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"Today... was a good day." - The Candle Maker from The Book of Life trailer (voiced by Ice Cube, in reference to his hit single)

Normally, I'm not used to videogames being released on Fridays since most of my anticipated titles are typically dropped on Tuesday after an agonizing Monday... but when Super Smash Brothers for Nintendo 3DS was launched and I spent over 8 hours on that day alone mostly binging on unlocking characters, stages, and trophies, that line was all I can think of after I shut off the handheld for the night. I tell you, I'm somewhat worried that I might get burned out when the Wii U version comes out if I keep this pace up... but I'm just going to burn that bridge when I get to it: the Super Smash Brothers series always sinks its teeth into me whenever I get my hands on it, and it appears that this release is no different! Since I spent the majority of the 8 hours I pumped into the demo playing solely as the Blue Bomber, I decided to check out my homegirl Palutena and, I gotta say, she's a lot more fun to play than I thought she might be: she has both a parry and a reflective barrier by default (like a Wobbuffet!), her neutral B is an auto-targeting burst shot, and her teleport has nice reach for recovery! If there's one thing that's disappointing about her, it's that it seems Palutena isn't voiced by Ali Hillis; is it weird that I only noticed because I didn't get an erection whenever she spoke?

Anyway... another new character that's fun to play as happens to be Little Mac: he's pretty fast, all things considering, and his boxing skills makes him a threat to anyone on the ground! Punch-Out was one of the best NES game that I fondly remember playing many times, so to have Little Mac actually playable, rather than simply being an Assist Trophy, is a delight in itself; the pink hoodie and Doc Louis cameos are icing on the cake! He also has, what I believe to be, one of the cooler unique character mechanic: as he continues to deal damage and take hits, a small bar fills up... and when it reaches the max, Little Mac's neutral B turns from a long-charging haymaker into an uppercut that launches the opponent pretty damn far, complete with a camera close-up should it connects! While the neutral B on its own is pretty damn satisfying, provided you can get the hit in (I love to use the Super Spicy Curry to keep them in place while I charge it up)... this is the closest thing a character has that resembles the almighty Home-Run Bat, and it's just as addicting to use (just not as effective)! Though it's pretty much agreed that Little Mac got no hops, and it's pretty damn bad trying to recover vertically... his side B is somewhat decent for horizontal recoveries, and considering that 75% of the time that's the direction I'm flying in, that just means there's not much negatives when it comes to the short boxer!

Despite some shortcomings, like the lackluster singleplayer Classic Mode, which isn't as special as I thought it might've been... I'm seriously loving this game: even if there are some clones in the bunch, there's still just so many unique characters to choose from that trying to master many will already eat up a bunch of time, and if you want to plow through Classic and All-Star Modes to get all the trophies, then you're certainly get your monies worth! Personally, despite being a mostly singleplayer gamer who mainly plays for the narratives, I tend to stick to the bare basics of fighting, which is mostly Free-for-All 2 minutes matches against three level 7 CPU... but as dull as that sounds, when the core mechanic of the game is so solid that I just want to fight, then you know the developers did something right! The stages themselves are also pretty rad to fight in, and it's only in select fighting games, like Super Smash Brothers, can the venue actually attribute to the fun of fighting, rather than being some admittedly tasty eye-candy: my favorite arena in terms of pure looks might be either the new Final Destination (reminds me of the Algol stage in Soulcalibur IV, honestly) and the Punch-Out Arena, but some stages like Spirit Train and Mute City just feels so epic because of the moving background that I can't resist picking them over and over again!

I could honestly talk about this particular Super Smash Brothers for hours on end, and now that we got a new release after several long years, hopefully I'll have the time to write a couple of Smash-related blogs talking about my favorite characters, stages, items, Pokemon, and Assist Trophies. However, as much as I like it, I also couldn't help but parrot our own Steven Hansen, who said, "It's just not what I need Smash to be". Truthfully, even before reading the article, I do feel a certain kind of emptiness emitting from it: while it's a damn shame that the Ice Climbers and Pokemon Trainer are M.I.A., this entry also feels a little hollow in other areas. "Maybe it's a handheld release", you might be saying (hopefully with not a smug inflection), but there's no real reason to believe that the Wii U version will be much better: both games will have the same roster, and although they might have different stages and Assist Trophies, what else is the Wii U version bringing to the table? We already know that there's not going to be a "Subspace Emissary" mode online and while Smash Run is a 3DS exclusive, only Event Mode appears to be the only other thing that might be exclusive to the Wii U version (along with they character cinematics they showed off)... and that might not be enough. If I sound like a downer, I'm sorry, but Smash Brothers comes out only once a generation.

