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Uncharted photo

Uncharted's Brutal difficulty is no joke

It's in The Nathan Drake Collection
Oct 09
// Jordan Devore
I've never cared much for Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, but I can relate to this video of someone banging their head against the game's hardest difficulty mode. I'm having Call of Duty flashbacks. Brutal is a new option found in Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection and it's an even greater challenge than the fresh hell that was Crushing difficulty. Take a look for yourself:
Art photo

True hardest Mario Maker level asks: Will you save your son?

Definitely the hardest Mario Maker stage
Sep 23
// Steven Hansen
False prophets are not new. Jordan told you all that this was one of the hardest Super Mario Maker levels, but it's all twitch-based reflex video games 101. Any gamehead worth her salt could polish that bad boy off, at least...
Super Mario Maker photo
Super Mario Maker

This has to be one of the hardest Mario Maker levels

Have mercy on us all
Sep 21
// Jordan Devore
It took Bananasaurus Rex, the guy who can do the impossible in Spelunky, "about four hours from start of practice" to clear this absurdly difficult Super Mario Maker level. Just watch.
Unlocking The Kid photo
Unlocking The Kid

Oh, right, Super Meat Boy is going to break me

Hello darkness
Jun 08
// Jordan Devore
We learned this morning that Super Meat Boy is coming to PlayStation 4 and PS Vita. I was ecstatic, and not merely because the game is going to be free at launch for PlayStation Plus members. Most of all, I looked forward to...

La-Mulana EX photo
La-Mulana EX

'Ultimate' version of La-Mulana hits PS Vita next week

Please don't break me, La-Mulana EX
Feb 27
// Jordan Devore
The PlayStation Vita and La-Mulana have long seemed like a good match, but it's taken some time for the two to hook up. Just kiss already! Rising Star Games and Pygmy Studio will have the "ultimate version" of this punishing ...

Etrian Mystery Dungeon is a quirky spinoff in line with series legacy

Feb 26 // Alessandro Fillari
Etrian Mystery Dungeon (3DS)Developer: Spike ChunsoftPublisher: AtlusRelease date: April 7, 2015MSRP: $39.99 For those unaware, Etrian Mystery Dungeon is a spinoff of its mainline series Etrian Odyssey. Playing as adventurers seeking fame, fortune, and glory, you must explore dangerous monster-filled dungeons while helping out local townsfolk in need. In and around the village of Azlarga, you build your reputation amongst the locals who come to rely on you for help. Over the course of your adventures, you'll acquire new weaponry, abilities, and and party members that wish to join in on your successes, and hope to conquer the more nefarious and deadly dungeons that remain untouched by explorers' hands. In similar vein to last year's Persona Q, EMD takes several of the series' concepts and gameplay ideas, and injects them into a brand new setting. In Mystery Dungeon, the action is moved to the tried-and-true roguelike dungeon crawler school of thought. With an overhead third-person angle, you have to keep watch of your party members and their surroundings as they venture through the environment. Utilizing grid-based movement, positioning is everything. Certain party members use either ranged or close-range abilities, and must be placed accordingly. With only four characters to bring with you into the field, you'll have to choose wisely from the several classes that EMD has to offer. While exploring, you'll want to monitor the status of your party members. As some traps poison people, or debilitate movement, you have stay stocked up on recovery items. For every step you take, you also drain FP (food points), which affects stamina and combat prowess. Once that's completely drained, your party leader will sustain damage for every move you make. In order to stay ahead of this, you'll have to keep them well-fed, or have another member of the group take point. This puts an interesting spin on exploration, as often times you'll have your tank lead. But if he's too tired to take charge, then you might be forced to escape or have one of your more vulnerable members lead. [embed]288216:57511:0[/embed] Fortunately, there are many different ways to stay on top in dungeons. Certain classes can scout ahead and spot traps and monsters, while others can keep the party buffed and in good health. Also, there are several areas within the labyrinths that are fairly safe, which can be fortified by your group. In these forts, you'll remain safe, and they can be used for quick travel back to the outside. Forts are run by members of the guilds you can join back in Azlarga, and they help monitor your resources. Loot, minerals, and other special resources found in the dungeon can be taken back to the forts, though, keep in mind, they can be still be attacked and destroyed by monsters in the dungeon. So it's important to make sure if you want to invest the time and money to build one, especially in a dangerous location. The Etrian Odyssey series is known for its tough challenges, and EMD definitely retains that for dungeon exploration. Every dungeon you travel to is randomly generated, which not only keeps things interesting, but has you on your toes. In some cases, the first few floors of the dungeon might be a cake walk, but traveling to a fresh location might have you walk right into several traps and powerful foes. Despite the challenges, there are many opportunities to save yourself and your crew. If you for instance wipe, you can send in rescue units for your team for evac back to town. Unfortunately, you'll lose out on items and currency found at that location. So it's always best to keep a fresh save at all times. I'm usually not that partial to dungeon crawlers, but I found Etrian Mysery Dungeon to be charming, despite its difficulty. The visuals and art style are vibrant and colorful, which is a welcome departure from the common brown and grey aesthetic of roguelike dungeon crawler RPG titles. I found the presentation to be fun, and the world is one I would love to explore again. I expect players to be quite taken with Mystery Dungeon. With its release in April, it should also scratch an itch for fans eager to play Etrian Odyssey V, which is still a ways off. Granted, this is a bit different than previous EO titles, but that's actually kind of a good thing. It's another approach to dungeon crawling, sure, but at its heart it's a similar experience fans will love.
Etrian Mystery Dungeon photo
Hardcore dungeon crawling with a new perspective
Over the years, Atlus has become one of the more endearing presences in gaming. One thing fans appreciate is its tendency to switch things up. The publisher has a handle on the niche gaming scene, and it's reassuring to know ...

