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Prison Architect console photo
Prison Architect console

Prison Architect heading to PS4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One

Time to jailbreak your console
Jan 20
// Darren Nakamura
After a long stint in Early Access, Prison Architect finally saw its full PC release late last year. Wasting little time, developer Double Eleven is now porting it to consoles. It should release in spring on PlayStation 4, Xb...
Rocket League crowns photo
Rocket League crowns

Rocket League competitive season ending, ranked players will get crowns

Also adding RNG loot
Jan 15
// Darren Nakamura
The next update for my #2 game of 2015 Rocket League is due out next month. With it comes the end of the first season of competitive play, and the better players will net some snazzy bling to show off during season two and be...
Pokken Tournament release photo
When your hunger is Pokken at you
Just last night we heard about Chandelure joining the cast of fighters in Pokkén Tournament, which immediately increases my interest in the title. Sure, it makes sense for Lucario and Machamp to be fighters in the game...

OmniBus photo

OmniBus is the unstoppable force of public transit

Goodbye immovable objects
Jan 14
// Darren Nakamura
According to the trailer below, the long-awaited OmniBus is finally on its way, after a two-decade toil in development hell. Also according to the trailer below, it has made the cover of Time, Forbes, and Rolling Stone. Somet...
One Dog Story photo
One Dog Story

Serious Cave Story vibes come off One Dog Story

Jan 14
// Darren Nakamura
Cave Story is so revered among indie game enthusiasts, it's little surprise it would be cited as an influence for others making a game. One Dog Story lists it up there with others like Battletoads and Shovel Knight. One Dog S...
Steven Universe photo
Steven Universe

Screenshots from the Steven Universe game that will never be

We are the pixel gems
Jan 13
// Darren Nakamura
Steven Universe: Attack the Light! is a pretty dang good mobile role-playing game. But just because that exists doesn't mean we can't lament what will never be. Developer and artist Christina Antoinette Neofotistou tweeted ou...
Mother 3 photo
Mother 3 organizing one final push for Mother 3 localization

Siege Miiverse
Jan 12
// Darren Nakamura
The ultra-dedicated fans at never seem to give up. They have been campaigning for an official Western release of Mother 3 for what seems like a lifetime. According to the fansite, now is the ripest it will ever be...
Homeworld photo

Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak has a cool land-based aircraft carrier

I'm calling it the Kharaktopus
Jan 08
// Darren Nakamura
Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak is set to come out in less than two weeks on January 20. Maybe you want to watch a trailer for the story before you kharak open your wallet. Maybe I only signed up to write this story because I wa...
Unravel photo

Unravel's Yarny came from the ideas of love and connectedness

And a camping trip, specifically
Jan 07
// Darren Nakamura
We've been pretty enamored with the feels-like-an-indie-but-is-actually-EA-published puzzle platformer since we first saw it last year. At the time, director Martin Sahlin got up on stage and talked about his inspiration for ...
PS VR photo

Kaz Hirai: 'about 100 or more titles' in development for PlayStation VR

'More than 200 developers signed up'
Jan 07
// Darren Nakamura
Sony hasn't made a lot of noise about its virtual reality headset at CES this year (especially considering the hubbub surrounding Oculus Rift's pricing). The BBC asked Sony CEO Kaz Hirai about it, and he shared some news that...
Aurai photo

Could Aurai be competition for Oculus Rift?

Significantly less expensive
Jan 06
// Darren Nakamura
Sure, Oculus is making big waves at CES right now, but some lower-profile tech is also on display. Making its debut today is Aurai, another device that fits on your face and reminds me of LeVar Burton's character from Star Tr...

