TrackMania DS is unlike any of the other admittedly few racing games I’ve played — many of the courses are over in 30 seconds, there’s no harassing other cars and sending them crashing into walls, and Lakitu doesn’t ferry you back onto the road when you fall off.
And, as with the revered TrackMania PC series, the different course types (Stadium, Desert, Rally) are littered with loops, ramps, and floating bits of track.
The title is developed by Firebrand (Race Driver: GRID), the Glasgow-based studio behind what many consider to be the only worthwhile racing titles for the DS that aren’t Mario Kart. Here’s an interview I conducted with the studio about TrackMania DS, their in-house Octane engine, and creating a portable racing title that can compete with their PC/home console counterparts.
Two details worth looking forward to:
Built for portable, easy-to-pickup play. You can complete many of the tracks in 30 seconds, but you’ll need to replay most of them several dozen times to figure out the best way to attack the course and finish first. You can also hit Y or X to quickly restart a botched run or continue from the last checkpoint, without having to suffer a loading screen.
Robust track editor. Create your own convoluted, loop-filled tracks using the DS’s touchscreen. You can also immediately test the course with a button tap.
One detail of concern:
No online features. Because I have no human friends (true story, it’s very sad) in the area, I have no one whom I can race against or share tracks with.
TrackMania DS is slated to release March 17th. It’s an addictive arcade racer, great for portable play!
…but not really better than ever. It had been a while since I’d been to the homebrew site, which features all sorts of media (books, videos, and even comics) for download and perusal on your DS. Moon Books went down quite a while ago, thanks to problems, but the last time I checked, the downloads were free.
Now, however, you either have to pay a fee for “gold” or write news and reviews for the site. That’s a neat idea for building up credits, but the idea of charging for Moon Books content leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I can understand why it would be helpful, but I’d rather see periodic donation drives or something, and I personally would be more likely to give my money under those circumstances.
Under the Moon Books credit system, everything seems to be 100 credits (or “gold”), and you get 5000 points upon signing up (I did, at least). So it doesn’t really feel like charging, except it is if you have to either pay or work to get more credits. Granted, it would take a lot of downloading to wipe out even that initial credit, but that isn’t the point.
Moon Books also hosts homebrew from other devs. I wonder how the charge system works for them. If there’s an agreement or details on that somewhere on site, I have not found it yet. Looks like we need to talk to Brandon, the admin over at Moon Books. Maybe he’ll stop by on this post; if not, guess I’ll be taking some questions over there.
Famitsu has posted screens of two awesome upcoming Taito games: Space Invaders Extreme 2, which adds a bingo system and SUPER FEVER TIME; and Bubble Bobble Wii, which has 400 old and new levels, in addition to downloadable “expert” levels.
Invaders comes out March 26 in Japan, and Bubble Bobble was supposed to come out this month, but there’s not enough month left for that.
I am just so excited about these two games. The financial situation makes it hard to load up on a bunch of video games, but these are going to be in my house at the earliest opportunity. But first, I feel like I need to understand Bubble Bobble better. I’ve played a lot of it, and I like it, but as simple as it is, I feel like I never really got it.
Can you believe how many downloadable Art Style games Nintendo and Skip have released lately? Seven in just the past four months! And they haven’t been crap, either!
Art Style: PiCoPICT, released through the DSi Shop last night in Japan, is a fun mix of Picross and Quarth.
Three details that are fab:
Coins. As you clear block forms, you’ll earn coins that will go towards unlocking alternate “Ura” levels, as well as stage music — classic songs from NES titles, remixed by chiptune group YMCK. Also, you can listen to the tracks with the DSi closed.
POW button. When the forms are dropping faster than you can manage, or when you find the puzzle screen littered with immovable blocks, hitting the POW button clears the bottom rows and drops the scattered pieces. After you hit it, though, the amount of blocks you can pick up at a time decreases by one. If you don’t mind giving up your music money, you can buy back a block space by spending five coins.
Fan service. The classic NES sprites, stage music, and even typeface are all ploys to grab the attention and money of nostalgia-bitten nerds, but they also contribute towards PiCOPiCT's attractive, colorful presentation (even the stage select screens look fantastic), and their integration doesn't detract from the puzzle game's addictive mechanics.
Two details that are butt:
Only one gameplay mode. With 30 stages in all (including the 15 Ura levels), though, that single gameplay mode will last you a while. And it’s only 500 Nintendo Points!
So good, I almost forgot that DSiWare still lacks third-party software.
“It’s clear that Ancel and his designers decided to present a female protagonist that defies many of the visual tropes we’ve come to expect from video games.
Jade’s teensy waist, exposed midriff and somewhat oversized breasts (I’m on shaky ground here, but they seem so to me) conform somewhat to stereotype; but her green lips, boyish hair, utilitarian clothes and equipment strapped across her body distance her from all that.
Voiced by Jodie Forest, she speaks matter of factly in a decidedly non-breathy, non-exotic, non-sexualized manner. In other words, she sounds like a regular person. Her animations contribute to this overall impression. She walks, runs, climbs, and jumps efficiently and with great athleticism.
Jade is her own woman, comfortable in her own skin, and not at all interested in striking a pose for others’ approval.”—
From The Brainy Gamer’s series on Beyond Good & Evil, a look at the fusion between the expected and unexpected, the sexiness and normality in the beloved heroine Jade.
Why, yes, it’s a long quote! But it’s worth reading (as is the rest).
“PS24VJ is a VJ software running on the Sony Playstation 2 video game system which features most classic VJ softwares options. Leave your laptop home and just take your PS2 with you when going to perform a gig!
Invite a VJ to join you on for a jam: PS24VJ can be controlled by two VJ simultaneously!”
GameStop wasn’t among the retailers to carry Korg DS-10 at launch — presumably because they didn’t think there was a market for a $40 synthesizer program on the DS.
Their website is now accepting preorders for the program, which has been out since November elsewhere. That’s pretty weird.
Their change of heart may be due to sales, or it may be due to the fact that the MSRP has dropped to $30. In either case, if you know how to work musical instruments and/or synthesizers (unlike me) it is a really, really awesome tool. If you’re completely in the dark about music, it’s still a pretty bizarre toy.
When I hear a song like this, I’m reminded of those years spent waking up at 6:30 AM every morning to drive to work.
Before I dragged myself out of the apartment and slumped into my car, half-dead, I always made sure to slip into the dark bedroom where my wife was still sleeping, and lean over the bed to kiss her on that scar next to her right eyebrow, my fingertips on her jawline. Without opening her eyes, she’d smile, and I’d know it was alright to leave.
As it turns out, this track is about a homesick orangutan, which I suppose is what I looked like sitting in my office at work, except wearing a tie and scuffed shoes with ragged laces.
Nintendo of Japan announced several new games and applications coming to its digital download service for the Nintendo DSi this Wednesday (January 28th), including several “excerpts” from existing puzzle titles and two new Art Style releases.
Art Style: PiCOPiCT (500 Nintendo Points) combines Picross with falling blocks and Nintendo franchises. It also features chiptune tracks from YMCK!:
Art Style: Somnium (500 NP) features slide puzzles:
Chotto Panel de Pon (500 NP): Panel de Pon, or Planet Puzzle League, without multiplayer support.
Chotto Suujin Taisen (500 NP): Based on a Mitchell Corp.-developed puzzle-battle game that never made it to the States, but received positive import impressions. Includes WiFi support for up to four players.
Chotto Asobi Taizen: Jikuri Trump (500 NP): Bits from Clubhouse Games, including Blackjack, Poker, and more. Features local multiplayer, but no online.
Hobonichi Rosenzu (500 NP): Map application for train/metro routes in Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, Fukuoka, Nagoya and Sapporo. Users can search for stations and routes, as well as add bookmarks, notes, and photos to the map.
