Long read: Who is qualified to make a world?

In search of the magic of maps.

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What's New? (20th April, 2007)

PAL releases. Probably.

The drama behind the magic of What's New has been profiled before now, in the weeks when I was SO drunk that the best my fingers could do was a running commentary on the shape of the ants crawling over my kebab-encrusted eyebrows and twice-wordly ZooKeeperZooKeepermentions of Zoo Keeper, but as Dan Brown points out in his creative writing lecture series "Just Add Jesus", just because there's no 17th apostle hiding in the bread bin doesn't mean you shouldn't Google it until you find a book that says there is, and then draw inspiration from it when you're hanging around in your space boots being orange. Ergo, there's nothing wrong with retracing your footsteps, or even someone else's, providing you write unintelligibly, unintentionally ruin Audrey Tautou, or make 40 million dollars.

So it's with only a Wright-Phillips/Gail Porter hybrid-measure of guilt that I'm offering a glimpse into the chaos behind the magic, as we walk through the usual Wednesday afternoon 3pm panic attack of trying to conjure something to write about for Friday. First call goes to 505 Games (that's a Googlewhack and a half) who will be publishing Gurumin, a quirky PSP action-adventure that's been on my radar since 3.01pm. Childish in style and source - it's about a little girl who makes friends with a monster that only children can see, who takes her through a portal into the monster world - and home to supposedly engaging 3D combat and upgrade systems, it's not going to be here in time to play through the first few levels, and then splash the page with tepid nonsense about a stuttering farm-hand who likes to brush the dog with a rake while singing the title song. This barricades the only avenue open to believably enthusiastic exploration like a rhino that's fallen asleep on a zebra crossing. The other option is poorly-rated parkour prance-around Free Running, but the fact that Ubisoft didn't respond to my approaches is probably just as well, since I've run out of alliteration, and nobody who knows me is going to believe a made-up anecdote that involves me picking up any kind of forward momentum, let alone manoeuvring myself over anything besides a buffet table or a wheel of cheese. Mmm.

Next step is to plead with John for help. John says, why not do a list of games that don't exist, but should? Like "Console Wars", for PS3 and Xbox 360, where every time you put the disc in it loads Chart-Track.co.uk - home of the UK Top 40 - to see which version got more sales, only for you to realise that Chart-Track doesn't break down the individual platform sales numbers for plebs like you, so your stupid meaningless partisanship was, is and always will be utterly futile, at which point the Wii strolls in and kicks everyone in the balls. But, I retort, as our increasingly fictional encounter reaches climax, that's the sort of tired, old, endlessly retrodden, sub-TVGoHome nonsense that any badger with a keyboard could fire out in-between glasses of Ernest & Julio Gallo Sierra Valley Colombard, and What's New is, if not above these things, then certainly only likely to employ and then disown them in the same paragraph - as a sort of ironic arse-covering cop-out that's hardly worth most of your time.

And so with John out of the way, the column in ruins, and the very real prospect of having to write 800 words about an Xbox 360 512MB Memory Unit instead, I remember that Gurumin was only SUPPOSED to be out this week, because 505 were too busy to confirm its release properly to their lovely external PR man - on the Wednesday before the Friday it comes out. So, since it's now 3.17pm and I've only got about 36 hours before this has to go up, I'd better stop writing and get on with the important work of double-checking all the dates with retailers, and then go down the offie for a Twix and a Blossom Hill California White, confident that, if nothing else, I've cultivated the image of a functioning alcoholic hammering semi-consciously into a musty keyboard in the grim certainty that no matter how much time I spend ensuring the list below is accurate the bastards will have changed at least four of their minds by the time anybody gets to the end of this paragraph. God I hate everything.

This week:

  • 3D Ultra MiniGolf Adventures (Xbox Live Arcade)
  • Ancient Wars: Sparta (PC)
  • Dawn of Magic (PC)
  • Diddy Kong Racing (DS)
  • F.E.A.R. (PS3)
  • Final Fantasy V Advance (GBA)
  • Free Running (PS2, PSP)
  • Go! Puzzle (PS3 EDI)
  • Gurumin: A Monstrous Adventure (PSP) - May have slipped to 27th April. Or come out on 13th. Yay!
  • Gyruss (Xbox Live Arcade)
  • Stacked with Daniel Negreanu (PC)
  • Theatre of War (PC download)
  • The Godfather The Don's Edition (PS3)
  • The Red Star (PS2)
  • World Championship Poker 2: "All In" (PC, PS2)
  • Xbox 360 512MB Memory Unit (Xbox 360)
  • Zendoku (DS)