14th June 2011

New Titles Coming From Ludia

LudiaSummer 2011 will see two new titles on many platforms coming from the Ludia game studios. The first announcement comes from Ludia Inc. and FremantleMedia Enterprises, who announced today that Hole In The Wall will be available worldwide exclusively for Kinect™ on the Microsoft Xbox 360® and will be available for purchase from Xbox LIVE Arcade. Based on the global television game show phenomenon, Hole In The Wall is one of the trickiest, fastest and funniest games on the planet where agility and a hearty sense of humor are essential tools to survive.

Players must contort their bodies to fit through bizarrely shaped holes in themed moving walls hurtling towards them. Competitors attempt to clear the walls in order to boost their scores, or risk being swept away into a pool of water. Hole In The Wall will also incorporate online play, single and multiplayer game modes, as well as image captures of the outlandish player movements performed within the game and hilarious bonus videos from the TV show.

“Ludia is thrilled to create an immersive, controller-free Hole In The Wall game play experience that is perfectly suited to leverage Microsoft Kinect technology,” said Alex Thabet, Founder and CEO of Ludia Inc. “This first title is just the beginning of Ludia games for Kinect on Xbox 360, and serves to further reinforce our multiplatform game strategy.”

“The Hole In The Wall television show has been highly successful in dozens of countries worldwide, so we are very pleased to work with Ludia to extend the franchise to Microsoft’s Xbox 360, said Olivier Delfosse, Director, Interactive, FremantleMedia Enterprises, licensor for Hole In The Wall. “We are sure that fans of the show and wider audiences alike will enjoy partaking in a fresh and exciting new Hole In The Wall experience.”

The second development announcement came from Ludia and Mark Burnett’s One Three Television LLC. The development studio will publish games based on the multiple-award winning Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader?® TV game show. The North America-wide, multi-year will result in games for Facebook and mobile platforms including iPhone™, iPod touch™ and iPad™.

“We are excited to have the opportunity to create Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader? games for the millions of people that play games on Facebook and mobile devices,” said Alex Thabet, Founder and CEO of Ludia Inc. “This new license helps amplify the Ludia portfolio of game show games, which has been a highly successful category for us and one we believe has strong on-going potential across platforms.”

The Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader? games will feature the favorite game play elements of the television show as contestants vie to earn money by answering trivia questions from a set of ten grade school subjects in a quest to earn the top prize. The games will also incorporate real-time multiplayer competition as well as other unique social features that will result in high dynamic and entertaining game play experiences.

“We are pleased to add Ludia as a licensee to our Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader? licensing program. We look forward to working with them on 5th Grader games for social media and mobile platforms,” said Mark Burnett. “We are thrilled to see the franchise thrive so that fans of the show and wider audiences alike can enjoy their very own Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader? game experiences.”


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13th June 2011

Lair of the Evildoer To Be Exposed on Friday

going loud studiosGoing Loud Studios, creators of Zombie Accountant, has announced that “Lair of the Evildoer” has gone gold Lair of the Evildoerwill be released on Xbox Live Indie Games this Friday, June 17th. Gamers will be able to download it from the Xbox LIVE Marketplace for only 80 Microsoft Points.

“We’re using the latest in cutting-edge set-your-release-date technology,” said Ben Kane, founder of Going Loud Studios. “It gives us an unprecedented level of control over when the game comes out.”

“Oh and the game’s pretty good too,” he continued, when asked to say something relevant.

In “Lair of the Evildoer”, players will attempt to escape the lair of mad scientist and all-around evildoer Dr. Odious. They’ll fight over 30 types of monsters as they explore the procedurally generated levels hunting for the best loot. Their only allies are the 25 varieties of weapons, each with dozens of variations. Fortunately, players will gain experience and spend stat points to improve their character and better their odds of making it out alive. They’ll need all the help they can get.