Speaking of once in a lifetime, since this wasn't mentioned before, last Sunday was the airing of the Family Guy/ The Simpsons crossover and, as a fan of both series and crossovers in general, I had to check it out. While the episode wasn't over-the-top funny as the prime of both television shows, I gotta say, I still quite enjoyed it: it's a Family Guy episode through and through, so their usual brand of antics apply... but there's so much humor poked at both series that it put a smile on my face for a good while! There's tons of cameos from both cast, including a couple of other shows, so you can tell that this is meant to be a love letter filled to the brim with fanservice... which, speaking of fanservice, I hope you enjoy the "car wash" scene! The characters not only utilize their own signature catchphrases, such as Homer's "D'oh!" and Stewie's "What the deuce?", but the other show also steals it for their own use in such a tongue-in-cheek, good-natured ribbing: in fact, I loved the part when Homer takes Peter's "Roadhouse" bit so much that I actually brought it with me to Super Smash Brothers online bouts by setting it to one of the online quotes you can use! Funny enough, since this episode aired on the week that Smash 4 was being released, the "chicken fight" scene between Peter and Homer actually hyped me up even more for the game, and it made me want to replay some of my other crossover games like Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3: hopefully I'll finally finish my blog about my favorite videogame crossovers and post it soon!

* - B-b-bain call d-d-dibs on Dedede (bitch, did he stutter!?) because of his jolly attitude, his loyal subjects, his big-ass, and his big-ass hammer! I like to think of him as a penguin pretending to be Santa Claus, so now I can help but feel as jelly as Dedede's stomach!

* - Reinhold Hoffmann certainly isn't new to the community, but in case you never hit him up to chat, here's 3 things that you may not know about him... one of which talks about the origins of his site Game-Art-HQ (because who doesn't love a good origin story?)!

* - Shameless plug-in here! In case you missed it, I, Dreamweaver, declares dibs on the deity Palutena because... hey, she's hot! Now, I know what you're thinking: could this person really be that shallow? Well, you're also talking to the guy who would Top Sauce his own blog, so the answer's probably "yes".

* - This might be originally posted on Kotaku's TAY (Talk Amongst Yourselves?) section, but it's nonetheless worth a look! Codespells is a tool that teaches game development and game design in an easy-to-understand manner of logics, and Patch is here with an interview with one of the developers behind this project!

* - Fenriff writes a great blog about some of the simple, yet greatly appreciated things, that game designers are still struggling to implement, such as pausable/ skippable cutscenes and completely customizable controls... and as well as an interesting suggestion of allowing players to pick between resolution and framerate as their preference, in case one has to suffer for the other.

* - I never even heard of Big Sky Trooper, but from what TheKodu tells us about it, it sounds like a great game! If you want to play something that has spaceship battles, planetary exploration, on-foot action sections, and an interesting resource mechanic, then you should hop down to a retro shop and see if you can find this treasure!

* - Corduroy Turtle calls dibs on Bowser Jr.! While the little tyke might not seem like he's a fighter (then again, neither does Wii Fit Trainer, but look how well that works out!)... he certainly has a slick ride and a terrifying father to make up for his shortcomings! Plus, he can sub out for 7 other Koopalings!

* - UsurpMyProse clearly wants people to please stop stabbing other people in the neck! He said "please", which should be more than enough... but just in case the developers didn't hear him, he offers other solutions to stabbing: why don't you stop on by and wonder why, with alternatives like these, would developers ever need to include such a nasty and barbaric way to end a person's life?

* - Pixielated has enough pictures of the Final Fantasy XV crew's roadtrip through several unique locations to fill a scrapbook... which kind of scares me: what, are you stalking them or something? Boy bands never get a moment to themselves, it seems...

A - You don't need a license to play these licensed games! Keeperxiii wants to share with us a list of great games (like Toy Story 2 and Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis) hidden under the guise of its property by not only mentioning why they're classics, but also why they might've been ignored!

A - Jenigenisy is interested in the effects of allowing a child to play videogames geared towards the older gamers, and writes a short blurb about letting her child play Photo Dojo, a DSi game where you take pictures of yourselves and others to fight against. Let's just say, for her husband's sake, that she doesn't let her kid play anymore...

