Sunday, November 10, 2013

what is dead may never die

"...but rises again, harder and stronger."  The epic words of the Ironborn. Weighing in at a single post a year, this blog is certainly dead; though this evening it rises again in some form, not quite "harder and stronger", but perhaps with a faint pulse.  I bring you tidings of an art opening from a month past, and the piece I created for it. "Drowned God" featuring one of my favorite characters from The Game of Thrones series, Aeron Greyjoy AKA "Damphair".


Monday, October 8, 2012

robocop's brother

I was seven years old when RoboCop came out on VHS; I eventually convinced my mother to let me rent the movie from our local store "video galaxy". [talk about badass box art] The first dozen or so viewings my mom would fast forward past the Murphy dismemberment; so I had a few gaps in Robo's origin story, but I was able to piece things together pretty well. [no pun intended.]  Before long I was obsessing about it, and drawing my own characters to fit within the universe; below, I give you one such creation..."RoboCop's Brother". 


I remember this baby feeling like a real milestone in my childhood drawing career. If I recall correctly, RoboCop's Brother was a fireman, horribly disfigured in a Detroit high-rise inferno.  Pronounced dead at the scene, he is later resurrected by Omni Consumer Products [OCP] and programmed with a single, primary directive...to hunt down RoboCop with "fire bullets." [AKA incendiary grenades]

For our 2nd annual Harmonix art show I thought it would be pretty hilarious to re-imagine this character; taking an only slightly more logical approach by letting my seven year old self make the majority of the design decisions. See the results of this experiment below.


Harmonix Artist Present: "Old School" Art Show and Gallery Opening @ Voltage Coffee House in Cambridge, Friday, October 12th from 7-10PM. 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

third time's a charm

With Dance Central 3's October 16th release date fast approaching, we have a number of behind the scenes videos trickling out. Take a look at the DC3 intro cinematic below, along with a "character and crews" preview. BONUS! If you have any interest in learning more about the game's time-twisted storyline, have a go at this TAN CORPS "ARG" memo. More to come.








Wednesday, April 4, 2012

gunlord


German developer NG:DEV.TEAM has just released their third Neo-Geo title for the MVS hardware, "Gunlord". Weighing in at a hefty 658 Megs, this self proclaimed "Eurostyle Platformer" combines huge, sprawling levels with run n' gun action and [once again] an incredible soundtrack. Check out some photos of the Shockbox Limited Edition below. [#16]





Some notes on the Gunlord MVS kit, and I use the word "kit" very loosely as there are simply too many elements missing from this package for my liking. No mini-marquee, no bezel sticker, no DIP-SHEET? Considering that their Fast Striker bundle included all of these items, plus cardboard box and the OST, it really bums me out. The manual is only a few pages, but of nice quality; however, it doesn't really contain much useful gameplay information. The posters are very cool though; and I appreciate them making the effort to contract various artists for some pretty slick concept and promotional art. The Shockbox insert looks fine, if not a little busy.  If you are collecting english kits; you know by now that NG:DEV's spine layout will clash with any of your "official" releases; but at least they are staying consistent...  


Now for the game itself; I love the vibe of Gunlord.  The presentation overall is great. Most of the sprites are really well drawn; NG:DEV put a ton of detail [and frames] into the various enemies, levels, and playable character "Gordon Gaiden" himself.  At any given time, I would say there are no less than five parallax layers being drawn at once in the background.  Throughout the first several stages, trees, chains, and waterfalls are used as extreme foreground elements and really showcase the hardware's ability to push large scale sprites; they also add a lot of interest to the screen compositionally. The "technology" aesthetic of the bio-mechs, robots, and destructible hardware elements really remind me of the early Megadrive / Genesis days, which I am very nostalgic for; while the general mood of the environments, and multi-directional scrolling brings to mind Shadow of the Beast from Psygnosis.




NERD OUT!!! The "fiction" exists in the same world as NG:DEV's previous game Last Hope; therefore, Gunlord has some overlapping visual and narrative themes. Your mission is to rescue "Vanessa Gaiden" your wife, and pilot of the Z42-WARPSTAR, who has gone MIA. [protagonist of Last Hope] Additionally, Gunlord's nine stages take place on planet "Kairos II", which may be the backdrop for stage 2 in LH. [look for the statues]


Gameplay-wise, Gunlord is most comparable to Turrican... I could comfortably call this game "Neo Turrican". The power-ups, item collection, level design, even Gordon's running animation is a nod to Manfred Trenz's classic. Your gun is equipped with a standard "Spread-Shot", but can be quickly upgraded to some other options such as [but not limited to] "Bounce Blaster" [ricochet], "Power-Shot" [rockets], and my personal favorite "Phoenix", a flame projectile shaped liked wings. The weapon upgrades can be found in floating canisters [which double as a platforming elements], along with bombs ["Super Wave"], shields, and extra energy capsules to replenish your life gauge. [the player can suffer 3 hits before losing a life].  The "Snake Lazer" assigned to the "C" button, is a whip like energy weapon that can destroy most in-coming projectiles and even reach enemies through walls. Lastly, the player can transform into the "Bomb Wheel" by pressing DOWN + "B" [Metroid style], a technique that can be used both offensively and defensively to great effect.  

