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Sup Holmes

Making The Shining funny and ordinary parenting scary with Pippin Barr


Sup Holmes every Sunday at 4pm EST!
May 10
// Jonathan Holmes
[Sup Holmes is a weekly talk show for people that make great videogames. It airs live every Sunday at 4pm EST on YouTube, and can be found in Podcast form on Libsyn and iTunes.] Last time on Sup Holmes, w...

Experience Points .13: Animal Crossing

May 09 // Ben Davis
The mouse next door Animal Crossing is all about the villagers. Whenever I start a new town, I pray I'll get at least a couple cool neighbors. I usually try to pester or ignore the less desirable ones until they eventually move out to be replaced by someone better. And when an awesome neighbor finally moves in near me, I make a point of hanging out with them every day, hoping they'll be my best friend. There are a ton of animal villagers I really like, but I think my favorite will always be my first friendly villager, Samson the mouse. Samson lived in the acre right below me in my very first town. He has the sporty personality, so he's constantly talking about lifting weights and keeping active, with a very optimistic and happy attitude. I used to visit his fruit-themed house every evening before bed, listening to him brag about how many push-ups he could do and asking if there were any errands I could run for him. I was always glad to see him walking around town. Then I tried visiting my friend's town one day, and a while later I noticed that Samson had moved. He'd left to go live in my friend's town, and I was super bummed. It always seems to happen to the villagers I like the most, while the ones I don't particularly care for seem to stick around forever. Luckily, I've had plenty of other cool neighbors to keep me company ever since Samson left, like Punchy, Apollo, Puck, Leopold, Lobo, and Octavian. I never managed to get Bob in any of my towns, though. Bob is the best. A blast from the past The GameCube version of Animal Crossing was the only one to get NES games as items (at least in the US), which is a shame because it was one of my favorite things about the original game. The NES titles are furniture items which can be placed in players' houses. Interacting with them while they're on display will allow the game to be played. And not just a demo of the game. The entire thing was playable! NES games were particularly hard to come by, usually only found in Tom Nook's lottery at the end of the month, or in Crazy Redd's black market tent. There are 19 in total that can be obtained, although some of them can only be found through cheat codes. I only owned a few of these games growing up (Excitebike, Super Mario Bros., Punch-Out!!, and Legend of Zelda), so the rest of them were completely new to me. I spent a ton of time playing all of the NES games, which I collected and displayed in my basement. I probably spent the most time playing Balloon Fight, Clu Clu Land, and Ice Climber, since those titles were very unfamiliar to me, and also Pinball, which was strangely addictive. It was crazy that they included so many, though. Animal Crossing was essentially twenty different games in one package. It just took a bit of work to find them all. Gone fishin' If you know me at all, you know that I love the ocean and everything in it. So it should come as no surprise that my favorite activity in Animal Crossing is fishing, of course! Fishing in Animal Crossing is pretty simple, compared to most fishing in videogames. The player only needs to line the lure up with the fish's face, wait for it to bite, then hit A and voila! The fish is caught! No need to worry about reeling anything in or having the line break. It's all about careful aim and a bit of patience. It's also probably the quickest way to make money, so I often found myself fishing out of necessity to pay off my debts, but still had fun doing it. I love how specific the game gets with the various types of fish, too. All of the fish featured in Animal Crossing can be found in the real world. There's normal fish that everyone has heard of, like goldfish, piranha, and catfish, and also some really exotic ones that only ichthyologists would know about, including arowana, arapaima, and coelacanth. I actually learned a lot about real-life fish and bugs just from playing Animal Crossing! Oh, and the player character likes to come up with the most awful puns for everything they catch. So there's always that to look forward to while waiting for a fish to bite! The cat without a face There are tons of animal characters to encounter, aside from just the villagers living in town. Special characters will occasionally stop by for a visit, depending on the time, the date, or other circumstances. There's a giraffe fashionista, a wandering walrus, a carpet-dealing camel, an accident-prone seagull, and more. One such character is Blanca, who will sometimes appear on the train when a player goes to visit another town. Blanca is a white cat with a blank expression, and I mean that in the most literal sense. She does not have a face. It's actually kind of horrific when you think about it. I mean, how is she even talking to me? How does she eat? How does she breathe?! After a rather unsettling conversation (apparently she washed her face off?), she asks the player to draw her a new face. A menu pops up, similar to the menu for designing clothing at the Able Sisters' shop, allowing the player to draw whatever they want on Blanca's head. Players can make her look as beautiful or as scary as possible. And I'm sure there are plenty of people who drew immature things for a laugh, like drawing on a roommate's face with a marker after they've passed out. Later, she can be found walking around town with her freshly designed face. Even though I usually tried to give her normal features, they often still looked rather strange and stretched out. Poor Blanca! Her appearance is forever at the mercy of others, and other people can be pretty cruel. At least she provides a fun little mini-game, and the results are almost always amusing. Canine in concert Everybody loves K.K. Slider, right? He's the hip hound that stops by the train station on Saturday nights to play live music. He basically makes Saturday the most exciting day of the week. I always made it a point to play the game every weekend around 8pm to see him. K.K. will play just about any style of music imaginable, from rock 'n' roll, to country, to reggae. He'll take specific requests, or just play whatever, and after a concert he'll give the player an air check so they can listen to his music at home. Obviously, I had to collect them all. There's a ton of K.K. songs that I enjoy, but the songs I had playing most often on the stereo were K.K. Cruisin', Go K.K. Rider!, and K.K. Ballad. Of course, I'm sure everyone else has their own favorites. You really can't go wrong with a K.K. song. Well, except for maybe K.K. Dirge... that music makes my skin crawl. Between K.K. Slider's tunes and the ambient music that changes depending on the time of day, Animal Crossing has one of the most unique applications of a soundtrack I've seen. Certain songs will always scream "Animal Crossing!" to me more than others, just because of how and when I played. For me, it's all about the 8pm music and K.K. Cruisin', but other players could have an entirely different opinion. Happy holidays Animal Crossing handles time mechanics in a rather remarkable way. Not only is there a day and night cycle, but even the seasons change in real time. Different seasons bring different weather, different events, and different animals into the game. Playing during winter almost feels like an entirely new experience after playing during the autumn months for so long. And as if that wasn't enough, Animal Crossing even has several in-game holidays which correspond with actual holidays in the real world. That means if the player starts their game on October 31, for example, the villagers will be celebrating Halloween, running around dressed as Jack-o'-Lanterns, asking for candy, and handing out prizes. The holiday events were always entertaining. The fireworks displays on New Year's Eve and July 4 are really pretty and fun to watch from the pond. During the Harvest Festival, players have to save a frightened turkey from becoming a feast. A reindeer comes to visit on Toy Day, handing out toys to the player when he's found. On Groundhog Day, the resident mole -- I mean, "groundhog" -- makes an appearance to predict the upcoming weather. They even celebrate the player's birthday, which the other villagers will sometimes ask about in order to get the date right. All of these time-sensitive events are a great way to keep players thinking about the game even after they've stopped playing for a while. Once Christmas season began, I found myself wondering what kinds of events might be happening in the world of Animal Crossing, and planning a time when I could jump into the game and explore. And when spring rolled around, I felt compelled to visit the game again just to find all of the new fish and insects the warmer weather attracted, and to see if anything changed around town. I had Animal Crossing on the mind all year round! Waiting 'til the end of time Time doesn't stand still in the world of Animal Crossing, even when it's no longer being played. If a player boots up the game after a year-long hiatus, they'll notice that the town has changed a lot since they last played. It will become overrun with weeds, houses will become infested with cockroaches, mailboxes will be overflowing. It's a huge mess to deal to with. And yet, the villagers that still haven't moved away have not forgotten about their human friend. In fact, they've been counting the months since they last spoke with the player. Even if it's been several years, they still count the months. Every single month, waiting, hoping, feeling sad and abandoned, refusing to pull their weight and CLEAN UP THE DANG TOWN THAT THEY LIVE IN, LIKE I'M THE ONLY ONE-- ahem. Got a bit carried away there. I apologize. I always thought it was really crazy that the game carries on without me even when I'm not playing. It makes me wonder what's going on in all the different towns I've created over the years, hiding away in various memory cards. Are my favorite villagers still there waiting for me? Or have they moved on to a new home after feeling neglected? Maybe I'll pop into the game again someday and find out. Past Experience Points .01: The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask.02: Shadow of the Colossus.03: EarthBound.04: Catherine.05: Demon's Souls.06: No More Heroes.07: Paper Mario.08: Persona 4.09: Final Fantasy IX.10: Mega Man Legends.11: Rayman Origins.12: Metal Slug 3  
Animal Crossing photo
So, you've decided to move out?
Experience Points is a series in which I highlight some of the most memorable things about a particular game. These can include anything from a specific scene or moment, a character, a weapon or item, a level or location, a p...

