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Destructoid Originals

The top five most British games you'll ever lay eyes on

Aug 26 // Joe Parlock
#5: Bloodborne Bloodborne was a sign of great change over at From Software. After its run of massively popular Souls games, it wanted to try something really different. It wanted to move away from the formula that made From the huge success it was, and show the world the average, day-to-day lives of people living in Birmingham. Audiences were cautious of the idea at first: bringing the Midlands to life seemed like an odd choice for a Japanese developer to tackle. Over the course of the development process, we learned just how seriously Miyazaki was taking the project: he’d binge-watched every episode of Crossroads, a task no human being should be able to survive. But it all paid off: when it finally launched, everyone instantly understood how important the game would be. From the Werewolves of Snow Hill Station to the Dog Vicar of the Bullring, Brum really does come to life in videogame form. Treading over the broken cobbles and forcing my way through the rusted gates, it was just like I was there. Some players complained about the difficulty of the game, but frankly if you haven’t been devoured by a giant spider when going to Birmingham’s Selfridges, you’ve not truly experienced the city. #4: Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture Shropshire was an absolutely inspired choice of a location for The Chinese Room’s newest storytelling game Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture. The county is very rarely a setting in games, and it has a rich history thanks to its influence and contribution to the industrial revolution. Shropshire is everything you could think about Britain neatly compressed into a nice, little place full. But that’s not the true reason why it’s such a great setting for Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture. The real reason is it’s the closest thing to a post-apocalypse you’ll find in the Western hemisphere! That’s right, after the AI incursion at Ironbridge in 1886, nobody has lived there! Every single human being you see in Shropshire is just a steam-powered Stepford-esque bio-machinations, who have left the county to go to ruin! Pubs and charity shops have combined into one weird amalgamation that’s not quite as good as either, and you can bet your entire family a new museum is popping up as you read this. Shropshire is an utterly bizarre, yet pretty, place. For the lens to be focused so intently on it in Rapture means we may soon finally find a way to reclaim our land from the androids. #3: Killing Floor Killing Floor might be a slightly controversial inclusion on this list, because it doesn’t paint our glorious isles in quite the best light. However, I think something us Brits have always been good at is introspection. From a National Trust café to a beach in Benidorm, we always act with the utmost class and decorum, but Killing Floor shows a darker side to our nation: British football. Killing Floor is about a world overrun by, and I quote, “bloody Millwall fans”. Set in the streets of London, you must survive against the hordes of football fans being kicked out of the pub. Killing Floor’s recreation of modern day football is so realistic, the attention to detail is simply amazing. I can smell the cheese and onion Walkers crisps and stale beer just thinking about it. In a positive light though, Killing Floor manages to be incredibly inclusive of its image of football fans. The world likes to paint the sport as a load of rowdy old geezers who can’t keep their drinks down in their moth-eaten Aston Villa t-shirts, but it simply isn’t like that in 2015. Men with chainsaws for arms and invisible women have become way more accepted in recent years! Even Spider-hybrids have found their place! Unfortunately, scary fire-shooting people have still been fighting for their place for a while now… but there’s certainly progress. Also, we have a lot of guns. That is some Britain is absolutely known for: how many great big, piss-off guns we all carry around at all times. Sometimes it’s a hassle trying to carry my shopping from Morrison’s with an AK-47 in the way, but that’s Britain for you. Killing Floor’s unblinking view of how many fully-automatic shotguns and flamethrowers even your common Londoner has is something we need to really understand about our culture. Thanks, Tripwire. #2: The Beatles: Rock Band It was twenty years ago today that Sergeant Pepper taught the band to play. They’ve been going in and out of style, but none the less they’ve been marching through the streets of Liverpool, ensuring all of Britain’s children are behaving as they should. If they are not learning the songs of their grandparents, or worshiping the great Lucy in the Sky with their Diamonds, Pepper’s mighty Walrus will take them away to a place nobody knows. This is how it has been for the past fifty years, and it is the way it shall always be. Of course, there have been attempts to destroy the great influence our Lord and Master Ringo Starr has had on us. The Oasis Movement of the '90s was the biggest threat, but problems among management meant it stood no chance against the Lonely Hearts Club Band. And this is why The Beatles: Rock Band is on our list. No one changed the face of Britain as much as Lord Starr did, and the great idea of incorporating the children’s mandatory daily reverence into a video game meant for those wealthy enough to afford the little plastic instruments, life is good. Well not good, but it’s getting better. #1: Sir, You Are Being Hunted You thought Everybody’s Gone to Rapture was our only way of fighting back against the robots? Oh heavens no, we also have Sir, You Are Being Hunted. Not only does Sir helpfully remind the British public to respect the god damn class institution that has been in place for centuries, it also provides handy-dandy training on how to survive should you find yourself in somewhere like Shropshire! Sir is a program to help remind those crawling in the shattered darkness that Britain still exists: with tweed shops, and union jacks plopped onto absolutely every item inconceivable. Digestive biscuits, far too many churches, parish halls, smokestacks, tea, tea, tea. If this doesn’t remind you of home, I don’t know what will. There’s even fox hunting! You remember fox hunting, right? That thing only rich people do because getting away with shooting poor people would be more hassle than it’s worth?  Of course, in this case you’re the fox… but never mind that, developer Big Robot is still working out the kinks. Sir, You Are Being Hunted is more than a game. It’s our message unto the world that no matter what they do to us, we will survive. A nice strawberry trifle here, an 8 out of 10 Cats Does Countdown there, and we will all keep calm and carry on. What is left of us must carry on. Oh god we must.
Blighty photo
God save Ringo and his Robot Army
Britain, Britain, Britain! Over the years we’ve been known for a lot: tea, monocles, the Queen, imperialism, and at one point… video games. We had it all, from the Sinclair ZX Spectrum to Rockstar Games, Britain ...


New Patent photo
New Patent

Nintendo files patent for first sales-less console (Fauxclusive)


No, this is not a joke about the Wii U
Aug 24
// CJ Andriessen
The discovery of two new patents filed by gaming giant Nintendo earlier this year may give us a peek into the future of the company. The first, as reported on Saturday, is for a disc-less home console. The second patent, whic...
Sonic photo
Sonic

Sonic Dreams Collection: Mascots, legacy, and audience perception


What happened to you, Sonic?
Aug 22
// Laura Kate Dale
Most of the critical discussion on Sonic Dreams Collection up until this point has been largely focused on it as an unexpectedly odd curio, and with good reason. An unusual mix of Sonic fan fiction crossed with Don't Hug Me I...
Intel unboxing photo
Intel unboxing

Watch me unbox (and break) the Intel Box Master System


Including an i7-6700K and 750 series SSD
Aug 21
// Jed Whitaker
Intel decided to send us two giant boxes full of things, including its hot new 8-bit Intel Box Master System featuring wood side paneling to unbox on video. I couldn't possibly do a straight unboxing video -- that isn't my s...