Review: Minecraft: Story Mode: A Block and a Hard Place

Jan 05 // Darren Nakamura
Minecraft: Story Mode: A Block and a Hard Place (iOS, Mac, PC [reviewed], PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One)Developer: Telltale GamesPublisher: Telltale GamesReleased: December 22, 2015 (Mac, PC)MSRP: $4.99, $24.99 (Season Pass)Rig: AMD Phenom II X2 555 @ 3.2 GHz, with 4GB of RAM, ATI Radeon HD 5700, Windows 7 64-bit Where the first two episodes in the season induced apathy, this one causes ambivalence. It's a fine distinction: I was struggling to care about Jesse and his friends at first; now I care enough but find myself disappointed with the final result. For every beat Minecraft: Story Mode hits well, it stumbles once or twice. On the one hand, the more deliberate progression of this episode can be a good thing. It opens up the gameplay to include actual (albeit easy) puzzles along with the standard dialogue trees and quick-time events. Also, without lulls in the action, it could be bombastic to the point of grating. If it's always high energy, then it's all the same. On the other hand, the plodding of the first half of this episode is as dull as can be. There's a horse travel montage near the beginning illustrating just how far it is to get to the Farlands, and protagonist Jesse has the option of the classic whine "Are we there yet?" Even with the cuts of the montage, I felt the same. I get it; it's far. Let's move on. [embed]327542:61558:0[/embed] Once the action finally does pick up at the end, it still treads a questionable path. The full story about The Order of the Stone is revealed, and it plays out as foreshadowed. It's always a little awkward when a story treats something like an earth-shattering reveal when most would see it coming from the hints in previous episodes. Perhaps if I had led the life Jesse did, it would have been more impactful. Then, almost as if checking off all the Telltale boxes, we get another character death. This loss feels more important than the one in the third episode, since it's a likable character. Death in children's entertainment is nothing new (see: Bambi, The Land Before Time, Transformers [1986]), but it generally comes with a purpose. While we'll have to wait for the fifth episode, my sneaking suspicion is the only reason this death was written in was a cynical attempt at eliciting emotion. The really strange part of the whole scene is that in the middle of the mourning (when I have a full pout on my face), Story Mode lets loose a visual gag referencing the source material. Admittedly, it's probably the funniest thing in the whole episode -- so few of the jokes are worth even a chuckle -- but it feels wrong to have it punctuate the rest of the sad scene so bluntly. With the Wither Storm properly defeated, Jesse and the gang are proclaimed to be the new Order of the Stone, and A Block and a Hard Place ends with the vague promise of new adventures coming in the next episode. Unless it's tightly written and self-contained, I'm not interested. More likely, the last episode will open up a can of worms that won't get resolved until Season Two. This episode could very well be considered the finale for the first season. It wraps up the Wither Storm saga, it answers the questions about the Order of the Stone, and it delivers a semi-happy, hopeful ending for the crew. If only it did that without an utterly boring first half and the clumsy insertion of mandatory Telltale story elements, it might have also been a good ending. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Minecraft review photo
What a weird episode. After the high energy of The Last Place You Look, this one slows down the action shortly into it, and it doesn't really pick back up until the very end, which feels like the end of a season. But then, th...

Minecraft screenshots photo
Minecraft screenshots

A cartload of Minecraft: Story Mode Episode 4 screenshots

Better late than never
Jan 04
// Darren Nakamura
Vacation travel kept me from being able to get to the latest episode in Telltale's Minecraft: Story Mode right away. I just finished it, and as always, I had my finger on the screenshot button the whole way through. Mayb...