Swery: D4 on PC is '100 percent bona fide D4'

May 07 // Brett Makedonski
The reason that Swery doesn't feel that the Kinect-to-mouse transition is a concession of sorts is because control method isn't what's at the core of D4. Swery elaborated "D4 is a game that doesn't derive its entertainment value merely from the fact that you can control it. My design has always been focused around the 'sensory replication' element. All input devices have their own special characteristics, and I feel that I've created separate control schemes that are all designed specifically for the Kinect, controller, and now the mouse." This "sensory replication" Swery speaks of isn't some marketable-sounding term that he tacked on to describe control schemes; it's something he spends a lot of time thinking about and crafting experiences around. In fact, further hypothesizing by Swery is the reason the PC port is even happening. He explained how D4 on PC came to be by saying "I started working on the PC version at the end of last year, through to GDC this year. At that time, I had made no plans about releasing it. It was just an experiment to help prove the contents of my GDC speech. To sum up [my speech]: 'Even without Kinect, the theory of symbolization and sensory replication through minute observations is still possible, and pieces that replicate sensations in this manner can enhance the overall empathy that people experience.' In order to prove this, I started making a sample version of the game that could be played using only the mouse. I revealed it to people at GDC and PAX East, and since people responded more positively than I had expected, I decided to develop an official release." That official release won't come as easy as one might think. This is Access Games' first time working on a PC title. (The poorly-received PC port of Deadly Premonition was controlled by another studio, and Swery says that Access wasn't able to exert control over the process because it didn't own the rights to the game.) Because of Access' inexperience developing for PC, Swery describes the process as including "a lot of unexpected surprises and problems." He went into detail by saying "Like I talked about earlier, we had to figure out how to create sensory replication with the mouse. Since we couldn't use Kinect, we needed to figure out how to make the PC version a game that anyone could easily enjoy with the mouse. Our game designers, programmers, and UI designers really had to rack their brains about this. Next, we had to think about adding user options and confirming minimum system requirements and recommended specifications that didn't exist in the console version. Since we created an original shader for D4 using our own code, it was hard to make it backwards compatible simply through changing settings in Unreal Engine, so we had to adjust the code and add new parts to it. Since we've only worked on console games so far, this was a brand new experience for us." Above all else, Swery's says he's dedicated to not letting the PC version of D4 go the way of Deadly Premonition. "The team that worked on the Xbox One version of D4 is in charge, and I've also been taking part in the adjustments. We're really serious about this, and intend to treat the D4 IP with the utmost care." One thing that he wasn't too serious about was commenting on his feelings about Microsoft announcing one year ago that it'd release a version of Xbox One without Kinect. After all, Swery had likely undertook this project with the understanding that Kinect would be something that's in every living room that an Xbox One is in. All of a sudden, that wasn't the case. Swery took the high (and humorous) road by simply chiming in "#ThanksObama." Temporary comedic relief aside, Swery seems very serious about D4 and its future. When asked about reading fan theories (a pastime that's dominated the Destructoid office at times), Swery said that he refrains out of respect for the fans. He clarified by saying "D4 is of the mystery genre. With this genre, the fun comes from 'enjoying' all the mysteries up to the end. I think it's natural for people to closely watch the developments, hypothesize, and then think up their own opinions and theories. That's what's so great and important about the mystery genre. With that in mind, I think I have no right to take part in those sorts of discussions." For all the transparency and openness behind the whole process of getting D4 to PC, Swery turned mysterious again when the topic on everyone's mind came up: Is a second part to D4 ever getting made? "I still can't talk about what'll be coming next. All I can say is that I'm working my hardest!," he said. Figures. But, maybe with the help of a PC audience pushing for more D4, we'll get the resolution we need. Or, maybe we'll get more fights with a cat lady. Both are welcome with open arms.
Swery interview photo
Kinect didn't make the game
To say that developer Hidetaka Suehiro -- or, Swery65 as most everyone knows him -- has a knack for creating unique and strange videogame experiences would be an understatement. He has a loyal cult following, as anyone that l...

Review: Forgotten Memories: Alternate Realities

May 07 // Jed Whitaker
Forgotten Memories: Alternate Realities (Android, iOS [reviewed on an iPhone 6 Plus], Playstation Vita, Wii U)Developer: Psychose Interactive Inc.Publisher: Psychose Interactive Inc.Released: April 23, 2015 (iOS) / TBA 2015 (Android, PlayStation Vita, Wii U)MSRP: $4.99 Rose Hawkins wakes up after being shot in the face, only remembering that she was searching for a missing girl named Eden. She doesn't recall who shot her, how she is alive, or where she is.  Upon exiting the room Rose is greeted by a hallway formed in red curtains, the kind you'd find at any theater. An antique dictation device is waiting for her, and a message plays automatically from a woman named Noah who has been waiting for her. Noah knows Rose by name, and promises her more information on Eden if she can free her nurse friend from the asylum she is about to enter. Rose comes face to face with Noah in a throne surrounded by mannequins one last time before entering the asylum, Noah still talks through audio dictation for some reason. This is the kind of tone you can expect from Forgotten Memories. [embed]291661:58457:0[/embed] Like any psychological survival horror game, the story is deep, twisted and leaves a lot of questions unanswered. Most of the lore you'll come across in case files, notes, and a couple of cutscenes. Forgotten Memories is very old school in this regard, but still manages to have an engaging story worth searching for. Old school is a  word that can be used to describe most parts of the experience, for better or for worse. I almost didn't finish the game due to how difficult the game is, just because the developers felt the need to shove in old school mechanics for old school sake. Saving the game requires tracking down a computer and using a floppy disk, an item that is extremely limited in the game. While classic survival horror games used this save game mechanic, most notably the original Resident Evil series, it sucks for a game on mobile, especially when the game is brutally difficult. Forgotten Memories' app store description originally warned prospective buyers to only purchase the game if you are a hardcore gamer due to the level of challenge involved. They weren't joking -- I almost didn't finish it to how quickly and often I'd die. Luckily I must not have been the only one as the developer quickly released an update that included an easy mode. It provides players with unlimited saves, more ammo, easier enemies and more medkit pickups, among other tweaks. Even with this easy mode I found myself in situations with a sliver of health, no medkits and some distance between myself and the nearest save point.  Touchscreen controls were a mistake, plain and simple, and hopefully they don't carry over to the Vita and Wii U versions of the game. The left side of the screen controls character movement, while the right side controls the camera and aiming. The first place touched on the left side of the screen acts as a center axis, and Rose will move in the direction of your fingers position in reference to said axis. Camera and aiming control seems inconsistent on how much movement there is, often times leading to needing multiple swipes just turn around. On the right side of the screen are also icons that allow you to run or go into an aiming mode with your flashlight or weapon. With a weapon drawn tapping anywhere on the screen will cause Rose to attack. The pipe, the only melee weapon I found in my playthroughs, can be used three times consecutively to perform a powerful combo attack that pushes enemies backwards. Since this piece of junk is your main weapon, combat boils down to letting enemies get close enough to attack, performing the combo, rinse repeat. It leaves a lot to be desired. Shitty controls aside, Forgotten Memories nails the survival horror atmosphere unlike any game I've played in years. Haunting violins can be heard as you search for clues and keys, pounding drums mixed with noise play during combat, and the intro music is haunting, a mainstay of the Silent Hill series. I found my heart beating in my chest with my breath held as I ran past enemies to escape rooms. Hearing distorted singing coming from a shadow-like child that is just down the hallway where you need to go is fucking horrifying. While it is indeed a horrifying affair, it ends all too abruptly at just under an hour and a half on my first playthrough.  Having been in development for years, Forgotten Memories feels like it was purposely cut short to allow for sequels or download content. That being said, the pacing is tight and there is no filler whatsoever, but it still feels like the first chapter of a longer game. Aside from the brevity, awful controls, and dull combat, the game is easily recommendable for those looking for that Silent Hill feel. Though only the desperate should pick up the mobile version, or those that have a compatible controller, otherwise wait for the console and PC releases sometime this year. While the graphics are some of the best I've seen on mobile, they can only be better elsewhere. Forgotten Memories: Alternate Realities is about the best you can do for survival horror currently, if you can stomach the control scheme. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Forgotten Memories review photo
Horror-ible controls
Survival horror has always been one of my favorite genres, with Silent Hill being the absolute king. When I heard about a game inspired by and with voice actors from Silent Hill 2, arguably the best in the series, I was ...

Guacamelee photo
Guacamelee

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with a few of the craziest references in Guacamelee


You might recognize a certain green robot
May 05
// Chris Carter
What better way to celebrate Cinco de Mayo than remembering Guacamelee, one of my favorite platformers in recent memory. Alongside of solid Metroidvania action, DrinkBox Studios created a memorable world that will stay with y...
Fake Game News photo
Fake Game News

Madden 16 simulation predicts which players will be arrested this season


Hide their kids, hide their wives
May 04
// Fake News (So You Cannot Sue)
The launch of Madden 16 is still months away and while many of the new game mechanics and features are being kept a secret, the developers today did reveal one addition to the storied franchise that will tell gamers which NFL...

What would your Silent Hill look like?

May 03 // Nic Rowen
I'm preoccupied with dementia. It runs in my family, both my grandparents have it, their parents had it, and so on. It's a terrible disease, a spiritual vampire that sucks the light and life right out of its victims while dooming them to shamble on as shadows. I've written about it before, but I tend to read into games and movies that deal with instability and uncertainty as allegorical to Alzheimer's. The darkest thoughts that creep into my mind when I can't sleep are about my own parents someday showing symptoms of the disease, or the looming threat that it may (likely) happen to me as I age. Which is why my Silent Hill would have to be a shitty, confusing, dump of a place. A maze that was always fading and rebuilding behind you, filled with asshats you don't recognize, or recognize as someone else. It couldn't not be. Silent Hill as a series has always leaned heavily on the psychological aspects of horror. Sure, there are jump scares, dark corners, and sharp rusty blades like any other horror game, but the real terror of Silent Hill has always come from within. The town, or realm, of Silent Hill is a crucible of sorts that directly confronts its visitors with whatever nasty shit they have floating around their head. It tips the subconscious over and lets all the sticky neurological puss ooze out. Out of all that guilt, anger, fear, and trauma, the city rebuilds itself into a brand new personal hell for whatever unfortunate soul happens to be trapped within it. Silent Hill 2's James Sutherland had to deal with his sexual frustration and the guilt of resenting his ailing wife. These issues physically manifested as Pyramid Head and the grotesque/sexy nurse monsters. Heather in Silent Hill 3 had to deal with her split identity as the poor, tortured Alessa and her messed-up, unstable life on the run. Shattered Memories, a reimagining of the events of the first game, finds Cheryl struggling to reconcile her idealized memories of her father with the bitter reality of their lives. Murphy Pendelton had to fight weird ghostly blow-up dolls in Downpour (still not sure what the deal with that was). Those games offered a look into the minds of their protagonists, but I bet they also crystalized some of the deepest fears and uncertainties of the creative minds on Team Silent (and the lack of that honesty is probably why the series has fallen off so hard in recent years). It's one of the reasons I'm upset that Konami took the promise of a Silent Hill headed by Kojima and del Toro and dunked it in a bucket of horse piss. With auteurs like those two at the helm, I bet Silent Hills would have let us peek behind the curtains of their psyches. I bet they would have brought their own personal fears with them to Silent Hill; they would have brought back the honesty of terror. Yes, P.T. wasn't even a demo. It was a teaser, a shadow of a reflection of what Silent Hills might have been. But when I look at the themes and ideas in P.T. and I look at del Toro and Kojima's past work, I can see connections, overlapping ideas to work they've done before. P.T. was set in a home turned into hell. It hinted at dark family trauma -- domestic abuse, fathers committing murder-suicides on their entire family (and worse). Del Toro is no stranger to those horrors, and he's blurred the lines between the unfortunately all too real and common trauma of domestic abuse and the supernatural before. I look at his movies he's directed like The Devil's Backbone, and Pan's Labyrinth, or as an executive producer on Mama, all of which swim in similarly murky waters. There are also glimmers of Kojima's trademark post-Cold War paranoia to be found in P.T.. The unsettling voice from the radio, constantly repeating a sequence of digits over and over like a haunted numbers station, hypnotically spurring the listener to violence. There are possible allusions to mind control and manipulation, themes found again and again in his games. YouTuber RagnarRox recently posted a video exploring links between some of P.T.'s most disturbing elements with the real-life (and extremely chilling) MKUltra experiments conducted by the C.I.A in the 1960s. It may seem out there, but the material would certainly jive with other ideas Kojima has dove into with the Metal Gear series. [embed]291456:58421:0[/embed] We have no idea of knowing exactly what Kojima and del Toro's Silent Hills would have been like, in the end. However, I look at what those two men have done before and what we saw a peek of in P.T. and I feel like I can make out its shape behind the fog. Something disturbing and vulnerable, a Silent Hill that is at once deeply, uncomfortably personal, but also shrouded in conspiracy. How could either of them resist the chance to clean out their mental cellar spaces with the psychological dust broom of Silent Hill? It makes me sad to think of what we missed out on thanks to Konami's bungling, but it also makes me curious. I wonder about what other people's version of Silent Hill would look like. If you wandered into Silent Hill and the Otherworld was being built on top of the fault lines of your psyche (or if Konami lost its shit and suddenly tossed you the reins as the next creative director of the Silent Hill series), what would it look like? What would your fears made manifest be? Maybe I'm the only one who thinks of this kind of stuff, but I'd be super interested to know what kind of Silent Hill some of our community members would create. Feel free to share your ideas in the comments, or better yet, write a blog about it. We might never see Kojima and del Toro's Silent Hills but we can still speculate on our own dreams, or in this case, nightmares. They might be all we have if Konami keeps up like it has.
Your Silent Hill photo
Konami could probably use some ideas
My Silent Hill would be a place you couldn't trust. Doors would disappear behind you the moment you turned your back, hallways and staircases would loop back in impossible ways, main streets would abruptly end or lead to a pa...

