPhone devices up to and including the iPhone 4S and iPod Touch (3rd and 4th Generation). Unfortunately, if you have an iPhone 5 or above, you miss out. Not only is the Arcadie hampered by limited hardware compatibility, it is also limited to proprietary software. The good news is, Zeon are releasing games exclusive for the unit and the best bit is, they are totally free (via iTunes App store). Let’s hope they keep on releasing more games for the Arcadie, as it needs them.

Arcadie

Before you ask, the games that are available are beefed up clones of well known retro classics like: arcadie Blasteroids (Asteroids), arcadie Alien Invaders (Space Invaders), arcade Ping (Pong), arcadie Tanks and arcadie Hop Along (Frogger) . The games are quite fun to play, but not for too long. The novelty of playing on an arcade stylised cabinet is still quite cool. If only the Arcadie was compatible with other retro released games on iTunes. It’s a case of, what might have been.

Arcadie

 

Verdict

For the price of the Arcadie (sub $25 AUD for the blue unit), it is worth having it as a cool item – either to show off on your shelf or act as a stand for your iPhone or iPod. Will you use it to play games or will the novelty factor wear off? These are valid questions that can only be answered on an individual basis. I do get caught up in the nostalgia that certain items provide and I can safely say that the Arcadie certainly does this, albeit in a limited fashion. If you have an iPhone 4S or an iPod Touch, this is well worth a look.

Wolfenstein 3D Browser Edition

Wolfenstein 3D Browser Edition

Any PC classic gaming worth their keyboard knows and has played Wolfenstein 3D and to celebrate its 20th anniversary you can now play W3D in a browser. Here is the official press release:

wolfenstein_3d

We’re marking the 20th Anniversary of Wolfenstein 3D, the original, and now legendary, game that launched the first person shooter genre by releasing a free-to-play browser version of the game. You can now play the classic PC game directly in browser at: wolfenstein.bethsoft.com or on the Wolfenstein Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/wolfenstein.

Check out J.A. Laraque playing some Wolf 3D.

While you’re on the site, check out our Bethesda Podcast video featuring John Carmack, technical director of id Software, as he shares his insights into the creation and the development of Wolfenstein 3D while playing the game.

[youtube id=”amDtAPHH-zE” width=”633″ height=”356″]

Later today, (Bethsoft) will also be offering Wolfenstein 3D Classic Platinum, available on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch, free for a limited time. To download Wolfenstein 3D Classic Platinum from iTunes visit: this link.

King of Fighter I 2012 on the App Store

King of Fighters I 2012

Check it out retro gamers, you can pick up King of Fighter I 2012 for your iPhone on the App Store. Here is the official press release:

KOF-i 2012’s controls allow players to perform special moves and combos, and the game features a multitude of modes for thousands of hours of enjoyment and intense battle. In addition, game play experience is enhanced with the addition of new fight rules, previously available only in the PS3 / Xbox 360 version.

Along with the 20 characters in KOF-i, four new teams of characters are now available, including ‘ART OF FIGHTING’, ‘PSYCHO SOLDIER’, ‘KIM’, and ‘IKARI’ team, bringing the total number of playable fighters to 32. The game also includes six bonus background stages, including popular console stages Plaza of Snow and Blue Sky Open Café.

king of fighters i 2012- gameplay screenshot

In addition to multiplayer over Bluetooth, ‘Versus’ Battles in KOF-i 2012 can be enjoyed via Game Center, both in ‘Rank Versus’ mode, in which player ranking varies depending on the total number of victories and losses, and in ‘Friend Versus’ mode, where the player’s ranking is not reflected. Also new in KOF-i 2012, a new ‘Time Attack’ mode is available where players must win 10 matches as fast as possible, as well as additional features like ‘Ending Movies’ for each default team, new challenges, trading cards and illustrations.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gY7wK_Uu2wQ[/youtube]

THE KING OF FIGHTERS-i 2012 App is available for $6.99 from the App Store on iPhone and iPod touch or at www.itunes.com/appstore. Additional characters, including ‘NESTS-Style KYO’ and ‘IORI with the Power of Flames’ are available for $1.99 each through In-App Purchase.
For more information on theTHE KING OF FIGHTERS-i 2012, please visit the official site located at www.iphone.snkplaymoreusa.com/kof-i2012. For more information on SNK PLAYMORE USA, please visit the official web site at  www.snkplaymoreusa.com.

iCade 8-Bitty

iCade 8-Bitty

ICade has been pretty awesome at creating retro gaming hardware that you can use in conjunction with your iPad, iPhone and Android device to play retro video games pretty much anywhere. Check out our first look at the iCade arcade cabinet from CES 2011.

Recently iCade released their 8-Bitty, a retro gamepad that looks and feels like the classic NES game pad. The device is wireless and uses blue-tooth connectivity allowing you to pair your pad with your Apple or Android device. The pad features four buttons and the classic D-Pad and it fits in your pocket. The 8-bitty runs on two AAA batteries and has a power saver mode so you are not always replacing them.

Now the pad will work with all iCade games and comes with the Atari Greatest Hits app, which features over 100 games, however you only get Missile Command for free, but can purchase all 100 games for $14.99.

We hope to bring you a hands on review soon, in the meantime check out the product page here.

Distorted Poetry: The creation of an Indie Gaming Company

[youtube id=”Cgo4TV2QzKg” width=”633″ height=”356″]

When we started, we decided to first make games for the iPhone. This was a pretty easy choice for us purely because we both had prior experience working on iOS games and we just about had all the equipment we needed.~James Booth

Distorted Poetry: The creation of an Indie Gaming Company

Running an indie company really is a bi-polar condition and I mean that in the nicest and worse possible of ways.

