This Week in the Business: 'The Vita is Almost DOA'What's happened in the business of video games this past week ...

QUOTE | "The Vita is almost DOA."—Richard Browne, industry veteran and former Sony exec, talking about how Sony has fallen on hard times but can still come back.

QUOTE | "Games suck, frankly. Compared to where they could be, all games suck."—Randy Pitchford, co-founder and CEO of Gearbox Software, talking about what drives him to keep making games.

QUOTE | "Pretty much everyone with their head on straight at Zynga acknowledges the Zynga hate."—Zynga employee commenting during a Reddit appearance by two of Zynga Mobile's designers.

QUOTE | "The trailer appears to strongly sexualize and fetishize not just its disposable female characters, but also the actual act of killing them."—Rob Fahey, veteran game journalist, addressing the controversy over the Hitman: Absolution trailer.

QUOTE | "Laying people off is the worst thing imaginable."—Danny Bilson, former executive VP of core games for THQ, talking about how his job has been difficult this year just before he was laid off himself.

STAT | $493 million—Amount that Infinity Ward has received over the years from Activision for Call of Duty-related bonuses.

QUOTE | "The relevance of E3 diminishes and will continue to diminish."—Neil Young, ngmoco CEO, talking about how E3 just doesn't matter to the overall game industry the way it used to.

QUOTE | "Nintendo is running on a radically different strategy to everyone else."—Rob Fahey, veteran game journalist, talking about what Nintendo has to deliver for the Wii U at the big rollout coming up.

STAT | #1—Rank of Skylanders among all handheld and console franchises for 2012 thus far, according to NPD figures, counting the revenue from games, toys, and accessories.

STAT | 67 million—Number of Xbox 360 consoles sold since 2005, according to the latest figures released by Microsoft.

QUOTE | "I think the console business is going to continue to shrink."—Trip Hawkins, founder of Electronic Arts, 3DO and Digital Chocolate, talking about the future of the game industry and the next big thing.

QUOTE | "They tried to make games based around sex rather than games based around comedy."—Paul Trowe, president of Replay Games, talking about why Vivendi's attempts to replicate the success of Leisure Suit Larry failed.

STAT | 10 million—Number of downloads of Remedy's Death Rally, available for iOS and Android, with 100 million play sessions so far.

This Week in the Business courtesy of GamesIndustry International
(Image from Shutterstock)
Jun 2, 2012

Hardware WarsThe Moneysaver is leading with deals on hardware this week because, well, there ain't much in the way of software. That is par for the course in a week in which everyone in the industry and following it wants to talk about games we won't be playing for another year or so. But we still have more than 50 of the week's best offers, rounded up by our top men on the job. Chewchilla, prepare for light speed!


• Xbox 360 Slim 250GB Hard Drive NTF-00001 (Refurbished) is $49.99, free ship from eBay Deals. Next best is $80. [Dealzon]

• Xbox 360 Wireless Controller for Windows PC is $34.99, free ship from NewEgg. Next best is $43. [Dealzon]

• GAEMS G155 Gaming and Entertainment Mobile System is $209.99 + $7.99 shipping from GameStop. Next best is $250. [Dealzon]

• Asus ENGTX570 GeForce GTX 570 (Fermi) 1280MB GDDR5 PCIe Video Card is $289.99 after rebate, free ship from NewEgg. Next best is $320. [Dealzon]

• XFX HD-695X-CDFC Radeon HD 6950 2GB GDDR5 PCIe Video Card with Dirt 3 is $199.99 after rebate, free ship from NewEgg. Next best is $255. [Dealzon]

• Plextor 256GB M3 Series SSD is $199.99 after rebate, free ship from NewEgg. Next best is $271. [Dealzon]

• Plextor 128GB PX-M3S Series SSD is $99.99 after rebate, free ship from NewEgg. Next best is $155. [Dealzon]

• Dell extended the $100 coupon for refreshed Alienware X51 desktops with Ivy Bridge that drops Quad Core i7-3770, GeForce GTX 555, 8GB RAM to $1,049. [Dealzon]

