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GameCritics.com Podcast Episode 1

Welcome to the premiere episode of the GameCritics.com Podcast!
This week's topics include:

  • Reviews of Saints Row 2 and Art Style: Cubello
  • Why game criticism matters to us
  • Can games make us cry?

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Please send questions for a future mailbag segment to podcast (at) gamecritics (dot) com.

UNC-Chapel Hill students make games for blind players

According to an article in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill magazine Endeavors ("Fair Games"), UNC computer science students are designing games for players with low vision. The games were field tested at "Maze Day," when 70 kids with visual impairments came from all around North Carolina to play:

The game [Move to the Music] gives [the blind player] audio feedback on her performance: a handclap when she steps in time to the beat, an occasional buzzer when she’s off rhythm. Six-inch-wide pieces of carpet cover the centers of the squares on the pad, telling her feet where to step.
...
Other students used information readily available on the internet to write programs that can communicate with Nintendo’s Wii controller, called the Wii Remote or 'Wiimote.' Given the task of making a sports game, one group picked a sport that would be familiar to their target audience: beep ball. The real-life game is based on baseball and played by many blind kids and adults, using a softball that beeps and bases that make buzzing sounds. The game the students created combines verbal cues such as 'Ready!' 'Pitch!' and 'Strike!' with simple figures that seem to zoom closer to the player as they run across a green field. The player swings the Wiimote to hit the ball, then shakes the controller back and forth to run toward a base.

The games are playable on common, inexpensive hardware, and are open source; they can be improved or adapted as necessary.

Mega Man 9 Review

The 8-Bit Blue Bomber is Back!

Read review of Mega Man 9

HIGH Playing a game that was designed correctly to be a true challenge.

LOW I miss the slide feature of later Mega Man games (and a downloadable character does not count!)

WTF Finally figuring out how to use the Black Hole Bomb correctly! It took me way too long...

Art Style: Orbient Review

Making something out of next-to-nothing

Art Style: Orbient Screenshot

HIGH It's the pinnacle of electronic elegance.

LOW The difficulty of the extra stages verges on insanity.

WTF At only $6 for the download, it's an absurd value.

Art Style: Orbient

Game Description: Explore the universe like never before in Art Style: ORBIENT. Take control of gravity and antigravity to carefully maneuver your small star through 50 stages set in multiple galaxies. Collide with other stars to absorb them and make your own star expand in size, or capture the stars in your orbit and have them become your satellites. Space isn't empty though, and you'll have to avoid bumping into obstacles or getting pulled into a black hole. If you feel like relaxing while still being challenged, this is the game for you—its combination of simple controls, atmospheric sound, and unique environment make for an experience unlike any other!

Games in the Art Style series feature elegant design, polished graphics, and pick-up-and-play controls, creating an experience focused purely on fun and engaging game play.

Mega Man 9

Game Description: This latest Mega Man title brings the series back to its old-school roots with retro action platforming gameplay and classic 8-bit graphics and sound. Relive the Mega Man experience with classically inspired bosses, each with their own unique weapons and weaknesses.

On the Download: Is $15 too much for arcade downloads?

 

With the resounding success (on any platform) of the download model, publishers and developers are now starting to cash in as the price for electronic delivery creeps up.

Although $10 had been originally thought to be the sweet spot for consumers (I agree), more and more titles are now sporting a $15 price tag.

The Monkey King: The Legend Begins Review

A blast from the... past?

The Monkey King: The Legend Begins Screenshot

HIGH Cute sprite-based graphics.

LOW Not enough environmental interaction, with very few things to dodge.

WTF Replaying the entire game backwards after defeating the final boss.

The Monkey King: The Legend Begins

Game Description: The legend begins! Go on a fantastic journey through Ancient China as the legendary Monkey King. Deadly forces have invaded the Heavenly Kingdom and it's up to you to protect this land as you fight your way to becoming a god! Fly on your magical cloud and defeat the hordes of enemies that come your way on your quest to fulfill your destiny as the Chuka Taisen! An arcade classic reinvented for the Nintendo Wii system, players can utilize the controls of the Wii-mote to literally dodge your attackers and take control of the action! With rich graphics that depicts the beauty of ancient China from which this story came, users will be able to fly in the shoes of the legendary Monkey King and relive the tale for which he becomes famous.

Needing more storage space on Wii to play Art Style: Orbient


Not enough memory in here.

The amount of storage available on the Wii is truly pathetic, and not at all appropriate for the current environment. Adding insult to injury is the fact that you can only fit a small handful of games (never mind demos or movies) and I'm not able to delete the totally unnecessary news and weather channels to free up space for things that I actually want.

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