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Shadows of the Damned to feature The Damned

Pictured are two of punk rock’s elder statesmen, Captain Sensible and Dave Vanian. These guys along with Brian James and Rat Scabies started a band in London back in 1976, released the first 45 of the English era of punk rock (“New Rose”), and went on to record many great singles and records covering ground ranging from MC5-influenced stun-rock to psychedelic goth to more recent rockabilly-styled efforts. And now, according to a report over at Kotaku, these gentlemen are going to be contributing to Akira Yamaoka’s soundtrack to the upcoming Goichi Suda/Shinji Mikami game Shadows of the Damned.

Now, I know this is the second NoHS news item about this game today, but indulge me. I’m very excited about this title, and I’m thrilled that the promises Suda and Mikami about it being a punk rock horror game are validated by bringing The Damned on board. Smash it up, yeah!

Retro game diary: learning from the Mario masters

Over at Gamasutra, expert blogger Radek Koncewicz has been writing a fantastic series on game design lessons garnered from Super Mario bros. 3. He takes well-remembered moments and elements in stages, commenting on all of the awesome little elements that make the game the perfect “how-to” guide for game developers.

Partially inspired by that, a close friend and I decided to embark upon a magical Mario tour, playing through Super Mario bros 2 and 3, and then whipping out New Super Mario bros. to see how it compared.

After the warm fuzzies of nostalgia wore off, I found myself analyzing all of the little moments and design decisions present in the levels, many of which Koncewicz mentions in his article. It was quite educational. In fact, I kept thinking about the old story about how Orson Welles learned to direct films. When asked how he prepared to helm Citizen Kane, he mentioned watching John Ford’s airtight Stagecoach 40 times. He even called it his “movie textbook”.

I think that’s how anyone on earth interested in making a platformer should approach things – Mario needs to be your videogame textbook. Play Mario 3 until your fingers bleed. Take notes. Learn all the lessons about the importance of feedback to the player, tight controls, effective signposting, and rewarding exploration. Then and only then, should you start thinking about making a new title.

We played through a fair chunk of Mario 2 before we actually tired of it. It was weird – when we were young, we played the snot out of that game. It’s also objectively a good deal easier than 3. But, try as we might, we just couldn’t get into the groove, and after a trip through a favorite stage (4-2, you know, with the whales!), we moved on to 3.

Did we ever. We spent just shy of 11 hours (across one night and one morning) digging through old, trippy Mario’s many treasures. This game is from 1990 – it’s ancient by gaming standards – and still insanely fun to play. Unlike today’s obsessive stat tracking and achievement whoring and constant leveling and tendency to “reward” players with little knickknacks along the way, this is old-school gameplay-first design. Finding secrets (and remembering where they are 21 years later) is genuinely exciting, and the wonderful variety of the various worlds and stages keeps things fun and fresh even though you need to play through certain stages twenty times.

Even this – the old-school challenge – contributes to the fun. We cackled at our many (many!) deaths, starting right up again each time. We passed the controller just like we did when we were seven.

Part of the reason we spent so much more time on 3 has to be its more forgiving continue system. We screwed up time and time again, but at least here we could start over from the same world, instead of getting knocked back to 1-1.

Of course, New Super Mario bros. Wii has an actual save system, along with 2009 era amenities. It was very cool to play the “retro-styled” modern game just after a hardcore session with the real deal. It’s far more chaotic – and not just because there’s more than one player on the screen. The feel is a bit more slippery, and there just seem to be more moving parts. Finally, and perhaps most sadly, the funkiness and quirkiness of the old school games have given way to the plastic-looking cuteness of the newer games.

Of course, we still couldn’t put it down.

Joan of Arc board game comes to IOS

Well, here’s a surprise.

There was a French board game from 1995 that I really liked called Montjoie (called Joan of Arc in the English edition). It was a slightly screwed up but really cool game of point-to-point conquest with cardplay set in the Hundred Years War. It had these great resin castles and towers, and cool Tarot-style cards. Nobody would ever play it with me, so it languished.

