Monday, October 31, 2011
make sure you check all of this stuff out:
Nerdgasm Noire Network Blog:
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Character Select (latest episode):
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Clover started life simply as an in house developer who wanted more creative control, and as such they were given this control thanks mainly to the "Capcom Five". When Capcom decided to port their hit Gamecube title Viewtiful Joe to the Playstation 2, the port was handled by Clover Studio. From there, Clover was the primary developer of every successive title in the series. They also developed Okami, which earned Game of the Year honors in 2006. They were also responsible for God Hand, which proved to be their final game. None of Clover's games proved to be big sellers, however they received a great deal of critical acclaim. Many gamers assumed that this would be another promising development house that would die in this fickle video game market. This would prove to be a falsehood, as they would rise again a year later.
Capcom decided that modest sales figures and critical acclaim were not enough to keep Clover around as an autonomous developer, so they decided to reabsorb the company, but the employees decided it would be best to simply walk away. This led to Clover being shut down. A few months later, the former heads of Clover resurfaced as Platinum Games and announced a four game development deal with Sega. This deal has produced four well received titles with MadWorld, Bayonetta, Infinite Space, and Vanquish all receiving a great deal of praise as well as a strong fanbase. The success of Platinum Games' titles has caused their deal with Sega to be extended to include a fifth title, Anarchy Reigns, that will be released in early 2012.
It seems that through their short history, Clover Studio did two things: had a tumultuous history and created some exceptional video games. I contend that their track record has proven to be as good as some of the great developers of the late 80s. It proves that perseverance can lead to great success, and it creates some exceptionally fun experiences.
Monday, October 10, 2011
I first discovered Grasshopper Manufacture when I stumbled upon their Wii masterpiece No More Heroes. I knew of Killer 7, but hadn't touched that amazingly quirky title yet, and NMH called out to me as I searched for a quality Beat Em Up on the Wii. As I started this game I understood why Grasshopper Manufacture and their head, Suda51, were so influential among other developers. Then I started doing research and I learned that Suda51 has had his hands in a number of projects for multiple consoles over the last decade. He started out working as a writer for Human Entertainment, which had him put his hands on the Fire Pro Wrestling series, and continued to make waves in the Japanese gaming market until well after he left Human in 1998 and started Grasshopper Manufacture.
Other than No More Heroes and Killer 7, Grasshopper Manufacture has developed Fatal Frame IV, Shadows of the Damned, Samurai Champloo: Sidetracked, and Michigan: Report From Hell among other titles released either worldwide or only in Japan. They are slated to release two games for XBLA and PSN in the coming months through a partnership with Hungarian publisher Digital Reality. Those titles, Sine Mora and Black Knight Sword, are a side scrolling SHMUP and a side scrolling action platformer, respectively. GHM also has a very bloody zombie killing beat em up on the horizon with Lollipop Chainsaw, which is slated for a 2012 release.
Between working on the Subspace Emissary mode of Super Smash Bros. Brawl, work with Hideo Kojima, and collaborating with Shinji Mikami(best known as the mind behind Resident Evil, Devil May Cry, and Onimusha), Suda51 has proven to be a busy man in the gaming business as well as one of it's greatest creative minds.
Grasshopper Manufacture has existed since the late 90s, and only entered the American gaming lexicon in 2005, but rest assured that Suda51's declaration of independence will continue to carve it's own niche while scoffing at the big budget snooze fests that flood the gaming market now.
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Little Samson - Taito - 1992: Little Samson is a gem of a game, it controls well, has a decent challenge, and it looks and sounds as good as anything on the NES. It would have been one of the biggest sellers on the NES if not for one important thing: it was release in 1992 and many gamers had already jumped ship to the SNES by that time. it's been spotted on eBay for around $160.
Bubble Bath Babes - Panesian - 1991: Nintendo watched over the content on their 8-bit console like a hawk, and anything that was the least bit questionable didn't get the coveted Seal of Quality on the box. Panesian knew their adult themed games would never get over the hump, so they made pirate carts. Very few copies of their games ever made it into the wild and so they are highly sought after. copies of this one can run up to $1,000 but a reproduction cartridge is currently in circulation through http://retrousb.com .
Caltron 6 in 1 - Caltron - 1992: Today we see multi game collections all the time, and most of the games in those collections prove to be horrible. It was the same during the time of the NES. This may explain why pretty much all of the multicarts released on the NES were unlicensed. Caltron released this pile in 1992, a full year after the debacle that was Action 52. While this one fares only slightly better that it's 52 game counterpart, neither seems worth the money. These will set you back up around $300, so tread lightly.
Snow Brothers - Capcom - 1991: A great arcade port typically sold quite well on the NES, which makes the rarity of Snow Brothers even more peculiar. For whatever reason, though, the NES port of Snow Brothers did not sell, and now commands prices easily above $100.
and now a few more affordable NES rarities:
Contra Force -Konami - 1992: It wasn't really a contra game, and it was a bit mediocre, but Contra Force commands anywhere from $30 - $60 online.
Adventure Island 3 - Hudson - 1992: It isn't extremely expensive, but it can be hard to track down. Copies of this one run between $25 - $50.
Bomberman 2 - Hudson - 1992: The original game typically costs no more than $10, but the sequel came along much later in the NES life cycle, didn't sell as well, and runs between $30 - $60 online.
I know I neglected to mention a lot of very rare games, but I didn't want to bore you with a list of games that most folks know about like Action 52, Stadium Events, or The Miracle Piano. If you would like a more detailed list of really rare games, drop me a line and I'll be happy to pass you one.
If you didn't notice, most of the really rare games I mentioned were released at the end of the NES life cycle.
Monday, October 3, 2011
Most of gaming's most iconic taste makers started out in other places, yet they all gravitated towards the video game industry, and they all succeeded at some level. Taito, which was started by a Russian guy in 1953, was making jukeboxes and vending machines until they got into the gaming business in 1973. They made game after game until 1978 when they created what many consider the most important game in Arcade history with Space Invaders. Space Invaders had such an impact on the fledgling industry that entire arcades were dedicated to that one game for years after it's release. While they are currently owned by Square Enix, the Taito brand still commands a great deal of weight and respect among gamers.
Service Games or Sega as it's more commonly known, started life as a maker of shooting gallery games, jukeboxes, and anything else that could occupy a soldiers mind on a military base. Over time they developed more products until they got into the video game industry and scored their first major hits with games like Pengo, Zaxxon, and Tac/Scan. While they have suffered a number of ups and downs over the years, a lot of what Sega brought to the table is still regarded as revolutionary.
The Nintendo Playing card company seems like a good fit to enter the video game market, but their entrance was not the most graceful. Prior to entering the video game market, Nintendo dabbled in everything from instant rice, to taxicabs, to a "love hotel". None of these ventures proved successful though, and in 1974, they obtained the rights to distribute the Magnavox Odyssey in Japan. Then Nintendo began to manufacture their own brand of Pong clones with the "Color TV Game" series, and things slowly rolled from there until a young game designer named Shigeru Miyamoto introduced the world to Jumpman, Lady, and Donkey Kong.
The three companies I mentioned in this post are just a microcosm of the rich histories of many publishers within the video game industry. Much like many of the people who have enjoyed their creations over the years, these companies all started out somewhere else, and through many different paths, they ended up being a part of the video game industry. While some have ceased to exist, many still do, and it is up to us as gamers to keep these companies honest, because without us, they cease to exist, and we are then left with less room for innovation and variety, and that benefits no one who grew up with a controller in their hand.