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Oddworld photo
Oddworld

Lorne Lanning confirms remake of Oddworld: Abe's Exoddus is happening


Oddly good news
Apr 14
// Vikki Blake
Oddworld Inhabitants developer Lorne Lanning has confirmed that a remake of Oddworld: Abe's Exoddus is on its way. Talking in a recent Twitch stream, Lanning added that after speaking with fans of the platformer series during...
Not A Hero Let's Play photo
Not A Hero Let's Play

Watch Bunnylord f@%k s*#t up in Not A Hero


Vote Bunnylord!
Apr 10
// Rob Morrow
Roll7's stylish 2D arcade-style shooter Not A Hero has quickly become a frontrunner for my favorite gleefully homicidal title due for release this year. While it's quite a change of pace from the fantastic, ultra-t...

Jamestown+ on PS4 is the best colonial era shooter yet

Apr 08 // Conrad Zimmerman
Jamestown+ introduces four new craft to pilot, doubling the number found in the PC release. These ships are not wholly original, with special weapons that resemble those of the base set but function in slightly different ways. Crystal and Charge, for example, both fire a slow-moving projectile across the playfield. Where Charge can fire without fully charging, Crystal projectiles have a longer reload time but can be redirected mid-flight. The new ships also have access to a variety of basic shot configurations, unlocked from the in-game shop. This allows players to further customize their ships with spread or multidirectional fire to complement their special weapon selection and opens up a lot of options. Two additional stages have also been added in the new edition, set on the moons of Mars, Deimos and Phobos. These bonus levels tell a side story from the charming rogue John Smith, with Smith escaping a Spanish prison on Deimos and discovering a pirate stronghold guarded by giant enemy crabs on Phobos. They are as well crafted as any original Jamestown stage, populated by unique enemy types and massive bosses, and make fine additions. The new levels also extend the original game's "Gauntlet Mode" (in which all stages are played back-to-back with limited credits) with a new "Super Gauntlet" mode including Deimos and Phobos in the run. [embed]289124:57806:0[/embed] It's also worth noting that the Jamestown experience on PS4 is made ever so much better by controller uniformity on the platform. As much fun as Jamestown could be in local co-op play on PC, you had to actually get it set up first, which could be a real pain in the ass between controllers, mice, and keyboard options. With the PS4 release, you just turn on your controller and hold a button to jump in, easy peasy. If you have yet to experience Jamestown, the new release on PS4 is the way to go, as it gives the most bang for the buck and plays just as well. Even if you're an old hand at it, the new ships bring a fresh variety to the game and do require some new skills despite their similarity to prior vessels, while the bonus stages offer a fun new challenge.
Jamestown+ impressions photo
More ships, more stages, more Jamestown
Jamestown was a wonderful shoot-em-up back when it first released on PC. With bullets blazing across the surface of a colonial Mars, it paired beautiful sprite art with epic music and cooperative local multiplayer to make something really special. With the release of Jamestown+ on PlayStation 4, it's larger than ever.

Swords & Soldiers II photo
Swords & Soldiers II

Dibs on demons! Swords & Soldiers II hits Wii U on May 21


All out of hard drive space, though
Apr 03
// Jordan Devore
I've got a soft spot for sidescrolling strategy games like Swords & Soldiers. Maybe you do too. While they typically aren't as deep as their 3D contemporaries, they scratch a certain itch and can be hard to put down once ...

