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Review: Five Nights at Freddy's 4

Jul 24 // Nic Rowen
Five Nights at Freddy's 4 (PC)Developer: Scott Cawthon Publisher: Scott Cawthon Released: July 23, 2015MSRP: $8.00 The setup of Five Nights 4 intentionally replicates the design of the first game. The original cast is back, their avenues of attack directly mimic their first outing, and the general layout of your besieged room is the same, making this entry feel like closing a loop. But, this time instead of haunting a creepy knock-off Chuck E. Cheese restaurant, they're spooking up your home instead. There are no more security cameras to monitor, no more batteries to fuss over. You're just a little kid with a flashlight, scampering between the two doors into his room and whatever might be lurking in his closet (or right behind him). The type of sense you rely on has been inverted: instead of keeping an eye on things, this time you'll be listening for whatever is out there. When you creep up to a door you have to pause, wait a moment, and listen for any kind of breathing or noise in the darkened hallway. If you hear something, you need to shut the door as fast as you possibly can. If it's clear, shining your flashlight down the hall will ward off anything stalking towards you. If you're wrong though, and the monster is right there, and you shine your flashlight right into its toothy mechanical face, well, it's is the last thing you'll ever do. What this means mechanically, is that you need to absolutely crank up the volume to reliably hear things. Headphones are nearly required. Of course, the jump scare death animations are as loud as ever. Do you see where this is going? Sonic fucking boom. If you want to know if this game made me yelp, or jump, or spill my coffee and send me trudging to the kitchen for a roll of paper towels while I swore angrily under my breath -- yes, it did. Of course it did. It's a cycle of protracted periods of peering into the darkness and intensely listening to absolutely nothing interrupted with SUDDEN. LOUD. JUMP. SCARES.   [embed]296612:59683:0[/embed] It's an easy, dull, and obvious trick. The final refuge for a game that has run out of any other ways to scare people. Don't think of anything new and clever, forget introducing any kind of gameplay twist, or carefully establishing tension or mood. Just take the basic components, crank up the contrast, pump up the volume, and jam the severity. It's trite, lazy even. I'm not sure how the inevitable Five Nights at Freddy's 5 will be able to top this kind of “subtlety.” Maybe it will come with a pair of electrodes you attach to your testicles, so it can administer 5,000 volts of spookiness every time something goes “boo.” *BZZZZZT* What, did that make you jump? Sissy. There are a few other tricks. Monsters introduced in later nights operate with slightly different rules, and by the time the fifth night rolls around, you'll be sprinting all over the bedroom trying to keep things locked down. Unlike previous games though, the rules don't feel tight. Things are sloppier, with more guesswork and chance baked into the experience. When I died, I often had no idea what I did wrong. And if I'm being honest, when I succeeded I wasn't always sure why. Frustrating deaths and unearned victories are equally unsatisfying in their own way. The animatronics' logic was never clear enough to me to come up with a reliable strategy to keep them at bay. I supposed that could be intentional, a way of always keeping even seasoned players on their toes, but I think that's giving the design credit it doesn't deserve. More than any other Freddy game so far, I just felt exasperated and annoyed playing through Five Nights 4.   The emphasis on carefully listening for every creak and groan in the darkness isn't just a lame way to manufacture easy scares. It's also a way to ruin one of the greatest pleasures I've had with the series, namely playing the game with an audience. While others sneer at Freddy's for being pure Twitch/YouTube bait, I've always understood it. I get why these games are fun to watch because I know how well they play in the living room with a couple of spectators and rotating victims. There is a real joy in playing these games with someone else or two in the room to watch you screw up. To have a small chorus whispering “oh shit, oh shit, oh shit...” behind your shoulder as the tension mounts. Of having someone to exchange nervous glances with when the doors stop working and it's 5 AM going on 6 AM and there is just the tiniest chance that you might roll over to the next day before Freddy pops out and – “OH GOD HE'S IN THE ROOM!” Those were moments I missed while I played Five Nights 4. What I'd think about while I was all hunched up in my chair with a pair of headphones clamped on tight. The memories that made me feel like a traitor whenever I violently shushed anyone in the room who made even the slightest distracting peep. However you played the previous games, know that this Five Nights is purely for the lone wolves and streamers out there who don't mind strapping on their pair of overly-expensive, sound-canceling Beats By Dre. But enough about how I resent the bargain-basement scares and penny-ante tricks the game uses to provoke a response from you. Enough about how this game is profoundly annoying and deeply unimaginative on a mechanical level. As a person who has followed the series since its start, the most damning part of this boondoggle of a game is how it absolutely folds under the pressure of its own established narrative. After all the teasing and hints, the essay-length forum posts and amazing fan-made theory videos that manage to be more entertaining than the games themselves, the promise that THIS Freddy's will be the one to finally answer the series long-standing questions -- it completely flubs the landing. All of the world building and story momentum generated by the first three games lurches to a disappointing stop, like a wind-up car gummed up with carpet lint. Yes, the infamous “bite of '87” is finally addressed in Five Nights 4. But like so many smoke monsters and Cylon replicants, the mystery was always better than any answer the series could reasonably provide. You see it, say “meh” to yourself, and retroactively wonder what the big deal was in the first place. The fact that this kind of anti-climax is common doesn't excuse Five Nights 4 of its wet noodle narrative and limp “reveals.” If anything, all of those previous failures should have been taken as cautionary tales, the value of mystery should be known and respected by now. Some questions are better left unanswered. It doesn't help that the way the game wraps up heavily implies that the events it depicts should not be taken literally. Yes, the tired old “it was all a dream/nightmare, or maybe a metaphor, or like a weird trippy memory, I don't know” trope is dusted off once again, so nothing is particularly clear. That's without getting into how the chaotic mass of prequels, reveals, and reinterpretations the games have constructed now threatens to collapse into a superdense black hole of no-longer-giving-a-shit at this point. I almost broke out a whiteboard trying to figure out the series' mythology at this point. “Okay, so this game is set in '87 to see the infamous 'bite,' around the same time as the prequel events in Five Nights 2. But it's also BEFORE the murders of the children that haunt Five Nights 1 and what you find out happens with Springtrap in Five Nights 3. The Purpleman doesn't really have a role, but he does show up in a cameo. Wait, are the kids in the last cutscene the eventual murder victims? Oh god, I'm seeing spots. Is this a migraine, or am I having a stroke? Do I need to call 911? If I die, are they going to find my body splayed out in front of a computer with a bunch of crazy notes about Five Nights at Freddy's? Am I going to end up as some shitty urban myth about how Five Nights totally killed a reviewer?” This game is stressful in all the wrong ways. The now familiar Atari-esque mini-games appear between chapters to deliver their payload of exposition and spooks, but all the menace of those scenes has been lanced and drained by repetition. There is a new sort of mini-game between nights where you play Weeping Angel stop-'n'-go with an animated plush doll. Stop him on a specific mark and you can knock two hours off the next night. Let him get too close or run out of time and, you guessed it, JUMP SCARE! It's the one new addition Five Nights 4 brings to the table, and it feels like the shadow of a reflection of an afterthought. You don't need to play this game. Even if you've been invested in the series up till now, it's just going to disappoint you and rankle your nerves. The interesting gimmicks have been completely rung out of the franchise; this game is imaginatively bone dry. The louder, nastier jump scares that are left are just a crass attempt to try and distract you from the lack of innovation. The story, the ongoing mystery of Freddy Fazbear's Pizzeria, and the strange goings-on surrounding it are best left to your personal headcanon or favorite fan theory. You'd be better served experiencing Five Nights at Freddy's 4 the way it was obviously intended to be enjoyed. By going on YouTube and watching some twenty-five-year-old, dressed like a fourteen-year-old, scream and cry his way through the game like a seven-year-old. The game truly has come full circle. [This review is based on a retail build of the game purchased by the reviewer.]
Five Nights 4 Review photo
This guest has overstayed its welcome
Well, it's been a few months, time for another Five Night at Freddy's game I suppose. I don't like to be cynical. I don't volunteer to review games, and pay for them out of my own pocket, hoping that they'll disappoint me and...

Asassin's Creed titles hit new low price as PC Summer Sale continues

Jul 24 // Dealzon
Top Deals Games Planet 2015 Summer Sale<- new low on lots of titles Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin (Steam) — $20.99  (list price $50) Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel (Steam) — $13.99  (list price $60) NBA 2K15 (Steam) — $11.62  (list price $60) Act of Aggression (Steam) — $29.45  (list price $45) <- access to multi-player beta PlayStation 4 Batman: Arkham Knight Bundle — $369.99  (list price $450) Dead: Xbox One 1TB Halo: MCC Bundle + $50 Gift Card — $399.99  (list price $400)** Xbox One Halo: MCC 500GB Bundle + $50 Gift Card — $349.99  (list price $400)** Recent Releases 07/23: Better Late Than DEAD (Steam) — $4.31  <- yep another open-world survival 07/21: F1 2015 (Steam) — $39.49  (list price $55) 07/20: Breach & Clear: Deadline (Steam) — $10.32  (list price $20) Upcoming Releases 09/29: NBA 2K16 (Steam) — $46.20  (list price $60) 09/30: Blood Bowl 2 (Steam) — $34.65  (list price $45) 11/10: Fallout 4 (Steam) — $46.20  (list price $60) <- 23% off returns PC Game Deals Games Planet 2015 Summer Sale Assassin's Creed Rogue (Uplay) — $25.19  (list price $50) Assassin's Creed Unity (Uplay) — $21.70  (list price $60) Football Manager 2015 (Steam) — $15.49  (list price $50) Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 (Steam) — $8.90  (list price $40) Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag (Uplay) — $6.19  (list price $30) GOG EA Catalog Sale SimCity 4 Deluxe Edition (DRM-Free) — $7.99  (list price $20) Jade Empire Special Edition (DRM-Free) — $5.99  (list price $15) Lands of Lore 3 (DRM-Free) — $2.39  (list price $6) Populous (DRM-Free) — $2.39  (list price $6) Ultima Underworld 1 + 2 (DRM-Free) — $2.39  (list price $6) Theme Park (DRM-Free) — $2.39  (list price $6) Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri Planetary Pack (DRM-Free) — $2.39  (list price $6) SimCity 2000 Special Edition (DRM-Free) — $2.39  (list price $6) Theme Hospital (DRM-Free) — $2.39  (list price $6) Dungeon Keeper 2 (DRM-Free) — $2.39  (list price $6) More PC Deals The Witcher III: Wild Hunt (DRM-Free) — $29.99  (list price $60) Dying Light (Steam) — $29.99  (list price $50) Pillars of Eternity Hero Edition (Steam) — $18.95  (list price $45) Blackguards Franchise Pack (Steam) — $15  (list price $55) Sid Meier's Civilization V: Complete Edition (Steam) — $12.50  (list price $50) Console Game Deals Disney Infinity: Marvel 2.0 Starter (XOne.360, PS4/3, Wii U) — $34.99  (list $75)** Skylanders Trap Team Starter Kit (PS4/3, XOne/360,) — $29.99  (list $60)** Disney Infinity: Toy Box Starter 2.0 (PS4/3, XOne/360) — $29.99  (list $60)** Madden NFL 15 (PS4/3, XOne/360) — $19.99  (list $30)** The Evil Within (PS4, Xbox One) — $19.99  (list $60) Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z (PS3, Xbox 360) — $5.99  (list $10) Borderlands 2 (PS3) — $3.99  (list $15) PS4 Dynasty Warriors 8 Xtreme Legends Complete (PS4) — $29.99  (list price $60)** Duck Dynasty (PS4) — $27.99  (list price $40)** Trials Fusion (PS4) — $19.99  (list price $40) Killzone: Shadow Fall (PS4) — $15.99  (list price $40) Xbox One Xbox One + Kinect + $50 Gift Card (Refurbished) — $379.99  (list price $380)** Xbox Live Gold 12 Month Gold (Physical Card) — $35.99  (list price $60) Xbox Live 12 Month Gold (Digital Code) — $34.95  (list price $60) Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved (Xbox One) — $9.99  (list price $40)** Titanfall (Xbox One) — $7.99  (list price $20)** Xbox 360 The Voice + Microphone (Xbox 360) — $29.99  (list price $40)** Ultimate Stealth Pack (Xbox 360) — $14.99  (list price $30) Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag (Xbox 360) — $9.99  (list price $20) Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved (Xbox 360) — $7.99  (list price $30)** PS3 Metal Gear Solid: The Legacy Collection (PS3) — $29.90  (list price $50) The Awakened Fate: Ultimatum (PS3) — $27.99  (list price $40) Alien: Isolation Nostromo Edition (PS3) — $19.99  (list price $30) Dark Souls II (Xbox 360) — $11.99  (list price $30) Escape Dead Island (PS3) — $8.99  (list price $30) Michael Jackson The Experience (PS3) — $3.99  (list price $20) Just Dance 2014 (PS3) — $2.99  (list price $40) Wii U Mario Party 10 + Mario Amiibo (Wii U) — $39.99  (list price $50) Zombie U (Wii U) — $8.99  (list price $30) 3DS Super Smash Bros. (Nintendo 3DS) — $29.99  (list price $40) Mario Kart 7 (Nintendo 3DS) — $19.99  (list price $30) Skylanders Giants Portal Owners Pack (Nintendo 3DS) — $9.99  (list price $60) Laptop Deals 17.3" MSI Stealth Pro i7-4710HQ, 16GB, GTX 970M — $1,499.99  (list $1,850) 17.3" Asus ROG i7-4720HQ, 16GB, 512GB, GTX 960M, 4K — $1,399.99  (list $1,699) 15.6" Lenovo Z51 i7-5500U, 8GB, Radeon R9 M375 — $669  (list $1,080) HDTV Deals 55" Sharp 2160p 4K Ultra HD LED TV — $899.99  (list price $1,000)** 60" Westinghouse 1080p Smart LED HDTV — $649.99  (list price $700)** 50" Seiki 2160p 4K Ultra HD LED TV — $399.99  (list price $1,000) Game deals from Dealzon. Sales help support Destructoid.
Weekend deals photo
Come grab the 18th or whatever # title
Where GMG's Summer Sale ends, Games Planet picks up the baton to take a stab at your wallet. The retailer's sale has been going fairly well in terms of the variety of titles at historic low prices. Fri/Sat batch inc...

