Cult Classic “Beyond Good & Evil” Coming Back as HD Downloadable Release

Cult Classic “Beyond Good & Evil” Coming Back as HD Downloadable Release  (photo)

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I’ve talked a bit about how difficult it can be to experience great older games once the hardware they appeared on goes out of vogue. Gaming’s not like movies where there’s a universally supported platform that you can access. PS3s won’t all run PSa2 games, and even the ones that do only support a limited list. Same goes for Xbox 360 and the original Xbox games. That’s how gems like Ubisoft’s “Beyond Good and Evil” all through the cracks.

Mind you, the action-adventure game wasn’t a major success when it came out in 2003. But, the critical acclaim and high praise from those who did buy and play it made a game that constantly gets name-checked in the conversations about modern-day video game classics.

Created by the same Michel Ancel and Ubi Montpelier studio that went on to do “Raving Rabbids“, “BG&E” didn’t offer up any whiz-bang gameplay mechanics. What it did do was tell an affecting story really well with a nice mix of racing, combat, platforming and photography elements. Yes, photography. See, lead character Jade was a close-to-broke photojournalist who kept money in her pocket by taking pictures of planet Hillys’ fauna. That one mechanic–running around and taking pictures of animals–powered the game’s economic system, but also made you feel deeply connected to the world. Of course, you wanted to save it after all that.

With the announcement that it’ll be available next year in a newly polished edition, Ubisoft’s giving folks the chance to get into the game when it never looked better. There’s a lot more to love about “BG&E,” as it boasts lots of humor, a great art style and solid gameplay feel, and I’ll probably revisit it more in depth as it gets closer to re-release. No date or price were given, but it will be showing up on the Playstation Network and Xbox Live sometime next year.

Bill Murray in Ghostbusters II

Hopebusters, Too

Ghostbusters II Predicted the World Will End on Valentine’s Day 2016

Catch Ghostbusters II this month on IFC. Provided the world doesn't end, of course.

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Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures

Far be it from us to contradict Mr. Bill Murray, but a prediction made in a scene from one of his films is about to be put to the test. If you remember Ghostbusters II, then you know that at the beginning of the film, retired ‘buster Peter Venkman is the host of a chat show called World of the Psychic. According to a guest on the show, the world will end on February 14th, 2016 — this Valentine’s Day.

Now, before you start looting, keep in mind the source of this information is a tad unreliable. Elaine (played by Sid and Nancy star Chloe Webb) sits with Venkman and relates how she received this intel from an alien who may or may not have disguised a UFO to look like a Holiday Inn in Paramus. Let’s just hope she misheard, otherwise there will be some awkward date nights this year.

Check out the grim prognostication in the clip below. Hopefully the world will still be here when Ghostbusters II airs Monday, Feb. 15th and throughout the month on IFC.

Aardman to Bring Ubisoft’s Raving Rabbids to TV

Aardman to Bring Ubisoft’s Raving Rabbids to TV (photo)

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Video games becoming big-budget Hollywood spectacles makes a kind of sense. Most big-budget games imagine vast universes full of action that would translate will to the silver screen. Far less common are the deals that bring popular game franchises to the TV, but that’s exactly what’s happening for the Raving Rabbids.

Ubisoft’s raucously wacky party-game series will be coming to TV screens, thanks to a production deal with the Aardman animation studio. The two outfits will work jointly to create a pilot for a proposed series. Founded by Peter Lord and David Sproxton, the studio’s responsible for the Oscar-winning “Wallace & Gromit” movies. The Rabbids are a product of Ubisoft’s Montpelier studio run by respected designer Michel Ancel, who’s also responsible for the mega-popular “Rayman” franchise. Here’s the obligatory quotes fro execs on each side:

Miles Bullough, Head of Broadcast at Aardman, says, “When the opportunity arose to work with Ubisoft on the Rabbids we leapt at it, we absolutely love the characters and can’t wait to help bring them to a television audience.”