Assassin's Creed Chronicles: China gives the series a fresh perspective

Mar 31 // Alessandro Fillari
Assassin's Creed Chronicles (PC, PS4, Xbox One [previewed])Developer: Climax StudiosPublisher: Ubisoft Release date: April 21, 2015 (Episode One) / Fall 2015 (Episodes Two and Three) "It's a very exciting and very challenging project to work on," said lead game designer Xavier Penin. "[Ubisoft] had a pretty [sizable] pitch for the project and wanted them to be short, episodic, and each of the stories would have their own specific artstyles that fit the character and time period. We knew we had to focus our efforts on making something that didn't just feel like a smaller Assassin's Creed." For the first episode, Assassin's Creed Chronicles: China, players take on the role of female assassin Shao Jun, who fans might recognize from the animated film Assassin's Creed Embers. Picking up some time after the events of Embers in 1526, Shao Jun returns to China after her training with Ezio Auditore and seeks revenge against Emporer Jiajing of the Ming Dynasty after the massacre of the Chinese Assassin Brotherhood. During her exploits, she'll acquire new abilities and contacts that will help in her quest, and revitalize the Assassin presence in 16th-century China. China has been a top requested location from fans, along with a playable Shao Jun, and seeing it come to pass is exciting. In the three levels I played, set in The Forbidden City and Fujian Province, we got to experience a starkly different setting and visual palette not seen from the series. Moreover, the brief taste of the India and Russia episodes we saw also feature their own art styles and aesthetic. Granted, the nature of this downloadable title allows them to try different settings, but I was blown away by the potential AC has in such lush environments. This enthusiasm was also shared by the folks behind the title. [embed]289710:57987:0[/embed] "When we were going to do this game with [Shao Jun], I was really excited about it and wanted to get all the information about background and her story, but it was actually pretty thin," said Penin. "So eventually we decided to come up with new ideas and settings, beyond Embers, and we came up with a story that AC fans will enjoy." Understandably, the switch from 3D to 2.5D has brought some changes to the action-stealth gameplay. For the most part, players will still traverse the environment with free-running maneuvers while avoiding detection, and only using combat as a last resort. Players will run and leap across obstacles in the environment and move between the foreground and background during traversal. I was impressed with the depth shown in the environments, and I was quite surprised that areas shown off were largely interactive. In one section during a prison escape, I had to find my gear before making an exit, which meant having to search for a guard's keys. After traveling through a hallway, I entered a large cavern housing dozens of prison cells. Off in the distance in the background, there were several guards making their rounds near a number of prisoners. From the foreground, I jumped onto a fallen pillar, which allowed me seamlessly run across to the background of the environment, which had its own unique layout and design. It was neat to be able to see how much depth the levels have, and the later levels show off much more intuitive and clever design. The stealth gameplay has had a bit of change, however, and the assassins now have to rely more on shadows and darkness to slip past their foes. Instead of the line-of-sight design from past titles, Chronicles utilizes a vision cone system. Similar to Mark of the Ninja's gameplay, all enemies can see and hear only a certain distance ahead of them, which gives you the means to figure out the best way around them. While it's still very much AC, the new design feels different. The lead designer elaborated a little further with how they went about re-designing AC stealth for 2.5D. "We had a lot of work to find the right recipe because this is the type of gameplay that require precise signs of feedback," said Penin. "We experimented a lot with the detection system, which focuses on cones of vision that work really well because it shows accurately in the 2D perspective. While some people initially thought [the visual representation of enemy line of sight] got in the way of the art style, ultimately the function allowed for us to design the stealth for players to be more interesting." Though you can easily avoid all conflicts by sticking in the shadows or hiding inside doorways or off the sides of ledges, there are a whole assortment of gadgets that Shao Jun has at her disposal, such as the rope dart which can sling enemies and help her traverse to new heights. The action and pace of the stealth from past games is present, though there seems to be much more thought put into it. Some sections felt like actual puzzles more than action-stealth gameplay, and I mean that as a good thing. The narrowing of the perspective put a lot more depth into this facet of gameplay, and it was refreshing to have a more refined approach to it. I'm also quite impressed with the visual aesthetic of Chronicles. The developers have stated that each episode will have a unique look to it, and China's style is stunning in its representation of perpetual autumn and uses of inkblot-style visuals and palettes. The colors are vibrant and lush, and the shadows and darkness show a certain roughness, as if it's a place that only the Assassins, history's wet-workers, can venture to. These still-images do not do this title justice -- it's quite gorgeous in action. While I was enjoying myself throughout the China setting, a part of me wished this was a fully 3D title rather than a downloadable side story. Nothing against this game, as it's really solid and makes some clever choices in regards to approach to stealth in a limited perspective, however I feel that such rich settings would be better used for full-fledged 3D Assassin's Creed titles. In any case, Assassin's Creed Chronicles is looking to be a nice surprise for the franchise. Though we can undoubtedly expect to see another main entry in the series this year, Chronicles will serve to be a nice change of pace for those looking for a different take on the series. For those who bit on the Unity season pass, you'll get the first episode on day one. The bite-sized nature of these titles will make them easy to get into, but they're sure to surprise players with how much depth is present.
2.5D Assassin's Creed photo
Stabbin' necks through history in 2.5D
It's not often we see a major player in the big leagues of yearly releases reinvent itself in a more modest and distinct way. With Assassin's Creed titles expected every year, it's been a bit of a challenge for Ubisoft to kee...

