We Built This (Retro) City: VBlank on RCR's eight-year history, soundtrack talent
Unveiled earlier this month, Retro City Rampage is a love letter to 8-bit games and 80s/90s pop culture, written on top-down Grand Theft Auto stationary and addressed to WiiWare. The downloadable title has you exploring an open world, taking on missions, and stumbling over dozens of gags appealing to the NES generation — those kids who grew up on ninja turtles and Snoop’s Doggystyle album.
We spoke with the man behind Retro City Rampage, VBlank’s Brian Provinciano, and found out how he turned an NES homebrew project he started tinkering with eight years ago into a commercial WiiWare title, and the composers he’s enlisted for the game’s soundtrack (you’re sure to recognize at least one of them!).
As fans who’ve followed Retro City Rampage might know, the game started as an homage to Grand Theft Auto III, appropriately titled Grand Theftendo. It took place in Portland and replaced the PS2 title’s 3D graphics with 8-bit sprites. Provinciano explains, “The title aimed at recreating a GTA III experience on the actual 8-bit console”
It’s rare to see an English patch for a Nintendo DS game completed, but after spending nearly nearly two years and “thousands of man-hours” on the project, Absolute Zero has released it v1.0 translation patch for Namco Bandai’s Japan-only RPG Tales of Innocence.
Along with translating menus, items, story text, and no doubt many other elements, the Absolute Zero’s patch adds features like song subtitles, battle subtitles, and an option for localized, translated, or Romanized names.
Of course, you’ll need to apply this patch to a Tales of Innocence ROM, which you can obtain somewhat legally by importing a copy and using special software to extracting the ROM. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like any import shops have the game in stock…
As for what’s so great about the game, I have no idea or any familiarity with the Tales franchise. From what I can remember hearing about it, though, Tales of Innocence looked great for its time (December 2007) and scored a handsome 35/40 from Famitsu's reviewers — not the most reliable critics, but a 35 certainly bodes better than a 15.
NCSX is offering new-in-box units of the Sunsoft Sound Boy, an external speaker for original DMG Game Boys. This item is perfect for chiptuners! Perfect for making the Game Boy a tiny bit louder, in case you’re playing for… I don’t know, a very small crowd in a room with you. Maybe a crowd sharing a couch with you. If the TV isn’t on.
If you’re more interested in seeing this item than hearing it, there’s a lovely photo gallery (from which the photo above originates) on Game Boy Carts.
I’ve always considered LoneWolfDS — a series of ports for John Dever’s Lone Wolf gamebooks — as one of the more unique, polished homebrew projects for the DS.
I’ve previously described it as “a more involved and satisfying Choose Your Own Adventure”, as you create and customize a character that you take through branching narrative options, combat segments, and skill checks.
The project has been more quiet for more than a year, but developer Michoko is working on it again and just released the third chapter, Lone Wolf: Caverns of Kalte, with an updated game engine, two new music tracks, and more.
Though you can start a new game with Caverns of Kalte, if you’ve played and saved the previous episode, Fire On The Water, you can import your old character for this chapter!
Now that Nintendo has revealed its hardware design (or at least a prototype of it) for the Nintendo 3DS, the demand for fan-made system mock-ups with dual analog control schemes and sliding screen mechanisms has died down.
But since the 3D effects the handheld promises are difficult to capture and communicate in screenshots or videos — Nintendo’s promo trailer relied heavily on CG to convey the system’s 3D-ness — several illustrators have posted artwork for how they imagine images popping out of the 3DS.
If we’re to believe Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime’s recent prediction that the portable won’t hit the States until some time next year, we will have to wait around six to nine months before we can try out out the 3DS ourselves. So, these concept artworks/mock-ups collected here are the closest we’ll come to picturing the portable’s 3D effects until then (unless you don’t mind crossing your eyes at stereoscopic images).
[Note: Several of these shots contain NSFW/adult content, so scroll down at your own risk]
Sin & Punishment 2 reviewed, MonkeyPaw interviewed
Sorry if this trend is irritating you, but Eric pointed out to me that two more of my recent Joystiq posts might be up the various alleys of TC readers.
First is my super-long interview with John Greiner, who used to be the president of Hudson Entertainment and now runs MonkeyPaw Games, a company devoted to localizing and, in some cases, remaking Japanese games for Western audiences. I don’t think anyone noticed it when it went up on Joystiq, but I thought it was one of the least botched interviews I’ve done.
