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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 Ā£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...

Review: Stick It to the Man!

Nov 24 // Ian Bonds
Stick It to the Man! (PlayStation 3 [reviewed], PS Vita)Developer: Zoink!Publisher: RipstoneRelease Date: November 19, 2013 (PS3), Early December (Vita)MSRP: $12.99 (with Cross-Buy) Ray Doewood is a schlub unlike any other. His day job testing different hardhats isn't exactly spiritually fulfilling, but he's generally happy, living with his girlfriend Arlene. However, after removing his latest hardhat and heading home during a rainstorm he is struck on the noggin by a strange object, and once he comes to he finds he has a giant pink arm coming out of his head that only he can see. This strange new appendage allows Ray some cool abilities, such as reading people's thoughts, and taking items or even the very thoughts of people as stickers to use around the world. The game is deliciously self aware, referencing the fact that the world looks two-dimensional, or even that it may all be paper (a pilot references that he's flying a paper plane in the rain early in the game, respawn checkpoints are machines called "Mr. Copy" that re-draw Ray into the game). There's tons of nods not only to general platformer tropes -- such as Ray's house being "all the way to the left" or how much jumping he has to do to get home from work -- but also sly references to Mario and Luigi, and even a flat-out mention of Silver Surfer for NES in one characters inner monologue. But the cleverness isn't only in the scripting. [embed]266040:51478:0[/embed] While at its heart the game performs like a platformer, with Ray's noodle brain-arm grabbing push pins around the world to get to higher ground or pulling down walls to reveal what's inside buildings, the majority of the game is puzzle-based. Ray must use his new-found abilities to find clues to solve problems, like helping a family of clowns perfect a high-dive act, or using an Opera singer's fear of the mob to slip past a road block. Many of the puzzles are inter-woven, so one puzzle's solution will give you a sticker you need for a puzzle you may have discovered previously in the chapter that you couldn't solve at the time. You must do this all while avoiding secret agents, hell-bent on getting whatever it is Ray has in his head that gave him these abilities. See, they know what fell on him, and the shadowy mastermind behind it all known only as The Man -- who is actually cleverly NEVER seen out of the shadows -- wants it back. Desperately. Luckily, some of these agents are tired, so you can grab their thoughts of sleep to make them snooze briefly, or even Rays face from their thoughts and slap it on another agent to make them chase him while you slip away unnoticed. The idea of reading thoughts and grabbing stickers formed by those thoughts is fantastic, and that coupled with the art style makes this look like the greatest Psychonauts/Paper Mario: Sticker Star mashup ever. In fact, I had to check a few times to see if Tim Schafer wasn't involved in this game in some capacity. The dialogue is so sharp and so funny that I actually laughed out loud several times while playing, even replaying several sections to hear certain dialogue points again. Even the levels are funny, from your standard stroll through a city, to escaping an asylum, and even the eventual trip through Ray's shattered psyche, each mission is inspired and rife with minds to read and puzzles to uncover. Each character you meet has a cool little backstory and is fully voiced, with some you may need to reads the minds of a few times to fully get what they may be looking for. I spent most of the game just listening in on people's thoughts...even dead people still had functioning brains you could eavesdrop. If there is one gripe I have with the game, it's that sometimes grabbing the right item with the head-arm (arm-head?) isn't as precise as I'd like it to be. Often I grabbed a pushpin when I was aiming for an agent's thoughts and popped up behind him and got zapped. I hope that on Vita you can just use the touch-screen to tap your subject to slap a sticker or swing around. That said, it didn't happen often, and it was really more of being being sloppy with the controls than the controls being sloppy. I just needed to aim better. If you haven't caught on, I enjoyed the ever-loving crap out of this game. From the cast of zany characters -- many of whom you may think are throwaways only for them to show up again in later levels -- to the crazy art style, level and puzzle design, and whimsically hilarious script. Everything is pitch-perfect. And while Stick It to the Man! isn't a particularly long title (it may only take you between three to five hours to complete the game's ten chapters) there's loads to observe and listen in on, and dozens of minds per level to explore, leaving you wanting more. I couldn't get enough of it. Man, I really want more.
Stick it to the Man! photo
What am I thinking?
If you know me, you know what a big comedy fan I am. Comedy is kind of my whole life, my passion, my raison d'etre, if you will. Videogames are obviously one of my other passions. So, when the two meet, I tend to be very hope...

