2D games benefit from HD more than you think

Here’s an interesting aside from Stephen Totilo over at MTV Multiplayer. Totilo writes that he’s taken some flack for having never hopped on the HDTV train—as a matter of fact, he still reviews games in standard def, thank you very much.

So of all the games coming out to the 360 and PS3, which titles are making him rethink his position on HD? Why, the 2D ones, of course.

Specifically, Totilo says, while 3D games still look very nice, 2D offerings like PixelJunk Eden are frustratingly fuzzy, as are the maps in another PSN release, The Last Guy.

Totilo’s point—that it’s the 2D games that suffer most when presented in standard definition—isn’t just interesting, but more pointedly, apt.

I was very recently shocked to see how pretty Grand Theft Auto IV is on a cruddy old monitor. The game itself was crisp and clear, even crystalline. You see, I’d loaned an old computer monitor from 2002 to a friend whose HD CRT is in the repair shop (something inside had melted or exploded, I guess). So he bought some sort of adapter and connected the old monitor to his 360, and at the time I couldn’t help but think GTA4 somehow benefited from the smaller, duller screen. Strange, indeed.

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Tips and tricks from McSweeney’s

Ah, the game cheat: it’s pure magic.

The following is a screenshot from Timothy McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. The article itself, “Video Game Hints, Tricks, and Cheats,” was published in 2002. It’s pretty weird.

McSweeneys Video Game Hints, Tricks, and Cheats

Oh, it gets sillier. Much sillier.


Icon Watch makes me want to wear a watch

Ooh, what a great find.

Icon watch

Never mind the existential agony of the ‘wait’ icon: this is top-notch design. It’s US$89.00—a lot of dough, but worth it, I think.

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Here we go again: more many-sided dice iPhone apps

Last month I pointed you toward the D20 Gaming Dice Set, a 99-cent iPhone application—its developer followed the first release with a US$2.99 “PRO” release, which allows for the rolling of multiple sets of dice at a time.

Dicenomicon screenshotSince that distant time, though, a bevy of dice rolling applications have been added to the esteemed ranks of the iPhone’s App Store. There’s the DieRoller app, which costs a meager 99 US cents. Its developer, Derek Jones, writes:

Non-gamer tip: use 5d6 to play Yahtzee, or use the Percentile roll to make up statistics!


There’s also the simpler DiceDaemon (99 cents), the comparatively pricy Dicenomicon ($3.99; pictured at left), and of course, Dice Bag (free).

Earlier:  Ready for a game of D&D at the drop of a hat


SCUMM is the new Doom

Recently, I called Twitter “the new Doom.” Just as Doom can seemingly be fitted to run, inexplicably, on any device, so too can Twitter. It wasn’t a very good analogy: when Doom runs on a mobile handset, for instance, it’s really less as a game and more as a tech demo. Twitter, on the other hand, is perfectly usable.

So, I was wrong. Twitter really isn’t ‘the new Doom’ at all. Then what is?

From Rock, Paper, Shotgun:

During a bout of iPhone willy-waving down the pub recently, someone observed that there are two things that always get released for any piece of hardware that’s hacked to run homebrew code, and everyone duly installs them. Then doesn’t do anything with them except show them off to people in the pub. The first is Quake. It used to be Doom, but in the 3D age the big Q seems to have become the de facto way of demonstrating that a given piece of hardware has something decent under the hood. Touchscreen controls mean iPhone Quake isn’t hugely playable, but it does look amazing.

The second, and the source of my point, is SCUMMvm, the esteemed emulator for the old LucasArts adventure games. I suspect everyone who installs SCUMMvm, whether it’s for their PC, their PDA, their PSP or whatever, has a favourite game they install alongside it. For many it’s Day of the Tentacle, and God knows there’s a legion of Monkey Island die-hards, but for me it’s always Sam & Max Hit The Road. Except I never play it. I only watch the intro.

Incidentally—although I wholly agree with the SCUMM assessment—the one game I actually enjoyed emulating on my PSP was the Genesis version of Moonwalker.

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Mega Man cupcakes look cute, yummy, accurate

Snack or Die, the video game -themed baking recipe site, now proffers instructions for Mega Man cupcakes.