Sup Holmes photo
Sup Holmes

Underground Hangovers and hating your own game with Jordi de Paco


Meet people who make great videogames
May 03
// Jonathan Holmes
[Sup Holmes is a weekly talk show for people that make great videogames. It airs live every Sunday at 4pm EST on YouTube, and can be found in Podcast form on Libsyn and iTunes.] First, a word for our regu...

Experience Points .12: Metal Slug 3

May 02 // Ben Davis
Mission one start Right from the very beginning of Metal Slug 3, I could tell it was going to be a wild ride. The opening mission drops the player off on a sunny beach, which at first seems almost peaceful and comforting, until the rotting fish carcasses and crash-landed rockets littering the dunes come into view. Suddenly, a bunch of huge, mutated crabs swarm the beach and start attacking in hordes. Giant crab monsters for the very first enemy? Talk about starting off on a high note! The level then splits off into two different paths. One path leads to a mangrove area crawling with oversized locusts, and a boat that takes the player across a swamp infested with flying piranhas. The alternate path leads underwater, as the player takes a submarine and dives into a deep ocean crevasse. The waters here are teeming with electric jellyfish and are also home to four utterly enormous moray eels. These things appear to be 20-30 times larger than the submarine. They cannot be killed, but they can crush the player against the side of the wall in an instant. The eels also come out of caves which indicate that their names are Helen, Linda, Jenny, and Barbie. Quite adorable names for these hulking, majestic creatures. The eel crevasse has to be my favorite area in the entire game, and it's just the first level! And of course, once the player passes through the underwater cavern, they're met with the boss of mission one: a particularly intimidating crustacean by the name of... The Huge Hermit The boss of the opening mission is a gigantic hermit crab which makes its home inside of a military tank rather than a seashell. As the player runs along a boardwalk firing backwards at the massive crab, the Huge Hermit advances, easily destroying the boardwalk with its large claws as it moves. It also uses the tank on its back to fire projectiles from the cannons, keeping the player on their toes while they run. It's such an amazing adversary! The Huge Hermit is probably one of my favorite videogame bosses of all time, largely from a design perspective. Giant crabs are already awesome by themselves, but a giant crab with a huge tank on its back which it uses to shoot nukes and fireballs? You can't get much better than that! Plus, the animation team did a truly fantastic job bringing the sprites to life on this thing. Like pretty much everything else in the game, the hermit crab's movements are so fluid and natural, while the tank shifts around in a more mechanical way. It's almost mesmerizing to watch. And keep in mind, this is still only the first mission in Metal Slug 3. It's such an incredible introduction to all the craziness that the game has to offer! A Slug for every occasion Metal Slug's namesake, the Slugs, really help to set the game apart from other run-and-gun titles. The Slugs are mechanized vehicles which come in a variety of shapes and sizes, with all kinds of cool weapons and abilities. Metal Slug 3 has about ten different types of Slugs to find and play around with. There's a mecha Slug which walks around with dual arm guns and a crotch cannon, a helicopter Slug for increased air mobility, a submarine Slug for easier underwater movement, a rocket Slug for space travel, a drill Slug which is particularly effective against giant snails, and more. But my personal favorite is still the classic SV-001 "Metal Slug" which has appeared in just about every game in the series. It's essentially just a tank, but it's one of the most well-designed tanks around. I love the iconic design, with a roundish body and long, spiky treads. Plus, it's built in a way that allows it to actually jump and crouch, making it not only powerful and protective, but agile as well. What other tank can do that? In a game where one hit means instant death, riding around in a Slug feels extremely satisfying. The Slugs can take a few hits before they overheat, forcing the player to eject before they explode, so climbing into one is always a breath of fresh air. Of course, I usually lose my Slugs pretty quickly anyway, but they're still great for those brief moments of feeling all-powerful among the hordes of puny enemy forces. Animals of mass destruction Metal Slug 3 offers a wide variety of helpful friends and modes of transportation, most notably from the animal kingdom. There's a bunch of animals to ride around on, like a camel, an elephant, and an ostrich, as well a cute little gun-toting monkey that can follow the player around. The monkey is especially adorable. It can be found during two different missions, wearing a diaper that it stores bananas in and carrying a gun that it's not afraid to use. I always find that it leaves me too quickly though. Come back, little monkey! Don't leave me while I'm being completely surrounded by zombies! The three vehicular animals actually count as Slugs. They all come equipped with weaponry strapped to their sides and they can't be destroyed. It's so much fun to ride around on camels and ostriches while mowing enemies down with mounted guns. You think you can take me down with your armored tank and helicopters? Too bad they're not fast enough to deal with my awesome weaponized ostrich buddy! Muahaha! The elephant is probably the coolest of the three, if only because of its unique grenade options. If the elephant picks up a crate of hot chilis, it will be able to shoot a huge ball of fire out of its trunk. Alternatively, it can pick up a car battery in order to shoot bolts of lightning. I mean, come on: a fire-breathing, electrified elephant with guns strapped to its sides? How do you top that? Mars attacks! There's just something about the Martians in the Metal Slug series that I find particularly compelling. It probably has a lot to do with their appearance. They've got huge, bulbous heads and a tangle of crazy, spaghetti-like appendages wiggling about all over the place. It's actually a pretty typical alien design, but somehow it really works. The animations for the tentacles are just gorgeous, and totally mesmerizing. I could watch the Martians' idle animation all day. These guys don't make an appearance in Metal Slug 3 until the final mission, where they retreat into outer space with hostages and use their advanced technology to slow the main characters down. The Martians play a role in many other Metal Slug titles as well, and I always get a kick out of the encounters. Even though they're usually the enemy, and cause a great deal of annoyance for the main characters, they're just such a joy to watch. I almost feel bad killing them. Almost. 101 ways to die With all the crazy, diverse enemies in Metal Slug 3, the main characters are bound to be killed in some pretty messed-up ways. Aside from being shot, burned, zapped, and crushed, they can also be stripped to the bone by piranhas, dissolved by acid, hit with spores that cause them to burst into a tangle of vines, and more. Certain enemies and objects can also cause the main characters to transform, often leaving them more susceptible to death. Bats and mummies can mummify the player, restricting their movement and weapons. Yetis can turn the player into a snowman, trapping them and leaving them open to attack until they can wiggle free. Collecting too many food items can cause the player to become obese, slowing movement but increasing firepower. But the best transformation by far is the zombie form. Being attacked by a zombie will cause the player to become a zombie as well. Like some of the other transformations, movement is restricted and only the default pistol can be used. However, the grenade becomes an extremely deadly, projectile blood-vomit attack, which blasts out in a huge arc from the bottom of the screen all the way to the top. It's possibly the most powerful attack in the game. It can even easily decimate the bullet-sponge of a boss if the player is skilled enough to avoid attacks with the sluggish zombie movement. Destroying helicopters and enemy hordes by barfing up a huge bloody mess never gets old! Past Experience Points .01: The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask.02: Shadow of the Colossus.03: EarthBound.04: Catherine.05: Demon's Souls.06: No More Heroes.07: Paper Mario.08: Persona 4.09: Final Fantasy IX.10: Mega Man Legends.11: Rayman Origins  
Metal Slug 3 photo
Rocket Launcha!
Experience Points is a series in which I highlight some of the most memorable things about a particular game. These can include anything from a specific scene or moment, a character, a weapon or item, a level or location, a p...

We crunched the numbers: Pacquiao wins tonight's fight (according to Smash Bros.)

