28th October 2009

IUGO Star Hogs Title Gets Major Update

IUGOVancouver – After hanging in the review queue for nearly 3 months, IUGO’s Star Hogs game for the iPhone/iTouch has received a major update to its look, features and content. This massive update includes the following new features, tweaks and fixes:

New Features:Star Hogs

• Additional free 32-map Alpha Centauri Campaign! (This was originally intended to be DLC as in-app purchase but has been switched to a FREE update)
• In-game messaging system. Tease, taunt and congratulate each other in-game!
• Players announce their entry into online battles.
• Ability for losers in a 3 or 4 player battle to receive their earnings first then decide whether to spectate or leave an online battle.
• Improved in-game graphics with updated textures and parallexing background 3d objects
• Scrolling window will now remember their previous position
• Automatic backup & restore system to prevent save file corruption
• IUGO VIP System for rewarding game referrals
• Invite friends feature
• Save/Resume for Campaign & FreePlay modes
• NEW WEAPON: Nuclear Strike
• NEW WEAPON: Matter Missile
• NEW MINE: Paint Mines
• NEW circular map for FreePlay & Online
• NEW flat map for FreePlay & Online
• Camera control when it is not player’s turn
• Audio & Vibrate alarm when a match is found in QuickPlay

Fixes and Optimizations:

• Better disconnection handling (Online game delayed due to lag will resolve within 60 secs)
• Improved online multiplayer synchronization
• Certain detectable non-cheating disconnection situation will result in players being disqualified to avoid point deduction (However, the loss will still have to be taken)
• Numerous hanger issues/crashes fixed
• Possible rankings page crash fixed
• 10-pt font fixes
• Introduction camera panning issue fixed
• Airplane mode crash fixed
• Load to 50% crash fixed
• Username/password saving bug fixed

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27th October 2009

No Robots Interactive Jamble Updates

No Robots InteractiveVancouverNo Robots Interactive has announced that Apple’s approval has been given for their massive update to Jamble, plus the free version Jamble Lite has also gone live on the App Store. New products Jamble Dance and Jamble Dance Lite are now in review at Apple and should be out in early November.

About Jamble:

With the touch of a finger, Jamble lets you combine a variety of musical loops from international Jamble on iTuneshit songs into your own impossibly great mashup mixes immediately making you sound like a pro-DJ and mashup master.

Jamble comes with 24 musical loops that you can mashup into infinite combinations. You can play with 16 active loops at a time and easily hot swap them with additional loops in your Jamble loop library while you play.

Jamble features live, real time music creation as well as allowing you to record, save and playback your mixes. Share your mixes with your friends via email, Facebook and Twitter.

You can get more loops directly from within the app and create custom set lists of your favorite loops to load them fast. The range of artists in Jamble include:

• Lady Gaga
• Gwen Stefani
• Kardinal Offishall
• Kid Cudi
• The Killers
• Asher Roth
• David Bowie
• Will.i.am
• All-American Rejects
• Gorillaz
• Blur
…and many others.

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27th October 2009

Incubator Games Moves Forward, Samsung Dev Fund, SteelSeries Now At Best Buy

Incubator GamesTorontoIncubator Games, a group of young industry professionals, is proud to announce the launch of their new website along with 18 new screenshots for their first game, Tribes of Mexica, which was an entry in Microsoft’s 2009 Dream Build Play contest.

Tribes of Mexica is an action-puzzle title deeply steeped in Aztec Tribes of Mexicamythology. The game’s core mechanics center on rotating concentric rings to match coloured units, powering up spells, and timing attacks and defensive maneuvers. An adventure element ties the battles together, allowing the player to explore exotic locales in ancient Mesoamerica while building up a magical arsenal. Currently in development for the Xbox 360, Incubator Games has plans to port Tribes of Mexica over to the PC/Mac/Linux platforms, and is investigating other platforms as well.

