PC Magazine, reporting on news from the Internationale Funkausstellung, a consumer electronics show in Berlin, revealed that Philips will show off the Entertaible, a digital board-gaming surface, on Friday.
We've of course recently seen over the past several years the rise of virtual physical games, if you want to call them that, mostly in "arcades" (if even those can be called that anymore). Essentially these games take real world concepts like shuffleboard or bowling, and use partial physical items, like paddles or pucks, that are utilized on a flat, virtual surface, and interact with an impact sensor at the end of the table to make something happen on the video screen, preferably accurately reflecting what would happen if it were an all physical setup. There's also been quite a bit of controversy in the pinball world, where these virtual machines take the form factor of traditional pinball machines, but do the majority of their work via a video screen. This allows for infinitely configurable tables, but is it still really pinball, or more akin to what we play on our computers and videogame systems? In any case, the revolution, if you want to call it that, has been well under way.
Although we're all avid gamers here who would most likely enjoy playing Robotron or M.U.L.E. as much as the latest first-person shooter featuring humanoids with working pituitary glands, I bet most of us spend next to no time playing Windows pack-in games--those things that show up under "GAMES" on most Windows computers--you know, Solitaire, Free Cell, and so on. Well, apparently we're in the minority--at least according to GamerScore, who claims that Windows Vista's updated in-the-box games are so much better than the originals that even Mac-heads may end up addicted to them. Basically, what we're talking about here are improved animations.
Someone calling himself "DeadDrPhibes" has a great post up at The Older Gamers Paradise called The Birth of PC Gaming. The author takes us on a little tour of the earliest days of home PCs and gaming, starting with furniture-sized monstrosities and ending up with the Apple Mac and the Windows PC. He strikes me as a died-in-the-wall TRS-80 man, and spends good time discussing Radio Shack and Texas Instruments' entries in the home computing market (the CoCo, and so on). It's a fun read, even if it seems to be drafted mostly from the author's own experiences and memories. At any rate, it's nice to see a history like this from this perspective, since most "history-lite" like this I've read has focused mostly on the Apple, Commodore, or IBM. Now all I'm waiting for is a great feature on the Atari line of home computers.
Although PSP owners content to run official commercial titles for their system are safer to avoid homebrew, there's no denying that the emulation scene for the popular portable is extending at a massive rate: Now you can run scads of classic PC games on your PSP, including SCUMM adventure games (which I'd rather play than Doom).
Has anyone here had any luck installing the Windows Vista Beta? I've made two attempts to upgrade my Windows XP Pro. I couldn't even get to the download for two days after release, and it took me two tries with my DVD burner to burn the darn thing (some kind of weirdo ISO may be the culprit). Then, I had to clear up 11 gigs on my C drive, which was very tough due to my partitions (only 30 gigs on the C, the rest on G). Then I had to convert from FAT32 to NSFT. Then I was asked to uninstall my AVG virus program and restart the installer...As you can see, I was pretty determined to get the beta running. But alas, it was to no avail.
Missing Since January (MSJ), re-released in 2004 by the Adventure Company, is an American re-release of a game called In Memoriam, developed by the French Lexis NumÃ©rique company and published by Ubisoft SA and Dreamcatcher Interactive in 2003. The big gimmick is what I might call a "virtual reality" setup--playing the game requires moving beyond the program itself and doing Google searches. Players will also periodically receive emails containing clues or information, some of which are vital. It's pretty easy to see the problems that could arise from this setup, but it works. Plus, considering the game is now selling for $10 in various retail bargain bins (I got mine at Best Buy), it's definitely worth checking out.
Although there were certainly aspects of Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars that I admired, and others that I enjoyed, I have to admit I found playing through this title an exercise in tedium. The key problem is poor pacing (snail race, anyone?), which amounts to a collosal amount of dialogue to sit through, a somewhat clumsy narrative technique, and what feels like hours spent watching the avatar slowly plod and backtrack across the screen. Compared to similar games like The Dig and Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers, Broken Sword just doesn't make the cut.
"Gabriel Knight 2: The Beast Within" is an interesting game for many reasons. For one thing, it's one of the first games to incorporate full-motion video, and it does so effectively. Unlike Sierra's other pioneering CD-ROM project, "Phantasmogoria" or Trilobyte's "The 7th Guest," GK2 is still winning over new players today. The reasons are clear: GK2 has all the eyecandy of the other games, plus great characters, good drama, an interesting storyline, and challenging (yet not unsolvable) puzzles.