Monster Tale Ultimate photo
Monster Tale Ultimate

Monster Tale Ultimate coming to 3DS


Juggle monsters to death in stereoscopic 3D
Mar 29
// Darren Nakamura
Monster Tale was a great little metroidvania on the original DS. Despite its cartoony look, it featured engaging combat that focused on juggle combos. It felt almost like a 2D version of the Batman: Arkham Asylum combat, wher...
Space Sluggers photo
Space Sluggers

Space Sluggers is chaotic and so incredibly cheesy


Everyone fights, no one quits
Mar 27
// Alessandro Fillari
I'm quite a fan of old-school action shoot-'em-ups. Back in the day, I used to venture off to an arcade at my local pizza place and just chill out. With particular titles like Ikari Warriors, Smash TV, and Commando focusing o...
SteamWorld Dig photo
SteamWorld Dig

Mining adventure SteamWorld Dig coming to Xbox One next


New Easter egg included
Mar 25
// Jordan Devore
SteamWorld Dig is worth investigating if you enjoy the super-fun drilling action of Mr. Driller but stink at the game or otherwise get overwhelmed before long. Image & Form is bringing its robotic Western adventure to yet...
Blade Kitten photo
Blade Kitten

Sweet closure: Blade Kitten adds Episode 2 DLC years after its debut


That's commitment
Mar 17
// Jordan Devore
Back in 2010, Atari published Blade Kitten, a middling sidescrolling action-platformer about a bounty hunter who is both a human and a cat. In the years since, developer Krome Studios (Ty the Tasmanian Tiger) acquired the rig...
EGX Rezzed photo
EGX Rezzed

Tembo the Badass Elephant is a stuttering beauty


Peanut butter swilling, Rambo cosplaying Elephant
Mar 16
// Laura Kate Dale
Tembo the Badass Elephant, the newest game from Pokemon developer Game Freak, is a bit of a departure from what you might expect of the studio. Centered around Tembo, an elephant who seems to have taken a lot of his fashion c...
Terraria: Otherworld photo
Terraria: Otherworld

Terraria: Otherworld's GDC trailer drops more hints about its alternate universe


Crystal defender
Mar 12
// Darren Nakamura
When Terraria: Otherworld was announced, it was difficult to tell from the trailer what makes it stand apart from its big brother Terraria or futuristic half-cousin Starbound. Developer Re-Logic's description gave some insig...
Sega x Game Freak photo
Sega x Game Freak

Sega and Game Freak join forces for Tembo the Badass Elephant


PC, PS4, and Xbox One this summer
Mar 11
// Jordan Devore
Game Freak (Pokémon, Drill Dozer) and Sega (Sonic Runners, Sonic Boom) are collaborating on Tembo the Badass Elephant, a side-scrolling action game about a commando elephant who will seemingly level entire cities on h...