Darren Nakamura's personal picks for Game of the Year 2015

Jan 01 // Darren Nakamura
10. Lara Croft GO This was a great year for mobile gaming (Steven Universe: Attack the Light! just missed my top ten). Lara Croft GO is a perfect example of mobile done right. It can be tempting to use a property like Tomb Raider/Lara Croft and try to shoehorn it onto a touchscreen with virtual buttons or tilt controls, but GO takes a more elegant route. It slows the action down to a turn-based puzzle, which uses gesture control for Lara's actions. Despite the change of pace, it still feels very much like a Lara Croft game with its focus on tombs and the potential for raiding. Simply put, Lara Croft GO was built with both the franchise fundamentals and the mobile platform in mind, and it shows. 9. Affordable Space Adventures Speaking of taking the platform into account in design, Affordable Space Adventures is just about the best non-first party title to show what the Wii U is capable of doing. Heck, developer KnapNok Games might even have the edge on Nintendo in that regard. When the Wii U was first unveiled, I imagined games like Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles and The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures, but until this there hasn't been much that truly necessitated the Wii U GamePad. It works especially well with a partner, where one takes on the role of the pilot and the other plays engineer. Solving puzzles in tandem requires communication and coordination, and it gives an almost Star Trek-esque glimpse of working as a team on a spaceship bridge. 8. Undertale At this point, Undertale is a cultural phenomenon. It won GameFAQs' "Best. Game. Ever." competition. It spawned several of our favorite new characters. Our own Ben Davis gave it a coveted 10/10 in his review. Many have compared it to EarthBound, one of my favorite games of all time. With all of the hype going in, I had lofty expectations. It did not disappoint. The world is imaginative and so many of its denizens are worthy of stardom in their own games. On top of that, it's refreshing to play something that emphasizes conflict resolution through nonviolence, in what often feels like a sea of games focused only on killing. 7. Pokémon Shuffle I just checked my 3DS to see how much time I've spent on Pokémon Shuffle on 3DS. I have 151 hours in it. That's one for each of the generation one Pokémon. I probably have more than 50 hours on Mobile. And the total amount of money I've spent on it? A whopping zero dollars. This might be the most contentious item on my list. Chris Carter rated Shuffle at 3.5/10, but I can't deny how much of my downtime I enjoyed matching little Pokémon heads together this year. And I didn't even get into it until months after release. Sure, it can get a little shady with its microtransactions, but to me, figuring out how to succeed without paying money is like a metagame on top of the main game. 6. The Talos Principle The Talos Principle released at one of the worst times in terms of game of the year considerations. Out in December of 2014, it missed the cutoff for many; it came too late in the year to compare it to other games from 2014, but long forgotten by the time to compare it to games from 2015. I won't forget it though. Talos was written in part by Tom Jubert, who also wrote the masterpiece The Swapper. It dialogues deep philosophical ideas with the player, while Croteam's puzzle design is taxing for a different part of the brain. For a game made by the same people who worked on Serious Sam, it was a total surprise that The Talos Principle is so intellectual on so many levels. 5. Alphabear We might have given Downwell our Best Mobile Game award, but to me, it would be more appropriate to award it with "Best PC Game That is Also on Mobile." Best Mobile Game, though? That's Alphabear, all the way. On its surface, it seems like a simple word puzzle game, but after only a few plays, its depth is revealed. It combines the usual work with vocabulary and anagrams, but adds in strategic elements in the letter countdowns and spatial considerations. It introduces interesting risk/reward decisions; sometimes the biggest word is not the best play. From a pure design standpoint, Alphabear is one of the smartest games of the year. 4. Downwell So I don't think Downwell is the best mobile game of 2015, but damn, it is a great game on PC. It is gaming in its purest form. It could have existed on the NES, and it would have been just as great. At first I didn't think I would be able to beat it, but like its inspiration Spelunky, I got noticeably better as time went on. These days I'm working on Hard Mode. I know I can do it. Downwell occupied a space in my Steam library where I would play it when I couldn't decide what else to start up. Maybe I didn't have two hours to devote to something meatier, so I'd commit to fifteen minutes going down a well. But then I'd do it again. And again. And oh look, I just spent two hours playing video games anyway. 3. Pandemic Legacy I was really looking forward to Rob Daviau's SeaFall this year, but alas it was pushed back to 2016. In its place was the collaboration between Daviau and Matt Leacock, adding legacy content to the ubiquitous cooperative board game Pandemic. The result, Pandemic Legacy, is amazing. The idea behind legacy board games is that the board changes depending on events that happen during play. Your decisions affect not only the current game, but potentially all future games on that board. Stickers go down. Cards get torn up. Events are permanent. There's no turning back. Pandemic Legacy takes the formula down a more linear path than Risk Legacy did, but it's still the essential board game experience of 2015. 2. Rocket League Perhaps the biggest surprise of this year was Rocket League. I never played Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle Cars, so if you had told me a racing/sports hybrid would be one of my favorite games of the year, I would have thought you were crazy. One of the amazing things about Rocket League is how it feels more like a sport than most sports video games do. By putting players in control of just one car on the field, requiring keen battlefield awareness and teamwork, and injecting the potential for high-skilled acrobatics, it emulates the experience of playing soccer, where FIFA instead emulates the experience of coaching soccer. And what do you know, playing is much more fun than coaching. 1. Tales from the Borderlands Borderlands might be my favorite current IP. I played through Borderlands 2 a couple dozen times on two platforms. The gameplay is a huge part of that, but the world Gearbox built has also drawn me in with its dark humor and sci-fi lore. Taking that framework and building a narrative-focused experience from it was a tall order. Telltale took that opportunity and knocked it out of the park. With great comedy writing, Tales from the Borderlands has fantastic joke density, putting the main series games to shame in that regard. But then there's also drama and adventure, and outrageously badass moments. Following the stories of Rhys and Fiona through to the end makes me want more of that, but it also gets me hyped for the next "main" Borderlands game, because Telltale made its mark on the series. The world will be a different place because of what happens in Tales, and that's one of the coolest things for a fan of the series. My hope for Borderlands 3 is that Gearbox takes on some of Telltale's writers at least as consultants, because Telltale beat Gearbox at its own game. Odds and Ends The "Living in the Past Multiplayer" Award: Tie between The Last of Us and Destiny I played a lot of new games for review and for general pleasure this year (over 50!), but I spent a whole lot of my time with these two games. The Last of Us has incredible multiplayer, slowing down the action from typical shooters, focusing more on tactical play, teamwork, and stealth. Even a couple years after release, it still has a decently-sized community to play with. On the other end of the spectrum is Destiny, whose multiplayer is based almost entirely on twitch skill (with the rest coming from dropped gear). I didn't get into it until after The Taken King released this year, but I found myself enjoying it quite a bit more than I expected to. I'm reluctant to call it good since there's so much about it that's bad, but I find it comforting to sit back, turn my brain off for an hour or two, and just pop some alien heads for a bit. The "Always in the Back of my Mind" Award: Ultimate Angler Earlier this year, Nintendo released two new StreetPass games for 3DS: Ultimate Angler and Battleground Z. The two mirror the dynamic introduced with Flower Town and Mii Force before them: the former is quiet and unassuming while the latter is action-packed and more like a traditional video game. And then after playing for months, eagerly popping the 3DS open every so often, which one persists? Slow and steady wins the race, bub. Ultimate Angler has kept me going on it for months, slowly plodding away, catching legendary creatures like Nessie or a Dragon (along with the more mundane sea bass and trouts). It's always there in my pocket, waiting for that lovely green light to show up.
GOTY 2015 photo
The definitive list
As a site, we awarded our games of the year last month as a whole unit. Those are official; we came to them through a democratic process taking votes from managers, editors, and contributors. Sometimes democracy gets stuff wr...