“The not-so-subtle humor of the Rabbids has made them into icons in and beyond video games,” states Xavier Poix, Managing Director at Ubisoft’s French studios. “Aardman perfectly understands that humor and we are extremely excited to be working with them to bring the Rabbids to a new medium and a new audience.

The funny thing about this deal is that the Rabbids always looked like they could’ve walked out of an Aardman movie. Further details–like whether the pilot will be claymation or CGI and if there’s a network deal in place yet–have yet to be announced. But, chances are the loopy lagomorphs will be getting viewers screaming on some kids’ channel pretty soon. Until then, their new game “Raving Rabbids: Travel in Time” comes out in November.

“Child of Eden” Launches User-Generated Happiness Contest

“Child of Eden” Launches User-Generated Happiness Contest (photo)

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When synchronized graphics and thumping techno lit up and rattled the dark stage of the Orpheum Theatre during E3, I immediately knew what had to be happening. Tetsuya Mizuguchi had a new game coming. And, indeed, the man dancing and gesticulating at the Xbox Kinect camera was Mizuguchi himself. It’s ballsy to demo a still-in-development game and ballsier still to do it on hardware that demands a paradigm shift in how you think about controlling a video game. But when that game has you dancing and pointing and essentially doing jazz hands in front of thousands of people? Man. But, people applauded when Mizuguchi’s stage time ended.

Part of that clapping came from watching an amazingly trippy play experience. You have to admit that the demo almost looks like he’s doing magic to the screen. But the enthusiastic response also owes to the fact that probably no one ever thought a sequel to “Rez” would happen. While it often gets name-checked as a truly artistic work of game creation, the game wasn’t a financial success. The fact that the game’s legacy and its creator have become acclaimed since 2002 speaks to a serious shift about how games are perceived. Things have changed in other ways, too, since the Japanese game designer unleashed “Rez” on the Dreamcast and, later, the PS2. “Rez” didn’t shy away from the fact that it was a shooter. Its plot had players hacking into a far-future computer network to face Eden, the newly self-aware AI who’d shut the network down. Nowadays, “Child of Eden” calls its energy projections ‘purification’ and tasks players to cleanse Eden of a negativity virus. Mizuguchi wants to avoid the language of violence with “Child of Eden” and, though it sounds a bit Age of Aquarius, the sentiment fits.

Of course, some things haven’t changed. Since “Child of Eden” a spiritual sequel to “Rez,” it follows that the sound effects and targeting system also look similar. The game’s plot references its predecessor by putting players in P Mizuguchi loves dance music–to the point of starting a record label in Japan–so the soundtrack of “COE” will likely resemble the trance-heavy vibe of “Rez.” “Rez” already intertwined controller vibration, sound design and art direction into a heady playable artifact and “Child of Eden” promises to up the ante by integrating movement-based input into the mix.

Finally, the big difference with “Child of Eden” is that Mizuguchi is inviting people to participate themselves in the game. The title’s publisher Ubisoft just announced a contest that asks people to submit snapshots of happiness to possibly be included in the game’s final level. From the official release:

Starting today, gamers are encouraged to submit their personal photos for consideration by visiting the Child of Eden website (www.childofedengame.com). Examples include smiling faces, beautiful nature shots, stunning landscape views, and other happy and positive images. The deadline for submissions is November 20, 2010. All approved photos will be featured in the final level of Child of Eden.

“The theme of Child of Eden is ‘Hope and Happiness’ and I want players to experience happy feelings every time they play the game,” said Tetsuya Mizuguchi, Q? Entertainment studio founder and Creative Director of Child ofEden. “I need your help to convey these positive emotions, so please send us pictures that give you good vibes so we can include them in the ending of the game.”

On one hand, such a move’s got “marketing ploy” written all over it. Plenty of folks would buy the game just to see if their submission made it in. On the other hand, though, Mizuguchi’s one of the few auteurs in the gamemaking business and he’s generally so beloved as to make participation in a scheme like this a no-brainer. Whether you upload a picture or not, “Child of Eden” will be a game to anticipate when it comes out, which will presumably in 2011.

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