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12th June 2011

Phantom Compass Introduces Points 4 People To Twitter

phantom compassToronto’s Phantom Compass, contributors to the Skatoony Home Game for marblemedia’s Skatoony TV show, among others, has launched their latest project to the masses. Points 4 People is currently in public beta and uses a unique tag to add (or subtract) points for Twitter users.

The premise for the game (as explained on the P4P site), is to provide a global points exchange and leaderboard system for Twitter users like you. Reward your friends, penalize your enemies, or vice versa. Exchanged points are broadcast via Twitter, tracked by Points 4 People and automagically popped into our leaderboards, activity feeds, and profile points4peoplepages. No additional signup or permission is required. Simply reference someone in your Twitter post, add the hashtag #p4p and a positive (eg. #p4p+56) or negative number (eg. #p4p-42) of your choice.

Phantom Compass Founding Partner & Producer/Director Tony Walsh is currently down in San Francisco, so I conducted a quick email interview with him to find out more about Points 4 People:

VG: How (and why) did you come up with the concept for Points4People?

TW: Our technical director Jos Yule had come up with the idea of Points 4 People as a secret side project. He mentioned the concept to me a few weeks ago while we were on our way to a meeting, and by the time we arrived we decided it had to get made.

As a game company we’ve been following developments in so-called “gamification” for years, and we’re fascinated by how invested people become in reward structures. Points 4 People is an experiment in this area, and we think it’s got a lot of potential for consumer and business use.

VG: How long has Points 4 People been in development?

TW: We’ve spent several weeks on the project but the development time was probably under 40 person-hours. We’re in an ongoing development phase now as we iron out bugs, test new ideas, and implement user feedback.

VG: What was the biggest challenge the studio faced in bringing Points 4 People to life?

TW: Time. We burned a lot of midnight oil immediately prior to launch.

VG: Will there be a monetization aspect to this gamification of Twitter?

TW: Absolutely. We’ve got consumer and B2B options cooking. We’re going to be very careful with how we handle the commercialization.

VG: I know you’ve only just launched – but has anyone taken the game too seriously yet? (I was meaning from an over-praising/vindictive perspective, but Tony’s answer is good news, too!)

TW:Yes, there’s already been unofficial interest from one of the world’s largest technology companies.

VG: Where do you see Points 4 People going – what is your hope for the game?

TW: We are paying close attention to what our users want and how they are using Points 4 People. As we plan for a Facebook implementation we’re also getting great feedback on the Twitter-based system and making changes on a daily basis.

VG: Thank you for your time, is there anything else you’d like to add?

TW: #p4p+1000 @villagegamer


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12th June 2011

Cranky Cat On Android

march entertainmentToronto studio March Entertainment has released its first Android game to the Marketplace. The bubble-popping puzzler Cranky Cat is a free to try title, with more levels available through in-app purchasing. There are more than 250 hand-crafted levels in Story and Puzzle modes, as well as three variations of “infinite” cranky catmode. A free demo can be played on the official Cranky Cat website. An Apple iOS (iPad, iPhone and iPod touch) version will arrive in the coming weeks, as well as full online and downloadable versions.

Fast-paced and addictive, the game features a cantankerous Victorian-era cat trying to create a youth elixir by condensing chemical compounds in a steam-powered centrifuge. Cranky Cat is March’s first game not tied to an existing intellectual property, and marks the company’s foray into “pure” casual gaming just for the fun of it. Cranky Cat is OpenFeint-enabled and was built in the Unity game engine, another first for March Entertainment, which has previously built games primarily in Flash, such as The Great Canadian Trivia Shootout and Dex Hamilton’s Bug Quest.

Last month the studio’s groundbreaking web-to-TV animated comedy series Chilly Beach became available in the U.S. for the first time on Hulu and the Hulu Plus subscription service, via a deal with distributor Duopoly. Originally chilly beachproduced for the CBC, Chilly Beach ran over three seasons and garnered a large and enthusiastic following through a combination of broadcast play and the property’s dynamic, interactive website.

