Sword of Fargoal 2 Revamps Classic c64 game

Sword of Fargoal 2 has got a kickstarter. Although the game is almost 80% complete they just need a little help to finished the game off. The Kickstarter campaign is there to help that last 20% run as smoothly as possible, adding new animation, music, graphics and features to the game.

Sword of Fargoal 2

It is a sequel to the original Sword of Fargoal which was as a dungeon crawler for the Commodore 64. It featured random dungeon generation, permadeath and an absolutely monstrous challenge for players to take on. It has been listed as one of the top 8-bit games of all time.

Sword of Fargoal was remade for iOS and Mac OS by developer Paul Pridham (who created Saucelifter and the upcoming Punch Quest), Emmy award-winning animator Charlie Canfield, and noted British composer Daniel Pemberton (LittleBIGPlanet) to bring the game back. The remake won numerous awards, including “Best Retro Game (iPad division)” for the “2010 Best App Ever Awards” (“Sword of Fargoal Legends,” published by Chillingo/EA). Fargoal has even been recognized by the Guinness World Records 2012, Gamer’s Edition as “Most critically acclaimed ‘Roguelike’ for iOS”.

Sword of Fargoal 2 screenshot

Sword of Fargoal 2 will be for Mac/PC/Linux/iOS (and Android of they make enough money). It will have all new level types and dungeon textures with more spells. More monsters. More traps. Better graphics. More music. Animation. New characters types. New quests. A new dungeon-generation system, and much more.

Funding ends Oct 13, 2012 so go and fund their kickstarter now.

Be Thankful, Gamer

Be Thankful, Gamer

I know. The title blew your mind. Umar Khan is writing about something he is thankful for rather than venting an apocalyptic hate filled rant? This is impossible, you may think to yourself. But it’s true. While my editorials are usually about me demeaning a genre or writing farewell letters, I am thankful for many things. And while I am in great appreciation for the greater things in life outside of gaming like friends and family and just the general ability to live, I am still thankful for the lesser things in life found in games.

happy-thanksgiving

I am thankful for games that give me a limited aerial arsenal and decide its time for an aerial fight. “Wait, what did he say?!” Calm down, reader! Give me a chance to explain myself. In games that focus too much on ground combat, I find it refreshing to be put into an aerial battle where my arsenal is limited to a single slashing attack. While these fights are repetitious in nature they also make every hit you land as important as the first swing. A force of timing and precision infuse you where the rest of the game left you with the mindless monotony of button mashing. One cannot deny the sheer satisfaction they feel when that overgrown robotic fly careens into the ground, left in a smoldering heap. Was it obnoxious? It sure was but you know when you have that get together with friends and talk about the game you’re all going to say, “Wasn’t the air battle a pain in the ass?” You’ll forge friends in common camaraderie and that is something you should be thankful for.

I am thankful for underwater levels because nothing gets my heart pumping more in a game than knowing there is the potential to suffocate or that hair rising terror that there could be a giant squid monster lurking in the murky depths. The sensation of dread that creeps upon me knowing that there is something dwelling around me in the darkness and one of my few hopes of survival around the crushing pressures of the blue abyss is my limited air supply is invigorating. I feel an unrelenting wave of anxiety as I progress through a game and I begin to notice the foreshadowing scenery getting a bit more coastal because I know, at some point, I will be submerged and I will end up crying myself to sleep like a little bitch that night.

I am thankful for villains who aren’t pure evil but just have differing views that they believe are correct and bode no true ill intent. In some sense you could find yourself relating to their predicament. If I learned one thing from Loghain in Dragon Age it’s that sometimes you have to be a D-bag to get through the day. Sure, the responsibility and knowledge of what you did will weigh heavily upon your shoulders but in order to be a titan sometimes you have to bear the curse of Atlas first. And while I found myself at odds with Loghain, had the tables been turned, had I witnessed the world from his perspective, it wouldn’t come as a surprise to find myself being loyal to this patriot.

