Saturday, May 15, 2010

Mamotte Knight: Not your mother's tower defense game

At least, that's blogger PepsimanVsJoe's assessment of the just-released Xbox LIVE Indie Games title.

"It's a unique take on the genre that combines chaotic action with just the right amount of strategy for some of the most fun I've gotten out of the XBL Indie Service," he opines in his rather rambling (in a good way) review.

PepsimanVsJoe's lone point of contention with the Ancient-developed title? The inability to play it on line.

"Oh, sure, the game is more than enough fun by yourself," he writes, "but if you're like me and all your friends would rather play World of Warcraft or Call of Duty, well, that's just too bad."

I can understand the gripe, as I'd certainly be restricted to playing the $3 game alone if I picked it up--which I would if, you know, I had an Xbox 360.

Speaking of which, what do you think are the chances Microsoft will drop the system's price to $99 at the upcoming E3 event?


8-bit invasion

What would happen if the creatures from our favorite 8-bit video games came to life and invaded New York City? That's the question artist Patrick Jean (and his colleagues at the French visual effects studio, OneMoreProd) attempted to answer in the following short film, Pixels:

In related news: The word on the street is that Adam Sandler's production company, Happy Madison Productions, has partnered with Jean to develop a feature film based on Pixels.

Friday, May 14, 2010

'Tetris Tetris Everywhere'

While randomly perusing Flickr earlier this evening, I came across an amusing gallery called "Tetris Tetris Everywhere."

Of the gallery's 18 photos, this one is my favorite:

I especially like its title, "Rest in Tetris."

To see the rest of the gallery's photos, go here.

See also: 'It's show and tell time!'

Ash Ketchum's (and Maré Odomo's) 'Letters to an Absent Father'

I know I'm a bit late to this particular party, but I'm going to write about it anyway.

"It," as you can probably tell from the headline above, is artist Maré Odomo's Pokémon-themed comic series, "Letters to an Absent Father."

Each of the 10 (so far) comics focuses on the Pokémon protagonist, Ash Ketchum, and the letters he writes to his estranged father. Here's the first:

They're all more than a bit melancholy, but they're touching, too. And, as you can see in the image above, they're easy on the eyes.

Check out the rest of Odomo's "Letters to an Absent Father" comics here, and check out the rest of his portfolio here.

Random aside: Although Odomo hails from San Jose, he currently lives in Seattle. Booyah! Maybe I'll send him an e-mail at some point (after I've had a drink or two)...

In my oh-so-gay opinion: The five most iconic system designs of all time

I know this may shock some of the younger visitors to this blog (assuming there are any), but game companies haven't always been as interested as they seem to be today in designing systems that are aesthetically pleasing. Just look at ye olde Nintendo Entertainment System, which, by most accounts, was big, boxy and, well, butt ugly.

I wouldn't use any of those adjectives--well, with the exception of "boxy"--to describe the following systems, which I consider to be the cream of the crop when it comes to eye-pleasing design.

Dreamcast--OK, so Sega's fourth console is a bit boxy. It's not big, though, and it's certainly not butt ugly. In fact, I'd go so far as to say the Dreamcast is slightly sexy--in a sort of utilitarian way. That dainty little swirl on the lid is awfully appealing, too.

GameBoy--You know, now that I'm thinking about it, the GameBoy and the Dreamcast are pretty similar aesthetically--which, I guess, is why both of them made it on to this little list. If I was forced at gunpoint to choose between them, though, I'd probably point to the GameBoy thanks to its softer, rounder features. Still, it's a bit like choosing between a Da Vinci and a Picasso, isn't it?

PC Engine--A ha! Now we're getting somewhere. Goodbye, gray boxes--hello, white boxes! To be fair, aside from the fact that this system is square in shape it's hardly what I would call "boxy." I also wouldn't call it boring, what with its bumps and curves and ridges. Plus, it sports--front and center and in fire engine red--what is, in my opinion, the coolest console logo ever created.

PSone--Honestly, I thought the original PlayStation design was a total dud. It kind of reminds me of the what I see when I look at the NES sans rose-colored glasses. The PSone, though, is a cutie patootie, as Rosie O'Donnell used to say, especially when its accompanied by one of Sony's flip-top LCD monitors.

Super Famicom--I guess it's clear by now that I prefer simple, sleek system designs to those that are more, er, "adventurous"--like the Mega Drive or the SuperGrafx. Still, it's hard to deny that the Super Famicom is one sexy piece of equipment. That said, this is one system that benefits a lot from being seen alongside its controllers, which add a punch of color and, more importantly, a subtle sense of drama.

See also: 'Raise your hand if you have a video game fetish'

Thursday, May 13, 2010

'Hyrule's Hero'

While scanning my Blogger "Reading List" this morning, I spotted this lovely rendition of Link:

The piece, called "Hyrule's Hero," was created by Andrew "Drew" Green.

Learn more about this Atlanta-based artist by checking out his blog, deviantART page and Flickr photostream.

