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Archive for the ‘Video games’ Category

Halloween Papercraft Big Head costume

Eric Testroete's Papercraft Head

I’m going to make this a tradition. Each year I’ll pick out the best Halloween costume and post it up here. A couple of years ago I featured these fantastic Bioshock costumes — and they’re still one of the post popular things on this site.

This time it’s another videogame inspired creation. 3D game artist Eric Testroete has recreated his own head using Pepakura, 3D Studio Max and copy of Photoshop in the style of those Playstation-era video game characters in “big head mode”.

The emotionless expression is also very slightly unnerving.

Gowalla: The location based travel game

Gowalla web and iphone screenshots

Ok, “game” might be pushing the term a little bit but it’s still good fun. Much like other location based social services like Brightkite and Foursquare, Gowalla allows you to “check in” to locations in the real world to update your profile on the website and on the iPhone app.

What makes Gowalla a little different is that it’s been created by Alamofire, the people behind the moderately addictive Facebook card collecting and trading (stealing) game, Packrat.

Simply, as you check into places in the physical world (using GPS — no cheating here!) you might find that someone who has checked in before you has dropped a virtual item and, if you want it, trade it for an item in your possession. Trading, checking into locations and other actions offer rewards in the shape of virtual pins, much like your Xbox or PS3 achievements.

So, what’s it got that’s better than Foursquare, the current fore-runner in this area? Well, for starters you can play it anywhere — Foursquare is limited to a few cities, mostly in the US. Secondly, Trips. Checking into a series of locations such as a series of iconic locations in Central Park, or Frank Lloyd Wrights buildings in Chicago unlock bonus pins. These are limited at the moment but there’s promise of more.

Finally, it features a lovely user interface and exquisite collectable pins, stamps and location badges illustrated by Brian Brasher and David Lanham.

Oh, and did I mention that it’s free? What are you waiting for? Get collecting!

Gowalla Free (iTunes App Store link)

Fighting Fantasy: The Warlock of Firetop Mountain DS

Fighting Fantasy: The Warlock of Firetop Mountain Nintendo DS screenshots

While working this evening I downloaded and listened to the latest Retronauts podcast. I hadn’t listened to it before and was surprised to discover that it had been replaced with a podcast for another 1Up offering, The Grind — an RPG games blog. As I’m not adverse to such things (and because they mentioned Fallout at the start of the episode) I listened to it anyway.

But that’s not what this is about! When I was about seven years old I ordered a book called The Warlock of Firetop Mountain from the school book club. Probably because, to a seven-year-old, it sounded pretty cool and most likely because it shared a premise with my favourite game of all time, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons for the Intellivision.

Part-way through the podcast I thought I heard a reference to this book and — sure enough I had! It turns out that a company called Big Blue Bubble, developers of, uh, nothing really, are producing a game based on the original Steve Jackson/Ian Livingstone-penned book for the Nintendo DS. It’s unlikely that the game will live up to the lofty heights my wide-eyed seven-year-old self held the book but the screenshots look promising.

Fighting Fantasy: The Warlock of Firetop Mountain for Nintendo DS is scheduled for release at the end of 2009.

Monkey Island Special Edition for iPhone

The Secret of Monkey Island on iPhone

Following the recent rumours of a port, Lucasarts quietly slipped The Secret of Monkey Island onto the iTunes App Store this week without fanfare… So quietly that it still isn’t mentioned on the game’s official site. But yes, that’s right, you can now play the updated point and click classic on your iPhone and iPod Touch!

Weighing in at a hefty (for an iPhone app, anyway) 350Mb, it includes the new “special edition” version with the voices and enhanced soundtrack found on the Xbox and Windows versions as well as the original VGA version, just as it appeared in 1990. Simply swipe two fingers across the screen at any time while playing to switch between them. Swiping two fingers sure is easier than messing with DOS extended memory and Soundblaster drivers for hours on end! Oh how I miss 1990s PC gaming… You really had to work to play a game back then. None of this plug and play nonsense.

I digress…

Monkey Island iPhone screenshots

The new high-definition visuals work just as well on the less than high definition format of the iPhone’s three and a half inch screen. The controls, while seemingly cumbersome at first, work incredibly well once you realise that the screen is functioning in the same way as a laptop trackpad to guide the cursor around. This offers much more precision than if you were to use a greasy finger stump to directly select objects on the screen.

Just as in the original it’s possible to store multiple saved games which means you can let your friends and family have a go. It’s a simple feature that’s surprisingly lacking in many iPhone games that would benefit well from it. Yes, I’m looking at you, Rolando!

In summary, it’s a great port of a lovely revisiting of a fantastic classic. Buy it now and help ensure Lucasarts re-release Sam & Max Hit the Road, Day of the Tentacle and the rest of their point and click adventure back catalogue!

The Secret of Monkey Island £4.99/$7.99 (iTunes App Store link)

Eliss, the multi-touch iPhone game


A game that simply couldn’t exist on any other platform, Eliss is wonderful in its deceptive simplicity in much the same way Tetris was (and is).

Split circles — planets — apart with your fingers to form smaller planets and slide them together to form larger ones in an attempt to adjust them to just the right size to slot them into a squeesar to cause a supernova. When different colour planets collide your health goes down, to recoup health grab the little stardust triangles.

