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New Alan Wake video game takes place on Arizona’s Route 66 February 28, 2012

Posted by Ron Warnick in Computer games.
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A new video game, “Alan Wake’s American Nightmare,” has hit the market, and its setting lands on Route 66 in Arizona, according to VentureBeat.com.

The game is a reprise of the original “Alan Wake” game in 2010. The Alan Wake character is a horror novelist who encounters real-life horror of his own. VentureBeat’s Dean Takahashi writes:

In Alan Wake’s American Nightmare, Wake finds himself near a motel on Route 66 in Arizona. After the events of the first game, his wife is once again missing and he has to face his evil twin, Mr. Scratch, a true psycho serial killer who was an urban legend that came to life. Wake has to chase down Mr. Scratch before he unleashes more evil upon the world — and does any harm to Wake’s wife, Alice. [...]

The story takes place across three main locations on Route 66 in Arizona: the Desert Springs Motel, the Mount Redtooth Observatory, and the Night Springs Drive-in theater. They are less linear than the past game and are more open, allowing you to roam over a wider territory. As you do so, you find the first of 53 manuscript pages that convey the background behind the plot.

Here’s the trailer for the game:

It does contains a lot of familiar-looking Route 66 elements, including Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff.

Although Takahashi liked the improvements, he also noted some shortcomings:

But the production felt like it cut corners. The characters don’t move when they’re talking. The quality of the cinematics is decidedly low budget. That matches the campy feel of the Night Springs episode, but once again it feels like Remedy is falling short with this story. The other problem with going back to the same scene three times is that, no matter how many enemies come at you, the horror isn’t as good. The shock and surprise of being attacked by an enemy the first time is far more emotionally impactful than the second time around.

He graded the game an 82 out of 100.

“Alan Wake’s American Nightmare” is available as a $15 download for Xbox Live Arcade.

“Route 66″ game now available for Macs, iPads December 8, 2010

Posted by Ron Warnick in Computer games.
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A few days ago, the “Route 66″ hidden object game that we reported on in October 2009 became available for download to Apple Macintosh operating systems.

That would include iPad computers as well, as this short demo video shows:

Here’s the summary of the game:

Travel down the world famous Route 66 with ‘Mad’ Madeleine Mayflower, as she takes a much needed vacation from motorcycle racing. Explore hilarious and well-known tourist attractions as you travel all over the country in this Hidden Object game! Start off in California and find funny knickknacks as you make your way across Route 66 and through the very heart of America! Enjoy quirky minigames and have a great trip!

  • Hilarious locations
  • Magnificent minigames
  • Travel down Route 66!

The description of the video demo says the game contains 25 Route 66 locations in all.

Mac OS systems versions 10.4 and above are required. The cost is $6.99. You can buy it here, or try a demo of it where you can play for free for one hour

We tried a demo of the game last year, and found it to be great fun. There’s no reasons adults and children can’t find it enjoyable. And the content, as near as we could tell, was definitely rated G.

A virtual tour of the Mother Road October 27, 2010

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Computer games, Preservation.
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The World Monuments Fund in 2007 listed Route 66 as one of the most threatened historical sites in the world.

Now, the group has hired a company to to create a virtual tour of a small section of the Mother Road. It is hoped that these virtual programs can be expanded to include many other sections of Route 66 to assist city planners, tourists, and preservationists.

The WMF commissioned GeoSim Systems to create a virtual tour of a section of Route 66 in South Pasadena, Calif. In it, longtime California roadie Glenn Duncan leads the tour.

According to a WMF release:

This virtual reality system is geared directly toward the public experience and allows business owners, residents, municipal governments, and others to connect and add to the online resource, whether through posting community data, uploading daily menus of their restaurants, or traveling through Route 66 as an avatar. It therefore serves would-be travelers as well as local residents.

This pilot demonstration is envisioned as an opportunity to foster a more robust constituency along Route 66 and, hopefully, to encourage the expansion of the virtual reality documentation across the eight states that are connected by Route 66.

Here’s a video introduction:

And here’s the download for the virtual tour. (Note: The download is more than 130 MGs, so make sure your computer can handle it. Setup after the download takes less than 5 minutes.)