Second is a review of Sin & Punishment: Star Successor, which, I’ve just discovered, is my first review to be listed on Metacritic as a result of Joystiq’s new score system. I’m going to be even more nervous than before about the validity of my reviews, but I’ll at least be comforted by all those moneyhats. Anyway, I thought the review came out not entirely terrible, and it’s a game that I figure hope a lot of you will want to read about.
Arc System Works has announced a fourth DS game in the Saburo Jinguuji adventure game series (not counting the five DSiWare cases): Detective Saburo Jinguuji: Red Butterfly (Tantei Jinguuji Saburo: Akai Chou), coming to Japanese retailers September 30.
I wish I could tell you what the new game is about, other than the detective’s ongoing love affair with cigarettes, but basically all that’s been released at this point is the date and the above artwork. I was kind of blown away by the last localized Jake Hunter game, so I’m happy to see Workjam continuing with the series.
Keeping up its tradition of renaming all of Q-Games’ DSiWare releases for different regions (e.g. Digidrive and Intersect, Trajectile and Reflect Missile, Starship Defense and Starship Patrol), Nintendo retitled X-Scape — 3D Space Tank in Europe — as X-Returns for Japan.
It’s a title that makes sense for a couple reasons
Japan missed out on the R&B quartet of the same name that soulfully sang ’90s hit "Just Kickin’ It"
The game’s Japan-only prequel was titled X
Anyway, I’m using this non-news as a jumping off point for two other X-Scape things I want to talk about.
"Wind" from BS Fire Emblem: Akaneia Senki (Satellaview). You might have heard the astounding news that the upcoming Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem DS remake will include this Satellaview chapter from the series.
As far as I can tell, this is the first time Nintendo has re-released anySatellaview-related content in the past decade; this is a nice way to mark the Japan-only system’s 15th anniversary this year!
One really interesting thing the Satellaview offered was its SoundLink games, which allowed for fully voice acted scenes and narrators guiding you through different titles. It gave games a real “radio play” feel, especially since you could play these SoundLink-enabled releases only during certain hours of the day.
You can see/hear SoundLink in action in this gameplay clip from BS Fire Emblem: Akaneia Senki:
Pretty amazing for its time (this title released in 1997), right? That’s how Intelligent Systems was able to embed a song like “Wind”, the first lyrical song for the Fire Emblem series, in the end credits of Akaneia Senki.
Now, the big question is will this DS remake include the original music/voice acting/narrator? And if Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem releases in the U.S., will the localized version offer an English dub? … Probably not.
I detest using question marks in headlines, but it will have to do this time as all I’ve been able to read on this matter are machine-translated reports and forum posts from Japan. Apparently, Konami employed a particularly cruel anti-piracy measure in Love Plus+ that prevents those who are playing downloaded/copied ROMs from ever hooking up with the virtual girl of their dreams.
From what I’ve heard, downloaded copies play similarly to purchased versions of the dating sim, minus the dating part — you can court Manaka, Rinko, and Nene all you want, but anti-piracy checks built into the game stops specific events from occurring, events that determine whether or not these digital girls ever go steady with you.
A surprising title popped up on the ESRB’s rating information site today: G.G. Ninja Karakuri Den (or Ninja Robot Legend), the Haggleman-esque platformer from Genterprise/Suzak’s budget DSiWare series in Japan.
"This is a strategy game [?] in which players control a ninja who jumps and dashes around each level while collecting coins and avoiding enemies. Some enemies can try to attack players with swords, throwing stars, and blow darts, requiring players to restart the level."
Though this is the only G.G. Series title currently rated by the ESRB, it paves the way for Genterprise’s dozens of other 200 Point games to release in the U.S. DSiWare shop. Who knows, maybe we’ll one day even see the G.G. Series Collection+ cartridge released here!
Speaking at an analyst Q&A at E3 last week, Nintendo CEO and president Satoru Iwata elaborated on his company’s plans to improve the DSiWare platform with the 3DS. From what I’ve seen, hardly any gamers or even DS owners pay attention to the service in its current form, and many excellent DSiWare releases have gone ignored.
Nintendo acknowledges that and knows it needs to make changes in the 3DS to make sure it reaches an audience beyond just the gamers who actively seek DSiWare titles. Part of its solution is to have the new system automatically download content and updates, which is probably terrible news for pirates/homebrew fans but a boon for the ailing DSiWare platform (potentially):
"So up until now, much of the digital distribution focus has been on more of a ‘pull type’ where the consumer goes out, gets the content and pulls it to themselves. With Nintendo 3DS, we’re looking at a model that would be more focused around the ‘push type,’ where we’re able to push information or content out to the device.
