Archive for June, 2011

news: U Have Got To Be Kidding

This week we talk about the Wii U, Popcap being purchased and other random video game stuff. Enjoy!

PS: I forgot to mention the last two songs in our playlist. They are both from We Are Error and are available for purchase on iTunes. Enjoy.

As always the show and anything used in the production of the show are used in strictly a parody, educational or critical fashion. Please don’t sue us. We have no money! Slim PS3 is updated several times per day with the very latest Slim PS3 news and games reviews.

Posted on June 30th, 2011 by  |  No Comments »

Sony was hacked for ‘trying to protect its property’, CEO Stringer complains

Sony boss Sir Howard Stringer has said his company was targeted by hackers because it tried to protect its intellectual property (IP), Reuters reports.

Stringer was asked to step down by a shareholder in the wake of the hacking crisis that saw Sony lose the personal details of over 100 million users of its PSN and Qriocity services, but the Welsh-born CEO ignored the call.

When asked about the background to the massive data theft, he said:, “We believe that we first became the subject of attack because we tried to protect our IP, our content, in this case videogames.”

Sony lost kudos with the gaming community when it sued 21-year-old hacker George Hotz — aka geohot — who successfully hacked the PlayStation 3, allowing anyone to play homebrew games on the console, and generally mess about with its innards in a way that Sony found unpalatable.

Stringer may be right in suggesting the hacking community took exception to one of of its own being threatened with the full weight of the megacorp’s mighty legal arm. He also mentioned that companies other than Sony were the victims of digital japery, saying, “I think you see that cyber terrorism is now a global force, affecting many more companies than just Sony.

“If hackers can hack Citibank, the FBI and the CIA, and yesterday the video game company Electronic Arts, then it’s a negative situation that governments may have to resolve.”

Stringer was asked to step down as CEO so that Sony could make a fresh start, but didn’t respond directly to the request, so it doesn’t look like he plans on leaving any time soon.

What do you think? Did Sony deserve to be punished for picking on the little guy? Should hackers such as LulzSec, who purported to highlight vulnerabilities, be tarred with the same brush as the criminal operation that took Sony customers’ credit card details? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section, or on our Facebook page. is updated frequently per day with all latest Free Slim PS3 news and reviews.

Posted on June 29th, 2011 by  |  No Comments »

Slim PS3 news: King Of Fighter 13 – Scan Of Billy From Famitsu

Check out the first look of Billy from latest issue of Famitsu. is updated regularly each day with the very latest Free Slim PS3 news and reviews.

Posted on June 29th, 2011 by  |  No Comments »

Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D – review

3DS; £39.99; cert 12+; Nintendo

Ocarina of Time is a game about curiosity and the joy of discovery. It’s not simply a role-playing game that includes a bit of exploration, it is a game that asks you to remember – as Miyamoto famously does – what it was like when you were a kid and your neighbourhood was a place of wonder and mystery, and there was something interesting around every corner. The land of Hyrule can still take you back there if you let it.

But you could, of course say, well, this is Ocarina of Time – again. Another nostalgic re-release for an industry suffocating under the weight of technical demands and budgetary heft. But it is also the perfect reminder, in an era of relentlessly governed, ruthlessly prescriptive corridor shooters that there is something profoundly right about giving players a world to explore, a few hints and tips on its rules and the freedom to go out there and get hopelessly lost.

The story, of course, is still the guiding line – with young hero Link charged by Princess Zelda to see off the threat of the evil Ganondorf. But there are multiple side-quests, some that you just discover, others handed to you by the cast of idiosyncratic characters (I think these challenges represent a child’s view of adult-imposed chores – at once filled with import but also mystifying and irrelevant). Everything has to be discovered, everything spins out from the hub world that is Hyrule field, a vast meadow that represents the game’s and the player’s imagination.

And the sense of exploration is layered in on itself. It matters what time you get somewhere (thanks to a simple but vital day and night system), and there are the masks that can be loaned from a shop in the market and worn to elicit new responses from characters. How these systems sit on top of each other without becoming unfathomably complex and repetitive only Nintendo knows.