How the hell did Galak-Z hide a Gundam for three years?

Jul 24 // Steven Hansen
Let's recap for a second if you haven't been following along. Galak-Z is broken into five seasons each with five episodes. The fifth season will be added in for free post launch. This is one diversion from the typical roguelike set up, in that when you die, you don't start all the way at the beginning of the game, but rather at the beginning of whichever "season" you're on. "One of [Kazdal's] pet peeves with roguelikes" is that playing very beginning segments over and over can get boring, so this blends that death-based need to replay with earned progression. More typically, levels are randomly generated, and you get different fractions of story and dialogue every time. This way you won't hear the same repeated bits death after death, but slowly glean more information until you finally get through the season. The space shooting half we already knew about is not just a twin-stick shooter, either. The ship maps thrusters (and a boost) to the triggers. There's also a backwards thruster so you can shoot and flee, a dodge thruster, and a a barrel roll (square) that juts the ship "toward" you like it's coming out of the screen (and over incoming bullets on the 2D plane). You have your standard weapon and an Itano Circus missile salvo (limited, but you can buy more if you find the shop during levels). [embed]296589:59676:0[/embed] Ok, so the not-Gundam? You can morph the ship into the robot at any time with a smooth, Transformers-like animation and change up the playstyle completely. It has a beam sword, which can be charged for a stronger, wider attack, and a shield that has parry capabilities. Perhaps most fun, though, is the extending claw arm that can grab dangerous space junk and throw it at enemies, or grab enemies themselves, bringing them in close so you can start wailing on them with punches. Keeping the mech locked up this long is impressive. The feature was locked off in the many public shows Galak-Z has been demoed at and no one slipped up about it. Kazdal tells me there were plans for a third, stealth-focused character, initially, but that it made for too many mental hoops in dealing with all the other things that could be happening at any given moment. Galak-Z is smooth, feels great to play, and the mech is a welcomed addition, adding one more layer to the game. There are warring factions you can sometimes pit against each other, environmental hazards to be aware of (and sometimes use to your advantage -- thanks alien trapdoor spider who saved my ass!), and instant shifts between ranged and close-quarters combat. It's tough, gorgeous, encourages exploration (beyond mission goals, there are blueprints for new gear and other upgrades to find), and a ton of fun.
HANDS ON: Galak-Z  photo
Spelunky by way of Macross...and Gundam
We've covered the "Spelunky by way of Macross" space shooting roguelike for a couple of years now and the follow-up from Skulls of the Shogun developer 17-bit is almost here, coming to PS4 August 4 and PC a few months down th...

My trip to the National Videogame Arcade

Jul 24 // Joe Parlock
For a building all about video games, there’s none of the pomp and flash that comes with your normal conventions – no mention of big publishers or upcoming games, the entire affair feels very non-commercial which is a nice change to the normal games-related places I find myself in, and that helps go a way to make gaming more accessible for people who may not be involved in the scene. Instead, many of the games on display are independent, or even built out of wood and paint to be exclusively shown at the NVA. There’s very much a DIY-feel to the place, and according to Iain that’s intentional. There is an emphasis on ensuring guests understand nothing simply magically appears, but instead has effort and work put into it.  For example, there is a game where players must try and hit buttons on a wall to match up items on a screen. The entire thing was built and painted on-site, and is intentionally imperfect to show the work that went into building it. This DIY approach doesn’t only apply to the building, but also to the games on display. Mission Command, a game made exclusively for the Arcade, takes up an entire room. Under the guidance of an NVA staff member, the room spreads out the different parts of game development into different stations, where all the changes made can be seen in real-time on the screen. Set out like a two-player Asteroids, while one person is piloting the ship, another may be designing the ship in real-time using a grid of pixel-like lights off to the side. Behind them, someone might be drawing on a whiteboard an enemy which will then appear on the screen as well. When the room is full, the game being played is practically entirely built by those in the room at that time, and works to teach visitors all about animations, enemy design, physics, and control schemes in a simple way free of techno-babble. According to Iain, the room can become incredibly hectic when full (the arcade was closed on the day I visited, and so was empty), but it still seems like an excellent way to put game development into practice without bogging people down with coding and engines and the usual barriers to entry. Tucked away behind Mission Command was a small, messy room. With toys, skipping ropes, and lots of little plastic bits and bobs strewn across the floor, Room Racers is another example of the NVA’s emphasis on showing the basics of game development in an accessible way. Made to teach people about level design, the aim is to place toys and objects onto the floor to shape a racing track for those playing the game. Put a skipping rope on the ground, and cars projected on the floor won’t be able to drive through them. Smash the car with a tennis racket and they’ll be trapped underneath it. To do it, Room Racers has a PlayStation 3 Eye mounted on the ceiling and maps out the stage using the contrast of the toys on the white surface. Sometimes it doesn’t go entirely according to plan, with glitches and bugs inevitable, but that is apparently just part of the process at the NVA. Should a game or piece of hardware break, Iain said it’s not uncommon for NVA staff members to try and fix it on-site for guests to see just how it’s done and yet again show games aren’t these perfect, randomly occurring things, but instead are made by normal people. The next floor up was something a bit different: the Arcade’s first exhibition, Jump!. The Jump! exhibition was made explicitly to introduce one of the most basic concepts from games in great detail to those who have little experience with them – jumping. The entrance to the exhibition is a wall of screens, each showing characters, such as Mario, Sonic, and a Spelunky character, jumping to explain how different games animate them differently. Inside, there were lots of different playable games revolved around jumping such asCanabalt, but the game I got to play was a small chest of drawers called the Jump-o-Tron. By turning knobs and pushing buttons, I could program a character’s entire jump pattern from the strength to the angle, before sending them on their journey through the sky. According to Iain, Jump-o-Tron is a particularly popular part of the exhibition, with lots of people spending quite some time just watching their jumper fly through the sky. Once they’ve finally hit the ground, a receipt is printed out from the machine with information all about the jump as a small souvenir. Also in the Jump! exhibition was a large wall covered in screens, each showing a different type of jump in action: Double-jumps, wall jumping, single jumps and more are all lined up to show people no two jumps are ever the exact same. Next to it, levels from Sonic and Mario are able to be explored without the pressure of actually playing the game and potentially failing, allowing people to see how the theory guests had just learned applies to real games. It was a really cool way of getting guests to think about some of the more abstract elements of level design after going through games like Room Racer on the previous floor. By showing this behind-the-scenes view of gaming without the barrier to entry we as a gaming community so often forget does exist, Iain hopes the NVA will be able to inspire kids to become game developers. He mentioned how if a kid is interested in football or dance, there are clubs that parents can sign them up to, but for game development there isn’t anything like that. The NVA seems to be about showing people gaming isn’t just being sat in a dark bedroom hammering away at a keyboard, but instead aims to bring the positives and the social aspects of gaming culture to the forefront. The NVA serves as a springboard to convince parents and the general public that there is an actual industry and careers available in making games. Despite all this, there is still something to be appreciated about seeing a hobby you’ve poured years of your life into laid out so simply. Even though I know full well what a jump is, or how a level is designed, seeing it all put so clearly and interactively still made me think about games in a way I’ve never really done before. So when I say the NVA does aim some of its stuff towards non-gaming guests, don’t take that to mean it’s not for people who like games. It provides a new perspective on the medium, which is really important. Of course, there is stuff that seems like it’s for a more dedicated gaming audience too. Up on the third floor is an exhibition called “A History of Videogames in 100 Objects”. Lining the walls of the room are a series of glass cabinets filled with memorabilia and oddities from gaming’s short history. Sega Saturns, test builds of the PlayStation 2, and even Hideo Kojima’s old Konami business card can all be seen. I have to admit I did spend a fair amount of time geeking out in that room. Iain explained to me it isn’t the 100 most important bits of gaming history, but is instead trying to show a more complete and widespread view of the medium and the culture surrounding it. Many of the items have been donated by guests and locals, and so it’s one of the most changeable rooms in the arcade – each time, there may be some new items on display. It’s also a really nice way of introducing the history of games to the same people who were just taught what a jump is one floor below. Iain told me that this room is one of the most popular, particularly among adult guests who can spend a long time looking over all of the many different bits and bobs. Also on the third floor is a room full of different controllers and peripherals from gaming’s history, all usable. There’s Donkey Konga bongos, Steel Battalion in all its intimidating glory, and of course my old friend the Street Fighter arcade stick. It’s meant to be a way to show guests the many ways they can interact with games, but it also doubles as an extra room to nerd out over for those into gaming. All in all, I had a really great time at the NVA. While a lot of the arcade is aimed more towards people who have little experience with games, it was absolutely brilliant being able to just enjoy and be impressed by games as a medium without the hype, the advertising, and the pomp that comes with your more standard game conventions. It’s a place that felt really optimistic about games. It wants to inspire people to be creative and get involved in the scene, run by people who are clearly knowledgeable about games too: Minecraft weekends and FIFA tournaments take place there, as well as indie developers coming to show their games in a Toast Bar, all in an environment which is accessible to “outsiders” really makes the National Videogame Arcade feel like a cultural hub for games rather than your standard arcade. They’re planning on altering and adding to the venue the coming months and years, but for the few months it’s been open, I was really impressed by what I saw. If you’re interested in visiting the National Videogame Arcade, please visit their website. Take your Gran and watch her totally wreck you on a Nidhogg arcade cabinet.
National Videogame Arcade photo
Guest starring my blurry camera
Last week, I was given a tour of the National Videogame Arcade in Nottingham, England by the Director, Iain Simons. Going in, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. I knew it wasn’t your bog-standard arcade with T...

