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Hot Pokemon ass photo
I know it's innocent, butt...
Just because you call it the "Hip Pop Parade" doesn't mean you're not selling a load of hot Poké ass. Starting October 10, Pokémon Center stores will be selling limited, butt-centric goods featuring Pikachu, Pip...

Cities: Skylines After Dark exposes the sexlessness of being an incompetent planner

Sep 28 // Steven Hansen
[embed]312756:60532:0[/embed] 17:28 I dragged one of our cat trees -- the one with the abandoned dumbbells weighing it down -- and set a pillow in front of it so I could sit in the middle of the living room, closer to the TV. I do not have my contacts in or the energy to put my contacts in. I am sitting on an inflatable, portable seat one might take to sit on bleachers in a stadium and my lower half is wrapped in a throw blanket. My feet tap at the entertainment center and I worry I will turn the Xbox One on. Fuck. I actually just turned the Xbox One on. This isn't even even a joke (not unlike much of my humor). I started writing fearing I’d forget whatever fevered nonsense was my dreamt-up angle and I just kicked the fucking thing on. Jesus. I am a slightly less put-together city planner than whomever drew up the East Coast. 17:36 The newsfeed in the new "After Dark"-tinged menu reads: "Problems Loading/Creating Cities? Click Here for the Solution!" After turning the Xbox on I am anticipating problems and feel like preemptively asking for the solution. 17:38 All my strength is going towards not choosing the "Diamond Coast" map for a new game because its "Suitable area for building" is 69%. I already can’t figure out which map best represents Tokyo or remember what "boreal" means. Google tells me. Google also tells me Diamond Coast is a place in Ireland, which I bet is a lot like Japan, so that’s why I have picked it after all (and not for the 69). 17:43 Oh my god the tutorial text is so small. 17:45 Building roads and also not drawing penises with the roads, a good start. 17:49 Oh god, not only are there curved roads, but there are elevated roads. This has become roller coaster tycoon. This is not like Japan at all. I have built an enormous ramp to nowhere, to the end of the known world. Oh god, there are tunnels, too? I tried to connect a tunnel to the outside world but it’s just a half-mile dead end under the outlying freeway. And it connects to a giant series of roads in my town. I thought this would work. 17:55 It’s nighttime now and it looks very ominous. The people are wanting for every single basic necessity: power, water, waste treatment, internet, a fancy cheese shop. It is a miracle they found their way into town at all. The elevated road to nowhere is lit up, dotted on both side with street lamps, but they are not plugged in, there is no power grid. They must be getting power by much more arcane means. 18:06 Japan is clean and forward thinking. I erected a wind turbine. A water pumping station and sewage treatment plant sit on the fraction of coast I have available, far from the inept roads and angry citizens. I think I correctly put the waste dumping bit down stream so as to not feed them poop. The water pipes and those two facilities make an amateurish rhombus. Nighttime again and the wind turbine glows in the distance away from civilization next to...palm trees? I do not think Ireland has palm trees and I do no think that Tokyo has palm trees, but my childhood home in San Francisco did have a giant palm tree in the backyard. Things don’t always make sense. My citizen’s thirst and high-maintenance demand for electricity sated, I zoom into this mess to hear dogs barking and birds chirping. It almost resembles a suburb, just drawn up by a child with limited spatial awareness and even less Lego blocks. The "needs" bubbles hovering atop each household look like guns. No, citizens. You are supposed to be Japan, not America. Cease this gun lust. 18:13 Those were not cartoon guns; they were sewage pipes. I have messed up the sewage. Peoples' homes are filled with shit. 18:21 I fixed it. I forgot to supply power to the sewage treatment plant. Unfortunately by the time I did it was in the most roundabout possible way and I ran out of money. I do not know what is more ominous: 1) the game’s zoomed-out soundtrack or 2) the din of suburbia when you zoom into multi-level blue homes and the lives of little people who don’t know their lives are being governed by an idiot who turned the Xbox on with his foot and has a quarter-mile, below-ground tunnel leading to a dead end. The streets look like the Windows 3D pipes animated screen saver or a badly played game of Snake. 18:29 The sound design in this game is terrifying. The commercial district is a roar of trucks and storefront shutters. The yakisoba joint advertises "tasty noodles" but that is a lie. It has no water running to it as I have run out of money. The game is warning me of bankruptcy. It offers me a $50,000 bailout with 0% interest, 0 monthly cost. If only real life would be so kind. I reject it. I would rather let my citizens suffer than accept charity. 18:42 I tried to continue the road to nowhere and bring it down into a new industrial sector and, good lord, look. Cars are driving up it now and doing impossible 180 degree turns and I feel ill. 18:51 I have reached a population of 500. I am a "Little Hamlet," in that I too am poisoned by inefficacy and unable to avenge Tokyo by making it in this video game. My state is rotten. 18:53 I consider building a hospital across from two landfills. 20:01 Someone has died. I have built my first cemetery. I bleed money. I have taken as many loans as possible. I cannot seem to build enough firehouses. My city burns. Businesses demand more educated workers. It asks to build public transport, but I am poor. I raise taxes and people riot. My city of 3,500 does not have the glorious neon of Tokyo. The endless high rises and suffocating streets and touts and steep stairwells. My citizens tweet hashtags unironically, like morons. 20:12 I build a cemetery (for real this time; the bodies must have been rotting) and hundreds of green smiley faces erupt from local residences. Same. My city of 5,000 is a far cry from Tokyo's 13.35 million. And, as evidenced, I am not so competent to tell you how dramatic things like setting different daytime and nighttime budgets for utilities go on to affect your success. Really, I don't think Cities has ever been too challenging, as it has twice now accommodated my complete lack of forethought and neighborhood building by way of penciling in the margins and connecting with carets and arrows. But the day and night cycle itself is quite beautiful and the additions like prisons, taxis, bus terminals, bikers, and international airports all work towards making a more robust simulator helping you build whatever nightmare town your heart desires. Me, I'm going to dip into the mod sections and recreate High Planes Drifter.
After Dark impressions photo
More like 'shitty planning'
And here I thought being a public official would get me laid. It turns out any clout built up by being the sole city planner gets et up when the citizens' homes are filled with sewage because of your incompetence. Having just...

Review: A Fistful of Gun

Sep 28 // Stephen Turner
A Fistful of Gun (PC) Developers: FarmerGnome Publisher: Devolver Digital Released: September 23, 2015 MSRP: $12.99 A Fistful of Gun is a bombardment of the senses. It’s your usual post-modern, knowing wink to the camera fare; very loud, very brash, but also raising a smile with its constructive asides and one-liners. So, an evil railroad tycoon has made a deal with the devil, but he’s about to get some karmic retribution from a diverse group of gunslingers. Along the way, these 11 wronged men (well, more than 11 if you count a whole regiment sharing a single horse) will take down anyone who stands in their way – KKK members, bandits, soldiers, Indians, voodoo men, the whole clichéd lot. And that’s it for the threadbare plot, really. The Story Mode is a marathon of randomised arena-based firefights, each one barely lasting more than a minute or two. Sometimes, you’re given an objective to complete in addition to killing everyone on screen, be it pushing a cart to its destination, duels and assassinations, or saving a hoedown from a stampede, to more loopy scenarios like Peyote trials and Bomb Fiestas. And since you can choose your next challenge, it’s always refreshing to see the variety and difficulty on the player’s own terms. [embed]312707:60526:0[/embed] Graphically, the Western setting is merely functional. Each location has its share of destructible environments, but it all looks intentionally sparse. Being a twitch shooter, you’re required to keep your attention on several things at once: your gunslinger, the bullets headed your way, and the tiny aiming reticule. The pixel art is charming when it’s calm, but when things erupt in spectacular fashion, it’s hard to keep track of the tiny characters and the aiming reticule is usually lost to the earthy colour palette. A Fistful of Gun is a difficult game, but it does offer plenty of risk/reward strategies in the way of power-ups, handicaps, and character playstyles. Causing havoc in the neutral zones might offer more money or lives, but you’ll also earn a wanted level and choice to either fight a fairly unstoppable Sheriff or take a fairly humiliating challenge like getting through the next level with an unpredictable hog or an explosive piñata on your back. Usually, if you can successfully weave in and out of trouble, you can pick up various whiskey bottles that can slow down time or give you extra damage. Horses give you extra speed and since this is a one-hit-kill kind of game, they allow you a second wind at the expense of their life. The main gimmick here is the different unlockable gunslingers. Each man has their own unique control scheme or weapon use. So for example, Abel can fire off six rapid shots in a row, but has to reload the whole cylinder before firing again. Virgil’s blunderbuss has to be charged for maximum effect, while Duke has a chaingun at the expense of movement speed, and Billy’s gun can only be fired by pressing the right key shown above his head. Some are clearly more favourable than others, and a select few are there for the added challenge, but nobody ever comes across as overpowered. While they all have to be randomly unlocked in the campaign, everybody is available straight away in Arcade Mode, and it’s also in this mode that A Fistful of Gun becomes more accessible, more fun. Basically, it’s an infinite gauntlet of arenas, where you’re rewarded with modifiers to take into the next battle – explosive bullets, faster movement speed, better accuracy, etc. But more importantly, it also benefits from having local co-op. It’s through that brief glimpse of partnership that I saw A Fistful of Gun at its fullest potential. Online is a mix of Arcade and Versus Modes (no co-op SP campaign, sadly) for up to nine players. Though, on launch weekend, the servers were dead. Ideally, it’s played best with a friends list, but if you don’t have a posse to call upon, then you won’t have much luck with public games; not to mention a lack of instant game matchmaking (which is supposedly being rectified in the near future). It would be pretty ridiculous to mark down A Fistful of Gun over a lack of consumer interest, but as a word to the wise and since many of its modes are reliant on co-op, it does currently come across as half a game. No, A Fistful of Gun’s only major errors lie in its repetitive and muddied action, all blasted through an ADD pacing. It’s still fun and humorous, but that relentless nature condenses its longevity into just a couple of sessions. If you’ll pardon the ham-fisted metaphor, A Fistful of Gun can best be described as a stick of dynamite with a short fuse; explosive and disposable in the brief time you’ll spend with it. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Review photo
'My mistake... Four HUNDRED coffins'
Ah, another day, another pixel-art indie game with a Wild West theme. That said, A Fistful of Gun could’ve been set on the Moon and you’d be too busy dodging bullet hells and listening to arcade cabinet music to e...

