Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Banjo "spiritual sequel" Teased

During the N64 years there was one studio that was Nintendo's number 1 guy, that studio brought us Goldeneye, Perfect Dark, Donkey Kong 64, Diddy Kong Racing, Conker, Killer Instinct, Jet Force Gemini, Blast Corps and Banjo-Kazooie. It was fair to say Rare was Nintendo's Crown jewel, so much so Microsoft bought them. 

But things haven't been the same for the UK team since then. New games have rarely (no pun) been as good as their Nintendo era output exceptions being Viva PiƱata, Kameo and (arguably) Perfect Dark Zero. With new entries in series like Banjo-Kazooie and Conker being wildly different to their forebears. Even the new Killer Instinct isn't developed by Rare. Over the years much of it's talent has left and today comes news a lot of them have formed an new team: Platonic

These guys look... Familiar 

Formed by Gavin Price (designer of Viva Pinata, Conker's Bad Fur Day, Banjo Tooie and Jet Force Gemini), Chris Sutherland (lead programmer on the Donkey Kong Country and Banjo- Kazooie Series') and Steve Mayles (Banjo's creator) after they left Rare last year. Their aim? according to Price is:

Imagine there's an alternative timeline where Rare became independent instead of being bought by Microsoft. What would that company be like? What would it have gone on to become? That's our ambition.

The founders are now joined by Steve Hurst (who worked on Banjo- Kazooie and Goldeneye) , Mark Stevenson (Kameo's art lead) and Jens Restemier (Perfect Dark Zero's software engineer), but that's not all former Rare musician Grant Kirkhope (who has been trying to get an Wii U Banjo successor of the ground for the last year) has also offered his services to the team.

Their current plan is to expand to about 15 people and then produce games that feel like their golden N64 era but are also made in the same way, Which according to Mayles was one of the reasons he joined.

For me, the appeal is that I'll be able to create characters for a game myself again, creating a whole chain of animation, whereas at Rare now, you're just a small cog... you have to filter through three or four different people before something is approved.

The teams first project "project Ukulele" is in fact funded and is aiming for a PC and "certain" consoles release. However Price has revealed that he'd be open to a publishing deal if it secured the titles future and obviously one name springs to mind.

There's a history of working with Nintendo, so we'd naturally love to see our game on a Nintendo platform. If people tell us to make Wii U our target console platform, then we've got the flexibility to do that.

Give Nintendos recent history of reaching out to developers working on Nintendo-like games it would not be surprising to see them off Playtonic and deal. But what is this Mysterious Project Ukulele? well lets let Price explain.

Without giving the game away, I think it's pretty obvious what kind of game we're making from the history of the team. We consider it a spiritual successor to Banjo-Kazooie. We want to make a game where you control a fun character, learn new skills, add some new twists to the genre, and also listen to Grant's tunes!

Abe's Take
I've said for a while now that Nintendo needs rare to bring a bit of balance to their line up. Banjo-Kazooie was able to stand next to Mario 64 with out looking totally out classed, whilst i'd love to see snappy and flappy from the above artwork appear exclusively on Wii U/3DS i can't help but feel that Sony will stake a claim first

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

WEIRDNESS: .Street Fighter 2 released on... Virtual boy!?!?

Street Fighter 2 was big, I mean really big. It defined what would become "modern" fighting games for the next 24 years (and counting). It defined the mechanics and the now norm "arcade tested, console refined" cycle of development and as such landed on almost every system.

I would say its a safe bet that SF2 has hit every console in some form, whether it's been one of it update versions, compilations, remakes or ports. Everything from the last gen all the way down to the 2-bit, monochrome Gameboy but one platform didn't see a port. Nintendo's first 3D system (and massive failure) the short lived Virtual Boy ("famous" for making your eyes "bleed") never saw a version of the revolutionary fighter... till now!

Two talented homebrew developers Mr Anon and "MK" have rectified that "mistake" and have created not only the above packaging, booklet and cart but also their very own version of Street Fighter 2: Turbo (titled Hyper Fighting) for the eye-destroying-black-mark-on-Nintendo's-history Virtual Boy

Obviously the guys aren't "selling" it as doing so would surely bring Cacpom's lawyers' wrath (who here are played by M.Bison and Akuma) but several copies have made their way into collectors hands and I'm sure these have jumped to the top of the "collectable" versions of Street Fighter 2 list.

Check it out

Want to read more about another game with the Keywords Terrible, Retro and Fighting? Check out JM's Hourglass review HERE

Update: Thanks to Retro game collector and YouTuber VetrexRoli we have a better look at gameplay (check out his channel HERE)

Abe's Take
Over the last 5 years we've started to see retro consoles getting new games, whilst usually indie or long-delayed titles. Hell the recent Ducktales remaster's special edition came with a seemingly decorative golden NES cart of the original, which turns out to be a fully functioning game. It's good to see old systems getting love and this has certainly but these guys on our radar for their future adventures.

It's also a little frightening that SFII is 25 years old next year and it's celebrations will possibly limited to PlayStation, when it should belong to everyone (Nintendo being Street Fighter 2's spirital home makes this more unpleasant

Hour's Take
So here is the proverbial hero, the one the Virtual Boy deserves but not the one it needs right now. I don't know whether to bow to its majesty or savage my eyes with a rusty screwdriver. In acknowledgment of the efforts this pointless project required, I choose neither and instead respectfully opt to blueprint a mechanized pendulum of swinging torture to stab me in the eye for me. And by grace of Lady Justice alone this is still not the worst port of the game meaning U.S. Gold will continue to be pelted with warm apples. Hurrah!!