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12:00 PM on 07.31.2014

la carte: Love thy characters and love their lovers

I joked about the illegitimacy -- not canon! -- of dumb-haired, blonde/blond Robin in Super Smash Bros. recently. I did not ignite a waifu war, but there was talk about the "best," most efficient ways to play Awakening. Shack...

Steven Hansen




How would you feel if your online opponent was secretly a bot? photo
How would you feel if your online opponent was secretly a bot?
by Jonathan Holmes

Yesterday I was playing Wii Sports Club Boxing online while contemplating stuff to talk about on this week's Sup Holmes. I thought I'd have a while to think, but I was wrong. I only had to wait like 3 seconds before I was thrown into a match. For the least popular mode of a game that I'm guessing hasn't even sold 750,000 yet, that's not too shabby. 

I got my butt kicked, so I jumped into another match. Again, it was just 3 seconds before I found a new opponent. Again, I got beat down (K.O'ed on the first fall!), so again I went looking for another a new challenger. Again, I was paired up quickly, but this time I won. After that I cut my losses and went back to training mode. Sometimes its best to quit while you're ahead. 

Now I'm not accusing Nintendo of anything here, but while punching those giant floating training mode plates, the thought crossed my mind that the person I just fake-assautled might not even be real. Maybe none of them were real. They did engage in a few exchanges with me using the games pre-set text dialogue system, but that's not exact solid proof of humanity. On top of that, all their Mii's were pretty generic, and their fighting styles were awfully similar to what you might find in CPU opponents in single player mode. Then again, in Wii Sports Boxing, there isn't a whole lot of strategy when you're not very good. It's pretty much just "Always Be Punching: The Game" (which tells you how rusty I am that I kept losing), regardless if you're fighting a the game's AI or some other flailing schlub like yourself. 

The question is, if Nintendo had set up some auto-play online opponents to give the illusion that you were taking on a "real" person, would that be a bad thing?

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The best stuff on Destructoid this week [7/26] photo
The best stuff on Destructoid this week [7/26]
by Steven Hansen

Let's get away for the weekend, just you and me. I know this little place on the coast. Nice restaurant, view of the water from the cliff side. We could probably sleep in the car in the parking lot and hang out on the beach all day.

Here's last week's post. Let's begin anew.

[We post a lot of articles here at Destructoid. The endless, ouroboros news cycle has us burning the snake at both ends, which will ultimately push big news, thoughtful original pieces, and all sorts of other great content off of the front page. Check here every Saturday for my attempt to rectify that.]

 

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The best stuff on Destructoid this week [7/12] photo
The best stuff on Destructoid this week [7/12]
by Steven Hansen

You should watch Ping Pong: The Animation. It's why Lebron James realized he needed to go back to Cleveland, true story. But be warned, watching other anime after will be hard because it leaves you extra acutely aware of how mediocre and awful most anime is. Sorry, Beck.

There's only two World Cup games left to occupy yourself with, anyway. What else are you going to do?

Here's last week's post. Let's begin anew.

[We post a lot of articles here at Destructoid. The endless, ouroboros news cycle has us burning the snake at both ends, which will ultimately push big news, thoughtful original pieces, and all sorts of other great content off of the front page. Check here every Saturday for my attempt to rectify that.]

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None of these strategies helped me win at Mario Kart 8 photo
None of these strategies helped me win at Mario Kart 8
by Brett Makedonski

I've fought the urge to buy a Wii U specifically for Wind Waker HD for the better part of a year now. After a strong E3 by Nintendo and a convenient Mario Kart 8 promotion, I finally relented. Between flipping through old Zelda titles, I make time for the occasional race or two of Mario Kart.

The problem with Mario Kart 8 is that I haven't yet found a consistent strategy to win. In fact, more often than not, they end in defeat. (If you're not first, you're last; I saw it on a bumpersticker.) These are a few of the techniques that I've tried thus far; I don't recommend any of them.

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The best stuff on Destructoid this week [6/28] photo
The best stuff on Destructoid this week [6/28]
by Steven Hansen

Burn it all to the ground.

I'm making guacamole. 

Here's last week's post. Let's begin anew.