May 02 // Brett Makedonski
The thing about these kind of events is that they really lend themselves to gambling. The fight's in Vegas, which will naturally draw a lot of action. But, more important than that, a fair contingent will look to bet because it's the quickest way to go from interested to invested. Without loss or gain on the line, it's an occurrence for casual viewing; putting money down makes it personal. Lucky for you, we have the inside track on any legal (or otherwise) wagering you want to do. Pacquiao wins, but it's a nail-biter. Plunk down cash now without a fret in your mind. This is as good as gold. We counted your chickens for you. How do we know? Super Smash Bros. told us. But, it took some science. We set Darren up behind a set of boiling beakers and test tubes. We outfitted Steven in an ill-fitting lab coat. Jordan shouted "We need empirical data, dammit!" over and over again. Chris cried in the corner. Eventually, our sciencing paid off. The simulation took place between two computerized Little Macs. Since Mayweather and Pacquiao are the best in the world, we cranked their skill levels up to nine. We decked Pacquiao out in red, white, and blue trunks to symbolize the Filipino fighter's national flag. Mayweather's in the standard Little Mac garb because it had a lot of green. That's for money. Because Mayweather likes to throw around a lot of money. Since the boxers are scheduled for a 12-round match consisting of three-minute rounds, we found it appropriate to let them duke it out in a 36-minute marathon match. No items allowed -- just fists of fury. The arena was a source of contention. The boxing ring holds up thematically. However, given what it's taken to get this fight to happen, Final Destination also seemed appropriate. We were also worried about the extra space in the boxing ring stage. Chances are slim-to-none that Mayweather and Pacquiao will take the brawling up the ramp, much less on top of the lighting rig. Ultimately, we went with the boxing ring. It was just too perfect for these two ferocious fighters. With all the details squared away (organizing a boxing match is hard!), it was time to get down to action. Pacquiao dealt the first blow as he took the initial stock. However, as one might expect, these skilled combatants went back and forth, no one really gaining an edge. That trend wouldn't hold up, though. Before long, Pacquiao pulled out to an eight to five lead, indicating that this might not turn out to be the coin flip we predicted. Mayweather was landing bigger punches, but Pacquiao was sealing stock, which is all that really mattered. Slowly but surely, Mayweather mounted a comeback. A lot of it was predicated upon rope-bouncing and ramp-fighting. If their well-trained strikes weren't so form-perfect, you might have mistaken this for a Chicago Street Brawl. At the 11-minute mark, Pacquiao was suddenly in trouble. He spent more time dodging, ducking, dipping, diving, and dodging than he did fighting. Mayweather was back, and he was landing K.O. after K.O. The tide had officially turned. Then, each fighter went on a flurry of small streaks. Two stocks here, three there. Time whittled down, and it was impossible to tell who was ahead. No one really outperformed the other noticeably. With 30 seconds left, the lights came crashing down for the first time in the match, but both escaped unscathed. When the timer hit zero, the announcer held off on declaring a winner, instead booming "SUDDEN DEATH!" Holy shit. Two titans now at 300 percent damage, the next blow cementing both their places in history. There was no predicting what would happen, just the assurance that it would happen quickly. No more than seconds after sudden death began, it was over. Pacquiao landed a monster upper-cut and Mayweather almost instantaneously disappeared into a flash of light. The long-standing debate over who's a better fighter had a clear-cut answer. Appropriately, for all the carnage in the extraneous areas of the stage, the match was settled in the ring. The tale of the tape reflects the close-fought bout. Each fighter took 27 stocks from the other. Mayweather inflicted slightly more damage. Pacquiao landed one percent more of his blows. Although, Pacquiao took the belt, which is the statistic that's most important. [embed]291378:58412:0[/embed] For posterity's sake, we also felt it necessary to simulate what would happen in a first to one stock fight. After all, no self-respecting boxer gets knocked out 27 times in one match. Different circumstances, but same outcome. Pacquiao's the man. This news comes mere hours before the big fight, but we still implore you to make use of the empirical data. Jordan did too much work shouting to let it go to waste. Go ahead and bet the farm on Pacquiao. If you don't own a farm, rush out and buy one. Then, bet it. Pacquiao's leaving Vegas with that belt around his waist -- Little Mac has foretold it.
Mayweather & Pacquiao photo
Bet the farm
[Update: Oops, sorry about your farm!] Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao are going to fight one another today. Any two other names, and it's a run-of-the-mill weekend where boxing continues to be relegated to the far c...

Things that the Persona 5 trailer is better than

May 01 // Steven Hansen
[embed]287234:58408:0[/embed] The first thing I did the morning I knew the trailer would launch was paw around in the dark, eyes half closed, for my phone to watch it and it was somehow as good as I expected it to be despite unreasonable expectations. But how good is that? We need context. Here are some things that the Persona 5 trailer is better than: 1) Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones. 2) Having ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife. 3) The love and acceptance of a parent, because a parent is just going to die and leave you alone. Persona 5 will never leave you. 4) The Iditarod. 5) The episode of Seinfeld where Elaine dances badly. 6) When America legalized standing with your feet close together, thus freeing public transport from sweaty, leg splayed wafts. 7) Ants. 8) Some cats. 9) This joke: "Need a friend named Nick so I can say 'what do you call a guy with no balls?' Eunuch." 10) The time 50 Cent's grandma made him take out the trash and he tweeted, "I'm rich fuck this I'm going home I don't need this shit." 11) Brett Makedonski's basketball game. 12) The time when I was like five years old, playing on the top of a bunk bed. I grabbed the guard rail, looked over the side, and the guard rail came loose, taking me down with it. I split my head open and lost so much blood that I had to be carried around the house (no, of course I didn't go to the hospital, what am I, made of money?) 12) List posts.
Persona 5? It's good photo
The Persona 5 trailer is better than a lot of things and here are some of those things
Kyle posted some new Persona 5 screenshots earlier, which got me excited, which got me watching the Persona 5 trailer again, which just got me more excited. I like when a trailer can turn me on (not sexual). I watch a lo...

Great alternative hamburger toppings that wouldn't go so well in a first-person shooter

Apr 30 // Steven Hansen
EGG "Egg" is short for "eggscrement," as it is the foul (hah!) byproduct of most poultry. In America, egg typically comes from the chick-hen, named for being the ladybird amore to the male cock. But just because egg comes from a chick-hen's buns doesn't mean it doesn't belong on yours! A nicely fried egg over easy with a drippy yolk makes for a great treat when biting down on a hamburger. It ain't a burger if you don't have to wash your hand after! Why it wouldn't go good in a first-person shooter? You have to crack an omelet to make a few eggs and executive types are more likely omelet someone work on wall textures than devote the processing power necessary for shell splattering particle effects or new viscous liquid engines -- and that's just in the butt-fresh, pre-cooked state. While the egg would serve as a good "Easter Egg" (hah!) in a grenade lob animation, the only scramble I want in my multiplayer shooters is towards a flag that needs to be captured. TOMATO CHUTNEY Have you seen what's in your grocery store ketchup? The All-American spread has been perverted by some strange new system wherein quality and safety become secondary to profit. And so ketchup becomes a slurry of high-fructose corn syrup, tomato flavoring and "spice." Take beck-up the ketchup! Or substitute it with a sweet, fresh tomato chutney. The onion, vinegar, and brown sugar will get you where you need to be. Why it wouldn't go good in a first-person shooter? Sounds foreign? GUACAMOLE No, not the 2D platformer, Guacamelee! We're talking the foodstuff for which it was named. I wanted to go "avocado" here -- a fine burger topping in and of itself -- but why not go-uacamole all the way! There are quite a few spreads that make surprising burger fixings. I recently mixed guacamole and an even spicier Calabrian pepper spread and loved the unexpected kick to my 'burg.  Why it wouldn't go good in a first-person shooter? The only spread first-person shooters seem to care about it bullet spread when discussing weapons such as shotguns. Also another spread they like are sheets. You know, like for accounting all the money they're making. Making guacamole, even if you throw the ingredients in a food processor, requires some manual dexterity to deseed peppers, deshell tomatillos and garlic. If you tried to make guacamole in the next big first-person shooter, it'd probably end up like playing Surgeon Simulator while the your enemy makes a nice spread of their own -- you! From your gutshot abdomen stirred up by your sucking chest wounds. JETPACKS My co-workers, public transit companions, and dentist have always expressed a universal thought when asked on a date: "Yeah, when pigs fly." The desire for airborne swine transcends race, social classes, and the irresponsibility of my request based on my familiarity or lack thereof with the responder. While not a "topping" per se, eating a hamburger (named for the gentle ham, the most ground-bound of all the lord's creatures) while in the air would be a noble gesture to the beast from which we derive so much pleasure. Why it wouldn't go good in a first-person shooter? No, no, no. Tightly controlled lanes of combat and no-more-than-two-story buildings are the "name of the game," and the game they are the name of is the first-person shooter. Jetpacks would require a complete design overhaul to account for them and do you know how hard that would be? I already know the buttons for shoot gun, aim gun, throw bomb, damn it. Look at Titanfall, languishing with no one playing but Nic Rowen and the "story-mode" robots. They think he's one of them. They don't even know he is alive. They trade self-deprecating asides about their faulty coding and sometimes run menial errands -- oil changes, circuitry hacks, taxes -- like he isn't even there. The idea of putting a jetpack into a first-person shooter is preposterous. That's what the sprint button is for. Are we supposed to just throw the stamina gauge baby out with the we-must-have-jetpacks-and-a-new-gauge-for-fuel bathwater? It's like putting a pineapple on a burger. Redundant, stupid, dunderheaded. Let me know in the comments if you have alternative hamburger toppers!
Hamburger toppings photo
Lettuce think outside the gun!
I recently picked up a controller to play some Mortal Kombat X with my lawyer after we finished working out (not sexual!) in the basement of his hilltop home. While he'd signed, sealed, and delivered (legal jargon) some Morta...