Injustice photo
Injustice

Injustice: Gods Among Us finally available for Android


No longer an Injustice
Nov 21
// Ian Bonds
Warner Brothers Interactive announced today that Injustice: Gods Among Us is finally available for Android devices as a free download via Google Play, and will also be available through the Amazon Appstore soon. Previously o...
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BandFuse

BandFuse: Rock Legends tracklist revealed


55-song list includes tracks from the '60s to today
Nov 12
// Ian Bonds
Realta Entertainment has revealed its star-studded track list for the upcoming BandFuse: Rock Legends, and it's an interesting mix. While standard rock songs from Pearl Jam, Rush, and Heart are expected, there's a smattering ...
BandFuse photo
BandFuse

BandFuse: Rock Legends announces final in-game mentor


Children of Bodom's Alexi Laiho
Nov 11
// Ian Bonds
BandFuse: Rock Legends, the music videogame that claims to transform players into real-world guitarists, bassists, and vocalists using legendary rockers, has announced its eighth and final in-game mentor: Alexi "Wildchild" L...

Impressions: Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams (Wii U)

Nov 03 // Ian Bonds
Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams (Wii U)Developer: Black Forest GamesPublisher: Black Forest GamesRelease: September 5, 2013 MSRP: $14.99 On the surface level, there's not much different between the version we reviewed last year and the version now available on the Wii U. The dream-switch mechanic is still at the heart of the adventure, with each level hinging on its precise usage to traverse obstacles in every world. Switching between the "cute" and "punk" versions of the sisters changes how the entire world looks, and the music also switches to fit the personalities of each sister. The game is beautiful in HD on the Wii U. The stark diversity between the two worlds is breath-taking, and the colors and characters pop with eye-catching contrast. Likewise, the score is fantastic, and the differences with how the same theme changes styles with the dream-switch interface is truly inspired. However, if that becomes too distracting, you can choose to have the music remain the same through the switches. So, what does the Wii U version do differently? For starters, there's an "easy" mode available, which offers a lot more checkpoints mid-level, and allows for the boss levels to not be kept behind locks dependent on how many gems you obtain in the previous missions. Granted, Giana Sisters' easy mode is everyone else's "normal" mode, but if you're really sadistic, there's also the unlockable Score Attack, Time Attack, Hardcore, and Uber Hardcore modes from the previous versions, ready to blister your thumbs off your hands. There's also a ton of gallery images unlocked when you grab large gems, if you're in to that kind of thing. Control using the GamePad is perfect, as switching between the two personas is seamless and fluid, either through use of the right Z-trigger, or the dash or spin moves. There's even Off-TV GamePad play, though all is not perfect. Currently there's no audio for the Off-TV mode. Black Forest says this should be fixed with its next patch, which is due any day now. Also, while switching between sisters is seamless in-game, the actual load times for each level before you start are very long. All that said, however, you've still got an excellent, beautiful platformer for the Wii U. If you haven't picked up any of its other iterations, this is the perfect time to do so, and the perfect platform to do it on.
Giana Sisters photo
Twisted Sisters
Last year, after a very successful Kickstarter campaign, Black Forest Games was able to take what started as a Mario rip-off with the Great Giana Sisters and turn it into a unique, beautiful platformer. After being one o...

