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Review: Flywrench

Aug 26 // Ben Davis
Flywrench (PC)Developer: MesshofPublisher: MesshofReleased: August 24, 2015MSRP: $9.99 Flywrench is a little difficult to describe without actually seeing it in motion. It's essentially an aerial obstacle course, where the goal is to guide the ship to the end of the level while passing through barriers and avoiding walls. It has the same sense of intense difficulty with rapid respawning as many notably punishing platformers such as Super Meat Boy and VVVVVV, without actually being a platformer per se. The flywrench moves by flapping its wings, and it will plummet to the ground rather quickly if it doesn't keep flapping. If the flap button is held down, the wings will come together to form a vertical line and the ship will change colors from white to red. Another button makes the ship barrel roll out of control and turn green, and also allows it to bounce off of boundary walls. The color of the ship is very important, because it can only pass through barriers if it matches the color. A big part of the gameplay involves quickly switching between forms so that the ship can safely travel through barriers, all while continuously flapping to stay afloat. [embed]307954:60146:0[/embed] The levels start off rather simple, slowly introducing new mechanics in short areas so that the player doesn't get overwhelmed too quickly. Moving from planet to planet, the levels steadily become more difficult. Each planet introduces a new obstacle to overcome, such as rotating barriers, turrets, switches, gravity pools, and more. All of this culminates in the final planet, Mercury, which steeply ramps up the difficulty by throwing every mechanic at the player in a gauntlet of truly challenging stages before the grand finale of the Sun. Like Super Meat Boy, Flywrench is one of those games that requires a lot of patience and determination to master, and you'll be filled with joy and rage simultaneously as you try to overcome the challenges. Once I got to Mercury, I found myself involuntarily clenching up as I tried repeatedly to overcome a tough level, tossing out all kinds of expletives every time I died, before rejoicing and fully relaxing every part of my body once I finally succeeded. And then I continued on to the next level and repeated the process all over again! But it's all worth it for those beautiful moments where I seem to soar quickly and flawlessly through a tough level, pulling off impressive aerial stunts like it was second nature. The Steam release of Flywrench makes a lot of much-needed improvements upon the prototype version. Perhaps most importantly, the physics have been tweaked to make it much easier to maneuver precisely through the air. The ship keeps its momentum going with every movement and flap, and barriers now hold that momentum until the ship has passed through them. It also feels much easier to maneuver left and right while changing colors now. Also, the ship will slightly gravitate towards the exit portals when it's close enough, so even if your aim is a little off, it still might be good enough to get sucked into the exit. All of these changes make the gameplay a bit less frustrating and allows the player to feel more in control. Granted, it is sometimes a little too difficult to break momentum, which led to a huge number of deaths as my flywrench flapped one too many times and was unable to slow down before crashing into a wall. But that's just something to get used to. The graphics and soundtrack were also greatly improved. It now has that signature Messhof art style seen in many of his other games such as Nidhogg, with added effects such as a trail of exhaust leading out of the ship and an explosion upon death. The soundtrack was completely redone with electronic tracks by Daedelus and a host of other artists, and they sound much nicer than the previous scratchy, industrial-sounding music. Overall, the game is simply more pleasant to look at and listen to. A few new modes were added to the Steam version as well, including time trials and a level editor. Each planet has its own time trial which unlocks once you have beaten every level for a given planet, so you can test your skills by beating each stage quickly with as few deaths as possible and try to climb the leaderboards. The level editor is also pretty neat. It allows you to create your own planet and add as many levels to it as you want, which can then be downloaded and enjoyed by other players. It'll be interesting to see what kinds of challenges other people can come up with. Flywrench comes highly recommended from me, especially to those gamers who are always seeking a new challenge. If you enjoyed Super Meat Boy, VVVVVV, and the like, you will certainly enjoy this one as well. It does a really great job of easing new players into the mechanics too, so it's worth trying out even if the difficulty sounds daunting. I can definitely see myself coming back to replay Flywrench many times down the line. The feeling of determination as I try to conquer a punishing game and the satisfaction of finally emerging victorious is like an addiction, and I'm forever thankful that games like Flywrench exist to scratch that itch. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Flywrench review photo
Flying high
You may have heard of Flywrench before. A freeware prototype version of the game has been floating around since 2007, and many people were introduced to it due to the eponymous flywrench appearing as an unlockable character i...

EarthBound vinyl photo
EarthBound vinyl

The EarthBound soundtrack is getting a vinyl release next year


Available for pre-order tomorrow
Aug 25
// Ben Davis
[Disclosure: I backed the Kickstarter for the Mother original arranged soundtrack on vinyl.] Earlier this year, independent record label Ship to Shore PhonoCo. acquired the licensing rights to release the Mother soundtrack on...

Review: Snakebird

Aug 24 // Ben Davis
Snakebird (PC)Developer: Noumenon GamesPublisher: Noumenon GamesReleased: May 4, 2015MSRP: $6.99 At first glance, Snakebird isn't all that intimidating. It's made to look cute and appealing, with bright colors, simple cartoon graphics, and adorable bird/snake hybrid characters which easily bring to mind more casual games like Angry Birds. But be warned: this is far from a casual experience. On one hand, the cute art style helps by drawing people in and keeping them calm and relaxed while they fail again and again at the puzzles, impaling their adorable snakebirds on spikes and throwing them off of cliffs. But I do worry that the simple graphics might turn some players off to the game too soon. It's definitely not the type of game that it appears to be, but I kind of like that it subverts expectations like that. [embed]307530:60107:0[/embed] The goal of every level is simple: eat all the fruit and get each snakebird into the portal. No snakebird can be left behind, so if one makes it into the portal but the other one can't reach, you might have to start over from the beginning (or at least backtrack a few moves). Eating a piece of fruit increases the snakebird's size by one segment, usually making it easier to navigate certain puzzles. But be careful! Just because a piece of fruit can be reached doesn't mean the puzzle has been solved yet. Most puzzles involve finding the correct path to the fruit, which is not always the most direct path. In fact, the most direct path more often than not will lead to a snakebird getting stuck or dying, but keep in mind that you can easily backtrack in case mistakes are made. If a snakebird dies, the game immediately resets to the last move before death, and you can keep backtracking from there if need be. Once all fruit has been eaten, the portal will open, creating an exit from the level. One of the largest sources of difficulty comes from simply figuring out the physics and abilities of the snakebirds. While there is a tutorial level, it really only covers basic movement and how to open the portal. Everything else is up to the player to figure out, and it's not always obvious. Here are a few mild hints for new players who find themselves getting stuck really early on (possibly even on the second or third levels). Normal physics don't really apply to snakebirds. They always hold their current shape while falling. They can sit on top of floating fruit without eating it. They can push other snakebirds and certain obstacles (or multiple things at once), sometimes even in ways that might not make a whole lot of sense when you think about it. Snakebirds that are pushed will always maintain their current shape. Also, it's usually a good idea to try and figure out what position they will need to end up in to reach the portal, in order to plan out your moves accordingly. Eventually, through trial and error, you'll develop skills and moves that you wouldn't have even dreamed of at the beginning of the game, and you'll start flying through the puzzles, only to get stuck again a little while later on a puzzle which requires a new skill to be discovered. This might leave some players overly frustrated, but options for each level are not endless, so players are bound to figure out a solution as long as they keep trying new things. Snakebird does a good job of keeping things interesting by introducing new mechanics every so often, including the addition of multiple snakebirds in a single level, spikes, movable platforms, and teleportation portals. Each themed area introduces something new, and then there are the special star levels which will test your abilities to the fullest. There are a total of 53 levels, and the difficulty of each level will probably vary from player to player. The map is also non-linear, so beating one level might open up several more to choose from. It took me about 13 hours to beat every level, although I had a particularly tough time figuring out a few of them (a couple that come to mind include level 20 and level 44, both of which took me WAY too long to figure out). Usually, I would have to sit and stare at a difficult level for a while, or even stop playing entirely and just take some time to ponder the level and all of the possibilities, and then come back later with fresh ideas. But the feeling of finally completing a seemingly impossible puzzle after so much failure is just so wonderfully satisfying! Personally, I think Snakebird could have benefited from a few extra features. Including statistics such as the amount of time it took to finish a level or the number of moves used would have added a bit to the replayability. As it is now, once a puzzle is solved, there's really no incentive to go back and try it again. Leaderboards would also be a welcome addition, since I'm sure many players out there figured out way more efficient methods of solving certain puzzles than I did. Snakebird is not for everyone. But for those puzzle-lovers out there seeking the ultimate challenge, definitely give Snakebird a shot. You might be surprised by how often this game will leave you stumped, but that just makes the feeling of overcoming challenges so much sweeter! [This review is based on a retail build of the game purchased by the reviewer.]
Snakebird review photo
Delightfully challenging
Well-designed, challenging puzzle games can be hard to come by these days, but they are out there. Games like Antichamber, English Country Tune, and Splice are a few Steam titles that come to mind for providing particularly h...

Spider cheats photo
Spider cheats

Hate spiders but want to play Spider? Use this cheat code to play as a walrus


Goo goo g'joob
Aug 20
// Ben Davis
I reviewed Spider: Rite of the Shrouded Moon a couple weeks ago and really enjoyed it, but some readers were concerned about the fact that they would have to play as a spider, because, well... spiders are pretty creepy. If yo...

Sploot photo
Sploot

Be a seagull and poop on people in Sploot


What more could you want out of games?
Aug 19
// Ben Davis
"You are a seagull. A beautiful, fragile seagull. You poop uncontrollably. Your purpose is to poop on things." Fantastic! I'm always clamoring for more games where you get to really feel what it's like to be an animal, and th...
Team Fortress 2 update photo
Team Fortress 2 update

Team Fortress 2 gets the ball rolling with a new sports-themed game mode


Created by Bad Robot, of all companies
Aug 19
// Ben Davis
Ready for another off-the-wall Team Fortress 2 update? After the addition of bumper cars from last Halloween, it seems anything is possible with this game. Now the multiplayer shooter is getting another shot in the arm with a...