Thirsty, hungry, and crappy in ARK: Survival Evolved

Aug 18 // Nic Rowen
There are tons of survival games to choose from these days, but I downloaded ARK: Survival Evolved almost entirely on the promise of weaponized dinosaurs. If I was going to go down this road, I would do it in style -- on the back of a giant, heavily armed lizard -- and indulge all of my Dino-Rider fantasies. The fact that ARK's character creator is busted and will let you roll up with a nightmarish mutant of disproportionate body parts and bizarre growths is just the icing on the cake. I never read any instructions or watched any tutorials; I went in completely blind. My survivor woke up on a sandy beach as God and Studio Wildcard intended – confused, nearly naked, and shivering. I don't know much about these games, but I do know that they all boil down to collecting resources and building things with them. I start picking up stones on the beach, slightly disappointed that I can't seem to pick up any of the glittering sea shells scattered around. My survivor almost immediately shits himself, somewhat spoiling the moment. But hey, bonus, I can pick up the turd! I can't collect sea shells, but I do start a catalog of dookie samples. I come across a flock of dodo birds on the beach. They're dumb as bricks and don't seem to react to my presence in any way. I punch them and punch them, but only succeed in rendering them unconscious. I savage the flock until I'm standing over a pile of comatose birds and have somehow learned how to write notes and sew pants in the process. This is caveman education at its finest. Soon my pockets are heavy with stones, the beach is awash with pulverized birds, and my survivor is complaining. In fact, complaining seems to be all he does. I never knew the raw nature of primitive man was so whiny. During the day he complains that he's too hot. At night, the big sulky baby is too cold. And he's hungry, and thirsty. I'm starting to worry that Child Services is going to come and take my caveman away. A series of icons depicting sweltering fires and frigid ice cubes, along with unending penalties to my stamina let me know what a terrible job I'm doing of keeping him alive. I stuff some narcoberries I've picked off the local plants down his gullet, hoping the natural sedatives will fill his belly and put him to sleep for the night letting him doze through the cold. But he just staggers around in a haze for a bit, stamina lower than ever. It's time to engage with the crafting system before I get arrested for criminal neglect. As a species we are tool users, after all. It's time to take advantage of that. Looking at what I have available to make, it seems like building a pickaxe would be a good start. I'd need stone (check), thatch (nope), and wood (na-da). Can't I just make it with narcoberries? I still have plenty of those. I waste a good 20 minutes wandering around a small forest looking for loose sticks to collect, thinking they'd be like the stones on the beach. I can't find any and the, "I can't get wood" jokes got old about 19 minutes ago. I punch a tree out of frustration. Gouts of blood spray from my hand and a piece of wood lands in my inventory. Oh, so it's like that, huh? I punch trees until my knuckles are bloody and broken and I've managed to pick enough splinters out of my hand to fashion a crude pickaxe. Then I get into the holy guts of these games – hitting shit to build more shit. I hit rocks with smaller rocks until they give me the other kind of rocks I'm looking for. Then I use those rocks to hit other rocks more efficiently. I make hatchets, spears, a shirt to cover my misshapen body. Caveman essentials. Is this really all there is to life? We've lost a generation of gamers to this? I suppose the closest comparison to ARK would be Rust, which also throws you into the wild with nothing and expects you to build up from stone-aged flint spears and hemp pants to assault rifles and flak jackets. But ARK has a different vibe. You're a caveman sure, but there is a pulsating metal jewel embedded in your arm. You have a number and, ominously, a projected survival expectation based on your performance. You're tagged and tracked like an animal, which begs the question of who exactly is doing the monitoring. At night, pillars of light and energy reach into the heavens. High-tech obelisks stand alone in the middle of miles and miles of untamed jungle and roaming packs of dinosaurs. Clearly something is going on here. If there is a concrete storyline, I haven't picked up the thread yet. I'm sure it exists out there in wikis and forum posts scattered around the net, but I don't want to seek it out that way. I want to know what my survivor knows and live in that reality. And right now, it's all just sci-fi mystery and terrible giant lizards that look like they could snap me up as a light snack without even thinking about it. It's terrifying and fascinating, and truth be told, I kind of like keeping it vague. My mind wanders while I play. Are we all futuristic criminals banished to an otherworldly penal colony? A kind of Space-Australia complete with raptors and megalodons? Are the inhabitants of the island subjects of some kind of twisted social experiment? Or is it somewhere in-between? Like the '60s British classic The Prisoner? Do I need to be careful of Rovers if I try and leave the island? The best moments I have in the early hours of ARK are moments of transgression. Moments that I'm not particularly proud of. Players are given unfettered freedom to do what they like in ARK, and somewhat predictably, most people like to be jerks -- myself included. I came across a player's unguarded camp once and looted everything that wasn't nailed down. I even stole the charcoal from his fire, blackening my hands and soul with the theft. I stumbled on an unconscious player, half hidden under a rocky outcrop. I knew I should just leave him alone, but I hovered over him, freshly made spear in hand. I mean, I should probably take a chance to test it out right? It's just good survival. He wasn't the last. Like the old lady from Mad Max, I killed everyone I ever met out there. Or at least I tried to. My belligerent, mutant caveman would shake his spear and charge at everyone, no matter how unclear the actual threat they posed or how hopelessly outmatched he was. Maybe it speaks to some deep-seated trust issues of mine, but I never saw the point in playing nice with the other neanderthals. Better to go down spitting and stabbing than take a chance. I know I should probably reach out, join a tribe, engage with others. Maybe find someone with skills I don't have and combine our efforts to mutual benefit. You know, like our ancestors did. I know we could work together to make this land livable, to build a life. But, it's a matter of motivations. I didn't come here to make the world a better place. I came here to strap machine guns on a T-Rex. I came to trample, shoot, and devour anything that stood in my way. I came to make the world a distinctly worse place. I die a lot. I die of malnutrition and deprivation. I die from giant mosquitoes and their toxic stings. I die from dinosaurs I don't even know the name of. Each time, I respawn in some new random location with nothing in my inventory, right back to the raw state of nature. But I keep the knowledge and skills I've accumulated and it's easier and easier to rebuild with every attempt. Well, except for that one time I respawned right next to a saber-toothed tiger and had to play hide-and-go-seek with it on a pile of rocks for a good ten minutes before it finally got on top of me. It's hard out there for a sci-fi caveman. I still haven't yoked and tamed a dinosaur. My dreams of loading up a T-Rex with cannons and missiles and riding it around like some prehistoric Metal Gear haven't come to fruition, and I don't think they will anytime soon. It just takes too long to level up, to learn the skills you need to tame a thunder lizard, or stitch an appropriately intimidating saddle to ride on (I'm thinking skulls, but I'm open to rows upon rows of claws and teeth). It's even more effort to make a pen to keep a three-story tall dinosaur in and gather enough food to prevent it from turning on you. Then of course there's the long, painfully slow journey towards making gunpowder. I'd have to mine for raw metal and build a furnace to stamp out just a simple blunderbuss, never mind a high caliber mini-gun (as a consolation, I just recently discovered slingshot technology). It's too much for any one would-be warlord to do on their own. It really would take a village. A savage, bloodthirsty village. But I think I saw it. I glimpsed the abyss, the way one would get sucked down into these sorts of games and never come back. At the end of my third or fourth night of playing, after hours of exploration deep into the island, I realized that I didn't want to die and start over again. It was late, I was tired, but I couldn't go to sleep and just leave my caveman to die in the wilderness like I had at the end of previous sessions. I found a nice spot secluded in the trees and laid down a simple foundation and a campfire. It was a simple hut. Four walls, a door, a roof, and just enough room for a sleeping bag if you stood outside and dithered the placement just right, but it was home. I had enough wood in the fire to last all night, a bounty of meat to feast on, and full waterskins. My caveman was looking sharp too, fully dressed, new shoes, a backpack full of extra spears -- this was a person who was going to make it. My mind immediately unspooled reams of future designs. A bigger house, wood and stone structures, spikes for defense. If I built near a river I could make a simple plumbing system, grow my own patch of berry bushes, maybe tame a few dodo birds for pets (or food, the line is blurry for cavemen). I could make my survivor more comfortable, I could provide more for him, and he'd be okay, protected and safe. I went from Kull the Conqueror to Mr. Nanny in the space of one night. It was the same feeling I used to get from placing all of my action figures in their proper boxes or play-sets when I was a child. It reminded me of an article I once read explaining why people get screwy sometimes and start adopting all the neighborhood stray cats or obsessively outfit their backyard with squirrel feeders and multiple kinds of birdhouses. It's that fleeting feeling of control, of finally, actually taking care of all of a creature's needs (inanimate toy, video caveman, or small wild animal). To be able to give something the kind of security and finality that is outside of your control and impossible to provide in your own life. I think back to what it was like in grade school; All the uncertainty, the nasty and brutish classmates that made those formative years a gauntlet of survival. I used games to escape from that setting, but it was all about hopping into other worlds, being a tourist. I wonder how much more time I would have spent in any one of those worlds if they let me build with the same degree of granularity a game like ARK or Minecraft does. I always assumed the appeal of survival games was the trolling, of ruining the fun for other players. Or failing that, the creativity of playing around with the tools. While I'm sure those things are the reason some players come to these games, I think the reason they stay is more simple than that. Maybe it's just the pleasure of building a home, of having something to come back to. Maybe it's time I learn to play nice with the other neanderthals.
Ark experiences photo
Out of my Comfort Zone #01
[Out of my Comfort Zone is a new series where I try to combat complacency in my gaming habits by trying different genres and tackling challenges I might otherwise never attempt. In this debut entry, I try my hand at a surviva...

Destructoid photo
Destructoid

Take a look at some recent bad asses in gaming


From Destructoid's video team
Aug 17
// Chris Carter
The Destructoid video team has whipped up a look at some recent badasses in gaming. from all walks of life. Out of everyone, I'm still looking forward to playing as Big Boss in Metal Gear Solid V. It feels like I've been waiting forever, but Phantom Pain is nearly here. Drake can definitely still be considered a bad ass, but I'm over Uncharted a bit after playing through the last game.

What if Bonk were cool?

Aug 16 // Jonathan Holmes
In the meantime, we're left to wonder what could have been had Bonk managed to stay alive into 2015. John-Charles Holmes, producer of the new Rhythm Heaven fan magazine Rhythm Zinegoku (featuring art from yours truly and former Dtoid writers Colette Bennett and Ashley Davis), has one possible answer to this question. While this might not be the evolution that many would hope to see for our top heavy caveman hero, I wouldn't be too surprised to see today's Konami take him in this direction. 
Bonk photo
Would he be Zonk?
Out of all the frustrating decisions Konami's made in the past few years, its shelving of the Bonk series hurt me the most. For those who don't know, Bonk was the first "radical" console wars rival to Mario, pre-dating Sonic ...

