Sequels: The Good, the Bad, and the Funny

Some sequels are better than others

  

This week deals extensively with sequels to games and their makers. The developers of perhaps the finest sequel ever have gone out of business; an �unexpected� sequel will be coming in time for Christmas from another; not really a sequel, but one of the best selling games last year finally gets an expansion pack; and a pleasant surprise from the makers of the finest (or at least funniest) adventure series ever. And speaking of sequels, next article will showcase the recent Electronic Entertainment Expo in LA where sequel galore could be found.

 
 

Looking Glass Studios is closing up shop, and quitting the development game. The makers of the highly acclaimed, loved by reviewers, ignored by consumers �System Shock 2,� and the �Thief� series of games, have just run out of money. The remaining projects at Looking Glass, including �Thief II Gold� and �Thief 3,� have all been cancelled. Designer Rich Carlson commented on the affect this will have on the gaming business, �I don’t think the industry will ever be quite the same.” Looking Glass Studios will be sorely missed for their substance over style designs and innovation.

 
 

On a related note, something that should have gone under a while ago, but hasn�t, there will be a new �Tomb Raider� game by Christmas time. Supposedly, in the newest episode, the game play will be completely different. Not much is known about the game yet, but to be worth anything the whole game should be …

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Interview: Kohan: Immortal Sovereigns

Steve Hemmesch, the Lead Game Designer for Kohan: Immortal Sovereigns, took a minute out of his busy schedule at TimeGate Studios to answer a few questions about the new Real Time Stragetgy game that everyone is talking about (Review coming soon!)

 

 
 

How was your typical day spent during the design of the game?

My name is Steve Hemmesch, and I was the Lead Game Designer for Kohan: Immortal Sovereigns. I was responsible for working with the Executive Producer (Alan Chaveleh), who was also the man who defined the game concept at the beginning. It was my job to take his concepts and story ideas and flesh them out, turning them into working gameplay. I was also responsible for creating most of the content of the game: units, spells, heroes, tutorials, and the campaign. My typical day differed depending on what stage we were at in development cycle. During the height of development, I would spend the morning responding to new bugs and content issues sent to me by other team members. Then I would continue work on the campaign map I was currently focused on, defining its look, adding triggers, and writing dialogue. Then I would round out the day with balance testing of recent unit and feature additions, making tweaks and corrections when necessary.

What did you try and accomplish with Kohan?

Our primary goal in Kohan was to blend the truly strategic gameplay found in most turn-based computer and strategy board games with the exciting, quicker paced gameplay …

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Five Dreamcast Games You Absolutely Must Buy in 2000

The new year is going to be a good one for Dreamcast owners. Although most of 1999’s releases haven’t been very inspiring or long-lasting, 2000 promises to be completely different, with a large number of impressive looking titles scheduled to be released. We’ve decided to pick the five titles we personally are looking forward to, and give brief previews of why they should be in any Dreamcast owner’s library.

 

 
 

Since the Dreamcast’s graphics capabilities pretty much guarantee that all games will look amazing, we decided to base our decisions upon gameplay, story and pedigree information collected across the ‘net, and upon the likelihood of the game actually shipping before Jan 1, 2001.

1. Ecco the Dolphin: Defender of the Future

Appaloosa’s vision of the future is one in which humans and dolphins rule the Earth together, protecting the inhabitants of land and sea alike from a group of evil tyrants. In a desperate, last ditch attempt at victory, these tyrants build a ship and send it back through time in order to prevent the historic alliance of man and dolphin from taking place. Fortunately for us, however, Ecco is caught up in the backwash of this ship, and is also transported into the past, where he is the only being capable of saving the future.

Any serious Genesis fan will tell you that the original Ecco the Dolphin was one of the most unique titles to grace the system, and Defender of the Future looks to follow in that tradition, …

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Preview: The Wrath (Xbox)

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The Skinny

The Wrath is a new game developed by the Collective. It is a multi-player action game with strategic elements, which plays similarly to the classic game Archon. The game world is composed of a randomly generated map, over which players move their army. When two creatures from opposing sides meet, the game segues into an arena, where they battle it out, one-on-one. The eventual goal of the game is to eliminate all opposition.

