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Darren Nakamura

Destructoid Rocket League photo
Mr. Destructoid has been around for almost 10 years now (!!), and in that time his cold steel frame has graced a few video games. First there was Bomberman Live, then came Raskulls and BurgerTime World Tour. Heck, the green m...

Tsuro iOS photo
Tsuro iOS

Casual dragon board game Tsuro out on iOS now

I'm tsure of it
Feb 04
// Darren Nakamura
Tsuro is the type of game that hits the table during parties at the ol' Casa de Nakamura. It caters to people who aren't especially experienced with modern board games, it doesn't take up a lot of table space, and it seats up...
Hidden Folks photo
Hidden Folks

Modern Where's Waldo-like Hidden Folks is mesmerizing

This could be a screensaver
Feb 04
// Darren Nakamura
Certainly, the drawings shown here are works of art on their own, but Hidden Folks really comes alive in motion. It's a far cry from the last Where's Waldo game I remember playing, which featured a series of low-res pixel art...
Knights and Bikes photo
Knights and Bikes

Former Tearaway, Ratchet and Clank devs team up for action RPG Knights and Bikes

EarthBound sensibilities
Feb 02
// Darren Nakamura
I could write up a basic synopsis of Knights and Bikes right here, but honestly, readers will benefit most from just watching the video below. If you want to skip the obligatory "two dudes sitting in front of a camera talking...

Crashlands impressions photo
Crashlands impressions

Crashlands is much longer than it needs to be

I get it, let's move on
Feb 01
// Darren Nakamura
It's easy to settle into playing Crashlands. To start, it takes on the fairly well-trodden survival genre, where players start with nothing, punch some trees, harvest resources, and eventually build fantastic items. It most c...
Superhot release date photo
Superhot release date

Superhot releasing on PC February 25, Xbox One in March

Trailer gets me superhot and bothered
Feb 01
// Darren Nakamura
Superhot has been looking supercool for a while now; those immediately sold on the initial concept have had to wait for a superlong time. The wait is set to be over supersoon; Superhot will release on Linux, Mac, and Win...
Stardew Valley photo
Stardew Valley

Harvest Moon-like Stardew Valley is out on February 26

Let's go live there
Jan 29
// Darren Nakamura
It seems like it's been forever since we last checked in on Stardew Valley, a pixel art farming life simulator/role-playing game that evokes memories of Harvest Moon in those fortunate enough to have played it in its prime (o...
Ode to Wetrix photo
Ode to Wetrix

Ode to Wetrix

Sonnet #2
Jan 29
// Darren Nakamura
To start the land is purely plain and flatBut earthy blocks then fall down from the skyTake care in where they are placed on the matMake sure you never build it up too high Construct containers for the coming stormBut to...
Sunless Sea photo
Sunless Sea

Sunless Sea celebrates submarines with a free Steam weekend

Sorry, zubmarines
Jan 28
// Darren Nakamura
Sunless Sea is one of those games I wanted to check out last year but never got around to. I guess I should have, because it showed up on a couple of our personal game of the year lists. This weekend, I have even less of an e...
PlayStation Plus photo
PlayStation Plus

Helldivers and Nom Nom Galaxy free on PS Plus next month

On PS4
Jan 27
// Darren Nakamura
Another month, another set of free games. Honestly, I can't keep up. That's just going to get better/worse (depending on how you look at it) because both of the headliners for PlayStation Plus in February are games I've been ...
NPR photo

NPR's Morning Edition had an Easter egg for us today

What do you think when you hear hedgehog
Jan 26
// Darren Nakamura
Growing up, NPR had an image of being mostly for stuffy old white people. Imagine my chagrin when I found myself listening to it regularly. I had become stuffy and old! Except, every now and then I catch hints of somebody beh...
Pathfinder Adventures photo
Pathfinder Adventures

Obsidian's Pathfinder Adventures out on March 29

Free to start
Jan 25
// Darren Nakamura
Whenever I describe Pathfinder Adventure Card Game to somebody (usually when I am trying to get them to play it), I start with a caveat. "On its surface, all you really do is flip a card and roll some dice. But for some reaso...
Lost in Harmony photo
Lost in Harmony