Nicalis platformer photo
Nicalis platformer

Ready for punishment? Castle in the Darkness awaits

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

This Kaizo Mario World speedrun stresses me out

It's hard to watch and yet I can't look away
Jan 08
// Jordan Devore
"This is what happens when a very sadistic person gets ahold of a level editor." Some of us get a huge kick out of watching strangers overcome the odds in near-impossible games, and as far as those go, Kaizo Mario World (or ...
Shigeru Miyamoto photo
Shigeru Miyamoto

Miyamoto explains Nintendo's reignited passion for core gaming

'In the days of DS and Wii, Nintendo tried its best to expand the gaming population.'
Aug 28
// Brittany Vincent
It's fairly obvious that Nintendo has been ramping up its concerted efforts to attract and maintain its core base, and Shigeru Miyamoto's latest comments confirm that it's not just a coincidence. Miyamoto spoke with Edge in a...
Dark Souls II CE photo
Dark Souls II CE

Dark Souls II CE unboxing makes death look worth it

Just look at some of that stuff
Feb 26
// Brett Makedonski
Dark Souls II has done a pretty decent job of giving everyone the impression that they need to prepare for death again. Well, if you want to escalate things a bit and go beyond death, the Collector's Edition of Dark Sou...
Dark Souls II photo
Dark Souls II

Dark Souls II on PC looks set for May 31

If an Amazon listing's to be trusted
Feb 03
// Brett Makedonski
Only a bit shy of a month away from Dark Souls II's console release, many are left wondering when exactly the PC version will be unleashed upon the masses. From Software's said in the past that it would see a slight delay so...