Along with Chilly Beach, two original series-related movies released after the TV series, The World is Hot Enough and The Canadian President are also available on Hulu and Hulu Plus. The series and movies are viewable for free on Hulu.com to U.S. viewers.

“Chilly Beach was the first web-to-TV series in Canada and we are delighted to launch this flagship comedy franchise to U.S. audiences for the first time on Hulu,” said Catherine Tait, President of Duopoly. “We’ve seen impressive viewership numbers for great Canadian series like Odd Job Jack on Hulu and believe it is a valuable option for producers seeking to monetize their content in the U.S.”

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10th June 2011

Flew The Coop Avoiding Farmers on iTunes

flew the coopFlew The Coop is a very simple game with very simple mechanics featuring auto-run and 2D retro-styled graphics. This pick up and play title was developed by Jason Kaplan and Damian Sommer, with Troy Morrisey and Ryan Cox of Darc Productions providing the sound and music.

The premise of this game is to help the renegade chicken avoid the Farmer in his attempts to run away from the farm. You do this by jumping on other farm animals – pigs offer a little extra bounce to chicken-powered flight, by the way. Some quick thinking strategy and running across hay bales or jumping on crows to reach the barn roof will get you to the weather vanes, which can help to propel the renegade chicken beyond the reach of the fun spoiling Farmer.flew the coop

It is necessary to jump the other farm animals, because running into them is not good for your health and slows you down. Simply tap the screen for a quick jump or hold your finger down for a longer flight – sometimes a longer flight is needed, so time your taps carefully. Your success in Flew The Coop is measured in the distance you covered before being nabbed by the Farmer, and the faster you run, the more ground you’ll cover. Unless you run into the Farmer, that is.

Flew The Coop is available now on iTunes for 99 cents USD, supports Game Centre and is rated 4+. The game is compatible with iPhone, iPod touch and iPad devices running iOS 3.0 or later. I can attest to it working on a 2nd gen iPod Touch with the current operating system. The developers may port the title over to Android, WP7, and possibly XBLIG, Steam, or the Mac App Store in the future.

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10th June 2011

Sword of the Stars II Gameplay Trailer Blasts Into Space

kerberos productionsParadox Interactive and Vancouver’s Kerberos Studios unravel more mysteries of the universe in a new gameplay trailer for Sword of the Stars II: The Lords of Winter, sequel to Kerberos’ hit 4X science fiction strategy game. Bigger, better, stronger, faster. Sword of the Stars II comes to your corner of the galaxy this autumn.


- Lead one of six playable factions, including a mysterious new race with an influence that was felt throughout Sword of the Stars I, as you strive for galactic dominance
– Discover highly detailed star systems featuring planetary orbits, moons, asteroid belts and different space terrain
– Experience 4X space strategy in stunning new ways with the powerful MARS 2 graphics engine
– Design and build your own ships – including the formidable new Leviathan class – with new levels of detail, including specific sub systems, allowing for more fleet strategies and tactics
– Research advanced technology, from the Fusion era to the Anti-Matter era and beyond…
– Engage in fierce multiplayer battles with up to 8 players

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Sword of the Stars II: Lords of Winter offers an evolved version of the original six races from Sword of the Stars and its expansions. The game will reveal the deep, dark secret of the Suul’ka. Boasting an all new graphics engine and incorporating new ship details that allow for new fleet strategies and tactics, Sword of the Stars II is poised to revive the 4X space genre and is scheduled for release in September, 2011.

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10th June 2011

Dragons Lair 2 Time Warp Now On iPhone

Digital LeisureDragon’s Lair 2: Time Warp, developed by Digital Leisure and published by EA Mobile is the one and only true follow-up to the landmark Dragon’s Lair created by renowned animator Don Bluth. Just like the famous arcade classic, players can continue the adventures of Dirk the Daring as he bumbles his way through feats of strength and valour.