Experience Points .22: Tomb Raider

Aug 15 // Ben Davis
T. Rex doesn't want to be fed, he wants to hunt One of my most memorable gaming moments was seeing the T. Rex in Tomb Raider for the first time. Keep in mind, this was actually the very first 3D video game world I was exposed to. So that, coupled with the fact that I was very young at the time, helped to make the T. Rex a very mind-blowing experience for me. Here's the scenario: As an eight-year-old exploring a three-dimensional cavern for the first time ever, pretty much everything in Tomb Raider seemed incredible to me. Running around, dodging traps, solving puzzles, and shooting at bats, wolves, and even frighteningly powerful bears, I was having an amazing time. Then I get to the Lost Valley, the third level in the game, and things take a surprising turn. Lara climbs up a high wall and drops down into a curiously lush jungle environment, very different from the rocky caves I was used to. A bunch of skeletons litter the ground, and there are some rather large, bird-like footprints all over the place. What could have possibly made these prints? Suddenly, the sound of something large can be heard coming directly towards Lara, and out of nowhere a huge red creature shrieks and lunges at her. It happened so fast that all I could think was, "What the heck is that thing?!" as I jumped around like crazy and desperately fired my pistols. Finally it died, and I was able to take a closer look at the corpse to find out, oh my god, it's a freaking raptor! At that point, dinosaurs were definitely the last thing I expected to see in this game. From then on, I explored the jungle area very cautiously. Soon after dispatching a couple more raptors, Lara approaches a broken bridge high above her. I was moving very slowly towards the bridge, looking up to try and see if there was anything up there, when suddenly the battle music started and the ground began to shake. I stopped dead in my tracks as an enormous T. Rex burst out of the shadows and quickly bounded towards Lara. My heart skipped a beat and I slammed the pause button and nearly fell off of the ottoman I was sitting on! A T. Rex? I have to fight a freaking T. Rex? How in the world? After mentally preparing for several seconds, I got ready to attempt to take down the dinosaur and pressed the start button to resume playing. The T. Rex immediately ran up to Lara, grabbed her in its jaws, thrashed her about, and slammed her limp body onto the ground. Welp. That sure was fast. Eventually, I figured out an effective, if rather cheap, method of killing the big dino, but that moment of seeing it for the first time will forever remain one of my fondest memories in gaming. The wrath of the gods My favorite level in Tomb Raider would easily be St. Francis' Folly. It's the first level of the Greece section, and introduces lions, gorillas, and crocodiles into the mix of enemies. But what makes this level so fun and memorable is the extremely tall, enormous room which leads to four other rooms labeled Thor, Atlas, Neptune, and Damocles. While it's admittedly strange that they included the Norse god Thor and the Roman god Neptune in this Greek ruin (they later changed the names to Hephaestus and Poseidon in Tomb Raider: Anniversary), we'll just look past that for now. These four rooms are some of the coolest areas of the game. They're all themed around the mythological figures they're named for, and they're all quite deadly. Thor's room is decked out with a ball of electricity that shoots lightning bolts onto random floor tiles which Lara must carefully avoid, as well as a gigantic hammer which falls in an attempt to crush her if she wanders beneath it. Atlas' room traps Lara in a narrow corridor with a deadly boulder, which is meant to symbolize the sky that Atlas held upon his shoulders. Neptune's room has a frighteningly deep pool of water which sucks Lara down to the bottom and won't let her back up until she finds a hidden lever. Finally, Damocles' room is rigged with a bunch of huge swords dangling from the ceiling, which fall as Lara tries to leave and even home in on her a bit in an attempt to slice her up. I always enjoyed the creativity that went into making this level. The traps based on mythological figures were a really neat idea and really well implemented, even if they mixed up some of their mythologies. It added a lot to the wonder of the game's world, and even inspired me to research some Greek and Roman gods as a young kid to try and figure out what the names meant. Levels like this are what Tomb Raider is all about. The temptation of the Sphinx This one is a little specific. It's more of a small ritual that I personally enjoy doing every time I play Tomb Raider, even though it's probably not a part of everyone else's experience with the game. But it's also possible that I'm not the only person that does this! Lara actually has two different kinds of jumps in Tomb Raider: a normal jump and a swan dive. The latter is basically just a fancy jump that's probably only meant to be performed around water. Except Lara can do a swan dive anywhere, and one of my favorite things to do is take advantage of this and have her perform swan dives in some of the most ridiculous locations. Sure, she usually breaks her neck, but at least she looks damn good doing it! When I first learned that Lara could do swan dives, I was pulling them off all over the place. I swan dived into every pool of water. I swan dived from the top of the waterfall in the Lost Valley. I even swan dived from the top of the really tall room in St. Francis' Folly (Sorry, Lara!). Then Lara made her way to Egypt, and found herself in the Sanctuary of the Scion. Eventually, she exited into a big, open room with a gigantic Sphinx statue. I took one look at the Sphinx, towering way above Lara's head, and immediately thought, "I have to do a swan dive off that Sphinx." I made that my primary goal as I navigated around the room in an attempt to climb on top of the huge statue's head. Finally, I arrived at the top. I stood there for awhile, surveying the massive, open room around me and the ground far below. Then I pulled off the most glorious swan dive imaginable as Lara silently plummeted to her death in the sand at the Sphinx's feet. It was awesome. Now, whenever I replay Tomb Raider or Tomb Raider: Anniversary, I make it a ritual to perform a swan dive off the top of the Sphinx whenever I arrive at the Sanctuary of the Scion. I wonder if anyone else does the same thing... Home sweet home One of the best parts of any Tomb Raider game is getting to explore Lara Croft's mansion. In many games in the series, including the first, the mansion acts as a tutorial level. It's completely optional to play, and even the tutorial sections of the mansion are optional as well. When Lara enters certain rooms, including a gym, a room with a tumbling mat, a room full of boxes, and a swimming pool, she'll announce to the player all the different moves she can perform and which controls to use. The player can either follow her advice or choose to just keep moving and ignore her if they want, and continue to explore freely. It's actually one of the best ways to include a non-intrusive tutorial that I can think of. Unfortunately, there's not too much to do in the first game's mansion other than tutorials. The second game introduces a bunch of neat little secrets to discover, hidden rooms to find, and a crazy old butler to mess around with and lock in the freezer (he's a hoot), all staples of Lara Croft's awesome home. It's still pretty neat to run around the mansion in the original game though too. Goldfinger This may sound weird, but one of my favorite parts of Tomb Raider is actually one of the death animations. The Tomb Raider series is known for having some pretty gruesome deaths. Even in the first game, I sometimes felt really bad about dying because of Lara's death animations and sound effects. Seeing her thrash about while drowning, hearing the horrible popping and squelching sounds when she falls onto spikes, and watching her get torn apart and tossed around by the T. Rex and the final boss... man, Lara had a rough time. But there's one death animation that had me literally laugh out loud due to how absurd it is. When Lara travels to Greece, she eventually finds herself in an area called Palace Midas. There's a puzzle in this level wherein Lara must collect a few gold bars, except the only things to be found nearby are lead bars. Perhaps there is some way to turn the lead into gold? Those who are familiar with the story of King Midas know that he was said to have the power to turn anything into gold merely by touching it. And wouldn't you know it, there just so happens to be a giant statue of King Midas in the palace, with one of his hands severed and lying on the ground. Obviously, the key to solving the puzzle is to place the lead bars onto the statue's broken hand, which then turns them to gold. But... does the hand turn other things to gold as well? Lara's curiosity gets the better of her as she jumps up onto the hand and, lo and behold, her body parts slowly transform into solid gold as she dies a horrible, yet totally glamorous death. I believe the first time I witnessed this death animation it was completely by accident. I walked into the room, saw the hand lying there, and thought, "I should jump on that hand!" The death that followed took me completely by surprise, but as I sat there looking dumbfounded at the continue screen, I slowly started to piece together what had happened. "Oh! King Midas, duh!" Afterwards, I had a really good laugh, and then promptly went back to the statue room to watch the death animation all over again. Horror in hiding Tomb Raider is one of those games where nobody seems to realize how terrifying and bizarre it is until they actually play it all the way through. It's kind of like Ecco the Dolphin in this regard. For the majority of the game, the locations and enemies remain relatively normal. Lara makes her way through caves and ruins, fighting against the sorts of enemies you might expect to find there, such as bats, wolves, bears, lions, and crocodiles. Occasionally, she'll also encounter some unexpected things such as dinosaurs, but even those aren't too disturbing. But everything changes once Lara reaches the end of the Tomb of Tihocan. The entrance to the tomb is decorated with two statues of centaurs. They don't actually do anything other than look intimidating, so she leaves to navigate the area to find a lever to open the door of the tomb. But as she begins to enter the tomb, the two statues unexpectedly spring to life and attack. And not only do they do that, but their stony exteriors crack open to reveal a truly grotesque sight of what looks like a skinless creature with muscle and bone clearly exposed to the elements. It's horrible, and the first time I played this level it scared the crap out of me! But the horror doesn't stop there. After the Tomb of Tihocan, Lara makes her way into Egypt, and of course the place is crawling with mummies. But these aren't ordinary mummies. You might expect mummies to be slow, lumbering, yet powerful monsters, but the mummies in Tomb Raider are anything but slow! These things freaking run and jump all over the place, making an awful shrieking sound the entire time as they're thrashing at Lara. Their movements are so sudden that they somehow manage to startle me every single time I encounter one. Finally, Lara discovers the lost civilization of Atlantis, which is not nearly as wondrous as you might expect. It's actually pretty nightmarish. The place is crawling with creatures like the centaurs from before, with exposed muscle and bone. Not only that, but the walls, floors, and ceilings are all pulsating and throbbing like the entire place is alive, as if Lara is walking through some massive creature's body. It's extremely unsettling, and very far off from the relatively normal caves that began the whole adventure. And then there's the final boss... I'm fairly sure nobody expected to find something so grossly horrifying from a game like Tomb Raider, but I love how unpredictable it is. Past Experience Points Level 1: .01 - .20 .21: Katamari Damacy
Tomb Raider photo
I'm sorry, I only play for sport
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...

Destructoid's eight great games from gamescom 2015

Aug 14 // Steven Hansen
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain I didn't see shit with respect to The Phantom Pain at gamescom because I already played the damn thing for 14 hours months ago and there wasn't going to be anything too new compared to E3. Just more cut trailers and word that you can Looney Tunes-style kidnap soldiers from other players' bases. Bless this game. Roughly two more weeks.  (-Steven) Rise of the Tomb Raider Lara Croft's up to her usual shenanigans in Rise of the Tomb Raider. You know the drill by now: traverse dangerous terrain, avoid deadly traps, brutally murder everyone she encounters. Somehow, it doesn't feel old yet. Actually, it's still pretty damn fantastic.  Rise of the Tomb Raider steadily throws challenge after challenge at the player, usually with impeccable style. It's the slow-motion "act quick or Lara's definitely dead" moments that stick with you, but don't underestimate the times when you stand still for a minute and try to pick apart the next puzzle. This game leans heavily on the framework established in 2013's Tomb Raider, but don't let that fool you into thinking it's a bad thing. More of that is perfectly welcome. In our gamescom showing, Lara traded her flairs for glowsticks but the rest of the flashy demo proved that this girl definitely still has flair. (-Brett) Dark Souls 3 There is fear of Souls fatigue and completely sane fear this Dark Souls 3 is easy garbage for casuals, but From Software's tough-but-fair macabre fantasy world remains alluring all the same. I have high hopes for new settings and genres, but once more into a bonfire and flask-filled world of nightmare creatures isn't a bad way to spend some time. (-Steven) Scalebound While Scalebound looks like Platinum's most mainstream-appealing game yet, what with it being an open-world RPG with a vaguely fantasy setting, I'm confident in Hideki Kamiya's ability to bring the weird and inject some life into this Dragonheart successor. Even if it doesn't get too off the rails, it is a completely gorgeous game, with action principles that extend beyond Platinum's typical style (though terms like "open world" and "weapon degradation" do spook the "I like shorter games" side of me). But I'm still pretty sure at some point we're going to be riding that dragon real-time through the completely modern city streets of Drew's world. (-Steven) Hellblade As early a showing as it was, Hellblade has all the right ideas. It's all going to come down to execution. Taking the parlor trick that is hallucination sequences in games and making them "real," because the game takes place in Senua's point of view and her vivid visions are her reality, is a great way of blending theme and form. It gives you a good excuse for a moody third-person action game, too. If Ninja Theory can continue to do Enslaved and Heavenly Sword style stuff on a smaller scale, that will be a win against the homogenization of the industry. (-Steven) We Happy Few First comes credit for cutting this brilliant, unsettling trailer. Then comes credit to me for finally figuring out what the hell this game is. Basically it is an open-world survival sim not unlike Sir, You Are Being Hunted. Everyone is on their happy pills, keeping them in line; you are not on your happy pills and want to make your way off crazy person island. The world is randomly generated each time, but there are five distinct areas to get through, story characters to encounter en route to freedom, and so on. And those faces are still intimidating. (-Steven) Mirror's Edge Catalyst I generally wouldn't feel comfortable making this sort of bold statement after seeing a game in preview form, but here goes: No one who loved Mirror's Edge will be disappointed by the gameplay in Mirror's Edge Catalyst. With some hands-off and hands-on time under my belt, at least that much seems very obvious. The reason is that Catalyst's open-world free-running feels absolutely fantastic. An EA DICE representative gave a tightly-rehearsed presentation and said the word "fluid" about fifty times, and with good reason too. The developer put seamless movement at the forefront when creating this game, and it shows. Everything is fluid. Running across the City of Glass is a treat, not a chore -- that's exactly how Mirror's Edge should be. (-Brett) Kingdom This way my surprise game out of gamescom and I am in love. It takes the complexity of sprawling empire-building games like Civilization and distills them down to one button press. As King or Queen on your high horse, you gallop left or right to expand your kingdom. You do this by dropping coins from your purse. Drop a coin in front of a wandering vagrant and they become a loyal subject. Drop two coins in front of the arrow shop and it will produce a bow that an unemployed subject can pick up to become an archer, who then hunts to add funds back to the national treasury and defends the kingdom during the night cycle as horrible monsters attack. Resource management, strategy, expansion all simplified, easily readable, and supported by a lovely art style and fanastic music. Can't wait to play it again. (-Steven)
Best games of gamescom photo
All the winners, in no particular order
Another year, another gamescom. The show wrapped up last weekend and both Brett and I are safely home in the United States of America, clutching out guns and dystopian healthcare, but we've loosed out iron grip just long enou...