Then, back in 2008, AGEOD released a great PC version of the game. I reviewed it favorably for Gameshark, even going so far as to call it better than its printed predecessor. Last night while trolling the App Store for games for my new phone, I came across something called Joan of Arc. Lo and Behold, it’s Montjoie. It’s $5.99, so it’s on the high side, but it appears to be a 1:1 port of the PC version with most, if not all, features intact. I’ve just started messing around with but I feel confident that if you want a good IOS board game with cardplay elements, then this is going to be a winner. It looks good, plays good, and it’s based on a great version of a good game.

Update on PSN Service Outages

You likely already know, but The PlayStation Network is down and will continue to be down for a couple of days.

Here’s the latest from the PS Blog:

While we are investigating the cause of the Network outage, we wanted to alert you that it may be a full day or two before we’re able to get the service completely back up and running. Thank you very much for your patience while we work to resolve this matter. Please stay tuned to this space for more details, and we’ll update you again as soon as we can.

So that rules out Demon’s Souls…

More on Wizardry: Labyrinth of Lost Souls

XSEED sent out a press release today with some more information on the PSN version of Wizardry: Labyrinth of Lost Souls.

PR snippets ahead:

This latest iteration of the long-standing Wizardry series – and the first available for Next-Gen consoles – will be exclusively available for download via PlayStation Network in spring 2011. Wizardry was one of the first games to feature gird-based dungeon-crawling, presented to players from a first-person perspective. Wizardry: Labyrinth of Lost Souls takes this classic dungeon exploration and combat system and pairs it with beautifully hand-drawn graphics presented in striking high definition, creating a seamless blend of classic gameplay with modern-day visuals.

In Wizardry: Labyrinth of Lost Souls, players choose a character from a selection of five unique races, including the level-headed and well-rounded Humans, the powerful Dwarves, the magical Elves, the spiritual Gnomes and the sprightly Porklu. And in keeping with RPG tradition, each race has its own unique starting attributes that reflect specific talents and skills. Strength, vitality, agility and luck all play a role in determining the outcome of combat, while intelligence and piety dictate a character’s skills with arcane and holy magic, respectively. While a Dwarf might have high strength and vitality from the start of the game, a Gnome will have low strength, but high piety. Still, any player desiring of a challenge may attempt to create a pious priest of a Dwarf, or a mighty warrior of a Gnome – Wizardry: Labyrinth of Lost Souls affords players complete control over their characters’ development, allowing them to custom-tailor their preferred play style to each race. On top of this, the game’s eight available classes allow for even further levels of character customization.

Wizardry: Labyrinth of Lost Souls also offers a male and a female option for each of its five races, giving players a total of ten choices of starting characters. Along with each of these characters comes a unique storyline, and whether it’s searching for the secrets behind a character’s past or questing for a holy artifact, hardcore RPG fans can look forward to the various tales as they delve deeper into the game’s dungeons with a six-member party in tow, battling over 120 different monsters along the way.

Wizardry: Labyrinth of Lost Souls, developed by ACQUIRE and set to be published by XSEED Games, will be available for download via PlayStation Network this spring.

Child of Eden Mood Trailer

Did you know if you play this game while listening to Pink Floyd’s Any Colour You Like and eating Brandon’s Portal 2 blueberry cake that you’ll understand the meaning of life?

It’s true.

But that’s only for the Kinect version. Everyone else won’t know what the hell is going on.

UbiSoft says:

Child of Eden thrusts the player into the center of a battle to save Project Lumi, a mission to reproduce a human personality inside Eden, a futuristic version of the Internet and the archive of all human memories. As the project nears completion, the archive is invaded by an unknown virus and the player’s mission is to save Eden from the virus to restore hope and peace. Under the direction of the renowned game creator Tetsuya Mizuguchi, Child of Eden is a multi-sensory shooter that will send players diving into a kaleidoscopic matrix of synchronized music and mind-blowing visuals that will usher forth a truly landmark game experience.

