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Strategy RPG on PC photo
Strategy RPG on PC

Telepath Tactics is out now on PC and it's hard as dongs


Oh good, everyone is dead...again
Apr 22
// Patrick Hancock
Telepath Tactics, a PC strategy RPG, has released today for $14.99. It's created from the ground up by a huge tactics fan, Craig Stern, and it shows. The game is brutally difficult and is intended for "Fire Emblem v...

How to make Ryu an interesting character in Super Smash Bros.

Apr 19 // Patrick Hancock
Sprite GIFs used are all from the Street Fighter Wiki. Give him an EX meter and EX moves So, let's assume Ryu has his Hadoken, Shoryuken, Tatsumaki Senpukyaku, and some fourth move like a counter or his Joudan Sokutogeri. What would make Ryu unique isn't so much his actual set of moves, but what he can do with them. Give Ryu an EX meter, similar to Little Mac's KO meter, and allow him to build it up and use it. It could build just like it does in Street Fighter IV, by connecting with attacks or getting attacked. Spending this meter can work in a few ways. One would be double-tapping the B button to use an EX move instantly. Double-tapping is weird and I'm not sure it would work in Super Smash Bros., but it's an idea. Another option is to allow Ryu to consume an EX bar to make his next move an EX move. For example: when there's at least one bar of EX glowing, Ryu can hold B to drain it and store it, similar to how many characters store a charged up move. Then, the next special move Ryu executes will be an EX version of that move, with different properties.  If Nintendo really wants to get fancy, it could even work with Capcom to include Street Fighter V's mechanic of spending an entire EX meter to make a character "super-charged" until he is knocked down.  Art by DeviantArt user kupbot Make Ryu's alternate costumes like Bowser Jr.'s Whether Nintendo meant to or not, they set a precedent with Bowser Jr. and his alternate costumes. Ryu is a perfect candidate for this method of alternate costume since there are plenty of Shotokans for Nintendo to choose from. Since each character has seven alternate costumes, here is what I've come up with for Ryu's alternate costumes: Ken, Akuma, Dan, Sean, Gouken, Sakura, and Evil Ryu. Let's be honest, Ryu is boring. He's the "guy on the box." Sure, he's recognizable, but most people tend to gravitate to someone else in Street Fighter. He's a wonderful beginning character and incredibly important to the franchise, but I will be way more willing to use Ryu if I can actually play as Sean or Dan. Sure, it may only be an aesthetic change, but to some, aesthetics really matter. Speaking of which... Give Ryu custom moves from other Shotokans While it is incredibly disconcerting that Mewtwo does not have custom moves at the moment, I am still holding out hope that DLC characters will eventually come with or get their own custom moves. Considering it's one of the biggest new features in this entry of Smash Bros., it only makes sense to do so. Assuming Ryu does get some customs, why not take them from the characters that make up his alternate costumes? Here's some basic ideas: Hadoken custom move ideas: Dan's wimpy Gadoken Gouken's angled Hadoken Sean's basketball (I really like Sean, okay?) Fireball multi-hit Shakunetsu Hadouken Tatsu custom move ideas:Note: This is assuming Ryu's basic Tatsu moves him horizontally  Dan's multi-hit Dankukyaku Stationary Tatsu Vertical Rising Tatsu Shoryuken custom move ideas: Ken's fiery Shoryuken Sean's Dragon Smash The multi-hitting Shoryureppa Since the fourth move could be a multitude of things, I'll just stop here. I think the point is clear: there are a ton of variants on these moves, and it would be a shame to see them go to waste! Two different Final Smashes Luckily, Street Fighter's Ultras convert directly to Super Smash Bros.'s Final Smash. So why not give Ryu two of them? Everyone already expects the Shinku Hadoken to be his Final Smash, but what if, by hitting B and a direction, he could execute a different one? He could have the Shin Shoryuken or even the Shinku Tatsumaki Senpukyaku.  I honestly have no idea if this would be possible, but it sure would be cool! The bottom line is, Ryu is possibly going to be in Super Smash Bros., but without going the extra distance, he'll be a character not many people will be interested in playing. If Nintendo and Mr. Sakurai give Ryu the same care and attention I know they are capable of giving, Ryu could be a favorite character for many players. Roy on the other hand...
Ryu in Smash done right photo
Listen up, Nintendo!
Street Fighter's Ryu is currently rumored to be coming to Nintendo's newest entry into the Super Smash Bros. series, thanks to some hidden files in the most recent update to the game. It makes a lot of sense; Capcom...

Review: Affordable Space Adventures

Apr 04 // Patrick Hancock
Affordable Space Adventures (Wii U)Developer: KnapNok Games, NifflasPublisher: KnapNok GamesRelease Date: April 9, 2015MSRP: $19.99 Affordable Space Adventures is all about atmosphere. The entire game is dedicated to immersing gamers into the universe the developers have created, and it works brilliantly. The player (or players) are first shown an informational video by Uexplore, the company that creates and monitors spacecrafts. From there, any and all plot is revealed by simply playing the game. It immediately becomes obvious from the first level's surroundings that something has gone wrong and that you're now stranded on the planet Spectaculon. Luckily, according to Uexplore, Spectaculon has "no dangers*."  That is not the case. So, the only thing to do on Spectaculon is to explore, and hopefully find a way off the planet. The Small Craft™ is pretty banged up, but slowly starts to repair itself over time. As new things get repaired, a quick system message introduces how it works, and then it is up to the player to figure out how it helps them progress through the game's obstacles. Don't be fooled, there is story progression, but detailing any of it here would ruin it. It's all told through gameplay and a single ending cutscene and I can't comment enough about how the game never breaks its immersion.  [embed]289938:58054:0[/embed] Affordable Space Adventures is a true two-screen experience. The television displays the Small Craft™ and its environment, while the Wii U GamePad displays the ship's many systems. One can change the output levels of various ship systems like thrust, stabilization, weight, among others that become available as one makes progress. Each system has an effect on the ship's output levels of heat, electricity, and sound. This makes the player truly feel like a pilot, since many times these systems need to be adjusted on the fly.  One of the first things available, and perhaps the most crucial aspect of the Small Craft™, is the Scanner. Using the Scanner, players can scan alien artifacts to learn more about them. Specifically, what each artifact will react to. Some will react to sound, others to heat or electricity, some react to all three. To bypass the artifact, one can reduce their output in those three categories below a certain threshold, displayed on the GamePad. For example, if an alien artifact reacts to any level of sound or heat, players can begin to thrust, and then completely turn off the thruster before approaching the artifact to simply cruise by undetected. Alternatively, if one needs to do the same thing in a downwards direction, they can simply turn off everything, plummet downwards, and re-ignite the engine once their past the artifact. Just uh... be careful with that second one. The brilliant thing about Affordable Space Adventures is that it doesn't ever break its dedication and tell you how you should be using something. The initial system message makes sense within the universe, since it would need to tell pilots how to use certain mechanisms. The game never goes "Hey player! Why not try sliding on the ground past this enemy, with all your systems off? Great job!" It leaves them to their own devices and allows them to figure it out themselves.  The progression is flawlessly done. A new system on the Small Craft™ will be repaired, then a few levels will instruct you the extent of those systems and the various ways they apply to the world. Then, a new system will be introduced, and the cycle repeats. However, just like my math teacher used to say, nothing is ever left behind. Mechanics become layered on top of one another, forcing one to use what they learned previously in addition to the new mechanic. Naturally, the levels towards the end of the game will especially press players to utilize everything at their disposal to pass harder and harder obstacles. There is an easier difficulty available, but the standard difficulty is a good mix of challenge and progression. In addition to the difficulty, the design of the entire game feels just right. The temperature mechanic that is introduced later on does feel somewhat confusing compared to the others, but other than that every mechanic feels natural and easy to comprehend. Puzzles organically get harder with no discernible extreme spikes, so you should feel a strong sense of progression constantly throughout.  In multiplayer, up to two other people can join in and control different aspects of the ship. The game adjusts the responsibilities based on how many people are playing, but flying solo is easily the preferred method of play. Divvying up the responsibilities feels more like each person is playing a fraction of the game instead of adding a fresh take on the experience. Communication plays a large part, but it just doesn't add anything to the core gameplay. One individual in particular controls the scanner/flashlight, which is certainly an important job, but only controlling that is incredibly dull. Two players feels better than three, but both feel worse than solo play. Many of the puzzles are physics-based, and I did encounter some wonkiness during my playthrough. There were a couple of occasions where items got stuck and could not be moved, forcing me to restart the level. Luckily, each individual level is never too long and doesn't require one to repeat very much if something happens. The entire game will take people around five hours to complete, and there's hardly a dull moment throughout. The sound design deserves special mention here, since it really elevates the atmosphere to an incredible level. Sound is muffled/off when underwater, enemies creeping in have an especially eerie tone play, the bweeps and bwoops from the GamePad console are spot-on, everything feels and sounds perfect. A lot of what makes Affordable Space Adventure so endearing is the little things. For example, if it is raining or if you have just exited a wet situation, the Small Craft's™ windshield wipers activate. Or the fact that the player has to start the engine and all other systems manually if it has been deactivated for any reason. Even the loading screens are pages from the manual that comes with the Small Craft™, including Uexplore's mascot, Splory. All these small things go a long way to keep one interested. Affordable Space Adventures is a game that can only work on the Wii U. Its two-screen experience is exactly what the system was designed for and the result is a unique breath of fresh air that might actually force people to hold that breath in certain situations. The multiplayer doesn't pan out too well and there were some physics glitches, but this is a game that Wii U owners need to get their hands on. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Affordable Space Adv. photo
What a deal!
It isn't too often that a game makes great use of what makes a console unique. More often publishers and developers are looking to get it out on as many platforms as possible, which makes console-specific ideas feel tacked on...