• Dell has a coupon for 20% off Alienware-branded accessories with purchase of any Alienware Laptop or Desktop. Stacks with other coupons or promotions. [Dealzon]

Asus K73SV-DH51 17.3-inch laptop with Core i5-2430M, 4GB RAM, GeForce GT 540M, Blu-ray is $649.97 + $9.16 ship from TigerDirect. Next best is $804. [Dealzon]

• Dell's 15.6-inch Inspiron 15R laptop with Quad Core i7-2670QM, GeForce GT 525M, 6GB RAM, 750GB HDD is $699, free ship from Microsoft Store. That's cheapest ever by $50. [Dealzon]

Lenovo Y480 Ivy Bridge 14-inch laptop with Quad Core i7-3610QM, 8GB RAM, 1TB HDD + 32GB SSD, GeForce GT 640M, Blu-ray is $999, free ship from Lenovo. That's cheapest ever by $50 and $200 off last week's price of $1,199. [Dealzon]

Lenovo IdeaCentre B520 All-in-One desktop with 23-inch 1080p 3D Multi-Touch display, Quad Core i7-2600, GeForce GT 555M, 8GB RAM, TV Tuner, Blu-ray, Remote, is $1,399, free ship from Lenovo. That's cheapest ever by $80. [Dealzon]


• June 26 release Spec Ops: The Line (360, PS3) for $59.99 comes with $10 bonus from Amazon. Elsewhere list price, no bonus. [Dealzon]

• June 5 release Inversion (360, PS3) is $53.99, free ship from Buy.com. Also available for $60 with $10 credit at Amazon. Elsewhere $59 and up. [Dealzon]

• GameStop has two coupon codes this weekend for $10 off $89.99+ of in-stock games and accessories and $5 off PS3/360 priced $44.99 or more. [Dealzon]

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13 (PS3, 360) is $39.99, free ship from Best Buy. Next best is $55. [Dealzon]

Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice (PS3) is $19.99, free ship from NewEgg. Next best is $25. [Dealzon]

Little Big Planet: Game of the Year Edition (PS3) is $16.51 from Amazon. Next best is $23. [Dealzon]

EA Sports MMA (360) is $4.96 + $3.99 shipping from Amazon. Next best is $16. [Dealzon]

Honda Fever (DS) is $1.74 + $3.99 shipping from Amazon. Next best is $20. [Dealzon]

Warhammer 40k: Space Marine (PC) is $9.99, free ship from NewEgg. Next best is $20. [Dealzon]

Medal of Honor Limited Edition (PC) is $8.99, free ship from NewEgg. Next best is $12. [Dealzon]

Magicka Collection (PC download) is $4.99 from Amazon. Next best is $20. [Dealzon]

Digital Distribution

The following listing of digital download bargains are grouped by distributor. For more, see Deals4Downloads' roundup.

Plentiful Paradox Packageis $12.49, save 91 percent.
Bulletstormis $3.24, save 84 percent.
Red Faction Guerrillais $8.83, save 56 percent.
Nuclear Dawnis $12.09, save 52 percent.
Rayman Raving Rabbidsis $4.99, save 50 percent.

Gremlin Invasion: Survivoris $2.99, save 40 percent.

DotEmu Collection Vol1.is $9.99, save 50 percent.
Silmarils Collectionis $7.49, save 50 percent.

Serious Sam 3: BFEis $9.99, save 75 percent.

Aliens vs Predatoris $5.08, save 75 percent.
Perimeter 2: New Earthis $7.50, save 75 percent.
Stormriseis $4.99, save 75 percent.
UFO Trilogyis $6.00, save 70 percent.
Gratuitous Space Battles Complete Packis $20.99, save 59 percent.

Deus Ex: Human Revolutionis $9.88, save 67 percent.
Front Mission Evolvedis $5.18, save 60 percent.

Get Games
Assassin's Creed Brotherhoodis $7.49, save 75 percent.
Silent Hunter 5is $6.25, save 75 percent.

Dead Islandis $11.99, save 60 percent.
Dead Island Ryder White DLCis $3.99, save 60 percent.
Dead Island: Bloodbathis $3.99, save 60 percent.

