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MegaRan photo
MegaRan

MegaRan's debut album gets an 8-bit facelift


Klopfenpop makes the eight-year anniversary all bloopy
May 02
// Ian Bonds
The teacher/rapper/hero known as MegaRan has gone back to his roots in more ways than one for his most recent release, with the help of rapper and producer Klopfenpop. For the eight-year anniversary of Random's debut album, T...
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Chiptune artist Shael Riley wants to train your ears with new game


String's Theory is looking for the Greenlight
Apr 29
// Ian Bonds
Shael Riley (of The Double Ice Backfire) and his pals at ThaSauce Games want to bring music game fans something fresh and unique to the genre, in the hopes it will be picked up by Steam Greenlight. Riley tackled the art, sou...
Retro Fury photo
Retro Fury

Retro Fury is more retro than advertised


'80s-flavored short film features console light guns
Apr 29
// Ian Bonds
Redshirt Films have taken the nostalgia train to retroville with this homage to '80s senseless action flicks. The plot is minimal, the dialogue sparse, but the action is actually pretty decent, with every gun coming from the...

Review: LEGO The Hobbit

Apr 27 // Ian Bonds
LEGO The Hobbit (3DS, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PSVita, Xbox 360 [reviewed], Xbox One, WiiU)Developer: TT GamesPublisher: Warner Brothers InteractiveRelease Date: April 8, 2014MSRPP: $29.99 (3DS, Vita), $49.99 (PS3, Xbox 360, WiiU), $59.99 (PS4, Xbox One) The long and short of it is, LEGO The Hobbit only encompasses An Unexpected Journey and The Desolation of Smaug. Apparently, we'll be seeing the final section of the game once the final film is released (though most folk know how the story goes, as I'm sure, like me, you had to read it in grade school). That said, what is found within this game is more hit or miss than previous LEGO titles. You still have your typical romp around the levels, bashing enemies and smashing objects for LEGO studs, a whimsical version of the films recreated with the mini-figures (with voicework directly from the original films, just as in LEGO The Lord of The Rings), and the level design and plot mirror the source material almost to a fault from a pacing standpoint. However this time through, the levels are a bit uneven. There's almost too many things to smash, and not enough enemies to fight. Because of this, some levels can seem short, while still other can drag on far longer than they should. When smashing open items, you can now gather LEGO pieces, or mine them from items via a mini game, which you can save to use to build things later -- which begs the question, why hasn't this been included before now? [embed]273599:53591:0[/embed] Most noticeable, however, is the lack of character diversity. While LEGO The Lord of The Rings had a wide range of characters, each with their own unique abilities, LEGO The Hobbit seems a bit more limited as far as choice, and sadly, this appears to be partially due to the source. The numerous different dwarves are all comical and unique...in the film. Here in the game, it's really hard to tell one from the other and despite the game's new addition of listing a character's attributes or abilities on the menu screen, there's not a lot to differentiate one from another. Still, there is a good bit to like about the game as well. If you've enjoyed the many other LEGO adaptations, this one is not without it's charm. The characters and backgrounds match the films well, and the game follows the story of the movies very closely, down to the questionable bonus material padding. Though again, being a bit limited by the original voicework may not allow for the normal LEGO slaptick-type humor, and a few scenes of real tension and whimsy from the films seem to fall a bit flat. Of course, as stated before, the biggest disappointment is that the game isn't actually complete. It's a pretty safe bet that the final section of the game (now called "The Battle of the Five Armies") will be offered via downloadable content, but considering the game itself is being sold at full price without it (especially on the next-gen consoles), I'm wondering if they'll be offering it for free or not. I certainly hope so, as charging for an entire films worth of bonus content would be the most substantial -- and potentially pricey -- LEGO DLC of all. When it comes right down to it, LEGO The Hobbit isn't a terrible game, but it's isn't a terribly good one either. The LEGO formula may be finally getting a bit stagnant, and the new additions, while cool, may be too little, too late. If the final section had been included at retail, I'm not sure my opinion would have swayed much more in either direction, but it certainly is noticeable in it's omission.
LEGO The Hobbit photo
A middle ground Middle Earth
Another month, another LEGO game. These things are starting to be more frequently released than yearly Call of Duty games. And with that frequency comes some caveats, such as this month's title only including the two Hobbit films that have been released thus far. Does that put a damper on the entertainment value found within? Only time -- or reading on -- will tell.

Ecko Unlimited photo
Ecko Unlimited

Ecko Unlimited teases sequel to 'Getting Up'


I've been wondering what Marc Ecko's been 'Up 2'
Mar 23
// Ian Bonds
Because random announcements happen without realizing they're announcements, Ecko Unlimited's Twitter feed revealed that a sequel to Marc Ecko's Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure is in the works. The tweet came as a reply t...