The Sides

There are four dominant forces featured in The Wrath. They are Light Order, Light Chaos, Dark Order, and Dark Chaos. There aren�t any details available yet on what each side�s philosophy and background is, but if you�re familiar with the Dungeon and Dragons character alignment system, then you should be able to make a good guess.

The Creatures

The creatures you control are drawn from various myths from around the world. For the Light Order, we have the giant turtle and the unicorn. Light Chaos features the griffin, fire giant, and centaur. On the Dark Order side, we meet the giant spider and the iron golem. Finally, batting up for Dark Chaos are the harpy, hydra, and arch-demon.

This small list by no means represents all the characters that will be available when the game is complete, but it does give a good idea of where the designers are headed. You can expect other popular mythological creatures to make an appearance.

The Story

No details yet are available about the backstory to …

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The Thrice Tenth Kingdom

First off, apologies for this being late. Without getting too personal, my time was eaten up by a move, an illness, and a death in the family. Things ought to be smoother from here on out.

 

 
 

And now: the basic crunchies of the Thrice-Tenth Kingdom. Sure, you don’t necessarily know the setting well enough to play yet — but if you can’t wait till the next column for further elaboration, you can fill in most of the blanks by checking out a book on Russian myth.

Characters

I highly recommend eliminating all PC races other than human; the TTK setting simply doesn’t harmonize well with a Forgotten Realms-like plethora of races. However, if you or your players just hates the idea of restricting character creation to that extent, use this compromise: humans, dwarves, and elves, as follows.

Humans are precisely as they appear in the Player’s Handbook.

Dwarves dwell in caverns and grottos in, around, and below the hills which surround the forests. They have the same racial abilities as the standard dwarves in the Player’s Handbook, except: ignore the language notes, and use +1 Strength, +1 Constitution, -2 Charisma for ability modifiers. Dwarves tend towards crankiness, and are loners by nature; their settlements are loose groupings at best, and every dwarf does his best to remain self-sufficient. Typically, a male dwarf does not live with his mate, who raises his children; indeed, marriage, while it exists, is a rare institution among dwarfkind. Some of the most legendary dwarven heroes …

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Goodbye Dreamcast

January 31, 2001 will forever be a black day in the minds and hearts of Sega faithful. This morning, Sega has officially announced that it will cease production of Dreamcast. I must admit that I’m not the biggest Sega fan, and saw Sega’s demise as an inevitability, but I nevertheless felt a twinge of sadness for the company.

This is concrete proof of something that the entire video game industry has suspected for some time now: the industry can only support two competing systems at any one time. With Dreamcast gone, and Nintendo’s Gamecube destined to become nothing more than a child’s toy – if even that – the two winners are going to be Playstation 2 and XBox.

Those of you that have read the official announcement are probably thinking, “but the technology has been licensed to set-top box manufacturers, and Sega is still going to support the platform with games.” This is true, but think about this: how many set-top boxes have been truly successful in the marketplace? And as for games, third party developers have already begun leaving the system in droves, and I give Sega itself one year, tops, before they finally call it quits on the hardware.

But fear not, Sega Faithful, this isn’t the end of your beloved company. Sega has entered into negotiations to develop its properties on Playstation 2 and XBox, which means that your favorite brands, like Sonic and Ecco will still be around for many years to come, just …

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Top Ten College Humor Video Game Parodies

College Humor produces some of the funniest video game themed parodies on the web. They often pick at the ridiculous things video game fans just suspend disbelief on or attack common video game frustrations. The following are my top ten College Humor video game parodies.

10) The Video Game Bosses’ Lament

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A solid video that really illustrates how College Humor (CH) mocks video game cliches.

9) Sonic and Mario’s Awkward Reunion

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Ahh, Sonic how far you’ve fallen. CH takes a jab at Sonic’s downfall in the video game world.

8) Duck Hunt Behind-the-Scenes

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A hilarious look at what really goes on behind the grass in Duck Hunt.

7) Bowser’s Minions

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Bowser’s Minions have finally had enough and they’re fighting back!