Review: Grey Goo

Mar 29 // Patrick Hancock
Grey Goo (PC)Developer: PetroglyphPublisher: Grey BoxRelease Date: January 23, 2015MSRP: $49.99  First of all, the cutscenes in this game are gorgeous. Right from the beginning the game hooks the player with its visuals. The opening cutscene is guaranteed to bring most players right in to the plot, however whether or not they care to stay is another issue. Grey Goo's plot revolves around the three factions, Beta, Humans, and Goo, fighting for control of the planet Ecosystem 9. And so they fight. The campaign would be rather lackluster if not for the cutscenes to keep the player interested. The difficulty can be adjusted for each mission, so if a mission is too difficult, players can drop the difficulty down a level when needed. Mission types can be varied, but tend to not stray far from destroying the enemy or defending an area. The campaign does give a relatively stress-free environment to play with the units and experiment, at least. Missions generally last between 30-60 minutes, depending on playstyle and the difficulty selected. Some missions are incredibly repetitive, which is why I recommend playing on Easy or Normal difficulty and just getting through to the cutscenes and messing around with the units. There are fifteen missions total, with five dedicated to each race. While the cutscenes are absolutely stunning, the campaign unfortunately ends with a cliffhanger, perfectly setting the game up for a sequel or an expansion (my guess would be on the latter). It is disappointing to say the least, especially since the cliffhanger it uses is so clichéd in nature. [embed]289484:57958:0[/embed] The inherent problem is that logically, everyone will want to play as the Goo. They are by far the most mechanically interesting race in the game, the most aesthetically pleasing, and the game is named after them. However, while the player can jump straight into the Goo in any skirmish, the Goo campaign, which helps teach players about the mechanics and strategies, is locked behind two other campaigns. Luckily there is an in-game encyclopedia to help players understand what units do and how each race works. Matches focus around gathering resources, building armies, and then destroying the opponents. There is only one resource, called "catalyst." Catalyst exists in certain areas around the map and needs to have a structure on top of it to harvest. The Beta and Human races place Refineries down with Extractors over resource areas, while the Goo has their Mother Goo unit hunkered down on top of them. There are no "worker units," so resource harvesting is more of a "set it and forget it" situation. Just don't leave your Refineries/Mother Goos unprotected! The Beta, the race first used in the campaign, focuses on base building through "Hubs." Hubs are small square buildings that can be placed anywhere with vision that connects to the production buildings on the sides. There are small, medium, and large hubs, each possessing the ability to connect to more and more buildings. Research buildings can also be connected and will impact any unit producing buildings on the same Hub. For example, if a Factory and a Tank Attachment are both on a Small Hub, the Factory can produce new unit types. The attachments are also used to research upgrades. While it is interesting to have a base broken up into small bits, the general strategy is still to protect the resource areas, generally leaving Beta players to clump everything together. Beta can also build walls and have units be stationed on top of said walls. This again promotes a base-clumping gameplay style and also promotes highly defensive strategies. Overall, the Beta don't feel much different in terms of playstyle compared to most of what the genre has to offer. The Human race is even more defensive, since they rely on low-health power grids for their structures. This means that bases must be in close proximity to one another. Humans are incredibly good at a turtling-style of play, but that doesn't necessarily mean that's the only viable strategy. Humans also have access to walls, which allow their units to travel and shoot through while preventing enemies from doing the same. The humans are pretty standard RTS fare, with the exception being the necessary power grid. The Goo are by far the most interesting race. I mean, there's a reason the game is named after them. The Mother Goo is the main building, and she is completely mobile. The Mother Goo acts as the resource gatherer; if you plop her on top of resources, she will collect them. The Mother Goo then creates Proteans, large or small, that can turn into units on the fly. This allows Goo players to bring some Proteans with them, and decide in the moment what those Proteans should turn into. It's an incredibly unique approach to an RTS faction, and it's no wonder that most players stick with the Goo when playing, from my experience.  The Proteans, including the Mother Goo, also do damage to units when they come in contact with them. Since the Mother Goo is pretty resilient, this strategy has some serious merit to it, especially when defending from an attack. It also creates an interesting dilemma at times: do I approach with my Mother Goo who is gathering resources, or leave her be to help my economy? I will say though, watching the Mother Goo slowly blob its way over to an enemy army to devour it is really something worth watching. Unless you're the other army. One of the most interesting things about Grey Goo is the upgrade or "tech" system in place. While playing as any race, players can use certain buildings to upgrade specific units in ways that better fit their playstyle. These are more than simple stat upgrades, but can drastically effect a way a unit is used. For example, the Bastion unit for the Goo can be upgraded to go into rampage mode when almost dead, increasing damage and then exploding. The pace of Grey Goo is slower than the APM-spamming click-fest of other games in the genre. It is also not as micromanagement heavy. It's a much more macro-focused game; players need to manage their resource input and output while simultaneously being aware of their opponents'. Grey Goo matches move along at a steady, but very manageable pace that should welcome newcomers to the genre without scaring them away with fast-paced skirmishes. It's been some time since the initial release, and the player base has dwindled to almost nothing. It's near impossible to find a match online unless it's planned out between opponents. This leaves the campaign and AI skirmishes as the only viable ways to play, which is unfortunate for an RTS. Petroglyph is paying attention, at least, since it recently put out a balance patch for Grey Goo - its first yet. Replays, a common feature among RTS games, are completely absent from Grey Goo. In the most recent balance patch, developer Petroglyph mentions that it is working towards the feature, but the fact that the game released without a replay function boggles the mind. Replays are crucial to help players get better as a community and to help move the metagame forward. Likewise, an "observer" function allowing other players to watch matches is also absent. There is a Map Editor, which is a great addition, but hardly as crucial as the aforementioned features. With a hefty asking price, Grey Goo has a handful of wonderful ideas while also treading similar ground, but the community dropoff rate has absolutely killed the online aspect of it. It's a solid real-time strategy that will likely please fans of the genre, but most may want to wait for the resurgence of players with the inevitable sequel or expansion, which will hopefully come with more features. The titular Goo race is one of the freshest aspects of the genre in a long time, and I hope that Petroglyph has some more great ideas up its sleeves for the future.
Grey Goo Review photo
A sequel to World of Goo! Wait...
Like a ball of goo, I have watched the life of Grey Goo, a new real-time strategy game from developer Petroglyph, expand with enthusiasm, begin rolling, and slowly but surely lose mass as it turns into a tiny goo-ball that no...