Double Fine Productions aims to rekindle the spirit of adventure

Apr 28 // Alessandro Fillari
"It seems like there's been so many people talking about adventure games, people crowdfunding new adventure games," recalled Tim Schafer, the founder of Double Fine Productions and game director on Broken Age. "It's just that everyone felt that it's okay to talk about it again. We don't have to talk about it like a dead genre anymore, people just throw that word around casually, like 'Oh, you're doing an adventure game?' -- it's become normalized now." With the renewed interest for adventure games in recent years, there's never been a better time to become invested in the once-dormant genre. There was a time when adventure titles were common, and full of optimism, but with a steep decline after the '90s, traditional point-and-click games seemed to have gone by the wayside. But recently, these games have seen a reawakening, thanks in part to developers like Telltale Games and Double Fine outputting a steady flow of titles. And with titles spread across so many platforms (including mobile), they're now more accessible than ever. The development of Broken Age, which is easily the studio's highest-profile project, has been a unique case to watch. Tim Schafer and the team aimed to create a title that was a true throwback to classic LucasArts titles like Day of the Tentacle, The Secret of Monkey Island, and Grim Fandango -- while also taking advantage of today's technology to illustrate visually vibrant and diverse worlds to explore. With the pretty positive reception the first act received last year, people have been anxious to get their on the final part of the game. During my session, I had some time to play the PlayStation 4 version of Broken Age along with Tim Schafer. Though I went in mostly blind, as I opted to wait until the full release was ready to play, I still had a wonderful time experiencing it this way. It felt great with the PS4 on a big screen, and adding to this was a sense of playing with a community that chimed in with thoughts and helped with clues for puzzles. It really added to the fun. Schafer hopes that players who've already cleared Act I will start from scratch now that Act II is out, as he believes many of the references and characters from the first half of the game may have been forgotten by players by now. Though the developers have launched other titles during the three years of Broken Age's development -- such as Grim Fandango Remastered, Costume Quest II, The Cave, and the beta for their second crowdfunded project, Massive Chalice -- firm interest has still been kept on their work for Broken Age. And with good reason. I mean, how many other games in active development have a film crew following them around recording all their successes and missteps for the masses to see? While they had the challenges of their own project to manage, they also had to deal with the high-profile nature of it following the success of the funding campaign. With everyone watching, the developers wanted to ensure they'd knock it out of the park with the completed title and not only live up to expectations but also to set a good example for the future of crowdfunded titles. Because whether they wanted to or not, they essentially became the people to follow and emulate. "We were like, 'We can't obviously walk away from [the Kickstarter project], we made a commitment to fans and to our backers," said the director of Broken Age. "It did feel like the beginning of something, and it did feel like the responsibility to not mess it up, because our game, our studio, and other people's games kind of were depending on it now, and if done well could lead to a whole bunch of things being funded, that couldn't have been funded otherwise. So we definitely felt like there was a lot riding on our shoulders, but we would've stuck with it anyway, because we always finish our games." The success of the Kickstarter certainly felt like a watershed moment for many. During my interview with Brian Fargo last year for Wasteland 2, the success of Double Fine's project sparked a lot of enthusiasm among many of the "old-school" designers looking to explore forgotten genres and franchises. In our chat, Fargo spoke about trust being the cornerstone of the relationship between developers and their community. And I definitely got a sense of that from my visit to Double Fine. There was not only a clear respect for the genre that many of the developers were returning to, but also for the many of backers and fans who have contributed to the title as well. For better or worse, however, the level of transparency has also contributed to scrutiny over the project. While there have been many successes with crowdfunding over the years, there are also many projects that missed the mark, or outright failed to deliver. During our talk, I felt that Schafer was humbled by the process, and even spoke honestly about their own stumbles with limiting content and details to backers only, leaving everyone else out of the loop. One of the important things they wanted viewers of the documentary to see is what exactly the process is like for game creation -- to give them an understanding of the challenges they often faced. "A lot of people make games, and they care so much about what they make," he said while discussing the challenges of development. "There are so many hard tradeoffs they have to make, there are features in the game they wanted but couldn't because there are these other things they wanted even more, and I want everyone to see that process, because I do think that when you ship a game everything you see in it is an active choice by someone, and it is, but sometimes it's a miracle the game got done. [...] I don't know if they need to think about that stuff, but I like to know that at least some people out there know how hard people work, how amazingly difficult or complicated problems are solved everyday, and all the choices they have to make while making a videogame." This definitely struck a chord with me. I'm inclined to think that there are many gamers out there who are unfamiliar with the actual process of game development, and assume many features and key aspects of development can be added in and removed as if they were text on a document. It felt very refreshing to see so much openness about game creation. Though that may be in part to due to the needs of transparency for operating a crowdfunded project, I found that it helped to not only give the developers their own chance to tell their side of the story, but also to humanize the actual process of game creation. While the added publicity of their project added pressure to make sure they did right by fans, it was the kind of pressure they were more than familiar with during their time on past titles from the LucasArts era and in recent years at Double Fine. Over the years, they've developed games that inspire a lot of love and respect from fans, and making sure they deliver was something that kept them on track. "It's definitely pleasurable to succeed and fulfill all those promises, and anyone who's kinda hoping we would fail, it's nice to hear their quiet tears in the night. If you listen quietly you can hear them cry into the night," Schafer said while joking about the messages they get from cynical commentators. "But we always have this pressure of trying to do things that the fans would like anyway, now that the fans are actually funding the game, so it's the same group. But you put that kid of pressure on you anyway so you'd make a good game."   With the complete Broken Age experience available now, this marks the end of a long and unique development period for the studio. Though it has still got another crowdfunded title in the wings, its first is now out in the wild, ready to be experienced by fans and newcomers alike. But as we've seen in the years since Double Fine's success on Kickstarter, there's no shortage of campaigns looking to reignite the same fire that only a few projects can attain. Schafer definitely believes the future is bright for crowdfunded titles. "I think crowdfunding is here to stay," said a confident Schafer. "I think when people realized you could get organized and make things happen that couldn't be made by the old gate-keeper system, I think that'll always be the case. [...] Basically I think things always go crazy on Kickstarter when there's a great story. I think we had a good story that was new, and also people were saying 'Here's this thing we wanted to happen for a while.' Like this new adventure game, and it hasn't happened, but we could fix that and make it ourselves -- and that's really powerful." "But there are a lot of other different kinds of stories, besides old-timers like me going back and doing the genre again. Just people doing projects no one has ever thought of before, but instantly want to happen, I think there'll be these spikes whenever that happens and continue to be more popular. I mean the things about crowdfunding will change and improve, but I don't think it'll ever go away." A good story is important. Whether it comes from a struggling developer looking to strike out on its own with a project that was rejected by countless publishers, or from a group of veteran creators seeking to return to a classic franchise all while doing it their way -- crowdfunding has inspired a lot of people with an idea to put themselves out there and hope to find others who share their vision, and to ultimately realize it. And with Broken Age out now, we're approaching the end of another story from the folks at Double Fine Productions. But as the genre goes, there are always more adventures to be had. It's not often you get to be a part of the revival of a once-dead genre that inspired many to create their own titles, bond with friends and family over the complexity of puzzles, or get caught up in heated debates about what the real ending is for contentious titles. As the name of the genre states, an adventure is an exciting and hazardous journey into the unknown, and the developers of Broken Age experienced just that with their first foray into crowdfunded game development. Regardless of how you feel about Broken Age as a whole, or whether the developers at Double Fine made the right choices, it's hard to deny that it all made for one of the most interesting development periods for a game in years. Whether you view Double Fine Productions as the underdog or not, it still made for an engaging story. And aren't those the ones worth telling?  
Double Fine interview photo
Everyone loves a good story
Who could forget the great Kickstarter boom of 2012? You remember, right? Out of nowhere, this website called Kickstarter suddenly became a focal point for established developers and indies looking to crowdfund the next big t...

SpyParty is diverse photo
SpyParty is diverse

SpyParty is on its way to hosting the most diverse cast ever


If it's not already there
Apr 28
// Patrick Hancock
SpyParty, my most anticipated game of 2013 (heh) is still well under development. After its facelift, it's been adding characters in bunches, with the last bunch bringing along a puppy in a purse and a disabled character. Thi...
Season Pass photo
Season Pass

This 'Mystery Season Pass' nonsense is getting old


If you're going to charge us for it now, tell us what you're planning now
Apr 28
// Chris Carter
Season Passes are not inherently a bad thing. Take a look at how Nintendo is handling it. When it announced the pass for Mario Kart 8, it debuted at $12, provided a costume incentive bonus at launch, and Nintendo actuall...
Forgotten Memories Stream photo
Forgotten Memories Stream

Can a game on mobile fill the gap left in our hearts by Silent Hills?


Let's find out together!
Apr 27
// Jed Whitaker
Forgotten Memories recently released for iOS devices, and looks genuinely creepy. The game clearly takes a lot of influence from the Silent Hill series, going as far as including voice actors from Silent Hill 2, but can a gam...
Silent Hills, loud tears photo
Silent Hills, loud tears

I can't stop crying about the cancellation of Silent Hills


RIP sweet prince
Apr 27
// Jed Whitaker
I often film myself at random times during the day just in case anything cool happens -- like a funny joke or catching a ghost on film. Yesterday, I found out live on camera that Silent Hills was cancelled, and boy has it hi...