Ultima 1+2+3is $2.99, save 50 percent.
Ultima 4+5+6is $2.99, save 50 percent.
Wing Commander 1+2is $2.99, save 50 percent.
Wing Commander: Privateeris $2.99, save 50 percent.

GameStop / Impulse
Titan Quest Goldis $4.99, save 75 percent.
Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II: Retributionis $14.99, save 50 percent.

iTunes Store
Galaxy on Fire 2 (iPhone)is $0.99, save 80 percent.
2K Sports NHL 2K11 (iPhone)is $0.99, save 75 percent.
Civilization Revolution for iPad (iPad)is $1.99, save 72 percent.

Mac App Store
Palm Kingdoms 2 Deluxe (Mac)is $0.99, save 92 percent.
Invasion : Battlefield (Mac)is $0.99, save 75 percent.

Microsoft Xbox Live
Faery: Legends of Avalonis $7.49, save 50 percent.

Saints Row: The 3rdis $16.99, save 66 percent.
Worms Reloadedis $6.80, save 66 percent + Free Weekend.

Kotaku thanks our coupon partners for providing these and other great deals. Be sure to bookmark and search their Kotaku hashtags (#dealzon, #deals4downloads and #dealtaku) for updates throughout the week. Further, to our friends across the pond and north of the border, check the #ukdeals, #europedeals and #canadadeals hashtags and be sure to flag any deals you might have with that.

As always, smart gamers can find values any day of the week, so if you've run across a deal, share it with us in the comments.

For more savings, follow Dealzon and Deals4Downloads on Twitter.

The Best of Kotaku, This WeekThis awesome version of Mario was done by José Emroca Flores. You can buy his prints here if you're as in love with them as I am. This week's best image is brought to you by the help of Svalt Gamized.

Moving on to our Best Of content this week, we kick things off as usual with a comment from the community.

If you want to see the list of nominations (and other random conversations) you can head to my most recent nomination post that goes up every Friday here.

Want to suggest an article, comment, tweet, or any other content on Kotaku to be featured for a weekly Best Of nomination? Drop me a line at tina@kotaku.com with the subject line of "Best Of Nomination." Or any other subject line that will help me sort through and search for them. I'm not too picky.

The Best Comment From The Community

This week's best comment comes to you from halfrobo, for an appreciative comment. Here's a snippet:

You reflected on ways — even small, seemingly insignificant ways — we sometimes deal with trauma and powerlessness by becoming part of what has subjugated us, part of what we hate. Maybe there's no avoiding that, and maybe there's truth once you come out the other side and write an article like this. Thank you, and I hope it was as good or better piece to write as it was to read.

Two other comments were of note to the community. The second comes from Paradox me, who wins by reasons of hilarity:

The Best of Kotaku, This Week

Their phony Gundam has become self aware!

The third nomination sees more hilarity, in reference to a pair of Diablo socks:

Do I have to be online to wear them?

The Best Video Game For Girls, Or Whatever

The Best of Kotaku, This Week

Patricia Hernandez explains the efforts of one woman video game developer to make good games to suit girls. More »

The Best (Worst) User Interfaces That Ruin Bathrooms

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Tim Rogers looks into the intricacies of user interfaces, and compares them to real-life experiences. More »

The Best Explanation of How We Can't Escape Violence In Video Games

The Best of Kotaku, This Week

Kate Cox recognizes why people can't separate mainstream video games from only being violent. More »

The Best (Worst) Ending to Batman: Arkham City

The Best of Kotaku, This Week

Stephen Totilo really rather stick with the original ending than the new one in Harley Quinn's Revenge. More »

The Best Review of a Disappointing Resistance Experience

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Stephen reviews Resistance: Burning Skies, but he's not impressed with the Vita title. More »

The Best Analysis of Sony's E3 2011 Promises

The Best of Kotaku, This Week

Kate investigates the promises Sony made at last year's E3 to see which were kept and which were broken. More »

The Best Sidekick That Makes Batman Better

The Best of Kotaku, This Week

Evan Narcisse explains why Robin's presence in the Batman mythos isn't a bad thing, as some critics believe. More »

