Recently on Offworld: 8-bit Weezer, more ASCII Portal, first person Zelda

Recently on Offworld, One More Go columnist Margaret Robertson reflects on why Final Fantasy XII is a game she can't help but return to, for its ability to let you "get closer to the ultimate goal of being a perpetual killing machine, a super-efficient, zero-emission, friction-free engine of domination" -- a loop of "preparing, witnessing and fixing" that's "one of the most compelling I've encountered in games." Elsewhere we listened to (on repeat, all day) Pterodactyl Squad's 8-bit Weezer cover compilation, which is already being heralded as one of the best chiptune introduction and gateway collections ever assembled, and watched the first video of the iPhone's retro-future shooter Space Invaders Infinity Gene. We also saw 10 more minutes of Cymon's ASCII Portal, every bit as mind-warping as the last, found new images of Björn Hurri's pixel-catburglar that we even moreso hope ends up a game, saw IGF winning backward-shooting rhythm game Retro/Grade coming to the PS3 with Rock Band guitar support, and dug further into one of the artists behind Uniqlo and Namco's awesomely designed Pac-Man 30th anniversary T-shirts. Finally, our 'one shot's: the original Legend of Zelda goes first person, falling in love with the majesty of colors from the cthulu-an perspective, pen-marker-magic sketches of BioShock, and gorgeously quick-sketched views from the world of Shadow of the Colossus.

Rock Band opens track creation/sales to home musicians, indie bands

A surprise announcement and massive game-changing news for musicians: developers Harmonix have just announced The Rock Band Network, a new initiative to let home users and indie bands create and sell their own Rock Band tracks through the game itself, in partnership with Microsoft's XNA Creators Club. We've got all the first details on the program, which is due to launch in closed beta by the end of the month, over at Offworld. I'm with the Band: Harmonix opens Rock Band track creation, sales to Xbox 360 home users

Recently on Offworld: insanely twisted shadows, iPhone Portal, Wii-injuries

Recently on Offworld we watched what surely must be the game trailer of the month: an extended look at animator Michel Gagne's upcoming Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet (above), with some of the most striking art direction and animation we've seen in games for some time, cut to black metal band Dimmu Borgir's "Blood Hunger Doctrine", which shouldn't work but absolutely fantastically does -- it's a must watch. Elsewhere we saw one fan's attempt to recreate Portal on the iPhone and the latest look at tiny-planet shooter Max Blastronaut, found the latest two gorgeously designed official Team Fortress 2 T-shirts, and listened to a wicked live remix of the theme song to The Silver Case -- the first PlayStation adventure game from No More Heroes and Killer7 creators Grasshopper Manufacture. Finally, we found a new on-demand publisher for budding board game designers that lets you piece together your pieces, upload your own artwork, and sell the game directly through the site, spent our first day on the Wii Sports Resort, which ended in broken glass and a trickle of blood, and our 'one shot's for the day: the gorgeous girls of Nintendo punk, a Metal Gear packing slip that's just a box, a fantastic new Darkstalkers montage, and, best of all, beautiful and very French pixels for what we genuinely hope is a new catburglar game.

Recently on Offworld: space invaders evolved, Excel raves, Left 4 (Shaun of the) Dead

Recently on Offworld we saw things living in places we didn't expect, like Taito's fantastic looking formerly Japanese-only vector-sharp retro-futurist mobile phone game Space Invaders Infinity Gene making a surprise visit to the iPhone, demoscene group Braadworsten Brigade bringing a mini-rave to your copy of Microsoft Excel 2003, and Subatomic's iPhone tower defense hit Fieldrunners coming as a PSP downloadable. We also saw our first inside-the-gallery shots of French guerrilla artist Space Invader's NYC art exhibit, including his Rubik's Cube recreations of Daft Punk and Velvet Underground album covers, found no less than 100 brilliant 5-second art/glitch videos based on 'old video games' (above), and followed the latest in the copyfight between iPhone dev Mobigame, IGDA board member Tim Langdell, and anyone who has ever thought about stringing together the letters E-D-G- and E. Finally, our 'one shot's for the day: Florian Hufsky's pixel pirates, and, best of all, the world of Shaun of the Dead meeting the world of Left 4 Dead.