The beauty and tragedy of a perfectly planned character

Apr 27 // Nic Rowen
I spent way too much time looking at screens like this. City of Heroes probably holds the dubious distinction of having the most skewed relationship in terms of “time spent planning characters VS time spent playing characters” in my life. I spent entire nights pouring over different power sets, ability combinations, and team synergies for a game that doesn't exist anymore. I devoted hours upon hours to figuring out the perfect stat progression for super villains that I knew in my heart of hearts I'd never take out of the starter area. The only crime they'd ever commit would be loitering. However, City of Heroes wasn't the only game to trigger this kind of obsessive cataloging, not by a long shot. I have a stack of character builds and ideas as thick as the Yellow Pages for Dark Souls PvP set-ups, gimmicky X-Com squads, and Darkest Dungeon dream teams. I have concept characters (complete with embarrassing back stories) sketched out for both of the modern Fallout games. All of their would-be perks, S.P.E.C.I.A.L stats, and fashionable item accessories already plotted out -- all that’s left would be to actually wander out in the wastes and find them, but who could be bothered after so much work? This goes way back, long before I had easy access to the internet where character planners and clever apps make it simple to plot these things out. Go back to the Precambrian era of high school days, dig through the fossil records of my notebooks and I'm sure you could find Diablo 2 skill trees scribbled in the margins of my English homework. The cave wall painting blueprints of a Hammerdin specced holy warrior looming above my predictable observations about MacBeth (probably, hopefully, accompanied by a cool doodle of a flying hammer crushing a zombie's skull).   When I step back and look at the sheer amount of go-nowhere ideas and try to tally up the time I've sunk into them compared to the relatively meager hours I've clocked into some of the games they're for, it dawns on me -- maybe this is kind of messed up. Maybe I've been living all wrong. Looking at it from a distance, it all seems quietly sad. I've spent more time in my head with some of these games (some of my favorite games, I might add) than I have playing them. There's a small critical voice in the back of my mind that is furious with me for squandering those hours, for not doing something more productive with the time -- both in the sense of actually playing the fucking games, and in the broader and more judgmental “what are you doing with your life?!” sense.  I have perfectly good reasons (or maybe I should call them “justifications”) for all the obsessive plotting and scheming. For one thing, there are just too many cool ideas out there and not enough time to see them through. For as much as I beat myself up for the papery death of my stillborn characters, I never really would have had the time to convert those dreams into reality even if I had the work ethic of John Henry. How long does a full play through of Diablo 2 take anyway? How many trips through Hell do you need to make to grind through the necessary experience points? If you're after a certain item set (and you know you are because you're the kind of crazy person who didn't stop reading three paragraphs ago) you'd probably need to go online to trade and wheedle your way into a full set to see it done. It's a hell of a lot more of a time investment than goofing off in English class, that's for sure. Sketching out those ideas for gimmicky Paladins and upstart Mages let me stave off the temptation to roll another character while I took my (unfortunately less imaginative) Barbarian to kick the shit out of the Prince of Lies. In a weird (insincere) way, I could even argue it helped me save time. Besides, an immaculately planned character can be satisfying in its own right. It's always good to get your intellectual hands dirty, to put your fingers into the putty of an idea, to roll it around and shape it. As far as pastimes go, you could do worse. Let's not forget all the situations where actually playing a game would be impractical. You can goof off a little at the office and play around with the Borderlands skill editor without causing much of a scene. But try and boot up your lv 30 Gunzerker at your desk just once and you'll never hear the end of it. Human Resources takes a dim view on bringing akimbo guns blazing justice to the wasteland during company hours, apparently.  Still, I look at the swollen and poorly organized folder where I dump all of my character ideas, filthy with PDF character sheets, webpage saves from online builders, .txt documents imported from PC to PC for games I'm not even sure I own anymore, and I wonder if I have a problem. I can justify all the characters I cooked up sitting in class or during lunch breaks? I know I spent just as many perfectly fine nights sitting in front of the same machine that actually displays and runs the games I was thinking about, tapping away at some poorly conceived concept character while utterly ignoring the game itself. At the same time though, I love those characters, I love those ideas. Yeah, most of them never made it out of the gate, but those characters had character. If videogames are mostly an exercise in mental stimulation, of burning off stressed out braincells and decompressing after a long shitty day, does it really matter if the satisfaction you get from them is through play or by tinkering with the ideas they present? If I could swap those hours around, gut about a quarter of that folder and take the time spent on the fantasizing about those ideas to actually playing out a few of them, would I be more satisfied? Or would it shake out to be about the same? I honestly have no idea. What I do know is that while writing this article, I did have an idea for another Dark Souls 2 character, and it's been all I could do to keep myself from drifting over to a wiki to start putting him together. There may be no hope for me.
Character building photo
I'm the man with the plan (and little else)
I've probably spent more time creating characters, builds, and dreaming up party compositions in my head than I have actually playing games. It seems odd to think of it in that way, but if I could somehow tally it all up I be...

Sup Holmes photo
Sup Holmes

Owlboy lead almost made Ducktales Remastered, wants to make Breath of Fire


Get to know the people who make great videogames
Apr 26
// Jonathan Holmes
[Sup Holmes is a weekly talk show for people that make great videogames. It airs live every Sunday at 4pm EST on YouTube, and can be found in Podcast form on Libsyn and iTunes.] A couple weeks ago on Sup ...

Nintendo, your work isn't done on Mario Kart 8

Apr 25 // Chris Carter
New crossovers: The sky really is the limit for new franchises. While I initially wanted a full-on "Mario Kart All-Stars" for the next game, I soon realized after playing the Animal Crossing pack that Nintendo could just keep supporting 8, and it would be more than good enough. With a real online infrastructure and a visual style gorgeous enough to withstand the test of time, we don't have to wait years until a new console iteration. Keep the crossovers coming. Samus, Fox McCloud, Kirby (with his Warpstar) -- all of them would fit perfectly into the Mario Kart universe, and I can see some really ingenious tracks down the road due to Nintendo's rich history as a character factory. One request is to just go all-out for the new characters though -- no "half Mario half new" -- just go all-new. Just inject F-Zero into the game already: We've seen the Mute City and Big Blue homages, but really, with F-Zero considered by many to be the definitive racing experience over Mario Kart, that's a huge market ready to be tapped. I'm not even talking about a "Pack" here -- more like a full-on expansion in 2016 featuring cast members from F-Zero, at least 10 tracks from the series, and extra elements like new characters and planets. Use that as a barometer for gauging interest in a new F-Zero game. Miyamoto himself said last year that "the struggle is that I don't really have a good idea for what's new that we could bring to F-Zero that would really turn it into a great game again." I have an idea -- fans already like what you've done with the franchise in Mario Kart 8, so think about expanding on it. A real battle mode: Finally, we come to my one big problem with Mario Kart 8 -- a lack of a real battle mode. No, that sorry excuse of "racing with balloons" doesn't cut it. I want real, tiered arenas that are all-new. Although I loved the core game as a racer, it really loses a lot of its spark due to the fact that so many fans grew up only playing the battle minigame. It cuts down on the replay value for fans as well, as I remember plenty of Mario Kart marathons that would have ended after a few hours if it wasn't for someone suggesting that we play "just a bit more" within the confines of the arena. I'm hopeful for these additions because Nintendo has shown it knows how to to DLC right. For $12 right now, you'll net seven characters (Villager counts as two!), eight vehicles, and 16 tracks. For reference, the game shipped with 32 courses. While I wouldn't trust a lot of publishers with this charge, Nintendo has the opportunity to really make Mario Kart 8 one of the longest-lasting games in the series, as the company has proven that it knows exactly what it's doing.
More Mario Kart 8 photo
More crossovers and a real battle mode
When Nintendo announced its DLC plans for Mario Kart 8, there was a combination of collective groans and cheers across the internet. The latter group was on the right side of history, it seems. When the first DLC Pack dr...

Smash Bros.  photo
Smash Bros.

Mewtwo vs. Lucario: A beginner's guide to Smash Bros.


The creator of Catlateral Damage runs down the basics
Apr 22
// Jonathan Holmes
Educating yourself on how to play Super Smash Bros. isn't always easy. Those who know the most about Smash don't always use words that you can find in a dictionary when discussing the game. If you go to the experts for ...

Pac-Man to show up in unexpected places this year, let's guess where

Apr 22 // Jed Whitaker
Mario Kart 8 Pac-Man is no stranger to Mario Kart games having been in all three iterations made for arcades, and with Pac's recent appearance in Super Smash Bros. for 3DS / Wii U, having him as a racer in Mario Kart 8 just makes sense. Running for president as a Republican This one is a no-brainer -- just think about it. What do Pac-Man and the Republican party have in common? They are mostly men, 35 years of age or older, greedy, don't play well with other races, and are deeply rooted in religion. Pac-Man isn't the typical white male that leads the party, but perhaps a recognizable yellow face could give Republicans the push they need to take the White House in 2016. Dark Souls II The Souls series and Pac-Man actually have a lot in common; in both, you play as a lone hero traversing dark mazes filled with spooky ghosts in a world where the only sure thing is death. Perhaps the original maze from Pac-Man will be reworked in a 3D space, much like that beer commercial, and released as free DLC for Dark Souls II. Pac-Man would of course be a grotesque version of himself that guards the end of the maze.  Pellets, Please Gritty, dark, realistic games are all the rage these days, so perhaps Bandai Namco Entertainment will give Pac-Man the reboot he deserves. Pac-Land has fallen on tough times and Pac-Man must sneak into the neighboring country of Arstotzka to find work and food, all while dealing with terrorists and extreme hunger. Pellets, Please could be the smash hit to bring Pac-Man into the two thousand teens. RuPaul's Drag Race Everyone's favorite feminist already told us that Ms. Pac-Man is just Pac-Man with a bow on his head, so Pac-Man decides to own it and joins RuPaul's Drag Race. Pac, Ms. Pac-Man if you're nasty, will take the other divas by storm. Mama Pac will be a ruthless, z-snapping glamazon that makes up for her size with an over-the-top personality. Drag and gays are so in right now to the point where people are trying to make laws against them, which is what happens when anything gets popular with the kids. Playgirl Pac-Man has always been a sex icon. He's known for running around in the nude in his early, drug-filled days; even now the dude doesn't wear pants, baring it all is a constant in his life. Plus, PlayGirl is a great publication to reach parts of the population that are rarely marketed to in gaming: women, and non-straight men. A bit of trivia for ya: the history of PlayGirl kind of falls in place with the history of Ms. Pac-Man, as they were both made as an answer to their male-oriented versions.  An Adam Sandler movie I'm just foolin', there is no way that Pac-Man would ever have a large role in an Adam Sandler film, right? 
Pac-Man's midlife crisis photo
35th anniversary, midlife crisis
This year is the 35th anniversary of Pac-Man, a fact that will surely make your dad feel old. At a recent event in Las Vegas, Bandai Namco Entertainment said to look for Pac-Man to "show up in unexpected places this year." I've thought long and hard about where those places could be and compiled my best guesses below. Feel free to post yours in the comments!

Game News Haikus photo
Game News Haikus

Game News Haikus: Guitar Hero Live, Star Wars Battlefront, emotional reviews, and more


Zen distilled stories
Apr 21
// Darren Nakamura
The biggest story last week was Mortal Kombat X's handling of downloadable content. Warner Bros. should relinquish itself of its greed and earthly possessions. That is the first step on the path to Enlightenment. In this ser...
Activision photo
Activision

Does Activision still have selling power for Guitar Hero and Tony Hawk?


In your mind, obviously
Apr 20
// Chris Carter
It's no secret that I'm a Tony Hawk guy. I'd enjoyed nearly every entry in the series outside of the boring Proving Ground and the iffy Ride subseries, and that rumor of a new fully-fledged game has me all hot ...

How to make Ryu an interesting character in Super Smash Bros.