Review: Frozen Cortex

Mar 18 // Patrick Hancock
  Frozen Cortex (Linux, Mac, PC [reviewed])Developer: Mode 7Publisher: Mode 7Release Date: February 19, 2015MSRP: $24.99 (contains two copies) "Cortex" is a futuristic ball-sport played by robots. The rules are pretty simple: get the ball into the opposite endzone to score seven points. If a robot carrying the ball goes over one of the highlighted "Midzone" squares before scoring, two points are immediately added to that team's point total. To win, a player must simply have more points than the other team and possession of the ball by the time the game is over, which happens after a certain amount of turns. Once the ball is acquired, the player can either run or pass with it, and there is a limit to how many passes can be performed in a single possession. The ball can also only be moved forward at any point. Robots who aren't moving are considered blocking, and any other robot who comes within close proximity of that motionless robot will be hit and deactivated for a short time. Gameplay will be familiar to those who have played Frozen Synapse. Using the mouse, players can map out the path of every robot for the upcoming turn, and can even do so for the opposing team's robots. Then, players can watch the events play out before committing to anything. Dedicated players will take their time and plot out many possible alternate scenarios before finally deciding on the best one. Once a series of moves is "primed," it is sent to the opposing player (or AI) and will play out once both players are done. The default rules can feel rather limiting, but it is possible to create a custom game so players can enjoy the game the way they see fit. In fact, my favorite moments from Frozen Cortex were from playing online custom game modes against friends, since we felt the original rule set was far too restrictive. However, doing this occasionally broke the game.  [embed]289060:57841:0[/embed] All of the single-player modes do use the traditional rules, so it is best for players to get accustomed to them and the strategies that go along with them. In the main game mode, Knockout, players are tasked with taking a team as far as possible without losing. One loss results in a game over and all progress is wiped, traditional to roguelike games. While it can be frustrating to get rather far and lose, the threat of losing everything forces the player to truly think about each move and puts way more importance on every single game compared to the other modes. In between games, there's the opportunity to add new players to the roster, each with their own stats. Want to have a team that is completely beast at blocking? Draft those players! Be warned though, there is almost always a downside to being very proficient in something. It can take some time to get a team that truly fits a playstyle, especially when a single loss will knock players out and the player pool is random, but it's great to be able to personalize a team.  The Global Cortex League and Randomized League mode function similarly, except the latter gives the player a completely randomized team, as the name implies. These modes will keep track of players' wins and losses, and the object is then to simply be the best out of the assortment of teams involved while continuously customizing the team. In Global Cortex League, getting new robots involves spending money on them, and money is gained from either winning or placing bets. There is an underlying theme of corruption that takes place in both the Knockout and Global Cortex League modes, and this is the player's chance to participate! It is always interesting to monitor how a team does and then feel confident enough to place a bet based on past performances. Just like real-life betting, I assume! Though once the betting screen is opened and closed, there doesn't seem to be a way to bring it back up.  While playing, three narrators banter back and forth. In single-player, the opposing coach generally joins in the banter as well. Their banter is incredibly witty, and often elicits a good chuckle, though there is no voice acting. Their personalities become immediately apparent, and will even talk about previous matchups and statistics, just as expected from sports commentators.  The amount of options at any given time is rather small. It's a pass-or-run type situation on offense most of the time, and it simply depends on the situation at hand. Once a player decides to run the ball, they must hold on to it until it's either in the endzone or turned over. This makes running unlikely in a lot of scenarios, but Frozen Cortex is all about mind games with the opponent. "It's highly unlikely they would run at this point" can mean "I should run it" for the offense. The play will end once the ball has traveled a certain amount of distance in the air, but not after a long run. This allows surprise runs to really be effective and takes some effectiveness away from long bombs. The map plays a huge factor in strategy since placing a good blocker in an important intersection completely denies that area from a player. There are certain situations in which the ball carrier cannot score, forcing them to purposefully create a turnover. Players near a grounded ball will automatically run towards it, which can be used to the passer's advantage in turnover situations. For example, if the defense has blockers set up at every possible route, the offense can pass it near a defender to force them to run towards it while they set up to be defense on the next turn. On defense, it is all about placing blockers in key positions and forcing the opponent into as few options as possible. Oh, and always being aware of the "Hail Mary" passes. Often times I set up a strong defense and did not change it for a handful of turns, which makes the game feel overly simple at times. If a player is ahead by a certain score, the opponent may not be able to come back in time, making it useless to even try. In fact, the amount of "unwinnable" situations in Frozen Cortex I've encountered can easily remove a lot of enthusiasm from the game. Its strategy isn't too simple or too deep, but falls somewhere in the grey area in between. The amount of options are always limited, but how those options are utilized is what separates the scrubs from the champs. Often times I feel as if "I've got this," only to be surprised by a huge pass that goes over every single one of my defenders. Other times I'll pull off a run that not only ends up in the endzone, but travels over five Midzone areas as well, staging a huge comeback victory. Players can also challenge each other online in a variety of modes. The variation generally comes in how player stats are distributed among each team's players. The beauty of Frozen Cortex's multiplayer is that it is easy to play a game over a series of days, since it never requires both players to participate at the same time. This, alongside the lack of super-deep gameplay, make it easy to enjoy for those who tend to have a busy schedule in life. Players can customize a team for use in multiplayer, including dividing stats specifically to certain robots as well as customizing the team's look. This is really where some of the best matches come from: the team that players have invested in personally and have customized completely.  The music in Frozen Cortex is, as expected, perfect. It has catchy futuristic tones and really picks up at opportune moments throughout the game. The game's animations truly steal the spotlight visually. I highly encourage all players to watch their matches after they've been completed. Watching the plays in a single series without player turns in between is an amazing spectacle. It's best to approach Frozen Cortex without any preconceived notions. It isn't American Football and it's not just Frozen Synapse with a ball. Frozen Cortex blends these things together and comes out as its own unique experience. There is a good balance of complexity here, so most players shouldn't feel overwhelmed after grasping the basics. The AI does a great job of teaching the player the ropes, by virtue of kicking their butt, which allows them to acclimate quickly. At times it can feel a bit helpless, as certain situations become unwinnable, but generally that boils down to the fault of the player earlier in the match. Frozen Cortex is a great competitive game to play either in short spurts or in longer sessions thanks to its turn-based playstyle, and has a very low barrier to entry for players. [This review is based on a digital copy of the game provided by the publisher.]
Frozen Cortex review photo
Robo-sport-ball
Though it may be easy to see Frozen Cortex and immediately dismiss it because it seems to be rooted in American football (the best football), I want to make it clear that no American football or sportz knowledge is neede...

Review: Dragon Ball Xenoverse

Mar 14 // Patrick Hancock
Dragon Ball Xenoverse (PC, PS3 [reviewed], PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One)Developer: DimpsPublisher: Bandai NamcoReleased: February 26, 2015MSRP: $49.99 (PC, PS3, X360), $59.99 (PS4, Xbox One) Most players could probably guess exactly what events of the Dragon Ball timeline that Xenoverse visits. Events surrounding Raditz, Frieza, Cell, and Buu are all present, with a few more thrown in for good measure. The twist here is that some jerk is going through the timeline and messing everything up by making the "bad guys" way more powerful than they should be. For example, when this mysterious time finagler makes Nappa much stronger, both Nappa and Vegeta become giant apes and attack Goku. These "What if" scenarios are usually great, but often very short. There will be a brief "what if" clip, then it cuts back to the original. That's where the player steps in with their created character. Players can choose from five races: Buu, Human, Saiyan, Namekian, and Frieza Race. Yes, it's actually called "Frieza Race." Each race has their own traits, like improved defense for Buus or the ability to go Super Saiyan for Saiyans. From there, players customize their character's look in a variety of different ways. My guy was a purple Namekian with a spiky mohawk head, for example.  Customizing a character is easily the biggest draw of Xenoverse. Tons of people have dreamed of adding themselves into the Dragon Ball universe (shoutout to all the "SSJ Franks" of the world) and this is that opportunity. The downside, however, is that players can not create a second custom fighter until the story is completed. So anyone who just wants to experiment with different options or has someone else on the same console who wants a go will have to delete the first character or complete the story mode first, which is a huge bummer. [embed]288589:57792:0[/embed] The player's created character is tasked by Future Trunks to go back into the timeline and correct all the wrongdoings to preserve the timeline. This often requires the player to team up with the beloved cast of Dragon Ball Z to take down the most notorious baddies. After the timeline is the way it is supposed to be, the character gets warped back out. Characters like Goku and Krillian do react to the presence of this unknown being, but never seem to remember them from one event to the next. Something along the lines of "hey it's that giant purple Namekian again here to save our butts" would have added consistency. The difficulty of the story mode battles range from pitifully easy to "ok this bullshit isn't even fair." Some battles are quick 1v1 battles, others are strings of fights back to back, and some are wave-based. For the longer battles, failing at any stage and selecting "Retry" will boot players all the way back to the beginning, including all of the opening mission cutscenes. There are times when failing a fight results in 7-15 minutes lost, only to then mash start and skip through about two loading screens and four cutscenes to get back to the beginning of a five-stage battle. There is nothing worse than having to re-do a series of fights after losing towards the end of the mission. The story missions fall into one of three categories: "tedious and boring," "completely bullshit," and "okay I guess."  Others task the player to protect their AI allies. These are interesting, since they force the player to be very aware of their surroundings, but the AI is completely unreliable. Sometimes they'll be awesome and create an incredibly awe-inspiring combo from the player's combo. Other times players will be fighting with Kid Gohan and Krillian and they are both useless and why are we fighting the same three enemies seven times? For context, there is a mission in the Frieza Saga that tasks the player to protect Kid Gohan and Krillian while beating 20 enemies. Said enemies are the same three henchmen repeated over and over again. It is is no way challenging, interesting, or worthwhile.  There are items to help curb the difficulty. Some items will regenerate health and stamina for the player, others will heal their allies. For certain missions, it is imperative that the player has these items with them. The game might be hinting that the player should be a higher level, but considering how ridiculous the difficulty swings are at times, it doesn't seem to be the case.  I would recommend to completely skip the Story Mode, but unfortunately players must complete it to create more than one character. The other modes, Versus and Parallel Quests are way better uses of time. Versus mode is both online and offline support, and the former has general player matches and ranked matchmaking. Most people seem to be playing player matches, however that generally leads to my character getting completely demolished by someone much higher level than me. When I search for ranked matchmaking players close to my level, I often get zero results.  The Parallel Quests are the game's strongest point. These consist of missions with various goals that players can cooperate together to complete. Some missions are simple fights, while others are to gather items like the Dragon Balls, while simultaneously keeping the bad guys at bay. These missions also have item drops which can be viewed before starting a mission. However, drops are random, so players may need to repeat quests to get the drop they want. This can be quite enjoyable since these missions are far superior to anything the story mode has to offer. After a mission, whether failed or succeeded, players will gain experience for their created character (even when playing as other characters in Parallel Quests). As the character levels up, they can allocate attribute points to different categories: Health, Ki Meter, Ki Specials, Melee Attacks, Melee Specials, and Stamina. This is great to add a strong sense of personalization to each player's created character, though it's hard to decide early on what exactly to spend points on since the players have no familiarity with how they may want to play. The fighting system itself is easy to understand, yet complex enough to yield a lot of freedom. The player has a health bar, a stamina bar, and a Ki bar. The stamina bar is used for blocking attacks and other defensive moves, while the Ki bar is used for Ki attacks. There are two melee attacks, light and strong, a Ki Blast button, and a defensive teleport that relocates the player behind the enemy at the cost of stamina. By holding down one of the triggers, players then gain access to four special moves (Galick Gun, for example). Another trigger brings up Ultimate moves, which cost more Ki than the basic special moves (Final Flash). While experimenting, players are sure to find links between melee attacks and special moves that jive well, which can really give a sense of accomplishment as players discover their own combos. Combos definitely have the Dragon Ball flash to them; launching an enemy, teleporting, and then launching them again always feel satisfying, especially since it is possible to perform a special move instead of the second or third launch for some extra pizzazz (and possibly damage). Depending on the environment, the camera can be a huge burden to the player. If backed up against a wall, it becomes near impossible to see what's happening and can easily lead to frustration. On PS3, however, the framerate of the game absolutely tanks if there are four or more people involved in the fight. The total number of combatants can go up to six, but becomes borderline unplayable, even offline. This makes the fights feel more like slideshows than the fast-paced ballet that Dragon Ball Z battles are known for. It got to the point where if I saw that it was a large-scale battle, I groaned knowing that the framerate would tank as soon as the action started.  The framerate also takes a huge dip in the game's hub world, which connects to every aspect of the game. There is no traditional menu system; everything goes through the hub world. Here's the process for starting an offline, 1v1 fight: Press start on the main menu, attempt to connect to the servers, then choose a created character. The game will then try to connect to the Xenoverse servers again. This tends to fail a lot and is never guaranteed. Load into the hub world, which is now populated with player-created NPCs like "SSJ_Shadow" and "Gloku," which make the framerate incredibly poor. Slowly meander over to the NPC robot that allows local fights, select the mode and characters, and then it can begin! The hub world is a nice idea that has its moments, but the lack of a conventional menu system, at least for the offline modes, is not a good design at all. The servers are incredibly spotty at the moment, but when they connect, the hub world is filled with actual players and their created characters. While there, players can do all sorts of pre-created chat messages and emotes. You can even do the fusion dance with other people! The framerate is poor, at least on PS3, but it's still a blast to see what other people have created and goof around. If players lose connection to the server, it will boot players back out to the main menu. The strange thing is, I've also had this happen to me when playing offline. It seems that if it tries to upload something to the leaderboards and can't, it still forces you to log out of the game only to re-login and walk back to where they were when they were disconnected. When the game is first booted up, the first thing players will hear is "CHA-LA, HEAD CHA-LA!" and so naturally the game's soundtrack is amazing. The background music for the menus and hub worlds is catchy, and the music during fights and cutscenes hits all the right notes. The art style likewise does an amazing job of looking like the cartoon while still being a polygonal videogame. Thick, bold lines and strong colors help to make each character, especially the player-created one, really look like a Dragon Ball Z character. The environments are a bit hit-or-miss, as some of them are pretty bland while others rekindle fond memories of the show.  Fans of the series will definitely find some enjoyment out of creating their own character and watching them fight and grow alongside Goku, Vegeta, and everyone's favorite, Gohan. However, Dragon Ball Xenoverse has some of the worst design decisions ever embedded into a videogame. There are no menus, the story mode's difficulty is all over the place, and the game's best aspect, creating characters, is locked behind hours and hours of frustrating play. It certainly has its moments and the core fighting mechanics are great, but the game falls flat in too many other areas to be standout title.
Xenoverse Review! photo
Is this the final form?
Dragon Ball Z games have been quite the rollercoaster over the past couple decades. The Budokai series often stands out among fans as some of the best entries into the crowded scene, thanks to its developer Dimps. Well, Dimps is back with Dragon Ball Xenoverse, so naturally fans are excited. A Dragon Ball fighting game developed by Dimps, what could go wrong?