Preview: Dark Souls II

Jan 30 // Alessandro Fillari
Dark Souls II (PC, PlayStation 3 [previewed], Xbox 360)Developer: From SoftwarePublisher: Namco Bandai Games Release Date: March 11, 2014 (PS3, Xbox 360) / (PC TBA)In a far away kingdom known as Drangelic, players take on the role of a cursed warrior looking to end their suffering. Once a mighty and prosperous land, the kingdom fell into madness and ruin for reasons yet to be discovered. Upon learning the secrets of the kingdom, which is now inhabited by powerful monsters and dragons, the player character ventures toward Drangelic in search of a cure to end their curse.For those not familiar with the series, players must explore and work their way through an environment filled with traps, monsters, and other dangers while collecting souls to level up and expand their arsenal. Death is a normal part of the game, and dying is sometimes necessary to understand the environment and for your own growth as a player. With network functionality, players can also view others online and see their progress in real-time as ghostly apparitions to learn more about the dangers ahead.As in the previous game, Dark Souls II takes place in an interconnected world that players can explore and travel across either on-foot or through fast-travel using the various bonfires, which also serve as checkpoints.These bonfires are also your only safe haven from monsters and other players looking to invade your game.After the stunning intro cinematic detailing the history of the kingdom, players find themselves in a seemingly abandoned and overgrown field known as the "Things Betwixt." Unarmed and without any supplies, players must venture forth in search of answers. Eventually, players find a small house where they get to meet the first NPCs of the game.Unlike in the previous game, the starting area for Dark Souls II is fairly open and allows for some wandering. While the beginning areas are open for exploration, trailing off the beaten path and backtracking to previous areas will reward players by essentially throwing them to the wolves. Literally. After creating my character build and receiving some gear, I decided to head back the starting place near a field of tall green grass, and I was soon ambushed by a pack of creatures that resembled a horrific mix between large rats and wolves.After barely clearing out these monsters, I went towards a small opening away from the field  and found a small path leading towards a creek. On my way, I saw a large troll with his back turned guarding a treasure on the ground. Of course, I took the opportunity to get the upper hand -- but I found myself outmatched, as my weapon barely did any damage. As he fell to the ground after attacking, which was amusing to watch, I quickly snatched the treasure and ran off to continue the story.I should mention that all this was entirely optional and was before reaching the first bonfire. If I chose to continue on forward without backtracking, I would've come across the game's tutorial sequence, where you battle more standard undead and learn the controls. A much easier option for my character.Throughout my time with the game, I never wanted to feel too comfortable and confident. All my victories were minor in the grand scheme of things, and I focused just on staying alive and in good condition. Just when you're getting confident in your skills, the game will quickly knock you down several pegs and show you who's boss. After completing the tutorial, I found myself ambushed by two massive trolls and was forced to retreat. This was still the first 15 minutes of the game.There's been much talk about how Dark Souls II has been made easier and more friendly for players. While a number of those concerns are understandable, I came away pretty pleased with the balance From Software made for the sequel. One thing I was relieved to see is how there are more options for the player to support themselves.For instance, Lifegems are a new restorative item that recover health for the players. Similar to the restorative herbs from Demon's Souls, there are different versions offering unique levels of potency, and they are also in a plentiful supply early on. Moreover, your character can actually move when recovering, though you're reduced to a slow walk.All this may sound like the Dark Souls II lost its nerve, right? From Software went and sold out to the casual audience, eh? Wrong. Lifegems heal much, much slower than the Estus Flask (found later on), which makes them a greater risk to use during battle. Even if you successfully use the item, you still have wait for your health to slowly regenerate. And if you're up against an enemy that's able to take chunks from your health, then he can easily cut through whatever health the Lifegem restored and what paltry sum you've got left. If that happens, then you've not only been killed, lost all your souls, lose more health while in hollow form, and you've just wasted a Lifegem. How’s that for a challenge?And on the subject of death, which is what the game is all about -- death now has greater consequences for players. Much like in Demon's Souls, when you are restored to life in a lesser form, your health bar suffers a penalty. Unlike the previous Dark Souls title, repeated deaths in Hollow form are penalized. The developers at From Software were aware of the fact that some players preferred to play in Hollow state, and this is to encourage people to return to their human form when they can.One reason why people preferred to stay in Hollow form was to avoid invasions from enemy players. That is now not the case. Unless players have special items or within special situations that prevent players from invading, they will always be at the risk of black phantoms.Of course, combat is one of the key aspects of the Souls series, and it's received a bit of an upgrade for Dark Souls II. In addition to the enhanced and refined inventory system, the combat mechanics have been given much more depth and feel much more tight as a whole. Dual wielding now feels much more effective and practical, and magic feels as a bit more flexible, as you can acquire staffs to use as tools for your spells. Keeping a healthy defense by utilizing parries, rolls, and your shield is vital for success. But at the same time, you must not be afraid to run in and attack when you see an opening.For the most part, the combat system has improved and feels very smooth. However, the enemies feel much more aggressive as a result. Because of this, I felt much more inclined to be on the defensive and wait for enemy attacks to pick more moment. Unless it was one of the lesser enemies, I always felt I needed to see them attack first before I could make my move.One issue with the previous Dark Souls title was the frame rate drops throughout the game, but thankfully performance for the sequel has been quite improved. During my time, the frame rate was solid. However, I still found the camera to be troublesome in spots -- specifically during cramped and tight areas. Sometimes the view would be obstructed or snagged on the wall or an object. It didn't happen often, but I felt fearful of the idea of it happening during combat, which is very possible.Visually, the game is quite an improvement from the original. While it's difficult to see in these pictures, many of the locations you see even early on are pretty stunning and take full advantage of the improved lighting engine. There will be a larger variety of environments in DSII, and these early areas, including a ruined castle on the coast populated by stone knights, make me excited to see what's next.In many ways, Dark Souls II does a better job with easing players into the experience; learning the controls, abilities, and making the acclimation period a bit easier, at your own pace, and more accessible. Yes, you just read that this game is a little more accessible. And that's OK. I died more times in the opening hour of this game than I did in the previous Souls games. And that was after going through the tutorial sequence and learning controls I'm already familiar with. It felt as though they made the opening of this game for players who wanted a challenge or were too confident in their abilities from the previous games. I felt constantly on edge, and had to think about what's going on and what to do next. While it's understandable to feel apprehensive about this game's slightly different approach to starting players off -- what Dark Souls II has essentially given players is more rope, just so they're able to climb an even steeper cliff. And it all felt pretty fair to me.Surprisingly, I felt there were many callbacks to the original Souls title, Demon's Souls. A steeper learning curve, a trial by fire scenario -- after letting my experience with the game digest, Darks Souls II seems to be a nice blend of the best qualities from both its predecessors. As there's a greater focus on putting pressure on the player, without making them feel too overwhelmed and frustrated. For the people that welcome this experience, of course.I had a good feeling about Dark Souls II and I came away pretty excited to jump into the full game once it's released in March. It's clear that they look plenty of notes from fans during the beta period, as many issues relating to the health items and combat flow have been tweaked for the better. Early 2014 is still looking pretty great, and fans should prepare to meet their maker once Dark Souls II is out in March.
Dark Souls II previewed photo
Once more unto the breach
As one of the most celebrated and admired games of the last generation, the Souls series from the developers at From Software has many admirers and critics. Many swear by its uncompromising and hardcore gameplay systems and d...