Don't speak photo
Don't speak

Nintendo will now duct tape employee mouths shut before they go home for the day (Fauxclusive)


This or they start cutting out tongues
Aug 14
// CJ Andriessen
Following the dismissal of Nintendo Treehouse employee Chris Pranger over comments he made in a Part-Time Gamers podcast, Nintendo of America told employees that beginning next week the company will start physically taping ...
Pro Game Journo photo
Pro Game Journo

Video games journalist is total big shot at high school reunion (Fauxclusive)


Because it's the best job in the world!
Aug 13
// CJ Andriessen
Students attending the Monroe High School Class of 2005 10-Year Reunion say the most memorable aspect of the night was neither the catering by In-N-Out Burger nor the Wolfmother cover band. No, these students say the thing ...

I used to love Konami

Aug 12 // Jonathan Holmes
There aren't many video game characters from 1987 who are still relevant today. I've selected a few for your perusal below. See if you can pick out which one is not like the others. I've added a generic chart of realistic human proportions to help you guess the answer.  While not quite "realistic," Castlevania's Simon Belmont is far and away the design who comes closest to following actual human proportions. He doesn't rely on bright colors, baby proportions, expressive facial features, and other tools borrowed from the language of traditional hand drawn cartoons to win over the crowd. He's an earnest attempt to harness the style of a classic action film hero and apply it to a video game. Most of Konami's games back in the late 1980s went for this style. While other publishers tried to tickle players with clownish antics, Konami titles like Gradius, Rush 'N Attack, Castlevania, The Adventures of Bayou Billy, Contra, and Metal Gear rejected cuteness in favor of a feel that payed tribute to Hollywood action films of the day, though they often walked dangerously close towards the line between tribute and theft. It was common practice for Konami to "borrow" the visage of big name actors for the games. Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Boris Karloff, Sean Connery, Kurt Russel and Mel Gibson are just a few of examples of big names who bear a strong resemblance to classic Konami characters. That kind of thing is pretty common in our modern world of games, with actual Hollywood actors (like TV heartthrob Norman Reedus) regularly lending their names, faces, and voices to AAA titles, but back in the 8-bit era, only Konami had the balls to consistently leap over tech limitations in an effort to deliver something more like an R-rated film. If the ESRB had existed back in the '80s, chances are a few of Konami's games would have flirted with an M rating.  While Konami may have worked to divorce itself from the cartoon mascots of '80s gaming, it did not work to avoid video game logic. Castlevania payed tribute to the dark, intimidating worlds depicted in classic Universal monster films, but it also hid meat behind walls and implanted Valentine's hearts inside of candles. Metal Gear combined James Bond's spy action with Rambo's lone soldier in a politically unstable world, but underneath that macho exterior, it's basically Pac-Man with guns. It's a game where characters may discuss the seriousness of World War III in one scene, only to have a large exclamation mark pop up above their heads in the next. That's a tradition that the series has never let go of, and has gone on to be one of its defining characteristics.  Playing off the tension between film and video game logic lived on in the Konami brand for over 30 years. The Silent Hill series centers around entering worlds that defy conventional reality, where subconscious thoughts and feelings fuse with the horrific and supernatural to create an environment that's emotionally real but physically impossible. At their heart, that's what most video games are -- worlds that feel real even though we know that they are not. Konami used to dart between realism and surrealism, symbolism and literalism, unplayable cinema and interactive gameplay, to create something larger than the sum of its parts. That interplay is the natural evolution of its old 1980s practice of depicting real life Hollywood icons with stripped down, iconographic sprites. It's something we see so often in modern games that we may take it for granted, but if it weren't for Konami working to pave the way, who knows where we'd be now. I sincerely hope that Konami returns to this kind of game design, or any kind of game design that doesn't involve sexy Pachinko machines.
Konami photo
I also used to love Mel Gibson
There aren't a lot of good things to say about Konami these days. Its missteps over the past few years have been frequent and severe, including: the embarrassingly poor Silent Hill HD Collection; the cancellation of Silent Hi...

Which video games did you grow up with?

Aug 09 // Ben Davis
We had a ton of other NES cartridges, too. Of course, we had the other two Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda, plus some other neat games like Clash at Demonhead, Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers, 1943: The Battle of Midway, Marble Madness, and Excitebike, as well as some weirder ones like Fester's Quest, T&C Surf Designs, and Winter Games. I dabbled in all of these games, usually with my sister and brother -- who was way better than me at the time, so I watched him beat more than a few of them. As for the other consoles, we only owned a few titles for each, and typically rented more. Our SNES collection included Super Mario World, Mario Paint, A Link to the Past, Final Fantasy II (well, IV), and Spider-Man and the X-Men in Arcade's Revenge. I liked all of these, but I probably played Final Fantasy II and Mario Paint the most (I loved that fly swatter mini-game!). I was terrible at Final Fantasy, though. I always got stuck on the octopus boss or the Antlion. I know I never saw anything past that point. But I kept trying to get better, because I really wanted to see more of that world. The Sega Genesis didn't get much love. I know we had a few Sonic the Hedgehog games and Ecco: The Tides of Time, but I can't remember anything else. Ecco was actually one of my favorite games at the time, because I was obsessed with marine biology as a kid (and still am!), but I was so bad at it that I just watched my brother play it instead. Whenever I played, I mostly just swam around and did flips and stuff. We also had some neat PC games. I remember playing Myst, SimTown, Lemmings, Magic Carpet, and Lode Runner: The Legend Returns on our old Windows 95 computer. I always thought Myst was really interesting visually, but I could never solve the puzzles by myself, of course. I spent most of my time with SimTown and Lode Runner. I even messed around with the level editor in Lode Runner a bit and tried to make my own maps. I'm sure all of the games from my childhood helped shape me into the gamer I am today and had major influences on my tastes. I always seemed to prefer the weird stuff, like Super Mario Bros. 2, Blaster Master, and Ecco. I loved platformers most, but also enjoyed RPGs and creative games like Mario Paint and SimTown. Of course, my tastes have since grown to include many other genres and types of games, but the ones I grew up with were the foundation of my hobby and I'll never forget them. How about you? Which games did you have growing up? What did you play the most and why?
Community discussion photo
Time for a nostalgia trip
Everyone remembers their first video game, right? I often think back on the games my family owned growing up and realize how much of an impact they had on my life. Without them, I might not be here today talking about video g...