Hungry Hungry Crossfire photo
Hungry Hungry Crossfire

The best thing I saw at PAX was not on the show floor


A true blend of genres
Mar 11
// Patrick Hancock
Let me set the scene: Day 1 of PAX has come to a close, or at least the show floor has. My friends and I have just finished dinner and are on our way back into the convention center to check out the Super Smash Bros. tou...

Tumblestone is the most intelligent 'match three' game I've ever played

Mar 11 // Patrick Hancock
Tumblestone contains both single-player and multiplayer modes. I spent most of the time in the multiplayer mode, which was the most interesting balance of speed and wits that I have seen in a long time.  The idea behind the game is to clear the board of the colored blocks. To do so, the player needs to shoot three of the same color from the bottom of the board. So far, everything is pretty straightforward. However, doing this in the wrong order will result in no possible matches after a while, which then forces the player to reset the board and try again. Yes, it is important to be fast, but it is more important to be correct! In multiplayer, everyone has the same randomly generated board. From there, it's a matter of who can clear the blocks in the right order the fastest. This is possibly the only game of its kind that made me, in a competitive multiplayer match, stop and stand back to really think about my next move. I could hear other players rushing to remove blocks while my section of the screen was motionless, yet I wasn't panicking, just concentrating. [embed]288776:57720:0[/embed] Things only get more complicated when different variants get thrown into the mix. Wildcards, for example, add in multicolored blocks that can go with any color. However, each color needs to use one Wildcard in order to clear the board, so the player must then keep track of which colors have already used Wildcards and which ones haven't. Ty Taylor, the developer, said he wants to make it more obvious to the player as to which colors the Wildcards can be used with to reduce the stress a little. Another interesting modifier was Color Lock, which restricted the same color from being matched up back to back. Though it sounds simple, the puzzle layouts make it quite complicated. The Shot Blocker modifier throws a stone in the middle column that switches on and off with each shot. Knowing this, players need to plan out their shots accordingly, since pieces in the middle will not be available every other turn. Perhaps my favorite modifier was a more complicated version of Shot Blocker, though I can't recall the specific name at the moment. The mode placed a Shot Blocker in the column the player uses for three consecutive shots. So, if a player takes a match from columns one, two, and three, those become off limits after their respective shots. However, the fourth shot will remove the first Shot Blocker placed and move it to the column the fourth shot was in. If it sounds confusing, it is! But only at first. This mode really forces players to think ahead, and "speed" almost becomes an afterthought in this mode. There were even times where I forgot I was competing against other people right next to me! Each modifier forces players to think completely differently, and aren't hard to understand. After a few failed attempts, most players will realize exactly what's up and start going very methodically. Ty also mentioned that future builds may be able to mix modifiers together, which I don't even want to think about right now. A sense of progression quickly becomes noticeable. While at first I felt a bit overwhelmed by some of the game modes, it didn't take long to become acclimated and start churning out victories. It's a pretty great feeling to know where you messed up in a puzzle, then breeze through the first half only to stop and think three moves ahead before diving into the second half.  My time with the single-player components was limited, but there are plenty of options for those who will be going it alone. A Marathon mode is an untimed, infinite mode for those who want to go for high scores. A Story Mode is also included, with 360 puzzles in 12 worlds, each world introducing a new modifier and likely pushing that modifier to the limit. Oh, and for those curious, Tumblestone is just fine for red/green colorblindies like myself. I was worried at first, but not only does each color have a specific face on it, but the reds and greens are at a very different brightness (dark red and light green) and were easy to tell apart. In addition, choosing a wrong color to match with in multiplayer will bring up arrows pointing to possible correct options. Both the single- and multiplayer offerings in Tumblestone come off as incredibly substantial modes. The competitive multiplayer got really heated on the show floor, even with occasional pauses to go into a deep, zen-like thought. This was one of my favorite games of PAX East, and luckily it's headed to just about every platform out there later this year! 
Smart puzzle photo
From the creators of The Bridge
The first impression of a game matters a lot at PAX. If people aren't intrigued almost immediately, they may never play the game at all. My first impression of Tumblestone was "oh cool another match-three game." I don't ...

Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is a brilliant asymmetrical game

Mar 08 // Patrick Hancock
The player with the Oculus Rift can manipulate the bomb by rotating it or by choosing one of the many different sections on the bomb to interact with. There are many different possibly sections that could be on the bomb, but the simple ones consist of a series of wires or symbols, or even just one single button with some text on it. The game allows for players to mess up two times. After that, the bomb detonates. Bombs are randomly generated each time, so it's not feasible to memorize what to do in specific situations. Plus, the sections themselves change so it would take a ton of memorization. The player with the binder has a series of instructions that need clear communication as to what the bomb actually shows. For example, one section of the beginner bomb has a set of about six wires. However, depending on what colors those wires contain will affect which wire needs to be cut. The binder will say something along the lines of "If the section contains any yellow wires, cut the third wire." It becomes a constant back and forth between players in a race against the clock that is absolutely exhilarating. [embed]288752:57653:0[/embed] After beating the beginner bomb on day one of PAX, my partner and I decided we were up for the harder bomb on day two. We were not. The first obstacle on the second bomb brought us all three strikes. It was a more complicated series of steps that also included memorization. I was not prepared to keep notes while frantically communicating, but that's exactly what I had to do in order to win. Step five would say "If the number display is a four, press the position of the button you pressed in step two." What the hell did we press in step two? BZZZT-BOOM! Well, shit. Apparently there are even harder bombs. As I was perusing the binder of information, I saw steps that were entire pages long, something called the "Who's on First" section, and mazes. Mazes! Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes looks like it would be a perfect party game for just about anyone. This may be the first and only game ever to bring me back every single day of PAX!
Asymmetrical Oculus photo
Great use of the Oculus Rift
In Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes, a game originally developed at a game jam, one player wears the Oculus Rift and sees a bomb that needs to be defused but doesn't know how to defuse it. Their partner only has a binder...

