Oh, great. Great. In August 2005 I predicted the Nintendo “Revolution” would feature a wireless touchscreen controller that might double as a portable, handheld game system—a little like the Dreamcast’s VMU, but 800x better. And what’d we end up with? Glorified television remotes, you guys.
At Tuesday’s E3 press conference, Nintendo confirmed persistent rumors: the Wii’s successor, the “Wii U,” intends to make waves with its touchscreen controller. Is this genius? Yes. Could Nintendo have released it six years ago, far predating the iPhone’s ubiquity? Yeah, no, OK, probably not.
I’m kind of a fanlady, sure, but this thing is exceptional. It’s as if its designers took a Wii Classic Controller—which, thanks to the slow perfection of several generations, is a perfectly calibrated configuration of buttons, dual analog sticks, and a directional gamepad—and yanked at both ends until there was room for an iPod Touch in the middle. Add a microphone, a camera, subtle stereo speakers, and God knows what else, and they’ve cooked up something formidably functional.
Can we talk about me again, though? Can we go back to my prescient, six-year-old doodle again? (My doodle is now old enough to draw its own doodles.) This inane, jokey mock-up was COMPLETE WITH TILT ACCELEROMETER ACTION, AND ALSO, A CLIP-ON STEERING WHEEL. Today, clip-on racing wheels actually exist! For Wii Remotes! My dream became a reality! But does anyone remember my prediction? Absolutely not. This E3 game = totes bogus.
P.S. I also anticipated a cooking game where players would make frying pan “flipping” gestures. No one cares. I know.
When you play games on your iPod Touch, do you find yourself, erm, all thumbs (so to speak)? The Fling mini is here to correct that!
The mini, based on the original Fling for iPad, is a pair of “analog” joysticks that suction onto a smartphone’s touchscreen, grafting a physical controller right atop the onscreen one. Smart! And since the joysticks provide “haptic feedback”—that’s leetspeak for “gamefeel”—you might discover that these joysticks offer just what your iPhone (or Android) hack-and-slashes have been missing.
And though the joysticks certainly take up a whole lot of touchscreen real estate, the designers promise that, once the stick itself is backlit, it becomes nigh transparent. (Its designers also promise that the joysticks are “compatible with hundreds of great games,” but by all appearances the Fling mini has, so far, been tested against just seven. Oh, well.)
The Fling mini doesn’t appear to be in production quite yet, but you can pre-order each pair for US$24.95. Ah, the high price of high design.
Video game horror—that is, really effective, interactive horror—comes in all forms. Maybe good horror stems from easy, visceral jump scares, or from the anxiety of a timer, steadily counting down to zero. Maybe it owes to the dread of a moody atmosphere—eerie music, a creepy setting. Perhaps real feelings of fear come from an impotent or nonexistent combat system.
The Famicom game Sweet Home is often acknowledged by hobbyist historians as one of the first examples of the survival horror genre, and it may well be. But those of you with longer gaming histories know the truth—you might remember that unsettling adventure into the depths of a mountain, stealing treasure that ought never have been disturbed, and trying to escape with your life. This is the tale of Mountain King.
Mountain King was a multiplatform release primarily by CBS Electronics in 1983—with versions appearing on the Atari 2600, Atari 5200, Colecovision, Commodore 64, VIC-20, and the Atari 8-bit computer line—though much of my personal experience came from the Atari 2600 port.
E.F. Dreyer Inc. is credited as the copyright owner for all these iterations, with Robert Matson generally credited as the program’s creator. Another programmer, Ed Salvo, put together the 2600 version in a mind-boggling six weeks as a contractor through VSS. (“I had an 800 version of the game, which I was to emulate,” Salvo told Digital Press’s Scott Stilphen.)
The game’s objectives are rather complex; without an instruction manual, however, they are downright arcane. As a child, I only knew that I had to collect these diamonds lying around the silent mountain corridors, the sole sound being the “ding” as the explorer treads across clusters of those gleaming gems.
In Mountain King your explorer is armed with nothing but a flashlight which, when its beam is trained on the darkness ahead, can sometimes reveal a shadowy chest full of treasure. Traveling the bottom floor of the cavern puts you in the domain of the giant spider, which will encase you in webbing as it skitters past. If you mash the joystick back and forth you might escape, but should the spider return while you are still trapped, you will be sucked dry as a spider meal.Read the rest of this entry »
Even in her girlhood—she spent her summers in Topeka, staring up at the sky—little Chell dreamed of a someday-career at Aperture.
Illustrator Martin Hsu’s latest solo show, CRAKENS, opened at Chicago’s Rotofugi Gallery late last week. The LA-based artist was in attendance, and he is every bit as charming, friendly, and animated as his paintings are.
At least two of the cutest pieces in the exhibit are video games -themed, and of course I am totally in love with both of them.
Here’s one of Hsu’s recurring characters, Snappy Pig, playing his 360. He appears to be losing to the little fox-rodent on the left:
And here’s another recurring character, Sea Monkee, playing his brand new 3DS in a tree.
Giclee prints of each, signed and numbered by the artist, are available in limited runs of 30 (US$120 framed, $70 unframed). The prints are very nearly the same size as the originals, which is nice.
And at the time of this writing, the originals themselves are unsold—Snappy Pig Xbox can be yours for a piddling $325, while Sea Monkee 3DS is just $350.
CRAKENS runs through June 26, so if you are in the Chicagoland area, stop by Rotofugi Gallery. As always, there is no admission fee.
You can read more about the show’s opening reception at Hsu’s blog.
2780 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago