Eurogamer


Sensible Software founder Jon Hare has remade a vintage C64 [old fossil here, Speedball 2 was originally an Amiga and Atari ST game -Kristan Reed] game for iPhone. It's not Sensible Soccer, it's not Canon Fodder, it's not Wizball - in fact, it's not even one of Sensible Software's games.


It's Speedball 2 Evolution, an adaptation of Bitmap Bros. futuristic American Football game.


Development is finished, and Hare's Tower Studios (which once included Bitmap Bros.' top brass) will release the game on PSP minis and Apple devices "at the beginning of next year". At least, that's what Hare stated in a lengthy monologue - the Tower Studios website states "late 2010" on Bada and Android as well.


This will be the second Tower Studios game for today's raft of very capable mobile machines; the first was Shoot to Kill, an arcade-style blast-'em-up.


"Today I am painfully aware that the saturated downloadable and mobile markets with minimalistic price-points mean that achieving similar success to the past requires more than talent and hard work; luck and timing also plays a big factor," Hare commented.


"To me, it is not acceptable to expect companies to be large, reckless or lucky in order to find success.


"For every Angry Birds game hitting the market, another 999 are vanishing in the void. This is not the kind of odds with which you want to be gambling your family's house or the contents of your under-performing savings account. 999/1 odds are OK for youngsters with nothing to lose, but not for people who are a bit older, and with a bit more to risk.


"Unfortunately, those older people include just about the entire publishing community in the UK," he added, "most of whom are entrepreneurs who like to make things happen, but who are not willing - or able - to take unnecessary irresponsible risks."


Hare is worried that Speedball 2 Evolution - "a truly excellent version of a classic old game on modern technology" - will be smothered by the glut of iPhone games available because the licence is only well-known in Europe. Or he could simply be "unlucky".


"These days it seems that making great games is the easy part; it is generating enough publicity and getting consumers to put their hand in their pocket for something that is not mainstream that is the challenge," he said.

Video:

Eurogamer

Everyone likes super secret access to new games don't they? Especially ones that looks as tempting as ilomilo. Apparently not due for general release on XBLA and Windows Phone 7 until January, it gives developer Southend Interactive the kind of headline-grabbing pre-awareness that a lot of downloadable titles could do with.

If this idea proves to be as popular as it looks certain to be, you can bet that a lot of similar promotions will start to pop up as developers look for innovative ways to get players interested in games that they might usually ignore.

One brilliant idea that Capcom came up with for the release of Dead Rising was to essentially bookend its retail game with a pair of downloadable releases exclusive to XBLA. The question remains whether the Case West epilogue will be as popular as the 600,000-selling Case Zero prologue.

Funky Lab Rat

  • PSN - £5.49

You might not readily associate the humble rat with an ability to get their groove on, but needs must when you're being held captive in a lab and you've got electrodes attached to your genitals.

At least that's how Hydravision sees it in this Move-based platform-puzzler, where the power of funk has a magic-like quality to it. In its crazy French world of strikes and improbably delicious bread, groovy rodents come blessed with the ability to throw shapes and manipulate time. And yet, despite being granted these special powers, they feel compelled to repay their masters by trying to escape.

Predictably, that's where you come in, wielding a Move controller with one hand and a Dual Shock in the other (or preferably a Navigation controller if you've got the money). For once, you have to get your head around using both controllers in tandem, as you control the rat's left-right movements with the stick, and both object and time manipulation with the wand.

Much of the time you'll be focused on stacking up objects to allow Monsieur Rat to clamber up to the nearest exit door, but the further you progress, the more careful you have to be when and where you unleash your time-pausing ability. Sometimes, creating safe passage demands that you jump, stop (hammer) time, strategically grab, twist and rotate blocks to bridge a gap, leap again, and then repeat until you're able to eventually reach the elusive door.

