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Archive for the ‘Video games’ Category

Monkey Island: Special Edition plus brand new episodic game announced

Monkey Island Special Edition Screenshot

Lucasarts have just released further details on the forthcoming Monkey Island remake for Xbox Live Arcade, along with the news that it’ll also be available for Windows. Sadly no news on whether it’ll make the Playstation 3, Wii or Nintendo DS. The latter would be especially interesting as the stylus-based interface would be ideal for this kind of game.

The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition stays faithful to the original but with new brand new 2D artwork and audio. It also has its own website. Well, a widget, anyway, with a tiny video stuck in it. If you want to view it in full HD you’ll need to head over to their Facebook fan page and check it out it there.

But that’s not all! It’s also been announced that Telltale Games, the team who produced the new Sam & Max series, are producing a brand new episodic Monkey Island adventure for PC: Tales of Monkey Island. Like Sam & Max Season One and Two, the new games will be 3D-rendered and split into five downloadable episodes, released monthly.

Here’s the trailer to whet your appetite:

Stunning Blade Runner Scene Recreated Using CryENGINE 2

blade_runner_cryengine2

It’s no secret that Blade Runner is one of my favourite movies so I’ve just been salivating looking through some superb images created using Sandbox 2 and CryENGINE 2, the video game engine used for the first-person shooter Crysis.

The images were created as entries to a movie-themed contest at game-artist.net and winning entries included sets from The X-Men, Aliens and I Am Legend. This Blade Runner set deservedly took winning place and you can view the process behind the construction on this message thread. (via N4G)

Henry Hatsworth Concept Artwork

Henry Hatsworth Concept Art

Offworld have just begun a new series of posts around the production art of video games entitled Concept Album and I’ve just been thumbing through the first of them — an extensive three-page collection of concept artwork for the Nintendo DS platform-puzzler Henry Hatsworth.

I always love to see the creative that eventually evolves to become a video game, animated feature, theme park attraction or motion picture. This one I find particularly interesting as, ultimately, it’s all going to be crammed into a screen no wider than two and half inches!

Be sure to check out Henry Hatsworth Art Director Jay Epperson’s own blog for more sketches and art. And here’s the official game site.

Happy 20th Birthday, Nintendo Game Boy

Nintendo Game Boy

As incredible as it sounds, the Nintendo Game Boy is 20 years old today!

The now iconic hand-held video game console was launched in Japan on 21st April 1989 as the spiritual successor to Nintendo’s Game & Watch line. The console, which went on to sell nearly 119 million units worldwide, was released to the US a few months later in August and to the UK and Europe the following year.

Bundled with it was, of course, a copy of Tetris but it was neither that, nor Super Mario Bros nor any of the big-selling titles that left a lasting impression with me — possibly because it’s one of the few video games I’ve actually completed that honour goes to Final Fantasy Legend.

Final Fantasy Legend was a western port of the Japanese RPG Makai Tōshi Sa·Ga and, despite being made by Square, wasn’t a Final Fantasy game at all, merely re-badged to cash in on the popularity of the Final Fantasy series in the US. It was apparently enhanced and re-released for mobile phones in Japan in 2007 and the series also celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. Too bad I traded mine in for a copy of Chase HQ… I don’t think I’m ever going to let my 13-year-old self live that down!

Still, at least I kept my copy of Solar Striker and if I ever lose that I’ll always have its theme tune permanently etched into my brain.

Update: Be sure to check out the Game Boy timeline over at Gizmodo.

Free Realms: Sony’s Family-friendly MMORPG

Free Realms screen shot

I recently got my closed beta invite for Sony’s new family-friendly MMORPG Free Realms and spent half an hour this afternoon checking it out. Sadly I can’t say much more about it as I’m under NDA but (rather oddly) they encourage beta testers to post feedback to the forum — which happens to be entirely public!

As I suspected from the trailers and videos I’d seen it’s very much a World of Warcraft “Lite” — but not in a bad way. They’ve taken a clearly winning formula, cutesied the style and remarketed it for a younger audience, adding a multitude of minigames and making character classes something your can switch between as the need arises, rather than choosing just one.

Free Realms is and will be, as the name suggests, free to play although you can “upgrade” for a $4.99 monthly fee to access an assortment of extra features like the ability to have more than one character and members-only items and quests. The beta is currently PC-only but it’ll also be available on PS3 later in the year.

After checking out Sony’s PlayStation Home earlier in the year and feeling distinctly underwhelmed I’m very pleasantly surprised by what Free Realms has to offer. Maybe Sony should ditch the Home team and get these guys in instead.