Dark Souls II photo
Dark Souls II

Dark Souls II screenshots show off new covenants

Praise the sun!
Dec 05
// Alessandro Fillari
Lately, Namco Bandai has been pretty keen to show off its upcoming title, Dark Souls II. With early 2014 looking pretty packed, From Software's next entry in the Souls series looks to be the one to keep an eye out for. In the...
Eryi's Action photo
Eryi's Action

Eryi's Action is a platformer designed to be unfair

It's just as funny as it sounds
Dec 05
// Chris Carter
Eryi's Action is available now on Steam. If you haven't heard of it, the game is notorious for its difficulty, and was designed to frustrate hardcore platformer fans. For instance, right after starting the first stage, I died...
PC Gaming photo
PC Gaming

The Large Pixel Collider is better than your gaming PC

Bow before the new leaders of the PC master race
Nov 19
// Alessandro Fillari
Look out PC master race, there's a new custom gaming PC looking to put your rig to shame. Known as The Large Pixel Collider, the passionate, and possibly demented, folks at PC Gamer have put together a monster rig that will ...
Dark Souls II photo
Dark Souls II

Oh hey, here's a ton of Dark Souls II screenshots

Praise the sun, while you still can
Nov 14
// Alessandro Fillari
The Facebook page for Darks Souls surprised fans by dropping a bunch of screenshots for the upcoming sequel, Dark Souls II. In these pics, we get to see some areas not shown before, many of which show off the coast of the new...
Diablo photo

Diablo III sold 14 million copies across all platforms

Epic loot and rewards
Nov 07
// Alessandro Fillari
Though Diablo III has had a few ups and downs, its publisher is now sitting pretty. During Activision's recent financial call to investors, Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime laid out the financial success that this action-RPG title ...
MapleStory 2 photo
MapleStory 2

MapleStory 2 announced, beta begins in 2014

MMO nostalgia hits hard
Nov 07
// Alessandro Fillari
Don't lie, you've heard of MapleStory. The immensely popular 2D MMO took up many hours during its heyday, and it's still got quite the fanbase today. Now, Nexon has officially announced a sequel. Developed by N Square, MapleS...

Only 4% of Volgarr the Viking players bought the game

The developers take to Twitter to talk honestly about piracy
Oct 22
// Alessandro Fillari
Volgarr the Viking is a hardcore-focused throwback to classic 2D action titles of the past. Released last month, it has already pleased many gamers looking for a challenge. After a successful Kickstarter and getting picked up...

Path of Exile launches on Steam this month

1.0 update introduces new prestige class, PvP gameplay, and guilds!
Oct 04
// Alessandro Fillari
Over the past year, Path of Exile has made quite a name for itself. As one of the few and continually growing hardcore-focused action/RPG titles for PC players, Grinding Gear Games' uncompromising and open-ended playstyle has...

