David Bowie Goes Minifig

7 10 2009

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Bowie has had a lot of looks over his long and fabled career, so it’s no surprise to see that he’s got yet another one in the pipes.

Blocks.

The man who defies definition will be joining Iggy Pop in the upcoming family-friendly Lego Rock Band as a playable little guy  during his included track “Let’s Dance,” fittingly decked out in period-correct attire.

Yet another reason to look forward to this one.





Review: Anamanaguchi – Dawn Metropolis

7 10 2009

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Chiptune music, video game-inspired music in general, has always been faced with the stigma of its seemingly nerdy origins; even its name sounds cold and alien to those who fear the large amount of buttons on a Wii remote. Telling your friends that you hop on YouTube and listen to the Duck Tales NES music or YMCK’s Pictobits remixes has never fallen inside the realm of mainstream understanding; it’s more of a clique thing, really, something that only appeals to those who’ve spent all too much of their time conquering Dr. Wiley’s nefarious bots.

If none of these references are making any sense to you, I’d like to welcome you to my point.

But retro and 8-bit, like so many other relics of the 80s, are making a comeback, one whose impact can be felt all throughout gaming’s digital download services and brings with it a little bleed-over into popular art and music. Enter Anamanaguchi. Read the rest of this entry »





Late to the Party: Maskinen – Alla Som Inte Dansar

5 10 2009

This track is a few years old by now I suppose, but I didn’t come across it until this past summer when it randomly appeared on my brother’s iPod and got my head bopping.

It’s a pretty ridiculous tune and one that probably wouldn’t have the same humor associated with calling non-dancers “rapists” if it was in English. But hey, it’s not and damn if it isn’t dancey.





Blast That Spooky Stereo, Round 1

4 10 2009

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Oh man, do I love Halloween. Horror movies, themed candy, killer costumes and scary music; that’s a time of year I can get behind!

And there is really no better way to completely saturate your waking moments with spooky things than with a kick-ass playlist, and even though we’re in the early stages of October you might as well start building it. I’d like to help. Read the rest of this entry »





WET: The case against innovation

3 10 2009

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Style over substance is a dangerous choice in game development; Grasshopper Manufacture’s GC/PS2 release Killer 7 had some wild design elements and a certainly unique aesthetic, but it couldn’t save the somewhat murky rails-not-rails gameplay. No More Heroes, also a Grasshopper game, suffered some of the same pitfalls.

Enter WET. Full of style but without the new ideas of a Grasshopper title, it’s easy to brush it off as a Croft-meets-Max Payne knockoff with a healthy dash of Grindhouse thrown in. And that’s pretty much all it is. But so what? Read the rest of this entry »





Is Scribblenauts the most pure “sandbox” game yet?

3 10 2009

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You can’t help but be impressed by developer 5TH Cell’s latest DS release, Scribblenauts. It’s a game full of imagination: from its paper doll aesthetic to the soundtrack seeped in childish joy to avatar Maxwell’s red rooster hat, imagination drips from its every crannie. Even the puzzles are as open-ended as goal-driven video game conventions allow, letting you lay down whatever elaborate plan strikes your fancy by summoning any item that isn’t offensive or copyrighted. If you can think of it, it’s most likely in there and will behave very closely to its real (or fictional) counterpart.

The dictionary gives the player unprecedented reign over the game world and single-handidly puts Maxwell on the top of the sandbox-gaming subgenre. Yes, even more so than Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto series or any of the games heavily influenced by it. The map may be small, but the world of Scribblenauts is much bigger.

And this is all done before the main menu is even opened, on a stretch of level no larger than a small room by Metroid standards. GTA’s sprawling cityscape offer plenty of opportunities for shenanigans, but you have to make due with the toys already there. You have full control over the players and narrative on Maxwell’s open little stage, free to summon virtually anything you can think of .

It would be naive to say that Scribblenauts is completely open, because it’s not. Somewhere down the line, the innovative dictionary does run out of entries, and puzzles do require certain things to happen, be it buttons that need pushing or category-specific items needing to spawn. Of course, there’s no current, viable way to make a game world really endless, but Scribblenauts is so far probably the closest any developer has come.