SamsungSamsung Electronics, a leader in consumer electronics and information technology, and Handmark®, a world-leading creator and distributor of mobile applications and services, today announced the launch of a new Global Venture Fund to invest in companies and/or individuals with innovative, market-changing game ideas for next generation Samsung mobile phones. Companies and/or individuals selected will receive up to $250,000 each to fund the development of winning ideas.Handmark

The fund will be managed by Handmark out of its Kansas City and London offices in partnership with Samsung Electronics. The companies are searching for games that best showcase Samsung mobile phones and the advanced features they offer. Both current and new content ideas are encouraged, taking timing and cost into consideration.

“We know there’s a wealth of great ideas out there waiting to be discovered,” said Chris Barnett, senior vice president of Global Sales and Strategic Partnerships for Handmark. “This is a fantastic opportunity for anyone, including big brands, mobile developers or any individual with a unique, creative idea to make it a reality.”

“Samsung recognizes the importance of content and applications for today’s mobile phone users,” said Ho Soo Lee, executive vice president for Samsung Electronics’ Media Solution Center. “We are pleased to broaden our partnership with Handmark to help lead the Global Venture Fund, using their expertise to support us capturing great ideas and raise the standard of mobile innovation.”

In addition to funding those selected, Handmark will also provide assistance with development, testing and certification, as well as distribution of the application through the Samsung Application Store. Deadline for applications is November 20, 2009 at 5 PM CT.

SteelSeriesGame peripheral company SteelSeries has announced a new distributorship deal with Best Buy Canada. A solid supporter of competitive gaming events in Canada including our own Digital Storm LAN, SteelSeries also purchased Canadian game keyboard maker ZBoard in 2008.
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9th October 2009

Zombies Attack VIP Club In Vancouver, IUGO Mobile Responsible

IUGOIUGO Mobile Entertainment is thrilled to bring back its best-selling title, Zombie Attack! in ZombieAttack2-2the sequel – Zombie Attack! Second Wave. ZA! SW or ZA!2 is slated to be bigger, better and bloodier than ever before! It still keeps to the “tower defense with a twist” game play but throws in new zombies, more weapons and multiple, elaborate maps. “ZA! is our top selling game to-date,” explains IUGO’s Director of Business Development Sarah Thomson. “Tower defense is of course a hot genre, combine it with zombies and our users start salivating. This time ZA!2 ZombieAttack2-1will build upon all that was loved with the original and give our users more!”

ZA!2 is slated for submission with the App Store very soon. Keep an eye out (but not near a hungry zombie) for the launch of ZA!2 near the end of this month, early next month.

Not to worry though, Toy Bot is out to save the day. Recently launched on the App Store, Toy Bot Mini Missions will help you limber up those fingers prior to the Zombie onslaught which is about to happen. With 100 mini puzzles to test your Zombie preparedness, how can you help but not be prepared? Toy Bot, his friends and foes join him in 100 challenges ducking lasers, jumping obstacles and defying gravity in order to collect the big prizes. Toy Bot Mini Missions

Features:

• 100 mini games in total
• 12 characters to unlock and play with in total
• Great for short bursts of play as well as long gaming sessions
• IUGO’s new VIP program: Tell your friends, access more characters sooner!
• Your favorite 2D Toy Bot friends and new buddies in the Toy Bot universe!
• IUGO’s signature quality and polish

With IUGO’s fanbase growing, the independent mobile games developer has launched its exclusive VIP program. The offering is slated to reward users who are loyal to IUGO products, those who are heavy IUGO-VIPusers and players who are able to refer their friends to grow the userbase. “We love our users and we wanted to create a vehicle in which our users could be rewarded for their loyalty, “states Director of Business Development Sarah Thomson. “The IUGO VIP program makes it easy for users to recommend our games to their friends and earn points towards in-game unlockables and other cool stuff. With the launch of this feature we have plans to grow and explore it so much more with ways that give back to IUGO fans”

The program also of course helps IUGO continue to grow its following and play upon the social networking aspects of mobile gaming. The IUGO VIP program had a soft launch in its recently released game Toy Bot Mini Missions. The VIP program will be seen in the upcoming Star Hogs update, the launch of Zombie Attack! Second Wave, Cliffed and Implode! For more information on IUGO’s new VIP program, please visit the IUGO community forums.

