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Onechanbara Z2: Chaos photo
Onechanbara Z2: Chaos

Onechanbara Z2: Chaos trailer full of tits, upskirts, and murder


Kill zombies, wear bikinis
Jul 31
// Steven Hansen
Holy crap, that song it goes into around the 45-second mark is so damn bad. Onechanbara Z2: Chaos is hitting PS4 in Japan this October, where it can hopefully help shift some units, as the PS4 library isn't tickling the country's collective fancy. Looks I lot better than the Onechanbara I played on Wii. 
Bullet Girls photo
Bullet Girls

Panties, bras, and firearms abound in Bullet Girls


Additional details emerge about the power of the undergarment
Jul 31
// Brittany Vincent
In D3 Publisher and Shade's upcoming action shooting game Bullet Girls, you'll play as the girls of the Ranger Corps, training to become frontline soldiers for the military. Some of the training is a bit unorthodox, with a go...
Onechanbara PS4 photo
Onechanbara PS4

Onechanbara Z2: Chaos announced for PlayStation 4


The scantily-clad zombie slayers return to Japan this October
Jul 16
// Kyle MacGregor
Sony's PlayStation 4 isn't setting Japan ablaze just yet, like it is in much of the world. Part of that has to do with the dearth of software specifically targeted toward Japanese audiences. Enter Onechanbara Z2: Chaos, ...
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New D3 Vita game Bullet Girls has guns, looks a little horny


Destructible clothing?
May 07
// Dale North
D3 Publisher announced new Vita game Bullet Girls in this week's Famitsu. It's an action shooter, with something like paintballs, that takes place in a school where girls practice as part of the Ranger Club. So expect lots of...
EDF photo
EDF

New trailer and screens for Earth Defense Force 2025


Four-player cooperative play touted
Jan 28
// Conrad Zimmerman
D3 Publisher is gearing up to release Earth Defense Force 2025 on February 18 in North America, and they've dropped more hype-inducing promotional material today. A new trailer, seen above, serves to remind once more th...
EDF 2025 photo
EDF 2025

Earth Defense Force 2025 lands February 18


With launch-day DLC and two more expansions to follow
Jan 21
// Conrad Zimmerman
D3 Publisher has announced the launch date for Earth Defense Force 2025 in the US. You'll be able to blast those bugs on February 18 when the game releases for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.  That's not all that is rel...

Review: Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon (3DS)