DistortedPoetry_Logo

It’s been almost a year since we set-up Distorted Poetry. At the start there was just two of us, now we have almost ten people working on our games. At the moment we develop for iPhone and PC/MAC and we are registered with Nintendo to develop games for the 3DS as well. We wanted to be taken seriously as an indie, so we delved into a lot more of the business side of things as well, which requires a completely different mindset.

When we started, we decided to first make games for the iPhone. This was a pretty easy choice for us purely because we both had prior experience working on iOS games and we just about had all the equipment we needed.

The first project we had in mind was a rhythm based game with interactive musical elements. I love creating music and really wanted to create a game where the player actually feels like the music is progressing because of their actions. We got a prototype up and running quite quickly and we felt there was a lot of potential in this game. After about a month on this project we decided to put it on the back burner, it was a great idea, but to do it right we really would need to spend a year on it. Time we didn’t really have for one project with no money coming in.

The interesting thing was about two or three months after we put our musical project “Impulses” on hold. We read about a game from Cipher Prime called Pulse. Not only did it have a very similar name, its gameplay and visual style was somewhat identical to our prototype.  I guess some people would call it a coincidence, but for me I didn’t look at it like that. For all the ideas and creative people out there it’s inevitable that multiple people can think of the same idea. All you can really do is try and develop the idea and get it out as fast as you can!

Speaking of ideas, we next worked on a real unique and arty game. It sounded like it could work on paper so we started developing a prototype. With every iteration we eliminated what didn’t work and added something new. Within a month we went from a very niche arthouse game to a very accessible more traditional game which we named Petri-Dash.

 Petri-Dash icon

The game really was designed by iteration, which was such a unique way to design a game. It felt exciting but ultimately took us longer to make the game because there was no fixed plan set in stone. Petri-Dash was released in November and while sales started off promising after a few days they started to get lower and lower and lower. It really was eye opening to see how quickly you can get lost on the App Store.

Sure, we had little spikes here and there (such as when the game was updated) but we can’t exactly call the game a financial success. We have recently supported a new completion based platform named Player Duel to see if that can get us extra sales, but ultimately I don’t know what else we can try, if you don’t end up featured on the charts, your probability for success is very very low.

iPhone Retina GUI PSD

So what comes after Petri-Dash? Well it’s our new game called “Rundle’s Rolling Adventure” for iPhone.  This is a much bigger project than Petri-Dash, lots more levels, lots more art, lots more music, and lots more polish. We are almost at Alpha with this game and are hoping to release it in March 2012. Just before we started this project I thought I could try and use that initial idea for Petri-Dash again, thinking I had thought of a new way it could work. After about a week it all went away again and we created the character Rundle. One day I will get that idea into one of our games! Or someone else will beat us to it again…

Beyond Rundle’s Rolling Adventure, we are branching out onto PC/MAC as well, so we have some exciting and unique games set for those platforms, Anyway thank you very much for reading and if you wanna get in contact like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

Peace and Love,

www.facebook.com/DistortedPoetry

www.twitter.com/distortedpoetry

Steve Jobs 1955-2011: Technology pioneer worked in the early days of Atari

Steve Jobs

Mankind has lost one of the greatest inventors and visionaries of all time, as Apple has confirmed the death of Steve Jobs, the founder of the company.

Most famous for his role in pioneering the personal computer industry and reinventing technology with products such as the iPhone and the iPad, Jobs also had a role in the earliest days of the video game industry.

In 1974, an Atari receptionist came to video game pioneer Al Alcorn to tell him of a long haired young man in the lobby.

“We’ve got this kid in the lobby. He’s either got something or is a crackpot,” the receptionist told Alcorn.  After giving an interview where he’d exaggerated his electronics knowledge, an 18-year-old Jobs became Atari’s 40th employee, working for $5 an hour to tweak and finish an early handheld game called Touch Me.

Atari Touch Me

A short time later, Jobs invited his friend Steve Wozniak to show off a homemade version of Pong he’d developed, impressing Atari so much that he, too, was hired by the young video game company.

Jobs and Wozniak would later pair up to work on Atari’s 1976 release Breakout, the ball-and-paddle brick-breaking game that has been cloned a million times over, from 1987’s arcade hit Arkanoid to countless Flash-based clones on the internet today.  Offered a bonus by Atari if the number of chips that could be eliminated from the machine, Jobs offered to split the bonus with Wozniak, who worked for days on end to reduce the design to such a degree that Atari was unable to figure it out and had to redesign the circuit board over again.  Despite the fact that Wozniak did the work, Jobs took most of Atari’s bonus money for the project without Wozniak’s knowledge.

Jobs and Wozniak would then go on to form Apple Computer, the company that brought the computer into the home.  Almost ironically, the iPhone and iPad would become popular devices in the modern day for playing video games, putting his contributions to the industry at both the start and end of his historic career.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IpVIufJ4qoU[/youtube]

Jobs was 56 years old.  “Steve’s brilliance, passion and energy were the source of countless innovations that enrich and improve all of our lives,” read the statement from Apple that confirmed the passing of Jobs on the evening of October 5.

 

DotEmu to offer Gabriel Knight Series

Gabriel Knight

We are always happy when we see classic games made available for more and more people and DotEmu is doing just that. Launched in 2007 Dot Emu offers classic games reprogramed and enhanced for use on today’s PC, MAC’s, iphone and even online.

Recently DotEmu announced a partnership with Activision to release their Gabriel Knight series for Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7 DRM-Free. The series includes the games: GABRIEL KNIGHT: Sins of the Fathers® ($5.99), THE BEAST WITHIN: A Gabriel Knight® Mystery ($5.99) and GABRIEL KNIGHT® 3: Blood of the Sacred, Blood of the Damned ($5.99).

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CQYuXBqR9T4[/youtube]

You can check out these titles here.

