GameZone Gets a Peek at Game Factory's 2008 Lineup
July 28, 2008
GameZone Gets a Peek at Game
Factory's 2008 Lineup
By Louis Bedigian
Zenses, Rubik’s World, the next Build-a-Bear and more.
Game Factory is well known for its Code Lyoko video games, but they’ve got a slate of new properties – including an original IP – headed to the Nintendo DS and Nintendo Wii this fall. GameZone recently got a peek at those games, which include a female-targeted puzzle game, the next chapter in the Build-a-Bear franchise, a new addition to the Bratz Ponyz series, the first Bratz Kidz Slumber Party game, and a new take on Rubik’s Cube.
Zenses Ocean and Zenses Rainforest (Nintendo DS)
Damien Sarrazin, PR Manager of Game Factory, told GameZone that Zenses is a different title for them because it’s not a licensed product and is a concept they – and the game’s developer, Shin'en – developed from the ground up. “It’s an original IP and is the beginning of a franchise for us,” he says.
“This is, in a sense, a compilation of puzzle games targeted at the female gamer. They’re addictive puzzle games throughout with visuals and an ambient soundtrack. They’re relaxing games.”
Sarrazin noted how male players differ in their gaming habits. Whereas men want to get excited and shoot something, he says, female players “want games to take a break [from something else]…like they’re on vacation.”
“The whole theme of Zenses,” he continues, “covers the natural wonders of the world. In Ocean we have a set of six different puzzle games that revolve around the theme of the sea and other nautical things. In Rainforest we have six other puzzle games that revolve around the theme of the rainforest. Visually you’ll see a lot of waterfalls, lush vegetation, butterflies and all the natural elements you find when visiting a rainforest.”
Regarding the developer behind Zenses – who is best known for the addictive Nanostray series – Sarrazin believes they are really good at maximizing the potential of the DS hardware. “In both versions of Zenses you’ll see really beautiful graphics,” he says, referring to Zenses as being photorealistic. “In the Rainforest version they’re pushed a little further.”
“The soundtrack is very ambient… And you’ll be able to download the music tracks from our Web site. The game will reward players with MP3 versions of the soundtrack.”
They’ll be free, of course. Sarrazin believes the download code will come in the game’s manual.
Finally he wanted us to know that, unlike most third-party games, Nintendo is backing Game Factory on Zenses. “It makes a lot of sense for them to support us because we’re in line with the direction they’re taking this year with the DS and Wii, reaching out to female and casual gamers. Back in March or April, Nintendo had a media summit and presented their lineup of Wii and DS titles. They handpicked a few third-party titles to have on display and Zenses was one of them. They’ve been including us in a lot of their marketing opportunities.”
Rubik’s World (Wii and DS)
From the developer of Worms: Open Warfare 2 for Nintendo DS, Rubik’s World is partially what you’d expect – a virtual version of Rubik’s Cube. But that isn’t all there is to it.
“We really wanted to surprise the gamer,” Sarrazin boasts. “We really wanted to deliver a great Rubik’s experience. We’ve invented some very unique and original puzzle games that are very addictive but still relevant to the universe of Rubik’s Cube where all the values and the mechanics of Rubik’s are present. The developer created an abstract world of those cubes called Cubies [small cube creatures]. Each version, one for DS and one for Wii, has a set of eight different puzzle games where you basically have to solve puzzles by moving and manipulating the Cubies in different ways. Two of them will be similar in both versions, and one of them is based on the original Rubik’s Cube.
“One of the puzzle games, the AI will come up with different types of patterns on one side of the cube. The player will have to re-create that pattern. Let’s say one row is going to be red, one row is going to be yellow, and one row is going to be blue. You basically have to manipulate the cube so that when the time runs out three rows are lined up on one side of the cube.
“On the Wii, you are using both the Nunchuk and remote. The Nunchuk controls the camera, so you can achieve any type of angle you want to view the cube. To manipulate the cube, think about cube the way it is. There are only two movements in adjusting the cube. So, what you do is, you point the Wii remote at one of the sides, one of the rows, and if you look at one side of the cube… Basically you have three rows, 3x3. So you can move six different rows. One, two or three vertically or one, two or three horizontally. So what you do is, you point with the remote and push the A button and move your wrist – horizontally for the right or left, or vertically for up or down.