Recently on Offworld: Post-It shooters, 8-bit Animal Collective, orgasmic game history

Recently on Offworld we had a mini-#musicmonday as French chiptuner Je Deviens DJ en 3 Jours assembled friends to create Da Chip! -- a free compilation album of Daft Punk covers done on "vintage game systems", while another scenester, Dr. Zilog, put together an 8-bit cover of Animal Collective's certifiable hipster hit My Girls, with a low-res filtered version of the video to match (and a bonus MGMT cover, to boot). Elsewhere we saw Crayon Physics creator Petri Purho debut his first entry into the relaunched Experimental Gameplay Project with Post I.T. Shooter (above) -- an IT Crowd-referencing low-res shooter rendered entirely in faux-hand-animated Post-It Notes, completing the game -> Post-It animation -> game circle. Finally we watched an indescribable video telling the orgasmic, ultra violent history of videogames, saw James Barnett -- the artist behind the previously featured 'fauxvist' paintings that made Matisse-ian landscapes of Fallout 3, Half-Life and Team Fortress -- offer prints and originals for sale, took a last look at the Ghostbusters content coming to LittleBigPlanet, and our 'one shot's for the day: Capcom's Darkstalkers in glorious Paul Robertson pixels, and Bit.Trip mascot Commander Video, Meat Boy style.

Recently on Offworld: driving bear sims, gallery hung Halo 3, @petermolyneux2

Recently on Offworld we got a number of indie surprises, as our early Gimme Indie Game featured favorite Enviro-Bear 2000: Operation: Hibernation made a sudden appearance on iPhone as Enviro-Bear 2010 (above). Inarguably the best game about bears driving cars (prove us wrong!), it's an even better game on the iPhone than the PC original, and quickly became both a weekend favorite, and an immediate viral hit. We also saw Saelee Oh and Anna Anthropy's artXgame Octopounce -- the best of the games originally released for Giant Robot's Game Over/Continue show -- released for free, and were able to watch the entire hour-long meeting between Passage creator Jason Rohrer and design vet Chris Crawford for German TV program Into the Night With. Elsewhere, Nintendo announced plans to make its early LCD Game & Watch games available as handheld DSiWare downloadables, Valve released a new look at the rainy days of Left 4 Dead 2, Capcom brought Street Fighter II CE to your web browser, and Bungie turned your best Halo 3 screenshots into canvas-printed fine art. Finally, we got a sneak peek at all the Ghostbusters appearing in LittleBigPlanet, found our new favorite fake-twitter-follow poking gentle fun at Natal and Milo at @petermolyneux2, and our themed 'one shots' for the day: the ESRB's impossible task at rating Scribblenauts (with imagined steak/baby/lion violence), and Scribblenauts-themed Street Fighters.

Recently on Offworld: classics reborn, self-evolving games, Sackboys for sale

It was a return-to-classics kind of day on Offworld, with Bethesda releasing their early first-person/open-world RPG Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall as a free download, and with the revivification of both Team17's classic Amiga shooter Alien Breed as a fully 3D affair, and the former FASA designers at Smith & Tinker giving MechWarrior a fantastic looking full reboot for PC and Xbox 360. Elsewhere we started to take our first look at the weird worlds of Galactic Arms Race, a self-described 'space Diablo' with a twist: all of the weapons in the game are designed by AI and are evolving over time based on the aggregate behavior of all the game's players, with some spectacular and unexpected results; and got a guide to the rest of this summer's Xbox Live Arcade releases. Finally, we bought our own custom Left 4 Dead Sackboys from the crocheter himself (above), saw Fangamer go all Anderson and release a browsable version of their fan-made Mother 3 guide for free, and our 'one shots' for the day: a plush member of Rhythm Heaven's Glee Club, and Cooking Mama, and Cooking Samus, and Cooking Zelda, and Cooking Lara...