 

Burnout Crash = Burnout Crap

Burnout Crash

I am so sick of game companies taking a big title name and creating a crappy game based on it. After waiting so long for a new Burnout game the geniuses at Criterion Games spit out a top-down arcade game that has no place carrying on the Burnout name.

This new downloadable game allows you to select a car and drive it into an intersection where you can collide with other vehicles causing mass explosions and damage. Sure, it sounds good and honestly, if they released this calling it anything else besides Burnout I would have let it go. While the game does have the crashes and explosions of Burnout and even includes destructible environments like the buildings it is no Burnout and should not be considered as such.

The game is colorful and will remind classic games of the original Grand Theft Auto. Besides that, this game could have been made by any of the thousands of iPad and Android game makers out there.

[youtube width=”600″ height=”480″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9qfHow3r66U[/youtube]

Simply put, this game might be fun for a moment and perhaps on a phone or pad this could be something. However, as in line as a Burnout game this does not work. Criterion might have had a chance to launch a mobile game division and I might have given then game a chance, but attaching the Burnout name to it is a slap in the face to Burnout fans. This game does not look to be worth more than a few Microsoft Points at best and will quickly be forgotten.

 

Angry Birds Peace Treaty

angry-birds-live-action-video

After watching the video for the Angry Birds movie we had to repost the Angry Birds Peace Treaty video from late last year. In this video the Angry Birds attempt to work out a peace with the pigs and it does not go well.

Angry Birds: The Movie

Angry Birds Movie Trailer

The folks over at Rooter Teeth bring us a trailer for a real live Angry Birds movie. What is really funny about this is I can see some Hollywood suit making this and you know Michael Bay would direct.

Bust A Move for iPhone and iPod Touch

Puzzle Bobble App Store

Fans of the Bust-A-Move or Puzzle bobble series can now play this arcade classic on your Apple device. Today the Taito Corporation (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Square Enix Holdings Co., Ltd) announced today that the 1994 hit will be available on the App Store for $4.99 USD.

Now as the screenshots, show there will be no drastic changes to the classic gameplay that we are all used to. The game will function the same whereas the goal is to match three bubbles of the same color to burst them. However, there will be some additions to the game including new level types and a brand new control method.

In addition to the Tap Shot, in which a bubble is launched in the direction tapped and the pull-and-release Sling Shot control methods, a new attack was added, the Jump Shot. The Jump Shot offers the ability to launch a bubble over interposing obstacles, landing at a point chosen by the player. Skillful use of this technique opens up a new level of exhilarating play and clever strategy, allowing players to drop clusters of bubbles from the ceiling, etc.

This edition boasts a number of features intended to give players new strategic options, including the Hold ability to save bubbles that have been loaded into the launcher for future use and explosive Bomb Bubbles capable of wiping out surrounding bubbles.

Another new feature is the Game Over Countdown. While in previous editions of BUST-A-MOVE, bubbles reaching the bottom of the play field instantly led to a Game Over result, NEW BUST-A-MOVE offers a three-second countdown, allowing quick-witted players to save themselves from defeat. Particularly helpful for newcomers to the series, the Game Over Countdown adds an additional dimension to play that can also be appreciated by veteran players.

In addition to the classic level style, this updated version includes a wide variety of stages that operate under different rules. The game combines the familiar bubble-bursting fun with new gimmicks and quirks that enhance the experience.

BUST-A-MOVE’s 80 Story Mode stages are divided into a number of themed areas, each concluding with an intense boss battle. Collecting special bubbles also reveals challenging hidden stages, adding to an already-packed game.

BUST-A-MOVE also includes a total of 55 Achievements that may be unlocked by accomplishing special in-game goals, creating another level of depth to keep players coming back for more.

To go along with this launch Taito will also be offering Bubble Bobble Double for only $2.99. This offer is good until February 14th.

Vern Jensen: ActionSoft

Action Soft logo
Action Soft logo

Name: Vern Jensen

Company: ActionSoft

Profession: Programmer / Game Designer

Favorite Classic Game: Super Metroid

Quote: “It’s hard to pick just one game actually. Super Metroid pretty much ties with Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. I had first gotten into game programming around age 8, making simple programs in Basic, eventually culminating in a maze game and an explore-the-castle game around age 13. It was at this time that I first saw someone playing Zelda on their SNES. The graphics were incredible. The special effect this game had, from rain, to warping between light and dark worlds, were astonishing at the time.

I felt like everything I had done programming was unworthy compared to what I was seeing on the screen. And, once I got to play the game, the gameplay certainly matched the special effects. Super Metroid wins by a couple of points though, just because when I played it, I couldn’t put it down until I had finished it. Everything about this game was awesome, from the graphics to the power-ups to the secrets and bosses. It really had a cohesive “mood” to it that was well fleshed-out. I even own the Boston Pops orchestra soundtrack of music from this game, which is also incredible.

Bio: ActionSoft (www.actionsoft.com) ActionSoft is basically just me. I write retro shareware games. Since I grew up on 2D games in the 80’s, my fondness for those games has remained. I haven’t really gotten into 3D games. My goal is to make the kind of games I would want to play myself, and bring back some of the games from an era long ago that have been forgotten.

Midnight Mansion logo
Midnight Mansion logo

Project: Midnight Mansion port to Windows and iPhone.

Project Info: Midnight Mansion was my first game, released in 2005, and it has gained a following of loyal fans. However, it is Mac-only. My project is to port it to Windows and iPhone / iPad. In the process, Midnight Mansion 2, which was released this last August, will also be ported.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bubble Bobble Double

Bubble Bobble Double
Bubble Bobble Double

Finally a Bubble Bobble game on the iPhone that doesn’t come from an emulator. Taito recently released Bubble Bobble Double which allows players to play the classic arcade game Bubble Bobble and a brand new puzzle game featuring the famous dinosaurs Bub and Bob.