Child of Eden will release in the US on June 14th for the Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system from Microsoft. The PS3 version has a scheduled release time frame of September 2011.


Ubi gets bonus points for the phrase kaleidoscopic matrix of synchronized music. That’s a first.

Damn it- Shadows of the Damned Delayed to June 21st

Apparently, either Goichi Suda or Shinji Mikami looked at their calendars and realized, “oh $#it, we’re releasing Shadows of the Damned during E3.” So it’s been bumped a couple of weeks from June 7th to June 21st. The game isn’t likely to set the NPD charts on fire anyway, but releasing it while everyone is turning backflips over the announcement of a new Call of Duty game or the shocking, out-of-nowhere reveal of Nintendo’s new console that no one in the world could possibly anticipate is probably commercial suicide.

I’m excited for this one, but giving it a little more room to breathe is probably a good idea. I also think “Garcia Hotspur” is an awesome name for a character.

Tilt HD: Flips Adventure In 1.5 Dimensions $0.99 Sale

I received an email from Tilt Team who want everyone to know that Tilt HD: Flip’s Adventure on the iPad is on sale this weekend for a buck.

Some info: Guide Flip the tadpole, simply by tilting the iPad between portrait and landscape. Players control gravity and wind so that Flip eats carbon, catches seeds, and avoids anything covered in the dreaded green Blighted Rain. Flip vows to restore Shady Glen even if it means eating carbon out of the air and planting enough seeds to restore the whole ecosystem. The Tilt Points the players earn are geo-coded and their combined world score makes changes in the real world.*

*Nope. No idea what that means either.

Sins of a Solar Empire – Trinity Easter Sale

This one gets my stamp of approval. Sins of a Solar Empire is a really, really good game. Really. It’s a manageable, reasonably paced real time space opera strategy game. Stardock and Ironclad are offering Sins of a Solar Empire – Trinity for $20 via Impulse.

‘This new bundle pack includes the original Sins of a Solar Empire, plus the Entrenchment and Diplomacy expansions.’

Head over to the Impulse store for more details but if you never got around to playing this one — $20. That’s a great deal.

Sins isn’t finished either, as the Rebellion expansion should be out soon (Q4 2011) which offers new factions, ships, victory conditions and more.

Now — there is a catch here. The Rebellion expansion runs $40. If you buy Trinity and then upgrade that’s a bit pricey, whereas if you wait for Rebellion…you’re saving $20. (It’s a standalone expansion) If you want to play Sins NOW — get this Trinity deal. If you have some patience and don’t mind waiting, Rebellion for $40 might be the way to go. Your dough, your call.

DS Lite Discontinued?

No High Scores

The DS Lite, arguably one of the most successful handheld console ever made is officially no more if a leaked internal GameStop memo is to be believed. According to GoNintendo, the memo states that the DS Lite’s have all been discontinued and once GameStops sell through their existing stock they are to take the console’s various boxes used in store displays and discard them like so much garbage. Nintendo, hasn’t said anything official however when the largest video game retailer in the country tells its stores to stop displaying a machine that has done nothing but sell since it was released, I’m thinking this is a thing that is happening.

Given that the DSi, DSi XL and shiny, new 3DS are still available for all of your dual screen needs, this isn’t surprising however it is a bit saddening. I had an original DS Phat and the revisions and improvements brought to the DS Lite were so welcome it made playing the DS, already an enjoyable experience, a complete joy. Unfortunately what it also did is make people say things like “Oh, five hour battery life on the 3DS? I’ll just wait for the eventual hardware revision.” Of course, that didn’t stop all of the revisions from selling like a house a fire.

So goodbye and God speed DS Lite. You will be missed.

Seen at GoNintendo.