Hey Ash photo
Hey Ash

Hey Ash Whatcha Playin' rings in the holidays

Boom boom boom, let me hear you say wayo
Dec 24
// Darren Nakamura
It's Christmas Eve, so we all have one thing on our minds: doin' it. Boinking. Bumping uglies. Taking an adult nap. The horizontal mambo. Intercourse, Pennsylvania. The Burches have you covered, casting their gaze on sex in games like Mass Effect. Of course, just like in games, you don't get to see the wenis in this video.
Spice Orange sonnet photo
Spice Orange sonnet

Ode to the Spice Orange GameCube controller

A color by any other name
Dec 24
// Darren Nakamura
The holidays are a magical time. Off work, spending time with family. Sometimes art happens. Sometimes an artist finds himself writing a traditional Shakespearean sonnet about the Spice Orange GameCube controller. Sometimes a bad video with a worse faux-thespian narration gets produced. This is one of those times. Mind the over-enunciated iambic pentameter.
Best Mobile Game photo
There were some great slow-paced, methodical games up for this award (Lara Croft GO, Alphabear), but Downwell proves twitch action can still work on phones. It achieves this through its dedication to simplicity. Three colors....

Minecraft: Story Mode photo
Minecraft: Story Mode

Minecraft: Story Mode Episode 4 trailer gathers the Order of the Stone

For the 'Wither Storm Finale'
Dec 17
// Darren Nakamura
Minecraft: Story Mode: A Block and a Hard Place is gearing up to release next week, so today we get the requisite launch trailer for it. This episode is promised to be the "Wither Storm Finale," with the last episode in the s...

