There’s this spot in Akihabara Park beside the designated smoking area, across from Yodobashi Camera’s rear exit, where I’ve taken the same photo twice; on the second occasion purely because it was a beautiful evening and I suddenly remembered taking the first photo and wanted to replicate it from memory without referring to my Flickr account. They turned out pretty close. The other day while playing the game Akiba’s Trip on my PS Vita, I decided to visit the same spot to try and take it again with the in-game camera feature (the title is quite an accurate recreation of the gaming/anime/gadget town); again trying to find the same spot from memory. The level of detail is surprising, and this is just for one building out of many. I even got the same corner of the little rain shelter peeking in from the left. Makes me feel like I should visit again sometime soon.
From Paper to iPad, Pixel Press Turns Drawings Into Videogames Bonnie Cha, recode.net I loved playing videogames as a kid, but I can’t say that I ever spent any time sketching out ideas for my own games like my brother and his friends did. (My doodles usually involved cute animals or spelling out my crush’s name in bubble… The core concept is every kid’s dream: designing their own games for friends to play through, or just for the heck of it. But without some serious inspiration, what you can do in a short platformer level is very limited. I remember a D&D game maker tool for PCs in the 90s; that was infinitely better because you could create a STORY, and set up narrative funnels for your players. 20 years later, our idea of imaginative play can’t be restricted to letting kids carve out crude worlds in 3D chunks and 2D lines.
I’ve had the luxury of some console gaming time these past few months, and managed to complete Metal Gear Rising, BioShock Infinite, and the rebooted Tomb Raider, while making progress in Devil May Cry, Luigi’s Mansion 2: Dark Moon, and Super Mario 3D Land. The observation here is that in my advanced age, the definition of fun has changed. I used to be excited for sandbox experiences, building/business simulations, and multiplayer combat. I think if Minecraft and LittleBigPlanet existed when I was younger, I’d totally see the point of building a giant robot’s head in a mountainside. Now, the thought of spending hours on that kind of play instead of catching up on reading or working on other projects is out of the question. Open-world games are in a precarious position. Five years ago, I could spend hours collecting Crackdown’s Agility Orbs. I’d mess about in Assassin’s Creed and forget the main quest entirely, writing my own inner narrative about Altair being a medieval pickpocketing Batman. When life next comes collecting, these games will be …
Straight from the pages of Wikipedia, compiled and edited by one Philipp Lenssen, this book tells the story of an era most people my age lived through and think back upon with great affection: the early period of computer adventure gaming. Companies like Sierra On-Line, Lucasarts, Microprose, and Adventure Soft defined the boundaries of what we now know of interactive storytelling, plot-driven game design, and narrative/item-based puzzles. It’s on sale at Amazon for $29, and is also available as a free, downloadable HTML file with “loads of screenshots”. YJSoon has a useful tip: run it through Calibre to make an EPUB file, and it’ll sit nicely on your iPad’s iBookshelf. Link (via @YJSoon)
Following up on the screenshots I posted a few days ago, this gameplay video of Studio Ghibli & Level 5’s upcoming PS3 game, Ni no Kuni (The Another World), is just gorgeous in its 3D engine-powered approximation of the company’s signature animation style. Link (via @davechua, who notes that the battle sequences are rather Pokemon-ish)
Studio Ghibli and Level-5 are making a videogame for the DS, and it’s just been announced that a version for the PS3 will also be released; most likely a different story in the same world rather than a straight port. The screenshot above is purportedly the actual game being rendered by a 2D/3D animation engine. Compare it to a still from an actual animated cutscene here. They are almost indistinguishable in terms of art quality. That a console game controlled in real-time by a player can look (at least when paused) just like a real Studio Ghibli movie is utterly amazing. Link [Joystiq.com]
When I bought my first Nintendo DS in the spring of 2005, touchscreen gaming was new to the mainstream and the idea of downloadable handheld content was still a few clouds short of a perfect storm. I believe you might have been able to download a game directly to a Windows Mobile PDA, but syncing them over from a desktop was the standard practice. At that time, I was happy to plonk down £20+ (nearly SGD$60) for a simple casual game like Zoo Keeper, which many will recognize as a clone of Popcap’s Bejeweled. Yeah, that game you can play for free online. I remember ordering it online from the American Amazon.com because it wasn’t yet due in England for some time, and the ensuing wait for something to play on my new DS was torture. Even though it launched alongside meatier fare like Super Mario 64 DS, this Match-3 game was an incredible new experience. The ability to directly manipulate blocks onscreen was hailed in the gaming press as something that could “only be done on Nintendo’s …
Wired’s Chris Kohler gets a little time with the newly-announced Nintendo 3DS. It’s only the most promising handheld gaming device since the original DS! Does everything an iPhone can do and more, now that it has 1) a more powerful graphics processor, 2) an accelerometer and gyroscope built into each one for six-axis motion sensing, 3) a touchscreen + analog joystick + D-pad, 4) a download store. Of course, there’s also the 3D screen that gives the illusion of depth without the need for special glasses. The games announced for it so far include a really epic-looking Kid Icarus title, a remake of Ocarina of Time (widely considered the best game of all time), Paper Mario, Pilotwings Resort, Super Street Fighter IV, and all-new entries in the Saints Row, DJ Hero, Resident Evil and Metal Gear Solid franchises. No pricing info or release date yet, which leads me to believe they’re trying to bring costs down, but we should expect a higher than usual number. Say around USD$200-220. The graphics, which are much more advanced …
Virtual Shackles is a webcomic about games by two guys that’s fast surpassing the original two-gamers webcomic, Penny Arcade. In today’s strip, they combine two games I’ve been playing a lot lately: Bit.Trip Runner (Nintendo WiiWare) and Robot Unicorn Attack (Flash, free & iPhone, $2.99). Both games are variations of the winning formula that Canabalt (Flash, free) defined – a character constantly runs forward, and the player is in charge of making sure it jumps at the right time. Bit.Trip Runner throws dodging, leaping, and kicking into the mix, making for an insanely hard but hugely satisfying reflex tester. It also happens to be rendered as an homage to blocky-pixeled retro games. Robot Unicorn Attack is pure madness from Adult Swim: a metal unicorn (double)jumps amongst the clouds to Erasure’s “Always”. Do well, and sky dolphins leap with you. It’s the epic bombast of Peggle’s Ode to Joy sequence meets the wacky, more forgiving Japanese run-jumper, Tomena Sanner (WiiWare & iPhone, $1.99). Link
Apropos of all the William Gibson reading I’m doing, this trailer for the third Deus Ex game looks incredible (thanks to Square-Enix). It’s actually a prequel to the first game released in 2000, but will still feature all the bionic augmentation you’d expect. I remember playing Deus Ex ten years ago and feeling the kind of thrill you get when a game lets you do something new. In this case, it was having advanced technology and a fleshed-out SF world in a first-person RPG. Instead of the usual spells and enchanted armor, it was cybernetic implants and nanobots in your bloodstream. Link [Joystiq]