Only you, Dirk the Daring, can save Princess Daphne from the clutches of the Evil Wizard Mordroc in this fully animated arcade classic from the legendary animator and director Don Bluth. It is a dark time in all the land. The Evil Wizard Mordroc has spirited away Princess Daphne to a wrinkle in time, scheming to force her into marriage. As Dirk the Daring, you must race through time to rescue her. A bumbling old time machine (and all the courage you canDragon's Lair 2: Time Warp muster) will transport you on your mission. But you must hurry. Once the Casket of Doom has opened, Mordroc will place the Death Ring upon Daphne’s finger in marriage – and she will be lost forever in the Time Warp!

On your quest to save Princess Daphne, you will visit 8 different dimensions and eras in time. Encounter characters from literature and history such as Alice In Wonderland, Sleeping Beauty, and Beethoven. As Dirk the Daring, you might wind up in the Garden of Eden, Ancient Egypt – or even in prehistoric times battling dinosaurs.

Customize your adventure – the responsive and intuitive controls let you play with or without move guides. You can choose to use 3, 5, or even infinite lives. And exclusively with iPhone & iPod touch, you can play through the Original version or the new Director’s Cut, which features an alternate ending. Prepare for a grandly goofy good time, whether you’re an arcade enthusiast seeking to relive the adventure or the brave of heart seeing the Daring One shriek at the sight of a monster for the first time.

Dragon’s Lair 2: Time Warp is available now in the iTunes App Store for $ 2.99 USD and is Rated 9+ for the following:

  • Infrequent/Mild Cartoon or Fantasy Violence

This game is compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad devices and requires iOS 3.0 or later.

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10th June 2011

Microvolts Charged Up For Official Launch

rock hippo productionsRock Hippo Productions Ltd has announced that the free to play online cartoon style third-person action shooter, MicroVolts has officially launched.  Featuring all new content, players can expect non-stop fun and fast-paced action in this much-anticipated release.

“We want to thank all the MicroVolters who participated in the open beta phase of the game and invite them, along with new players,  to experience all the new content and gameplay we have in store for this huge launch ,” said Howard He, President and CEO of Rock Hippo Productions. “We are really stepping up the clan competitions and with the addition of a huge new map, all new weapons, costumes and more, new and returning players alike will all be treated to a great experience in the newly launched MicroVolts world.”                  microvolts

Players will be able to create their own clans and select the best members to join special teams. These teams will form the core of each clan, with reserve members fighting for those spots. This extra level of clan management will bring new strategy options to the game, especially for tournament players. More features such as comparing clan stats and clan leaderboards will be coming in the near future.

Celebrating the launch with a new map, The Studio. A huge new map with an incredible amount of levels and hiding spots, The Studio is a map that Zombie Mode enthusiasts will  especially enjoy as it gives plenty of options for evading those pesky zombies. Just don’t get too freaked out by the giant clown hanging out of the toy box.

Also released with the game’s official launch are new weapons, costumes and character set. The new Colonel Crac  costume set includes the C.H.I.P. character and allows players to outfit themselves in the style of the legendary Colonel. In addition, all characters will receive fresh new parts and accessories, available for both Micro Points and Rock Tokens.  But no character is complete without their awesome weapons.  MicroVolters will be introduced to three new ones including the Steel Hammer (melee), DareDev (Gatling Gun), and Mimic (Rocket Launcher).  Players should also be on the lookout for all new advanced versions of different weapon types!

Rock Tokens currency currency can be purchased from the MicroVolts Web Shop and will be used to purchase special customization items and extend gameplay options. Game modes include Free for All, Team Deathmatch, Item Match, Capture the Battery, Elimination, Zombie Mode, and many more featuring various maps designed by toy concept.

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10th June 2011

Shannon Tweed Gets Her Game On With Gogii

gogiiGogii Games is proud to announce that an agreement of collaboration has been signed with actress and reality star, Shannon Tweed in the development of a mobile game titled Shannon Tweed: Attack of the Groupies, which is scheduled for an August 2011 release.