The Best Things About Max Payne 3 That We Want In GTA V

The Best of Kotaku, This Week

Kirk Hamilton has a few suggestions for Rockstar, from Rockstar. More »

The Best, Adorable Diablo III

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Jenn Frank shares a different perspective on the experience of playing Diablo III. More »

The Best Analysis of Nintendo's E3 2011 Promises

The Best of Kotaku, This Week

Tina Amini (hey, that's me!) investigates the promises Nintendo made at last year's E3. More »

The Best Video Game Industry Scoops

The Best of Kotaku, This Week

Superannuation kicks off a new column here at Kotaku with some industry scoops. More »

The Best Tera MMO Log

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Mike Fahey gets political in his latest Tera MMO log. More »

The Best (Most Touching) Story of Ingrained Gaming Vernacular

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Patricia shares an emotional story of a Gears of War 3 battle. More »

The Best (Worst) Things About Max Payne 3 That We Don't Want in GTA V

The Best of Kotaku, This Week

Kirk warns Rockstar away from repeating these mistakes. More »

The Best Video Game Tied Into A TV Show

The Best of Kotaku, This Week

Stephen fills us in on a video game that can impact a TV show, and vice versa. More »

The Best Analysis of Microsoft's E3 2011 Promises

The Best of Kotaku, This Week

Kate looks into the promises Microsoft made at last year's E3. More »

The Best Video Game That Invades Syria

The Best of Kotaku, This Week

Michael Peck talks about the video game that portrays Syrian conflict from a Western standpoint. More »

The Best Pro Gaming Controller

The Best of Kotaku, This Week

Kirk gets friendly with an Xbox controller that puts the original to shame. More »

The Best Anime Ode To Jazz

The Best of Kotaku, This Week

Kirk is enthused about new anime called Kids on the Slope, which is all about growing up and jazz. More »

The Best Review of a Beautiful Vita Game

The Best of Kotaku, This Week

Evan enjoys jumping and flying around the world of Gravity Rush. More »

The Best Call For Better First Impressions

The Best of Kotaku, This Week

Jason Schreier wants RPGs to have better introductions. More »

The Best Questions You Asked A Game Developer

The Best of Kotaku, This Week

5th Cell's CEO and creative director is back answering questions about on-disc DLC, bad video game writing, and more. More »


The Falling-Out and Heartwarming Reunion of the Guys Who Made Space QuestPlenty of adventure game developers have recently reunited to create new games, usually funded via Kickstarter. At first glance, Scott Murphy and Mark Crowe are no different. The two men created the classic Space Quest PC games, and eventually parted ways. Now, they're on Kickstarter raising money for a new game called Two Guys from Andromeda: SpaceVenture.

But the story of their estrangement and eventual reunion is a truly heartwarming one—two men who found success in their partnership but who fell apart due to the stresses of the gaming industry, only to finally swallow their past hurt and let one another back in.

This great article at Gamasutra tells Murphy and Crowe's story, from the first Space Quest up until the 1991 game Space Quest IV, after which the two parted ways. At the time, Murphy publicly bashed Sierra for mistreating its employees, and said that he wouldn't want to work with Crowe again.

All these years later, Crowe recognized that there was a desire for their games out there, that despite their public falling out, enough time had passed that the two should bury the hatchet. Murphy reflects on Crowe's decision to reach out:

"Mark had the guts to reach out to somebody who he had no reason to feel might welcome him — me," Murphy says quietly. "I give him all the credit for that. I know it took him a little time before he felt, 'I'm going to go ahead and hit send on this email,' because I was so harsh, and sadly it is a personality flaw with me that I sometimes over-express myself."

"Looking back, I realize I was a dick," he laughs.

Despite the cynicism that already surrounds Kickstarter, it's really nice to see two guys team back up like this, to overcome their differences with a real shot at recreating the thing that made them famous. And I mean… look at this picture!

The Falling-Out and Heartwarming Reunion of the Guys Who Made Space Quest


The 20-Year Estrangement of the Two Guys from Andromeda [Gamasutra]

I'm a fan of Lore in a Minute!, a site that breaks down a game's lore and story in easily digestible, humorous movies. It's great for if you want to hop into a series midway through without going back and slogging through long, older games.