Virtual reality never worked for me until I got to try the HTC Vive

Sep 28 // Joe Parlock
It’s worth noting at this point that this was the second day of a very loud, badly-lit event, and I was absolutely knackered. My eye was about as bad as it could be without being totally blind, and so I was in the prime condition to try and prove Valve wrong with its absolutist claims. I even took my glasses off, I was so ready to catch them out. I was getting ready to feign interest in the game as the goggles were lowered over my head. I’d had practice with the Rift after all: politely try and finish the demo and contain my disappointment at yet another bad VR experience. But as my eyes adjusted to looking out into space, I realised that holy shit... It worked. Me and my janky eye (powered purely by the godawful energy drink they were handing out to EGX visitors) were able to actually enjoy VR for the very first time. It was strangely emotional, looking around with nigh-on perfect head tracking and seeing a whole world which wasn’t the one I was sat in. I’ve heard plenty of reactions to using the Vive: people crying, people shaking, but it felt different to me. A part of me was impressed with the technology, but a bigger part of me was relieved that my condition maybe hasn’t precluded me from the VR future after all. I couldn’t quite breathe, and every time I managed to talk it was peppered with swearing and “oh my god”s. Those reactions were not earned by the game itself, as fun as Elite may be I had no god damn idea what I was doing, but by how VR had just been opened up to me at last after spending the last year convinced I would have to let it pass me by. I found myself completely immersed in my little spaceship, and I totally forgot about the huge convention going on just outside that room. I wasn’t in that small, cramped booth any more, I was in space. I would try and find the enemy by leaning over the back of my chair (and almost falling off), the HUDs of the spaceship flickering on as I turned to look at them… it wasn’t the small cinema experience I’d had with the Rift, and it wasn’t blurry even without my glasses. It was the VR experience I had built up in my head during the last year of people bragging about it to me, and holy fuck it worked. After Laura and I had played Elite on the Vive, all I could really do was stare at her in disbelief. I had felt slightly left out when she reacted in the exact same way ten minutes before, when coming out of the previous demo. There was a weird mix of “holy fuck that tech is amazing” and “holy fuck that tech works for me.” I was still thinking about it well into playing other games throughout the day. So while I can’t really confirm or deny Valve’s claim the Vive works for everyone, I can confirm it worked for me, the guy who even blue-red 3D glasses don’t work for. The Vive’s technology is amazing for everyone who’s at all interested in virtual reality I’m sure, and for VR connoisseurs it’s probably the best headset currently in development, but that doesn’t really matter to me. I’m just relieved something finally works for me. Thanks, Valve. You’ve done well with this. Remember, you can read Laura’s impressions on the HTC Vive too. She’s got way more experience with VR than I do, and she still thinks the Vive is a game changer.
HTC Vive photo
Me and my broken eye were in space
A long time ago, Valve and HTC boasted that their upcoming VR headset -- the HTC Vive if you’ve somehow managed to miss it -- would cause nausea for "zero percent of players." That sort of absolute statement got me inte...

The HTC Vive is an absolute VR game changer

Sep 28 // Laura Kate Dale
[embed]312714:60520:0[/embed] Over the past few months I've heard people evangelizing the leap in technology that the Vive represents. Stories of developers crying, journalists shaking, and the general public speechless. I went into my hands on demo with the Vive dubious. I came out a shaken, crying, speechless VR evangelist. So, where to start. I was brought by a couple of staff members into a large, square, empty room. A small computer sat tucked away in one corner. Otherwise, the roughly 12-square-foot room I was in was completely empty. Before trying out the headset, I was handed a pair of controllers and shown how they worked. The controllers featured a pair of clickable track pads on top, triggers underneath, and a weird angular antenna on top to facilitate 1:1 motion controls. Oddly, considering how closely I had been following the Vive, this was the first time I had actually seen the Vive's dedicated motion controllers. Once I had a handle on the controller layout, I was told to put on the headset. Much like the competition, it's a single set of elasticated and solid straps that's fitted by sliding it simply over the top of your head. The Vive was by far the most comfortable of the VR headsets I have worn to date, although it lacked the retail Oculus' built-in headphones. As a result I also had to find the pair of external headphones once the set was covering my eyes, ensuring they were on the correct ears so that sounds would emanate from the correct locations. This is a very real drawback to headsets without built-in headphones. Straight away, as soon as the demo selection screen was booted up, I could see that the Vive was going to be a step above the competition. The 1:1 motion tracking of the pair of controllers was superb, with no disconnect whatsoever between where my brain new my hands were, and where it could see them in game. Head tracking was unbelievably fast and responsive, and I had no issues at all with needing the headset centered. Everything was working flawlessly right off the bat. The first demo shown off had me stood on the deck of a sunken ship underwater. I could walk around the deck by walking around the room, with a checkered grid of blue lights appearing if I got too close to the physical edges of the room. I wandered around the ship touching fish, interacting with the ship using my hands, and eventually stood face to face with a whale, who followed me with his eyes as I walked around the deck.  I looked down off the edge of the ship into the dark chasm below, and I felt a pang of terror flood my system, quickly stepping back from the sense of height. This first Vive demo was the first time I have found myself truly immersed in a VR world, an experience best equated to a Star Trek Holodeck. I was walking around a world, interacting in a way that felt tangible. I felt a physical connection between my body's movements and the world I was exploring. I truly felt like I was exploring another world. This connection to the game world was in part due to the impressive tracking of my body in 3D space, but also in part just down to the technical specs of the device. The resolution was crisp, the field of view was wide with minimal visible edges, the audio was coming from the right locations relative to my position in the world, and everything was responsive enough to avoid pulling me from the world. This was everything VR immersion could hope to be. Over the course of the following thirty minutes, I explored a number of virtual worlds. I built machines out of physical parts, stretching them to fit my needs and slotting them into each other. I finely chopped vegetables and put them in a pan to make soup. I drew physical waves of glowing art into the air and explored them from differing angles. I was drawn into a virtual space that felt unbelievably real to me. I even explored an Aperture Science lab and caused untold havoc. Then, I had to remove the headset. It dawned on me I was in an empty room. It dawned on me I had spent the past half an hour wandering in circles around an empty room. It dawned on me those experiences, which had felt so real, were gone from the room that had been my escape from the busy, loud, stressful convention that once again surrounded me. I found myself shaken in a way VR had not previously left me. This was a game changer. With all this said, the experience I had with the Vive left me dubious if that same magic could be captured in a consumer setting. As stunning and immersive as the experience was, I could see the places where a home VR experience is likely not to stack up. The demos shown were all set in set-piece environments that were single square boxes, which limits the experiences available to the player. Most consumers don't have an empty room in their homes that's as large as this room was available to use as a dedicated VR room, which it currently feels like the Vive would need. The encouragement to walk around the room also meant I had to constantly be aware of the cable attached to the back of my own head and trailing behind me on the floor. These are all serious barriers to replicating the experience I had in a home setting. Still, I walked away from my time in the Vive headset sold that a Holodeck-esque VR future is attainable. The experience I had was the first time a video game has ever truly made me forget the physical world around me, immersing me entirely in a new set of worlds I felt unbelievably connected to. Compared to my demo experiences with the Oculus and PlayStation VR, my demo of the HTC Vive felt like something in an entirely different league. If only that were an experience I could bring home and replicate.
Valve VR photo
The demo left me shaking like mad
A few months back at E3, I was lucky enough to be able to get my hands on both the retail version of the Oculus Rift, as well as the PlayStation VR, back then known as the Morpheus. As a big fan of VR in theory, if dubious ab...