[We post a lot of articles here at Destructoid. The endless, ouroboros news cycle has us burning the snake at both ends, which will ultimately push big news, thoughtful original pieces, and all sorts of other great content off of the front page. Check here every Saturday for my attempt to rectify that.]

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The best stuff on Destructoid this week [6/21] photo
The best stuff on Destructoid this week [6/21]
by Steven Hansen

No longer tormented by the ants, I'm again able to stock Kahlua, which means my first white Russian in ages. With cream instead of milk, too. Now I'm going to go get tikka masala. Not bad.

I walked in on my friend playing Grand Theft Auto V last night. It was dark and he was wearing sunglasses. He's been  playing for eight straight hours today (mostly without sunglasses). When's the last time you played a game that long? I can't remember. X-COM, maybe. 

I started replaying Catherine but then E3 interrupted that. I should get back to that this weekend. You, meanwhile, should go outside instead of watching Japanese cartoons and browsing the net. Hug your mother (or I will).  

Here's last week's post. Let's begin anew.

[We post a lot of articles here at Destructoid. The endless, ouroboros news cycle has us burning the snake at both ends, which will ultimately push big news, thoughtful original pieces, and all sorts of other great content off of the front page. Check here every Saturday for my attempt to rectify that.]

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Destructoid's definitive guide to E3 2014 photo
Destructoid's definitive guide to E3 2014
by Dale North

E3 2014 begins next week. Destructoid has its bags packed, ready to attack the press conferences and show floor.  This year should bring us what we really wanted last year: games for our next-gen consoles. Sony and Microsoft have had time to work up some new things for us since their respective console launches, and Nintendo is running at full steam for its systems. Some of big third-party publishers have had enough time to finally show off what they've been working on.

And this is not counting all of the PC games, indie games, portable offerings, VR dueling (Oculus vs. Project Morpheus), and other new announcements coming. It should be good.

But we hope E3 2014 isn't a huge tease. While we're sure to get some new games for fall 2014, who's to say that the rest of them won't be hanging back to 2015? With all of the recently delayed titles that were supposed to launch this year moving to next, anything is possible. 

If nothing else, we'll at least get some exciting software announcements next week. You were heard last year, gamers -- loud and clear. The big three know for sure that you don't want to hear about hardware and entertainment features during your press conferences. It's going to be all about games. Lots of games.

Our guide will set you up for Destructoid's E3 Unfiltered coverage next week. First, we'll lay out what you should know to catch you up. Then we'll list out times for press conferences and other events. Finally, we'll run down the list of top companies and tell you what you should expect.

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The best stuff on Destructoid this week [6/7] photo
The best stuff on Destructoid this week [6/7]
by Steven Hansen

I have to make like a snake and get on a plane for E3 real soon. Still not packed. That's what Sunday night is for. I just want to file all my E3 reports like Ulala in Space Channel 5, strutting and dancing down the show floor carpets in a miniskirt and just going, "up up down down hey hey hey" at people trying to sell me things.

Here's last week's post. Let's begin anew.

[We post a lot of articles here at Destructoid. The endless, ouroboros news cycle has us burning the snake at both ends, which will ultimately push big news, thoughtful original pieces, and all sorts of other great content off of the front page. Check here every Saturday for my attempt to rectify that.]

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Reviews In Review: Watch Dogs, Monochroma, Wolf Among Us photo
Reviews In Review: Watch Dogs, Monochroma, Wolf Among Us
by Ben Pack

Reviewer? I hardly know her! This week's reviews in review goes out to Steven Hansen. Check out the video and all the reviews below.

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The best stuff on Destructoid this week [5/31] photo
The best stuff on Destructoid this week [5/31]
by Steven Hansen

Who wants to help me move this weekend? I found (after 8 months) a place that is sickeningly expensive, because San Francisco is ruined, but not so expensive that I want to jump off the Golden Gate Bridge instead of continuing to look for a new place to live.

This is as close to a "win" as I get. Let me have it.

Here's last week's post. Let's begin anew.

[We post a lot of articles here at Destructoid. The endless, ouroboros news cycle has us burning the snake at both ends, which will ultimately push big news, thoughtful original pieces, and all sorts of other great content off of the front page. Check here every Saturday for my attempt to rectify that.]