I nuked the God of Lightning in Mayan Death Robots

Mar 08 // Patrick Hancock
Each player chooses one god, each with their own special attacks. The design of these gods is absolutely fantastic, and I found it hard to choose one to stick with based on design alone. Eventually I chose the Sun God, who was basically a nuke with a face who could also launch nukes and regular missiles. In retrospect, I guess that was the only answer. A nuke with a face! My opponent chose the Lightning God, who could also reign down attacks from the heavens. The object of the game isn't to kill each other -- though that certainly helps -- but to destroy the opponent's power source. Each god has four options: two unique attacks, jump, or build. The two attacks vary by god; the Sun God could either launch a Flare, which fired a tracer and then a rocket that came in at an angle. His other attack launched a different tracer, and then the next turn reigned down a massive nuke on top of wherever the tracer landed. Firing these takes some calculations. Aiming uses a power and angle line, similar to the classic Tanks game but without a meter for power. Jumping works in the same way, and is used to maneuver the god into a better position, whether it be to get a better shot or to get out of the way of the opponent's shot. Building allows the player to create terrain within a certain radius of the controlled god. These terrain pieces are placed in Tetris-esque shapes and help to protect the power source or possibly even imprison the enemy god! There's only a certain amount of terrain that can be placed, so it's not like you could just cover the screen in terrain. The most interesting part is the fact that turns happen simultaneously. Each player has a few seconds to choose which option they will perform, and then has a few more seconds to either move the angle and power of the attacks/jump, or to build the terrain. This not only keeps things moving, but also keeps things intense as you watch both sides' actions happen at once.  Every so often, a giant wheel comes up that grants each god a new single-use attack. Though it may seem pertinent to use it immediately, the situation may not call for a Cluster Grenade at that particular moment. Plus, it can be a little predictable to always use the new attack after acquiring it. Never be predictable! There are also Mayan statues and civilians running around and worshiping each god. Killing the opponent's statues and Mayans will grant buffs and can help give the player more options as to what kind of battle plan they execute. Should you go straight for the power source? Or will you go for a slower burn and start to aim for the statues? The whole match moves at a steady pace and there were event times where I was too busy watching the action unfold and totally missed choosing an action (it defaults to the last used action). Players need to be attentive, think quickly, and be unpredictable to be victorious. Mayan Death Robots is a fantastic strategy game that doesn't drag on and keeps up the intensity. The game has already been Greenlit and it is just a matter of time until we see it on Steam.
Mayan Death Robots  photo
Fast paced Worms-like
There's been a lot of games that try to copy the success of titles like Worms or Tanks, but often come off feeling too derivative. "Yeah, it's like Worms, but not quite as good" has definitely left my lips a handful of ...

 photo

Paradise Never brings some Majora's Mask to a revolutionary action RPG


Because it's set during a revolution!
Mar 05
// Patrick Hancock
Kitty Lambda, the developer behind The Real Texas and Paradise Perfect Boat Rescue has just announced his next game: Paradise Never. Taking place on an island colony of France during the Revolution of 2027 (complet...
Dragonball Cortex photo
Dragonball Cortex

Tried to play Frozen Cortex, went Super Saiyan instead


'You're going to love this'
Feb 24
// Patrick Hancock
A little backstory: this video of Frozen Cortex is unedited, and shows off a glitch I encountered while playing a custom game online. After changing a handful of rules, we were left with what you see above, characters t...
Exclusive footage photo
Exclusive footage

Exclusive footage of the 'Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late' naming process


You won't see this shit anywhere else
Feb 20
// Patrick Hancock
Kyle's review of Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late is now up, and we've acquired exclusive footage of the very complicated naming process used. It all makes sense now!
Frozen Cortex photo
Frozen Cortex

Frozen Cortex is releasing soon, so here's a trailer!


Exiting Early Access on February 19
Feb 13
// Patrick Hancock
Frozen Cortex, the strategy game dressed up in sports clothing, is coming out soon! Like, really soon apparently. In less than a week, on February 19, Frozen Cortex will come out of the Early Access incubation pod and b...

Review: Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate

Feb 10 // Patrick Hancock
Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate (Nintendo 3DS)Developer: CapcomPublisher: CapcomReleased: February 13, 2015MSRP: $39.99  The beauty of the storyline in Monster Hunter games is it constantly feeds directly into what players want to do: kill more monsters. It doesn't force players to do extraneous tasks that detract from the main point of the game. Even when tasked to collect little pieces of rock or plants, monsters inevitably get in the way and need a good slayin'.  This time, much of the plot's focus lays with Gore Magala, a giant black winged monster. This monster is not only tough, but brings with it a Frenzy virus. This blight has an interesting affect on the player; once infected, the virus starts to incubate within the player, represented by a purple bar next to the player's name. If it reaches its full potential, the player loses their regenerative health. If the player does a certain amount of damage to the monster before the virus manifests, they gain a temporary boost. When a monster (not just the Gore) is infected with the Frenzy virus, however, it acts as if it is always in rage mode. Not only is the monster more powerful, but they are also quite wily. Dealing with these monster is no easy feat, even if players have slain the non-frenzied version many times prior. Now, the Gorestoryline will take up a couple dozen hours to get through, but as most Monster Hunter fans are aware, that's just the beginning. Players will move from location to location rather quickly in Ultimate, as their caravan continues to grow alongside the player's reputation. The locations are all varied and will even be altered themselves after specific events, changing the way the player must approach them. It also helps keep things from getting too same-y, keeping monotony at bay. Monsters can still hide out in the transitional part of an area that forces a player into the adjacent area, which prevents the monster from being attacked, but it seems like the monsters move around much more frequently in MH4U to help prevent that. If it does occur, prepare to be frustrated until the monster decides to move out. [embed]287439:57255:0[/embed] The "treadmill" in Ultimate is all about the equipment. Each monster provides materials after death, and those materials can then be forged into weapons and armor that reflect the properties of the monster. Big fiery rock monster? That will yield some high defense, high fire resistant armor! Once that set is complete, it's only a matter of time until the player decides to go for a bigger, better set from a stronger monster.  Quests do vary, but in general, players will be killing a monster and carving it up to reap the rewards. Sometimes players may have to capture the monster instead - wounding it until it is very low on HP and then luring it into a trap device. Other missions consist of bringing back delicate eggs, minerals, or fish in order to make the townspeople happy. Sometimes, a player might just want to head out into an area without any real objective, in order to explore or gather materials, which the game permits. Also available are "expeditions,"which are a randomly-generated series of areas with a random collection of monsters strewn about. These seem to have been included as a way to keep things "fresh" by adding a layer of randomness to the layout, but in reality the expeditions are rather underwhelming as a whole. The pool of areas seems incredibly low and rather uninteresting.  There are no traditional "experience points" within the game, just the experience the player gets themselves as they see themselves get better and better at mastering the mechanics. Often, players may not even notice they are getting better until a boss that gave them so much trouble a few hours ago, is now a minor inconvenience in a fight with a much, much larger monster. With fifteen different weapon categories, players are bound to find one they enjoy using and slowly start to learn the nuances of it. There are two new weapon types in Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate: the Charge Blade and the Insect Glaive. The Charge Blade utilizes a sword and a shield. "But Patrick," you intrude, "there's already a 'Sword & Shield' option!" That's right! You sure do know your Monster Hunter! What makes the Charge Blade different is it's possible to switch out of sword and shield mode into Giant Axe mode. In Sword and Shield mode the player will build up charges for the Giant Axe mode. Once the charges are full, the sword becomes very ineffective, forcing the player into using the Giant Axe. Then, the player can use the charges to hit with extra power, adding even more damage on to the already powerful swing of a Giant Axe. The versatility of the Charge Blade quickly made it one of my favorite weapon types in the game. Having the power of the Giant Axe with the utility of a shield makes it an ideal weapon, especially for any solo hunters. When forging a Charge Blade, however, it is unclear how much damage Sword will do versus how much damage the Axe will do, since there's only one damage number.  The Insect Glaive is also a very versatile addition. The weapon itself is a long glaive, as the name says. The real star here is the Kinsect, the insect companion. The player can send the Kinsect off in a direction and if it hits a monster, it can be recalled to give the player a bonus to an attribute. Bonuses can be combined and stacked to a point, and the attribute gained depends on where it strikes the monster. The player can also vault into the air, adding a ton of mobility to the weapon. This also helps the player mount the monster, which is another addition to Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate. The Insect Glaive is quick and nimble; vaulting to avoid attacks or deliver big blows feels great and micromanaging the Kinsect's location keeps battles interesting. Being able to mount monsters, riding on their backs and giving them a good stabbing, goes well with one of the game's biggest additions: vertical movement. There is a ton of verticality in this game and incredibly well-designed monsters to take advantage of it. Climbing onto a wall to knock a monster down, only to jump off and deliver a slam-dunk to its head feels absolutely incredible. On the flip side, having to worry about a giant ape butt-slamming its way onto your face is absolutely horrifying.  The camera, however, can have a hard time keeping up. I played this on a standard 3DS, without the analog nub of the "New 3DS," so most camera work was done by pressing the L trigger to focus on either the monster or straight ahead. Minor camera adjustments can be made if players choose to include the digital d-pad on the touch screen, or by using the actual d-pad to rotate the camera, but it is hardly ideal. With how large some of the monsters get, plus the quickness of Frenzied monsters, there will be more than a few times where the player must tame the camera before they can fell the beast. Joining the player is their trusty cat-buddy, the Palico. The player's main Palico can have their appearance completely customized before starting the game. Later on, the Palico's helmet, armor, and weapon can be crafted just like the player's, albeit with different Palico-only materials. These materials are gathered once the player gains access to Sunsnug Isle, the island where Palicos hang out. There is a quick fishing and questing mini-game that can garner rewards used to make new gear for the Palico. They're enjoyable diversions and creating new Palico gear quickly became a priority, considering how much they help in battle. The player can eventually recruit more Palicos from the field to bring to the island, and can soon bring two out into the battles. Of course, playing Monster Hunter online with three other humans is easily one of the best experiences available in videogames. Four people honing their skills with their respective instruments of destruction, united in their goal to take down a gigantic beast. Multiplayer can be done locally or online, and luckily the online experience is rather smooth. Playing with other people in the USA led to no noticeable lag, regardless of the number of players. Even when the host was an entire Atlantic Ocean away, the lag was rather insignificant, though it was noticeable. The lack of voice communication is certainly a bummer, but having full text chat is at least something. All of this is wrapped in the classic Monster Hunter charm. Characters are eccentric, the music is epic, and the monster designs are as amazing as ever. One moment players will be laughing at a line of dialogue, only to have their heart pounding moments later as they narrowly escape a Frenzied monster's devastating blow. Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate is about mastering a craft and being proud of it. So go ahead, be proud! [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Monster Hunter 4 review photo
Where a monster can fart before killing you
Ah, Monster Hunter. A game that ends up being more of a culture than anything else. These have always been games about community and self-improvement. Getting better isn't measured in some arbitrary number, but how well you c...