Review: The LEGO Movie Videogame

Mar 21 // Ian Bonds
The LEGO Movie Videogame (Wii U, 3DS, PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PS Vita, Xbox 360 [reviewed], Xbox One)Developer: TT GamePublisher: Warner Brothers Interactive EntertainmentRelease Date: February 7, 2014MSRP: $49.99 If you haven't seen the movie, here's a quick synopsis: Emmet is an average construction worker, just like everyone he works with. A little TOO average. So average in fact that no one notices him -- until he finds the "piece of resistance" and is mistaken for a master builder: exceptionally creative types who can make anything out of the LEGO world without instructions. With the other master builders such as Wyldstyle, Benny the Spaceman, and uh, Batman, they unite to stop Lord Business from destroying the world as they know it. The game itself, as expected, is just a longer version of the film's events, played out in the traditional LEGO game style. If you've played any of the others, this is familiar ground: You run along, smashing LEGO objects and punching hundreds of evil robots in the face while solving building puzzles and character-specific actions. You can of course switch between other characters, but often now there's many to choose from in any given level. Cycling through five different characters to get to the one with the special ability you need for a specific section is a bit much, but it's still only a minor fault at best. The levels are straight out of the movie, and for the first time in a LEGO game, the environments reflect that everything is made out of blocks, rather than just appearing that way once they explode. Cutscenes that move the story along are also straight from the film, so if you haven't seen the movie, it showcases quite a bit, but also doesn't quite present it as well as the film would. Still, it's a great companion piece (no pun intended). New to the series of LEGO games -- to tie it directly into the film -- is the Master Builder Vision. This allows you to select multiple objects in the game world to bring them together and create something new (but obviously per-determined by the game) out of them for newer puzzles. Minikits have sort of been replaced by instruction book pages that, once collected, drop you into a mini-game where you have a certain amount of time to pick the right piece out of a lineup. That said, the puzzles this time around aren't quite up to snuff with what's come before in other LEGO titles, but it does a fair job. Sadly, that seems to be true of the missions themselves as well as the characters. In TT Games' previous entry, LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, each character had multiple special moves and abilities, and the variety seen in each level with which to use these was pretty wide. Here, it's almost as if they've restricted themselves to what was in the film's environments, and didn't allow themselves to step too far out of that comfort zone. It's only once you've gone through half the game that its repetition lessens and it gets going really well. Once again, you can unlock freeplay so you can run through the levels again and go through any sections you couldn't access with the given characters on the first run-through, but the monotony of the early stages might stifle your desire to do so. If you're still a fan of the LEGO games after all the previous entries, this won't turn you off the franchise. Likewise, if you've never played any of the series before, this might not get you as interested as some of the better LEGO games will. It's not a bad game, but it's not a "must have" either. The LEGO Movie Videogame does a decent job telling the movie's story and being its own licensed tie-in game -- to its own licensed tie-in movie. Thankfully, both are fun in their own right.
LEGO photo
Everything is (moderately) awesome
First things first: if you haven't seen The LEGO Movie, you should probably go do that right now. It's awesome, and your face will love it. Back yet? OK, good. For those of you who have seen it, this is your predictable licen...

Review: The Art of Titanfall

Mar 15 // Ian Bonds
The Art of Titanfall (Book)Publisher: Titan BooksReleased: February 25, 2014MSRP: $34.95 The Art of Titanfall is an impressive tome. At 192 pages, it's nice to see that no details have been spared. Or at least, that's the impression the book gives, as it delves into so much thorough detail that I'm not sure Respawn didn't given them every single asset from the game. Beginning with the Titans themselves, the book details all the different classes, as well as intricate cockpit views and brief descriptions detail how they went from drawing to concept renders, some even before it was decided the title would be a multiplayer game. The Ogre, Atlas, and Stryder are each given several pages of detailed paintings and renders, and are described with little details that most may not pick up on while playing the game, such as Atlas not being so named for the mythical character, but rather for the globe-like "head" so you can tell where the Titan is looking. Character models of the pilots, militia, grunts, and creatures round out the first section, with minimal details. While the different types of soldiers and such each get a brief description to go along with the specific characters, the creatures don't fare as well. I would have liked to have seen a bit more in the creature department, as we really only get a few sketches in that section, but the rest of the book more than makes up for it. The vehicle section is truly impressive, with practically each spaceship, aircraft, and ground vehicle getting full-page representation, mixing between sketch and final render, and sometimes both. There's also an extensive section on the weapons and tech of the game, from assault rifles and drones, to gorilla tanks and rail guns, each getting a brief description on design. For fans of the game, the level of detail here is impressive, but the next section will really be what most players of the game will enjoy. Each of the locations in the game are all represented here, with beautiful detailed renders are paintings of each locale, some taking up full two-page spreads. It always fascinates me how much detail goes into concept art, with each little sign, plant, and bullet ricochet painstakingly visualized. Don't expect it to showcase each choke-point or focus on strategy placements here, as these are more focused on the design aspect of the level. The industrial  dockyard of Angel City, the cold sterile environment of the Colony, the sheer staggering size of the Boneyard are all given multiple pages to pour over, giving more background detail as to what each of these environments represents in the world of the game, and how their design came about. The locations section is easily the biggest part of the book. My favorite section, however, is the final one: the Graphics and Modeling section showcases the signage you may not really notice in the background of the levels, as well as the physical maquettes made to show how the Titans and pilots would look in 3D. These models are all hand made from scratch bits, and it's a neat inclusion in the book. However, these can't compare to the full-sized Titan that was built for E3 2013. Damn, that thing is impressive. There's a lot of detail in this collection, and practically every description along with the art has quotes from the development team or artist involved in its production. There's a lot to absorb here, but if you're drawn into the world of the game, this is a great companion piece.
Titanfall photo
So. Much. Art.
When you create a new IP from scratch, it's pretty much a given that you'll have to go through a lot of the design phase until you land on an idea that jumps out at you. The developers at Respawn Entertainment had no idea wha...

