Category Archives: news

Level-5’s Fantasy Life surfaces after too much silence

At long last, some news about Level-5’s Fantasy Life.

Don’t worry if you forgot that a game of this name even existed, as it’s been some time. Years, in fact, when you consider this blog post of mine from August 2009, in which I am excited and jumpy and full of anticipation for what looked like a great life simulator with a retro look to it from Level-5, a company that I hold in high beams of holy light. That Mother 3-esque visual style eventually got scraped, as did the idea of putting the dang thing on the bereaved Nintendo DS, but the game has still been in the works, now brimming with polygons and a plan to hit the Nintendo 3DS. From a gameplay standpoint, everything still looks the same: create an avatar, select one of twenty jobs, and then do whatever you want.

Some new news is that Fantasy Life will mainly take place in a single city called Kulburk, which will serve as a hub. The city is divided into three sections: the main street, the craftsman’s ward, and a downtown area. The main street houses Kulburk Castle, the library, barracks, and various shops. The craftsman’s ward contains different workshops and will likely be a regular location for players with crafting jobs. The downtown area serves as an entertainment district, with a bustling marketplace and hotspot for social gatherings.

But it’s not just all about running fetch quests for neighbors and decking out your sweet abode with green-themed furniture. This YouTube video clearly reveals moments of combat in what looks like a dungeon. So yeah, that’s cool. Doesn’t seem turn-based either. Hmm…I wonder if only certain jobs get to fight though.

And so we got a bunch of Japanese text-laden screenshots this morning, as well as the promise of a release date by early next week. Here’s hoping this slides on in before holiday 2012 is dead and done as I need some kind of life sim–any life, but my own, really–for my 3DS now that I am totally finished with Professor Layton’s London Life, and it definitely doesn’t seem like Animal Crossing is coming out in the states any time soon. Sigh.

Today’s the day you can open that Bundle in a Box

A few weeks ago, I swore off indie game bundles. Not entirely, but certainly for that bubble of time, as a bunch of game-touting bundles had come out all at once, as if some madman in his madman fortresses, after drinking way too much madman juice, decided to release every rabid hound he had on the poor villagers down below and laugh wildly as he reaped the benefits. Yeah, I’m sure that doesn’t really convey what I want to convey, but basically it felt like too much in too little of a time.

That said, I knew in my heart of hearts that I’d come back, and that would basically happen with the mysteriously Bundle in a Box, a package steeped in slow-revealing secrecy, but sounding of supreme promise, as it did announce that its first package was going to be themed, and that theme, ladies and gents, was to be point-and-click adventure games. Yes, the revolution is in full kick.

Anyways, Bundle in a Box‘s first bundle includes the following: The Sea Will Claim EverythingGemini RueMetal DeadThe ShivahBen There, Dan That!, Time Gentlemen, Please! and–for the first time ever–the downloadable version of 1893: A World’s Fair Mystery text-adventure, which was previously only available as a physical product. That’s some good stuff there, and I’m particularly stoked to see two products from Wadget Eye Games, as I absolutely loved the Blackwell titles to death, pun totally intended. I’ve actually had access to a few of these above titles, but never through Steam, and if there’s something I can appreciate, it’s having all my games in one tidy list, ready for launching.

Bundle in a Box is also doing things a little different than what consumers might have already experienced through events from Humble Indie Bundle and Indie Royal. There’s a constantly decreasing minimal price and bonuses like soundtracks and “making of” ebooks are unlocked after a specific amount of bundles are sold. Money goes towards two fantastic charities: The Hellenic Centre for Mental Health and Treatment of Child and Family and The Indie Dev Grant.

So go forth, adventurers: http://bundle-in-a-box.com/

It’s the first click of many great clicks to come.

Double Fine uses Kickstarter to fund a new point-and-click adventure game

When I went to bed last night, I had no idea that Double Fine’s Tim Schafer had announced a new Kickstarter project, one asking for donations totaling $400,000 to fund and film the process of making a new “old school” graphic adventure game. When I got to work this morning and started clicking around the Interwebz while my emails downloaded I saw that this lofty goal–well, $400,000 is a lot of money in my mind–had already been met. Geez. Take that, rollercoasters that go from zero to sixty mph in three seconds. Without warning, two conflicting feelings hit me at once: rejoice and disappointment. Let me explain.

First, the rejoice. Good for them! Way to go, Double Fine! Way to go, adventure game fans everywhere! It’s always exhilarating to see a Kickstarter goal met so quickly, with passion and desire fueling every contribution. In his Kickstarter commercial, Schafer points out that if he were to go to a traditional publisher with the idea of putting out a new adventure game, he’d just get laughed at. And that’s probably true. The genre is certainly not dead, but it’s not as mainstream as first-person shooters or big budget epic RPG romps. By using Kickstarter, Double Fine can create a game for fans, funded by fans. That sounds pretty fantastic.