Experience Points .22: Tomb Raider

Aug 15 // Ben Davis
T. Rex doesn't want to be fed, he wants to hunt One of my most memorable gaming moments was seeing the T. Rex in Tomb Raider for the first time. Keep in mind, this was actually the very first 3D video game world I was exposed to. So that, coupled with the fact that I was very young at the time, helped to make the T. Rex a very mind-blowing experience for me. Here's the scenario: As an eight-year-old exploring a three-dimensional cavern for the first time ever, pretty much everything in Tomb Raider seemed incredible to me. Running around, dodging traps, solving puzzles, and shooting at bats, wolves, and even frighteningly powerful bears, I was having an amazing time. Then I get to the Lost Valley, the third level in the game, and things take a surprising turn. Lara climbs up a high wall and drops down into a curiously lush jungle environment, very different from the rocky caves I was used to. A bunch of skeletons litter the ground, and there are some rather large, bird-like footprints all over the place. What could have possibly made these prints? Suddenly, the sound of something large can be heard coming directly towards Lara, and out of nowhere a huge red creature shrieks and lunges at her. It happened so fast that all I could think was, "What the heck is that thing?!" as I jumped around like crazy and desperately fired my pistols. Finally it died, and I was able to take a closer look at the corpse to find out, oh my god, it's a freaking raptor! At that point, dinosaurs were definitely the last thing I expected to see in this game. From then on, I explored the jungle area very cautiously. Soon after dispatching a couple more raptors, Lara approaches a broken bridge high above her. I was moving very slowly towards the bridge, looking up to try and see if there was anything up there, when suddenly the battle music started and the ground began to shake. I stopped dead in my tracks as an enormous T. Rex burst out of the shadows and quickly bounded towards Lara. My heart skipped a beat and I slammed the pause button and nearly fell off of the ottoman I was sitting on! A T. Rex? I have to fight a freaking T. Rex? How in the world? After mentally preparing for several seconds, I got ready to attempt to take down the dinosaur and pressed the start button to resume playing. The T. Rex immediately ran up to Lara, grabbed her in its jaws, thrashed her about, and slammed her limp body onto the ground. Welp. That sure was fast. Eventually, I figured out an effective, if rather cheap, method of killing the big dino, but that moment of seeing it for the first time will forever remain one of my fondest memories in gaming. The wrath of the gods My favorite level in Tomb Raider would easily be St. Francis' Folly. It's the first level of the Greece section, and introduces lions, gorillas, and crocodiles into the mix of enemies. But what makes this level so fun and memorable is the extremely tall, enormous room which leads to four other rooms labeled Thor, Atlas, Neptune, and Damocles. While it's admittedly strange that they included the Norse god Thor and the Roman god Neptune in this Greek ruin (they later changed the names to Hephaestus and Poseidon in Tomb Raider: Anniversary), we'll just look past that for now. These four rooms are some of the coolest areas of the game. They're all themed around the mythological figures they're named for, and they're all quite deadly. Thor's room is decked out with a ball of electricity that shoots lightning bolts onto random floor tiles which Lara must carefully avoid, as well as a gigantic hammer which falls in an attempt to crush her if she wanders beneath it. Atlas' room traps Lara in a narrow corridor with a deadly boulder, which is meant to symbolize the sky that Atlas held upon his shoulders. Neptune's room has a frighteningly deep pool of water which sucks Lara down to the bottom and won't let her back up until she finds a hidden lever. Finally, Damocles' room is rigged with a bunch of huge swords dangling from the ceiling, which fall as Lara tries to leave and even home in on her a bit in an attempt to slice her up. I always enjoyed the creativity that went into making this level. The traps based on mythological figures were a really neat idea and really well implemented, even if they mixed up some of their mythologies. It added a lot to the wonder of the game's world, and even inspired me to research some Greek and Roman gods as a young kid to try and figure out what the names meant. Levels like this are what Tomb Raider is all about. The temptation of the Sphinx This one is a little specific. It's more of a small ritual that I personally enjoy doing every time I play Tomb Raider, even though it's probably not a part of everyone else's experience with the game. But it's also possible that I'm not the only person that does this! Lara actually has two different kinds of jumps in Tomb Raider: a normal jump and a swan dive. The latter is basically just a fancy jump that's probably only meant to be performed around water. Except Lara can do a swan dive anywhere, and one of my favorite things to do is take advantage of this and have her perform swan dives in some of the most ridiculous locations. Sure, she usually breaks her neck, but at least she looks damn good doing it! When I first learned that Lara could do swan dives, I was pulling them off all over the place. I swan dived into every pool of water. I swan dived from the top of the waterfall in the Lost Valley. I even swan dived from the top of the really tall room in St. Francis' Folly (Sorry, Lara!). Then Lara made her way to Egypt, and found herself in the Sanctuary of the Scion. Eventually, she exited into a big, open room with a gigantic Sphinx statue. I took one look at the Sphinx, towering way above Lara's head, and immediately thought, "I have to do a swan dive off that Sphinx." I made that my primary goal as I navigated around the room in an attempt to climb on top of the huge statue's head. Finally, I arrived at the top. I stood there for awhile, surveying the massive, open room around me and the ground far below. Then I pulled off the most glorious swan dive imaginable as Lara silently plummeted to her death in the sand at the Sphinx's feet. It was awesome. Now, whenever I replay Tomb Raider or Tomb Raider: Anniversary, I make it a ritual to perform a swan dive off the top of the Sphinx whenever I arrive at the Sanctuary of the Scion. I wonder if anyone else does the same thing... Home sweet home One of the best parts of any Tomb Raider game is getting to explore Lara Croft's mansion. In many games in the series, including the first, the mansion acts as a tutorial level. It's completely optional to play, and even the tutorial sections of the mansion are optional as well. When Lara enters certain rooms, including a gym, a room with a tumbling mat, a room full of boxes, and a swimming pool, she'll announce to the player all the different moves she can perform and which controls to use. The player can either follow her advice or choose to just keep moving and ignore her if they want, and continue to explore freely. It's actually one of the best ways to include a non-intrusive tutorial that I can think of. Unfortunately, there's not too much to do in the first game's mansion other than tutorials. The second game introduces a bunch of neat little secrets to discover, hidden rooms to find, and a crazy old butler to mess around with and lock in the freezer (he's a hoot), all staples of Lara Croft's awesome home. It's still pretty neat to run around the mansion in the original game though too. Goldfinger This may sound weird, but one of my favorite parts of Tomb Raider is actually one of the death animations. The Tomb Raider series is known for having some pretty gruesome deaths. Even in the first game, I sometimes felt really bad about dying because of Lara's death animations and sound effects. Seeing her thrash about while drowning, hearing the horrible popping and squelching sounds when she falls onto spikes, and watching her get torn apart and tossed around by the T. Rex and the final boss... man, Lara had a rough time. But there's one death animation that had me literally laugh out loud due to how absurd it is. When Lara travels to Greece, she eventually finds herself in an area called Palace Midas. There's a puzzle in this level wherein Lara must collect a few gold bars, except the only things to be found nearby are lead bars. Perhaps there is some way to turn the lead into gold? Those who are familiar with the story of King Midas know that he was said to have the power to turn anything into gold merely by touching it. And wouldn't you know it, there just so happens to be a giant statue of King Midas in the palace, with one of his hands severed and lying on the ground. Obviously, the key to solving the puzzle is to place the lead bars onto the statue's broken hand, which then turns them to gold. But... does the hand turn other things to gold as well? Lara's curiosity gets the better of her as she jumps up onto the hand and, lo and behold, her body parts slowly transform into solid gold as she dies a horrible, yet totally glamorous death. I believe the first time I witnessed this death animation it was completely by accident. I walked into the room, saw the hand lying there, and thought, "I should jump on that hand!" The death that followed took me completely by surprise, but as I sat there looking dumbfounded at the continue screen, I slowly started to piece together what had happened. "Oh! King Midas, duh!" Afterwards, I had a really good laugh, and then promptly went back to the statue room to watch the death animation all over again. Horror in hiding Tomb Raider is one of those games where nobody seems to realize how terrifying and bizarre it is until they actually play it all the way through. It's kind of like Ecco the Dolphin in this regard. For the majority of the game, the locations and enemies remain relatively normal. Lara makes her way through caves and ruins, fighting against the sorts of enemies you might expect to find there, such as bats, wolves, bears, lions, and crocodiles. Occasionally, she'll also encounter some unexpected things such as dinosaurs, but even those aren't too disturbing. But everything changes once Lara reaches the end of the Tomb of Tihocan. The entrance to the tomb is decorated with two statues of centaurs. They don't actually do anything other than look intimidating, so she leaves to navigate the area to find a lever to open the door of the tomb. But as she begins to enter the tomb, the two statues unexpectedly spring to life and attack. And not only do they do that, but their stony exteriors crack open to reveal a truly grotesque sight of what looks like a skinless creature with muscle and bone clearly exposed to the elements. It's horrible, and the first time I played this level it scared the crap out of me! But the horror doesn't stop there. After the Tomb of Tihocan, Lara makes her way into Egypt, and of course the place is crawling with mummies. But these aren't ordinary mummies. You might expect mummies to be slow, lumbering, yet powerful monsters, but the mummies in Tomb Raider are anything but slow! These things freaking run and jump all over the place, making an awful shrieking sound the entire time as they're thrashing at Lara. Their movements are so sudden that they somehow manage to startle me every single time I encounter one. Finally, Lara discovers the lost civilization of Atlantis, which is not nearly as wondrous as you might expect. It's actually pretty nightmarish. The place is crawling with creatures like the centaurs from before, with exposed muscle and bone. Not only that, but the walls, floors, and ceilings are all pulsating and throbbing like the entire place is alive, as if Lara is walking through some massive creature's body. It's extremely unsettling, and very far off from the relatively normal caves that began the whole adventure. And then there's the final boss... I'm fairly sure nobody expected to find something so grossly horrifying from a game like Tomb Raider, but I love how unpredictable it is. Past Experience Points Level 1: .01 - .20 .21: Katamari Damacy
Tomb Raider photo
I'm sorry, I only play for sport
Experience Points is a series in which I highlight some of the most memorable things about a particular game. These can include anything from a specific scene or moment, a character, a weapon or item, a level or location, a p...

Gathering Sky impressions photo
Gathering Sky impressions

Gathering Sky is out today on Steam and mobile, and it's quite relaxing


I want to fly like an eagle
Aug 13
// Ben Davis
Gathering Sky, a game from indie studio A Stranger Gravity about controlling a flock of birds, released on Steam, iOS, and Android today. I got a chance to play around with the Steam version this week, and it's a pretty neat ...

Which video games did you grow up with?

Aug 09 // Ben Davis
We had a ton of other NES cartridges, too. Of course, we had the other two Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda, plus some other neat games like Clash at Demonhead, Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers, 1943: The Battle of Midway, Marble Madness, and Excitebike, as well as some weirder ones like Fester's Quest, T&C Surf Designs, and Winter Games. I dabbled in all of these games, usually with my sister and brother -- who was way better than me at the time, so I watched him beat more than a few of them. As for the other consoles, we only owned a few titles for each, and typically rented more. Our SNES collection included Super Mario World, Mario Paint, A Link to the Past, Final Fantasy II (well, IV), and Spider-Man and the X-Men in Arcade's Revenge. I liked all of these, but I probably played Final Fantasy II and Mario Paint the most (I loved that fly swatter mini-game!). I was terrible at Final Fantasy, though. I always got stuck on the octopus boss or the Antlion. I know I never saw anything past that point. But I kept trying to get better, because I really wanted to see more of that world. The Sega Genesis didn't get much love. I know we had a few Sonic the Hedgehog games and Ecco: The Tides of Time, but I can't remember anything else. Ecco was actually one of my favorite games at the time, because I was obsessed with marine biology as a kid (and still am!), but I was so bad at it that I just watched my brother play it instead. Whenever I played, I mostly just swam around and did flips and stuff. We also had some neat PC games. I remember playing Myst, SimTown, Lemmings, Magic Carpet, and Lode Runner: The Legend Returns on our old Windows 95 computer. I always thought Myst was really interesting visually, but I could never solve the puzzles by myself, of course. I spent most of my time with SimTown and Lode Runner. I even messed around with the level editor in Lode Runner a bit and tried to make my own maps. I'm sure all of the games from my childhood helped shape me into the gamer I am today and had major influences on my tastes. I always seemed to prefer the weird stuff, like Super Mario Bros. 2, Blaster Master, and Ecco. I loved platformers most, but also enjoyed RPGs and creative games like Mario Paint and SimTown. Of course, my tastes have since grown to include many other genres and types of games, but the ones I grew up with were the foundation of my hobby and I'll never forget them. How about you? Which games did you have growing up? What did you play the most and why?
Community discussion photo
Time for a nostalgia trip
Everyone remembers their first video game, right? I often think back on the games my family owned growing up and realize how much of an impact they had on my life. Without them, I might not be here today talking about video g...