Here's a snippet of that Wyclef Jean song from Lost in Harmony

Out on iOS today
Jan 22
// Darren Nakamura
Yoan Fanise (Valiant Hearts: The Great War) broke from Ubisoft last year to form Digixart Entertainment, and the studio's first game is out on iOS devices today. Lost in Harmony looks like a decent rhythm game/Battletoads bik...
Destiny Valentine's photo
Destiny Valentine's

Love is in the air for Destiny's Crimson Days

Valentine's Day-themed event
Jan 21
// Darren Nakamura
After a long holiday, Bungie is back to work this week. For the first update of the new year, Destiny will be adding an event not unlike the Festival of the Lost from Halloween. Except since this one is coming in February, it...
Lovers photo

Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime hitting PS4 on February 9

Spreading the love
Jan 21
// Darren Nakamura
Released on Steam and Xbox One in September last year, I had already assumed Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime was on PlayStation 4 as well. It turns out it wasn't, but it will be soon. Announced today via the snazzy YouTube vi...
The Order: 1886 photo
The Order: 1886

Want to watch The Order: 1886's story without having to play it?

You can do that
Jan 20
// Darren Nakamura
The Order: 1886 was well known for two things: being a PlayStation 4 exclusive in a time before Bloodborne was available and being pretty. Note the things not on that list: gameplay and story. Still, if you want to experience...
Prison Architect console photo
Prison Architect console

Prison Architect heading to PS4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One

Time to jailbreak your console
Jan 20
// Darren Nakamura
After a long stint in Early Access, Prison Architect finally saw its full PC release late last year. Wasting little time, developer Double Eleven is now porting it to consoles. It should release in spring on PlayStation 4, Xb...
Rocket League crowns photo
Rocket League crowns

Rocket League competitive season ending, ranked players will get crowns

Also adding RNG loot
Jan 15
// Darren Nakamura
The next update for my #2 game of 2015 Rocket League is due out next month. With it comes the end of the first season of competitive play, and the better players will net some snazzy bling to show off during season two and be...
Pokken Tournament release photo
When your hunger is Pokken at you
Just last night we heard about Chandelure joining the cast of fighters in Pokkén Tournament, which immediately increases my interest in the title. Sure, it makes sense for Lucario and Machamp to be fighters in the game...

OmniBus photo

OmniBus is the unstoppable force of public transit

Goodbye immovable objects
Jan 14
// Darren Nakamura
According to the trailer below, the long-awaited OmniBus is finally on its way, after a two-decade toil in development hell. Also according to the trailer below, it has made the cover of Time, Forbes, and Rolling Stone. Somet...
One Dog Story photo
One Dog Story

Serious Cave Story vibes come off One Dog Story

Jan 14
// Darren Nakamura
Cave Story is so revered among indie game enthusiasts, it's little surprise it would be cited as an influence for others making a game. One Dog Story lists it up there with others like Battletoads and Shovel Knight. One Dog S...
Steven Universe photo
Steven Universe

Screenshots from the Steven Universe game that will never be

We are the pixel gems
Jan 13
// Darren Nakamura
Steven Universe: Attack the Light! is a pretty dang good mobile role-playing game. But just because that exists doesn't mean we can't lament what will never be. Developer and artist Christina Antoinette Neofotistou tweeted ou...
Mother 3 photo
Mother 3 organizing one final push for Mother 3 localization

Siege Miiverse
Jan 12
// Darren Nakamura
The ultra-dedicated fans at never seem to give up. They have been campaigning for an official Western release of Mother 3 for what seems like a lifetime. According to the fansite, now is the ripest it will ever be...
Homeworld photo

Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak has a cool land-based aircraft carrier

I'm calling it the Kharaktopus
Jan 08
// Darren Nakamura
Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak is set to come out in less than two weeks on January 20. Maybe you want to watch a trailer for the story before you kharak open your wallet. Maybe I only signed up to write this story because I wa...
Unravel photo