Nov 25 // Chris Carter
Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon Because I Don't Know! (3DS [reviewed] PC, PS3, Wii U, Xbox 360)Developer: WayForward TechnologiesPublisher: D3 PublisherRelease Date: November 19, 2013MSRP: $29.99 (3DS), $39.99 (PC, PS3, Wii U, Xbox 360) As the name might imply, Explore the Dungeon is predictably a dungeon crawler through and through, as players are tasked with completing a randomly generated 100-floor labyrinth. There's no real plot to speak of (and that's fine), as Princess Bubblegum wants you to get to the bottom of why prisoners are escaping from said dungeon. From start to finish as either Finn, Jake, Marceline, or Cinnamon Bun (as well as a few other secret characters), you'll basically just battle your way to the end in the exact same way -- but you most likely won't make it very far. On the 3DS, the presentation is lazy, lackluster, and shameful. As a fan of retro games, I'm actually quite fond of an 8- or 16-bit style every so often, if it's done right. But here, it's clearly a placeholder for a rush-job, as the cutscenes look like they were created in Microsoft Paint, and the animation is awful all around. It doesn't help that the voice acting sounds tinny on the 3DS (like it was recorded in a parking garage) and the writing is devoid of any charm or wit whatsoever. But this lack of effort pales in comparison to the animation in-game, which renders it borderline unplayable. Simply put, the game is constantly chugging along at a snail's pace, with a perpetual framerate problem. There's no run button by default to make it better, so it feels like the entire game is running in slow motion. I honestly have no idea how the 3DS version was allowed to be released in its current condition. [embed]266260:51570:0[/embed] Gameplay isn't much better, unfortunately. It's as bare-bones as you can get. You'll have your standard attack button at your disposal (which can be charged), as well as blocking, dodging, sub-weapons, and a super power. The sad part is you won't need to mix up any of these concepts beyond mashing your normal attacks -- the AI is so poorly designed that you can get by without any sort of deviation in strategy. Although each character has a different playstyle or power (Jake and Marceline can traverse gaps, Finn can equip more items), your choice won't matter in the end because you can just breeze through the boring dungeons with any of them. While the first few floors start out promising, you'll quickly realize that each level is a ghost town, with the same few enemies repeating over and over 10 levels at a time until a new theme arises. In lieu of any sort of multiplayer found in other versions, you get a cute BMO on the bottom screen that barely talks. Foes consist of uninspired designs that vaguely resemble characters from the show, and bosses aren't that much better. The only real value the game has in terms of fan service is at the very end, where it reveals a plot point that is yet to be presented in the show. That's... literally it. The actual dungeon layouts, which tend to follow the same formula of "the staircase is always on the opposite end from where you start," are utterly uninteresting. When coupled with the boring enemy designs and the fact that you don't actually earn experience from killing anything, there's absolutely no incentive to explore in Explore the Dungeon. Speaking of experience, you have to "buy" your actual upgrades in town with the gold you acquire from the dungeon. Should you choose to go back up (you'll get the option every five floors), you better spend all the money you have -- because you lose it when you leave the hub world. It's a design choice that makes no sense whatsoever considering the game is far from "hardcore" in any other aspect. Why limit your ability to develop your character and at least have fun? Although this review is based on the 3DS game, I did get a chance to play the console version, and it's a much better experience in every respect. Not only does the game not suffer the perpetual slowdown problem of its portable cousin, but it's four players, and generally looks better all around. There are also a number of other small improvements, like the fact that Lady Rainicorn's dialog is in Korean -- small touches that show more effort. It still has the same dull gameplay as it's essentially identical in terms of feature parity, but with three other Adventure Time fanatics it could be a good bargain-bin purchase -- because it will hit the bin sooner than later. At some point during the development process of Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon 3DS, someone should have looked at the current build, and scrapped the project entirely. Whereas Regular Show 3DS was a flawed love letter to retro fans, Explore the Dungeon is a sheet of paper with chicken scratch scrawled on it. It's the worst game WayForward has put out in years, and yet another example of a wasted licensed game opportunity.
Adventure Time review photo
Unacceptableeeeeee!
I remember my first episode of Adventure Time. It randomly came on the TV one day and I had no idea what it was -- but I couldn't stop watching. There was something about the show that kept my eyes glued to the screen, watchi...

Adventure Time trailer photo
Adventure Time trailer

Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon gets a launch trailer


Because I DON'T KNOW!
Nov 19
// Brett Zeidler
In case it slipped under your radars, Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon Because I DON'T KNOW! has a quick new launch trailer to remind you that this is a thing that came out today among all the awesome stuff launching thes...

