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Madden photo
Madden

Madden backed the Panthers to buck the Broncos (and was wrong)


Roaring back
Feb 07
// Brett Makedonski
[Update: Well, Madden was wrong. Contrary to EA's simulation, the Denver Broncos prevailed in Super Bowl 50, winning over the Carolina Panthers by a score of 24 to 10. Also, it seems EA has removed the video. Maybe the folks ...

Review: A Boy and His Blob

Feb 06 // Brett Makedonski
A Boy and His Blob (Linux, PC, Mac, PS4, PS Vita, Wii, Xbox One [reviewed])Developer: WayForward TechnologiesPublisher: Majesco EntertainmentReleased: October 13, 2009 (Wii), January 20, 2016 (Re-released on other platforms)MSRP: $9.99 WayForward's take on A Boy and His Blob is intentionally vague and that's possibly its best quality. In an opening sequence reminiscent of EarthBound, a child is woken in the middle of the night to a crash outside his window. After a brief bout of exploration, Blob is discovered. From there, it's just adventuring for the sake of adventuring, and saving the world for the sake of saving the world. Blob is billed as the greatest asset, a shapeshifter who can perform about a dozen different functions. For example, Boy feeds Blob a jellybean and Blob turns into an anvil. Or a soccer ball. Or a trampoline. Over the course of 40-some levels, variations of this sequence play out hundreds (maybe thousands) of times as the main function of this puzzle platformer. You wouldn't think it from the game's title, but Blob is actually a tertiary character. If it were named more accurately, this would be called A Boy and His Jellybean Wheel. A disconcerting amount of time is spent in a time-frozen state clumsily navigating a menu of the level's eight-or-so pre-assigned jellybeans. After a jellybean is thrown and Blob (hopefully) performs his duties, it's only a matter of seconds until you're forced to again pull up that menu. That process sucks the life out of A Boy and His Blob. Even though most of the game's levels are notably short, they often feel like arduous endeavors because the pace grinds to a crawl. Puzzle solutions are usually easily identifiable -- in fact, there are often giant signs pointing out the answer -- but their execution is needlessly slow and sluggish. [embed]338372:62152:0[/embed] Making matters worse, there are many many instances when Blob simply won't do what you want. Blob has a tendency to shift shapes just ever-so-slightly not quite where intended. It's annoying at first, but becomes a detriment in later levels. That combined with stiff and unresponsive platforming controls often leads to starting the section over from scratch.  And, that's all when Blob is actually on-screen. It's not uncommon for Blob to be missing altogether, either because it was left behind or it hopped into an abyss. When this happens, the game would like for the balloon jellybean to be tossed, causing Blob to eventually float to your position. Mercifully, however, there's a call button that can just be impatiently pressed over and over until it balloons your way automatically, slowly but surely. What A Boy and His Blob has on its side are intangibles, of sorts. They're plucky attributes that significantly and understatedly enhance a game, but don't necessarily make a game. For instance, there's no denying A Boy and His Blob's innocent aesthetic, unspoken emotion, or charming spirit. Those are the qualities that make the game more tolerable than it would otherwise be. Without much option of anything besides leaning on the NES version's method of using Blob (a non-playable character) as the means of gameplay execution, WayForward's take on A Boy and His Blob is frustratingly imprecise and inaccurate. But, by deviating a bit and adding the jellybean wheel, it killed any momentum and turned the game into a slog. That is truly the worst of both worlds. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
A Boy and His Blob review photo
Blah-b
A Boy and His Blob, a 2009 "re-imagining" of the NES game of the same namesake (and recently re-released on current platforms), is an interesting case study. When does retro game design and a devotion to source material becom...

