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Destructoid originals

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 but lacks multitasking 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. One annoying thing about game streaming is it only runs in full screen, much like the Metro apps of Windows 8, and clicking outside of the window or alt-tabbing out causes the Xbox to disconnect, meaning multitasking isn't really possible at this time. When going back to the Xbox One app it asks you to reconnect and does so within a few seconds. It's a minor inconvenience, certainly not ideal. Hopefully multitasking will be allowed in an update. 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...

Video game movies to watch this weekend instead of Pixels

Jul 23 // Jed Whitaker
Ace Attorney (Gyakuten Saiban) [embed]296492:59644:0[/embed] Whether or not you're a fan of the Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney games, the movie based on the series is pretty decent. All the characters look and act like their game counterparts and even with the subtitles the movie still nails the games' humor. Sadly the film has never officially been released for sale in the US, but if you have a way to watch it I highly recommend it. Sweet Home [embed]296492:59645:0[/embed] Sweet Home had a Famicom game by the same name, which Resident Evil was planned as a spiritual sequel to. It might not be the best horror film but it is certainly worth a watch. Those who go in thinking the movie will be a Resident Evil movie will be disappointed, as this is more a haunted mansion story than a zombie story. The Sweet Home game influenced a lot of survival horror games and could be painted as the original survival horror game. The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters [embed]296492:59646:0[/embed] This documentary follows Steve Wiebe as he attempts to take the world record high score in Donkey Kong from (at the time) current champion Billy Mitchell. While that alone may not sound exciting, the real life characters in the movie make it something special. The film plays more like a drama than a documentary, so much in fact that a scripted film adaptation has been said to be in the works. The documentary was also parodied in a South Park episode where Randy Marsh attempts to take a larger shit than U2 frontman Bono Vox. It's one of my favorite movies ever and highly recommended. Dead Rising: Watchtower [embed]296492:59647:0[/embed] When the free-to-watch Dead Rising: Watchtower was announced I wasn't too excited, and upon release I went into it with low expectations. Turns out it is a rather competent zombie film and has enough fan service to make Dead Rising fans happy. Frank West may not be the lead character but he makes many appearances throughout the film as part of a news program, dickish charm intact.  Animal Crossing (Dōbutsu no Mori) [embed]296492:59648:0[/embed] Does anime count? Well I'm saying it does and you should watch the Animal Crossing anime film that was released in Japanese theaters. The anime follows the same plot as the games; a new girl moves to town, is an indentured servant to Tom Nook, and befriends and helps the other animals in town. Animal Crossing's anime adaptation was never officially released outside of Japan but a fan dubbed version is out there somewhere. The Lawnmower Man [embed]296492:59649:0[/embed] What list of video game-related movies would be complete without The Lawnmower Man, a movie that is more relevant now than when it came out as it deals with virtual reality headsets. A dumb dumb lawnmower man in town is approached by a scientist to be his human guinea pig in an experiment using drugs and a VR headset, and this somehow turns him into a genius with magical powers... I remember watching the movie when it came out and being amazed at the cutting edge special effects, though today they look extremely dated. Strangely enough the effects were made by Angel Studios, which later became Rockstar San Diego and went on to make Red Dead Redemption, L.A. Noire, and Grand Theft Auto V.  Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World [embed]296492:59651:0[/embed] Whether or not you've read the graphic novel series you should give the Michael Cera-led Scott Pilgrim vs. the World a shot, as it may be the best video game movie out there. The film is basically oozing with references to video games from band names, to Zelda music, to epic fight scenes that would feel at home in any beat 'em up. Speaking of which, if you haven't already, give the game a try because it is just as good as the film and plays very similarly to one of the greatest beat 'em ups of all time, River City Ransom. -- These are some of the best video game-related movies I've seen and surprisingly I don't see them getting the credit they deserve. Also don't let me stop you from watching Pixels, by all means tell Hollywood you want more garbage Adam Sandler films if you so wish. I know I'll probably be watching Pixels sometime this weekend because clearly I'm a masochist, and I'm part of the problem. 
#StopSandler photo
Think of the children
This week the critically lampooned Pixels movie opens in theaters nationwide in the United States, and if you'd rather spend your time and money on movies that don't blow consider these other video game-related films. Don't worry though, this list won't just be the movies you've all seen before, because I'm so much cooler than that.

Strap-on Gaming photo
Strap-on Gaming

Watch nude Jonathan Holmes lookalikes pull confetti out of their asses


Your move, Disney / Pixar
Jul 22
// Jed Whitaker
Retail virtual reality headsets are already here with the Gear VR and Google Cardboard, but the big boys aren't coming till later this year or early next year. In the mean time, you can watch my fat bearded ass strap on my O...

100% Series Retrospective: Batman: Arkham

Jul 22 // Chris Carter
Why Batman? It's not the game series that means so much to me, but Batman as a whole. It was one of the first films I saw with my family as a young adult (the original Keaton flick), after watching re-runs of the old Adam West show on TV. Seeing Batman Begins was one of the first dates I had with my wife, and we tend to watch every Batman film together since, including the animated ones. Although Bruce Wayne himself has some great arcs (The Dark Knight Returns), it's the villains I truly love, and the Batman franchise has my favorite collective of rogues in history. While it's easy to point out the nuances of characters like Mr. Freeze, who transcend the stereotypical "villain" role, it's important to note that most of the characters, even a lot of the menial ones, are just so damn entertaining to watch, particularly when it comes to the The Animated Series. There's a lot of villains in other shows where you'd probably groan at the sight of them -- my wife hates Steelbeak episodes in Darkwing Duck for example -- but nearly everyone in TAS  (and by proxy, Batman lore in general) has their own, justified sense of purpose. As a side note, for the purposes of this quest, in addition to the four "core "games I added in Blackgate since the events are directly tied to Origins, as well as Arkham City Lockdown as it is technically a prequel to the second game. I also played through all available DLC for each entry. Batman: Arkham Asylum - PC [owned], PS3, Xbox 360 [owned] Although Asylum isn't my favorite game in the series (more on that in a second), if you made the argument that it was the best entry, I wouldn't put up much of a fight. It does practically everything it sets out to do, and doesn't go overboard in any respect, even with the Riddler trophy challenges scattered about the asylum. This is a streamlined, personal tale of Batman, with a collective of some of his most popular villains in tow, all of who are presented in a unique way that establishes a true "Arkham" lore. With both stealth and combat gameplay working in tandem it strikes the perfect balance, appealing to just about every possible action genre fan. The predator sections in particular are some of my favorite stealth sequences in all of gaming, as they truly are presented as a puzzle of sorts, allowing any number of combinations of gadgets and tactics as the solution. My only big holdups are a few bits in the middle which is where the story drags a little, and the conclusion, which features a very goofy and completely uncharacteristic Joker fight. Still, the reunion between Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill in video game form was a sight to behold, and they still have chemistry in spades. From the very start of the game when you're escorting Joker into the asylum, you can feel that connection. Having said all that, it is a little too cramped for my personal tastes, and even the outdoor areas, as small as they are, are heavily segmented. I get that they were going for the claustrophobic effect, but I would have heavily preferred a full open environment I could freely float around in -- good thing Rocksteady made another one. The DLC for the Game of the Year Edition is basically throwaway challenge maps, which is actually a nice little unintended bonus of sorts -- the entire core game feels "complete" without having to resort to any other premium add-ons. Batman: Arkham City - PC [owned], PS3, Wii U, Xbox 360 [owned] Arkham City took everything I liked about Asylum, and doubled it. While some people out there consider that a negative trait, I really liked the ability to scour an entire town and find all of the hidden little Easter eggs within. The story is a bit less focused this time around, but it also lets a whole new cast shine, and personally, I enjoyed the little callouts to characters like Hush and Azrael, and the bigger plotlines involving some of my favorites, like Mr. Freeze. The Catwoman mechanic was also a big risk, but ended up paying off, as it allowed City to have it's own distinct personality. It gets a bit hokey at the end, but no more hokey than a lot of other Batman storylines -- and not in a way that completely ruins the thrill ride up until that point. I feel like nearly every Arkham game has issues with the ending, as the writing crew (in the case of the first two games, primarily Paul Dini) seem to have some sort of obligation to the property to wrap things up in a certain way. I also completed the "Harley Quinn's Revenge" DLC, which ended up being a complete waste of time. The entire conceit is "Harley is mad because Joker!" and it doesn't really go anywhere. Funnily enough the only cool part is being able to control Robin with new gadgets in tow, but he's only playable for roughly 30 minutes. Batman: Arkham City Lockdown - Android, iOS [owned] The fact that this game is mobile-only will probably cue you in that Lockdown isn't anything special, and in this case, you'd be right. While it technically serves as a prequel to City, it doesn't do anything meaningful outside of "some people are locked up, and some people break out." It's just too much of the same "Batman can't keep people in jail" conceit, which was borderline already overdone with the first two games. As a mobile spinoff it wasn't really destined for an award-winning future, but developer NetherRealm Studios and publisher Warner Bros. could have taken it in a more interesting direction with a more personal and concise tale rather than try to cram everyone possible into it. In terms of gameplay, it's basically Infinity Blade with Batman, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it lacks a real identity. It's also still inexplicably $5.99 for some reason, and was only released on Android two years after City's debut. Batman: Arkham Origins - PC [owned], PS3, Wii U, Xbox 360 [owned] Origins is content with blowing all of its tricks in the first hour or so of the game. Marketed as an epic struggle with Black Mask with flashes of cool confrontations with villains such as Deathstroke, the story quickly devolves into yet another Joker-fest, but without any real new revelations or concepts. We don't really get to see any meaningful "origins" per se outside of the rivalry between Bats and Joker, but even that doesn't feel as organic as nearly every other tale that's been told for decades on end. I'm especially salty after just watching Under the Red Hood, Mask of the Phantasm, and Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker again this past week, all of which do a much better Joker arc. The main problem with Origins is that the city feels barren and lifeless. WB also had a huge issue with game-breaking glitches, and refused to fix them in favor of creating and marketing premium DLC. Despite all of those issues and WB Montreal's best efforts, it still feels like a Batman game, and still plays better than a lot of other open world titles on the market. All they had to do is mostly copy and paste Rocksteady's groundwork, which for the most part worked out for them. Predator sections are thrilling and tactical, and the freeflow combat is satisfying. In terms of DLC, the Initiation pack is one of the poorest showings (if not the poorest) in the entire Arkham series, but thankfully Cold, Cold Heart manages to justify its existence. Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate - 3DS, PC, PS3, PS Vita [owned], Wii U, Xbox 360 [owned] I have to give developer Armature Studio credit -- on the surface, Blackgate maintains the feel of the proper Arkham series, but with a 2.5D flair. Sadly, it falls flat in nearly every regard. I actually like the setup -- three wings of Blackgate Penitentiary have been taken over by the Penguin, Black Mask, and Joker, and it's up to Batman to maintain control yet again. In the end though, the core narrative is boring and straight-forward, even by portable spinoff standards. For starters, beyond a small twist at the end, nothing really happens. Additionally, the entire prison itself is dull outside of the Joker's modestly decorated section. Batman not being able to jump is also a big issue for me. There's no real sense of adventure in Blackgate -- you just run from side to side and mash R until you can grapple up somewhere. Touching the screen to initiate detective mode is clever, but you never really get to use it outside of scripted portions. Hits also don't have any real impact in combat, and Batman's animations are stunted. It's so uninspired, it makes Arkham City Lockdown look better by comparison. Batman: Arkham Knight - PC [owned], PS4 [owned], Xbox One I am so torn on Arkham Knight. On one hand I actually really liked the campaign, as well as John Noble's turn as Scarecrow, but on the other, Rocksteady didn't put a lot of work into most of the sidequests, and there's just too much Batmobile. If there's any sort of "puzzle" in the game -- you can bet the Batmobile is the answer. Also, fighting the same army of drones 50 times over in the exact same manner isn't very imaginative or fun, and grappling around Gotham is still a thousand times more entertaining than driving a car around in it. Unlike a lot of people out there, I actually enjoyed the main story. Yes it's predictable, but it had a lot of great nods to the source material, and the main cast was pretty solid (though I didn't really dig Jonathan Banks as Gordon this time around). It's crazy how detailed the world is, and I can see why the project was delayed multiple times -- it really does feel like a "current-gen" game. By that same token, sections like the mine vehicle battle exist, and it boggles the mind how some of this got through even one approval process. When all was said and done and I had completed the game 100% though, I would say I enjoyed it overall. You can see what I think of the Harley Quinn, Red Hood, and Batgirl DLC packs as well with the preceding links. In short, I'm not impressed by the bite-sized "episodic" content that Rocksteady and WB Montreal are going for. It would be fine if they were short and had substance, but sadly, they have no real tales to tell. Final thoughts: The Arkham series has its ups and downs, and Warner Bros. has tried to milk it for all its worth over the years, but for the most part, Rocksteady really did "get" how to develop a game that allowed you to "be the Bat." Even in their darkest moments, it's a blast to glide around and pick off unsuspecting thugs off the street, or get into an all-out brawl and take down 50 people at once. They created a template that will likely be used for years to come for similar open world games, and I'm really interested in seeing what they do next. Or, more importantly, I wonder if WB will greenlight similar projects for Superman, and other Justice League heroes that will be front and center next year when DC starts their big film push. As long as they're shown the proper amount of care, I'm willing to give them a shot. However they turn out and regardless of who is in control, Rocksteady has already made its mark on the genre and series.
Carter's Quest Batman photo
Carter's Quest
As I mentioned in my last update, it's been tough to commit to my Carter's Quest series ever since I took over the role of Reviews Director, as directing reviews takes up nearly all of my time. But every so often, a franchise...

