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9:47 PM on 04.15.2008

"It's Tetsuya Mizuguchi" - email from Q?

For those of you who didn't register with the during the "Free game giveaway" back when the site went live, here's some excerpts from the mailer recently sent out to Rez fans.

Hello from Tokyo!

First, I'd like thank you for taking the time to sign up at the Rez HD website, which we launched back in January. It took us a little while, but we are excited to bring you our first ever newsletter and hope that you will enjoy your time with us.

As many of you know, Rez holds an extra special meaning for special that I knew I would go back to work on the "complete Rez" at some point in the future. It was a thought that never left my mind. Well, on January 30, that became a reality when Rez HD was released for the Xbox LIVE Arcade...have you already had a chance to play what I consider the "complete Rez"? (I hope so!)

Back in 2001, when working on the original Rez, I was confident but yet worried. "Why?" you may ask...the truth is that since both games and music have no borderlines, by combining those two into an interactive form, I had a certain level of expectation from gamers around the world. But at the same time, I feared that this concept may not be fully understood by both gamers and music lovers. The one thing I did know though was that games were ever-changing and I was determined to create a game that was an indication of a future game. I wanted to make a game that was unheard of - something completely different. The result was Rez, a project that was made like a road film through traveling around the world and meeting people along the way.

Fast forward 7 years and a new Rez is born! Now in hi-def, wide-screen format, you will see no jaggies and I guarantee you will get sucked right into the game. I'm just amazed and impressed at how much of a difference the resolution makes; it makes it that much more exciting to play!  Plus, by digitally distributing this game (= being environmentally friendly), I feel as if we are in some ways conforming to its theme of "restoring the beauty of the world..."

In addition to the visuals, the sound component - what I consider the root of this game - has been enhanced significantly thanks to the surround sound technology. You should be able to feel, not just hear, the sounds as they are made...the role that it plays in this game is extremely important. For those of you who are set up with 5.1 surround, I hope you were able to feel the sounds, in detail, approaching in three-dimension - you should also be able to get the same experience through 5.1 surround headphones.

I've seen some people post their Rez HD impressions on the forums, but I look forward to hearing more about your own experience. Please feel free to leave your comments and share your experience with other Rez fans!

With Rez HD, I feel a huge sense of accomplishment. I am also very fortunate to have been able to recreate something that takes us beyond the experience of the original Rez and present Rez in the quality and form that is very close to what I had envisioned back then. I will take what I have learned from this experience and apply whatever I can to my other fact, I'm SO ready to move onto my next project! What am I waiting for!?

I look forward to the day when I can share that new experience with all of you...!

Until next time,

Tetsuya Mizuguchi

There was a lot more to the newsletter, but in order to keep up with DMCA policy and such, I will only quote that. I'm lead to believe if you follow this link you may be able to read the rest of the newsletter.

Rez Email?

It works for me but it might not work for you.

There was also mention of "Quiz the Miz", where you can post questions to the man himself on the official forums and he may answer them in the next news letter! Sign up at today to receive further newsletters and also check out the official forums and post your questions to the genius behind the multimedia experience Rez!   read

11:39 PM on 04.09.2008

My Ikaruga XBLA Review


Remember, Ikaruga is pronounced "Rape". Don't make the same mistake I did.

EDIT: Transcript for the youtube impaired.

There are games, there are gods, and then there are games that gods are made from. Treasure's Ikaruga just happens to fall into that third catagory.

Originally on the Arcade and Dreamcast back in 2001, Ikaruga has caused many gamers a great deal of frustration, while others study the game carefully, learning the complex patterns of the waves of enemies and frightening amount of bullets. You play as the ship "Ikaruga", and your goal is to stay alive, take out the bad guys, and rack up your score by linking combos. Sounds simple enough, right?