Review: Regular Show: Mordecai and Rigby in 8-Bit Land

Nov 02 // Chris Carter
Regular Show: Mordecai and Rigby in 8-Bit Land (3DS)Developer:  WayForward TechnologiesPublisher: D3 Publisher (NA) / Namco Bandai (EU)Released: October 29, 2013MSRP: $29.99 I hope you weren't expecting something that plays out like an episode of the show, as 8-Bit Land's setup is basically "Mordecai and Rigby get sucked into a game console and have to fight their way out." The visuals and presentation will most likely underwhelm as soon as you boot up the game, mostly due to the fact that there's no voice acting, and no ancillary characters outside of Benson (who shows up for around 10 seconds). The same goes for the music in the sense that it doesn't sound like WayForward put a lot of effort into it. Thankfully, the 3D effect is also fairly minimal, but like 3D Classics: Kirby's Adventure it adds a tiny bit of personality to the art style to give it a much-needed boost. But as retro fans often know -- graphics aren't everything. Since this is a mostly straightforward platforming affair, the core gameplay is where 8-Bit Land shines. There's a very cool switch mechanic that allows you to press one button to change between Mordecai an Rigby, both of whom are equipped with different abilities. Mordecai is a bit more limber, and has a double-jump ability, and his counterpart is lower to the ground, allowing him to run into tunnels and other smaller places. It sounds simplistic, but the way it's executed is near flawless. You can switch between the two at any time (even in the air), allowing for some flexibility in terms of how you approach the game. You can use Rigby to run through an area, jump into the air, switch to Mordecai to double jump, then switch back to Rigby. You'll also have the ability to use either style for essentially the entire level, so for the most part you can play as your character of choice outside of a few locations. [embed]264739:51136:0[/embed] There are a number of retro references in the package, including a Mega Man-style "beam down" level intro, an armor mechanic that pays homage to Ghosts 'n Goblins, a Gradius space ship, and a few level themes that feel like direct nods to DuckTales. None of it will blow your mind (that's the theme of this game), but anyone who grew up in the '80s/'90s era will crack a smile here and there. Levels have three golden tapes hidden in them to unlock a few extras, as well as cash (that functions like Mario's coins), and power-ups. After clearing a stage you'll have the opportunity to earn extra lives or more cash, by betting money or 3DS Play Coins in a game of chance. While it's not an essential part of the game, it's always appreciated to have titles use the Play Coin system. Once you've cleared a few worlds the game opens up, as you'll unlock the Gradius-style space ship for special shoot-'em-up sections, and the ability to drop into a top-down isometric view, Smash TV style. These abilities only work in certain areas (designated with space-themed or grey wallpaper), and work in tandem with character switching to allow for some crafty combinations. You'll have to master every mechanic together at once to unlock each level's golden tapes, which was easily the most fun part of the game. A boss will cap off each world, and they're all fun to fight in their own right. The way they tend to work is that you'll start off completely oblivious to their hitboxes and attacks, and learn as you go -- then once you figure it all out, you'll be able to kill some of them in less than 30 seconds. In typical retro fashion I felt a sense of accomplishment after besting them, combined with a sense of confusion as to why I didn't conquer them on the first try. There aren't a whole lot of extras, which is disappointing considering the game is only a few hours long. In addition to a sound/music test unlockable, there's also a concept art gallery, cheat codes (cleverly delivered with a device called the Game Djinn), and a New Game+ mode with tougher enemies. WayForward had a chance to add in a whole lot more here and ape the concept of DLC and microtransactions, but didn't -- so what you see is more or less what you get. Mordecai and Rigby in 8-Bit Land feels a lot like one of my favorite DSi platformers no one played -- Pro Jumper: Guilty Gear Tangent. It pretty much knows what it is, and even if it doesn't offer up anything new for those who normally loathe platform games, it'll still placate fans of the genre. So while it feels a bit phoned in at times, fans of old-school gaming will no doubt get an afternoon of enjoyment out of it.
Regular Show review photo
Button mash with the Mustache Cash Stash
Regular Show is one of my favorite programs on TV right now. It took the simple Beavis and Butthead setup of two slackers getting through their day-to-day routine, and added a bit of '80s and retro sheen to it, alon...

EDF! EDF! EDF! photo
EDF! EDF! EDF!

Earth Defense Force 2025 touches down in February 2014


EDF! EDF! EDF!
Oct 28
// Kyle MacGregor
Strike Force Lighting, EDF Operations here. The ravagers are preparing for another attack run in Earth Defense Force 2025 for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. The bugs are planning a joint strike on both North America and Europe i...
Adventure Time ETDBIDK photo
Adventure Time ETDBIDK

Adventure Time gets more friends to explore dungeons with


About adventure time!
Oct 10
// Steven Hansen
The upcoming Adventure Time game, Explore the Dungeon Because I DON'T KNOW, got a new trailer showing off its hub world from where you can boost stats and purchase things, as well as listen to the fully voiced show character...
Puzzle Quest photo
Puzzle Quest

A Marvel Comics themed Puzzle Quest is coming this week


Due to hit Android and iOS October 3
Oct 02
// Conrad Zimmerman
It's been some time since we heard any talk about Puzzle Quest, the "match-3" game with RPG mechanics, but a new edition of the game is suddenly upon us. Marvel Puzzle Quest: Dark Reign will release Thursday, October 3 f...
Adventure Time  photo
Adventure Time