Below is a screen shot from the virtual tour. The foliage and buildings look mostly natural, and in the tour you’ll see traffic and pedestrians passing by.

The freakiest — but fun — part of the virtual tour is seeing Duncan flying like Superman from one Route 66 landmark to the next. I half-expected him to dash into a phone booth and emerge in a red and blue caped uniform.

I suspect a few other roadies will be lining up to have their own chance to zip along like their favorite superhero in their favorite Route 66 neighborhood.

My first impression is it’s an interesting tool, and probably one that will become more ubiquitous in the coming years. Welcome to the future, folks.

UPDATED: “Route 66″ TV show app has an identity problem February 20, 2010

Posted by Ron Warnick in Computer games, Television.
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About 10 episodes from the original “Route 66″ television series were recently released as iPhone and iTouch applications.

Each full episode in the app costs 99 cents, and includes a few screen shots. It gives you the option of watching the episode on a full screen on your iPhone or iTouch that crops a bit of the top and bottom of the image, or you can adjust it to see the entire image as you would have on television.

The apps were developed by I-Mobilize courtesy of Infinity Entertainment, owner of the rights to the show.

Ten episodes were available Saturday night at the AppShopper store. A spokesman said in an e-mail Saturday that additional episode apps would be released if sales were good.

I downloaded what was described as “Route 66 #7″ on my iTouch. The app included about a half-dozen screen shots from that app’s particular episode, “Across Walnuts & Wine” from Season 3.

The images of the show looked sharp on the my iTouch’s small screen, and I could clearly hear all of the dialogue on the iTouch’s tiny speaker. Here’s an image from the episode that I shot with my camera of co-stars George Maharis and Martin Milner in their Corvette:

Typical for the show’s high quality, I found “Across Walnuts & Wine” engrossing and thought-provoking.

However, there’s one big problem.

Neither the AppShopper site nor the Apple iTunes site tells you which episode you would get with the app. Other than the basic backstory of the show and technical information about the app, the description tells you nothing about the title of the “Route 66″ episode, what date it aired, who guest-starred in it, the plot … zilch.

The identity problem with those apps is something that Infinity or I-Mobilize will have to rectify to prevent customer complaints. Customers, after all, do want to know what they’re getting.

A more minor problem is the size of the app itself. Each one is just under 400 megabytes, which makes it a big resource hog for a typical iPhone and iTouch. If you downloaded all 10 “Route 66″ apps, you’d probably have no memory left. So having a sizable collection of “Route 66″ episodes on your Apple device probably isn’t practical.

Given its limitations, the “Route 66″ iPhone apps are little more than a publicity device to juice sales for the “Route 66″ DVD sets, which frequently come priced to $1 an episode and contain more special features.

UPDATE: I passed along my concerns to I-Mobilize, and a spokesman pledged to add more pertinent information to the apps.

UPDATE2: I recently checked the iTunes Apps store, and the “Route 66″ apps had been updated with the episode title, which season it aired, and guest stars. So give I-Mobilize credit for responding to the concerns.

Multimedia Route 66 update February 17, 2010

Posted by Ron Warnick in Computer games, Road trips, Vehicles.
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The California State University-Heyward team that wants to place an interactive multimedia experience in a 1960s Volkswagen Beetle has filed a short update on its project:

In short, the team is going to embark on a genuine Route 66 trip next month to gather data, and it also is seeking more sponsors for their project.

The team has launched a rudimentary blog here.

Route 66 Multimedia update January 19, 2010

Posted by Ron Warnick in Computer games, Road trips.
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The students at California State-Hayward have posted a video update of their Route 66 Multimedia Experience project. Here, they show the nuts and bolts of how they’re making it function within the skeleton of a vintage Volkswagen Beetle.

Multimedia 66 update January 8, 2010

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Computer games, Web sites.
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A few months ago, we reported on a Cal State team that is working to present a multimedia Route 66 experience, using the skeleton of a 1969 Volkswagen Beetle, as a thesis project.

Here’s an update on the project, posted a few hours ago. The team hopes to be finished by June.

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