What makes Ikaruga stand apart from other shooting games of its kind, is the "Polarity" system. Some enemies are colored black/red, others are white/blue. Your ship has the ability to switch between both black and white, and you can absorb bullets of the same color as your ship. These bullets are then converted into a large enemy seeking bullets. The more you absorb, the more you can fire (though there is a limit). Just don't let an enemy bullet hit you that is not the same color as your ship, or you will die. And lives are a precious resource. However, if you shoot an enemy with an opposite color bullet than they are, they will die faster. There are 5 stages in all, which may not seem like much but they will keep you occupied. This game is still as hard as ever, and may leave some of you in tears as the game makes you its bitch. You will definitely be seeing a lot of deaths.

For those of you who owned the Dreamcast or Gamecube release will notice that this game is practically the same. Gameplay is the same, graphics are for the most part the same, though now in HD resolutions, sound is the same, etc. The only major difference is your menu options. Conquest mode and Practice mode from the gamecube game are gone, though the "Prototype" game mode can be unlocked. The game will let you choose any level you've been to previously even if you didn't beat it, so you can still practice that level you can't get past. The mode select screen from the gamecube version is gone, instead replaced with a simple menu that lets you get straight to the action. You can also change your screen settings, allowing you to set your zoom level, screen orientation, and your HUD position.

New to the Xbox 360 version is Online Co-Op, which is relatively lag free, Achievements, Replays, and leaderboards. Also, unlike the gamecube version which had text untranslated and removed from some parts, this game has all text intact, in all of its engrish glory.

For 800 MS Points ($10) you are getting the same game you've been playing which may turn off some players but there is no doubt this kind of release will bring the game to a slew of new players who were unable to find or afford a dreamcast or gamecube copy. Ikaruga is as great a game as ever, and feels right at home on the Xbox Live Arcade roster and is no doubt worth your money. Just remember, don't let the game get to you too much.   read

12:38 PM on 04.03.2008

Gamepro hands-on with MGS4; now with more

New batch of screens/videos and hands on preview within. Some excerpts:

Speaking of guns, Metal Gear Solid 4's arsenal options are already setting new standards. The game includes over 70 unique firearms, with an array of pistols, sub-machineguns, rifles, shotguns, and far, far more. Gun modifications are another bright spot in MGS4. Through a sleek 3D interface, we outfitted a basic M4 assault rifle with a laser sight, red-dot scope, flashlight, under-barrel grenade launcher (shotgun also available), plus a silencer. That's five upgrades attached to one gun -- astonishing! It's a minor miracle that the aging Snake is able to even heft that bulky, do-it-all firearm, let alone shoulder and fire it. In another realistic touch, you can set automatic weapons to single-shot, triple burst, and full-auto modes. Naturally, Snake's still got a full repertoire of close-quarters maneuvers, from basic hand-to-hand combos to silent strangleholds a la MGS3. The end result is an extremely versatile combat system that's loaded with replay value.

Playing a nearly complete build of Metal Gear Solid 4 running on the PlayStation 3 was a revelatory experience. The graphics looked sensational, the sound effects and music sounded magnificently epic, and the interface felt sleek and simple. In short, it's becoming increasingly clear that Metal Gear Solid 4 will be the rare game to live up to its own massive hype. We feel confident that MGS4 is the game PlayStation 3 owners (and Metal Gear fans) have been waiting years to play.

*inserts comment about 360 version here*

EDIT: To hell with it, here's 1up's hands on as well.   read

5:15 AM on 03.19.2008

Rez Beta Video - Developer Mode


The above video demonstrates some of the things you can do with a Dreamcast keyboard and another controller and your own copy of the Rez beta, "Vibes".

For more information on said beta, visit Galagabug's blog.   read

12:16 AM on 03.08.2008

Not My Turning Point gaming Rig

Pentium 4 @ 2.4 ghz
GeForce FX5200 256MB
2 gigs of some random Korean brand RAM
Built in sound card
DVD Drive
CD Drive (separate)
40 GB main HDD
80 GB 2nd HDD

The whole side panel has to be removed for proper ventilation, the floppy drive was also removed to allow for further ventilation from the front. Not pictured is the 1024x768 monitor with faded colors from being used for almost 6 years. She ain't purdy, but at least she turns on. I think.   read

11:59 PM on 02.24.2008

The return of

I'm expecting 11/10s all across the board, boys.   read

1:20 AM on 02.16.2008

Magic: The Gathering Online; Hidden Game Within

So here I was discussing with my friend Alan about how awesome Magic used to be back in the day. And he makes mention that we could just play Magic: The Gathering Online free of charge using some pre-made decks or something like that. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal to me. Relive a part of my earlier years for no cost whatsoever other than some hard drive space? Sure, i'll bite.