Recently on Offworld: hyper-scale war, experimental gameplay, WoW Peggle

A game developer that's been tirelessly evolving what they hope to be the most all-encompassing soldier sim doesn't exactly sound like typical indie fare, argues columnist Jim Rossignol, but their indie-style ambition is there and is typified by their latest, Arma II. See as proof: the collection of videos Rossignol includes in his column, which may be some of the most spectacularly hyper-real Offworld has ever seen, with gratuitous 200 v. 200 plane low-flying dogfights, suicidal jet pilots, and tanks v. chicken battles. That indie spirit continues elsewhere as the creators of World of Goo and Henry Hatsworth return to their roots and re-launch the Experimental Gameplay Project with disco-dancing Robotron games (above) and surprisingly compelling generative evolutionary worm sims, with more new games to come every month. Elsewhere we saw, of course, the mind-blowing Portal in ASCII video, the upcoming European debut of chiptune showcase Blip Festival, watched German TV pair up a games design vet and a new champion of art gaming for a lengthy discussion, fan-made Chrono Trigger T-shirts, and upcoming shirts for indie favorite Cave Story. Finally we saw World of Warcraft-themed Peggle now downloadable as a free standalone game, and our usual 'one shots': Left 4 Dead via LittleBigPlanet, Hello Mario & Luigi, an awesome tribute to Monkey Island's Guybrush Threepwood, and Castle Crashers in Lego.

Video: Portal, re-made in ASCII

Over at Offworld, we've just dug up what'll probably be the most mind-bending video of the week: the first look at Joe Larson's 'demake' of Valve's PC/Xbox 360 hit Portal, rendered entirely in ASCII. Its best trick that puts it a leg up on the 2D Flash version: a 'through the portal' view that recaptures everything that made the original game so awe inspiring to experience for the first time (also: its simple 1-character companion cube, and the Donkey Kong tribute toward the end of the video). Watch the video on Offworld.

Today on Offworld: killing zombies softly, LucasArts Steamed, Devo meets Space Invaders

In her latest One More Go column, Margaret Robertson argues that Sega's long-underappreciated and entirely absurd Typing of the Dead (above) -- the game which sees players destroying zombies by typing words rather than firing bullets -- is especially brilliant because it lets us do something increasingly rare and magical in the games industry today: press buttons with our fingers. Elsewhere on Offworld there was a lot of good news for old games, as classic LucasArts adventure games are returning to Steam with full XP/Vista compatibility, Atari Museum releases the source code for more than a dozen classic Atari 7800 games, and Nintendo is re-releasing Toshio Iwai's brilliant art/music DS crossover Electroplankton in downloadable form. We also saw Ghostbusters coming to LittleBigPlanet, preorders open for Machinarium, the game soon to be likely the best non-LucasArts adventure of the year, and the first look at Positech's Gratuitous Space Battles, his self-described "tower defense with space fleets", which is every bit as gloriously gratuitous and perfectly scaled (with scores of tiny gnat-like fighters protecting motherships) as the title promises. Finally, our 'one shot's for the day: a hexquisite pixel-art exquisite corpse, the many faces of space invaders, Scott C's Devo meets Space Invaders print goes on sale, and Eliss, Steph Thirion's brilliantly abstract iPhone game, goes on sale for $0.99 for a few more days.

Recently on Offworld: Twitter in WoW, trains in games, Clockwork Orange in 8-bits

Recently on Offworld we found a rapid-fire set of developments to kick off a long weekend, including the launch of TweetCraft which is, as you might imagine, World of Warcraft's first in-game Twitter client (above), and which ensures that you'll never have to leave the comfort and still irresistible allure of Azeroth. We also watched the first 17 minutes of Double Fine's hard metal adventure Brutal Legend, as narrated by LucasArts legend Tim Schafer, and saw indie devs Polytron finally officially announce that their debut game Fez is headed to Xbox Live Arcade in early 2010. We also found two pair of custom Legend of Zelda low-top sneakers, Donkey Kong played on the side of a building in Post-Its, a website completely devoted to the mis-uses of trains in games (!), an upcoming unmissable chiptune showcase in Montreal, and finally understood the gnawing wolf-at-the-door drama of spending $17,500 on a single NES game. And finally, our themed 'one shots' for the day: Wii Fit as an Atari 2600 game, and, even more wonderfully, an Atari 2600 version of A Clockwork Orange (and Dostoevsky and Kant and Proust [!]).