Just to keep things interesting, you also have to take into account rat-boy's burgeoning drug habit and hoover up all the pills littering the lab. For reasons probably best not to delve into on a Friday, each one is clouded in smoke until you point your light source at it, thus making you feel good about shelling out for that Move controller.

Then again, given that they only want just over a fiver for something this engaging, I'd happily justify slapping down £35 for Move right now.

8/10








Dead Storm Pirates

  • PSN - £15.99

If Namco had its way with the world, the machine pistol would have been invented in the 16th Century, and swashbuckling adventurers would have been adequately equipped to deal with the swathes of suspiciously athletic undead pirates that feel compelled to storm aboard their galleon for an impromptu rave.

But you know how it is with rail shooters. There you are, clearing the decks of these uninvited guests with your trusty new Move controller, hosing away millions of cutlass-wielding skeletons with seemingly billions of bullets, and it's still not enough to satisfy the vengeful game designers.

You can be as accurate as you like. You can even rope a second player into the fray and coat the scene with a curtain of impenetrable death, and still this army of death-dealers will find a way through your fragile defences. Curse their eyes.

In its original arcade form, cheap deaths are routinely used as a detestable means of extracting another quid from you so that you'll pay to see what comes next. Sat at home on your sofa, its relentless assault is the ultimate quick-fix, but it's also a tiny bit tedious to be repeatedly smacked around the chops with a wet plimsoll when you're the guy with the bullet hose.

Originally available as part of the recently-released Time Crisis: Razing Storm compilation, it makes more sense to be able to pick up Dead Storm Pirates on its lonesome, but at a penny shy of 16 quid, it's priced a little optimistically. Then again, if you're the kind of guy who doesn't mind shovelling loose change into infinity, maybe that's a bargain.

6/10

Flowerworks: Follie's Adventure

  • WiiWare - 500 WiiWare Points (£3.50)

Being horribly late to the party doesn't always work out so bad, as any fan of drunk girls and cold pizza will attest. Flowerworks may have slithered bedraggled onto European shores almost a year after its original US release, but when you're offering people the chance to combine fireworks with horticulture, you can bloody well wait your turn.

Its tardiness would be more acceptable if Nocturnal's quirky flower-growing puzzler was actually worth sticking around for. Despite it picking up some enthusiastic reviews a while back, it's hard to figure out where all the love came from.

To kick off, the really-quite-complex mechanics are explained as badly as they possibly could be by a wholly inadequate tutorial. Essentially, the central goal is to make each flower fully bloom by scooping up the correct-coloured pollen and directing it to its expectant maw.

As simple as that may be, it won't win you enough points to scrape more than one or two stars. The challenging part is working out how to set off flowery fireworks and create bubbles by lining up pollen in your sights and shooting at it on the way. Succeed, and you'll spark off valuable combos – but it's a fiddly process, even when you know what you're supposed to be doing.

If you can stride purposefully over that initial hurdle, a potentially absorbing puzzler awaits, but if you want a puzzler to slip into like an old slipper, that particular princess is in another castle.

6/10








The Impossible Game Level Pack

  • Xbox Live Indie Games - 80 Microsoft Points (£0.64)

If one concentrated dose of gaming dementia wasn't enough to finish off your poor, frazzled nervous system, then it's only logical to come back for a double portion next time, right?

Having driven most of us completely loopy earlier in the year with the most irritatingly addictive platform game in history, Flukedude thought it was perfectly fair to finish off everyone else with this equally rabid 'level pack'.

No, it doesn't do anything especially different from last time, and yes, joypads almost certainly will be hurled across living rooms around the world as you attempt to guide a runaway box over a series of dastardly triangles.

You'll even be able to see how many jumps you've made, and how many times you've died, and how many puppies and kittens were ritually slaughtered during the many rage-induced minutes of your time with the game.

Seriously, someone call The Daily Mail and Panorama and ban this sick filth, before we all get locked up.