The best new characters of 2015

Dec 17 // Darren Nakamura
Tales from the Borderlands: Gortys I didn't know it before, but Gortys was exactly what the Borderlands universe needed. Apart from its particular brand of humor, the series is known for its pessimistic world, where if the indigenous wildlife doesn't kill you, the local bandits will. Countless people live on Pandora and just about everybody hates it. Everybody except Gortys. Gortys's unrelenting enthusiasm is so out of place it highlights just how absurd this world is, after three previous games have numbed players to its oppression. Voice actor Ashley Johnson is perfect in the role, delivering Gortys's unbridled joy and naivete, along with some of the best lines out of the whole cast. My favorite line in the entire series is down a particular dialogue branch; I didn't even hear it the first time playing through. As Gortys is trying to convince a corpse to get moving, Fiona and Rhys explain that he's dead. Gortys gets a sad look on their face, then the protagonists elaborate that the dead man was very bad. Without missing a beat, she perks up, says "Oh, well then good riddance!" and scoots away. I almost fell out of my chair laughing. Undertale: Asgore The entire cast of Toby Fox’s runaway success Undertale could’ve made this list, as the entire game is full of interesting and memorable characters. From the skeleton brothers Papyrus and Sans and the awesome fish soldier Undyne, to Alphys the massive weeaboo, the list goes on and on with fantastic monsters to encounter and potentially befriend. However, I don’t think any of them are anywhere near as endearing, tragic, or adorable as King Asgore Dreemurr. Asgore both stole and broke my heart. Originally made out to be an unstoppable, terrifying force who will rip you limb from limb, over the course of the game the various citizens of the underground fill you in on how wonderful he is. He loves making cups of tea and tending to his garden, and each Christmas he’ll dress up as Santa and leave gifts for the monster children of Snowdin village. Not to mention one of his favourite jumpers is a knitted pink one with ‘Mr. Dad Guy’ written on it, and if that doesn’t make Asgore utter perfection, then I don’t know what does. Finding out how lovely King Fluffybuns is only served to destroy me at the conclusion of the game. I’ll avoid specifics because of them being major spoilers, but Asgore is a truly lovable but incredibly emotionally damaged man put into a horrible situation where anything he does will result in causing suffering to a lot of people. What he’s done is truly evil, and while he thinks his actions were necessary, it doesn’t make them any easier for him to come to terms with. I really, really love Asgore. He’s friendly, likable, and kind, yet he’s also one of the most conflicted and multi-dimensional characters in the whole game. Interacting with him and learning more about him as I progressed through Undertale is easily one of the biggest emotional gut-punches I’ve had this year from a game. But for King Goatdad? Totally worth it. Undertale: Papyrus Papyrus is basically the best. ...What? You want to know more? I mean, it should be pretty obvious why he's so great. But if you really want the specifics, here are a few pieces of trivia about our neat skeleton friend. - He likes to say, “Nyeh heh heh!”- He's a member of the highly esteemed Royal Guard! ...well, not yet. But someday he might be!- He's really good at making spaghetti. It's practically edible!- He's very cool and strong. Just check out this picture of his sunglasses. And his biceps. And his biceps' sunglasses.- He has really high standards when it comes to dating. Potential dates must have, AT MINIMUM, zero redeeming qualities.- He dabs only the finest MTT-brand Beauty Yogurt behind his ears. Wait... you're saying he doesn't have ears?!- He's always prepared. In fact, you can't spell “prepared” without several letters from his name!- He has the greatest theme song. I could go on, but you get the idea. Papyrus is simply a cool dude and a great friend. Just ask his brother, Sans! King's Quest: King Graham Okay so he's not entirely "new," and he isn't even a proper king in the first episode, but the updated characterization of Graham really made me fall in love with The Odd Gentlemen's new take on the series. As one part Guybrush Threepwood and two parts lovable scamp, you can feel his unbridled enthusiasm for the adventure through the screen. The storybook style framing only augments the character, as the always wonderful Christopher Lloyd does a great job of playing the older version of Graham, re-telling his tales to his granddaughter. It's adorable, and although narrative techniques tend to overstay their welcome, Lloyd plays it off with such panache that you won't get mad at a death, because it's met with a chuckle and a pun. Although I'd love to see his son Alexander take on the series in the future, this one of the better reboots in recent memory. Splatoon: All the Inklings It would be fair to criticize me for not singling out one specific character for this article, like one of the Squid Sisters or the default "Inkling girl" as she appears in most of Splatoon's promotional art, but that wouldn't be honest. The truth is, the concept of the entire Inkling species and what it represents is my favorite video game character of 2015. The way Inkling culture revolves around the seamless combination of style worship with competitive social cliques is such a fun adaptation of teenage life. Even the physical makeup of the Inkling is feels teenage -- mushy and unstable, stuck between baby-cute and grown-up-tough, not quite one thing or the other. Most teenagers will tell you that depending on what social environment they've been thrust into at the moment, it may be smarter for them to show their true colors or just hide in the ink until they're less likely to be torn apart by their enemies. They may not actually use the word "ink" when describing that scenario, but the underlying feeling remains the same. When it comes to tying visual design, gameplay mechanics, and surrounding lore into central, cohesive metaphor for the teenage experience, the Inkling is about as perfect as it gets. Yo-Kai Watch: Jibanyan Two words: Ghost. Cat. Let those sink in. When you first come across Jibanyan he is waiting on his owner while attempting to beat up passing cars at the very intersection where his physical life was ended by them. After a brief chat Jibanyan tells you how his prized possession, a picture of his owner, was taken by some local Yo-Kai bullies. Once the bullies have been taught a lesson and the picture returned, Jibanyan joins your side with his fierce but adorable Paws of Fury.  There hasn't been a ghost this awesome since Patrick Swayze, nor a living dead cat this feisty since Pet Sematary.
Best new characters photo
Very excited to meet you!
Video games have a fair share of legendary heroes. They've been around for years and their stories have spanned generations (of both consoles and humans). They are household names: Mario, Sonic, Master Chief, Solid Snake. Thi...

