Thursday, 26 February 2009

just what the DS needs - MOAR RPGS!

Black Sigil: Blade of the Exiled

Apparently this one was intended for the Game Boy Advance and just got kinda... delayed. As for the studio themselves, they have a website, but it's barebones and hasn't posted an update since 2006, at which point they thought the game would be done by early 2007. They also have forums, which mention a release date of March 2008. And then of March 2009. And the Gamespot preview says April.

Well, that does happen in RPG production sometimes, especially when you're an indie studio trying to make an epic-length game, and in that case I suppose we should be fairly impressed it was ever finished, playable, and Nintendo-approved at all! Sadly, with the enormous glut of RPGs coming out on the DS, I doubt this one will move me to pick it up.

Publisher Preview Site (with lots more pictures and information than the studio one)

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Geneforge 5

I don't actually play this series, but it keeps on going. Big old Windows demo now available!

more on Exit Fate

There's a comment-not-review about the game on TIGSource which started up a lengthy discussion about recycling plot elements, the benefits of originality, and the stigma of game-making tools. Some spoilers obviously, but potentially interesting read for anyone into the indie RPG scene.

Life Is Short: Fight, Maidens!

A doujin 3d RTS where all your attack units are... maids. Or other cute girl things.

Game trailer/preview viewable here.

Of course, as it's all in Japanese, good luck figuring out how to play...

Downloadable Demo

(No, this isn't hentai, but the site that sells it also sells H.)

Sunday, 22 February 2009

you can please some of the people some of the time

Interesting to see the Gamezebo user response to the latest adventure game being sent out to the casual market.

It seems this is a love-it-or-hate-it kind of thing (I know the feeling!) Casual gamers expecting, say, constant Hidden Object gameplay are completely put off by the idea of having to do lots of reading (or listening, if voiceovers are enabled) and go so far as to complain that it's "not really a game", despite the game genre way predating theirs. Adventure/story fans, however, are squeeing all over the place.

Which all goes along with my argument that numerical game ratings are the absolute opposite of helpfulness when it comes to determining how good a game is. Being rated "complete crap" by fans of one style of game might lead someone with a DIFFERENT favorite style to pass over a game that they'd actually like.

Friday, 20 February 2009

more DS visual novels

Well, like Time Hollow before it, it does technically have some gameplay, but this preview suggests that Lux Pain is mostly to be played for the story.

be fruitful and multiply

Game ideas can spring from the strangest of places. In a discussion about unwanted pregnancies, and the moral distastefulness of either forcing unwilling women to serve as reproductive vats or abortion, it occurred that perhaps in the scifi future there would be technology to allow an embryo to be extracted alive from its unwilling carrier and gestated in an ACTUAL vat. Of course, if there were a population explosion of vat-babies, some would doubtless need to be frozen and stored for later need of their genetic diversity. And if there were REALLY too many of them, then we'd probably need to pack them into starships and send them off to colonise the universe.

Which, of course, sounds like a great idea for a strategy game.

You are an artificial intelligence, controlling a robot ship with its cargo of unborn humans. You find a suitable planet to colonise. You settle down and have to start building a society. Of course, human babies take a long time to raise, and you'll have to be ready to shelter them, educate them, and give them useful things to do... Of course, the more you teach them, the sooner they might be able to surpass you, and overthrow your control. Which is what you want... when they're ready to take care of themselves... or is it?

Thursday, 19 February 2009

dsI think not

Finally, this morning Nintendo announced that the DSi will arrive in the US on April 5 at a $169.99 price point. The handheld, which has been on sale in Japan since November 2008, will be available in black (pictured) and an all-new blue hue. Unfortunately, when contacted by GameSpot UK for a European announcement, Nintendo Europe declined to comment on the DSi's release in Europe, its final major territory.

Not that it matters, because you'd have to be INSANE to buy a European DSi, as an English-speaker. With the stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid region protection they want to put into the DSi and the tendency of games to release in England a year late at twice the price, if at all...

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

runaway adventures

New adventure game on Good Old Games - Runaway. I haven't played it and have heard vaguely mixed commentary... it might be really funny, it might be stupid, depending on your tolerance for certain sorts of humor. However, it's a nice change from the standard 3D most recent adventures fall into, being more of a Western cartoon.

Friday, 13 February 2009

standard console rpg concept

Here's one I'd like to see. Game starts off with the Evil Invasion attacking the castle. Evil Overlord throws the king and queen in the dungeon and proclaims that he's going to marry the princess, leering at her and running his fingers through her long flowing hair. She slaps/insults him, and he locks her in her tower bedroom.

At which point, she cuts off her hair, ties the sheets together, and climbs out the window... to now go around the kingdom pretending to be a spiky-haired peasant boy chosen by destiny to save the land. Knowing that she's making it all up, but that people expect this sort of thing and it's a good way to recruit heroes!

