Monday, June 9, 2008

XBLAH no more! There is only GamerBytes!

Yes, it's true - XBLAH is moving on - but to greener pastures!

Thanks to the fellows over at Think Services, XBLAH is expanding into - a brand new site dedicated to not only the Xbox Live Arcade, but also games for the Playstation Network and Wii Ware!

Don't worry, I won't be posting about the Xbox Live Arcade any less, hopefully I'll be posting more! This opportunity will let me get more exposure to allow more interviews and previews to occur.

So find your way to GamerBytes over at, where I'll be posting from now on. Please update your links and your RSS feeds so you'll continue to get coverage for Downloadable Games!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Tips & Tricks for Aces of the Galaxy!

Yup, that pretty much sums it up.

Sierra released a whole bunch of videos for Aces of the Galaxy, which you can check out here, here and here. Showing off the worlds including "flying towards the sun" world, and "caverns of crystals and ice" world.

Source: Sierra.

XBLA Delisting - Developer Response Part 3 - Housemarque

In the second part of Developers Response to the recent changes to the Xbox Live Arcade policies, I spoke with Ilari Kuittinen - CEO of Housemarque, creators of the upcoming title Golf: Tee it up as well as Super Stardush HD on the Playstation Network.

I asked for Ilari's opinion on the changes to the policies, if he was for or against them, and what does he believe would improve the current Xbox Live Marketplace.
Ilari Kuittinen - CEO of Housemarque: "It is hard to really fully comment on the issue of removing games from the XBLA service as we don't know how many games are really fulfilling the criteria. Are there really many games that are under the threat of being delisted from the service?

"If you think of a game that is selling about 200 copies per week at $10 each, it can still create income of up to $6,000 USD per month. It may seem low, but for a small, independent developer, this is a very welcomed additional income to keep the company floating. As the digital distribution is really allowing to keep an inventory without a significant cost to the service provider, I really think that these games should be still available unless the sales have been close to zero many months.

"Rather than removing the games, the marketplace interface should be improved to include innovations from other web stores. There are many ways to improve the service. There should be an equivalent of a bargain bin in the marketplace, recommendations of other similar products available on XBLA, tell people that what other people buying a particular game have also bought or a possibility to do customer's reviews & ratings.

" has literally hundreds of thousands of different items available and they are happy to add more items to their lists every day rather than delisting items from their database."
Thanks again to Ilari for taking the time and effort to respond to my query.

First video of Plunder over at Gametrailers!

The very first released video of Plunder has finally popped up thanks to Game trailers!

Though it may not exactly appear to be 'exciting', there seems to be quite a bit of strategy involved, making sure other players aren't stealing your captured towns, and the Hex system seems to work very well.

Source: Gametrailers - Captivate 08: Ship Battling Gameplay HD

EGM chats with SFIITHDR Developers

Straight out of EGM, 1up have posted an interesting interview with Long Vo - Sprite Designer and Lead Artist of Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix - about the difficulties of bringing new graphics to such a classic game. Here is a quick excerpt:
EGM: Which character presented the biggest challenge when it came time to redraw their sprites? Were you worried about pissing off all of the Chun-Li fans? They're notoriously hard to please....

LV: Surprisingly enough, Chun-Li turns out not to be as difficult as some of the other characters. Once we had decided to base the look off of [Capcom artist] Edayan's Super Street Fighter 2: Turbo Revival designs, Chun-Li's design pretty much stayed really true to the original sprites. The more difficult characters to tackle were the ones who underwent proportional changes like Sagat, T. Hawk, Zangief, and Dhalsim.
Read the entire interview below.

Source: - Previews: SF II HD Remix

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

What needs to be on the XBLA? #7 - Jazz Jackrabbit

Sonic the Hedgehog was a big star back in the early 90's. Not so much now, but he was a huge inspiration for a a lot of other console platformers

But he also inspired a PC game - going by the name Jazz Jackrabbit. The game was created by Epic Megagames, being produced by a young Mark Rein, and young Cliff Bleszinski was also a designer for the game. It was also programmed by Arjan Brussee, who currently is a Director over at Guerrilla Games and head of the Killzone franchise. Jazz brought a lot of talented people to the table, who are still going strong in this industry.

Jazz Jackrabbit was the PC equivalent of Sonic. Jazz, a green rabbit from the planet Carrotus and looks like he's stolen the 'digs off Rambo, must rescue Princess Eva Earlong from the clutches of Devan Shell and his army of Turtles. A bizarre space version of Tortoise and the Hare, if you will.