Review: Gunslugs

Feb 27 // Ian Bonds
Gunslugs (PS Vita [reviewed], iOS, Android)Developer: Abstraction GamesPublisher: Orange PixelReleased: February 18, 2014 (Vita) / January 17, 2013 (iOS) / September 2, 2013 (Android)MSRP: $2.49 (Vita), $1.99 (iOS), $1.49 (Android) The first thing most will notice about the game is the look: a decidedly retro aesthetic is evident with its pixelated graphics, super-deformed characters, and minimalist backgrounds. I must admit the first time I saw this title, I wasn't impressed with the graphics. It looked like Contra and Metal Slug had an ugly baby. However, the sloppy schlock of it all grew on me, and it's mostly thanks to the soundtrack and control. Gavin Harrison's chirpy chiptune soundtrack is a delicious throwback to games gone by, and his pulsing tunes really set the mood for the frenetic shooting. And boy is there a lot of it. Your basic M.O. is to run to the right side of the screen and shoot everything. Enemies, crates, giants walkers, helicopters. EVERYTHING. As you shoot, enemies and crates drop ammo pick-ups, and different weapons, such as flamethrowers, egg guns (?), and dual-wielding pistols (which have you shooting in front of and behind you. Wow, what a change!). Sadly, once these weapons run out, you switch back to your standard pistol. It would have been nice for the option to switch weapons on the fly, but honestly, it's a minor quibble at best. [embed]270672:52638:0[/embed] All of this would be nothing if the game wasn't fun and easy to control, and thankfully, the minimalist approach does wonders for the gameplay. Jumps are precise, you need only to hold down the fire button to shoot, and movement is quick and fluid. As soon as you drop into the action -- literally, via parachute into every stage -- you're being shot at. As you mow down baddies you must also take down beacons, as they summon more troops. Eliminate all the beacons and get to the end of the stage where a helicopter takes you to the next level. Every three stages ends with a giant boss fight, and then you're off to a new locale. There's a surprising amount of variety in Gunslugs, and this is mostly due to the game's random level generator. The layout of each stage is randomly configured, so If you die in level 2-1, the next time you play it, nothing is where it was before. This may go against the grain of memorizing patterns like in the shooters of yore, but that actually brings a freshness to the genre, as well as allowing for a unique experience each time you play. That said, the randomness to the level design can sometimes be too random, as boxes and landmines may sometime pop-up in impossible to avoid areas, or power-ups (bought with coins dropped by foes) may not be able to be bought when the item shop generates at the beginning of the stage. There are several optional objectives to clear beyond taking out the beacons and the bosses, offered up three at a time, such as blowing up three enemies at once, playing as a certain unlockable character, or driving a tank (another Metal Slug comparison) over five enemies in a row. These objectives carry over through multiple playthroughs, so if you've completed a few and die, you can pick up where you left off, objective-wise. And die you will. While it's not a one-hit kill situation like Contra, your life bar can get depleted fairly quickly with all the chaos and explosions happening around you. Once it's gone, you're dead. One life to live. Continues can be bought but are hard to come by due to the random nature of levels. Ammo too is a precious commodity, and once that bar is empty you'll have no way to battle -- though thankfully ammo drops aren't as rare as continues. While there is a story, the real draw to the game is getting the high score and unlocking the goofy characters. Even though they don't really offer anything beyond a cosmetic change, the character names really got a chuckle out of me, with such action-movie cliches as Willis Kiyay and Bad Ass Barracuda rocking the super-deformed look. There's even a few minigames peppered throughout that pay homage to older titles that aren't even shooters, such as Super Mario Land and Donkey Kong, used to help refill your health and ammo bars, as well as offering a brief reprieve from all the bullet-hell. Gunslugs is a great tribute to the old school, while still maintaining a fresh outlook on the genre. While its random level generation isn't perfect, the control and chaos at play here is a fun distraction for an afternoon. You'll shoot a lot, you'll die a lot, and you'll always be moving right, but you'll always be having fun too.
Gunslugs review photo
Run 'N' Gun 'N' Gun 'N' Run
Sidescrolling run-and-gun games are, arguably, a classic that never seem to go out of style. Games like Contra and Gunstar Heroes, with their multiple weapon types, hundreds of attacking enemies, and billions of bullets whizz...

Music photo
Music

Brentalfloss brings you Metroid: Fight for Love


Fan film/music video features original animation
Feb 24
// Ian Bonds
Brentalfloss stretches his musical theater muscles in his newest video, Metroid: Fight For Love. In the video, Samus belts out a here-to unknown backstory of...a boyfriend? While some may not like the direction of the song's...

Review: Earth Defense Force 2025

Feb 18 // Ian Bonds
Earth Defense Force 2025 (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed])Developer; SandlotPublisher: D3 PublisherRelease Date: February 18, 2014MSRP: $49.99 It's been seven years since the alien Ravagers and insect armies attacked, and the EDF has kept the world safe. However, it seems the insects weren't completely eradicated, and colonies were lying dormant beneath the Earth's surface, waiting for the next moment to strike. These insects are more heavily armored, stronger, and more dangerous than ever before. Luckily, the EDF is prepared with new soldier class types, and even more weapons than before. In fact, Earth Defense Force 2025 features the most weapons ever in the series, at a whopping 700 different implements of buggy doom with which to dispatch the gigantic creepy crawlers. Unlocking these weapons harkens back to the initial title, where unique weapon drops depend on difficulty level and soldier class type. [embed]269582:52354:0[/embed] EDF 2025 features the most fun soldier classes yet, and each one has their own unique advantages. The Ranger class is your typical EDF soldier, shooting from a distance with machine guns, grenades, and shotguns but not one to shy away from the heavy weapons. The Wing Divers (similar to the Palewing character of Earth Defense Force 2017 Portable) fly high above the action and rely more on high-tech long-range laser and plasma-based weaponry. While there's not much difference in your play style for these classes -- beyond the Wing Diver's limited flight ability -- the remaining two soldier classes offer a wholly new sense of control, and using them changes the way you traditionally play EDF. The Air Raider can deploy shields and health generators while attacking with more explosion-based weapons such as grenade launchers, mortars, and even call in vehicle support and air strikes. This class is best used in a support function within the game's multiplayer. Finally, the Fencer class has you getting down and dirty up close with your foes with its giant spear and thrust attack, and is heavily armored to withstand being in close proximity to the big bugs. The Fencer is also the only class that has four weapon loadouts rather than two, which allows for use of its giant shield, or even the ability to dual-wield twin Gatling guns -- while sadly sacrificing speed of movement for raw power. As with everything in EDF 2025, bigger is better. The mission types don't really vary too much from "destroy the enemy," but how you go about that, and what enemies you encounter is always full of "holy shit" moments. New spider types that drag you into their giant webs, flying enemies such as bees and swarming Ravager ships, and of course the giant walker mechs and even dragon-like creatures pull you quickly into pants-soiling moments. Ready to combat these larger foes are your own big vehicles, such as single-soldier power suits, armored transports, and tanks that carry up to three players, each with their own turret or railgun. There's just something so satisfying about shooting giant bugs that it really doesn't matter how you do it, just that you can do it. And since that's pretty much all this game is, it's a good thing it's so much fun. Shoot bugs with rockets, punch them with giant mechs, blast giant spaceships out of the sky, zoom past creatures while riding a motorcycle and sidecar: the game has it all, and yet it really boils down to blowing up bugs. And that's always more fun with friends. There's a heavier focus on multiplayer this time around, as the game not only offers two-player split screen co-op, but also four-player online co-op as well, letting each player take a different soldier class to balance out the action of taking on the game's enormous 90-level count. There's even a two-player versus mode as well, where players fight each other, though it's no nearly as enjoyable as destroying giant bugs together cooperatively. As for how it looks and sounds...let's be honest: no one plays EDF for the story, graphics, or voice acting. You're going to get a b-grade videogame equivalent of the cheapest Starship Troopers rip-off you can find. That said, this is the best-looking game in the series, and the voice acting didn't have me immediately cringing -- though the dialogue itself warranted plenty of chuckles just for the sheer cheese-factor. At least the level of destruction matches the output of your weaponry. Buildings come down after a few rocket blasts, and enemies go flying in every direction when blown up. The amount of mayhem on-screen never stops being fun, though once or twice I hit some slowdown in the framerate, but nothing as bad as the original game. I'll put it simply: if you've enjoyed the Earth Defense Force games in the past, you'll love this one. It has more missions, more weapons, more ways to play with the new soldier classes, and just more fun. If you've never played EDF, check your brain at the door and enjoy blowing the shit out of some ugly bugs. I defy you to NOT have fun with this game.
EDF reviewed photo
The more things change, the more they stay the same
In 2009, American and European Xbox 360 players got their first taste of the popular Earth Defense Force PS2 series from Japan with the game's third entry, 2017, by developer Sandlot. The cult classic budget title featured fr...