Fast forward to just now. I finally brought myself to download the client (I was worried that my Intel Core 2 Duo 2.4ghz processor wasn't good enough for the Pentium II 333Mhz requirement and that my 1440x900 monitor would be incapable of displaying 800x600 at 'high color') and I was treated to something most companies never think to do: entertain you while you install. Normally I would be able to blow through an installation pretty quickly, for larger games I would go make myself a sandwich (and I make a tasty roast beef sandwich) but in this case I was treated to a game before I even installed my game!

The name of the game is Magic Online Install/Update Agent. The premise is simple. You are given a cute window featuring this magical dragon and you are asked to choose your install path before clicking the green checkmark of awesomeness to proceed to your game. The interface is also simple, there is a box in the center of the game box that tells you what file it is downloading and what percentage of this file it downloaded. Beneath this you have a status bar that shows you your overall progress made. It begins to install a few files when the game officially beings.

A window pops up informing you that your connection has been lost while it was attempting to download a particular file. It gives you the choice of either Mr. Green Checkmark or the Ghostbusters logo. As much as I love Ghostbusters, I knew this would cancel my installation and I wanted this game installed so I clicked my old friend Green Checkmark. About 10% later, this same window popped up again, but the window with the checkmark had moved. So I moved my mouse over and clicked it, and not but 1% later it came up again, in a new home at the other side of the window. So again, I move my mouse to click it and it goes another percent and the window comes up yet again, but in a new location. I tried hitting enter but it would not accept that as apparently that would be cheating. As the percentage ramped up and up these windows became more frequent to the point where I broke a sweat trying to keep up. Like a demented game of Simon Says, this window continued to move all around.

This game was rather entertaining, and I have to give it to the creators of this fine game for giving me something to do while I was installing their fine piece of software. Some people just give you pretty pictures to look at, others give you a blue background to stare at while a bar moves up. But no, Magic: The Gathering Online has a bonus game in it's installation file. Fuck the casual gaming market with their simple gameplay and 5 really bright colors representing fuck all. Peggle and Bejeweled don't got SHIT on this. Thank you so much for the fun, the last level at 98% to 100% got really difficult and I actually had to give up. I mean, why bother trying that hard when there's no achievement points at the end of the gate, right? (I keed, I keed).

As a post-blog note, it turned out the problem for some reason was the fact I was using a dual core processor and it just doesn't like that. So I set the affinity to one core and it's been chugging along since then.   read

3:57 AM on 01.30.2008

Rez HD is out, are you in?

Rez HD
Xbox Live Arcade Release: January 30th, 2008 (that means get it now)
Cost: 800 MS Points

So by now you're either in the camp of the rabid Rez fans who have played the game over the last 7 years (6 if you were stuck with the PS2 version) with their Set-top boxes and 2 channel sound. Or you are one of the ones who hasn't played it yet and haven't quite figured out what is so magical about it. Well children, much like sex and drugs, you aren't going to even come close to understanding the experience of Rez by just having it described to you. You have to bring yourself to the experience with an open mind ready to feel the power of a large, throbbing apparatus in your hands as you feel the sounds and hear the sights. But for those of you who like to read stuff, this one's for you.

