Programmable Series – By Any Other Game

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Every video game is an interactive experience, but when does an interactive experience become a game? Video games by their very design require input from an external source, most commonly a keyboard, mouse, controller or joystick. If a game played itself it would essentially be a video. However, even many videos now offer some level of interactivity. As we move towards simplified interfaces and more accessible content, the lines start to blur on what can be considered a video game.

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Laserdisc systems were one of the first mainstream media sources to bring a simple interactive experience into the gaming sphere. In 1983, Dragon’s Lair hit arcades and served as one of the first popular laserdisc games – titles featuring arcade cabinets that operated around a fitted laserdisc player – in the west, paving the way for the likes of Space Ace and Time Gal which have since gone on to become cult classics. These games make use of prerecorded animation instead of the standard character and background sprites, whilst only requiring very basic input from the player to progress the story.

Laserdisc players used simple directional and button inputs, similar to what you would find on the average television remote control. Arcade set-ups simply transferred these inputs to a standard arcade joystick and buttons, creating an experience that the average gamer would easily identify with. This minimal interactivity along with fixed story progression and impressive visuals offered an appealing game experience worthy of the arcade and eventually home use. The popularity of laserdisc games dropped significantly in the late 80’s, but the idea of interactive movies continued on through future disc formats, such as DVD and Blu-Ray, in a more limited capacity.

Moving into the late 90’s, Bandai’s electronic pet-simulation Tamagotchi had become one of the biggest toy fads of the decade. It too made use of simple button commands to create an accessible and intuitive interactive experience, not dissimilar to that offered by the laserdisc games of the previous decade. Although Tamagotchi is considered a toy, the presence of a dot matrix LCD screen used to display pixel-art characters is very comparable to a traditional video game. In this writer’s opinion, this marks where the lines of what can be considered a “game” really start to blur.

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Fresh New Threads from EDITMODE’s Splatoon 2 Collection

Kyoto-based EDITMODE have given us a glimpse of their fresh new line-up of officially licensed Splatoon-themed apparel, to coincide with the release of Splatoon 2 next month.

This follows a successful line based on the first game, which featured clothing items from in-game brands intricately recreated to wear in real life.

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First up is a selection of three graphic tees that have been featured frequently in the game’s promotional material since day one. Each design has parts printed using special light-reflecting ink. The three colour variations are also available in kids’ sizes and come packaged with a randomly selected badge featuring artwork of the abilities that come attached to the in-game clothing.

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Uniqlo X BoxBoy Apparel Line Serves up an Unexpectedly Adorable Collaboration

Following on from their partnership with Nintendo for the UTGP t-shirt design competition, Japanese clothing giant Uniqlo have announced a collaborative apparel and merchandise line featuring characters from HAL Laboratory‘s puzzle platformer gem BoxBoy.

The line is fronted by a pair of original t-shirt designs produced by illustrators Yuji Kaida (best known for his work on posters for the Godzilla franchise) and Toshikazu Aoki. Additional merchandise such as tote bags and key-rings will be available to a limited number of people who earn coupons by challenging daily playable BoxBoy levels distributed within the official Uniqlo app from the 20th of August.

A selection of ‘badges’ featuring characters and artwork from the BoxBoy series are also set to be introduced to Uniqlo’s ‘UTme!’ t-shirt creator app, which allows customers to design t-shirts on their mobile device and both buy and sell wearable versions of their ideas.

Hit the jump to see the full line of pre-designed shirts available in the line, or browse the selection on the UTme! website, where those based in Japan can find out how to buy them.

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RPG Eats, Game Boy Knitwear and Relationship Goals – Culture Collection #21

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Game Legend‘, a fair at which various dōjin groups get together to exhibit and sell their gaming-themed creations, took place earlier in May. Kazzycom was there to capture the scene and shared with us a nice shot of some 8-bit Shugei from birosama1217.

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On the topic of handmade items, bio_miracle showed off a cute cross-stitch Game Boy case, shaped like a Game Boy itself. A Game Boy in a Game Boy! Check out another shot here.

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A very classy arcade cab shot from miki800. You might have spotted this one when we shared it over on our new Tumblr page not too long ago.

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Masahiro Sakurai’s Exhaustive Smash Bros. Blog Gave Me a Year of Joy and Agony

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Between New Super Mario Bros. turning ten last May and the recent discovery that the Smash Bros. DOJO!! – a website used by Super Smash Bros. series director Masahiro Sakurai to promote the then upcoming release of Super Smash Bros. Brawl – began updating ten years ago as of last week, I’m starting to feel like an old man.

The Dojo served as a chronicle of every component that made up what was, at the time, arguably one of Nintendo’s most content-rich games to date. Characters, locales, items, mechanics and even contributing musicians were detailed, with each entry in the website’s blog-like archives penned by Sakurai himself – quite the undertaking, when you consider the scale of the game’s production. As such, explanations for even the simplest of features have a down-to-earth feel, offering a hint of not only the ambition behind the project, but personal excitement on Sakurai’s part as his ideas came into fruition.

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Musings on Life and Culture from the Contemplative Mind Behind Doshin the Giant

Toco Toco‘s latest Japanese cultural showcase focuses on Kazutoshi Iida, the creative mind behind Aquanaut’s Holiday, Tail of the Sun and Doshin the Giant – minimalistic, pensive experiences that blend the traditional hallmarks of game design with distinctly human elements aimed at encouraging thought and reflection.