Experience Points .21: Katamari Damacy

Aug 08 // Ben Davis
Royal Rainbow! The King of All Cosmos might actually be my favorite video game character of all time. It's weird though, because honestly, he's kind of an asshole. He "accidentally" destroys all the stars in the galaxy, and then has the nerve to make his son do all the work creating new ones. He's also incredibly snarky and super critical of the Prince's work. Really, dad? You're gonna force me to fix your mistakes and then tell me I'm not doing it well enough? I'm really feeling the love here... But even after all the abuse, I just can't help but admire the King of All Cosmos. I mean, just look at him! He's fit, handsome, has a quirky fashion sense, well-groomed facial hair, and a shockingly noticeable bulge (oh myyy). And did I mention he literally vomits rainbows? He is the very definition of fabulous. The King's dialogue is one of the most entertaining aspects of Katamari. Hearing him put down the Prince in such a nonchalant way is pretty funny. Plus he's got a witty sense of humor and a really strange way of viewing the world. It's fun to see what he thinks of humans and their way of life as he tries to understand why they do the things they do. He talks a lot (and I mean a lot!), but I never got tired of hearing his weird and wonderful thoughts or the strange record-scratching sound he makes. The King of All Cosmos may be a horrible father and a huge asshole, but he's just such a lovable asshole. I mean, it's hard to be mad at a man that has rainbows bursting out of every orifice! [embed]297398:59858:0[/embed] Na naaa na na na na naa naa naa na naa naa na na na~ It's almost impossible to talk about Katamari and not mention the soundtrack. It's one of the most unique video game soundtracks I've ever heard, filled with relentlessly happy songs and catchy melodies. If I ever want to smile, I simply have to put on some Katamari music. It cheers me up instantly. The vocal tracks are the best. Some of my favorites from the first game include "Lonely Rolling Star," "Katamaritaino," "A Crimson Rose and a Gin Tonic," and "Katamari Mambo" (I especially enjoy the male singer in that last one; he sounds so crazy!). Then there's "Cherry Blossom Color Season" with some adorable child vocals, "Que Sera Sera" with its notable English vocals ("I want to wad you up into my life!"), and "Katamari on the Rocks" which gets stuck in my head for days whenever I play the game. And I can't forget to mention "The Wonderful Star's Walk is Wonderful," which may not be a vocal track, but it's my personal favorite. I could honestly gush about every song on the soundtrack; the whole thing is fantastic! I had to give special mention to the title screen music, though. It's the very first thing the player hears upon turning on the game, and it's fantastic. It's basically just a guy singing a simple melody, but it's an instantly classic tune. It's calming, cheerful, quirky, and immediately recognizable. All you have to do is sing the first two notes ("Na naaa...") and it's already in my head! For the people The basic premise of Katamari is to roll junk up into a ball. It's a very simple idea, but it's crazy just how fun it is. It starts the player off as a tiny little ball rolling up thumbtacks and candies, growing larger and picking up progressively bigger objects like trash cans and bicycles, and eventually becoming huge enough to roll up entire buildings and even the very island they're standing on. It's such a wonderful feeling to see the Katamari growing larger and more powerful by the second and rolling up everything in its way. But I always find that the most fun comes from rolling up people. The behavior of the humans in Katamari games is hilarious. When the Katamari is still really small, they sort of just go about their business normally, most of the time not even giving a second glance to the weird ball of junk rolling around them. But once it's big enough, people will notice it and run away in terror, flailing their arms wildly. Even when they get rolled up themselves, they keep flailing their arms and legs in a comically energetic manner, like insects that are stuck on their backs. They also make funny noises upon being picked up. Usually it's a goofy shouting or laughing sound, but many of them make other strange noises. The biker punks' cries are especially odd. This video has a good sampling of the many sounds the people make. It may seem cruel to enjoy rolling people up into a ball of random objects, potentially crushing them as things like cars and buildings are added into the mix, or impaling them on fence posts and street signs, or burning them on campfires, or drowning them as the Katamari rolls through the ocean. And all the while they await their fate of being turned into a flaming hot star in a newly reformed galaxy. But, you know, they'll probably be okay... right? I hope? I'm sure they're fine... My cousin Dipp The Prince's many cousins are a bizarre bunch of individuals. They can be found hidden in each level, and can later be selected for use in the multiplayer mini-game. Over the course of the series, more and more cousins were added to the mix, and they became playable characters for the main game as well. Even though they're essentially just costume swaps of the Prince (they don't have special abilities or anything), I just love collecting all the little guys. Whenever I find a cousin as I'm rolling around one of the levels, I absolutely have to roll them up. If they're too big, I make it my goal to grow large enough to grab them before the timer runs out. The cousins also have some of the craziest designs in the game. They're all very colorful with differently-shaped heads. There's Ichigo who looks like a strawberry, Marny who's shaped like a tennis ball, Nickel who's a robot, Lalala who is always naked, Miso who literally has a bowl of soup for a head (filled with actual soup in later games), and many more. My two favorite cousins are Dipp and Odeko. Dipp's body is covered with brightly-colored, flashing polka dots so he looks like a disco ball or something, and Odeko has an unreasonably tall head which grows taller in the later games and makes certain items like the headphones look really funny. I almost always play as those two. Throughout the Katamari series, the cousins seem to get weirder and weirder. The original 23 from the first game have all had their features altered and intensified, while newer, crazier cousins are introduced as well. I really like them though. They're like a strange, dysfunctional, rainbow-colored family. I bet they have the greatest reunions! Must find all of the things! Katamari Damacy is one of those games where I have to collect everything. I feel like I haven't truly finished the game until I've rolled up every last object I can find. This mentality is mainly due to the very detailed collection screen, which lists every object by category, location, and size, as well as a separate list for rare objects with special names. Each list provides a percentage of items that have been collected, which of course made the completionist gamer in me want to fill out each list for 100% completion. Katamari also took one step further with its collection screen by adding funny little descriptions for each object in the game. The descriptions appear to be written from the perspective of the King of All Cosmos, since they often use the royal We, which the King enjoys using to refer to himself. Since the majority of the objects are human items, the King sort of has to guess at what they're used for through observation, so a lot of the descriptions are humorous. Some of my favorite descriptions include the peach ("A butt-shaped fruit that is more tasty than butts."), the chopsticks ("Why are these called chopsticks? And why are they so difficult to use?"), the toothbrush ("A stick to put in your mouth. There's got to be a purpose..."), the nail clipper ("Used to clip human claws. We wonder if it hurts."), the handcuffs ("If you do something really bad these may be used on you! Or if you are good..."), and the dung beetle ("Rolls cow dung and makes it bigger. We feel a little rivalry here."). The collection screens are always a joy to read through. Every time I find new items, I go directly to the collection to read what the King has to say about it. In fact, there's actually a Twitter account specifically dedicated to cataloging every single Katamari item with their descriptions! And now for something completely different It's not often I praise a game for its cutscenes, but Katamari's cutscenes are simply glorious. The game's intro is just about the happiest, craziest thing I've ever watched, and it sets the mood perfectly. It has rainbows bursting everywhere, animals dancing and singing, the King flying around and looking all regal, the Prince doing a happy little dance, and really catchy, upbeat music. It might just be my favorite opening scene of all time, simply because of how wacky and cheerful it is. Those ducks get me every time! And then there are the other cutscenes which focus on the human Hoshino family as they live their daily lives while Katamari are being rolled in the background. These scenes are particularly awkward. The Hoshinos are all square and boxy, move very slowly, and speak in slow, unenthusiastic voices, but something about their boring demeanor clashes with the wackiness of the game in a hilarious way. The cutscenes always had me laughing in a "what did I just watch?" kind of way, and I kept looking forward to seeing more of them. Oh, and the little girl also has her own cutscenes after each constellation level is completed. She gets a peculiar sensation and proclaims, "Oh! I feel it. I feel the cosmos!" before swirling out of control into the cosmos herself. I love those scenes so much. Past Experience Points .01: The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask.02: Shadow of the Colossus.03: EarthBound.04: Catherine.05: Demon's Souls.06: No More Heroes.07: Paper Mario.08: Persona 4.09: Final Fantasy IX.10: Mega Man Legends.11: Rayman Origins.12: Metal Slug 3.13: Animal Crossing.14: Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King.15: Super Mario Sunshine.16: Final Fantasy VII.17: Nier.18: Chrono Trigger.19: Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance.20: Red Dead Redemption
Katamari Damacy photo
Oh! I feel it. I feel the cosmos!
Experience Points is a series in which I highlight some of the most memorable things about a particular game. These can include anything from a specific scene or moment, a character, a weapon or item, a level or location, a p...

Review: Spider: Rite of the Shrouded Moon

Aug 08 // Ben Davis
Spider: Rite of the Shrouded Moon (PC [reviewed], PS4, Vita, iOS, Android)Developer: Tiger StylePublisher: Tiger StyleRelease Date: August 6, 2015 (PC, iOS) / TBA (PS4, Vita, Android)MSRP: $12.99 Spider is primarily about eating insects and getting high scores. You play as the titular character in a large, seemingly abandoned estate, and come equipped with all of the skills a real spider would have. It can cling to almost any surface, move around very quickly, jump incredible distances, and spin webs to trap prey. Playing as a speedy, acrobatic hunter feels really great, and the controls are very responsive and precise. But on top of the slick web-slinging gameplay, there's also an underlying puzzle game hidden in the recesses of the estate for players who want to delve a bit deeper. The core gameplay is simple enough to learn the basics very quickly. Basically, jump from one surface to another while spinning a web to start building, and try to create geometric shapes which will be filled in automatically once completed. These webs will trap passing insects, which can then be eaten for points and more silk to spin more webs. Eating multiple insects without leaving the web will increase a combo meter, but the combo will reset to zero once the spider touches any other surface. [embed]297461:59879:0[/embed] Gameplay leaves plenty of room to develop new skills and strategies to maximize your score. Combos remain as long as the spider is touching a web, so you can try building multiple webs to jump between to keep the combo going. More points are earned by eating smaller insects first and saving the larger and rarer ones until the combo meter has built up a bit, so figuring out which insects to catch and eat in which order can drastically alter your score. Different insects require different strategies to eat them. Most have to be caught in a web, but some will need to be led into the web somehow and some can only be caught in strong webs. These strong insects might destroy webs that are too weak, releasing any other captured insects in the process. Other insects can only be killed by being tackled, such as hornets and ants. These have a separate combo meter which runs out in ten seconds unless the spider tackles another insect to keep it going. Just jump into them to eat them. No webs necessary! But be careful, because some of them can fight back. Spider also has an interesting time and weather mechanic. The game detects your location and mimics the current time and weather in-game, between four different scenarios (clear day, rainy day, clear night, and rainy night). You can choose to opt out of the location services as well, in which case it just uses the developer's location. It also tracks the current phase of the moon if it's a clear night. The time, weather, and moon phases all affect gameplay in different ways. Certain insects only come out when it's daytime or while it's raining, and some areas can only be accessed during certain weather conditions. Sometimes, the level will feel completely different between night and day. For example, one level in the barn is filled with a normal variety of flying insects during the day, but at night it becomes infested with hornet nests, totally changing the way you play it. My only complaint is that I felt some of the levels could have used more obvious differences between the various time and weather scenarios, but for the most part there was a good variety. Then there are the moon phases, and this is where the underlying puzzle game comes in. While roaming the estate as a spider, you'll come across secret areas and clues pertaining to certain mysteries. Many of these clues can only be found and solved if special requirements are met, such as playing during a new moon or at night while it's raining, although some of them can also be completed whenever. Solving mysteries will unlock more areas to play, and the game cannot be truly beaten until all clues are found and the final mystery is solved. While time traveling and altering weather mechanics is an option for those less patient players, Spider is really meant to be played slowly over a period of time. Try playing at different times of the day to find new stuff. Or if it starts to rain one day, then try to find some time to jump into the game and see what all has changed with the gloomy weather. Once you start finding clues, you can begin to synchronize your gaming schedule with the phases of the moon and plan out certain nights to return to the game to check on something. Eventually, as the month goes on, you'll start to unravel the mysteries of the estate. Or, if you don't care about all that, there's still the incredibly fun web-slinging, insect-catching action to focus on, which should be more than enough to keep you engaged. I'm sure some players will be more involved with achieving high scores and climbing up the leaderboards than trying to solve riddles and look for clues. Either way you choose to play, it's still a great game. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the developer.]
Spider review photo
Strong web
I will take any opportunity to play as an animal in a video game. Let me control a dolphin, a wolf, a shark, or even a tiny little mosquito and I'm happy. As you surely already guessed, Rite of the Shrouded Moon puts the...

Splatoon update photo
Splatoon update

Squid Girl outfit coming to Splatoon this week in Japan


You gotta be squiddin' me
Aug 05
// Ben Davis
[Update: We've spotted all the Squid Girl gear in the U.S. build of the August update. Thanks, Nintendo! Please do Ranma 1/2 next.] Ever since Splatoon's characters were first announced, I've been seeing comparisons between t...