Rise of the Tomb Raider photo
Rise of the Tomb Raider

First Rise of the Tomb Raider PC patch mostly just makes sure you can go 'sploring


And murdering too, I guess
Feb 05
// Brett Makedonski
Rise of the Tomb Raider is quite the good showing from Crystal Dynamics. Good enough, in fact, that we awarded it our Best Xbox Game of 2015. But, when we put it through its paces on PC, we found performance to be lackin...
Rocky Horror Far Cry Show photo
Rocky Horror Far Cry Show

Far Cry Primal does the Time Warp


Oh, fantasy free me
Feb 04
// Brett Makedonski
Far Cry Primal has a new trailer and it's really well-produced. It's a reverse look at some of the major eras of combat in human history, all culminating in a showdown with a CGI sabretooth tiger. But, it also reminded me of "Time Warp," and now I've been listening to that all morning long. It's just a jump to the left, then a step to the right...
Mirror's Edge photo
Mirror's Edge

Mirror's Edge Catalyst is getting a closed beta, and you can register now


Then buying won't be a leap of Faith
Feb 04
// Brett Makedonski
Before Mirror's Edge Catalyst releases on May 24, you have an opportunity to take it for a test drive and kick the wheels a little bit. Well, "test run" might be a more appropriate term considering this game is all about...
Life is phone cases photo
Life is phone cases

Someone get me this Life is Strange phone case


It's hella sweet
Feb 03
// Brett Makedonski
The last time I got a new phone, the Verizon rep asked me if I'd like to trade in my old phone for credit toward accessories -- specifically a case for it. I politely declined and she was shocked. "You mean you don't want a c...
Xbox photo
Xbox

Here's what Xbox has in store for 2016


And beyond
Feb 03
// Brett Makedonski
Xbox has a new video meant to pat itself on the back for 2015 and to let us know what it has up its sleeve for 2016 and beyond. The message is clear: "We kicked ass last year and we're going to do it again." Whether or not y...
Pokemon photo
Pokemon

Attention, Pokemon hipsters: The Red/Blue soundtrack is on vinyl now


Limited to 500 copies, though
Feb 03
// Brett Makedonski
When you think about it, "With a Little Help from My Friends" is a song that's pretty fitting for trainers in Pokémon. After all, they only command the adorable little critters; they don't actually do any of the f...
Dark Souls III photo
Dark Souls III

New Dark Souls III gameplay comin' in hot!


And rollin' all over the place
Feb 03
// Brett Makedonski
April isn't that far off on the horizon, but it might as well be an eternity when you're eagerly awaiting a new game. For many, that game is Dark Souls III, a franchise that has the pedigree to make waiting unbearable. If a ...
Dust 514 photo
Dust 514

CCP shutting down PS3-exclusive Dust 514, segueing into PC shooter


Project Legion comes to life, sort of
Feb 03
// Brett Makedonski
At EVE Fanfest 2014, CCP announced a prototype called Project Legion, a new PC shooter in the EVE Online universe. We were immediately left to wonder what this meant for Dust 514 which already fills that shooter rol...
The Division photo
The Division

Here's how The Division's beta's graphics stacked up on PC, PS4, and Xbox One


Pretty good, pretty good
Feb 02
// Brett Makedonski
Now that The Division's first beta is over, how do the three versions across different platforms compare? Here's a video so that you can parse the evidence first-hand. IGN put this graphics comparison video together to show ...
Rainbow Six Siege photo
Rainbow Six Siege

Rainbow Six Siege gets frigid for its first free map


Black Ice
Feb 02
// Brett Makedonski
As classics such as The Thing and Alien vs. Predator have taught us, people get hurt when the temperature goes down. Rainbow Six Siege is already about hurting people (killing them, in fact!), so the game's fi...
Ubisoft Humble Bundle photo
Ubisoft Humble Bundle

There are some fantastic games in the $1 tier of the new Ubisoft Humble Bundle


Rayman Origins, Grow Home
Feb 02
// Brett Makedonski
The newest Humble Bundle is showing its hand early and cheap. Usually, the lowest tier is reserved for moderately enticing games, while the "pay higher than the average" tier is what everybody really wants. That's not th...
Nintendo photo
Nintendo