S - Agent9 continues his series of creepy videogame music in honor of October with a sample from Sonic CD: the U.S. version's of the Boss Theme! He also reminds us of a creepy Easter Egg hidden within the Sound Test of the same game, in case Halloween isn't already scary enough...



T - Ruby Doobie calls dibs on Shulk, and demands that everyone who uses him to pay him upfront. Considering that Shulk has an alternate costume that has him fighting in his undies, at least you'll get your monies worth!

T - Bling Pringles calls dibs on Duck Hunt, and he gives us one slightly scary reason why! I'm glad Duck Hunt is included in the new Smash Brothers: it's time for some payback, you smiling little bitch!... I just hope this isn't considered a threat to the other person mentioned in the blog.

T - Code Name Chrono calls dibs on Zelda, and hopes that you will honor his decision. Thankfully, Sheik is now a separate character, which means that I can still select the slick ninja: she was one of my mains in Melee, and seeing her kick all kinds of ass in Hyrule Warriors makes me want to choose her again!

V - Power Stone might not be seeing a sequel anytime soon, but in case you're curious about this much-talked about game, Johnny Burnes decides not to buy into the Smash Brothers hype and opts to plow through Power Stone instead!

V - Johnny Burnes also returns with part 4 of his Unpro series of Resident Evil: Dead Aim, which might quite possibly feature a sex change! Doesn't that make you curious enough to check it out?

M - Guess what? Gray Times is an amateur DJ who goes by the name "Y so Serious?" and he offers us his own mix of select videogame themes for your listening pleasure! If you got half an hour of work to do or something, why not give him a shot: he admits that he might not be that good at it, which means he could certainly use your inputs and suggestions!

C - Jenigenisy also writes to us her thoughts when she saw pictures of female cosplayers at a gaming convention. Now, don't worry, there's nothing about objectifying females in this blog (far from it, actually), and I understood the point of the post... but I guess it wasn't executed as well. Which is a shame, really, considering how awesome "Bikini Power" sounds...

? - TheKodu's back with another blog on GamersGate: since videogame controversies aren't new, today's topic dives into other videogame controversies such as Doritos Pope Geoff Keighley (from the Halo 4 fiasco) and Youtubers being paid to shine a positive light for the product they are playing such as the Xbox One.



No Ice Climbers in the new Smash Brothers? That's a fail in itself! :(


- Dreamweaver

FPotD

Photo Photo Photo








Hello everyone! Persona 4 Arena Ultimax came out this week, and I've been playing the hell out of it since I got it! There are so many cool improvements over the first game, and there's a lot I'd like to talk about, so I think I'm gonna make a list thing-y kinda like what Shade did for Smash.

First off, characters!

- My favorite new character is Ken & Koromaru! Teddie might still be my main for ranked fights, because I'm much more confident with him, but Ken & Koro are just a lot of fun to use! You can use the triangle and circle buttons, which normally control your persona, to order Koromaru to attack, while also attacking with Ken using the square and X buttons. There's a lot of good combo opportunities there! I'm still working on my combos, but I've gotten some good ones going occasionally. I like to send Koro in for an attack, then either jump or sidestep behind the enemy, so that I can attack them from both sides! Plus, Ken uses a trident, and tridents are awesome.

Also, Koromaru is the most adorable.

- Junpei is another really cool new character! I'm not very good with him (yet), but I love the baseball field mechanic he has. I haven't quite figured out EXACTLY how it works, but in general, you fill up bases by successfully landing attack, and you'll get strikes or balls if you miss, but if you get 10 points, you get a temporary boost of attack power. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong on this, by the way. Also, hitting people with baseball bats is just really satisfying. I learned this with Teddie's standing strong attack, and Junpei's attacks feel just as good!

- I also really enjoy using Adachi! I don't know why I like Adachi so much, since he's kind of a massive scumbag, but I just do. His normal persona attacks seem a little too powerful, though, or at least annoying (I've never been on the receiving end of it yet, luckily). Also, his throw attack is definitely my favorite throw in the game, it makes me chuckle every time!

- As for the other new characters, Rise, Yukari, Marie, and Sho... I'm not too interested in any of them. Sho seems to be particularly annoying to fight against, so I'm not looking forward to seeing him in ranked matches. I'm also waiting for Margaret to become available, because I'm actually really looking forward to trying her out! I love that she gets to used multiple personas!

