Tuesday, July 28, 2009

jake gyllenhaal in prince of persia movie

There are tons of video game movies in development slated to come out over the next few years, and some are pretty successful franchises that could really be cool movie storylines: God of War, Castlevania and BioShock come to mind. One game franchise-turned-movie that has some buzz developing around it recently is Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, which will star Jake Gyllenhaal as the title role. The Prince of Persia series dates back to 1989 and tells the story of a sort of more serious Aladdin-type character in ancient Persia performing acrobatic feats to save the day in a number of very epic-sounding plots. Anyway, the first official promo photo for the new movie is out [at left] and Jake Gyllenhaal looks pretty dashing as Prince Dastan. Sir Ben Kingsley will be in this movie as well! Sounds like a recipe for a potential blockbuster.

wii sports resort

The long-anticipated follow-up to Wii Sports arrived over the weekend and predictably sold well thanks to many advance online orders as well as reservations in-store. Wii Sports Resort includes many new sports including swordplay, table tennis and frisbee! I haven't picked this one up yet as it does require the Wii MotionPlus controller add-on (one is included but of course who wants to play Wii Sports one player?). Eventually we will surely add this one to our collection as it looks like a great new game for social occasions or just kicking back with some beers. IGN gave Wii Sports Resort a 7.7 "Good" which is pretty fabulous for a Wii game these days.

IGN: Wii Sports Resort Review

Thursday, July 23, 2009

video game developers taking over hollywood

With the rising popularity of video game entertainment combined with slumping numbers from Hollywood these days it’s no surprise that more video game publishers are moving into the realm of film development as well. Far too often a movie made from a game franchise turns into crap in the film company’s hands and more game developers want to ensure that their game franchises are given the proper film treatment. Ubisoft, for example, announced at SDCC this week that they will be releasing short films based on Halo and Assassin’s Creed that were made with no Hollywood involvement. This will surely become a more frequent occurrence as the line between games and movies blends further and further. Perhaps this will mean an increase in the quality of games-turned-movies and we won’t have to suffer from movie releases like Alone in the Dark and House of the Dead.

siren: blood curse on psn

We downloaded an awesome game from the Playstation Network this weekend called Siren: Blood Curse and have been really loving it so far. Siren: Blood Curse is a Playstation 3 game based on the PS2 title Siren and its sequel Forbidden Siren 2. For U.S. consumption the game is packaged in 12 episodes that can be bought and downloaded individually or as a whole. The game plays almost like an interactive movie as you control several characters exploring and fighting ghost-like bad guys called “shibito”. The graphics are lifelike and beautiful to look at and the music and ambient noise is creepy and haunting. One interesting gameplay aspect is Sight-Jacking Mode, in which your character can take on the perspective of other characters and also of the shibito, letting you anticipate their actions with more inside knowledge. If you’re a PS3 owner and a fan of survival horror, especially with a Japanese flair, Siren: Blood Curse is definitely a must-have.

xbl restrictions leave new zealand gamer kids in the cold

Microsoft has confirmed their new policy of restricting anyone under 18 in New Zealand from downloading content on Xbox Live, a move that supposedly is in the interest of keeping XBL a “safer place” for its users. Though the ban is related to keeping kids from accessing mature content on the Xbox Live Marketplace, the new restrictions mean that anyone whose Live account indicates that they are younger than 18 can’t even download demos or DLC for G-rated games! Hopefully Microsoft will find a better middle-ground solution that lets NZ kids download material that is appropriate to their age group, or else I think they will just have a load of accounts with falsified ages on their hands in response.

Microsoft Confirms Locking New Zealand Kids Out From Xbox Live

katamari on the iphone!

I’ve been sweating an iPhone for months now and finally decided to suck it up and take the plunge and now am set up with a lovely white 16GB iPhone 3GS. I thought I had collected all the possible gaming consoles one could own but of course the iPhone has a whole community of app games for download that use the innovative tilt control as well as the iPhone’s touch-screen controls. You can even get Mass Effect on the iPhone (it’s called Mass Effect: Galaxy)! I am doing my best not to collect too many silly mobile games but I had to pick up I Love Katamari, a handheld version of my latest favorite franchise involving rolling stuff up into balls/katamaris. The tilt control provides a whole new level of challenge in this game but I think once I get used to it it will provide excellent entertainment on the go. The graphics look great and the sound quality is nice as well, plus it drains the battery far less than I would have imagined. Good stuff!