Video game movies to watch this weekend instead of Pixels

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

Review: Onechanbara Z2: Chaos

Jul 22 // Kyle MacGregor
Onechanbara Z2: Chaos (PlayStation 4)Developer: Tamsoft CorporationPublisher: XSEED GamesMSRP: $39.99 (digital), $49.99 (retail)Released: July 22, 2015  Onechanbara Z2: Chaos, being the direct sequel to a game that never released on western shores, has a story that isn't easy to follow. Jumping into the adventure essentially in media res, you have to play a bit of catch-up, piecing together morsels of dialogue with information from loading screens and the accompanying art book to really get a good feel for what's going on here. In short, familiar faces Aya and Saki aren't exactly the best of friends with newcomers Kagura and Saaya. Coming from rival clans, Banefuls and Vampirics, the duos crossed swords in the prequel, but now find themselves forging an unlikely alliance to stem a worldwide zombie outbreak. The ensuing adventure isn't exactly riveting, but the localization team at XSEED did its best to ham up an otherwise banal scenario. Combat is clearly the main attraction here, which is an area where the series has made some progress since its last appearance in the West. The combat system is straightforward, but has a few wrinkles to it. In the beginning, the game essentially instructs the player to button mash, suggesting you hammer on the square and triangle buttons and see what works. A full list of attacks and combos can be found in the menus, more of which can be unlocked between missions and mastered in practice mode. Of course, the series' trademark blood meter returns. As you dispatch zombies, weapons will get progressively more crimson, necessitating periodic cleaning to remain effective. On the other side of the coin, enough carnage will send characters into a frenzy, causing a spike in offensive power at the cost of gradually diminishing health. You need to pay attention, lest suffer the consequences. The four protagonists can be tagged in and out of battle anytime, which players can use to their advantage in a number of ways. One character can set up a combo for another, and since all of them have vastly different movesets, this freedom opens up a lot of possibilities. For example, one of my favorite things to do was lock a group of enemies in one of Saaya's lengthy chainsaw attacks, then bring in another character to perform a devastating double team maneuver. Sadly, the solid mechanics are wasted on an ecosystem that isn't treated with anywhere near the same level of care. Onechanbara Z2: Chaos has a linear and repetitive mission structure that funnels players through corridors and locks them into arenas at regular intervals. In these arenas you'll need to kill every last zombie, as they respawn ad nauseam, until you're allowed to pass. Most of the enemies don't pose a threat on their own, but instead rely on sheer numbers to impose any sort of challenge. A lone zombie often won't attack for seconds at a time. They can also get hung up on terrain or spawn outside the combat zone, which leads to a frustrating mini-game of sorts where you're forced to play hide and seek with stragglers in order to proceed. This is exacerbated by the fact that basic grunts can blend in with their environments. The visuals are all over the place, ranging from pretty decent to downright abysmal, with the zombie hordes and background graphics obviously falling on the low end of the totem pole. The character designs and accompanying sexual fan service are on the other end of the spectrum. There are a variety of lewd outfits players can unlock, or purchase in the case of the shameless "Strawberries & Banana DLC costume," in which the heroines might as well be nude. It's pretty disheartening this is where Tamsoft decided to focus its efforts, rather than to improve the core game. This game feels like it has tunnel vision; it's a product where some aspects of the experience are given incredible attention to detail, while others feel like they were lifted from something found in a PS2-era bargain bin. Just as often as I found myself enjoying Z2:Chaos for its pulsing soundtrack or slick combat, there were times where it embarrassed, aggravated, or bored me to tears. Onechanbara Z2: Chaos could have been decent, but it seems content to revel in mediocrity. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Review: Onechanbara Z2 photo
Flirting with progress
Onechanbara Z2: Chaos is a game that wraps its identity around sex and violence like few others. This is, of course, nothing new for the series. Styling itself after exploitation films, Onechanbara has survived for over a dec...

100% Series Retrospective: Batman: Arkham

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

Review: Trials Fusion: Awesome Level Max

Jul 21 // Jordan Devore
Trials Fusion: Awesome Level Max (PC, PlayStation 4 [reviewed], Xbox One)Developer: RedLynxPublisher: UbisoftReleased: July 14, 2015MSRP: $9.99 (DLC) / $39.99 (Full game, Season Pass DLC, and Awesome Level Max) While Ubisoft has spent much of its time talking up "The Awesome Adventure," the group of levels centered on the unlikely duo, that content makes up the minority of Awesome Level Max. It's only short eight levels, one of which is an even-shorter FMX course that has players performing tricks as they fall from space. The other twenty-two levels are a mix of developer and player-made creations. They're far more varied and come packaged under the "RedLynx vs. All-Stars" banner. But back to that unicorn -- it's meant to be ridiculous, silly fun. That may seem obvious, but some people take Trials leaderboards very seriously. Think of this set as something you'll go through once -- maybe a few times more, tops, to get better medals -- and never touch again. The scenery is a change of pace, especially from the core game's offerings. Level layouts aren't particularly memorable or challenging, and I suspect most dedicated players will be able to breeze past them, crashing only because the path ahead wasn't clear enough the first time through. The seventh track culminates in a boss battle, if you can even call it that, against a penguin inside a mech. There are pixelated cats, for some reason. You literally win the fight by balancing on the machine's helmet. I didn't know what to expect for the conclusion, but it sure wasn't that. Weird stuff. It's also worth noting that the unicorn and cat are locked out of other tracks aside from Supercross. [embed]296414:59632:0[/embed] The RedLynx vs. All-Stars side of the DLC is far more fulfilling. For one, it represents a better range of difficulty. Clearing the first checkpoint in the two new Extreme tracks felt like an accomplishment, as it should. I haven't managed to finish either of them yet, and that pleases me. One concern going in was that there would be an inconsistency between the player-created courses and the ones RedLynx designed. I didn't find that to be the case at all. If they weren't labeled separately, I'm not certain I'd be able to tell the levels apart. One takes place in a computer. Another is reminiscent of Limbo's shadowy, saw-filled world. Too many tracks employ lava but, on the whole, this bundle has exactly the variety I missed in the often bland base version of Trials Fusion. Folks who skipped the season pass but want more Trials in the vein of Trials HD and Evolution should consider downloading Awesome Level Max. It's a little on the easy side, but I appreciate RedLynx for trying new ideas and bringing back more of its unusual personality. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Trials Fusion DLC review photo
Just go with it
Why would Trials Fusion drop its motorbikes for a gun-toting cat on a unicorn? Because it's funny. The touchy controls transfer to your new ride, so when you inevitably lose balance, the quadruped will start hoofing it on two legs. If you're anything like me, you'll burst out in laughter.

Review: Tembo the Badass Elephant

Jul 20 // Chris Carter
Tembo the Badass Elephant (PC, PS4 [reviewed], Xbox One)Developer: Game FreakPublisher: SegaReleased: July 21, 2015MSRP: $14.99 Tembo has a rather short little setup, and from there, doesn't really give you any further exposition until the very end. What you see is what you get in essence, which is a Rambo-inspired elephant laying waste to an enemy dictator, who controls the Phantom Force army. It sports a charming little visual style that reminds me of Regular Show and a few other Cartoon Network properties. It even has effects like a literal "BADA BADA" phrase appearing while dashing about, and despite the low key setup it's a very bright and loud game, mostly in an endearing way. The basic gist is that you'll be able to jump, dash, and float in the air momentarily like Yoshi, with the added ability to shoot water from your trunk. More advanced moves involve uppercuts, slides, butt stomps, and a cannonball dive spin with a bounce. As you progress you'll start to learn more nuances, almost like you're fitting Tembo through various keyholes with your moveset. There are no real explicit puzzles, but it sure feels puzzle-esque if you're going for flawless runs. For instance, select levels can be completed without losing any momentum whatsoever, and it's a blast to dash, dive-kick, and slide your way through the entire thing. There's even a modified charge that you can utilize by holding down the water button, which can put out flames while running. It's pretty much the perfect amount of depth, allowing newcomers to pick up and play Tembo while giving hardcore platforming fans room to experiment a bit. [embed]296063:59600:0[/embed] The level design is fairly open-ended, tasking you with finding hidden civilizations scattered across the map, and killing as many enemies as possible -- both of which have separate goals that are tracked. Mini-bosses and a few full-on Big Bads are peppered into progression, but I would consider it more of a traditional platformer than a real action game -- especially with how muted and easy these encounters are. There's many more instances of timing and running than fighting, which is something you mostly happen to do while jumping around. Game Freak keeps things exciting with hazards, well-placed enemies, and lots of explosions, which will keep you on your toes constantly. Tembo has 17 stages, which last a few hours -- if you play very well, that is. Now, here's where my big holdup is with Tembo -- gating. In order to progress past certain stages, you need to kill a certain amount of enemies. Each stage has a death counter of sorts, which requires you to rescue most of the civilians trapped within a level, as well as actually seek out and defeat most of the enemy forces. It incentivizes actually killing foes, which is neat, but it ultimately ends up causing frustration and forcing players to replay levels over and over. While it is cool that levels do split off into branching paths, several of them have points of no return. If you happen to just choose a particular path, you may be locked out of say, 50 kill points or so -- which can easily be the difference between unlocking new levels and being forced to replay. It's maddening in some cases, and at one point I was held back by six points. Now, I did like returning to some levels to try to "master" them per se, but that should be a player choice -- not something that gates main story progression. Tembo the Badass Elephant is a really enjoyable game at its core, but it can get tiring to replay the same stage five times over just to grind out a few kills to see the next set of levels. It's an odd design choice for sure, but most of you will probably enjoy dashing through unsuspecting Phantom Soldiers and butt stomping them into oblivion regardless. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Badass Elephant review photo
They drew first blood
When someone told me that the developer of Pokemon was creating an action platformer called Tembo the Badass Elephant, I knew I had to give it a shot. While a few of the design choices are a bit odd, they don't overshadow the sum of its parts.

$5 Fallout 3 GOTY and Metro Redux titles

Jul 18 // Dealzon
Top Deals 14" Lenovo Y40-80 Laptop, i5-5200U, R9 M275, 8GB — $599  Two $50 PlayStation Network Codes — $85 Two $50 Xbox Gift Codes — $85 Green Man Gaming 2015 Summer Sale <- day 10 added below PSN Flash Sale GMG Summer Sale Use coupon DEALZO-NGMGSA-LESVVC <- derp forgot to mention this earlier Fighting Games Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds (Steam) — $4.80  (list price $12) Asskickers (Steam) — $4  (list price $10) Kiai Resonance (Steam) — $3.20  (list price $5) Skullgirls Deals (Steam) — $3  (list price $15) Titan Quest Deals (Steam) — $2.40  (list price $15) Ace of Spades (Steam) — $2.40  (list price $15) Vanguard Princess Deals (Steam) — $2  (list price $5) Fallout Fallout 3: GOTY Edition (Steam) — $5.44  (list price $20) Fallout: New Vegas (Steam) — $2  (list price $10) Fallout 2: A Post Nuclear RPG (Steam) — $2  (list price $10)   Metro Metro Redux Bundle (Steam) — $8  (list price $50) Metro Last Light Redux (Steam) — $5  (list price $25) Metro 2033 Redux (Steam) — $5  (list price $25) Borderlands Tales from the Borderlands (Telltale) — $13.40  (list price $25) Borderlands 2: Game of the Year Edition (Steam) — $8  (list price $40) Borderlands Game of the Year Edition (Steam) — $5.99  (list price $30) Recent Releases 07/14: Crusader Kings II: Horse Lords (Steam) — $12  (list price $15) 07/14: EA SPORTS Rory McIlroy PGA Tour (Xbox One) — $49.99  (list price $60) 06/23: Batman: Arkham Knight (PS4) — $49.99  (list price $60) Upcoming Releases 07/21: F1 2015 (Steam) — $39.49  (list price $60) 08/04: Rare Replay + $15 eGift Card (Xbox One) — $29.99  (list price $30) PC Game Deals The Witcher III: Wild Hunt (DRM-Free) — $29.99  (list price $60) Wasteland 2 (PC/Mac Download) — $19.99  (list price $40) <- GOG cheaper than GMG Pillars of Eternity Hero Edition (Steam) — $18.95  (list price $45) Unreal Series (DRM-Free) — $7.96  (list price $40) Saints Row IV - Game of the Century Edition (Steam) — $7.49  (list price $30) Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag (Uplay) — $7.49  (list price $30) Don't Starve (PC/Mac Download) — $4.99  (list price $15) Psychonauts (PC/Mac Download) — $2.49  (list price $10) Used Console Game Sale Battlefield: Hardline (Used, Xbox One, PS4) — $29.99  (list $50) Evolve (Used, PS4, Xbox One) — $12.99  (list price $60) PS4 DmC Devil May Cry: Definitive Edition (PS4 - Used) — $24.99  (list $40) Dynasty Warriors 8 Xtreme Legends Complete (PS4 - Used) — $19.99 LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham (PS4 - Used) — $17.99  (list price $60) Knack (PS4 - Used) — $17.99  (list price $40) Bound by Flame (PS4 - Used) — $14.99  (list price $30) Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes (PS4 Used) — $8.99  (list price $20) Xbox One Dead or Alive 5: Last Round (Xbox One - Used) — $24.99  (list price $40) LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham (Xbox One - Used) — $24.99  (list $60) NHL 15 (Xbox One - Used) — $24.99  (list price $30) Amazing Spider-Man 2 (Xbox One - Used) — $17.99  (list price $60) Dragon Age: Inquisition (Xbox One - Used) — $17.99  (list price $60) Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved (Xbox One - Used) — $17.99  (list price $40) UFC (Xbox One - Used) — $14.99  (list price $30) Wolfenstein: The New Order (Xbox One) — $14.99  (list price $23) Shape Up (Xbox One - Used) — $14.99  (list price $60) Bladestorm: Nightmare (Xbox One Used) — $14.99  (list price $60) Fighter Within (Xbox One - Used) — $12.99  (list price $40) Just Dance 2014 (Xbox One - Used) — $12.99  (list price $50) The Walking Dead: Complete First Season (XOne - Used) — $12.99  (list $30) Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag (Xbox One - Used) — $8.99  (list price $30) Laptop Deals 17" Lenovo Y70 Touch i7-4710HQ, GTX 860M, 8GB — $979.99  (list $1,450) 15.6" Asus i7-4700HQ, 8GB, GT 850M, 1080p Touch — $749.99  (list $1,100) 15.6" Lenovo Z51 i7-5500U, 8GB, Radeon R9 M375, 1080p — $699  (list $1,080) HDTV Deals 55" Samsung 4K LED TV + Wireless Sound Bar + $100 Visa Gift Card — $1,097.99 50" Sceptre LED HDTV — $299.99  32" Vizio LED HDTV (Refurbished) — $149.99  <- a TV for the bathroom!? Hardware Deals Xbox One Assassin's Creed: Unity Bundle — $319.99  (list price $400) Samsung 850 EVO SSD 2.5" 250GB — $89.99  (list price $150) Sandisk SSD Plus 2.5" 240GB — $79.99  (list price $110) Seagate Expansion 3TB External Hard Drive — $79.99  (list price $130) Game deals from Dealzon. Sales from certain retailers help support Destructoid.
Weekend deals photo
Just give us 4 already
GMG's Summer Sale turns day nine and with it comes a batch of post-apocalyptic games. Because if there's one thing human like to do -- it's make believe everything has gone to poo. Fallout 3 GOTY turns $5.44 while New Vegas i...