Appearing in over sixty films, Tweed has also had roles or made appearances in a long list of television shows including The United States of Tara, SpongeBob SquarePants, Married with Children, and Frasier. Most recently, Shannon TweedTweed has been a regular fixture in the home of millions, sharing the screen with members of her family in A&E’s hit reality television series Gene Simmons: Family Jewels.

George Donovan, CEO and founder of Gogii Games, decided to approach Tweed with the idea for a potential partnership only two minutes after their initial introduction. “Meeting Shannon was completely random, and she was so interesting to speak to, her personality is so vibrant. I knew her life story tied into the type of game we were already building, so I asked her if she’d ever considered being in a video game.”

Tweed was intrigued, and agreed to the idea almost immediately. The legal negotiations have just been completed, and the integration of Shannon, her daughter Sophie Tweed Simmons and her sister Tracy Tweed as focal characters in Shannon Tweed: Attack of the Groupies has begun.

A creative force, Shannon Tweed has invested herself in the process of designing the game, brainstorming potential story ideas and determining just what mechanic suits her best. Tweed says, “It’s really exciting, seeing how a game is developed. I’m new to video games, and George has very kindly given a crash course on the game and industry.”

The most interesting part for Tweed has been watching her family come to life as virtual characters. “It’s incredible, to see the sketches come in, and to be involved in determining the style and the attitude of the characters. Gogii has been very collaborative on that, which is one of the things I’ve really enjoyed about working with them.”

Donovan adds, “Shannon and her family have been fantastic. Her life story is so interesting and it’s a great partnership. We’re hoping to leverage her humor into the game, and create something that is as fun and interactive as she is, as well as allowing our customers to learn even more about her lifestyle and family.”

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8th June 2011

What Is Kula Blox

TransGamingThe dev team over at TransGaming Studios, the creative group who brought you Garage Inc., have been tormenting me for weeks now with hints and images from their upcoming title Kula Blox. I have yet to figure out just exactly how this game is played, but I think it involves some type of match play – or maybe it involves tilt play (which means I’m pretty well toast before I begin), and I know it involves several characters from the animal kingdom. These are the Kula Blox The Jungledetails I have so far – some are from the game’s sell-sheet and others are pure conjecture.

While free-falling through exotic locales, you have to fight your way to the top of the Food Chain. In a total oxymoron, your game avatar becomes faster while growing bigger as you consume more and more enemies. Apparently your avatar – and I’m presuming that you will take on the appearance of one of the animals in the game – must consume enough enemies who are lower on the food chain than you are, in order to become big enough to defeat enemies who are higher up on the food chain than you. The developers have also provided special powers for each character and pick-ups to assist you with this task. Those who reach the top of the food chain will be recognized for their world supremacy on the Leaderboard as well as player achievements.

Kula Blox will launch directly to iOS devices, GameTree TV, Mac and PC with three geographical map areas, each with several levels to play through. The Jungle, The Savannah and The Forest will each feature its own set of unique characters, with more maps, levels, predators and prey coming in future updates. This game is rated E for everyone and will be available in English, French, Italian, German and Spanish.

There will also be the option to make in-game purchases of items such as the previously-mentioned power-ups, and possibly other types of upgrades, but I don’t know what they will be, because they won’t tell me. Not a nice thing to do to a Gemini. I’ll get my revenge at Casual Connect in Seattle, Wojtek at E3though. I have more than a month to plot and ponder, which is only slightly different from pillage and plunder. However, now that the studio knows I’m plotting, maybe they will defeat my evil plans and release the game before Casual Connect Seattle, although the game is slated for a Summer 2011 launch, and summer doesn’t technically begin until the final day of Casual Connect.

In the meantime though, TransGaming’s Managing Director Wojtek Kawczynski is currently wandering the floor at E3. If you see him, feel free to accost him for me and pry some game details out of him – or ask to borrow his iPad, because he’s carrying the game around with him, and TransGaming did announce on Twitter that they were putting the finishing touches on Kula Blox prior to E3. Once you have completed your mission, send the details to me and I will reward you with a very big cookie.

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