Dishwasher: Dead Samurai Dropping on Live

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A year and a half after it was first released on XNA, The Dishwasher is finally coming out. On April 1st (yeah, I know how that looks but I swear it’s true), the cult darling is being released. For 800 Xbox Live points, you too can kill zombies, robots, cyborgs and others in this 2-D fast paced action game. According to the press release from Xbox Live Arcade:

The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai is a 2-D stylistic action platformer for Xbox LIVE® Arcade showcasing fast action, deep gameplay, and a unique visual style. An undead samurai dishwasher in a dystopian universe is on a quest for revenge against the evil cyborg army. To dispatch hordes of zombies, cyborgs, and robots, the Dishwasher has at his fingertips a devastating array of attacks using ancient blades, disturbing machinery, and screen-obliterating Dish Magic. Compete with the rest of the world in a variety of speed run and high score challenges to become the most formidable Dishwasher yet!

  • Fresh take on gameplay: Gameplay in The Dishwasher is a fresh take on popular stylistic action combat, taking combo- and timing-intensive combat into a 2-D, blood-soaked environment emphasizing speed, vertical movement, and maneuverability, and player-driven pacing to create a truly unique, fluid and visceral experience, with an appealingly psychotic art style.
  • New game modes with guitar peripheral: The Dishwasher has arcade co-op, drop-in solo campaign co-op, and drop-in solo phantom guitar co-op using the guitar peripheral. Phantom guitar players can unload electric death by playing wicked solos, perform basic movement, and use the guitar’s motion control to rip through enemies with a razor-sharp headstock.
  • The power of XNA: The Dishwasher is a testament to the power of XNA. The game was created by one guy with no professional game development experience (and a self-described lousy programmer) in about a year and a half.

There is also a spiffy video in case you want to see what all the buzz is about.

After catching a huge following on XNA, The Dishwasher was awarded top prize in Microsoft’s 2007 Dream-Build-Play competition. Since then, it’s been given updated graphics and apparently the ability to kill hordes of enemies via guitar. Sweet! However, it seems that core of the game has been left intact with no dumbing down the bloody, bloody violence. This year there is one more reason to love April Fool’s Day.

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10 million strong…and growing

wii-play

Nintendo announced in a press release on March 19th that their game, Wii Play, had surpassed 10 million units in the United States alone. This makes Wii Play the top selling game of the current console war. However, it still has a ways to go to catch up to Nintendo’s biggest moneymakers; Wii Sports and Super Mario Bros. Both games, which have had the unfair advantage of being packaged with their respective systems, have sold over 40 million units a piece.

This brings to light the question though, “Are these games really selling that well?” With Wii Sports and Super Mario Bros. the answer is a resounding “yes”. The former for its nostalgic play and the latter for having some of the easiest pick up and play seen in years. But Wii Play is another story. Marketed as nine games and an extra Wii mote, the package seems to be a steal at $49.99. After all, the Wii mote by itself is $39.99. So for ten dollars more you get nine games! That’s only slightly over a dollar per game! Wow!

And that was the line I used to feed customers and they’d buy it , the poor sods. Even now, that bit of deception makes me feel dirty. Yes, technically, they were getting nine games but Wii Play is a classic example of you get what you pay for. Unlike Wii Sports which is easy to learn but still deep enough to be fun after fifteen minutes, the majority of the Wii Play games seem like filler that shouldn’t have been allowed to go gold in the first place. Of course, one could argue that for slightly over a buck any amount of fun that can be gleamed is worth it.

But it just strikes me as cheating for Nintendo to go on and on about how well this game is doing. Like it’s some paradigm at which future programmers should aim for. Sure it’s sold 10 million units, but it wasn’t for the games. It was for the controller. When this glaringly obvious aspect was put to Nintendo, their response was, “Even if you believe people are buying Wii Play solely for the controller, that indicates that there are now more than 10 million people who have an extra Wii Remote controller in their homes. When added to the 12.7 million Wii Remote controllers that have sold separately, this reinforces the growing ‘social gaming’ trend we have been seeing where friends and family use their Wii games as a social hub– both in person and online.”

Well played Nintendo. Well played indeed.