I used the Oculus Rift to high-five a dead alien in Surgeon Simulator

Sep 27 // Zack Furniss
The Oculus Connect 2 event felt very rushed, so I hurried to my demo appointment for some hands-on time with the Rift. A Hollywood-looking Oculus employee charmingly asked what type of genre I wanted to start with. "Horror," I quickly blurted out, anxiously wanting to experience some spooky VR. He looked taken aback, and quietly said "Well, we don't -- well, I guess aliens are scary..." and booted up Surgeon Simulator. It's not what I would have picked, but I went with it anyway. After fitting the headset onto my noggin and the Oculus Touch controllers onto my meathooks, I opened my eyes and found myself aboard a space station. There was an extraterrestrial splayed out on a table, its midsection an open maw hungry for my hands and tools. Beyond the corpse was a window peering out into the void of space. Glancing about the room, I took stock of what surgical instruments I would require. I needed to remove an explosive, glowing orb from the alien's stomach before it destroyed the station. As I used my real-life hands to direct their in-game counterparts towards my first tool, Hollywood began recommending I grab the bonesaw. I turned my head in his general direction (remember there was a whole reality between him and I) and told him "Quiet, nurse. I am the doctor now." I heard a combination of a grunt and a giggle and continued on my way. I grabbed a hatchet and began cutting into the alien. Again, he protested and I cut him off with a "Shhh..." I let go of the hatchet and realized I was in a zero-g environment. It casually drifted away from me as I turned to my next tool, a four-pointed device that looked like a shuriken. With all my might, I flung it into the alien's stomach(?) and watched as it began ricocheting off of the various surfaces in the room. Glass was now floating all around me, but I waved it away in annoyance. Next, I grabbed a clock and started smashing it into the alien just to see what would happen. All that happened was a mess that I told Nurse Hollywood to clean up when we were done. Time was beginning to run short, and I begrudgingly reached for the bonesaw. I hacked into the ribcage-looking protusion and used both hands to grab the orb, and chucked it out the garbage shoot. It drifted outside the window and exploded non-chalantly. To celebrate, I grabbed my alien friend's cold (I assume) dead hand with my left hand, and gave him a high five with the right. His hand drifted back slowly and without purpose, and Nurse Hollywood, sounding quite afraid, whispered "What just happened? Did you just..." And I nodded triumphantly. I took off the headset and handed it back to the wide-eyed man who wasn't sure what he had just watched. The combination of the Oculus Rift and Touch lent Surgeon Simulator more presence, and it helped me role-play (something I don't really do outside of D&D) even with a stranger staring at me the whole time. Something about shutting out the rest of the world makes you feel more involved, though it's tough to ignore outside factors. That's why Nurse Hollywood became one of my surgical instruments; if I was going to look ridiculous in front of him, he was going to be part of it, dammit. 
Surgeon Simulator photo
Up high! Down low! ...Alien?
Surgeon Simulator is the type of game that easily lends itself to stories. The precise mechanics involved provide anecdotes wherein each player can fondly recall specific moments of their playthrough. Though my time as a...

Podtoid 306: Tales of Tokyo Game Show

Sep 27 // Kyle MacGregor
Things we talked about: Japanese food and booze Metal Gear Online Airplanes Mobile gaming Weird Japanese shit Pokkén Tournament  Arcades Shinjuku Golden Gai Cat Cafés  Badweiser Donski doesn't tip Recent Episodes Podtoid 305: The Voice of God Podtoid 304: The Phantom Pain Podtoid 303: A Good Amount of Cocaine Podtoid 302: Virtual Reality is the Future Podtoid 301: The Least Interesting Man in the World Send any and all questions, tips, and Donski hentai to [email protected]
Podtoid: Tokyo Game Show photo
Kat Cafe Edition
Subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or download it here. Brett and Steven return from Tokyo Game Show to tell us about their adventures in Japan.

Bullet Train is the ultimate 10-minute light gun game

Sep 27 // Zack Furniss
My brief time with Bullet Train had me equipped with and Oculus Rift and Oculus Touch. The Touch had a pleasant heft to it that I wasn't expecting, and it didn't do that weird clicksquish thing that some controllers do when you squeeze them. A cheery Oculus representative gave me a brief tutorial as the demo began, but her instructions made it seem more complicated than it actually was. I began on a moving subway. An authoritative man spoke to me through the headset, telling me that as an agent, I needed to become acquainted with teleportation technology. Using a face button on the controller in my left hand, I could simultaneously slow down time and aim at a (Oculus) rift and quickly warp through space. After this, I was taught how to pick up weapons (by using a button near my ring and middle fingers with either hand), which felt natural in a way I hadn't anticipated. Since teleporting and dudeshooting are all I was going to be doing, I was ready. Fwiiiish. The subway doors slide open, the two pistols in my hands becoming deleterious paintbrushes capable of crossing out whoever I came across. I dilated time, various rifts opening for me, beckoning for me with large text decrying SHOTGUN or GRENADES, as if I was window shopping for more murderous methods. Like an inexperienced lover, I initially chose to deal death in the most simple yet effective ways I knew how. Point, shoot, teleport, repeat. Once I acclimated to not having traditional movement, I realized that without the use of my feet, it was up to my hands to bring satisfaction to this gunfight. Some of the best first-person shooters are about circle-strafing, jumping, positioning -- the spaces in between every trigger pull -- but Bullet Train doesn't occupy that same space. Here, it's about holding a pistol in one hand and a pump-action shotgun in the other, firing each, then slowing time to throw the pistol into the air, racking the action of said shotgun, catching the pistol, and resuming the bullet buffet. These moments are what make Bullet Train work. Racking a shotgun with one hand à la Terminator 2. Freezing time, pinching bullets, and flicking them at your enemies. Snatching rockets out of the air and flinging them back at the flying robot boss. Unloading pistols at two enemies and then dispatching a third by hurling your guns at him. It'd all make you feel incredibly cool if there wasn't someone holding a cable attached to your head. If I was at home, I'd probably be barking out horrible one-liners with a dumb grin on my face. What doesn't work is that the teleporting is disorienting, but not in the way one usually associates with the Oculus Rift. While everything felt incredibly intuitive (and I didn't get sick), teleporting doesn't make you face the direction you're pointing toward. The rifts are basically set up in a circle so that you can fight the steady trickle of men as they spawn in the center of the room. But something about teleporting across the room and abruptly turning around doesn't feel right. I don't think warping is the solution to fast-paced movement in all first-person games. It gives Bullet Train a Time Crisis feel, which isn't necessarily a negative, but would make it difficult to play something like this for longer than a few hours. I simultaneously hope this concept develops into something more refined, but also pray it isn't the template other studios follow. At Oculus Connect 2, I heard attendees complaining Bullet Train was getting too much attention when virtual reality has the potential to be a portal to so many different worlds. To me, first-person shooters were inevitably going to be a highlight for goggles that can take you to alternate dimensions. So long as we see these places through prisms other than down the barrel of a gun, I don't see the harm in highly-polished festivals of testosterone. P.S. Here's a bonus of picture, Rift-clad and full of sex appeal:
Bullet Train photo
Be a badass for 10 minutes
The other day at Oculus Connect 2, Epic Games announced its newest VR demo, Bullet Train. Instead of a simulation following legislators dealing with the political red tape surrounding the bullet train between Los Angeles to S...

When a bonus mode is better than the main game

Sep 26 // Kyle MacGregor
There's just something about Monkey Target. It seemed to have the power to transfix random passersby that might otherwise have little interest in games. Perhaps it was the peaceful music, which never seemed to get old no matter how many times you heard it. Maybe it was the bright colors that pulled people in -- a vast cerulean ocean stretching out as far as the eye can see, rainbow-coated targets, and rows upon rows of golden (and bizarrely Dole-branded) bananas hanging in the air. Maybe it was just the alluring concept of a bunch of monkeys in translucent balls rolling themselves down a slope toward the sea, popping the capsules open and gliding over the water toward faraway bull's-eyes. It's strange and fantastical -- the sort of thing you would have never dreamed up on your own in a million years, something you can learn in a minute but take a lifetime (or at least countless hours) to truly master. I'm not sure what it is about Monkey Target that I love so much. Everything, probably. Even today, I dusted off my old GameCube and fired the game up for a little "research." An hour later I was still trying to best my high score, just as enamored as I was 10 years ago. Are there any extra modes you enjoy more than the main games they're attached to? Funnily enough, the Chao Gardens from another Sega series, the Sonic Adventure games, also come to mind. Please share your favorites with us in the comments below.
Super Monkey Ball photo
Monkey Target forever
Super Monkey Ball was magical. It's a series for which I have so many fond memories. I have this vision in my head, a strong mental picture of half-a-dozen guys in a dimly-lit college dorm room playing Monkey Target 2. There ...