Experience Points .21: Katamari Damacy

Aug 08 // Ben Davis
Royal Rainbow! The King of All Cosmos might actually be my favorite video game character of all time. It's weird though, because honestly, he's kind of an asshole. He "accidentally" destroys all the stars in the galaxy, and then has the nerve to make his son do all the work creating new ones. He's also incredibly snarky and super critical of the Prince's work. Really, dad? You're gonna force me to fix your mistakes and then tell me I'm not doing it well enough? I'm really feeling the love here... But even after all the abuse, I just can't help but admire the King of All Cosmos. I mean, just look at him! He's fit, handsome, has a quirky fashion sense, well-groomed facial hair, and a shockingly noticeable bulge (oh myyy). And did I mention he literally vomits rainbows? He is the very definition of fabulous. The King's dialogue is one of the most entertaining aspects of Katamari. Hearing him put down the Prince in such a nonchalant way is pretty funny. Plus he's got a witty sense of humor and a really strange way of viewing the world. It's fun to see what he thinks of humans and their way of life as he tries to understand why they do the things they do. He talks a lot (and I mean a lot!), but I never got tired of hearing his weird and wonderful thoughts or the strange record-scratching sound he makes. The King of All Cosmos may be a horrible father and a huge asshole, but he's just such a lovable asshole. I mean, it's hard to be mad at a man that has rainbows bursting out of every orifice! [embed]297398:59858:0[/embed] Na naaa na na na na naa naa naa na naa naa na na na~ It's almost impossible to talk about Katamari and not mention the soundtrack. It's one of the most unique video game soundtracks I've ever heard, filled with relentlessly happy songs and catchy melodies. If I ever want to smile, I simply have to put on some Katamari music. It cheers me up instantly. The vocal tracks are the best. Some of my favorites from the first game include "Lonely Rolling Star," "Katamaritaino," "A Crimson Rose and a Gin Tonic," and "Katamari Mambo" (I especially enjoy the male singer in that last one; he sounds so crazy!). Then there's "Cherry Blossom Color Season" with some adorable child vocals, "Que Sera Sera" with its notable English vocals ("I want to wad you up into my life!"), and "Katamari on the Rocks" which gets stuck in my head for days whenever I play the game. And I can't forget to mention "The Wonderful Star's Walk is Wonderful," which may not be a vocal track, but it's my personal favorite. I could honestly gush about every song on the soundtrack; the whole thing is fantastic! I had to give special mention to the title screen music, though. It's the very first thing the player hears upon turning on the game, and it's fantastic. It's basically just a guy singing a simple melody, but it's an instantly classic tune. It's calming, cheerful, quirky, and immediately recognizable. All you have to do is sing the first two notes ("Na naaa...") and it's already in my head! For the people The basic premise of Katamari is to roll junk up into a ball. It's a very simple idea, but it's crazy just how fun it is. It starts the player off as a tiny little ball rolling up thumbtacks and candies, growing larger and picking up progressively bigger objects like trash cans and bicycles, and eventually becoming huge enough to roll up entire buildings and even the very island they're standing on. It's such a wonderful feeling to see the Katamari growing larger and more powerful by the second and rolling up everything in its way. But I always find that the most fun comes from rolling up people. The behavior of the humans in Katamari games is hilarious. When the Katamari is still really small, they sort of just go about their business normally, most of the time not even giving a second glance to the weird ball of junk rolling around them. But once it's big enough, people will notice it and run away in terror, flailing their arms wildly. Even when they get rolled up themselves, they keep flailing their arms and legs in a comically energetic manner, like insects that are stuck on their backs. They also make funny noises upon being picked up. Usually it's a goofy shouting or laughing sound, but many of them make other strange noises. The biker punks' cries are especially odd. This video has a good sampling of the many sounds the people make. It may seem cruel to enjoy rolling people up into a ball of random objects, potentially crushing them as things like cars and buildings are added into the mix, or impaling them on fence posts and street signs, or burning them on campfires, or drowning them as the Katamari rolls through the ocean. And all the while they await their fate of being turned into a flaming hot star in a newly reformed galaxy. But, you know, they'll probably be okay... right? I hope? I'm sure they're fine... My cousin Dipp The Prince's many cousins are a bizarre bunch of individuals. They can be found hidden in each level, and can later be selected for use in the multiplayer mini-game. Over the course of the series, more and more cousins were added to the mix, and they became playable characters for the main game as well. Even though they're essentially just costume swaps of the Prince (they don't have special abilities or anything), I just love collecting all the little guys. Whenever I find a cousin as I'm rolling around one of the levels, I absolutely have to roll them up. If they're too big, I make it my goal to grow large enough to grab them before the timer runs out. The cousins also have some of the craziest designs in the game. They're all very colorful with differently-shaped heads. There's Ichigo who looks like a strawberry, Marny who's shaped like a tennis ball, Nickel who's a robot, Lalala who is always naked, Miso who literally has a bowl of soup for a head (filled with actual soup in later games), and many more. My two favorite cousins are Dipp and Odeko. Dipp's body is covered with brightly-colored, flashing polka dots so he looks like a disco ball or something, and Odeko has an unreasonably tall head which grows taller in the later games and makes certain items like the headphones look really funny. I almost always play as those two. Throughout the Katamari series, the cousins seem to get weirder and weirder. The original 23 from the first game have all had their features altered and intensified, while newer, crazier cousins are introduced as well. I really like them though. They're like a strange, dysfunctional, rainbow-colored family. I bet they have the greatest reunions! Must find all of the things! Katamari Damacy is one of those games where I have to collect everything. I feel like I haven't truly finished the game until I've rolled up every last object I can find. This mentality is mainly due to the very detailed collection screen, which lists every object by category, location, and size, as well as a separate list for rare objects with special names. Each list provides a percentage of items that have been collected, which of course made the completionist gamer in me want to fill out each list for 100% completion. Katamari also took one step further with its collection screen by adding funny little descriptions for each object in the game. The descriptions appear to be written from the perspective of the King of All Cosmos, since they often use the royal We, which the King enjoys using to refer to himself. Since the majority of the objects are human items, the King sort of has to guess at what they're used for through observation, so a lot of the descriptions are humorous. Some of my favorite descriptions include the peach ("A butt-shaped fruit that is more tasty than butts."), the chopsticks ("Why are these called chopsticks? And why are they so difficult to use?"), the toothbrush ("A stick to put in your mouth. There's got to be a purpose..."), the nail clipper ("Used to clip human claws. We wonder if it hurts."), the handcuffs ("If you do something really bad these may be used on you! Or if you are good..."), and the dung beetle ("Rolls cow dung and makes it bigger. We feel a little rivalry here."). The collection screens are always a joy to read through. Every time I find new items, I go directly to the collection to read what the King has to say about it. In fact, there's actually a Twitter account specifically dedicated to cataloging every single Katamari item with their descriptions! And now for something completely different It's not often I praise a game for its cutscenes, but Katamari's cutscenes are simply glorious. The game's intro is just about the happiest, craziest thing I've ever watched, and it sets the mood perfectly. It has rainbows bursting everywhere, animals dancing and singing, the King flying around and looking all regal, the Prince doing a happy little dance, and really catchy, upbeat music. It might just be my favorite opening scene of all time, simply because of how wacky and cheerful it is. Those ducks get me every time! And then there are the other cutscenes which focus on the human Hoshino family as they live their daily lives while Katamari are being rolled in the background. These scenes are particularly awkward. The Hoshinos are all square and boxy, move very slowly, and speak in slow, unenthusiastic voices, but something about their boring demeanor clashes with the wackiness of the game in a hilarious way. The cutscenes always had me laughing in a "what did I just watch?" kind of way, and I kept looking forward to seeing more of them. Oh, and the little girl also has her own cutscenes after each constellation level is completed. She gets a peculiar sensation and proclaims, "Oh! I feel it. I feel the cosmos!" before swirling out of control into the cosmos herself. I love those scenes so much. 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 3.13: Animal Crossing.14: Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King.15: Super Mario Sunshine.16: Final Fantasy VII.17: Nier.18: Chrono Trigger.19: Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance.20: Red Dead Redemption
Katamari Damacy photo
Oh! I feel it. I feel the cosmos!
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...

The 90s are bad photo
The 90s are bad

Rude old PC ad suggests all men are casual console babies


The 90s are bad
Aug 08
// Steven Hansen
Can you believe this 3Dfx ad from the 90s recently unearthed online by Felipe Pepe? In the era of "attitude" (or just 'tude), 3Dfx had the gall to suggest all men, the fairer sex not graced with breasts, are all casual consol...

Podtoid 302: Virtual Reality is the Future

Aug 08 // Kyle MacGregor
[embed]297458:59878:0[/embed] What We Discussed Gamescom (Star Wars, Tomb Raider, Assassin's Creed, MMOs) Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest Oculus VR inventor Palmer Luckey's unfortunate TIME cover Dark Souls  Darren is playing some dumb mobile game Penny Arcade Expo Gardevoir Rocket League Inside baseball and actual baseball Recent Episodes Podtoid 301: The Least Interesting Man in the World Podtoid 300: Randy Pitchford's Little Asshole Podtoid 299: Blast Ball Podtoid 298: Tales of E3 and Batman: Arkham Knight  Podtoid 297: E3 2015 Predictions, Tips & Tricks  Send any and all questions, tips, and Steven Hansen fan art to [email protected]
PODCAST photo
LOL
Subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or download it here. No Brett or Steven this week, as the beastie boys are still off gallivanting around Cologne, Germany for gamescom. But we did manage to bring back PCWorld's illustrious Hayden Dingman to discuss the hottest, sweatiest, smelliest news in the world of video games for your listening pleasure.

Here's what the first ever Super Smash Con looks like

Aug 07 // Chris Carter
[embed]297294:59877:0[/embed] That right there [above] is the major tournament area, where players are hard at work qualifying for the major tournaments. The turnout is actually pretty good, as most of the massive parking lot at the expo center was filled, but there's plenty of space to walk around inside, and a plentiful amount of arcade cabinets and console stations. In addition to a smaller arcade section and a small gaming museum exhibit, there's a ton of indie game setups, as well as homebrew spots and retro areas to game in. My favorite part was probably the little signs that displayed random factoids about the series, like "17 of the 36 characters in Mario Kart 8 also appear in Smash." It's not at the size of say, the current era of MAGFEST (there were only 12 exhibitors or so here, and although they are across the street from a hotel, the expo center isn't as massive as your typical con), but again, it's a great start -- I'm looking forward to getting back to catching the matches throughout the weekend.
Super Smash Con photo
I'd say it's a success
Today is the first major day for the first Super Smash Con, taking place in Virginia this weekend. While I covered the major happenings here as well as all the pertinent info you'll need for tournaments and streams, I also ha...

Lighthouses photo
Lighthouses

Today is National Lighthouse Day, go play To the Moon


Everything's Alright
Aug 07
// Darren Nakamura
We have a lot of silly "holidays" in the United States, when we don't actually take off work but instead just take a few minutes to think about a thing we maybe don't often think about. Today is National Lighthouse Day, so le...

What games are you never ever ever getting back together with?