Classic Mode

Bubble Bobble Double
Bubble Bobble Double

The classic Bubble Bobble game plays just like the original. The same graphics are there as is the music and gameplay. It is pretty much a perfect port. The only difference is using the virtual joystick with the iPad. As with most games the virtual stick feels a bit off. Sometimes it feels like the controls are too loose and other times it feels as if you don’t have the quick twitch action that you need in later levels.

The other small issue is they place the game in a smaller window and on the iPad this is not really an issue, but on the iPhone I can see that it would be way too small. Honestly besides that the game is fine and is fun to play and especially on the iPad you don’t really feel a major difference.

New Mode

Bubble Bobble Double
Bubble Bobble Double

The new mode has your favorite dino floating through space as waves of enemy’s approach him. These enemies are the same from the classic game and just like the classic game your job is to capture them in bubbles. You do this by tapping them with your finger and that will trap them no matter where they are on the screen. Then you can either tap them again to pop the bubble or flick them with your finger to send them flying and bouncing around the screen.

So why would you want to flick or pop them? Good question. The enemies come out in different patterns, sometimes they are bunched together and sometimes they are apart. When you burst a bubble it also damages enemies around it whether they are inside a bubble or not. However, when you flick them you can hit other enemies that are farther way or to hit incoming enemies.

As with the original game when you pop the bubbles the enemies turn into tasty treats that give you points. The more chains or combo’s you pull off when killing enemies the higher the values of the fruit. In addition power ups will randomly appear on the screen offering additional abilities or augmenting your basic ones.

The Verdict

I have played both versions for quite a while on my iPad and they are a lot of fun. The original is spot on and the new version is addictive with enough of a challenge to keep me interested. The visuals especially in the new version are impressive with a mix of the classic sprites and the new age neon backgrounds. The same goes for the music with the classic tunes with the old and modern engaging music with the new.

At $4.99 at the iTunes store it is worth a pick-up if you are a fan of Bubble Bobble especially, but also if you are a fan of puzzle games in general.

My transition from the dark side (iPhone) to the light (Android)

say no to iphone
say no to iphone

Before I get into this whole mix, I want to point something out, something all of you know but somehow like to ignore or not admit. The iPhone as a cell phone is mediocre at best, the iPhone as a music player is great (I give it this, the iPod is great), the iPhone as a device to use and live with as a serious techie, nothing short of pathetic.

Any system that has 16gb+ of storage that does not allow you to save files onto it, is a piece of garbage. We are talking 1981 technology here, copy to the hard drive style, “copy a:\*.* c:\files\*.*” style here. I found myself in a hotel room armed with only an iPhone wanting to watch a video, I could not. I couldn’t stream it, I couldn’t download it, nothing. Next, I needed to get a zip off of one of my work websites, rarely do I travel without my laptop but this was an exception, I took a quick flight out for a funeral but no problem, I had my iPhone… wrong. I guess I knew all along it couldn’t do these things, but it didn’t become important to me until I actually had to, and could not. Then, in that brief moment of sorrow after researching and realizing I had to download a bunch of jailbreak apps, jump through hoops, section off some of the file system, and hope my phone didn’t crash through all of this that, maybe, I should just get an Android phone.

The next day I met up with a long time friend I had not seen in years, my family and his all went to dinner together. During dinner I noticed his phone, a Galaxy S. I said, “hey let me see that.” He did and I proceeded to play with it. It responded nice, not as smooth as the iPhone I will admit, but I wasn’t after a ball cupping, I was after the long stroke. I wanted to download files, copy them to the hard drive, access them via usb or wifi, play, edit, extract, run, upload, download… I wanted functionality. I got exactly what I wanted, after ignoring everyone at the dinner table for thirty minutes, I had decided, when I get home, my iPhone was going to ebay, and I am switching to Android.

On my island (I serously live on an island, go figure) we don’t have much choice other than AT&T, so we called them on the phone, got a Samsung Captivate (Galaxy S) for $200, and my journey into happiness began. The first thing I did was arm my Google muscle and look up switching from iPhone to Android tips. The most important thing on my mind was to save the contacts… this proved to be very easy. I synced my contacts to Windows Contacts, and proceeded to export the file. I uploaded the exported file into Google and bam, Google had all my contacts. This is important since the phone would log into Google and download all of my contacts, you can pick to save them on the sim, the phone, or Google. I’m happy living in the clouds so this worked out well for me. My work email has always been setup as IMAP so I had nothing to do with that. I use GMAIL as my primary personal email so there was no problem with that either, I quickly realized that aside from my contacts, I had nothing to change.

I figured the time had come so I called AT&T and had the new phone activated. I connected to my WiFi, got synced up with Google, and was quickly raping the android app store. I will admit openly, the app store was a bit of a let down. I also want to point out, it is not a reason to not get an Android phone. If you feel you can’t live without your apps please move to France because you aren’t tough enough to be American. The main app store is full of crap, 1 in 20 apps is worth downloading, some crash, some just don’t work at all. There is an app called “AppBrain” that sorts out the better apps and gives you access to them, so I got myself WinAMP, VLC, K9 Mail, YELP, AIM, Photoshop (you heard me correctly), Astro, Dropbox, Pandora, Websharing (wifi browser based file access upload/download from any pc on the network), MP3 Ringtone Creator, Facebook, and the all mighty One Click Lag Fix (OCLF).

Most of these apps are commonplace so I’m not really going to get into all of them. I will however give an explination of two that you may not know about being a poor lost iPhone user. Astro is a file explorer, it just gives you access to the basic file system on the phone so you can punch through the directories and see what you have, make new folders, delete junk files, you know, extremely basic functionality that you can’t have without jailbreaking your iphone. The second app that I will explain about is the One Click Lag Fix (OCLF). This created, from what I can tell (and I’m sure I will be corrected) a swap file of sorts on my phone, which made my already fast phone much faster. The app also rooted the phone and gave me superuser ability so that I can remove the stock AT&T bloatware, another great feature. This is the single most important app to get for your new Android phone, but not the first one you should get. Get used to the phone, how it functions, and how to get your things done, and then start hacking the crap out of it.

