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Posts with tag gdc07

Interview reveals Symphony of the Night to include updated vocals


You may remember a little title that got everyone talking a few weeks ago: Castlevania. Ever since its incredible debut, Konami has remained silent on this hotly anticipated revival of Rondo of Blood, the only Castlevania title never to be released in the States. The upcoming Castlevania X Chronicles not only includes a 3D remake of Rondo of Blood, but includes the fan-favorite Symphony of the Night as well. Games Radar has an incredible interview with Koji Igarashi from GDC available, and here are some highlights:
  • After years of working on GBA/DS games, the power of the PSP has been startling: "It's better than what I expected, actually. I'm very happy about the quality. Especially with the graphic quality. The PSP hardware system allows a very high resolution."
  • Symphony of the Night will be getting a few enhancements: "So basically, it's mostly a straight port from the original SOTN on PlayStation. I wasn't happy about the quality of the PlayStation SOTN voiceover, so I'm trying to do something about it on the PSP."
Don't forget to check out Games Radar for the rest of this brilliant interview.

See also:
The Symphony of the Night we won't get

Overheard at GDC 07: Disney's to blame for no downloadable movies

Sony was supposed to offer full-resolution downloadable movies for the PSP, but the service has never come to fruition, citing "DRM problems." On the GDC showfloor, I overheard one Sony employee talking about how there's one giant stumbling block for Sony's potential movie download service: Disney. The giant media corporation doesn't want to make its catalog of movies available to Sony, most likely due to restrictions caused by their deal with Apple's iTunes Store.

But, why not go forth even without Disney's backing? Surely, Sony Pictures' vast library of movies would be more than enough to satiate a PSP-owning movie lover's tastes. However, as Connect proved, a half-assed attempt at digital distribution usually ends up quite fruitless.

GDC 07: After Burner impressions


Sega's upcoming After Burner is not good. The final version of the game appeared at GDC, and it did not leave a good lasting impression. The graphics are quite lackluster, featuring some aliasing problems, and serious draw distance issues. The game just doesn't look good, near or far. The incredibly slow pace of the plane seems somewhat insulting, making you want to hold the Afterburner button as much as you can. At least barrel rolls look cool.

The gameplay doesn't really add up to much, either. The controls don't feel as tight as the ones featured in Ratchet & Clank's space shooter segments. The lock on weapons are generous, and the highly unintelligent enemy AI doesn't seem to do much to not get killed. They may fire back once in a while, and like in Full Auto 2, it's nigh impossible to tell how you're doing from the craft itself: you'll have to look in the bottom right corner to see a meter. You won't ever feel impact, nor will you feel like the craft is ever taking damage.

It's unfortunate that this game is so uninspired. While the full retail version may have more options, I highly doubt that the core gameplay will get any more interesting. The game comes out March 20th.

GDC 07: DJ Max Portable 2 impressions

Joystiq's Jared Rea loves the Korean import music game DJ Max Portable, calling it "the best handheld game ever". We were both colored quite surprised when we found the game on the GDC show floor: was it a confirmation of an impending US release? Certainly, the gameplay is accessible, regardless of language. Heck, the game has always been in English. A Sony representative wasn't able to confirm a US release, saying they simply "haven't announced anything yet." Watch this video of Jared's expert play. I have to say I was quite impressed, as were the dozens of people that stopped behind us to watch. DJ Max Portable will be available for importers by the end of the month.

See also:
Joystiq: DJ Max Portable 2 spotted at GDC

GDC 07: Firmware gains inspirations from homebrew

Although the PSP hardware may not change anytime soon, the system will still continue to evolve through software. John Koller reminded us that PSP has the ability to continuously expand its functionality. "We have released 13 firmware updates since launch."

I asked him about his stance on incorporating features from homebrew, and he admits that Sony actually watches what the scene does. "RSS is actually from homebrew," he admitted. Future firmware revisions may incorporate some of the additions that custom firmware users have been able to enjoy for months.

Unfortunately, full resolution AVC support doesn't seem to be on the table any time soon. Phil Harrison was actually surprised when I told him that the resolution was locked. John Koller, on the other hand, discussed how the perpetually-delayed PSP movie download service would be one way for fans to (eventually) watch full resolution videos on their handhelds.