There are a lot of things in this world that can get you down: people dying, money troubles, unemployment, thoughts of inadequacy, birds with oil all up in their feathers, and many other matters that leave you feeling helpless. Maybe you can’t get over Xseed not localizing Game Center CX 2. Or perhaps you’re just a dude who came from circumstances, I don’t know.
Konami knows it’s a cold world, and that’s why it’s trying to bring some warmth back to gamers’ hearts with a new feature in its summer-themed update for dating sim Love Plus. According to producer Akari Uchida, the upcoming Love Plus+ features a mode in which the game’s virtual girlfriends will cheer up dispirited players with words of encouragement to help them find their way.
Still linking out to Joystiq content, but I think this is an important resource: it’s every collected screenshot of every announced 3DS game! It’s been really difficult to find all this stuff in a convenient location, so Randy Nelson did for 3DS what I did for DS and Wii, collecting everything for ease of viewing.
Two important points in here: first, pay special attention to the Professor Layton and the Mask of Miracle shots, because that game is shockingly pretty; and second, I just want to use this space to brag about DUDE I TOUCHED LIKE TWENTY 3DSES.
(A note on the Joystiq links: I’m including them not out of some misguided desire to use our little site to promote my other, super huge site, but because I spent the last week at E3 for Joystiq and I’d like to use that experience in a way that helps TC readers.)
This post/news is too tech-oriented for most people to care about, but I know a lot of technophiles are wondering about the GPU (graphics processing unit) powering Nintendo’s upcoming 3D system. Contrary to those rumors we heard months ago, it’s not Nvidia’s Tegra chip.
A small Tokyo-based firm named Digital Media Professionals (DMP) announced today that Nintendo has chose its PICA200 GPU platform for the 3DS. You can see a short OpenGL ES demonstration video for Pica200 put together by Futuremark four years ago above.
From what I’ve read, the platform is designed to deliver “high detail, high speed, low power consumption real-time 3D graphics”. I can’t really pretend to speak knowledgeably about the GPU, so I’ll paste some details about the PICA200 and screenshots from Futuremark’s “Mikage” demo after the break.
Forget about that E3 nonsense, here’s the best gaming news of the week: Amazon has Treasure’s spectacular Bangai-O Spirits for $8.76. It’s one of Treasure’s best games, it’s one of the best games on the DS, and it’s one of the weirdest shmups ever. It’s the only shmup I can think of where using a bat to hit a soccer ball at a robot ninja is an appropriate tactic.
Each level is an enclosed, free-scrolling arena with its own unique strategy and challenge, and it’s as much puzzle game as shmup. I kind of got way too into it in the … year or so before it came out, and the year or so after. If you don’t already have it and you pass on this offer, I don’t know what to say. That’s a really weird decision.
I finally got around to uploading all the trailers and screens from Nintendo’s E3 lineup, which I couldn’t do during E3 because I was either at E3 or stuck on hotel wi-fi.
I thought it might be useful to have a one-stop location where you could watch all the trailers for stuff like Professor Layton and the Unwound Future (which comes out the day before my birthday, because Nintendo knows) and FlingSmash, along with all the huge stuff like Zelda and Kirby’s Epic Yarn, so I put together just that on Joystiq. It’s two stops, I guess: Wii and DS.
I kind of wish Kirby hadn’t been so cool, so I could say “more like Kirby’s Epic Yawn amirite.” Alas, I was charmed to pieces. And, double alas, some Joystiq commenter actually beat me to it, as I just discovered when looking for the link to the article.
Remember Space Agency, the proposed “space action RPG” from Audio Inc. and Akira Ueda (director of Contact), which featured a pitch trailer that JC and I played a minor role in localizing?
Though we haven’t heard anything about the project picking up a publisher in Japan or the West, the developer hasn’t given up on it. In fact, Ueda recently tweeted that it could work as a 3DS title:
"Today is a hot summer day; it might be because of all the information out of E3. Space Agency is exceptionally well-suited for the 3DS! A vast 3D universe with a lot of depth, docked with the traditional world of pixels.”
That’s a loose translation of his tweet, at least. He goes on to say something about his dreams swelling with the possibility of getting his hands on the new hardware.
Attract Mode and Jeriaska teamed up for an E3 video series — the first interview is with Grammy award-winning composer Howard Drossin, who’s handling the Splatterhouse reboot soundtrack and also worked on 16-bit titles like Comix Zone, Sonic Spinball, and Knuckles’ Chaotix.