Now onto some of the bad I have discovered. The Android OS is not as user friendly as the iPhone, it is however fully functional. I would not give my mother an Android phone, she needs the training wheels, that is why the iPhone is good for her. This is phone specific and not Android specific, TBH when people have anything bad to say about Android, it’s normally in regards to the phone and not the platform. The Samsung Captivate has pretty shotty GPS. In urban city centers with clear view of the sky, I have no problem with it. On my island is a different story. It cannot find my location, and that would stink if I was just visiting and wanted to use Yelp. In addition to the GPS problems, and to my surprise, the navigation app isn’t very good as well. I’m sure this will change, and I rarely use it anyway since my car has amazing GPS built in, but I’m sure someone will use it, and I’m sure someone else will say that it sucks.

So in the end, I am a happier person, I have broke free of Apple’s death grip, and I have started down the path of my own choosing. I have had the phone for three weeks now, traveled to Vegas with it, taken pictures, video, loaded movies on it (native XVID support), purchased mp3’s from Amazon (did I mention no iTunes, seriously, this may be the best part), and added a 2nd 16gb MicroSD card for a total of 32GB storage. I can now carry around more than one battery so if I run out, I can actually swap another in and keep using my phone (interchangeable batteries, who would have thunk it, oh wait, everyone did, 30 years ago), and the best part, I don’t have to give Steve Jobs any more of my money. I suspect he doesn’t need it anyway.

The Interview: William D. Volk

William D Volk

To say that William D. Volk has had an interesting career in gaming would be an understatement. From playing video games in high school to having his first gaming related job in college, to creating a number of great games. Volk began working with Avalon Hill starting off in quality assurance. In time he began working on his own titles including Conflict 2500, Voyage 1 and Controller.

Obsolete Gamer was able to get insight into his career working with various companies including Activision where he was VP of Technology has his technical direction over Return to Zork. We were also able to get his opinion on some of the events in his life including the video game crash, the Philips CD-I and mobile gaming.

Avalon Hill logo
Avalon Hill logo

Obsolete Gamer: Would it be fair to say you did not grow up playing games but once you were into your college years you found your love of gaming?

William Volk: I was playing games at the arcade in High School.  Pong showed up in the early ’70’s.

Obsolete Gamer: What was the first video game that you were exposed to?

William Volk: Probabily Pong.

Obsolete Gamer: What was the first video game that hooked you?

William Volk: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Wars On a PDP-8 at University of Penn … original Startrek  and the Classic Adventure.

Obsolete Gamer: How does the process for transferring a strategic board game to computer software work and what was it like testing these games?

William Volk: Very few of Avalon Hills Computer Games were based on the board games in 79-82.  I wanted to tackle “Iron Men and Wooden Ships” but by then I had taken a position with Rising Star.  I also proposed an online version of Squad Leader.

Conflict 2500
Conflict 2500

Obsolete Gamer: Any gamers today have never seen much less played a text game, can you give us a little insight into how text base games were at that time?

William Volk: Everyone was hooked on the Infocom games.  You can still play them today.  Lords of Karma was Avalon Hill’s best text adventure IMHO.

Obsolete Gamer: During your work with Avalon Hill you began to create your own titles, can you tell us about the thought process of coming up with a game and then trying to create it?

William Volk: Conflict 2500: I was renting a place in Baltimore during the summer of 1980 and was a huge fan of Star Raiders (Spaceship Yamato).  I had played the Startrek game and wanted a more complex version of that.

Voyager I: Saw a maze program on an Apple II.  At UNH in 1981 I did a class project using a random maze generator that displayed a solid wall 3D maze on some incredibly expensive Textronix terminal.  The game was kinda based on the end of the original Alien film.  The getting off the ship because you set self-destruct part.

Controller: Was working at a video game store in Portsmouth NH and the owner (Frank D Kelley) had been an air-boss in the navy (controller).  He wanted a simple game to land aircraft.  Reagan fired the air-traffic controllers and Avalon Hill picked up the game.  I KICK MYSELF for not porting that to the iPhone on day one, given the success of Flight Control.

Obsolete Gamer: What was the atmosphere at Avalon Hill like?

William Volk: Very congenial.  There were people who had started there in the 1950’s!  The board game people were absolute experts on military history.  I would have conversations with a WWII vet who worked there and had witnessed a ME262 attack on a B17.

PlayScreen logo
PlayScreen logo

Obsolete Gamer: How did it feel to see the work done at Avalon hill released to the public?

William Volk: Funny, I was in Baltimore for a meeting last week.  Had dinner in the harbor area about 200 ft from the location of a shop (probably not there) where I saw Conflict on a shelf for the first time.

Obsolete Gamer: You were able to avoid what is called the great video game crash when you moved to Epson and was offered a great position, what were those years like moving forward as many other companies and the industry as a whole suffered?

William Volk: I felt compelled to take a ‘real’ job in 1982 because I had been in college and grad school for almost 8 years by that point.  So when I showed some folks at Epson my little 3D rendering system on the Atari 800 they referred me to Rising Star in California.  I was hired at the COMDEX show in Vegas in Nov. 1982.

Rising Star was great but leaving independent game development was one of the biggest mistakes of my life.  It did teach me about technical management and the Val Draw program I wrote was probably my greatest technical achievement.  A full 2D drafting system in 58 kilobytes of FORTH.  Lines, arcs, splines, associative dimensions, virtual memory, zoom, snap, automatic parallel lines … the stroke font was packed into a byte per stroke.  I don’t even know how I pulled it off.  In real dollars I made more $$$ in 1984 than I may have since, but I really should have just continued building games as an independent.  I didn’t realize that I was doing pretty good and I had some nice stuff I wanted to do.