Dota 2 tournament photo
Dota 2 tournament

The Dota 2 Asian Championships now has the second highest prize pool in eSports history


Main event is underway now
Feb 06
// Patrick Hancock
The Dota 2 Asian Championships' (DAC) main event is underway now, and currently boasts a prize pool of just under $3,000,000. This brings it to the second highest prize pool ever, behind the 2014 Dota 2 Internationa...

Review: Apotheon

Feb 03 // Patrick Hancock
Apotheon (PC [reviewed], PS4)Developer: AlientrapPublisher: AlientrapReleased: February 3, 2015MSRP: $14.99Rig: Intel i7-4770k 3.50 GHz, 8GB of RAM, GeForce GTX 560 Ti GPU   Apotheon takes players on a journey that will be familiar to anyone who has played through God of War. Zeus is upset with the mortal world and decides to...destroy them. This is where the player, taking the role of Nikandreos, steps in. Under the guidance of Hera, wife of Zeus, Nikandreos begins to unravel the gods of Olympus, one by one. The journey takes the player all over: to the Forest of Artemis, to Poseidon's Sea, to Hades' underworld playground. Each environment has its own unique tone and feel to it which helps cement not only a sense of place, but a sense of wonder as well. Hades in particular made me feel appropriately uneasy, largely due to the amazing atmospheric music and dim lighting. All major roles except for Nikandreos are voice acted, and the actors put on a strong performance throughout. The pacing is exceptional, and perfectly stringing the player along without feeling repetitious. A playthrough will clock in at about seven hours depending on how much exploring is done before the finale. Apotheon promotes exploration as much as a game can. Not only are the benefits almost always worth it, whether it be more potions or a unique weapon, but there are plenty of exploration-based achievements for those who like to achieve achievements. Seriously, after completing the game I don't even have one-third of the achievements. Turns out I suck at exploring... [embed]287100:57142:0[/embed] When not exploring, combat makes up a large portion of Apotheon. There are three categories of weapons: melee, ranged, and throwable. Melee breaks down into axes, clubs, swords, and spears. Ranged is made up of bows & arrows, and sling & stones. Throwables are the bombs, traps, and other miscellaneous items.  Each weapon, whether melee or ranged, behaves in its own way. Long spears take a while to attack, but have a much larger range, allowing the player to stay away from danger. Knives are quick, but obviously have very little range. There are various types of arrows as well, like explosive or multi-shot, that diversify the ranged mechanics. There are also unique weapons with special traits, like a mace that will break shields or arrows that do extra damage from behind.  Nikandreos also wields a shield, but only when not using a bow. Shields can and will be swapped out often, and the size of the shield will vary. When holding the right mouse button the player will block, and the blocking length is entirely dependent on the shield. Shields and weapons all have durability as well, breaking when it hits zero. The player is also host to a range of consumables that will help keep them alive. Nikandreos has both health and armor bars. Incoming damage will remove any armor first before taking away health. Walking over certain items or using the appropriate consumables will increase the player's current health or armor, and it is important to note that it is possible to have an armor or health value higher than the max number. When this occurs, the number will slowly drain until it reaches the max number. Combat is a constant tug-of-war match. Moving back and forth, shielding, stabbing, and rolling are all necessary in order to survive what Apotheon tries to throw at the player. The combat can feel unwieldy at first, but with practice everything begins to click. While there are a few mechanical upgrades, most progress comes from within the player. Slowly getting better at the combat system is easily one of the key aspects of the game, even if the player isn't likely to notice a change until they are suddenly massacring enemies by the dozen. There are two difficulty levels, with a third unlocked after completing the game. Playing on the higher difficulty felt well-balanced. It didn't arbitrarily bump enemies' damage up 1000%, but instead kept it manageable and forced me to play at a higher, but doable, skill level.  Enemy AI is rather good without ever feeling cheap or unfair. Many of the enemies act the same way as the player, with the ability to block, roll, and use varied weapons. The enemy variety is strong, though it does tend to see some repetition towards the end. Players can also face real humans in local multiplayer and try to murder each other in a one-on-one arena mode, which plays out exactly as expected and flourishes thanks to the intricate combat system. The boss fights, however, are easily the star of the show. Each god has its own engaging scenes, and they are not simply "Okay, you've reached me. Let's fight!" Every battle truly stands out from the previous one. The reward for each is always useful, and although there is some linearity to the design, the game offers enough freedom to the player so it does not feel restrictive.  There is a hub world connecting all of the areas the player will travel to in order to deal with the gods, but it's more than just a convenient central location. The Market contains vendors to replenish weapons (even the unique ones!) and consumables, sell new armor, or level-up a specific weapon type. Leveling weapon types increases the speed and attack power, regardless of the type. It would have been nice to see more uniqueness go into each branch of weapons instead of every upgrade being exactly the same, but it is great to be able to specialize in a playstyle. Alongside combat are some platforming sections, which tend to be mediocre. The platforming mechanics are straightforward, with one exception. Jumping into some walls will have Nikandreos cling to them, requiring the player to then jump off to move up or out. This can be finicky at times, but thankfully the game never requires incredible platforming precision to progress. There is an ability later in the game that helps alleviate this, but it is very late in the game.  Yet another mechanic is the ability to craft consumables. As enemies die, they drop crafting items, money, health, or armor that the player can pick up. The player can acquire recipes from various locations to make potions, armor repairs, bombs, and other disposable items. There's no chance of failure and crafting is intuitive. Plus, the game pauses while the crafting menu is up. It is another way to help the player out that is unobtrusive and simple. An obvious draw to Apotheon is its Greek black-figure art style commonly seen on ancient pottery. The aesthetic is incredibly accurate, and looks as if the characters jumped right off a piece of pottery onto the computer screen running at 60 frames per second. Animation is fluid, the exception being when a character turns around since the 2D image simply flips. The game is fully committed to this art style, and when you buy it, there's one thing I want you to do: pause the game, and then move the mouse around the screen. The area around the mouse is illuminated, and shows the wall-like texture that's always on the screen. For a moment,  it legitimately looks like the computer screen is an ancient Greek wall, and it is outstanding. The soundtrack, composed by Marios Aristopoulos, is superb. In fact, I'm bummed there doesn't seem to be a soundtrack version of the game available on Steam, because it would easily be worth the money. (Update: The soundtrack is available on Steam for $6.99!) There are some tracks uploaded to YouTube by Marios himself, so that can help give an idea as to what to expect. The atmosphere created in tandem between the visual style and the music makes Apotheon one of the most captivating and stylish games in recent memory. It's sure to capture the attention of anyone who sees it in action. Thankfully, the game more than backs up its aesthetic prowess with rewarding combat and exploration systems in place. While the combat hardly changes over the course of the adventure, Apotheon asks the player to apply their knowledge in such a wide variety of ways that it constantly feels fresh and exciting. The ancient Greeks valued balance and harmony in their art, and Alientrap has accomplished just that. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Apotheon review photo
Apotheonestly, it's great
Apotheon is the newest game from the developers at Alientrap, the team behind a small game called Capsized. Now personally, I loved Capsized and think it was overlooked by most. It had interesting mechanics and...

Frozen Cortex update photo
Frozen Cortex update

Frozen Cortex gets a single-player-focused update


And finally adds ROBOT HATS!
Feb 02
// Patrick Hancock
Frozen Cortex, the sports-esque strategy game from the Frozen Synapse developers, has recently released an Early Access update that focuses almost entirely on the single-player aspect. New modes included in this update are K...
Best @ Tetris photo
Best @ Tetris

A new Tetris Grandmaster has been born


The sixth person ever to achieve it!
Jan 28
// Patrick Hancock
Kevin Birrell, who goes by the alias of KevinDDR, has joined the few, the proud, the Tetris Grandmasters. He is only the sixth person in the world to ever accomplish this feat, which should already give you an idea as to...