- Oh, and as for Teddie, they made some slight alterations to his attacks, and I'm loving all of them! His new auto-combo moves are hilarious and adorable (I love when he goes into taiko drum mode)! His new Nihil Hand attack is really cool and creepy, and also the mystery three-item SP attack is quite useful! I'm definitely keeping him as my main for ranked matches!

Aside from new characters, there are also some cool new mechanics.

- Now you can choose to play as the shadow version of almost any character (with some exceptions, such as Elizabeth, Adachi, Marie, and Sho). Shadow characters can't use Bursts, but they can go into Shadow Frenzy mode, which lets them go crazy with SP attacks at no cost until the counter reaches zero. I haven't dabbled in shadow characters too much yet, but they seem really powerful. Also, Shadow Kanji is just hilarious! I'm not even very good with Kanji, but I kinda want to play as his shadow version just because he makes me smile :)

Kanjiface!

- They added a Lobby mode for casual fights via the network, and I absolutely love it! The lobbies are these cute little isometric rooms you can run around in with your avatar character (I chose Teddie, obviously), and you can sit at arcade cabinets and wait for opponents to walk by and join you for a fight. You can also send messages and use emoticons, so it's like a chatroom of sorts.

- They also added a Golden Arena mode, in which you go through "dungeons" and fight seemingly endless enemies, which grant you experience to level up, increase your stats, and learn passive abilities. So it's sort of like an RPG mixed with a fighter, which makes since given the source material. Unfortunately, it gets a little boring after a while (kinda like most of the dungeons in the Persona games!).

- So far, I like how the story mode is laid out this time around. Instead of picking a certain character and seeing basically the same story from different points of view, Ultimax assigns different characters to play at different points in the story. I think it really helps the flow of the story mode.

I think that's about everything. I'm absolutely loving the game, and I think it's a wonderful improvement over the first game, which was already a fantastic game anyway! If anyone wants to join me for some friendly fighting sometime, just let me know!

No topsauce today :(

A - Esteban shares five games that deserve to be ported from their original consoles.

If only...

I - Say hello to eltantillo! He wants to make video games for a living.

F - Friday Night Fights on Xbox + Review expectations!

F - Friday Night Fights on Playstation + Serious business!

T - Kodu played Half Life for the first time ever (sort of), and came to the conclusion that it doesn't hold up very well these days. I think the graphics look fine, personally.

D - Beyond-Human is a game that you can support on Kickstarter if you want.

$ - October 3rd UK releases and bargains!

Please, no!

C - Cool song choice, but there's really no excuse not to use spell check for your blogs.

V - You can watch this guy play Power Stone 2 if you want.

F - I'll be honest with you, I did not even read this.

F - I also didn't read this one, because I'd rather not waste any more seconds of my life on this idiotic topic.

- bbain

FPotD

 

 

Photo Photo Photo









In case you hadn’t noticed yet, I’ve managed to get my hands on Smash Bros. 4 3DS. Shocker right? It’s, like, only the most anticipated game ever? But yeah, I got it yesterday afternoon because the gods smiled favorably upon me and I still have access to the six-hours-head EU eShop. This means that between yesterday and today I’ve managed to put in a grand total of 8 hours so far. Not too shabby, if I say so myself!

As such, I think I can share my first findings with you all.

*ahem*

It’s goddamn amazing.

Another shocker.

No but seriously, so far the game is doing everything right for me. I loved Brawl when it came out some years ago, but it didn’t get me nearly as hooked as this one. I honestly considered pulling an all-nighter last night, and only barely decided against it. But you probably know all of that. Chances are if you have the game you’re just as hooked as I am. I respect that, so I’m not going to keep you for long. Let me just make a couple of comments about some of my favorite fighters in the game.

  • Actually no, let me make a general comment first. I love the feel of the fights in Smash 4. Both matches and characters are fast enough to keep you on your toes, but slow enough that you always feel in control and always retain a good overview about what’s going on. Moreover, in this game it feels like all the characters pack a pretty good punch. The visual and sound effects make it so that you can almost feel the weight of the blow regardless of whether you’re playing as Bowser or Kirby. Multiple-hit moves also seem easier to connect with now, so you don’t feel like you just whiffed most of your attack as often as before.

  • You should be aware who my main is by now. So far, it seems that Luigi has stayed mostly the same. Some of his animations have been changed, some of his attacks either hit harder or less hard, but otherwise he’s the Luigi that I know and love.