SDCC starts today

The San Diego Comic-Con International started today and runs through the weekend, showcasing comic books, movies, video games and other entertainment media. The multi-genre fan convention has been taking place for nearly 40 years and is a favorite destination for comic superfans. Still, one of the big themes this year is the rise in popularity and prominence of video games, which stand out in 2009 as a bigger part of SDCC than in the past, when the focus was more on comics and superhero stories. Even Stan Lee of Marvel can’t help but ride the video game wave into the future:
"Videogames are getting bigger and more important every day," said Iron Man's creator Stan Lee, publisher emeritus of Marvel Comics.
"Many are based on movies and/or comic books. In fact, the line of demarcation between movies and comic books is getting slimmer and slimmer. Today, when a comic book -- or a movie -- is being planned, one of the first questions asked is would it make a good video game?"
Iron Man multitasks at annual comic convention

Thursday, July 16, 2009

spore galactic adventures falls short

I have yet to pick up the Spore expansion Galactic Adventures for the PC and I'm beginning to think I probably am not going to. I enjoyed playing Spore for awhile and felt that it could surely use some new gameplay infusion that could come from a successful first EP for this franchise. Sadly, it sounds like Galactic Adventures is really best taken as a toolset of level design and game content creation, while its actual gameplay leaves much to be desired. This reviewer even calls it a series of mildly amusing minigames, which is never a very good description of what could have been an adventure-RPG-style game with deep potential. Sounds like if you like the level creation aspect of the game it might be a worthwhile pickup but that its shortcomings elsewhere really bring it down:
Nothing is essentially wrong with charging good money for a virtual tool kit. Yet the environments in Galactic Adventures cannot sustain the basic suspension of disbelief required to care about any digital construct. Common logic suggests that when a wall, a building or some other “solid” stands between two creatures, you can’t just shoot or move through it. In Galactic Adventures you can. I found myself jumping into the middle of supposedly solid structures and then shooting through the walls at foes who couldn’t see me, not a few times but over and over.
Video Game Review: Role-Playing At Warp Speed In A Galaxy Darwin Never Imagined

the internet's effects on videogame journalism

You don't have to click far from your homepage to see visible promotion of video games in many online outlets these days - game titles and hardware brands pop up in business, technology and cultural headlines all over the place from the smallest blogs to the New York Times. Apparently the effects the internet has had on the quality and integrity of video game journalism is a bit of a hot-button issue. First, read what BitMob feels are the Top 10 Bad Things the Internet Brought to Gaming Journalism, then check out what CrispyGamer had to say as a followup with their Top 10 Good Things the Internet Has Brought to Game Journalism. And I will sit back and find more already-reported stories to turn into content for my own nonprofessional gamer journalism!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

lemmings on the psn!

I was thinking the other day how much I used to like the old (ooooold) Lemmings game on the PC. You know, assigning miners, bashers, floaters and sometimes even martyrs for the good of the many, getting those little green-haired dudes through their gate to safety? What an awesome game. Simplistic and rooted in gameplay while being at times infuriatingly challenging... good times. I found an online emulated version of the original game which was a lot of fun, and then came across Lemmings for download on the Playstation Network for just $6! So, if like me you have fond memories of doing your best to bring your guys to safety, check out Lemmings for download on the PSN.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

take2 delays bioshock 2 and others

Take 2 Interactive, developers of several high-profile game titles slated for release in the next year, have announced that they are delaying some of their more highly anticipated game releases in order to ensure quality in the finished product. The titles that will be delayed are all franchise sequels: BioShock 2, Mafia II, Max Payne 3 and Red Dead Redemption. The company feels that the titles will benefit from more development and a less competitive release quarter than the upcoming holiday season:
Take-Two CEO Ben Feder also said during the conference that the development delay was not console specific, and that he believes the game will benefit (financially) from being released outside of the crowded Christmas schedule.
IGN: BioShock 2 Pushed Back to 2010

Thursday, July 9, 2009

symphony celebrates video game music

This is awesome. The Pittsburgh Symphony is putting on a special show paying homage to some of the greatest video game music ever composed. The show, "Video Games Live", has actually been performed since 2006 (get a taste of it in this YouTube video) but this will be its Pittsburgh debut. The guys behind the show are composers Jack Wall and Tommy Tallarico, who emcees the event. The show features music from Legend of Zelda, Sonic the Hedgehog, Tetris, Super Mario Brothers and other classic game favorites. While the show is popular with gamers, Tallarico says it is actually those less familiar with the games that are most blown away by the beautiful and complex music showcased in "Video Games Live". I would love to see this show!
“Reaction to our show has been amazing,” Tallarico said. “We’ve heard everything from ‘Gee, my daughter just asked if she can take violin lessons to learn how to play the music from Final Fantasy’ to the hardcore gamers with tears in their eyes saying ‘I’ve waited my whole life for this, and thanks for helping to validate my passion and my hobby.’”
Symphony got game

