Saturday, January 23, 2010

Shucks, this could have been a cool game ...

Someone who works for Arkedo Studio, the folks responsible for Big Bang Mini on the DS and the Arkedo Series on XBLA, let it slip a few days ago (on NeoGAF) that the Parisian developer recently killed a rather promising-looking--in my opinion, at least--Natal project.

The name of said project: 2-Finger Heroes.

According to the Arkedo staffer (supposedly Arkedo Studio CEO Camille Guermonprez), the game was set to be a side-scrolling "beat 'em up" with a twist: Players would use their fingers to control their on-screen counterparts' legs.

As for the game's story: Guermonprez said it would be "a silly tale of friendly invaders who did not have enough time to scan the entire human body! So they are left on Earth as merely fingers (yup, scan was 3 percent complete), but with the WILL TO LIVE AND FIGHT THEIR NEMESIS, THE GIANT FOOT FROM OUTERSPACE!"

Why was it killed? "One of the designs flaws of this, apart from the fact that it demanded some very precise pattern recognition from the Natal system, is that it would have been HELL to localize," Guermonprez explained. "Yup, what can be understood as the victory sign in France, could be a terrible insult in the UK, for instance. And we are not even talking about Italian. Oh, the possibilities..."

For more mockups of 2-Finger Heroes, check out this NeoGAF post--and then shed a tear (or two) for what could've been a very cool game.

See also: 'Is it strange that I want a 360 just so I can play XBLA games?'

When it comes to WiiWare, (second and) third parties do what Nintendon't

Did you know that none of the WiiWare games Nintendo has published were developed in house? Well, it's true.

The amazing Art Style titles, for instance, were developed by Skip Ltd., while Dr. Mario Online Rx was developed by Arika. Even the Pokemon WiiWare titles were "outsourced"--with Ambrella handling My Pokemon Ranch and Pokemon Rumble and Chunsoft handling the as-yet-unreleased-outside-of-Japan Pokemon Mystery Dungeon games.

Second parties aren't the only ones picking up Nintendo's slack--third parties like Capcom, Frontier, Gaijin Games, Hudson Soft, Konami and Square-Enix have helped make WiiWare the distinguished download service it is today.

That trend looks to continue in 2010, thanks in large part to the following third-party titles:

1. And Yet It Moves (Broken Rules)--Now this is a platformer with panache. For starters, there are the game's superficial aspects: The protagonist has been drawn with pencil and the worlds he progresses through look like they're made of ripped and crumpled paper. And then there's the gameplay, which allows the player to spin the world in 90 degree increments in order to solve puzzles.

2. Bit.Trip Runner (Gaijin Games)--I only recently tried the first Bit.Trip title, Bit.Trip Beat, thanks to the free demo available on the Wii Shop Channel. Truth be told, I'm not (yet) very good at it, but it doesn't really matter because I have a blast even while I'm getting my butt kicked. I'm hoping Bit.Trip Runner, which Gaijin Games is calling a "rhythm platformer," is a little less hellacious, but who am I kidding? I'll buy it regardless.

3. Heartbeat (Capybara Games)--I know next to nothing about this game, but I want it anyway. What I do know: It's being made by Capybara Games, the company responsible for a pair of critically lauded titles you may have heard of: Critter Crunch and Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes. As far as I can tell, Heartbeat is a bit more abstract (OK, a lot more abstract) than Capybara's previous products. In fact, it looks more than a little like Nintendo's esoteric Electroplankton. If Heartbeat contains even a smidge of that cult classic's sublimity, it'll be well worth whatever it ends up costing.

4. Max & The Magic Marker (Press Play)--I've been salivating over this game since it was unveiled early last year. The only way I can describe it is to say that it's like a wicked mashup of Kirby Canvas Curse and Crayon Physics. Who wouldn't want to play a game like that? What seals the deal (for me, at least) is that it oozes cuteness and charm. Yep, it's my kind of game all right. Thankfully, it seems I'll be able to buy it soon enough, as it was just released in Europe. (Here's a trailer for the title, in case you've never seen it in action.)