Review: Legend of Grimrock 2

Jan 15 // Patrick Hancock
Legend of Grimrock 2 (PC)Developer: Almost Human GamesPublisher: Almost Human GamesReleased: October 15, 2014MSRP: $23.99 Legend of Grimrock 2 takes the players to an outside location for much of the game. The player's characters get shipwrecked on an island and soon begin to find mysterious notes from someone who has clearly been preparing for his moment. There are still plenty of dungeon moments, as many times players will travel underground for hours at a time. These segments are reminiscent of the first Grimrock, and also have the side effect of making the player really appreciate the outdoor areas even more when they're juxtaposed back to back. There is something special about leaving an underground dungeon and taking in the sights. Speaking of sights, Grimrock 2 looks great. The underground environment does give a lot of déjà vu, with the walls and floors being a little too familiar. Certain enemy types also return, but there are enough new ones, even early on, to prevent the game from feeling exactly like the previous one. Other areas are perhaps too big, because the frame rate takes a noticeable dip at times. The music is likewise amazing, and one of the hardest parts of the game is loading up a save, because it means that the main menu music ends. Part of the beauty of Grimrock 2 is that it is focused entirely on the core gameplay, which is as strong as ever. Battles play out largely in the same way as in the first game; the party has two members up front who can melee attack and two in the back who have to rely on ranged attacks. Incoming damage will hurt any member facing that direction, so getting hit in the back will hurt the player's back two party members, for example. Melee attacks can now be held in order to perform a special move, and plenty of new spells have been added. The player will create their ship-wrecked party of four, now with more options for character classes and race. The only meaningful addition is the Farmer class, who levels up by eating food and not from fighting enemies. Seriously, that's how the class works. My advice? Create a Farmer. All throughout, my Farmer was easily my highest-level character, and was pretty much unfair at times. Chomp chomp! [embed]286024:56915:0[/embed] The enemies as a whole are smarter -- to a point. The strategy of "circle-strafing" remains necessary, but now enemies catch on and are better are dealing with the tactic. Don't misunderstand though, circle-strafing is still imperative to surviving many of the game's encounters. Standing in front of an enemy and trying to win through brute force will often end in defeat, even if three more enemies don't surprise you and come at your sides and AUGH WHERE DID THOSE ARCHERS COME FROM?! Boss fights are varied, but can also vary in quality. Something truly impressive is the in-game presence of certain characters. There will be times when the player turns a corner only to see...something at the end of it. And then, it moves! And disappears! The fact that the game doesn't have to remove the player's control for a cutscene to present these moments is key. Combat often gets into a beautiful rhythm of clicks and swiping gestures that truly feels fluid and dynamic. Stab, swing, fire, stab, shoot, swing, ice, shoot stab, swing! All while at the same time moving around the party with the other hand to weave in and out of attacks. It's like conducting a beautiful symphony. Until the aforementioned three more enemies show up and it turns into a hysteria of blind panic. But those moments are enjoyable in their own right. The other huge aspect of Grimrock 2 is the puzzles. Developer Almost Human nails the difficulty of puzzle design flawlessly. This is the kind of game you can play away from the PC; I've solved certain puzzles while commuting to work, because they do nothing but occupy my mind constantly. Certain puzzles are almost impossibly difficult, however most of them are optional with incredible rewards for all the hard work. Some will have small text "hints" on nearby signs, but many times they are in riddles or a straight-up decipherable code. Players also acquire a shovel early on in the game to dig for goodies in the dirt. However I completely forgot this existed for most of the game outside of the first area, unless a sign reminded me in some way. Chances are, I missed out on a lot of hidden treasure chests! Steam Workshop support is also included, allowing players to make and share their own adventures and dungeons with others. The first game had a wonderful community, and so far the second installment seems to have taken up that torch just fine. As if the game wasn't already packed with brilliant content, having Workshop support ensures that, given the right ideas, people will continue to play and love Grimrock 2 for a very long time. Legend of Grimrock 2 will consume your mind in many ways. The puzzles will slowly tear away at your brain until they are solved, and the amount of focus needed for just about every combat encounter is through the roof. Grimrock 2 can forever be referenced as a "perfect sequel." It doesn't go nuts adding idea after idea to make things more convoluted, but instead refines what already made the experience amazing while expanding those ideas noticeably enough.  [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Grimrock 2 Review! photo
The perfect sequel
The first Legend of Grimrock was damn near perfect. Coming seemingly out of nowhere, it put a fresh new face on the dungeon-crawling genre. It was a game that didn't forget its roots yet also didn't forget that we live in a different time. It's no surprise, then, that the sequel is absolutely stunning.

Frozen Synapse iPhone photo
Frozen Synapse iPhone

Devs take note: THIS is how you do a press release


Also, Frozen Synapse is now on iPhones
Jan 08
// Patrick Hancock
Frozen Synapse was a brilliant game when it released on PC in 2011. Its brilliance has since been ported to the iPad and now, the iPhone. To celebrate, the game is on sale on Steam! It's easy to recommend to anyone who ...
PC Port: MGSV photo
PC Port: MGSV

PC Port Report: Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes


Smooth like Big Boss' skin-tight suit
Jan 01
// Patrick Hancock
It's hard to know what a PC port of a Metal Gear Solid game will look like in 2014. Revengeance had a decent port, but that was done by Platinum. The last Metal Gear game to hit our Home Computers was over a de...