Aug 05 // Jed Whitaker
Thank you, Mortal Kombat X, For driving the final nail in the coffin of secret characters. I now accept that unlockables, especially in the form of hidden characters or outfits, are dead.  --   Thank you, League of Legends, You kept me company when I was all alone, sometimes for up to eight or more hours a day. I'm sorry that you started seeing other people; people who mostly spout garbage and toxicity. I've heard you've cleaned up recently, but I've moved on.  --   Thank you, Words With Friends, For ripping off Scrabble and capitalizing on it. I actually enjoyed our time together until I started getting text messages -- on top of your already plentiful notifications -- telling me it was my turn.  --   Thank you, Mario Kart, We had such fun times together on the Nintendo 64, back before you were all about micromanaging parts of karts and had far too many items. Back before you needed a spreadsheet to pick your karts, there also used to be dedicated balloon battle arenas. Those were the days. --   Thank you, Sega, You were a large part of my childhood. Golden Axe, Sonic the Hedgehog, Ristar, and others were my jam. I'm glad you never remade Golden Axe or made a game where Sonic the Hedgehog is a werehog with stretchy arms or kisses a human. I'm so not in denial.
You've got what I need photo
Never say never
Are there any games or series out there that you gave a chance and really tried to like until they inevitably broke your heart, as many boys games do? Sometimes you might even still have feelings for the games, or even love t...

My completely inaccurate Rising Thunder tier list

Aug 05 // Nic Rowen
Crow Crow is like a mini-Evangelion mech with a chakram, which I'd normally consider a strong look. But, when compared to the rest of the much goofier and lighthearted Rising Thunder cast, he just looks like he's trying too hard to be edgy -- like Hot Topic opened a mech garage. I can't wait for the DLC to give him a wallet chain and a checker pattern. Crow also looks like he'll be annoying as hell to fight against. Rising Thunder may be the first fighting game to actually do invisibility right (because it's online only, the Crow player will be able to see an outline of their character on their screen while the opponent will see nothing) and that will be sure to attract the trollish kind of player who likes to mess with people. I can already see the YouTube clip reels of time-out victories where a Crow player gets a life lead and dances around invisible for the rest of the match on the horizon. His spinning disk can be delayed to float in the air for a long time, which is the kind of thing that is always a pain to deal with. Any character that can force an opponent to defend while still being able to move and attack themselves seem to do well, so I wouldn't be surprised if Crow actually turned out to be one of the better characters in Rising Thunder. For the purposes of this list however, his high school-ish gothy design and my prediction that I'm going to hate fighting him will land Crow squarely at the bottom of this list. What, you thought this was going to be useful? Edge So, we can all agree that Edge is basically Zero with the serial numbers filed off, right? I mean, red armor, green energy sword, slim build. Heck, he's even got a freaking pony tail! It would be scandalous if Capcom hadn't already abandoned the maverick hunter. Someone might as well rescue him from the scrapyard and put him to work. The in-game description labels Edge as a rush-down character with a high skill difficulty. Given how Zero played in Marvel vs. Capcom 3, I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that the resemblance isn't purely coincidental. Edge looks like the kind of character who is designed to reward dedication and practice by becoming a sheer nightmare in the right hands. The kind of character I can never quite seem to grok but can look forward to being bodied by, over and over. Joy. Oh well. Here's hoping he doesn't have any lightning loop nonsense at least.   Dauntless I want to like Dauntless more than I do. She has all the right pieces, a goofy expressive face, extra large hands for Rock'Em-Sock'Em style fisticuffs, and a pleasingly robot-ish squared off design. But something just doesn't click. There is nothing wrong with her, but she's just a little too bland to really crack the top half of the list. Sorry, Dauntless, it's the curse of being the mascot character. Too inoffensive to hate, too milquetoast to love. Speaking of Rock'Em-Sock'Em, that's a cross marketing opportunity if I've ever seen one. Someone should get on that Kickstarter fast. Talos Talos is the big dumb grappler character of Rising Thunder and he knows it. He's got a silly accent, a boisterous attitude, a dumb haircut, and incredibly overdone command grab specials; everything you need to make Zangief, the patron saint of grapplers, proud. Talos goes one step further by joining the ranks of some of my other favorite big dumb characters like Iron Tager and Lex Luthor by having an electromagnetic suction mechanic to pull opponents in close for that real soviet damage. Come here and give daddy a hug.  Also, his forward dash makes him pivot on his arms like a gorilla. Perfection. Vlad I can't tell if Vlad is going to be the Dan of Rising Thunder, or the Akuma. All I know is that he's going to be a fan favorite and I'm no exception. He's so damn cute and silly that I almost don't want to love him, but I do, I do. How could I not? He's like if the Iron Giant had a goofy Russian step-brother. While all the other fighters of Rising Thunder are cutting-edge robots ripped from futuristic anime series and discarded Jagger design documents, Vlad is like a tin robot stumbling out of the 1950s, with all the adorable goofiness and Cold War tension that implies. He's got a jetpack, a tiny flag antenna, and he windmills his arms and torso about like a madman. He even fires a tiny elbow rocket! Vlad has everything I'm looking for in a robot. But I suspect Vlad harbors a darker secret underneath all that silly charm. Inside that metal chest beats the heart of a real terror, the kind of character everyone writes off as a joke until he shows up in a tournament one day and cleans house. It's that jetpack, and all the fly-canceling shenanigans it could allow. I bet we'll see someone break the game with it sooner or later, and then no one will be laughing anymore. Chel Chel makes the top of my list by virtue of sheer adorability. She's a little ball of energy with a whole lot of personality for a robot. A big plume of pink hair, a charming accent, and cute little rocket boosters on her hands for when she does a forward dash. Robot girls just want to have fun! In a weird coincidence, Chel is the one place where my dumb personal tier list happens to overlap with reality. As it stands in the alpha, Chel is one of, if not the, strongest character. Her keep-away fireballs and one-button uppercut lead to a simple, but brutally effective game plan that is easy to implement and difficult to work around. That Shoto archetype set the standard for a reason. Given how upset people seem to be at Chel right now, I'd expect to see some balance changes that will make her a little less of a cruise-control character. So I guess now is the time to scumbag it up and establish that character loyalty cred while sneakily enjoying a top-tier character. Rising Thunder is still in the earliest of early days, so any talk of actual tier lists is super dumb and I'm sure everything will change twenty times before the game is launched for real. There are still characters to be revealed, mechanics to iron out, and decisions to be made. As it stands though, Rising Thunder is remarkably fun to play, even if it represents a dramatic shift from traditional fighting game models. Has anyone else been playing the alpha or watching some streams of it? Picked out a favorite already or have a particularly despised foe? I'd be interested to hear what other people think of the game so far!
Rising Thunder tier list photo
From rust bucket to top-bot
Rising Thunder is an experiment I'm not quite sure about yet. On one hand, it seems to be custom made for me: an aging fighting game fan with a well-documented obsession with robots and a pair of cinder-block mittens for hand...

Kickstarter photo
Kickstarter

Keiji Inafune: Is it too soon to start my next Kickstarter? (Fauxclusive)


Is it ever too soon?
Aug 03
// CJ Andriessen
Game developer Keiji Inafune asked himself today if it was too soon for him to start his next Kickstarter campaign. In the minutes following Red Ash's Kickstarter failure, Inafune paced around his office mentally going throug...
Jonathan Holmes vs Jed photo
Jonathan Holmes vs Jed

Splatoon Splatfest Faceoff: Marshmallows vs Hot Dogs


Holmes vs Whitaker / Nipples vs Weiners
Aug 03
// Jed Whitaker
Get your tentacles ready, there is about to be another Splatfest in Splatoon for those of us in North America and this time the theme is marshmallows versus hot dogs. Jonathan Holmes and I decided to debate why our side...
Dtoid Smash Bros. photo
Dtoid Smash Bros.

Results for the first ever Dtoid Smash Bros. tournament


A new one starts soon!
Aug 03
// Jed Whitaker
Our first ever Super Smash Bros. for Wii U online tournament just ended and the results are in and we have a tie! Congratulations to Edgar (NNID MexiBoy51) and Jaydubious (NNID Jaydubious) both having 9 wins. Also an honorabl...

You aren't the hero in this RPG

Aug 02 // Kyle MacGregor
A Healer Only Lives Twice isn't a typical RPG by any means. Instead of putting the player in control of the prototypical hero, they actually have to defend him. After a light introduction, a warrior and the eponymous healer venture into a dungeon teeming with all sorts of dangerous monsters. The goblins, slimes, and other beasts advance toward the duo in rows, the leaders of which attack the "tank," while the rest wait their turn until a gap opens in the ranks. The only power players have over the tank is suggestion, telling him which row to attack while you see to his defense. The tank, despite his name, might as well be made out of glass and relies on the healer to vigilantly mend his wounds and cast various sorts of defensive buffs to reduce the effectiveness of oncoming attacks. You'll also be crafting items and learning skills on the fly to make your party more effective, which means you'll never be without something to do in the heat of battle. If the tank and healer don't succumb to their enemies, the healer's torch will eventually go out, at which point the journey will begin anew after allowing you to spend the experience you just earned on a myriad of different upgradeable attributes. This makes your quest easier at the outset, allowing you to go progressively further each time, as you learn more and become increasingly powerful. It's a really enjoyable little game that I'm glad I managed to pick up before it disappeared with scores of others when Sony turned off PSM's taps last month. Thankfully, A Healer Only Lives Twice is aptly named and won't be gone forever. Its creator has plans for the game in a post-PSM world. A Healer Only Lives Twice is primed for a Windows PC release sometime this summer, ensuring that a larger audience will have an opportunity to play this cute roguelike RPG if they so choose.
Doujin Dojo photo
But playing second fiddle isn't half bad
Doujin Dojo is a weekly column dedicated to spotlighting independent games from Japan and the people that make them. Every time I talk about PlayStation Mobile, someone inevitably mentions it's the first time they've ever hea...

Podtoid 301: The Least Interesting Man in the World

Aug 02 // Kyle MacGregor
[embed]297061:59761:0[/embed] What We Discussed A bunch of bullshit, probably Recent Episodes Podtoid 300: Randy Pitchford's Little Asshole Podtoid 299: Blast Ball Podtoid 298: Tales of E3 and Batman: Arkham Knight  Podtoid 297: E3 2015 Predictions, Tips & Tricks  Podtoid 296: On Fleek Send any and all questions, tips, and Sonic the Hedgehog fanfic to [email protected]
Podtoid photo
Stay thirsty, my friends
Subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or download it here. On this week's episode of Podtoid, PCWorld's Hayden Dingman joins the crew to take an audio tour of Darren's house, make fun of Donski's amiibo collection, and talk about other stuff too, probably.