5. NightSky (Nicalis)--Before I say anything about NightSky, I have to mention that I'm also awaiting (eagerly) the release of two other Nicalis games: Cave Story and La-Mulana. That said, I'm awaiting the release of the moody NightSky with even more eagerness. I can't even say why, really, as once again I don't know much about the title--other than it's a pensive, physics-based platformer. Assuming the finished product expands on the premise on display in this early trailer, I'm sure it'll be worth picking up.

6. Zombie Panic in Wonderland (Akaoni Studio)--Full disclosure: I'm not a fan of shooters. At all. So why am I excited about the release of this one? I know this is going to sound crazy, but I love the fact that at least one of the game's environments is filled with what looks to be cherry blossom trees. Also, the main character wears a pink scarf while wielding a machine gun. And then there are the zombies--which are an incongruous combination of creepy and cute. Yeah, I think this might be the first shooter to earn a spot in my heart (and on my virtual game shelf).

Friday, January 22, 2010

Not sure if want, part deux: Game 'apps' on the Amazon Kindle recently reported that Amazon will soon roll out a "Kindle Development Kit" that will allow folks to create "active content" for the popular e-reader.

Although Amazon doesn't specify in its announcement what "active content" means, it more than likely means games. Heck, the image accompanying the announcement (below) shows a Sudoku-sporting Kindle.

It would be great if a few text adventures--or even graphic adventures--appear alongside all of the Brain Age-esque, solitaire and Sodoku games that are sure to swarm the Kindle Store when the service launches later this year.

'I don't know about you, but I didn't ask for this'

You know what I find funny? The headline above (stolen from this NeoGAF thread) could have introduced my last few posts, too.

It works best for this one, though, as it has to do with Sony's forthcoming PlayStation Network reality show, "The Tester."

What's up with the "do not want" attitude, you ask? Well, the point of the show is to watch 11 people (ranging in age from 22 to 36) compete to win "a gamer’s ultimate dream job--an official PlayStation game tester." (More information about the show can be found here.)

Now, I've never been a game tester, but everything I've ever read about the experience suggests it's rather repetitive and doesn't pay all that well. Also, aren't most developers desperate for testers--and, as a result, willing to take on anyone with a pulse?

If any of the above is true, doesn't that mean that viewers of "The Tester" will be watching people compete for jobs they could have obtained if they'd just picked up the Yellow Pages and called someone at Sony Computer Entertainment America?

It all seems like a waste of time to me, but who am I to judge?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

You don't say: Square Enix is going to release Final Fantasy I and II *again*

I wish I could say I was surprised when I read that Square-Enix will soon release iPhone/iPod Touch ports of the first two games in the Final Fantasy series.

My actual reaction: "Huh. I thought they'd already been released on every possible platform?"

Anyway, in case you've never played the NES, MSX2, Wonderswan Color, GameBoy Advance, PlayStation, PSP or mobile phone versions of these games, you'll be able to do so soon if you have an iPhone or iPod Touch (and if you live in Japan, at least for the time being).


How do you say 'bow chicka wow wow' in Japanese?

I have to preface the following with this: If this "game" is brought to the States, my mom will eat it up like it's her last meal.

What "game" am I talking about? Nintendo's latest (and sure to be greatest, at least among middle-aged and older women) "expanded audience" title: Love Stories for Adults: DS Harlequin Selection.

Yep, the folks at Nintendo signed a pact with the devil--or, more precisely, Harlequin, publisher and purveyor of trashy romance novels--to produce said DS title, which will include 33 novels from the "Harlequin Series."

According to, Love Stories for Adults will be more than just a "text dump." Users will be able to "view summaries of what [they've already] read, adjust font size, search through glossaries of terms and names and even select background music to provide atmosphere."

I swear, if Nintendo brings this title to the States and finds a way to include the aforementioned "Bow Chicka Wow Wow" song, I'll buy a copy for myself and every other DS owner I know :)

Nintendo's on a budget

OK, so that's a bit of a lie. The honest-to-goodness truth: Nintendo (of Japan) is going to launch a budget line of Wii software soon.