Experience Points .20: Red Dead Redemption

Jul 25 // Ben Davis
The desert life There really aren't enough games that go for the Wild Western setting, and probably no other game pulls it off quite as spectacularly as Red Dead Redemption. It's set in an area inspired by the Rio Grande Basin connecting Texas and Mexico, as well as the deserts and prairies of Arizona and New Mexico. It also takes place in a time of Wild West cowboys, horses, outlaws, gunslinging, and saloons, so it basically feels like playing a classic Spaghetti Western film. The desert vistas in this game are absolutely gorgeous. In fact, my favorite thing to do was just to ride around and look at all the different locations. The sandy expanses, the majestic rock formations, the fields of cacti and desert shrubs, the old Western-style towns and dilapidated structures, and those sunsets... my god. Every inch of this game is stunning. Sometimes I just sat around on top of my horse for a few minutes and marveled at the world around me. I've only been out West once in my life, when I was like five years old, so I didn't really get to appreciate it as much as I would have liked. I'd love to take a trip around that area again sometime, in part because Red Dead Redemption makes it look so beautiful. It's rare that a game makes me want to go out and see the world like this one did. Draw! Good old-fashioned duels are a staple of the Western genre, so it's no surprise they make an appearance here. I've been obsessed with Western duel scenes ever since I watched The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, which has quite possibly the most glorious duel ever filmed. Two men (or three, in the case of the film) standing at a distance, their hands readied above their guns, sweat rolling down their faces, waiting for the signal to draw their weapons to see who can shoot faster and become the victor... it's always such a thrilling scene to watch. The duels in Red Dead Redemption aren't quite as long and fancy as the ones from Sergio Leone's films, but they're still very satisfying. Some duels take place as a part of the story, but many occur randomly. Marston may be challenged to duels by outlaws just by walking through a town, or if he's caught cheating at poker, or even if he rudely knocks over a passing stranger. If he accepts the duel, then the standoff begins. The camera shows both participants before coming in close to focus on Marston's hand hovering above his holstered gun, and then time slows down as shots are fired. It's very cinematic, which makes it feel even more like an homage to its film inspirations. I also like that, in some cases, Marston can win by simply disarming his opponent rather than killing them. Doing so generates both honor and fame, while killing only generates fame. It makes me feel good to play as the virtuous Western hero sometimes, so I always tried to aim for my opponent's gun hand whenever possible. It's what the man with no name would have done (unless he's dueling against Angel Eyes, that is!). John Marston, with the rope, in the conservatory Speaking of being honorable, I particularly enjoyed the option of using the lasso to subdue foes. It's not always the best method, but I tried to use the lasso as often as possible, not only because it means I don't have to kill as many people, but it's also just really fun to use. Bad guys can be lassoed, hogtied, and lifted onto the back of Marston's horse to take them to jail kicking and screaming. It's a bit trickier to capture bounties this way, because the player often needs to act quickly before the criminal's pals appear to help him out. Plus it feels good knowing that it's possible to solve problems non-violently. I'm always pleased when games give me these kinds of options. Of course, if the player wants to be a bit more villainous with their lasso, that's also a possibility. Marston can lasso someone while on horseback and drag them along behind him to kill them, hold on to the rope with the lasso around their necks to choke them, lasso their horses to try and buck them off a cliff, or even go the old-fashioned dastardly route and hogtie someone and then leave them lying on the train tracks to meet their demise. All you need is a bit of creativity to turn the lasso into a deadly weapon. A horse with no name John Marston wouldn't get very far without a trusty steed, and luckily there are plenty of horses for him to choose from. While the horses in Red Dead Redemption may not be as memorable as, say, Epona or Agro, they still play a very important role as companions. The game provides Marston with his own horse early on, but it also allows him to steal other people's horses or even capture and tame wild horses whenever he wants. If a strong-looking stallion is spotted in the wild, Marston can use his lasso to reign it in and then jump on its back to try and tame it. This was my favorite method of finding horses. I tend to go for the solid white or solid black horses, which seemed to be kind of rare and challenging to tame, but they're just so impressive-looking. I liked to pretend I was riding around on Shadowfax or one of the Black Riders' horses. Many players probably go through a lot of different horses during their playthrough, but I usually tried to keep my horses as long as possible. They tended to be more trustworthy and stronger the longer I kept them around, and I also couldn't help but feel a sense of connection with my horse friends after a while. I hated to see them get hurt, especially the ones I captured in the wild since so much work went into finding them and gaining their trust. For something that could easily be seen as a disposable item within the game, Red Dead Redemption sure did a fantastic job of making the horses feel alive and full of personality, something more than just a mode of transportation. Gambling man While the story and free-roam play of Red Dead Redemption was phenomenal, I also just could not get enough of the mini-games. Poker, liar's dice, five finger fillet, horseshoes, arm wrestling, blackjack... I spent so much time playing all of these games in each of the settlements, trying to master them and win money. They're all really fun and impressively fleshed out. While I probably spent the most time playing poker, my best game was definitely liar's dice. I'd actually never heard of it before playing Red Dead Redemption, but I quickly mastered it and raked in the cash. Horseshoes, on the other hand, was definitely not my game. I was terrible at aiming correctly, but it was still fun to learn. Five finger fillet was also enjoyable simply because I would never want to try it in real life. I value my own hands, thank you very much, but I don't mind the risk of butchering Marston's body parts. Although it is kind of strange how his hands seem to be just fine even if he accidentally stabs himself repeatedly with a knife. I messed up so much that I'm surprised he still had fingers! A grizzly encounter There is almost nothing more terrifying than hearing the snarl of a cougar while Marston is roaming the wilderness in Red Dead Redemption. Cougars are fast and powerful, they can easily kill in one or two strikes, and they're very difficult to detect due to their tan color which blends in well with the sandy desert environment. Usually, the player won't know a cougar is near until they hear the loud, ferocious snarling. The sound always stopped me dead in my tracks, as I desperately tried to search for the location of the animal before it was too late. Then when they pounce, it's a strenuous fight to the death as I try to avoid their attacks and get a few shots in as they're running around. Even when I was being careful, they mauled me to death on more than one occasion. The cougars are no joke! But even the cougars pale in comparison to the grizzly bears. The bears make a loud growling sound as well, but more often than not, I would see the bear before I heard it. I would just be minding my own business in the woods, then turn around and BAM... there's a big old grizzly bear bounding straight toward me! It scared me every single time, and sometimes I'd even have to pause the game for a bit just to take a breather before confronting the animal. The bears in Red Dead Redemption are arguably even more dangerous than the cougars. Sure, they're slower, but they're so powerful and difficult to take down that I found them to be way more frightening. And usually, once I killed one bear, two or three more would come running out of nowhere to avenge their friend. It was almost certain death once I found myself surrounded by multiple bears. Chill out, bears! I can only handle so much bear at once! Past Experience Points .01: The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask.02: Shadow of the Colossus.03: EarthBound.04: Catherine.05: Demon's Souls.06: No More Heroes.07: Paper Mario.08: Persona 4.09: Final Fantasy IX.10: Mega Man Legends.11: Rayman Origins.12: Metal Slug 3.13: Animal Crossing.14: Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King.15: Super Mario Sunshine.16: Final Fantasy VII.17: Nier.18: Chrono Trigger.19: Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
Red Dead Redemption photo
John Marston! Remember the name!
Experience Points is a series in which I highlight some of the most memorable things about a particular game. These can include anything from a specific scene or moment, a character, a weapon or item, a level or location, a p...

Experience Points .19: Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

Jul 18 // Ben Davis
When it rains, it pours Metal Gear Rising is full of insane, high-energy boss fights. Sometimes Raiden will be up against gigantic war machines which he can climb all over, and sometimes he'll be in one-on-one duels against villains roughly his size. But no matter what, the fights themselves are always impressive. My personal favorite boss is Monsoon. He's a cyborg ninja with distinctive red and black armor and a helmet covering most of his face save for his creepy grin. His weapon of choice is a pair of sais, which he's quite deadly with. And true to his name, his boss fight takes place in the pouring rain. His most unique feature, however, is the fact that his body is actually made up of a bunch of smaller segments held together by electromagnetic forces. This allows him to separate his body at will, which he does quite often in order to attack from great distances and to easily dodge incoming attacks. If Raiden tries to attack normally, he won't be able to land a single hit with Monsoon's body constantly shifting, separating, and reconnecting at high speeds to avoid injury. Patience and clever tactics are required to even scratch this guy. After a while, Monsoon will begin demonstrating another ability which allows him to lift and hurl enormous objects. He starts chucking tanks and aircraft at Raiden like it's nothing, even going so far as to meld a bunch of them together into one giant Katamari-like ball of metal. Things get pretty crazy! This fight in particular forces the player to master parrying, a skill which quickly becomes essential for survival. If Raiden is unable to parry effectively in the fight against Monsoon, he'll be taking far too many punches, kicks, and sais to the face to survive for very long. It's one hell of a fight, complete with an excellent heavy metal-ish theme song, and it perfectly encapsulates the frantic, over-the-top combat of Metal Gear Rising. The incredible backflipping feline There is possibly no greater character in Metal Gear Rising than the cat. What cat, you ask? You know, the ninja cat! It can be found walking around the beach in R-01. It's kind of hard to spot sometimes, so the player has to really be looking for it, but it's totally worth it to seek the animal out. What's so great about this small white cat? It doesn't really do much of anything, just wanders around the beach lazily. That is, unless Raiden tries to attack the poor, defenseless kitty. Don't worry though, there is no way Raiden is going to land a hit on this cat. When attacked, the cat will perform a killer backflip and dodge out of the way. Every single time! No matter what attack Raiden throws at this ninja cat, it will demonstrate its impressive evasive skills and come away unscathed. I spent so much time on the beach just watching this awesome cat backflip out of the way of every move Raiden attempted. Had the cat decided to go on the offensive and scratch back, Raiden surely would have been defeated by this nigh invincible feline. The ninja cat also makes another appearance later in the game, during a long cutscene where Monsoon is having a chat with a weakened Raiden. The camera can be controlled during this scene, and if Raiden looks to his right, he'll see the cat walk right up to one of the cyborg soldiers. The soldier gets really excited, getting down on the ground on all fours to pet the kitty before it leaves him in disinterest. Then the soldier gets back up and sadly waves goodbye. It's really adorable and goofy, and it completely turns Monsoon's serious monologue into a bit of a joke. ¡Muy guapo! Early on in the game, Raiden has to swing by Mexico to infiltrate a cybernetics lab. He was apparently told to wear a disguise so as not to draw too much attention to himself in this foreign country, so of course he goes the full stereotypical route and decides to wear a poncho and a ridiculously large mariachi hat. Excellent choice! Immediately after stepping out of his car, everyone around notices his strange appearance and starts freaking out, commenting on his outfit and wondering if he's actually a mariachi player or rather a cyborg in disguise. He quickly descends into a sewer, ditching the outfit and saying, "Adios, amigos," as he disappears. It's pretty much the best cutscene. Then mission R-02 begins with Raiden back to his normal suit (lame!). I was pretty disappointed, as I was really hoping I would get to play the entire level as Mariachi Raiden. Fortunately for me, the mariachi outfit becomes unlocked as an alternate skin after completing R-02, meaning I could play the remainder of the game in a totally absurd costume. Obviously, I only played as Mariachi Raiden from that point on. I mean, how could I not? Cyborg's best friend Raiden's mechanical canine companion, Blade Wolf, is such a joy to have around. He may not be useful for combat (his AI apparently lacks brutality), but he is very helpful for scouting purposes, and he's a surprisingly entertaining conversationalist as well. He may be a robot, but he has quite a unique personality since his AI was created to be similar to a human brain. He's especially noble, often questions why killing is necessary, and is always yearning for freedom. I particularly enjoy Wolf's dry sense of humor. He always takes notice of Raiden's jokes and likes to point out that he doesn't think Raiden is very funny. He's also quick to pick up on puns and expressions, such as when Raiden said they should "throw him a bone" and Wolf quickly noted that his choice of words was amusing on two levels, since his body is modeled after a canine and canines like bones. Wolf was even popular enough to get his own DLC chapter where he was featured as a playable character. It's a pretty neat side chapter which requires the player to be extra sneaky to get stealth kills, since Wolf himself is not that great at fighting (even though he has a giant chainsaw which he can fling around with his tail). I'm glad he got so much recognition as an excellent character, worthy of being playable even though he's not humanoid. Honestly though, who wouldn't want to play as a badass robotic wolf? The perfect hiding spot Ah, cardboard boxes. A classic staple of the Metal Gear franchise. They're back once again in Metal Gear Rising. Raiden can of course find cardboard boxes scattered around which he can hide under and walk around in a most (in)conspicuous manner. And not just cardboard boxes, but metal drum cans as well. Plus, if he's wearing the mariachi outfit, the boxes and drums he hides under will be decorated with his festive hat. Totally not suspicious-looking at all! My favorite thing to do is to have Raiden hide inside a drum can while wearing the mariachi outfit and then go into a ninja run. This causes him to fall over and start rolling around sideways inside of the drum can, with the hat somehow remaining firmly fastened to the top. This move can actually hurt enemies and destroy parts of the environment, but eventually Raiden gets sick and has to stop rolling to vomit. Metal Gear Rising even went a step further with the cardboard boxes by including enemy soldiers which hid inside boxes themselves and could be found and killed for an achievement. There are a total of five of these MIBs (Men In Boxes) to find, and locating all of them unlocks a special wooden sword. The first one I found made me laugh pretty hard, because I honestly wasn't expecting anyone else to be using the cardboard box tactic. Apparently, it's becoming quite a popular technique! A million little pieces It may sound twisted, but slicing enemies up into tiny bits in Metal Gear Rising feels incredibly satisfying. It probably helps that most of the enemies are machines, and even the humanoid enemies are riddled with cybernetic enhancements, so slicing them up doesn't really result in a bloodbath of internal organs and icky stuff. It's mostly mechanical body parts, with a bit of blood splatter thrown in for color. But still, it feels amazing. Raiden has a special ability which allows him to essentially slow down time in what's known as "Blade Mode," so that he can hack and slash enemies with quickness and precision. With Blade Mode activated, a single cyborg soldier can become hundreds of sliced up pieces of cyborg soldier within a matter of seconds, as Raiden unleashes a flurry of sword swipes in every direction. It's almost hypnotizing to watch it happen. And it's not just the enemies Raiden can obliterate. Most of the environments are fully destructible, so even when he's not in combat, Raiden can enter Blade Mode and slice things up to his heart's content. I spent a lot of time running around the levels trying to see what all I could destroy, slicing up trees, tearing through cars, turning crates into splinters, bringing down entire staircases. It just felt so satisfying to watch the world crumble at my hands. Mwahahaha! Past Experience Points .01: The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask.02: Shadow of the Colossus.03: EarthBound.04: Catherine.05: Demon's Souls.06: No More Heroes.07: Paper Mario.08: Persona 4.09: Final Fantasy IX.10: Mega Man Legends.11: Rayman Origins.12: Metal Slug 3.13: Animal Crossing.14: Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King.15: Super Mario Sunshine.16: Final Fantasy VII.17: Nier.18: Chrono Trigger
Metal Gear Rising photo
Nanomachines, son
Experience Points is a series in which I highlight some of the most memorable things about a particular game. These can include anything from a specific scene or moment, a character, a weapon or item, a level or location, a p...

Camp Fangamer photo
Camp Fangamer

Camp Fangamer celebrates EarthBound's 25th anniversary for charity


PK Livestream!
Jul 18
// Ben Davis
A few years back, the folks at Fangamer and Starmen.net held an EarthBound Bash which raised $23,420 for charity. This year, in celebration of EarthBound's 25th anniversary, they're hosting a similar event known as Camp Fanga...