Review: Blackhole

Mar 02 // Conrad Zimmerman
Blackhole (PC [reviewed], PS3, PS4, PS Vita, Xbox One)Developer: FiolaSoft GamesPublisher: FiolaSoft GamesReleased: February 27, 2015MSRP: $14.99 Blackhole tells the story of the star ship Endura and its crew who, tasked with saving the Earth from impending doom, find themselves trapped inside a multi-dimensional entity. Only the ship's most menial laborer and its artificial intelligence, Aluria, can rescue the crew, repair the Endura, and finish the mission. As "the coffee guy," players will explore the entity's varied dimensions, collecting "selfburns" (nanobots capable of fixing the ship) while looking for critical ship components and missing crewmembers. The writing in Blackhole is surprisingly good, with an intriguing mystery behind the origins of Aluria and the true purpose of the Endura's mission slowly revealed as the player progresses. Peppered liberally with jokes riffing on pop culture and sci-fi tropes, conversations with the crew are fully voiced with solid performances throughout. Occasionally corny but never dull, it scores big on charm despite suffering a bit in presentation due to its stage-based progression. [embed]288460:57582:0[/embed] Each dimension in the game contains a central hub area with about ten stages to explore, each containing multiple selfburns to be collected and ending with levels in which a crewmember can be rescued and a missing ship part retrieved. And this is where the plot progression becomes a bit of a hassle, as finishing a level opens up a new dialogue with a crewmember (who is supposed to be locating the next part or crewmember), but the player is expected to travel back to the beginning of the hub area to speak with them and get an update on their progress. It isn't mandatory that you speak with crew members immediately, and the hub stages are designed to loop back to their origin point (so the player will get to them eventually if they just keep moving forward), but then those conversations just stack up and the player has to sit through them all right after the high of accomplishing a dimension's most challenging stage. It kills the pacing and has the potential to turn what should be a light break from the action into a chore to be endured. Blackhole offers puzzles and platforming through its central mechanic, gravity platforms. Touching a gravity platform rotates the world around the player, usually opening a new route through the same environment they just traversed. Every stage in the game features this mechanic as a central component, tucking selfburns into areas only accessible when approached from the proper stage orientation. Only one selfburn has to be collected from a stage to unlock the next (and there's usually one that's significantly easier to nab), which allows the player to progress past levels which present a struggle. Eventually, stages will have to be revisited to collect more selfburns, as each dimension has a minimum requirement before allowing progress to the next set of levels. The gravity platform mechanic puts a tremendous demand on level design, and Blackhole delivers brilliantly in this respect. Every stage brings a new challenge that feels fresh and each dimension is unique, with its own stage elements that utilize gravity platforms in new ways. These include pulley systems, climbable walls, trampolines, and more, all of which function in different ways based on the stage orientation. The variety is broad and each environmental object is explored thoroughly, as levels squeeze every bit of potential use for them through the course of the dimension. It's a thinker's game, but equally demanding of platform skills. Knowing how to reach a selfburn is one thing, while actually executing that plan can be quite another. Simply collecting the selfburns isn't enough either; the player must also exit the level from where they started it and death returns the coffee guy to the stage entrance to start all over again. Only the selfburns collected in the best run count toward the total, meaning that to actually earn all of them requires a perfect, single run through the stage in which all selfburns are picked up and the exit reached. It often means executing a variety of difficult maneuvers, one after another, and completely finishing a stage feels like a real accomplishment. Packed full of challenges in an endearing package, Blackhole is an excellent 2D platform adventure which succeeds in nearly every aspect of its design. It's polished, visually attractive, and doesn't skimp on variety or difficulty. While the story could be delivered in a more convenient fashion, its writing is of a quality rarely seen in action/puzzle titles, performed skillfully by its actors and accompanied by catchy stage music. In a time when there seems to be a sudden rush of 2D platform titles, Blackhole is a cut above the rest. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Blackhole review photo
In space, no one can hear you giggle
There certainly have been a lot of creative 2D platform games releasing over the last couple of months, enough that there seems to be some genuine competition in the genre. If you're finding yourself in a position where it has become difficult to choose, allow me to make it easier.  Get Blackhole. Problem solved.

Axiom Verge photo
Axiom Verge

Axiom Verge debuts on PS4 in late March, other versions to follow


The spirit of Metroid lives on
Feb 23
// Jordan Devore
There are plenty of upcoming Metroid-like games, but there is only one Axiom Verge, and it's almost here at last. Creator Tom Happ shared new details in a blog post today including the PlayStation 4 launch date (March 31, 201...
Greedy Guns photo
Greedy Guns

Greedy Guns fires out fast-paced metroidvania action


Rapid-fire pew pew
Feb 18
// Darren Nakamura
Independent developers have really been delivering with metroidvanias lately, though with titles like Chasm or Paradise Lost on the horizon, it seems like they lean toward slow, methodical gameplay. Greedy Guns goes in the o...
Terraria: Otherworld photo
Terraria: Otherworld

Terraria: Otherworld trailer shows an alternate dimension to the sandbox


'Not Terraria 2'
Feb 16
// Darren Nakamura
Whoa. What's this? A new game in the Terraria universe? I have just recently been getting back into the similar-but-unrelated Starbound, so this is especially interesting news right about now. Re-Logic released the above alp...
Broforce x Aliens photo
Broforce x Aliens

Broforce fulfills my dream of fighting aliens as Kurt Russell


The Alien Infestation update is live
Feb 12
// Jordan Devore
With Steven "I don't care for Aliens" Hansen out traveling for work, it's the perfect time to talk about today's free Alien Infestation update for Broforce. We knew to expect good things after seeing the explosive Bro Dredd ...
Remember Vectorman? photo
Remember Vectorman?