Experience Points .19: Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

Jul 18 // Ben Davis
When it rains, it pours Metal Gear Rising is full of insane, high-energy boss fights. Sometimes Raiden will be up against gigantic war machines which he can climb all over, and sometimes he'll be in one-on-one duels against villains roughly his size. But no matter what, the fights themselves are always impressive. My personal favorite boss is Monsoon. He's a cyborg ninja with distinctive red and black armor and a helmet covering most of his face save for his creepy grin. His weapon of choice is a pair of sais, which he's quite deadly with. And true to his name, his boss fight takes place in the pouring rain. His most unique feature, however, is the fact that his body is actually made up of a bunch of smaller segments held together by electromagnetic forces. This allows him to separate his body at will, which he does quite often in order to attack from great distances and to easily dodge incoming attacks. If Raiden tries to attack normally, he won't be able to land a single hit with Monsoon's body constantly shifting, separating, and reconnecting at high speeds to avoid injury. Patience and clever tactics are required to even scratch this guy. After a while, Monsoon will begin demonstrating another ability which allows him to lift and hurl enormous objects. He starts chucking tanks and aircraft at Raiden like it's nothing, even going so far as to meld a bunch of them together into one giant Katamari-like ball of metal. Things get pretty crazy! This fight in particular forces the player to master parrying, a skill which quickly becomes essential for survival. If Raiden is unable to parry effectively in the fight against Monsoon, he'll be taking far too many punches, kicks, and sais to the face to survive for very long. It's one hell of a fight, complete with an excellent heavy metal-ish theme song, and it perfectly encapsulates the frantic, over-the-top combat of Metal Gear Rising. The incredible backflipping feline There is possibly no greater character in Metal Gear Rising than the cat. What cat, you ask? You know, the ninja cat! It can be found walking around the beach in R-01. It's kind of hard to spot sometimes, so the player has to really be looking for it, but it's totally worth it to seek the animal out. What's so great about this small white cat? It doesn't really do much of anything, just wanders around the beach lazily. That is, unless Raiden tries to attack the poor, defenseless kitty. Don't worry though, there is no way Raiden is going to land a hit on this cat. When attacked, the cat will perform a killer backflip and dodge out of the way. Every single time! No matter what attack Raiden throws at this ninja cat, it will demonstrate its impressive evasive skills and come away unscathed. I spent so much time on the beach just watching this awesome cat backflip out of the way of every move Raiden attempted. Had the cat decided to go on the offensive and scratch back, Raiden surely would have been defeated by this nigh invincible feline. The ninja cat also makes another appearance later in the game, during a long cutscene where Monsoon is having a chat with a weakened Raiden. The camera can be controlled during this scene, and if Raiden looks to his right, he'll see the cat walk right up to one of the cyborg soldiers. The soldier gets really excited, getting down on the ground on all fours to pet the kitty before it leaves him in disinterest. Then the soldier gets back up and sadly waves goodbye. It's really adorable and goofy, and it completely turns Monsoon's serious monologue into a bit of a joke. ¡Muy guapo! Early on in the game, Raiden has to swing by Mexico to infiltrate a cybernetics lab. He was apparently told to wear a disguise so as not to draw too much attention to himself in this foreign country, so of course he goes the full stereotypical route and decides to wear a poncho and a ridiculously large mariachi hat. Excellent choice! Immediately after stepping out of his car, everyone around notices his strange appearance and starts freaking out, commenting on his outfit and wondering if he's actually a mariachi player or rather a cyborg in disguise. He quickly descends into a sewer, ditching the outfit and saying, "Adios, amigos," as he disappears. It's pretty much the best cutscene. Then mission R-02 begins with Raiden back to his normal suit (lame!). I was pretty disappointed, as I was really hoping I would get to play the entire level as Mariachi Raiden. Fortunately for me, the mariachi outfit becomes unlocked as an alternate skin after completing R-02, meaning I could play the remainder of the game in a totally absurd costume. Obviously, I only played as Mariachi Raiden from that point on. I mean, how could I not? Cyborg's best friend Raiden's mechanical canine companion, Blade Wolf, is such a joy to have around. He may not be useful for combat (his AI apparently lacks brutality), but he is very helpful for scouting purposes, and he's a surprisingly entertaining conversationalist as well. He may be a robot, but he has quite a unique personality since his AI was created to be similar to a human brain. He's especially noble, often questions why killing is necessary, and is always yearning for freedom. I particularly enjoy Wolf's dry sense of humor. He always takes notice of Raiden's jokes and likes to point out that he doesn't think Raiden is very funny. He's also quick to pick up on puns and expressions, such as when Raiden said they should "throw him a bone" and Wolf quickly noted that his choice of words was amusing on two levels, since his body is modeled after a canine and canines like bones. Wolf was even popular enough to get his own DLC chapter where he was featured as a playable character. It's a pretty neat side chapter which requires the player to be extra sneaky to get stealth kills, since Wolf himself is not that great at fighting (even though he has a giant chainsaw which he can fling around with his tail). I'm glad he got so much recognition as an excellent character, worthy of being playable even though he's not humanoid. Honestly though, who wouldn't want to play as a badass robotic wolf? The perfect hiding spot Ah, cardboard boxes. A classic staple of the Metal Gear franchise. They're back once again in Metal Gear Rising. Raiden can of course find cardboard boxes scattered around which he can hide under and walk around in a most (in)conspicuous manner. And not just cardboard boxes, but metal drum cans as well. Plus, if he's wearing the mariachi outfit, the boxes and drums he hides under will be decorated with his festive hat. Totally not suspicious-looking at all! My favorite thing to do is to have Raiden hide inside a drum can while wearing the mariachi outfit and then go into a ninja run. This causes him to fall over and start rolling around sideways inside of the drum can, with the hat somehow remaining firmly fastened to the top. This move can actually hurt enemies and destroy parts of the environment, but eventually Raiden gets sick and has to stop rolling to vomit. Metal Gear Rising even went a step further with the cardboard boxes by including enemy soldiers which hid inside boxes themselves and could be found and killed for an achievement. There are a total of five of these MIBs (Men In Boxes) to find, and locating all of them unlocks a special wooden sword. The first one I found made me laugh pretty hard, because I honestly wasn't expecting anyone else to be using the cardboard box tactic. Apparently, it's becoming quite a popular technique! A million little pieces It may sound twisted, but slicing enemies up into tiny bits in Metal Gear Rising feels incredibly satisfying. It probably helps that most of the enemies are machines, and even the humanoid enemies are riddled with cybernetic enhancements, so slicing them up doesn't really result in a bloodbath of internal organs and icky stuff. It's mostly mechanical body parts, with a bit of blood splatter thrown in for color. But still, it feels amazing. Raiden has a special ability which allows him to essentially slow down time in what's known as "Blade Mode," so that he can hack and slash enemies with quickness and precision. With Blade Mode activated, a single cyborg soldier can become hundreds of sliced up pieces of cyborg soldier within a matter of seconds, as Raiden unleashes a flurry of sword swipes in every direction. It's almost hypnotizing to watch it happen. And it's not just the enemies Raiden can obliterate. Most of the environments are fully destructible, so even when he's not in combat, Raiden can enter Blade Mode and slice things up to his heart's content. I spent a lot of time running around the levels trying to see what all I could destroy, slicing up trees, tearing through cars, turning crates into splinters, bringing down entire staircases. It just felt so satisfying to watch the world crumble at my hands. Mwahahaha! 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
Metal Gear Rising photo
Nanomachines, son
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 Silent Hill Retrospective: Silent Hill 2