  • My secondary main is Zero Suit Samus. She kicks ass now. Seriously, everyone who complained about her high heels can just go leave, because she’s more awesome with those rocket boots than she has ever been. Hell, I want those boots.
    The sound effect alone makes her kicks seem like they deal in explosions. Her biggest improvement by far is her new Forward-Smash. In Brawl, she had this slow and weak whip attack that was profoundly useless. Now she has a devastating double rocket kick and she is so much better for it. The big thing here is that she now has an amazing new option for Kos, especially when paired with the stun effect of her Down Smash. This fixes her biggest previous weakness, meaning that she’s now destined for great thing. Hell, right now I could see her overtaking Luigi as my primary main.

  • Ganondorf still isn’t all that, but he’s nowhere near as pathetic as he was in Brawl. I might actually start using him regularly again. He’s a lot more fun to play now that Forward-B -> Forward-Tilt works consistently, Down-B has significant KO potential and Forward-Air is much faster.

  • Lucario pretty much unchanged, but that’s alright with me.


    - These boots were made for walking rocket-kicking the shit out of your fucking face

    As for some new folks I’ve enjoyed:
  • Shulk is a lot of fun to play. His Neutral-B changes up his entire gameplay style, requiring you to constantly assess the situation and choose the Art for the moment. An enemy at 0% requires Buster for quick damage, but once they start getting in the 70s – 80s range you can start thinking about using Smash to increase your launching power. He also has killer range on his Smash attacks.

  • Bowser Jr. Ludwig von Koopa is surprisingly one of my favorite newcomers. I didn’t expect much of him at first, but his attacks suit me quite well. Which is to say he’s got good aerials going on. His Down and Up Smashes are also very effective, and his Neutral-B is a decent projectile. Don’t write this guy off just yet!

  • Duck Hunt Duo is hilarious to me. Also stronger than expected. Again, don’t write these guys off!

  • Greninja is quite fun, and he function kind of like a pseudo-Zero Suit Samus to me. What I mean by that is that he’s got roughly the same speed and range, and uses a lot of kicks. Not rocket-propelled kicks, but decent kicks nonetheless.

  • Finally, I’m not quite feeling Robin and Wii Fit Trainer Which is a shame, because I like both of them. Their attacks seem a little too slow, with not enough power behind them to compensate. I have a feeling that I might be able to get a feel for the Trainer if I work on her a little more, but I’m doubtful about Robin.

  • Little Mac can’t jump worth a shit. Denied.

It’s funny too me how all of the characters I was kind of concerned about being in the game in the first place (Bowser Jr. Ludwig, Duck Hunt Dog and Greninja) have turned out to be some of my favorite new peoples in the game. It just goes to show that you never doubt Sakurai.


* - This great and handsome man shares an amazing blog about life, love and Smash Bros., and manages to touch us all in our feels without even the slightest use of words. You will shed tears over this beautiful blog.

* - Voltech is back again and writes an actually Sauce-worthy blog about what makes the Smash Bros. series, and Nintendo by proxy, so great.


A - Agent9 keeps facing the biggest Smash Bros. rival of all: his big brother.

A- I'm giving this the benefit of the doubt, but do we really need more Anita at this point? Can't we go back to talking about Samus in awesome high heels?

A - acefondu considers "reverse buyer's remorse": why do WE care what SOMEONE ELSE is buying?!

A - Esteban has kind of fallen out of love with the Zelda series.

P - It's Episode 46 of Radio Dtoid, in which people talk about things and stuff. Probably Smash Bros.!





N - Here's a new kharacter trailer for Mortal Kombat X: Quan Chi's!


M - Halloween is coming up (or so all the pumpkins in grocery stores would suggest) so the creepy stuf is coming out. Like Silent Hill music. *shudder*


C - Reinhold can't stop raving to Dune and marginally talks about Skullgirls DLC.


F - This fucking guy thought he could post a blog of just a couple of Nintendo .gifs and get away with it. Well not on my watch bucko!

                  

- ShadeOfLight
May you always find water and shade

FPotD

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It's October motherfuckers.

Get ready for Smash Bros, Halloween, spoopy stuff, candy, sexy costumes, funny costumes, clever costumes, and sexy costumes.