Review: Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate

Oct 31 // Ian Bonds
Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate (3DS, PS Vita [reviewed])Developer: Armature StudiosPublisher: Warner Brothers GamesRelease Date: October 25, 2013MSRP: $39.99 Blackgate begins with ol' Batsy running into (and chasing) Catwoman after he seemingly stumbles on to her robbing some government facility. After a brief tutorial as you chase Catwoman up a few buildings, he catches her and sends her to Blackgate Prison. Soon, he realizes the prison may be a bit too rough an environment for a mere thief. In exchange for her safety, she strikes a deal with him to provide intel while he infiltrates the prison, as its three most notorious -- and recent -- inmates have taken over. Penguin, Black Mask, and the Joker are each running a section of the prison, and Batman must traverse each one, fighting prison gangs and obtaining random WayneTech weapons hidden around. The plot is a fairly thin one, but it serves well enough to get you into Blackgate, and lays out the gameplay for Metroidvania fetch quests scattered around each section of the prison. The map is set up in such a way that you can chose whichever section you wish to start in, but invariably you'll have to backtrack and head to another area to find an item needed to advance. And there is a lot of backtracking. [embed]264434:51122:0[/embed] That's the problem with Blackgate right from the outset: no matter where you start, you end up having to go to a different section before you can complete the first. The game advertises that you can defeat the three main villains in any order, which by the time you unlock everything is mostly true, but it's never how you set out at the beginning. As you maneuver your way through the halls and ducts of the prison, you'll come across inmates that you'll naturally have to fight. This is where the 2.5D perspective loses some of its allure. While the camera may shift while walking so you can see around corners or down shafts, when in combat you may encounter enemies that are standing just above or below the plane you're on, making combat tricky. In the console versions, Batman could switch between targeted foes on the fly using the analog stick pointed in the direction he wanted to attack. That almost works here, but usually, you're just going to wail on the guy closest to you 'til they're down, as targeting doesn't quite have the finesse on the handheld as it does in the console version. At least the controller inputs are the same. That is to say, the button layout is the same, but sometimes the desired effect isn't quite there. Pressing the counter button requires accurate timing, and while it seemed like I had it in the console version, something felt off here. The same thing can be said for the cape stun, as pressing the button (especially when prompted in specific scenarios) only had it actually doing what it should about half of the time. Even when it did work, it would occasionally confuse Batman, and I'd end up facing away from the enemy I just stunned, allowing them to come-to by the time I turned around. Because of this, combat feels sloppy and hollow, and doesn't quite have the same punch as its bigger brother. Graphically, we run into a similar issue. While I already assumed it would be scaled down a bit for the handheld, there are noticeable effects that just end up being distracting. The standard look of the game is detailed and sharp, retaining a similar aesthetic to the console version. When zoomed in however, things get a little muddier. During dialogue sections facial animation is non-existent; characters flail about wildly as they speak and defeated enemies phase eerily into the floor. Cut scenes however make use of comic-strip-like animations, which are very well done...well, except for the voice acting and terrible dialogue. Even by comic-book standards, this is very hokey. There are a few new features in the game, utilizing the touch screens of the handhelds. Detective vision is activated by tapping the screen, and you can scan the environment by running your finger (or stylus) over the screen to search around for clues or learn helpful information about how to get past certain obstacles such as grates that can be popped with a well-aimed batarang. It's a minor feature, but one of the neater additions to the game. However, when it comes right down to it, Blackgate is just a bit on the boring side. Since the combat is so uneven, fights either get frustrating due to poor control input or end up being over too quickly. Sneaking up on foes for silent takedowns can be ludicrously easy in one section, and nigh impossible in another. Dropping from the rafters just doesn't have the same effect as it does in the console version, as the camera barely pans back enough to get the scope of the room, let alone the height of the ceiling in certain areas isn't even enough to stay hidden from most sightlines. The worst problem, however, is all the backtracking is needlessly empty. Once foes are defeated, they're gone for good. I'm never usually a fan of respawning enemies, but running through corridor after corridor of bleak, prison-gray nothingness just gets tedious after a while without something to do other than just traveling. Not to mention the fact that the in-game map is pretty much useless. The icons don't effectively define where you've been, what needs to be done, or what the icons even mean. They just show you a general way to go, but not really how to get anywhere, or even what floor of a building you're on. Just terrible. I really wanted to like Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate. It took a style of game I enjoy, but put everything together inside it so shoddily I wondered if a little more development time wouldn't have served this game better. However, since the console version of Origins is as buggy as it is, I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that Blackgate feels just as unfinished and sloppy. At least it doesn't take more than five hours to beat.
Blackgate review photo
Dull detective
Batman: Arkham Origins tries to tell the tale of how the Dark Knight was first introduced to many of his iconic foes. It was built on the groundwork of previous games in the series, and while the story may have faltered a bit...

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Celebrate flosstober with 'Luigi's Mansion With Lyrics'


brentalfloss does it again
Oct 31
// Ian Bonds
Internet impresario brentalfloss has done it again, taking yet another videogame theme song and adding his incomparable lyrical styling to it. For his yearly Halloween event (which he dubs "flosstober") he's taken the music ...
Walking Dead Season 2 photo
Walking Dead Season 2

Telltale posts Walking Dead Season 2 teaser image


All the feels are resurfacing
Oct 28
// Ian Bonds
Late Sunday night, Telltale Games posted a picture on their Facebook page with the caption "Keep that hair short." According to the text on the image, something to do with The Walking Dead Season Two will happen on ...

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