There are two modes available from the start; "Original" and "Arcade". Both modes put an emphasis on exploration, and item collecting. Hidden throughout each world are pink diamonds; large ones are more rare, and found in hard to reach places; where small ones are thrown about everywhere and number in the hundreds. [per level] You will get a better score, and total completion percentage if you can 100% them. Definitely a necessity for high score runs.  In Original mode you can find 1-Ups off the beaten path, adding to your rests, you may also continue from the exact place in which you die should you lose all your lives.  Arcade mode is a little more intense, as you can only gain a 1-Up by collecting all of the large diamonds in a stage.  You are also competing against the clock; about 3 minutes per life; 1-Up drops are replaced with "Time-Extends" in this mode. [so you really need to keep moving in order to stay alive]. In this mode continuing will bump you to the start of the level. Also, continuing in either Original or Arcade will reset your score, which is great.




NG:DEV did a great job on level variety, and they make an effort to mix-up gameplay too. I haven't finished the game yet.  I'm up to stage 6 "Acid Pipe" [a linear, forced scrolling level] on a single credit, but I've seen as far as stage 7 "Waste Grounds" [more open world].  Stage 2 "Air Stride" sees you piloting a ship in standard horizontal shooter fashion [more of a bonus stage than anything else, but the boss is pretty sick looking]. Stage 1 "Holy Mountain" may still be my favorite though, about half way through the level the music fades out to ambient thunder claps as a storm rolls in; rain, lightning, and ground run-off kick in, while re-mixed BGM begins to play. If you look closely, some of the smaller robot enemies even deploy little umbrellas to keep from getting wet! Shit loads of character here.  

My main complaints [which I hope are addressed in the inevitable 1.1 patch] are as follows:
  • bosses die TOO QUICKLY [and lack interesting bullet patterns]
  • need more enemies to shoot projectiles [to balance out all the "kamikaze" types]
  • the Snake Lazer is way overpowered [cut it's length in half]
  • one minor bug, and one pretty major bug [that i've encounter twice] still need to be ironed out.
  • gun power-ups should be defined by larger sprites, possibly with an initial? [they look too similar]
  • where is the "HOW TO PLAY" screen!??  
Problems aside, I just wanted to say "hats off" to NG:DEV.TEAM for another solid Neo-Geo title. I can't believe that 22 years later someone is still squeezing life out of this hardware.  Between it's stellar attract mode, lush environments, and moody soundtrack, it's evident that Gunlord was a true labor of love.  Looking forward to doing some score runs over the upcoming summer months.  With just a few more tweaks in the gameplay department, I'm pretty confident this game has the potential to become a real classic in the Neo-Geo library. 

In closing, a few recent pictures of "Goldie" and my english MVS collection; all complete kits w/ matching serials ;)...



Saturday, January 14, 2012

back from the dead

The end of the year was a little crazy.  Just wanted to play catch-up here; as Skyrim and my new Warhammer hobby have not been kind to productivity. Below is a piece I did for a show last month entitled "UNDO", which benefited "Artists for Humanity" [www.afhboston.com]. I've also got a number of unfinished projects that I'm hoping to make time for in the coming months; keep a lookout. Thanks for checking in.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

tchotchke

Dance Central 2 avatar outfits now available on the Xbox Live Marketplace; looks include Glitch, Emilia, Miss Aubrey and Jaryn. Crew specific boombox props come with unique animation and choreography. Click here for the full collection.


Sunday, October 16, 2011

fresh faces missouri

Sorry, it's been a while.  Dance Central 2 hits shelves in just over a week, and we've got several "behind the scenes" features up on dancecentral.com.  Posted below, some of the new kids on the block, Kerith and Jaryn. [better known as "The Glitterati"]



To learn more about the development of DC2's resident @ssholes, [and the rest of the characters and venues] please check out the links provided. The "Good-Times-Mobile" rolls into stores October 25th.



Tuesday, August 16, 2011

the crew's all here

Microsoft unveiled our new Dance Central 2 trailer today in conjunction with the European games convention, Gamescom 2011. Have a look-see; new crews and a mysterious duo are revealed...

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

matching serials

During the summer months I tend to take a break from the "next gen" and revert back to the "arcade classics". For myself, the Neo-Geo is the very definition of the phrase. SNK's beast of a platform represents the pinnacle of 2D gaming. NOTHING could move sprites like this hardware. As players slowly traded pixels for polygons and rotatable cameras, the Neo-Geo held the front lines proudly, delivering hand drawn masterpieces, one after the next, throughout the mid-to-late '90s.  