The Smash hype is so great, I'm considering selling my old Xbox 360 in order to get a Wii U. I mean, I'm not interested in the Xbone or the PS4, I'm done playing games on the 360 which doesn't have too much on the foreseeable future, and I'm done paying for Xbox Live Gold. There's a lot of stuff I want to play on the Wii U, even meaning catch up. Not only is there's the Wii U Smash, there's Bayonetta 2 (helpfully coming with a copy of the first Bayonetta), Mario Kart 8, Wonderful 101, Super Mario 3D World, Pikmin 3, plus a slew of Wii games I missed out on like Okami (FINALLY). Hell, I'm even morbidly curious of the whole game pad thing. I want to try offscreen play since I just want to get comfortable after work.

Posting this curiosity got me a range of responses on Facebook. Lots of people said they never went back after the jump. Others thought it was a dumb idea. Someone even suggested Destiny, telling me it was a life changing experience. Holy shit, the game looks like Halo + Borderlands 2 + an MMO. Regardless of how it scored, the primary thing I've heard is that while it probably (most likely) doesn't do anything new, people can't stop playing it and they're finding it fun. Either way I absolutely don't care to play Destiny.

A) It's really just the combination of things I just described and I have absolutely zero interest in it.

B) It's really actually fun despite it but I have no interest in investing a large portion of my time to this one game.

There's nothing I can say I want to play on an Xbox One or a Playstation 4. I know the Wii U is probably the worst choice when it comes to picking a system for the next generation. The Wii U is in fact probably a system from the last generation. But I don't care because you know what they say: go to where the games are.

Persona 4 Arena Ultimax was actually the last chance for me to keep my Xbox 360 but likeI said, I'm tired of paying for Xbox Live Gold. Of course, while something like Nintendo's Connections service is free, it's quality is also wildly inconsistent between games. I couldn't even be bothered to buy P4AU to get the day 1 launch DLC because I just as easily launched the games section of the Xbox Live Marketplace and downloaded Marie and Adachi for free despite not owning the game. Now that stuff is mine forever. I'm even preserving important save data onto a flash drive in the long shot chance that I may decide to play some games again but I'm just plain too OCD to let go completely and left myself an out for my decision.

I'm probably going to hold out for a Black Friday or Cyber Monday deal. Hopefully I'll find the Mario 3D World package deal and I'll put my Xbox 360 towards it because I can't see myself playing anything on it anymore or just playing it anymore. Honestly I'm just streaming stuff off it now. If the Wii U has weaker streaming options (I know it has Netflix and YouTube) I still mostly still watch off my iPad and iPhone. So I guess I don't need any sort of convincing here. I'm already fixated on the idea of taking the plunge and jettisoning my 360 as soon as the opportunity presents itself. Not only are Microsoft and Sony committing to the current generation but neither of their new consoles are backwards compatible with older games. Originally this gave me the position that I might as well keep them as entirely separate entities from the newer consoles. But now that I find less reason to play on my 360 as it's now part of an older generation. The Wii U is apart of this concerned generation no doubt but Nintendo is still on some schedule to release more games for it: Captain Toad, Wii U Zelda, Yoshi's Woolly World, Mario Maker, and hell, I played the demo to Hyrule Warriors and I can picture myself playing it. I liked Gundam Musou so hell, I can enjoy Zelda Musou.

Also, Shade gets the honor of recapping on the day before Smash goddamn. He's even now in America so he's experiencing the same painful time zones as most of us. And you better believe I'm downloading it off the eShop right at the break of midnight. I downloaded New Lead asap like that too. Then on Friday proper, I'll be off to buy the physical copy for my girlfriend complete with commemorative coin thanks to seeing the Nintendo demo back in June.

Also, new season of Korra starts on the same day as Smash 3DS' launch. Coincedence? Probably.

S - Agent9 kicks off his spoopy month of creepy music with RE's typewriter room music

P - Dusty Tusty's new podcast episode is out about Smash and Castlevania. Share your thoughts on the two series too!

M - Arkane likes FFIX so screw Dale's opinion

A - The WB and Shadow of Mordor debacle gate thing

V - An Unpro you know whatever of Anarchy Reigns

T - Scrustle quite enjoys Hyrule Warriors

It's almost time...


~Striderhoang

FPotD

Photo Photo Photo








Mental illness is something more games need to explore. For such a frequently invoked trope, it doesn't get the actual attention it deserves. It might be used to justify a psychotic villain's particular hang-ups, or give a main character an extra dash of flavor by throwing some trauma in their background somewhere, or even played for laughs (the dark comedy of Dead Rising is practically built on disturbing/hilarious mental breakdowns), but very few games go any deeper than that. Silent Hill, Amnesia, a few others.