Review: Odallus: The Dark Call

Jul 16 // Jed Whitaker
Odallus: The Dark Call (PC)Developer: JoyMasherPublisher: JoyMasherMSRP: $14.99Released: July 15, 2015 Haggis's son has been taken by darkness, his village has been set ablaze, and his Gods have abandoned him, so he does what any father would do in this situation, brandish a sword and go on a killing spree. Along the way Haggis picks up axes, spears and torches to add to his arsenal of demon-dispatching weaponry; axes go in a straight line and torches ignite the ground much like throwing knives and holy water from Castlevania respectively. These sub weapons can be found and replenished via various chests along the way or at shops set up throughout the land in exchange for orbs enemies drop. Knowing when to use these sub weapons are key to success in Odallus, especially at the start of the journey as your sword is rather weak in comparison. Certain enemies and obstacles fall faster to sub weapons.  A weapon bag dictates how many of each weapon can be carried, luckily it can be upgraded by finding upgrades hidden throughout the landscape. Health, sword, and armor upgrades can also be found hidden in hard to reach places. Odallus is anything but hard as I was able to breeze through it in just over four hours. Health is carried over between levels, only being refreshed by finding health pickups in chests or by purchasing them at shops. Lives can be purchased at shops but there is little reason to as running out only causes you to restart the current level at the beginning instead of the latest checkpoint. The only real difficult part of the game is the final boss whose attack pattern was seemingly random and extremely cheap: the only way I was able to defeat him was to be equally cheap and abuse the final armor upgrades and their ability to make myself invulnerable for a brief moment while spamming attacks. Bosses in general are pretty easy, having predictable patterns and falling quickly to sub weapons or upgraded swords which is a shame because they all look so cool, mostly like hellish H. R. Giger creations. I found myself purposefully not being aggressive in boss fights just so I could see what attacks the bosses had in their arsenals. Like the bosses, many of the levels look awesome, even if some of them rely on Castlevania tropes such as a burning village or a dark forest. Graphically Odallus looks like an NES game, which isn't a bad thing, as the game honestly feels like a spiritual successor to the NES Castlevania games. While there are some commonplace level locations for this type of game, there are also some that mix up the formula a bit such as underwater levels and even a mine cart level. Riding in a mine cart, ducking stalactites, and jumping over other mine carts and gaps in the track are just as fun as they were in Donkey Kong Country, albeit a bit easier. The underwater levels play generally the same as the other levels, though jumping gets a bit of additional height. Jumping higher underwater when wearing armor may not make much sense, but it doesn't take away from the experience.  Each level has multiple paths to progression, though a lot of times they end up looping back to where they started in clever ways that prevent the need for backtracking. If you're like me and you always wonder which path you should go and worry about missing something, Odallus is pretty good about making sure you end up back in that area for one reason or another.   One thing I've never liked about metroidvania style games is the tedious, boring backtracking that is forced upon you if you're a completionist. Luckily here you're able to use a Ghosts 'n Goblins-esque map to jump between levels. The level selection screen also provides details on how many secrets are left to collect, if the boss is alive, and if you've unlocked the alternate routes. No levels are really secret as they are marked on the map when you unlock the levels that they can be accessed from. I had to repeat a couple of levels maybe two times to clean up on some secrets I'd missed, but for the most part your time isn't wasted to try to artificially extend the playtime.  Traversing levels at first feel mostly like a classic platformer; You have one jump, and getting hit knocks you back a bit, but unlike those games of old there are no bottomless instant-kill pits to be found. While cheap deaths plagued classic Castlevania games making them "NES hard," I was very pleased Odallus didn't follow in their footsteps. Another nice feature is the ability to grab ledges and pull yourself up; this leads to some interesting platforming and puzzles that I won't spoil here. Eventually you'll gain the ability to double jump, dash, and perform other actions to help you blaze through levels, though this is late into the game. Typically I'm team whip, but Odallus goes team sword and it feels great. Slicing enemies into pieces doesn't feel much different than using a whip, what is different though is the ability to parry an enemy's projectiles. Hitting a fireball or other projectile out of the air with a sword just feels awesome, Odallus definitely rewards aggressive play.  The entirety of the story plays out in an opening cutscene, hidden collectible runes, boss dialogue, and an ending cutscene. There are a few instances where the localization seemed a bit off on grammar, but it wasn't unintelligible. Just like the visuals, the music is very much NES-inspired. While the chiptune music is all right it certainly isn't as catchy as the music found in actual games available for the NES. Sound effects are seemingly more Genesis-influenced, as they sound more realistic and are often times brief voice clips much like Splatterhouse's effects. Odallus does nothing extraordinary in the audio department but what it does do works well enough. Only lasting four easy-to-complete hours and having a few minor localization issues are really the only hangups I had with Odallus, which aren't all that bad. Though JoyMasher has promised that a harder veteran mode will be made available in a few weeks, I just wish it were included at launch as this was a rare case of game being a bit too easy. Regardless of a few minor gripes, Odallus: The Dark Call is a worthy addition to any metroidvania fan's library and is worth the asking price. Do yourself a favor and play it. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Odallus Review photo
The best Castlevania game in years
JoyMasher, the Brazilian team behind Odallus: The Dark Call doesn't have a ton of games under its belt, but that doesn't mean it can't produce quality content. Somehow the developer has done something Konami hasn't ...

Dead Island 2 photo
Still doing Dead Island 2
Deep Silver has announced it is parting ways with Dead Island 2 developer Yager (Spec Ops: The Line). Just a few months ago, Deep Silver delayed the game into 2016 over quality concerns. The publisher made this announcement w...

Review: Rocket League

Jul 14 // Zack Furniss
Rocket League (PlayStation 4 [reviewed], PC)Developer: PsyonixPublisher: PsyonixMSRP: $19.99Released: July 7, 2015 Rocket League is Psyonix's follow-up to Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars, which had entirely too many hyphens. By dropping the hyphens and making every facet of their concept as simple and accessible as possible, they've made something undoubtedly focused. You are a car, and you must knock a large ball into the opposing team's goal. It never gets more complicated than that. You can play one on one (though I can't imagine that'd be terribly fun), or up to four on four with players around the world or bots. There are different modes available: Exhibition is for local games with four-player split-screen or bots, Season allows you to set up consecutive bot matches over complete with playoffs, and Training teaches you the basics of movement. Starting with Training is a swell, yet ultimately unnecessary idea since you'll have a feel for the driving by the end of your first match. You can accelerate, reverse, jump, double-jump, and boost all over the field and it all feels crunchy and responsive in the best way. The arenas all have just the right amount of friction to feel like you're completely in control of your vehicle at all times. When you try to boost into the ball to score a goal and you careen right past it, you have no one to blame but yourself. The perfectly-tuned controls lend themselves to a desire to acquire mastery, a feeling that seems rare as of late. If you master one skill, proper use of boosting is the one to pick. Since boost juice is finite, you have to drive over boost pads to keep it topped off. Whether you use said juice to dart from the goalie to position to attempt a risky goal or you boost long enough to crash into someone to temporarily destroy them, you'll learn to love judiciously tapping and holding that circle button. Exploding a member of the opposing team only takes them out for a second but can be a viable strategy when things get hectic. While you can play with four players per team, it tends to be too chaotic. You'd think with more players that one person would designate themselves as the goalie, but instead each person gets caught up in an offensive. With a dedicated team it'd probably be a viable mode, but I was playing mostly pick-up games. 3 on 3 seems like the definite sweet spot and is recommended when playing online. Since Rocket League has cross-platform play between the PlayStation 4 and PC, I was always able to find a match within a minute or two. The loading screens are always brief so it's a little too easy to find yourself starting up another match even after telling yourself it's 2 in the morning and you need to texture a patch of drywall tomorrow (that's a normal thing, right?). There's also a carrot on a stick to keep you playing in the form of car customizations. By playing well, you can enter the garage to customize your car's body type, decal, paint job, wheels, boost trail color, antenna, and topper. I rocked a pirate hat on my little pick-up truck for the majority of my matches. These are all purely cosmetic so as not to distort game balance. It would take quite awhile to unlock all customizations, but they're a nice little bonus for the already fun core gameplay. There are seven arenas (though a few of them are the same, with different weather) that are all gorgeous. Watching your little car zip over billowing grass as it rains down on you all in a crisp, smooth frame rate is more aesthetically pleasing than you'd expect from soccer car smash fusion. Though I sort of expected different obstacles or boost pad placement on each arena, I ended up appreciating that these changes are only cosmetic. You always know exactly what you're playing with. I didn't go in expecting much from Rocket League since I'm usually not a huge fan of driving and sports games. Instead of walking away with a confirmed bias, Psyonix's laser-focused concept gave me something fun to whip out the next time I have friends over. I imagine with a bunch of awful beer and willing companions, we'll have a great time. What's next, will I enjoy a game that mixes Metroids and Soccer? We'll see. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Rocket League review photo
I will only call it 'soccar' once
A good chunk of today's onslaught of complex games has convoluted controls, alienating lore, and feature creep that can sometimes be overwhelming. Every so often, a developer comes along and makes something that just seems nice and digestible -- no need to research the best character build or wiki-scan to catch up on the plot. And sometimes that tasty little morsel is a driving/soccer sandwich.

Review: Batman: Arkham Knight - Batgirl: A Matter of Family

Jul 14 // Chris Carter
Batman: Arkham Knight - Batgirl: A Matter of Family (PC, PS4, Xbox One [reviewed])Developer: WB Games MontrealPublisher: Warner Bros.MSRP: $6.99Released: July 14, 2015 (for Season Pass holders) / July 21, 2015 (wide release) The Batmobile takes a backseat this time in favor of a tale told entirely from Barbara Gordon's perspective before the events of Arkham Knight. WB just couldn't resist the chance to bring The Joker back yet again, and it uses every opportunity to let you know that this is his DLC without really having him do all that much. In other more exciting news, Harley Quinn is back, but with her red and black Animated Series get-up for the first time in the Arkham games. It looks great. All of the action takes place in the Seagate Amusement Park, which can be thought of as a tiny little sandbox that hosts the new DLC area. The Joker has captured Jim Gordon, and it's up to Barbara (and Robin) to save the day. Family kicks things off with a by-the-book Dual Play combat session, then it's off to free roam for Batgirl. For the most part (like all the other playable characters so far), Batgirl operates just like Batman -- she even has identical detective vision. Combat is relatively the same, and even though WB Montreal notes that she's "weaker" than Bruce, it doesn't really feel that way at all. It's very cool grappling about with Robin, but other than the use of a new type of gadget (advanced hacking), it's the tried and true Arkham formula. In Family, Barbara can use her remote hacking device as a "catch-all" basically, to do all sorts of things like short-circuit devices or manipulate objects. Think of it like a super gadget that can do a lot. It's presumably done so you don't have to micro-manage all of Bats' tools all over again, and to give Batgirl a slightly different feel. Here's the thing -- it does work at a base level, mostly because it distills the experience down to a lot of the good bits, and takes away the pesky forced Batmobile sessions. In other ways it feels limited, as you're stripped of most of those wonderful toys. [embed]295688:59441:0[/embed] None of the environments are particularly memorable outside of a nice little cameo I found in a water tank (in fact, most zones are even less interesting than the random spots you'll find in Gotham proper), but the linear format isn't jarring, either. That's mostly because of the fact that the DLC is so short. Normally that would be fine, but the story never really goes anywhere until the very end. Even then, it feels like a footnote rather than an impactful part of the overall narrative. In terms of length, it's meatier than the Harley DLC, but not by much. You can complete the main story in roughly an hour, and sort out all of the other collectibles in another 30 minutes. What I would have really loved to see is a full-roam option with Red Hood, Harley, and Batgirl (I mean, the models are already in the game with grappling and combat animations), but it's not meant to be -- the latter is still confined to her tiny add-on area. There are eight Achievements/Trophies though if you're into that sort of thing. Warner Bros. is really employing an odd strategy with Batman: Arkham Knight's post-launch content and the relatively expensive $40 Season Pass. All that's been revealed so far beyond a bunch of throwaway content (skins, races) is a handful of bite-sized episodes such as this; it's a far cry from the competent Cold, Cold Heart add-on for Arkham Origins last year. While A Matter of Family may be worth it for hardcore Batgirl fans, WB will have to do a lot better than this to justify the cost of the pass. [This review is based on a retail build of the DLC purchased by the reviewer.]
Batman DLC review photo
The Killing DLC
Enough time has passed for me to make a solid judgement on Batman: Arkham Knight. For the most part, I agree with the sentiments expressed in Steven's review of the core game -- Rocksteady tried too hard in many respects, and...

