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Destructoid review: The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai

Apr 22 // Conrad Zimmerman
The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai (XBLA)Developer: Ska StudiosPublisher: Ska StudiosReleased: April 1, 2009MSRP: 800 MS Points Conrad ZimmermanThe Dishwasher: Dead Samurai is a fast-paced, frenetic brawler the likes of which we rarely see in 2D. The titular character's story revolves around... actually, I have absolutely no idea what the story really is. The Dishwasher was an actual dishwasher in a restaurant but he was also a samurai and was killed by the robotic underlings of the controlling global power. Mysteriously resurrected, he has sworn vengeance against his killers and seeks to topple the evil world overlords. At least, I think that's how it goes. It could be the most brilliant tale of revenge ever written and I'm just not seeing it, but the occasional comic strips that break up the action are vague and kinda pointless. The writing is overwrought and needlessly dramatic but I will give credit to the art style used throughout these panels and the game as a whole. It is dark, striking and more effectively conveys the smoldering rage of The Dishwasher than the laughable text which accompanies it.It doesn't really matter anyway, outside of having something to skip before you go and kill more robots, because the combat is quite clearly where a lot of James Silva's energies went in developing the game. Starting only with a purloined set of cleavers from his former place of employment, The Dishwasher slices, dices and makes Julienne fries out of everything which comes into his path. New weapons arrive early and often with four additional implements of destruction becoming unlocked during the story mode's fourteen levels, including a katana, a chainsaw and guns.Also unlocked early in the story mode is the ability for a second player to drop in locally for some co-op action. The second player doesn't have to deal with the same sort of pressure as the first player, as their death only takes them out of the action for a brief period of time before they can hop back in (albeit with less than full health). It's great for when you have a friend show up unexpectedly or if you need a little help getting through a section and, like all unlocks in The Dishwasher, it carries over into any new game you start after gaining the capability. The Dishwasher also has some potent magical attacks at his disposal. Earning four "Dish Magic" spells through the course of gameplay with varying effects, these generally boil down to being smart bomb attacks which deal a significant amount of damage to enemies in their wide area of effect. Sure, one spell might explode outward in multiple directions while another only fires forward along the ground, but it's difficult to tell the difference between one spell and another as they all seem to do much the same job. As you progress, you'll collect spirals from enemies. Achieving certain challenges, such as defeating a group of baddies within a time limit or completing a rhythm-matching minigame. These can be spent at one of the game's many computer terminals for a boost in your maximum health or Dish Magic meters. They can also be traded in for upgrades to your weapons which unlock new combos and increase damage.The Guitar Hero-like minigame is a nice little diversion that breaks up the action and gives a little breathing room. As has been reported previously, you can even use a guitar controller to play these sequences, which seems like a nice touch but winds up being a bit impractical and most players won't even bother with it. Of course, if a guitar controller is connected to the Xbox when you start one of these, it defaults to the mode which uses it, which might annoy unaware folks (like this reviewer) who tend to just leave their peripherals plugged in all the time. In addition to the story, there's a considerable amount of content to play. The arcade mode, which can be played alone or in multiplayer (online or local), has fifty scenarios available. And, for the really hardcore, a survival mode with leaderboards is available. The combo system for attacks is deep and satisfying. Each of the five weapons available to you have around a dozen combo moves you can achieve with them and moves can be chained to other moves or even other weapons with a quick press of a button. Interestingly, the game encourages you to stay your hand a bit when pummeling foes. Once an enemy has been weakened near the point of death, a prompt appears giving the player an opportunity to perform a killing blow. Using the correct attack is important, as properly killed baddies drop much-needed health. The system places an emphasis on skillfully dispatching enemies instead of merely laying waste to them and it works great. You have to train yourself to stop at the right time or you'll kill the vast majority of enemies without gaining the benefits of doing so.With six difficulty levels for the story, the scenarios and survival modes, The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai is a game you could be playing for a very long time indeed. It's a good thing that it's so much fun. Killing robots is consistently entertaining with the game's tight controls and higher difficulty levels are quite hard indeed. If you're in the mood for a little wholesale slaughter, you could certainly do much worse than this one.Score: 8.0 Jordan DevoreThe Dishwasher: Dead Samurai has been a relatively strange experience for me. Initially, when a slice of the game was released as a playable demo for the XNA initiative around a year ago, I was ecstatic to take it for a spin. Flash forward to a few weeks ago when the title finally debuted on the Xbox LIVE Arcade, where I was anxious to spend my 800 Microsoft Points, but came out somewhat dissatisfied at my first hour or so of play time.I had opted to go with normal difficulty my first time through, which was apparently a horrible move; once The Dishwasher’s gas mask-wearing, grenade-throwing enemies came out to play, they whooped my ass, in a big way. I like to think of them as the equivalent of Castlevania’s flying medusa heads -- they aren’t particularly hard to kill alone, but when a few come at you at once, there’s going to be trouble. Anyway, because I had refused to use the game’s rolling mechanic (this move varies from weapon to weapon) to dodge the aforementioned grenades, and had instead decided that spamming the same three moves repeatedly was nothing short of brilliant, I died. A lot. To the point where I was completely turned off from playing until later on that same evening. No, I’m not just telling you about my misfortune because I enjoy making a fool out of myself -- rather, this is a good example of why senseless button mashing does not work very well.Once the game brings out some of its stranger and more deadly monstrosities, like the undead kamikaze cyborgs, for instance, you have no choice but to A) dodge or teleport to avoid fire, since there technically is no ducking and B) pay attention to visual cues, especially when it comes to pulling off stylized finishing attacks and not getting your ass handed to you by the many bosses that infest The Dishwasher’s twisted world. Speaking of bosses, I must give props to James Silva for bringing such a variety in character design to the table. Figuring out the best way to take these bad boys down was easily my favorite part of the game, simply because it brought me back to the days when I actively played games like Kirby Super Star, Donkey Kong Country 2, Mega Man X, and Yoshi’s Island. Evoking such a wonderful feeling is not easy for a developer to accomplish, and it’s sadly a rarity these days as most companies have strayed away from making bosses challenging enough for the more skilled gamers out there.It’s also worth mention that The Dishwasher presents some of the most satisfying moments in recent memory.  Because of the way in which enemies are presented -- wave after wave of baddies to the point where you will constantly be eyeing your health bar in absolute fear -- the feeling you get upon clearing out almost any given room is absurdly refreshing. Besides that, there are a few parts where your friend the insane Chef makes a quick appearance (yep, the story makes no sense, but it doesn’t have to), and he quite literally obliterates foes alongside the Dishwasher as you try to figure out what’s transpiring on your television set; if these sequences weren’t as badass as they really are, I wouldn’t even be mentioning them right now. Trust me, when you see it for yourself, you will gush joy too.While progressing through the main story mode is enjoyable -- minus attempting to make sense of the game’s vague story -- the arcade mode is definitely where most of your time will be spent.  Being able to quickly load up a level where all you need to do is “kill X amount of enemies” and get the highest score possible is pure, over-the-top gore-filled bliss. The replayability of this game is much greater than the average XBLA release, and for that I am greatly thankful.While I have been quick to point out all of the positive aspects to The Dishwasher, of which there are many, I feel obligated to reiterate that the game’s learning curve will be borderline maddening for some of you, and for whatever reason, there’s screen tearing in a few of the later levels. It’s not a constant issue or anything, but it is worth bringing up. Lastly, while I agree with Conrad on the guitar minigame being good for a break, it gets extremely old, and if it wasn’t for the fact that I’m a whore for points, I would have flat out skipped the damn things. But now I’m beginning to nitpick, so I’ll shut up already and allow you to resume doing whatever it was you were doing prior to reading this review.For $10, the amount of content easily justifies the purchase for anyone who wants a solid 2D action game with a gritty yet strangely charming look to it. I would recommend downloading the trial for those who fear The Dishwasher may be too difficult to handle, but please remember that the game shines the brightest when you have all of the weapons unlocked and are tasked with fighting more than two or three starter enemy types -- don’t let the demo’s simplistic nature fool you. Score: 8.0Overall Score: 8.0 -- Great (8s are impressive efforts with a few noticeable problems holding them back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash.)  
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It has been over a year since gamers were given the opportunity to check out the XNA Community Games demo and I think it's safe to say that one game clearly outshined all of the competition. The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai was f...