Second, the disappointment. I kind of feel like I went to bed and, unknowingly, in the next room over, a great ol’ happening party was happening. There was cake and spiked punch and board games and laughter and Queen’s greatest hits were playing in a constant loop and everyone was excited and so happy to be there. It was the type of party that would be talked about for days after. I missed all the action though. The party was a success, and I played no part in it. I could have and would have, but I was sleeping. I guess I’m just bummed that I didn’t get to be a part of making it happen, and am rather left to simply contribute a little more to the pile. I’m sure that sounds really stupid, but it’s how I feel.

There’s 33 days left to go for the Kickstarter, with extra funds being put towards making the game and documentary as strong as possible, as well as for porting it to other platforms, such as Mac and iOS. I might still donate for the $15 amount, likening it as a pre-order now that it’s clear that it will all come to fruition–or I might not. The game will get made, and Double Fine is tentatively shooting for an October 2012 release, wherein I could just wait and pick it up on Steam then if it looks like a grand time. Which it probably will, seeing who is behind it. I mean, I think people liked Day of the Tentacle, Full Throttle, and Grim Fandango, and I know for certain that I enjoyed Costume Quest, as well as the core game ideas behind Brutal Legend and Stacking.

A lot of Kickstarters that I’m aware of are more for indie projects, so it was a little odd to see a known company like Double Fine using it to help get a game made. But to each their own, I guess. We are living in the future, after all. 2012 and flying cars and meals in pills. That said, where are the Kickstarters for Suikoden VI? Or Primal II? Or Jak 4? Well?

Latest Nintendo 3DS firmware update adds Accomplishments, new Mii hats, and more

Last night, Xbox Live got an update, and this morning, my Nintendo 3DS got an update. Of the two, I’m loving the latter way more. Let me show you what it brings to the table.

After simultaneously recharging my dying battery and downloading the update, the first thing I noticed on my 3DS was a new app called the Nintendo Zone, which promises special content when connecting with certain free wi-fi hotspots. There’s none near Grimmauld Place, and I have no idea where any nearby would be. The 3DS Camera app now has a toggle for either taking video or stills; hopefully you can record video for a decent amount of length, and not a mere 30 seconds or something. Otherwise, that’d be a waste, but I’ll have to wait until later to give it a try. Early reports mention up to ten minutes of recording, with time-lapse being an optional setting. Cool.

Seems like the most new additions are found within the Mii Street Plaza. Fine by me! First, we have Achievements. Well, Nintendo is calling them Accomplishments, which is way better than Accolades, but whatever–they work all the same. Do this, and earn a shiny red exclamation point. The nicest thing is that upon simply loading up the Plaza, I unlocked 15+, meaning they are retroactive. I got one for having over 50 Miis in my plaza and another for having Miis from two different regions (United States and Canada, snatch). Speaking of that, there’s a geographical map to show you exactly where all your Miis come from; I’ve got a lot of East Coast staters, with some strangely from California, too. And you can now get Miis from using SpotPass. A music player lets to kick back and hear some battle tunes. There is a sequel to Find Mii, offering new hats, but only if you’ve found all the ones from the previous game, which I’ve not yet done–I’m one hat away. And new puzzles for Puzzle Swap. Oh man, looks like I’m going to be walking around with my 3DS in sleep mode a lot more than usual.

This firmware update now also allows content to be moved between 3DS systems, and the eShop has also been updated to support demos and downloads when the system is in sleep mode.

Whew.

Next on the list before 2011 runs out is us 3DS Ambassadors getting 10 free GBA games. This little handheld of mine is going to be bursting with So Much Stuff. Not a bad thing. Not at all.

One month to go until The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Today is 10/11/11, and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim comes out on 11/11/11. That’s a month away (31 days exact!), and that is absolutely crazy-talk. How did it pop up so fast? Weren’t we all just sitting mesmerized by the debut trailer and the hint of true epicness, whispering excitedly about a new engine and dragons? I also just realized that our day of reckoning is a Friday, meaning there goes an entire weekend for certain. Fine by me.

And yet with the game so close to being openly devoured by the public, it’s strange that there’s still a lot we don’t know about it. Over the last few months, there’s been very few gameplay trailers, with maybe just one big guided play session by Todd “For the Nord” Howard, and a preview article here and there. That’s it. Only as recent as this week have more tidbits slipped, thanks to leaks about the game’s map and manual.

Story elements are minimal, and we’ve learned some of the menu workings, but I’m more curious as to the open-ended aspect; can you buy homes again and spend days stocking them with cool loot or a thousand and five watermelons? Can you join all the different guilds without one getting mad at you for joining another? How does crafting work? How will companions work, and can I befriend animals? And so on and so on. Granted, we’ll all know too much soon enough. I am pretty stoked to see what Bethesda has done.