7/10

Unbound Saga

  • Xbox Live Arcade - 800 Microsoft Points (£6.80)
  • Previously released on PSP in summer 2009

If at first you don't succeed, waste everyone's time all over again – that's Vogster's motto as it brings its critically derided side-scrolling brawler to Xbox Live Arcade for no logical reason whatsoever.

Combining Streets Of Rage with Comix Zone probably sounded like a fine idea back in the nineties, but when met with the withering stare of 2010, this painfully repetitive slugger reminds us how dull games can be.

Trapped in a comic-book world, you guide either lumbering meathead Rick or lithe, quipping saucetress Lori Machete along a procession of incoherent frames, smashing anything that gets in your way. The hand of the 'maker' continually draws new enemies, presumably for his own amusement, but he seems to have an inability to create characters that you care about or carve out a storyline that entertains in any way.

That might not matter in the least if the sludgy combat system was even remotely enjoyable, but it's the worst kind of gaming stodge parachuted in from an era when we didn't know any better. No-one cared when this was released on PSP in summer 2009, and they certainly won't give a flying fig about it now.

3/10

Eurogamer


Mega developer Valve has launched a public beta for online shooter Team Fortress 2 over three years after its release.


Why? To test "new technologies without the risk of breaking the game", the developer wrote on the Team Fortress 2 blog.


Valve's testing class, item and weapon changes. Mysterious "higher level, game-wide experiments" are going on, too.


And as with all betas, the developer wants your feedback.


"As you've probably seen by now, we like to change things in Team Fortress 2," Valve said. "A lot. And while we're perfect most of the time, we occasionally get something wrong. One reason for this is we just don't get enough data from internal play testing, and another is that we spend too much time watching Tom Bui serenades on YouTube."


The beta is open to all who own the game. To install, launch Steam, open the Library and install "Team Fortress 2 Beta" from your games list.


Tom turned up a 9/10 in Eurogamer's 2007 Team Fortress 2 review. The game was bundled with Portal, Half-Life 2, Episode One and Episode Two in stunning compilation The Orange Box.

Video:

Eurogamer


UK game development suffered another blow today after the government said much sought after tax breaks could be years away.


According to GameSpot, culture minister Ed Vaizey said during yesterday's Culture Department select committee meeting he could put tax breaks on a "three or four year hiatus" - suggesting the issue is a no go until the next general election.


The move comes after the Conservative Party promised "unequivocally" to introduce game tax breaks "in our first budget" - that was when it was in opposition. How things change.


The government's position on tax breaks has angered the UK games industry; in July Ninja Theory (Enslaved) told Eurogamer it "sucks".


"With those tax breaks, with that support, we could have been... We could have grown UK talent and aimed for number one - to be the top producer of videogames in the world," co-founder Tameem Antoniades said. "We would have attracted the investment needed to achieve that.


"Without it, there's a danger we just don't grow."

Eurogamer


Other companies making sports games wait for new consoles before they take risks - but EA doesn't, not any more, head honcho John Riccitiello has boasted.


Take the recent decision to pull NBA Elite: the basketball game wasn't ready because it was more ambitious than a routine annual sequel should be, apparently, and delays aren't an option when you need to stay toe-to-toe with a real-life sporting season - fans won't tolerate it.


So EA handed NBA 2K11 a golden platter: a rival-free season of sales.


But, Riccitiello told Kotaku, "I'm actually kind of hard-pressed to find a constituency that is less well off from the decision we made.


"A more important [point] is: it's very easy to sequel a product when you don't seek to change it very much. If you seek to change it fundamentally you're inherently taking a sizeable risk. When you seek to change something that is on an annual sequel basis you're taking a really sizeable risk, because if the technology you're betting on doesn't come together in the first or second cut, you don't make your window.


"From time to time we take those risks; usually, in the sports game business only during a platform technology transition. But sometimes, like we did with FIFA, not during a technology transition. We took a similarly ambitious move four years ago with FIFA and pulled it off – in the same studio with many of the same people.


