Tag Archives: xbox

Skate 2 Developer Interview: GamesMaster Magazine Issue 208

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We want your job!
Pestering the jammiest jobsmiths in the business.

This month, we’ve got out our skateboards out in an effort to be cool, doing ollies and being all gnarly and everything. With this in mind, we talked to Simon Roper, who’s helping to make Skate 2.

01: Hi Simon, tell us about your role on Skate 2.

I work in various areas of the game with engineering. Right now my focus is with presentation as I’m the front-end lead on Skate 2.

02: Sounds tough! Tell us about your typical day at work.

Is there such a thing as a typical day? The work involved varies immensely over the course of the project; right now we’re at the end of Skate 2 and wrapping it up. Copious amounts of coffee, coding, emails and bug-fixing are the order of the day – it’s an intense part of the project but it’s fab seeing it all come together….

03: Tony Hawk has obviously dominated for so long, so Skate was a welcome surprise. How are you planning on moving skating forward?

With Skate 2, the game pushes the engine we created and improves every aspect of the original Skate. There’s double the bag of tricks, 60 FPS, more challenges, new modes and much more. What people can do on a skateboard in real-life is crazy enough, and the bar continues to be raised for what we can incorporate into a game.

04: Is a background in skating essential? Do you hang around skate parks and jot down notes?

Nope, never stood on a skateboard in my life! There are some incredibly dedicated and passionate people around the team whose life revolves around the sport and that’s the key on pushing the game in the right direction. If you stare hard enough you may see the odd skate pro walking through the office…

05: Lastly, any tips on sneaking into the gaming industry?

Passion and enthusiasm are key, as is a smattering of common sense. It’s pretty much the foundation upon which everything else feeds off. When I was younger back in the 8-bit era, I wrote to a few coders on some of the big titles back then and I actually got some replies. I was well chuffed and it inspired me to keep trying!

TOOLS OF THE TRADE:

01: My St Paddy’s day hat – reminds me of enjoying the odd beer or twelve. I like my beer…

02: Coffee – I can’t live without it since moving out to Vancouver

03: Danny Way Skateboard, signed by the maestro himself for working on the original Skate.

04: A random plant – I like to my bit for the environment here and there.

05: An oversized tennis ball. No idea why but its kinda fun.

wwyj208CAPTION: THE WRITE STUFF. Simon’s advice? “There’s no harm in writing to a company or a person directly if you’re really keen. You never know what may happen…”

Crashing the Castle – 4 page X360 Magazine spread

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Ever heard of Alien Hominid? It was an Xbox sleeper hit back in 2005 and was developed by a small, independent company called The Behemoth. Those who shelled out their hard earned pennies on Hominid were treated to homage of games gone by. Influenced by classics like Metal Slug and Golden Axe, Hominid was best known for its crushing difficulty level and vibrant art style, and we loved it! But why bring up a game from last generation, you say?

You’ve probably also heard of spiritual sequel Castle Crashers which is currently doing the rounds on Xbox Live Arcade and those who played Hominid will no doubt have made the obvious link between the two titles thanks to the artwork of Dan Paladin, which simply bleeds from the screen. Of course, it’s made by the same people, but what you don’t know about these people is the fascinating story that led them from a bedroom in Philadelphia to your very own bedrooms via the advent of Xbox Live Arcade.

It all starts with a young American programmer by the name of Tom Fulp. Born with one eye darker than the other, he was praised early on for his creative school projects, yet drew gasps at some of his more outrageous creations such as a video book report in Year 6 which featured death, drugs and alcohol. It unsurprisingly got a D. Throughout school, Tom dipped into HTML and found his passion for programming, animating shorts in the school media centre and growing up through the mystical golden age of gaming with his Neo Geo and other classic consoles.

It was in 1995 that Tom created what would lead him here today. An HTML website called ‘New Ground Remix’ that hosted his shock content created out of boredom, such as a game where you could take up your bat and club a seal, to the celebrity slugfest known as ‘Assassin’ which featured ways to bump off the most irksome figures of the 90s (Britney Spears’ monster truck for instance is still relevant today!). What started off as a bit of fun ended up generating quite the reaction; letters from the BBC threatened to sue following the sadistic Tellybubbies game, yet Tommy Lee described one of Tom’s first games as the best thing he had ever seen on the internet.