Controller
Controller

Obsolete Gamer: The Pyramid of Peril was a 3D adventure inspired by some of your previous work and Raiders of the Lost Ark, can you tell us about the creative process when developing that game?

William Volk: Obviously based on Voyager 1.  Pyramid shaped puzzle.  David Barrett helped with the writing.  The Mac was new and exciting.  The entire game from concept to heat shrinking the boxes – 30 days.  Coded on a 128kb Mac.

Obsolete Gamer: Completing a project of the scope of “Pyramid” in 30 days was impressive, how was it done so quickly?

William Volk: I had the maze generating and display algorithms from Voyager and people to help on the artwork.

 

 

Obsolete Gamer: Most people know of the fate of the Philips CD-I, but can you tell us your thoughts on why in the end the company failed?

William Volk: Delayed launch to add MPEG Video.  AIM (American Interactive Media) decided that they didn’t need the video game industry to back the system.  EA and others, who had spent serious money building development systems, abandoned it because of the delays.

Obsolete Gamer: When you became director of technology and began pushing for Activision to publish “The Manhole” how did you know this would be the right move?

William Volk: I could see true greatness in the creativity of Rand and Robyn Miller (Cyan).  The User Interface was just breakthrough.  I was also a bit pissed at the delay of CD-I and wanted to send a message about that.  Activision was recovering from the video game crash and wanted something that was ground breaking.  Finally Stewart Alsop suggested that the Manhole would be an ideal CD-ROM title.  He was right.

Obsolete Gamer: What were the main challenges in moving away from the Midi format to actual recordings?

William Volk: We didn’t want to use CD-Audio tracks on the Mac (first) version, because we wanted to be able to pull data from the CD, we had to … because of Hypercard.  So we had to come up with a way of paging in 8 bit, 22khz audio chunks.  The CD-Emulator said it wouldn’t work, so we burned a test CD ($500 at that time!) and it worked.  Using live musicians was very cool.  I believe $20k of the budget was just for the music.  Russell Lieblich composed most of the music.

When we did the PC CD-ROM title we had our own engine …. MADE (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multimedia_Applications_Development_Environment) so we could force a cache of data in a scene and use CD-Audio (redbook) tracks.

Return to Zork
Return to Zork

Obsolete Gamer: What was it like behind the scenes at Activision during its troubled time of the late 80’s?

William Volk: Fall of 1989 was one of Activison’s good years: Mech Warrior I, Death Track, Ghostbusters II, The Manhole, etc… The financial mess started in 1990 with the judgement on the Magnavox patent case.  Funny thing in 1990 is we coped with massive Nerf Gun wars and RC car ‘racing’ (consisting of running RC10’s into each other at 40mph+ … each car … in the parking lot).  In a strange way the coping made the place very fun to be at.  I still have a scar on my head from playing that game from “Sam and Max” where you hit full beer cans with some sort of post-nuclear-apocolyptic club.  Yeah, Fizzball http://samandmax.wikia.com/wiki/Fizzball Other local companies would come and watch us play this at lunchtime.

It wasn’t fun to see everyone go though.  Down to about 13 when we made the move to LA.

Obsolete Gamer: What was your feeling of using full motion video in games?

William Volk: It was clever but got overused eventually.  I do think we were heading in the right direction with RTZ’s emotional response system and intricate conversation interfaces.

Obsolete Gamer: Can you tell us about the interface you created for Return to Zork?

William Volk: The Diamond Reverse Parser was inspired by an article Eddie Dombrower had seen from MIT.  I just used Taxicab Geometry with diamonds because it made the hit-detect faster.  We had used this sort of hit detect trick on “Tongue of the Fatman”.   So the idea you could use any object on any object and have the reverse parser show you what the action was came out of the disappointing reception we got with LGOP2.    We wanted INSANELY DIFFICULT and UNFAIR puzzles.  Yes, there really was a “Chris Lombardi Memorial Puzzle” in the game (internal object name), dedicated to a writer at CGW who had panned LGOP2.  I believe it was the sliding stone – sentences puzzle.

It’s not clear how we came up with it all the character interactions, but we were trying to make the video more than just “Interruptible Media”.  So the idea of being able to ask characters about objects, pictures, and even what other characters had to say … that was the goal.

The Manhole box art
The Manhole box art

Obsolete Gamer: How did it feel to save a company with the release of a great game?

William Volk: Great, but frustrating that we couldn’t get the studio to just let us run with that UI and style.  Everyone wanted to copy Myst.  Ironic, when you consider I helped to get Cyan their first publishing gig.  I am very proud of RTZ.

Obsolete Gamer: What are the differences in your feelings about mobile gaming from then to today?

William Volk: Well, Mobile Gaming from 2001 to 2007 was very much like games of the early 1980’s.  Very small games.  Then the iPhone shows up and we now have one of the most innovative sectors in gaming.  Just playing Match 3D (Sherri Cuono’s design) game is Sci-Fi like with the multitouch interfaces.

We haven’t even begun to exploit augmented reality, social interactions and other possibilities.

Obsolete Gamer: Of all your time in the industry do you have a favorite story about that time?

William Volk: Yeah.  Producer (John Skeel) goes to comic show in NYC in 1989 or so.  Likes a new comic book so he negotiates a deal to get the video game rights for $20k.   Activision does a weekend focus group on the concept with kids, soda and pizza.  The result?

TEENAGE BOYS SHOW LITTLE INTEREST IN  ANTHROPOMORPHIC  TURTLES.