Flappy Bird photo
Flappy Bird

16GB iPhone with 'rare' Flappy Bird going for 6 million


Not sure if real or...oh, wait. IT IS REAL?
Feb 10
// Ian Bonds
You can find all sorts of stuff on eBay. I like finding rare games and seeing if I can get a good deal (I'm currently still trying to snag a copy of Die Hard Arcade for Sega Saturn for under $30) but sometimes some deals just...

Review: Rekoil: Liberator

Feb 04 // Ian Bonds
Rekoil: Liberator (PC, Xbox Live Arcade [reviewed])Developer: Plastic PiranhaPublisher: 505 GamesRelease Date: January 28, 2014 (PC), January 29, 2014 (XBLA)MSRP: $14.99 Rekoil: Liberator's (or just Rekoil as it's known on PC) marketing touted the title as being a straight-forward shooter, where things like perks for kill streaks didn't exist. It offered the "pure shooter experience" where the genre went "back to it's roots" and eschewed earning weapons through rankings and held only scoring as key. While that certainly can level the playing field, it can also be a rather shallow gaming experience if you have nothing to work for beyond the leaderboard. Still, maybe there was something to this idea. When it came to actually viewing and playing the game, however, all of those hopes fell away in a poorly-executed, trite mess. There is no single player story, no campaign to speak of, and no real explanation as to why you're shooting at whomever wanders into your crosshairs. The Dark Water corporation and the Minutemen militia serve merely as skins and teams with no rhyme or reason as to why they're trying to give each other lead poisoning, and I suppose that's to allow players to cut to the chase and get to shootin'. [embed]269862:52452:0[/embed] The problem is, it's just too generic. While being able to choose whatever loadout you want from the start is nice, all the weapons behave in pretty much the same way -- which is to say, they all have shit accuracy. Save for the RPG or the shotgun, aiming with any of the weapons and hitting your target with any amount of precision is pure luck. Don't even bother with iron sights, either, as the targeting reticule or red dot may end up blocking your view rather than assisting your aim. The whole game is downright ugly too, as character models are barely a step above PS2 blockiness, and every map is a wash of greys and browns. The character models are as basic as they get, with only mild differences between skins ("oh, this guy has a hat!", "look, it's the same guy, only with a mask!" or even "finally, some diversity...he has dreadlocks!"). As for the game modes, you get your typical deathmatch, team deathmatch, free for all, king of the hill, capture the flag -- er, briefcase -- and so on. There's at least one mode worth playing, called Rekondite, where one player is apparently the Predator from the movies, only with a knife. You can run faster as you invisibly stalk your foes, and if they kill you, they become the invisible hunter, with the winner being the who racks up the most kills as the Rekondite. Not that the knife is a one-hit-kill weapon in this game. No, that would be too much like other shooters, where the melee is actually useful. In fact, most of the control schemes in Rekoil will have you throwing your controller in anger. Switching between primary and secondary weapons, grenades, and your melee -- which, yes, are all a separate selection; you can't melee or throw grenades without selecting them -- is done on the d-pad, but I could never get it to be consistent in which direction I pushed to pull up an item. Sprinting is also a hit or miss exercise, as I could never keep running for longer than a few seconds and could see no meter on screen telling me I had no more sprint stamina, or anything of the sort. Apparently, you run faster depending on which weapon you're holding in your foot-shaped hand, but that still never lasted longer than a few feet from when you started sprinting. The thing that drove me the most out of my mind in the game is that, in any team match, friendly fire was always turned on. Always. In my first match, I killed 3 people on my own team (because everyone looks like they're all on the same team) and did not get penalized for it. While it subtracted from my match-end tally, the announcer in the game at the time lauded me for my skillful headshots. And since the number of kills you rack up or however long you keep the briefcase doesn't unlock new weapons, all team-killing does is bring down your possible leaderboard rank. Even when I wasn't slaughtering my own generic looking squad on purpose, they were often cut down as I tried to hit enemy forces, as they just ran directly into the path of my bullets. Causalities of war, I suppose. If there's one good thing to say about the game, it's that I didn't really have any issues with getting a match to connect or really experienced any lag (which, from what I hear, is more than can be said for the PC counterpart). Matches were running smoothly (or as smooth as the engine would allow with the floaty aiming) and no latency issues were detected in the few matches I played. Rekoil: Liberator is as generic as they come. Basic maps, uninspired character models, the "same-old, same-old" game modes we're all used to. What it tries to do to make itself stand out it fails at, and what does make it stand out is nothing to be proud of. And the one aspect every shooter should have -- competent shooting -- just isn't there. There is literally nothing to justify the $15 price-point, and woe to those that drop the coin into this steaming mess.
Rekoil: Liberator photo
Recoil...in horror
It's difficult to have a unique idea in a genre that's as over-saturated as 'first-person shooter' is. With Call of Duty, Halo, and Battlefield already out there year after year, making a multiplayer game enticing while offering something fresh and unseen is becoming harder and harder for developers to accomplish. The makers of Rekoil: Liberator are proof of that.

