The Hitchhiker’s Guide To Video Games 03.09.04

*Oh. It’s you lot again. Hello, I suppose… Misha got distracted, so I’m doing the intro this week. We have… stuff. Like news. And commentary. So here it is…

Sonic Advance 3: first footage!

Footage of the new Sonic Advance game is now available here, courtesy of gamesradar.co.uk. Current news from Camp Sega suggests that the game will feature 5 characters; Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Amy and “Cream” (whoever that is), and operates on a “partnership style” where tag-teams of characters travel though the stages, each tyeam taking a slightly different route. The game will also include a 4-player co-operative mode. But best of all… 4-player Battle Races!

Misha: Wow. DID YOU SEE THOSE SPEEDLINES??? The only thing going to be moving faster than the game will be Bebito down to his local game store to pre-order… This really reminds me of Sonic 2: and that’s an official Good Thing (both thumbs up, teeth showing, reflections from the smile dazzling everyone around)

credit: gamesradar.co.uk

News

Nintendo: Sequel A-Go-Go

As yoiu’ll have seen on the Main Newslink, Nintendo have announced some of the games they’ll be showcasing at this year’s E3. Sequels to Metroid Prime, Wind Waker and Animal Crossing will be there, as will a new Mario Golf game, and a new Mario RPG. Of course, Fire Red and Leaf Green will be there too… but notably, no mention of the next ‘real’ Mario game. Current speculation now suggests that the game will now be released as a launch title for Nintendo’s new machine (provisionally named the N5), which is also absent from the show.

Misha: Well, this is all well and good. But WHERE’S MY MARIO 128???

credit: Nowhere (public domain news)

Resident Evil 4: New Screens

Fresh of the digital press, we have some all-new shots of the latest instalment of Capcom’s famous Survival Horror franchise. The new game promises larger maps, real-time gameplay, and a more free-roaming experience overall, along with here courtesy of gamesradar.co.uk

Marvin: Surely, if Tomb Raider is getting a control overhaul, Capcom could arrange one for the RE series? Never mind… I’ll just enjoy seeing humans get scared. The expressions you people make… Hilarious!

credit: gamesradar.co.uk

Multi-format Seriousness

Take 2 Interactive have annoucned plans to release their Serious Sam franchise to a selection of home consoles. Serious Sam: Next Encounter (PS2 and Gamecube) and Serious Sam Advance (GBA) are pencilled in for this spring. The PS2 version will have online support for up to 8 players, while the GC version will feature a four-player deatchmatch. Both will feautre the usual manic shotting action, set across ancient Rome, Atlantis and feudal China. The GBA game will bhe more of the same, supporting 4-player link-up and a story mode set in Rome and Egypt.

Misha: Ah, Serious Sam. Well I remember 16-player LAN insanity on the PC version. The new version won’t have that many, but they could still be fun.

credit: gamesradar.co.uk

Codemasters 0wnz England

Codemasters have announced their aquisition of the rights to the English National Football (Soccer) Team, and will be releasing their new game, England International Football, on XBox and PS2in the run-up to the Euro 2004 championships. Though it seems Codemasters won’t just be using the licene to sell the product: The XBox version is being widely touted as the first Live-compatible football game, while the

Marvin: Nice idea. Just a shame that, like the team, the game won’t live up to expectations…

credit: gamesradar.co.uk

Commentary

More UKTV: only this one has GAMES! It’s also by popular request….

It’s a very general consensus amongst the gaming community that TV shows featuring video games are (generally) utter crap. Worthless. Of no value whatsoever. The UK games scene would wholheartedly agree with that. However… Once every so often, there arrives the Show Of Shows. Something groundbreaking, new… Something that is actually good. Fly out the oil rig, don the VR headset, and prepare to greet… Gamesmaster.

Gamesmaster could very well be considered the Granddaddy of all video game shows (well, in the UK anyway. Japan have been doing it for years). Springing to life out of a genuine interest in the VG scene (show creator Jane Hewland was impressed by her son’s copy of Duck Hunt for the NES that she herself became interested, and realised there was an untapped subculture right in front of her), and crewed by people who genuinely loved the scene, the show debuted in January 1992.

It was unlike anything anyone had ever seen before. A dark, moody, disused-church set was the venue, and it was from here that Dominik Diamond, presenter, moron, and Funny Scottish Bloke, organised a veritable feast of gaming, watched by the all-knowing, half-man, half-machine Gamesmaster (noted astronomer Sir Patrick Moore, currently best known for playing the Xylophone in memetic flash-animations). The show had everything: Hot-off-the-press news, intelligent reviews, and the infamous Consoletation Zone, where gamers could don virtual reality headsets and request an audience with the Gamesmaster himself, who would dispense pearls of gaming wisdom to help them. Probably most famous, though, are the Challenges. Whether it be player vs player, player against the clock, or Celebrities battling it out for supremacy, the battles to take home a legendary Golden Joystick were fierce.

There were many things that made the show a success. Dominik’s charisma was an important factor, which was well matched by Patrick’s gravitas. The inclusion of genuine industry professionals as reviewers and guest challenge commentators gave the show a real credibility: Particularly appropriate was the use of games journalists, people whose names would be known to, and respected by, the target audience. Also important was the way the show adapted the standard magazine format to the new medium of television. Now came the opportunity to show gamers actual footage of the games being reviewed, not screenshots. Tips could be presented with “How it’s done” clips.

But probably the biggest thing about Gamesmaster was the maturity with which it handled the subject matter. Never patronising (except when Dom was deploying his sarcastic wit), it covered the scene in an adult manner, serious, but always maintaining the sense of fun.

The show ran for several seasons (all but one of which were presented by Dom; the third series was fronted by Dexter Fletcher, better known for his role in “lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels”), and each time the set changed (they went from an oil rig to Atlantis, via Heaven and Hell, and that’s not all…) but the core of the show remained.

Behind the scenes, of course, Gamesmaster was not the happy fun paradise it purported to be: The hatred between regular commentator Dave Perry and Dominik was legendary (even to the extent of some footage of Dom making faces behind Dave’s back actually making it to broadcast), and there were always rumours of challenge-fixing. But to my mind, the biggest farce of all was that the Consoletation Zone guests were *given* a question to ask, and not allowed to come up with one themselves (I know this, because I was once on the Zone). But, hey… Nothing’s perfect. And GM *did* define an entire genre, so that (coupled with the appearance of Patrick) just about makes up for it.

The best site to check for GM info is This One. Run by a chap named Jack Templeton, it’s got synopses, interviews, clips, trivia… all sorts of stuff.

More plugs than an International Bath + Shower Trade Fair

Chuck is filling in for A-Will. Though I’m still waiting for him to put up the Director’s Cut of his Cure Psycho Trip-out Hallucination. I don’t want to have to withold his Orks, but it may come to that…

AlucardTM is nearly up to halfway on his epic RPG Top 30.

Bryan is going to *have* to hook me up with some episodes of Chappelle’s Show… He’s piqued my curiosity…

Cory is stealing LiquidCross’ trademark and getting ANGRY, while LQ himself is just going random.

Lee has been MMORPGd. Expect him to upgrade to EverCrack in an attempt to get his fix any time soon…

New boy Yeager continues his fine tradition of Reviews with Rise To Hono(u)r. Ignore Scotsman, click on Matt instead!

And now, it is the end. But the moment has been prepared for.
*And if anyone apart from me gets that one, tell us. First one with the right answer gets a shout-out next week
We’re gone.