Steam Trading Cards photo
Steam Trading Cards

Steam is dropping Mysterious trading cards again

For the 2015 Holiday Sale
Dec 16
// Darren Nakamura
Earlier this year I got a jump on the Steam Summer Sale event by happening to craft a badge at the right time. As luck would have it, it happened again. No, I don't just always craft badges. Okay maybe I do. I noticed this ev...
Smash art photo
Smash art

Here are those great pieces of art from the Super Smash Bros. Direct

Three new challengers
Dec 16
// Darren Nakamura
When Ryu released for Super Smash Bros. earlier this year, he brought with him a cool piece of art (though Wii Fit Trainer looks more like a bodybuilder than a yoga instructor in it). Thankfully, it was a tradition continued ...
Biker Mice from Mars photo
Biker Mice from Mars

Biker Mice from Mars game out now

Only '90s kids something something
Dec 15
// Darren Nakamura
Ah, the '90s. We were much younger back then. Some readers today might not have even been alive or sapient. Let me tell you something about the '90s. There were lots of cartoons. Some of them were good. Only '90s kids could p...
Minecraft: Story Mode photo
Minecraft: Story Mode

Minecraft: Story Mode Episode 4 will be home for Christmas

Releasing December 22
Dec 11
// Darren Nakamura
It's almost bizarre to think that the first episode of Minecraft: Story Mode was out less than two months ago, and here we are gearing up for the fourth in the series. Episode Four, A Block and a Hard Place releases on PC on ...
Downwell on Vita photo
Downwell on Vita

Devolver shows off Downwell running on PlayStation Vita

In tate mode
Dec 11
// Darren Nakamura
Steven mentioned in his review that he would buy and carry around a dedicated handheld for Downwell. I've had the thought that it would be great on a Wii U GamePad oriented vertically. This might be the closest either of us w...