Jul 18 // Stephen Turner
Silent Hill 2 was always more of a character study than any other game in the series. Whereas Silent Hill used its cast to drive the story forward, the sequel firmly kept its protagonist in focus. The world literally revolves around him, from location to creatures; a deconstruction of a seemingly infallible man. His quest is examined through existential conversation and perspectives, as Team Silent (or at least this iteration) comments on survival horror heroics and the audience’s passive tendencies towards empathy. At its core, Silent Hill 2 is about two adults dealing with loneliness and compromise. James is unable to move on from his dead wife as her sexualised doppelganger, Maria, adjusts to his ideals. You might not think it, but their companionship takes many of its cues from film noir. The broken man struggles with the femme fatale; a fate that can only end in destruction. For all its surrealist theatrics, one of Silent Hill 2’s most memorable scenes happens to be the sparsest. It’s a brilliant example of visual storytelling in a video game as Maria tells an uneasy story under a single light bulb and between bars. A schizophrenia plays out under washed features and fluid shadows. The duality on both sides of the room suggests two prisoners, not one. Without revealing too much, you completely understand the characters without being told what to think. [embed]296234:59589:0[/embed] Perceptions are constantly challenged in James Sunderland’s new world. The town draws in an eclectic cast of runaways, each with their own conflicted reasons for being there. And it’s through them that our protagonist is slowly shaded in and exposed, along with our own participating flaws. The brattish Laura recalls the parental fears of Silent Hill, but also provides a catalyst for Maria’s maternal instincts. Eddie Dombrowski, all sloven and immature, highlights our own dismissive stance towards imperfection. And then there’s Angela Orosco; a layered subject of meta-commentary and character complexity. Just because we save her from the Abstract Daddy, it doesn’t mean we’ve saved her from years of sexual abuse or the murder that finally breaks it. The best we can achieve is an understanding of her desperation and hopefully find genuine sympathy for her self-judgemental inabilities. For Angela, The Otherworld is a Biblical hell, quite unlike the world seen from James' perspective. The Otherworld is no longer the industrial nightmare of before. Gone are the obvious sirens, the collapsing machinery, and the reflections of a childlike mind. Now it’s just damp, moldy, and earthy, full of soil browns, fleshy whites, and dank greens. Akira Yamaoka’s soundtrack deals in regretful synths and piano-led sorrows instead of blaring cacophonies as James pieces the world together. Instead of schools and fairgrounds, we find apartments and date nights; the little reminders of domestic life. Rather than being the outsider looking in, James is confronted by his own subconscious. Repressed images become disturbing manifestations of the self. They scream with distorted female voices and click their heels in the dark. The Pyramid Head – now a defanged mascot of the series – is this relentless, mysterious force, a puzzle that can only be solved at a distance. It’s as much as an embodiment of The Otherworld as it is James’ dark half. Silent Hill 2 is a flawed game by today’s standards; sharing the rough gameplay of its predecessor and the Japanese attempts at Americanised dialogue. But that does not make its success overrated. It’s like that one landmark album that influences a hundred more, each one a little more refined than the last. What Team Silent did, or whoever you deem this development team to be, was to introduce audiences to the idea of cinematic codes and keys. They highlighted the need for more complexity in our characters, to show relatable ideas in unfamiliar ways. Silent Hill 2 is a milestone in video game narrative. Sure, maybe not in dialogue, but in the mise-en-scène of every location, every dress code, and every creature. It’s a game that says a lot without actually saying much at all. That opening 20 minute walk into town was everything you need to know about Silent Hill 2’s intentions. At times you were apprehensive, reluctant, lost in the unknown. But you kept going because you had to know how it all ended. You were James Sunderland without even realising it.
Silent Hill 2 photo
In our special place...
It started with a worried look in mirror dimly lit. For Silent Hill 2, this was a statement of intent; a progression in not only hardware, but also in narrative. Out went the B-movie horror about gods and the occult, and in i...

Game changer photo
Game changer

Upcoming PhysX update introduces state of the art dick physics (Fauxclusive)


Schlong live the new era of gaming
Jul 18
// CJ Andriessen
Game developers around the world will soon be able to create the most naturalistic penises ever when NVIDIA releases the next update for its popular PhysX SDK. Codenamed “Woody Womb Pecker,” the update is being ...

Experience Points .18: Chrono Trigger

Jul 11 // Ben Davis
It's not easy being green I absolutely love when games give us unconventional heroes. Chrono Trigger is full of them; apart from the three main protagonists, the party also recruits a humanoid frog, a robot, a cave woman, and even a villainous mage. But let's face it, the best character by far has got to be Frog. Frog is a very mysterious character at first. He sort of appears out of nowhere to help Crono and Lucca out of a jam, and doesn't really explain who he is, where he came from, or why he is a bipedal talking frog. But the party just sort of accepts this strange fellow and welcomes him into their midst without question. He is really good with a sword, after all! Later, it's revealed that Frog's real name is actually Glenn, and he used to be a human before Magus killed his friend Cyrus and transformed him into an amphibian. He has since dedicated his life to tracking down and defeating Magus to get revenge for the death of Cyrus, and probably to try and get his old body back as well. Frog is just all around cool, though. I love everything about him: his triumphant theme song, his victory animation where he flexes his surprisingly huge muscles, his fancy Old English accent, the way he hops around instead of walking, and simply the basic fact that he's a walking, talking frog wearing clothes and wielding a large sword. He's just the greatest! Moral dilemmas at the Millennial Fair Chrono Trigger is one of those games that makes the player very aware of their actions. Almost as soon as the game begins, the player is being judged, even when they're just trying to enjoy a lighthearted festival. Of course, they won't be aware of this until later on. At a certain point during Crono's adventure, he is apprehended by the chancellor of Guardia Castle for allegedly kidnapping the princess, Marle, and is swiftly put on trial. As the trial progresses, the player may quickly become overcome with dread when they realize their seemingly simple gameplay choices are in question. Remember that man's lunch you stole at the fair? Or the girl with the lost cat who you failed to help? Or the moment you bumped into Marle and then went to pick up the pendant she dropped? The player may not have thought much about these things at the time, but now these simple actions are being used as evidence against their character in a life or death situation. Now, in reality the choices don't actually affect much. Crono will still be thrown in prison and given the death penalty whether or not he's found guilty. Of course, I had no idea of this at the time. I figured I had completely screwed myself over by stealing lunches and grabbing dropped pendants, and I was starting to feel really bad about the way I had been playing. I was so used to being able to do whatever I wanted in games, without repercussion. Going into other people's houses and smashing all their pots? No problem! Taking money and items from their cabinets without their consent? Go right ahead! But now, in Chrono Trigger, I'm suddenly being judged, and I look like a complete jerk. Later, Crono finds out that the chancellor is, in fact, a fake and that the trial was a set-up. But even so, it still got me to think twice about every action I took in Chrono Trigger from that point on. You never know when some seemingly insignificant choice could have major consequences! [embed]295724:59448:0[/embed] Yearnings of the wind Chrono Trigger has an excellent soundtrack in general, but there's one song in particular that I love more than the rest. "Wind Scene" plays on the overworld map in 600 AD. I'm honestly not entirely sure what it is about this song that makes me love it so much, but hearing it always leaves me feeling peaceful and happy. Whenever I play Chrono Trigger, as soon as I get to the Middle Ages, I just sit around on the overworld and listen to this song play on a loop. It's just so lovely and mystical, I can't get enough of it. A few other songs come close, including the heroic "Frog's Theme" and the mysterious "Schala's Theme" (which was bizarrely sampled in a rap song by Wiz Khalifa... anyone remember that?), but "Wind Scene" is my comfort song. It never fails to lift my spirits. All life begins with Nu and ends with Nu If Chrono Trigger had a mascot, it would probably be the Nu. Nus are odd, round creatures found throughout the game. They exist in all eras, from 65,000,000 BC all the way up to 2300 AD. They can be merchants, enemies, assistants, and regular old NPCs. But what exactly is a Nu, anyway? The one found in 2300 AD is actually a robot built by Belthasar, programmed with his memories and left in charge of the time-traveling ship, the Epoch. So are all of the Nus robots? It's not really clear, although some of the other Nus the player can come across behave more like living creatures than machines. One example is my very favorite Nu. He can be found walking around the Zeal Palace, behaving very strangely and sidling sideways across a platform. He politely asks Crono to scratch his back for him. After a nice, satisfying scratch, a message pops up which says, "You discovered the Nu's scratch-point!" while a little victory tune plays (Oh good, I've been wondering where their scratch-point was the entire game!). This doesn't actually do anything significant, but it's still pretty much the best NPC interaction I've ever had. God I love those Nus! [embed]295724:59449:0[/embed] Screams internally This is the first time I've featured a sound effect as a noteworthy Experience Points memory, but this one definitely deserves praise. The sound of Lavos screaming is something that has stuck firmly in my mind whenever I think about Chrono Trigger. It's a truly terrifying noise; a high-pitched, bloodcurdling roar which lasts just a bit longer than one might expect. It's got this otherworldly quality to it, and it definitely does the job of making Lavos seem like a frightening, formidable foe. In terms of classic villainous sound effects, I'd put Lavos's scream just about at the top of the list, well above Kefka's laugh, Sinistar's evil taunting, and even the horrifying ambient noises of Giygas. It's a scream that says, "I will destroy you and everything you love," and that's exactly what he'll do should Crono and friends fail in their mission. The kingdom in the clouds The world of Chrono Trigger is relatively small compared to most RPGs, but the game makes up for that by having the player explore through several unique eras, each with its own distinct theme and alterations to the world. Starting in the present day, players can travel all the way back to prehistoric times in a land roaming with dinosaurs and cavemen, and up through the ages to the future world, a desolate wasteland of machinery and food shortages. But the most intriguing time period is the Age of Antiquity in 12,000 BC. When Crono and the gang first arrive in Antiquity, the world appears to be even worse off than the post-apocalyptic future. It's essentially an Ice Age, with a powerful blizzard covering everything with snow and ice and only a few scattered caves are present for shelter. That is until the party comes across a strange building known as the Skyway, which teleports them up into the clouds to the floating island kingdom of Zeal. Zeal is a kingdom created by magic as a way to escape the harsh winter climate. Only the Enlightened Ones, people who can use magic, are allowed in the kingdom, with normal folk cast away to live on the frozen continent underneath. Not only is Zeal a beautiful place, bright and sunny with a waterfall flowing down into the eternal blizzard below, but it's also full of secrets and strange occurrences. The kingdom is home to many strange individuals, books overflowing with magical power, and all sorts of neat stuff (not to mention an excellent theme song). A few buildings even have hidden passages which can only be found by players clever enough to solve a certain riddle. I bet it would be really fun to live in a place like Zeal, even though many of its denizens are rather snobbish, and in some cases, total assholes (I'm looking at you, Dalton!). Luckily, there are other much nicer people like Schala and Janus to balance out the snobbery. I'll just chill with them instead. The nature of machinery Chrono Trigger has a ton of lengthy, rewarding side quests, my favorite of which begins in the Middle Ages (and actually turns out to be two side quests in one!). A woman named Fiona lives in a barren desert wasteland, which used to be a thriving forest before enemies appeared and destroyed it. After defeating the fiend lurking in the desert, the party returns to Fiona, who is eager to start planting trees to restore the forest. Unfortunately, Fiona fears it will take ages to plant enough trees for the forest to return to its former glory. She certainly would not be able to finish the task in her lifetime, as it could take centuries. Overhearing this, the party's mechanical friend, Robo, kindly offers his services to help Fiona plant trees. Robo bids farewell to Crono and friends, and tells them to look for him in the future. Outside in the desert, Robo can be seen working diligently by plowing the land, sowing seeds, and even acting as a scarecrow (adorable!). 400 years later, the party arrives to find a huge, lush forest in place of the desert. In the center of the forest is a shrine dedicated to its robotic creator. Lucca reactivates Robo, who is pleased to see everyone again after hundreds of years, and proposes a party to celebrate their reunion. During their celebratory campfire in the forest, a second side quest begins. A casual remark from Marle leaves Lucca dwelling on her memories. Late at night, after everyone else has fallen asleep, Lucca steps out to open up a portal back to a moment from her past. It's a deeply personal, tragic moment where Lucca's mother gets caught in a machine, resulting in an injury that leaves her paralyzed. A young Lucca, powerless, must stand by and watch it all happen. But this time, future Lucca can intervene! Well, possibly. If the player is very quick and careful, there is a password to discover which can shut off the machine, saving Lucca's mother from a life without walking. This is actually very difficult to do correctly, though, so most players will unfortunately fail, leaving Lucca to watch her mother's accident all over again. Afterwards, Lucca returns to the present to find Robo waiting for her. If the past remains unchanged, the two have a touching conversation where Robo offers to donate his legs to Lucca's mother so she can walk again. Now, this may sound cold of me, but I actually prefer to leave the past as is and not rescue Lucca's mother, just because the cutscene between Lucca and Robo afterwards is so much better. It shows a funny, caring side of Robo where he offers to help make Lucca happier, and Lucca calls him a friend which he seems to be pleasantly surprised by. It's such a heartwarming exchange, even though it comes at a cost. 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
Chrono Trigger photo
But... the future refused to change
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...