First things first, you're getting a lot for your money. You are given the option of being able to play Rez HD (the High Def visuals and widescreen display) or Rez Standard (Rez in, well, low res visuals and a 4:3 aspect ratio). You can also access a 'story' pane in the options menu which is two pages (with pictures!) lining out what you are doing there. From here you can blow through the main game's 5 stages in one sitting, whizzing past stage specific creatures, bosses that want your ass the fuck out of the system, and a story of evolution. Gameplay is easy. Hold down the A button, move cursor over enemies to rack up laser shots (8 total per hold-release pattern) and release to unleash the fury on the digital pests. Shoot a box that appears every now and then to advance to the next part of the stage and advance the song, and kill the boss at the end. It's on rails too, so there's no freedom to roam around. But this is never a bad thing, as the game never feels as if it's restricting you at any time. Once you beat the main game you can unlock Beyond Mode which contains two new stages (Lost Area, and Trancemission), a Direct Assault mode (take on all 5 stages in a row, and with various color variations for later playthroughs) and a Boss Rush mode. The nice thing about Rez HD is that if you beat a level and unlock something on Rez HD, you'll unlock it in Rez Standard and vice versa.

New stuff (!) includes a replay theater which lets you view replays of levels so you can see where you went wrong trying to get that 100% shot down on level 5, and Visual and Audio options. Now these aren't just the usual "brightness/contrast" and "volume" options. You get your choice of altering the graphics of Rez HD to further your audio/video experimentation, as well as adding effects that change sound on the fly.

Rez Visual Effects: Sepia, Tile, Blur, Bloom, Glare.
Rez Audio Effects: Cave, Forest, Underwater, Hall, Plate.

These effects are pretty cool and help add a new dimension to the gameplay. Sepia turns everything (except for your HUD, which is not effected by any of the effects mentioned) brown-ish, cutting you off from the rich range of colors each level has. This really fucked with me and almost ended me mid level. Tile turns everything 8-bit and pixelated, which is really nice looking and makes you feel even more nostalgic playing it. Blur makes everything appear as if you are looking at the screen in a Sauna. Bloom turns everything really fucking bright, and when you fire your lasers or blow something up (two things that happen quite frequently, believe it or not) the screen basically becomes a ball of fire, tearing holes in your retinas. Glare is basically Bloom Lite, from what I could gather. Now mind you, all of these effects do nothing to slow the game down, as it never, ever dips below 60 frames a second.

The Audio effects also give you some interesting new experiences. Cave makes an interesting echo which seems to preserve low-end sounds. Forest makes some awesome echo noises which come at you in different directions. Underwater makes the bass muddled and everything sounds a little dull, in a good way. Hall is like Cave, but..with less low-end. Plate, I honestly have no clue what it does and is kind of like 'Glare' on the visual options and is kind of a useless option.

Speaking of the Audio (and pardon me for taking this long to get to it), it is as crystal clear and thumping as ever. New sounds are thrown in to the mix, which will surely make Rez vets turn their heads a few times. The Stereo mix is worlds better than the Dreamcast version (trust me, I booted my copy up just to make sure) and while I would love to say something about it, I was unable to test the 5.1 surround sound. This is fucking killing me on the inside, but I will get to getting one of those cables for this 360 soon. But if the stereo mix is any indication, those blessed with the 5.1 setup and a nice TV will have the most amazing experience yet.

And to tie in with the audio is the rumble. Ok, so you're thinking "Sarge, baby. Every fucking game has rumble these days." To which I say "You sir must be a very lucky individual to have your dualshock 3 for your PS3. But tell me, does any game let you use 3 other controllers as vibration machines?" That's right, riding off of the cult-status of every girl gamer's wet dream is now a wet reality. You can use up to 3 other 360 controllers which will all offer force feedback. This offers even more possibilities to customizing your Rez experience and if you have the spare controllers you should give it a shot. Try placing them in different places each time and see how it changes your feel for the beat, and therefore the level as well.

All in all, this IS your daddy's Rez. With a whole new bag of tricks that will keep you coming and coming for months, or dare I say years to come? Q? Entertainment has brought their baby out of retirement for the 360, and Rez is right at home. With the usual leaderboard and achievements for the totally hardcore (as well as a few unlockable gamerpics, unless those got there before I played the game) this is the total package, and the best goddamn deal on Xbox Live. For your 800 Billy Bucks, you will be getting a game worth $50 for practically pennies. The file size is pretty tiny too, at under 120MB (at least when I first went to the download page) which also somehow makes it smaller than the Dreamcast and PS2 versions. Perhaps Q? took some tips from the masters of compression, the demoscene? It sure seems like they aimed to please, and they have delivered what could easily set the bar higher for XBLA developers. Tetsuya Mizuguchi, my hat off to you once again sir.