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The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai out on XBLA this week


Mar 30
// Jordan Devore
It's been so long since the trial for The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai was released that I can hardly remember any of the specific things that made the game so much fun to play. But, I do recall the feeling of pure exhilaration i...
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New XNA massaging game made by a Dtoider features online co-op


Feb 12
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Dtoider Entrager just released a brand new XNA game called Remote Masseuse. It’s like the other XNA massaging game (Rumble Massage), except Remote Masseuse features online co-op!Players can still massage themselves if...

Destructoid review: Audiball

Feb 11 // Brad Nicholson
Audiball (Xbox 360 Community Games)Developer: indiecisive games Publisher: indiecisive gamesReleased: November 19, 2008MSRP: 200 Microsoft PointsRead more about our Community Games Review Challenge    Audiball is an odd game.Picture playing Rock Band without music. Every time you clack out a note, the game would register it just as it would have with sound. This may seem unsatisfactory -- music is a part of the experience -- yet, you’re playing the game properly. At its core, a rhythm game like Rock Band is nothing more than a practice in precise timing and muscle memory.Unlike Rock Band, Audiball doesn’t feature floating notes or complex solos. It’s a puzzle game that suggests the use of a plastic guitar. Weak sound feedback never lulls you into believing that you’re creating music, but the game’s utilization of muscle memory and precise timing may make you think you’re exploring a mute Rock Band with a puzzle twist.And the game keeps up with the rhythm façade. You’re put in control of multiple fret-colored turrets that work together to propel tiny white orbs to a galaxy-shaped endpoint. Flipping the strum bar (or hitting the correct color-coordinated button) shoots the ball to another turret, at which point you’ll need to propel the ball once again. It’s a relay race (time limit included) that challenges your ability to pick the right buttons in rapid succession. Each level takes around 2-4 minutes to complete, thus forcing you to shoot several balls into different turrets simultaneously. A second timer forces you to dump their payload within a matter of seconds. These acts balance each other quite well, and I find it to be a satisfying dynamic, although I question the pacing. Some levels require too much deftness and pattern memorization.Obstacles (including odd physics-based ones) rotate and slide in the way of the balls’ progress to the endpoint. These barriers aren’t always bad -- many of the game’s levels are built upon the interplay between the balls, turrets, and obstacles.That interplay doesn’t always birth something ingenious. A few levels suffer from being too clotted by turrets and barriers. These levels cause frame rate meltdowns and a fair bit of frustration. But the majority of the game is full of satisfying puzzles that require an intelligent approach. The last level, “Wave Rider,” is perhaps the most striking example of good design coupled with decent puzzle gameplay. The soundtrack is a clever mixture of tracks with an upbeat swing. Neither repetitive nor distracting, the songs and sounds of the game add to the experience. Yet, I was thrown by how they simply didn't matter to the game. Audiball is the same game when muted, whereas other rhythm mixtures seem hollow without.Audiball is a competent puzzle game with a refreshing style. Its uninspired visuals, breakneck speed, and occasionally cluttered levels made me quit playing for lengths of time. Its problems are triumphed by its victories -- the large amount of good levels, challenging puzzles, and decent playing time are factors that not every XNA game possesses. For 200 Microsoft Points, it’s hard to find a reason not to buy this game if you’re a puzzle fanatic armed with a plastic peripheral.Score: 7.0 -- Good (7s are solid games that definitely have an audience. Might lack replay value, could be too short or there are some hard-to-ignore faults, but the experience is fun.)
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Before I brewed my cup of coffee this morning, I listened to the sounds of my two cats playing with their toys, my girlfriend grumbling about having to go to work, and rain drops. My cats’ paws thumped on the floor spor...