New Adventure Time game gets 3DS-only collector's edition


Exclusive to the 3DS because I DON'T KNOW!
Aug 16
// Steven Hansen
The upcoming Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon Because I DON'T KNOW! looks great. I enjoyed my hands-on time with the game, which has gone in a decidedly different direction from the Zelda II-styled Hey Ice King! Why'd You ...
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Onechanbara Z: Kagura with NoNoNo! coming to PS3


YesYesYes?
Aug 09
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Hey! Remember the Onechanbara series? You know, the game featuring bikini wearing vampire sisters fighting zombies and stuff. Onechanbara Z: Kagura came out for the Xbox 360 a while ago, but it's now finally heading to the PlayStation 3 in Japan. This is an enhanced port, featuring NoNoNo from the Dream Club Zero games. Onechanbara Z: Kagura With NoNoNo! debut trailer, screenshots [Gematsu]

Regular Show game is an amalgam of old-school genres

Jul 17 // Steven Hansen
Regular Show: Mordecai and Rigby In 8-Bit Land (3DS) Developer: WayForward Technologies Publisher: D3 Publisher Release: Fall 2013 Once again, WayForward is working closely with the creator of the show they're making a game off on. In this case, WayForward has worked closely with J. G. Quintel, with whom the team "bounced ideas back and forth constantly."  When an alluring game system arrives at the duo's door, they can't resist shirking their chores and getting some play time in -- as relatable a scenario as any, wouldn't you say? Things go awry, however, and they're sucked into a virtual world. I was shown an early level that played like a standard, old-school, Mario-styled platformer, with the one difference being the ability to swap between Mordecai and Rigby at will. The taller Mordecai has a double jump, while Rigby can be used to travel through prohibitively small spaces. As you go through the level you collect money, used in a game of chance at the end of each level, and golden tapes that can be used to unlock unique concept art, cheat codes, and more. There is also a mullet power-up. I'll leave show fans to find the reference, but I think it's hilarious without context. The second type of level I was shown was a classic scrolling space shooter akin to Gradius, in which Mordecai turns into a space ship. Things got a bit more dicey here -- the old-school challenging nature of the genre does seem to be in full effect -- until a shield and three-way laser blaster power-up helped the player skirt by. There was also an excellent puzzle to get a golden tape which necessitated flying the Mordecai ship towards an obstacle, then switching out of ship mode so Mordecai would faze past it, before getting the tape. I wonder if there will be secret doors. The third gametype on display was a Smash TV, or Retro City Rampage, styled kill-'em-up in which Rigby runs about shooting people from a top-down point of view. My interest was especially piqued when all three of these disparate, standalone genres were stitched together in levels that necessitated jumping between all three styles of play. Knowing full well that many of 8-Bit Land's players are well versed in the genres it offers, the next logical step is to "focus on switching between different modes on the fly," along with collecting all the golden tapes in typical fashion. I'm not sure how Regular Show: Mordecai and Rigby In 8-Bit Land plays, but I'm interested in its weird genre melding and appropriately stitched together aesthetic. At the same time, it does remind me a bit of Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! in that it's the first game in the Cartoon Network and WayForward collaboration for the series and things look a bit bare and minimal. It could be saddled with similar faults: a bit of emptiness and lack of length or content. Still, it's certainly an interesting approach that fans of the series and retro games could enjoy.  
Regular Show game photo
Not a regular game
Not to be outdone by its contemporary, Adventure Time, and the upcoming Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon Because I DON’T KNOW!, Cartoon Network toon Regular Show is getting a long-titled game of its own, Regular Sho...