Experience Points .24: Deadly Premonition

Sep 26 // Ben Davis
The man who wasn't there The big question on everyone's minds while playing Deadly Premonition is always, "Who is Zach?!" York talks to himself a lot, and he's always addressing someone named Zach who is not actually present. There's never a physical manifestation of the person he's talking to, and Zach never responds out loud, although York does speak as if Zach is talking to him as well. They seem to be best friends, and York always asks him for advice. So who is he? Is Zach an imaginary friend? Does York have some kind of mental disorder such as a split personality? Did Zach die and York is still in denial? All of these possibilities crossed my mind while playing through Deadly Premonition, but about halfway through I decided on something else which I kind of liked. Maybe Zach is the player, meaning every time it seems like York is talking to himself, he's really trying to have a conversation with the player to try and piece together the mystery of what's going on around town. It would have been a clever way to make the player feel included in the story, even if their name wasn't actually Zach. Zach's true identity is revealed towards the end of the story, and it's about as cheesy and melodramatic as I would have expected from this game. I do sort of wish they had kept his identity a mystery, though. Coming up with possible theories about Zach was a lot more fun than learning the truth about him. Let's take this baby for a ride For a perfect example of the kind of thing that makes Deadly Premonition an awesomely bad game, let's take a look at the driving mechanics. The first time I got in a car, the controls seemed jarring and overwhelmingly complicated. The game assaults you with a huge list of controls. Every single button seems to do something different. Not only can York steer, accelerate, brake, and change the camera angles, but there are also buttons for honking, turning on the headlights, using the windshield wipers, signaling turns, and talking (either to a passenger or to himself). I'm surprised they didn't include buttons for the radio and air conditioner too, while they were at it. All of these controls may seem like a lot to remember, but really, none of these things are necessary aside from steering, accelerating, and braking. The headlights don't really help much when it's dark, and likewise, the wipers don't help much while it's raining. And who knows why anyone would ever need to use turn signals in a video game. So why were all of these complex controls included? Beats me. I guess they wanted the experience to feel more realistic, but it honestly just makes it feel way more absurd. And not only do the vehicles have superfluous controls, they also break down over time and run out of gas, meaning if York wants to keep driving the same car, he'll have to take it to the gas station for refills and repairs. All of this just to drive from one location to the next in a murder mystery game, as if it's trying to be a driving simulator on top of everything else. The driving mechanics are incredibly bizarre and mostly unnecessary, but I kind of love them for those exact reasons. There's so many things to do in the car with no real justification for their inclusion, and I think that's hilarious in a way. All the girls say I'm pretty fly One of my favorite things in Deadly Premonition is its random inclusion of beard growth and hygiene mechanics. It may not be obvious at first, but York's face will slowly start to accumulate stubble over time, and his clothes will become dirtier the longer he wears them. At first I was confused about why he was able to shave at every mirror he came across, not to mention the fact that he was dry shaving (sometimes mere seconds after he had just shaved, if I kept making him... ouch!). Soon I stopped shaving, because it didn't seem to do anything. And then the stubble started to come in. I was pleasantly surprised. Beard growth mechanics in Deadly Premonition? Unexpected, but why not? The game already has everything else going for it. Obviously, I kept the beard for the remainder of my playthrough, because beards are awesome. But what about the hygiene mechanics? This one took me a lot longer to figure out. Eventually, as I was playing, I began to notice flies hovering around York. It started with one fly, and I thought it was just a random background element of the specific scene that was happening. Maybe the police station had a fly problem? Who knows. Soon the flies began to multiply, to the point where York was holding a town meeting amid a veritable swarm of insects. Only none of the characters were reacting to them. I thought, "Okay, now this is getting ridiculous! What is the deal with these flies?!" I had to resort to looking it up online, because I was seriously confused. Apparently, York's clothing gets dirty over time, so he needs to get his suits dry cleaned every now and then to stay fresh and keep the flies away. Who would have guessed? After I found this out, I honestly considered staying in my dirty pink suit for the rest of the game anyway, just because of how hilarious all of the cutscenes were with a horde of flies swarming around York during serious moments. It made me laugh, but ultimately the little bugs were too distracting, so I had to get rid of them. Geez, York, take a shower or something! A damn fine cup of coffee There are many reasons to love Mr. Francis York Morgan (I mean look at that smile... how could you not love a face like that?), but my favorite thing about him is his unbridled, almost alarming excitement for food and coffee. Much like FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper's enthusiasm for coffee and pie in Twin Peaks, York can't hold back his love for certain foodstuffs. A few of the most memorable scenes in Deadly Premonition are about food, such as when Polly brings York a cup of coffee for his first day on the case. Before she brings it over to him, he warns, "I am very particular about my coffee. The very best you have, please," with a charming smile that surely melted the old lady's heart (or her eyes). He takes his time enjoying the cup, and even has a surprising revelation while staring into the dark brown liquid. Afterwards, he can go back for another cup (and another... and another), and each drink gives him a new fortune. I have to wonder how he gets these fortunes, though. Are they appearing to him in the coffee itself, like the letters "F K" did? The fortunes are pretty long, so that would be rather impressive. Maybe he just has such a strong connection to coffee that it speaks to him every time he drinks it. Maybe he is the coffee whisperer. Another great scene is when he tries a special sandwich for the first time. After ordering a turkey and gravy sandwich and a fresh cup of coffee (obviously) from the local diner, Mr. Stewart stops by to pick up his lunch and convinces York to change his order to a turkey, strawberry jam, and cereal sandwich. Or as York calls it, the "Sinner's Sandwich." York is skeptical at first, but tries it anyway. His reaction to eating the concoction is perfect. He takes one bite and literally jumps back out of his seat, staring at the sandwich in awe and proclaiming, "I can't believe it! This is... fantastic!" The camera then pans to Emily, who has a look of thorough disappointment at her friend's choices. I have yet to try this sandwich myself, but it sure sounds... interesting. I can't imagine turkey and strawberry jam going well together, and "cereal" is a pretty vague ingredient. I wonder what kind of cereal would be best to use? Beauty in death Deadly Premonition had some of the best death sequences I've ever seen in a video game. Obviously, this is a bit of a touchy topic, because I don't want to spoil too much for anyone who hasn't played the game yet. But even the very first victim, Anna Graham, who we see strung up to a tree in the opening cutscene, looks like some kind of beautiful, bloody angel of death. Creepy and unsettling, but at the same time aesthetically pleasing. We don't actually see her being killed, though. The rest of the victims' deaths are just as dramatic, except the player must watch as they happen. I think the second victim's scene was my personal favorite, because the tension was so incredibly palpable. It was such an intense moment, and the color palette and placement of the body helped make everything stand out. I'm usually not one for appreciating blood and gore, but Deadly Premonition's death sequences were just so well executed that it was hard not to appreciate them. More than just a pretty (ugly) face If there's one thing that Deadly Premonition does legitimately well, it's character development. Every single character is memorable in their own way. They all have unique personalities and backgrounds. Even minor characters seemed interesting, even though I might have only talked to them a couple of times. Take the hospital receptionist, Fiona, for example. York really only has to talk to her once or twice during the entire game, but in that small amount of time I learned that she likes reading best-selling books, she's studying for a medical exam, and she has a crush on the hunky doctor she works with. She could have easily just been another random NPC with no personality, but they fleshed her out and made her seem important. I was actually surprised when I got to the end of the game and realized I only talked to her twice, because it almost felt like it was setting her up to be more crucial to the plot. And I could say the same for just about every other character. There was Mr. Stewart, the creepy, quiet, gas mask-wearing man and Michael who talks for him; Polly, the kind old hotel owner who is hard of hearing; Thomas, the shy police assistant who is great at cooking and knows a lot about squirrels; Kaysen, the friendly traveling plant salesman who has a cool pet dalmatian; Isaach and Isaiah, the creepy-cute twins; Nick, the art-loving cook who is very quick to anger; Lysander, the "general" who wears a sergeant's uniform; and even "Roaming" Sigourney, the crazy old lady who is always lost and carrying a pot around. They're all wonderful characters with so much personality packed into each and every one of them. I think the characters are the biggest reason why Deadly Premonition became such a huge cult hit. If the characters had been dull and uninteresting, I'm not sure most people would have put up with the weird controls, poor graphics, and sometimes tedious gameplay to make it to the end. I know the reason I couldn't put the game down was because the characters were all so likable and I couldn't wait to see more of the story to find out how things turned out for everyone. Past Experience Points Level 1: .01 - .20 .21: Katamari Damacy.22: Tomb Raider.23: Mother 3
Deadly Premonition photo
'F K'... in the coffee!
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...

Obscure Video Games: Rabbit

Sep 26 // Obscure Video Games
At this point you're probably wondering "Why would anyone name a fighting game Rabbit?". I think most folks would assume it was a mascot platformer if they hadn't seen a screenshot. Well, the hook in Rabbit is that each character has an animal spirit that helps them fight, similar to the "Stands" in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure. One of the characters has a rabbit spirit, hence the name. But you could play a few matches without seeing the rabbit spirit, so it's still kind of an odd title choice. The best part of Rabbit (besides the pixel art) is the quirky line-up of characters. Here are some of my favorites: Fighter Name: Little EddySpirit Animal: Peccary (I'd never heard of it either.) Eddy is the illegitimate son of Kim Jong-un and Kim Jong-il. As you can see from his onesie, he's also a proud member of the adult baby community. When he's not cracking skulls, Eddy makes his living as an Elvis impersonator. Fighter Name: Hou-enSpirit Animal: Wolf Hou-en was once an actor in the Chinese opera, but the constant howling eventually drove him insane. Now he's a professional Juggalo who murders children with the help of his lovable, mentally-challenged pet "Fleabag". Fighter Name: EgithSpirit Animal: Ox Egith puts the sass in assassination. He uses money made from killing people to run an orphanage. I'm seriously not making this up; it's in the FAQ. So, if you need another 2D fighting game for your Sega Saturn, then Rabbit's not a bad choice. It doesn't have the biggest roster, but otherwise I think it's nearly as good as any fighter made by Capcom or SNK back in the '90s. Now watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat. [embed]311326:60445:0[/embed]
Obscure Video Games photo
What's your spirit animal?
I have a hard time reviewing fighting games. There's not much of a plot, and they tend to all be very similar in their basic mechanics. However, Rabbit is an interesting game that doesn't get much attention, so I think i...