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5th October 2009

Where’s Waldo? The Fantastic Journey Ships To Stores

LudiaMontrealUbisoft has announced the retail availability of a new interactive adventure video game titled “Where’s Waldo?® The Fantastic Journey.” Created by Ludia Inc., “Where’s Waldo? The Fantastic Journey” is the ultimate search-and-find adventure for the entire family, as players explore the unique and wondrous lands in search of Waldo, his friends and other hidden objects.The game is now available for the Wii™ system from Nintendo, the Nintendo DS™ system, Windows-based PC and Mac at North Where's Waldo?American retailers.

In the game, players look for Waldo and friends, in addition to hundreds of hidden items in twelve different magical worlds that unlock via a central map that becomes increasingly animated as players progress. “Where’s Waldo? The Fantastic Journey” can be played in single- or multiplayer mode, in Easy and Normal challenges to suit players of all ages and skill levels. Gameplay is enhanced through a variety of power-up features where players unleash different special effects to gain an advantage over opponents or enhance their own search capabilities.

Power-ups include:

* Wacky Paint: Splatter colorful paint onto your opponent’s screen to obscure the view.
* Thunder Clap: Cast thunder onto your opponent and make the screen shake.
* Frosty: Freeze the search window by encasing it in ice.
* Sparkly: Keep your eyes on the twinkle and glitter effects to detect items.
* And many more!

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2nd October 2009

Alien Concepts’ Debut Title Night of the Scarecrows Set for Pre-Halloween Release

Alien ConceptsToronto-based developer Alien Concepts is excited to announce the launch of its first casual game Night of the Scarecrows. The rookie developers recently announced the release of the web and downloadable game through distribution portals Big Fish Games, MSN Games, Real Night of the ScarecrowsArcade, GameHouse and Wild Tangent among others.

With its striking cinematic sequences and an art style inspired by the likes of Tim Burton and Edward Gorey, this addictive puzzle game stands apart from its genre counterparts in the casual games space. The dark yet quirky art and design work by artists Jamie Richards and Bruno Amezcua are complemented by the moody soundtrack by composer Patrick Blakely. The game’s development team is rounded out by producer/co-designer Kala Ramachandran and Programmer Mike Darmitz.

“We were thrilled with how well the game demo was received at Casual Connect Seattle and at GDC San Francisco this past year”, said Kala Ramachandran, Alien Concepts co-founder and President. “We’re hoping to carry this momentum to our upcoming projects currently in the works.” The studio is currently hard at work on an iPhone version of Night of the Scarecrows, which is scheduled to hit the Apps Store just before Christmas 2009, as well as on an educational adventure game slated for release in late October.

*Mini Review*

I gave Night of the Scarecrows a quick play – okay I confess, the game is still open in another tab, I’m on level 3 and have a score of 16440. So far I am impressed with the game; it is a nice twist on the match three genre, with some very cute and comical characters who do a funky scary shuffle dance across the garden. I like watching the creatures almost gasp in horror when they realize they are about to be eliminated by a rampaging goat and clearing the garden with a burning torch appeals to the pyro in me. The death cringes of the characters as they ignite only adds to the amusement. Gee, that sounds just a tad sadistic, doesn’t it? It’s okay – they may be animated, but they are inanimate objects. No harm done, they’re only burning pixels. When the mystical power that pushes forth these Hallowe’en invaders fails to play nice and won’t give you any matches, you can call on the Power of the Crow. You can store up to three Crows by matching groups of seven creepy creatures or more, and when needed you can clear similar Scarecrows from one column. You can eliminate full rows by letting the Goat out of the pen. You can collect up to three Goats at any one time. Beware though – your Goat and Crow collections reset with each new level. The music and sound effects are well done and the audio is very clear. With the level of quality in this first title, you can be assured that I will be looking forward to more game products from Alien Concepts.

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29th September 2009

Pug Pharm’s Snoget Enters Closed Beta

Pug PharmVancouverPug Pharm Productions Inc. (Pug Pharm), a Canadian online video game developer, today announced that it has started accepting closed beta sign-ups for Snoget, a new social networking online game. The game will redefine what players expect from social networking games by giving them the ability to collect and interact with items and brands that define their interests. Beta sign-ups are limited and will be accepted on the game’s official site.