"People admire game companies that take risks," Riccitiello went on, "but in retrospect they only seem to admire game companies that take risks when the risks work.


"That's not a risk any more if you only take risks that work. I think of it as like skiing: if you occasionally don't fall down, you're not trying hard enough."

Video: Those NBA Elite controls.


NBA Elite rethought the way a basketball game could be controlled. By mapping controls to the analogue stick - as in FIFA, as in Fight Night - a new world of opportunities sprung to life. But what Riccitiello said EA was trying to do was make a two-year game in 18 months.


"We [were] in the middle of a nail-biter," Riccitiello recalled. "The demo goes out. We final the game. We do an internal review. We're not happy. Interaction between the label and sales organisation says the game is likely to be a 60 or something along those lines essentially for the fact that it wasn't finished. What do you do?


"There aren't many decisions that are essentially squarely on my desk. This was one."


Had NBA Elite gone on sale (it very nearly did), Riccitiello believes his game would have lost 5:1 to NBA 2K11 in sales. Worse, EA would have tarnished its reputation and become known as "one to ship secondary spots titles".


"You'd be shocked at how many last-minute decisions are made," Riccitiello revealed.


"In most games, whether it's Crysis 2 or GTA or Red Dead Redemption or, I don't know, Blur - there isn't a locked window when the product needs to hit the shelves [in order] to compete with the sports season," said Riccitiello.


"What most people would have done, if this was a shooter or a Sims game, is say, 'Look, there is no season for Sims, there is no season for shooters.' The team would never have mastered the game. They would have kept it in production, waved the white flag apology, put it into three or four months of development and delayed the game.


"But there's no basketball [season] then," he added, "there's no sequel that's necessary a year later."


Does that mean there will be an NBA Elite game next year? "We're EA Sports, for Christ's sake," Riccitiello blurted enigmatically.


All in all, EA reckons you weren't hard done by because there was still NBA Jam available to buy. And, being a positive person, Riccitiello thinks the extra space afforded to that title was a good thing.


NBA Jam was released at the end of November. What did Eurogamer think? . "A stripped-down version with just the Classic Campaign and a multiplayer mode would have made for a cracking downloadable release; as it stands, NBA Jam is a very good remake of a classic arcade game that's unfortunately surrounded by a lot of unnecessary fluff."

Video: The first 15 minuts of NBA Jam.

Eurogamer


In Ace Attorney Investigations 2 eccentric prosecutor Miles Edgeworth is in prison.


He's not a prisoner – he's investigating some nefarious goings on with sidekick Kay Faraday.


The game's official site splurges the details (translated by Andriasang), along with some new screens you can see below.


Miles and the gang will meet two mysterious figures during the game: prosecutor Yumihiko Ichiyanagi, aka Ichiryu, and judge Hakari Mikagami. What are their intentions?


Mikagami is part of an organization called Prosecutor Investigation Committee, which observes movements of prosecutors and weeds out those who are not up to snuff in the horrible-sounding "Prosecutor Purge".


Mikagami has come to the prison to order the case transferred from Miles to Yumihiko. No!


Gameplay will mirror that of Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth, a game Eurogamer awarded 8/10 earlier this year. Investigation, Logic and Confrontation modes will be joined by Chess Logic.


Investigations 2 is out in Japan in February, but is without a confirmed Western release.

Eurogamer


Sony's announced Top Darts, a 1080p PlayStation Move game due out this Christmas on PlayStation Network for £6.29 / €7.99.


Wait, that's right around the corner!


On the US PlayStation Blog Sony Computer Entertainment America associate producer Michael Pulst describes Top Darts as a "realistic" darts game, but newcomers are welcome.


It's got 501, Around the Clock and Cricket (no, not that Cricket). Check out the first shiny screenshots below.