I am thankful for in-game prostitutes. They are a great way to gauge your true moral values in life. As a teenager playing Grand Theft Auto, sleeping with a prostitute and immediately killing her for a refund was economical and humorous all at once. As I grew older and prostitutes found themselves leaking into other games, (haha, I said “leaking”) I began to take a more virtuous approach towards these emotionally distraught individuals. Should they keep to themselves as my hero rolled on by, I could see the pity in their eyes, the defeat drawn upon their faces as they simply tried to survive with the education they managed to soak in during their times in high school and the deprivation of their living situation, be it an addiction to drugs or a baby at home they wish to save from this lifestyle. However, should she open her disease-ridden, puss marked mouth and say “Hey, daddy? Want some tenda luvin care?” I kick into crusader mode and begin to purge the barrio from these swindling sluts! Some may say, what a hypocrite! I say, “Fuck you!”

I am thankful for player collision and the ability to grab your partner. Nothing increases the enjoyment of a game like having a cohort. And nothing increases that bliss like being able to nab your partner and toss them into a canyon between platforms. I remember spending more time fighting with my brother in the New Super Mario Brothers Wii than actually trying to complete the level. Constantly jumping in different directions to slam into each other and fall to our deaths, tossing one another into bob-ombs, and bubbling up to lose the level are some of the most amusing cooperative game play elements I have ever encountered. Let us not forget of the grand self-sabotage in the coop mode of Little Big Planet. If you remember, you could grab your partner’s arm and drag them. Nothing in comparison could be funnier than watching a friend run to gain force for a jump and chasing after them. Right before they took their leap of faith, I would nab their arm quickly and tug in the opposite direction, At this point all I had to do was let go, depleting their momentum but leaving them cascading in the air and falling short of the platform. I am so thankful for the ability to interact with your partner in a game. So very thankful for all the laughs and tears shed while with playing with friends.

So, dear reader, there are things out there to be thankful for in games, if you really think about it. They bring memorable times with friends, an opportunity to share a story with your brothers in arms, and a chance to display your true character traits. Right now, some of you are probably in your room, isolated from your family because you have relatives coming over for Thanksgiving and wish to not be bothered. You want to hold your Xbox close to you and whisper sweet nothings into its air vents but remember, keeping your gaming experience to yourself is lonely. Stories are best shared than kept in your head. Get out there, make some friends, drink with your family, have a good time because life is meaningless without people you care about, even if you feel they don’t care about you. It’s only one day any way. Enjoy it. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Video Game Art Is In The Eye of The Beholder

Mario Art
Mario Art

There has been quite a debacle in the media entertainment industry on whether video games are considered art and/or show any valued relevance that can make the player look back and reflect the actions undertaken in the game towards their own life. When curiously looking into Edvard Munch’s work The Scream, soothingly listening to a symphony composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, or choking up reading Where The Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls, there is one thing in common they all share. They are considered art and evoke emotion within the willing participant viewer. Video games have been labeled as a media outlet that in its current state is incapable of causing an expressive movement in the partaker of this virtual journey.I, for one, disagree.

Art has been defined in a wide aspect and it’s meaning is subject to those who interpret it. The film American Beauty has a scene where one of the characters was commenting on the beauty of a plastic bag caught in the wind, wisping above the drab concrete pavement and what this meaningless occurrence meant to him. If a plastic bag swaying malevolently in the wind is considered art than the freedom expressed in the level editor for Little Big Planet should be considered a masterpiece. Given a set amount of tools, a gamer is handed his emblematic paintbrush and pallet and left with free domain to create a level or Sack Boy in any way they please. Sure this does not sound like something on the level an artist would have to deal with but I must interject. We are all given the same colors and brushes but chances most likely are one would be unable to paint the Mona Lisa or sculpt “David”. They could be replicated but never to same preciseness of the original. The ability to take what is already there and construct it into something new and inexplicable and projecting it as a physical manifestation of thought and creativity is art.