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“I was just goofing around when I first set up Newgrounds, but I always wanted it to be a fun destination for people to visit,” recalls Tom. “By 1998 the site evolved to a Flash interface, with lots of simple games developed with Flash 2. This is when I bought the domain name and moved off free hosting provided by my ISP. In 1999 I created a section called the Portal, intended as a black hole for small or unfinished projects. Other people were making stuff with Flash and looking for exposure, so I started to showcase their small projects in the Portal alongside my own. The demand became so great that I started becoming overwhelmed by all the files people were emailing me and I wanted a better way to manage them. I hired my friend Ross, a PHP/MySQL whiz, and the automated Flash Portal launched in early 2000.”

YouTube? Newgrounds did it first. It developed a cult following and was the first place on the internet that people could submit their own creations to and get a mass critique. One such person who came across the site was Dan Paladin in 2001, who instantly climbed to the top of the awards system with his quirky and colourful submissions. “Newgrounds had a significant impact on discovering things about myself as well as how an audience reacts.  It can sometimes be a tough crowd there who can either push you to better yourself or to give up – all depending on how you take the really honest reviews.” Tell that to Gary Brolsma who did the Numa Numa dance! First seen on Newgrounds, the internet jive-bunny had to go into hiding after the ensuing popularity, although we hear he’s doing fine now…

It was only a matter of time before the artist and the programmer met. Tom remembers their first project well. “Dan and I met and just casually started talking about making a game together. It was all just for fun – Dan made funny cartoons in Flash and I made Flash games so things just clicked. Our first game was about a guy with a giant sack, and I don’t mean Santa Claus. You used your giant sack to bounce around and smash things.” Dan agrees, “We clicked really quickly since our approach and tastes are somewhat similar. We are passionate about what we do so we have strong opinions. Sometimes those opinions differ but the great thing about that is we always find a compromise which ends up benefiting our games greatly each step of the way.”

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But how do you make that jump from making games about testicles to publishing games for consoles? Could the controversy on Newgrounds turned out to have been a self made noose? Not if you can turn negatives into positives. Their next project was a breakaway flash game-Alien Hominid-which now has over 17 million views on the website alone. Newgrounds was a prime guinea pig to test their skills and the reception from users was glowing. Real life would soon take hold though, Dan’s employers had shut up shop and he, alongside some industry veterans now found themselves destitute after working on an early XBLA project. Proving that it’s not what you know but who you know, Alien Hominid reached a co-worker of Dan’s, John Baez, who loved the web version and wanted to see it on consoles. The three got their heads together and formed The Behemoth with some of Dan’s ex co-workers, an entirely self funded company devoted to publishing their own titles.

“Remember that each developer is on their own in terms of funding, the hardware manufacturers are not funding games they don’t own.” warns John, now considered an industry veteran, emphasising the point that pitching Hominid would be thankless. Tom could also see the difficulty pitching the idea to an already flooded console market. “We learned early on that it would be an uphill battle to pitch Alien Hominid, considering it wasn’t based on an existing film or console franchise. Rather than land a development deal up-front, we took a leap of faith and made the game on our own, out of our own pockets. Some publishers totally didn’t understand the appeal of the game and didn’t have any interest, while others wanted to pay us lots of money and lock up the characters for sequels and licensing deals.”

So, they had to network. Comic Con, Tokyo Game show, you name it. They were there in their stall with copies of the game-which took a painstaking 15 months to upgrade from flash-generating a fan base and meeting as many people as they could inside the industry. It wasn’t easy and there were low points for Tom. “If people had hated Hominid, I probably would have just stuck with web games, but there was this feeling of unfinished business that remained afterwards. It was like we got a taste of what we could do on consoles, and we wanted to give it another go and make something bigger and better. It helped knowing there were fans out there who would appreciate the effort.”