Experience Points .18: Chrono Trigger

Jul 11 // Ben Davis
It's not easy being green I absolutely love when games give us unconventional heroes. Chrono Trigger is full of them; apart from the three main protagonists, the party also recruits a humanoid frog, a robot, a cave woman, and even a villainous mage. But let's face it, the best character by far has got to be Frog. Frog is a very mysterious character at first. He sort of appears out of nowhere to help Crono and Lucca out of a jam, and doesn't really explain who he is, where he came from, or why he is a bipedal talking frog. But the party just sort of accepts this strange fellow and welcomes him into their midst without question. He is really good with a sword, after all! Later, it's revealed that Frog's real name is actually Glenn, and he used to be a human before Magus killed his friend Cyrus and transformed him into an amphibian. He has since dedicated his life to tracking down and defeating Magus to get revenge for the death of Cyrus, and probably to try and get his old body back as well. Frog is just all around cool, though. I love everything about him: his triumphant theme song, his victory animation where he flexes his surprisingly huge muscles, his fancy Old English accent, the way he hops around instead of walking, and simply the basic fact that he's a walking, talking frog wearing clothes and wielding a large sword. He's just the greatest! Moral dilemmas at the Millennial Fair Chrono Trigger is one of those games that makes the player very aware of their actions. Almost as soon as the game begins, the player is being judged, even when they're just trying to enjoy a lighthearted festival. Of course, they won't be aware of this until later on. At a certain point during Crono's adventure, he is apprehended by the chancellor of Guardia Castle for allegedly kidnapping the princess, Marle, and is swiftly put on trial. As the trial progresses, the player may quickly become overcome with dread when they realize their seemingly simple gameplay choices are in question. Remember that man's lunch you stole at the fair? Or the girl with the lost cat who you failed to help? Or the moment you bumped into Marle and then went to pick up the pendant she dropped? The player may not have thought much about these things at the time, but now these simple actions are being used as evidence against their character in a life or death situation. Now, in reality the choices don't actually affect much. Crono will still be thrown in prison and given the death penalty whether or not he's found guilty. Of course, I had no idea of this at the time. I figured I had completely screwed myself over by stealing lunches and grabbing dropped pendants, and I was starting to feel really bad about the way I had been playing. I was so used to being able to do whatever I wanted in games, without repercussion. Going into other people's houses and smashing all their pots? No problem! Taking money and items from their cabinets without their consent? Go right ahead! But now, in Chrono Trigger, I'm suddenly being judged, and I look like a complete jerk. Later, Crono finds out that the chancellor is, in fact, a fake and that the trial was a set-up. But even so, it still got me to think twice about every action I took in Chrono Trigger from that point on. You never know when some seemingly insignificant choice could have major consequences! [embed]295724:59448:0[/embed] Yearnings of the wind Chrono Trigger has an excellent soundtrack in general, but there's one song in particular that I love more than the rest. "Wind Scene" plays on the overworld map in 600 AD. I'm honestly not entirely sure what it is about this song that makes me love it so much, but hearing it always leaves me feeling peaceful and happy. Whenever I play Chrono Trigger, as soon as I get to the Middle Ages, I just sit around on the overworld and listen to this song play on a loop. It's just so lovely and mystical, I can't get enough of it. A few other songs come close, including the heroic "Frog's Theme" and the mysterious "Schala's Theme" (which was bizarrely sampled in a rap song by Wiz Khalifa... anyone remember that?), but "Wind Scene" is my comfort song. It never fails to lift my spirits. All life begins with Nu and ends with Nu If Chrono Trigger had a mascot, it would probably be the Nu. Nus are odd, round creatures found throughout the game. They exist in all eras, from 65,000,000 BC all the way up to 2300 AD. They can be merchants, enemies, assistants, and regular old NPCs. But what exactly is a Nu, anyway? The one found in 2300 AD is actually a robot built by Belthasar, programmed with his memories and left in charge of the time-traveling ship, the Epoch. So are all of the Nus robots? It's not really clear, although some of the other Nus the player can come across behave more like living creatures than machines. One example is my very favorite Nu. He can be found walking around the Zeal Palace, behaving very strangely and sidling sideways across a platform. He politely asks Crono to scratch his back for him. After a nice, satisfying scratch, a message pops up which says, "You discovered the Nu's scratch-point!" while a little victory tune plays (Oh good, I've been wondering where their scratch-point was the entire game!). This doesn't actually do anything significant, but it's still pretty much the best NPC interaction I've ever had. God I love those Nus! [embed]295724:59449:0[/embed] Screams internally This is the first time I've featured a sound effect as a noteworthy Experience Points memory, but this one definitely deserves praise. The sound of Lavos screaming is something that has stuck firmly in my mind whenever I think about Chrono Trigger. It's a truly terrifying noise; a high-pitched, bloodcurdling roar which lasts just a bit longer than one might expect. It's got this otherworldly quality to it, and it definitely does the job of making Lavos seem like a frightening, formidable foe. In terms of classic villainous sound effects, I'd put Lavos's scream just about at the top of the list, well above Kefka's laugh, Sinistar's evil taunting, and even the horrifying ambient noises of Giygas. It's a scream that says, "I will destroy you and everything you love," and that's exactly what he'll do should Crono and friends fail in their mission. The kingdom in the clouds The world of Chrono Trigger is relatively small compared to most RPGs, but the game makes up for that by having the player explore through several unique eras, each with its own distinct theme and alterations to the world. Starting in the present day, players can travel all the way back to prehistoric times in a land roaming with dinosaurs and cavemen, and up through the ages to the future world, a desolate wasteland of machinery and food shortages. But the most intriguing time period is the Age of Antiquity in 12,000 BC. When Crono and the gang first arrive in Antiquity, the world appears to be even worse off than the post-apocalyptic future. It's essentially an Ice Age, with a powerful blizzard covering everything with snow and ice and only a few scattered caves are present for shelter. That is until the party comes across a strange building known as the Skyway, which teleports them up into the clouds to the floating island kingdom of Zeal. Zeal is a kingdom created by magic as a way to escape the harsh winter climate. Only the Enlightened Ones, people who can use magic, are allowed in the kingdom, with normal folk cast away to live on the frozen continent underneath. Not only is Zeal a beautiful place, bright and sunny with a waterfall flowing down into the eternal blizzard below, but it's also full of secrets and strange occurrences. The kingdom is home to many strange individuals, books overflowing with magical power, and all sorts of neat stuff (not to mention an excellent theme song). A few buildings even have hidden passages which can only be found by players clever enough to solve a certain riddle. I bet it would be really fun to live in a place like Zeal, even though many of its denizens are rather snobbish, and in some cases, total assholes (I'm looking at you, Dalton!). Luckily, there are other much nicer people like Schala and Janus to balance out the snobbery. I'll just chill with them instead. The nature of machinery Chrono Trigger has a ton of lengthy, rewarding side quests, my favorite of which begins in the Middle Ages (and actually turns out to be two side quests in one!). A woman named Fiona lives in a barren desert wasteland, which used to be a thriving forest before enemies appeared and destroyed it. After defeating the fiend lurking in the desert, the party returns to Fiona, who is eager to start planting trees to restore the forest. Unfortunately, Fiona fears it will take ages to plant enough trees for the forest to return to its former glory. She certainly would not be able to finish the task in her lifetime, as it could take centuries. Overhearing this, the party's mechanical friend, Robo, kindly offers his services to help Fiona plant trees. Robo bids farewell to Crono and friends, and tells them to look for him in the future. Outside in the desert, Robo can be seen working diligently by plowing the land, sowing seeds, and even acting as a scarecrow (adorable!). 400 years later, the party arrives to find a huge, lush forest in place of the desert. In the center of the forest is a shrine dedicated to its robotic creator. Lucca reactivates Robo, who is pleased to see everyone again after hundreds of years, and proposes a party to celebrate their reunion. During their celebratory campfire in the forest, a second side quest begins. A casual remark from Marle leaves Lucca dwelling on her memories. Late at night, after everyone else has fallen asleep, Lucca steps out to open up a portal back to a moment from her past. It's a deeply personal, tragic moment where Lucca's mother gets caught in a machine, resulting in an injury that leaves her paralyzed. A young Lucca, powerless, must stand by and watch it all happen. But this time, future Lucca can intervene! Well, possibly. If the player is very quick and careful, there is a password to discover which can shut off the machine, saving Lucca's mother from a life without walking. This is actually very difficult to do correctly, though, so most players will unfortunately fail, leaving Lucca to watch her mother's accident all over again. Afterwards, Lucca returns to the present to find Robo waiting for her. If the past remains unchanged, the two have a touching conversation where Robo offers to donate his legs to Lucca's mother so she can walk again. Now, this may sound cold of me, but I actually prefer to leave the past as is and not rescue Lucca's mother, just because the cutscene between Lucca and Robo afterwards is so much better. It shows a funny, caring side of Robo where he offers to help make Lucca happier, and Lucca calls him a friend which he seems to be pleasantly surprised by. It's such a heartwarming exchange, even though it comes at a cost. Past Experience Points .01: The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask.02: Shadow of the Colossus.03: EarthBound.04: Catherine.05: Demon's Souls.06: No More Heroes.07: Paper Mario.08: Persona 4.09: Final Fantasy IX.10: Mega Man Legends.11: Rayman Origins.12: Metal Slug 3.13: Animal Crossing.14: Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King.15: Super Mario Sunshine.16: Final Fantasy VII.17: Nier
Chrono Trigger photo
But... the future refused to change
Experience Points is a series in which I highlight some of the most memorable things about a particular game. These can include anything from a specific scene or moment, a character, a weapon or item, a level or location, a p...

Spelunky book photo
Spelunky book

A book about Spelunky is in the works from game creator Derek Yu


Published by Boss Fight Books
Jul 09
// Ben Davis
I have lost count of how many hours I've sunk into Spelunky, both the original free PC game and the multiplatform remake. And just when I think I'm starting to master the tough-as-nails procedurally generated platformer, I se...
Dragon Quest photo
Dragon Quest

Want more Dragon Quest games localized? You might want to buy Dragon Quest Heroes


The Western world's woe and SE's dough
Jul 08
// Ben Davis
Polygon recently spoke with Dragon Quest series executive producer Yuu Miyake about Dragon Quest Heroes: The World Tree's Woe and the Blight Below (God, I love that title). Since this is the first Dragon Quest game to be...
PSN sale photo
PSN sale

This week's PSN sale offers super deals on superhero titles


Well, super-ish
Jul 08
// Ben Davis
In light of Comic-Con, the PlayStation Store is having a sale on all things superhero-related. The Supserhero Sale is already live, and will be available through July 13, 9:00am PT. It looks like the sale is extended to gener...
Depth photo
Depth

Depth celebrates Shark Week with free-to-play weekend


Free content update also available
Jul 07
// Ben Davis
Depth, the terrifying underwater multiplayer game which pits sharks against divers, is rolling out a ton of neat stuff this week for Shark Week. Beginning Thursday at 10:00am PT, Depth will be free to play on Steam for the we...