Apr 19 // Patrick Hancock
Sprite GIFs used are all from the Street Fighter Wiki. Give him an EX meter and EX moves So, let's assume Ryu has his Hadoken, Shoryuken, Tatsumaki Senpukyaku, and some fourth move like a counter or his Joudan Sokutogeri. What would make Ryu unique isn't so much his actual set of moves, but what he can do with them. Give Ryu an EX meter, similar to Little Mac's KO meter, and allow him to build it up and use it. It could build just like it does in Street Fighter IV, by connecting with attacks or getting attacked. Spending this meter can work in a few ways. One would be double-tapping the B button to use an EX move instantly. Double-tapping is weird and I'm not sure it would work in Super Smash Bros., but it's an idea. Another option is to allow Ryu to consume an EX bar to make his next move an EX move. For example: when there's at least one bar of EX glowing, Ryu can hold B to drain it and store it, similar to how many characters store a charged up move. Then, the next special move Ryu executes will be an EX version of that move, with different properties.  If Nintendo really wants to get fancy, it could even work with Capcom to include Street Fighter V's mechanic of spending an entire EX meter to make a character "super-charged" until he is knocked down.  Art by DeviantArt user kupbot Make Ryu's alternate costumes like Bowser Jr.'s Whether Nintendo meant to or not, they set a precedent with Bowser Jr. and his alternate costumes. Ryu is a perfect candidate for this method of alternate costume since there are plenty of Shotokans for Nintendo to choose from. Since each character has seven alternate costumes, here is what I've come up with for Ryu's alternate costumes: Ken, Akuma, Dan, Sean, Gouken, Sakura, and Evil Ryu. Let's be honest, Ryu is boring. He's the "guy on the box." Sure, he's recognizable, but most people tend to gravitate to someone else in Street Fighter. He's a wonderful beginning character and incredibly important to the franchise, but I will be way more willing to use Ryu if I can actually play as Sean or Dan. Sure, it may only be an aesthetic change, but to some, aesthetics really matter. Speaking of which... Give Ryu custom moves from other Shotokans While it is incredibly disconcerting that Mewtwo does not have custom moves at the moment, I am still holding out hope that DLC characters will eventually come with or get their own custom moves. Considering it's one of the biggest new features in this entry of Smash Bros., it only makes sense to do so. Assuming Ryu does get some customs, why not take them from the characters that make up his alternate costumes? Here's some basic ideas: Hadoken custom move ideas: Dan's wimpy Gadoken Gouken's angled Hadoken Sean's basketball (I really like Sean, okay?) Fireball multi-hit Shakunetsu Hadouken Tatsu custom move ideas:Note: This is assuming Ryu's basic Tatsu moves him horizontally  Dan's multi-hit Dankukyaku Stationary Tatsu Vertical Rising Tatsu Shoryuken custom move ideas: Ken's fiery Shoryuken Sean's Dragon Smash The multi-hitting Shoryureppa Since the fourth move could be a multitude of things, I'll just stop here. I think the point is clear: there are a ton of variants on these moves, and it would be a shame to see them go to waste! Two different Final Smashes Luckily, Street Fighter's Ultras convert directly to Super Smash Bros.'s Final Smash. So why not give Ryu two of them? Everyone already expects the Shinku Hadoken to be his Final Smash, but what if, by hitting B and a direction, he could execute a different one? He could have the Shin Shoryuken or even the Shinku Tatsumaki Senpukyaku.  I honestly have no idea if this would be possible, but it sure would be cool! The bottom line is, Ryu is possibly going to be in Super Smash Bros., but without going the extra distance, he'll be a character not many people will be interested in playing. If Nintendo and Mr. Sakurai give Ryu the same care and attention I know they are capable of giving, Ryu could be a favorite character for many players. Roy on the other hand...
Ryu in Smash done right photo
Listen up, Nintendo!
Street Fighter's Ryu is currently rumored to be coming to Nintendo's newest entry into the Super Smash Bros. series, thanks to some hidden files in the most recent update to the game. It makes a lot of sense; Capcom...

Captain of my own destiny: Micro-goals and player liberty

Apr 19 // Anna Anthropy
Every level of Captain Toad is a dense little 3D dollhouse. (In fact, you start to wonder why it wasn't released on the 3DS, where I wouldn't have had to constantly flick my attention between the TV and the thing I was holding.) The player's job is to steer Captain Toad -- or later Captain Toadette instead, once she's submitted herself to being rescued by the character who isn't femme-presenting -- through these little dollhouses. It's refreshing to see Nintendo finally catch up with more progressive developers, who allow playable women characters in their games, but only after male characters (or micropayments) have "unlocked" them. I'm not actually sure the game ever awards Toadette the rank of full Captain. Captain Toad or (Ensign? Admiral?) Toadette move through each dollhouse, avoiding (or occasionally vegetabling) threats, discovering new ways to get around the place, and ultimately attaining the shining Star at the end. That's the point of each little dollhouse, its ultimate goal. But there are "micro-goals" too: three special coins hidden in each little house. They're sealed, like plucky detectives in Nancy Drew novels, behind breakable walls, or tucked into secret nooks or out-of-the-way paths. Their purpose is to encourage (and reward) more thoroughly exploring each dollhouse, turning it over and over on your touch screen to peek into every part of it you can see. That's a legitimate way of playing the game -- call it a "deep" rather than "wide" play style -- and is legitimately rewarding to a certain type of player. That's not usually how I play these games, though. Playing Captain Toad, I was more interested in just seeing as much as possible - the wide rather than deep style of play. I wanted to see all the dollhouses. I wanted to see lots of neat, new things in succession, and not to be stuck on any one for too long. (Certainly the fact that I wouldn't be able to play the game once I'd left my friend's house made me reluctant to linger.) But this style of play is legit too. A design that incorporates both simple unlock-the-next-level goals and extra, optional micro-goals is, theoretically, one that accommodates both styles of play. If I want to see new things, I prioritize the overarching goal that will get me to the next level. If I want to feel like I'm really plumbing the depths of each individual level, I prioritize the micro-goals. But more realistically, my play style -- and probably most players' -- incorporates elements of both: going for a challenge coin when I see how to do so, but not replaying the same level over and over until I've gotten all three. Where the design fails in this case is when it turns out these optional micro-goals aren't optional after all, and that you can only see so much of the game without prioritizing them. My friend was way more challenge-coin-oriented, but even so, the available levels eventually petered out. "Did you unlock any more?" he asked me. I had seen a level or two later than he had. After a point, Captain Toad explicitly enforces the "deep, not wide" style of play where it teases that it will accommodate both kinds of play. And it's not the only Mario (or "Mario universe?" "Mario galaxy?") game to be structured this way: this is the way they're designing them these days. I also bailed on Super Mario 3D Land before seeing the end because it wanted me to replay past levels and harvest more hidden coins. Maybe the hope was that after playing "wide" for long enough, I'd develop enough of an investment in the game to play "deep" when I was forced to. Nope. I stopped playing. Oh, I stuck on for a few more levels, a few more tollbooths. But then I got tired of these forced intermissions between the stuff I wanted to be doing -- seeing new stuff -- to do stuff I was bored of: retreading old territory. I was up to the challenge of the new stages. I was capable, ready, and excited to do more. But the game was unwilling to let me, and I got bored, and I gave up. Surely that's not the outcome the developers were hoping for: player gets bored, gives up? I think it's a failure when additional goals are used to narrow, rather than broaden, the player's experience. One of the games I've been spending a lot of time with lately, Alto's Adventure, a snowboarding game for the iPad, has a few different levels of overlapping goals: get as far as possible in a single run (survive), get as many points as possible on a single run (perform tricks), complete the current "missions" the game has given you (perform specific tasks). Some of the missions are long-term: perform 10 backflips using a character who has a difficult time gaining air. Some of them are really specific: smash a rock during a chase scene. While I'm playing for the overarching goal of travelling as far as possible, these extra goals give me opportunities to explore wider aspects of the game systems. I might have never attempted a triple-backflip if the game hadn't suggested I try it, in addition to my already-established goal of getting farther, seeing more. And not all games need extra layers of goals: Monument Valley doesn't need "missions" to distract from its sparse vignettes. But when extra challenges are deployed, it should be in the service of expanding the player's experience of the game, rather than forcing it. Maybe if you're a garden fungus, the only way up the ladder to the rank of Captain is doing whatever authority tells you without question. Maybe Toadette is the real brains here.
Captain Toad photo
Where playground meets obstacle course
A friend of mine got a good deal on a Wii U recently. That meant that I finally got a chance to play Captain Toad. It's really humbling to know that people at Nintendo have also played Monument Valley. I played through a bunc...

Sup Holmes photo
Sup Holmes

The Matrix Online, internet fury, and being an empathic robot with Eric Ford


Get to know the people who make great videogames
Apr 19
// Jonathan Holmes
[Sup Holmes is a weekly talk show for people that make great videogames. It airs live every Sunday at 4pm EST on YouTube, and can be found in Podcast form on Libsyn and iTunes.] Eric Ford was working in g...

