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  • I've been trying to catch up on some Internet reading over the weekend and I stumbled across a blog entry from Greg Costikyan, EIC at Play This Thing and CEO at Manifesto Games. Costik (or caustic depending on his rant) has never been shy about talking about games, be it development, the industry as a whole or the indie game scene. While I have not always agreed with his points, he always makes for interesting reading because he is passionate and researches his topics.

    So it was with interest that I read his rant about Mike Capps and International Game Developers Association and the comments Capps made as part of a panel discussion in late 2008 about 60...

  • Ska Studios' The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai is every bit as good as the last time I played it - when it was still an XNA community game vying for an award. It went on to take that award hands down and was awarded a full-fledged Arcade license.

    The first thing to note is just how brutal everything is in the world. The visuals are an epileptic’s nightmare, with psychedelic reds, greens, yellows and blues flashing on the screen; blood splatters smash against the screen like a windshield, and the finishing moves spray blood in every direction.

    At it's heart it's just a beat 'em up with a bizarre story about cyborgs and a sister. Dead things, government agents, cyborgs  (of course) and robots assail you in dimly it rooms...

  • GDC Gaggle

    I want to know what love is and I want you to show me, Eskil Steenberg.

    That's what I thought as I tried to see him demo the game in the emptying third floor of Moscone West on the last day of GDC. A gaggle of nerds (pictured above) blocked my view; like a puppet master, a guy in the thick of it shifted back and forth, making everyone behind him shift  in the other direction. Another guy sitting to his left leaned in to obscure another pocket of visibility.

    I imagined that it was a fascinating look at the tools that Steenberg  created for the game... caught half of a screen where he manipulated a shape with a single click of the mouse. People came up the escalator and stopped for a...


    Friendly Reminder: The Wild Pockets Game Jam kicks off tomorrow at the Microsoft Silicon Valley Campus in Mountain View, CA. The Wild Pockets Game Jam is a two day event where teams of game developers compete to create the best game possible in 24 hours. Their work will be judged by a panel of industry experts for a prize package that includes a grand prize of $2,500 in cash.

    The game jam will also feature industry speakers, recruiters from top game companies, tips and tricks for creating games, prizes, giveaways, networking oppuurtunities and much more. The winner will also be highlighted right here on Crispy Gamer. And of course, live entertainment from the band The OneUps - famous for their loose interpretations of classic gaming tunes in a jazz / funk style, and The Megas, video game cover band based on the Capcom game, Mega Man 2.; they...

  • You might have seen this video of Mister Rogers chatting with a boy about Donkey Kong. I stumbled on it yesterday through some idle "Related Videos" clicking, and I was charmed.


    The clip shows why Mister Rogers was such a unique force in kids' TV. His approach is straightforward: He talks to Brandon about games. There's no moralizing; we're not railroaded into a lesson. Nobody worries that Brandon is going to play video games too much, that he'll never go outside, that he'll go on a barrel-murdering rampage because of Donkey Kong's pernicious influence. As kids, we loved Mister Rogers because he engaged us with unadulterated respect and honesty, as he does here.

    And then they open up the machine! "We're interested about the insides of things,...

  • Last week me and a dozen or so other games journalists attending GDC were invited to visit nearby Double Fine studios to have a look at Brütal Legend. You'll find my story, "Stranger in a Strange Land: The Intricate World of Brütal Legend" in the main feed for Crispy Gamer features. But there's some stuff that didn't make the story that I want to share with you. A special tidbit that (I hope) nobody else zeroed in on. Maybe I'm revealing a little...

  • So, yes, my kitchen table is a mess. Instead of actually eating there, I tend to use it to open my mail. Ah, bachelorhood; isn't it wonderful? Anyway, here's another creative packaging job from the Nintendo team at GolinHarris. The last time they pulled the old talking-box trick (for the DS Lite), the damn thing kept going off in the middle of the night (playing some sort of trumpeted fanfare) and scaring the sh*t out of me, until I had to kill it like it was that evil clown doll in Poltergeist. (And even after I thought it was dead, it STILL kept making noises.) (Creepy.)


  • I haven't figured out a score for this game yet, but it sure does a good job of being fun and pissing me off at the same time. Everything comes off as dumbed down; ringside fights are now choreographed dances initiated by a button press, as is the ability to move to an area at ringside. It's all about timed button presses, situational button presses and position. It makes things easy as THQ promised, but it also takes control away from players used to directing the violence without having their hands’ held.

    But the most frustrating part of the game is that, while the controls have been redefined to be simple for newbies, they are also sloppier than a wet shit sandwich. Instead of defining keys to specific actions, many functions in...

  • Just had an interesting chat with a good PR friend of mine. This individual has been having an ongoing battle with the marketing folks about review scores: How are they arrived at, what goes into a score, why can't PR people control the press (?!?!), etc. Then the topic of price came up. Does that factor into it? Interesting question.

    My answer? It depends. If you get a game for $20 and spend 15 hours on it and enjoy it, you probably think it was worth the money. But buy a $60 game and finish it in 15 hours, it probably had better be some of the best gameplay in your life to make it worth the money. In that case, price is definitely a factor and should be factored into a review, especially in Crispy's format of Buy, Try or Fry. Also, is the game an expansion? How much is added to the game for the amount of money you had to lay out...

  • One of my most anticipated GDC panels was the one featuring Baiyon, the Japanese DJ/visual artist responsible for the look and sound of PixelJunk Eden. PJE was one of my favorite games from last year. The unique visuals managed to feel old-school and modern at the same time and the thumping electronic soundtrack only added to the game’s addictiveness.