I present to you one such masterpiece, Shock Troopers, developed by Saurus, and published by SNK in 1997. This game plays somewhat like a jacked up Ikari Warriors, but with multiple characters, branching paths, and some of the sweetest death animations, period.

Few things can really do it for me like a complete Neo-Geo MVS kit.  [This newly purchased beauty arrived on my doorstep today.] Shout-outs to my two favorite troopers, "Maru" and "Mary B."




Sunday, July 31, 2011

l'arpenteur

Started up on my Arzak sculpt; going super lanky on this one. [shocker, I know.]  I got the base mesh and high-rez body here for viewing.  Really can't wait to get some armor on this dude, though. Scroll down a few weeks back for the concept.

 
 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

dc dress-up

 

Kotaku's recent "flawless"cosplay gallery features Dance Central's own Dare; courtesy of MishiroMirage. Pretty sweet.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

big in japan

Dance Central finally got around to launching in Japan last month, and with its release comes another round of press coverage. Emilia, Angel, and Miss Aubrey party down on the July issue of Famitsu's XBOX 360 Magazine. Dance Central scores an incredibly high "9/8/9/10", making it the best reviewed game of the month. Even a french maid gets in on the action.





In addition, I realized that I never posted links for the last two DC character sketchbook features from dancecentral.com. So here they are with some accompanying concept art and character renders below. [sketchbook #4 / sketchbook #5] I hope everyone enjoyed getting a behind the scenes look at the creation of the DC cast; if we're lucky maybe we can do something similar for the sequel.



Thursday, June 30, 2011

m├ętal hurlant

Between reading various comics, and nightly viewings of the HBO series "A Game of Thrones", I've had a little fantasy on the brain. Thinking about starting another sculpt soon; so I decided to draw up this concept of Moebius's Arzak. [some leatherwork and weapons might be fun]  I remained pretty faithful wardrobe wise, added some details and changed some of the clothing construction around, but that is pretty much it. Just wanted to get the mood of the character down first.  I'll probably start blocking something out over the next few weeks, but this is guaranteed to be a slow burner.  [click to enlarge]

Monday, June 13, 2011

you guessed it

We revealed Dance Central 2 last week at E3 2011; here is the announcement trailer and some additional screenshots highlighting both new and returning characters. I'll definitely be posting some artwork as we get closer to launch, but in the meantime click here to learn more about the new multiplayer features and Kinect functionality.




Monday, May 30, 2011

c'est bon

I was in Paris this past week on vacation and returned yesterday afternoon jet-lagged and broken from nearly 8 hours on the plane and an inflight viewing of "Skyline". However, I quickly perked up this morning as I unpacked my suitcase full of French comics and art books.  The city architecture was amazing, and the food was great of course, but the real highlight may have been all the sick comic shops [and even a vintage game store] that I came across on my day to day travels.




I picked up an issue of the French graffiti magazine "Blazing" for an extended train ride that my wife and I took. There is such a jaw dropping amount of graffiti in the outskirts of Paris, it would seem that 1 in 5 citizens was a writer!  Along the RER rails from the airport into the city, it just goes on for miles and miles. Lots of shitty stuff, but some really amazing pieces too.




I had to get some Moebius while I was in Paris, and apparently just last year he released a new Arzak book entitled "Arzak L'arpenteur"; which is kind of an origin story of his most famous character. His line work is incredible as always, though this time the pages are colored digitally.  This certainly gives the book a different look, but still very cool . I also just added a comparison image of his mid-90's "Panzer Dragoon" cover illustration, as there are undeniable parallels between his Panzer and Arzak works.  Not sure how widely known this is, but Moebius collaborated with Team Andromeda during the development of "Panzer Dragoon" and its sequel "Zwei".





Above a short comics compilation by French artist Enki Bilal entitled "Memoires D' Outre-Espace" and an art book featuring my favorite Italian artist Tanino Liberatore. [concepts, illustration work, early comics] I was pretty psyched to find this one because most of the work I hadn't seen before.




So I guess I'm late to the party on this one, but Hugo Pratt was [and still is] a huge deal in France.  His black and white work is gorgeous, and I'm really into his main character and comic, this badass sailor and adventurer "Corto Maltese". I picked up this new art book "Le Voyage Imaginaire d'Hugo Pratt" which is a collection of his work from various comics throughout the years; also a little postcard. As soon as I saw Corto on the shelf, I was instantly reminded of Jotaro from "JoJo's Bizarre Adventure". Anyone else think that Araki was possibly influenced by Pratt's character? Loads of similarities, not just in his dress, but also his vibe and attitude.



Finally, I got my hands on a copy of the Tekkonkinkreet "White Side" hardcover art book which features all the background matte paintings from the animated movie. Legendary stuff in here.  I was cursing the weak US dollar all the way on this bad boy, but well worth the money. Now to track down it's companion, "Black Side", which features all of the character design.