GDC 07: PSP won't get redesign; new colors coming soon?

People have been longing for a PSP redesign. It's not happening. John Koller explained that there are currently no redesign plans, regardless of all the rumors that have been on the Internet for ages. One of the main reasons PSP won't get a redesign comes from the issue of screen size: Sony will never make the screen smaller. In fact, the generous screen size of Sony's portable is considered one of the system's greatest advantages.

Rather, Sony is looking to continue to add more value to their existing model. Eventually, Sony of America does plan on releasing new colors, but they're waiting for the right opportunity. It's no secret that handheld owners purchase multiple systems, Koller explained. Especially if they're of new colors. Undeniably, launching a new color will spur sales of the system, even if it doesn't necessarily expand the audience.

GDC 07: Full Auto 2 impressions


Full Auto 2 was available for play on the PSP, and it gave me some mixed feelings. The graphics are decent at times, featuring an incredible sense of speed and an incredible amount of destruction. However, collisions can feel awkward, as nothing seems to have any weight: the lack of physics is disappointing to say the least. The car models look decent, but there is no apparent damage model, which is surprising in a game all about destroying other cars. Even PS1's Destruction Derby had better ways of showing off damage.

The controls were also a mixed bag: turning was sharp, but the feeling of impact feels suspiciously absent. Weapons don't feel damaging enough, and it simply doesn't feel like your car is taking damage (even though it is!). The races are fast, and thanks to the amount of things being destroyed on screen, the game may be fun in short bursts, even if the game doesn't have the polish to make it an excellent game.

One of the most puzzling aspects of the game has to be the story of the single player mode (pictured). As you can see, there was a robot named Sage. That's why you're racing. You'll read pages upon pages of this incredibly unnecessary story. At least it's (unintentionally) funny.

GDC 07: Less than 15% of PSP owners have a DS


John Koller, Senior Marketing Manager, revealed an interesting internal statistic in last night's blogger panel: according to his research, only 11-14% of PSP owners have a DS. Although the system may be selling less than Nintendo's dual screened portable, it's clear that Sony's device is targeting a completely different market from Nintendo.

"We're not just competing against Nintendo," Koller explained. The platform has to compete against the iPod, the Zune, and a plethora of other multimedia devices. When asked how Sony will attempt to differentiate their offering even further, Koller simply smiled and hinted that the XMB will become much more fleshed out in the coming months.

GDC 07: PSP will realize its potential this year

In tonight's blogger meeting, I had a chance to talk to Sony president Phil Harrison about his keynote and the suspicious absence of the PSP device: "We didn't talk about the PSP because [the keynote] was 45 minutes," he tried to explain.

John Koller, the man responsible for the marketing of the PSP, then joined in: "We're absolutely not overlooking the PSP." He hinted that the future of the PSP looks very similar to what has been planned for the PS3. "We could start talking about PSP in the same manner as Phil."

Sony recognizes the potential of the system, and promises that in May, they will be revealing some more exciting news. "The promise is there ... [yet] we're well aware of the market realities." What specifically the PSP will be evolving into is still unclear, but it appears as though downloadable media and PS3-style Network features are in the works. From the smiles on their faces, it's clear that some truly exciting things will be happening to the PSP this year.

GDC 07: Crush highlights experimental design panel


There is one PSP game in everyone's mind here at the Game Developer's Conference: it's called Crush. Kuju Entertainment's revolutionary puzzle-platformer was highlighted in an experimental games panel, due to its highly innovative gameplay concept.

One of the greatest challenges of creating such a unique project is trying to predict how the player will respond to it. Will they be able to understand how the gameplay works? Will they get too confused? Stuck? Through endless hours of QA & debugging, the team decided that the game has to explain to the player why one failed: it becomes a learning process, rather than a frustrating, alienating one.

Although Crush hasn't been released yet, Kuju's Alex Butterfield wasn't afraid to think of other possibilities to expand the Crush idea: What if you could crush time? (For example, a block could turn into a bridge; a cockroach into a centipede.) What if you could crush multiple realities, in multiplayer? Would each player have their own reality? The questions become far more challenging to answer, but much more exciting at the same time. Hopefully, Crush will meet an appreciative audience when it debuts on the PSP--I'd love to see a sequel that explores these mind-numbing concepts.