gamestop's july video game sale

As with many other retail industries, video game sales often slump in the summer while people are out, well, doing more important things like lying on a beach, getting drunk at barbecues and skipping out of work to enjoy the weather. Luckily for gamers this means time for big sales going on and GameStop's July Sale has some good offerings this month. In addition to knocking $100 off Guitar Hero band kits, the retailer is listing tons of games for under $20. Some of the big scores (in my opinion anyway) are Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles for the Wii for just $17.99, Spore down to $19.99, and Shaun White Snowboarding on the 360 and PS3 for $19.99 as well.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

fight night round 4 review

Sports games represent a large percentage of the big release video game titles of 2009 and Fight Night Round 4 has proven to be one of the bigger ones. The follow-up to EA Sports' 2006 title Fight Night Round 3, Round 4 introduces fancy next-generation realistic graphics as well as some new gameplay mechanics that bring a bit more realism to the fighting game. Despite some controversy over control schemes (analog stick vs. buttons for punching) the game has gotten solid reviews and sounds like a fun pickup for any sports video game fan and especially those already into boxing who will appreciate the realistic detail of the game's character rendering. It's always nice to hear about a game with an enjoyable soundtrack and it sounds like Round 4 has a great one full of hip-hop. Probably worth a try if you're into this sort of game!

Video Game Review: Fight Night Round 4: Mike Tyson and Muhammad Ali Return to the Ring

tiger woods hearts his video game

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2010 has been out for almost a month now and reviews have generally been very positive. I am not a huge sports fan but I do think it's cool when athletes decide to take a positive attitude towards the growth of video game interest and their own digitized counterparts appearing in games. Tiger Woods apparently is a huge fan of video games in general (he makes not one but two Atari model shoutouts) and also of his own game, which he posits is getting closer and closer to true-life realism with the latest title. With more accurate swings, exact-replica courses (Woods claims that he actually familiarizes himself with courses using the game) and a new dynamic weather system, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2010 is one of the better experience-simulation sports games available out there.
Woods wants his digital golf game to be fun, of course, but what drives him is a desire to make it as true as possible to the experience of being "inside the ropes"--the ropes separating fans and players in a tournament. "In terms of innovation, our specific area is realism," he says. "Having spectators moving and talking, the roar of the gallery from another green, the changing leader board. They're all distractions, which we see and hear, and you have to focus quickly and try and execute. We've incorporated these things into the game."
Tiger Woods on Video Game Realism and Knowing Your Customers

gaming news from all over

BioWare creative officer says violence not required in games with good stories, but seems to occur more often than not. I think the distinction between games involving some fighting and games with realistic violence is an important one here.

Police are still searching for 2 gunmen implicated in video game store robbery. The men stole merchandise and over $1,000 in cash from a GameStop just before closing time armed with a rifle and a pistol.

Monster Hunter Freedom Unite is setting PSP sales records. The Capcom title has sold over 3.5 million copies since its release in October 2008 and is the first PSP title to reach this sales level.

Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars will be Adults Only in Japan. The M-for-mature DS game will be the first title on Nintendo's handheld console to receive the Japanese Z rating when it launches there this fall.

Sony CEO Howard Stringer dismisses claims that the PS3 is still too expensive. "I [would] lose money on every Playstation I make," Stringer responds to calls for a price drop.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

beautiful katamari

I mentioned previously that I picked up Beautiful Katamari, the Xbox360 title from the Katamari series originally on the Playstation and now I have become addicted to this strange and wonderful game! If you've never played before, a katamari is a ball that can roll stuff up into it. Any stuff, and lots of it. Why roll stuff up, you may ask? Because the King hit a wicked tennis lob and it tore a hole in the cosmos and created a black hole, and now you as the tiny Prince need to replace all the planets with new stars made from katamaris and ultimately plug up the black hole. Weird, yes, very Japanese, absolutely, but this game has truly warmed my heart. It is adorable, funny, kooky and really addicting, and actually pretty challenging compared to a lot of similarly simplistic puzzle games like it. The game is simple to beat but has a lot of collection achievements and it is pretty fun finding all the adorable cousins who can be swapped out for the Prince for katamari rolling duty. The animation style doesn't demand too much detail and thus everything looks like beautifully rendered lego toys. For fans of the series, there is a new title slated for release on the PS3 in September called Katamari Forever, which will actually feature a few changes in gameplay from the previous titles. If you're looking for a fun and different game on the 360 (which I always am!) definitely track down and try out Beautiful Katamari.