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XNA game provides orgasmic massage pleasure


Jan 28
// Jim Sterling
Although Destructoid's Community Games challenge is for developers to tell us what we should review, a few titles on the service tempt me to "go rogue" and review them anyway. One of them is Rumble Massage, which Wi...

Destructoid review: Weapon of Choice

Jan 27 // Jim Sterling
Weapon of Choice (Xbox 360 Community Games)Developed by Mommy's Best GamesReleased on December 15, 2008Costs 400 MS PointsRead more about our Community Games Review Challenge    Weapon of Choice takes the form of a run n' gun scrolling shooter, something which will be instantly familiar to those who grew up with the likes of Contra and Metal Slug. However, rather than embrace the retro look and feel of those games, Choice has instead used hand-drawn art and Flash-esque animation to give the game a suitably fresh look and feel. While this has certainly helped give Weapon of Choice a unique aesthetic vibe, it has to be said that the style has had a somewhat adverse effect on the gameplay itself. The most important issue is that WoC simply doesn't feel as tight as the games it was inspired by. The cardboard cut-out nature of the characters lends them a strange floaty feeling that seems a bit too loose for a running shooter.  Fortunately, Weapon of Choice is so out of its own frigging mind that floaty handling won't be an issue for many people. They'll be too busy trying to make sense of the absolutely insane enemy designs and the ridiculous weaponry that is on offer. Each character carries their own "Weapon of Choice" and each one is unnecessarily ludicrous. One particular gun fires at least ten giant knives a second, while another is a collection of energy beams that consistently spin and rev from the hilt like a giant blue chainsaw. Every weapon has a secondary fire option, and each character also has a backup rapid fire weapon ... which can also be kept on a leash and fly ahead of you ... just because. As well as weaponry, each character has access to a spiderpack which is like any normal backpack, except it can crawl on walls with you hanging from it like some nefarious grape. Deft use of this arachnid ability will be crucial for dealing with some of the game's incredibly tricky bosses. There are no lives in WoC, instead using a rather cool "Brush with Death" gimmick. The Brush with Death allows you to escape from the jaws of doom by slowing the whole game down and zooming in on you and the cause of your potential demise. You then have a window of time within which to maneuver your character away from the threat. It works surprisingly well, even though it might take a little getting used to. If you do happen to perish, another one of the characters can be selected, along with a "revenge missile" to take out whatever killed you. Each operative can carry a downed comrade on his or her back, allowing you to save the life of a fallen character -- should you make it out in one piece. The game has its tough spots, but even so, you'll be hard pressed to find more than a day's worth of content in Weapon of Choice. While the campaign has three alternate paths and a potential four endings, each playthrough can be surpassed in a matter of minutes, with only an extra difficulty level providing any incentive for replay.  It's a shame because, on the whole, Weapon of Choice is a pretty good game, and certainly one of the most slickly produced experiences that the Community Games Channel has to offer. However, without a score, or leaderboards, or co-op, the whole thing feels a bit bare-bones despite the the lavish visuals. If you want some completely shameless macho shooting fun, then Weapon of Choice is definitely worth at least the free download. It's a solid game, with only negligible flaws. However, the lack of length and replay value makes it hard to recommend as a buy for all but the most dedicated of shooter fans.  Score:  7.0 -- Good (7s are solid games that definitely have an audience. Might lack replay value, could be too short or there are some hard-to-ignore faults, but the experience is fun.)
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Weapon of Choice has been held aloft for a while now as an example of what Community Games can be with some development know-how and a lot of effort. It is one of the most professional looking games to have come from the XN...

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Braid premium theme available on Xbox 360, creator remarks on theme prices


Jan 11
// Jim Sterling
If you're anything like me, you'll love console themes, but can't stand the fact that Microsoft charges stupid amounts of moon money for the privilege of downloading. Jonathan Blow would like you to know that, although he has...
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Weapon of Choice speed run contest challenges you to move fast for prizes


Jan 09
// Brad Nicholson
Weapon of Choice is by far my favorite XNA Community Game. What other XNA game features a stick monster that spews milk from its teats? Considering the wide berth of titles available for download, I consider originality (and ...

