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PSN 2011 Preview Week

January 25, 2011 Written by Sebastian Moss

The PlayStation Network has been home to some of the greatest games of this generation, with low entry barriers encouraging indie and mainstream developers to create unique and risky titles that push the boundaries of conventional gaming. Known to support developers of all size, independent studios can self publish titles on the store with relative ease, as well as being able to have funding support from Sony, while still retaining their intellectual property, with the Sony Pub Fund. To celebrate all the PlayStation Network has to offer, and its bright future, PlayStation LifeStyle will be running a week long feature  – The PSN 2011 Preview Week.

Just like the PlayStation Store update, the feature launches on Tuesday, and runs all week until the next store update. Every day, PlayStation LifeStyle will post news, previews, and exclusive interviews on 2011′s biggest PSN games, offering a unique look at the year ahead for the PlayStation Network.

PSN 2011 Preview Interviews:

Simon Oliver, Founder of HandCircus, Okabu

The PlayStation platform has always been home to beautifully artistic games, from developers such as Team Ico and thatgamecompany, and with the PlayStation Network, the prevalence of such titles has grown exponentially. Independent developer HandCircus, the creators of Rolando on the iPhone, is planning to bring a rather unique title exclusively to the PlayStation Network. Okabu literally pits players in a cloud of artistic puzzling adventures. As Kumulo, Nimbe and the cloud-flying heroes, players battle to save their world from the threat of the industrialized Doza. Complete with a cooperative campaign, Okabu is one of 2011′s premier indie games for the PlayStation 3.

To learn about the game, the importance of nature and individuality in games, as well as what’s next for Okabu – from possible Move support to a portable future, PlayStation LifeStyle interviewed Simon Oliver, the founder of HandCircus. More >>

Antonio Santamaria, Head of Engineering at Vitamin G Studios, The UnderGarden

The UnderGarden is a relaxing 2D fantasy game where the player controls an undersea gardener. Their goal is to color the underwater caverns he resides in by blooming all the dormant flowers in the area. It’s a simple premise, often times compared to Flower, but despite their similarities the two are very different games. In The UnderGarden you can’t die, and the only real goal is to finish the level you’re in, which if done straight can make for a very quick game. However, the pleasure of the game resides in the exploration of all 14 levels, blooming all the flowers possible within, and finding the hidden collectibles as well. There are also a few puzzles scattered throughout the levels, which are never very difficult, and serve primarily to break up the pacing of the game.

The UnderGarden is a very visually pleasing game, treating the player to explosions of fluorescent colors as they cut a path of flowers within the caves they journey through. It also features a soothing and relaxing soundtrack to accompany the pacing of the game, which can be altered upon finding hidden musicians throughout the levels. Each musician plays a specific instrument, which can be heard as you drag them around the level. Any flowers they are near grow and alter as a result, which can make it a little more interesting to bring them with you. As players progress they can also be rewarded with alterations for their character’s costume, offering some more motivation to explore and find everything. There’s a 2 player co-op mode as well for those of you who enjoy playing with a friend.

The UnderGarden released late last year on XBLA and PC, and is now journeying over to the PSN with new levels. In anticipation of game’s PSN début, PlayStation LifeStyle talked to Antonio Santamaria, Head of Engineering at Vitamin G Studios about the game, the improvements over the 360 and PC version and the future of “Zen Games”. More >>

Matt Gilgenbach, Co-Founder of 24 Caret Games, Retro/Grade

What kind of game do you get when you mix a side-scrolling shooter with the music genre – and then put it in reverse? This is exactly the question developer 24 Caret Games is trying to answer with their upcoming PSN game Retro/Grade. Players take control of a space craft and make their way through timed music levels but with a special kick; the game is played backwards. The game will also allow players to tackle musical levels with a standard Dualshock 3 or guitar controller. With an original soundtrack done by Skyler McGlothlin and a very interesting gameplay mechanic, Retro/Grade looks to make high impact when it releases on the PlayStation Network.

To learn more about the rather unique PSN exclusive title, PlayStation LifeStyle interviewed Matt Gilgenbach, co-founder of 24 Caret Games. More >>

Eitan Glinert, Fire Chief at Fire Hose Games, Slam Bolt Scrappers

We’re a bit jealous of Eitan Glinert, mainly because he can have a cool job title like “Fire Chief”, but also because his studio’s game, Slam Bolt Scrappers, looks absolutely smashing. Trying to describe the game is easier said than done, with the title not only transcending genres, but turning them on their head. Sporting four player local co-op, the game challenges players to build their towers while destroying the enemy’s, with a host of powerups – one which is exclusively revealed below – and interactive environments making the game truly crazy. Published by Sony Online Entertainment, the PSN exclusive game is only a few weeks away.