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It finally took off and sales for Alien Hominid grew after release, the game getting a great critical reception and sold particularly well in Europe. After the initial success of Hominid, the next move was, of course, Castle Crashers. Tom was in no mood to rush the next project though, and actually had difficulty establishing what console it should appear on after Hominids cross-platform success. “Alien Hominid was a rewarding but stressful experience, so I wasn’t in a huge rush. We dabbled with a lot of stuff and eventually just sort of fell into Castle Crashers when we knew it felt right. We originally started with Gamecube and PS2, but we knew they were on their way out. We tinkered with PSP for a while but weren’t really feeling it. Once we settled on XBLA, we knew we had made the right choice. It was an awesome platform for our style and had enough processing power for us to go nuts.”

Again, the differences between designing a game for the web and for a console were a massive task. With a new title to show off, more conventions had to be attended but this time with the absence of a need to prove themselves. “We always loved showing off Castle Crashers because it got such a great response from people. We didn’t need to win over any publishers because we opted to self publish. There was a point, when Castle Crashers was nearing the three year development point, where conventions became somewhat bittersweet. People still loved the game, but they also questioned if it would ever be finished, and it pained us that it wasn’t. When you have a small time and put a lot of care and love into what you’re doing, things can take a while!” says Tom. Three years may sound like a long time, but in hindsight, both men have just hit their thirties and have two bestselling games to their name. Anything is possible in the future, especially with a reworking of Alien Hominid just released over XBLA in HD.

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The hard work has so far paid off; initial reception for Crashers has been great, the game regularly hitting top spot for download figures. So, Dan, anything missing from the game that you wish to God had gone in there? “I would have liked to see 2on2 arena battles. People are still finding ways to have team battles by calling out who is on which team.  So in a way, it is still able to be achieved but I would have liked to have a leader board for it. We had this feature on its way but I believe we had to drop it due to time constraints. I’ve learned that no matter what happens we’ll always want to go back and change something. I think realizing that has given me a little more peace of mind with Castle Crashers!”

It sounds like the quintessential American dream for two American developers who share a common love of gaming. Of course, talent and luck play their part but it just goes to show how anybody can get into the industry with focus, hard work and socialising with the right people. And with the new community games feature on NXE, getting into gaming suddenly seems a whole lot easier…

Want to find out more? Head over to http://www.newgrounds.com where it all started or http://www.thebehemoth.com where it’s all happening!

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DOT COM-TROVERSY!

Newgrounds has never shied from causing headaches for the legal world. Here are three of their best submissions:

TELEBUBBY FUN LAND

A satanic Tinky Winky and promiscuous Po made Ragdoll see red, but visitors flocked to the site regardless.

telebubby

CHAINSAW THE CHILDREN

One of their first joint web projects, Dan and Tom caused uproar with this early imagining of Gears of War…

chainsaw

K-FED: DANCING WITH FIRE

A more recent entry gives you the chance to batter the irritating Kevin Federline whilst Britney holds the baby.

britney

CRASHING CONCEPTS

Here, Dan Paladin gives us an insight into character creation, thanks to his previously unreleased concept art!

“A lot of the time I will show Tom a character design and we both talk about what he might do, what would be funny and so on…”

concept1

“…then I will go and create a few actions for him and Tom blocks in his attack patterns.”

concept2

“After we play around with that for a little while we brainstorm once more for the finishing actions and touches.”

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“Sometimes approaching something that doesn’t feel right later with fresh eyes makes the correction that was needed extremely fast and obvious!”

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Batman: Arkham Asylum Developer Interview – GamesMaster Magazine Issue 207

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WE WANT YOUR JOB!
Pestering the jammiest jobsmiths in the business!

We were invited on a day trip this month to take in the beauty of Arkham Asylum. There, chained up to the wall and screaming for help was Jamie Walker. We tortured him until he told us the juiciest parts of Batman’s latest outing:

I am the Studio Director, and also one of the owners, of Rocksteady. My role involves running the studio on a daytoday basis and I am involved in the art, production, motion-capture and cinematic departments.

02: How much study and work went into getting Studio Director? Tell us about the path you took before joining Rocksteady.

I went to art and film school in Kent before starting my career as a 3D artist. I then moved into Production Management but have kept up my involvement in the creative parts of making games as that is what I really enjoy. It’s a nice balance of artistic and production roles.

03: Is it satisfying adding your own personal touch to something with a rich history like Batman? How creative can you get?