Destructoid review: Hexothermic

Dec 26 // Jim Sterling
Hexothermic (Xbox 360 Community Games)Developed by David WebbReleased on December 19, 2008Costs 200 MS PointsRead more about our Community Games Review Challenge Hexothermic charges you with clearing a screen of different colored atoms. Unlike real life, where atom smashing consists of millions upon millions of dollars of high tech equipment, this game merely asks you to click on the red ones until everything's gone. The atoms change color depending on how close they are to exploding, with red being the final stage. Once a red atom is clicked, it sends six electrons out along each point of a hexagonal space, stopping once it hits an atom, which will change color. Of course, should an electron hit a red atom, that too will explode, sending out six more electrons. The goal is of course to trigger as many atoms as possible within a single click. You only have a limited number of clicks with which you can trigger a red atom of change the color of other ones, so you need to be as conservative as you can. There are a number of different modes, such as Marathon, which recharges a few clicks per stage, or Survival, which gives you 99 Clicks and ends once you've used them all them. However, the game is essentially the same throughout. It's all about clicking and watching. If you've ever played a Flash game like Chaos Theory, you'll get the guiding principal. In fact, Hexothermic's biggest drawback is that there are many, many, many Flash Games to which you could compare, to the point where it's really hard to justify spending any sort of money. Granted, a few things are in Hexothermic's favor. First of all, the game uses acoustic guitar sounds to represent the noise made by exploding or changing atoms, which can lead to some quite interesting music being made depending on how well your chain reaction goes. The game also recreates Achievements with its own set of Awards. Naturally, Hexothermic also has the High Definition edge, but sadly the game really isn't very pretty to look at, Hi-Def or not. What I am assuming is supposed to be a simple and clean style looks rather drab and even unpleasant. It is sad to say that those aforementioned Flash games tend to look better.  Hexothermic isn't a terrible game. In fact, it's not even all that bad. It's just not really worth any sort of monetary transaction when there are Flash games out there that provide the cathartic chain reaction experience for no cost whatsoever. Despite a solid aural presentation, the visuals drag the production value down and the lack of anything truly outstanding means that Hexothermic will be highly unlikely to hold one's interest for more than ten minutes. By all means, give it a try, since it's worth that much. Whether it's worth more than that, however, is questionable.Score: 5.5 -- Mediocre (5s are an exercise in apathy, neither Solid nor Liquid. Not exactly bad, but not very good either. Just a bit "meh," really.)
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There's something inherently satisfying about watching a chain reaction. From the ancient simplicity of Dominos to modern day videogame classics like Peggle, setting something in motion and watching the results is incredibly ...

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Downloadable fireplace is available because of XNA, thanks Microsoft


Dec 22
// Brad Nicholson
Microsoft’s indie developer tool, XNA, is more than just a program that helps people create games. It can also create ambience ... the smoky and crackly kind. Recently, a creator by the name of SniperED007 debuted his l...
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Developer criticizes 360 Community Games price structure


Nov 25
// Jim Sterling
Microsoft has come under fire before, especially from indie developers like Jonathan Blow, for the amount of restrictions and inflexibility one finds when making games for the Xbox 360. Joining the ranks of the frustrated is ...

Destructoid interview: Nathan Fouts, nasty alien killer and XNA developer

Nov 17 // Brad Nicholson
One of the hottest XNA games coming to the Xbox 360 on November 19 (for a mere 400 Microsoft space bucks) is Weapon of Choice. Its characteristic blend of hectic, 2D side-scrolling Contra-style action has captured the attention of many an enthusiast press member throughout the development process. Aside from catching our eye, the game has also caught attention from Microsoft. This year, at an event called Dream-to-Build, the game placed third among elite XNA titles, earning the developer Nathan Fouts a hefty $10,000 to continue with his work.Nathan Fouts is a slightly unusual XNA developer. He is an ex-Insomniac employee, who shared in the design process for games like Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction and Resistance: Fall of Man. He’s obviously very aware of how top-tier development works and privy to what makes a game great on a large scale. He’s also very aware of what works on a small scale, if the acclaim for Weapon of Choice is any indication.Yesterday, I had an opportunity to talk to Fouts about life after Insomniac, XNA development, and ultimately Weapon of Choice. In the end, it’s easy to see that Fouts is dedicated to his work, and enthusiastic about his game -- and you probably should be as well.One of the first questions I asked Fouts was if he originally planned on continuing to design videogames after leaving Insomniac. His decision to leave the studio wasn’t for any abnormal reasons. He worked in the industry for over a decade and was beginning to feel “burned out.” It’s an understandable sentiment. Initially, he threw around several different ideas.[video]111564:729[/video] “I actually though about a lot of other jobs for a while,” he told me in an email. He thought about “carpentry, teaching, or even just working in a nursery. I definitely enjoyed making games with the big boys, but after a decade of working like that, I was getting a little burned out. In the end, I decided I loved making games so much, I would try it small and if that didn’t work, I’d move on.” Fouts then went on to say that “working small was amazing – I hope we [Mommy’s Best Games, his company] can keeping going.”One of the big misconceptions about Weapon of Choice is how it was conceived. Popular belief is that his wife found a box of art and videogame ideas related to Weapon of Choice in his parents’ attic, and then convinced him to pursue the game. Not exactly true. According to Fouts the idea for Weapon of Choice was cooking in his mind “for about two and a half years” before he decided to try it out on XNA. The attic situation did happen, but it went down a little differently."We visited my folks a little while ago and my wife found a large box of drawings of mine from high school. It was full of old side-scroller game ideas – predating Weapon of Choice ... but in my drawing style nonetheless. She loved that I had been wanting to make my own games for so long and my dream was finally coming true."And true it has become, but there were a few hurdles to run through initially. Fouts’ motivation for using XNA stemmed from his dislike of writing “low level/engine code.” He found that the service broke several tedium barriers through its growing and generally intuitive nature. The real development of the title started before XNA, which meant a transfer and a bit of frustration was in order."I had an old programmer buddy writing a rendering/system engine for me in Direct X. In the meantime, I was busy planning the game out and getting some drawing done. When XNA debuted, it pretty much covered everything he had been working on for a year and more. We had to scrap that version of the game and [move everything to XNA]."He then went on to say that the move was “quite smooth, and has been fairly painless ever since. It was a hard decision to make since my friend had done so much work for me, but we both knew it was the best way.” Fouts’ goals for the title were much lower when he initially started designing it. Xbox Live Arcade was still fresh, and we (as players) were suffering through some of the service’s growing pains. But as the service matured, so did Fouts’ game. He noticed that titles were beginning to get more polished, and he felt he had to do the same. He gave me an example of a change he made after noticing the rapid rise of the service:"Originally, none of the trees or plants in the background [were animated] and now everyone of them sways and moves through a complete skeletal animation system."The XNA development community was somewhat of a surprise to Fouts. He told me that he is “usually blown away with how knowledgeable and helpful most of the people on the forums can be” and remarked that community is “amazingly robust, mature and professional.” He had his trepidations initially, but now hangs out on the forums and helps other members with their projects.At present, a mere two days before the big launch of the game, Fouts’ told me the reason you should buy it. I can’t say I can argue with his logic:"If you enjoy killing giant, nasty, extremely weird aliens, and doing it with aplomb, do yourself a favor and try out the demo. That’ll tell you everything you need to know."Finally, Weapon of Choice won’t be Fouts’ last stop. He has already started designing a second game and will have something “to show in the first half of next year.” He told me that it “will be fairly different from Weapon of Choice, and will also feature a new, fun blend of gameplay.”[Destructoid would like to thank Nathan Fouts for his time, and his late night e-mails.]
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On November 19, the hard work of many XNA developers is finally going to pay dividends. Along with the New Xbox Experience, gamers will get access to the Community Games blade, which is the spot to download highly touted titl...