“On the DS, everything is controlled with the stylus. You point the stylus at various areas on screen on the Rubik’s Cube. And you can basically turn it around by circling the Cubie around the Rubik’s. You touch one of the rows and basically slide the stylus down and the row will slide. If you slide the stylus on the right, the right row will slide, and so on.”
Among the different game types is a demolition challenge where players compete to destroy a tower. Sarrazin explains: “Imagine a platform with four different towers. Each tower is a formation of Cubies. And each one of those towers is a different color. Let’s say we have four different players. This all relies on real physics. Basically, the aim of the game is to demolish those constructions of Cubies. We are launching at those Cubies other Cubies. We can control the speed of the Cubie at which we’re launching, and we can control the angle at which they’re being launched. The aim of the game is to demolish those towers. The first player who demolishes a tower first wins the game.”
“That,” he reaffirms, “is just one little aspect of Rubik’s World.”
One other aspect, shared on the DS and Wii versions, is a music sequencer. “The music sequencer will let players create their own tracks in the game. You will have a selection of different instruments. There will be a simplified version of a music editor where you’ll be able to mix different sounds – drums, horns and so on, and that track will be used throughout the game when you’re solving a puzzle.”
Build-a-Bear Workshop: A Friend Fur All Seasons (Wii)
Damien Sarrazin: “It’s a party game – a very cute game. We’ve got 20 different mini-games, very comparable to what Wii Sports provides, or Carnival Games. The DS version we launched in November last year was very successful. We’ve taken that experience on the DS and made it available to the whole family. It’s not just for the kids but for the whole family to enjoy together.
Build-A-Bear Workshop: A Friend Fur All Seasons
“There are two modes: a single-player mode which is an Adventure mode, and a multiplayer mode. Where we may surprise people is that they may expect a Wii game where we’re focusing on the aspect of creating the historic experience of Build-a-Bear. That’s not what we’re doing. There is a character customization interface where you can select the gender and accessories of the bear. But the whole aspect of giving life to the bear as you do in the store doesn’t happen anymore.
“You start the game by selecting one of eight characters, already made. In the Adventure mode, the player is heads to four different islands that are based on the different seasons. In each island, it’s a free-roaming environment where the player can explore and interact with the environment and unlock mini-games as you go through the island. The island has between four and five different mini-games. The story is about the bear traveling from one island to another on a ship to reach the party that’s happening on the last island. You want to go to the party, but in order to do that you have to explore all four islands.
“Each time you play mini-games, you unlock it and it becomes available in multiplayer mode. Also each time you play it you collect medals. The medals enable you to spend money at the Build-a-Bear store and buy more accessories, allowing you to change the look of your bear.
“One thing that’s fun to do, when you’re on the winter island you’ll wear a winter outfit; when you’re on the summer island you’ll wear a summer outfit.”
Mini-games include (but are not limited to) versions of tetherball, tennis, a ladybug race, snowball tossing, an ice skating race, Frisbee and ring tossing, and one called Picnic Attack where you have to keep the ants from eating your cake.
Bratz Kidz Slumber Party (Wii and DS) and Bratz Ponyz 2 (DS)
If you have a little girl to shop for this Christmas, she might be interested in these new Bratz games. Sarrazin comments: “Bratz Kidz Slumber Party is a collection of mini-games with heavy customization. You can also create your own accessories, fashion items, etc. It’s a very straightforward party game. Some of the games will offer wireless multiplayer on the DS. On the Wii there’s a paparazzi contest – kind of a hide-and-seek game where you have to take pictures. They’re hiding, and you have to take pictures as they appear. There’s also, on the DS version, an interface where you have to put makeup on your character.
Bratz Kidz Slumber Party (Wii version)
“There are a lot of Bratz brands out there. We did Bratz Ponyz last year, and we’re doing it again with the launch of Bratz Ponyz 2. It’s very cute as far as art direction and graphic style. It’s a little toned down compared to the other Bratz because it’s for younger kids.”
Bratz Ponyz 2