Nominees for Destructoid's Best Mobile Game of 2015

Dec 11 // Darren Nakamura
Best Mobile Game of 2015 Alphabear Downwell Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft Lara Croft GO Steven Universe: Attack the Light! [Incomplete products like Steam Early Access titles, and episodic titles that are not fair to assess as stand alone experiences, without a full episode count, were not eligible for this year's awards. The cutoff for entry into Destructoid's 2015's Game of the Year awards is December 4, 2015.]  
Best Mobile Game photo
Great gaming on the go
Mobile gaming often gets a bad rap among the hardcore crowd, but looking at 2015 it seems like the platform is really coming into its own. These aren't your Candy Crush or Flappy Bird clones; these are some legitimately great...

The Walking Dead photo
The Walking Dead

Telltale's Walking Dead characters are here for a limited time in Road to Survival

Through January 31
Dec 10
// Darren Nakamura
I tried out The Walking Dead: Road to Survival briefly. For me, the strategy combat was too shallow and the settlement aspect was too much like Farmville with zombies to hold my interest. Maybe you're different, though! Maybe...

Review: Girls Like Robots

Dec 09 // Darren Nakamura
Girls Like Robots (iPhone, Linux, Mac, PC, Wii U [reviewed])Developer: PopcannibalPublisher: PopcannibalReleased: November 12, 2015 (Wii U)MSRP: $6.99 Girls Like Robots starts off strong. The hand-drawn art is cute and inviting. Characters are expressive and the narrative that strings everything together alternates between comfortably familiar and bizarrely irreverent. Even the central puzzle idea seems to have promise. By taking into account all of the little rules about who likes sitting next to whom, satisfying logic puzzles can be constructed. Indeed, some of the better levels had me reasoning through a succession of a-ha moments, working through the necessary if-then statements in my head in order to come to a suitable solution. Girls Like Robots even does the classic Smart Game Design Thing (™) of introducing a new mechanic over the course of it in order to keep everything fresh. Some levels ask for negative happiness, some are timed, one has an almost Tetris-esque line-clearing mechanic. Sometimes it gets really weird, with fireflies bouncing off blocks to destroy underground insect lords. [embed]325021:61447:0[/embed] And yet despite all that, I found myself bored more often than not with the seating chart gameplay. The early levels in a section are appropriately small, trivially easy in order to introduce a new idea. The problem is that it doesn't scale well: increasing the size of a puzzle increases the difficulty and complexity, but it transforms from a solvable logic exercise to a muddle of trial and error. So few of the puzzles hit the sweet spot, where the solution is neither immediately obvious nor unreasonably obtuse. Even finding the correct solution in some of the bigger challenges isn't satisfying, because the outcome doesn't appear to be substantially different than any number of failing configurations. It's all just a mess of cute characters arranged into rows. Thankfully, there is a skip button to blow past any puzzles that are taking too long. I never used it, but I found myself tempted a few times, simply because I wanted to see where the story would go next but I wasn't enjoying myself while I was actually playing. There's no doubt that Girls Like Robots is charming, and that quality alone is enough to make it worth seeing through to the end. But while the wacky story and self-aware narration is enough to carry interest, the actual puzzles work against that. In the end, the game mirrors its own volcano picnic scene. It's cute, it's weird, it sounds like a fun idea at first, and there are some delicious pies to find here and there, but somebody is going to get burned. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Girls Like Robots review photo
I think they're just okay
Girls like robots. It's the name of the game, and it's the first piece of information given. Most of the time spent is in laying out seating arrangements of emotional square people in an attempt to maximize happiness. Girls l...

Starbound combat photo
Starbound combat

Starbound's combat update should make fighting more interesting

Secondary abilities, new weapon types
Dec 08
// Darren Nakamura
I'll admit: my hype for Starbound is nowhere near the level where it was two years ago. Being in beta for that long can do that. After my group exhausted the quest lines for the first iteration, we never really went back, des...
System Shock 3 photo
System Shock 3

System Shock 3 officially on its way

Developed by OtherSide Entertainment
Dec 08
// Darren Nakamura
As recent as last month we heard rumblings about the possibility of a new game in the System Shock series, and now it's even closer to being a reality. The curious bit is that while Night Dive Studios claims the rights to the...
The Rock photo
The Rock

The Rock is pretty good at piano

Can you hear what The Rock is singing?
Dec 03
// Darren Nakamura
He is a multitalented man.

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