GDC 07: No Gravity looks for publisher; offers playable demo

Like Galaxy's End and The Black Corsair, No Gravity is a PSP game that's looking for a publisher. Unlike the other two efforts, however, the developers of No Gravity are asking PSP homebrew users to download and try their game. This 3D space shooter comes from a team called Realtech VR. The final version of the game has a planned 55 missions, "with diverse objectives ranging from destroying enemy ships or base, escorting allied ships, clearing the mine field, etc."

To download the homebrew-only demo, and learn more about the game, visit their website.

GDC 07: Sony proves they don't care about PSP


Phil Harrison's conference has come and gone, and although the audience was cheering throughout, Sony has proved one thing: the PSP doesn't matter. Well, at least not to Sony's "Game 3.0" idea. The PSP is able to do everything the PS3 can: use wi-fi, download files, take pictures, display video, and more. Why not incorporate a PSP version of Home, instead of making a "Virtual PSP" on the PS3? Why not add the Playstation Network to the PSP? The complete absence of Sony's handheld makes me believe that the platform simply doesn't matter to them right now: let's hope I'm wrong.

Expect some very specific PSP-prodding at Sony's bloggers meeting tomorrow.

GDC 07: Virtual PSP debuts in Playstation Home


At last night's Sony media briefing, Sony unveiled a plethora of new games and features for their next-gen home console, the PS3. Suspiciously absent was the PSP. Well, almost. Playstation Home, the PS3's upcoming social networking service, has a "Virtual PSP" that allows you to customize your virtual avatar. Sony states that "Your Virtual PSP gives you access to all the navigation, features and options of Home." Although this product placement is a cute way of promoting the platform, there's one thing that will work even better: more games on the system. Hopefully, the Phil Harrison keynote (happening now) will reveal some interesting non-PS3 tidbits for handheld gamers to enjoy.

See also:
Sony fights back; unveils Home, LittleBigPlanet, Killzone, more

GDC 07: The Black Corsair


GDC offers a chance for unproven games, new IPs, and new development teams to get a chance in the spotlight. Nearby Tiki Games' Galaxy's End booth was The Black Corsair, from an Italian game development team, Virtual Identity. This action adventure game combines platforming and multiple fighting styles in an imaginative pirate-inspired world. Although the game is headed to the PSP, the developers are trying to make it anything but small: supposedly, there will be over 100 NPCs to interact with, and over 40 minutes of cutscenes. The supposed 80 hour playtime seems inflated, but it would be incredible if this team is able to pull it off.

The Black Corsair certainly looks interesting. Although I didn't get my hands on the game, it's great to see independent studios try to do something new for our handheld. To find out more about the game, visit the game's official website.

GDC 07: Galaxy's End hands-on


Lead designer Kevin McCann loves the PSP, and he's going to incredible lengths to show his undying affiliation for Sony's portable. Sure, Galaxy's End could be made for other systems, such as PS3, but the game was "created from the ground up" for play specifically on the PSP. Although Galaxy's End still doesn't have a publisher, the prospects for one seem better every time we see the game: after today's hands-on demonstration, it's clear that this game has what it takes to succeed.

The graphics look quite nice on the PSP's screen. The game is surprisingly colorful, and features a good deal of animation. Of particular note: the flora looks especially nice; it all comes ot life through some great animation. The number of enemies on screen can be quite plentiful, but there are clearly a few things that need to be fixed later down the road: explosions need a good deal of work, and pop-in was a regularity thanks to the fog of war.

It'll be months before the game ever comes out (if it does), but even at this early stage, the controls felt solid. The basic controls involve simply pressing the X and Square buttons to select troops and target enemies. Moving with the analog nub felt precise, thanks to tweaking done by Tiki Games. The simplistic nature of the controls made it incredibly accessible, in spite of some problematic AI glitches (which should be fixed later on). With solid controls, and a meticulously detailed design document, It's clear that a lot of thought and effort has gone behind this game. Expect to see more on this title soon.

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