This is one project I think I could try. The recipe arrives just in time for next month’s Mega Man 9 living room launch party! And since I can just start with blank, boring cupcakes from the supermarket, I can pull this off without burning anything. Serve with E-Tanks, perhaps?

And look at how cute and scrumptious and worried Mega Man’s little face is!


And he’s so accurate, too! Compare to this Post-It art (“greenscale”) that appeared two years ago on Kotaku:

Post-It art

See? It’s dead-on.


Children of Men not a big hit among local book club members

My e-friend Nathaniel Payne lives in a small town in America’s heartland. Recently, his town’s local book club agreed to read The Children of Men, a science fiction novel that takes place in the near future (2021, if you’re curious). The Children of Men is generally acknowledged as a pretty good book: it was adapted into a blockbuster feature film, which I own on DVD but have never watched.

Apparently the novel garnered unfavorable reviews from the book club’s members, which resulted the following news item in the town’s local newspaper:


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Make a 3D video game, dance at the afterparty

Gamma 3D flier art

Who’s flying me to Montreal in November? Anyone?

At long last, the fine minds at Kokoromi have announced the Where, the When, and the What of the third annual GAMMA showcase.

Presented in collaboration with the Society for Arts and Technology and the Montreal International Game Summit, the event will be held on November 19th, At the SAT, in Montreal.

Developers around the world have until October 15th to submit their games. Kokoromi will announce the chosen games on November 1st.

And as with every GAMMA event, this one culminates in a great big art show game party with everybody wearing 3D glasses.

This year’s theme is stereoscopy; entrants are required to make their games compatible with red and blue -lensed glasses. (According to the official rules page, exceptions will be made for hacked Virtual Boys, however.)

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Nintendo DS Twitter application: it’s in Spanish

Sorry. I was having trouble coming up with a snappy headline.

DSTwitter v1.0

I should be pretty excited about DSTwitter, the homebrew Twitter application for the Nintendo DS, right? I love Twitter, I love my DS, I love putting homebrew software onto those little DS carts, and my DS is covered in a twitter-blue skin. In fact, I would probably download DSTwitter right away, except that I own a cell phone.

Anyway. When I saw Mashable’s breaking report about DSTwitter, I couldn’t help but wonder whether Twitter is the new Doom. Pretty soon, you’ll be able to Twitter with your toaster. Watch and wait, my friend.

1UP newswriter Kris Pigna also reported on DSTwitter yesterday. I wanted to be snarky and witty and succinct, myself, and I just couldn’t manage. So I really admire and envy the article DEK Pigna came up with: “Now instead of playing Mario in the bathroom, you can tell the world you’re playing Mario in the bathroom.” Tee hee.


Hilarious, cringe-inducing email from 13 years ago

Former EGM editors Dan Hsu and Crispin Boyer have been blogging regularly at their joint Tumblr, Sore Thumbs. And now that the boys are unshackled from the bondage of print media, they can do almost criminal things like, for instance, scanning old emails and posting them online. Have you ever wondered what interoffice emails look like? Well, put on your Cap of Vicariousness and get ready to wince!

This thirteen-year old email has had me giggling for two solid days. Take note of the timestamps. And also, start shouting “WHY DO YOU DO THIS” at your friends—they’ll be really startled.

(Click the pic to get an up-close look-see; the Sore Thumbs post explains the whole thing in context.)

please advise ASAP


Though intimidating, ‘Metroid cake balls’ probably delicious

Snack or Die is a recipe website dedicated to video game -themed pastries.

Metroid Cake Balls

The how-to blog’s most recent addition, a recipe for Metroid Cake Balls, looks dangerously delicious. This Zebesian confection calls for cake mix, cream cheese frosting, and lots of white chocolate. Red M&Ms substitute for the iconographic nuclei, and the mandibles are scrumptiously unthreatening cashews.

Adding the finishing touches


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‘i am 8-bit’ sure knows how to market itself

Thanks to Destructoid’s sister site Tomopop, I finally know what those gorgeous papercraft arcade machines by Scott Campbell (of Double Fine!) were for.