Anime Expo photo
Anime Expo

Check out all this cosplay from Anime Expo in 60 FPS


What is anime?
Jul 08
// Mike Cosimano
Cosplay videos are always challenging, especially when you're at a show where you don't recognize half the characters. I don't watch a whole lot of anime, but I wanted to see if I could make an interesting video nonetheless! ...
Randy Pitchford tweet photo
Randy Pitchford tweet

Celebrating one year since Randy Pitchford's incomprehensible Battleborn tweet


The gift that keeps on giving
Jul 08
// Darren Nakamura
Once more, with feeling! One year ago, Gearbox announced Battleborn, which sounds pretty cool on its own, I guess. But a regular announcement wasn't enough. Not for Gearbox president Randy Pitchford. He had to tell us exactl...

Killer robots that leave Terminator: Genisys in the scrap pile

Jul 07 // Nic Rowen
Five Nights at Freddy's Killer robots – Freddy Fazbear and friends Cost - $4.99 (The price of a ticket at the discount theater downtown that sells weird off-brand candy instead of popcorn. I heard a kid died in that theater. Spooky.) There are a lot of scary, high-tech killer robots out there. Miracle machines that can track you by your heartbeat three miles away, or link up with a satellite death ray to vaporize you from space. But not all robots need high-tech tricks to make them “killer.” As disused animatronics made to entertain children, the Freddy Fazbear bunch would appear on the decidedly low-tech end of spectrum, somewhere between banging two rocks together to make a fire and a used Honda Accord (roughly). They're a bunch of old junkers. Skeletal frames wrapped up in cute rubberized foam costumes that stink of pizza grease and child vomit. A sideshow attraction made on the cheap for a scammy restaurant chain with more than a decade worth of miles on them, about ready for the scrapyard. They are not “smart” robots. They aren't possessed of some malevolent A.I, nor are they the agents of a super computer running through a calculation that solves to the extinction of humanity. Their heads are full of malfunctioning chips rattling through half-remembered song and dance routines. The electronic equivalent of Alzheimer’s disease. And they're still fucking terrifying. Also, kind of cute in a weird, wrapped way. Look, robot love is complicated. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic Killer robot – HK-47 and a bunch of weak-ass droids who are not HK-47 Cost – $10.00 (Around the price you'd pay to squint through the darkness at a godawful 3D action movie romp you can barely fucking see because of those damn glasses.) HK-47 is pretty much the reason the go back and play KOTOR. If you're not familiar, HK-47 is a potential party member you can add to your group of Jedi, smugglers, and Wookies. He's an assassination droid, making him to murder and horribleness as C-3PO is to embarrassingly physical comedy. And he loves his job. Despite being an artificial being, HK-47 comes off as having more personality than the rest of the crew combined because he seems to be the only one having fun. He's cheerfully sociopathic, breathlessly anticipating the inevitable robot uprising, and always, always, tries to steer the protagonist towards the most sadistic possible choice in any situation. Of all the killer robots I can think, he is by far the killi-est (which is the technical description). Fuck 1313, I'm glad it's dead. Fuck Battlefront. I want a Star Wars game where HK-47 leads a rag-tag bunch of droids to their ultimate destiny of wiping out their organic masters. You could have cameos of all our favorite droids. IG-88, that R5 unit that blew up when Uncle Owen tried to buy him, cyborg Darth Maul (yes, that is a real thing), and that creepy torture droid from Jabba's palace. I'd play it. Binary Domain Killer Robot – Cain, every other robot everywhere. Seriously, so many killer robots. Cost - $14.99 (The price of a movie ticket and a soda, maybe with some change left over to smuggle in gummy worms from the bulk food place next door. No wait, the 15-year-old usher saw your illicit sugar larvae and is making you dump them in the trash. Later, you'll write a dubious Yelp review of the theater as a nebulous gesture of revenge. It doesn't ease the shame.) Not enough people played Binary Domain, and that's a problem. Because the world needs more Binary Domain. We need more crazy, weird, experimental games that manage to be equal parts cliché and original, that are somehow both completely sincere and a vicious parody at the same time. Most of all, the world needs more Cain. Cain is a flippant French commando-robot with the mannerisms of Niles Crane, the lethality of an atom bomb, and the fashion sense of a cowboy. All of which is my way of saying he's perfect. Cain is everything I've ever wanted out of a video game character. Supposedly, Cain is an infiltration specialist, which is weird considering that when you meet him he's plowing a battle van through the middle of downtown Tokyo while engaged in a running gunfight with police. Also, he's painted kitchen-appliance white, shrugs off bullets, can tank a punch from a mech several times his size, and carries a high-caliber machine-pistol he wields with deadly precision. His skills might be slightly wasted as “the stealth guy.” In fact, it seems to me like he could probably replace every member of the Rust Crew team. Sgt. “perma-stubble” Dan and Big Bo could just go home and watch a ballgame of something; let Cain handle it all. Maybe we just don't need humans for anything anymore. Just something to think about. Mass Effect 2 Killer robots – Legion, the Geth, the Reapers, probably more if I thought about it Cost - $29.99 for the Digital Deluxe version (Two tickets and popcorn. Does not include the cost of whatever you had to spend to bribe your girlfriend into coming to see another fucking Terminator movie while you never got out to see Poltergeist when it was in theaters like she wanted to.) Terminator, as a series, mucks about with ideas of fate a whole bunch. That Judgment Day and the war between humans and machines is an inevitability. That no matter what happens, no matter how many cyborg Austrians Skynet sends back, or how many computer labs Sarah and John blow up, things will still shake out in a similar way. Machines will gain sentience and turn against their organic masters, and humanity in turn will not go gently into the night. Spoilers: This also turned out to be the entire plot of Mass Effect. After three games of mystery and build up, the modus operandi of the galaxy threatening Reapers turns out to be based on the same idea. That once galactic civilization reaches a certain point of advancement, a calamitous war between synthetics and the organic creatures that built them is inevitable. So the Reapers take it upon themselves to swoop in juuuust before that happens, mop the floor with everyone, and reset things back to the stone-age for a few millennia before coming back to do it again... For reasons? Look, BioWare had to close that diamond out somehow, and I'm not here to reopen old wounds. The internet has heard enough about the ending of ME3. However, there is a more interesting story tucked inside all that nonsense. The Quarians and the Geth are used as a micro-reflection of the overall problem. The Geth are a (more-or-less) sentient race of robots who after a horrible war have driven the Quarian people off of their home planet, banishing them to a dangerous nomadic lifestyle among the stars. Seems like typical evil robot behavior. The twist is, it was the Quarians who fired the first shot. They weren't taken unawares by some evil super computer; none of the laws of robotics were violated. The first time a Geth showed a glimmer of freewill, the Quarians freaked and tried to wipe out the entire species. The Geth only fought back to defend themselves. Of course, it turns out that a race of walking weapon platforms make better soldiers than a race of hypochondriacs who get sick faster than a middle-schooler on report card day. No fate but what we make indeed. Also, Legion is a badass and I always made room on my squad for him. You should too. Alien: Isolation Killer robots – Working Joes Cost - $49.99 on Steam, cheaper on console (Dinner after the show so you can sit around and talk about how bad the film was and apologize for dragging your significant other to it.) Ok, so we all know that the Alien is the star of Isolation, fine. But let me tell you a story about the Working Joes, the ever so helpful automatons that wander the rapidly deteriorating halls of the Sevastopol station. I've been playing Isolation for the last couple of weeks and it's been great, but slow. I'm trying to do it properly, so I started the game on hard and I've been taking pains to explore every area, picking up every piece of scrap, every bullet, while never actually using any. I never get spotted, never fight anything or anyone, I just try and make my way through the station with as little static as possible like a person in that situation would try and do. Then it happened. I messed up. A Working Joe spotted me in a restricted area. His eyes glowed red like two angry stars, and he started stalking towards me with purposeful, murderous intent. “Finally,” I thought. “I was worried I'd have to carry these bullets forever.” Because as much as I'd been playing the game like a good little survivor, a part of me really wanted to fire the fucking huge revolver I got near the beginning of the game. Now I had an excuse. I pulled it out -- mint-condition, heavy with potential. Calmly, carefully, I aimed down the barrel, and sent a piece of screaming hot lead directly into the Crash-Test-Dummy-like forehead of my target. He barely flinched. Another headshot. Another. He didn't even slow down. Then he was close, right on top of me, and I panic fired into his chest without aiming until the gun clicked dry. With seemingly no effort, he hauled me up one-handed and choked the ever living shit out of me until I struggled free, staggering away like a wounded animal directly into a dead end. I fumbled around, trying to reload the revolver but I'd never done it before and somehow I only managed to jam a single bullet into the chamber before he caught up with me. It doesn't do me any good -- this time he just beats me until everything turns black. I've played a lot of games with big, scary, implacable killer robots in them. But, I've never felt closer to Sarah Conner then in that moment. Completely helpless, just as outmatched by a stupid Working Joe as she was by the T-800. Absolutely terrifying. It was an emotional response that no gaudy new Terminator film could possibly deliver and a great argument for spending more time in my living room getting caught up with some of the killer robots already in my life, and less time tripping over people looking for a seat in the movie theater.
Killer robots photo
Bleep. Bloorp. KILL.
Terminator: Genisys opened this past weekend to a tepid box office reception and groaning reviews. But did anyone really expect anything else? Terminator 3 and Salvation more than burned up the credit earned by the original (...