FINAL SCORE: Fuck you there ain't no number that can categorize this game. Go read the review or buy it already.   read

7:25 PM on 01.14.2008

Best Street Party Ever: The Aftermath (NVGR)

Warning: Man Nipples Ahead!


So what do you all think? The heroic rebel or total punk-ass kid?   read

9:11 AM on 01.10.2008

Rock Band: Drumstick Blitz

So it's been a few weeks of my owning my own copy of Rock Band and the instruments. Two weeks ago my guitar had blown, and was sent off on it's trip back home on monday (that's how long it took my coffin to arrive). I figured while that was out of commission I would get through my vocals and drums careers and tune my skills there.

So today I'm playing through a rather heated and in-the-zone round of "Go with the Flow" when my drumstick snaps. I tried to finish the song with the now spear-like stick facing my palm and me hitting the drums with the other end of the stick. This proved disorienting and just isn't going to work. So I come to you, fellow D-toiders. Do you have any suggestions for replacement sticks?   read

12:54 PM on 01.08.2008

Tell "Inside Xbox" you hate Xbox Live's DRM.

Xbox 360 owners are no strangers to the problem: The DRM on items purchased from Xbox Live prevents users who purchased the item on a pre-RrOD system from using that content offline on their replacement system. Want to see something done? Post your concern in this thread, and make sure Major Nelson and Trixie get the point. We want DRM gone.

If you have a Digg account, please be sure to stop by and digg the story as well. The more coverage we get on the issue, the more replies we may get, and the sooner we may get to an answer from Microsoft on this issue.   read

7:53 AM on 01.05.2008

New Rez HD videos; 360 looking more like Dreamcast 2

Yesterday a collection of new gameplay vids for the cult hit Rez (now Rez HD), now coming to Xbox Live Arcade some time this year, were uploaded to gametrailers. You can view them here. The game is looking as beautiful as ever, and does not show it's age.

For those not in the know, Rez was first released on the Dreamcast back in 2001 in japan, followed by a European Dreamcast release and U.S. PS2 release in 2002. The game is an on rails shooter in which you are trying to save Eden, an Artificial Intelligence who has become overwhelmed by information and has become self aware. Eden apparently doesn't like the position it's in, and attempts to shut itself down. You're there to stop it, and reboot the system so that Eden can continue it's duties. Along the way, you must fight firewalls, viruses, and all sorts of digital nasties. In other words, kill every goddamn thing that moves.

What made Rez stand out was it's visual presentation. A bastardization of Tron and...well, Tron. A rich array of colors were always on display at any given moment. The music was pulse pounding. So much so that it had a suggestive peripheral released in japan called the 'Trance Vibrator'. Some people took it for what it's name suggests. (NSFW, has a few shots of the device in it's natural habitat) And since the game had so very little copies produced/sold, it's cult status rose up on a pedestal and gamers everywhere soon began hearing rumors about how the game could induce a drug like trance and could possibly kill their mothers while fucking the family dog if you didn't manage to beat the final stage.

Soon enough, the mystery will be unleashed upon the entire Xbox Live going public. And in HD, at a steady 60 frames a second (the Dreamcast ran at 30 frames a second, the PS2 version had a few moments of slowdown) and in 5.1 surround audio. Now if that isn't a way to bring back the magic, I don't know what is. I can tell you, I am very excited. I hope that they do the whole game over again, not just the main stages but the special modes with altered color sequences, the lost area stage and Boss Rush mode. My personal favorite of them all was Trancemission, a never-ending set of levels that would throw you jarringly from one song to the next, in what can only be described as Captain Beefheart gone techno. I hope they will not split the game up into DLC like what happened with Lumines Live! (and subsequently, NOT done with Q's other XBLA game Every Extend Extra Extreme) and just keep it as one payment of 800 microsoft points. But so far the details are slim to none on what's going on with it. So enjoy the videos while I go boot up my dreamcast and get my beat on.   read

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