Preview: CarnyVale: Showtime

Nov 03 // Ben Perlee
Which brings us to the issue of gameplay: mix one of those goofy ragdoll Flash games with the Game Boy Advance title DK: King of Swing, and you’re not too far off. Players start off by firing Slinky out of a cannon upward. From there on out, players don’t really have much control of Slinky, but they do have control of these rotating pegs that hold stretchy claws. As Slinky flies by, you can stretch the claw to grab him; then the claw rotates, ready to fling him again. You do this over and over across the stage until you launch our floppy hero into a flaming hoop, and move on to the next challenge.I’ll be frank: these sort of games always try my patience. It’s all about flinging the clown tangentially to get the guy where you want to, and try as I might, I struggled like crazy to get Slinky to do simple stuff, like fly straight up. Of course, considering all of the hype the game is starting to make, I’m thinking this might just be a problem on my part, not something I can blame on the clown. But the game certainly feels like something you could lose yourself into for a few hours, or just pick up and play.Other stuff to keep an eye out for includes a level editor for people who want to make their own levels and built-in achievement points. Some of these include flipping Slinky three times in one toss or getting Slinky to reach terminal velocity. While not as exciting as the official Achievement Point pop-up, having a little sign encouraging you to do cool stuff is always nice.Overall, CarnyVale: Showtime is a really great sign of the future of XNA developed games. It looks amazing, has a great pick-up-and-play design, and allows for plenty of replayability. It may not be perfect for some (coulrophobes need not apply), but anybody else, CarnyVale: Showtime looks to be a game to keep an eye out for on November 19.
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 Last year, the winner of the Dream-Build-Play competition was The Dishwasher: Last Samurai, game that has gone on to become a fully formed Xbox LIVE title, soon to be released. This year’s winner, CarnyVale: Showt...

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Xbox LIVE Community Games event coverage


Nov 03
// Ben Perlee
The new Xbox 360 Dashboard update is right around the corner, and it isn't just wacky Avatars and March of the Penguins streaming off of Netflix over at the land of Microsoft. No, no, no! Microsoft wants you to remember just ...
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The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai is coming, and he's packing a guitar


Oct 27
// Jim Sterling
If you've ever tried out some of the XNA games currently being lined up, then surely one game in particular would have caught your eye. If you're a reader of taste, that game will be The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai. If you're an...
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This tech demo for The Unfinished Swan is mighty impressive


Oct 22
// Jordan Devore
It's not very often that I can get fired up over a maze game, but The Unfinished Swan is unlike anything I've seen before. The indie game is currently being developed in XNA, in case you were wondering. Since this is one of...
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XNA Game Studio 3.0 hitting later this month


Oct 16
// Jim Sterling
It's been a long time coming, but Microsoft will be releasing the XNA Game Studio 3.0 development tool on October 30. The tool will be made available to the US, Canada, UK, France, Italy, and Spain and hits almost three weeks...
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Ex-Resistance and Ratchet and Clank developer goes 2D with Weapon of Choice


Oct 09
// Jonathan Holmes
Weapon of Choice is a new 2D run-and-gun shooter birthed from the mind of Nathan Fouts, weapon designer on Resistance: Fall of Man and boss programmer on Ratchet and Clank: Tools of Destruction. Though the game definitely lac...
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Plain Sight: New XNA game brings robot-on-robot ultra violence to the masses


Sep 08
// Jim Sterling
London-based indie studio Beatnik Games (described as "six guys working in a shoebox") have announced their new XNA project, Plain Sight -- a 3D multiplayer game featuring robotic sword fighting and explosions. In P...

