Tag Archives: episodic game

Grimm Episode 7 – “Devil Hairs”

Just like clockwork we released the latest episode of Grimm. And like a broken clock, I neglected to mark the occasion in my usual fashion – with a blog post. Oops. Truth is, I took a much needed break from the computer, Internet, and work in general. This weekend was Mid-Autumn festival in China. A time to eat moon cakes while celebrating abundance and togetherness. It also gave us at Spicy Horse a solid 3~4 day weekend. Yay.

Anyway, back to “this week’s” episode (by which of course I mean last week’s episode), “The Devil and His 3 Golden Hairs“. A harrowing tale which Grimm transforms into a filthy mountain of vomit, starvation, Satan plucking, and King bashing. Best of all, there’s NO WEDDING in this tale!

That’s a funny thing we noticed as we began designing episodes to fit around well-known fairy tales: Almost all contain a wedding. It’s as if getting married was the penultimate moment in a person’s life way-back-when. After achieving marry-dom, it was all over. No more adventure, no more goal, just pop out some children, wait for them to run off on fairy tale adventures ending in marriage, and die. Non too appealing. Grimm never really thought so either.

Almost from the start we got bored with the concept of “weddings in fairy tales”. So we did the only thing we knew how, got surreal. So don’t be surprised to discover some odd goings-on at the various weddings you encounter in Grimm episodes. Invading pirates, ghostly strippers emerging from cakes, and so forth.

Anyway, be sure to check out “The Devil and his 3 Golden Hairs” over on GameTap this week. And prepare yourself for the mid-season finale on Thursday, September 18th – “Beauty and the Beast”. This is one truly gigantic, beautiful, awesome, and funny episode. You won’t want to miss it.

After this week’s episode we’ll take a short break, then be back before you know it with 8 all new episodes!

Grimm Episode 6 – “Godfather Death”

Fenrir

Dogfather Death

Grimm episodes just keep coming! Another week, another episode. This week, Episode 6, “Godfather Death”. This happens to be one of my favorite episodes. It features a solid and amusing story, great character interaction, some awesome game play, and really cool visual effects. Also, you can turn nuns into demons – what’s better than that!?

Be sure to check it “Godfather Death” over on GameTap in the first 24 hours after release, because well, you know, it’s FREE! Seriously, what beats turning nuns into demons for FREE? How about doing all that and then watching them push their own nunnery into a lake of lava? Mmmm… Lava. You can check out “Godfather Death” on Gametap by following this LINK.

When you’ve played the episode be sure to let us know what you think. You can comment here on my blog, visit the forums on americanmcgee.com or head over to the forums on GameTap.

Next week – “The Devil and his Three Golden Hairs”!

UPDATE: Big Download and IGN have both already posted their reviews of Godfather Death. They’re both really positive in their own way (Jimmy seems to be enjoying this one despite himself, poor thing). Here’s some of what they have to say:

David Craddock @ Big Download: “Personally, however, I found Godfather Death’s seven levels to be among the most unique featured in the series yet. God’s domain, a place of green pastures and frolicking do-gooders, becomes ravaged by lightning bolts hurled by the big man after Grimm’s diseased presence invokes His fury at not being chosen by the father. Animals, humans, and the land alike are struck by God’s sizzling vengeance as the sky becomes dark and wrathful, birds burst into flame and fall to the ground, and God’s cheeks blush red with rage.

Jimmy Thang @ IGN: “I‘m glad to say that this episode is arguably the best in the series so far. New weather effects, like snow, have been added and it offers a cool, visual dynamic. This episode also has some really cool light-to-dark transformations. Cactuses will split open to reveal decapitated human heads within. One level has you butt stomping nuns to turn them into flying demons. In the level where you encounter God, after you stink up enough area, God will be enraged and rain down lightning bolts down from the sky to wipe out some of the enemies who clean up after your mess.

Yep, Grimm just keeps getting better. At this rate, by the time we get to episode 24, we should be getting scores of 10!

“Girl Without Hands” Review

Hun King

Hun Warrior King

Steven Wong over at Big Download has written another positive Grimm review. In the review Steven says:

We were also very pleased to find Grimm taking stronger liberties with the story, changing it from a deranged story about fate into a revenge tale. Justifications are provided to help fill in some of the glaring plot holes and leaps of logic. In the end, the daughter gains retribution against her father. It’s not a happy ending, but it’s certainly a satisfying one. As an added bonus, Grimm’s intervention transforms everything into a dark, bloody and truly wicked world. Characters are portrayed with boxy marionettes, but it’s still great to see their heads on pikes while blood rains down.

American McGee’s Grimm is headed in a good direction with its episode-by-episode gameplay adjustments. Even with the added difficulty, the entire game can still be completed in less than thirty minutes.

What I appreciate about Steven’s reviews is that he’s clearly someone who enjoys the game as it was designed and isn’t down on it for not being something different. This is directly opposite the approach of eternally put-upon reviewer Jimmy Thang over at IGN, who approaches weekly reviews of Grimm in hopes that between episodes the engine, genre, play style, graphics, and general “hard-coreness” of the game have been completely overhauled and/or replaced.