We have been able to be very creative and Warner and DC have been excellent to work with. We have reached in deep to the universe of Batman and made sure we are making a game the fans will really appreciate as a legitimate Batman title. Whilst working closely with Warner, Eidos and DC, we have designed some amazing secrets in the game which no one is expecting!

04: What kind of tools do you use on the job, and how difficult are they to pick up? How different are they from the tools used in everyday art?

In production and management, experience and common sense are what is needed most. In art and design we use a mixture of Photoshop, Z brush, 3DS Max and Unreal 3. Some of these are specialist tools built just for games. Most of the art and design tools have downloadable versions that you can try out.

05: Any tips for young creative types looking to get into the gaming world?

The games industry is very creative and we are always looking for talented young stars to join us. A strong portfolio of design or art is the best thing to get your foot in the door. Your CV should be interesting too – tell us about yourself and what you want to do. And be persistent! Don’t give up, and you will eventually land a great job.

Tools of the Trade:

01: Scott: Our trusty assistant producer! (*On the right of pic)

02: Peopleware: a great book about teams.

03: Coffee: for the long nights.

04: Xbox: A vital tool of the trade.

05: Batman Comics: A healthy source of inspiration.

arkham1CAPTION: We had a joke lined up about Scott being a tool of the trade, but then we looked in the mirror…

GamesMaster Magazine Issue 207 – CheatMaster Boxouts

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INTRO

Good God, Christmas already? We’d best get started then, quick, load up the sack of games with the biggest titles of 2008 and give it to Santa. Wait, we’ve capitalised the words God and Santa, does that mean that ol’ Chris Cringle is now a deity? He is in the eyes of many gamers who are undeniably spoiled this year with such a fine selection of games, and our mouths are watering at the prospect of tucking into these turkey sized feasts and pulling the cheats out of them like giblets. We wish you a merry Christmas here at CheatMaster, and a happy New Year!

GREATEST CHEATS EVER!

BANJO-KAZOOIE (N64)

YEAR OF RELEASE – 1998

PUBLISHER – Nintendo

With a brand new Banjo game doing the rounds, we thought we would reminisce on one of the strangest cheats of all. Head into the code menu on Banjo-Kazooie and type in ‘WISHYWASHYBANJO’ to turn the beefy bear into a washing machine, killing all around by firing underpants and socks at them. Rare thought they would be sneaky though and implemented a kind of cheat failsafe device. Use more than two cheats in the game and Grunty would delete all of the saved Banjo files from your memory card, the miserable old cow…

banjo_1CAPTION: Nice to see you’ve been busy in ten years old chum, swiping picnic baskets and the like…

YOUTUBE SOLUTION

CALL OF DUTY 4 – 360, PS3, PC

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=FbYXV0UivpM

For our first Youtube Solution, we’re going to show you how to get one of the hardest achievements in modern gaming, finishing Mile High Club on Call of Duty 4, Veteran mode. Imitation truly is the sincerest form of flattery, watch where to use your flash bangs and where to take cover in your quest to save the un-named hostage!

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SPOILER!
GEARS OF WAR 2 – 360

Losing the Light mass bomb is the least of Marcus’ problems as when the helicopter lifts him off the Brumak, it starts to mutate into a huge ugly mess. The team takes it down, realising the monster has the same explosive properties as the Wretches. As it blows, the city above collapses and the mountainside crumbles, forcing a huge tidal wave deep into the Earth killing off the remaining Locust and extinguishing the magma. Marcus tries in vain to contact Anya whilst his friends reminisce on their loved and lost, the Locust Queen’s narrative setting us up for Gears of War 3

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YOUR TOP 10 CHEATS

Share your top tips with us, the best one wins a game!

10: MABOSHI – Wii

NEW WALLPAPER

To unlock a new space background wallpaper, collect a million points for Mr. Maboshi. Points you’ve already collected for him if you get Game Over are carried over.

Sean Campbell, via email

09: FRACTURE – PS3, 360

NEW CAMPAIGN SKIN

On the main menu, press Up, Right, Left, Down, Up, Left, Right, Down on the Dpad to unlock a brand new skin for Campaign mode.

Tijn Janssen, via email

fracture1CAPTION: Jet Brody, solving global warming one grenade at a time.