The controls, once so carefully mapped to the N64’s unique controller, have been expertly converted to the handheld console. Players are still able to assign items and weapons to any button they like, but it’s also possible to access your entire inventory – as well as the camera controls – from the touchscreen, so there are multiple set-ups available. Aiming the bow or catapult is achieved with the left trigger, though you can also opt to use the motion controls, moving the 3DS itself to aim, which is remarkably intuitive.

In the midst of combat, I sometimes found it difficult using the small 3DS analogue controller to leap and strafe, while aiming and intermittently protecting myself with the shield (using the right trigger) – everything’s so bunched up on the device, as opposed to the comparatively enormous N64 pad. But, of course, another beauty of Zelda is its generosity; for the first few hours enemies are pretty soft and there are always plentiful heart symbols to replenish your health. This is not Demon’s Souls.

Visually, Nintendo has pulled off a clever trick here – the game resembles your memory of Zelda on the N64, but it has been enhanced to match modern standards of clarity and resolution. It retains the cartoonish impressionism and the slightly drained patina, but the textures are more complex and many subtle effects have been tweaked. It does not look as good as, say, Kid Icarus promises too, but that is part of its charm: playing Ocarina of Time feels like nostalgic reverie, and the iconic visuals play into that.

The 3D capabilities of the device don’t add much of practical use to the game, though they do help to enrich the sense of immersion in certain locations. Hyrule field, for example, becomes a much more impressive expanse, while set-piece locations like the Spirit Temple are lent an architectural grandeur that the small screen would normal detract from. The animated sections, though, benefit most obviously – the lovely legend sequence, which shows the three goddesses leaving the Triforce behind, is a sumptuous, almost psychedelic, firework display of falling comets and expanding star fields that comes alive again in three dimensions.

The thing is, and this is way off-message as far as Nintendo is concerned, it doesn’t matter. Zelda is Zelda. The important element, alongside the textural updates, is the transportation to a handheld console. The pleasure is the same as the original handheld Zelda: Link’s Awakening way back on the Game Boy. It means the vast game can go everywhere with you; it means you can curl up with it in some shabby old armchair, preferably in front of an open fire.

There’s something to be said about experiencing a game on its original platform, with its original interface – but Ocarina of Time on the 3DS is exactly the right way to update a treasured game, and it makes one of the fundamental achievements of this industry available to millions of people who never saw the original and aren’t prepared to hit eBay for an N64.

Because be in no doubt, Ocarina of Time is one of those rare works of art that transcends taste and simply is great. It should be a set text on every game design course on the planet. It should be shown to every studio that thinks the term “cinematic” is somehow exactly synonymous with “linear” – indeed, it should be shown to every studio that thinks “cinematic” is the loftiest aim of interactive entertainment.

It isn’t. The aim is to construct a world – however mannered, however repetitive and surreal – and make it worth exploring. All games should be about curiosity and surprise; it’s not just violence and lulz that make Rockstar’s titles so successful. The likes of Red Dead and GTA (alongside the works of Valve, I think) are the true western heirs to the Zelda hegemony. I wonder how Skyward Sword will fair in this context? I wonder how anything will ever better Ocarina of Time in its small but vital corner of this bloated industry.

Rating: 5/5





Keith Stuart © Guardian News & Media Limited 2011 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

Slim PS3 is updated regularly each day with the latest video game news and reviews.

Posted on June 28th, 2011 by  |  No Comments »

E3 2011: Once Upon a Monster interview – part one

We chat to Nathan Martz of Double Fine Productions about the challenges and rewards of making a game filled with Sesame Street characters – and ideologies

Holding its own on the E3 2011 show floor was Once Upon A Monster, the latest highly stylised comedy romp from Tim Schafer and Double Fine Productions. But this family-friendly title is not the sort of thing that usually gets hardened games writers queuing up for a turn. It’s based around Sesame Street for a start.

Coming out on Xbox 360 later this year, Once Upon a Monster is set in a lively storybook world where six sad monsters need help with different emotional scenarios. Featuring full support for Kinect, the player must dance, gesture, run and jump through a range of challenges, each involving members of the Sesame Street cast.