To learn about the one handed “beverage mode”, exclusive character and powerup reveals and the evolutionary development of the game, PlayStation LifeStyle chatted with Eitan Glinert, Fire Chief at Fire Hose Games. More >>

Dylan Cuthbert, Founder of Q-Games, PixelJunk Shooter 2

PixelJunk Shooter 2 is a follow up to the highly successful PlayStation Network title from Q-Games, PixelJunk Shooter. As one of 2011′s most anticipated PSN games, we’ve caught up with Q-Games founder, Dylan Cuthbert, to talk about the game and what else Q-Games may have in store for PS3 owners. More >>

PixelJunk Shooter 2 Preview

The original PixelJunk Shooter was a fantastic puzzle-filled voyage, which involved piloting a small craft through a variety of hazardous underground passages in an attempt to rescue as many marooned survivors as possible. The premise was simple, and the execution was virtually flawless. However, the short run left many hungry for more. If you’re unfamiliar with why, then check out our review here. With the sequel right around the corner, we had some time to test out the game and some of the new features at a recent Sony event. More >>

Chris Harvey, Technical Lead at DrinkBox Studios, Tales from Space: About a Blob

Developed by DrinkBox Studios, Tales from Space: About a Blob is a Sony Pub Funded PlayStation Network exclusive that follows a blob who arrives on Earth no bigger than a hamster, but as it eats its surroundings, ultimately grows to the size of a planet. The co-op supporting puzzle-platformer spices up gameplay with various powers that are gained as the game progresses. With a loveable classic monster-movie theme and a retro art style, the game received high praise from our E3 preview.

To learn more about the game, the possibility of future “Tales from Space” games, and the benefits of PS+, PlayStation LifeStyle chatted with Chris Harvey, Technical Lead at DrinkBox Studios and Design Lead for About a Blob. More >>

Kellee Santiago, President and Co-Founder of thatgamecompany, Journey

thatgamecompany is back, after a long 2 year wait, with their next highly anticipated title Journey. The team behind the unique and tranquil worlds of flOw and Flower, have revealed only enough scraps of detail on their latest adventure to leave us begging for more. Journey puts you in control of a lone figure wandering throughout a vast desert, offering expansive visuals and beautiful landscapes that bring us back to that similar awe-inspired feeling experienced in the worlds of ICO and Shadow of the Colossus. Your character is on a quest to discover why they were in the desert in the first place, and what it is that is calling them instinctively towards the distant mountain. But more than a simple amnesia story, the team have been working to introduce a new style of gameplay that will attempt to reintroduce players to a sense of their own inner power, rather than relying on a traditional gaming theme of becoming almighty, and beyond human.

Their re-envisioning does not stop there, as the plans to incorporate multiplayer in the mix go beyond the traditional 1 player and 2 player co-op play. It’s a fresh, unique system where an online second player can seamlessly weave into your game in the midst of their own Journey. You can choose whether or not to travel with them, as multiplayer collaboration will not be forced, but by choosing to do so, you may learn new things about the barren desert. Given the setting, the multiplayer idea is to create an environment where players welcome interactions with others, rather than ignoring them.

If nothing else, Journey promises to be unique from everything else thatgamecompany has created, which is quite the feat when every one of their titles have been unlike any other game created.

To find out more about Journey, we spoke with Kellee Santiago, President and Co-Founder of thatgamecompany. More >>

Philippe Rapin Co-founder, Marketing & Business Development at Press Start Studio, TwinBlades

Set in the medieval era, zombie shooter TwinBlades stands out with its unique manga-like graphics. Playing as a rather unorthodox nun, you must defeat the undead in various environments, from a ruined chapel to the city market, and of course, the cemetery. Released over a year ago on iOS and the 360, the title was an instant hit, and has now joined the ever-growing library of PlayStation minis.

To learn about the game, its X-Rated adult film inspiration and the differences between iOS and PS minis, we chatted to Philippe Rapin Co-founder, Marketing & Business development at Press Start Studio. More >>

Pilar Pino, Marketing Head at StormBASIC Games, Karimogi

A game aimed directly at the pick-up-and-play generation, Karimogi sets you in a frantic world of dropping bricks, with with them falling off the cranes above you. Push them around and put them in order, to get Karimogi back to his spaceship, put the bricks into rows and they will then disappear.

To learn about Karimogi, developing on mobile platforms and the benefits of PS+, PlayStation LifeStyle talked to Pilar Pino, Marketing Head at StormBASIC Games. More >>

Tales from Space: About a Blob Interview – PSN 2011 Preview