Need for Speed photo
Need for Speed

Behind-the-scenes with the camera cars of Need for Speed


This movie continues to be a thing
Jan 28
// Ian Bonds
Ever wonder how they shoot those high-speed car sequences in movies? What they do to the cars, what kind of cameras they use, etc? Well, the makers of the upcoming Need for Speed feature film have provided a short behind-the...
Mega64 photo
Mega64

Mega64 would like your Papers, Please


Travel these days, amirite?
Jan 27
// Ian Bonds
In the latest Mega64 video, it seems Derrick has become a bit too enamored with the game Papers, Please. He's set up a border patrol booth at the entrance to the Mega64 offices, which has now been dubbed the country of Acost...
The Last of Us photo
The Last of Us

Last of Us: Left Behind DLC opening cinematic revealed


Behind-the-scenes documentary too
Jan 22
// Ian Bonds
Today the PlayStation Blog dropped two videos in promotion of the upcoming DLC, The Last of Us: Left Behind, and I'm already shaking in anticipation of playing it. The first video above is the opening cinematic of the game, ...

Review: OlliOlli

Jan 21 // Ian Bonds
OlliOlli (PS Vita)Developer: Roll7Publisher: Roll7Release Date: January 27, 2014MSRP: $12.99 Right from the start, OlliOlli seemed like the kind of game I would enjoy. Colorful, retro-inspired sprites, energetic music, and realistic-looking tricks. I'm a simple man; I can't skateboard in real life, but these types of games always allow me to jump and kickflip my way around a town. The first trailer for the game showcased everything I would want to do in a game like this, just in a side-scrolling 2D style. Once I finally got to play the game, however, I instantly fell in love with how simplistic, yet punishingly difficult it could be. There's no two ways about it: you will bail, and bail often. The game controls simply enough: hold the left analog stick in a direction (down, left, right, or up) and release to perform a trick. To land the trick, press X as soon as you land; miss it, and you run the risk of a sloppy landing, which can get you staggering and may make you miss a jump and bail quickly. Time it right and you'll get a perfect landing, and more importantly, the maximum amount of score for your trick. If you're about to land on something grindable, simply press and hold the control stick in a direction while in the air to grind. If you press the direction at the moment you land, you get a perfect grind and of course, more score. From there, it's just a bit of finessing the controls to do more tricks. There's a guide to what moves are possible in the Tricktionary (see what they did there?), and quick flicks, or even directional rolls such a quarter circles help you execute more diverse tricks. The left and right shoulder buttons add spin which helps increase your score, and stringing tricks together in a line uninterrupted increases your multiplier. [embed]268750:52276:0[/embed] Keeping your speed up is essential to keeping a line going from grind to grind, and getting enough of a kick-push before your first jump helps boost you along. I found whenever I was on a stretch of flat ground before a jump I was frantically tapping the X button to kick and build up speed for the next run. If there's anything to complain about with this title, it's that the limited control might cramp some hands as you spend most of the game flicking the left stick, while mashing the X button constantly. The game is separated into two modes, with three difficulty levels for each: career and spots. Career is your standard mode, where you skate from one end of the level to the next. Reach the cheering crowd at the end and you unlock the next stage, 25 in all for each difficulty. Complete the five challenges for each stage and you'll unlock the same stage in the next difficulty, from Amateur to Hard, then again to Rad. Rad mode will melt your face with difficulty, as it only allows for perfect grinds and perfect landings. Wow. While in Amateur mode, I found myself actively not continuing the the next level until I beat all five challenges for the one I was on, even though the next had been unlocked. Some levels are set up to be completed in one long run and racking up a top score, while others will take multiple play-throughs to complete each challenge, such as specific grinds, not using kick at all, or collecting items along the path. The career mode is where you will spend most of your time honing your skills, and Spots is where you'll try to use that knowledge for a perfect run. Spots are levels that are designed to be one long line. Once you start the trick, you have to keep it going until you reach the end. As soon as you've landed on the ground, whether you've made it to the end or not, that's it. That will be your score for that level. Some levels I've been able to keep my line going for the duration, while others I'm lucky if I can even start a line at all. For sheer challenge, Spots is the mode that you'll keep coming back to in the hopes of besting your score. There's a significant ranking system, with each level listing the top worldwide skater. Once you complete a run it will show you where you rank, and what the #1 score is. For the best way to judge ranking however, there is one new challenge a day called the Daily Grind. Here, you have only one shot to nab the highscore (where as with Spots you can redo the level multiple times). They at least allow you to practice the stage as much as you want before attempting for the ranking, but once you click "do it for real" all bets are off. You won't be able to do the challenge again for another 24 hours. There's a lot to love about OlliOlli. The game is in the sweetspot of "simple to control" and "just difficult enough" to keep you playing without tearing your hair out. The Daily Grind and Spots challenges will keep the score-centric crowd happy, and Career mode will have you blistering your thumbs as you try to perfect each level. A masterpiece.
OlliOlli review photo
Heelflippin' awesome
I was always a fan of skateboarding games. From Skate or Die to the Tony Hawk series, and most everything in between, I've played and enjoyed my fair share, some more than others. And while the heyday has passed, I still occa...