If you’re on there, look me up. I’ve called my character, not entirely voluntarily I might add, Trevor Flamingtree (login required).

Scarygirl: Nathan Jurevicius’ illustrated web-based platform game

scarygirl

Just been playing this adorable web-based platform come puzzle-ish adventure game Scarygirl. It’s absolutely wonderful despite it being a little buggy at present. Go check it out. It’s free too!

The game was produced by Touchmypixel and is based on distinctive artwork of Australian designer, artist and illustrator Nathan Jurevicius. You can find his vinyl toys over at Scarytoys.

Bioshock 2 Gameplay Video

I still haven’t finished the original but I’m excited to see what they’re doing with the sequel. Set ten years after the original story you play as the last surviving (and first-built) Big Daddy, saving and protecting (or, optionally as before, harvesting) Little Sisters whilst being taunted by Big Sister, a child-snatching former Little Sister from the first game who now rules the abandoned underwater city of Rapture.

While the new game appears to function in much the same way as the plasmid-injecting first, Bioshock 2 will feature multi-player for the first time, something I’m rather sceptical of. The original was a really strong single player experience and strength lied in its simple, linear storytelling. How that can be translated to a multi-player game remains to be seen.

A video without captions is also available and here’s the teaser trailer from last year. Bioshock 2 is due for release in November 2009.

Also, Bioshock is being made into a Gore Verbinski-directed movie — I’m trying not to even think about that!

Zork Returns as Casual Web-based MMO

Legends of Zork screenshot

Zork, the renowned text adventure released in 1979, returns in a new, free, web-based guise for the Facebook Generation as Legends of Zork, developed by Jolt for Activision.

Legends of Zork sees the Zork franchise re-invigorated for the first time since the release of the graphical point and click adventure Return to Zork in 1998. No longer a text or point-and-click adventure, Legends builds on the more casual social web games such as The Nethernet (formerly PMOG) and those that riddle Facebook.

Players create their character then venture further out into the world through simple battles (there doesn’t seem to be any way to use different attacks but as I’ve only been able to play to level 3 these may be learnt later in the game) and levelling. As the character’s level increases more areas become available to “adventure” in. Skill points are awarded as you level to spend on new skills. Money can be found on enemies and acquired by selling recovered items when returning to your home, The White House.

Beyond battling with friends (and enemies) PvP-style in arenas there doesn’t seem to be much more social stuff available but, again, this is early days and more could easily be added in the future.

Die-hard Zork fans might unwelcome the lack of any real adventuring in this new game — there appear to be no quests to speak of, other than going out and bashing stuff of increasingly higher level for cash — but it still appears to be a competitively fun social past-time for when your arms hurt from trying to beat your mother’s high score in Bejeweled Blitz over on Facebook.

You’ll find me on Legends of Zork as Travelling Salesman Muttonchops, named after the very first character I created on World of Warcraft all those years ago. Feel free to say hello!

Finally, for the incredibly nostalgic, you can still play the original Zork adventure online for free.

Video Game Level Design Learned from Disneyland

what_would_walt_do

Yes, yes, yes! A belief I’ve maintained for many years — that Disneyland is an experience designer’s wet dream — has been confirmed! I’m so glad to see that THQ’s Creative Manager Scott Rogers shares my understanding. Scott worked on games including Pac-man World, God of War and Drawn to Life.

Thankfully Cory Doctorow took notes from Scott’s presentation at GDC today and made them along with photos of the slides available for all. Scott states on his blog that he’ll make his slides available shortly.

Update: The slides are now up.

This has just brought to mind the piece Cory wrote for Wired back in 2006 interviewing former Disneyland Imagineer Danny Hillis about Disneyland as an alternate world, a precursor to today’s massively multiplayer games. It all gets me wondering whether anyone else has written about or has been inspired by this topic… Some investigation awaits!

(via Boing Boing)

Tim Schafer Point and Click Adventure Mini-game

Host Master and the Conquest of Humor

Host Master and the Conquest of Humor

I love this mini adventure game starring game designer Tim Schafer created by his Double Fine studio in the distinctive style of the games he produced for LucasArts back in the day like The Secret of Monkey Island, Day of the Tentacle and Full Throttle. Play Tim as he searches, at the last minute, for jokes to use in his GDC presentation. Wonderfully tongue-in-cheek and frightfully nostalgic.

Makes me wonder why LucasArts haven’t yet re-released those classic point and click adventures on platforms like the Wii and DS. They’re made for them — and wouldn’t cost a thing to port! (via 1Up)