That may not sound all that shocking--until you remember that Nintendo of Japan's head cheese (not his official title) Satoru Iwata has been saying, oh, since the Wii was launched in late 2006, that the company would not be offering a budget lineup as it did in the days of the GameCube and the Nintendo64.

Apparently he's had a change of heart--although, to be fair, the upcoming budget line of games is going to be called "Everyone's Recommendation Selection" as opposed to the previously used "Player's Choice."

Anyway, according to Nintendo, only titles that have earned a bronze, silver, gold or platinum user rating on the Wii's Everyone's Nintendo Channel will qualify for inclusion.

Seven such titles will be priced at ¥2,800 and released on Feb. 25: 428 (Sega), Arc Rise Fantasia (Marvelous), Dragon Ball Z Sparking! Meteor (Namco Bandai), Family Ski World Ski & Snowboard (Namco Bandai), Muramasa Demon Blade (Marvelous),  One Piece Unlimited Cruise Episode 1 (Namco Bandai) and Tales of Symphonia: Ratatoskr no Kishi (Namco Bandai).

Nintendo hasn't said if or when any other titles will be added to the lineup--or if it will make its way to any other territories.


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Let's hear it for the Bonk

1UP's Bob Mackey just posted a great little write-up dedicated to one of my favorite gaming mascots: Bonk.

In the post, Mackey writes, "what made the Bonk series so appealing to me originally was its colorfulness... [It] had this vibe of vibrant cartooniness you really couldn't find in many other console games. In comparison, Mario and Sonic were downright warm and gentle in their fluffy, pastel-colored worlds--Bonk's bold colors and endearingly ugly characters had more in common with something out of The Simpsons than the relative lushness of Nintendo and Sega's offerings."

I wholeheartedly agree. Don't get me wrong, I love me some Mario--Sonic, not so much--but Bonk brought something different to the table when his first game was released back in the early 90s, and whatever that something was I ate up like it was a hot fudge sundae.

Sadly, the series seemed to lose steam after Bonk's Revenge. (In my humble opinion, of course.) Bonk 3 just wasn't as compelling as its predecessors, and the Super Bonk games released on the Super Famicom/SNES lacked a certain spirit as well.

I doubt that trend will be broken by the upcoming PSN/XBLA/WiiWare sequel, Bonk: Brink of Extinction, but I'm willing to give it the benefit of the doubt until I actually spend some quality time with it.

Thankfully, even if it's a stinker I'll still have my memories--and the copies of Bonk's Adventure and Bonk's Revenge that I bought through the Wii Shop Channel :)

Oh snap! Million Ton Bara Bara coming stateside 'this spring'

And it will be called Patchwork Heroes, according to PlayStation.Blog.

The only bummer: It seems it'll be a PSN-only title. (What can I say? I like having a case to stare at and a manual to flip through.)

Oh, well, at least it's being localized.

Anyway, here's the official, localized translation of the title's premise (again, taken from PlayStation.Blog): "Patchwork Heroes puts the fate of a city in your hands as massive warships threaten innocent citizens. Come to the people’s defense by dismantling each level’s warship quickly before the ships can strike. Rescue trapped comrades along the way by releasing them from their confines."

Sounds good to me!

Go here for more info and a few screenshots. A trailer for the Japanese version of the title can be viewed in the blog post below.

See also: "OK, it's settled ..."

Well, lookie there: Another promising PSP title!

First off, I have to admit I have (next to) no idea what's going on in the following trailer. OK, I know the game--Nippon Ichi's recently announced Zettai Hero Customization Project--is some sort of SRPG-roguelike mashup, but that's about it.

Take a gander at the first trailer for the title and see if you can make out more than that:

Honestly, it could be a turnip-picking simulation and I'd still be interested in it, thanks to the fact that it's being made by the same team that's responsible for the Disgaea games.

If you're in the same boat, and if you have a PSP, you'll be happy to hear that Zettai Hero Customization Project will hit the streets in Japan on March 11. Supposedly the game will be coming to Europe and the U.S. at some point in 2010, although an actual date hasn't been announced.