Eating Man papercraft flier

i am 8-bit papercraft flier

Rich People papercraft flier

Trawn papercraft flier

They are, in fact, collectible fliers to promote this year’s i am 8-bit gallery show, which launched last night. I am so jealous! Admittedly, it would be easy enough to pick up a complete set of papercraft fliers, were I currently located in Los Angeles. Maybe I will beg my SoCal friends to hunt down a complete set and carefully pack the stack of fliers in a nice, stiff envelope and mail the whole thing to my apartment (HINT, HINT).

Of course, this isn’t the only way i am 8-bit is promoting the current gallery show. In keeping with the ‘scavenger hunt’ theme, a bunch of artists (including Space Invader and Joe Ledbetter) have hidden miniature canvasses with their art all over LA’s great outdoors. You can still find—and steal!—a bunch of them.


Yummy pixel art abounds in Super Oors World

Super Oors World, a comic strip that makes use of adorable pixel sprites and backgrounds, is the twisted (but lovely) work of Jonathan Silvestre. Each “comic book” is presented as a PDF download. This method of distribution irked me at first—I’m a little lazy and prefer browser-based whatevers—but I soon realized I liked the almost-tactile comic book feel of the PDF as I scrolled through. Shows me!

The hero of each strip is a grumpy, sleeping bear. The first episode, Princess SOS, is really terrific and hilariously twee. Here are frames from Princess SOS’s introduction:

Super Oors World, page 1

Super Oors World, page 2

Super Oors World, page 3

From there, our ursine hero embarks on an epic quest to rescue the princess, who is locked in a tower at a Bowser-like castle. Will Super Oors succeed? Only your computer’s copy of Adobe Acrobat knows for sure!

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Tabloid star ‘Jordan’ used to be Lara Croft

So Eidos announced the new face of Lara Croft: Tomb Raider this week, and the big news is, she’s a gymnast.

Over at 61 Frames Per Second, John Constantine put together a nice retrospective, with side-by-side comparisons of each iteration of the Lara Croft avatar, along with each “real-life” model.

And then this happened:

Katie Price aka Jordan as Lara Croft

There are a thousand reasons this photograph is hilarious. But above all else, it’s Katie Price!

Jordan, peddling bedlinensNow, OK. Everything I know about British tabloids I read at perezhilton.com. But I’ll be damned if the original Lara Croft were none other than a comparatively fresh-faced, 18-year old Katie Price, AKA Jordan, whom Wikipedia states is “one of the richest women in Britain.” This isn’t normal, right? To be ridiculously rich and famous in the UK, having gotten your start as a model for Eidos?

Look, I know no one in the U.S. knows who this is. I’m just saying. Jordan! Jordan!

In other news, I think Mr. Constantine is right about the whole uncanny valley thing.

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Bookwatch: The Legend of Zelda and Philosophy

Another one for the Backburner. And what a find! 61 Frames Per Second’s Cole Stryker located a real gem of a book title, The Legend of Zelda and Philosophy. Stryker notes that this is actually just one title in a larger series in which essayists hunt for deeper meanings in ubiquitous pop culture icons (The Matrix, Battlestar Galactica).The Legend of Zelda and Philosophy

Amazon gives the book’s description thusly:

With both young and adult gamers as loyal fans, The Legend of Zelda is one of the most beloved video game series ever created. The contributors to this volume consider the following questions and more: What is the nature of the gamer’s connection to Link? Does Link have a will, or do gamers project their wills onto him? How does the gamer experience the game? Do the rules of logic apply in the game world? How is space created and distributed in Hyrule (the fictional land in which the game takes place)? How does time function? Is Zelda art?

To which Cole Stryker responds:
Ugh. If these musings are any indication as to the content of the upcoming book, count me out. It will sell thousands of copies while real philosophy languishes on the shelves of your library. I’m not saying video games aren’t fertile ground for philosophic discussion, this one just seems…a bit surfacey.

Now, while I can certainly appreciate Stryker’s lack of enthusiasm, for my own part, I just added the book to my Amazon wishlist. It sounds like comparative lit to me! I sure hope there’s an essay about the workings of time and choice versus determinism!

The Legend of Zelda and Philosophy is scheduled to hit booksellers in late November.


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