08: BIOSHOCK – PC, PS3, 360

FREE HEALTH

Running low on health? Hit health stations with your wrench to get free health packs.

James Nixon, Stoke on Trent

bioshock1CAPTION: Big Daddies have stomped onto PS3!

07: DEAD SPACE –360, PS3, PC

MORE POWER NODES

Press start in the game and press Y, X, X, X, Y. You’ll now have two more power nodes but beware; you can only do this once per game!

Paul Spangler, Devon

deadspace1CAPTION: We wish there was a cheat to get the stains out of our pants…

06: SPIDER-MAN: WEB OF SHADOWS – DS, PC, PS2, PS3, PSP, Wii, 360

UNLOCKABLE COSTUMES

Type these codes into the Insert Code option to unlock some new costumes!

VENOM COSTUME

Enter ‘IEATYOURBRAINS’.

MOON KNIGHT COSTUME

Enter ‘CRESTWARRIOR’.

RHINO COSTUME

Enter ‘MASSIVEHORN’.

Ralph Cerar, via email

spiderman1CAPTION: Use our cheats to unlock this hulking behemoth of a… er… Rhino?

05: LITTLEBIGPLANET – PS3

UNLOCKABLE PROPS

GOOGLY-EYED GLASSES

Complete the Sensei’s Lost Castle level.

PIRATE EYE PATCH

Complete the Level First Steps.

RINGMASTER TOP HAT

Complete The Meerkat Kingdom Level

MOUSTACHE

Finish Burning Forest.

Lauren Dombowsky, Winchester

lbp1CAPTION: Sackboy’s on top of the world in this PS3 smash hit!

04: LEGO BATMAN: THE VIDEOGAME – DS, PC, PS2, PS3, PSP, Wii, X360

SECRET CHARACTERS

Enter these codes on the Batcave computer to unlock the corresponding character:

SWAT OFFICER

HTF114

TROPICAL JOKER

CCB199

MAD HATTER

JCA283

MAN BAT

NYU942

Aaron Ferreira, Nottingham

03: FALLOUT 3 – PC, PS3, 360

UNLIMITED HACKING

As computer terminals shut down if you fail a hack after the fourth time, it’s an idea to pull out after the third failed attempt. It will reset the terminal and give you another three chances to get it right.

William Wong, Edinburgh

02: SAINTS ROW 2 – PC, PS3, 360

INFINITE AMMO

Finish the following missions to get infinite weapon ammo:

FUZZ, MISSION SIX (PROJECTS)
Infinite Pistol Ammo

ALL HITMAN LISTS

Infinite Rifle Ammo

SNATCH, LEVEL SIX (DOWNTOWN)

Infinite SMG Ammo

Earnest Vaillencourt, via email

01: FABLE 2 – 360

EASY MONEY

Buy the weapons shop in Bowerstone Old Town and buy a load of weapons from it at a discount. Head to the blacksmith at Bowerstone Market and sell them to him for a tidy profit! Just remember to restock your shop…

Timothy Ham, Greater Manchester

fable1CAPTION: Of course you can’t eat the dog. What kind of cheat request is that?

CONSOLETATION ZONE

GM – Coming to the aid of stuck gamers since 1993!

OKAMI – Wii, PS2

Dear GamesMaster
I’m very stuck on Okami because I am looking for the last Canine Warrior and when I go into Kamiki Village the Canine Tracker doesn’t pop up. Why is this happening? Please can you help me, I’m really bad at Okami.
From Max Caffyn-Parsons via E-mail

Don’t worry Max; Okami is a spiritual journey in itself, like a long and winding road. As you mentioned Kamiki, we’re going to assume you mean Chuyabusa, but it turns out that this is actually a clever ruse. Find the Ninja dog Hayabusa who is lying around and pester him until he mentions his hole digging record. Then head to the turnip patch and start digging, keeping the old lady away with an inkfinity stone. Grab the last turnip and take it to Mushi and pester Hayabusa until he reveals his true identity and challenges you to a fight.

okami1CAPTION: We wolf whistled when we saw Okami and still give it a play now and then!

POKEMON DIAMOND – DS

Dear GamesMaster

On Pokemon Diamond, I am stuck on getting the Riolu egg and finding other eggs, and where to find other Pokemon. Hope you can help? Thank you.