Destructoid interview: Colosseum developer Shortfuse Games

Aug 08 // Nick Chester
DESTRUCTOID: Tell me a bit about your XNA game, Colosseum.Sebastian U. Badylak, Producer: Back in early 2006, when the project started and the first demo was created, there was this vision that Colosseum should be a MMO Fighter for PC. This was during a ten-week project at the university, I might add. Needless to say, that didn’t work out. However, later that year, we decided to rethink the whole concept and start over. At the time XBLA was ‘the next big thing’, and obviously we wanted to be a part of it, and still do. What we’re trying to create now, is a simple fighting game that anyone, regardless of previous fighting game experience, can enjoy. We’re also focusing on multiplayer, both local and LIVE, for more than two players simultaneously. We want that great couch-mentality where you and three of your friends get together over a beer, team up two on two and play death match or one of the other modes and get all pissed off at each other. I remember a summer when me and my friends would get together every single day and play Tekken 3. By the end of the day people were all like - "If you choose Eddie Gordo, I’m gonna leave and never speak to you again. Ever!" The next day we were all there, doing the same thing all over again. That’s what we want Colosseum to be, only where two of you don’t have to wait for your turn.DESTRUCTOID:The game has an interesting, cell-shaded art style. Was this an intentional decision, or due to limitations of the hardware? Lars Håhus, Artist: After our school project, we started a new pre-production phase where all the involved artists just sat down for a few weeks and drew whatever we felt Colosseum was for us. There were several pretty interesting ideas that came up, and as time went on we adopted some of them and rejected others. The images we created during this period will later be posted on our web site, clearly showing how our style has evolved from realistic rendering to what we see today. Then one day, Niklas [Åkerblad] drew a concept that we all felt could represent what we wanted to do with Colosseum. We also realized what we were looking at was a detailed cartoon style, something we now have achieved with normal maps, spec maps, toon shading and outlines. Niklas then became the obvious choice for the position as art director.Pontus Birgersson, Lead Programmer/Technical Director: The decision was intentional, we felt that a cartoonish rendering style would align better with our vision of Colosseum than a realistic renderer would ... tech did not mind. As for the limitations, it's hard to say since developing for XNA pretty much leaves you without any proper tools for finding bottlenecks on the Xbox. We've done some manual investigations and it seems we're going to need to squeeze more horse power from the CPU as well as the GPU but that will have to wait for feature complete.DESTRUCTOID:Microsoft's Community Game initiative is, obviously, driven by the community. How closely knit do you find the community? Do you find that developers are more than willing to share "secrets," tips and even code? Or is there a lot of competition in "the scene"?Birgersson:The community is great; it's a valuable resource to us. No matter what your question is, there are almost always a few people with answers. As far as I know there are no secrets within the community, at least no one has told me they kept one. Code sharing is quite common, most of the time it's no problem getting code samples if you can't concretise the solution yourself. Since there are some veterans within the community, you are might get answers from someone who has been working on a major title which they for legal reasons can't share code from but are often more than willing to explain the gist of it.DESTRUCTOID:Going back to Colosseum, I had a chance to play around with the title, and thought it was interesting that you decided to map all of the combat to the right analog stick. Another high-profile game, Too Human, takes a similar approach, but it's not the first; off hand I think Namco's Death by Degrees and EA's Catwoman (and even Fight Night) had a similar combat system. Why go this route with Colosseum?Badylak:  In terms of intuitiveness I think that the stick lends itself very well. Really inexperienced players don’t have to worry about which buttons to press, because there is only one "button" -- the stick. It doesn’t really matter in what direction you tilt it; you’ll deal a fair amount of damage just going at it at random. Combined with how freely and easily you can move your character in the arena it creates a pretty neat pick-up-and-play experience. Then there’s this whole other level of the stick, where more experienced players can do combos, charged attacks and "perfect swings." The "perfect swings" is basically when you make a sweeping motion with the stick, and it's something that I really like. So we’re tinkering with it, and will include it in the game if it turns out good. DESTRUCTOID:The version I played seemed a bit light on features, with a basic tutorial and then a "quick play" that kind of throws you into a battle. How fleshed out do you think the final game will be? Is there plans for a story mode, or an arcade mode that a player can progress through?Badylak: Yes, there will be a single player campaign, though we don’t want to go overboard with some kind of epic tale. Instead we intend to keep it short and simple, with a lot of fighting and replayability. We want that straight-forward arcade kind of feel to it. Plus, as you progress you’ll unlock equipment to customize your gladiator and make him or her all pretty-like.DESTRUCTOID:How many people are on the team developing the title?Badylak: Including The Big Boss we’re 11 fine specimens at Shortfuse Games. We have three programmers, four artists, one designer, one QA management-guy and then there's me acting as producer.DESTRUCTOID:James Silva, the one-man-designing machine behind the much-talked-about XNA title, The Dishwasher, wasn't a full time game designer when making the title, from what I understand. Any similar success stories you can share from the Shortfuse Games team?Badylak:I personally enjoyed The Dishwasher very much, and James really deserves the success.As for us, we’re still waiting to see the success part in our story, but being featured at the Microsoft presser at E3 is a good sign that we’re on the right track. We were actually watching a low-quality live feed from Gamespot or somewhere over at the QA-guy's home and were all like "Awesome!" when we saw it, which of course felt really good for us. Moving on, we all come from the same (Swedish) game development education (except The Big Boss; he’s from business school). Some of us have recently chosen to add another year to that education to pursue a Master’s degree. Basically, we are students and completely new in this industry.DESTRUCTOID:Was it always intended as an XNA game, or was this something that was in development before Microsoft revealed their grand plan? Badylak:When we started re-designing Colosseum, XNA had just been announced, but wasn’t released until a few months later. During those months we were constantly looking for a fitting game engine, but didn’t find one. We read that XNA would be fully compatible with the consumer Xbox 360, got very excited and very eager to get our hands on it. Once we tried it we were pretty much convinced.DESTRUCTOID:Microsoft tells me that the game should launch this Fall when Microsoft Community Games goes live. Are you on track for that, and given the opportunity to set your own pricing, is that something you'e thought about yet?Badylak:We’re constantly thinking about how to make a living in this industry, because we’re still small time and would really love to be able to make games for the rest of our lives. Now, Community Games is very interesting and XBLA is too. Naturally, there are pros and cons in both cases and my question is: Will Community Games be the next big thing -- because indie games are sort of a pop culture phenomenon -- or will people feel that indie games aren’t worth spending money on and expect them to be free? That’s something we’d appreciate comments on from the readers.About the launch date; obviously, we really want our first commercial game to be a good one. So we’re going to spend the next few months working hard on it and hopefully have it out by the end of the year or early spring 2009.Speaking of work; we actually have a contest on our Web site, where you can design a sword and if we like it we’ll put it in the game. A chainsaw-sword would be awesome...DESTRUCTOID:So do you guys stop at XNA and Xbox 360, or do you have any plans or desires to work on other platforms?Badylak: We really want to make games for all of the three major console brands, but it’s a long way to go and we have to prove ourselves by starting small. At this point Microsoft offers a great way for us to do that, so we’ll start on Xbox 360 and see where takes us, but ultimately it's up to the team to decide which platform they feel that they want to work on.--Thanks to all of the folks from Shortfuse for taking the time to chat with us. Colosseum was chosen as one of our "Top five XNA games to watch for," and should be available later this year with the launch of Xbox LIVE Community Games. 
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Many gamers got a surprise first-glimpse of Shortfuse Games' upcoming XNA-developed title, Colosseum, during Microsoft's E3 2008 press conference. The inclusion of the multiplayer arena-fighter was a surprise to the developer...

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Five XNA games (and developers) to watch for


Aug 08
// Nick Chester
While Microsoft’s small-developer XNA tools have been available for awhile, it was only recently that the software giant revealed plans to allow creators to get paid for their efforts. Called Xbox LIVE Community Games, ...
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Microsoft responds to concerns about quality of XNA Community Games


Jul 28
// Dale North
Late last week we told you that former XNA community manager David Weller had some concerns about the quality of the upcoming Xbox LIVE Community Games service. His worry was that we would not be able "discern the qualit...
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Former XNA manager worried about the quality of Community Games


Jul 25
// Dale North
When we told you about Microsoft's new user publishing model, Xbox LIVE Community Games, some of you were quick to look past the dollar signs and possibilities. A few of you expressed concern that this new model could have us...

Destructoid Interview: Chris Satchell wants to make you a garage game millionare

Jul 23 // Niero Gonzalez
DT: That's brilliant. It really closes the loop on XNA. Indie publishers have never had it this good. I'm actually blown away that this is happening so soon. So how do we get started, how does it all work? CS: Its very simple: The first step is to join the Creative Club program. You simply submit your games which are then put into a peer-review process by other creative developers building XNA. You describe your game as accurately as possible (if a game is obscene, etc.) so that it can be screened. Community game developers can choose to sell their games for 200, 400 or 800 Microsoft Points. Community Games on Xbox LIVE will be restricted in size based on suggested retail price points: 50 MB for 200-point games, 150 MB for 400- or 800-point games, and developers will receive up to 70 percent of the revenue generated for their game. If you consider the size and how vibrant and active the Xbox Live community is, this is truly a great opportunity for game developers. DT:  Um, ok.Hold on.  So ... let me get this straight. (Whips out calculator) If there are 12 million users and only 0.001% of people buy my awesome 150mb game for $8 and I lose half of that in royalties and to Uncle Sam ... that's still like ... holy meseta that's still a lot of money! CS: It's definitely a very unique opportunity for start-up game developers.  (Our system) will also automatically create demos for any game, so you can try every  title on Xbox Live Community Games before you buy. There will literally be hundreds of games. DT: I think that my tape recorder had a heart attack. Sorry, you are going to be paraphrased horribly in this interview from my scribbles. Anyway, so what about adult games, M-rated titles that people will surely create for XNA? (As in, can I build dirty porn games all day and sell them on Live? I have a tattoo of Larry Flynt on my right buttock!) CS: The imporant thing to keep in mind here is that there isn't an actual ratings body looking at these games like the ESRB, they are going to be rated by the creative community that are actually making XNA games. There will be descriptors. For example, one can be "How much sex does your game contain?" and you can say 2/3, etc. That's what we mean by "democratizing" community-created games. DT: Thank God. That's a very unique way to go about it; I wish we could bump the ESRB in favor of something like that. So how succesful is this; how many XNA studio downloads have there been? How many games will it launch with? CS: I don't have the exact numbers, but I know there have been over a million XNA studio downloads. Bare in mind that the service hasn't launched yet, but there will be multiple games, and I'll give you an example of how quickly games can be created. Last year we gave developers 4 months cash prizes to build games which produced over 200 playable games. 50 of them were good, 100 of them were great, and at least 20 were just exceptional.DT: I think we're going to really enjoy this. Is anybody else doing anything like this right now on the PC or otherwise? Nobody doing is doing this on console. On the PC there are a few web sites that have attempted to do something similar, but nobody has the complete pipeline: we give gamers the entire solution, the support, and the tools. DT: What is the most succesful XNA game of all time so far? (Note: The demo video shown above is over a year old) CS: Last year a wonderful game called "The Dishwasher" by James Silva won the top award. You must see this game, it's truly fantastic. DT: Aside from games, what else can people do with XNA? Can they build widgets? Software? CS: XNA Studio doesn't allow you to create dashboard gadgets per se, but it is a full development platform. Various developers have built software that they are using for research purposes. There are no limits. DT: You know, sooner or later someone is going to create a homebrew emulator with XNA to play roms. You know, piracy stuff. CS: We haven't run into that yet, but in theory it is possible. DT: How is Microsoft's strategy different than Nintendo's Wiiware model? What is your edge? CS: They're vastly different. Wiiware is a registered developer program, whereas XNA is available to everyone, and your games are rated by your peers. DT: What about guys like me? How can someone with no programming experience get into this and build the ultimate Destructoid game? CS: That's a really good question. You do need some programming experience. Get a simple programming book and XNA studio, for starters. I know that there are good tutorial books available at Borders as well. In addition to that, we give you a lot of content, example games, and there's an entire community online that's