Review: Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures

Sep 26 // Tony Ponce
Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures (3DS, PC [reviewed], Wii U)Developer: FreakZone GamesPublisher: ScrewAttack GamesReleased: September 20, 2013 (PC) / 2014 (3DS, Wii U)MSRP: $14.99Rig: Intel Core i3-380M, 6GB of RAM, GeForce GT 425M, Windows 7 64-bit The games that the Nerd typically plays fall under one of three categories: otherwise decent games that feature relentless difficulty, average games with a number of very curious or backwards design choices, and outright festering ass. The last group is his main claim to fame, but for an official Nerd game to work, it would have to draw inspiration from all three categories while at the same time being enjoyable enough to play over prolonged periods. In other words, FreakZone had to take shit and simultaneously make it not shit. Quite the paradox, but one that FreakZone achieved quite handily. On the surface, Adventures is both an homage to and parody of the AVGN web series. The Nerd and his friends are sucked into the television and transported to Game Land, divided into eight levels inspired by the show's many themes. There is "Assholevania," a send-up of James Rolfe's own love for the Castlevania franchsie; "Beat It & Eat It," a puerile domain filled with the sights and sounds of Atari porn software like Custer's Revenge; "Blizzard of Balls," a wintry hell born out of the AVGN Christmas specials; and others. [embed]262392:50644:0[/embed] Long-time Nerd fans will note many nods and Easter eggs to the show's history in everything from the enemies and items to the obstacles and backgrounds. You consume Rolling Rock to refill health and acquire tokens to summon the Glitch Gremlin or Super Mecha Death Christ. You fly atop the board from Silver Surfer, go toe-to-toe with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and find Shit Pickle hiding in various locations. Then there's the final stage, a foul monument to one of the Nerd's most despised game companies. Several classic Nintendo games are also paid tribute. In the introductory level, you get instructed by Naggi, the green-hued cousin of Ocarina of Time's Navi, much to the Nerd's displeasure. The disappearing blocks from Mega Man and the giant goblin heads from Air Man's stage in Mega Man 2 feature prominently, as does Doom's Cacodemon, remade out of feces and appropriately dubbed "Cacademon." Even FreakZone's own MANOS is acknowledged with a boss battle pulled straight from that title. But what really gives Adventures the AVGN touch is the running commentary. Every so often, the Nerd will make some kind of rant or observation, although the fact that it's text-based makes it difficult to read during particularly harrowing platforming segments. Whenever you die, the Nerd will spout one of his famous curse-laden analogies (e.g. "This game is rotten fungus coming out of a badger's sphincter!") with keywords randomly generated from a pool of submissions from the game's Facebook page. The current pool isn't all that big, thus many phrases are repeated; perhaps ScrewAttack will continue to update the game with expanded word banks. All the references and potty humor in the world wouldn't be enough if the core game wasn't compelling. Thankfully, there is a solid quest beneath the surface dressing that even those completely unfamiliar with the Nerd's exploits would be able to enjoy. If you happened to have played MANOS, you'll notice that Adventures feels like an extension of that, with many shared elements and environmental hazards -- I wouldn't consider that a knock against this game, though. There's a classic "Nintendo hard" degree of challenge, but it's tempered by very solid controls and enough checkpoints and beer bottles to carry you towards the boss. Oh, and it's got a pretty bangin' soundtrack to keep your fighting spirit high! You begin the game as the Nerd with a multi-directional NES Zapper for a weapon, and careful searching will lead you to three additional party members -- Guitar Guy, who can run fast and shoot wave beams through walls; Mike, with a super high jump and the ability to spot destructible walls and invisible platforms; and Bullshit Man, who can double jump and lob extra powerful lumps of poo. Only by swapping characters on the fly and using their abilities can you reach formerly inaccessible areas filled with 1-ups, health, and weapon upgrades. You may even spot a few NPC cameos, like brentalfloss, Egoraptor, and our very own Jim Sterling and Mr. Destructoid! Every obstacle in the game operates on very simple patterns that can be observed from a distance before being approached. Spikes that emerge from the floor? Fire pillars or laser turrets that trigger at regular intervals? Maces that circle the bricks they are chained to? Just count the seconds and time your progress. Your mistakes are entirely your own. Naturally, the last level throws everything plus the kitchen sink at you at once, but that's what last levels are supposed to do. However, there is one persistent obstacle -- a skull-faced block that causes instant death upon touching -- that caused me great grief. Such blocks appear in clusters and typically blink in and out with the same rhythm as the disappearing blocks. They are everywhere, in every single level without fail, yet they always feel completely out of place. I mean, death blocks that kill you with a mere graze? What's up with that? In a way, death blocks are a quick and easy way to bump up a stage's difficulty without the need to create unique environmental hazards. Sounds rather creatively bereft, no? But if you were the Nerd, wouldn't such an obstacle become the focus of your rage and frustration, the breaking point after which righteous obscenities start flowing like wine? If the designers' goal was to put you in the Nerd's shoes, such an evil element would be necessary to trigger that transformation. Adventures is no insurmountable wall, but neither is it a welcome wagon. On Normal mode, you are given 30 lives and unlimited continues, which should allow anyone with enough drive to at least make it to the final boss within a couple of hours -- whether you can actually beat the final boss is another matter, the god-modding bastard. Beyond that are even tougher difficulty modes that prevent saving between levels and reduce your amount or health and retries. As a pseudo NES-era throwback, it nails the careful balance between cruel and inviting. As a tribute to the Nerd, it does a decent job covering his entire career, although repetitive dialog lessens the humorous impact on repeated playthroughs. As an authentic Nerd "experience"... well... your mileage may vary, but I'd like to think it is. Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures is not a cowa-fucking-piece-of-dog-shit, that's for certain!
AVGN Adventures review photo
He's gonna take you back to the past...
For years, James "Angry Video Game Nerd" Rolfe has suffered the worst that retro gaming could toss at him for the sake of your amusement. Why does he do it? Is he a masochist? Does the rage that burns inside with every sudden...