    I got there early, eager to hear just how much Baiyon contributed to the process of Eden. The poor guy was clearly nervous; it was his first GDC and dude was sweating bullets.  In his introductory remarks, Baiyon said he also wrote cartoons and did t-shirt design. I need someone to find me these things.

    [more]Anyway, the lanky beatsmith talked about wanting to make games for many years, but thinking that you  had to start at the bottom of a game company and work your way up. He realized how lucky he was...

  • Jonathan Blow's "Experimental
    Gameplay Sessions" today made one thing clear: Gaming's having its modernist
    phase. Every game we saw attempted to deconstruct a gaming mechanic or trope. Examples:

    The Unfinished Swan -- vision. FPS where
    you have to feel your way blindly through the world by painting its invisible surfaces

    Where Is My Heart? -- visual coherence. 2D
    platformer that splits your view of the level into fragments, like a bank of poorly
    aimed and sometimes overlapping security camera feeds.

    Shadow Physics -- dimensions. 2D
    platformer whose surfaces are created by the...

  • Yesterday, I wrote about GDC made me think about the possible impending loss of my MMO virginity. But, someone actually did lose their virginity at GDC. For the first time ever, Crispy's very own Scott Jones thought up and moderated a panel during this year's conference. I'll be uploading clips over the next day or so. In the one linked below, you'll see John Teti ask a question of the esteemed panel.

  • I downloaded Super Punch-Out!! (800 points) bright and early on Monday morning, and I've been playing it obsessively ever since. I'm a fan of Punch-Out!! I worked in a rundown amusement park when I was a kid (, and on breaks, I'd hustle across the park to the arcade and dump quarters into the dual-screened Punch-Out!! machine. "Body blow! Body blow!" Good times.

    The NES version was aesthetically crude by comparison, but it was no less exciting. And when Super Punch-Out!! shipped for the SNES in 1994, I skipped my afternoon classes--I was a graduate student at Syracuse University at the time--and drove to the nearest game store to buy a copy.

    Super Punch-Out!! provided my brother and me with one of our...

  • Looking through my GDC notes just now reminded me that I actually got a chance to try out WarioWare: Snapped for the new DSi during my brief time on the GDC demo floor. I'm a huge fan of the WarioWare games so I was really looking forward to this new version, which is controlled via movements detected by the DSi's built-in camera. I didn't really get enough time for a full preview, but here are some quick impressions.


    • The after-game photos: As you may have seen in the keynote demo, the game actually takes still pictures of the ridiculous movements needed to complete...
  • [youtube:Uj8jAvpdFv4]

    Nintendo dropped by the office recently to do a live-action demo of Rhythm Heaven. Here's where our own Evan Narcisse's choral training was put to some good use.

    Having played through 99% of the import, I can say that it's even better than this acoustic rendition. I hear they gave free copies of the game to everyone who attended Iwata's GDC keynote. T_T

    (For a better-quality version of that vid, go here.)

  • My week-long visit to San Francisco has made my WWE Legends of WrestleMania review very, very late. While I hope to have it done by the end of the week I wanted to mention a couple of things for people in a rush to buy this game (that haven't already):

    1) This is not anything like RAW vs SmackDown 2009. Some have called the control system and gameplay mechanics "casual." Honestly that's a bunch of bullshit. Easier? sure, but by no means casual.

    2) You can import your old SVR2009 characters into this game, along with the entire roster. It's about f**king time, Yuke's. This goes...

  • I don’t play MMOs.

    In my career as a games writer, I’ve barely written about them. I understand where aspects of the offline RPG and the ones online intersect. I know about the genre from friends and peers, and those same people have helped me become familiar with some of the culture and specifics of various MMO offerings.

    Now, the reasons I’m not juggling avatars on servers are many: never been much of  a PC gamer, Tolkien-esque fantasy rarely grabs me, level grinding just isn’t my thing. Also, any kind of online gaming tends to bring out my inner misanthrope, with the exception of Left 4 Dead.

    But, a few upcoming MMOs will be giving me reasons to finally explore the massively multiplayer landscape. I’ve written about one before and I got the chance to see another at GDC. 

  • I wasn't expecting Wednesday's
    Independent Games Festival and Game Developers Choice award shows to play out like
    bona-fide award shows. I was expecting a low-key gathering in one of the
    convention center rooms, something akin to a spelling bee, where people would
    get called up to stand in front of the microphone and share some well-meaning
    but awkward words. Instead, this was a real show in a darkened auditorium with
    a host (Tim Schafer was scintillating as the host for the second half) and
    'celebrity' presenters and award speeches.

    What struck me were the little
    vignettes that played on-screen for the nominated...

  • [youtube:3txpuQxnWLM]

    I marched into Day 1 of GDC with the Crispy camera, intent to record everything. After a GDC staffer helpfully informed me that I could only record the first five minutes of each panel, my mission to "upload at least one video a day" became "just see as many games and people as you
    can before falling asleep." Here are my Day 1 scraps, starring the view from my hotel room, breakfast with news editor James Fudge, the Indie Rant panel, and some guy shooting a zombie (I mean Majini).

    GDC went by in a flash. I'll upload other, less Brakhage-aping scraps later.

  • Adult Swim's latest web game, Zombie Hooker Nightmare, mixes equal parts sex with action as you control a working girl who does her thing and fights off the zombie apocalypse in the process. Gather up your johns, fight those zombies, get back to your trailer and turn out those tricks. Just because it's the end of the world, that doesn't mean this girl gets a day off. Now that's real work ethic for you. 

    Adult Swim's games are nothing if not designed outside the box. Some people that are easily offended and living some kind of puritan life, will not want to visit the AS, domain, let alone go to the games page.

    Offensive? Possbily. NSFW?  NFK, Jack. Check it out at