He’s yet to realize this is akin to looking for a goat in a bicycle shop.

This contrast in response is one I’m seeing in players and reviewers alike. And I’ve thought about it quite a bit. I think about it because we designed Grimm’s presentation and mechanics to be gradually evolved over the course of episode releases. Listening to user response and feedback is critical to informing the decisions we make about how the game evolves.

Feedback of the “this is great, I love it” sort is nice, but as useless as the “the graphics engine is still the same” type. Neither is quantifiable, objective, or realistic enough for us to utilize in developing future episodes. Still, Jimmy’s approach to review and final judgment suggest a reader should skip a particular episode until it reaches a certain acceptability level in terms of platform gaming, graphics engine sophistication, and power-up distribution. He ignores the fact that the game is a FREE invitation for the audience to be involved in the feedback loop and evolution of the game.

Ultimately, this rigid application of static critique to a medium that is dynamic – interactive! – indicates a lack of awareness about the innovations in our industry, its products, and its audience.

Then again, some people are fond of goats. Bleat.

Grimm Episode 5 – “Girl Without Hands”

Grimm Episode 5 - No Hands

Next-Gen Grimm Visuals

Grimm episodes just keep coming. Welcome to Episode 5, “The Girl Without Hands”. Based on a twisted tale of fatherly betrayal, Satanic tom foolery, and a good amount of hand choppery (is that a word?), “No Hands” as we like to call it here at Spicy Horse, is a fun romp in the world of Grimm. This episode features some more challenging platform gaming – as requested – as well as some new game play twists based on environmental “challenges”. Check it out on GameTap!

While you’re over at GameTap, be sure to check out the Grimm Forum. We’re talking about the game, the episodes, and the things we like/dis-like about both. Good place to voice your thoughts on how to evolve upcoming episodes. Same is true of the forums on this site, which you can check out here.

All in all another great week for Grimm. The reviews continue to be positive. The discussions continue to be lively. And here in Shanghai we continue to evolve the game based on the feedback we’re receiving.

Next week, Episode 6, “Godfather Death”. This is a really cool episode you don’t want to miss. Check back here for the latest news, and check my YouTube channel for the trailer soon.

Grimm Episode 4 – “Puss in Boots”

Cat Giant

Puss No Boots

Another week, another episode of Grimm! This time around Grimm visits the well-known tale of “Puss in Boots” – to ridicule the idea that an intelligent, talking cat would be selfless servant to a bumbling imbecile.

Check out the trailer on YouTube. Then head over to GameTap to check out the latest episode for FREE (during the first 24 hours after launch). (Why do I sometimes feel like a car salesman? Sigh.)

During the week since we released Episode 3, Grimm garnered further praise from reviewers and players alike. Maximum PC gave a 7 score on a combined review of the first two episodes, saying:

To begin each episode, Grimm narrates a puppet show version of a fairy tale as it has traditionally been told. The snarky commentary grants these sequences undeniable charm, which is further enhanced by the simple character models and animation. The pastel colors and blocky figures make the game look like a storybook illustration come to life.

Great review! Although they incorrectly state the game is rated “M” and warn against exposing kids to it. Actually, it’s a Teen rating, so a little exposure might not completely warp your children.

The “target audience” question is one I’ve seen a few times now. I guess the fact the question exists says something about our product positioning (or lack thereof). And I’ll be the first to admit the “aim” is quite wide. I think that’s partly a result of the core mechanic: We’re working with “children’s tales”, but striving to make them darker. Things start off looking “Disney” and end up looking Manson Family. So the target audience depends entirely on which side of the tale you’re looking at.

Another way of stating it: Each episode starts as “E” but the game goal is to convert everything to “M”.

Makes me wonder if Grimm could be used as an instructional video for ESRB reviewers. “See this flower? This is E. Now see how the flower converts into a child’s skull with blood shooting from th eye sockets? That’s M.”

Ultimately, the narrative goal of all this “transforming things to dark” is to resuscitate fairy tales once breaming with bloody, nasty, scary, LIFE. Somewhere during the Disney-facation of children’s entertainment society decided that “protected children” grew up to be to better, healthier adults. Perhaps. Perhaps not.

Personally, I’m inclined to believe our mental “defenses” work best when inoculated through exposure and adaption. Same way our immune system functions. Children exposed to the dirty, gritty, caterpillar eating, dog poo playing, window licking reality of the world develop better and stronger immune systems compared to tykes raised “in a bubble”. We don’t live in a bubble – so we have a hard time living in the real world when raised in one – works whether we’re talking about mental, physical, or “other” aspects of our being.

I say, “Let your children eat caterpillars! And let them play Grimm!”

Just don’t blame me if they take to running around peeing on everything.

Episodic ‘Dexter’ Game for iPhones

If you’ve never seen “Dexter”, I highly recommend it. And now news of an episodic game based on the show:
Episodic ‘Dexter’ Game for iPhones
Players will reportedly use gesture controls (Ecko demonstrated a hacking motion with an iPhone), text messaging and phone calls to interact with the “Dexter” experience, but Ecko didn’t reveal anything more, nor did he show any footage.