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Microsoft Takes Xbox Off Life Support

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According to their official website, Microsoft announced that as of yesterday they were cutting off out-of-warranty support for the original Xbox. This came as a shock to many gamers, who already assumed that Microsoft had hit their original console in the head with a shovel and buried its remains in an unmarked grave. After all, the signs were all there.

The last game to be released for the Xbox was almost a year ago when Madden 2009 came out. And that was with little fanfare. In fact, in most places you had to special order it. It was like the unicorn of Xbox games.

Then, as recently as last month, retail gaming giant GameStop announced that they would stop taking original Xbox games in as trade on February 9th and would be begin the process of phasing the games, systems and accessories out of their stores.

So pardon this blogger for being more surprised that Microsoft was STILL repairing out-of-warranty Xbox’s until yesterday. That being said, there is still hope out there. Microsoft put up an official website that “…will host a wealth of previous and new how-to, troubleshooting, and configuration content that has been revised and updated to meet our customer needs and current support model.” So if you need a fix it or a repair for the old black brick, there appear to be step-by-step instructions.

From that same website, it appears that Microsoft does still have Live up and running for users and are offering an upgrade to the 360 (no word on price of course!) for anyone who still has an Xbox under warranty. Who the hell would that be? They stopped making this system three years ago and I’m pretty sure warranties only last for a year. Am I missing something here?

So let us all take a collective internet moment here to bow our heads in silence at the passing of this once great behemoth of a system. Rest In Peace, Xbox.

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Undead Invade Industry Undetected

7748_dead-rising01The zombies are coming! The zombies are coming! Err wait, they’re already here…and no one seems to mind. Awesome.

At least this is the only logical conclusion I can come to. In the last year the game industry has been literally overrun with zombie games, ranging from gory to silly to thought provoking. Don’t believe me? Well then Mr. Skeptic, here is a partial list I came up with off the top of my head after staring at my computer screen for ten minutes.

1. Teenage Zombies: A tongue in cheek DS title that slipped under the radar last April.

2. Left 4 Dead: One of the top Games of the Year. Easily spotted.

3. Resident Evil 5: Zombies go on safari.

4. House of the Dead: Overkill: Wii exclusive prequel to the original title.

5. Zombie Infection: Even your cell phone isn’t safe. Contest for tickets to Comic Con make this flash game even more dangerous.

6. Call of Duty: World At War: Nazis? Zombies? NAZI ZOMBIES?! We can’t kill these things fast enough.

7. Dead Rising: Chop til You Drop: Wii exclusive. Self-explanatory title.

8. Fallout 3: I’m counting the Ghouls here. They’re zombies by another name.

9. Dead Space: Creepy mutated space zombies still count.

10. Onechanbara: Bikini Zombie Slayers: Yes, this is real. No, I’m not kidding. Also available on 360!

11. Little Red Riding Hood’s Zombie BBQ: Contra style Gameplay + fairy tales + zombies = bizarrely entertaining DS title.

The two iffiest in that list, as my husband so kindly pointed out, are Dead Space and Fallout 3 since technically neither are classic zombies. But neither species in either game is living or not actively decaying, so I’m counting them. Take that as you will.

The question then becomes why the sudden glut of zombie killing goodness? After all, the oldest title on my list isn’t even a year old. Sure, there were zombies around before that, but mostly in rail shooters in the arcade or in the staple Resident Evil series. So what happened? Oh, lots of things. Some have suggested our renewed love of zombies stems from the repetitive mindlessness of modern living, such as Shagtee’s opinion . Interesting read there, by the way.

I think the release of Shaun of the Dead in theaters and Dead Rising on the 360 brought a sharper spotlight to the shambling undead. After all, people may feel some remorse killing another human…be it mobster, Nazi or random ninja #78, but killing the undead not only feels good, it feels damn good! But what kind of undead can mere humans kill like so many lemmings? Certainly not vampires, as proven by the ill-fated Vampire Rain for the Xbox 360. Even Alucard and the other, ever-expanding cast of Castlevania can’t keep a good vampire down.