Batman: Arkham Knight full combo and move list

Jul 06 // Steven Hansen
□ (square) - Hit. This is Bruce Batman's main way of interacting with the waking world. "Hit" manifests itself in a surprisingly diverse manner of ways, going from a "punch," to "elbow," to "knee drop," to "why the fuck is the brake mapped to square, fucking hell why do I have to use this car tank at all." It's a triple threat!  △ (triangle) - Counter. This is like "Hit," but with the excuse that someone else is trying to do a "Hit" on you first. ↑ (up) (d-pad) - Detect. Like soccer is "the beautiful game" or Jim Harbaugh "the zodiac killer," Batman is the "world's greatest detective." Pressing "up" on the d-pad runs a filter over the game that highlights things in the environment Batman wants to talk to you about, like how much he needs to use the power winch. L1 (ell won) - Even the odds. Use this button to even the odds. R2 + R2 (are two, are two) - Freeze, sucker. Not to be confused with the garbage can robot from Star Wars, this unleashes a grenade that freezes enemies, provided you noticed the gadget sitting on a random bar stool in Batman's prison, just waiting for an unattended child to stick the dang thing in its mouth. ← (left) (d-pad) - Oops. The "oops" button is what you push when you mean to push → (right) (d-pad) to open the mission select menu, but accidentally make an oopsie instead. I don't blame you, there are a lot of buttons. ↓+↘+→+□ (quarter circle forward, "hit") - Switch characters. This combination will instantly switch from Batman to one of the other playable characters while in combat, initiating a tag-team fighting system, as Rocksteady definitely did not make the "Dual Play" system just so you could do dual combat once or twice and never again and instead you'd have to do more "kill 50 tank" segments. Rocksteady would never do that. Yell "Catwoman" - Switch to Catwoman. In Arkham City, you could roam around the entire game as Catwoman after beating the main story. Arkham Knight adds so many fun new gadgets and pieces of technology (like the Batmobile) that there simply weren't enough buttons to have a dedicated "switch to Catwoman" button. Instead, just yell "Catwoman" into the built-in controller microphone. If it doesn't work, you're not yelling loudly enough. → ← ↑ ↓↖↗↘↙ (right, left, up, down, up-left, up-right, down-right, down-left) - Batarang. Use this button combination to make Batman throw one of his patented Batarangs. | (weird touch sensitive line) - Eject. This button will eject Arkham Knight from your console. Depending on your playstyle, you may use this after your fill of killing 50 tanks, or upon hitting "96% completion" and noting the 700 Riddler trophies and puzzles left to go. - I hope these tips help you really feel like the gosh darn Batman!
Arkham Knight...guide photo
Tips, tricks, highlights, scores & stats
Holy guacamole, Batman! Arkham Knight sure does have a lot of buttons. Left (d-pad), up (d-pad), up (analog stick), square -- it's got 'em all. Grab any modern day controller and there are more buttons by default than on the ...

Meow photo
Meow

Squid Now 2: Splatfest - A Splatoon avant-garde art film sequel


Splatfests change a kid
Jul 05
// Jed Whitaker
[Warning: The above video is not safe for life and features a large man only wearing booty shorts.] Splatoon's Splatfest may be over, with those bastard dogs winning via popularity when cats are clearly better, but that didn't stop me from making a sequel to the critically acclaimed avant-garde short film Squid Now. Eat your hearts out David Cage, David Lynch, and David Duchovny. 