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The soft-spoken Iida guides us around a number of his favourite Kyoto locales, starting with the Rissei Cinema Project, a former elementary school building dating back almost one hundred years that has since been converted into an arts centre that plays host to a variety of events, including screenings of documentaries and world movies. Next is the Kyoto Art Center, also a former elementary school, which serves as a portal for the area’s cultural offerings with regular performances and exhibitions.

In his research lab at Ritusmeikan University, Iida discusses his work in the games industry, offering a thoughtful commentary on the role of entertainment in society and the way it defines our personalities, as well as how it influenced him personally in designing the contemplative experiences his works seek to convey.

You can follow toco toco on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Visit their YouTube Channel to watch past episodes.

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Highlights from the 2017 My Famicase Exhibition

We introduced this year’s My Famicase Exhibition, an art show consisting entirely of creative designs for make-believe Famicom games, at the end of last month.

Hosts METEOR have now uploaded their full online gallery of every cartridge on display. After the break you can browse a selection of our favourite designs from this year’s line-up, as well as find out where you can follow some of the talented creators who make the show happen.

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You’ve Probably Never Played… Barbarossa

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Barbarossa
Developer(s): SystemSoft
Publisher: Sammy

Platform(s): Super Famicom
Release Date: November 27th 1992 (Japan exclusive)


Hitler was a bad guy. It’s hardly a surprise, all things considered, that the majority of his video game appearances have seen him take on the fitting role of bad guy. Be it the titular Hitler of Capcom’s Top Secret: Hitler’s Revival (better known as Bionic Commando), the iconic cyborg Hitler seen in Wolfenstein 3D or the skeleton-summoning Hitler of the Atlus-published RPG Operation Darkness, it seems that the common trend found throughout most of the moustachioed dictator’s virtual appearances is as follows; Hitler comes back from the dead, does something suitably sinister and proceeds to later die, generally in the most gruesome fashion possible.

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But what about the exceptions to this rule, the games where the führer’s head doesn’t explode at the end? Released for the Super Famicom 1992, Barbarossa is one of these games. As a matter of fact, it has Hitler’s head looking quite thoroughly intact – and unsettlingly heroic – on its front cover.

The game was developed by SystemSoft Alpha Corporation (occasionally going as simply ‘SystemSoft’), a studio with a rather uneventful track record as far as commercial releases go who champion a unique niche of developing strategy games aimed at an audience of Japanese military enthusiasts largely shunned in their tastes by Western-made historical strategy games that portray the army of Imperial Japan as villainous members of the Axis powers. Only a handful of SystemSoft’s titles have ever made it to the West, primarily as a result of both the company’s system of choice being the Japan-only PC-98, as well as the controversial political nature of many of the games themselves – Barbarossa understandably falls into this category.

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Programmable Series – The Sounds Of Context

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Audio in video games is an interesting beast to tackle. You’ve got background music to set the mood and enhance the environment. You’ve got sound effects for the actions players and characters perform within the game. You may even have voice acting to consider as well. It’s a lot to think about and although it’s only a piece of the game design puzzle, it can be one of the most important. The audio of a game can be what draws players in or drives them away.

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Anyone who has ever played Marvel Vs. Capcom 2 will never be able to hear the words “I Wanna Take You For A Ride” without having flashbacks to the iconic audio loop that pounds away on the character select screen. Perhaps it is intended to make you select your character faster, because instead of making a careful and calculated decision you’re likely to just pick the first character that has some appeal and get into the fight – anything to get away from that song and avoid the oncoming headache. The same can be said about the music in the main menu for Cruis’n USA. You just want to pick your car and get going, to spare you any prolonged exposure to the horrible noise that is escaping your speakers and invading your ears.

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The Irresistible Uphill Battle of Nintendo Pocket Football Club

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In a way not unlike the failure of Mario Bros. to capture the nuances of the plumbing industry with any sum of accuracy, Nintendo Pocket Football Club is a football management simulation that pushes aside the preconceptions you may have garnered about what’s required to manage a professional football team, in video games or otherwise. It offers a wholly positive take on a career that involves both emotional and economic responsibility, doing away with any of the potentially unattractive realities and concentrating on the sheer act of ‘the beautiful game’ itself.

It’s a satisfying perspective. But what do you expect from a take on a real world practice with the word “Nintendo” in the title?


There has been something of a pattern to my football management career in Nintendo Pocket Football Club. Starting with nothing but a randomly picked assortment of players and a pittance to get off the ground with, it would take two painful seasons of highs and lows for my fledgling side ‘Raijin FC’ (a name intended as a playful take on ‘Raimon’, the titular XI of Level-5’s fantasy football RPG series Inazuma Eleven) to claw its way into the next division up. A small victory to start with, but a victory nonetheless.

The season that followed would be bittersweet to the core. A shot at rubbing shoulders with teams on the cusp of the world stage, missed out on by a total of points you could count on one hand. What would follow, however, was an onslaught. Revenge.

The team had quickly become the footballing equivalent of the figurative fish that’s too big for its pond. We didn’t lose a single game that season, the odd 1-1 draw enough to drag down a consistently perfect rating of fan support; at a glance, perhaps the result of a flawed algorithm at work, but it’s not like real life fans aren’t above such fickleness. No matter, for it wouldn’t be long before they’d get a chance to celebrate again.

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