“Snoget players will experience a new form of interactive entertainment that combines the best elements of both social networking sites and online games,” stated Steve Bocska, CEO of Pug Pharm. “We believe Snoget is the world’s first true social networking online game and picks up where games on Facebook or Twitter leave off.”

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For those who are interested in participating, a select number of closed beta keys will be given away through the website allowing testers to join other invited players in the game. Players who take part in the beta will provide valuable feedback to producers during development and gain access to limited edition items that will only be available in the best phase.

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28th September 2009

Canadian New Releases

Big Blue BubbleThere are three new releases out – two from established Canadian studios and one from a team of Art Insitute Vancouver students.

First up is Elven Chronicles for the iPhone from Big Blue Bubble. Available now for Elven Chroniclesdownload from iTunes for $3.99, Elven Chronicles puts the player in the shoes of a young knight, fighting to discover the secrets of his forgotten past, and a charismatic elf on quest for self redemption. With a massive 20 hours of captivating story, vast territories to explore, randomly generated dungeons, and gorgeous, hand drawn enemies and characters, Elven Chronicles will keep even the most seasoned RPG’er engaged.

Features…

• Old School Console RPG design
• Massive World Maps
• Captivating Story
• Countless Spells, Weapons, Armour and Accessories
• Random Dungeon Maps
• Stunning Characters and Scenery
• Over 20 hours of Gameplay

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Winner of Pop Vox’s Best Mobile Game, Elven Chronicles has garnered praised by industry professionals and critics alike. Developed for the Apple iPhone 3G/3Gs, iPod Touch is powered by Torque.

IMP Surf The MusicKoolhaus GamesKoolhaus Games has released Imp Surf The Music, which is available now on iTunes for the introductory price of $ .99. According to the game’s web site, “in IMP: Surf the Music you create the music as you surf through tune tunnels picking up genuine “bits of funk”. Collect music loops of funky guitar, drums, bass and synth to create a unique soundtrack that plays differently every time. Each level offers a unique sound experience and showcases a different original funk track and animated graphics. Build the music and environment into a funktastic frenzy! IMP: Surf the Music is like nothing you’ve ever “played” before.”

Gear SphereGearSphere, a team of 17 Art Institute of Vancouver students have released Robo Shambo, which is a multi-player LAN-based third person shooter. Developed from scratch on the XNA framework, Robo Shambo takes place in the year 2450, when robots have replaced human soldiers. Two rival robot manufacturers are battling to become the sole source of these mechanical armies and do their best to destroy each others’ factories.Robo Shambo

A free, downloadable game, Robo Shambo is a fast-paced, action oriented experience featuring three robot styles: the Sprinter, the Tank and the Soldier. Battles take place on three different maps and make use of a variety of nine weapons. Shield and ammo pickups help to keep the robots armed and battling.

I did get a look at Robo Shambo during the recent AI Grad Presentations, and I’m pleased to learn that some of the students who worked on this project have already obtained employment with such studios as EA and Cosmic Logic.

System Requirements For Robo Shambo:

* 3-D Hardware Accelerator with full OpenGL® support
* Pentium II(R) 300 Mhz
* Or AMD® 350 Mhz K6®-2 processor or Athlon® processor
* Windows 95/98/ME/NT 4.0/2000 operating system
* 64 MB RAM
* 16 MB video card
* 400 MB of uncompressed hard disk space for each game
* 100MB of free hard drive space
* A 100% Windows® 95/98/ME/NT 4.0/2000-compatible computer system (including compatible 32-bit drivers for CD-ROM drive , video card, sound card and input devices)
* 100% DirectX 3.0 or higher compatible sound card
* 100% Microsoft-compatible mouse and driver
* Quad-speed CD-ROM drive (600 K/sec. sustained transfer rate)
* XNA 3.0

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23rd September 2009

Glass House Games Releases Debut iPhone Title

Glass House GamesVancouverGlass House Games is proud to announce the release of Bugsy! a new game designed for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Bugsy is a challenging, fast-paced, fun and addicting sliding tile puzzle game designed for the iPhone and the iPod Touch. With unique Bugsygameplay, 125 levels of increasing difficulty, and 3 different types of Rogue Enemies, you are guaranteed hours of enjoyment. If you like challenging, mind-bending puzzle games, you will enjoy Bugsy – and Glass House Games is promising game updates in the near future as well, with more levels, more rogues and additional, original music.

