Thursday, January 11, 2007

Terrific BBC Tetris Documentary

In 2004, BBC Four released a documentary about the grand-daddy of all puzzle games, Tetris. It is an hour long show directed by Magnus Temple. The show focuses on how Tetris was licensed. Without a doubt, it is one of the most fascinating stories in video game history. All the major players are included in this special. The following list is taken directly from BBC Four's website:

Alexey Pajitnov
Invents Tetris in 1985 while working at the Moscow Academy of Science's Computer Centre. Alexey moved to the USA to work for Microsoft after the success of Tetris.
Evgeni Nikolaevich Belikov
Head of Elorg, the Russian ministry for import and export of software and hardware. Belikov is the man with whom all negotiations about Tetris had to be done.
Robert Stein
President of British software house Andromeda. Sells Tetris rights to Robert Maxwell’s Mirrorsoft UK and US affiliate Spectrum Holobyte before he’s negotiated anything concrete with the Russians.
Kevin Maxwell
Son of Robert Maxwell and head of Mirrorsoft UK. Buys all Tetris rights (except arcade and hand-held) from Stein not knowing that Stein has no formal contract with the Russians.
Henk Rogers
American entrepreneur and video games enthusiast. Nintendo employs Rogers to get the hand-held Tetris rights to support the launch of Game Boy.

The candor of eveyone interviewed is what makes this film so special. No video game fan should miss it.

BBC Tetris Video

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

2007 Dreamcast Lineup

While it has been almost 6 years since Sega pulled the plug on the Dreamcast, games are STILL being released for it. So far in 2007, at least 3 games have been announced: Karous, Trigger Heart Exelica and Last Hope.

To no one's surprise, all 3 are top-down shooters. Last Hope is out now, Trigger Heart Exelica comes out in February and Karous is due in March. Here's hoping the Dreamcast can survive yet another year!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Dreamcast's Best and Rarest Puzzler

The Lost Golem
(released Feb. 2000)

Looking for another Tetris clone? Well, look elsewhere. This game is anything but a clone of the granddaddy of all puzzlers. The Lost Golem (Golem No Maigo) is an obscure (the last count I saw was under 500 sold) Japanese-only game for the Dreamcast.

There are 2 main characters in this game: A Golem (a huge stone creature) and a King. The object of the game, like all good puzzle games, is very simple. Playing as the Golem, you must guide the king to safety.

The game is broken down into dozens of stages. In each stage, you are in the room of a castle. The object is to get the king to walk out of the door in each room. Sounds simple doesn’t it?

But the king isn’t the brightest torch in the castle. He can only walk in a straight path. When he hits a wall he turns left. If he can’t go left he will turn right. If both left and right paths are blocked, he will turn around and go back in the direction he just came.

As the Golem, your only way to guide the king to safety is to move walls in front of the King to change his path. Walls are connected to 1 of 2 different types of pillars. The type of pillar determines how the walls will turn/move when it is pushed. When you push a wall on a turning pillar, the wall will swivel 90 degrees. If the pillar is an ordinary pillar, the wall will just move forward in the direction it was pushed.

Besides getting the king out the door, there is one other requirement per stage. On each stage you must connect the required number of walls before the king can go out the door. This adds an extra element of fun to each puzzle. Not only do you have to figure out the correct path for the king, but at the same time you are trying to move and connect as many walls as needed.

Besides the 1-player mode, there is an exciting 2-player mode. The game play is the same as the 1-player mode except now it’s a race to see who can rescue the king first.

The last mode of play is the design-a-stage mode. It has an extensive list of commands. Everything you could possibly want to do is here.

The Lost Golem is a highly-recommended puzzler.

And even though it is an extremely rare game, this gem can be had on ebay for under $30. So, there is no reason not to pick this baby up.