Up to eight people can play in multiplayer. If you're on your lonesome, League and Cup modes should keep you busy. That and commentary from Sid Waddell.


Of course the most interesting thing about Top Darts is the ability to play using the Move controller. Just don't let go.

On the EU PlayStation Blog, Mark McGinley, senior producer at developer XDev Studio Europe, explained further.

"The game's controls have been specially designed to take advantage of the three dimensional depth and precision of the PlayStation Move and the interaction between player and dart is better than any darts game you've ever played before," McGinley said.

Eurogamer


Sony has pulled a U-turn on its decision to include stereoscopic 3D in upcoming PS3 exclusive LittleBigPlanet 2.


On the US PlayStation blog, Sony's Mark Valledor informed a reader: "Sorry, no 3D this time around."

LittleBigPlanet 2 was one of the games Sony listed as a headline PS3 torch-carrier at E3 this summer. Why Sony and Media Molecule have decided against the visual output of the future we'll endeavour to find out.


LittleBigPlanet 2 missed an autumn 2010 release. The new date of January allows Media Molecule time to polish the game's online multiplayer and iron out any bugs.


That US PS blog-post points out that the online servers are now "almost done", and that a final phase of beta testing will happen next week - with fresh invites sent out for participants.


Later in December, on 22nd, a Story Mode demo will be plopped out. But before then, Sony's due to release a PlayStation Move-specific download called Sackboy's Prehistoric Moves. Inside will be 10 dinosaur-themed levels engineered by Terrance Dactyl, the old reptile.


The idea is for the person with the Move controller to flick switches to help people using the normal PS3 pad controls to progress. That Prehistoric idea sorry Moves game is coming to PlayStation Plus 8th December and everyone else on 14th December.

Video: John Teti makes his own LBP2 trailer for Eurogamer.

Eurogamer


The heavily rumoured addition of Evil Ryu and Oni Akuma to Super Street Fighter IV has been confirmed – for the Japanese-only Arcade Edition.


In a new trailer released today (spotted by Eventhubs) an image showing Evil Ryu and Oni Akuma can be seen around the 2 minute 20 second mark. Check it out below.


It's not clear at this stage whether the dastardly duo are playable characters, but it's a good bet. And let's hope so, Evil Ryu was great in Street Fighter Alpha 3.


Evil Ryu is, as his name suggests, a naughty version of Ryu. He's more powerful and aggressive than his sulky counterpart, and plays similarly to Akuma.

We're not sure what Oni Akuma's about, but he looks like he could be an even more dangerous version of the Akuma we know and love (hate).


They follow Yun and Yang as newcomers to the SSFIV roster. But will they make it to the home console versions?


Last week Yun, Yang and Evil Ryu were spotted in a new batch of Super Street Fighter IV Xbox 360 Achievements, leading some to speculate that they will be added as DLC. Fingers crossed.

Video:

Eurogamer


Up for sale developer Harmonix has made good on its promise to continue to support Rock Band 3 with a title update that fixes a number of problems gamers have complained about.


The update should be live for the PlayStation 3 version of the incredible music game, with the Xbox 360 update due "in the near future", Harmonix wrote on its forum.


The update fixes the Arena 12 Freeze, eradicates problems associated with save data affected by long band names, and has put a stop to the pause scoring exploit.


"It's our hope that this update will address some of the most immediate concerns of the community and improve your enjoyment of a game that many of you clearly cannot get enough of," Harmonix said.


"Thanks so much for your continued feedback. It's your input that helps challenge us to continually raise the bar in music gaming."


Another update is promised for the near future.


Johnny turned up a whopping 10/10 in Eurogamer's Rock Band 3 review.


While Rock Band 3 is an critical success, commercially it has had a tough time. Leaked sales data revealed Rock Band 3 sold just 7386 units for the week ending 30th October in the UK, and earlier this month MTV owner Viacom announced plans to sell Harmonix, saying it's currently unprofitable.

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