The gameplay is simple, but very challenging and highly addicting. The objective of the game is to bloom all the flower buds at the edges of the board. You steer Bugsy towards each bud by sliding the puzzle tiles to complete the path to each bud. You complete the level when all the buds have bloomed. The game becomes more challenging and frantic as you progress.

Beware of Rogue bugs which can impede Bugsy’s progress. You can destroy the Rogues to earn bonus points. You can also earn bonus points by collecting Fruit and completing the game before the Bonus Timer runs out.

Features

-125 Levels with over 40 Level Maps
-Level Randomization to ensure high replayability
-Fight and defeat 3 Types of Rogue Enemy bugs
-Great Artwork and Original Music
-Listen to your iPod Music while playing
-2 Game Difficulty Levels
-Tutorial Levels
-Sophisticated Effects
-Game becomes more challenging as you play
-Email your High Score to your friends
-Rumble Effects

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System Requirements

Compatible with iPhone and iPod Touch
Requires iPhone OS 2.2.1 or later

Bugsy! is available now for only $ 0.99 usd

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22nd September 2009

Enter The Faunasphere

FaunasphereFor those who have never heard of Faunasphere, I will borrow a few words from the game’s official site. Please feel free to click on the thumbnails placed through out this article to get a better look at the environment and features, or hover over them for image descriptions.Ellie

Faunasphere is a “browser-based CMO (Casual Multiplayer Online) game, players adopt and care for cute and quirky creatures known as Fauna and collaborate to build and explore beautiful virtual worlds. From the creator and lead designer of Asheron’s Call, Faunasphere engages a broad casual gamer audience through non-violent game play, rich social networking elements, and an immersive storyline. The game is free to play, and features micro-transactions and premium membership to enhance the game play experience.”

Mire KnollOfficially launched by Big Fish Games on August 12 of this year, Faunasphere has several game play features:

* Fauna lay eggs as they level up. Eggs can be hatched to create new Fauna or traded between players.

* 12 Fauna breeds to adopt and care for, with an endless array of visual variations to explore. Players can try to breed Fauna for specific traits, or can purchase special items to transform them.Zapping Pollution

* Players can customize their own corner of the world by designing a Faunasphere to shelter their Fauna. Items to decorate and improve a player’s Faunasphere can be collected via game play, traded between players, or purchased.

* Players advance through the world via unique, non-violent game play. Fauna clean up pollution and complete tasks to earn game currency and level up.

Happy Food For a Happy Fauna* The game can be played as a no-commitment diversion, but offers deeper involvement for committed players.

Features not listed above but which I feel are important to include:

Faunasphere is very easy to play. While reading is required, the game play is simple to pick up, the characters are cute – and sometimes very unique depending on how their caretakers have customized them, and the game’s community is incredibly friendly. That is one aspect of the game that really Home Sphere Buildingstruck me. I know from reading through the game’s community forums that there have been problem users, just like in any online game. That said, the players who inhabit Faunasphere are friendly and even considerate. They even give you items if they think they somehow “stepped on” something you were doing or planning to do. They readily offer assistance should anyone require help with a task or cleaning up some of the higher-level pollution monsters.

Rock GardenFor my adventures into the Faunasphere, I chose to look after one of the Hoofers, which are horse-like characters. Players can choose from a Hoofer, Sniffer or Scooter, each with its own set of attributes, likes and dislikes. Each character likes different food, comfort, beauty and amusement items. These likes and dislikes are important to bear in mind when building a faunasphere, and particularly when you create a Den for your Fauna to rejuvenate in. Your Fauna likes to be in a place which makes it happy, so it’s important to use the “Happy” items which your Fauna prefers.

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