Review: Deception IV: The Nightmare Princess

Jul 14 // Chris Carter
Deception IV: The Nightmare Princess (PS3, PS4 [reviewed], Vita)Developer: Tecmo KoeiPublisher: Tecmo KoeiMSRP: $49.99 (PS4)Released: July 14, 2015 Since the core experience hasn't changed all that much, head to the original review to get a full breakdown of the main mechanics. The gist is that you'll be controlling a character that, for all intents and purposes, can't attack on their own, and must rig an elaborate combination of traps to do their dirty work for them. You'll do this by pausing the game, bringing up a menu, and placing a number of wall, ceiling, and floor traps that can be used with one another for maximum mayhem. For instance, you can hold an enemy in place with a beartrap, shock them with a wall taser, then drop a giant boulder on their head from the ceiling. It's glorious. So before you get confused, The Nightmare Princess is an all-new SKU that includes everything in the original package on top of another story with 100 quests, a new character with a different moveset, and a "Studio" mode so you can create your own scenarios. The extra campaign is easily the new draw, and I have to say, newcomer Velguirie holds her own here. Her tale runs concurrently with Laegrinna's and doesn't feel tacked-on in the slightest. 100 new quests also isn't really anything to shake a stick at either, though it must be said that there's only a few new zones (which are rather small), as some quests re-use old areas from the base game. The second campaign does stand up on its own, and even playing both stories back to back, they didn't overstay their individual welcomes. Velguirie's big gimmick is that she can kick enemies now -- something no other protagonist was able to do in the history of the franchise. [embed]295432:59487:0[/embed] But it's important to put things into perspective here. She can't just karate-kick bad guys into oblivion with flashy combos. It's a simple timed kick on a cooldown that can be used to tactically slot foes into position for traps (or stomp them on the ground), which are still going to do the real legwork here. It's not a game-changer, but again, the story, bonus traps, and the new character design themselves are enough to carry another playthrough. Yep, I said bonus traps, including a deadly toilet, a bolt of lightning, a wardrobe that eats armor, and sticky flooring. At this point there are so many trap combos at your disposal that you're only limited by your imagination.  You'll get to test your inner demon plenty with the Studio mode, the other big addition in Nightmare Princess. Here, you can create enemies with various custom parts and name them, placing each creation inside an existing arena. You can craft fun scenarios like battling the entire Justice League, and even download or upload them online for all to see. It's not as expansive as I would have liked, but the fact that you can download new missions every so often is a breakthrough for the series. Keep in mind that your fun is also going to be limited by how many actual parts you have, which are unlocked by completing both campaigns. Here's the bad news for those of you who already bought the original. While the new story is enjoyable and the Studio is fun to mess around with, you aren't getting a substantial new expansion to pour over for weeks here. Think of it more like a hefty DLC package. In other words, unless you absolutely love Deception, it probably isn't a good idea to shell out $50 for Nightmare Princess. It's a really weird thing for Koei Tecmo to do, as it could have easily provided an "upgrade" for say, $20, and then released a package version on the side. As it stands, you either have to go all or nothing. At the very least, there is the added bonus of being able to import your old save data, so you don't have to complete the original campaign all over again to reap the unlock benefits. Deception IV: The Nightmare Princess is in a really weird spot, but here's the rub -- as a Deception enthusiast, I was more than happy enough to take Velguirie's story for a spin, and I found myself beating the original game again as well as creating a few levels in the Studio. Just know exactly what you're getting into with Nightmare and make an informed decision. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Deception IV review photo
Hardcore trappers only
I really liked the original release of Deception IV. It was refreshing to see the series get another lease on life after taking a hiatus with Trapt all the way back in 2005, and newcomer Laegrinna fit right in. This...

Satoru Iwata photo
May he rest in peace
It's a sad day for the video game world. Nintendo president Satoru Iwata passed away yesterday at 55 years of age. The cause of his unfortunate death was a bile duct growth. Nintendo announced the news with a brief one-senten...

Review: Nekoburo: Cats Block

Jul 12 // Jed Whitaker
Nekoburo - Cats Block (PS Vita, PlayStation TV [Reviewed])Developer: F K Digital Publisher: Neko EntertainmentMSRP: $7.99Released: July 7, 2015 Square alien cats made of electrical waves are passing the Earth when a solar storm strikes, knocking them to the planet. One of the cats gets found by a human female who takes him home and treats him nicely, so he decides to summon his pals through her television to join him living with his new servant. If this somehow related to the gameplay other than featuring said cats, it was never apparent.  Levels consist of a standard falling from the top of the screen match three mechanic, three cats fall from the top of the screen that can be moved left to right and be reordered on a tilted playing field. Each level has a specific quest such as clearing a certain number of cats of a certain color within a timelimit, or surviving for a set amount of time while cats drop quickly. Matching three or more cats of the same color in a horizontal, vertical or diagonal line will clear them. Clearing cats also fills up a meter that grants items that help clear the board such as horizontal and vertical bombs, a grid warp that clears a set of nine surrounding blocks, clearing all cats of a single color and a rainbow block that clears the entire board.  [embed]295827:59475:0[/embed] Acquiring these items and knowing when to use them are an important part of the game, as each level seemingly has a specific way to complete it. For example, one level has what look to be tofu blocks slowly advancing from the bottom of the screen that can only be cleared with items or clearing cats in horizontal lines. In this level the only real way to complete the level is to constantly build up and use items to keep the middle of the screen cleared, as the middle is the only area that can cause a failure, the other rows don't matter and stack up past the edges of the level with no repurrrrrrcussions. The levels are laid out in such a way that it forces you to learn the mechanics of the game with no hand holding. One level may require so many vertical bombs to be used to clear it, thus teaching you how to effectively use them, another may require rainbow blocks be detonated which is extremely important in later levels.  After every 10 levels a new cat will materialize through the TV in the human's house, in tow with its own personality, background information and colorful comic. Unfortunately the dialogue and background information is so poorly localized it is basically incomprehensible. I've played a lot of poorly localized games in my day -- looking at you Zero Wing -- but this one was easily the worst. Here are two examples of the awfully translated text: "He hope to become an charming men as chocolate," and "Even though fiery rude, he have sense of justice. He did something that against the grain with him, because think to much."  Nekoburo isn't exactly a hard game as it is random -- or more specifically, the difficulty is mostly due to the random generation of the falling cat blocks. Sometimes, exactly what is required to complete a level will spawn, other times you'll have to work for it. This isn't specific to any level though, so it isn't like the levels are specifically designed to spawn cats in a certain way, at least it seems that way on the surface level. Multiple attempts at the same level will eventually yield positive results, allowing level completion, other times the game just seems to be against you. Though this is the case with most puzzle games, so it isn't exactly a new problem with the genre -- it's just worse here. Between levels you can customize the apartment with furniture, and play with the cats with toys, both of which are unlocked by completing certain goals attached to them. While the cats are uber cute, this portion of the game left much to be desired; the furniture can't be moved, and the toys aren't exactly fun to play with more than once. One of the toys is turning on the TV for the cats to watch, the screen just lights up white as the cats sit there, not what I'd call a toy or entertaining.  The story mode can be completed in around six or seven hours, mostly due to trial and error. A survival mode is unlocked around half way through the story mode that is just an endless mode that increases in difficulty, much like marathon mode in Tetris. As there are no online leaderboards and the furniture is little more than pallet swaps there is little reason to continue playing once the story mode is finished unless you're a completionist.  The best thing about Nekoburo: Cats Block is the art style; everything is bright, colorful and super adorable, but take that away and you're left with a generic, poorly translated puzzle game with a tilted playing field that doesn't compliment gameplay. Nekoburo is certainly not the cat's meow.  [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Nekoburo Review photo
Pussies
I love pussies, my dad loves pussies and my Grand Peppers loved pussies before he met his untimely demise on that trampoline -- RIP Grand Peppers may you continue to love pussies in the afterlife. But, we are all fluent in th...

$8 Dishonored GOTY in day numero dos of GMG Summer Sale

Jul 11 // Dealzon
GMG Summer Sale Day 2 Use coupon: DEALZO-NGMGSA-LESVVC Dishonored & Doom Dishonored: GOTY Edition (Steam) — $8.16  (list price $30) <- free mystery game Dishonored (Steam) — $4  (list price $20) Doom 3: BFG Edition (Steam) — $4  (list price $20) Doom Classic Complete (Steam) — $3  (list price $15) FPS Goodies Half-Life & Counter Strike Series Shadow Warrior (Steam) — $4.80  (list price $40) Quake 4 (Steam) — $4  (list price $20) Brink (Steam) — $4  (list price $20) Rise of the Triad (Steam) — $3  (list price $15) Day of Defeat: Source (Steam) — $2  (list price $10) Duke Nukem 3D: Megaton Edition (Steam) — $2  (list price $10) Return to Castle Wolfenstein (Steam) — $2  (list price $10) Shadow Warrior Classic Redux (Steam) — $1.20  (list price $10) More Top Picks Kick-Ass 2 (Steam) — $13.40  (list price $25) DieselStormers (Steam) — $12.16  (list price $19) Primal Carnage: Extinction (Steam) — $8  (list price $20) Chivalry: Medieval Warfare (Steam) — $4  (list price $25) Chivalry: Deadliest Warrior (Steam) — $2.40  (list price $15) Hotline Miami (Steam) — $2  (list price $10) Top Weekend Deals Elite: Dangerous (Steam) — $40.19  (list price $60) <- match Steam Summer Sale The Witcher III: Wild Hunt (DRM-Free) — $29.99  (list price $60) Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin (Steam) — $24.99  (list price $50) Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (Steam) — $22.99  (list price $60) Console Hardware Deals PS4 TLOU Bundle + PS Plus 3 Mo. + Extra Controller — $399.99 Xbox One Halo Master Chief Bundle + $40 Gift Card — $349  (list price $399) PlayStation TV — $39.99  (list price $80) Wii Fit U + Wii Balance Board + Fit Meter — $39.99  (list price $70) Sony Playstation Silver Wired Headset — $19.99  (list price $40) Recent Releases 07/21: F1 2015 (Steam) — $35.49  (list price $55) 06/23: Devil May Cry 4: Special Edition (Steam) — $17.99  (list price $25) 06/23: Batman: Arkham Knight (Xbox One) — $44.99  (list price $60) 06/16: Xbox One 1TB Halo: Master Chief Bundle + $40 Gift Card — $399 PC Game Deals Project Cars (Steam) — $34.99  (list price $50) Far Cry 4 (Uplay) — $23.99  (list price $60) Europa Universalis IV: Conquest Collection (Steam) — $14.99  (list price $60) Spintires (Steam) — $10.49  (list price $30) Metro Redux Bundle (Steam) — $8.99  (list price $45) Zuma's Revenge — FREE  (list price $5) Console Game Deals Battlefield: Hardline (PS3, Xbox One, PS4, Xbox 360) — $39.99  (list price $60) Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin (PS4, Xbox One) — $39.99  (list price $60) Destiny (PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS3) — $19.99  (list price $40) Dragon Age: Inquisition - Pre-owned (Xbox One, PS4) — $17.99  (list price $60) Borderlands 2 (PS3) — $3.99  (list price $15) PS4 MLB 15 The Show (PS4) — $39.99  (list price $60) Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes 2.0 Starter Pack (PS4) — $34.99  (list $60) Lara Croft and The Temple of Osiris (PS4) — $19.99  (list price $30) Madden NFL 25 (PS4) — $14.99  (list price $30) Xbox One The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited (Xbox One) — $44.99  (list price $60) The Witcher III: Wild Hunt (Xbox One) — $44.99  (list price $60) Disney Infinity: Toy Box Starter Pack 2.0 Edition (Xbox One) — $34.99  (list $60) Halo: The Master Chief Collection (Xbox One) — $24.99  (list price $60) Laptop Deals 15.4" Apple MacBook Pro i7-4770HQ, 16GB, 256GB SSD — $1,819  (list $1,999) 15.6" Asus i7-4720HQ, 12GB, GTX 950M, 1080p — $749  (list $1,000) 15.6" Acer Aspire V3 i7-5500U, 8GB, GT 840M, 1080p — $579.99  (list $760) 15.6" Lenovo Z50 i7-4510U, 8GB, 1080p — $499  (list $950) Game deals from Dealzon. Sales from certain retailers help support Destructoid.
Weekend deals photo
Jumpin' good deals
The weekend arrives and GMG's 2015 Summer Sale chugs on to day two. Some decent pickings this round with Dishonored GOTY for only $8 (plus you get a freebie mystery game). Hotline Miami 2 also hit a historic low pri...