I headed over there to check out their fun new BioShock Lore in a Minute! video, and wound up going through a few old ones that I'd never seen.

I've wanted to get into the Kingdom Hearts games for a long time. Given the fact that it sounds like we're finally getting another HD version on consoles, it would probably be a good time to bone up on the story I'd missed.

So, I watched this video. I've always known that Kingdom Hearts had some dense lore, so it made sense that it took the folks at Lore In a Minute almost two minutes to sum up the story of Kingdom Hearts. But after watching it… I still have no idea what the hell is going on in Kingdom Hearts.

So, I have to ask: What the fuck is going on in these games? Does anyone really understand the story? Is it really as much of a clusterfuck as it seems?

I love a dense video game story as much as the next guy, but this seems absurd. Has anyone ever created a functional recap of the events of these games? Or is that part of the appeal?

If we get an HD Kingdom Hearts game, I hope that I'll be able to play it and understand at least some of what's going on. Or heck, maybe I can watch this video a couple dozen more times and see if I finally start to follow.


So, there's a very private Halo 4 beta going on right now. Some terrible footage leaked out a few days ago, and today, there's some more for you to take a look at. On the plus side, this clip is almost watchable!

In the first video, the users were so paranoid of Microsoft spotting their usernames on the screen that they went back in time to 1986, shot it on VHS from half a room away, then doused the whole thing in a woeful soundtrack. It worked, I guess, but it wasn't pleasant for the rest of us.

This second one is relatively better. It's still crummy footage, but you can at least see what's going on, and even see some new stuff towards the end (the grenade pistol thingy).

While it's been confirmed that a beta is ongoing, given the quality of this clip we can't be certain it's legit, so take it with a small, blurry grain of salt.

UPDATE - The original video was taken down from YouTube, but here's a second copy for posterity's sake.

Halo 4 Gameplay Preview [HaloLessons.it, thanks Harry!]

Purposefully vulgar marketing isn't the only thing controversial about the new Hitman game Hitman: Absolution; plenty of folks are worried that the game itself will be a big departure from the slow-paced, careful gameplay of the first games. The Splinter Cell: Conviction to Blood Money's Chaos Theory, if you will.

Reading Stephen's hands-on preview from the game (and then watching the game in action), I feel reassured. Donning costumes, tackling a semi-open sandbox level and trying to come up with the sneakiest way to kill someone? Wearing a chef outfit and poisoning food? Knifing someone in a dark alley? Sounds like Hitman to me.

In his preview, Stephen says that the game copies a lot of Assassin's Creed, but to me, the level sounds like a more advanced version of something Hitman fans have already seen: "Murder of Crows," the Mardi Gras level in Hitman: Blood Money.

That level had a similar scenario to the one Stephen describes in Absolution—it was right after the release of the Xbox 360, so the technology hadn't gotten to the point where it is now, but all the same—huge crowd full of people, sneaking through and disguising yourself, taking out targets in creative ways… I could see that formula taking the technological advances illustrated by Assassin's Creed to make something even more reactive and remarkable.

As you can see from the walkthrough above, most of the "Murder of Crows" level lacks depth—the player has learned the ins and outs of the level to a point where he/she can manipulate it completely. But in a more advanced game, this kind of could well wind up being the exact kind of thing I think of when I think of a "current-gen Hitman game."

I haven't played Blood Money in a while, but I recall that this level was A) Really cool and showed a lot of promise and B) Kind of flawed and frustrating in practice. Either way, this has got me wanting to go back and play the game again, particularly with that rumor of the HD collection. (Though then again, I have all of these games on PC, where I play them in HD already.)


What Are You Playing This Weekend?Here we are, on the precipice: The news is falling fast, and in a lot of ways it feels like E3 has already begun. But still, we have one more weekend before the big show.

What are you going to be playing this weekend before the big publishers come and make all of the lovely games you just bought feel small and insignificant? Maybe take a stroll down memory lane and play the most recent Hitman, Tomb Raider and Assassin's Creed games?