New Adventure Time game photo
New Adventure Time game

Exploring Adventure Time's dungeon because I DON'T KNOW


New Adventure Time game from WayForward looking better than last year's Hey Ice King
Jul 17
// Steven Hansen
WayForward is coming with a follow-up to last year's Hey Ice King! Why'd You Steal Our Garbage?!, but it's not quite a sequel. Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon Because I DON'T KNOW is a multiplayer dungeon crawler and, in...
Adventure / Regular photo
Adventure / Regular

Scope these Adventure Time, Regular Show game covers


Wii U and 3DS box art for the upcoming WayForward projects
Jun 24
// Tony Ponce
As you've already heard, WayForward is helming another pair of Cartoon Network games. There is Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon Because I DON'T KNOW!, a follow-up to last year's Hey Ice King! Why'd You Steal Our Garbage?!,...
Adventure Time photo
Adventure Time

New Adventure Time game coming, will be multi-platform


Party, party, PARTY! AWOOOOOOO!
May 14
// Tony Ponce
A GameFly listing appeared yesterday, reconfirming the existence of the upcoming Regular Show videogame. D3Publisher has put out a press release this morning officially announcing Regular Show: Mordecai and Rigby in 8-Bit Lan...
Regular Show 3DS photo
Regular Show 3DS

Regular Show for 3DS appears on GameFly


This is so much better than setting up the chairs
May 13
// Tony Ponce
Mad Man Mordo and the Mysterious Mr. R are gonna take you down, and I'm not talkin' downtown, I'm talkin' six feet underground! ARRRRRG! As we learned early last month, D3 will be publishing a Regular Show videogame, though n...
Regular Show photo
YO HATERS! STEP OFF!
In what may very well be the greatest news of 2013 thus far, D3Publisher has announced a partnership with Cartoon Network to publish games based on the greatest television program about a pair of retro-gaming slackers who sti...

EDF 2025 photo
EDF 2025

Earth Defense Force 2025 due in June 2013


EVERYONE GETS BEES!
Feb 14
// Conrad Zimmerman
The latest issue of Famitsu has some juicy details on the upcoming Earth Defense Force 2025, including a release window. In Japan, at the very least, bugs and buildings alike will see their downfall this June. Hopefully, thos...
EDF EDF EDF EDF EDF EDF photo
EDF EDF EDF EDF EDF EDF

Giant bugs from space return in Earth Defense Force 2025


Shoot a nuke down a bug hole, you got a lot of dead bugs.
Feb 02
// Kyle MacGregor
Just when you thought you were safe from the terrifying ravagers they've have inexplicably returned in Earth Defense Force 2025. Appealing to your baser instincts this game is, once again, all about killing robots ...
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This EDF 2025 trailer has more of the good stuff


I'm from Buenos Aires, and I say kill 'em all!
Jan 02
// Jordan Devore
If you were perhaps disappointed by Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon and the tweaks made to this very particular series, the embedded footage of Earth Defense Force 2025 will be a pleasant sight indeed. For the record,...
Adventure Time photo
Adventure Time

Listen to the Adventure Time 3DS OST now on SoundCloud


Greatest. Soundtrack. Ever.
Dec 20
// Brett Zeidler
Guys, Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why'd you steal our garbage?!! (also known as the greatest thing to ever happen to me) has an amazing soundtrack. I don't even know how to begin to describe it to you guys. Which is good, ...
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Earth Defense Force 2017 Portable release date get!


I think I had a video game like this once
Dec 20
// Kyle MacGregor
Strike Force Lightning, EDF operations here. You may notice that your PlayStation Vitas have been equipped with machine guns. Feel free to use them to shoot the hell out of the ravagers when they return in Earth Defense ...
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Earth Defense Force 2025 descends upon the West in 2013


'The best thing to do is attack them while avoiding their attacks'
Dec 13
// Kyle MacGregor
A wise man once said "The only good bug is a dead bug." Truer words have never been spoken, and its best that you remember them. The conflict with the terrifying ravagers looks primed to spread to both Europe and North Americ...