Experience Points .17: Nier

Jul 04 // Ben Davis
Don't look at me! Nier's Emil is one of my favorite video game characters of all time. The player first meets Emil in his super creepy mansion, a young boy playing the piano alone with a piece of cloth covering his eyes. Due to the setting, his initial appearance is a little off-putting, but once he begins to open up to the player, he turns out to be anything but creepy. Emil is just about the sweetest, most kind-hearted kid you'll ever meet, but he suffers from a peculiar and unfortunate ailment wherein everything he looks at turns to stone, which is why he always wears a blindfold. His eyes are a great source of shame and guilt for him, which he has a hard time coming to terms with until Kaine, another outcast, comforts him by saying, "Your eyes are not a sin. Don't ever be ashamed of them. They're part of you. A vital part of you." Eventually, he brings the party to a secret laboratory in an attempt to find a cure for his ailment. After a few bizarre revelations and an emotional boss fight, the mission is a success. Emil regains the use of his eyes without the risk of petrification, but unfortunately this comes at a great cost. The process transforms his body into a grotesque, skeletal figure as the player finds him cowering and sobbing on the floor, horrified and ashamed by his own appearance. During a touching moment, Nier assures him that everything will be okay and that they won't treat him any differently. Poor Emil is such a tragic character. He goes from being unable to look at anyone without hurting them, to being ashamed to even be seen because of his disfigured body. But even after so much hardship, he never loses his cheery, optimistic attitude, and he never stops trying to bring happiness to everyone around him. It always makes me so happy that his friends don't treat him any differently after he transforms. Kaine and Nier are nothing but supportive and comforting, and it makes me smile to see Emil light up after being reassured. There are so many scenes with Emil that just make my heart swell. You're the greatest, Emil, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise! Those who dream Nier's gameplay is rather interesting as it's never afraid to suddenly switch things up by throwing in new mechanics from different genres. It may seem like a typical action adventure with RPG elements at first, but then it goes and adds side-scrolling platform segments, top-down perspectives, bullet hell boss fights, survival horror areas, and more like it's nothing at all. And somehow, all of these elements work well and feel completely natural. The strangest part of the game, though, is when it suddenly becomes a text-based adventure of all things, and they still manage to have it make sense within the context of the story. In the Forest of Myth, the party comes upon an odd village of sleeping people. The villagers warn Nier to beware of the words, the "contagious words," but by then it's already too late. A strange illness known as the Deathdream lingers over the forest denizens, trapping them in their dreams, and it quickly begins to take hold of Nier and Weiss. The illness manifests itself as words in the minds of the characters, which appear as text on the screen for the player to read. Rather than speaking, the characters' dialogue appears as written words and their thoughts and actions appear as narration. It's actually rather humorous, because they can read the narration being written about them, and sometimes react as though it's being unfair or deceiving (especially Weiss, who gets very irritated with the narrator's choice of words). There are several dreams the player must enter by speaking with the various villagers. Some of them require some light puzzle solving to escape, such as choosing the correct path to take or answering some reading comprehension questions which make sure the player isn't just skipping through all the dialogue. Failing these sections can actually lead to death and a game over, so players have to be careful and pay attention or they'll never escape from the dreams. It's so bizarre to see a game like Nier suddenly switch gears and try something completely unexpected like this, but somehow it worked so well that it actually resulted in one of my favorite parts of the game. I loved how they worked the text adventure mechanics into the actual story by forming an illness around it, so it actually made sense to be seeing nothing but words on the screen and it didn't feel jarring or clumsy. I'll be curious to see if they try anything else unexpected like this in the sequel! Resident Emil Speaking of the different genre elements, I have to bring up the survival horror section as well, because it's another one of my favorite parts of the game. The area in question is Emil's mansion, a wonderful homage to survival horror games, and to Resident Evil especially. Upon approaching the mansion, all of the colors of the world seem to fade slowly to gray, casting a gloomy atmosphere over the party. Inside, every room has that static Resident Evil camera angle. A butler directs the party to a waiting room, but after waiting around for a while, Nier decides to investigate. After leaving the room, Kaine mysteriously disappears. Weiss begins to panic, believing the mansion to be haunted, as strange things start to happen. Paintings begin changing, creepy, petrified statues of people start showing up, unsettling voices can be heard, a sink randomly starts filling up with blood... this is clearly not a good place to get lost! And yet, the mansion is owned by Emil, the kindest person in the world. His presence really threw me off at first. What is he doing staying in a creepy place like this? He admits to having the power to turn things to stone, so it's safe to assume that all those petrified people were his doing. But is he aware of the bloody sinks and scary paintings? Probably not, since he's always blindfolded. Or maybe he's just used to it. At least he's the one comforting thing about this place, so it's not all creepy. [embed]295242:59325:0[/embed] Play it again, Devola If there's one thing I think everyone can agree on, it's that Nier has a phenomenal soundtrack. It's legitimately one of the very best video game soundtracks I can think of. The fictional language and Latin-esque vocals are haunting and beautiful, and combined with the dreamlike music, memorable melodies, and unique sounds, the result is just magical. Every track is exceptional, but if I had to choose one track to share for those who have never heard anything from the game before, I'd probably choose the "Song of the Ancients." Like much of Nier's music, there are multiple versions, but I chose Devola's version for its peacefulness and the fact that it could be considered a main theme, since it plays in the hub village. It's one of my favorite vocal tracks, along with the themes for Kaine, Emil, and the Shadowlord. Even if you haven't played Nier, I highly recommend giving the rest of the soundtrack a listen if you enjoy this track! Defense against the dark arts Nier often gets criticized for its mediocre gameplay mechanics, most likely because of the combat, since the sword techniques are rather limited. However, there's one aspect of the combat that I found to be especially satisfying: the Sealed Verses. Nier's Sealed Verses are basically magic attacks which are learned by Weiss and can be used by Nier in battle. There are eight Sealed Verses to learn, and two can be equipped at a time. They're all very different and useful in various situations. Dark Blast shoots out small, quick projectiles; Dark Lance fires a barrage of large spears; Dark Hand summons up giant fists for lots of damage; Dark Phantom calls forth a shadowy doppelganger to fight for Nier; Dark Whirlwind creates spinning blades which block enemy projectiles and cause damage; Dark Execution causes spears to burst up out of the ground in straight lines; Dark Gluttony absorbs enemy projectiles and fires them back; and Dark Wall creates a shield around Nier. Combining the various Sealed Verses with the limited physical attacks honestly left me feeling very satisfied with the combat. Even though I usually stuck with Dark Lance, as it seemed to be the most useful for just about any situation, I had a lot of fun experimenting with all the other spells as well. Dark Execution is especially cool, since the spears can pop out of the ground in every direction, impaling enemies all around Nier. I loved that I could be slashing Shades with a sword one second, summoning a huge, magical fist to pound them into the ground the next, and then finishing them off by impaling them with spears popping out of the ground below them. Honestly, the Sealed Verses simply felt amazing to use, and I thought they more than made up for the lackluster swordplay. The bold and the beautiful Initially, I didn't like Kaine very much. Scantily clad woman with an attitude? I've seen that before, plenty of times. Show me something new! Well, surprisingly for me, Nier did show me something completely new with none other than Kaine herself. Kaine's backstory isn't revealed to the player until New Game+, and it sure as hell does its job in getting me to care about the half-naked heroine. Much like the forest text adventure part of the game, Kaine's backstory is told entirely through text. It opens with a young Kaine, running from a group of bullies in her hometown. The bullies throw rocks at her, call her a freak, and beat her up before finally dropping an unexpected revelation by saying, "I don't get you, freak. Whatcha acting like a girl for, huh? Everyone knows what you really are!" As it turns out, Kaine is actually a hermaphrodite. Because of this, she is viewed as an outcast and is bullied relentlessly, leaving her depressed, suicidal, and feeling as though she has no place in the world. The only person who stands up for her is her grandmother, a tough, admirable woman who doesn't take shit from anyone and isn't afraid to retaliate against those who have been bullying her granddaughter. She comforts Kaine by saying, "You're my granddaughter, and I love you, and if folks have a problem with that, they can just go to hell." What a wonderful woman! It may seem strange for a character to wear skimpy, revealing clothing, especially in combat situations, but in Kaine's case I totally get it. Her entire life, she was bullied about her body and made to feel ugly and bad about herself. But as an adult, she's become hardened to all of those criticisms and has decided to finally own her body and feel proud about herself. She may be different from everyone else, but she's no less beautiful, and after so many years of being ashamed of her body, she's finally comfortable enough to show some skin and not care about what anyone else thinks. Personally, I think that's terrific. If there was ever a good way to justify a character dressing in next to nothing at all, Nier certainly pulled it off successfully with Kaine. Shady business MAJOR NEW GAME+ SPOILERS AHEAD Few games utilize the possibilities which New Game+ can offer better than Nier. For any game, there needs to be a good reason for players to want to continue into New Game+. Usually, this means new content or more difficult challenges to keep the player engaged and wanting to come back for more. But in Nier's case, New Game+ offers so much more. In fact, it pretty much changes the tone of the story entirely. A major part of Nier's New Game+ experience focuses on explaining the game's main enemies, the Shades. It's revealed that the Shades are actually the souls of the original humans, also known as Gestalts, and they are meant to fuse with the Replicants, which are their corresponding shells and the characters that the player has gotten to know all this time. So essentially, the player has been killing off the souls of their human counterparts, without even realizing it until the second playthrough, at which point the killing spree must continue if the player ever hopes to see the final ending. And the game certainly tries to make the player feel as bad about this as possible. Many of the boss Shades are given sympathetic personalities and backstories, and then the player is forced to fight them all over again. It's true that they were trying to fuse with the Replicants, who had developed their own consciences and obviously didn't want to lose them, but it's unfortunate that the Gestalts and Replicants couldn't just live peacefully together. It really started to dawn on me after a while that there were clues to this all along. I mean, I always wondered why these creepy Shades were dropping items like coloring books, photo albums, earrings, and other personal things, and why I seemed to hear garbled human speech whenever they were killed. At first, I figured it was because the Shades had been killing humans and taking their stuff, but oh how wrong I was. New Game+ made me feel like a monster, and Nier deserves all the praise in the world for that very reason. Past Experience Points .01: The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask.02: Shadow of the Colossus.03: EarthBound.04: Catherine.05: Demon's Souls.06: No More Heroes.07: Paper Mario.08: Persona 4.09: Final Fantasy IX.10: Mega Man Legends.11: Rayman Origins.12: Metal Slug 3.13: Animal Crossing.14: Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King.15: Super Mario Sunshine.16: Final Fantasy VII
Nier highlights photo
Weiss! You dumbass!
Experience Points is a series in which I highlight some of the most memorable things about a particular game. These can include anything from a specific scene or moment, a character, a weapon or item, a level or location, a p...

Same-sex marriage photo
Same-sex marriage

Gaming companies voice their support for the same-sex marriage ruling in the US


#LoveWins
Jun 26
// Ben Davis
History was made today when the Supreme Court struck down bans against same-sex marriage, ruling that the Constitution guarantees a right to marriage for same-sex couples nationwide. Social media was immediately set ablaze wi...