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DNA splicing will make you a better you in Subnautica photo
DNA splicing will make you a better you in Subnautica
by Hamza CTZ Aziz

Natural Selection began life in 2002 as a mod that successfully married the first-person shooter and real-time strategy genres. It's since gone on to eat up the last 12 years of developer Unknown Worlds' time as they created a sequel, and even an eSports tournament around it. Now, development of Natural Selection II is being handed over to the dedicated community around the game as the studio focuses on their next project, Subnautica.

Subnautica, a vast departure for Unknown, is an underwater exploration and survival game that doesn't have an emphasis on combat. It made its worldwide debut at PAX East and, despite hiding the game inside a little booth on the showfloor, I saw people lining up every day of the show just to see what this new title was all about.

I visited the team at Unknown Worlds and talked to co-founder Charlie Cleveland to see what the public reception was like, and got some new details on what they hope to achieve with Subnautica

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Reviews In Review: Wolfenstein The New Order, Transistor, Drakengard 3 photo
Reviews In Review: Wolfenstein The New Order, Transistor, Drakengard 3
by Ben Pack

Look, E3 is coming up soon and that means we're about to get super excited about games. Let's take a minute and be thankful for the games we have right now, ok?

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The best stuff on Destructoid this week [5/24] photo
The best stuff on Destructoid this week [5/24]
by Steven Hansen

Take a walk this weekend. For real. At least 35 minutes. Show your work.

While you're not listening to me: go listen to that new Jurassic 5 song. Anytime someone dramatically yells "I'm a fraud," imagine them yelling "I'm a frog" instead. Try sitting frontward on your toilet. Make love to a baseball. Take the cannoli.

Here's last week's post. Let's begin anew.

[We post a lot of articles here at Destructoid. The endless, ouroboros news cycle has us burning the snake at both ends, which will ultimately push big news, thoughtful original pieces, and all sorts of other great content off of the front page. Check here every Saturday for my attempt to rectify that.]

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The old world European electronic noir of Transistor photo
The old world European electronic noir of Transistor
by Steven Hansen

As much as Jen Zee's mood paintings and art catalyzed what would become Transistor early on, so too did Darren Korb's music. The soundtrack is an important part of Transistor and while I'd like to be able to yell at you to go freely listen to it right now, there are some meaningful compositions that should first be experience in-game.

Making music is, "different at different stages of the process," Korb said. "At the beginning, there aren't a lot of other assets happening. There's not a lot of other stuff that defines the tone of the game so I'll kind of go off and try some things. I'll come back like, 'here's a thing and it feels this way,' and try to develop a center for the identity of music and the feel.

"As the process goes on, I can look at the art and look at the gameplay. That will affect and change the direction a little bit. Or I can regroup and go in a different direction. Once it's in and once we get a better sense of where the game is going story-wise, well here's a scene we need a specific thing for. It won't be blind, throwing darts and it hits something." That's when you get tracks that should be enjoyed in-game, but, like with Bastion, the early music helps set a tone.

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Transistor's sword was a briefcase at one point photo
Transistor's sword was a briefcase at one point
by Steven Hansen

Parts I and II of this series have touched on various elements of Transistor's design, but not one of its most striking facets, the artistry that immediately arrested many of us when Transistor was announced. We also sat down with Jen Zee at Supergiant, the artist behind this indelible style, and talked a bit about artistic influences, design process, refusing cyberpunk, and briefcases.

"We came off Bastion and Bastion is such a bright and colorful world that we kind of wanted to try something different. It was reactionary," Zee explained. "We did a fantasy world already, what can Supergiant do in the sci-fi world? What would that look like? We attempted to go for a more pallet-controlled world that would just feel a little more dark than Bastion.

"The difference between Bastion and Transistor for me, the big difference, is that I wasn't on board at the very start of Bastion -- pre-production. But I definitely got to scratch an itch where I kind of wanted to in a sense write a love letter to classical artists that I grew up really liking, like William Waterhouse or [Gustav] Klimt, or Alphonse Mucha. I wanted to inject that somehow into the art we made for Transistor because there's no other opportunity like the one that's right in front of you to express yourself the best you can. So I think that it's a combination of reactionary to Bastion, things that we wanted to do on Bastion that we never got to do, and also things that I wanted to do my whole life."

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