also providing resources. You can download 2D examples, 3D examples, and go on to create your own games from scratch. DT: We're going to sell a kidney to cover rent so we can do this all day. When does it launch? (I can has?) CS: Creator's club in North America is going on now as a beta, and we will launch this holiday season. We also plan to add additional countries such as Japan, some Scandinavian Countries, Europe, France, and so on -- there's a lot of great talent coming from these countries. DT: Speaking of far away masses, where's Alan Wake? We just posted the leaked TGS trailer, but it had been two years since we saw it. PR guy swoops in from the sky and kicks me in the face: That's not really Chris's department ... (Bad blogger! Bad! Bad!) DT: I'm sorry, you can't blame me for trying! Ok, next question. Let's talk Netflix and digital distribution instead. CS: Netflix is a super exciting distribution service that we're very happy to have on... DT: So is retail dead? Can I stop going outdoors yet? CS: Not necessarily. I think there will always be a strong retail presence. A perfect example is Rock Band: they can go online to extend their content online, which works really well together over time. DT: Now that we can get movies over Netflix on our Xbox, how long do you think it will take for Netflix to add a game rental service? Will we be able to rent Blu-Ray titles and play them in our 360's? *jab jab* CS: Well, the thing to keep in mind is that Netflix is a digital download system; you can watch high-quality video without the physical media. DT: Fair enough! Let me stop before you never answer our calls again. Where can Destructoid readers go to learn more about XNA? Can they call you at home? CS:  (laughs) No! Actually, you'll find it hard to find me there. The best place to begin is creators.xna.com. An XNA Creators Club Premium membership is required to develop for Xbox 360, submit games for peer review and participate in revenue sharing. Memberships are available for an estimated retail price of $49 (U.S.) for four months or $99 for 12 months. Faculty and students can obtain a free, personal development license for educational use only. DT: Thanks so much for your time, I'm sure you're a busy guy. Thanks for all your work on XNA and we're looking to the holiday launch. Destructoid will be keeping a close eye on Community Games -- look for featured titles in our Indie Nation column starting later this year. If you have an XNA game you'd like us to consider (such as an incredible Destructoid title that somehow mixes Tetris, Warcraft, and Gears of War into a musical weight loss game) let us know! [email protected]! As an aside, your plucky friends at Destructoid strongly urge people to look at this platform seriously, especially our younger readers. Now is the time to call up every geek and artist you know and put together a garage game company and build great unique games for Xbox Live. I would have strangled my grandmother for an opportunity like this when I was growing up. You will read stories on Destructoid in the future about some guy who made a great "it" game for XNA that made a million bucks, so it may as well be you. The tools and books are dirt cheap and the distribution platform is vast, so get off your asses and make great Xbox Live Community Games happen!
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Chris Satchell is having a good week. Yesterday he was just promoted as Chief Technology Officer of Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Business Group, closed the loop on indie game distribution for the Xbox Live plat...

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Enter the fray with XNA muliplayer arena fighter Colosseum this Fall


Jul 22
// Nick Chester
It looks like one of the first titles that will (presumably) making money out of the newly announced Xbox LIVE Community Games initiative will be Colosseum, developed by Sweden-based Shortfuse Entertainment. A multiplaye...
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Details emerge on first wave of XNA Community Games


Jul 15
// Conrad Zimmerman
Microsoft has been slowly working on promoting their XNA Creator's Studio and Community Games distribution system for some time now. Yesterday, that labor showed a little bit of fruit, as the Big M showed off footage of some...
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Schizoid and Golf: Tee It Up! on XBLA this Wednesday


Jul 07
// Jordan Devore
It's been some time since Torpex Games announced that Schizoid (800 Microsoft Points) would be heading to Xbox LIVE Arcade as the first XNA Game Studio-built game to be up for purchase through the service, but it's finally be...
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GDC 08: Details on XNA and Community Games


Feb 20
// Dale North
Some exciting developments were uncovered at Microsoft's keynote today, including details on XNA and community games.Chris Satchell took the stage to talk about Microsoft's XNA and community games, and he kicked things off wi...
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XNA Game Studio 2.0 released, includes multiplayer functionality


Dec 12
// Jordan Devore
The beta for XNA Game Studio 2.0 is out now and ready to be downloaded. The most notable improvement over XNA Game Studio Express is the ability to bring your PC and/or Xbox 360 games online via Xbox Live and Games for Window...
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New trailer for The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai, new hope for the future of XBLA


Nov 07
// Topher Cantler
   Open wide thine eyes, dear readers, and gaze upon the brilliantly crafted chaos that serves as the perfect example of what an XNA game can be. What you're seeing is the latest trailer for The Dishwasher: Dea...

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