Very Quick Tips: Volgarr the Viking

Sep 24 // Chris Carter
General Tips: Get in the habit of holding the zoom button constantly to survey your surroundings until you get a level down pat. The zoom button is a great way to eliminate any feeling of fake difficulty, because like Spelunky, any time you die it's usually your fault. Going along with the zoom function, spears are your friend. Throw them often, and make use of the double jump spear constantly. If you're trying to create a ledge, note that you need to be approximately three character lengths away before you can make it stick to the wall. Don't limit yourself -- you can throw spears a lot faster than you think you can, so sling away. Also, if you have the hammer shield, you can charge your spear up to make short work of multiple weak enemies. When in doubt, most puzzles involve spears. Create spear bridges anywhere you can, and note that you can throw them through certain barriers that are shaped differently than the rest. When you're on a chain or rope climbing up, keep in mind that creating a makeshift spear platform to rest on can save your life if you need to jump back down. The shield is very dynamic. You can even guard against attacks from behind as you're climbing on ropes while the shield is on your back (use this to your advantage and face the shield towards wall-mounted spear spitters). Said spear spitters are also positioned horizontally, by the way, so you can spot them while they attempt to disguise themselves among similar scenery. The crouching slash can trick most humanoid enemies in the game. Use this a lot on stage three against the shield-wielding skeletons -- better yet, try not to fight them if possible and double-jump over them after creating gaps with crouch slashes. Try not to backtrack a lot to avoid respawns of menial enemies. This includes the lizards in level one and the skeletons in level three. If possible, keep moving forward. Restart if you lose some gear early in a level. Getting incremental gear is key to your success, and having to re-earn everything can be a thorn in your side and not allow you to reach your full potential as a player. For instance, you can kill the first boss in one fell swoop (read: five seconds) with the fire sword. Your double jump is actually an attack. Learn how many hits enemies can take in total, and use this on their last remaining hit to avoid damage. You can also cancel a downwards stab attack into a spin jump. On that note, do not overuse the double jump. You can't compensate for over-jumping, so make use of the single jump often when leaping over traps. This is a trick I learned at a young age when playing Mega Man X2 -- when facing enemies that spit projectiles, visualize said projectiles and tune everything else out. Watch how the bullets move, where they end up, and focus entirely on not getting hit by them (can you tell I love bullet hell games?). Don't even necessarily focus on the enemy itself -- just avoid damage, and eventually you will be able to kill it without issues over time. For spitting plants (or enemy derivatives thereof), use scenery to plot out a fake safe zone. Often times this is between two vines, or so on. Go between those two vines, slice the enemy, rinse and repeat until you're comfortable with the pattern. After you've completed at least one stage, move left at the very start of the game to skip to a certain point. In case you didn't know, the game has a really clever Genesis style instruction manual.
Volgarr the Viking tips photo
Make Odin proud
Let's talk about fake difficulty in games. In the olden days, often times due to the limitations of the hardware, developers would create certain portions of games that forced you to resort to trial-and-error tactics, often c...