But what led Double Fine to make such a kid-friendly game? What attracted the arch surrealists behind Costume Quest and Stacking to Jim Henson’s loveable creatures? A little while ago we had a long chat with producer Nathan Martz, discussing everything from the genesis of the title, to the challenges of writing games that teach without patronising or boring players. It’s a fascinating insight into the working processes at Double Fine, and the demands of bringing Sesame Street to interactive life… Why did you set out to create a Sesame Street game?Most of the core design work was actually done before we partnered with the Sesame Workshop. The original idea is almost four years old, but Jim Henson was a huge influence. He was an amazingly creative, expressive guy – The Muppets, Sesame Street, Star Wars – he left a mark on our childhoods. And for me as a craftsmen, I loved his ability to create memorable characters who were at once new and very familiar. That and Where The Wild Things Are, a little bit of Calvin and Hobbes … all this is mixed in there, along with Scott Campbell’s own personal art style. He’s a master at creating upbeat, fun characters.

So what was the genesis of the game, if it didn’t start out as a Sesame Street title?The original name of the game was Happy Song. We were just talking about how great it would be to make an uplifting game. I was dating this girl at the time and she asked, ‘don’t you have a happy song, a song that, when it comes on in the car radio, you just feel great?’ At first I was, like, nah I don’t have a happy song, but I do of course. Everyone has a happy song. So I thought about a game where some cute monsters help you make your own happy song. It was sort of like a Fisher Price version of the music program Acid. We wanted it to be like LittleBigPlanet – accessible creativity.What happened to that?We went back to Brutal Legend, and we had two years left on the game. After that, Kinect was announced and Tim and I were already excited about taking Happy Song and moving it forward. We just thought, whoah, Kinect – this is a brand new interface, it’s family friendly, we’re family friendly. And we thought, we’ve GOT to do more than music. It should also be about dance and decoration, and if it’s a family game, it’s got to deal with a whole range of activities not just raw physical stuff. And that’s where the storybook idea came in – as we introduced a wider range of activities we needed a story to unify them, and a world to set that story in. The last piece was Sesame Street. We’d often been asked how big an influence Jim Henson was on us, and if we had the Sesame Street license what would you do with it – then we found it was actually an option. We’ve never done a licensed game before and we may never do one again, but for us, this is an IP that we’re honoured to work with. We’re so flattered.

So you then worked very closely with Sesame Workshop, who own the puppets now. How restrictive have they been?Usually, a game like this would be very traditional, it would take place on Sesame Street with numbers and letters. But because we actually brought a whole original storybook concept, we started an IP partnership. We have total creative control, as long as we match their curriculum goals, their sensibilities, and as long as whatever lines we write for their characters are appropriate. It’s a partnership with their writers as well. We’ll send emails back and forth to make sure the educational curriculum, the jokes, and the gameplay all match.

And do you also take in ideas from other teams within Double Fine? It’s a hugely collaborative environment – and honestly, a lot of that comes through our hiring practices. When we interview programmers, we don’t ask, ‘do you know C++? Can you write assembly?’ We talk about game design. We ask, ‘why are you in the industry? What gets you excited?’ So we have a culture, a community of developers who are passionate about the same things, who have compatible sensibilities – and that makes it easier to share ideas. If you look at a game like Costume Quest – it’s a very different aesthetic, they’re different worlds, but the same DNA flows through. That’s one of the great advantages of being one studio working on multiple games – we get a lot of ideas out there, we sit just feet from the other teams, there is constant cross-pollination.

And how did you get to grips with the Sesame Street characters themselves?We visited the Henson Creature Shop in New York where they’ve built very Muppet since 1969. I’ve seen one of two Cookie Monsters, the original Mr. Snuffleupagus. We spoke to their art director about the fur, the armatures, about the differences between Cookie’s arms and Elmo’s arms… We have a dynamic procedural fur system for every character in the game – there’s even a below the fur Muppet tissue simulator that controls how the joints wobble around, so it feels … Muppety.