True fact: Shooting the Sega logo in Vectorman is life's greatest pleasure


Also, what was up with level two?
Feb 11
// Jordan Devore
It's been almost two decades since I first played Vectorman, BlueSky Software's treasured run-and-gun game for the Sega Genesis, and I still can't get over how absurd its second level is. That's what I had intended to write...
Sneaky Ninja photo
Sneaky Ninja

Sneaky Ninja does stealth without any messy throat slashing


Family-friendly ambush and murder
Feb 10
// Darren Nakamura
If you played through Mark of the Ninja thinking, "This is nice, but my word, it is quite gruesome," before dabbing the corners of your mouth with a handkerchief, then Sneaky Ninja might be worth looking into. It has the bus...
Nicalis platformer photo
Nicalis platformer

Ready for punishment? Castle in the Darkness awaits


Precious coins ease the pain
Feb 05
// Jordan Devore
I think I'm as ready as I'll ever be for Castle in the Darkness. It's out today for PC from publisher Nicalis and developer Matt Kap, who was also the lead artist on The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth. This super-challenging adven...
Luckslinger Kickstarter photo
Luckslinger Kickstarter

Luckslinger blends 2D shooting, westerns, and hip-hop


With an interesting luck mechanic
Feb 05
// Darren Nakamura
Luck is a concept rarely addressed directly in games. Sure, there are tons of games that use random number generators for everything from environment generation to damage calculation, and luck does factor into those. But the...
New Monster Boy photo
New Monster Boy

Wonder Boy creator working on new Wonder Boy-esque game


Wonderful
Jan 30
// Jordan Devore
While covering the action-adventure platformer Flying Hamster II last year, I said that fans of the Wonder Boy / Monster World series would want to take a look, and that's even more true today. The Kickstarter may have failed...
Starbound update photo
Starbound update

Starbound update includes new race, new combat, new universe


First stable update in almost a year
Jan 28
// Darren Nakamura
Wow. It has been a long time. I thought that maybe I had missed a stable update somewhere along the line, but by Chucklefish's own admission, this is the first one since last March. To take a step back, development on Starbo...
Oblitus photo
Oblitus

Oblitus is coming soonlitus


That's about it
Jan 27
// Robert Summa
Adult Swim Games has officially announced that their fantasy 2D roguelike scroller Oblitus is coming soon. How soon? Hell, I don't know, and I guess Adult Swim doesn't know either, since they're not telling us. At the very least, the trailer has some decent music and the art that has accompanied the game appears to be cool as fuck.
Axiom Verge photo
Axiom Verge

Axiom Verge does speedrunning and gifs right


Separate mode for when you gotta go fast
Jan 26
// Jordan Devore
I had Axiom Verge on my mind earlier today when writing about Ghost Song, another promising Metroidvania. This slick gif ensures the game will remain there for the rest of the day. Designer Tom Happ included it in a blog post...
Moonman photo
Moonman

Moonman looks like the appetizer to a Starbound entrée


'He looks inside friends' is the best euphemism
Jan 14
// Darren Nakamura
It feels like Starbound has been in development for a long time now. Sure, it's playable, but it is not complete. Perhaps a similarly styled game that is not quite so ambitious may tide us all over. Perhaps we want to contro...