Sam and Janet Bonner, via E-mail

What a polite young man, of course we can help! The Riolu egg is on Iron Island, and to get there you will need to beat the fifth gym leader to reach Canclave City. Once there, you can get on the boat at the docks to reach Iron Island and meet Riley who you will need to help through a cave. Then you’ll have to beat some Team Galactic members and Riley will give you the egg (make sure you have an empty space in your party). It’ll take 3,000 steps to hatch and then you’ll be the owner of your very on Riolu!

CAPTIONS:

pokemon1What kind of mum lets their child wander poke-infested streets at 10pm? A bad one, that’s what.pokemon2If only all births were pedometer related…

Preview Round Up – GamesMaster Magazine Issue 206

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AFRO SAMURAI
360, PS3 – FROM: ATARI UK, OUT: JANUARY 2009
Afro Samurai’s visuals look spot on (think an urban Okami) while the combat promises to be anything but button mashing, with the promise of enemy AI being influenced by the surrounding hip hop beat and the ability to chop enemies into thousands of pieces. Developers Namco-Bandai are introducing some fresh ideas for this action romp, we’re waiting to put Afro to the test.
MOST WANTED RATING: 4
Afro could be a new breed of hero. Samuel L. Jackson is providing voice talents, hence the Mature rating, so it isn’t for the faint of heart.
afro
CAPTION: The graphics have seemingly leapt out from the page of this successful Manga series. Expect buckets of blood.

NINETY NINE NIGHTS 2
360 – FROM: MICROSOFT OUT: TBA
Again, borrowing heavily from Dynsaty Warriors fame is Ninety Nine Nights 2. OK, we might not be looking forward to another game of pure hacking and slashing, but early signs aren’t too bad. New developers in the shape of Feelplus-who co-developed Lost Odyssey-are promising to take the series in a much darker direction. Details are thin so, for now, we’ll just have to wait and see.
MOST WANTED RATING: 2
Probably one for the hardcore fan contingent to keep an eye on, we can’t see Ninety Nine Nights 2 doing anything different to the series.
ninetynine
CAPTION: Ouch. Our thumbs have just healed from Ninety Nine Nights. Can we take another round?

QUANTUM THEORY
PS3 – FROM: TECMO, OUT: 2009
A PS3 exclusive, Quantum Theory is as perplexing as its name suggests. A third-person shooter from Tecmo, it’s uncharted ground for them. Tecmo however are confident they’re on to something with lead character Syd climbing a ‘living tower’ attempting to destroy it. Described as the Japanese Gears of War, details are in short supply, so we’re anticipating a fresh Japanese twist on the genre.
MOST WANTED RATING: 4
An exclusive PS3 shooter can only be a good thing, but Quantum Theory will have to show something new to beat the likes of Gears and Resi 5.
quantum
CAPTION: We’ve been told the environment shifts around in real time in the living tower. Just what the Hell are we getting ourselves in to?

NINJA BLADE
360 – FROM: MICROSOFT, OUT: 2009
It’ll obviously draw similarities to Ninja Gaiden – and rightfully so. Ninja Blade plays very similarly to Ryu’s adventures; we direct Ken around modern Tokyo hacking down all manner of demons and huge bosses in our way with huge weapons and QTEs. It’s all a bit same old at the moment; hopefully it’ll sneak up on us and deliver a killer blow.
MOST WANTED RATING: 3
Developers FromSoftware still have some polishing to do, there are camera issues and slight slowdown to sort out if Ken’s to be the top Ninja in town.
ninja
CAPTION: Ninja Blade is more going for a cinematic feel to try and separate it from other titles in the genre.

R-TYPE DIMENSIONS
360 – FROM: MICROSOFT, OUT:TBA
Due out for Live Arcade, Dimensions shamelessly mashes together the worlds of R-Type I and II and introduces co-op play with the ability to seamlessly shift to a 3D perspective. Thankfully the gameplay has remained unspoiled with bosses looking beautiful, yet menacing. This classic remake should be a leading candidate for your MS points when released.
MOST WANTED RATING: 4
R-Type always makes our ears prick up, and developers Tozai Games are sticking with the formula that made it such a hit in the first place.
rtype
CAPTION: Switching to a 3D view really adds something; it’s on an angle to challenge the most nimble thumbed gamers out there.