Review: Black Knight Sword

Dec 13 // Chris Carter
Black Knight Sword (PlayStation Network [reviewed], Xbox Live Arcade)Developer: Grasshopper Manufacture, Digital RealityPublisher: D3PublisherReleased: December 11, 2012MSRP: $9.99 / 800 Microsoft Points Black Knight Sword features a minimalistic story, which is really what you make of it, all the way up to the game's unfulfilling ending. Set behind the backdrop of a theater play, it combines this premise with platforming mechanics resembling linear old-school Castlevania titles. There are giant fire-breathing chickens, pig-motorcycle hybrid creatures, and a lot more I don't want to spoil here. Still, despite the addition of quite a few obvious oddities, it doesn't really feel unique. Everything on offer here, whether it's level design or gameplay mechanics, you've seen before. I don't know whether or not Grasshopper is losing that "Oh my God, it's Grasshopper -- I have to buy it on principle" effect, or if this is an isolated incident, but going in with lowered expectations for Black Knight Sword is probably a good idea. The art style, while not wholly original, does look pretty neat however, especially on-screen. The best way I can probably describe it is as the illegitimate lovechild of LittleBigPlanet, Rock of Ages, and Monty Python (that's a compliment, mind you!). The aptly named mysterious hero can attack, evade, double jump, and use magic, as well as utilize a charge attack, and a few other typical staples of the genre. Everything pretty much works as advertised, save one move: the evade mechanic, which is enacted by pressing down and jump. This counter-intuitive dodge method can be a problem, as you need this ability fairly often in higher difficulties, and the controls are so finicky that it's hard to perform consistently. I don't see why it couldn't have corresponded to a button like Symphony of the Night's back-dash, especially since so many buttons go entirely unused. Once you actually get a handle on the jumping physics, you'll have to do quite a bit of precision platforming. Truth be told, I didn't really think any of the platforming sequences were that difficult until one small section on the game's final stage. That's either a good or a bad thing, depending on what you want from the game, but I know a lot of people will most likely have trouble acclimating themselves to the sometimes floaty jumping system. Also, when the Black Knight attacks, he sort of thrusts, kind of like Sir Arthur in Ghosts'n Goblins, which may take some getting used to as well. But the controls aren't the only thing you may be at odds with. Since you're in a "play," a giant stage obscures a lot of the screen. You can use the right analog stick to move the camera around and view your surroundings, but this might not be enough to work around the annoyance. For me, it was fine. The ability to manipulate the camera while running and jumping was a godsend (and should be in a lot more games), but it still would have been nice to turn off the stage in subsequent playthroughs. Nearly every enemy drops hearts, which can be used in the game's shop. It gives an incentive to fight enemies, but odds are unless you're playing on the hard difficulty, you won't go out of your way to get them. The shop is pretty barebones, and isn't really needed outside of the crucial maximum health bonuses. It would have been neat to see the shop expanded, but sadly, like a lot of the rest of the game, it feels way too familiar and trite. Another strange design choice is the fact that there's no autosave function. If you want the game to remember your progress, you have to manually save -- and when you do, there's no notification that you were successful. I can imagine quite a few people glossing over this (as it's only briefly mentioned in the tutorial), and getting pissed off at the loss of progress. One major thing to factor into Black Knight Sword is the difficulty level, which harkens back to the days of yore, when 2D platformers were actually challenging. While it will probably give you a run for your money more than most contemporary platformers, you have to play it on hard to really get the feel of a true challenge. Provided you do that, you're in for a treat. For a $10 platformer, there's a decent amount of content to hold you through after you finish your first playthrough. There are easy, normal, and hard difficulty levels, as well as a number of collectibles, an Arcade mode, and a few Challenge missions. It took me about three hours to beat the game's five total levels, including the final "Dr. Wily-esque" re-boss stage. At the end of the day, there's not much to Black Knight Sword. It's a platformer, it's kind of weird, and it doesn't really do anything new. When I was finally finished with the game's controller-flingingly hard final boss, I kind of looked at the screen and went "Huh, that was nice." I guess I'm a little numb to Grasshopper's tendency to exploit the world of weird, but either way, I did enjoy my brief time on stage, and fans of old-school platformers should too.
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Gray, by Grasshopper standards
Within my first thirty minutes of playing Black Knight Sword, I encountered a menu option called "cat head grass," a giant mother eye that eats hearts, and severed skulls in a microwave oven that serve as health power-ups. Yep, this is definitely a Grasshopper Manufacture and Digital Reality joint.

