Friday, April 15, 2011

Amazing Game Music: Shiren the Wanderer

Woo, had a bit of work this week, so no new art or anything today. Instead, I come bearing the gift of music!

Shiren the Wanderer is practically a Japanese icon and has been since the Super Famicom era, but the Mystery Dungeon series of rogue-like RPGs have only recently made their way stateside. These punishingly hard dungeon crawlers are known for their steep difficulty, but standout due to their uniquely Japanese flavor and gorgeous music.

Without further ado, I present Wanderer's Fantasy, a beautiful orchestral arrangement of themes from Fushigi no Dungeon 2: Shiren no Furai.

There's something weirdly comforting about dungeon crawlers. Despite the fact that they seem totally impossible at the outset, the methodical, resource building nature of the games is surprisingly relaxing. Despite the fact that you literally lose EVERYTHING every time you die (although Shiren 3 allows you to keep MOST of your exp), eventually this stops being discouraging at all. Yes, you may lose all your items, but you inevitably find new ones. Dying just becomes part of the experience; you plan for it, expect it. I rarely enter a dungeon with the intention of finishing it, and when I do end up reaching the end I'm usually shocked.

Mystery Dungeon certainly isn't for everybody, but there is an undeniable appeal in making progress. Whether you're climbing Table Mountain or ascending Karakuri Mansion, every new level you reach is satisfying. Gamers with either a Nintendo DS or Wii console can enjoy Shiren's only two localized adventures for relatively cheap, and although the games can be a bit hard to find at retail, online services like Amazon offer reasonable prices and wide availability for both titles.

Considering I'm probably going to be trying to beat Shiren 3 for a the next few weeks, expect occasional dungeon updates!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

American Revolution d20

A typical red coat.
A friend and I have been playing around with the idea of a fantasy RPG based on the American Revolution. He's been pretty into Dungeons and Dragons lately, but feeling pretty restricted by working within the limitations of their world. Don't know why we never thought of it sooner, but we decided to make a campaign set in the American Revolution!

I've done a bit of art to get an idea of the sort of universe we're going for here. Hopefully we'll start actually playing pretty soon!

A Hessian mercenary... they mean business!
Probably more to come.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Tower of God Game Progress

You just can't get indier than this...
 I would never in a million years consider myself a game designer, but I do like to goof around now and then. For a few years, I've VERY sporadically worked on a little platformer styled after an old school Gameboy game. I shelved this project in my senior year of college because I didn't have time to work on it, but lately have found a GREAT deal of free time and picked up "development" all over again. After about a week of work, I've just about finished the first stage, and thought I'd share.

The game is all about vertical movement, not unlike the initial stages of Kid Icarus on the NES. I decided to emphasize this by using a particularly tall screen, so the player always has a good idea of what is above and below them. For most of the actual platforming sections, the screen only scrolls vertically, but there are occasionally horizontally scrolling sections. Initially the entire screen would resize according to the scene, but I decided to just stick with the tall orientation.

The idea for the game originally came from a thought I had about a hero that fell from the sky. Having fallen from some mysterious height, the stranger would attempt to reach the heavens and discover the cause of his fall. To accommodate this concept, I thought of a Tower, the top of which is is hidden in the clouds, that the player would have to ascend. I really wanted a scene of the Tower reaching into the clouds, which was initially why I experimented with the tall screen, but it ended up suiting the gameplay pretty well.
I still have a few kinks to work out, particularly in the boss fight, which is functional but could be a bit more exciting. As soon as I'm satisfied, I'll try to get a demo up here. Until then, enjoy the screen shots!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

New Wii Game Makes me Want It NOW

Not long ago, Nintendo let slip the existence of Pandora's Tower, but little more than a teaser image was available. Now, the game has an official Japanese trailer, and is looking pretty swifty. This is cool for a few reasons.
1) The music is beautiful. Really classy.
2) 3D brawlers are pretty rare on the Wii.
3) There are painfully few games slated for Wii's 2011.
4) Up until this point, Ganbarion has only made licensed One Piece and Shonen Jump games, so this is their first time working on an original IP.

I'll be eager to see how this game turns out, and am already hoping for a US release.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Cranky Gamer: Collector's Edition Nonsense

I've been thoroughly baffled by some of the allegedly "collector's edition" packages that have been popping up over the last couple years. Just last week I was strolling past Gamestop, or EBgames, or whatever, and saw a huge advert for the new Mortal Kombat game. Now, I get the whole franchise revival, they want people to forget all the garbage games they've made by making a new garbage game, but I didn't really think anybody was taking this seriously, after all, its Mortal Kombat. Shock and awe, the ad was for the Collector's Edition version of the game, which allegedly come with all manner of bonus crap, like art books and extra DLC costumes for your little dudes, and a figure of Scorpion. For all this fantastic crap, the cost skyrockets from $59.99 to a whopping $99.99. That's forty bucks for an art book and a toy! A toy of a character from a game most certainly rated M!Who exactly is the audience here? Adults? Man-children?

Not like this is unusual, though. The new trend when it comes to marketing mainstream, rated M games is to package it with a glorified action figure. Halo Reach's absurdly large collector's edition came packaged with statues of the game's protagonists, perfect for display on only the nerdiest of desks. Hell, Black Ops sold with an RC car for god's sake! As an adult, what are you thinking when you drop 100 bucks on a video game that comes with an RC car? Are you thinking "Yes, this is a mature game that appeals to my adult brain" or are you thinking "Squeeeeeee an RC car! Yay! Mom I need twelve batteries NOW!". Or maybe you're not thinking at all. Maybe you're just buying this ludicrous package because you were bombarded by ads telling you to do so. Who knows?

The sad truth is that it probably isn't even adults that are buying these things, at least not for themselves. This kind of crap is probably going to to 10-15 year olds across our great nation. A quick listen to the chatter in the average game of Modern Warfare reveals the average player to be prepubescent, so it's not all that surprising that Activision has become wise enough package expensive toys with their expensive, mature war shooters.

Adults, don't buy this crap. Your kid shouldn't even be playing Mortal Kombat or Black Ops, and you don't need more garbage in your house.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Angel Land Story

Did you know that long before Kid Icarus: Uprising was announced, I had planned to make a 16-bit sequel? It's true! Obviously a terribly ambitious project for a mere student, but the heart was there! As the cosmos eventually yoinks all of my ideas and gives them to people who can execute them, I was very pleased to hear of Uprising's creation. Still, I had tons of sketches and sprites dedicated to my now defunct reboot. Considering Pit is due for a return very soon, what better time to recycle all of that hard work into a comic!

So here you have it, the first page of Angel Land Story! I'll be posting these sorta sporadically over the next month or so. Next page soon!