Review: Skullgirls 2nd Encore

Jul 11 // Jonathan Holmes
Skullgirls 2nd Encore (PS4 [reviewed], PS Vita)Developers: Lab Zero GamesPublisher: Autum GamesReleased: July 7, 2015 So now that we've established that Skullgirls is great, we can get to the question you're all probably dying for answers about -- what the heck is a 2nd Encore? Well in this case, it's a boost in visual fidelity, tons of newly recorded voice acting, an 882 page virtual art book (with special pin ups by the likes of Chamba, Robaato, and OMOCAT), a few new single player modes, and five and a half new characters that you may have already download for the prior version of the game. If you haven't been keeping up with the Skullgirls DLC as its been released, then 2nd Encore is undoubtedly a worthy purchase for you. If you have been picking them up as they've been periodically put on the market since last year, then the price tag here may not be worth your while. It all depends on how much you care about owning the most complete, clean looking/sounding version of the game, Visually, Skullgirls 2nd Encore looks heaps better on the PS4 than Skullgirls or Skullgirls Encore did on the PS3. The black bars on the top and bottom of the screen are gone, allowing characters to stretch to their proper proportions, and everything looks brighter and sharper. As for sound, every cutscene now has full voice acting, which does a lot to make the game's world feel more alive. As Skullgirls fans already know, the game has a deep, fairly complicated story, filled with around 100 characters big and small. That said, fighting games aren't exactly well known for their vocal performances, but gratefully, the acting here is all top notch, thanks in large part to the direction of Christina Vee.  [embed]295474:59465:0[/embed] As for new modes, there's stuff for both newcomers and veterans alike. The new Survival and Challenge modes are great for old pros who are looking for new ways to tackle the CPU, and the new Trials mode is a great way to learn new combos or brush up on old ones. There's also a new Quick Match CPU mode that lets you do take on the computer without having to sit through any of the pre-fight delays you might find in Arcade or Story mode. That's all well and good, but the real stars of the show here are the new characters. The only true newcomer here is Robo-Fortune. She's a default part of the 2nd Encore package, but has also been released as a free download for those who already own Skullgirls Encore, so she's not exactly exclusive. That doesn't diminish how exciting she is to play though. Robo-Fortune is a great example of what I was saying about how the developers of Skullgirls seem to take the strangeness inherent in fighting games for granted, and as a result, have built upon that strangeness in ways that's filled with next-level weirdness.  Robo-Fortune was original planned to be a remixed version of Ms. Fortune, one of the original members of the Skullgirls roster and the game's resident "cat girl with a detachable head that can attack independently from its body." If that wasn't thought provoking enough for you, Robo-Fortune takes that concept and adds a few levels of surreal to it. She's a robot copy of a cat girl with a detachable head, and she can actually fire her head into the air like a rocket, only to grow a new one in its place. These stack-able, detached robot heads are a major part of her arsenal, along with her Cable-like beam attacks. She's also extremely chatty, which will likely turn off some players, while others are sure to fall in love with her immediately. Her two big catch phrases are "Beep Boop Meow" and "What am I fighting for!?!" These are questions I ask myself every day, which makes it all the more gratifying to see them finally expressed on the big screen by a robot cat woman thing.  The other four and a half other DLC characters (Beowulf, Big Band, Eliza, Squigly, and Filia's semi-clone Fukua) are equally fantastic, so if you missed out on them before, you'd do best to grab them now. It's also worth mentioning that the game is a Cross-Buy purchase, with a PS Vita port coming later this year. It all shapes up to the definitive, and maybe final version of one of the most beautiful, detailed, and passionately developed fighting games in recent memory. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Skullgirls review photo
Hold your applause, the show's not over
Skullgirls is one of my favorite fighting games ever. With an innovative combat engine spearheaded by top tier BlazBlue expert Mike Z, animation direction by Mariel Cartwright, and world and character design by Alex Ahad...

Call of Goldbum photo
DLC...DLC finds...a way
Activision has sent us a great deal of information regarding Call of Duty: Black Ops III's upcoming zombie mode today, revealed at its San Diego Comic-Con panel. For starters, the all-new zombies cast features Jeff Goldblum ...

Review: Spectra

Jul 09 // Brett Makedonski
Spectra (PC [reviewed], Xbox One, iOS, Android, Windows Phone)Developers: Gateway InteractivePublisher: MastertronicReleased: July 10, 2015 For all the things Spectra isn't, it does one thing very very well. The chiptune beats instantly remind of Chipzel's in Super Hexagon -- a game which is renowned for its recognizable and catchy music, and for its addictive qualities. There's a logical explanation for this connection: the music is made by Chipzel. Good as that component predictably is, one can't shake the feeling that the developers put the music too far at the forefront of Spectra. It's tied to the core of the game in such a way that Gateway Interactive actually developed around it. The ten levels are procedurally generated for what's happening with the music. Dynamic (racing) tracks for static (music) tracks. The problem isn't so much with the method, but with the absolute lack of variation in it. Spectra takes place on a winding two-lane road (like a Sheryl Crow song) with hexagonal prisms peppered along the way liberally to serve as obstacles. The entirety of Spectra consists of avoiding those barriers, picking up gold pellets, and ever-so-occasionally hitting a turbo marker that not only boosts speed but a score multiplier too. Technically, that score is probably the main reason to play Spectra. It's heavy on arcade-like qualities in that it asks the player to put up with great repetition in pursuit of leaderboard glory. Unfortunately, the procedural generation makes it so that no one can necessarily hunker down and teach themselves how to dominate the game. [embed]295486:59424:0[/embed] Instead, it emphasizes reaction over pattern recognition, which would be noble if the algorithm didn't often feel as if it spawns too many barriers at once. Sometimes it could very well be impossible to escape those situations unscathed. It's mostly unnoticeable on the earlier levels, but it's all too apparent in the later ones. Hampering those efforts is a control system that's not poor, but just slightly too loose for a game that only asks the player to steer. It's more a complication with the ship's animation than the actual controls. Regardless, it causes the tiniest of disconnects. A reaction-based game on a narrow pathway with thousands of hurdles has no excuse for not giving the player complete control. Spectra seemingly knows it as going off-track often grants a split second mercy window to get back on before plunging into the abyss. Besides score chasing, players may find themselves insistent on simply trying to finish each level. Clocking in around three and a half minutes each, it's no small feat as Spectra lends itself well to temporary concentration lapses causing immediate failure. The track length often seems about a minute too long to sustain any spurts of enjoyment. Even completion is unsatisfying as there's no finish line due to the game being unsure how far you will have made it over the duration of the song; rather than any sort of fanfare, a new screen pops up informing you of your accomplishment. I don't usually rely so literally upon Destructoid's scoring guide when assigning a number for a review, but it feels so apt in the case of Spectra. It's like a boring meal that did nothing more than chew up a little time. It does lack any real flavor. It didn't leave me any different than it found me. It's tolerable, but not anything special. Well, the music is special, but it turns out that Spectra can't stand on the merits of its music alone. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Spectra review photo
Beat it
Spectra isn't a lot of things. It isn't complicated; its mechanics and entire premise can be learned in literally five seconds. It isn't structured; level design is eschewed for procedural generation. It isn't long; an hour of playing will have unlocked all the tracks with plenty of time to retry the many failed ones. Probably most important: it isn't really fun.

Review: Yoshi's Woolly World

Jul 08 // Laura Kate Dale
Yoshi's Woolly World (Wii U)Developer: Good-FeelPublisher: NintendoMSRP: $49.99Release Date: June 26 (EU) / October 16 (NA) Sitting at around 10 hours to complete, Yoshi's Woolly World is a delightful journey through a world full of pleasantly enjoyable surprises. Colours are bright, wool textures are detailed, and animations are always fluid. The game's world is polished where it needs to be, but isn't afraid to have the kind of natural rough edges present in a game about thread and sewing materials. From loose threads that unravel when pulled to fabrics that fold in asymmetrical ways, the game world just feels like an incredibly tangible physical space. Woolly World really shines when it takes advantage of the design aesthetic. From Shy Guys brandishing crochet hooks threateningly to fish spitting out water that, thanks to being made of wool, can be run along, the game excels when it fully commits to its core design concept. Mechanically, Woolly World is at its best and most challenging when it pushes Yoshi out of his comfort zone. Yoshi's abilities are all designed to keep him out of harm, from eggs that can dispatch enemies at a distance to a very forgiving and lengthy jump arc. The times when Yoshi's Woolly World forces you to take a leap of faith that pushes that jump to its limits, requires you to fight enemies in close quarters and experiments with the characters weaknesses are some of the best moments of Yoshi gameplay out there. It's just a shame those moments are few and far between. [embed]295585:59414:0[/embed] The vast majority of Yoshi's Woolly World doesn't push the titular hero's moveset in ways that really challenge the player. While levels frequently throw minor new gimmicks in that freshen up the feel of progression, they rarely have any real effect on the challenge of playing the game. It's not necessarily a problem; if you're looking for a calm and relaxed exploration of new mechanics in a colourful world then this certainly delivers that in spades. But yeah, be aware that the challenges are often spread out for the player. There are a bunch of collectibles to go after in the game, most of which are monotonous to collect and offer very little reward. The main exception to this is collectibles that allow you to re-skin your Yoshi, which are pretty enjoyable to seek out. The game's co-op mode does give you the benefit of being able to use your partner as a source of wool if you run low, but the levels in the game were very clearly designed to be played single player and more often than not, your secondary player will feel like they're hindering progression rather than helping with it. Yoshi's Woolly World is best described as easy, beautiful, and inventive. While the times it offers challenge are a little too spread out for my liking, the game looks and sounds stunning, and offers players a variety of new sights to experience along their journey. If you're looking for something to play to unwind, something pleasant and positive, this would be a pretty darn solid choice to go with. [This review is based on a retail build of the game purchased by the reviewer].
Yoshi's Woolly World photo
Pleasantly fluffy
Yoshi's Woolly World is the epitome of adorable. From Yoshi's cute, easily read facial expressions to the bright colourful world he inhabits, the intricate minor details to the tactile physicality of the world, this game took...

That's it, I'm done with hardcore amiibo collecting

Jul 08 // Chris Carter
I know, it's dramatic, right? Declaring that I'm not going to collect a series of toys with this level of bravado? But here's the thing -- Nintendo had every opportunity to fix these issues along the way, and outside of recognizing the situation a handful of times over the past eight months or so, hasn't made any real efforts to patch things up. In fact, most of the time, it's oblivious to what's going on. It's getting so bad that in multiple regions, it has stopped shipping to the US due to the fact that scalpers and customers alike are basically leeching the entire stock, causing shortages all over the world. Here are some recent developments that gave me pause. More exclusives -- because it worked out so well in the past Right out of the gate, exclusive amiibo promotions were a bad idea, but they net a hefty profit for Nintendo, so they're going to keep happening -- this was unfortunately confirmed by a Nintendo representative late last year in a Reddit AMA. While other portions of the world don't have to deal with them, they've been increasingly annoying to handle in the US. I thought maybe with each increasing day Nintendo would learn a thing or two about customer satisfaction, but each wave comes with...well...a unique wave of disappointment. Just recently, Nintendo announced that Dark Pit would be exclusive to Best Buy, and that pre-orders would not be happening at all. This situation has "nope" written all over it. For the last wave, you had to basically choose what store you wanted to wait in front of overnight -- Target, or Toys"R"Us, to get the exclusive you wanted. I waited outside of a few retailers with friends for fun, but I'm not doing it every other month. There's too many damn amiibo Oh hey there's eight Animal Crossing amiibo now, in addition to the AR card line, none of which have release dates outside of "fall" and "holiday." Like Dark Pit and most of Wave 4, I doubt any of these will be available for pre-order. Then there's Chibo Robo, which you can only get by buying the entire game as a bundle. Then there's the rest of the Smash Bros. line, three Yoshi's Woolly World variants (that don't even come out in the US until the fall), two retro Mario variants (making this the fifth Mario variant), three amiibo for Miis, and two R.O.B. colorations. Eight Animal Crossing amiibo? Who asked for this? I mean, I get the need for Tom Nook and K.K. Slider figures, and maybe Mabel, but Cyrus and Dibby -- who are these people clamoring for these characters? I get that I don't have to buy them, but at this point Nintendo is just asking for over-saturation, while gating content out of their respective games unless you buy them. If they were easy to purchase it wouldn't be as big of a deal. Expensive cross-promotions? ::I'm out.gif:: It finally happened. Nintendo decided that exclusive retailer deals weren't lucrative enough, and struck a deal with Activision. At first, I was hesitant -- okay, so there's two amiibo total, and they work with both Nintendo and Activision products with a little switch on the bottom, cool! Then they announced that each figure would be exclusive to the expensive starter edition of the game. Shortly after, they announced "Dark" variants on top of that, for sale in the $99.99 editions of the game. Maybe I'll end up having them all eventually. I have a lot of great friends, and they've randomly gifted me amiibo in the past, and gave me a heads-up when figures go up for retail price. At this point though, I'm no longer making it my goal to "catch 'em all." Nintendo is a business first for sure, but it's bungled this situation beyond recognition. [Image via reddit]
amiibo photo
It's becoming a shit-show
I currently own every amiibo released in the US, including variants. It was very fun for a time, collecting them with friends, but it got increasingly less fun. I always said that I would stop when it got ridiculous, and lead...

