Monthly Archives: September 2009

Alpha Protocol Slips to June 2010

Like Heavy Rain, BioShock 2, Red Dead Redemption, Bayonetta,  Darksiders, and Singularity before it, Sega’s Alpha Protocol has been pushed back into 2010, according to

Sega’s “espionage RPG,” was due to ship on PC, PS3, and Xbox 360 on October 27. Sega has placed ads for its fall release in several magazines, including a noticeably large three-page ad in the review section of the November issue of PlayStation: The Official Magazine.

Within the last few days, EBGames has changed the game listing on its schedule. A phone call to Sega produced a “no comment” response, which often is another way of saying, “Yes, that’s true but our hands are tied right now, gotta go!”

Alpha Protocol is a unique mixture of RPG story-telling elements and balls-to-the-wall action developed by traditional RPG creator, Obsidian Entertainment.

With the recession taking a chunk out of game industry sales throughout 2009, the game industry no longer appears as recession proof as it once was. Slower software and hardware sales have scared retailers into believing (and possible correctly) that consumers just won’t spend as much this holiday season, and that only big-name games have a chance.

Analysts predict that there will be practially no gray area in sales, with well-known brand names like Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2, Halo 3: ODST, and the likes taking the lion’s share, while lesser known games and new IPs will fare poorly.  This preditction isn’t inevitable, but it’s likely Sega felt that it’s intricate new IP, Alpha Protocol, had just better step out Modern Warfare 2’s way.  Too bad, too. I was really looking forward to playing it this fall.

Leave a comment

Filed under Video Games

SSX Originally Designed for Dreamcast

Electronic Arts’ original boardercross game, SSX, was initially designed for the Dreamcast, not the PS2, Bing Gordon told me in a phone interview for the story, The Rise and Fall of Dreamcast, live at

SSX’s original executive producer, Steve Rechtschaffner (SSX, WCW Mayhem) and creator of the EA brand BIG, re-affirmed Dreamcast was the game’s original home and added he was sad to see it leave the Dreamcast.

“Our team was designing SSX towards the Dreamcast and was extremely bummed when the word came down that we weren’t going to support the platform,” said Rechtschaffner. “I guess in the end, the PS2 was a better place, for a myriad of reasons, for SSX to call home.”

On a personal note, SSX was one of my favorite “extreme” games of its kind, along with the first three iterations of Tony Hawk and the now defunct Z-Axis rollerblade game, Aggressive Inline.

1 Comment

Filed under Sports, Video Games

The Rise and Fall of Dreamcast (on Gamasutra)

In this ten-year Dreamcast retrospective, Gamasutra looks back at Sega’s last effort in the console market through interviews with former president of Sega of America Bernie Stolar, former Sega of America COO Peter Moore, former SOA Vice President of Communications Charles Bellfield, and former vice president of Electronic Arts, Bing Gordon.

For a console that broke entertainment retail records, made the Guinness Book of World Records, and laid the blueprints for today’s online-centric consoles, it’s striking to think the Dreamcast’s lifespan was shorter than nearly any console in video game history.

Ten years after 9/9/99, the memorable date of the launch of the Dreamcast in North America, Sega’s machine has left a lasting legacy in online gaming, retail history, and the sports genre. But the brief, fiery life of the Dreamcast was fraught with conflict, questionable executive decisions, and ultimately, a shocking and abrupt ending.

Check out the full article on

Leave a comment

Filed under Tech, Video Games

Batman: Arkham Asylum Mini-Review

Every night that I play Batman: Arkham Asylum, a little Xbox oval pops up on my screen to tell me “friends playing this game.”  This is a newish addition to the Xbox Live communication functionality, but with this game, I hardly need to see it. It’s redundant. Whenever I play Batman, all of my friends who have their Xboxes turned on are playing Batman and nothing else.Batman

There is a good reason for this. With some games, you get a beautiful presentation, but behind the pretty facade, there isn’t always enough game to match it. With Batman, you get a gorgeous facade that is intricately tied into every aspect of the game. So not only is there pretty eye candy grabbing your attention all the time, it ties into functional aspects.

Find a Riddler item? You’ll hear an audio response from the Riddler and a menu pulls up to show you what it was.  A quick legion of bats flies by to note you’ve collected something else, and because of these simple little things, you’re drawn just a little deeper into Batman’s world.

I’m only 22% through the game, but I am so impressed by the well-thought out overall world of Arkham Asylum. If you die? During the reloading screen the Joker appears and gives you shit, until the retry button appears. What about water or falling off a cliff? If you fall in water, a cutscene shows you climbing out of it. Oh, the game is telling me not to go in the water. I don’t die like in old GTA games, and there are no invisible walls preventing me from the water–like in a dozen other games. If I fall off a cliff, in slow motion I’ll have the option or using the grappling gun to save myself. Similar to the water scenario, I’ll climb back up. These seems like natural, logical ideas, but how many games have actually done this?

Those are the little things that add up, but Rocksteady nailed all the big ones, too. Batman isn’t just a beat’em-up, it’s a Batman game — one part action, one part detective story, one part adventure, and one part living comic book. Rocksteady really knows its Batman characters and it has done an excellent, excellent job at not only getting their looks right, but capturing them the way they would be in the comics; this too is another thing that most comic book games miss.

Come to think of it, DC has been pretty screwed when it comes to video games. I mean, the best comic book games are, what? Spider-Man 2, The Incredible Hulk, and Marvel Ultimate Alliance? Not bad, but there hasn’t been a good Spider-man since like 2004, and once you’ve played Ultimate Alliance, erm, I mean Marvel’s Ultimate Diablo, you’ve played them all. Batman has never been handled so well or transposed into the videogame format as he has been in Rocksteady’s Batman: Arkham Asylum.  Thank you, Rocksteady, for making the best Batman game I’ve ever played.

1 Comment

Filed under Comics, Video Games

Batman: Arkham Asylum Collector’s Junk

Yesterday afternoon I bought the last copy of Batman: Arkham Asylum from the local EB Games store. It was the Xbox 360 Collector’s Edition, $40 more than the standard price. I was sick of waiting for Eidos to send the game my way, so I spent my Edge Card savings and traded in some games (Transformers, MLB 2K9, and a few others I knew I wouldn’t touch again).  The game is beautifully crafted, presents everything with an amazing amount of class and style, and the actual gameplay mechanics and design are superbly done and make sense for the Batman character.Batman

But this Collector’s package is pure lunacy. For $40 more I got a huge, space-taking Batarang-shaped box and a whole lot of bat-shaped foam.  With a game DVD came an “extras DVD”, which I have not explored yet, a plastic mounted batarang, a leather-bound bookelt, a faux psychologists diary of sorts that lists the line-up of baddies Batman faces in the game and their prognosis. By the way, the diary includes Batman as a potential candidate for the Asylum. The package also includes two stickers, with redemption codes for free downloadable multiplayer modes, and some other crap.

Those extra levels are cool. And I love Batman stuff, but this Collector’s business is crazy making behavior; this stuff is totally worthless and it’s a waste of resources. I shouldn’t bitch, because after all, I didn’t actually spend any money on the thing, but still. It’s junky stuff. For instance, if you simply play the game you’ll collect all the villain cards and get the same information digitally; you don’t need a leather bound book, too.  The plastic mounted batarang just takes space. It’s not good for anything, like the Lord of the Rings bookends, or the Twisted Metal business card holder made of chains and sheet metal (and which is sort of ugly). And everything except the two DLC levels are pretty much fluff. I guess I’ll just put that old batarang up next to my Master Chief SPARTAN helmet. Blech.

Leave a comment

Filed under Comics, Video Games