Neverending Nightmares is all about mental illness. Lead developer Matt Gilenbach, a man who has struggled with instability his whole life and was particularly devastated by the failure of his last game (the critically loved, but comercially ignored) Retro-Grade, poured all of his trauma, OCD, and depression into the game. The result was Neverending Nightmares, a game (ostensibly) about a man named Thomas who wakes up (?) to discover himself trapped in a horror house that seems to be haunted by his sister, who may or may not be dead (even Thomas isn't sure, which of course is only a source of more angst).

While that is the basic story, the game is unabashedly about Gilenbach's plight, his own struggles with mental disease, his own darkness. The game tries to replicate that experience for the player in some very interesting and subversive ways. Disturbing Gothic art with a minimal black&white color scheme, and an unsettling sound design set the mood, but it's the play mechanics that really express the madness and frustration Gilenbach wanted to convey.

The nearly identical hallways, repeating loops, and endless number of doors you come across dissolve any sense of place and direction. Even if you've only been moving in a single direction for the most part, you still feel lost and unsure of yourself. When forced to backtrack, small alterations to the landscape decimate any hope of successfully navigating the house. Considering the game is all about exploration, the total erosion of trust and consistency with the level design keeps you constantly on edge. I found myself frequently questioning my decisions “am I do something wrong? Am I supposed to go this way? Did I miss something?” It might be a simple trick, but it is an incredibly effective way to get inside the player's head.

The main character, Thomas, is asthmatic and can only sprint short distances before succumbing to agonizing wheezing. Of course, he also can't fight any of the (horrifying) monsters he encounters, so you'll want to run as fast as possible away from them - only to jog a few steps and be left helpless. When backtracking you'll naturally want to speed up the process, but constantly find yourself prevented from picking up the pace. And there is an entire scene that has you chasing an apparition you desperately need to talk to, only to be left lagging behind. It's COMPLETELY frustrating, which of course was the point. I've said before that I'm not a huge fan of the “it's broken on purpose!” school of horror game design, but I feel like this is a case where it was done well and actually enhanced the experience (instead of feeling like a cop out). I dealt with asthma as a child, and I have to admit that Thomas' pathetic wheezing stirred up some emotions. It brought back that terrible, desperate feeling of being held back by your own body, of wanting to keep up with the other kids, but instead double over in pain.

I would love to talk about a few more things from the game, but it's so fresh that I don't want to spoil it for anyone that's interested (maybe I'll write a blog about it in a week or so). I will say that I thought it was a fascinating (and somewhat uncomfortably intimate) look into developer's psyche and a fantastic use of the medium's mechanics to convey ideas. In an industry rife with cut-scenes and dialog boxes, it's great to see the GAME part of a game shoulder the communicative load. Especially for something an nuanced and difficult to express as mental illness.

I really hope other developers get inspired by Neverending Nightmares. I want to see more intimate creator driven games, I want to know these people and play games that deal with more ideas than just blowing stuff up (which I'm all for, but I like other stuff too). I want more thoughtful examinations of sickness and trauma, not just see it used as easy background fluff for a bad guy or anti-hero. Neverending Nightmares is a game you should play if your interested in any of these topics.

That said, it is very short. Me and my girlfriend played it together over the course of two sessions about an hour long each. We managed to find all three endings and I'm not sure if there is anymore content to mine out of the game. It was a super interesting experience, but if you're one of those people that really wants to get a playtime value out of your purchases (and I totally understand that!), you may want to wait for it to show up on a Steam sale or otherwise be reduced.

* - Nintendo Power covers are a subject near and dear to my heart, and DustinThomas has a collection of the best.

* - Don't worry Patrick, tier-whoring and hiding it behind “he fits my playstyle!” is a time honored tradition :p

* - GrimmTrixX has a bad case of Pac-Man fever (low-hanging goofs FTW!)

* - An interesting blog about potential future uses and risks for the Oculus Rift. I don't know if I agree with all of the potential problems, but these are ideas worth considering.

* - Gosh, Pikachu is soooo cute! Script's choice might be low on the tier-lists, but ranks #1 in adorability.

* - Right on! Tony Ponce's favorite game might be a little predictable if you've been following his stuff, but his sheer enthusiasm is just charming. Check out those drawings!