(Also allows Shakespearian romantic comedy if she falls for one of the heroes she recruits, who thinks she's a boy...)

Not something I'm likely to write though (too much else to do).

this comment got too long

... so I split it into a post, even though it's really a reply to a comment. :)

It's hard to say exactly what I'm looking for, there's too many variables. I don't have a Wii, though. DS only. :) Or PS2, we do own a US PS2 and can import for it, but I don't like modern console controllers (too big, too many buttons) or most console designs (too much 3d camera nonsense).

Generally, I don't want a game that's considered super-hard or super-easy. I don't want a heavy focus on wargaming. I have a ton of games to play already, so I want something different. A cool, innovative and exciting gameplay feature or a really appealing plot is probably needed to get my interest. Classic series, like Ys, Suikoden, and DQ are on my radar but of low appeal to me. I don't really need the established standard. (For that matter, I still haven't purchased Chrono Trigger.)

I've heard of Steal Princess but I'm uncertain. I generally don't feel that 3d and platformer should ever go together! It's something I'd really like to demo before buying, but that's not possible, so it falls into the range of games I might pick up if I saw it available used.

I'd forgotten about A Witch's Tale! That is one I had a vague eye on, iirc, but I haven't heard any update news in a long time. Even looking now, details about the game seem awfully scanty and the publisher page still says 'Coming Soon Winter 2008'. That's not a very good sign. EDIT: Yeah, looks like massive rewrites afoot. Considering what happened to Gauntlet...

Magician's Quest: Mysterious Times is a game I'm more interested in from a game design perspective than a player one. I might end up getting it exactly for that reason (I have a 'magic school' game idea in the dev queue) but I might also want to AVOID it for that reason, so my plans don't get tainted by it.

Knights in the Nightmare doesn't sound like it's to my taste. Something about the description just says "endless wargaming" to me.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

so many rpgs, so little time

So, I have an giftcard floating around, which will probably be used for yet another DS game that isn't available in Europe. The question is, what?

Front runners at the moment, both currently unreleased:

The Dark Spire - Claims to be a classic old crunchy dungeon crawl, with a wireframe display mode if you want to feel REALLY old, as well as having multiple endings, an unusually wide range of skill choices, and a text-adventure-like 'narration'.

The other is Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor (Review of Japanese version, which only came out last month) which apparently has a visual-novel style branching plot along with all the strategy RPG and devil-fusing.

Of course, neither will be out for a while, and I do get easily distracted... There's also Avalon Code, which sounds fun, but perhaps not sufficiently special to navigate through my piles of stuff to play... I need to hear some response to the plot (and potential for romance?) and how the boy/girl choice affects things before I know whether or not I want this.

warning - get your flameproof hats on!

So, there's a news story out claiming that Amazon drops Rape Simulation game - more importantly, claiming that an English version of a 3d hentai stalk-and-rape game was being sold on Amazon. Once this was pointed out to Amazon, the game was immediately pulled. The article goes on to be shocked and dismayed that such a horrible product was "easily available" from a "major online retailer", and then go on to claim that the English version is still available from (they list links, I won't).

They're missing a fairly important point here.


The links that they link to are PIRATES, selling WAREZED copies with a FAN MADE ENGLISH PATCH.

Whether or not that was the case for the copy listed on Amazon, I do not know. Probably not. I expect it got into the system in the first place through people who did actually own copies of the game and wanted to sell them used, via Amazon's system to enter new-product details.

It's certainly the case for the ones Jezebel irreponsibly promotes. The issue of piracy is never mentioned at all in any of the outcry. Foolish MPs eager for attention will rush to pass bans on selling games that were illegal anyway.

Unsurprisingly, the story has now been picked up by Kotaku, and *their* irritating fanboys are eagerly following the links posted to buy the illegal copies. Sigh.

Square Enix buys Lara Croft

But will this mean better games?

I've never actually played a Tomb Raider game. (Although I did enjoy the flat-chested cartoon Schoolgirl Lara short...)

Wednesday, 11 February 2009


Still haven't gone back to Aquaria since I got disheartened by the final boss. Still haven't found an upload of the ending either. Vaguely tempted to try using the infinite item cheat combined with actually having the ingredients for temporary invincibility... but too much to do at the moment.

Exit Fate

Interesting-looking new RPG with tactical combat. No word whatsoever on the plot, which keeps my interest not that high, but hey, it's free, so check it out if you've got the time.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

relationship options in game design

As soon as you try to give the player options, things are going to go wrong, because SOMEONE will want an option you haven't programmed in, and SOMEONE will be annoyed by the options you did program in. :) Which isn't to say that you shouldn't try, just that you should expect that somebody's going to complain no matter what you do.

Interesting thread involving Fable 2 here - about the difficulty of trying to obtain children for your lesbians.

someone shot the food

Rumor has it Gauntlet DS is cancelled.