JumpJet Rex revels in old-school charm, hits Early Access January 14

Jan 13 // Alessandro Fillari
[embed]286050:56864:0[/embed] JumpJet Rex (PC [Previewed], Linux, OSX)Developer: Tree FortressRelease Date: January 14, 2015 (Early Access)MSRP: $9.99 "I always refer to it as the 'golden age of gaming,'" said Tree Fortress CEO Grant Skinner while discussing the team's influences. There is a clear respect for the 8-bit and 16-bit era in JumpJet Rex, and the developers wanted their take on an old-school 2D platformer to keep with the style and design of the period. During Early Access, which will feature the first dozen stages, they plan to keep a close eye on the community's reactions, which they see as a key part of the title's success. Taking control of the titular space exploring dinosaur, players will travel through the galaxy visiting unique planets that feature their own challenges and scenarios to tackle. With his jet boots, Rex will be able to hover, dash, and boost through stages while collecting coins and dodging obstacles. Along the way, Rex will encounter baddies and other nefarious foes that'll task players to use quick thinking and clever use of the jets to get the best of them. And, depending on performance, stars are acquired which unlock new planets to explore. "I have a lot of respect for the early '90s," said lead designer Shawn Blais. "They really had a refined mastery of platforming in 2D games." Much like titles in the vein of Mega Man and classic Sonic, JumpJet Rex features a simple control scheme that is easy to get into, but difficult to master. While the early planets were rather elementary, the difficulty quickly ramped up as the environments and enemies became more devious. As the jet boots also work as a weapon which fire blasts of energy toward enemies and boost Rex at high-speed, platforming skills are the player's greatest asset. To further add to the challenge, some planets feature secret rooms that yield great rewards but will lock the player out upon death. Though its love of the period is evident, the developers were keen to show off features that are common place in modern games. Taking inspiration from the community's interaction and sharing of content on their previous game, the folks at Tree Fortress implemented an extensive level of customization and co-op features. Players can compete against the ghosts of others in stages for the best times or work together in co-op to conquer challenging planets that will put anyone's jumpjet skills to the test. With every coin collected, players can purchase new outfits for their character and decorate their home base with knick-knacks and other oddities. Many of the outfits and designs are clever nods to classic 2D titles, and with over three-million unique combinations, the devs hope that players will share their designs and outfits for others to see. In addition to customization options, there are also plans to offer challenges to the streaming community with the upcoming (and appropriately named) Ragequit Rex mode. In it, players are given only three lives and must complete the entire game (over 40 stages in the final release) without checkpoints. After its Early Access launch, the developers plan to gradually release more content and modes until its official release. After that, Treehouse anticipates a slew of post-launch updates. One feature the devs were excited to talk about is Arena mode, which pits players against each other a la Smash Bros. Moreover, holiday themed content packs are also in the cards as well. Even though titles that seek to relive the early period of gaming are increasingly more common, JumpJet Rex does an admirable job of blending the best of old and new. To see a throwback title implement online modes and other neat customization options is really special. I had a blast during my time with it, and if you're one that's missing the style and design of old-school platformers, then you might want to keep this one on your radar. JumpJet Rex - Early Access [Steam]
JumpJet Rex photo
Dino ride through outer space
There's just something about the 8-bit and 16-bit eras of gaming. Even after decades, it's still a remarkable and enduring period that's managed to stand the test of time. With a slick focus on charming visuals and deeply ref...

Rogue Legacy photo
Rogue Legacy

Xbox One inherits Rogue Legacy


And that's all we know
Jan 08
// Brett Makedonski
Xbox One owners can plan on plundering many a castle with their extended lineage sometime in the future. Cellar Door Games has confirmed via Twitter that indie treasure Rogue Legacy will eventually release on Xbox One. T...
Hollow Knight Kickstarter photo
Hollow Knight Kickstarter

Hollow Knight has about a day left to hit some stretch goals


Snug as a bug in a treacherous dungeon
Dec 17
// Darren Nakamura
Hollow Knight's Kickstarter enjoyed a healthy beginning, keeping up a pace to hit the base funding goal of $35,000 AUD well within its run. For the final week of the campaign, developer Team Cherry has released the above tra...
Dynamite Bomb photo
Dynamite Bomb

2D fighter Dynamite Bomb is getting localized


How effective is a dynamite bomb?
Dec 12
// Chris Carter
Into 2D fighters? The flashy Dynamite Bomb is getting a localization, according to the game distribution company Playism. It will arrive in English, and it will be a full port of the 2013 edition of the game plus all th...

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