Chiptunes photo
Chiptunes

Chiptuner Dr. Popular to release album on GBA cartridge


If his Kickstarter gets funded, that is
Jan 17
// Ian Bonds
Doctor Popular (whom most may know from the Knifetank games) is preparing to unleash his newest chiptune album, Destroy All Presets, unto the world with the help of Kickstarter. Sure, we've all been there, there's a million ...
Chiptunes photo
Chiptunes

MAGFest = WIN is chiptuney goodness for your ears


12 tracks from 12 artists featured at this year's event
Jan 10
// Ian Bonds
This past weekend in Maryland's National Harbor, several thoudand like-minded individuals gathered for the 12th annual Music and Gaming Festival, AKA MAGFest. This was only my second year attending, but man it was a blast. To...
HAWP photo
HAWP

HAWP, Freddie Wong team up for DKC Tropical Freeze video


Screening next Thursday at Sundance
Jan 07
// Ian Bonds
A few months ago, Nintendo held a Wii U video challenge, asking 30 of YouTube's top content creators to produce short videos inspired by Super Mario 3D World and The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD. After viewing all the selec...
RoboCop photo
RoboCop

RoboCop: The Game is a thing


Remake tie-in hitting mobile devices
Jan 07
// Ian Bonds
Because licensed games still get made, iOS and Android gamers will be able to download and play the new RoboCop game, based on the remake of the cult classic film. The game is a free download, and while it doesn't look too t...

Review: Indoor Sports World

Jan 03 // Ian Bonds
Indoor Sports World (PS Vita)Developer: Super Icon LtdPublisher: Super Icon LtdReleased: December 17, 2014MSRP: $4.99 Indoor Sports World is a slightly misleading title, as these sports don't require much strenuous athletic ability to perform, whether in a videogame or not. Still, I suppose technically they are sports, and thus qualify. The game offers several modes with which to tackle these bar-room favorites: Arcade allows players to travel about town to different locales (aka, other bars) against the cream of the pub crop, while Season mode has you participating in tournaments and championships as you move up ladders and engage in league play. Exhibition mode offers the most freedom, allowing you to select whatever parameters you want; game type, single match or tourney, what type of rules -- for example, US 8 ball pool or standard 9 ball -- for each game type, match length, and even skill level of your AI opponent. Progressing in Arcade and Season mode is a bit off-balance, as initial matches will have you winning with ease, while the match immediately following will have a skilled AI played soundly trouncing you at all turns. The learning curve is also steep. None of the games tell you how to play them: there is no tutorial mode, so figuring out how to line up your shot (in any of the games) is a bit of trial and error with the exception of air hockey, which was pretty straightforward. All of the games utilize touch-screen controls, and some better than others. Like I said, air hockey is the easiest to figure out, and probably the most fun to play because of it. You just slide your finger along the table controlling your paddle. Both pool and snooker have you aiming the shot by dragging your finger across the ball to line it up as best you can, then dragging down the pool cue on the right side of the screen and releasing to make your shot. There's some d-pad finessing available, but there is not nearly the precision found in other billiards titles for the system, like Hustle Kings. Darts was the strangest of all to figure out. It has you line up your shot by placing your dart where you'd like it to go, then swiping up on the right side of the screen to throw it and hopefully land it where you aimed. However, the game doesn't tell you to swipe there, nor is there any indicator that's what you need to do. I ended up accidentally throwing darts -- and not even lining them up properly until I figured out how things were supposed to play out -- until I finally stumbled upon how I was flinging the damn things. All the bars and arenas you play in look nice enough, but the fact that each one is completely deserted is a bit unnerving. There is no one around, and you can't even see your opponent, save for their photo icon next to their name. What makes it worse is the overall shiny-ness of the billiards balls, so you can just see exactly how alone in the room you are while lining up a shot. It also doesn't help (the gameplay nor the solitude) that the camera is so darn close to the shots you can't see down the table in some instances. Are therein lies the biggest problem with the game. Between the imprecise touch controls and the wonky camera, it just isn't any fun. The pub appeal of playing these games is the interaction with friends or folk watching the games. Sure, there's multiplayer, but they don't add crowds or the chance to spill beer on the table, and you sure wouldn't want to spill it on the Vita anyway. There are slight upgrades you can earn through season mode, like different-colored hockey paddles or your own set of darts, but they don't add anything of substance to the gameplay. You can also plunk down real-world money for these but...yeah, just don't do that. What little is here is done better elsewhere, and while the game isn't going to break your wallet, it isn't going to capture your attention for very long either. I had to force myself to even play it for long enough to get anywhere in each mode, as I just found myself bored with everything mid-match. It's desolate, it's twitchy, and it's not really any fun. But at least it's better looking than most bars I've been to.
Indoor Sports World photo
Go outside instead
Bar games (or pub games) can be a fun diversion when you're out and about: hanging with friends, drinking, and generally making a fool of yourselves when at a bar. The bar atmosphere and playing with friends is what makes gam...

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Brentalfloss gives us Super Mario 3D World with lyrics


Yeah, there's a lot of horns in that game
Dec 23
// Ian Bonds
If you follow Brentalfloss on Twitter or Facebook, you may have noticed how obsessed he's been with the soundtrack to Super Mario 3D World of late. I figured it was only a matter of time before he gave it the "what if it had...