Experience Points .17: Nier

Jul 04 // Ben Davis
Don't look at me! Nier's Emil is one of my favorite video game characters of all time. The player first meets Emil in his super creepy mansion, a young boy playing the piano alone with a piece of cloth covering his eyes. Due to the setting, his initial appearance is a little off-putting, but once he begins to open up to the player, he turns out to be anything but creepy. Emil is just about the sweetest, most kind-hearted kid you'll ever meet, but he suffers from a peculiar and unfortunate ailment wherein everything he looks at turns to stone, which is why he always wears a blindfold. His eyes are a great source of shame and guilt for him, which he has a hard time coming to terms with until Kaine, another outcast, comforts him by saying, "Your eyes are not a sin. Don't ever be ashamed of them. They're part of you. A vital part of you." Eventually, he brings the party to a secret laboratory in an attempt to find a cure for his ailment. After a few bizarre revelations and an emotional boss fight, the mission is a success. Emil regains the use of his eyes without the risk of petrification, but unfortunately this comes at a great cost. The process transforms his body into a grotesque, skeletal figure as the player finds him cowering and sobbing on the floor, horrified and ashamed by his own appearance. During a touching moment, Nier assures him that everything will be okay and that they won't treat him any differently. Poor Emil is such a tragic character. He goes from being unable to look at anyone without hurting them, to being ashamed to even be seen because of his disfigured body. But even after so much hardship, he never loses his cheery, optimistic attitude, and he never stops trying to bring happiness to everyone around him. It always makes me so happy that his friends don't treat him any differently after he transforms. Kaine and Nier are nothing but supportive and comforting, and it makes me smile to see Emil light up after being reassured. There are so many scenes with Emil that just make my heart swell. You're the greatest, Emil, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise! Those who dream Nier's gameplay is rather interesting as it's never afraid to suddenly switch things up by throwing in new mechanics from different genres. It may seem like a typical action adventure with RPG elements at first, but then it goes and adds side-scrolling platform segments, top-down perspectives, bullet hell boss fights, survival horror areas, and more like it's nothing at all. And somehow, all of these elements work well and feel completely natural. The strangest part of the game, though, is when it suddenly becomes a text-based adventure of all things, and they still manage to have it make sense within the context of the story. In the Forest of Myth, the party comes upon an odd village of sleeping people. The villagers warn Nier to beware of the words, the "contagious words," but by then it's already too late. A strange illness known as the Deathdream lingers over the forest denizens, trapping them in their dreams, and it quickly begins to take hold of Nier and Weiss. The illness manifests itself as words in the minds of the characters, which appear as text on the screen for the player to read. Rather than speaking, the characters' dialogue appears as written words and their thoughts and actions appear as narration. It's actually rather humorous, because they can read the narration being written about them, and sometimes react as though it's being unfair or deceiving (especially Weiss, who gets very irritated with the narrator's choice of words). There are several dreams the player must enter by speaking with the various villagers. Some of them require some light puzzle solving to escape, such as choosing the correct path to take or answering some reading comprehension questions which make sure the player isn't just skipping through all the dialogue. Failing these sections can actually lead to death and a game over, so players have to be careful and pay attention or they'll never escape from the dreams. It's so bizarre to see a game like Nier suddenly switch gears and try something completely unexpected like this, but somehow it worked so well that it actually resulted in one of my favorite parts of the game. I loved how they worked the text adventure mechanics into the actual story by forming an illness around it, so it actually made sense to be seeing nothing but words on the screen and it didn't feel jarring or clumsy. I'll be curious to see if they try anything else unexpected like this in the sequel! Resident Emil Speaking of the different genre elements, I have to bring up the survival horror section as well, because it's another one of my favorite parts of the game. The area in question is Emil's mansion, a wonderful homage to survival horror games, and to Resident Evil especially. Upon approaching the mansion, all of the colors of the world seem to fade slowly to gray, casting a gloomy atmosphere over the party. Inside, every room has that static Resident Evil camera angle. A butler directs the party to a waiting room, but after waiting around for a while, Nier decides to investigate. After leaving the room, Kaine mysteriously disappears. Weiss begins to panic, believing the mansion to be haunted, as strange things start to happen. Paintings begin changing, creepy, petrified statues of people start showing up, unsettling voices can be heard, a sink randomly starts filling up with blood... this is clearly not a good place to get lost! And yet, the mansion is owned by Emil, the kindest person in the world. His presence really threw me off at first. What is he doing staying in a creepy place like this? He admits to having the power to turn things to stone, so it's safe to assume that all those petrified people were his doing. But is he aware of the bloody sinks and scary paintings? Probably not, since he's always blindfolded. Or maybe he's just used to it. At least he's the one comforting thing about this place, so it's not all creepy. [embed]295242:59325:0[/embed] Play it again, Devola If there's one thing I think everyone can agree on, it's that Nier has a phenomenal soundtrack. It's legitimately one of the very best video game soundtracks I can think of. The fictional language and Latin-esque vocals are haunting and beautiful, and combined with the dreamlike music, memorable melodies, and unique sounds, the result is just magical. Every track is exceptional, but if I had to choose one track to share for those who have never heard anything from the game before, I'd probably choose the "Song of the Ancients." Like much of Nier's music, there are multiple versions, but I chose Devola's version for its peacefulness and the fact that it could be considered a main theme, since it plays in the hub village. It's one of my favorite vocal tracks, along with the themes for Kaine, Emil, and the Shadowlord. Even if you haven't played Nier, I highly recommend giving the rest of the soundtrack a listen if you enjoy this track! Defense against the dark arts Nier often gets criticized for its mediocre gameplay mechanics, most likely because of the combat, since the sword techniques are rather limited. However, there's one aspect of the combat that I found to be especially satisfying: the Sealed Verses. Nier's Sealed Verses are basically magic attacks which are learned by Weiss and can be used by Nier in battle. There are eight Sealed Verses to learn, and two can be equipped at a time. They're all very different and useful in various situations. Dark Blast shoots out small, quick projectiles; Dark Lance fires a barrage of large spears; Dark Hand summons up giant fists for lots of damage; Dark Phantom calls forth a shadowy doppelganger to fight for Nier; Dark Whirlwind creates spinning blades which block enemy projectiles and cause damage; Dark Execution causes spears to burst up out of the ground in straight lines; Dark Gluttony absorbs enemy projectiles and fires them back; and Dark Wall creates a shield around Nier. Combining the various Sealed Verses with the limited physical attacks honestly left me feeling very satisfied with the combat. Even though I usually stuck with Dark Lance, as it seemed to be the most useful for just about any situation, I had a lot of fun experimenting with all the other spells as well. Dark Execution is especially cool, since the spears can pop out of the ground in every direction, impaling enemies all around Nier. I loved that I could be slashing Shades with a sword one second, summoning a huge, magical fist to pound them into the ground the next, and then finishing them off by impaling them with spears popping out of the ground below them. Honestly, the Sealed Verses simply felt amazing to use, and I thought they more than made up for the lackluster swordplay. The bold and the beautiful Initially, I didn't like Kaine very much. Scantily clad woman with an attitude? I've seen that before, plenty of times. Show me something new! Well, surprisingly for me, Nier did show me something completely new with none other than Kaine herself. Kaine's backstory isn't revealed to the player until New Game+, and it sure as hell does its job in getting me to care about the half-naked heroine. Much like the forest text adventure part of the game, Kaine's backstory is told entirely through text. It opens with a young Kaine, running from a group of bullies in her hometown. The bullies throw rocks at her, call her a freak, and beat her up before finally dropping an unexpected revelation by saying, "I don't get you, freak. Whatcha acting like a girl for, huh? Everyone knows what you really are!" As it turns out, Kaine is actually a hermaphrodite. Because of this, she is viewed as an outcast and is bullied relentlessly, leaving her depressed, suicidal, and feeling as though she has no place in the world. The only person who stands up for her is her grandmother, a tough, admirable woman who doesn't take shit from anyone and isn't afraid to retaliate against those who have been bullying her granddaughter. She comforts Kaine by saying, "You're my granddaughter, and I love you, and if folks have a problem with that, they can just go to hell." What a wonderful woman! It may seem strange for a character to wear skimpy, revealing clothing, especially in combat situations, but in Kaine's case I totally get it. Her entire life, she was bullied about her body and made to feel ugly and bad about herself. But as an adult, she's become hardened to all of those criticisms and has decided to finally own her body and feel proud about herself. She may be different from everyone else, but she's no less beautiful, and after so many years of being ashamed of her body, she's finally comfortable enough to show some skin and not care about what anyone else thinks. Personally, I think that's terrific. If there was ever a good way to justify a character dressing in next to nothing at all, Nier certainly pulled it off successfully with Kaine. Shady business MAJOR NEW GAME+ SPOILERS AHEAD Few games utilize the possibilities which New Game+ can offer better than Nier. For any game, there needs to be a good reason for players to want to continue into New Game+. Usually, this means new content or more difficult challenges to keep the player engaged and wanting to come back for more. But in Nier's case, New Game+ offers so much more. In fact, it pretty much changes the tone of the story entirely. A major part of Nier's New Game+ experience focuses on explaining the game's main enemies, the Shades. It's revealed that the Shades are actually the souls of the original humans, also known as Gestalts, and they are meant to fuse with the Replicants, which are their corresponding shells and the characters that the player has gotten to know all this time. So essentially, the player has been killing off the souls of their human counterparts, without even realizing it until the second playthrough, at which point the killing spree must continue if the player ever hopes to see the final ending. And the game certainly tries to make the player feel as bad about this as possible. Many of the boss Shades are given sympathetic personalities and backstories, and then the player is forced to fight them all over again. It's true that they were trying to fuse with the Replicants, who had developed their own consciences and obviously didn't want to lose them, but it's unfortunate that the Gestalts and Replicants couldn't just live peacefully together. It really started to dawn on me after a while that there were clues to this all along. I mean, I always wondered why these creepy Shades were dropping items like coloring books, photo albums, earrings, and other personal things, and why I seemed to hear garbled human speech whenever they were killed. At first, I figured it was because the Shades had been killing humans and taking their stuff, but oh how wrong I was. New Game+ made me feel like a monster, and Nier deserves all the praise in the world for that very reason. 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
Nier highlights photo
Weiss! You dumbass!
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...

This Japanese FPS just misses its mark

Jul 04 // Kyle MacGregor
The Legend of Alfur isn't particularly good, but I was more than willing to overlook its rough edges, at least at first. The experience pulled me in from the get-go. It begins when our protagonists, a lass named Shalnawaz and her brother Leon, are taken captive by soldiers from a neighboring kingdom. And to make matters worse, the men openly plan to sell the siblings into slavery.  Things quickly take an unexpected turn, though. One of the soldiers kills his commanding officer, then frames the siblings for the murder, forcing them to escape and fend off their pursuers. It's just a pity that the actual game doesn't back up the intrigue of the premise. Despite being a few years old now (and being created by a small team on a limited budget), this thing was dated when it launched. It isn't pretty. At all. But its graphical shortcomings pale in comparison with the gameplay. [embed]295318:59341:0[/embed] While engaging in shootouts, I often found my character clipping through objects and getting caught on scenery. Hiding behind cover isn't always effective, as enemy fire can travel through boulders, hillsides, and trees. And firing back is just as troublesome, thanks to some truly awful iron sights.  Still with me? Despite those many issues, I still somehow managed to glean a bit of enjoyment out of The Legend of Alfur. It is by no means great (or the best use of $10), but the sheer novelty of an anime-style first-person shooter cannot be denied. It's something I'd honestly like to see more of. If you'd like to see more Doujin Dojo, check back with Destructoid every weekend for more (hopefully positive) coverage of Japanese indie games and the people that make and localize them. Want us to report on something in particular? Hit me up ([email protected]) and stay tuned!
Doujin Dojo photo
Alfur isn't so legendary
Welcome to Doujin Dojo, a new weekly column dedicated to the Japanese indie scene. Maybe I should have started this out by gushing about Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale or Astebreed (which is now available on PS4, by the way)....

Animal Crossing photo
Animal Crossing

Fauxlusive: Nookling Junction dumps Trump


Dumpster behind store now super classy
Jul 03
// CJ Andriessen
Trump, the Republican frontrunner for the 2016 Presidential nomination, has had a bit of a rough week after NBC and Macy's both parted ways with the reality TV star in light of comments he made about illegal immigra...

Podtoid 298: Tales of E3 and Batman: Arkham Knight

Jul 01 // Kyle MacGregor
[embed]295129:59300:0[/embed] What We Discussed E3 press conferences Pele and the Hoop Gawd The Last Guardian OMG Bethesda! How Ubisoft sucks Star Fox Zero For Honor Brett's BBQ adventures AMD's shitty PC gaming press conference Batman: Arkham Knight Creepin' on people with StreetPass The ethics of previews Metroid Prime: Federation Force Zack's haircut SATPOTPAQ Recent Episodes Podtoid 297: E3 2015 Predictions, Tips & Tricks  Podtoid 296: On Fleek Podtoid 295: Squidnapped Podtoid 294: Croatian Vacation Send any and all questions, tips, and Gardevoir drawings to [email protected]  
New Podcast photo
Mmmmm delicious HOT POCKETS
Subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or download it here. Welcome back to Podtoid! On this week's podcast, Steven, Brett and Kyle return from sunny, beautiful, wonderful Los Angeles to discuss our E3 adventures ...

Video games on Fallon photo
Video games on Fallon

The Tonight Show's (lack of) video game coverage has been disappointing


Show some Fallout, Fallon
Jun 30
// Darren Nakamura
I have been a fan of Jimmy Fallon for a long time now. I used to have to qualify that statement with something like, "I know it's not cool, but..." These days it's a lot more acceptable to enjoy his playful take on late night...
Broken games photo
Broken games

The Arkham Knight PC port proves yet again that only suckers pre-order


A real shame
Jun 24
// Nic Rowen
Tuesday morning, I had a moment of weakness. After reading some stellar reviews (of the console versions) I allllmost pre-purchased the PC version of Arkham Knight. I've loved every other entry in the series and with those re...