Tokyo Game Show 2015 games of the (tokyo game) show

Sep 25 // Steven Hansen
[embed]311262:60422:0[/embed] Metal Gear Online (Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain) The Phantom Pain came out not even a month ago and it is just the start. We've not even seen the full brunt of the push-back to early glowing reviews. I've only reached the "first ending" myself. There's a lot to unpack, digest and though we are already full Metal Gear Online is still homing in next month like a chocolate mousse impaled by a Stinger.  That the online component makes you feel like an NPC, that you can feel the hilarious shame of getting knocked out, strung up, and ripped off the battlefield like a tooth tied to a slamming door is cool. It is online competitive multiplayer with just about the full gamut of single-player options and all those idiosyncrasies add up to a unique feeling competitive game just as they did for the single-player. Couple it with some one-life, no-respawn modes and, yes, Metal Gear Online is Metal Gear, online. Runners-up: Gravity Rush Remastered, Super Rude Bear, Monster Hunter Stories, Phantasy Star Online 2, Street Fighter V.
Big in Japan photo
Big in Japan
Like a kidney stone through the urethra of my life, another Tokyo Game Show has passed. We saw some great things in Japan: katsudon, vape stores, attempted park fights, coming at the king, and video games. Some of those video...

Review: Undertale

Sep 24 // Ben Davis
Undertale (PC)Developer: Toby FoxPublisher: Toby FoxReleased: September 15, 2015MSRP: $9.99 Undertale is the story of a human child who falls into a deep underground cavern filled with monsters and must find a way to escape back to the surface. The monsters had all been banished there by the humans long ago, so tensions are high whenever a human drops in to visit. The player quickly meets two monsters, a flower named Flowey and a motherly cow/rabbit monster named Toriel. They seem nice enough, but they are monsters after all, so should they really be trusted? The journey through the caves is filled with puzzles, turn-based random encounters, and a whole lot of humor. The outstanding gameplay mechanic here, though, is combat. It's a unique system, and even though encounters are random, they don't occur often enough to become an annoyance. In fact, I usually found myself looking forward to my next encounter. [embed]312265:60496:0[/embed] The turn-based combat in Undertale works very differently from most other RPGs. While attacking or defending, a box will appear with a short mini-game to complete in order to determine the amount of damage given or received. Attack mini-games involve stopping a moving bar along a slider at the perfect moment for maximum damage. The majority of defense mini-games play out a bit like a bullet hell; enemies will usually send out a volley of projectiles, and the player must move their heart around to avoid getting hit by anything. Bosses each have their own slight alterations to the defense mechanics, and the game does a good job of changing things up from time to time so that it's not always strictly bullet hells. Attacking is not the only option, however. There are two other choices, Act and Mercy, which will provide much of the core combat gameplay for many players. The Act option offers several ways to interact with the enemy, which change depending on which monster is being fought. These can range from friendly actions such as "Compliment" or "Hug" to meaner things such as "Pick On" or "Ignore." Choose the wrong interaction and the monster might become more aggressive. Choose the correct interaction and the monster might become happier or no longer wish to fight. When this happens, the Mercy function opens up and the fight can be ended non-violently. I honestly enjoyed trying out every possible option anyway, even if I already knew what to do, just to see how the monsters would react. Basically, it's the player's choice whether to destroy the monsters or show them mercy. Killing monsters grants money and XP which can raise the human's LV. Sparing monsters is only rewarded with money (and perhaps a new friend). It's entirely possible to play through the entire game without killing anything and remain at LV 1, and it's also possible to kill everything. But keep in mind that every decision has consequences. Aside from combat, there are also puzzles to be solved in order to navigate the caverns, but for the most part these are very light. I can't imagine many players will get stuck on any of the puzzles, and actually some of them are solved by the monsters themselves because they doubt the human's abilities. The puzzles aren't particularly impressive, but they're used more as a way to keep things interesting as the player is exploring rather than trying to stump them. One of Undertale's greatest strengths is its wonderful cast of characters and its extremely witty sense of humor. While the main character is sort of a gender-neutral blank slate for the player to inhabit, the monsters are anything but. I quickly fell in love with just about every character I came across, even some of the common enemies, since it's possible to have conversations with them during battle. Everyone in Undertale is so memorable and interesting, I just wanted to hug them all (and I did hug some of them!). The humor is spot-on as well. I haven't laughed out loud this consistently during a game since EarthBound. Between listening to a long conversation of terrible skeleton puns, having a flexing contest with a muscle-headed merhorse, cooking and eating a cup of instant noodles in the midst of battle, finding out how item names like Butterscotch Pie or Spider Donut are abbreviated, and hundreds of other hilarious moments, my face was starting to hurt from smiling and laughing so much. The thing that really hooked me, sealing the deal for Undertale being such a phenomenal game, was how it deals with player choices. I don't want to spoil much in this regard, but there are multiple endings as well as many moments and lines of dialogue which can be altered depending on the player's actions, and some of the things the game remembered seriously surprised me. It's really difficult to talk about what makes Undertale so great without spoiling anything, but if the concept sounds interesting to you at all, I highly recommend checking it out. Don't let the somewhat plain-looking graphics turn you off, because the game more than makes up for that through its superb gameplay, characters, and writing (not to mention the excellent soundtrack!). And actually, many areas, objects, and characters are surprisingly beautiful and well-drawn, so even the lackluster art style started to grow on me after a while. Undertale provided me with many hours of laughter, happiness, and warm, fuzzy feelings, all the while surprising me with some truly sad and shocking moments out of the blue. It's the kind of game that I'll want to replay many times in order to see how all of the various choices play out, and I'm sure I will remember it fondly for years to come. I hope everyone else can find as much joy from playing Undertale as I have! [This review is based on a retail build of the game purchased by the reviewer.]
Undertale review photo
Pure happiness
Every once in a while, a game comes along that takes you completely by surprise. I noticed a lot of people talking about Undertale recently, and how great it was. The screenshots looked a little underwhelming, but I decided t...

Destiny is looking better than ever after one week of The Taken King

Sep 21 // Alissa McAloon
Rather than draw background from the original hodgepodge of a story, The Taken King builds off the plot from The Dark Below expansion. After killing Crota in the Crota's End raid, the Hive prince's daddy Oryx is out for revenge. Oryx stomps into the solar system with a massive spaceship and an army of Taken soldiers. The return of the Hive monarchy also means Eris Morn is once again a major player, and she's somehow gone even further off the deep end this time around. The difficulty of The Taken King spans largely from Oryx's Taken army. The Taken are just that; familiar enemies that have been stolen and corrupted by Oryx to present new abilities and new challenges. Taken Phalnaxes now fire bursts of energy from their shields that send you flying through the air, and sometimes to your death. Taken Psyons spontaneously divide and multiply, and Taken Minotaurs are invisible. And yes, Invisible Minotaurs are just about as terrifying as you'd think. Additionally, Oryx's army has invaded Destiny's year one content. While running strike playlists, the enemies will sometimes be replaced with their Taken variants. You'll be spending a lot of your time running strikes to grind up your light level, and Taken invasions thankfully keep that from getting dull. The first few minutes of The Taken King introduce more narrative bliss to Destiny than the game saw in its entire year-one cycle. Characters that once only populated the tower and sold the occasional item now drive the story of Destiny forward. Bungie finally took full advantage of the vocal talent it had on roster by letting Nathan Fillion's character Cayde-6 take point. Cayde's screw-the-rules approach to taking on Oryx often clashes with the more uptight ideas of the Warlock and Titan vanguard. This bit of rebellion propels the story forward and makes the whole experience way more engaging than Destiny's original "select mission, shoot aliens, don't ask questions" approach to storytelling. Aside from the overhauled light level system, the best change to come to Destiny year two is how missions are handled. Before, any story mission was just highlighted on the world map, while multi-part quests were handed out as bounties. Some of the early plot missions are still delivered this way, but the majority of missions are instead given as quests. A new quest tab in the menu is home to a variety of quests that range from crucible objectives to extended story missions. Exotic weapon quests now show up here, rather than taking up a precious bounty slot. Quests are usually multi-step experiences that require players to complete an objective and then report back to a character in the Tower or Reef. The system works wonderfully to deliver a steady stream of objectives and direction without being intrusive or demanding. The new subclasses are also pretty cool. I main a Warlock and the Stormcaller class is almost too much fun. It's hard to resist cackling like an idiot when your Warlock is gliding around chaining lightning bolts between enemies. I haven't been able to Stormcall in PvP yet without getting my butt handed to me, but I'm sure someone a bit more skilled could easily dominate with it. The Titan's Sunbreaker class is just as fun. Hurling flaming hammers at enemies, both in PvE and PvP, can quickly turn the tide of battle in your favor. I still haven't rolled a Hunter, but I've been in fireteams with some using the new Nightstalker class. Their super ability, Shadowshot, allows them to silence, slow, and tether enemies to a fixed point. Used in conjunction with any of the other two new subclasses, Shadowshot is a thing of beauty. So far, The Taken King has brought a lot of improvements to the overall Destiny experience. If you haven't taken the leap and tried Destiny yet, now might be the time to do it. I know I'm a bit more in love with the game than Chris Carter, but maybe this will be the expansion to change his mind. His review will be coming in the near future, but in the mean time, check out Destructoid's reviews for Destiny and its first two expansions, The Dark Below and House of Wolves.
Destiny: The Taken King photo
Warlock is still the best class
It's almost been one week since Oryx got his claws into Destiny and things couldn't be better. The Taken King expansion, along with the 2.0 patch released earlier on, reworked Destiny's entire leveling system and quest progr...