Unravel's Yarny came from the ideas of love and connectedness

And a camping trip, specifically
Jan 07
// Darren Nakamura
We've been pretty enamored with the feels-like-an-indie-but-is-actually-EA-published puzzle platformer since we first saw it last year. At the time, director Martin Sahlin got up on stage and talked about his inspiration for ...
PS VR photo

Kaz Hirai: 'about 100 or more titles' in development for PlayStation VR

'More than 200 developers signed up'
Jan 07
// Darren Nakamura
Sony hasn't made a lot of noise about its virtual reality headset at CES this year (especially considering the hubbub surrounding Oculus Rift's pricing). The BBC asked Sony CEO Kaz Hirai about it, and he shared some news that...
Aurai photo

Could Aurai be competition for Oculus Rift?

Significantly less expensive
Jan 06
// Darren Nakamura
Sure, Oculus is making big waves at CES right now, but some lower-profile tech is also on display. Making its debut today is Aurai, another device that fits on your face and reminds me of LeVar Burton's character from Star Tr...

Review: Minecraft: Story Mode: A Block and a Hard Place

Jan 05 // Darren Nakamura
Minecraft: Story Mode: A Block and a Hard Place (iOS, Mac, PC [reviewed], PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One)Developer: Telltale GamesPublisher: Telltale GamesReleased: December 22, 2015 (Mac, PC)MSRP: $4.99, $24.99 (Season Pass)Rig: AMD Phenom II X2 555 @ 3.2 GHz, with 4GB of RAM, ATI Radeon HD 5700, Windows 7 64-bit Where the first two episodes in the season induced apathy, this one causes ambivalence. It's a fine distinction: I was struggling to care about Jesse and his friends at first; now I care enough but find myself disappointed with the final result. For every beat Minecraft: Story Mode hits well, it stumbles once or twice. On the one hand, the more deliberate progression of this episode can be a good thing. It opens up the gameplay to include actual (albeit easy) puzzles along with the standard dialogue trees and quick-time events. Also, without lulls in the action, it could be bombastic to the point of grating. If it's always high energy, then it's all the same. On the other hand, the plodding of the first half of this episode is as dull as can be. There's a horse travel montage near the beginning illustrating just how far it is to get to the Farlands, and protagonist Jesse has the option of the classic whine "Are we there yet?" Even with the cuts of the montage, I felt the same. I get it; it's far. Let's move on. [embed]327542:61558:0[/embed] Once the action finally does pick up at the end, it still treads a questionable path. The full story about The Order of the Stone is revealed, and it plays out as foreshadowed. It's always a little awkward when a story treats something like an earth-shattering reveal when most would see it coming from the hints in previous episodes. Perhaps if I had led the life Jesse did, it would have been more impactful. Then, almost as if checking off all the Telltale boxes, we get another character death. This loss feels more important than the one in the third episode, since it's a likable character. Death in children's entertainment is nothing new (see: Bambi, The Land Before Time, Transformers [1986]), but it generally comes with a purpose. While we'll have to wait for the fifth episode, my sneaking suspicion is the only reason this death was written in was a cynical attempt at eliciting emotion. The really strange part of the whole scene is that in the middle of the mourning (when I have a full pout on my face), Story Mode lets loose a visual gag referencing the source material. Admittedly, it's probably the funniest thing in the whole episode -- so few of the jokes are worth even a chuckle -- but it feels wrong to have it punctuate the rest of the sad scene so bluntly. With the Wither Storm properly defeated, Jesse and the gang are proclaimed to be the new Order of the Stone, and A Block and a Hard Place ends with the vague promise of new adventures coming in the next episode. Unless it's tightly written and self-contained, I'm not interested. More likely, the last episode will open up a can of worms that won't get resolved until Season Two. This episode could very well be considered the finale for the first season. It wraps up the Wither Storm saga, it answers the questions about the Order of the Stone, and it delivers a semi-happy, hopeful ending for the crew. If only it did that without an utterly boring first half and the clumsy insertion of mandatory Telltale story elements, it might have also been a good ending. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Minecraft review photo
What a weird episode. After the high energy of The Last Place You Look, this one slows down the action shortly into it, and it doesn't really pick back up until the very end, which feels like the end of a season. But then, th...