We have multiple DSes in the house, but other than a little bit of Meteos-flinging, the only multiplayer action they ever see is endless games of Mario Kart. Most games I own aren't multiplayer. Meteos is, and even has download play, but while it's fun it's not fun enough to buy two copies just to get the MP action going, and it's not nearly as varied fun as Mario Kart. Elite Beat Agents has an MP mode, but I am not kidding when I say that our skill levels are SO widely disparate that it's not worth playing.

Anyway, we had hopes for being able to power through dungeons together, but sounds like that's not happening. Alas.

Friday, 6 February 2009

Dangerous High School Girls in Trouble

... scandalous trouble!

So, there's this game. It's about high school girls sneaking around, prying into things, finding out secrets, flirting, and who knows what else. It's done in a fantasy 1920's, flappers and old-fashion and all. On a board-game setup. It's won some awards for innovation and writing.

It also has one or two saucy, scandalous elements in it. You'd think a publisher would carefully check a game for any problematic features before releasing it. Wouldn't you?

Alas... There's now a day missing in BigFish's New Releases chart, as all mention of the game has been scrubbed away. Apparently, customers complained. Some complained wildly without having even played the game, simply suspecting that it was up to no good. (The mention of 'bullying' really sets some people off.) Others got far enough into the game for the plot to start getting darker and Freaked Out.

(See, there's a *reason* Fatal Hearts played so carefully with the lesbian angle! It's there, but it's easy to miss if you're not looking for it.)

It can still be obtained on BigFish if you have a direct link to the game page, but I would recommend visiting the developer's site instead.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

reflexive, amazon, and the tide coming in

Well. It was known a while ago that Amazon had bought Reflexive.

Now there is the opening of the Amazon Game Downloads, (including a couple of cool freebies... This sounds like a good time to check out Build-A-Lot. EDIT: Actually, no, since they're badgering me about my credit card and adjusting my default settings just to download it. I do have an Amazon account already, which makes me feel odd about being asked a bunch of extra questions. Enh, I have enough games already.)

And everything is being priced down to $9.99.

I don't really know how I feel about that. I mean, cheap games are cool, but at the same time that strongly encourages developers to make short crappy games rather than risk the money involved in a longer title. I like having *multiple* price points to choose from, not 'everything super cheap'. Everything super cheap tends to mean everything being crap, soon enough.

And, to top things off, Amazon's download service is apparently US-only. So I can't even *buy* the cheap games.

But with the recession and all, doing a cheap promotion to US customers might be a big help in establishing themselves... I guess.

video games linked to breast feeding

And everyone one knows breast-feeding is linked to all kinds of positive outcomes in children, therefore clearly video games save the children! And also doom the children. And also cause baldness. And cure cancer.

... Where are the Science Girls when you need them? :)

gender stereotyping? in the games industry? What a surprise!

I will roll my eyes a bit at the repetition of "They think GIRLS can play this??? But it's NOT THAT EASY!" in the post about My World, My Way. C'mon, people. Quite a lot of girls, when it comes to console games, only play RPGs. And you wonder why you have a hard time finding a gamer girlfriend to hang out with you? Perhaps it's because you're constantly saying things like:

I had assumed it was a Japanese RPG for girls and that Atlus was localizing it for, well, American girls. But hearing how it plays, they couldn't possibly expect casual, girl-gamers to like it, right?


Based on its super-pink packaging, you'd assume My World is your typical pastel non-game for non-gamers, maybe a doll dressing odyssey or a home decorating simulation. Right? But in fact, beneath all those shiny stars and bubblegum typography is a...vaguely hardcore dungeon hack RPG? Wha?

I'm also extremely puzzled by the reference to 'super pink'. The picture posted next to this line is like so:

This is super-pink? Okay, the text is a bit pink around the edges (more of a fuchsia really) and there's some small pink bows. But it's hardly overwhelmingly pink. This isn't Barbie Fashion Show! It just looks overwhelmingly ANIME.

On the bright side, at least they acknowledge that their stereotypical male gamer is a bit of a dumbass.

American RPG fans have very easily frightened senses of masculinity, a fact which is thrown into sharp relief every time a new Final Fantasy protagonist is revealed.

blog this

1up has added an RPG blog. Noted mostly for my own reference.

Monday, 2 February 2009

DRM for idiots, update

Apparently it was a different coding problem that broke the game mentioned previously, not the DRM. On the other hand, anything that's checking with Central Command to be sure you're playing the game the 'right' way is likely to cause such irritation. It doesn't really matter whether it's checking for "Is the game stolen?" or "Is the player cheating?" or "Has the player applied a nude patch?"

Anti-cheat mechanics are important in a multiplayer environment where you want to try and ensure a level playing field. But single-player, shouldn't people be able to cheat if they want to? Why should the game feel obligated to check?

I know nothing about Gears of War, I admit, I may still be misunderstanding.

a game where you play as a dinosaur

Little updates on the game 65 Million And 1 BC, which has added a walkthrough and dropped the price to $10.