Review: LEGO Jurassic World

Jun 26 // Ben Davis
LEGO Jurassic World (PS4 [reviewed], PS3, PS Vita, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Wii U, 3DS, PC)Developer: Traveller's TalesPublisher: Warner Bros.MSRP: $59.99Released: June 12, 2015 As a huge Jurassic Park fan, LEGO Jurassic World is pretty much exactly what I expected from a dinosaur game themed around children's toys. There is no shortage of humor, plenty of satisfying references to the movies and books, playable dinosaurs, and I get to run around as Ian Malcolm with his shirt torn open. What more could I ask for? LEGO Jurassic World's story is built around the plots of the movies, but while the movies can be tense and thrilling, the game remains silly and lighthearted. Death scenes from the films are played out in a comedic fashion. The LEGO characters are never actually killed; instead, they usually end up sharing a goofy moment with the dinosaur that attacks them. For example, Gennaro can be seen cleaning the T. Rex's teeth with a toilet brush after being pulled from his restroom hiding place, and the raptor tamer who dies in the very first scene of Jurassic Park only loses the precious sausage he was holding onto rather than his legs (there's a weird recurring sausage joke for some reason, which I can't say I really understood). Meanwhile, other parts feature raptors riding motorcycles, wearing fruit hats, and chasing lawn mowers through the long grass, so the dinos are generally more charming than they are terrifying. Of course, for a LEGO game, this was kind of a necessity. [embed]294839:59241:0[/embed] Gameplay is heavily puzzle-based, requiring obstacles to be solved by choosing the specific character required for the task. Most of these obstacles are accompanied by button prompts, and there are numerous quick time events scattered throughout as well. There is also some light combat, whenever the party is attacked by dinosaurs or InGen employees, but it involves little more than punching things until they get dizzy or fall apart. Characters do have health bars, but the only penalty for dying is losing a few studs, so it's not really a big deal. The health bars honestly feel wholly unnecessary, as there aren't any lives and characters already essentially feel invincible. They could have probably scrapped that mechanic entirely. It's possible to play as nearly every character from the Jurassic Park films, even minor characters such as Mr. DNA and that weird boy at the dig site who says raptors look like giant turkeys. Each character has their own unique skills which typically play off of their personalities and roles in the films, all of which will need to be utilized in order to traverse each level. Some characters, like Dr. Grant and Gray Mitchell, are good at building things out of dinosaur bones; characters like Lex Murphy and Kelly Malcolm can scream loud enough to shatter glass; characters like Tim Murphy and Ian Malcolm have items that can illuminate dark areas (night vision goggles and flares, for example); and others like Ellie Sattler and Owen Grady aren't afraid to get dirty and rummage through dino droppings (by diving in head first, no less!). It's necessary to play as many different characters in order to clear all of the puzzles and obstacles in the game. Of course, there's not only human characters, but dinosaurs to control as well. Most dinosaurs are unlocked by collecting amber bricks hidden in every level. They can be summoned via dinosaur creation pads, and sick dinosaurs can be healed in order to join the party as well. The dinosaurs come with their own sets of skills; Triceratops can charge and bash open large objects, Dilophosaurus can melt certain things with its venom, T. Rex can roar loud enough to shatter stuff, and Velociraptors can pull switches and sniff out hidden objects. The craziest option is the enormous Brachiosaurus, which can be used to crush certain platforms with a huge stomp, but it's so gigantic and slow that it's almost hilarious. It's even possible to play as Pteranodons and Mosasaurus, although they're restricted to the aviary and aquarium, respectively. Story mode will take the player through twenty levels centered around many of the most memorable and action-packed scenes from the movies. It's really fun to reenact classic scenes like the very first T. Rex attack, the raptors in the kitchen, the San Diego crisis, and more through the playful lens of the LEGO world. Every level is filled with puzzles to solve, obstacles to overcome, and a set amount of collectibles to find. Many levels implement chase sequences, such as running from the Gallimimus herd, or puzzle-based boss fights, like taking down Indominus Rex. There's nothing too complicated, though, so it should be an easy ride for most players. Upon completing each level in story mode, free play mode will be unlocked, allowing players to choose any character they want and switch to someone else at any time. Many of the collectibles can only be obtained in free play, since the characters in story mode might not have the required abilities, so it's necessary to play each level at least two times in order to find everything. Outside of story mode, players can also freely explore each of the four parks. The parks contain more collectibles to find, sick dinosaurs and workers in peril to help, characters to unlock, photograph locations, races, and more. The parks on Isla Sorna are unfortunately rather small and unexciting, but Isla Nublar's Jurassic Park and Jurassic World are both huge and full of all sorts of attractions and cool areas to discover. Strangely, though, once story mode is completed, free play in the parks takes place entirely during nighttime, which kind of bothered me as some areas just seem much less exciting in the dark. I'd prefer to view these beautiful parks in the bright sunshine. [Edit: Apparently, this can be changed, but only by fast travelling to specially marked areas on the map. Still an odd choice, but at least there are options!] Split-screen co-op is also an option, and players can jump in and out of the game at any time. Co-op can make solving puzzles and overcoming obstacles much easier, as players will not need to switch between characters as often and multiple tasks can be completed at once. For such a light-hearted adventure as LEGO Jurassic World, I can definitely see co-op being a popular option. The best aspect of LEGO Jurassic World for me was all the little nuances and nods to the films which were sprinkled throughout. Idle animations for characters usually highlighted certain aspects of their personalities or referenced specific moments from the movies. For example, Zach Mitchell will put on his headphones and start dancing, Amanda Kirby will test her megaphone (put that thing away!), and Ian Malcolm will run a Chaos Theory experiment by dripping water onto his hand. Many of the trophies also make great references to the movies; I think my favorite is the "Hello John!" trophy which is awarded for having both characters set to John Hammond. I also loved that Mr. DNA was in charge of all the tutorials and loading screen trivia. Aside from borrowing plot, characters, and locations from the movies, LEGO Jurassic World also borrows sound clips. While some new dialogue was recorded specifically for the game (mostly for the Jurassic World section), a lot of the dialogue is taken directly from the films. This can be entertaining at times (hearing Jeff Goldblum's ridiculous laugh on the helicopter never gets old, even when it's coming out of a LEGO character's mouth), but it can also be quite jarring. Since the tone of the movies does not match the tone of the game, the dialogue is often way too tense and emotional for what should be silly, light-hearted scenes. There are also many instances where background noise from the films can be heard in the game's dialogue, which sounds really strange when compared to the newly recorded dialogue. Unfortunately, LEGO Jurassic World is not without its fair share of bugs. During my time with the game, there were several instances where I had to restart a level after a character got stuck between a wall and an object and couldn't move or jump to escape, or after they fell through the ground when I switched away from them. There were also a few instances where, after spawning a dinosaur and taking control of it, I could no longer switch to any other character and was permanently stuck in my dinosaur body. Usually, this meant I lost all progress on that level up to the point where I got stuck, so that was always a bummer. While it may have its flaws, I was still perfectly satisfied with my time in LEGO Jurassic World. Fans of the LEGO games should basically know what to expect, and Jurassic Park fans should be more than happy with the story, cutscenes, characters, and references. It captured all of my favorite Jurassic Park moments and added its own unique sense of humor into the mix, and that's essentially all I really wanted. And if you still need a reason to play this, just remember that is has LEGO Jeff Goldblum. Let's be honest: that's all anyone really needs. [This review is based on a retail build of the game purchased by the reviewer.]
LEGO Jurassic World photo
Hold on to your butts
Another year, another beloved franchise gets the LEGO treatment. This year, blocks and dinosaurs come together in LEGO Jurassic World, a compilation of games spanning the entire Jurassic Park film franchise. Released simultan...

Experience Points .16: Final Fantasy VII

Jun 20 // Ben Davis
The descendant of the Shinobi Picking a favorite character in a Final Fantasy game is usually pretty tough (unless that game is Final Fantasy IX). I have a soft spot for most of the party members in Final Fantasy VII; Cid and Barret are comically vulgar, Red XIII is awesomely adorable (that part where he's trying to walk like a human <3), Tifa has this sort of quiet badass-ness surrounding her, and Cait Sith is really weird, but I just want to snuggle up with the giant Mog like Mei napping on top of Totoro. If I had to choose a favorite, though, I would have to pick Yuffie. I feel like Yuffie often gets a bad rap. She's a thief, after all, and is constantly plotting to steal the party's Materia. She's also kind of a brat, and can come off as rather obnoxious and selfish. But even so, she has so many shining moments throughout the game where she demonstrates a wonderful sense of humor and optimism. It's also revealed through a side quest that she only wanted to steal Materia to help out her father and their home town, so even as a thief she still manages to be a sympathetic character. Then again, Yuffie and her father hatch up a plan to steal everyone's Materia again after the adventure is over, presumably for selfish reasons. I guess some things never change. When she's not stealing things, she can be found suffering from motion sickness, slicing things up with giant shurikens, calling people "old farts", pretending to be a news reporter, and other crazy stuff that a teenage ninja girl might do. She also has my personal favorite theme song; it's very upbeat and cheerful. Hearing it always makes me really happy! Whenever I replay Final Fantasy VII, I always make it my mission to recruit her to the team as quickly as possible. How anyone could hate Yuffie is beyond me. Interrupted by fireworks The Gold Saucer: an endlessly exciting theme park with obnoxiously happy music, filled with games, rides, haunted houses, live theater, fireworks, racetracks, battle arenas, and all sorts of fun stuff. Not to mention the fact that it's built on a giant, almost unreal, tree-like structure towering above a desolate wasteland. It's a truly magical place. While the rides and games are fun and addicting (the motorcycle and snowboarding games are my favorites), the highlight of the Gold Saucer occurs after the party decides to rest at the inn. Depending on certain choices the player has made in the game up to this point, one of four characters will knock on Cloud's door late at night and ask him out on a date, where they walk around the park, take part in a theatrical performance (which is always hilarious), and go on a romantic gondola ride during a fireworks show. Obviously, the two main options for date night are Tifa and Aeris, but it's also possible to go on a date with Yuffie and, surprisingly, even Barret. Tifa and Aeris might make the most sense, but the scenes on the gondola with Yuffie and Barret are some of my favorite moments in the game. The date with Yuffie is adorably awkward. Yuffie clearly likes Cloud, and she even manages to work up the courage to give him a peck on the cheek, but Cloud just sits there like a grumpy, silent lump and embarrasses the heck out of her ("Gawd, I could just die."). Poor Yuffie! The date with Barret, on the other hand, is just plain awkward as hell. Barret asks Cloud to accompany him because he wants to go for a walk, so it's not framed as a date at all, but it sure starts to feel like one. The gondola ride starts out in awkward silence as the two men just sit there and stare at each other with their arms crossed, until Barret gets pissed about having to enjoy the fireworks with another dude and asks Cloud why he never asked one of the girls out. He then goes on to basically accuse Cloud of pedophilia by falling in love with his daughter, Marlene (she's like four years old!), and gets even more pissed off to the point where he starts shooting at the fireworks to make them shut up. I mean, geez, you could just cut that sexual tension with a knife, am I right? The protector of Cosmo Canyon Final Fantasy VII has no shortage of emotional, tear-jerking moments. Of course, while there is the big one which you're no doubt thinking about right now, my personal favorite moving moment happens much earlier in the game when the party first arrives at Cosmo Canyon and learns a little more about their mysterious animal friend, Red XIII, or as he's known in Cosmo Canyon, Nanaki. While sitting around a big bonfire, Cloud has a chat with Nanaki. He reluctantly begins to open up about his parents and how the thought of his mother fills him with pride and joy, while the thought of his father fills him with anger. Apparently, his father abandoned his mother and the town and left her to die. Nanaki's grandfather, Bugenhagen, overhears the conversation and asks if Nanaki really cannot forgive his father. Bugenhagen then leads the party through a dangerous cave full of ghostly terrors in order to show Nanaki something special. At the back of the cave, the party finds themselves at the bottom of a cliff, at the top of which sits a stone statue resembling Nanaki. Bugenhagen reveals that the statue is actually Nanaki's father, Seto, who was turned to stone by poisonous arrows as he was trying to drive enemies out of the canyon to protect the town. He still remains there today, watching over Cosmo Canyon. Learning all of this about his father, Nanaki has a sudden change of heart. He decides to accompany Cloud and the team in order to help protect the planet and proudly declares, "I am Nanaki of Cosmo Canyon! The son of the warrior, Seto! I'll come back as a warrior true to that noble name!" Upon making this announcement, drops of water begin to fall from above, and Nanaki looks up to see that the statue of his father is shedding tears of joy. Nanaki jumps up onto a small outcrop and begins to howl up to his father. This scene always sends a shiver down my spine, and the howling almost makes me shed a tear. It leaves me feeling simultaneously sad that Red XIII's father is dead and happy that the two could reunite and come to an understanding. And the music, a more melancholy version of Red XIII's theme, fits the scene perfectly. It gets me every time! Love and rockets Another wonderfully touching moment happens a bit later in the game, when the party sits down to have tea with Shera at Cid's place in Rocket Town. The relationship between Cid and Shera comes off as particularly volatile, with Cid constantly shouting and cursing at her and generally acting very agitated whenever she's around. The party asks her how she can put up with all of his anger, and she explains that he wasn't always this way. This cues a flashback of Cid's first attempt to launch a rocket into space. Shera is busy checking an oxygen tank, which Cid claims she's wasting her time with. It then cuts to Cid in the cockpit, ready to take off, and the countdown begins. But there's a problem: a mechanic is still in the engine section of the rocket, a very dangerous place to be when the rocket is about to blast off, as the heat would surely kill them. The lingering mechanic is Shera, of course. She stuck around to do some final checks on the oxygen tanks, since they weren't testing to her satisfaction. She's urges Cid to continue with the launch, and seems to be dead set on fixing the oxygen tanks even if it means she'll be killed. She only wants the launch to be a success, to fulfill Cid's lifelong dream of making it into outer space. Cid doesn't want her to die, but the countdown has already started, and if it's canceled they'll have to wait another six months until the next launch. In a panic, Cid shuts down the engine at the very last second, saving Shera's life but sacrificing his dream. Later, the Space Program was cut back and plans for another launch were canceled. So that's why, according to Shera, she's okay with all of his abuse. She blames herself, so she feels she deserves it. Deep down, though, I still think Cid really cares for Shera. He may not show it very well, but he did save her life, after all. It's a complicated relationship for sure, but that just makes it all the more interesting. [embed]294343:59146:0[/embed] Just play it cool, boy Is there no cooler theme song than the Turks' theme? It fits the group perfectly, with their cool, confident demeanors, sleek suits, and take-no-shit attitudes. It's a really interesting part of the soundtrack, too, because it's made up almost entirely of percussion sounds, with a slight bit of melody thrown in occasionally for good measure. I like to imagine the Turks walking down the streets of Midgar with this song playing, snapping along to the music and kicking stuff out of their way while other people look on in intimidation. Maybe they throw in some subtle dance moves while they're at it, like they're performing a more subdued version of "Cool" from West Side Story. They could totally pull it off. Awkward encounters at the Honey Bee Inn Midgar's Honey Bee Inn, a seedy brothel run by women in sexy bee costumes, happens to be the home of some of the most unexpected scenes in Final Fantasy history. During Cloud's visit to the inn, he has access to one of two rooms: the Group Room and the &$#% Room. They sound pretty exciting, no? Choosing the Group Room, the sexy bee lady steps aside as a mob of sweaty, muscular men barge into the room and practically force Cloud to take a bath with them (what a lucky guy!). Or if he chooses the &$#% Room... well, I'll just let you imagine what goes on in the &$#% Room. I'm honestly really surprised these scenes weren't censored from the game. I'm also kind of glad that they weren't. Not only because my pervy teenage mind enjoyed them (even if I probably didn't fully understand what was happening at the time), but also because this awkward, racy, unexpected content was part of what made Final Fantasy VII feel so special. I mean, who honestly thought they would see stuff like this in a Final Fantasy game? Hits like a truck I love it when Final Fantasy gets real weird with its boss fights. The Ultros fights from Final Fantasy VI and the fight against Sandy, Cindy, and Mindy from Final Fantasy IV always stick in my mind because of how silly they were. There always seems to be at least one humorous boss fight, and in Final Fantasy VII, that boss is Palmer. Palmer is the head of the Space Program for Shinra, but he's a very incompetent and obnoxiously childish old man. In Rocket Town, the party interrupts him while he's trying to steal Cid's plane, the Tiny Bronco, which leads into the boss fight. During the entire fight, Palmer bounces back and forth in a ridiculous, taunting manner. Occasionally, he'll use up a turn to spin around and smack his butt in the party's direction, muttering, "heh heh hic!" as though he's drunk (and he probably is). The best part, though, is at the end of the fight. After Palmer is defeated, he does this weird little dance, almost gets his head chopped off by the propeller of the Tiny Bronco, mocks the party to save face, then turns to run away only to get hit by a truck out of nowhere and sent flying. The entire cutscene is just crazy. Why is the Tiny Bronco suddenly moving on its own? Where did that truck even come from? I mean, they're fighting in Cid's fenced off backyard, so did it drive over his fence? It's the most absurd, unexpected way to end a battle, especially in a mostly serious game like Final Fantasy VII, but that's exactly why I love it so much! Past Experience Points .01: The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask.02: Shadow of the Colossus.03: EarthBound.04: Catherine.05: Demon's Souls.06: No More Heroes.07: Paper Mario.08: Persona 4.09: Final Fantasy IX.10: Mega Man Legends.11: Rayman Origins.12: Metal Slug 3.13: Animal Crossing.14: Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King.15: Super Mario Sunshine  
Final Fantasy VII photo
This guy are sick
Experience Points is a series in which I highlight some of the most memorable things about a particular game. These can include anything from a specific scene or moment, a character, a weapon or item, a level or location, a p...