See also: 'Dark Cake' and 'Enemy Bait'

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

JRPG Spotlight Volumes 1, 2 and 3

I'm not sure if I should hug or hit duckroll, the NeoGAFfer who decided a month or so ago to start a series of monthly/bi-monthly discussion threads dedicated to "unique JRPGs which are significantly different from the norm in all areas."

Although I'd like to hug him for introducing me--in "JRPG Spotlight Vol. 1"--to the Westone-developed, Enix-published Dark Half, which was released for the Super Famicom in 1996, for instance, I'd like to hit him for the very same reason. After all, if I'd never heard of said game, I wouldn't have spent more minutes (OK, hours) than I'd care to admit reading about, staring at screenshots of and watching videos of it.

I've yet to spend much time with volumes two and three--which shine a light on Radia Senki/Radia Wars Chronicle and Emerald Dragon, respectively--but I plan to do just that sooner rather than later. At the very least, I hope to get through them before volume four shows up.

Amano + Final Fantasy IV x 2

The following photos are of the front and back cover of the Japanese PlayStation version of Final Fantasy IV, released in 1997.

I'm particularly fond of the image used on the front cover.

Although, the image (of Golbez) used on the back cover is pretty awesome, too.

See also: 'I ♥ Yoshitaka Amano'

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

I ♥ Yoshitaka Amano

I also ♥ Final Fantasy IV, which is why I'm sharing these scans of the (Japanese PlayStation version of the) game's instruction manual.

Here are Amano's depictions of Dark Knight Cecil and Paladin Cecil:

Cain and Rosa:

Edge, "Foo-Soo-Ya" (aka FuSoYa), Palom, Porom and Yang:

Cid, Gilbert, Rydia and Tella:

I'm particularly fond of Amano's rather effeminate take on Tella.

Hey, someone loves Bubble Bobble even more than I do

At least, that's what I assumed after seeing the following on

By the way, is "a community of people dedicated to handmade arts and crafts with themes centered around the video game industry."

Isn't that one of the cutest--and geekiest--things you've ever heard of?

'What the hell is that, hun, a pink-colored girl or a strawberry with face and limbs?'

So begins one of my favorite posts on one of my (new) favorite sites, 8-bit Fiction.

Here's how it ends, by the way:

I'm quite fond of this piece of 8-bit fiction, too.

In case you're a bit slow on the uptake today, this three-week-old Tumblr blog takes scenes from various video games and adds (fictional) stories to them.


'We do not see piracy as [a] big evil'

That's just one of the many interesting things Camille Guermonprez, founder of Paris-based Arkedo Studio, has to say in this recent interview with EDGE magazine's Chris Donlan.

Case in point:

"We acknowledge that a large number of copies have been pirated for both games (Nervous Brickdown and Big Bang Mini), but we don’t think of them as lost sales. Rationally, we try to give people a reason to buy our games, like pricing them below the usual price, taking extra care for the game manual with silly jokes or making lenticular sleeves like we did for Big Bang Mini."

A scene from Arkedo Series 03: Pixel!


"Sales [of the Arkedo Series titles] are decent, but do not cover expenses yet. That’s okay, because we see XNA as a quick way to give birth to games, and then we’ll see what we do with them after that. Pixel!, for instance, was kind of proof that the concept worked, and I would not be too surprised to see other iterations from Pastagames out of this original idea."

By the way, Guermonprez mentions at the end of the interview that the Arkedo Series may soon show up on PSN. "The good news is that it will not be just a compilation," he says. "It will be our first time on PSN, so we want to come with something more."

See also: 'Shucks, this could have been a cool game ...' and 'Is it strange that I want a 360 just so I can play XBLA games?'

Monday, May 10, 2010

Drawing inspiration from video games: An interview with the artist known as Orioto

Many moons ago, Paris-based artist Mikaël "Orioto" Aguirre graciously agreed to take part in an electronically enabled Q&A. Sadly, his responses to my (rather geeky) questions have been sitting in my in-box ever since.

I'd like to say it was my intention to treat our little tête-à-tête like it was a fine wine--i.e., age it to perfection--but in reality I've just been too busy (and, yes, too lazy) to prep and post it.

Anyway, here it is in all its gay-gaming glory.

The Gay Gamer: So, when did you start creating art?

Mikaël Aguirre: I started creating art about 10 years ago. That's when I got my first PC and when I started to have fun with Photoshop. I've wanted to manipulate pictures and create things since I was a kid.

Do a Barrel Roll

GG: I recently read an interview with you where you said you aren’t a drawer and you aren’t a painter. So what are you? How do you create the works that can be found on your deviantART page (and on, from time to time)? Do you take existing pieces of art and combine them in photoshop?

MA: Well, I use photomanipulation. I take pieces of photos here and there and I manipulate them, like some kind of two-dimensional sculpture. I construct my art like that, piece by piece, and then I paint over everything so it's not a mess. Sometimes I paint elements directly using Photoshop, but it's not my specialty.

GG: When did you start playing video games?

MA: I started playing video games when I was 10--in 1991. My first console was the Genesis, but I quickly changed it for a SNES because I'm (obviously) a graphic whore.