Activision logo
Activision logo

Obsolete Gamer: Overall what was your favorite computer or game system?

William Volk: The FM Towns.  Really.   The Amiga a close second.

Obsolete Gamer: What was your favorite classic game?

William Volk: Choplifter.

Obsolete Gamer: Was there a game you had in your head that you wanted to release, but never did/could?

William Volk: I seriously wanted to release a Wing Commander type game … where after hours of play, many missions and incredible skill you would end up crashed on some planet (otherwise you would be killed) … and then end up in an elaborate adventure involving learning how to interact with native people … and have us DENY THAT THE ADVENTURE GAME EXISTED.  Like only 1 in 10,000 players would stumble upon that game within a game.  Yeah, that sounds crazy, but it’s what I wanted to do in the early 1990’s.

Obsolete Gamer: If you could rerelease any game you’ve worked on using today’s technology what would it be?

William Volk: Return to Zork in a “Grand Theft Auto” type engine and fairer puzzles.

Currently William Volk is the co-founder and CEO of PlayScreen and an avid cyclist.

Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1

Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode 1
Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode 1

For fans of the classic Sonic games Christmas has come early. This month you will be able to purchase Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1 on the iTunes App Store, Wii Shop Channel, Playstation Network and Xbox Live Arcade in just about a week.

Story

The story takes place right after Sonic and Knuckles. With Mecha Sonic destroyed and Eggman defeated Sonic returns the Master Emerald to Angel Island, but as you can guess the ol Doc isn’t going to take his defeat lightly.

Characters

SONIC:

Sonic is back and retains all his signature moves from the previous series including super speed, spin dash and homing attack. After defeating Dr. Eggman Sonic flies off into the sunset with Tales. Soon after he decides to take off on his own to discover a new territory and so begins the next adventure.

Dr. EGGMAN

Sometimes when you lose you think back on what you did wrong. After his defeat Dr. Eggman decides to go back and revisit and refine the best of what he created in the past. What this means for fans is some of the best areas and badniks from the previous titles with some new improvements.

Zones

Like many of the classic Sonic games Sonic 4 will bring you something old and something new. Some zones will have that familiar feel, but with updated graphics, music and badguys.

Splash Hill Zone

This zone will mirror many of the starting zones from classic Sonic including The Green hill zone. This costal paradise has green trees, rolling hills and bright blue waters, a perfect place for Dr. Egghead to start his mischief.

You can expect a lot of what you saw in Angel Hill with lots of rolling hills, spikes and springs to rocket you across the landscape. You can also swing from vines to get to higher ground and the waterfalls look pretty cool and you can swim up them to get to your destination.

Lost Labyrinth

Some fans call them zone clichés and I guess I have to agree to a point, but there is a reason for the pattern and in this case the old mixed with the new makes a great combination. In Lost Labyrinth the theme is ancient ruins in the vein of Aquatic Ruin from Sonic 2 and Marble Garden from Sonic 3. However, while this zone has the underwater ruin feel of its predecessors it adds a lot more including a Indian Jones style mining cart riding experience and you even get chased by a bolder and yes the water bubbles are still there.

This zone really takes the ruins aspect to the max; it almost has a Tomb Raider feel to it. There are classic areas to the zone including running through a maze, traversing underwater and needing to take in air bubbles. In addition you can ride a mine cart roller-coaster style and try and keep your balance on a metal bolder. If that isn’t enough there are water slides and a part where you have limited light.

Casino Street

It’s all bright lights and big city, the Casino inspired zone is taken directly from Sonic two and expanded upon with more bells and whistles than a Vegas slot machine. Speaking of which the Sonic slots are back where you can win or lose coins. Also returning is the pin ball themed areas that bounce you around the zone.

I loved the Casino Zone from “2” the slot machines were my favorite and I’m glad to see it back in “4”. I loved what they did with the playing cards being able to ride them and play mini-games with them. The pinball areas are well done and look to be a lot of fun and the over-all theme is presented nicely.

Mad Gear

It is the world Dr. Eggman wants to see, industrial with gears and pistons and I am sure a ton of pollution. This zone is in the same vein of Sonic 2’s Chemical Plant or Sonic 3’s Metropolis Zone. The colors here are not as bright and vibrant and that’s the point.

Every Sonic games has a zone like this which represents what kind of world Eggman wants, the steel and iron replaces the glass and trees of earlier levels. Also often the levels are harder to speed through as you end up spending more time jumping and avoiding traps and pitfalls.

Music

The music still has the melody of some of the earlier games, but a lot more is added to it compared to the tracks of Sonic 2 & 3. In each of the tracks you can hear the slightest hint of the original zone it was created based on and in some cases it is very clear.

[mp3player width=300 height=150 config=fmp_jw_osg_config-xml.xml playlist=sonic-the-hedgehog-4.xml]

Personally I like the simpler themes of the older games. I understand what Sega is doing adding more to their stage themes, but sometimes simple is good especially for those of us who love to remix.

Interview


From E2 2010

Breakdown

Here is a breakdown of what you need to know about Sonic 4:

  • This is only Episode 1 meaning there will be future episodes
  • There will be alternate endings if you collect all the emeralds and the ending will connect and continue with episode 2
  • There will be 4 total zones with three acts per zone plus boss battles and bonus world
  • There will be achievements which will unlock special endings
  • New skills and characters along with zones will be released in future episodes

Some fans are already claiming Sega is milking it with the episodes, but from the looks of it you will get your money’s worth per episode. This is a complete game and while short will give you the bang for the buck, that is if you are a Sonic fan.