Despite the many inspirations of Sonic, Jazz is still an absolute fantastic game and stands on its own, unlike other games like Radical Rex or Awesome Possum. It took full advantage of MS DOS for the time, besting previous year releases like Duke Nukem II and Raptor: Call of Shadows.

In the game Jazz would run around a level, jumping on Springs, collect all kinds of pickups, and getting to the end. How it differed from other platformers is that Jazz has guns - Jazz couldn't simply jump on any enemy (remarked on in the comic book included with the full game), shooting was his only option. He's got 5 weapons, ranging from your usual Blaster to Flame Thrower, but you've got to collect more ammunition to use them.

Jazz was made with nine full episodes - each containing 3 different levels with two acts each and one boss per episode. The game originally used the classic Shareware model used at the time - where episode 1 was free and players could then buy 1-3, 4-6 or the whole lot. The Jazz CD release later on included an additional 3 episodes. Each level uses a different theme, such as classic Forest levels, a Factory filled with lightning monsters, underground caverns, levels filled with... fans. All kinds of wacky ideas.

Each level had a Special Stage - gotten to by collecting a Red Gem in the second act. These stages are simple 3D stages where you have to run Jazz around collecting a specific amount of Gems, which will gain you an extra life. No "Get All Chaos Emeralds" but I feel bested Sonic CD's similar "destroy the UFO" Special Stages.

The music in Jazz was phenomenal - one of the best uses of Sound Blaster ever. It's filled with some lovely synth tones that filled the Epic library - from One Must Fall to Epic Pinball to Tyrian - and gave each level that distinctive sound. Jaz would yell out the occasional "Yum!" or

Jazz can be done on XBLA, but it'll take some effort. Cliff has mentioned previously that "If anybody knows a person out there that can do it for us, more power to them", but Mark Rein has mentioned that "It wouldn’t be possible to bring Jazz, the old original Jazz code which was a lot of assembly code, to Xbox Live Arcade"

That's an old quote though - it certainly is possible, but like everything it would require money. There are projects such as Open Jazz which uses the Jazz files in order to work on other platforms - much like JDuke, WinQuake, ScummVM and DosBOX - wrappers that play the game. The've had quite a lot of progress, to the point where it's been ported to other systems like the PSP, Dreamcast, Linux, practically anything useful. It's possible, but effort is required.

Duke Nukem 3D is being ported to the Xbox Live Arcade, and DOOM has been ported to every other console ever - Jazz is certainly a possibility, with all episodes. Heck, the CD version runs at roughly 50 megabytes total.

Jazz Jackrabbit 2 could also be a possibility, and a lot of people love that game, but I'm not nearly as big a fan compared to some other people. That was a Windows specific game, and had a whole lot of options like Multiplayer which might be more suited to XBLA - but I think the first game would be a whole lot better.

What could be even better? A full blown remake, Bionic Commando Rearmed style. It'd look absolutely gorgeous considering the source material, and the music could be dreamy.

So who could do such a port? Well it so happens that Epic recently bought Chair Entertainment - creators of Undertow and the upcoming Empire: Alpha Complex for the Live Arcade. Both games are 2D using 3D and I think they'd completely up to task for a Jazz remake. If not they certainly have the experience of Microsofts platforms to do a straight up port with tweaks. I'd love either to be honest!

XBLA Activity for week of 5/12, 5/19 & 5/26

XBLA Activity for week of 5/12

Top Arcade Titles (Full Versions)

1 Assault Heroes 2
3 Brain Challenge
5 N+
6 Ikaruga
7 Wits & Wagers
8 Worms
9 Bomberman LIVE
10 Assault Heroes

XBLA Activity for week of 5/19

Top Arcade Titles (Full Versions)

1 Penny Arcade Episode 1
2 Assault Heroes 2
4 Brain Challenge
6 N+
7 Worms
8 Ikaruga
9 Bomberman LIVE
10 Sonic The Hedgehog 2

XBLA Activity for week of 5/26

Top Arcade Titles (Full Versions)
1 Penny Arcade Episode 1
2 Buku Sudoku
3 Warlords
6 Assault Heroes 2
7 N+
8 Brain Challenge
9 Worms
10 Ikaruga

It appears that Penny Arcade Episode 1 is still selling incredibly well - beating both releases from last week. Looks like that high price point hasn't made much of a dent!

Source: Major Nelson