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Adventure Time: HIKWYSOG!?'s Secret Self Portrait Screen


Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A Start
Nov 24
// Jonathan Holmes
It's feels a little wrong write this post. Publicizing the existence of this "secret screen" obliterates any semblance of secrecy that it once had. I blame Pendleton Ward for this. Some secrets are just too gr...

Review: Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why'd You Steal...

Nov 22 // Jonathan Holmes
Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why'd You Steal Our Garbage?! (3DS [reviewed], DS)Developer: WayForward IndustriesPublisher: D3 PublisherRelease: November 20, 2012MSRP: $29.99 / $39.99 (Collector's Edition) Adventure Time: HIK!WYSOG?! starts with a nightmare where an owl kicks your ass. From there, things quickly transition to a conversation between a boy named Finn, his shape-changing dog Jake, and a little Game Boy-esque robot named BMO. The robot encourages the boy and his dog to destroy every tea cup in the basement. Next, the two protagonists talk to another robot -- one that looks like a talking microwave -- about stat building (of course), before leaving the house. Just as they step outside, an old flying man steals their garbage. The heroes deem that behavior to be unethical, so they decide to go to the old man's house and beat him up. To Adventure Time fans, all of this will seem perfectly normal, and only works as a teaser for what's to come. To those who've never seen the show, it's a perfect primer for the brazenly bizarre, effortlessly charming world of Adventure Time. [embed]239115:45880[/embed]  Like some of the best episodes of the show, the game's storyline is fairly barebones, but the writing is excellent. I laughed out loud and not just because I'm a fan of the show. In fact, I'd wager that a lot of the charm and humor in the game may have a greater effect on people who aren't already familiar with Adventure Time, as the concepts and characters will feel more fresh. If you're a fan of the style found in games like Katamari, Scott Pilgrim, Earthbound, Animal Crossing, or other sweet and strange videogame series, chances are you'll feel right at home.  The similarities to Scott Pilgrim go deeper than that. Paul Robertson, one of the head animators on Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game, worked on the art for Adventure Time: HIKWYSOG. If you're as big a fan of Mr. Robertson's work as I am, you'll pick up on his style right away, as it's quite prevalent during some of the bigger, more beautiful enemy graphics. Mr. Robertson was joined by Joakim "Konjak" Sandberg, one of the best sprite artists in the business, as well as Shiho Tsutsuji, a 10+ year veteran in the pixel art field, whose past credits include the Fire Emblem series and just about every 2D Kirby game of the past decade. All of these artists under one roof makes for one of the best-looking sprite-based games in recent memory. The animation here is more fluid and expressive than just about anything you might find on television, including Adventure Time.  The sound design and score on the game are equally impressive. Sound effects and voice samples from the show's excellent cast are peppered throughout, which comes as no surprise. The quality of the original songs and arrangements by Jake "Virt" Kaufman of the WayForward sound team are another subject entirely. They came out of left field, and totally blew my mind. There are a shocking amount of songs that feature full vocals, from the opening theme, to the candy graveyard theme (complete with creepy ladies whispering "death" in your ears), to a new song written specifically for a 1,000-year-old vampire queen, and many more. These songs don't mimic the exact songwriting style you'd find in the show, but that's a good thing. They stay true to the feel of the source material while giving even diehard Adventure Time fans something that they've never experienced before. The ending theme includes the lyrics "our friendship is stronger than any butt." I shouldn't need to tell you that you've just witnessed greatness. While the writing, graphics, and sound are all near perfect, the actual game design is more of a mixed bag. The game takes inspiration from Zelda II, offering a 2D, top-down RPG overworld and side scrolling town/dungeon/set piece action sequences. The pacing is far more dense than Zelda II, with important locations much closer together, faster-paced combat, and fewer instances of unavoidable random battles in Ooo to slow you down.  