By 11/11/11, I hope to be pretty done with all the major games I currently have in my possession–Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Mafia II, and Fallout: New Vegas–as well as those select few titles I’ve yet to purchase. If not, they’ll all just eaten by a dragon. That’s the pox in the realm of Skyrim.

VVVVVV coming to the Nintendo 3DS via my favorite eShop

I already own VVVVVV, and it runs fantastically on my much-complained-about Macbook. I’ve played it a few times, and I won’t tell y’all how many times I killed our 8-it captain. A lot. A lot a lot. That’s not a slight either, as dying is important to learning. The little flippy platformer was part of Humble Indie Bundle 3, and it’s an adorably hard game, where flipping from floor to ceiling gets increasingly challenging, demanding that your timing be perfect. You play as Captain Viridian, who must not only save a dimension on the brink of collapse, but also find your ship’s missing crew members–all of whose names begin with the letter V. The game has some great chiptunes to move to and really pushes retro aesthetics and gameplay down your throat. Plus, tons of secrets and a Metroid-style map. Creator Terry Cavanagh stuffed a lot of awesome in it.

And now, thanks to developer/publisher Nicalis, Inc., fans can get their masochistic VVVVVV fix on the Nintendo 3DS. Guess the success of their bringing Cave Story to the system helped. This marks the first time a game Cavanagh’s created is making it on a console. Kudos to all.

So, what’s included in the 3DS version? Here’s a bulleted list using someone else’s words:

  • Open-world environment with six unique levels
  • Twenty trinkets to locate and collect
  • Full 3D awesomeness integrated into the retro-looking art style
  • Dual screen functionality with a real-time map!
  • Music by Magnus Pålsson
  • New featured levels
  • Future content updates

Given that I already own the game, I’d really like not to pay too much for VVVVVV on the 3DS. Maybe $4.99 or so. Please don’t price it as high as Cave Story. Please, please. If it’s more than $10.00, I will invert myself into a ceiling of spikes. THAT IS A PROMISE, ESHOP. It’s just that I don’t like playing a lot of games on my Macbook; the keyboard and trackpad are on the verge of failing, and I can’t have anything else open if I want stuff to run smoothly. Can’t wait to move on from Macaroni. VVVVVV, with its minimap and simple look and controls, seems rather fitting on a handheld device, and I suspect I’d give it much more time there than cramped over my work desk.

Anyways, VVVVVV for the 3DS is slated to come out before 2011 ends, which is awesome considering there’s only like three months left. Adding it to the DO WANT list. So much to play!

Nintendo is stealing my ideas

Now, normally, I like to begin each blog post with some kind of image, whether it’s from the game I’m going to be talking about today or somehow related to the topic at hand, and then I write on top of it. Just a couple of words. I usually try to be witty and not repeat whatever hook I use in the blog post’s title. I can’t recall exactly why I decided this was going to be the format of Grinding Down, but it’s worked out, helped make it a little different than other bloggy blogs out there (I hope!), and gives me a chance to play around in Photoshop every day. Also, I love LOLcats. The font I use is called Showcard Gothic, and it’s a nice, thick font which works well for standing out strong on top of videogame screenshots.

I don’t own this process. It is not trademarked by me, and it’s not against the law if anything wants to start doing exactly the same thing I do, using the same style of pictures and fonts and words. I get that. Go, America and Freedom Fries and all that jazz. Still, the scenario that follows has me a bit befuddled…

So, this weekend, I logged onto the Nintendo eShop to add some more funds to my account and see if there was anything worth getting. I downloaded Inchworm Animation, but haven’t gotten much time to fool around with it; seems promising though, with plenty of options for drawing and animating silly doodles. I suspect if I get amazing at the app I’ll have to invest in an SD card reader so I can get all my wonderful creations onto the Interwebz. Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins looks like fun, but I can’t remember if I played it back as a wee lad or not–still, I’m kind of tired of getting just the newest (and I use that term loosely) Mario or Zelda title ready for download. There’s so much more available. Gonna keep looking, and as I was perusing the eShop’s storefront, I came across a menu that grouped a bunch of games together under the title of “For Your Bus Ride Home,” with Earthworm Jim getting the limelight. See here:

Sorry about the shoddy photo work, but notice anything odd about that image up there? It certainly looks like something I’d have created for Grinding Down‘s purposes, that’s for sure. Checking my archive, I can confirm I haven’t made an image like this. But if I had, I’d have done just as so. Nice, clean image of Earthworm Jim shooting up some crows, and then a perfectly placed block of text, telling you what this is all gonna be about.

Hey, Nintendo. STOP STEALING MY IDEAS.

Or, at the very least, hire me. I could write words on top of images all day long, and just think of how special your storefront would be under my beck and call. Any Nintendo reps reading this and nodding their heads in agreement can contact me by email via pdabbamondi[at]gmail[dot]com. My rates are cheap, my work is strong, and clearly, we are of the same mindframe. It’s go time!