Minecraft screenshots photo
Minecraft screenshots

A cartload of Minecraft: Story Mode Episode 4 screenshots

Better late than never
Jan 04
// Darren Nakamura
Vacation travel kept me from being able to get to the latest episode in Telltale's Minecraft: Story Mode right away. I just finished it, and as always, I had my finger on the screenshot button the whole way through. Mayb...

Darren Nakamura's personal picks for Game of the Year 2015

Jan 01 // Darren Nakamura
10. Lara Croft GO This was a great year for mobile gaming (Steven Universe: Attack the Light! just missed my top ten). Lara Croft GO is a perfect example of mobile done right. It can be tempting to use a property like Tomb Raider/Lara Croft and try to shoehorn it onto a touchscreen with virtual buttons or tilt controls, but GO takes a more elegant route. It slows the action down to a turn-based puzzle, which uses gesture control for Lara's actions. Despite the change of pace, it still feels very much like a Lara Croft game with its focus on tombs and the potential for raiding. Simply put, Lara Croft GO was built with both the franchise fundamentals and the mobile platform in mind, and it shows. 9. Affordable Space Adventures Speaking of taking the platform into account in design, Affordable Space Adventures is just about the best non-first party title to show what the Wii U is capable of doing. Heck, developer KnapNok Games might even have the edge on Nintendo in that regard. When the Wii U was first unveiled, I imagined games like Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles and The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures, but until this there hasn't been much that truly necessitated the Wii U GamePad. It works especially well with a partner, where one takes on the role of the pilot and the other plays engineer. Solving puzzles in tandem requires communication and coordination, and it gives an almost Star Trek-esque glimpse of working as a team on a spaceship bridge. 8. Undertale At this point, Undertale is a cultural phenomenon. It won GameFAQs' "Best. Game. Ever." competition. It spawned several of our favorite new characters. Our own Ben Davis gave it a coveted 10/10 in his review. Many have compared it to EarthBound, one of my favorite games of all time. With all of the hype going in, I had lofty expectations. It did not disappoint. The world is imaginative and so many of its denizens are worthy of stardom in their own games. On top of that, it's refreshing to play something that emphasizes conflict resolution through nonviolence, in what often feels like a sea of games focused only on killing. 7. Pokémon Shuffle I just checked my 3DS to see how much time I've spent on Pokémon Shuffle on 3DS. I have 151 hours in it. That's one for each of the generation one Pokémon. I probably have more than 50 hours on Mobile. And the total amount of money I've spent on it? A whopping zero dollars. This might be the most contentious item on my list. Chris Carter rated Shuffle at 3.5/10, but I can't deny how much of my downtime I enjoyed matching little Pokémon heads together this year. And I didn't even get into it until months after release. Sure, it can get a little shady with its microtransactions, but to me, figuring out how to succeed without paying money is like a metagame on top of the main game. 6. The Talos Principle The Talos Principle released at one of the worst times in terms of game of the year considerations. Out in December of 2014, it missed the cutoff for many; it came too late in the year to compare it to other games from 2014, but long forgotten by the time to compare it to games from 2015. I won't forget it though. Talos was written in part by Tom Jubert, who also wrote the masterpiece The Swapper. It dialogues deep philosophical ideas with the player, while Croteam's puzzle design is taxing for a different part of the brain. For a game made by the same people who worked on Serious Sam, it was a total surprise that The Talos Principle is so intellectual on so many levels. 5. Alphabear We might have given Downwell our Best Mobile Game award, but to me, it would be more appropriate to award it with "Best PC Game That is Also on Mobile." Best Mobile Game, though? That's Alphabear, all the way. On its surface, it seems like a simple word puzzle game, but after only a few plays, its depth is revealed. It combines the usual work with vocabulary and anagrams, but adds in strategic elements in the letter countdowns and spatial considerations. It introduces interesting risk/reward decisions; sometimes the biggest word is not the best play. From a pure design standpoint, Alphabear is one of the smartest games of the year. 4. Downwell So I don't think Downwell is the best mobile game of 2015, but damn, it is a great game on PC. It is gaming in its purest form. It could have existed on the NES, and it would have been just as great. At first I didn't think I would be able to beat it, but like its inspiration Spelunky, I got noticeably better as time went on. These days I'm working on Hard Mode. I know I can do it. Downwell occupied a space in my Steam library where I would play it when I couldn't decide what else to start up. Maybe I didn't have two hours to devote to something meatier, so I'd commit to fifteen minutes going down a well. But then I'd do it again. And again. And oh look, I just spent two hours playing video games anyway. 