And that’s it! Easy… right?

Eliss £1.79/$2.99 (iTunes App Store link)

Eliss Lite Free (iTunes App Store link)

Little Big Planet’s “Sacktue of Liberty”

Little Big Planet's Statue of Liberty costume

To celebrate 4th July this year, Media Molecule are offering a free downloadable “Sacktue of Liberty” costume for your Sackboy or girl to wear. If the summer solstice is more your cup of tea then you’ll be after the druid costume from last week, also free to download.

If they’re not cool enough for you, then how about these lovely in-game stickers designed by illustrator Jon Burgerman? They’ll set you back a couple of Dollars/Pounds/currency of choice though.

You’ll need a copy of Little Big Planet on the Playstation 3 to grab any of these and the Liberty costume is available world-wide from July 2nd.

Alice and Kev: The Homeless Sims

The Sims: Homeless

What if The Sims were played as homeless people? Robin Burkinshaw, a games development student wanted to find out. He’s created Alice, a girl with no money, no home, no food… and the worst Dad in the world.

When you create a Sim in The Sims 3, you can give them personality traits that alter their behaviour. Kev is hot-headed, mean-spirited, and inappropriate. He also dislikes children, and he’s insane. He’s basically the worst Dad in the world. He is a horrible human being, but he’s also amusing to watch.

His daughter Alice is a kind-hearted clumsy loser. With those traits, that Dad, and no money, she’s going to have a hard life.

I have attempted to tell my experiences with the minimum of embellishment. Everything I describe in here is something that happened in the game. What’s more, a surprising amount of the interesting things in this story were generated by just letting go and watching the Sims’ free will and personality traits take over.

The story that unfolds is at times funny, often sad and incredibly moving. (via Simon)

Busted Up Pokémon by Justin White

Justin White's Busted Up Pokémon

Californian illustrator and designer Justin White has been creating a series of Pokémon portrait illustrations.

The idea was to capture each character after a long battle
recuperating inside their pokeball. Or maybe I just wanted to imagine pokemon in a lot of pain. This was really just a fun way to keep active and creative.

You can find all of them on his Flickr stream or in his portfolio. While you’re there, also check out his other great projects including the Mario Brothers portraits and the Alphabet vector illustrations.

Wondering if I can fit the word “illustration” into this article one more time. Done. Enjoy!

A five minute roundup of the cool stuff at E3 2009

Project Natal Milo presentation

Here’s an super-condensed round-up of the cool stuff from E3 this year.

First up, the presentation that’s undeniably caused the biggest buzz: Microsoft’s Project Natal, a motion sensing device that allows you to interact with your Xbox 360 using gestures and voice without the need for a controller. Peter Moyneux presented a scripted prototype of an interaction between an on-screen boy, Milo, and a real-life player. It’ll be interesting to see how and if this will actually work in the real world with real games. It has no announced release date but is expected to be released in late 2010.

Nintendo presented their Wii MotionPlus which plugs into the Wii Remote to add greater motion sensitivity which will be used in games such as Wii Sports Resort, as well as their Vitality Sensor. Sony, too, demonstrated their version of a motion controller which tracks the location of two “wands” — this will be available in Spring 2010.

Star Wars: The Old Republic

E3 certainly wasn’t short on cool games either. LucasArts showed an impressive first cinematic teaser trailer for the forthcoming Star Wars PC MMO, The Old Republic. They also announced the return of Monkey Island on both Xbox and PC in the form of an enhanced Special Edition version of the classic Secret of Monkey Island as well as reveal that Telltale Games, the guys behind the new Sam & Max games, are working Tales of Monkey Island, a brand new episodic game.

Nintendo didn’t announce, as many were expecting, a new Wii-based Zelda game but did reveal that Mario would be back in New Super Mario Bros Wii.

Valve announced a sequel to the co-operative zombie shooter Left for Dead for Xbox 360 and PC and presented an hilariously over the top gameplay trailer. Also delightfully over the top was the opening cinematic for Harmonix’ The Beatles Rock Band, directed by Pete Candeland.

BioWare showed their new trailer for Mass Effect 2, the eagerly awaited space RPG for Xbox 360 and PC.

Sony showed new trailers for Final Fantasy XIII and Heavy Rain and announced that God of War III would be released in March next year. They also announced Agent, a new “espionage action game” from Rockstar North, the team who brought us Grand Theft Auto.

We also got a more polished look at The Last Guardian, the fortcoming game from Team Ico who brought us Ico and Shadow of the Colossus for the PS2. You may remember the leaked Project Trico trailer a few months go — this is the same game.

Scribblenauts: Using the ladder

Finally, a superb looking little game for the DS caught my attention called Scribblenauts. It’s a side-scrolling platform-ish puzzle game where the player summons objects to solve problems by writing the name of the object you want on the screen with the stylus. Scribblenauts will be released late this year but here’s a video of the folks from having a play with it.

The Beatles Rock Band intro by Pete Candeland

Beatles Rock Band intro animation

Harmonix have just released this superb animated game intro video / trailer for the The Beatles Rock Band game due to be released in September. It’s directed by Pete Candeland who’s most well known for the numerous videos produced with Jamie Hewlett for Gorillaz. Have a look at his portfolio over at the Passion Pictures website.

A new gameplay video was also released and is available to view and download from the game’s website.