GameFan/Destructoid photo
Congratulations you're on the way out
It's been a good year for Destructoid. We got more unique views in June 2015 than any other month in the history of the website. There are a lot of reasons for that, not the least of which being that our staff has worked the...

Weekend Deals: Wii U Splatoon bundle & 'Buy 2 Get 1 Free' GameStop used game sale

Jul 04 // Dealzon
Top Deals Wii U Splatoon Special Edition Bundle + Essentials Kit — $274.99  (list price $300) Wii U + Super Mario 3D World Bundle + Essentials Kit — $274.99  (list price $300) Nintendo 2DS (Refurbished) — $60  (list price $75) GameStop Sale: Buy 2, Get 1 Free ALL Pre-owned Products Recent Releases 06/25: Total War Attila: The Last Roman (Steam) — $8.95  (list price $15) 06/12: LEGO Jurassic World (Steam) — $25.99  (list price $40) 06/09: Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense (Steam) — $10.49  (list price $15) PC Gaming Deals GMG EA Sale Battlefield: Hardline (Origin) — $35.99  (list price $60) Dragon Age: Inquisition (Origin) — $35.99  (list price $60) The Sims 4 (Origin) — $35.99  (list price $60) Titanfall Digital Deluxe Edition (Origin) — $19.99  (list price $40) FIFA 15 (Origin) — $19.99  (list price $40) Mass Effect Trilogy (Origin) — $11.99  (or 3, 2, 1 for $5.99 each) Battlefield 4 (Origin) — $9.99  (list price $20) Need for Speed Rivals (Origin) — $9.99  (list price $20) Dragon Age Origins: Ultimate Edition (Origin) — $8.99  (list price $30) Command and Conquer Ultimate Collection (Origin) — $5.99  (list price $20) Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning (Origin) — $5.99  (list price $20) Mirror's Edge, Battlefield 3, Crysis 3, Dead Space 3 (Origin) — $5.99  (list price $20) Resident Evil Sale Resident Evil Revelations 2 (Steam) — $29.99  (list price $40) Resident Evil HD Remaster (Steam) — $14.99  (list price $20) Resident Evil: Revelations (Steam) — $10.20  (list price $30) Resident Evil 6 (Steam) — $10  (list price $40) Resident Evil 4 HD (Steam) — $8  (list price $20) Resident Evil 5 (Steam) — $6.78  (list price $20) Total War Sale Total War Grand Master Collection (Steam) — $41.25  (list price $165) Total War: Attila (Steam) — $30.14  (list price $45) Total War Master Collection (Steam) — $30  (list price $120) Total War: Rome II Emperor Edition (Steam) — $15  (list price $60) Total War: Shogun 2 Fall of the Samurai Collection (Steam) — $9.99  (list price $40) Empire Total War Collection (Steam) — $8.75  (list price $35) Napoleon: Total War Collection (Steam) — $7.50  (list price $30) Medieval 2: Total War Collection (Steam) — $6.25  (list price $25) Iceberg Sale StarDrive 2 - Digital Deluxe Edition (Steam) — $26.24  (list price $35) Endless Legend Classic Edition (Steam) — $24.49  (list price $35) Endless Space Gold Edition (Steam) — $8.75  (list price $35) Horizon (Steam) — $7.50  (list price $30) Lords of the Black Sun (Steam) — $7.50  (list price $30) Stardrive (Steam) — $7.49  (list price $30) Killing Floor (Steam) — $4.49  (list price $20) Darkness Within 2: The Dark Lineage — $3.24  (list price $13) Nuclear Dawn (Steam) — $2.50  (list price $10) The Good Life (DRM-Free) — $2.50  (list price $10) Dark Matter (Steam) — $2.50  (list price $10) Baron Wittard: Nemesis of Ragnarok — $2.49  (list price $10) Tiny Troopers (DRM-Free) — $1.24  (list price $5) Console Game Deals Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls Ultimate Evil (PS4, Xbox One) — $29.99  (list price $60) Evolve - Pre-owned (Xbox One, PS4) — $14.99  (list price $60) PS4 Borderlands: The Handsome Collection (PS4) — $39.99  (list price $60) NBA 2K15 (PS4) — $25.99  (list price $60) The Last of Us Remastered (PS4 Download Card) — $9.99  (list price $50) Xbox One Borderlands: The Handsome Collection (Xbox One) — $39.99  (list price $60) Saints Row IV: Re-elected + Gat Out Of Hell (Xbox One) — $17.99  (list price $40) Madden NFL 15 (Xbox One) — $12.99  (list price $40) The Walking Dead: Season 2 (Xbox One) — $12.99  (list price $30) Xbox 360 Call of Duty: Ghosts (Xbox 360) — $7.99  (list price $30) Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag (Xbox 360) — $6.99  (list price $60) PS3 Assassin's Creed Rogue (PS3) — $9.99  (list price $60) Batman Arkham Origins (PS3) — $6.99  (list price $20) Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance (PS3) — $6.99  (list price $25) 3DS Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2 RB (3DS) — $39.99  (list price $50) Xenoblade Chronicles 3D (New 3DS) — $29.99  (list price $40) 4th of July PC Sale: HP 17.3" HP Envy i7-5500U, 16GB, 512GB SSD, GTX 950M — $939.99 (list price $1,700) 15.6" HP Envy i7-5500U, GT 850M, 16GB — $684.99 (list price $1,280) 15.6" HP Envy Slim i7-4722HQ, 8GB, GTX 950M — $634.99 (list price $900) HP ENVY Phoenix 810se PC, i7-4820K, GTX 745, 12GB — $729.99 (list price $1,300) HP ENVY Phoenix 850qe PC, i7-4790, GTX 745 — $694.99 (list price $1,100) Lenovo 17.3" Lenovo Y70 i7-4710HQ, GTX 860M — $1,099 (list price $1,400) 15.6" Lenovo Y50 i7-4720HQ, GTX 860M, 16GB — $989 (list price $1,600) 15.6" Lenovo Z51 i7-5500U, 8GB, AMD TROPO XT2 — $799 (list price $1,180) 14" Lenovo Y40-80 i7-5500U, Radeon R9 M275, 8GB — $629 (list price $1,150) Best Buy 17.3" MSI Apache i7-4720HQ, 12GB, GTX 965M — $1,049.99 (list price $1,350) CybertronPC Borg-709 PC AMD FX-6300, GT 750 — $679.99 (list $800) Alienware Alpha PC i3-4130T, GTX 860M — $399.99 (list price $550) Game deals from Dealzon. Sales from certain retailers help support Destructoid.  
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B2G1 returns for the 4th
Nothing to do this 4th of July? How about some deals? Because we've got some deals. I mean they're not Black Friday good but they're pretty good. Sorta. Kinda. (Do we earn our copywriting merit badge now, Mr. Scoutmaster?).&n...

Dtoid/GameFan digital magazine is now free for everybody!

Jul 03 // Jonathan Holmes
Perhaps most importantly, this issue features exclusive artwork by the guy who made this space duck. As much as I love words, the art here is really the star of the show. There's so much beautiful stuff, paying tribute to franchises like MOTHER/EarthBound, Street Fighter, Smash Bros., Splatoon, and a lot more. Our exclusive Bloodstained cover art isn't too shabby, either. I've had to look at it just about every day for the past month and a half, and I'm still not sick of it.  To download the magazine for you computer, tablet or phone, go here, start an account, and enter code DTOID0215. You can pre-order the print version of the magazine over here, though orders are filling up fast.  
Dtoid/GameFan mag photo
Tell your friends!
Full disclosure: I was initially against the idea of allowing people to download the debut issue of Destructoid/GameFan magazine for free. That's not because I want money. My paycheck won't change regardless of how many issue...

Review: Roving Rogue

Jul 03 // Chris Carter
Roving Rogue (Wii U)Developer: Padaone GamesPublisher: Padaone GamesMSRP: $9.99Released: July 2, 2015 The basic gist is pretty genius. Players will take control of Kurt the Righteous, who has just slain the final boss of the game. But what happens when said big bad dies? You can't just jump out of a window at the top of his massive fortress, right -- you have to walk back through where you came from. That's what you'll be doing throughout the course of Roving Rogue. Kurt only has one mechanic to master, so you won't get too flustered as you're busting your way out. Using a two-button system, one button jumps, and the other teleports. By quickly tapping the latter button you can warp a short distance, and holding it will stop your progress and allow you to aim a cursor in whatever direction you desire; it's a lot like Daud's blinking power in the Dishonored DLC. It's an easy concept to pick up, and it works very well. Players can opt to make a lot of jumps manually for safety, or go for a riskier teleport jump at nearly every turn. It makes every platforming portion a choice, but you can only teleport through specially marked "golden" walls to prevent you from breaking the game too hard. While the controls are on point, the levels on which you perform these antics are a mixed bag. Once you've played the first 10 stages or so you've basically seen it all, a feeling that's augmented by the fact that there are only six enemy types in total, all of which essentially operate in the same patrolling manner. There are some new ideas presented on occasion like darkness, and a switch between horizontal and vertical layouts, but it never really iterates beyond that. Four player co-op is definitely a big draw if you happen to have three other people on hand. [embed]295212:59321:0[/embed] Like the level design, the way the developers have chosen to approach the lore is also both brilliant and flawed. Although the premise is based on Kurt's tired old memory loss trope, you're basically rediscovering the fluff of the game's universe as you play it. Picking up collectibles will in turn decrypt diary entries explaining the initial journey throughout the castle, and why you're actually doing it. It even lends itself to multiple endings if you find enough. On the flipside, there's also a less stylish storytelling element -- Twitter feeds. I can't stand these, as they're basically a collective of memes and hashtags that are seemingly chosen at random, presented between levels. They're easy to skip, but feel wholly unnecessary. As for the visual style itself it's a bit plain when it comes to most of the game's animations and structures, but I actually dig the Loderunner feel to it, and as I stated previously, it does play well. Roving Rogue failed to really capture my interest throughout the entire adventure, but from a raw gameplay perspective I had some fun with the platforming bits. You'll enjoy it even more with friends. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Roving Rogue photo
Beam me up, ninja
When I heard of a game concept that starts you off at the last boss and takes you back through his castle as the story progresses, I was intrigued. Sadly, the mere premise of Roving Rogue is probably its strongest quality.

The Red Hood DLC pack for Arkham Knight is disgustingly short

Jul 03 // Chris Carter
[embed]295280:59335:0[/embed] [Straight-up, I'm not going to spoil the story for you, but be aware that this tale takes place after the events of Arkham Knight, and that many commenters may indeed spoil it for you below -- you have been warned.] First, the good news. Red Hood takes the path of least resistance, and can be seen as an anti-Batman vigilante of sorts -- Under the Red Hood was a fantastic film, and I think Rocksteady nailed that vibe here. Red Hood is pissed (for good reason), and he isn't going to let anyone get away with their crime sprees -- unlike Batman, who is content with putting people back in Arkham only for them to break out at a later date. Similar to Harley and all of the other characters in Knight, Hood feels the exact same in the close-combat sections (just mash attack and the counter simple-minded AI), with the added power of some unique animations like...murdering people with his pistols. Unlike Harley who simply couldn't use silent takedowns, this gives the DLC a distinctly different feel, and the tone is fairly unique to the series in general. I'm also a fan of Black Mask, so seeing him return was a treat. All of this is cut short by the fact that it's roughly 10 minutes long, which naturally gives it no room to grow any of the characters or deliver anything worthwhile. You'll be greeted with a combat scene, a brief Predator sequence, then another combat bit with Black Mask, who doesn't exhibit any real unique boss qualities (again, it's "this boss throws adds at you constantly, have fun"). It's a disappointment, to say the least, as both DLCs could have been so much more if they were an hour long, had more involved stories, and interesting boss mechanics. Rocksteady is teasing a few more of these "Arkham Stories" with the Season Pass, and I sincerely hope they're more than this.
Red Hood photo
Man do I love this character though
Just yesterday, we gave you the rundown on the Harley Quinn DLC pack for Batman: Arkham Knight. Much like many aspects of the core game, it was a letdown, mostly due to its length and the fact that it doesn't really provide a...