I've never seen a horror game quite like Noct

Sep 21 // Jordan Devore
Noct photo
Creepy thermal imaging
I've heard of Noct. Looked at it. Read about it. But, somehow, I didn't realize until today that it's built for multiplayer. Publisher Devolver Digital even describes it as "a 2D top-down multiplayer survival horror game." Wh...

Japanese arcades aren't just fun, they're museums

Sep 21 // Chris Carter
At the suggestion of a few locals, I decided to give the "Try Arcade" and "Hey Arcade" a go (among others), which are two of the biggest arcade locations in Akihabara -- though everywhere from Shibuya to Shinjuku has their own arcades. Although I've been told that arcade attendance has been hurting somewhat in the past five years due to the rising popularity of consoles and mobile gaming, there's plenty of Japanese residents frequenting arcades, to the point where you'll never be wanting for a challenger or playmate. Of particular note is that the popularity of fighting games has seemingly never dropped. From the old school Street Fighter II Turbo machines all the way up to recent iterations, plenty of fans are lining up to get a chance to play them against a worthy foe. Out of every series there, the two most popular I noticed were Ultra Street Fighter IV and Guilty Gear Xrd Revelator, which had completely full cabinets and lines behind them. In Japan players don't really "coin up" with putting a credit on the cabinet, so you kind of just wait your turn and try to get in when you can. But tried and true fighters aren't the only thing on offer -- I was completely taken aback by how much variety each arcade contained in general. They had everything from rooms full of rhythm games, to racers, to UFO catchers, to card games, to units that used touch interfaces or had full-on mouse support. One of my favorite experiences was a huge room full of Gundam cabinets, which allowed players to face off on two teams with Zakus or Gundams respectively, controlling their avatar like a real mobile suit complete with a pod seat, pedals, and two joysticks. Hell, one place I went to had a urinal video game in the bathroom. Out of everything on offer however, the most poignant sections for me had to be the retro floors. One particular aspect that we aren't talking about nearly enough in the gaming arena is preservation. Thousands of arcade units every day are slowly withering away, and once they're gone, they're gone. Thankfully, publishers tend to reintroduce their older games to a new generation by way of marketplaces like the PSN and eShop, but so many titles have fallen by the wayside, or worse, in landfills. Japanese arcades do their part in preserving the past, whether it's by way of taking care of the original cabinets or keeping games alive with other methods like the Nintendo VS. System. I was able to relive some of the first memories I've ever had with gaming, and even play something that I've always wanted to all my life, but never had the chance to -- the original Goonies game, which never came out in the West on a console. Goonies II (which I did own), came out on the NES, oddly enough. Also, playing DoDonPachi and other Cave shooters in their original arcade form was magical. Pretty much everything you could want is housed in Japanese arcades, so if you happen to make the visit out, I highly recommend checking them out. Whether you're a hardcore fighting game fan or want to try something new, it's worth the trip.
Japanese arcades photo
To Akiba and beyond
In the US, arcades are mostly a relic. On the east coast where I grew up, other than the overpriced Dave & Buster's (and perhaps DisneyQuest, which is being closed down after 18 years in 2016), it's really tough to f...

So, let's talk about Metal Gear Solid V's ending

Sep 18 // Chris Carter
As it turns out, a lot of people I talked to during review week didn't actually see the real ending. They assumed that when Huey left Mother Base, that was it. But there's a secret conclusion beyond that, which unlocks after a certain amount of missions have been completed -- you know, those retread ones on higher difficulty settings, and/or a combination of Side Ops. If you need a refresher, watch it here: [embed]311489:60440:0[/embed] I was lucky enough (well, it wasn't luck, it was skill and hard work, haha) to see this ending before I completed my review. But like everyone else, I have mixed feelings towards it. For one, especially with the removal of the post-game Eli mission, it definitely feels like Konami cut funding for Kojima and his team. It was likely that it happened when all the drama surrounding Kojima first started, and the publisher probably felt that his team wouldn't be able to deliver the game on time. Who knows, maybe the microtransactions were added in as collateral to make back a portion of the massive Phantom Pain budget. We may never know the full details for sure (it's a good bet that Kojima had to sign an NDA), but we do know that the production was troubled. In that vein, while I did enjoy the 30-ish minutes of tapes that sufficiently linked Metal Gear Solid V with the rest of the games in the series (featuring heavy conversations that essentially close out Zero's storyline), they were just that -- tapes. This may be the last game in the entire series, and fans were left with a text crawl and tapes to provide most of the details. That isn't to say I thought it ruined the game -- far from it. I actually enjoyed listening to that audio, particularly the logs with Zero and Skull Face, and I was literally on the edge of my seat as some revelations were uncovered. As a fan, it was basically everything I could ask for. Plus, Guns of the Patriots was a fine enough true ending for the entire franchise. As far as the Big Boss twist goes, I'm on the fence. I don't think it cheapens the character, because he still exists, and causes trouble later on throughout the storyline. Additionally, Metal Gear has always dabbled in the concept of "the legend" being stronger than the actual person (especially in Snake Eater), so it makes perfect sense within the confines of the series. Also, if you've been following the game for the past few years, Kojima and company have been hinting at this for some time, in a fairly clever manner. Even small nods like Kaz saying "what about him?" in a trailer, referring to someone else other than Big Boss, and the medic scene in the helicopter at the end of Ground Zeroes were clues. I feel like this long game only partially paid off for Kojima, but I disagree with those who say that the ending "sucked." Still, my initial years-old prediction of the last part of the game being a remake of the first MSX title, featuring a surprise appearance by David Hayter as Solid Snake to Kiefer Sutherland's Big Boss didn't happen, and it would have been pretty cool to see. But what did you think? I've already seen angles from all sides of the debate, and since the game has been out long enough, I figured this was the perfect time to gather some thoughts on the issue.
Metal Gear Solid V photo
Did it?
Enough time has passed, to the point where we can safely talk about the ending to Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. As a common sense sort of reminder, this post below will contain spoilers. The comments will contain spoilers. This is a spoiler-heavy post about spoilers. Spoilers.

If you enjoyed Resident Evil HD, you'll probably like the Zero remake

Sep 18 // Chris Carter
As for my hands-on session with the game, I ended up coming away satisfied. As a whole it looked even more detailed than Resident Evil HD (the fur on spiders was particularly impressive, as were the flame and steam effects), and the action was incredibly smooth, especially when coupled with the updated control scheme. You're still going to brave the unknown with Rebecca and Billy, and in addition to a quick switching mechanic, you can also control the non-playable character with the right analog stick -- so, just like the original, there's no dumb, meandering AI that sits there while an enemy gets carte blanche to lay into them. Some people probably aren't going to take to a lot of the legacy features though. Like the last remaster there's still the same "door opening" sequences (originally built for tension, but are now admittedly a tad dated), there's still cheesy cutscenes done in the style of the original game (in other words, they aren't upgraded in any way), and although the controls have been given a makeover, it's still very much an old school Resident Evil game. According to Tsukasa Takenaka that's completely ok. When asked if he considered Resident Evil Zero an essential title in the series, he responded, "of course! The thing about Resident Evil is the more you play, the more you get out of it. So with Zero, you're really getting that whole backstory on the first game, such as Wesker's motivations, the story of the mansion, and more. It's unfortunately one of the less played games in the series, but I think it's really important and essential to the overall big picture." I went on to ask about Capcom's strategy to focus more on remasters and remakes, and how that was going for them. Takenaka noted that "overall yes it's been a positive move. We really want to respond to fan feedback, and those fans asked for more remasters. It's a priority for us to answer that call." I immediately followed that up with asking him what Resident Evil game would be his ideal remaster project, to which he replied, "Outbreak, definitely." Good man. As a fan of Wesker I definitely wanted to ask for more information on the upcoming Wesker Mode in Zero, and Takenaka had a few things to say on that front -- "yes, Wesker Mode is going to be the toy you play with after you're done with the game. It's a stress reliever, a lot like the rocket launcher or infinite ammo options in some of the other games. Here, Billy is replaced with Wesker. He has kinetic powers, and a powerful dash, but Rebecca is unchanged. He's kind of like a power-up, and he's based on the Resident Evil 5 version of the character, which is voiced by DC Douglas. Puzzled as to why the remakes haven't featured a full-on Mercenaries mode in the style of the newer entries, Takenaka said that he really wanted the team to add new features, and not tread on old ground again. Going on, he stated, "well if you remember, Zero had a mode called 'Leech Hunter,' and we're of course keeping that in with the remake. But we wanted to do something new too, so Wesker Mode was born. Also, the camera angles don't really work very well with Mercenaries, since we're going by the old game's camera." Takenaka then shared his vision for these remakes (with a reminder that Resident Evil 2 is being remade as well -- sadly, he wouldn't respond to my inquiry for details on that project), noting that his main motivation was to allow younger fans to "catch up" if they missed out on the older entries or didn't own the hardware necessary to play them. "This is not a signpost of a future direction" he added. Really, if every old Resident Evil game up to the fourth main iteration is remade, I'll be happy. I'd love to try out Resident Evil 3 in HD, and if Takenaka has his way, Outbreak HD on a modern online network. Capcom is trying a whole lot of things right now with mixed success, but this seems to be working, and the fans seem to want it.
Resident Evil Zero photo
Hands-on with producer Tsukasa Takenaka
Resident Evil HD was pretty freaking great. Finally, Capcom stopped fumbling around with the franchise (I liked some parts of 6 well enough, but could have done without it), and went back to its roots. It's a polari...