6) The Tetris God

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CH answers the question of why you never get a line block when you really need it.

5) The Legend of Link’s Distractions

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CH does a great job attacking something obvious about Zelda games (and many adventure games and RPGs). If the heroes are supposed to save the world, why are they always doing random side quests?

4) Luigi Finally Snaps

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Luigi can’t handle playing second fiddle to Mario and finally snaps!

3) Mario and Princess Sex Tape

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What makes this stand out compared to the videos above is that CH shows the dirty side of Mario and Princess Peach’s relationship.

2) RPG Heroes Are Jerks

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CH picks on a classic RPG theme. Why are heroes always …

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Anticipating 2020 Sports and Family Video Games

With the unpredictable Florida weather, my wife, son, and I play many video games inside, especially sports and family-oriented video games. We await new games as their release dates approach, and we often pre-order those we want most. We are currently anticipating one game from each of our two favorite categories: NBA 2K13 and Super Mario Brothers 2.

NBA 2K13 – October 2

Past editions

My son and I started playing the popular NBA 2K series with the 2011 edition. This was the first one that we played that allowed online play through WiFi. We liked this game enough to continue in the series when the 2020 edition came out.

With NBA 2K12, we have made our own super players and teams, which make us want to play together more often. The announcing sounds just like an NBA broadcast; to me, announcing makes a very good game even better. NBA 2K12 also made my son a little more interested in watching the NBA this coming season so he can see his favorite players from the video game in real action.

New edition

NBA 2K13 promises even better graphics and more realistic basketball action. It will let players match up today’s stars with past NBA legends such as Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls versus the 2020 NBA Champion Miami Heat. We also look forward to playing the All-Star events, including the slam dunk competition.

Super Mario Brothers 2 – August 19

Mario became Nintendo’s signature character in the 1980s, and we have …

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DWEEP

Dweep. No it’s not a typo. It’s the creation of Dexterity Software. So what exactly is Dweep? Well, Dweep is the shaggy purple hero of his own game. Dweep is a game for puzzle fans only so Tetris and chess fans should be the first in line for this little gem.

 
 

 
 

Dweep is all alone in a hostile world and it’s his job, with your help, to rescue the baby Dweeps. You must guide Dweep through ingeniously designed levels that contain a vast array of traps that are present to prevent Dweep from rescuing his youngin’.

Logic is your ally as you try to maneuver Dweep past the deadly obstacles to his prize. The level design can be frustrating – almost to the point of yelling at Dweep for making a misstep. OK so I’m guilty of yelling at my monitor, it’s not unusual if you live with me. Some of the challenges you’ll face include laser beams, bombs, ice, hot plates –oh there are just too many to list. There are also various items that you can use to your advantage and some can be used in a couple of ways, requiring you to pick the correct usage for the situation.

In order to pass by laser beams you must use a mirror to change the direction of the beam. The only problem is you have a choice of mirrors pointing in opposite directions, so it’s easy to pick the wrong mirror. You can also use a wrench to …

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First Impressions: Black & White

Black & White has been in development for three years. The hype built up over that time had many, including myself, fearing the game wouldn’t be able to live up to it. Well, I’m happy to report that not only does Black & White meet all expectations, it actually exceeds them.

 
 

 
 

The premise of the game is simple: you’re a god in a land that has no concept of good and evil. The game takes place in four lands, each of which represents one chapter in the story. You have to complete Land 1 before moving on to Land 2 and so forth.

The first land is a tutorial, and it’s important to really pay attention. While Black & White is simple to get into, it’s tough to get the hang of it. Dealing with the camera is especially tough at first, so that’s the first thing you learn. After that, you’re taught the basics of interacting with the world and people and get your first quest, or Challenge.

Completing this Challenge requires the completion of some mini-Challenges, and eventually you obtain your Creature, who is essentially your avatar in the world. The creature is important, and proper care of it is required. The rest of Land 1 teaches you basic Creature care, and you can spend that time teaching it all sorts of tricks and miracles.

Miracles are important to providing your people with necessities, and also increases their belief in you. Belief is important, because if nobody believes …

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