Rocket League photo
Rocket League

Live action Rocket League game ends in tragedy (Fauxclusive)


A totally awesome way to die
Aug 01
// CJ Andriessen
The bodies are still being pulled from the flaming wreckage of an 8-car accident after Tennessee teens tried to recreate the hit video game Rocket League. Organized by 16-year-old Bryan Song of Big Sandy, the game took plac...

Windows 10 is now available, these are the gaming features you might care about

Jul 29 // Jed Whitaker
The start menu is back and why are we celebrating this!? A big complaint about Windows 8 was the removal of the basic start menu for the Metro system with live tiles, tailor made for touch screen devices. As most of us probably still use Windows with a mouse and keyboard it wasn't a great solution. It had some apps running in basically their own full screen only windows, thus defeating the purpose of... you know... windows. Thankfully Windows 10 fixes this by combining the old school easy-to-use start menu with the flash and flair of live tiles from Windows 8 Metro start menu. The apps now launch in their own resizable windows instead of full screen only, and plenty of them can be downloaded from the Windows Store for free. Windows Store for those of you who haven't heard of Steam The Windows Store includes plenty of games you can play with your Xbox Live friends and even earn Achievements, but most of them are just ports of casual mobile or Facebook-style games. However, you can find Project Spark on the Windows Store, which runs far better on PC than Xbox One. In the future you can look forward to the sexy free-to-play Gigantic which I quite liked at PAX East this year. Halo's Cortana is the new voice assistant you'll most likely ignore Cortana is to Windows as Siri is to iOS devices, that is to say she is a personal assistant that can be used via text or voice. Cortana is voiced by Jen Taylor, just like in the Halo series, and can do all kinds of tasks such as scheduling appointments, setting reminders, opening apps, and even chatting about Halo and Master Chief. I honestly haven't used Cortana too much but I don't really dig voice assistants, as they don't always seem to understand what I'm saying; even Cortana had trouble understanding me while using my professional grade microphone. Even on my iPhone I've literally only used Siri to call Buffalo Wild Wings instead of adding them to my contact list because I'm too lazy. Voice assistants seem more geared towards business than common folk like me. The Xbox app with game streaming from Xbox One is actually decent The Xbox app is free on Windows 10 and gives you access to all your friends, messages, achievements, clips and even allows you to stream games from  your Xbox One. Streaming from the Xbox One requires an Xbox controller (360 or One) be connected to the system which at time of writing can only be done via USB, though a wireless dongle is coming. The Xbox app also allows you to record gameplay and take screenshots of any game on your PC, whether playing on Xbox or not via a handy keyboard shortcut (Win + G) and pop-up toolbar. Game streaming works about as well as you'd imagine. I just played a match of Halo 2's SWAT -- a game mode requiring precision aiming due to requiring headshots for kills -- in which I came in the middle of the pack with over ten kills. There was a smidgen of noticeable lag at one point, but not enough to really affect the gameplay enough to matter. Video quality-wise there was a bit of artifacting but only if I really looked for it, even with both my desktop and Xbox One running on wired connections. Also the "Xbox record that" voice command won't work during streaming, so you'll have to use Xbox apps keyboard shortcut to record directly onto your PC that way. Supposedly better performance out of your current graphics card with DirectX 12 To save you all the geeky technical talk just know that DirectX 12 allows many graphics cards to have majorly increased performance in comparison to previous versions, meaning you might be able to play at higher resolutions with better settings on your current setup. For more details check out this informative video from AMD.  I personally haven't seen much real world increase in graphical performance, but I'm running on an Nvidia GTX 980 that could already max out all the games I was playing on Windows 8 previously. Perhaps you'll see some gains? Minecraft: Windows 10 beta is a thing that exists If you are one of those people who must have every version of Minecraft possible then good news, you can get the Windows 10 beta for free if you already own a PC copy of the game. Details on how to get the beta are at the Mojang site. I just attempted to do it and it is only allowing me to download the trial version, so your results may vary. This version of Minecraft allows you to play with up to seven of your Xbox Live friends at once and eventually even play with mobile players. I guess that is probably exciting for someone.  -- Windows 10 has plenty of other new features, most of which just let you do what you'd normally do more efficiently such as new ways to snap windows, a new task view, automatic updates, and the Microsoft Edge web browser that is probably the fastest browser currently on the market. Edge doesn't currently support extensions, which is keeping me from switching from Google Chrome at the moment. I've been using Windows 10 on my main system for quite a while now with no issues and with all my games and applications working as intended. Windows 10 is easily the best operating system I've ever used as it allows me to play, work, and relax more efficiently and effectively. It has been worthwhile for me.
Best Windows yet? photo
Pizzazz, pizzazz, Windows 10 is here
Windows 10 is now officially available, and those who have Windows 7 or 8 can upgrade for free, which is a pretty good price for what I consider the best version of Windows yet. Windows 10 packs a bunch of new features, including some nice extras for Xbox One owners. Here is an overview of new features you might care about as someone who plays games.

Strap-on Gaming Star Wars photo
Strap-on Gaming Star Wars

Star Wars podracing is pretty awesome in VR


As is dancing at the cantina bar
Jul 28
// Jed Whitaker
Someone went through the trouble of recreating Star Wars' Tatooine for the Oculus Rift and it is awesome. In the demo appropriately named Tatooine, you can visit the cantina where a dance party is taking place with the ...

Experience Points .20: Red Dead Redemption

Jul 25 // Ben Davis
The desert life There really aren't enough games that go for the Wild Western setting, and probably no other game pulls it off quite as spectacularly as Red Dead Redemption. It's set in an area inspired by the Rio Grande Basin connecting Texas and Mexico, as well as the deserts and prairies of Arizona and New Mexico. It also takes place in a time of Wild West cowboys, horses, outlaws, gunslinging, and saloons, so it basically feels like playing a classic Spaghetti Western film. The desert vistas in this game are absolutely gorgeous. In fact, my favorite thing to do was just to ride around and look at all the different locations. The sandy expanses, the majestic rock formations, the fields of cacti and desert shrubs, the old Western-style towns and dilapidated structures, and those sunsets... my god. Every inch of this game is stunning. Sometimes I just sat around on top of my horse for a few minutes and marveled at the world around me. I've only been out West once in my life, when I was like five years old, so I didn't really get to appreciate it as much as I would have liked. I'd love to take a trip around that area again sometime, in part because Red Dead Redemption makes it look so beautiful. It's rare that a game makes me want to go out and see the world like this one did. Draw! Good old-fashioned duels are a staple of the Western genre, so it's no surprise they make an appearance here. I've been obsessed with Western duel scenes ever since I watched The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, which has quite possibly the most glorious duel ever filmed. Two men (or three, in the case of the film) standing at a distance, their hands readied above their guns, sweat rolling down their faces, waiting for the signal to draw their weapons to see who can shoot faster and become the victor... it's always such a thrilling scene to watch. The duels in Red Dead Redemption aren't quite as long and fancy as the ones from Sergio Leone's films, but they're still very satisfying. Some duels take place as a part of the story, but many occur randomly. Marston may be challenged to duels by outlaws just by walking through a town, or if he's caught cheating at poker, or even if he rudely knocks over a passing stranger. If he accepts the duel, then the standoff begins. The camera shows both participants before coming in close to focus on Marston's hand hovering above his holstered gun, and then time slows down as shots are fired. It's very cinematic, which makes it feel even more like an homage to its film inspirations. I also like that, in some cases, Marston can win by simply disarming his opponent rather than killing them. Doing so generates both honor and fame, while killing only generates fame. It makes me feel good to play as the virtuous Western hero sometimes, so I always tried to aim for my opponent's gun hand whenever possible. It's what the man with no name would have done (unless he's dueling against Angel Eyes, that is!). John Marston, with the rope, in the conservatory Speaking of being honorable, I particularly enjoyed the option of using the lasso to subdue foes. It's not always the best method, but I tried to use the lasso as often as possible, not only because it means I don't have to kill as many people, but it's also just really fun to use. Bad guys can be lassoed, hogtied, and lifted onto the back of Marston's horse to take them to jail kicking and screaming. It's a bit trickier to capture bounties this way, because the player often needs to act quickly before the criminal's pals appear to help him out. Plus it feels good knowing that it's possible to solve problems non-violently. I'm always pleased when games give me these kinds of options. Of course, if the player wants to be a bit more villainous with their lasso, that's also a possibility. Marston can lasso someone while on horseback and drag them along behind him to kill them, hold on to the rope with the lasso around their necks to choke them, lasso their horses to try and buck them off a cliff, or even go the old-fashioned dastardly route and hogtie someone and then leave them lying on the train tracks to meet their demise. All you need is a bit of creativity to turn the lasso into a deadly weapon. A horse with no name John Marston wouldn't get very far without a trusty steed, and luckily there are plenty of horses for him to choose from. While the horses in Red Dead Redemption may not be as memorable as, say, Epona or Agro, they still play a very important role as companions. The game provides Marston with his own horse early on, but it also allows him to steal other people's horses or even capture and tame wild horses whenever he wants. If a strong-looking stallion is spotted in the wild, Marston can use his lasso to reign it in and then jump on its back to try and tame it. This was my favorite method of finding horses. I tend to go for the solid white or solid black horses, which seemed to be kind of rare and challenging to tame, but they're just so impressive-looking. I liked to pretend I was riding around on Shadowfax or one of the Black Riders' horses. Many players probably go through a lot of different horses during their playthrough, but I usually tried to keep my horses as long as possible. They tended to be more trustworthy and stronger the longer I kept them around, and I also couldn't help but feel a sense of connection with my horse friends after a while. I hated to see them get hurt, especially the ones I captured in the wild since so much work went into finding them and gaining their trust. For something that could easily be seen as a disposable item within the game, Red Dead Redemption sure did a fantastic job of making the horses feel alive and full of personality, something more than just a mode of transportation. Gambling man While the story and free-roam play of Red Dead Redemption was phenomenal, I also just could not get enough of the mini-games. Poker, liar's dice, five finger fillet, horseshoes, arm wrestling, blackjack... I spent so much time playing all of these games in each of the settlements, trying to master them and win money. They're all really fun and impressively fleshed out. While I probably spent the most time playing poker, my best game was definitely liar's dice. I'd actually never heard of it before playing Red Dead Redemption, but I quickly mastered it and raked in the cash. Horseshoes, on the other hand, was definitely not my game. I was terrible at aiming correctly, but it was still fun to learn. Five finger fillet was also enjoyable simply because I would never want to try it in real life. I value my own hands, thank you very much, but I don't mind the risk of butchering Marston's body parts. Although it is kind of strange how his hands seem to be just fine even if he accidentally stabs himself repeatedly with a knife. I messed up so much that I'm surprised he still had fingers! A grizzly encounter There is almost nothing more terrifying than hearing the snarl of a cougar while Marston is roaming the wilderness in Red Dead Redemption. Cougars are fast and powerful, they can easily kill in one or two strikes, and they're very difficult to detect due to their tan color which blends in well with the sandy desert environment. Usually, the player won't know a cougar is near until they hear the loud, ferocious snarling. The sound always stopped me dead in my tracks, as I desperately tried to search for the location of the animal before it was too late. Then when they pounce, it's a strenuous fight to the death as I try to avoid their attacks and get a few shots in as they're running around. Even when I was being careful, they mauled me to death on more than one occasion. The cougars are no joke! But even the cougars pale in comparison to the grizzly bears. The bears make a loud growling sound as well, but more often than not, I would see the bear before I heard it. I would just be minding my own business in the woods, then turn around and BAM... there's a big old grizzly bear bounding straight toward me! It scared me every single time, and sometimes I'd even have to pause the game for a bit just to take a breather before confronting the animal. The bears in Red Dead Redemption are arguably even more dangerous than the cougars. Sure, they're slower, but they're so powerful and difficult to take down that I found them to be way more frightening. And usually, once I killed one bear, two or three more would come running out of nowhere to avenge their friend. It was almost certain death once I found myself surrounded by multiple bears. Chill out, bears! I can only handle so much bear at once! 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 3.13: Animal Crossing.14: Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King.15: Super Mario Sunshine.16: Final Fantasy VII.17: Nier.18: Chrono Trigger.19: Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
Red Dead Redemption photo
John Marston! Remember the name!
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...