Nintendo updates its list of top-selling Wii U and 3DS games of all-time


3DS dominating Wii U
Feb 02
// Brett Makedonski
Nintendo has updated its list of best-performing first-party software to reflect its recent earnings report. Unsurprisingly, Mario is making his presence felt all over the charts, especially when it comes to kart racing. As o...
The Witness photo
The Witness

Holy shit, this fan-made Witness puzzle is totally solvable


I think...
Feb 01
// Brett Makedonski
Once The Witness has its hooks in you, it really has its hooks in you. Chances are, there's no turning back. There is only playing, dreaming, and day-dreaming. Everything is a Witness puzzle waiting to happen, ...
Knuckles Smash photo
Knuckles Smash

Oh, a weird-lookin' Knuckles Mii is coming to Smash too


Wednesday, Wednesday, WEDNESDAY!
Feb 01
// Brett Makedonski
This Wednesday's arrival of Bayonetta and Corrin as the final Super Smash Bros. DLC isn't quite the entirety of the last Smash DLC. Easily overlooked is the sixth wave of Mii Fighters, Nintendo's avatars dressed in silly cost...
Reactions photo
Reactions

Tommy Refenes REACTS to kids REACTING to Super Meat Boy


All caps because that stings more
Feb 01
// Brett Makedonski
Tommy Refenes, half the development team of Super Meat Boy, made a reaction video over the weekend. That's a rebellious thing to do because popular YouTubers The Fine Brothers are currently in the process of trying to tradem...
Twilight Princess HD photo
Twilight Princess HD

A story trailer in case you forgot what Twilight Princess is about


Howl lovely
Jan 29
// Brett Makedonski
Twilight Princess is the Zelda game with the wolf and the orcs and the shadow monsters. There's a good chance you already knew that because Twilight Princess is nearly ten years old and was widely beloved. A l...
Xbox One photo
Xbox One

Beautiful and unwieldy Xbox Ones for the Chinese New Year


Banana controller!
Jan 29
// Brett Makedonski
The Chinese New Year is rapidly approaching, beginning on February 8 (thanks, Wikipedia!), just little more than a week away. Microsoft commissioned eight local artists from China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan to design Xbox Ones to...
The Witness photo
The Witness

Jonathan Blow says The Witness is very popular among pirates


Popularity isn't always a good thing
Jan 29
// Brett Makedonski
The Witness is very popular this week, but popularity and revenue don't always correlate directly. There's a whole subset of people out there who prefer to get their games through nefarious, illegal means and The Witness...
Puppies photo
Puppies

I would gladly trade a Rock Band 4 set for a puppy


Can't blame them for tryin'
Jan 28
// Brett Makedonski
The prospect of puppies has an undeniable power. Earlier this week, professional hockey player Bobby Ryan scored a goal in a game, earning these two kids a new pup. Not to be outdone, the next day another hockey player netted...
The Witness photo
The Witness

The Witness puzzle that's vexing everyone [Update]


Again, puzzled
Jan 28
// Brett Makedonski
[Update: Jonathan Blow answered our inquiry. Here's what he had to say, edited slightly to omit anything that could be the most minor of spoilers: "Yes, I pretty much figured that one to be one of the hardest individual ...
Deep Silver bundle photo
Deep Silver bundle

Two of Deep Silver's best (and most different) series got bundled together


Saints Row and Metro
Jan 27
// Brett Makedonski
Two of Deep Silver's best franchises, Saints Row and Metro (some would probably throw Dead Island in there), are no longer mutually-exclusive entities. Well, not as far as consumerism goes, anyway. A Saints Row/Metr...
Tron photo
Tron

That new Tron game is coming to consoles too


Tronsoles
Jan 27
// Brett Makedonski
There's a new Tron runner and it's appropriately titled Tron Run/r. There will be no confusion about the contents of this game for it is very obviously a runner in the Tron universe. Easy peasy. What there was some conf...
Games with Gold photo
Games with Gold