3. Pandemic Legacy I was really looking forward to Rob Daviau's SeaFall this year, but alas it was pushed back to 2016. In its place was the collaboration between Daviau and Matt Leacock, adding legacy content to the ubiquitous cooperative board game Pandemic. The result, Pandemic Legacy, is amazing. The idea behind legacy board games is that the board changes depending on events that happen during play. Your decisions affect not only the current game, but potentially all future games on that board. Stickers go down. Cards get torn up. Events are permanent. There's no turning back. Pandemic Legacy takes the formula down a more linear path than Risk Legacy did, but it's still the essential board game experience of 2015. 2. Rocket League Perhaps the biggest surprise of this year was Rocket League. I never played Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle Cars, so if you had told me a racing/sports hybrid would be one of my favorite games of the year, I would have thought you were crazy. One of the amazing things about Rocket League is how it feels more like a sport than most sports video games do. By putting players in control of just one car on the field, requiring keen battlefield awareness and teamwork, and injecting the potential for high-skilled acrobatics, it emulates the experience of playing soccer, where FIFA instead emulates the experience of coaching soccer. And what do you know, playing is much more fun than coaching. 1. Tales from the Borderlands Borderlands might be my favorite current IP. I played through Borderlands 2 a couple dozen times on two platforms. The gameplay is a huge part of that, but the world Gearbox built has also drawn me in with its dark humor and sci-fi lore. Taking that framework and building a narrative-focused experience from it was a tall order. Telltale took that opportunity and knocked it out of the park. With great comedy writing, Tales from the Borderlands has fantastic joke density, putting the main series games to shame in that regard. But then there's also drama and adventure, and outrageously badass moments. Following the stories of Rhys and Fiona through to the end makes me want more of that, but it also gets me hyped for the next "main" Borderlands game, because Telltale made its mark on the series. The world will be a different place because of what happens in Tales, and that's one of the coolest things for a fan of the series. My hope for Borderlands 3 is that Gearbox takes on some of Telltale's writers at least as consultants, because Telltale beat Gearbox at its own game. Odds and Ends The "Living in the Past Multiplayer" Award: Tie between The Last of Us and Destiny I played a lot of new games for review and for general pleasure this year (over 50!), but I spent a whole lot of my time with these two games. The Last of Us has incredible multiplayer, slowing down the action from typical shooters, focusing more on tactical play, teamwork, and stealth. Even a couple years after release, it still has a decently-sized community to play with. On the other end of the spectrum is Destiny, whose multiplayer is based almost entirely on twitch skill (with the rest coming from dropped gear). I didn't get into it until after The Taken King released this year, but I found myself enjoying it quite a bit more than I expected to. I'm reluctant to call it good since there's so much about it that's bad, but I find it comforting to sit back, turn my brain off for an hour or two, and just pop some alien heads for a bit. The "Always in the Back of my Mind" Award: Ultimate Angler Earlier this year, Nintendo released two new StreetPass games for 3DS: Ultimate Angler and Battleground Z. The two mirror the dynamic introduced with Flower Town and Mii Force before them: the former is quiet and unassuming while the latter is action-packed and more like a traditional video game. And then after playing for months, eagerly popping the 3DS open every so often, which one persists? Slow and steady wins the race, bub. Ultimate Angler has kept me going on it for months, slowly plodding away, catching legendary creatures like Nessie or a Dragon (along with the more mundane sea bass and trouts). It's always there in my pocket, waiting for that lovely green light to show up.
GOTY 2015 photo
The definitive list
As a site, we awarded our games of the year last month as a whole unit. Those are official; we came to them through a democratic process taking votes from managers, editors, and contributors. Sometimes democracy gets stuff wr...

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