Enter the zombie. The red shirt army of the fantasy world. He doesn’t ask for much. Just a road to shamble down, a brain to eat and maybe a shadow to lurk in. With most games needing a fall guy for the hero to mow down, the undead are a masterpiece of ‘false difficulty’. They might all have one hit point, but there’s two hundred of them. Now what, Mr. Only-has-three-rounds-left? Mwa-ha-ha-ha.

Ahem. Sorry about that. So whether it’s our own masochistic need to destroy a strawman of modern living, our need to satiate our bloodlust without remorse or the visceral thrill of fear at the thought of being eaten alive, the game industry has found that nerve and is going to poke it for all it’s worth. I, for one, couldn’t be happier. Braaaaiiiinnnssss.

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Nintendo Dominates December Sales

npdlogoNumbers released this month by the NPD place Nintendo as the clear cut winner in December game sales. Six out of the top ten belong to them.  Five for the company’s Wii and one for the handheld DS.

Microsoft came in second with three titles in the top ten and Sony trailed behind with only one game ranking in at number nine.

Below is the list of December’s best selling video games as rated by the NPD group along with how many units sold.

1.   Wii Play w/ Remote (Wii)                     1.46M
2.   Call Of Duty: World At War (360)     1.33M
3.   Wii Fit (Wii)                                                999K
4.   Mario Kart (Wii)                                       979K
5.   Guitar Hero World Tour (Wii)            850K
6.   Gears Of War 2 (360)                             745K
7.   Left 4 Dead (360)                                   629K
8.   Mario Kart (DS)                                       540K
9.   Call Of Duty: World At War (PS3)     533K
10. Animal Crossing: City Folk (Wii)     497K

Resident Evil 5 Demo Explodes on Live

Microsoft announced on February 2nd that the highly anticipated Resident Evil 5 demo had shot of over 1.8 million downloads on Xbox Live. The demo, released exclusively over Live on Monday January 26 for Gold members, garnered 1.3 million downloads in just three days. Once the zombie shooter was available for all members of Xbox live, that number jumped to almost 2 million. All this in just the first seven days. But don’t despair if you don’t have a 360. Playstation 3 owners can also get in on the action as the demo goes live on Playstation Home starting on February 2.
Capcom offers up the first two levels of the game in the demo, letting you fight your way through hordes of the undead and solve a few puzzles. Once downloaded, you can either play single player with a computer controlled team-mate, hop online to play multi-player over Live or the holy grail of co-op games, play split screen with a friend.
After the runaway success of last year’s zombie games and with the blockbuster name Resident Evil attached to this title, forecasters are predicting over 3 million copies to be sold when the game reaches store shelves on March 13th.

Halo 3 incites teen to murder? WTF?!

Seriously, wow. I’m minding my own business perusing the news section of gamespot.com in search of information for a new article when I stumbled across this gem.

This leads me to question the addictivness of games. Not whether or not people can and do get addicted to the point of craziness, ie: shooting your parents for telling you to get off the damn Xbox, but whether or not it was inevitable for these poor people.
For example, if the teen had been ridiculously obessed with say, the works of Shakespeare, to the point that he no longer functioned as a member of society would they have blamed Hamlet for his actions? Or would they have just said he had an addictive personality and was mentally unstable?
Which he clearly is. I mean, even the judge said it. Why does the fact that he snapped over Halo 3 and not say, being told he couldn’t go to the football game cause this type of sensationalism? The public fascination with watching video games crash and burn is odd.

So, the question is…are video games really more detrimental or addictive than any other vice? Or do they just get a bad wrap because they’re easier to target than cigarettes or alcohol? Or because video games are marketed to children? Though you’d think finding out you have a problem with addiction at the age of seven might keep you from snorting cocaine off a public toilet seat at twenty.
But I digress. Though this was a tragic event, I have to wonder how it got to that point. The article clearly says the boy planned the murders for weeks in advance. Was he acting perfectly normal during all this? Or, like many parents, did they simply take this as a “phase” and dismiss his behavior? All I know is I’ll be sleeping with one eye open once the kiddos hit puberty.
P.S. Question…why was there no trial for this kid? Seemingly the judge made the ruling without the aid of a jury of peers. Any readers out there in the legal business that could answer that?