You mentioned that you’ve got to reflect the ‘curriculum goals’ of Sesame Street. How do you do that without this becoming a piece of ‘edutainment’? A lot of people when they think about Sesame Street, they think of numeracy and literacy, the bread and butter of the series. But actually it has a bunch of other areas to its curriculum. The biggest one for us is the Whole Child concept – it’s about social and emotional development, educating kids, not just as brains, but as people, focusing on what healthy relationships look like, how you identify and express emotions, how you communicate and empathise with other people. The other part of Whole Child is called ‘healthy habits for life’, which is all about physical lifestyles – getting outside, exercising, good nutrition, proper diet… That’s where Once Upon A Monster interfaces with their education department. All of our chapters are really about helping monsters to solve problems which have an emotional component to them – and as you’re helping them, of course, it’s all Kinect, so you’re expressing those emotions by being active and physical.So partly the game is about relationships?If you want to put the game in a nutshell, it’s about empathy. A huge part of what a kid learns when they’re growing up is social and emotional development. As adults, we take it for granted that other people have emotions that are different from ours, and we can identify what they are, but those are skills that children have to learn. Children don’t even understand that other people have minds of their own until the age of three. As an adult, it couldn’t be more obvious that emotions are things I can help people with, but this is a huge part of a child’s development – especially the idea of empathy, of recognising the motions of others. This is really woven into our storytelling. We try to do it in a way that we’re not hitting you over the head with it – we don’t say ‘here are five monsters, what emotions are they expressing?’ But rather, as you play every story, you can’t help but learn those lessons.

Although this is sort of a children’s title, were you able to employ traditional game design techniques? Did it feel the same as making, say, Brutal Legend?One of the ways we differ from a traditional game is that we’re not so built around skill based-progression. Usually, the meat and potatoes of the experience is – you fail until you are good enough to succeed. Some games level that a little with dynamic difficulty, but basically, the entire structure is, ‘here’s a skill, practice it and we’ll only let you progress once you’ve demonstrated a certain level of mastery’.

For us, that’s actually pretty problematic for a couple of reasons. One, kids develop at different ages and at different rates – and we’re looking at pretty young children. In fact, we’ve focused tested with kids younger than four. We don’t want to make an experience in which you’re punished because you can’t jump above a certain height or your gross motor skills aren’t developed enough – that would be a pretty harsh thing to do and it would run counter to the spirit of our game. Also, we’re about co-play, we’re about kids and parents playing together, so if the parent is doing well, but the child is struggling, we don’t want parents to feel frustrated at their kids, or that the kid is holding them back. Our whole game is designed around the idea that as long as you’re trying to play, as long as you’re participating in the activity, we’re going to try to make sure you can get through the entire thing.

But we do have a sort of rewards layer on top of that. If you go through again and do an activity in record time, or get the most collectibles, or dance really well, we’ll give you bonuses and those will unlock content outside of the main game. That gives, more accomplished players, or older kids, or parents, a reason to come back and replay pages. But for us, skill is a way to reward the player rather than a way to gate the player. Kinect as an experience is either incredibly magical or incredibly frustrating – that’s more about how you design your activities than what’s intrinsic to the technology. When Kinect works, it feels like its just reading your mind. If it reads you jumping or waving, even though all it’s doing is watching your movements, people have such a tight mental connection with their bodies, it feels like mind reading. That is people’s expectation of the device.

There’s a lot of dialogue and story-telling in the game. How did you work with the Sesame Workshop on this? Were there elements you had to avoid, and things you couldn’t do?Well, there are two parts to this. There’s the voicing of the characters – Cookie speaks in a particular way, Elmo speaks in a particular way and you really have to write to those characters carefully and closely. There’s also the educational curriculum component. If you want to talk about shyness, for example, there’s actually a Sesame Street way they handle that kind of interaction, they effectively ‘model’ how to approach someone who is struggling with being shy.

Every script that we write goes to Sesame Workshop and their educational group vet the entire thing for both voice and educational content. One of our chapters starts off a little bit scary; it’s about a monster who is trying to be something he is not, and it’s also about bravery. The arc of the story is that with a little bit of bravery things aren’t as scary as they might seem. So fear was something we talked to them a lot about – how scary can we be? We don’t want to terrify three-year-olds – in fact the goal isn’t about being terrifying it’s about providing a counter-point, a context in which to be brave.

And you’re working with iconic characters here, really…Yeah, these are very visible characters, especially in the States. Sesame Street gets a lot of money via public service broadcasting and it’s very visible, both culturally and politically. There’s been a big debate in the States about how much funding congress is going to allocate for public broadcasting at large – so Sesame Street has to be careful; the characters can’t do anything unseemly or dangerous. Elmo in particular should not do anything that you wouldn’t be comfortable with your own three-year-old doing because he is the model for the good behaviour of a child that age.

