Wii Fit

PhotoHi from GDC! I haven't been at the conference in over 4 years, but I guess it feels as crazy and crowded as usual. So far, my best experience has been to try Nintendo's Wii Fit (which now has a US release date of May 19th according to the guy at the booth). I tried the skiing game and the soccer one. My first reaction: the board is incredibly sensitive, so it gets a while to get used to it. But once you do it, it works pretty well. I'm pretty sure the experience is close to using the wiimote the first time: it takes a few minutes to get used to it. I also was able to lift the mat itself and I'm happy to report that it's not heavy at all (I would say the same or less weight than your average scale). As you can see in the pic, players where required to take their shoes off, in the best Japanese tradition. Does it look like a killer app? It certainly does but, you never know. Nintendo has been on a roll lately and certainly can achieve another mass success with the Wii Fit, but of course we will need to wait and see what 3rd party developer come up with. Meanwhile, I'll definitively grab one as soon as they become available.

The Game industry in South America

Header_logoThere's very little good info about the game industry in South America (probably because it's still quite small). I was happy to read this morning this article at Next Generation, which gives a very good panorama over the struggles of playing and making games in this part of the world. The article wonders if there are opportunites for larger companies to do development in South America and offers some points to give an affirmative answer to this question. The article is very thorough, mentioning not only examples for the two local giants (Brazil and Argentina) but also Chile, Perú and Uruguay (my studio gets a mention, too). Again, a very good article so go ahead and click the link.

2nd Uruguayan GameDev competition

Dsc_0014Last week took place the awards ceremony for the 2nd Uruguayan GameDev competition. There were two categories: Videogames (the winner got a trip to GDC) and Plan Ceibal (which is the local name of the One Laptop Per Child program). We had the pleasure to have Patrick Hudson, Executive Producer from Ensemble Studios, as a keynoter and member of the jury. Needless to say, 99% of Uruguayans are Age of Empires fans, so Patrick's presentation about AoE and the upcoming Halo Wars was truly enjoyed by everybody.
Dsc_0062As co-organizer and member of the jury, I personally had a blast with this competition, we really had some great games submitted and I'm looking forward to next year's event. There are only very few studios here and many talented people are not fully aware that making games for a living is a real option down here, so with events like this we hope to encourage the industry and the creation of great games. Watch out, Japan, the Uruguayans are coming! :)

Spanish Civil War game

Ass2No pasarán! The Spanish Civil War is certainly fascinating. It not only had a deep impact in Spain, but also in Latin America where many people seeked for refuge. I learned about "Shadows of War" ("Sombras de Guerra") this morning on the NYTimes. The game just became available in Spain this week, so I didn't get a chance to play it yet. All I was able to see was its trailer and some screenshots. I was a bit shocked at how the trailer ends: with the shadow of the typical videogame hot babe with hot ass. That was not exactly what came to my mind when thinking about the Spanish Civil War. Be certain that I was not ready to dismiss the whole game just because of that shot but it actually surprised me a bit. But then, I thought that if this was a movie about the Spanish Civil War, chances are that the female protagonist would be way above average in terms of beauty: that's a staple in filmmaking, both in Hollywood and often in the indie scene. Still, this game's female character's ass was almost grotesque but, then again, videogame characters are generally caricatural. So, I concluded that what I saw in the trailer is not that bad, at least within the filmmaking and videogame standards. I still believe it's silly to sell videogames through female gluteal muscles and I'm looking forward to the day where videogame characters are just pretty, but normal people like Jade from Between Good and Evil.
Keep in mind that I'm not judging the game itself, only the trailer (even though the trailer should set the tone for a game). I'm still looking forward to playing it and I'm really thrilled about the existence of a game dealing with this particular moment in history.

Coming soon... A new newsgame

GlobalwI am happy to announce that in the next few weeks, will be launching a new game called Global Warming. Yup, you guessed the topic! While September 12th was 100% political, Madrid geared more towards the emotional and now Global Warming could probably be described as educational. The game focuses on the main reasons for global warming, with the same premises of previous newsgames: concise and direct, while trying to avoid simplicity. In other words, we're back with the videogame cocktail: half videogame, half political cartoon.
Stay tuned, we're working hard to launch before the end of the year.

Plane hijacking game, 1982

BandaiairportpanicDuring the 80's, Bandai released their solar-powered answer to Nintendo's Game&Watch: the LCD Solarpower series. One of their most interesting games is called Airport Panic. The player had two missions: boarding the plane while avoiding the bombs of the hijacker. And then, according to the English manual, "shoot at the hijacker and rescue the stewardess and the passengers".

FotoThanks to chococat, both the English and Japanese manual scans are available online, as well as a PC simulation of the game. If you play the game, make sure you extract the zip file with full path (and use SPACE to start and arrow keys to move around).

Suicide bombing in Halo 3

The title is catchy, the article is worth reading. Clive Thompson is, by very far, the best videogame critic out there. Let's put it this way: most videogame criticism only answers the question if you should buy or not a game. Good criticism makes you enjoy even the games that you are not going to buy. If you need to catch up with Thompson's writing, visit his blog.

Videogame Heaven

Dscn0268So what if The Beatles performed at your birthday party? Or if Bob Dylan composed a song for you. Or even if Bono complimented your sunglasses. Pardon me if I am not impressed. The reason is simple: today I was in videogame star heaven. Here I am with Iwatani-san, creator of Pacman, and Uemura-san, creator of the Nintendo NES.Dscn0274 Iwatani-san was kind enough to draw me a Pacman, complete with dots and ghost (no academic hat on the ghost, however :)
Dscn0265_2 Uemura-san signed a NES controller that was bought in Montevideo's flea market, in a strange case of controller-leaves-Japan-for-South-America-back-to-Japan-and-back-to-Uruguay. It will be displayed with pride at the Kuyu museum of videogames, co-created with Powerful Robot's game designer Ernesto Rodriguez.
Oh, and by the way, their keynote at DiGRA was the highlight of the conference, not just in terms of stardom but also in content. Life doesn't get much better than this...

Duel Love: Tokyo Game Show´s weirdest

DuelloveMaybe I´m getting old, but the Tokyo Game Show was nothing to write home about this year. Maybe it was because Nintendo is King and, alas, Nintendo has ignored TGS for many years now. In any case, there were plenty of Wii and DS games (Cooking Mama 2!!!).
Item3But the one that really caught people´s attention was a strange DS game called Duel Love. The demo did not allow you to do much but to pick a young fellow and dry pearls of sweat out of his oh so manly body. Seriously. As the wise people from Nintendo like to say, "Touch is Good".