used games helping gamers spend less

There are many expenses in my life that I have chosen to be more frugal with than I am with my video game spending. Still, I will admit that the prospect of buying used games has become more and more appealing to me, and apparently to a lot of other people judging by the kind of record numbers GameStop has posted this year thanks to used game sales. Some people are worried that the used game market is negatively affecting sales of new games on market, which is unfortunately probably the truth. Still, a video game is enough of an investment that most gamers want to make sure they get their money's worth, and game developers haven't exactly been delivering 100% amazing games that are worth their new retail price on shelves. For me, GameStop's policy of allowing used games to be returned within a week if you don't like them makes buying used games a win-win situation. I get to save money and make sure I like a game while GameStop profits on a copy of a game most likely sold at least once or twice already and destined for more if I trade it back to them afterwards. I think used game sales should be a wake-up call to game developers and publishers to start making games that fly off the shelves new and stay in people's collections longer than a week!

Video-game players take a shot at being frugal

Thursday, July 2, 2009

new harry potter is more of the same

As an avid fan of the Harry Potter books going back to their original late 1990's releases, I have always wanted to love the video game counterparts that have gotten more and more realistic and high-tech over the years. I played Order of the Phoenix on the Wii and like it alright but never felt sucked into it and was thoroughly confused by some of the motion controls for casting spells. Now, two years later, we've nearly reached the release date for the sixth movie Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince (can't wait, the trailers are amazing) and the video game of course came out this week. Preliminary reviews don't pan it or anything but it sounds like it was tough to top the innovative and engaging open-world gameplay introduced in the previous title. As Harry fans know, Quidditch was banned in the 5th book but makes a comeback in the 6th and apparently the game pays homage to this with occasional Quidditch minigame-style levels. It sounds like superfans of the series will probably enjoy The Half-Blood Prince as much as they enjoyed Order of the Phoenix, but that other than a few new characters and of course an advanced plot, the game's mechanics haven't come that far.

New Harry Potter game does little to improve upon last one

kodu game lab on xbox live

If you've ever dreamed of creating your own video games on the Xbox360 but don't have your own game development company, you're in luck! Kodu Game Lab, a programming tool by Microsoft, is now available for download for 400 Microsoft points ($5) on Xbox Live. Kodu allows you to create your own game at a level where even kids will find it accessible - apparently a demo involved a 12-year old girl creating her own game with it. I have 800 points that have been sitting in my account for months and now I might have a reason to spend half of them. Sweet! I'm definitely checking Kodu Game Labs out as soon as I get a chance.

Make Your Own Xbox Games with Kodu

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

pedometer no worky

So I've really been enjoying using Personal Trainer: Walking to keep track of my daily walking/step activity and one of the best things about it is wearing the pedometer all day as a motivator to rack up the steps. I had one of my busiest days in awhile yesterday between work and finishing up a move to a new apartment so I was really looking forward to seeing my daily activity last night, but unfortunately when I took the pedometer out of my pocket the little green light was no longer flashing. Not sure what happened but it totally stopped working - it won't connect to the DS cartridge at all, making both the pedometer and the game pretty much useless. Luckily I bought this game not too long ago and am good about keeping receipts so I should be able to get a new one but I'm a little concerned that I'll have the same thing happen with a new pedometer... Hopefully not as the boyfriend's is working just fine. I'm a firm believer in the quality of Nintendo products so hopefully it's not a matter of shoddy craftsmanship. Boo.

shut UP grease the game??

I can't even bring myself to say something snarky about this: it looks like there is a Grease game being developed for the Wii and DS! Preliminary reports make it sound like the Grease video game will incorporate singing, motion controls and a general swingin' sense of the 1950s. The developers of this game are 505 Games, who brought Cooking Mama to market in the past. There's no release date as of yet but it will most likely end up as a holiday launch. I think I will make a point to at least try this one out. Hopefully the game will include a dancing level where you get to be Cha Cha DiGregorio!
Should we expect a sing-along karaoke experience? A '50s-rhythm-high-school-gang-fight game (we hope so)? Or some sort of mutant vaguely misogynistic platformer? Perhaps all three?
Summer Lovin': Grease the video game coming to a Nintendo near you