Experience Points .11: Rayman Origins

Apr 18 // Ben Davis
Dance Dance Ray-volution Rayman Origins is just about the happiest game I've ever played. Every little aspect of it seems to be built around the sole purpose of making players smile. For example, achieving almost any goal will cause Rayman and friends to break out in dance. Whether he completes a level or simply rescues a few Electoons, Rayman can't help but celebrate by busting a groove. Each of the characters have their own dance moves, but Rayman's got the best moves by far. He seems to really like disco, as much of his dancing takes inspiration from that. He also has this really weird dance whenever he rescues Electoons, where he sort of humps the air a few times while swinging his hands back and forth with a wild grin on his face. It makes me laugh every time. One of the funniest scenes in the game also revolves around dancing. When Rayman encounters the Magician in the Moody Clouds, the antagonist suddenly drops a funky beat. Of course, Rayman will take any opportunity to break into dance, so he busts out some of his sweet disco moves alongside the Magician. They look to be having fun dancing together before the bad guy runs away unexpectedly while Rayman is still too busy moving to the music. It was all just a clever ruse! And you have to admit, tricking someone into dancing so you can get away is probably one of the best escape plans ever. Musical Lums Rayman and friends aren't the only ones having a good time. If there's anything that will get players dancing along to the game, it has got to be the King Lums. Lums are the collectibles of Rayman Origins; they're these happy little yellow dudes who hover in the air and play musical notes when they're collected. They're everywhere. King Lums are a little bigger than your typical Lum, and they wear big gold crowns so they're hard to miss. Grabbing a King Lum will trigger a short, incredibly happy tune which causes all the other Lums to turn red and start dancing, meaning they're worth double points until the song ends. Gotta move fast and collect as many Lums as possible before the music stops! It's almost physically impossible for me to not dance at least a little bit after grabbing a King Lum. I always catch myself bobbing my head, moving my torso, or tapping my foot to the melody. I just can't help it; it's the happiest, catchiest music! Slap-happy friends Playing Rayman Origins with friends is a hilarious experience. Technically, everyone is cooperating to finish the level, but things can get competitive very quickly. You see, not only are players able to punch and slap enemies, but they can even beat their friends up as well. Smacking your friends doesn't cause damage, but it does make their characters yell out in ridiculously exaggerated pain, which is really funny to watch. It's pretty much an eventuality that every cooperative session of Rayman Origins will turn into a slap-fest at some point. It's difficult NOT to hit your friends, even if it's an accident, which will inevitably cause them to hit you right back. And thus the friendly fighting begins. Who will win in a slapping contest: Rayman or Globox? There's only one way to find out! In the belly of the beast The bosses in Rayman Origins are fantastic. There's a fat, googly-eyed bird; a thorny plant monster with a huge head; a giant, eel-like sea dragon; and a dragon chef suffering from severe heartburn. The ailing dragon chef, named El Stomacho, is definitely my favorite one. This boss's level is called "My Heartburn's for You," which is just about the best level name ever. He's so big that he swallows Rayman and friends whole, meaning the boss fight actually takes place inside his stomach. Rayman will have to avoid streams of flame and rising stomach acid as he waits for an opening to attack. This dude's heartburn is no joke! After each attack, there's a brief cutscene as the camera cuts outside to El Stomacho himself, who looks like he's about to barf with all of this activity upsetting his stomach. Finally, Rayman manages to escape back out the way he came, as he's launched out of the dragon's mouth along with a huge burst of flames. The massive dragon then shrinks down considerably to a tiny little lizard chef and breaks into dance with Rayman. In fact, all of the major bosses shrink down into these adorable little forms and start dancing after being defeated, and it always makes me happy. They weren't really bad guys after all! Treasures and tribulations Rayman Origins may seem like a fairly simple platformer at first, as most of the levels are straightforward and dying only brings Rayman back to the beginning of the room he's currently in. The main game isn't too difficult. The Tricky Treasure levels, however, are an entirely different story. Each world has a Tricky Treasure level which is unlocked after freeing a certain number of Electoons. As their name might suggest, these levels are seriously tricky! Each treasure level is a race to the finish where every action counts. Slip up even once, and it could be over very quickly. Rayman only has one shot at success, or else he has to start the entire level over from the beginning. Some of these levels are particularly brutal. I had to run a few of them over and over again until I knew every move I had to make by heart, to the point where I felt as though I could probably beat it again with my eyes closed. It was like Super Meat Boy levels of punishing platforming in this cute, cartoon-y Rayman game, and I loved it! Plus, the music for these levels is fantastic! I didn't even mind that the music was being repeated ad nauseum, because it was so upbeat and catchy. I'd often find myself humming along as I ran, only for the song to be cut short by some choice curse words whenever I died again. No country for old grannies I thought the Tricky Treasure levels were difficult enough, and then I came to the Land of the Livid Dead. Holy cow, you guys! The Land of the Livid Dead is a secret final area only accessible after beating every Tricky Treasure level and returning the crystal teeth to the old man in the Snoring Tree. It's a dark, gloomy underground graveyard full of thorny, eyeball-laden vines, pillars of flame, and angry grannies! That's right, angry grannies. The Land of the Livid Dead is populated by irate, undead grannies who won't hesitate to kick Rayman off their lawn. They're kind of the greatest thing ever. This area is an intense mega-marathon to the finish line. Luckily there are checkpoints, but even so, getting to the end is no easy feat. Once again, I got a sense of the crazy Super Meat Boy difficulty of the Tricky Treasure levels, and this quickly became my favorite area in the game. The level ends with a super ridiculous boss battle against a giant, hairy, many-eyed monster, who is busy painting her nails, singing a silly tune, and bathing in lava when Rayman interrupts her. She lets out a horrified scream (in a much deeper tone than her singing voice), and tries to shake Rayman off of her arms as her spiky bracelets slide around. She's such an unexpectedly bizarre final boss, and the perfect way to end such a great game. Oh, and I can't forget to mention the music from the Land of the Livid Dead, which is heavily inspired by Ennio Morricone's soundtracks to classic Spaghetti Western films such as The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. It's my favorite music in the entire game (which is saying a lot, since all of the music is fantastic). Lucky for me, too, because I had to hear that music A LOT. [embed]290641:58221:0[/embed] Glou Glou I'll round this post out with another wonderful soundtrack selection. While it's not my personal favorite, the music from the Sea of Serendipity is definitely the most iconic music from Rayman Origins. The tracks "Lums of the Water" and "The Lums' Dream," both subtitled "Glou Glou," feature nonsensical vocals by the Lums. These peaceful, dreamy songs play while Rayman and friends are swimming around under the sea. It's impossible for me to listen to these tracks without smiling. They're beautiful and adorable, and they fit perfectly in the world of Rayman. Past Experience Points .01: The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask.02: Shadow of the Colossus.03: EarthBound.04: Catherine.05: Demon's Souls.06: No More Heroes.07: Paper Mario.08: Persona 4.09: Final Fantasy IX.10: Mega Man Legends  
Rayman Origins photo
Oo-na nee-na glou glou~
Experience Points is a series in which I highlight some of the most memorable things about a particular game. These can include anything from a specific scene or moment, a character, a weapon or item, a level or location, a p...

Botched Pokemon tattoo becomes newest beloved internet meme

Apr 17 // Steven Hansen
[Vaughn Pinpin, 2012] But that out-there "blackface Charmander" design wasn't the result of a handful of pills and a Smirnoff Ice. It was a crudely drawn recreation of work done in artist Vaughn Pinpin's Tim Burton x PKMN Project collection, in which Pinpin drew Charmander, all its evolutions, and about 70 other pocket monsters in this style. We covered them almost three years ago. They're all on Pinpin's Tumblr. And while reddit was busy making fanart of this assumed addled original creation as fast as it designs amiibo mock ups, credit to the original artist fell by the wayside. Even the reddit top comment, "Looks like a Tim Burton Pokémon," links to an Imgur upload of the original Charmander drawing that points to the URL of a site that seems to aggregate and talk about art. The reply to that reply, the "full list" is a low quality, not-full collage featuring 25 of Pinpin's drawings. Finally, the third nested reply, after being edited, includes a link to Pinpin's Tumblr. One website actually posted Pinpin's original work under the impression that it was fan art of the tattoo, which is a bit like saying The Beatles sounds like Oasis. Lack of credit on an internet where it can feel as if things just materialize is a big issue today for people who create things. Artwork is passed around (sometimes watermarks maliciously removed, or added by outside parties), jokes are stolen, and people expect (and get) an endless influx of free stimuli. In this case, it went beyond fans giggling over a meme, as some folks started making and selling products -- necklackes, t-shirts -- with the tattoo's likeness. Pinpin responded to the situation on Twitter: "I'm cool with you guys getting tats of my dang Burton PKMNs, but try not to profit over it please. That's not entrepreneurship, that's theft." That was about as close to positive as Pinpin got about the situation, saying, "This just in: dumb kids did a dumb thing and everyone's laughing about it in the cesspool that is reddit. This is news!" before following up with, "I think I feel better about the whole situation now. But I don't think I can laugh with reddit. It's sort of like laughing with the school bully when the joke was punching me in the face." We all carry varying degrees of guilt for this sort of thing. I take shiba pictures and animal gifs for a public good. I tweeted out a still from A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night last week without naming the film, director, actor, or cinematographer. While you enjoy the fun times with friends you have on the net, it's good to remember that some of the things you enjoy -- web comics that end up as images in comment threads, photo galleries that get linked to on Facebook -- come from people who worked hard to make them. Sometimes someone just took a picture of their dog at the right time. Still, crediting the source is always a good move.
Charmander tattoo photo
'My friend was drunk and on Xanax when he decided to tattoo a black face Charmander'
If there's one thing my grandfather fought for in World War II, it was the right to monetize memes. Of course, he was in the Italian army, the side that rightfully lost the war, because all your grandfathers were fighting aga...

This could be the Godzilla game fans have always wanted

Apr 15 // Jed Whitaker
Godzilla (PS3, PS4 [tested]) Developer: Bandai Namco EntertainmentPublisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment Release: July 14, 2015 Fans of the classic Godzilla movies will be pleased, as the development team at Bandai Namco Entertainment has focused on making the new game as close to the original films as possible, and it has mostly nailed it; the monsters feel huge and lumbering, the cities crumble and the fights are epic, camera angles mimic the look and feel of the original movies. Buildings exploding is especially on point, as it looks like the fake, firework-esque explosions from the original Japanese films. The presentation of Godzilla as a whole is really impressive. When I first laid hands-on with the PS4 version of the game I was confused. The left stick makes Godzilla walk forwards or backwards, but the right stick only rotates the camera. After investigating the cardboard instructions stuck to the demo television I was surprised to find that the shoulder buttons, L1 and R1, are used to turn Godzilla slowly left and right. At first I was perplexed. "What a stupid control scheme" I thought, then after smashing through a few buildings and starting a fight with Ghidorah it finally clicked. The turning mechanic mixed with the cinematic camera makes you feel like a giant fucking monster and it is the first Godzilla game I've played that achieves this. [embed]290478:58183:0[/embed] Godzilla isn't the only playable monster as every monster in the game is controllable, each with its own variation of the story. Radio communications by humans during the battles paint a story of destruction and desperation. Each stage has an objective, typically destroying specific buildings, but while doing so can lure up to two other monsters for battle where the game keeps a surprisingly solid 60 frames-per-second. Monsters include Mechagodzilla, Destroyah, Jet Jaguar, Mothra, Mothra Larva, Gigan, Biollante, Hedorah, and more. Even Space Godzilla made it in as one of the exclusives for the PS4 version. The game will be launching this July for PS4 at retail and PS3 via digital. The PS4 version isn't just a direct port of the PS3 game as it has more monsters, an exclusive multiplayer mode, and the ability to battle two monsters at once. Those who preorder the PS4 version will receive Hollywood Godzilla, or the Godzilla model from the recent film, as DLC. If you've been waiting for the defining Godzilla game, this might be the one.
Godzilla goes old school photo
Hail to the king, baby!
I've dabbled in Godzilla games since the NES game Godzilla: Monster of Monsters, a game that for some reason took place in space; Mothra and Godzilla fought monsters and literally kicked rocks in this fondly remembered title....


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