Thursday, February 18, 2010

"The Tester" debuts on PlayStation Network; Sony to unveil "The 19th-Century Textile Mill Worker" this summer

Today marks the debut of Sony's new reality series on PlayStation Network, The Tester. The Tester will feature, in the words of the show's official site, “11 avid gamers competing in a series of physical and mental elimination challenges to win an actual job as an official PlayStation game tester along with a $5000 signing bonus.” If you have any knowledge of what being a game tester actually entails, the problem with this premise is obvious.

A tedious, poorly-paid, mind-numbingly repetitive job is not a prize. It is an anti-prize. If it ever made direct contact with an actual prize, both would be utterly annihilated in a cataclysmic burst of gamma radiation that would reduce everything within a five-mile radius to molten slag. Hell, just having it within proximity of that $5,000 dollars is risking disaster.

The word "prize" implies something of value. This is why game shows and reality usually offer the chance to win things like new cars and large sums of money. This is why the Showcases on
The Price Is Right usually involve things like luxurious home furnishings or exciting vacations, rather than 10-year prison term in a Federal Supermax facility or home foreclosures or syphilis. This is why there was never a smash hit game show called Who Wants Regis Philbin to Beat the Shit of Them With a Rattan Cane. (Rege's terrifying prowess in the deadly art of eskrima is one of the best-kept secrets in show business.)

The show itself didn't really catch my interest, though your mileage may vary depending on how much you enjoy American Gladiators-esque sporting events with people in giant plastic spheres, people using cliched game terminology to express their anguish during personal crises, and watching the producer of PlayStation Home berating someone until they cry. If that's your thing, the first episode is available for free download on PSN.

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Friday, February 12, 2010

The Scottish action/adventure game

Jonathon Knight, producer of Dante's Inferno, says that for years he's also had the idea of doing a game based on Macbeth. Based on what he did with Dante's Divine Comedy, his hypothetical Shakespeare adaptation would probably portray Macbeth as a wisecracking American secret agent in an alternate-history steampunk version of the 1870s, charged by President Ulysses S. Grant with defending America from the machinations of the diabolical King Duncan, or somesuch.

To discover the horrifying secret behind the mysterious Scottish military research program known only as “Project Untimely Ripp'd,” Macbeth will have to infiltrate the very heart of the tyrannical Scottish Empire and confront the monstrous Thane Macduff, prototype for an army of genetically engineered supersoldiers that Duncan intends to mass-produce in artificial wombs and conquer the world. Faced with a power-mad tyrant, an army of cloned superhumans not of woman born, and three mysterious women who keep showing up in cutscenes to deliver cryptic dialogue that won't make any sense until the sequel, Macbeth will be pushed to his limits to survive. Rated M.

You know what's frustrating? Every time I try to mock Dante's Inferno by coming up with a ludicrous game premise vaguely related to classic literature, I end up with something I'd actually like to play. Now I'm going to end up spending the rest of the day depressed by the fact that Macbeth: Fury of Glamis (and it's smash hit sequel, Macbeth II: The Rise of Banquo) will never actually be made.

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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Final Fantasy creator announces new part-performing amusement for the Wii

Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi and his company Mistwalker will be making a new RPG for the Nintendo Wii called Last Story. It's nice to see the Wii getting more RPGs, given how sparse the system's RPG selection has been so far. (Though the same could be said of every console so far this generation, sadly.)

I know I'm taking the low road and going for the obvious joke, but... With all due respect to a talented man responsible for some of my all-time favorite games, it's a shame his otherwise boundless creativity apparently doesn't extend to names. We've gone from “Final Fantasy” to “The Last Story?” It's as if a group of former Epic Games employees made a game called Clockwork of Strife or Fraudulent Playoffs. I hope the game does well enough to result in more Mistwalker games for the Wii, so that players can enjoy the epic adventure to be had in The Concluding Tale and The Ultimate Confabulation and The Last Weepy, Drunken, Rambling Anecdote Before Falling Off the Bar Stool and Sliding Into an Alcoholic Coma.

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