RESISTANCE: RETRIBUTION
PSP – FROM: SONY, OUT: SPRING 2009
Resistance on PSP is a third-person shooter, making it immediately different from its PS3 incarnations. This makes controlling it on PSP a lot easier than something like Silent Hill: Origins, which will be a help when we’re ducking and diving Chimera in Western Europe. There’s also connectivity with Resistance 2 on PS3, meaning you can ‘infect’ your game to unlock new features!
MOST WANTED RATING: 3
It’ll be interesting to see how the Resistance story is slimmed down for PSP and how it interacts with its PS3 cousin.
resistance
CAPTION: Retribution is looking quite snazzy so far. Can’t wait to see how the rumoured new species of Chimera look…

TAIKO DRUM MASTER
Wii – FROM: NAMCO –BANDAI, OUT: DEC ’08 (JAP)
A hit in Japan, Taiko Drum Master is looking to pull in Western audiences with its scaled down motion-sensing drum plus foot long drumsticks. Looking similar to Donkey Konga, it’s masquerading as an arcade port and features tunes like the first level in Mario World. What, no Chilli Peppers? Still no word on a western release as such, but we’ll keep you posted.
MOST WANTED RATING: 2
It’s hard to get excited about another music game for Wii, but the drum seems very responsive. We’ll see how we feel after giving it a bash.
taiko
CAPTION: The visuals are cartoony and will incorporate your Mii avatars whilst you drum away.

KLONOA: DOOR TO PHANTOMILE
Wii – FROM: BANDAI-NAMCO, OUT: DEC ‘04, 2008 (JAP)
Hello Klonoa, long time no see! Over a decade old, this PS1 platformer is being reincarnated on Wii with sharper graphics and, surprisingly, no motion controls. We actually breathed a collective sigh of relief when we heard this though, as the core gameplay is brilliant and should remain untouched. Offering puzzles and the series staple 2.5D aesthetic, it’s great to see Klonoa being introduced to a new audience.
MOST WANTED RATING: 3
The Nights port still leaves a bit of a sour taste in the mouth, but Klonoa doesn’t look to be heading in that direction. Let’s hope it gets a Western release…
klonoa
CAPTION: Klonoa is going back to its roots which is brilliant news for the series. Are we looking at potential sequels?

Tomb Raider: Underworld Developer Interview – GamesMaster Magazine Issue 206

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We want your Job!
Pestering the jammiest jobsmiths in the business.

Lara’s bringing sexy back. Donning a swimsuit is a brave new direction for Tomb Raider, so we thought we’d ask Creative Designer Eric Lindstrom for his thoughts on Lara’s new adventure:

01: Hi Eric, tell us about your role on Tomb Raider: Underworld.

As the Creative Director of Tomb Raider: Underworld, I oversee all creative aspects of the game experience. I’m a game designer by trade, but as the Creative Director I need to keep the overall vision of the game strong, clear, and consistent, be it design, art, audio, or most importantly, the combination of these elements.

02: How did you go about getting the role of Creative Director? Was it sheer hard work or simply a love of games?

I’ve been in this industry for twenty years, and I worked hard for the first five before I got to lead a project. The biggest thing in my favour with Tomb Raider: Underworld was how much I value all aspects of a game, not just the design mechanics. Everything matters, and you need to give everything its due.

03: How much of your own personal creativity goes into games? Is it satisfying seeing the end results in motion?

Because Creative Directors don’t usually make content for games, there is very little I can point at and say, “I made that part.” Much of the framework of what you do is what I established early on with the small pre-production team. Seeing the end result of those images I had in my head early on is very exciting, what I see now is better than what I had imagined at the start.

04: Are you pleased with this latest imagining of Lara’s world? How much further can you take Lara?

We made her world bigger, better, more lush, and more exciting than ever before, and she can do a lot of amazing things. We did this by magnifying everything people had seen so far in the past couple games, so there are still plenty of different and intriguing places Lara Croft can go in the future.

05: Any advice for young mavericks looking to get noticed in the world of games?