Release Info

Now that you have an idea of what to expect here is the low down on when and where you can find it and for how much:

  • Nintendo Wii – Via Shop Channel – Oct 11th for 1500 Wii points
  • Playstation 3 – Via PlayStation Network – Oct 12th for $14.99
  • Xbox 360 – Via XBL Marketplace – Oct 13th for 1200 Microsoft Points
  • Iphone/Ipad – Via iTunes App Store – Oct 7th for $9.99

[poll id=”6″]

Overall

There was a lot of hate over some of the later Sonic games, fans wanted more of the original, but the question remains if this version will satisfy the purists who want their Sonic 2 & 3 days back with those who don’t want to shell out $15 bucks for what some call “New levels for an old game.”

I, like many old school gamers, care about the gameplay over the flashing lights, we rather play a good game that stays true to its roots than a re-envisioningthat ruins the franchise. The idea of updating slightly, but not changing too much is not new, just look at StarCraft 2 for an example. Personally as a fan of classic Sonic this game is a winner for me. Is it groundbreaking and new, no, but we tried that with Sonic and for me it did not live up to the name.

I look forward to this game and once I get my hands on it will bring you a more in depth review.

 

Street Fighter IV on the Apple App store Tonight

Gaming isn’t just about PC’s or Consoles, if you are true gamer its part of your everyday life and since almost everyone has a phone then gaming on the phone is just another outlet for the digital disciple.

The iPhone definitely gives gamers a ton of games to soak their teeth into and tonight Street Fight IV becomes one of them. The path of Street Fight IV went like this, in 2008 it hit the arcades in Japan, in 2009 it was ported to the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC and tonight in 2010 it will be ported to the iPhone and iPod touch.

Street Fighter IV on Iphone
Street Fighter IV on Iphone

How does it look, how does it play? Honestly it looks pretty damn good and one of the reasons is that they only added eight fighters in this release Ryu, Ken, Guile, Blanka, Chun-Li, Dhalsim, M. Bison and Abel. By adding fewer characters the idea was to have the game run smoothly and let me tell you it does.

The graphics look great, clean, clear and fluid and I couldn’t find any lag or stutter in the animation even during intense battles, but to be fair another reason is because the backgrounds are static, but again the character models and special effects look fantastic so it’s a give and take that I believe works.

The sound is also pretty incredible even coming from the iPhone speakers, the background music and sound effects come in clear and you actually want to keep the music and sound turned on and up.

As for controls, the game plays like most on the iPhone and iPod touch, you have your four buttons (punch, kick, special move, and focus attack) in the right hand corner and your direction pad in the left. The buttons and eight-way directional controls are pretty large and take up a good size of the screen, but it isn’t too bad.

A few more things to mention, first there are three gameplay modes, you can fight against the AI, versus multiplayer, or training modes. A note about multiplayer is it is supported locally only so you will need to be within range of someone else with an iPhone to play against them.

The training mode has a dojo where you can practice your moves with a series of exercises that show you every aspect of fighting within the SFIV world, this is not only so you get use to playing on the phone, but for those who may have never played a Street Fighter game before.

However, for those that have you will find the controls and combo actions are pretty much the same on the iPhone version as your console version. If you need help pulling off combos and specials there is an assist mode that helps you out, but for the old vets and pro’s you can turn it off on the options screen.

Overall Street Fighter IV for the iPhone is definitely worth the $9.99 price tag and if you have friends with iPhones or IPod touches that also purchase the game then the value is even better. Street Fighter IV for the iPhone will be hitting the Apple App store later tonight.

Final Fantasy on the iPhone

Final Fantasy for Iphone
Final Fantasy for Iphone

Oh my God, oh my God you guys! Ok, it is clear I like the Final Fantasy series all you have to do is look at my gamer profile, but this is pretty cool just for fans of any old NES and SNES RPG game. Square Enix has released both Final Fantasy I and II on the iTunes Apple App store. For $8.99 each you get not only the full game, but upgraded graphics as well.

Keep in mind that these are the Japanese release numbers meaning FF II in the U.S. was really FF VI in Japan so with these you are getting the original FF I & II. (There will be a test on this on Friday)

Now the guys and gals over at Enix realize this game my not appeal to new comers of the FF franchise, but us old school RPG’er should be chomping at the bit. Even if FF isn’t your thing if this is successful you could see more titles down the line like Chrono Trigger and something I’d love to see, Parasite Eve.

Final Fantasy for Iphone 2
Final Fantasy for Iphone 2

World of Warcraft Auction House and Armory app

WoW Armory phone app
WoW Armory phone app

A few days ago Bornakk, posted on the official message boards that an application to access the World of Warcraft Armory is currently being developed for the iPhone and iPod touch.

Here is what he announced:

Since the launch of the World of Warcraft Armory, we’ve been regularly releasing updates and new features designed to help players stay connected to the game even when they’re not logged in. Today, we wanted to give you a heads-up about a new service now in development that will let players access the Auction House directly through the Armory website or Armory App for iPhone or iPod touch.

While there are still plenty of details to be worked out, we’re designing the service to offer auction functionality similar to what’s available in-game. Players have been requesting — and we’ve been hoping to implement — a feature like this for a long time, and we’re excited that the Armory and the game have evolved to a point that makes it possible.

This is a fairly complex service to develop, due in large part to its unprecedented integration with the game, so we don’t have an exact release date yet. It’s important to note here that certain elements of the service will be premium-based, which we’ll go into more detail on once the service functionality is finalized. As with all of the services we offer, we plan to integrate the Auction House and Armory in a way that won’t disrupt the gameplay experience, and we won’t release it until it meets the quality standards that we’ve set for our other features and services. You may be seeing bits and pieces of the Auction House service pop up in the test builds we use for the public test realms as we go through the process of internal testing. We’ll have more info to share with you here and at http://www.WorldofWarcraft.com as we get closer to release.

All we need now is a Dungeon queue and PVP queue app that teleports you home when your group is ready and the world will be perfect. Well, that and a holodeck with Grace Park’s likeness preloaded on it.