I actually still need to finish Assassin's Creed Revelations, since despite the fact that I don't like it as much as the earlier games, I'd like to finish it before heading into the new game. Eh, I'll probably get spoiled on everything at E3 anyway.

Anyhow, how about you? What will you be playing this weekend?

Feel free to talk about that, or anything else. Have good Open Threading, see you in Los Angeles.


"You guys might need some earplugs."
–Nullsleep, Blip Fest 2012

Blip Festival 2012, which took place this past Memorial Day weekend, was many things.

It was the greatest assemblage of 8-bit musicians from across the globe and on a single stage, for the sixth year running. It was a bunch of kids moshing and crowd surfing to sounds produced by Game Boys, or at least trying to. And it was a chance for a half naked guy wearing nothing but wolf ears and a cape to spend most of his time fiddling around with a SNES/Super Game Boy/Game Boy Camera in front of a (completely baffled) audience.

Every year has someone stating that Blip has "officially made it", and the same holds true for its 2k12 installment in many ways. This time around, organizers teamed up with Live Nation, the nationwide concert promoting behemoth, to help run the show. According to Mike Rosenthal, key member of The Tank, the NYC-based non-profit arts presenter that produces the festival alongside chiptunes label 8bitpeoples, it was Live Nation who approached Blip Fest, due to their interest in infiltrating such a scene.

And instead of some art space that isn't necessarily equipped for a weekend-long music festival, this year's Blip took place at a "legit" music hall, the Gramercy Theatre. Unfortunately, sexy upgrades often bring along some pleasant annoyances, like criminally overpriced alcohol and obnoxious crowd wranglers; the stuff you find at "real" concerts. But when you get down to it, this year's Blip was like all others: an eye opening/mind blowing/booty shaking experience that will be talked among chiptune advocates and aficionados for quite some time.

The Sounds, Sights and Music of Blip-Fest 2012

Night 1

The first evening of Blip 2k12 was, as expected, a great mix of local artists, plus those from a little across the way, and someone from halfway across the globe. Among those representing New York City was exileFaker, who kicked off Blip real proper like, with good old fashioned, NES-like tunes. The kind of audio that many people new to chiptune expect and hope for when tasting such music for the first time. Along with Zen Albatross, whose jagged yet funky Game Boy driven beats blew away his 2k11 set, which was exemplarily to being with.

One early highlight was minusbaby, who has long been at the forefront of pushing the very definition of what chiptunes can and wants to be. His Blip apperances are either legendary or infamous, depending on whom you talk to, and this year's did not disappoint. In addition to the aforementioned dude in the cape and wolf ears, minusbaby was accompanied by his "8-Hit Combo." Turns out, the flute is an excellent instrument to accentuate bass-heavy chip sounds.

We addressed NYC's heaviest hitter, and Blip Fest co-founder, Nullsleep already in our day one micro report. Along with the not-quite local talent who calls himself Shitbird; it's unfortunate his video highlight does not include his hardcore covers of Dig Dug and the theme from Konami's Goonies game. Chipocrite (http://www.chipocrite.com/) is another out of towner, from Philly to be exact, and does the guitar plus Game Boy thing. In addition to an intense mix of rock and dance, his New Order cover was the sing along hit of the night.

Kodek had been touted beforehand by Blip organizers as someone to keep an eye on, and the Latvian native lived up to the hype. Not just his bizarre, Euro-trashy take on late 80s hip-hop fashion sensibilities, or the fact that he humped his mixing board quite a bit; his chiptunes were also quite boss. And the evening ended on the highest note possible, with everyone's favorite, George & Jonathan. Words cannot properly describe the jubilation that rippled through the crowd when the duo turned on their multicolored, LED driven sweatbands.

Though night one also had its missteps. The opening of Blip is always known for technical difficulties, but the fact that many performances were not very loud was perplexing, given the venue this year. Another major issue was how the crowd was not allowed to be up close to the stage, and were instead held back via barricades, per the venue's rules one must assume. Given how certain artists draw energy from the crowd, who thusly gives it back, the end result lest some performers frustrated by the lack of feedback, as was the case with Nullsleep.