See also: "OK, it's settled ..." and "First Classic Dungeon (PSP) footage looks ... classic"

I'm getting really good at spelling 'Zangeki no Reginleiv'

If only I knew what the hell it meant.

What I do know is that I want this game. Badly. How could I not? It looks like more fun than barrel of monkeys--or maybe I should say "than a barrel of ginormous, weapon-wielding monkeys."

Just try and tell me you don't feel the same after watching the latest trailer (a four-minute trailer, mind you) for this "cult classic in the making":

The question is: Will we be importing Zangeki no Reginleiv from Japan, or will we be able to pick it up at our local game shop? Here's to hoping it's the latter...

See also: "The baddies in Zengeki no Reginleiv are *this big*" and "I wonder what Zangeki no Reginleiv will be called when/if it comes to the States?"

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

So, is Muscle March worth $5?

The folks over at sure seem to think so:

"Despite being absolutely ridiculous, this game is actually one of WiiWare’s more entertaining titles: Not something I can say for most games priced at 500 points," writes reviewer prettymanfairy. "If you’re into the WTF genre, don’t let this game get away."

Having spent some quality time with Muscle March, I have to agree--both that the game is entertaining (and ridiculous) and that it fits squarely into the "WTF genre," as prettymanfairy so creatively calls it.

Does that mean it's worth 500 Nintendo points ($5)? I think so--if you're a fan of other WTF-esque games like Katamari Damacy and WarioWare: Smooth Moves.

One more thing to think about before you hit the "buy" button: Muscle March is fun, but the fun is over fast. I'm OK with that, as I have the attention span of a goldfish, but if you're a more dedicated gamer you may feel a bit ripped off.

See also: "Monday, Jan. 18 = the gayest day ever for American Wii owners" and "The best (and probably gayest) ESRB ratings summary ever"

Sony's PS3 motion controller no longer truly outrageous

Early last month, Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello suggested (at the UBS 37th Annual Global Media Conference) that Sony's forthcoming PS3 motion controller would hit store shelves as "Gem."

The name, while strange, seemed fitting considering the colorful ball that sits atop the controller. I'm guessing that in the end it was a bit too "girly" for Sony's head honchos.

What moniker are they kicking around now? According to the folks at (via, the controller's current code name is "Arc."

I'm not feelin' it, to tell you the truth, but I'm sure it'll grow on me. What do you guys and gals think of the name--and the controller itself?

See also: "Truly outrageous: Sony to call its PS3 motion controller 'Gem'?"

Monday, January 18, 2010

Reason #843 to be thankful for fan translators

For some strange (or stupid) reason, the powers that be at Nintendo's American and European subsidiaries have decided against releasing Fatal Frame IV: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse in their respective territories, despite the fact the that Japanese version of the survival-horror game was a ratings and sales success.

Tired of waiting, a dedicated group of translators and programmers decided early last year to do what Nintendo wouldn't and began working on a patch that would allow English-speaking Fatal Frame fans to play Suda 51's take on the series without modding their Wii systems.

Well, the patch was released today. All you need to play the fully translated version of Fatal Frame IV: An original copy of the game, an SD card and, of course, the patches that can be downloaded at

No worries if you're like me and you don't (yet) have a copy of Fatal Frame IV--you can watch a playthrough of the patched version of the game here:

The best Famicom game you've never played?

Actually, I'm guessing most of you have never heard of Gimmick!, let alone played it. Hell, I didn't know about this rare Famicom game until a few days ago, when I read about it over at

This Sunsoft-published platformer was released in Japan in early 1992 and in Sweden in early 1993. As you'll see in the video below, Gimmick! (or, Mr. Gimmick, as it was known in Sweden) looks and sounds and plays like a mashup of Mega Man and Kirby's Adventure.

For more information on this cult classic, check out its Wikipedia page or this write-up over at Or, if you're not opposed to using emulators, track down a Gimmick! ROM and the latest version of FCEUX and give it a try. Just don't expect an easy ride--despite its cute and cuddly exterior,
Gimmick! is hard as hell.

Alternately, check out Frank Cifaldi's four-part playthrough on YouTube. Here's the first part: