Category Archives: xbox

3 Reasons the Xbox One Is So Scary

Is Microsoft showing us the future of gaming?

In preparation for an upcoming Bitstory article, I’ve been gaming a lot on my Nintendo NES. And when I want to, I can just take a cartridge and slide it into the front of the machine and, you know, play a game.

Nintendo was the first game company to do DRM, but it wasn’t a hedge against consumer misuse of their products.  It was made to control the whims of the developers of games for their systems, a way of controlling the quality and pace of game releases so that the market didn’t become glutted with inferior products for Nintendo game machines and thus avoid the shakeout that felled the entire North American video game industry in 1983-1984. When you gained licensee status for the NES, Nintendo would manufacture your cartridges, and during the process the company would put a key chip into the circuitry, which would communicate with the 10NES chip inside the console and allow the game to be loaded.  In this way Nintendo controlled what made it into their games ecosystem.

DRM or Digital Rights Management these days are restrictions on what users can do with digital product, be it movies, games or anything else.  It’s nice to be able to insert a cartridge into the NES after 30 years and play it unfettered.  With Microsoft’s next-gen console Xbox One, this ability could literally become a thing of the past.

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The Pac Comes Back

Lets take a look at Pac-Man Championship Edition DX, a downloadable game available on XBL and PSN.

PMCEDX, whose acronym seems like a stock index, is a follow-up to Pac-Man Championship Edition, released for XBL and PSN, as well as various mobile editions, back in 2007.  It was designed by the legendary Tōru Iwatani, creator of the original Pac-Man arcade game in 1980.  It was also Iwatani’s last game for Namco before he retired in 2007.  

Both DX and the original game make a wonderful effort at bringing The Yellow One into modern gaming.  Sure, you still control the little yellow eating machine scarfing up dots in a maze while avoiding deadly ghosts roaming the playfield, but new play-modes and a frenetic, yet manageable pace make the effort much more than just a retro remake.  DX particularly shines, building on the already sturdy foundation of Mr. Iwatani by adding game mechanics that increase the fun and strategy while keeping things just as frantic.  

This is the crux of the game’s success: things get insanely fast and furious,  while somehow allowing the player to remain in control of the proceedings.  Progressing through variations of the game modes, which prompt gamers to get total high scores or eat the most blue ghosts in a row,  as the player moves around the mazes, things speed up to an almost impossible tempo.  Clever mechanics keep things in check, such as keeping a subtle glow around Pac so you can keep track of him, or having things slow down a-la bullet time to let you get out of close scrapes.  

This updated version of Pac-Man is a rarity these days: a retro remake that is not made simply to cash in on the memory of a truly classic video game, but a fun and fantastic outing in its own right.

Box art for Deus Ex, a computer video game by Ion Storm and Eidos

Deus Ex Sequel Coming Soon

The original Deus Ex, developed by Ion Storm and released by Eidos Interactive in 2000, is commonly regarded as one of the greatest PC games ever made.  It took the steadily advancing graphic capabilities of the FPS genre at the time, and paired it with an astoundingly deep level of character customization available to the player, as well as a deep and dense storyline that throws every X-Files conspiracy theory every floated onto the table.

Warren Spector, producer and director of Deus Ex


Producer Warren Spector already had an impressive gaming resume heading into Deus Ex, having been a producer at Origin, involved in such games as Wing Commander (1990), Ultima VI: The False Prophet (1990),  Ultima Underworld games The Stygian Abyss (1992) and Labyrinth of Worlds (1993) and Crusader: No Remorse (1995), just to name a scant few. All this, but Spector also was responsible for System Shock (1994), developed at his famed Looking Glass Technologies game studio, as well as Thief: The Dark Project (2000) at same.

Deus Ex: Invisible War, a video game for the Xbox

The terror-able Deus Ex: Invisible War


You would think Spector was bulletproof, but then he went and made universal ammo.  His illustrious career, which put him in the top echelon of game designers like Wil Wright and Richard Garriott, came crashing down due to one game: the release of the intensely anticipated sequel Deus Ex: Invisible War by Eidos in 2003.  It was met with wide derision among PC gamers for what was considered a massive dumbing-down of the complexities of the original, in order to curry favour (and sales) from the unwashed masses of the home console crowd.  Spector bounced back with a third game in the Thief series, Thief: Deadly Shadows (2004), but the damage had been done: he wouldn’t surface again as head of a large gaming project until Epic Mickey , released by Disney Interactive for the Wii in 2010.  From a lion of the games industry, Spector was reduced to mice.

Now, a third entry in the Deus Ex cannon is on the horizon, with the hope that it washes the bitter taste of disappointment from the palates of gamers.  Deus Ex: Human Revolution, a prequel to the original, is being developed for the PS3, Xbox 360 and PC by Eidos Montreal, and has just been given a release date: August 23, 2011.  Mark your calendars, folks.  This will either be the salvation of mankind, or its greatest folly.

Burgertime, an arcade video game by Bally Midway

BurgerTime Remake

The Interwebs has been a-twitter the past week or so.  It could be that the retro-nerds have suffered a blood-sugar level crash, because the kerfuffle has been over the revelation that BurgerTime is getting the extreme makeover: retro edition.

The original BurgerTime was a highly memorable arcade game from Data East, released in 1982.  Bally/Midway licensed the game for North America the same year.  It concerns the culinary exploits of chef Peter Pepper, who must climb up and down the ladders of a giant scaffold, assembling giant hamburgers, piece by piece, while avoiding such deadly condiments as cheese slices and pickles, as well as the hamburger’s natural enemy, the hot dog.  To hold off these frightening foodstuffs, Pepper is armed with just that: a pepper shaker that will stun enemies, as well as delightfully season them.

Word first came about the new version via discovery of an ill-timed ESRB listing of the game on their website, circumventing any official statement of the game by its developer, MonkeyPaw Games.  And now, IGN has released gameplay footage of BurgerTime HD, taken during a hands-on session with the game at GDC: 2011.  The remake retains the basic gameplay mechanics of the original, while giving the whole package a dramatic graphical overhaul.  Pepper now creates his gastronomical masterpieces while running around a circular, 3D platform that reminds me of the 3D chess set from the original Star Trek TV show. The game also adds new hazards for Pepper to avoid, such as flaming grills, as well as some new antagonists, including carrots and apple cores to appease the health-food nuts.

The game will be available for Xbox 360, PS3, PC and Wii, although no release date has been given yet.  Below is the the IGN footage on YouTube, as well as our own look at how the original BurgerTime evolved over various platforms during its heyday.