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Psychonauts in mags

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Okay, I either misplaced my hard copy of CGW, or imagined getting it and only have the digital copy. Either way, here's the text of the article (like I said earlier, that's pretty much all there is anyway, save for a large model of Raz that could be found any number of places):

Psycho Surgery

Tim Schafer wants to get inside your head with Psychonauts. We got into his…

Tim Schafer’s Psychonauts was going to be an Xbox-only game. Well, it was until Microsoft dropped it (and Schafer’s Double Fine Studios) from its first-party lineup this past spring. Thank God, because Majesco has picked up Microsoft’s slack and is now offering up this inventive game on the PC as well.

The obvious question is why this game was even dropped in the first place. While both parties are vague about the matter, it seems no coincidence that ed Fries, Xbox’s vice president of games publishing and Psychonauts’ chief evangelist within Microsoft, was let go just before the ax fell. Psychonauts, it seems, was simply too much of a left-field idea for the Redmond giant—and so, after being funded by the deep pockets of Microsoft for nearly four years, Majesco will now publish the game on PlayStation 2 and PC as well. “We always wanted as many people as possible in the entire world to see the game,” says Schafer. “The biggest hurdle will be getting the feel right on PC, particularly with mouse-and-keyboard controls…but we think we can do it.”

Psychonauts is an evolution of Schafer’s celebrated graphic-adventure style (Grim Fandango, Full Throttle) fused with the hands-on playability and rich gameplay opportunities provided by console platform games (Super Mario Sunshine, Ratchet & Clank). It is, quite literally, a journey into the psyches of the insane. Each mind becomes an actual physical level, full of various twists, turns, fart jokes, and psychological demons. For instance, there’s Milla’s Dance Party—a level set inside the mind of Brazilian levitation expert Milla Vodello—which takes players for a ride through her internal disco party (which, of course, is complicated by various emotional hang-ups). The whole adventure is wrapped in some of the most inspired graphics we’ve seen in years, achieving a doodley, almost hand-drawn look while maintaining the depth of 3D.

Of course, “feel” is something the Double Fine team has wrestled with from the very beginning. “The first thing you always try to tackle is the thing you’re most scared about,” explains Schafer. “So while I’d done lots of adventure-game gameplay before, I’ve never had to do stuff that felt good—grabbing a ledge, how many microseconds until you can pull up on the ledge, and how high should he jump, and should you be able to double-jump…that kind of thing. It’s that whole game-as-toy thing—it should be fun just to run around and grab things. And I think we’ve done that.” As for the dearth of creativity in the industry, Schafer remains hopeful: “That could fix itself. Just in the same way that independent films exploded—that was a reaction to something, it wasn’t like everything was great in the world of Hollywood movies and that’s why independent films came along. Independent films came along because people wanted an alternative to the things they were seeing.”

At this point, Psychonauts is looking spectacular; while the humor and aesthetic are already proven quantities, time will tell if the gameplay mechanics can be preserved in their transition to PC. Judgment day arrives next spring. X Evan Shamoon

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