The Sounds, Sights and Music of Blip-Fest 2012

Night 2

A little less than 24 hours later, some of the kinks had been worked out. The barricades were still present, but at least the acts were closer to the edge of the stage. Unfortunately, sound levels were still an issue somewhat.

First you had :| kREW. The outfit is made of multiple members, including Starpause, a prolific San Franciscan in the scene, and their performance is definitely one of the more difficult to surmise. Imagine a bunch of people on stage: some semi-naked, some drinking Four Lokos, some playing didgeridoos. Yet all very chiptunes nonetheless. Then there was Wizwars, from LA, whose music sounded like Game Boys having heart attacks at certain moments, while chill and funky during others.

In the case of Pulselooper, hailing from Brazil, never before have I seen a guy who seemed so quiet, so unassuming onstage, making such ear piercing and spine tingling audio with simple video game handhelds. Another artist that many in the known was ecstatic to witness firsthand was the Japanese phenom known as Omodaka. If you haven't seen his magic in action, please do so this very moment and come right back. And don't forget the epitome of Chiptunes 101, Bit Shifter.

"It was the moment I could finally say 'This is it, this is finally Blip Festival.'"

Rounding out the later portion of the evening was Graffiti Monsters, Blip's token hardcore punk band band, who also has the distinction of the being the first honest to goodness deafening act of the entire weekend up till that point. And last but not least was Radlib, from Connecticut. Saturday night is when the show stealers are brought out around the 11-midnight mark, so being the final performer, around 1-2 in the morning is normally not an enviable position.

Yet one of the main reasons why Blip is held with such regard is the quality of the curation, and Radlib's smooth moves gave everyone who decided to stick around till the very end their money's worth. Also helping were his guest stars, Beavis & Butthead! Well, cardboard cut outs of the duo at least.

Now, going by the day two micro report alone, many might assume that Omodaka and Bit Shifter had conquered night two. But for many, the true highlight was Kris Keyser's soul stirring performance. The guy could be best described as the Bruce Springsteen of chiptunes, and not because they're both from New Jersey. His rock-solid, work-man like Game Boy beats tore the roof down, and most importantly, the lit the fire under the asses of attendees in a manner that everyone else before him was not able to do.

For some it was even an emotional experience. As was the case of noted chiptunes photographer Marjorie Becker, who was moved to tears by Keyser's performance. When asked why afterwards:

"I was balling! [laughs] Why? I was very removed on Friday; I've gone through such a journey for the past almost year, putting together my book together, which just finally came out. We were also in this new big, scary space, which seemed like the real world. Also, the crowd was a little sleepy that night.

So when I saw Kris get up there… whom I've seen perform and photograph so many times… and was so honest, and raw, and beautiful… he gave EVERYTHING. It was the moment I could finally say 'This is it, this is finally Blip Festival.' It was such a relief, being able to make another emotional connection to a Blip Festival."

As for Keyser himself, when asked what it means to play at Blip, not just himself but for all chip musician:

"I think… and I don't want to put words in anyone's mouth… but I believe it's acceptance on a global stage. This is the one event that takes the entire global chip scene and condenses into one location and certain amount of time. This year, this is the 24 or 32 acts that says 'we want to share with the world.' So to make that short list is mind-blowing."

The Sounds, Sights and Music of Blip-Fest 2012

Night 3

The third and final night of any music fest is often a Herculean task, but again, Blips's organizers and performers manage to sustain the energy level with a deft selection of performers, with varying styles and attitudes, to bring things to a logical and appropriate conclusion.

Such as Burnkit2600, a trio from Connecticut that fuses contemporary chip music sensibilities and old school analog music gear with good old-fashioned circuit bending. Of all the acts, they were the ones I was the most out of the dark about. In the audience was a friend of mine, from Burnkit2600's hometown of Danbury, and was therefore very familiar with what he saw. His reaction, to seeing them on the Blip stage? "I'm just happy to finally see them amongst people who get and appreciate what they're doing."

Much like with Pulselooper from the night before, the body language of Ontario's own deadbeatblast was filled with quiet stoicism, which was betrayed by his blaring Game Boy audio. Immediately afterward was FlashHeart, a four-piece rock band who looked as if they were there more for Ed Sullivan than Blip Festival, and kinda acted like it too.