Review: Volgarr the Viking

Sep 23 // Tony Ponce
Volgarr the Viking (PC)Developer: Crazy Viking StudiosPublisher: Adult Swim GamesReleased: September 13, 2013MSRP: $11.99Rig: Intel Core i3-380M, 6GB of RAM, GeForce GT 425M, Windows 7 64-bit You've played Volgarr the Viking before. It is Contra. It is Battletoads. It is Ghosts 'n Goblins. Most appropriately, it is Rastan, a 1987 Taito arcade game infamous for its unrelenting nature. From the types of hazards and enemies to the general play style and progression, the parallels are so numerous that it wouldn't be wrong to call Volgarr a spiritual sequel with a Nordic flavor. Even the stage layout on the first few screens of the first level mirrors that of Rastan's opening moments. Like its forebears, the greatest achievement in Volgarr is survival. Even if you never come close to completion, being able to squeeze out a few extra seconds of life is its own reward. Volgarr was designed with the mind that just because a game isn't immediately accessible to all players doesn't mean that it can't be enjoyable. The trick is to balance the sheer brutality with a simple control scheme and obstacles that can be overcome with enough patient observation. Knowing what needs to be done doesn't guarantee victory, but it goes a long way towards keeping hope alive, even if barely. [embed]262298:50578:0[/embed] This is why I hate it when people call a difficult game "cheap" or "unfair" when such terms aren't warranted. They imply that the developers didn't know what they were doing, leading to a haphazard assembly that misleads the player into unavoidable situations. Crazy Viking Studios knew exactly what it was doing -- Volgarr is constructed in such a way that the greatest obstruction to victory is your own mediocre skills. What's refreshing is how Crazy Viking Studios did away with seemingly all modern game trappings for a true old-school experience. There are no cutscenes, no dialog, no save files (more on that later), and no hint bubbles. Hell, there isn't even a proper main menu -- after the game loads, the title flashes for a brief moment, Odin commands you to rise from the dead, and you immediately start marching. The lone allowance is a series of brief text prompts in the first few seconds that tell you how to perform the basic moves. You begin with a weak wooden shield that only absorbs two projectile impacts before breaking. You can upgrade your gear by opening treasure chests -- first you'll acquire an indestructible shield that also allows you to throw charged spears, then a helmet that grants an extra hit point, and finally a flame sword with double strength. As you receive damage, you'll lose your equipment piece by piece until you're reduced to an explosion of bloody bones. There is no progress without risk; you'll often find yourself in situations that demand more unconventional strategies. For instance, Volgarr's jump trajectory is locked once he leaves the ground, not unlike in Castlevania, but you can change your trajectory in midair by performing a double jump. This technique comes in handy later, such as when jumping to an adjacent platform means overshooting the ground then doubling back. Perhaps you'll be climbing a rope and can't reach a platform overhead. You can leap away from the rope, toss a spear at the nearby wall to create a makeshift platform, then quickly double jump back onto the rope lest you fall to your death. Now you'll be able to jump onto the spear then hop up from there to the target platform. Your only hope for success is to discover such advanced techniques on your own and master them in controlled environments so that they can effectively be employed in more dangerous territory. As tough as your enemies may be, foolish platforming mishaps will be your greatest adversary. There's nothing to do but try again until your talents are honed to a brilliant sheen. The secret weapon in your arsenal is the zoom function, performed by tapping L on your controller or the space bar on the keyboard, which pulls the camera back and gives you a greater view of the terrain and enemy placement. What makes this so invaluable is that enemies remain motionless while off-screen in the normal camera view. That means you'll almost always have the first-strike advantage if you can hit them with your spear before they have a chance to react. Even with the zoom, Volgarr is a frustrating experience that taxes your spirit like few others. In particular, there is only a single checkpoint in the middle of each level. Even if you fall to the boss, you'll be tossed way back to that checkpoint instead of outside the boss chamber. This setup infuriated me at first, but I later realized that by making you replay half the stage, you have the opportunity to max out your equipment and greet the boss at full strength. In its own way, the game is offering the smallest of mercies. The exception to this is the final stage, which is divided into multiple rooms each with checkpoints at the entrance, including one just before the boss. It's ironic that after enduring five stages of cutthroat brutality, the last stage would be the most forgiving of all. It almost seems like a letdown... until you realize that the game is only half complete. There may not be any save files, but it is possible to skip levels that you've already completed. However, doing so will prevent you from getting the game's best ending. If you manage not to lose your equipment in a level and continue to open treasure chests, you'll eventually start collecting life orbs. Upon beating the boss, you'll unlock the Path of the Valkyrie, an alternate and more challenging route through the following stage. And only by clearing all the alternate routes will you be able to enter the true final stage. The Path of the Valkyrie plays by a different set of rules compared to the main game. Those life orbs you collect indicate how many times you'll be allowed to respawn. Exhaust all your lives and you will be shunted back onto the main path, unable to reenter that level's alternate route without replaying the previous level again. In other words, there isn't much room for practice and experimentation on the Path of Valkyrie -- you are expected to be a master already. I don't mind hardcore difficulty, but the requirements to reach Volgarr's finale strike me as just a tad too restrictive. Essentially, you're being asked to 1CC (one credit clear) the game, or close enough to it, all without ever getting touched once. I've never been one to attempt "perfectionist" runs in anything, which require a level of patience and perseverance far beyond that required to enjoy the base game. If I had to draw the line dividing what I'm willing to endure for the sake of enjoyment, that would be it. That aside, the rest of Volgarr exemplifies the type of experience few games dare to attempt these days. It will humble you, make you feel weak and inadequate. I started playing with great confidence, and within minutes I was reduced to a whimpering mess. I even considered giving up a couple of times, resigning myself to writing a scoreless review. But somehow, in some way, I mustered enough energy to go on. My journey may technically have only just begun, but seeing even a single ending has given me a deep sense of accomplishment. I understand that not everyone is looking to put their pride on the line with every game they play, but sometimes we need a reminder that games can be a test of skill. What kind of test would it be if the average person could coast along merely by doing the extra credit? By guessing the multiple choice? What kind of hollow victory is that? Like a drill sergeant, Volgarr the Viking is here to yank us out of our comfort zone and put us through hell unending. If you survive, you'll feel like the biggest badass of all time.
Volgarr the Viking review photo
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AVGN Adventures photo
AVGN Adventures

Add your own colorful phrases to AVGN Adventures

"This game is ______ ______ coming from a ______'s ______!"
Jul 02
// Tony Ponce
In my E3 preview of the upcoming comedy platformer Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures, I noted that each time you die a random Nerd phrase appears on screen. Fans of the Nerd's foul-mouthed escapades are quite familiar with the...
AVGN Adventures photo
AVGN Adventures

Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures ISN'T a sh*tload of f*ck

But it will make you curse your mother
Jun 13
// Tony Ponce
Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures is a game that wants you to curse at it. It wants you to flip out and go ballistic and yell at small children. It wants to give you the experience of being the Nerd in more ways than one. AVGN...
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Circle Pad Pro mods

Check these 3DS Circle Pad Pro mods from Japan

Because monster hunting is serious gosh darn business
Apr 22
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Brain Age

Brain Age: Concentration Training makes you feel dumb

Your memory skills are pathetic
Apr 09
// Tony Ponce
The latest entry in Nintendo's line of brain training software, Brain Age: Concentration Training, released to practically no fanfare whatsoever back on February 10. I think it's safe to say that the "brain age" craze has lo...
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BioShock Infinite

How to play BioShock Infinite's 1999 mode from the start

Using the Konami code
Mar 26
// Jordan Devore
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Dwarf Fortress photo
Dwarf Fortress

Why there hasn't been a Kickstarter for Dwarf Fortress

The creator speaks
Mar 18
// Joshua Derocher
I've spent a lot of time over the past couple of weeks checking out random indie games from Kickstarter, like Mage's Initiation, and I've also been playing a lot of Dwarf Fortress. I started to wonder, "Why doesn't ...

Ex-Nintendo chairman Howard Lincoln had big brass balls

Mar 17 // Tony Ponce
If you've ever read David Sheff's Game Over, you would already be familiar with some of Lincoln's earliest success stories. One such tale was how Lincoln got revenge against Tengen and Atari Games for their unlicensed version of Tetris on the NES. Tengen had originally sued Nintendo for refusing to allow Tetris on home consoles. Lincoln noticed a loophole in Tengen's licensing terms with Tetris property holder Mirrorsoft, which he exploited in order to "steal" the rights to publish Tetris on consoles and handhelds, thereby forcing Tengen to recall all copies of its version already on shelves. Lincoln's thoughts on the situation? "We knew we had those bastards by the balls. We knew we were going to make a fortune on this product and they, in turn, were going to get kicked in the head." [embed]248932:47619:0[/embed] During the videogame violence Senate hearings -- sparked in part by the 1992's Mortal Kombat and resulting in the formation of the Entertainment Software Rating Board -- Lincoln took the opportunity to deflect focus away from Nintendo and onto SEGA and retailers that stocked SEGA product. In the above video clip, he held up the infamous SEGA CD title Night Trap as an example of an adult game directly sold to youths. SEGA was furious that Lincoln would be so petty and self-serving during a period when the entire industry needed to band together. Lincoln was not bothered, and he even wrote a poem directed towards then-SEGA president Tom Kalinske: "Dear Tom, Roses are red, violets are blue, so you had a bad day, boo hoo hoo hoo. All my best, Howard." When not getting on people's bad side, Lincoln was strengthening relationships with other third parties. He saw great potential in certain teams to provide the kind of Western software that Nintendo couldn't develop on its own, which led to partnerships with Rareware, Retro Studios, Silicon Nights, LucasArts, and DMA Design (now known as Rockstar North). He even convinced Electronic Arts to publish sports games on the N64. In case you've forgotten, EA had long been nervously opposed to developing on Nintendo hardware; in fact, EA sports titles were one of the big bullet points the Genesis initially had over the SNES. Lincoln would step down as chairman in 2000, and most of the other major players of Nintendo's "old guard" -- first NoA president Minoru Arakawa, executive VP Peter Main, and global Nintendo president Hiroshi Yamauchi -- departed by 2002. Many of Lincoln and old-school NoA's accomplishments have since dissolved, resulting in the different we see Nintendo today. Ms. Rogers strongly implies that the current management is to blame for all those partnerships going the wayside, but I personally think Nintendo was forced to change. It's a shame that Nintendo lost excellent talent, but you have to remember that the company wasn't exactly firing on all cylinders at the start of the century. That was a different age, and Nintendo couldn't be the rampaging bull it once was in this new generation. Nonetheless, we could use another guy like Howard Lincoln at the helm, someone who actively courts Western studios in a bid to expand Nintendo's library and actually succeed. Especially in the wake on publishers' continued refusal to bring any of their upcoming software to the Wii U, a little of the 80s shark mentality couldn't hurt. Howard Lincoln: Kicking Ass Before Reggie Came Along [Not Enough Shaders via NeoGAF]
Nintendo's brass balls photo
Nintendo of America used to be cutthroat and vengeful
The Nintendo of today is known for being quiet and humble, making conservative decisions, and doing its best not to intentionally piss potential third-party partners off. Most of the complaints directed at Nintendo's current ...

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