But how much was Double Fine able to bring its own character into game?All constraints are both useful and challenging at the same time. When this was first announced, a lot of people were like, ‘Double Fine has sold out!’ But actually, this is the marriage of two IPs Sesame Street is one, but Once Upon A Monster, the storybook world and the monsters, these are all brand new, they’re created by Double Fine. It’s the fist time Sesame Street characters have ever entered another world. So the stories we tell, the monsters we create and they problems they have – we have a tremendous amount of creative freedom to make those, and by and large we make them as we see fit.

That said, we have to make sure the stories we tell, the lessons we teach, align not just with Sesame Street’s values but also the methodology of communicating those values. It’s very challenging – as with any game that interacts with such a powerful franchise. You’ve got to be very thoughtful. And the biggest challenge is, any game idea we have has to work in our universe, it has to work with Sesame Street and it has to be fun on Kinect. It’s really, really challenging to come up with stories and gameplay that connect all of those dots…

E3 2011





Game culture

Keith Stuart © Guardian News & Media Limited 2011 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

This blog is updated frequently per day with the latest gaming news, reviews and features.

Posted on June 27th, 2011 by  |  No Comments »

PS3 news: Captain America Pinball Table Review for Marvel Pinball and Pinball FX2 editor Zac, aka INFECTED503, writes, “Zen Studios pulls off near perfection again with its newest addition, the Captain America table to Pinball FX 2 and Marvel Pinball!” is updated regularly per day with the latest Free PS3 news and reviews.

Posted on June 27th, 2011 by  |  No Comments »

news: TGV Review: Duke Nukem Forever

With Duke Nukem Forever finally here, many gamers inserted discs or installed files with trembling fingers and fervent nervousness. How could this possibly be good? the masses asked, the question still likely fresh in the minds of those who have yet to take the plunge. Read on and all shall be revealed. This blog is updated several times each day with the very latest Free PlayStation news and reviews.

Posted on June 27th, 2011 by  |  No Comments »

PS3 Slim news: Rumor: New Fatal Frame Game In Development For The PS3?

Recent PS3 news: It appears that Tecmo Koei is working on a new Fatal Frame game for the PS3. Slim PS3 is updated several times each day with the latest Free Slim PS3 news and reviews.

Posted on June 26th, 2011 by  |  No Comments »

PlayStation news: GamerFitNation: Saints Row The Third Interview with Greg Donovan

GamerFitNation’s BlackBible Interviews Senior Producer Greg Donovan on Saints Row Third. This site is updated regularly each day with the latest Free PS3 news.

Posted on June 25th, 2011 by  |  No Comments »

Wii U console close-up shots show off HDMI port – Console news

Update: A commenter helpfully pointed out that the Wii U won’t support GameCube games or controllers, so we’ve updated this story accordingly.

Close-up snaps of the Wii U have emerged that show off the new console’s port selection, including an HDMI port.

The snaps come courtesy of a site called Inside Games, and give us a good look at the Wii U console itself. Despite showing off its new machine at the E3 expo, Nintendo’s been pretty cagey about letting anyone investigate the actual console, preferring instead to let people get to grips with the quirky new controller. As big as a dinner plate, it rocks a 6.2-inch touchscreen.

There’s not a whole lot to glean from the snaps, though from examining the back (in the photo above) it looks like the power supply and sensor bar port are unchanged. Hopefully this means we’ll be able to use our existing Wii cables with the new console.

It also gives us a warm shiver to spy an HDMI port nestled around the back. HD gaming is something the Wii sorely lacks compared to its hi-def, highfalutin Xbox and PS3 rivals.

All Wii Remotes and Wii accessories will play nicely with the Wii U, but this is the point at which Nintendo stops supporting GameCube controllers and games.

Elsewhere the Wii U looks much like the Wii (ie rather boring, like a miniature air conditioner), but with trendier, rounded edges.

Still, there’s every chance that what you see in the photos above will change by the time the Wii U is released next year. We hypothesised in our preview that one of the reasons for Nintendo holding the console back was that designs weren’t final yet.

More news as it comes — in the meantime let us know what you think of the Wii U in the comments, or on our motion-controlled Facebook page.

Image credit: Inside Games

Slim-PS3 is updated frequently each day with the very latest games console news.

Posted on June 24th, 2011 by  |  No Comments »