Review: Rush (Wii U)

Dec 21 // Ian Bonds
Rush (Wii U)Developer: Two TribesPublisher: Two TribesRelease Date: December 12, 2013MSRP: $1.99 Rush released on PC in 2010, and much like that mouse-centric version, the Wii U release relies on only one way to control the game: the touch screen. In each three-dimensional level, you must guide cubes by placing directional signs, stop signs, conveyor belts, and more tricks to get the cubes to their correspondingly colored exit boxes. With the stylus, you'll rotate the level, zoom in and out, and place each piece as needed before clicking the check mark to release the cubes and watch them rush in hopefully the right direction to their proper zone. You're only given a certain number of signs to use to get the cubes home, and the strategy here it to place them in the right spots so everything flows once you hit the button to release the cubes. If you misplace something, or the cubes don't move in the way that you'd expect, you just try again. Most levels allow you to ask for hints if you're stumped, of which there are two kinds: one hint tells you if the signs are placed correctly, while the other where signs should be placed -- though it won't tell you specifically what should be placed there. [embed]267523:51991:0[/embed] There are multiple difficulty levels, though the jump from easy to medium is noticeably off-balance. All the puzzles on easy can be solved very quickly, while medium seems to ramp the difficulty up more than "medium" would be categorized. Having to place signs and belts in precarious caverns that the cubes drop down into becomes very difficult, and hard only amps that. However, for the majority of the levels, you'll have your hints, and that's both a help and a hindrance. I didn't want to rely on them too much but if I got stumped, they'd be there and would help me figure out where I needed to place my signs. The issue I have however is that there's really no benefit or deterrent from using them. As there is no score, and you can use the hints as many times as you need, it sort of seems like an unfair advantage to have them at all. Still, on some of the harder difficulty levels, you don't have any hints at all. The best -- and most aggravating -- levels are the ones listed as ACTUAL challenge, where GlaDOS from Portal narrates (and berates you) as you guide companion cubes to the properly-colored exits. I have yet to beat a single level in this difficulty setting. What it comes down to, however, is the level design. Each stage is so intricately set and laid out that half the fun is watching it appear before you, noting where the cubes start and where they need to end up, and saying "Ooh, I wonder how I'm going to get them there!" Seeing how many signs you have only amplifies that, and the challenge of where to place what is simple, brain-teasing fun. For the price, it's an excellent value, giving puzzle fans over 70 levels at various stages of difficulty. While there isn't much control other than with the stylus -- you can actually zoom using the GamePad's trigger buttons, but not really anything else -- you honestly don't need it, as rotating the levels and placing the signs is all handled beautifully with the touch screen. Still, you'll spend all your gameplay hunched over your GamePad trying to place things. At least other people in the room can see what you're doing on the TV, but it's not much of a spectator sport. At least, not until you click the bottom to have the cubes start to rush home.
Rush review photo
Why is the TV there again?
I love playing games on the Wii U, but I run in to the same problem with every one of them. I find myself looking down at the screen on the GamePad more than up at the beautiful HD visuals on the TV in front of me. I play gam...

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Starbomb is here, shove it in your eyes and earholes


Luigi's Ballad music video is the first single
Dec 17
// Ian Bonds
Starbomb is the adult-oriented, videogame-themed supergroup of EgoRaptor, Game Grumps, and Ninja Sex Party, and it's here to rock your face off. The above video, "Luigi's Ballad," is the first single from the self-titled alb...
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Colossal Shadow of the Colossus fan art is just that


Everything to scale means big things are big
Dec 09
// Ian Bonds
DeviantArt member Andrew McGee has visualized each of the various Colossi from Shadow of the Colossus into one image, showing exactly how they compare to one another in scale. It's a breathtaking image, especially when you co...
PS Vita photo
PS Vita

Stick it to the Man is out now for PS Vita


Cross-Buy powers, activate!
Dec 03
// Ian Bonds
The ever-hilarious and awesome game Stick it to the Man is available right frikkin' now in the PSN store for PS Vita. If you read my review, you know that I absolutely loved the charm, style, and humor of this game and I high...

Impressions: Rainbow Moon (Vita)

Dec 03 // Ian Bonds
Rainbow Moon (PS3, Vita)Developer: SideQuest StudiosPublisher: EastAsiaSoftReleased: July 10, 2012 (PS3) / December 3, 2013 (Vita)MSRP: $14.99 When Rainbow Moon released last year, it was to little fanfare, and less-than-favorable reviews. Some strategy fans seemed to enjoy it, at least, as proven by this Vita port almost two years later. And let me be straight with you: this is a port in the strictest sense of the word. Very little has changed between the original download on PS3 and this PSN title for Vita. If you missed the title previously, it's your typical open world SRPG, full of random battles as well as foes you can see on screen to fight with. What sets Rainbow Moon apart is the ability to choose whether or not to engage in the random encounters with unseen foes with a simple button press, as well as choosing to walk around or up to the foes you can see. Battles themselves are set up on a grid-like system, moving square by square, turn by turn, tactically moving around your enemies for your best advantage. It's the most basic form of a strategy RPG, but it works well, which is good considering you'll be doing it a lot. As before, Rainbow Moon hinges most of it's gameplay on grinding to level up, only to grind further for items to improve your battle stats so that you can grind again on higher level beasties. So, what has changed? Well, for starters, there's cross-save, allowing you to continue your quest on the go from your console version, and vice versa, which is quite nice if you prefer your grinding while on the go. Also, much of the game has been streamlined, at least as far as menus go. Scrolling through through menus, matching collected items to upgrade weapons, and organizing your inventory seems faster. In fact, Rainbow Moon actually seems best suited for the handheld, as it's short quests, simplistic battle structure, and save anywhere features work best in short bursts. However, the port doesn't really take advantage of the new hardware at all. Touch screen functionality is non-existent, and while most won't gripe too much with that, it does seem odd that it's been completely neglected. Graphically, you're looking at the same game from PS3, and the short, colorful characters are beautiful, with plenty of background animation and expressive characteristics to give the world a fully-alive feel. Sadly, I wish the characteristics of you and your party members last throughout the game -- as before, whenever you add someone to your party, all manner of personality interaction with them disappears. It's as if once you gain a party member, they're merely another body with which to fight your foes, and their storyline ends with them joining you. And therein lies the biggest problem here, just like the PS3 version. While there is plenty to do in this over 50+ hour epic quest (and even more in side quests), the story itself is largely unremarkable. You arrive, monsters are there, you fight them...and that's pretty much it. While there is plenty to do as far as number of quests and missions, the reason behind why you're doing it is left mostly ambiguous. What you're left with is a game that has you grinding for the sake of defeating enemies, so that you can grind again to defeat higher-powered enemies -- and so on, and so forth. If that sort of thing appeals to you, now you can have it on the go. Aside from that, there's not much reason to chose one version over the other.
Rainbow Moon photo
Pretty much the same, but portable
Strategy RPGs seem to thrive on handheld systems. While many are released on console, it often takes a port to a portable build for gamers to take notice. With a sequel already in the works, EastAsiaSoft has seen fit to port last year's Rainbow Moon from PS3 to Vita, and the experience remains mostly intact from the console version. This is both to its credit and its detriment.