S - For Hoffmann, it was Tuesday! For me, it's a sacred holiday, the anniversy of Metal Gear Solid, eat your frozen rations and say a “la, li, le, la, lo” in honor of the day!

A - TheKodu had a rough time demoing the Oculus Rift. To my understanding, the resolution will be better in the consumer model, but simulation sickness is just going to be something that keeps some people from enjoying the experience.

A - Arkham Asylum was such a well made game.

C - Think you're a funny person? Prove it!

C - Aww, what a lovely little blog. Emolga was touched to make it to the FP, hope that only inspires more writing!

R - Fantasy life is a quaint look at feudal society, minus the plague and roving bandits.


L - RUFIO, RUFIO, RUFIO!

- Wrenchfarm
FPotD

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There's a new recapper in town.

Yes, it's me, Pixielated, here to make sure all Sunday things and stuff on the c-blogs are curated for your reading pleasure!

Did you know the recappers have a super-secret google group/mailing list? In there we speak on events of the week and collude to decide who is topsauced and who is failblogged. Well, it's not really collusion, the Empress Sark and her DARPA lizard lesbians simply tell us what to do and she teaches us how to control and corrupt minds.

Mr. Andy Dixon, BBain and ShadeOfLight turned up on my doorstep Friday, stuffed me in a sack and took me up to some place called Frankfurt. It was there I met our Empress, was injected with a super soldier serum, exposed to gamma radiation and after some informational videos I was told that I would return to North Carolina to do her bidding. My role in her plan would be ruining games by making sure The Escapist and Epic Games always made positive content about lesbians. Fine by me!

Also, I can now pick up a car with incredible ease and run 150 miles per hour without breaking a sweat - or leap through the fourth wall to get to places even faster. My skin also sometimes turns green and I grow to be like seven feet tall. It can be hell on the wardrobe, but its rather easy on my tights, sweatshirts and sweatpants. Thankfully I can control the change rather well so the shredding doesn't happen often. I also look pretty damn good green.

just got back from "convincing" Epic Games thier next title would be about lesbians of all shapes, sizes and colors fighting the Patriarchs and hunting them to extinction. I also went by The Escapist. To get my way there, all I had to do was crush Movie Bob's desk and an intern to get them motivated. After that it was all smiles and a shift toward lesbian content was accepted.

Anyway, my work is done for now. As I await new orders, I'm playing Etrian Odyssey Untold and scheming a way to get Smash Bros. for 3DS. I'm in the Third Stratum of the Labyrinth in EOU and I'm having a pretty good time with it. I know I promised some c-blog fanfiction on that, but inspiration hasn't struck me just yet. That and the Grimorie Stone addition makes it hard to want to use all the c-blog-based characters I made. I'm probably gonna have to save some of you folks for Legend of Grimrock.

Also, I have dibs on Pikachu in Smash. Only because other people called Robin, Shulk, Palutena and Villager first, though. Its fair to say with Smash I still want to see what everyone else plays like before I settle on anyone. Pikachu is my old standby since the N64 days since I always remember his moves.

Samus, regardless of being my favorite Nintendo character, never seems to be someone I want to play in Smash. Maybe her updated Zero Suit form will work out better this time but I'm nore interested in seeing how Shulk and Robin play out.

Anyway, on to the recapping!

* - Seymour goes to Alamo City Comic-Con and brings back a load of photos. Glad he had a great time!

* - LunaSy gives us a crash course on Crash Bandicoot.

C - Xeo's family seems to be out of a rough patch. He looks forward to Persona 4 Ultimax and The Evil Within.

V - Blast reviews Hyrule Warriors and talks Destiny!

N - A terrifying uncle recounts last week's releases.

T - Dibs on Shulk. Solar Pony Django thinks the others are a bunch of jokers!

T - Dibs on Villager. Licencetomono prepares to dig!

T - Dibs on Link, but are you really 16-bit?

T - Dibs on Sonic. Troy fully busts out why.

T - Dibs on Kirby. Agent9 anticipates a return to glory.

T - Dibs on Robin. Renaud knows Robin's swag gets all the ladies and dudes.

T - Dibs on Mii Fighter. Stabbyness shows us his soulless knockoffs who exist to replace our heroes.

T - Django double dips to share thoughts on Hyrule Warriors.

V - Frank watches people who watch games rather than play them, but who watches the watchers?

L - A luminescent bear lists gaming's most sexy elbows #LimbGate

No fails today, for I am merciful on dibs.

FPotD