DSi Solitare (200 NP): Solitaire, Klondike, and Spider with cat shapes on the cards!
DSi Clock: Slide Show Type (200 NP): A clock using photos taken with the DSi. Also has alarm/sleep functions — you can even record your own alarm sounds! This is the first in a series of planned downloadable Clock apps.
The countdown site for Marvelous’s Yuusha30 (English name Hero for 30Sec) has been replaced by an official site with some kind of Flash stuff going on. I can’t tell if it’s interactive or not, but it sure looks like it should be. It isn’t for me!
NeoGAF’s duckroll found some fairly revelatory info about the game: Yuusha30 is developed by doujin developer UUE, based on their freeware title of the same name. I have yet to try it yet, but if you’d like to get an idea of what the multi-mini-RPG will be like, you can download the previous, amateur version here. And check Famitsu for screens of the upcoming PSP game.
“With the lines drawn and the battle about to begin, still more participants are eagerly awaiting to enter the war.
Konix has shown their 16-Bit Slipstream to lukewarm response. The system is shown with a a special simulator chair which is just too slow.
Namco has a machine comparable to the Super Famicom almost completed, but is unsure about which way to market it with so many other game machines already in the marketplace.
Then there’s NEC’s 16-Bit P.C. Engine-2, which is also expected to blast into Japan sometime next year, promising even better graphics and sound than their original P.C. Engine.”—
Excerpt from “Next Generation Gaming” written by Steve Harris and originally published in issue 2 of Electronic Gaming Monthly. Imagine how much more crowded the market would have been had any of these three systems come out!
I remember being really interested in Konix’s Slipstream, even though I don’t care about racing games at all.
Play-Asia is now accepting preorders for the Wii Monster Hunter G Starter Pack, in case you wanted to blow, like, 75 bucks on a Wii version of a game you can already get cheaply on the PSP, and a blue version of a controller you can get anywhere.
I really like the controller — that’s why I’m pointing this ridiculous offer out. There’s probably someone out there who likes blue stuff and Monster Hunter for whom this is a genuinely attractive offer.
If you’re at all interested in Puzzle Quest: Galactrix — the sci-fi follow-up to 2007’s puzzle/RPG hybrid Puzzle Quest — you’ve likely played either the Flash demo or downloadable PC demo that dozens of other blogs have already posted about. It’s pretty fun, right?
Now, the DS version of the game is far from the “definitive release,” as the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC versions will not only have better graphics and visual effects, but online multiplayer support and downloadable content as well. Still, there are at least two obvious reasons why I will stubbornly buy the gimped DS version anyway.
Portability. At least two dozen hours of my playtime with the original Puzzle Quest was spent during lunch breaks at work and while driving home from said job (much to the detriment of other drivers).
It will be the first version in stores. While the DS game ships on February 29th, the other releases have the vague “early 2009” as a release date.
This line of Capdase DSi cases — available in white, blue, red, pink, and black — features silicone grips designed to protect the hinge and prevent the system from sliding when placed on a flat surface.
Japanese online shop Rakuten is selling them for ¥1,680 ($19) before shipping, but you can probably get them for $18.50 with shipping from eBay. Here are more shots of the case from different angles:
Capdase sells a similar line with silicone sleeves instead of clear plastic, for the same price and also available on eBay. Both lines come with an extra stylus, but the silicone version has a bigger pen-like stylus that can attach to a system strap/cap.
It wasn’t until I read this Gamasutra article from Eric that I even realized Seta was still around as of the last few years. Sadly, it’s an article about Seta being shut down.
It turns out that they had been doing mahjong stuff, with occasional forays into actual video games, like the Xbox 360 Sylpheed. That explains why they never really got any attention. I always liked them because they were one of those charmingly tiny companies that put out one or two quirky, obviously Japanese games that seemed so exotic to me when I was a kid — kind of like Vic Tokai.