Superhero games Rocksteady should be making

Jul 25 // Nic Rowen
The Punisher Look, I love the Arkham games, really. But after four games of playing the part of the morally upright caped crusader, fighting the same damn villains over and over again because he refuses to cross the line and put a permanent end to Gotham's insane clown problems, I'm ready for a more practical superhero experience. A hero who sees a problem and deals with it. Maybe it's me, maybe I just grew up with too many '80s action movies and I see every problem as something that can be solved with an UZI and a handful of hollow points, and I know deep down that isn't true. But, it is a worldview Frank Castle would certainly agree with. I would love to see a big budget game finally do right by everyone's favorite PTSD-stricken vigilante. The Punisher has had a mixed history with games, ranging from a fondly remembered but completely standard beat-em-up in the early '90s, a bizarrely violent PS2 outing that felt like the The Punisher as directed by Eli Roth, and his last showing was a completely dismal PS3 downloadable title. The greatest crime to go unpunished in that case was inflicted on the fans. Frank needs a win, and the Rocksteady team could pull it off. Picture a slice of New York City rendered as impressively as Gotham was in Arkham Knight. Not some sprawling open world nightmare where 90% of the budget gets blown on world assets, but enough room to let Frank move around and explore, a hunting ground to stalk and shank his way through the criminal underworld. Give him a list of targets and goals that force him to move around the city, digging up his own leads and carving his own path through the local vermin. Force players to think about their actions and plan their attack carefully, always mindful of potential innocents that could be caught in the crossfire and escape routes to take in case the cops show up early. Borrow from Shadow of Mordor's nemesis system and let Frank bully and threaten around lower level bosses and snitches to build a stepladder of bullet-riddled mobster corpses up the food chain. And please, don't skimp on the guns. This is THE PUNISHER we're talking about here, he doesn't have any super powers to reveal or fuss over. All he has is grit, every edition of Jane's Directory of Small Arms ever written, and a creepy warehouse full of meticulously maintained weapons to obsess over -- so pay them the proper due. I want to see armament so overly-detailed and described it would make Solid Snake blush. I want gun worship so intense that it makes the Counter-Strike custom model scene look casual. I want glorious matte-black and nickle-plated idols, not items. Hrum. Maybe reading all of those issues of The Punisher Armory when I was a kid had a lasting effect after all. Zatanna Zatanna would make a dope video game protagonist. Look, I know it may seem hypocritical just after opining about the idea of a Punisher game, but there is something to be said about getting away from the typical brooding, depressive, vengeance-obsessed dude protagonists of the comic book world and doing something a little different. The mystical world and glitzy stages Zatanna trades in isn't just a step in another direction, it's a leap into an entirely different dimension. Most superheros come from some kind of pseudo-scientific background. Amazing abilities thanks to a solar-powered alien physiology, a robotic suit of goodies powered by an artificial heart/fusion generator, a kid gets bitten by a radioactive honey badger and gains all the proportional rabies and hatred of a man-sized honey badger, and so on. They may be implausible, silly, and ridiculous, but they all come from some semi-believable point in reality. Zatanna is having none of that. Zatanna is capital M Magic. No science, no excuses, just real deal “as I speak I create” world bending, wizards and warlocks stuff. When Zatanna's will and the hard solid wall of reality collide, it's reality that bends, buckles, and inevitably breaks. She lives in the DC universe, filled as it is with its infinite supply of nameless muggers, tacky C-list theme villains, and alien tyrants, and sure she deals with them like any other upstanding member of the JLA. But she also has one foot in a much stranger world, a shadow realm of ghosts, astral projections, and scheming devils, the kind of threat that the Elongated Man or any of the other rank and file heroes aren't likely to deal with anytime soon. She rubs shoulders with weirdos like John Constantine and the Sandman. Her rogues gallery includes the biblical Cain, infamous brother-slayer and lord of vampires. Oh, and in her “downtime” she stars in her very own internationally famous magic show, impressing sold-out crowds with unbelievable displays of sleight-of-hand tricks and impossible escape artistry (no cheating). C'mon, there has to be an interesting game just waiting to be made with all of that. I would love to see a title that embraces all the craziness of Zatanna's character, how different and unique she is compared to the rest of the DC line-up. I want to bust thugs and necromancers on the same night and still make it to the stage when the lights go up.  Lex Luthor Everyone sees themselves as the hero of their own story, even a madman like Lex Luthor. Sure, he may be singularly obsessed with ridding the planet of its greatest defender (without whom everyone in the DC universe would almost certainly be dead by one cataclysm or another) for often vague and seemingly irrational reasons, but they're his reasons. They make sense to him. In his mind everything he's done to force the alien off his planet, no matter how despicable, has been in the service of a greater good, as illustrated beautifully in Brian Azzarello's magnificent Lex Luthor: Man of Steel. I want to play as that version of Lex, the last sane man who sees what a threat Superman is to the human spirit, the man who is forced to play the part of the villain to attain a greater goal. And who says Rocksteady has to work on another third person action game? There is a ton of talent up in that studio, and while I'm sure they're incredibly proud of everything they've accomplished with the Arkham series, they've been at it for more than half a decade. I'm sure they'd appreciate a change of pace. So how about an evil management sim? A game where you play as the bald genius presiding over Lexcorp, trying to figure out how to smuggle parts of your doomsday laser into orbit. Maybe if you win the contract to to build the next international space station you be able to send up a few extra rockets without tipping your hand (not to mention, the proceeds could be used to fund the sentient virus a deniable subsidiary in Istanbul is working on). Or how to quash the hazardous material team's recent attempt to unionize without attracting any eyes on the mechanized centipede project. Of course, all that will have to wait until you deal with the PR nightmare of a dead superhero with suspicious laser burns turning up on your property, again. Call it a breather between projects. There will always be another big budget action game with another big chinned boy scout to make. Rocksteady could recharge the batteries and stretch its creative muscles with something different, something sinister. Ghostrider Ghostrider is stupid. I mean, look at him. He's the ghostly reincarnation of a stunt driver who haunts the streets with his hellfire-powered motorbike, flaming skull, and “penance stare.” He's the most '90s thing to ever happen (even though he was created in the '70s) and HOLY SHIT, COULD YOU ASK FOR A BETTER BASIS FOR A VIDEO GAME!? What kind of world do we live in that the “best” representation of Ghostrider in a video game was as a character in Ultimate Marvel Vs Capcom 3? How do you squander such a sublimely stupid concept with a tepid PS2-era game and a few cameos in dreck like Maximum Carnage? No, this won't do. Rocksteady has a mandate, a new mission: Go forth and make the biggest, dumbest, raddest, motorcycle-riding-ghost-vigilante game possible. In fact, screw it. I don't even want Rocksteady to do it. It'd probably do a good job of it; it's got the chops to sculpt a decent game out of any source material. It's not the studio's talent I doubt, but its taste. I bet it'd take Ghostrider a little too seriously, try to do too good a job establishing him as a real character with believable motivations and villains to fight. The developer wouldn't mine that rich core of ridiculousness that lies at the heart of Ghostrider for all its worth. This is a job for Platinum. We need that Metal Gear Rising treatment of the source material, the kind of self-aware winking charm of a Bayonetta, the breakneck pace and visual assault of a Vanquish. We need the fastest, prettiest, and dumbest Ghostrider we can get. Anything less would be a waste.
Superhero games photo
Who needs a Superman?
Rocksteady has accomplished some amazing feats with the Arkham series. It's the first series of games to finally nail the feeling of being the Dark Knight, it perfected the combat system to a point where “Arkham-style f...


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