Perhaps it was the opening song, "Your Video Games Suck!" Or the one much later about women not needing to shave themselves down there (which was opened up by lead singer Natty Adams reciting a poem, spoken in a Scottish accent)? Maybe it was their parting sentiment to the audience, "Good night nerds!" Polarizing doesn't even big to sum the reaction that FlashHeart ellicted. I heard someone ask "Is that chiptunes?" Which one might argue was the very point of having them on stage in the first place. The answer, for the record, is yes. Though once again, due to the less than stellar audio set-up, it was hard to hear the PSP produced beeps and boops among the keyboard, guitars, and drums. But I liked them at least.

Another highlight was Danimal Cannon, from update New York, and who without question is one of the most criminally underrated chitpuners in the business of making 8-bit music today. As another individual who has mastered the art of mixing Game Boys and guitars, Danimal Cannon's set also helped to fully illustrated how feeble and asinine the venue's anti- crowd surfing policies truly were.

Additional highlights include the Blip debut of Monodeer, from the Netherlands, who could easily be considered the next big thing; every vet of the chip scene was beyond impressed, and every lady in house was in love. You also had the band formerly known as Starscream, Infinity Shred, Blip's token chiptune boy band, a Sunday night tradition it feels like. Though compared to any other gaggle of heartthrobs that plays music, you'll find none that has, I dunno, actual talent? Not bad for a bunch of skater punks.

Rounding out the evening and Blip 2k12 as a whole was Dr. Von Pnok, from France, and MisfitChris, from Connecticut, as the only way Blip should: a one gigantic dance party.

The Sounds, Sights and Music of Blip-Fest 2012

In The End

Was Blip Festival 2012 another success? For the most part, yes. Granted, the new venue got in the way of attendees' attempts at having a great time. A lot unfortunately. Aside from the absurdly expensive drink prices was their policy of not letting anyone exit or re-enter a premise. Which, for a festival spanning many days and performers, seemed pretty ridiculous, especially since the venue was not equipped to supply food and refreshments to a nowhere near competent degree.

But those, as they say, are growing pains. And the most important part, the music, was as strong as ever. Hopefully Blip 2k13 will be at a better venue. But will there be one another in the first place? It's a question that is asked every year. Skeptics go in thinking they've seen and heard it all, and each yeah they stand corrected. Despite the aforementioned growing pains, Blip manages to persevere and stay the course, almost without fault. How does this happen?

That question as posed to Chris Burke, who as glomag was part of Blip's earliest days. In recent years, Burke has put his Game Boys aside for 360 controllers and Dual Shock 3s (to creative game maps that act as musical instruments, with collaborator Tamara Yadao as foci + loci). But he still goes to every Blip and had this to say:

"There's always potential for something like this to lose its footing and becoming something it was never intended to be. To become too crass, too commercial. There's many pitfalls for an event like this, so it's amazing that a steady influx of new, enthusiastic people has kept it on coarse. It's almost like Blip Festival self regulates.

Not to take anything away from Josh, Jeremiah, Mike, Jenn, and all the other people who put such hard work into running Blip, but there is a certain amount that is guided by the sheer enthusiasm of the fans. There's enough of a core contingent that shares the same train of thought, who all want to have a really great time, but also show the artists respect, that we all appreciate what they do."

Blip does an amazing job of showing the world the wide range of possibilities that chiptunes encapsulates, and its job is far from over. Here's looking to Blip Festival 2013.

(All photos by Marjorie Becker, chiptography.com except last picture, by Ben Mason, Benmasonphoto.com. Top video by Chris Person.)

When I read Stephen's written preview of Hitman: Absolution, many of my fears about the game were assuaged.

It certainly sounds a lot like Blood Money, which is one of my favorite games. And now, thanks to this B-roll that was given to press at the preview, we can all see that it really seems to play like Blood Money as well. Here, VG24/7 takes a run through the game's demo level.

I'm certainly not getting the sense that the game is going to be some action-fest, or that they've dropped any of the strategyriffic open-endedness from it. Which is good news, indeed.