Sometimes, physicality is not enough merit to consider a form of entertainment media as a source of art. What about the ability to portray controversy? The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger portrayed sexuality, a copious use of vulgarity, and a truer depiction of teenage angst at the time of its published date. The uproar caused this book to be considered controversial and yet is considered art for its ability to stir up emotions in the reader. If controversy is needed to be part of the art in-crowd than Grand Theft Auto should be ringleader. The ability to sleep with a hooker and than murder her only to reclaim your money, snipe an old woman crossing the street, shout absurd profanities, and go on highway speed chases with the police is the staple for the GTA series. Many claim it glamorizes moral degradation to gamers and imbues them with a violent sociopathic personality. Last I checked, The Catcher in the Rye wasn’t claimed responsible for over five deaths and multiple occurrences of other real life crimes.

Being able to feel something emotionally towards a story is one thing many people are able to relate towards their own lives. The feeling of regret and the inability to mend past mistakes is a strong focal point in the novel Atonement by Ian McEwan where a young girl attempts to atone for a past accusation she commits which effectively ruins the lives of two people. Making right from a past wrong is a common relevant instance in the lives of people. It is easy after reading such a powerful work of literature that the reader would be able to look back on the misdeeds of their past and think of ways to remedy them. In the God of War series, Kratos is not only seeking absolute vengeance but also atonement for the mistaken murders of his wife and child. This is the main focus point of the series and shows just how far one man would go for redemption even against a pantheon of gods. Stories in some games have a deep meaning that goes beyond traveling from point A to point B. There is actual character development and the ability to relate to a theme that vaguely resembles the willingness of someone in real life.

Video games in their current state may be considered primitive art but they are art nonetheless. There are moments, stories, visual inspirations, and music many people will not forget. No one will forget the feeling that stir up when they hear the Final Fantasy intro music, the desperations of Cole from Infamous to save the people and a city that hates him, and the beauty painted in Okami. I could go on and on with citing examples of how gaming fits the definition of art but that would take a book’s length of words. The industry may be far from being considered comparable to Leonardo da Vinci but it is still in its current shape and form artistic.

Three Horse Race

wii-ps3-xbox360

Every year there is a major race on for the consumers’ money. And this winter is no different. So what is the form guide for the runners going into the race, and what are the odds on a new leader?

Sony has trailed in third place for much of the year. A lack of big name exclusives and the relative failure of Home to attract users was a severe penalty. The redesigned PS3 Slim and PSPGo gained a lot of momentum for Sony after E3, and the sales surge came on the back of a much improved advertising campaign. Titles such as LittleBigPlanet and Uncharted 2 have been put across to the viewer in a much better way, along with other useful features including the BBC iPlayer.

Microsoft has maintained a good grip on second place. Reliability is still an issue, with the Red Ring of Death and other failures affecting many users. The exclusive Episodes from Liberty City and a continued strong showing from Live Arcade (with titles such as Shadow Complex) have meant that for much of the year the sales curve has been steady – good work in a difficult time for the industry as a whole.

Nintendo had galloped ahead of the pack with the DS and Wii, but both have struggled in hardware terms. Wii sales have slowed dramatically, and the uptake of the DSi has not been as widespread. The newly revamped LL with its larger screens has not helped matters. The key for Nintendo is the long “tail” on many of its games – Wii Fit continues to sell strongly, and no doubt the same will be true for the enhanced version. Motion Plus has added a new dimension to the titles that use it, and both WiiWare and DSiWare have been attracting some strong releases.

The music genre continues to be the strongest, with so many good releases – new Lips, new Singstar, Band Hero, Lego Rock Band, Rock Band Unplugged on PSP, and of course the new expensive peripheral-based DJ Hero. The standout has to be The Beatles Rock Band, with its exquisite presentation, vocal harmonies and attitude to DLC (with money from the release of All You Need Is Love going to charity).

But undoubtedly the biggest thing to hit the industry is Modern Warfare 2. Not only is it set to dominate sales in the run up to Christmas, but many big name titles shifted back into 2010 to avoid it. The bad news is that the supermarkets are prepared to use it as a loss leader in their battle for sales – devaluing the game and affecting dedicated games retailers.

So can Sony and Microsoft make ground on Nintendo? And when will the fanfare sound for the next generation, bred from what has been successful this time around?