The Harley Quinn DLC pack for Arkham Knight is painfully brief

Jul 02 // Chris Carter
[embed]295181:59315:0[/embed] Much like Azrael and Batman's other playable companions, Harley's fighting style is nearly identical to the Dark Knight, and other than a few new animations, feels exactly the same -- though, she does have a "party popper" batarang substitute that functions like a Spider-Man web trap. Sadly, the most enemy waves will throw at you is roughly four standard foes and a shield-wielding cop, which doesn't really allow you to dig deep with the Free Flow combat system. A lack of nuanced gameplay permeates in the stealth portions too. In the few Predator sequences that are included, stealth is not really a priority for Harley. She employs laughing gas rather than smoke bombs, tumbles and leaps up walls instead of grappling, and so on, including exploding jack-in-the-boxes rather than explosive gel. Thankfully there are a few differences, most notably the fact that her "detective vision" shows her more demented side with graffiti written on the walls. Harley also cannot employ silent takedowns -- in fact, they're called "loud takedowns," and will always alert guards. She can however use a "Mayhem" ability that lets her knock out enemies in one hit for a limited time, and use Ivy's plants to take out enemies from afar. The entire affair is far too linear, taking place in the Blüdhaven Police Department. It's a prequel, so you know exactly how it plays out if you watch the intro, with a bit of stupid Penguin chatter (I never really liked Arkham's rendition of him) littered between the loose collections of challenge rooms. It all culminates with a final battle with a major hero from the story that uses the tired "throw adds at the player until he wins or loses" mechanic. There are some bright spots, like the idea of Harleen's inner self trying to reason with her insane "Harley" personality, but those concepts aren't really explored in half an hour. If you're a huge fan of Harley you can buy it this fall once its "pre-order exclusivity" (so dumb) is up, or you can just wait for the Game of the Year Edition where it will most likely appear as well. The same goes for the GameStop exclusive Red Hood pack, the PS4 exclusive Scarecrow DLC, and all the costume exclusives.
Harley Quinn photo
Less than 30 minutes
Harley Quinn is at it again this time with a pre-order exclusive DLC (yuck) for Batman: Arkham Knight. I have good news for everyone who didn't bother pre-ordering -- you aren't missing much. The entire add-on basically amounts to less than 30 minutes of the same core gameplay as Knight, minus the Batmobile-fest.

Blizzard: 'We have the freedom to bring any character we want into Heroes of the Storm'

Jun 30 // Chris Carter
Destructoid: Let's start out with a simple question -- what inspired Blizzard to create Heroes of the Storm? Kaeo Milker: It all started out as just a cool way to show off what the StarCraft II Editor was capable of for BlizzCon back in 2010. We’d just launched StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty and set a few very small teams of developers loose on creating fun mod maps for the show. These teams built several maps, and we selected four to bring to BlizzCon, including one that was an homage to Warcraft III Defense of the Ancients that we called, “Blizzard All Stars.” The expectation was that we’d release these maps to StarCraft II shortly after the show, but something special happened with Blizzard All Stars and the feedback we received changed the course of things.  There was so much excitement about the game from our team, from Blizzard, and from the BlizzCon attendees that we had to take a step back and reconsider how much additional work should go into the map before its release. We ended up holding it back and we assigned a handful of developers to continue working on it en route to BlizzCon 2011, where we showed it again as, “Blizzard DOTA.” There were new heroes, a redesigned map, and some different takes on game mechanics, and we got even more positive reinforcement on its potential. This growing excitement from internal folks as well as our community led to some very intense conversations about the scope of the game and how we should approach it.  Some serious discussions spawned where we started asking questions like, “What if we ignore the recent games in this space and approach this as a reimagining of what those early mods could have become?” Those conversations led to a decision to make a standalone game where we’d throw out the expectations and rules, and simply make the game we wanted to play. That decision was super scary in its departure from the norm, but also very liberating, and we ended up calling that game Heroes of the Storm when we re-announced it at BlizzCon 2013. D: Tell us a bit about the beginnings of the MOBA genre and its origins. How did the team react to this level of engagement out of a use map settings creation? K: The genre originated all the way back with our own mapmaking community’s Aeon of Strife UMS maps from the original StarCraft. Those maps set the stage for the now-familiar single-hero control and multi-lane map layouts that later inspired mapmakers in Warcraft III to create offshoots including the immensely popular Defense of the Ancients maps. Along the way, many of the RPG-like mechanics that were core to Warcraft III’s gameplay like individual heroes, unlocking and empowering abilities via hero leveling, and item-based stat manipulation were creatively used to evolve the gameplay from Aeon of Strife into that of DOTA and everything that’s come since. It’s inspiring to look back on the game genres that have incubated and spawned from the Blizzard mapmaking communities. The team responsible for Heroes of the Storm also made the original StarCraft as well as Warcraft III, and many of the people working on Heroes of the Storm today were either here at Blizzard or active in our communities when this all started. We’ve all watched this evolution with equal amounts of respect and admiration for everything our players have created. D: Can you give us a rundown of what to expect going forward after launch, both in terms of timelines and content? K: Historically for our team, launching a game has meant that it is “done,” but with Heroes, launch is truly just the beginning. The content and features in the game today represent the foundation of a game that we expect to be in constant evolution moving forward, and we have a growing team that’s been refining our tools and processes to allow us to create and deliver more stuff, more often. We’re moving into a phase now where we’ll be bringing new heroes into the game every 3-4 weeks and are planning for incremental changes and additions to the game even between hero releases.  We currently have several battlegrounds in development and we’ll continue to bring them into the game multiple times a year, starting with the Eternal Conflict release where we’ll introduce a collection of Diablo-themed battlegrounds, heroes, skins, mounts, and events over the next few months. There’s a lot more in store that I can’t talk about yet, but know that we have some amazing things in development and our team is just as excited about this game as our players are! D: What niche do you believe Heroes fulfills in the current MOBA scene today? K: Heroes of the Storm is Blizzard’s take on a genre that has been around for over a decade. We’ve set out to capture and accentuate the elements of these games that we found most compelling, while improving or eliminating the things that we found detracted from the fun. We approach this process with all of our games from the perspective of gamers, and again, we set out to build the games that we want to play.  The game we created features some pretty dramatic departures from the norm like action-packed 20 minute games, an ever-growing pool of objective-based battlegrounds, team leveling, per-hero talent trees that let players modify each hero’s playstyle, and of course, real Blizzard heroes and worlds – all wrapped up in the fun, light-hearted humor we’re known for. It’s free to play, so I invite everybody to check it out and see if it’s the kind of game they want to play, too. D: What is the current state of the MOBA genre financially as a whole? Is there room for more major releases? K: I’m much more of a development guy than a business guy, but clearly there is a ton of interest in this genre and there has been since the Warcraft III days. I’m excited about that interest not because of some potential financial opportunities, but because it represents players who might be open to checking out our game and I think we’re doing something really different with Heroes that can build on the things they’ve loved from past games, while also addressing concerns from players who may not have liked those other games.  Ultimately, I think there’s always room for great games. Our focus is to make the best games we possibly can, and history has shown us that if we stay true to that goal and uphold our commitments to quality and fun, success is within our reach. D: Who is your biggest competition currently, and what do they do right? K: We’ve always looked at other game companies less as competition and more as part of a community that’s pushing game development, technology, user experiences, gameplay, genres, and the industry forward together. Coexisting in a creative space like gaming can help lead to refinement and innovation, and that’s a very healthy thing for us both as developers, and as gamers.  We’ve clearly benefited from the things other developers have learned with similar games – the right choices as much as the wrong choices  –  and as we’re starting to see already, they will in turn benefit from the things we’re trying as well. D: What efforts are you going through in terms of growing Heroes as an eSport? K: This year will be a time where we establish Heroes as an eSport alongside establishing Heroes as a game. We’re off to an amazing start with Heroes of the Dorm, where we brought college teams together from across the US and Canada to battle it out for full college tuition. That event cemented the legitimacy of Heroes as an eSport given the intense competition and its undeniable strengths as a spectator event. The recently-announced 2015 Road to BlizzCon will be the professional extension of that path we’ve started down, and we’ll all get to watch the very best teams from each of our regions work their way through their regional qualifiers and semi-finals en route to the ultimate global showdown at BlizzCon. Like the game, our eSports support will be in constant evolution and I’m very excited to see what develops. D: Walk us through a basic outline of what it takes to create a hero from start to finish. K: Hero creation is a very involved, multi-month process that relies heavily on iteration tied to ideas and feedback from many people across our team, and even across Blizzard. It all starts with paper design, where a Hero Designer comes up with a written pitch for the hero, its playstyle, and its kit. After several rounds of feedback and refinement, that paper design gets approved for prototyping. Our tools allow our Tech Designers to stand up a first playable version of the hero with placeholder art, sounds, and effects very quickly and an exhaustive process of playtesting and iteration begins amongst our design team. This process can span several weeks, with constant reaction to feedback every step of the way.  Once the design team is feeling good about a hero’s progress, it graduates to team playtesting. These tests take place several times per week and several hundred of our team members and support personnel are invited to participate and provide feedback to help further refine the hero’s design.  Another multi-week reaction cycle begins based on that ongoing feedback, and only after successfully making it through the team playtesting phase does a hero graduate to full production where we unleash the full power of the development team on its finalization.  During production, our art, user interface, writing, sound, localization, and quality assurance teams begin their respective processes creating, refining, and testing the version of the hero you’ll eventually play in the game. Throughout the hero’s journey, each developer bolsters their part of its creation with a ton of polish and love, and that really shows in the final product. D: Can you give us an idea of potential heroes or kits you've been working on for future patches? K: Sure, up next is…wait a sec…nice try!  I can confirm that we’re spending some time with Diablo heroes for the Eternal Conflict before returning to heroes from other game worlds. Beyond that, all I can say is that anything’s possible – any hero from any Blizzard game, ever!  D: As a follow-up, are you concerned that certain franchises like Warcraft may be overrepresented? K: We currently have a disproportionate number of Warcraft heroes, but more than anything that is a function of the abundance of incredible Warcraft heroes to pull from when we started out. Our goal moving forward is to bring in excellent heroes from all of our games – past, present, and future. We value variety tremendously in this game and are trying to provide players with a dynamic experience where they have choices to make which give them the ability to directly impact that experience. This starts with selecting the hero they want to play and continues with choices in skins, mounts, team compositions, battleground strategies, and talent builds. Be on the lookout for an ever-increasing number of non-Warcraft heroes coming into the game with our Eternal Conflict event starting later this month! D: What is one hero from the Blizzard universe that will absolutely not fit in Heroes of the Storm? K: So far, this hasn’t been an issue. We have the freedom to bring any character we want into the game and enough flexibility in our game mechanics and design to re-interpret each one in a way that captures their essence while tailoring their gameplay for the best possible experience in Heroes. It’s an amazing space to play around in and we’re really enjoying this limitless potential. D: Finally, what is your favorite current hero? K: I love Kerrigan and have played her extensively since the first day of our Development Alpha. Her combo-driven, melee assassin kit brings out the overcommitting lunatic in me and I play her much more aggressively than perhaps any other hero in the game – for better or for worse. She’s incredibly powerful early game and can scale really nicely into late game, especially when paired up with another hero to complement her kit (Tassadar is one of my favorite partners). Beyond her gameplay, I have a personal connection to the character dating back to my passion for the original StarCraft and leading through my 8+ year investment in producing StarCraft II. And I’ve been saying this a lot lately, but my daughter is even named Kerrigan! While Kerrigan is my all-time favorite, I’ve been maining Nazeebo lately and have him on the cusp of hitting Level 20.  I relish the perfect Zombie Wall and am thrilled pulling off the well-timed Ravenous Spirit to clean up a team fight from afar after all of the enemy interrupts have been blown. Ayyyeeeee!!!
Heroes of the Storm photo
A Q&A with the game's lead producer
Heroes of the Storm has been out for almost a month now after a lengthy set of alpha and beta sessions, and I'm still enjoying it as much as I did at launch. Blizzard has vowed to constantly support and update the game w...


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