2013 seems to be the year that the shackles of Christmas Release Madness have finally been broken, with games free to wander the land and find new audiences. The movement has been growing since 2008 when Rockstar Games unleashed Grand Theft Auto IV in April to great sales, and since then publisher’s have been increasingly willing to get games to market all year round rather than waiting for the September to December spending spree window. Games come out all year now, and this year has already seen some huge hits both critically and commercially, like Tomb Raider and BioShock infinite.
Jetsetter is never satisfied with just the big guns, though. Jetsetter, Digital Trends weekly column devoted to import gaming and international game development, demands to know about the other gaming options out there. We want the weirdest of the weird, even weirder than the most avant-garde mobile game, and we’re willing to travel the world to find it. And while we’re out there, we’ll check in on what the makers of some big guns are making, far away from the turbulent US gaming industry.
The Sega Dreamcast will never die (as long as NG.DEV.TEAM lives)
NG.DEV.TEAM are Jetsetter favorites. The German development house has been making games for the forgotten consoles for the better part of ten years now. While most people still honing skills in that ancient craft have fled to the safe shores of mobile phones and digital download services like PlayStation Network and Steam, NG.DEV.TEAM is still pumping out games on discs and cartridges for the Dreamcast and Neo-Geo.
The crew is ready to follow up its 2012 release, Gunlord, with a new vertical shooter called NEO XYX. Described as a game styled like “A Japanese arcade game from 1989,” the team is now taking preorders for all versions. If you have a spare $500 sitting around, you can secure a Neo-Geo copy for its June release. The Dreamcast version on the other hand will set you back around $42, and it’ll work in any old Dreamcast built before 2001.
China struggles to keep its homemade online games alive
Last week in Jetsetter, we discussed how the Japanese original Monster Hunter is getting its very own MMO in China. Monster Hunter Online will be operated by that country’s mammoth online gaming network Tencent in an effort to eat up a piece of the $8 billion Chinese gaming market. Capcom’s got a good strategy it seems, as most of the popular games in China aren’t made in China at all.
As reported by Aljazeera, China’s General Administration of Press and Publication started an initiative in July 2012 to get Chinese gamers playing games made in country. “The GAPP will give priority to publishing more quality China-made online games,” said GAPP chief Sun Shoushan. Games like Shining Sword, which lets players control Chinese soldiers fighting back against the Japanese occupation during World War II, haven’t connected with the public, though. The most popular games in China? Korean-made titles like Blade & Soul and even the US’ League of Legends. According 17173.com, Shining Sword is the 376th most popular game in the country. Better luck next time, National People’s Congress!
Liverpool, England has for decades been a fount of quality gaming with studios like Psygnosis (which became Sony Liverpool) pumping out hits like Wipeout and Colony Wars in the ‘90s, and Bizarre Creations making Project Gotham Racing. Both studios were closed in recent years, though. The good news is that the scene is bouncing back in a big way.
Lucid Games, founded by key staff from Bizarre Creations, is putting out a PS Vita exclusive called Jacob Jones and the Bigfoot Mystery later this year. Plus, some of the people behind the Wipeout series formed the brand new studio Sawfly Studios in January. Cheers to Liverpool game makers making it happen.
EVE Online fan convention kicks off in the land of volcanoes and crazy MMOs
Of the many artistic works to make waves on the international stage in the past decade, few are as intimidating as EVE Online. Most MMOs have people teaming up and collecting monster pelts. EVE Online players run a massive, fictional economy that spans a galaxy, complete with corporate intrigue. This week is the annual EVE FanFest. Digital Trends’ own Adam Rosenberg is on the ground in Reykjavik taking in the sights and sounds. The first day was mostly devoted to detailing technical improvements to the game due in the May expansion, EVE Online Uprising, and detailing the slow roll out of the first-person shooter connected to the EVE world, Dust 514.