In the last few months we’ve seen gaming publisher icons THQ and LucasArts go under (or be undermined??) and EA be voted the ‘worst company in America’, winning the ‘Golden Poo’ (really!) by a Consumerist poll (link). Although that last one might be taking it a bit far, conventional wisdom over the last few years suggests that smaller companies going the independent route and self publishing for iOS, Android or using Steam is the way to go. The main negative with this seems to be that everyone who has aspirations to create games is doing this and it’s very easy to get lost in the crowd…so much so that even great games by historically consistently solid game creators can get lost in the crowd.
Case in point – Llamasoft, who with Jeff Minter having thirty odd years of experience as their main creative force, have created nine
retro-tinged retro-soaked games for iOS over the last couple of years (with some on Android and Mac, and soon on PC) which range from good to best-of-breed in their category. A couple of them are still amongst my most played on my phone/tablet…yet the Game Center online leaderboard statistics suggest a less than stellar market penetration. Low sales at low prices can’t add up for a consistently good income despite how many good games there are. Marketing for iOS, even for great games, is obviously a black art and I was concerned one of my favourite game companies might not pull through…
Two hundred words later, here’s the related news; Sony and Llamasoft have announce ‘TxK’, a spiritual successor / unofficial sequel to the nineteen year old Tempest 2000, will be released on the PS Vita later this year. Minter writes on his blog “We’re going to base it on the essence of the original T2K” and “We’ve had a couple of cracks at it before…T3K for the Nuon was in its own way remarkable, given that it was built using shader-like techniques (doing significant per-pixel computations) before shaders even existed, in software, on a 54 MHz CPU…Then there was Space Giraffe on the X360 and PC – still in my opinion one of the best things we’ve ever made, and a game that pushed boundaries by
making sensory overload an integral part of the game’s difficulty.” and finally “we will make it fluid and colourful and awesome-looking on the Vita’s delicious, vibrant OLED screen. We’re going to give you a perfect treat for your eyes, ears and thumbs with a modern extrapolation of one of the best shooters ever made on hardware that’s just perfectly suited for it, and in a way that retains the purity of the original design.”
For those that have played any of the above games, this is exciting news. If you haven’t, I suggest you go out of your way to do so. Though it’s not officially licensed from Atari (no-one really know who even owns the various ‘bits’ of Atari these days), so there will be obvious differences from the original, I’d advise seeking out a Vita sometime in the next six months before the game is released (they’re dirt cheap on Gumtree ;) ). Finally, Llamasoft are seeking out audio submissions for music in the ‘techno/rave’ style of Tempest 2000. Think cheesy vocal samples, fast beats and wacky basslines. If it sounds up your alley, maybe you should have a go at making some tunes?
The Virtual Boy is a grossly under-appreciated system. The visuals are crisp, it’s immersive, and if can live with the battery drain plus the associated neck and head pain after barely an hour playing it, you’ll love it. But seriously, I do enjoy mine, but it is awkward and tends not to be the first ‘portable’ system I go for (could you imagine dragging one out on public transport?!?). For those that want to share their appreciation for the Virtual Boy, as well as customise your Nintendo 3DSXL, here’s the perfect accessory for you; a two piece Virtual Boy Decal Kit for 3DSXL. At around $7 Australian (delivered), this item from Etsy is a steal (link here if you want to grab one). Their store is also worth checking out, with dozens of other vinyl decals, with themes ranging through Pokemon, Mario, Zelda and more.
If you were a gamer during the 90s, you probably played Descent on PC, Mac or in one of it’s console incarnations. The confined, cavernous nature of the game, somewhat like the burgeoning FPS genre at the time, combined with full six degrees freedom of movement like a space shooter, spawned sequels and
knock-offs similar games. My most played ‘Descent-a-like’ game was Forsaken on the Nintendo 64; what was your favourite of this genre? Let us know in the comment section below or on Facebook. Since late last year, a small group of devoted Descent fans have collaborated on a ‘re-imagining’ of Descent called ‘Sol Contingency’. They’re using Epic’s Unreal Development Kit, currently with the Unreal Engine 3. The trailer above, though brief, gives a taste of the look and feel of what they’re trying to achieve. You can read and view more at http://preparefordescent.com/, and, like many fan driven projects such as this, they’re after contributors and collaborators. If you think you’ve got what it takes to add to the project, visit this link.
Here’s one for the Commodore Amiga fans out there – a remake of last year’s ZX Spectrum title Endless Forms Most Beautiful in a graphically and sonically enhanced version renamed The Incredible Adventures of Moebius Goatlizard (the best game name I’ve seen in quite a while). You cannot jump and the enemies are invincible, so for gamers who like a challenge this could well be for you. One bonus I’ve already discovered; the chiptune during the title screen on the above video is a remake of a tune the very awesome Chipzel! The game is available in Amiga Disk Format (ADF) for free (link), and can be played on emulators or even the real thing. [Source]
Finally, here’s some eBay auctions to ponder spending your hard earned on. First up is an ‘ULTRA RARE Super Metroid & Zelda big box’ for the SNES. When I see ‘ULTRA RARE’, my alarm bells tend to go off (ultra rare Duck Hunt / Mario anyone? ;) ), but this truly looks like a relatively rare promotional item. Currently it’s at £299 with three days to go…that’s a lot for some rare cardboard packaging! On the slightly cheaper side of things is another item I’ve previously not seen; a ‘Resisident Evil 2’ PlayStation case that was won in a competition. It contains no working PS1 parts, but it could be used for a display or even having a working PS1 ‘grafted’ into it. At £100.00 it’s not exactly cheap either, but it could be a worthwhile showpiece for your games room…or possibly inspiration to customise your own console(s)… [SNES auction here and PS1 auction here]
What’s your rarest item? Do you have any customised consoles? Would you like to feature them on Retrospekt? Let us know!