Young developers have great ideas and we need them, but it takes a lot more than good ideas to make a great, successful game. If you’re smart, hard working, and willing to learn, you’ll get noticed. If you want to succeed, bring your brains, your energy, your love for games, and a desire to learn what the industry already has learned, and you’ll be in the best position to jump on opportunities when they come.

TOOLS OF THE TRADE:

01: Lara Croft: her watchful eyes keep me honest.

02: Water: I drink a lot of it.

03: Notepad: still the best organizer around.

04: Origami: folding paper quiets the mind and keeps me sane.

05: Guinness: ’nuff said!

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CAPTION: Look at all that Origami! Maybe Eric should start his own paper-view channel…

Universe at War: Earth Assault Review – D+PAD Online Magazine

How many times has it been said that a Real-time strategy game won’t work on a console? There have been many valiant efforts, Command & Conquer for example gave gamers a brief glimpse of what could be achieved, but the genre leap from PC to consoles sometimes doesn’t have the desired effect. Sadly, Universe at War: Earth Assault is the perfect example of this, and it’s a shame because like one of the walkers in the game itself, it has some strength underneath its bonnet. The premise is this – War has broken out on Earth as an unknown power of celestial invaders called ‘The Hierarchy’ come to Earth to mine the planet. As this battle wages, an interstellar portal opens up carrying a race called the Novus, sworn enemies of the Hierarchy. They carry an elfin hero with them, a lady by the name of Mirabel who can pilot a mecha which looks strangely like a Gundam unit. Unfortunately, none of this has gone unnoticed by the Masari, an ancient race who reside at the bottom of the oceans and have to protect the planet at any costs. And so the premise is set, three entirely different factions for you to control and wreak havoc with on our beautiful home. Except it actually isn’t that simple, or come to think of it, even that fun.

First of all, what the game does well. It surprisingly goes quite far in bridging the gaps on RTS console gaming. The menu system uses cycle functions via the bumpers and the triggers to select units and skills, and works quite well. The alien vehicles can be a joy, carry a lot of weight to them and are imaginatively designed. The Hierarchy Walker for instance is a towering upgradeable behemoth with several strengths and weaknesses to turn a battle. Unfortunately though, the flaws far outweigh the good points. The camera can really take away from the experience, there’s no way to zoom in or out of battles, which can create massive frame rate problems. When all these colossal alien modules square up and prepare for a fight, the game freezes and jerks and acts like it can’t cope. Fair enough if the graphics were incredible and something to shout from the rooftops about, but for a 360 game, it’s pretty mediocre stuff. Where a lot of detail has been offered to the vast alien weaponry, it’s all seems a bit futile when you’re stomping and destroying basic rectangles and squares or trawling vast boring deserts.

Ok, so bashing a game because of graphics may seem pretty cheap. But it just shows up UAW as the mediocre port from the PC that it is. Where we say the controls are quite good, we mean the basic menu system. Trying to select a group of soldiers to fight in one unit is a terrible mess as you ‘paint’ over them with a big green circle, and this coupled with the non-existent zoom makes distinct vehicle selection and targeting enemies a nightmare. Add the frame rate issues whilst in the heat of a battle and the game can become very frustrating very quickly.

Which is where campaign mode comes in. The script seems to have been written by Paul and Barry Chuckle. Within five minutes you’ll have encountered every single science fiction cliché ever written, including American Colonel Moore demanding the safety of the President, whilst Mirabel will contemplate her human emotions as the robotic Novus dismiss them as not being essential to their programming. It’s a real damp squib on campaign mode, whilst the leap in and play mechanics of skirmish mode is all but ruined by the technical niggles. Online mode however does promise 360 owners can battle against their PC counterparts which will be interesting to see – when the service is up and running of course.

So all in all, Universe at War offers some interesting and fresh ideas, but is let down by numerous basic complaints. It’s a real shame because where the game starts of very War of the Worlds, it ends up being more of a Sci-Fi mish mash, like Will Smiths Wild Wild West. However, the title is promised to be the first in a series so maybe next time we will see a real contender for a stonking console RTS title.

Score: 2.5 stars / 5 stars

FORMAT REVIEWED: 360

OTHER FORMATS: PC

PUBLISHER: SEGA

DEVELOPER: PETROGLYPH