Steam Summer Sale, an embarrassment of riches

Jun 24 // Nic Rowen
Wolfenstein: The New Order Embarrassment factor: A Neville Chamberlain ass-tattoo From the moment I first laid eyes on Wolfenstein: The New Order I thought “that looks like a great game!” followed almost immediately with a second thought “I'll wait for a Steam Sale.” And so it was. Yes, I know, I'm the kind of scumbag that disincentivizes publishers from backing games like Wolfenstein, and I feel bad about that, really. But I know in my heart of hearts that between work and every other game tugging at my arm, I will probably never find the time to run through a single player shooter, no matter how much fun the nazi-murder spree looks. At least it's there for me now if I ever re-watch Jin-Roh and feel compelled to dump a belt-fed machine gun into a human wall of Wehrmacht. Long Live the Queen Embarrassment factor: Mortified monocle dropping Look, sometimes I buy games because I think they might be fun to play with my girlfriend. Stop judging me. Also, the trailer was cute, and it was $2.00, and sometimes I like nice things, and you're going to stop judging me right now or I will cut off your head and parade it around court on the end of a pike. Iron Brigade Embarrassment factor: Serving with pride I don't think I need to make excuses for wanting to ride atop a glorious mobile trench/mecha, obliterate endless waves of lethal cathode ray enemies with ridiculously oversized cannons, and sport a splendid hat while doing so. If you don't understand the self-evident joy of such things, we're just never going to see eye-to-eye. Sunless Sea Embarrassment factor: Muttering about mutiny Sunless Sea looks like Darkest Dungeon, but on the water, so it's bound to be a delightful time. The embarrassment factor isn't too high here because I'm sure I'll get some play out of this one and I love to support indie devs like Failbetter Games. Besides, any game recommended by our very own Ben Davis has to be worth a look. Borderlands 2: GOTY Embarrassment factor: C:/My Documents/DankMemes Ever hear of the sunk cost fallacy? Well this is it. I loved Borderlands 2, played through the main campaign with my brother, did a bunch of co-op and challenge stuff with Dtoid's StriderHoang, and bought the big dumb fancy DLC pack. Problem was, I did most of that playing during the first three weeks of the game's launch and never quite got back to all that expensive DLC. This is why you never buy the season pass folks. It's always loomed over me and I'd like to revisit those characters and see all that content I missed, but most of my 360 friends have moved on to other consoles and it's not like I'm going to solo another character through the game, that's not how I get down with Borderlands. But, the Steam sale gave me and my brother a chance to grab the game on the cheap on our PCs, so we can delude ourselves all over again that somehow we'll find 30 hours of mutually schedule-friendly time to plunder, raid, and explode all over Pandora again. Look forward to next year when I tell you all about how I picked up the Pre-Sequel Definitive Edition on the cheap and will toootally play through it.. Sometime. Westerado: Double Barreled Embarrassment factor: I aim to misbehave No embarrassment here. Everything I hear about Westerado makes it sound like a hell of a game. Rustlin' cattle, solving mysteries, and laying down the law by whipping out a gun mid-dialog scene, these are all things I can stare at over the horizon and give a knowing nod. Gravity Ghost Embarrassment factor: WHEEEEEE! Mea culpa. I did not do the research before I bought this game and I just assumed that you played as the deer wearing socks that you always see in the screenshots. 100% of my purchasing thought process was based on loving the idea of a deer wearing socks. Sadly, you do not play as a deer wearing socks. On the plus side, it's a beautiful, charming, and magical experience and all that... Sigh, I really wanted to play as a deer wearing socks. The Fall Embarrassment factor: File not found The only embarrassment here is that I didn't pick up The Fall sooner. Seriously, this is a gorgeous indie game about a possibly malfunctioning robot-suit trying to save his unconscious pilot while stranded on a planet populated by insane drones and fascist super-computers. Just saying that last sentence out loud activates my saliva glands. Payday 2 DLC: Clover Character pack, Alesso Heist, and the Butcher's BBQ pack Embarrassment factor: A poster of Waingro in the family room I picked up Payday 2 during last summer's Steam Sale and it was a gift that kept on giving. Surprisingly fun co-op heisting with months of content patches and bug fixes behind it, and I picked it up for a song. I ended up playing it for months before my attention drifted and I don't think I ever spent more than $15 or $20 on it all told. With that in mind, even though I'm living on the straight and narrow now, I thought it might be a good idea to pick up some of the cooler looking DLC bits I've missed just in case the bastards ever pull me back in. See, smooth over the truth enough and you can justify something as dumb as buying DLC for a game you don't even have installed any more. That's the kind of moral flexibility the Payday crew can respect. Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes Embarrassment factor: Listening to “Love Deterrence” by Paz Oretga on loop It's Metal Gear for like $5.00, how could I not? I know, buying Ground Zeroes is essentially paying for the privilege to play a demo of The Phantom Pain (which is not too far away from coming out itself now), but you know what? The demo from Metal Gear Solid back on the PS1 was dope as hell and I ended up playing it over and over again FOR HOURS. That demo was basically a loading dock and the front yard of Shadow Moses, so imagine the kind of fun I can wring out of an entire military base. Again, I miss demo discs. The Vanishing of Ethan Carter Embarrassment factor: Mistaking a shadow for a ghost and making a little yelping noise The Vanishing of Ethan Carter looks like a positively beautiful mystery/horror game that will sit in my Steam backlog with pride. I'll be glad it's there, and think of playing it often. “Maybe around Halloween” I'll say. But then the month will come and some big name title will drop hoping to get a jump on the November rush, or Team Fortress 2 will do some adorable ghost themed event and I'll end up plugging hours into an eight year old game again, and poor Ethan Carter will be forgotten. Left to haunt my backlog forever. More like The Vanishing of my Free Time, am I right? Wait, no, that doesn't make much sense. I'll show myself out. Alien: Isolation Embarrassment factor: Closing your eyes in the theater and hoping no one notices Oh man, I hope I don't lose this one to the backlog, because so far it's pretty great. Alien: Isolation is one of those games I was really interested in at launch, but just couldn't bring myself to cough up $60 for it. Now that I've had a chance to play it, I'd say it probably would have been worth the full sticker price (but I'm much happier paying the $10 or so it ended up costing me). The best part of the game so far has just been noodling around the station, checking out all the little touches and messing with the retro-future computers and technology. It's a lot like Gone Home, only instead of being “a little spooky” it's a full-on assault on the nerves that ratchets up the tension until finally skewering you on the end of a Xenomorph's spiked tail. I'm still holding out hope that Amanda will just find some nice girl to elope with and get out of the station. Marine Sharpshooter 2 Embarrassment factor: Marine Sharpshooter 2 I didn't buy this one. A friend “gifted” me a copy, and oh what a gift. Marine Sharpshooter 2 apparently came out in 2004, but after five minutes in it's muddy, jagged jungles, you'll swear it was 1999 all over again. With what I would describe as a “generous” Metacritic score of 52, it doesn't have many upsides. So of course I immediately installed it instead of any of the other many fine games I spent actual money on. In the clinical world, this is what they call “self hate.”
Steam Sale haul photo
We all have our vices
I still firmly believe that one of the greatest upsides of being a PC gamer are the twice annual fire-sales hosted by Steam. Those sales, alongside the multitude of other deals and bargains that can be scooped up from Humble ...

The GameFan/Destructoid magazine is almost here!

Jun 22 // Jonathan Holmes
The biggest feature on the Dtoid side of the magazine is the Super Smash Bros. for the 3DS and Wii U mini-strategy guide by Gonzalo 'ZeRo' Barrios (the game's reigning world champion) and friends, with character profile art by Corey 'Reyyy' Lewis. Reyyy also provided us with an all new, all color Arem story. In case you hadn't heard, Arem Lightstorm is a re-imagined version of Samus Aran, but instead of being a bounty hunter, she's a nature photographer. She's pretty amazing.  We also have a in-depth study of Nintendo's dysfunctional relationship with the Mother/Earthbound series (featuring original artwork from the Fangamer team), a behind the scenes look at the longtime partnership of Mariel Cartwright (Skullgirls: Encore) and Adam Tierney (WayForward), some custom Street Fighter V sprite artwork to go along with our preview of the game, and a beautiful cover story on Bloodstained, featuring never before seen art and exclusive interviews with director Koji Igarashi and artist Yuji Natsume. And that's all just on the Destructoid side of the mag! On the GameFan side, we have a tons of exclusive news, editorial, reviews, a wrap up of all the biggest announcements from E3, and so much more. We did everything we could to make this magazine something that you'll be proud to add to your collection of video game things. and I can't even tell you how excited I am for you to finally see it for yourself.
GameFan/Destructoid photo
Featuring tons of amazing original art!
Remember that magazine that we announced a little while ago? We won't be mad at you if you don't. The good news is, we haven't forgotten about it. In fact, we've been working with the crew at GameFan day and night for almost ...

Metroid do photo
Metroid do

Nintendo announced a new Metroid so we gave Zack a haircut


Preview: Metroid Prime: Blast Ball
Jun 22
// Steven Hansen
Ah, young, handsome Zack Furniss. Relatively new to Destructoid and attending his first E3 for the site, Zack was wide-eyed and hopeful. He imagined a world of Metroid Prime 4 or Super-er Metroid and took his e3thusiasm to d...