Resident Evil Zero photo
Capcom has evolved in that respect
I had a chance to chat with Resident Evil Zero producer Tsukasa Takenaka today, and one particular thing that stood out to me was his response to a PC-centric question I asked. When I asked how Capcom has evolved in...

Star Fox Zero has been delayed until 2016

Sep 17 // Jed Whitaker
Star Fox Zero had been scheduled to release on November 20, just in time for the holiday season. While it may make some people upset, as a Nintendo fan you kind of expect delay after delay which in turn guarantees a solid products upon release.  I suggest that in Star Fox's place Nintendo just go ahead and release Pikmin 4, which is apparently almost complete.
Nintendelayo photo
Rescheduled for Q1 of next year
Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto has announced that Star Fox Zero for the Wii U is being delayed and will no longer release this year: I made a big decision last week. We have been developing Star Fox Zero for Wii U with the...

I waited an hour and a half to play Gravity Rush PS4

Sep 17 // Steven Hansen
[embed]311208:60428:0[/embed] Look at this collector's edition! I haven't touched one since Catherine and didn't expect to go for one again, but I'm getting real into this. The original box art, expanded across a giant box, a very nice figure, and then that new, minimal black and white art. So good. Maybe I should just buy some real big Gravity Rush art to hang. Gravity Rush is already my favorite-looking game and it has translated perfectly to PlayStation 4. Anime blends into French comic aesthetic. Distinct regional skies are vibrant, varicolored oil paintings. Pointed line work serves as draw distance, as if the world was alive, sketching itself out in front of you as you soar about with the most invigorating locomotion. The controls, too, felt fine. The DualShock 4 accurately replaces the Vita gyro and if you're anything like me you "aim" the direction of gravity shifts with the sticks, anyways, and that's maybe even a little easier with full-size analog sticks. I'll happily play the first again when it comes to PS4 (February 9, 2016 in the states) and thank existential crises that, two years after it was first teased, we finally got a trailer for Gravity Rush 2 (and 2016's goty, c'mon). [embed]311208:60429:0[/embed]
TGS hands-on photo
Because I am stupid and I love it
I was surprised at Tokyo Game Show. It wasn't that there were melon-breasted anime women making out with each other in a trailer casually playing all about Sony's booth. It was that the line for Gravity Rush (Gravity Daze her...

New Resident Evil is a fast-crawling, alright third-person shooter

Sep 17 // Steven Hansen
Until I actually played it, I was feeling Gears of War hints. There's the close, over-the-shoulder view (arguably equally established by Resident Evil 4, but the former gets the mental nod in the context of a third-person competitive shooter), the general griminess of the place, and the claustrophobic tightness of the map, and the "Brained," a rock climbing pick ax looking thing good for one-hit melee kills. And then I played the thing and there is none off that lumbering; it felt more like Counter-Strike speed. [embed]310837:60379:0[/embed] The regular walking speed is quick, sprint is quicker. Even the crawl is fast, which is incredibly strange looking. There's a cover system, too, which is a bit like Gears' run. If you're aiming at a structure that supports cover, it will be outlined blue. Pressing X will automatically send your character running for cover and then snap in. Zombies are kind of just milling about (I think they just kind of spawn from goopy puddles in the floor) and you do get points for killing them. They can kill you, too, but are non-threatening enough that you can run past them. I did get killed by one, though, while I was already hurt and trying to crawl-retreat from bullets. It clocked me in the face. So they add something to the matches. The one life, no respawn mode I played is "one of the main modes," which emphasizes the focus on small, quick games. We were playing 3-on-3 and the game will go up to 5-on-5 with more modes to be announced later. Umbrella Corps is a bit more fast and floaty than I expected, but that did give it a somewhat novel feel. I've always preferred smaller player count shooter multiplayer, too. The whole thing feels...fine. A bit faceless with the tactical, bug-eyed non-persons, but not completely bog standard boring, either.
TGS hands-on photo
Coming to PC, PS4 early 2016
Next year is the 20th anniversary of Resident Evil (Biohazard here in glorious Nippon) and the only Resident Evil game dated for 2016 at the moment is the newly announced Biohazard: Umbrella Corps. It is an online, competitiv...

First hands-on with Metal Gear Online had us going back for more

Sep 17 // Steven Hansen
The demo stations were set up to accommodate 16 players (8 on 8 split between teams Liquid and Solid) with four pre-fab classes. Given how much meticulous, stealthy Phantom Pain I've been playing prior to arriving in Tokyo, I immediately went non-lethal, armed with nothing but a non-suppressed sleep pistol and a grenade that identified nearby enemies. I skulked around a bunch in a wide arc across the map hardly encountering anyone, which is likely because everyone else was running around trying to kill dudes, as you wont to do in a team deathmatch setting. I died to roving D-Walkers and machine guns. I was yearning for a bit of one life, no respawns, but I adjusted, switching to a sniper class mid-game. At one point I got CQC pulled from my sniping vantage point, which stunned me. The opposing player Fulton ballooned my ass off the battlefield. [embed]284642:56558:0[/embed] BRETT: Fultons, active camouflage, D-Walkers, turret nests -- really, the list goes on and on. There are so many ways to play Metal Gear Online that it's kind of overwhelming. Like, I finished second on our team one match, but did so entirely through gun kills. It felt disingenuous. The next round, I knocked a guy out and dropped a molotov cocktail on his head. That was infinitely more satisfying. One of my early deaths came while I was trying to figure out my secondary weapon: a stuffed kitten. How does that even work? I understand AI getting distracted, but these are humans I'm playing against. I took a bullet to the head immediately after setting it down. The kill cam showed my murderer running over to the cat and enthusiastically clapping at its cuteness. Kojima, you magnificent bastard. STEVEN: Was it a stuffed puppy? There's a husky plush (assumedly inspired by the wolf-ish D-Dog buddy from The Phantom Pain) you can set down like a mine, but instead of it blowing enemies up, if they get to close they get distracted by how cute it is. In MGS4's online, it was a nudie mag you could set down to distract. It's good for getting non-lethal kills without resistance (or freezing someone up and sniping from afar), and then you could Fulton. You get extra points for the latter (and points for stuns). That first game was split one win to one win and instead of a third match it came down to total points being tallied. And yeah, my best match was the last of the four. I came in second by way of points, first by way of kills. I actually didn't pick up on it, but there are points tied to nailing "Objectives," though I wasn't sure what they were. There's also a bounty system and extra points for offing someone with a bounty on their head. I only noticed because a bounty got put on me at one point, though nothing came of it. But in that last match I basically opted for a large machine gun and brute forced people with 100-bullet clips. I was mowing down small crews in doorways, people jumping onto D-Walkers. It was a little less fun, but I assume when the game comes out and people have more of an idea what they're doing that becomes a less viable strategy (especially because you die pretty quickly if you are getting accurately shot up). BRETT: For every thing I figured out, I feel like there were three things I didn't. Metal Gear Online is obviously much more than your standard tacked-on multiplayer mode -- although it can definitely be played as such. I spent a considerable amount of time in one round just gunning people down from the relative safety of a guard's nest vantage point. Again, it felt wrong. Comeuppance was swift and just when a D-Walker figured out my strategy. Confused as I was at times, I was also undoubtedly elated. How many times in your many conventions have you found yourself going back to replay a demo? It's probably the first for me, as far as I can remember.  STEVEN: I can't think of one. I also love that the cardboard box remains an item even though players would know to be suspicious. It did have some weird utility in previous Metal Gear Online for instant ducking, but here it was just idiots (like me) running around in it upright while cycling through loadout items. Probably the best thing about The Phantom Pain's edition of Metal Gear Online is not having to deal with a fucking Konami ID/MGO ID and that whole awful log-in process that eventually locked me out of playing the damn thing when I couldn't remember all my info. That kind of bullshit is Konami. Glad we'll still be able to enjoy another phase of weird Kojima Metal Gear after he's gone.
Tokyo Game Show hands-on photo
Getting shot up trying to stealth
While Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain isn't an insignificant time sucker as is, it did launch missing its competitive online multiplayer component, Metal Gear Online, which was delayed until October 6 on consoles and January 2016 on PC. Brett and I got our hands on the thing at Tokyo Game Show and immediately ran back in line for a second go like giddy schoolchildren.