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Doko Roko

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Muy loco!
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Fatal Frame Wii U

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Where was this during the digital event?
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Among all of the exciting announcements at E3, Nintendo quietly announced another title through its YouTube channel: a new Fatal Frame! It's very strange that this wasn't a part of the digital event, but it's exciting noneth...
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Duck n' shoot, duck n' shoot
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Destiny: The Taken King

Oryx exacts his revenge in Destiny: The Taken King


Bows are the new guns
Jun 15
// Ben Davis
Sony unveiled Destiny: The Taken King, the next expansion for the popular shooter from last year. Oryx, the Taken King arrives to get revenge for the death of his son, Crota, taken from him by the Guardians of the first DLC. Fight hordes of enemies with new abilities, weapons, and gear. That laser bow looks pretty sweet! Destiny: The Taken King launches on September 15, 2015.

E3 Predictions: Cards Against Humanity Edition

Jun 13 // Ben Davis
1. Sony announces a new indie game about ___. Options:- A bland military shooter (Seems likely, but maybe not as an indie title.)- A tender bromance (D'aww!)- Looking for D Winner: Sony announces a new indie game about "a tender bromance."   2. Nintendo's next wave of amiibo will include ___ and ___. Options:- A classy lady + A sexist remark (It's possible these will both involve the same amiibo.)- Tripping in Super Smash Bros. + Zippers on everything- Anita Sarkeesian + Crying children (Uh oh.) Winner: Nintendo's next wave of amiibo will include "a classy lady" and "a sexist remark."   3. Surprising no one, Microsoft will announce ___. Options:- Uncomfortable silence (...)- Exactly what you'd expect- No items, Fox only, Final Destination (Typical Microsoft.) Winner: Surprising no one, Microsoft will announce "uncomfortable silence."   4. Nintendo reveals that Link will actually be ___ in the upcoming Zelda game. Options:- Bubsy the Bobcat (Please, no!)- An original idea for once- Something nobody asked for (What could it be?) Winner: Nintendo reveals that Link will actually be "something nobody asked for" in the upcoming Zelda game. 5. Nintendo declares 2016 as the Year of ___. Options:- Dem Titties (Typical Nintendo.)- Filthy Casuals (Sorry, hardcore gamers! Maybe next time.)- Microtransactions Winner: Nintendo declares 2016 as the Year of "Filthy Casuals."   6. In the new Tomb Raider, Lara Croft must navigate a harsh winter environment armed only with ___. Options:- DLC (They're charging for weapons now.)- A box of wine- A noticeable bulge (Or rather, two noticeable bulges...) Winner: In the new Tomb Raider, Lara Croft must navigate a harsh winter environment armed only with "a noticeable bulge."   7. Capcom will release a new Mega Man game, but only if enough fans pay for ___ first. Options:- Pissing on the corpse of a beloved franchise (Poor Mega Man...)- Dante's new hairstyle (Hahaha.)- Butt stuff Winner: Capcom will release a new Mega Man game, but only if enough fans pay for "pissing on the corpse of a beloved franchise" first.   8. Kojima and Del Toro are back together to work on a new game titled ___. Options:- A Kickstarter Campaign (With a cryptic teaser titled KC.)- A Ham Sandwich (You heard it here first, folks!)- Hideo Kojima (Well, he does like inserting his name into his games.) Winner: Kojima and Del Toro are back together to work on a new game titled "A Ham Sandwich." 9. Someone will take the stage wearing a shirt depicting ___. Options:- Quick-time events (Press X to take off shirt!)- Feminist propaganda- Batman's nipples (I'm sure there is an actual shirt like this.) Winner: Someone will take the stage wearing a shirt depicting "Batman's nipples."   10. The next Assassin's Creed will allow you to play as either ___ or ___. Options:- Kratos, the God of War + Nothing at all (Wait, Kratos is part of the Assassin's Creed universe now?)- A dildo bat + The girls from Dead or Alive (At least you can play as a female.)- A sausage fest + Beating a dead horse (It's always a sausage fest.) Winner: The next Assassin's Creed will allow you to play as either "Kratos, the God of War" or "nothing at all."   11. Fallout 4 will be set in a post-apocalyptic world ravaged by ___. Options:- Hardcore gamers (So, PvP then?)- A female protagonist (Way to ruin the game, Bethesda!)- A blasian Winner: Fallout 4 will be set in a post-apocalyptic world ravaged by "a female protagonist."   12. In the next Kirby game, Kirby will be made out of ___. Options:- Ebola- 1,000 rat corpses (Good lord.)- Reggie Fils-Aime's body (His body is ready... to swallow everything!) Winner: In the next Kirby game, Kirby will be made out of "Reggie Fils-Aime's body." 13. Instead of announcing Half-Life 3, Valve will announce ___. Options:- A new Mario game (Imminent lawsuit?)- Angry Birds (Geez Valve, get your own ideas!)- A box of kittens (We're sorry about Half-Life 3, here's some adorable kittens!) Winner: Instead of announcing Half-Life 3, Valve will announce "a new Mario game."   14. Mother 3 will finally be released outside of Japan, but it will now feature ___. Options:- The Kinect (How could this happen?!)- Obscene Miiverse posts (Well, yeah, probably.)- A dancing game (You know what? I totally want this now!) Winner: Mother 3 will finally be released outside of Japan, but it will now feature "obscene Miiverse posts."   15. In an unexpected turn of events, a Nintendo representative will remove Toad's hat to reveal ___. Options:- Crash Bandicoot- Barack Obama- A boner (So that's how Toads reproduce...) Winner: In an unexpected turn of events, a Nintendo representative will remove Toad's hat to reveal "a boner."   16. The Last Guardian is still coming, but will star ___ and ___ instead of a boy and his dogbird. Options:- An unarmed black kid + Corgi butts (Still a boy and a dog, but with more social commentary.)- A straight white guy + Booth babes (Noooo!)- Gardevoir + Llamas Winner: The Last Guardian is still coming, but will star "an unarmed black kid" and "corgi butts" instead of a boy and his dogbird.   17. Konami announces a new series of mobile games featuring ___. Options:- Social justice warriors (Someone already made that game, Konami.)- A nip slip- Solid Snake's perfect ass (Yessss!) Winner: Konami announces a new series of mobile games featuring "Solid Snake's perfect ass." 18. Shigeru Miyamoto will appear accompanied by ___. Options:- A racist old woman- A swift death (Oh no!)- A kid becoming a squid (You're a kid now, you're a squid now.) Winner: Shigeru Miyamoto will appear accompanied by "a kid becoming a squid."   19. Microsoft announces a new IP about ___. Options:- The guy from Hatred (Lots of stolen ideas going on at E3 this year.)- The end of video games (Goddammit, Microsoft!)- A cinematic experience (Well duh.) Winner: Microsoft announces a new IP about "a cinematic experience."   20. Microsoft will not stop talking about ___. Options:- Japanese schoolgirls (Creepy...)- A gigantic penis made out of LEGOs- Sports (Again, duh.) Winner: Microsoft will not stop talking about "sports."   21. What will be the most exciting announcement to come out of E3? Options:- A mayonnaise-related incident (I'm intrigued.)- Gamergate- The Citizen Kane of video games (It's finally coming!) Winner: What will be the most exciting announcement to come out of E3? "The Citizen Kane of video games." 22. What will be the most awkward thing at E3 this year? Options:- The f-bomb (But who's gonna drop it?)- A spontaneous rap battle- Body odor (Probably true for most gaming conventions.) Winner: What will be the most awkward thing at E3 this year? "Body odor."   23. Sony announces that ___ will finally be coming to Vita. Options:- Meat (And what do you know, Super Meat Boy was just recently announced for Vita!)- Full frontal nudity (Finally!)- MOBAs Winner: Sony announces that "meat" will finally be coming to Vita.   24. A new game coming to Oculus Rift will allow players to experience ___ in virtual reality. Options:- Mario's mustache (It's just so glorious!)- Teabagging (Well, some people are into that.)- Eating an entire bag of Doritos (Welcome to the wonderful world of virtual reality, folks!) Winner: A new game coming to Oculus Rift will allow players to experience "eating an entire bag of Doritos" in virtual reality. 25. In Dark Souls III, players recover by resting in front of ___ instead of bonfires. Options:- A single tear (I'm sure players will be shedding a single tear while resting.)- A clown on fire (Do we have to kill the clown first?)- Lara Croft's cup size Winner: In Dark Souls 3, players recover by resting in front of "a clown on fire" instead of bonfires.   26. What is the last thing you expect to see at E3? Options:- An immersive experience (Zing!)- A live shark- An unexpected amount of blood (We expected some blood, but not THAT much.) Winner: What is the last thing you expect to see at E3? "An immersive experience."   27. Microsoft is pleased to announce ___: The Movie. Options:- Peter Molyneux (It will be a life-changing experience!)- Bronies (I'm pretty sure this is already a movie.)- Product Placement (Unsurprising.) Winner: Microsoft is pleased to announce "Product Placement": The Movie.   28. Square Enix announces Final Fantasy XIII: ___ Edition. Options:- A nerdgasm (That certainly sounds exciting.)- Just the tip- Anime hairstyles (Isn't that every Final Fantasy?) Winner: Square Enix announces Final Fantasy XIII: "Nerdgasm" Edition.   29. ___ will be announced as an HD remaster. Options:- Caitlyn Jenner (Haha, this answer was too perfect! It wasn't my turn to judge, though.)- Yet another game about the zombie apocalypse (This is very likely.)- Two dudes making out hardcore (I wouldn't mind playing that game in glorious HD!) Winner: "Two dudes making out hardcore" will be announced as an HD remaster.   30. No Man's Sky will feature a planet inhabited by ___ and ___. Options:- 1080p/60fps + Utter failure (Hahaha! Well, at least Hello Games tried!)- Shigeru Miyamoto's darkest secrets + Bad Box Art Mega Man (You mean that was Miyamoto's idea all along? Who knew?)- Muscle bears + Unimaginable happiness (I want to live on that planet!) Winner: No Man's Sky will feature a planet inhabited by "muscle bears" and "unimaginable happiness." Unused white cards (meaning these things will definitely NOT appear at E3 this year): - A death ray- A bag full of spiders- The creature from The Last Guardian (Did someone lie to us?)- Slipping on a banana peel- Battletoads (Oh well.)- Flesh-eating bacteria- Lots and lots of money (Uh oh, no money at E3?)- Wasted potential (The irony of this card not being played...)- Rock-hard abs- The best thing ever (Well, that's sad...)- Maniacal laughter- Pure evil- Soccer moms- Waluigi (C'mon Nintendo, give the people what they want!)- Samus Aran (No more Metroid yet. Sorry, Zack!)- A fight to the death (Well at least no one dies.)- Powerful thighs
E3 Predictions photo
Expo Against Humanity!
[Update: Added video of Laura Kate and the Dtoid UK crew playing their version of the game.] E3 2015 is just around the corner, and there's no better way to pass the time than by trying to predict what this year's expo has in...

Shantae: Half-Genie Hero photo
Shantae: Half-Genie Hero

Shantae: Half-Genie Hero is looking gorgeous in new E3 trailer


Back in all her hair-whipping glory
Jun 10
// Ben Davis
Half-Genie Hero, the newest entry in the Shantae series, was funded on Kickstarter back in 2013. Today, WayForward released the E3 2015 trailer for the game, and it looks to be coming along quite nicely! The trailer shows of...

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