Get your hooks into Arthur Lee’s Streemerz

Streemerz: Super Strength Emergency Squad-Zeta is Enough Plumbers co-designer Arthur Lee’s own submission to his Action 52 Owns game jam, a project to remake each of the games in the infamous Action 52 multicart to modern creative standards.

Much as Miles Drummond took inspiration from an obscure Game Boy game as a starting place to flesh out his entry, Arthur Lee has processed the awkward original through a Capcom filter to create something both modern and familiar.

( Continue reading at DIYGamer )

Crowded Field, Modest Diversity Slowly Implodes Industry

by Eric-Jon Rössel Waugh

Originally published in, I believe, the August issue of Play Magazine, split into a few blurbs across a two-page spread. I thought it rather worked in that format.

While everyone is freaking out about the economy, some trends are older and more reliable. Over the last decade, as the game industry has become big business and budgets have skyrocketed, yet everyone has continued to produce more less the same material, more and more groups and individuals have had to compromise. Continue reading “Crowded Field, Modest Diversity Slowly Implodes Industry”

This Week’s Releases (Sep 26-30, 2005)

by Eric-Jon Rössel Waugh

Week twelve of my ongoing, irreverent news column; originally posted at Next Generation

Catching up from a strong PSP showing at TGS, the DS has begun its cavalcade of fall delights. Also, some decent compilations and a creative D&D game. Check it out!

Today (Monday, September 26th)

Trace Memory (DS)
Jinx/Nintendo

In Japan, this is called “Another Code”. Neither name is that memorable, I’m afraid. The game itself is (as with Lost in Blue, below) one of the new slate of adventure games that serves to demonstrate how the DS hardware might be used. Trace Memory is in essence a Myst-style adventure game – nothing special on its own right, except that point-and-click games have generally been alien to the console and handheld side of the industry, due in part to interface issues, in part to the different mindspace projected by a PC and a TV environment.

In their intimacy, handheld games are a little closer to PCs than are console games – so in theory, the only real hurdle should be the interface. With its stylus and touch screen, the DS is perhaps even more ideal than a PC-and-mouse setup; simply tap where you wish to look. Beyond this, Trace Memory blurs a few edges between PC adventure games and console-style adventures by displaying an overhead view on the top screen and leaving the bottom screen for your character’s first-person perspective. Use the control pad to precisely navigate, or use the touch screen to point your way around. You can think of the bottom screen as a heads-up display or the top screen as a mere map, if you like.

The game is short, from what I gather. That seems just as well, for what the game is. There was a little buzz around Another Code a few months ago, even before people stopped dismissing the DS out-of-hand – so it should gain a small and reasonably loyal following on release. Even if it doesn’t sell through the roof, it still should be valuable to study. Continue reading “This Week’s Releases (Sep 26-30, 2005)”

Bishounen have the best firearms

All is well. I cracked my way into the parental menu. I’m my own daddy now! I just watched A Fistfull of Dollars. Interesting how all of the elements are pretty much in place, yet Leone has not yet figured out how to mix them well enough to turn out something like he did two films later. Still not bad. The movie, on its own, comes off as far above average for the genre. It just doesn’t transcend it, making the genre irrelevent.

Speaking of such things: I just got around to playing Devil May Cry.

Jesus. I had avoided this game since long before its release, because I was annoyed with how vapid and trendy it looked — and because of the way people reacted to the game. I guess I never really learned my lesson from Kojima. Yes, the game is supremely stupid and shallow — yet consciously so. It is so over-the-top that it comes off as a lot of fun.

Also now I see just how inspired Koji Igarashi was by this game. Everything from the not-falling-over-edges-unless-you-want-to mechanic to the odd stopping-in-mid-jump-for-a-combo detail, to the zooming-into-the-character’s-back-when-he-opens-a-door effect, to the way you hold the right trigger to duck and weave and strafe around. There are the over-the-top round titles. There’s the atmosphere. There’s the jumping (although Dante has no need for a double jump; instead, he has a variable and really high normal jump, plus a wall jump — not unlike Leon’s ability to whip railings to pull himself even higher).

Thing is — Devil May Cry is so much better a game. At least, so far. It’s linear, as Lament of Innocence should have been (and I think originally was supposed to have been). There are a few invisible walls, yet mostly you can not only jump all over the scenery but you can smash it up. It doesn’t take itself seriously in the least, unlike Igarashi’s game — which is goofy, yes, though as decoration on top of a concept which struggles and does not entirely succeed to do something marginally meaningful.

So. Now I understand some of what I have heard.

I still defend some of Igarashi’s intent with Lament of Innocence, and a bit of what he accomplished. He did get a decent start down. Just, hmm. The game is even more of an unfinished doodle than I realized.

I would say that I expect his next game to be far better — yet his next game is Nanobreaker. And. Well. I have yet to write about that. It didn’t impress me a whole lot. Of the recent set of slash-slash-slash combo games, it strikes me as one of the duller. Granted, all that was available for play at E3 was some kind of a time attack mode. So I don’t know how the main game is supposed to work. Yet, I don’t know about this.

Ah well. I need to play more of both games.

Perhaps this ties in with my ICO vs. Silent Hill 2 thing. I think that Riven, Super Mario Bros., and Bionic Commando might, too. And a few other things.

This might get kind of messy.

I will know, later.

The $10,000,000 Commando

I keep typing these things off to random people as I sort them out in my head. It seems to make more sense, though, to dump them somewhere I can more easily dig for them later. So here this is.

Of course, Bionic Commando is a spin-off of Commando. We know this much.

It seems that the arcade version of Bionic Commando comes first. I saw it once in a LaVerdiers, years ago. I’m not sure if I ever got to play it, though. It’s super-deformed and action-oriented, but familiar. Apparently, Super Joe (from Commando) is the main character.

(As a note, Super Joe also is in a game I’d never seen before by the name of Speed Rumbler. He’s in a car this time, and someone kidnapped his family. It looks like Commando, only… with cars.)

The second game in the series is Bionic Commando for the NES. The main character is Ladd, and he’s out to defeat Hitler and save Super Joe. It’s an action-adventure sort of in the vein of Blaster Master or Metroid, with occasional overhead-view segments to hark back to the original Commando.

The Gameboy version of Bionic Commando (still the same title, yes) comes third. Super Joe has disappeared again while looking for a secret weapon known as “Albatross”. The main character is now Rad Spencer. It appears to play very similarly to the NES version.

Finally we get the Gameboy Color edition, Bionic Commando: Elite Forces. Super Joe’s gone yet again — only now he’s moved up to the title of Commander Joe. Maybe they figured a desk job would keep him from getting taken hostage all the time. No luck, though. Now there are two main characters — a nameless male and a female Bionic Commando, each of whom gets referred to throughout the game by whatever the player dubs them. The female one, with her purple pony-tail, seems to be the one given more focus. Also, the overhead-view throwbacks to the first Commando seem much more elaborate than before.

So:

[Commando]
[Speed Rumbler (?)]

  1. Bionic Commando (arcade)
  2. Bionic Commando (NES)
  3. Bionic Commando (Gameboy)
  4. Bionic Commando: Elite Forces (GBC)

Yes, I’m back from Otakon.