You'll need to have a healthy sense of exploration to get through the game, which requires searching both the overworld and the sidescrolling areas for new items and abilities in order to proceed. The structure is generally fetch-quest focused, which some may qualify as "padding," but if you love being in the game's world as much as I did, you'll take any excuse to spend more time with Peppermint Butler or the Earl of Lemongrab, even if it means searching every corner of Ooo looking for Wildberry Princess's diary. Thankfully, you'll need more than passive item collecting to pass through some of the game's various gates. There is also a fair amount of ability collection for both Jake and Finn, both of whom are controlled simultaneously. (Jake's actions are mapped to X and R, while Finn's actions are controlled with the remainder of the inputs.) Jake starts off with nothing more than a slow, weak, long-distance punch (he's clearly feeling lazy), but through various tomes of knowledge and personal experience, he learns to float in the air, Princess Peach style, to form an ear shield that protects from projectile attacks and repels harsh winds. He can also learns to turn into a cute little boat, and much more. Finn's abilities are more direct, generally focused on swordplay. He starts with a slide attack, ground pound, three-hit-punch combo, and an uppercut, but over the course of the game, he acquires a sword and multiple ways to make use of it.  To further mix things up, Finn and Jake can grab various pick-ups from enemies and treasure chests. Other than the well-hidden Wizard Stars which are generally used for health recovery, temporary stat enhancement, and special moves. Most of these items have links to the show, like the frozen business man's brief case, the crystal apple, beauteous wings, everything burrito, tiger hand, etc. Quite a few of them are rare, which makes hunting for them all the more fun. Only truly dedicated explorers find The Enchiridion (note: I still haven't found it myself). To add a further sense of discovery, there is an item-mixing system that can lead to unexpected results. Mix salt with a milkshake and chug it down -- you'll begin to spout ice shurikens straight out of The Chamber of Frozen Blades. It's a shame that this aspect of the game wasn't more fully integrated into the overall design. You can go the whole game without mixing a single item, or bothering with any non-quest oriented pick-ups. That speaks to my main issue with the game -- it doesn't ask enough of the player. Most enemies are fairly passive beasts. They have distinct and expressive attack patterns, but are all fairly easy to defeat or avoid. All the game's bosses have easy patterns to learn too. Other than the last two fights, experienced players will likely beat them all on the first try. Worse, the game is over way too soon. I didn't up my speed stats -- which increase your overworld and side-scrolling area walking speed -- until close to the end of the game, and I did a fair amount of extra running around and exploring (though there are still plenty of secrets I've yet to see), but I still beat the game in less than six hours. Although there is a New Game+ option, it's largely the same experience. In both difficulty and length, Adventure Time: HIKWYSOG?! feels like an extended first level of a much larger, potentially more challenging game. It's better that WayForward and D3 used their resources to create a short but expertly crafted game than to use the same budget to make a larger but more watered-down experience, but that doesn't change that fact that most consumers will expect a larger game for the retail asking price.  As for the collector's edition stuff, it's fairly barebones, but still worth owning for hardcore fans of the show. Like the game itself, the overworld map and bestiary book are small but made with genuine love of the source material. You also get a plastic stylus in the shape of Finn's sword, which will likely be most appealing to those with smaller hands. My favorite bit is the Enchiridion-shaped metal case the package comes in. It's extremely well put together, and gives even an old jerk like me a sense of wonder.  There was a time when a game like Adventure Time: HIK!WYSOG?! would qualify as a near perfect game, length and all. Ironically, WayForward's own excellent digital offering Mighty Switch Force has caused that standard to change. The game feels more like a top class, $15 download than retail title. That said, it's still an incredibly well-crafted game, and easily the best piece of self-contained Adventure Time artwork I've seen yet. With 50+ characters from seasons 1-3 of the show in appearance, it feels like more than a love letter to fans. It's closer to an expertly blended Megazord of everything that makes the show great. If you are a huge fan of Adventure Time, and/or are a less experienced videogame player, feel free to tack two points on to the score.
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I don't love it when you get small, Jake
Adventure Time is currently my favorite show on television. It offers the same kind of nonchalant surrealism, iconic but expressive characters, and the simple delivery of complex themes that got me interested in videogames in...

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Here is how Adventure Time: HIKWYSOG? was made


Now in podcast form!
Nov 14
// Jonathan Holmes
Last week on Sup Holmes, we were lucky to talk to WayForward's James Montagna, the director of Adventure Time: Hey Ice King Why'd You Steal Our Garbage? for the DS and 3DS (podcast available here). James was kind enough...

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