Experience Points .16: Final Fantasy VII

Jun 20 // Ben Davis
The descendant of the Shinobi Picking a favorite character in a Final Fantasy game is usually pretty tough (unless that game is Final Fantasy IX). I have a soft spot for most of the party members in Final Fantasy VII; Cid and Barret are comically vulgar, Red XIII is awesomely adorable (that part where he's trying to walk like a human <3), Tifa has this sort of quiet badass-ness surrounding her, and Cait Sith is really weird, but I just want to snuggle up with the giant Mog like Mei napping on top of Totoro. If I had to choose a favorite, though, I would have to pick Yuffie. I feel like Yuffie often gets a bad rap. She's a thief, after all, and is constantly plotting to steal the party's Materia. She's also kind of a brat, and can come off as rather obnoxious and selfish. But even so, she has so many shining moments throughout the game where she demonstrates a wonderful sense of humor and optimism. It's also revealed through a side quest that she only wanted to steal Materia to help out her father and their home town, so even as a thief she still manages to be a sympathetic character. Then again, Yuffie and her father hatch up a plan to steal everyone's Materia again after the adventure is over, presumably for selfish reasons. I guess some things never change. When she's not stealing things, she can be found suffering from motion sickness, slicing things up with giant shurikens, calling people "old farts", pretending to be a news reporter, and other crazy stuff that a teenage ninja girl might do. She also has my personal favorite theme song; it's very upbeat and cheerful. Hearing it always makes me really happy! Whenever I replay Final Fantasy VII, I always make it my mission to recruit her to the team as quickly as possible. How anyone could hate Yuffie is beyond me. Interrupted by fireworks The Gold Saucer: an endlessly exciting theme park with obnoxiously happy music, filled with games, rides, haunted houses, live theater, fireworks, racetracks, battle arenas, and all sorts of fun stuff. Not to mention the fact that it's built on a giant, almost unreal, tree-like structure towering above a desolate wasteland. It's a truly magical place. While the rides and games are fun and addicting (the motorcycle and snowboarding games are my favorites), the highlight of the Gold Saucer occurs after the party decides to rest at the inn. Depending on certain choices the player has made in the game up to this point, one of four characters will knock on Cloud's door late at night and ask him out on a date, where they walk around the park, take part in a theatrical performance (which is always hilarious), and go on a romantic gondola ride during a fireworks show. Obviously, the two main options for date night are Tifa and Aeris, but it's also possible to go on a date with Yuffie and, surprisingly, even Barret. Tifa and Aeris might make the most sense, but the scenes on the gondola with Yuffie and Barret are some of my favorite moments in the game. The date with Yuffie is adorably awkward. Yuffie clearly likes Cloud, and she even manages to work up the courage to give him a peck on the cheek, but Cloud just sits there like a grumpy, silent lump and embarrasses the heck out of her ("Gawd, I could just die."). Poor Yuffie! The date with Barret, on the other hand, is just plain awkward as hell. Barret asks Cloud to accompany him because he wants to go for a walk, so it's not framed as a date at all, but it sure starts to feel like one. The gondola ride starts out in awkward silence as the two men just sit there and stare at each other with their arms crossed, until Barret gets pissed about having to enjoy the fireworks with another dude and asks Cloud why he never asked one of the girls out. He then goes on to basically accuse Cloud of pedophilia by falling in love with his daughter, Marlene (she's like four years old!), and gets even more pissed off to the point where he starts shooting at the fireworks to make them shut up. I mean, geez, you could just cut that sexual tension with a knife, am I right? The protector of Cosmo Canyon Final Fantasy VII has no shortage of emotional, tear-jerking moments. Of course, while there is the big one which you're no doubt thinking about right now, my personal favorite moving moment happens much earlier in the game when the party first arrives at Cosmo Canyon and learns a little more about their mysterious animal friend, Red XIII, or as he's known in Cosmo Canyon, Nanaki. While sitting around a big bonfire, Cloud has a chat with Nanaki. He reluctantly begins to open up about his parents and how the thought of his mother fills him with pride and joy, while the thought of his father fills him with anger. Apparently, his father abandoned his mother and the town and left her to die. Nanaki's grandfather, Bugenhagen, overhears the conversation and asks if Nanaki really cannot forgive his father. Bugenhagen then leads the party through a dangerous cave full of ghostly terrors in order to show Nanaki something special. At the back of the cave, the party finds themselves at the bottom of a cliff, at the top of which sits a stone statue resembling Nanaki. Bugenhagen reveals that the statue is actually Nanaki's father, Seto, who was turned to stone by poisonous arrows as he was trying to drive enemies out of the canyon to protect the town. He still remains there today, watching over Cosmo Canyon. Learning all of this about his father, Nanaki has a sudden change of heart. He decides to accompany Cloud and the team in order to help protect the planet and proudly declares, "I am Nanaki of Cosmo Canyon! The son of the warrior, Seto! I'll come back as a warrior true to that noble name!" Upon making this announcement, drops of water begin to fall from above, and Nanaki looks up to see that the statue of his father is shedding tears of joy. Nanaki jumps up onto a small outcrop and begins to howl up to his father. This scene always sends a shiver down my spine, and the howling almost makes me shed a tear. It leaves me feeling simultaneously sad that Red XIII's father is dead and happy that the two could reunite and come to an understanding. And the music, a more melancholy version of Red XIII's theme, fits the scene perfectly. It gets me every time! Love and rockets Another wonderfully touching moment happens a bit later in the game, when the party sits down to have tea with Shera at Cid's place in Rocket Town. The relationship between Cid and Shera comes off as particularly volatile, with Cid constantly shouting and cursing at her and generally acting very agitated whenever she's around. The party asks her how she can put up with all of his anger, and she explains that he wasn't always this way. This cues a flashback of Cid's first attempt to launch a rocket into space. Shera is busy checking an oxygen tank, which Cid claims she's wasting her time with. It then cuts to Cid in the cockpit, ready to take off, and the countdown begins. But there's a problem: a mechanic is still in the engine section of the rocket, a very dangerous place to be when the rocket is about to blast off, as the heat would surely kill them. The lingering mechanic is Shera, of course. She stuck around to do some final checks on the oxygen tanks, since they weren't testing to her satisfaction. She's urges Cid to continue with the launch, and seems to be dead set on fixing the oxygen tanks even if it means she'll be killed. She only wants the launch to be a success, to fulfill Cid's lifelong dream of making it into outer space. Cid doesn't want her to die, but the countdown has already started, and if it's canceled they'll have to wait another six months until the next launch. In a panic, Cid shuts down the engine at the very last second, saving Shera's life but sacrificing his dream. Later, the Space Program was cut back and plans for another launch were canceled. So that's why, according to Shera, she's okay with all of his abuse. She blames herself, so she feels she deserves it. Deep down, though, I still think Cid really cares for Shera. He may not show it very well, but he did save her life, after all. It's a complicated relationship for sure, but that just makes it all the more interesting. [embed]294343:59146:0[/embed] Just play it cool, boy Is there no cooler theme song than the Turks' theme? It fits the group perfectly, with their cool, confident demeanors, sleek suits, and take-no-shit attitudes. It's a really interesting part of the soundtrack, too, because it's made up almost entirely of percussion sounds, with a slight bit of melody thrown in occasionally for good measure. I like to imagine the Turks walking down the streets of Midgar with this song playing, snapping along to the music and kicking stuff out of their way while other people look on in intimidation. Maybe they throw in some subtle dance moves while they're at it, like they're performing a more subdued version of "Cool" from West Side Story. They could totally pull it off. Awkward encounters at the Honey Bee Inn Midgar's Honey Bee Inn, a seedy brothel run by women in sexy bee costumes, happens to be the home of some of the most unexpected scenes in Final Fantasy history. During Cloud's visit to the inn, he has access to one of two rooms: the Group Room and the &$#% Room. They sound pretty exciting, no? Choosing the Group Room, the sexy bee lady steps aside as a mob of sweaty, muscular men barge into the room and practically force Cloud to take a bath with them (what a lucky guy!). Or if he chooses the &$#% Room... well, I'll just let you imagine what goes on in the &$#% Room. I'm honestly really surprised these scenes weren't censored from the game. I'm also kind of glad that they weren't. Not only because my pervy teenage mind enjoyed them (even if I probably didn't fully understand what was happening at the time), but also because this awkward, racy, unexpected content was part of what made Final Fantasy VII feel so special. I mean, who honestly thought they would see stuff like this in a Final Fantasy game? Hits like a truck I love it when Final Fantasy gets real weird with its boss fights. The Ultros fights from Final Fantasy VI and the fight against Sandy, Cindy, and Mindy from Final Fantasy IV always stick in my mind because of how silly they were. There always seems to be at least one humorous boss fight, and in Final Fantasy VII, that boss is Palmer. Palmer is the head of the Space Program for Shinra, but he's a very incompetent and obnoxiously childish old man. In Rocket Town, the party interrupts him while he's trying to steal Cid's plane, the Tiny Bronco, which leads into the boss fight. During the entire fight, Palmer bounces back and forth in a ridiculous, taunting manner. Occasionally, he'll use up a turn to spin around and smack his butt in the party's direction, muttering, "heh heh hic!" as though he's drunk (and he probably is). The best part, though, is at the end of the fight. After Palmer is defeated, he does this weird little dance, almost gets his head chopped off by the propeller of the Tiny Bronco, mocks the party to save face, then turns to run away only to get hit by a truck out of nowhere and sent flying. The entire cutscene is just crazy. Why is the Tiny Bronco suddenly moving on its own? Where did that truck even come from? I mean, they're fighting in Cid's fenced off backyard, so did it drive over his fence? It's the most absurd, unexpected way to end a battle, especially in a mostly serious game like Final Fantasy VII, but that's exactly why I love it 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  
Final Fantasy VII photo
This guy are sick
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...

Feminism! photo
Feminism!

E3 2015: You play like a girl


And that's a very good thing
Jun 19
// Matthew Razak
[Here's a guest editorial from Matthew Razak, Editor-in-Chief of Flixist, and former Destructoid staff. You may remember him as Cowzilla. It's nice to have him back.] This year as I sat at home watching press events from all ...
Hot Pockets photo
Shapes
You see the depths I go for yous guys? I ate a Hot Pocket.

Xbox originally thought backwards compatibility was impossible

Jun 18 // Brett Makedonski
To be blunt, I was sort of astonished to watch the Xbox One transform into an Xbox 360. With a simultaneous press of the menu and view buttons, the Xbox 360's guide pops up -- yes, the exact one that still exists on the legacy console. From there, it's fully functional to look at friends, launch games, view Achievements -- all that stuff that everyone's already familiar with. Maybe the most interesting aspect of backwards compatibility is its cross-platform ability. The presenter stressed that, because this is essentially an Xbox 360 running off of an Xbox One, anyone can play and chat with friends who are on 360. That's a nice way to bridge the gap for those whose friends haven't taken the "next-gen" plunge yet. But, just because it's acting as an Xbox 360 doesn't mean that it forfeits the perks of still being an Xbox One. The system's sharing and broadcasting features remain live, so snapping screenshots, capturing video, and Twitch broadcasting are all available options. Have your cake, eat it too. While all this seems great, one has to wonder how on-board third-party publishers will be with the feature. After all, they aren't making money if you're playing a game you already own. In an age of remaster after remaster, you have to think that it's a more alluring prospect to opt out of backwards compatibility and re-release a game at a higher visual fidelity and -- more importantly to publishers -- a price tag. However, Xbox doesn't necessarily think this will be the case. Or, at least it hopes it won't be. One representative went so far as to suggest that companies will use backwards compatibility to grow their brands. "Our group doesn't talk to the publishers directly, but if you listen to what Bethesda had to say on-stage on Monday where you get Fallout 3 for free if you buy Fallout 4, I think they'll do things like that to encourage customers to buy the latest games and to get into the IP. They want more people in the IP to grow their audience, not just the same people coming back. I think it's a good channel for them to be able to do things like that," he said. Microsoft's intentions for backwards compatibility appear earnest and sincere, but all these advancements make it sort of seem like the Xbox 360 is an obsolete machine. When I asked if consumers can just throw away their 360s after backwards compatibility is fully up and running, the presenters laughed and said "We wouldn't advocate throwing them away! But, like Phil said at the conference, now's the time for 360 customers to upgrade to Xbox One. We want them to say 'everything's there for me. Let's go.'"
Backwards compatibility photo
'The team never gave up'
Microsoft's E3 announcement that the Xbox One would be backwards compatible was a big one for fans who have thousands of dollars invested in the last generation of gaming. Two years ago, many struggled with the idea that thei...

Nintendo E3 photo
Nintendo E3

Nintendo lost E3 because it failed to exceed my unreasonably high expectations


Why won't Nintendo do what I want?
Jun 17
// CJ Andriessen
For me E3 didn’t start until Tuesday evening when, after a day of avoiding spoilers at work, I was able to sit down at my computer, open a bottle of wine and enjoy the annual Nintendo E3 Digital Event. As a life-long ...

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