Metal Gear Online TGS footage breaks down modes, characters, classes

Sep 17 // Steven Hansen
There's also: Cloak and Dagger "Attackers win by recovering the Data Disc and uploading it at the Evac Point within the time limit. Defenders win by preventing the upload. Attackers are armed with only non-lethal weapons while defenders only have lethal weapons. This is an elimination mission. Once eliminated, you cannot return to the battlefield until the next round." Comm Control "Attackers must capture Comm Links to download confidential intel. If the attackers complete the download within the time limit, they are victorious. If the defenders are able to prevent this within the time limit, they are victorious. Comm Links can be captured by staying within the effective range of the Comm Links until they change ownership." Stages include: Jade Forest – African Jungle Outback. Composed of natural jungle and a desolate village.Red Fortress – Soviet Military Base in Afghanistan. A hilltop base with a peripheral view of the surrounding desert.Gray Rampart – A dam and its environs. The stage contains two regions on either side of a river, with the dam and bridges connecting them.Amber Station – A gas refinery on a harbor. The stage contains several multi-level structures.Black Site – The infamous US military base nine years after the events of “METAL GEAR SOLID V: GROUND ZEROES”. It contains a multi-level base with mostly flat and spacious surrounding areas. Classes: Scout – With advanced scouting capabilities, the “Recon Class” specialties are long-range combat and support functions. Movement speed and strength are average making this a great choice for beginners.Enforcer – With great strength, the “Heavy Class” specializes in powerful weapons. However, movement speed is slow making this class less effective in close quarters. This class is for intermediate players.Infiltrator – Fast moving, the “Infiltration Class” specialty is close combat such as CQC. Due to the strength being low, you should avoid a head-on battle. This is a class for experienced players. Tips: Unique Character – When “Unique Character” is selected in mission settings, one player on each team is assigned at random to play as a unique character. Unique characters such as Snake and Ocelot have significantly higher abilities compared to regular player characters. They also have exclusive weapons and actions, providing opportunities to try different play styles. Abilities – Equipping abilities enhance performance of your character or your weapons. Each ability has 3 levels. Buddy – Players can join up with a “Buddy”. When your Buddy Gauge reaches 50% or greater, you can respawn at your buddy’s location. Once the buddy gauge reaches 100%, you can equip the E-RB WORMHOLE GEN. from your support weapons. This device can be placed and entered to instantaneously travel to your buddy’s location. Interrogation – Restraining an enemy with CQC and holding down the CALL button performs an “interrogation”. If the interrogation is successful, you gain intel on the enemy team’s location, which is automatically shared with your buddy. Weight and Mobility – Weapons and items have weight associated with them. Based on total weight, your “mobility” rating ranges from Level S to D, affecting your movement speed and weapon sway. When editing your loadouts, keep the mobility rating in mind. Party – If you join a party, you will be able to join the same match as the party members. You can access the Party Menu from the Freeplay environment. Experience Points – Based on your performance during the match, you gain experience points. Earn experience points (XP) to raise your character level. If you raise your level, you can obtain new weapons or abilities as a reward.
Tokyo Game Show photo
Playing as Ocelot explained
Konami's website has added the new Metal Gear Online gameplay debuted at Tokyo Game Show. There's even a breakdown of the things that Brett and I didn't understand in our earlier hands-on preview, like the Bounty Hunter mode...

Cosplay photo
Girls boys and beasts
There are so many good looking people at Tokyo Game Show that it's hard to focus on the more important six new seasonal varieties of Boss coffee that we haven't tried yet. Granted, these are professional cosplayers and booth ...

Folks are awfully jumpy about The Last of Us 2

Sep 17 // Kyle MacGregor
[embed]311178:60409:0[/embed] This isn't the first time this has happened, either. A few months back, Nolan North, speaking at Tampa, Florida's MetroCon, said "I know they’re doing a Last of Us 2," causing a similar stir. However, neither Sony nor Naughty Dog has officially confirmed the existence of a The Last of Us sequel, but judging on how some corners of the Internet have reacted to these potential gaffes, you might have thought the companies distributed a teaser trailer or something of the sort. It makes sense that Sony would want to do a follow-up. The Last of Us was highly acclaimed and presumably made a lot of money; plus, publishers these days don't often go around creating new intellectual properties without aspirations of a potential blockbuster franchise in their eyes. It will probably happen. Someday. Eventually. There are literally billions of reasons for it to. But it isn't confirmed just yet. Not officially. So maybe hold your horses before shouting "THE LAST OF US 2 CONFIRMED" on Twitter or an Internet comment section somewhere. Good lord.
The Last of Us 2 photo
It isn't official until it's official
The much rumored "The Last of Us 2" hasn't reached "Half-Life 3" levels of ridiculousness, where every whisper surrounding the property results in scores of people saying a sequel is confirmed, but... No, actually, we're alre...

TGS Gallery photo
Look at the people and stuff
Tokyo Game Show feels pretty good this year. Sure, it's a far cry from the extravagance of ten years ago and before, but it's not the all-mobile wasteland it was doomed to be according to some Internet dudebros. It feels heal...

We are here! photo
Ongoing coverage of J-games all weekend
Pale American guys blogging about Japanese video games is a thing that is happening!  It hasn't stopped raining in 24 hours, hence our sloppy Mary Poppins cosplay and moistness. If you've never trekked into Tokyo Game Sh...

Tokyo Game Show 2015 press conference schedule

Sep 16 // Steven Hansen
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 15 Sony Japan press conference @ 4:00PM-5:30PM JST (12AM-1:30AM PDT)YouTube stream, Niconico stream Here's a list of what Sony will have on-hand at TGS. This does not include unannounced games. The Sony Japan conference should have some announcements (and better have Gravity Rush 2). PS4 Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir Star Wars: Battlefront Street Fighter V Arlan: The Warriors of Legend Pro Evolution Soccer 2016 Star Ocean 5: Integrity and Faithlessness Exist Archive: The Other Side of the Sky Call of Duty: Black Ops III Destiny: The Taken King Tearaway Unfolded The Tomorrow Children Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 God Eater: Resurrection Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Eyes of Heaven PS Vita Airship Q Minecraft: PS Vita Edition Tokyo Xanadu God Eater: Resurrection THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 17 Okay, now we're into detailed, fan-centric company streams, stage shows, and the like. Here is where we're most likely to find tidbits about things, which may be interesting, and a tidbit about a bigger release is even closer to news. But completely new games? Doubtful. Credit Gematsu for many of these individual publisher itinerary translations. There are more things scheduled at the aforelinked page, but I've removed re-runs and less news-worthy events. (See: Atlus' three-day Persona proceedings -- and no, it's not playable) 11AM-11:50AM JST (7PM PDT, September 16) Sega Title Presentation (Niconico stream) -- Title Presentation by Sega Group’s Development Manager – Featuring Osamu Ohashi, Takaya Segawa, Kikuchi Masayoshi, and Naoto Hiraoka 12:00PM JST (8PM PDT, September 16): Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain Special Stage (YouTube stream)  -- Focus on Side Ops and Forward Operating Base Online (a prelude to the later Metal Gear Online demo) 12:00PM JST (8PM PDT, September 16): Hyrule Warriors Legends (Niconico stream) -- Gameplay stream and news from the producer, Yosuke Hayashi. 12:40PM JST (8:40PM PDT, Sept. 16): News for Konami's Jikkyou Powerful Pro Baseball series. (YouTube Stream) 1PM JST (9PM PDT, Sept. 16): "Coming Soon" from Sega (Niconico stream) -- idk 2:00PM JST (10:00PM PDT, Sept. 16): Romance of the Three Kingdoms 30th Anniversary and Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIII Special Stage (Niconico stream) -- Producer Kou Shibusawa on XIII and a 30th anniversary commemorative project. 2:40PM JST (10:40PM PDT, Sept. 16): Metal Gear Online (YouTube steam) -- "Playable debut," not sure if publicly or just a live demonstration, but if the former, we will play the hell out of it. 4:00PM JST (12AM PDT): Arslan: The Warriors of Legend (Niconico stream) -- Producer Shigeto Nakadai introduces gameplay. FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 18 11AM-11:40AM JST (7PM PDT, September 17) Sega TGS 2015 booth lineup (Niconico stream) -- All of this stuff. 12:00PM JST (8PM PDT, September 17): Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax Ignition New Character “Shiba Tatsuya” Gameplay Introduction (Niconico stream) 1PM JST (9PM PDT, September 17): Attack on Titan (Niconico stream) -- Producer Koinuma Hisashi and director Kitamura Tomoyuki unveil first gameplay for new Attack on Titan game. 3PM JST (11PM PDT, Sept. 17): Pro Evolution Soccer 2016 Media Tournament (YouTube stream) -- Gaming media versus soccer media in what is effectively a promotion for Pro Evolution Soccer, hmm, weird. SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 19 10:30AM-11:30AM JST (6:30PM PDT, September 18): Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness (Niconico, YouTube) 11:15PM-12:05PM (7:15 PM PDT, September 18): Just Cause 3 Summer of Chaos at TGS & Extreme Edges New Titles Introduction Broadcast (Niconico, YouTube) -- Will include Hitman and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. 12:00PM JST (8PM PDT, September 18): Final Fantasy XIV Official Producer Letter Live in Makuhari (Niconico, YouTube) 12:30PM-1:00PM JST (8:30PM PDT, September 18): Square Enix's "secret" (Niconico, YouTube) 1:45PM-3:15PM JST (9:45PM PDT, September 18): Final Fantasy XV Active Time Report at TGS 2015 (Niconico, YouTube) - See you in Japan!
TGS 2015 photo
What to expect when you're expecting
Lord on a skateboard, Tokyo Game Show 2015: Hey, There's Something to This Whole Mobile Gaming Thing is here to wash away industry sins with a waterfall of hype airdropped upon the unwashed masses. It tastes of Mountain Dew ...

MGSV photo
And someday you feed on a tree frog
Before the tactical espionage begins, certain "important announcements" must be ignored...

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