Today on Offworld: war-driving for treasure, cloud gaming, Dylan in The Sims

Today on Offworld we took an extensive look at Treasure World (above), the just-released DS game that turns the ubiquitous cloud of Wi-Fi signals around you into collectible treasures -- it's easily one of the most magical game experiences we've had in a while, and expands into an equally amazing array of synced up social-site achievements, and, of all things, a mini-music tracker that lets you compose by arranging your scalped booty. Elsewhere we looked at the first live demo of cloud-gaming service Gaikai, which shows Spore, World of Warcraft and Mario Kart being played, in-browser, from a server 400 miles away, and Microsoft's just-launched Kodu, the 21st century LOGO-like Xbox 360 game that teaches principles of programming logic with simple sentence-structure syntax and lets you build and share up to 4-player minigames. We also stumbled across Crazy Planets, a new Worms-like Facebook game that makes a fighting unit out of you and your friends, and watched the first tech demo video of Robotology from N+ developers Metanet, which, eventually, will be a parkour/grappling hook mashup of Mario Galaxy, Shadow of the Colossus, and Umihara Kawase (!), and, finally saw Bob Dylan's hard-livin' invade The Sims.

Today on Offworld: glum busting, retro Soviet arcades, domestic violence

As seems to be the case time and time again, indie devs have given us some of the best in surrealist/dreamscape gaming, and the latest -- featured today on Offworld -- is Justin 'CosMind' Leingang's Glum Buster, an intricately constructed PC pixel platformer that is as traditional as it is relentlessly alien -- think Eric Chahi's Another World/Out of this World -- and is being sold via an altruistic charity-ware setup. It'll certainly go down as one of the finest indie developments this year.
Elsewhere we took a fantastic look inside Moscow's Soviet Arcade Games Museum via their new Art Lebedev (he of the Optimus Maximus OLED keyboard) designed website that not only gives us near-pornographically beautiful shots of previously unseen 70s era Soviet arcade design, but also recreates a number of the games in Flash to play directly on the site. We also played Noonat's Queens -- a game built for a competition dealing with the theme of 'domestic violence' that manages to cleverly skate the thin ice there, and fell in love with Puit Wars, a micro/massive pixel wargame that proves hiphop emcee Aesop Rock should be making music for games, followed Nintendo DS cult puzzler star Professor Layton on Twitter, and took a new look at the mysteries of SUPERBROTHERS' rustic pixels in his Kurosawa-inspired Alpinist.

Recently on Offworld: Everything is Pixelated

Recently on Offworld neo-retro nostalgia has ruled the roost, with things like a box-art tribute to the 8-bit Lost game that never was, the zen-like recursiveness of 'Playered' (above) from the creator of the 8-bit Keyboard Cat, the latest look at the building blocks of Fez, and the low-bit d-pad block-tracer insanity of the WiiWare's latest Bit.Trip game. Even better, we got a patch that will replace the lead character in your standard Super Mario Bros game with American Elf comic artist James Kochalka, listened to the latest NES rom flyer for NYC's ongoing chiptune showcase Pulsewave, and, finally, stepped away into more polygonal territory to take a deeper look at how Hand Circus's upcoming iPhone platformer Rolando 2 is leading some of the smartest social gaming campaigns in the App Store.

Recently on Offworld: Steve Jobs, Serious Heroes, gaming's longest beards

There was no discernible reason why Japanese developer AQI should have to parody Steve Jobs to announce a new version of their portable Korg DS-10 synthesizer, which makes the fact that they did (above) -- and pulled it off with pitch-perfect style -- all the more fantastic, and sets a high bar as one of the cutest game announcements in recent memory. Elsewhere on Offworld, we saw more game/music crossovers, listening to the latest and most accessible chiptune/downtempo/glitch sampler for San Francisco's DUTYSTYLE III show, happening tonight at 8pm (check the post for full details), and finding Open Emu, a new modular Mac emulation system that's a boon for budding 8-bit VJs, as it lets you control both the visuals and the play of emulated games with audio and MIDI. We also saw that early-oughts cult classic shooter Serious Sam (which shipped with our favorite cheat-mode of all time, turning gibs and blood splatter into hamburgers, fruit, and bursts of blooming flowers) was being remade for Xbox Live Arcade, and that EA/DICE's similarly tongue in cheek free-to-play shooter Battlefield Heroes had quietly gone live, and will likely be taking up the majority of our weekend (as it should yours). And our 'one shot's of the day: the mathematical beauty of building pixel Invaders, the aching shoulder-slump of BioShock 2's original Big Daddy concept, the certifiably longest beard in gaming's history, and, of course, Michael Jackson, in memoriam.