A Gears of War classic is the most high-profile Games with Gold title for February


Don't sleep on Styx, though
Jan 27
// Brett Makedonski
Take a bow, friends. We're cheating February out of an extra day this year. This is truly the Ocean's Eleven of our lives, except it happens once every four years and we just get a little more February instead of ridicul...
Homefront photo
Homefront

Homefront: The Revolution has four player co-op


Gang Solves the North Korea Situation
Jan 26
// Brett Makedonski
Homefront: The Revolution's fight for freedom will be a tough one, but not necessarily a lonely one. Deep Silver revealed today that the game is sporting a four-player cooperative mode. Multiplayer cooperative has been dubbe...
Bombshell photo
Bombshell

Bombshell's sword does exactly what you'd expect a sword to do


Cut my life into pieces
Jan 26
// Brett Makedonski
The sword may be the pinnacle of tried-and-true when it comes to weaponry. The formula was perfect some 3,000 years ago and little has changed since. Sure, there have been some incremental improvements (everyone wants a Hatt...

All the crazy Beautiful Mind shit I did to beat The Witness

Jan 26 // Brett Makedonski
That screenshot really drove home how I've committed myself to The Witness and only The Witness. It got me thinking about not only the amount of time I've spent in-game, but all the crazy out-of-game tasks I've resorted to. Here are some pictures. (Note that there are minor spoilers in this post. While there are no direct puzzle solutions, there are representations of possible solutions. You'll probably be fine if you don't dwell on any of them for too long or give them any serious thought. Heads-up, though.) This is some sketching I did early on. I thought that was a little extreme. It got so much worse. Coloring some boxes, all on the back of a fast food receipt. This was about the time that I realized my TV was kind of dusty because the sunlight shining on it illuminated all the lines I had been drawing with my fingers. More sketches, this time on the back of a letter my grandma sent me. This is just a random screenshot I took so that I could move position and reference how something looked from another angle. My recycle bin is absolutely packed with these. I could show another hundred, but that'd waste everyone's time. [embed]335778:61949:0[/embed] Here's a video that I captured very early in the game. It seemed complicated and I was proud of myself for figuring it out. My original idea was to slap together a video titled something like "Five of The Witness' toughest puzzles at the beginning of the game." I soon realized that's in no way how this game works. Idea mostly scrapped, but a memento salvaged for this piece. I wrote this in a Google Doc at 2am one night. If I died and this were the only thing I left behind, philosophers would study me for centuries to come. Here's a keyboard I lugged down to the living room and started playing. Keyboards just make sense to me. I get 'em, you know? A shoddy night vision app that I gladly downloaded on my phone. Jonathan Blow didn't send me on a top-secret reconnaissance mission. I just wanted to see what everything would look like at night. Also, that app is riddled with ad-ware. It's miserable. There's more, but this collection seems like it nicely encapsulates my experience with The Witness. Had it taken one more day, the neighbors probably would've seen me drawing on my windows with chalk. Somehow, it never came to that.
The Witness photo
Puzzled
I've put a lot of time into The Witness lately. Like, a lot a lot. Effort too. This might be the most draining review experience of my career. It's rewarding though, and that makes it less burdensome even if it...

Her Story 2 photo
Her Story 2

Another Her Story is in the works, but it's not a sequel


Her Story 2: The Streets, probably
Jan 25
// Brett Makedonski
Last year's full-motion video indie darling Her Story has more yarns to spin. They won't be tales you've already heard, though; the presentation is likely to be the same, but the content won't have any connection. Her St...
TMNT photo
TMNT

Platinum's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game is getting revealed tomorrow


'Bout time
Jan 25
// Brett Makedonski
Video games' worst-kept secret is getting announced tomorrow. Platinum's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan will finally be revealed, as not-so-subtly hinted at by this tweet from the developer. Dubiously...

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