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Clem isn't the only one returning in The Walking Dead S2


Omid seems to be walking ok
Dec 01
// Ian Bonds
Earlier today, Telltale Games' Twitter account Tweeted the above picture, with the text "A familiar face returns in #TheWalkingDead Season Two premiere episode, "All That Remains," releasing this month." For folks that have p...

Review: BandFuse: Rock Legends

Nov 29 // Ian Bonds
BandFuse: Rock Legends (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed])Developer: Realta Entertainment GroupPublisher: Mastiff GamesRelease Date: November 19, 2013MSRP: $69.99 (Artist Pack:  game + 1/4" to USB guitar cable), $79.99 (Band Pack: 2 guitar cables, mic, 4-port USB hub, acoustic guitar adapter - game NOT included), $179.99 (Guitar Bundle - Guitar Center Exclusive: game, guitar cable, & Fender Squire Bullet guitar) All right, so we know that this isn't the only game out there that wants to teach you how to play guitar with a real instrument. Plenty of games have tried this approach, with only one really having any great success with it. So, what is it that BandFuse does differently?   For starters, the layout is much more user-friendly. Rather than having the note highway diagonally, or seemingly flying at you, the fretboard looks as though you're looking straight at your guitar. Simple number icons and colors on each string are used to determine which finger and which fret you use, as everything is set up in standard tablature. The game is built with the beginner in mind. There are a series of video tutorials, led by the games "mentors," such as Slash, Bootsy Collins, Zakk Wylde, and more that walk the player through even the most basic of steps. And while some of the lessons may only seem as though they're reading the key points off a cue card (and Slash mostly seems like he's barely interested in being a teacher), these are still valuable skills for beginners like me. For those more familiar with the guitar who want to improve their chops, the difficulty can be increased through five different levels of skill. I will admit, however, that there is a bit of a learning curve from beginner to the next, but the game caters to all skill types. The tutorial videos are the biggest help here, and can of course be revisited if you're not quite moving with the pace or need refreshers on terminology or technique. As I said, however, there is a bit of a noticeable jump between difficulties. While the beginner mode is great for a guy like me, for an intermediate player, transitioning to one of the harder difficulties can be more taxing than anticipated, as they throw a lot more notes your way. Still, there's more than just tutorials. If you just want to play songs, there's plenty to chose from here, and plenty of ways to play them. Shred U is where most of your lessons lie, but there's a whole career mode to play through, where you begin as an opening act all the way through headliner. You can even play this multiplayer, hooking up multiple guitars, bass, and even vocals. The vocal sections are especially of interest, as these can be done solo as well (for a whole karaoke take on the game) as well as essentially being a borrowed asset for the game. That's right, the vocal note detection and regestration of those notes is the same technique developed by Harmonix for its Rock Band games here, and Realta has licensed it for use in BandFuse. Very cool. Beyond that, there's the Lick Lab, which allows you to dissect any song into as many parts necessary to learn how to play it. There's even a section for true virtuosos that provides a wide variety of generic backing tracks for several musical genres that allows you to play along as you see fit. The thing that most impressed me with this title is the attention to detail as far as sound is concerned. Realta has made sure that latency and lag will not be an issue, and the accuracy and responsiveness of the game was a constant treat. There's even an adapter for the Xbox 360 version (included with the package) that connects to the back of the system allowing for sound to pass through to your TV or sound system -- or even directly to headphones -- to ensure an accurate response. This is only necessary if your set up is connected primarily via HDMI, as there tends to be latency issues with sound via that single connection. It's impressive to see a game such as this, focused on not only teaching you how to play guitar, but also how to have fun with it. The multiplayer extensions are a blast (if you have that many guitars, or friends that can play), and the karaoke and backing track selections can really further the creativity. While the jumps in difficulty can be drastic at the higher levels, there's still plenty of ways to adapt, and BandFuse surprises at each step.
BandFuse: Rock Legends photo
The road to rock stardom
My family is very musically inclined. My father sings, and my mother sings and plays guitar. My wife's family is also musical; playing piano, guitar, drums, etc. between her, her brother, father, aunt, and so on. When I was a...

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This 'Gamer Song' is just as good as you think


Now is the time on Sprockets when we dance!
Nov 24
// Ian Bonds
German YouTuber ForbiddenNickname clearly loves videogames. So much so that he has penned what I'm sure he feels is the greatest gamer anthem in the history of ever. Your mileage may vary. In what is some sort of weird hybri...

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