Patrick Hancock's personal picks for Game of the Year 2014

Dec 31 // Patrick Hancock
Games I did not play enough of or at all oh god I'm so sorry: Bayonetta 2, Captain Toad, Hyrule Warriors, The Talos Principle, Shovel Knight, Super Time Force, Alien: Isolation, This War of Mine 1. Super Smash Bros. for 3DS and Wii U Well, this isn't really a surprise. I've been a hardcore Smash Bros. fan ever since that fateful day I discovered that there were advanced techniques in Melee. I LOVE highly competitive game with high skill ceilings, and Melee fit the bill! When Brawl came out, most of my friends and I were in college, and the online wasn't too stellar, and so it didn't see as much playtime.  But with Smash 4, we play all the damn time! The online is really good, the core mechanics are wonderful, and we can have up to 8 players! With the best roster in the series, Smash 4 is my favorite Super Smash Bros. game to date. I really do miss Fox's "Shine Spike," but I've learned to love all that is currently in Smash 4.  2. Sportsfriends (+TENNNES + Get on Top) First of all, since I backed Sportsfriends on Kickstarter, I received Get on Top and TENNNES as part of the package, so I'm including them in this spot. Sportsfriends is such an amazing collection of local multiplayer games that I don't even know where to begin. Hokra is a minimalist sports game that boils competition down to it's more pure form and runs with it. Super Pole Riders seems like it has wonky controls at first, but they're actually easy to master, which then leads to some really amazing (and hilarious) rounds! BariBariBall is my least favorite of the bunch, but still puts an exciting twist on what would otherwise be a fighting game.  And then there's Johann Sebastian Joust. While I can't play this on my Windows computer (not that I'd have the controllers to anyway), I have played JS Joust at E3 before. Playing (and even winning, once!) Joust is easily one of the most memorable moments in my gaming career. It's a game with no rules, and all fun. Whenever you have a chance to, PLAY IT! 2. Towerfall Ascension (a tie!) I can't in good faith call Towerfall better or worse than Sportsfriends, since I consider them of the same, amazing ilk: that of the local multiplayer party bash. Towerfall is an incredible game. It has singleplayer components that really scratch an itch, and is one of the best multiplayer games ever created. Every game is exciting and intense, or hilariously quick. The first night I introduced Towerfall: Ascension to my local multiplayer night, it dominated the entire night. People who started the night getting no kills and stomped on round after round were eventually winning rounds with confidence. It doesn't take long to "get" how to play Towerfall, which is a large part of its beauty.  3. Valiant Hearts: The Great War As a history teacher and videogame lover, I am obligated to put this game high on my list. Plus, it's a flippin' amazing game! Easily the best World War I game available, because it truly does give a sense of dread and hopelessness that came with "The Great War." It's strongest aspect is the fact that it's a war game without being a shooter. Plus, it has a dog and dogs are the best. 4. The Vanishing of Ethan Carter Maybe it's because Murdered: Soul Suspect came out earlier and was literally the worst game I've played all year, but Ethan Carter blew me away. It's a mystery game that actually involves the player, with an ending that isn't complete bullshit (I'm looking at you Heavy Rain). Placing events in order takes critical thinking and has a sense of accomplishment to it that many games lack. It's realistic at times, bizarre at others, and always completely gorgeous. 5. 1001 Spikes 1001 Spikes is one of the most well-designed games I have ever played. It is a game about learning and execution. The player is constantly learning throughout the entirety of the game, even the bonus levels! Each stage introduces something to the player, even if it's a small idea. The result is that the player constantly feels a sense of skill progression, which leads to more confidence to take on the harder levels. I really can't say enough about how perfectly 1001 Spikes' design is. 6. Kentucky Route Zero Act III Anyone who has played through Act III of Kentucky Route Zero knows exactly why this is on my list. And to them I'll just say: wasn't that part AMAZING?! 7. Legend of Grimrock 2 A perfect sequel. Grimrock 2 takes everything that made the first game amazing, brought it up a notch, and put it in a beautiful new world with intensely hard puzzles. The fact that I can bring a Farmer with me on my adventure, and then to have him be the HIGHEST LEVEL CHARACTER is simply amazing. 8. Divinity: Original Sin Any game where my buddy tells me "make sure you talk to the dog!" is a game worthy of making a GOTY list. Especially when I respond "you know I already did!" 9. Jazzpunk So I just finished Jazzpunk yesterday, and I am completely blown away. Everything about Jazzpunk oozes style and uniqueness. From the moment I picked stuff off a guy's face until I was spinning records in a penthouse suite, I loved every single moment of Jazzpunk. If I had more time to process it all, this game would likely be higher on this list, but for now, I just need to give it a mention. This is a game, like The Real Texas or FEZ, that will stick in my mind forever. 10. Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor I hate open-world games, which is a strong testament to how great Mordor really is. The beginning kind of just throws the player out there with a vague sense of what to do, and lets them go nuts. Soon after descending from the starting tower I came across a group of orcs. "No biggie," I say to myself. Well, wouldn't you know it, two named orcs show up and kick my ass. Seeking them, alongside many others, out in order to murder them in the most gruesome ways possible is one of my favorite ~*memories*~ from 2014. This is the kind of emergent gameplay I can get behind! 11. Dragon Age: Inquisition Hooray! Another Dragon Age game worthy of the title! While the "Tactical View" leaves a bit to be desired, Inquisition is a great PC RPG. It starts off a little slow, with characters I'm not a big fan of and very MMO-esque quests, but soon picks up into a Dragon Age game I can easily recommend to anyone. 12. Mercenary Kings Apparently I'm one of the few people who enjoyed Mercenary Kings? At least, according to Metacritic I'm one of the few "critics" who enjoyed it. Mercenary Kings really is likeMonster Hunter mixed with Metal Slug, though people don't seem to appreciate revisiting the same locales. People easily dismiss this as "lazy" or "uninspired," but just like Dota 2, the map is a character that needs to be understood and learned.  Learning how the map is structured and how the enemies move and attack is crucial to success in Mercenary Kings. Sure, maybe they're revisited a little too much, but as someone who's spent countless hours in Monster Hunter over the years, I can appreciate the design decision behind it. Plus, it looks freaking beautiful! Mobile Games I Actually Enjoy Playing from 2014 Monument Valley It's not overly complex, it doesn't make me wrack my brain, but Monument Valley is an experience that is worth having a million times over. It is relaxing and it is interesting, two qualities that don't come up too often on the mobile side of things. The musicality of the game really makes it stand out from everything else. Threes I think I may have spent more time defending Threes than actually playing it this year. Threes is a wonderfully deep game, rewarding players who plan their next move and punishing those or swipe all willy-nilly, unlike the cheap knock-off 2048. This is the game that launched 1,000 clones. Crossy Road An endless Frogger doesn't really sound all too appealing, but Crossy Road proves that it is. It's free, but the "BUY STUFF" can certainly get annoying at times, althoughit's too intrusive. Plus, every 6 hours it gives me free coins to use and entices me to play a few more rounds, which I always do. I just gotta collect all the characters! Desert Golfing Leigh Alexander said words about Desert Golfing way better than I can say words about Desert Golfing. I'll just say that I got three hole-in-ones in a row, had no fanfare, and I flippin' loved it. Top Three Games from past years I'm still playing Animal Crossing: New Leaf Let me update you on Tobytown. I finally got Queenie to move out; her personality just wasn't appreciated here. It took MONTHS of ignoring, but she finally got the hint. Now I have some awesome new villagers like Ribbot and Lucky! Also, Axel has been wearing the shirt I designed for months now! I figured he'd take it off pretty quick, but me and him are homies now because of his excellent fashion taste. My town is in a good spot, but I still need some Public Works Projects that aren't yet suggested!  Team Fortress 2 Every update brings me back. New game modes, new movies, new weapons, NEW HATS, everything is still appealing to me. The recent Demoman changes are a perfect way to bring the class in line with the others. Running around with a Loch 'n' Load doesn't feel useless now, and in fact it might be my new favorite way to play Demoman!  Dota 2 Yup, my game of the forever. I'll take any chance I can get to talk about Dota 2. Constant balance changes that shake up the meta is what I live for. The new Lifestealer is definitely intruiging, but I am sad that Ogre Magi (aka Ogre Magoo) was hit hard with nerfs. This is a game that keeps on giving and even when I don't feel like playing, I can always simply watch. Dota 2 isn't going away any time soon, and that makes me incredibly happy.
Hancock's GOTY picks photo
Year of the local multiplayer
What a magical year this was! It's hard coming up with a GOTY list, especially if you force yourself to pick only 10. That's why I didn't, I picked as many as I needed to! It's thirteen; I picked thirteen games.  There w...

Dota 2 6.83 photo
Dota 2 6.83

Dota 2 gets a 'Shifting Snows' winter update and a balance patch


Hancock: Posting about -> Dota 2
Dec 18
// Patrick Hancock
Frostivus is not coming this year, but that doesn't mean Dota 2 goes stale! While there may not be a big gameplay event, we've got some big gameplay changes taking place. Lifestealer takes a lot of the focus in this upda...
Taylor Swift rulez photo
Taylor Swift rulez

Best song of 2014 gets a Dota 2 parody


Yeah, I said it
Dec 13
// Patrick Hancock
While you're sitting there, not admitting that you love Taylor Swift's "Shake it Off," why not get down to this. Sick. Beat? Seriously though, this is an amazing parody of a catchy song for all Dota 2 fans.
SanctuaryRPG photo
SanctuaryRPG

SanctuaryRPG is now out on Steam Early Access


Best $5 you can spend today
Dec 13
// Patrick Hancock
SanctuaryRPG, which has been available on itch.io for some time, has now made its way to Steam as SanctuaryRPG: Black Edition. It's an ASCII RPG with an approachable, yet intricate and rewarding battle system and light-h...

Review: Tengami

Nov 17 // Patrick Hancock
Tengami (Wii U [reviewed], iOS)Developer: NyamyamPublisher: NyamyamRelease Date: November 13, 2014 (Wii U)MSRP: $9.99 (Wii U), $4.99 (iOS) Tengami is one of those games that perfectly blends together its gameplay and its aesthetic. In fact, it's the aesthetic that actually determines the gameplay. The entire game has a paper-thin look, from the main character to all of the environments. When the main character turns, he's paper thin and everything has a static yet lively sense to it. The gameplay also runs with this idea, as most of the player interaction involves moving or folding paper to create new landscapes an solve puzzles. All of the gameplay happens on the Wii U GamePad, meaning Tengami is best suited for off-TV play. Everything also displays on the TV, but since players have to look where they're tapping, it's impossible to watch the TV and play. It's great if others want to help solve the puzzles, but the puzzles don't really need help solving. Moving around is done by tapping where you want the main character to walk to. And I mean walk. The game has a deliberately slow pace, which isn't too much of an issue except when players want to roam around to explore and find hidden Miiverse stamps, or get stuck on a puzzle and wander aimlessly. Most of the time players will tap on their destination and enjoy the sights and sounds while their character moseys on over. However, it can be a bit of a pain when the destination is far away, since players can only tap to the edge of the screen. What ends up happening is a constant tapping of the edge to continuously create new waypoints, which is tedious.  [embed]283903:56349:0[/embed] Other than moving around, the main mechanic is solving a variety of puzzles. These puzzles often revolve around interacting with pieces of the environment to create a new path or get a required item. Other times the puzzles require the player to truly be observant of the surroundings in a way that is unique to Tengami. The game always shows the player where they can touch in order to push and pull pieces of the puzzle, but it is up to the player to figure out what to do with them. There's only one puzzle that really requires critical thinking, which is unfortunate since it's the one puzzle that left me satisfied. Hints are also available for those who get stuck. There's only one hint for each puzzle, and it pretty much tells players exactly what to do. My advice would be to use hints as a very last resort!  The aesthetic is what really shines. The paper-thin look of everything gives it a crisp and vibrant feel, while the absolutely fantastic soundtrack calms and soothes the eardrums. Everything has a feudal Japanese theme to it, with plenty of cherry blossoms and temples. I even learned some kanji from playing! Tengami is clearly a game that is meant to be a relaxing and enjoyable time. The main character walks slowly. The music is extremely smooth and calming. And there's only one puzzle that will likely wrack anyone's brain. It's also a bit short, taking about two hours to complete, and it's worth noting that the Wii U version is $5 more than the iOS version, with the only addition seemingly the Miiverse stamps scattered around. Tengami is a decent way to spend an afternoon, but it left me wanting more than what was there. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Tengami review photo
Pull-a pull-a pull-a
Tengami has been out on iOS devices for quite some time but has now finally made its debut on Wii U. I think it's great that the Wii U has the perfect setup for iOS games to make a pretty seamless transition thanks to th...

Super Smash Bros. is the most fun I've had fighting online

Nov 13 // Patrick Hancock
Prior to Smash Bros. for 3DS online, this was my favorite online fighting moment, courtesy of Super Street Fighter IV (I'm venusaurus): [embed]283767:56309:0[/embed] Not only did I meet another Hakan player online, but THAT ENDING!! Still one of the most epic moments in my competitive lifespan. These memorable moments were very few and far between, however. Playing Smash Bros. online provides me with at least one highlight in each session. Something either badass or goofy always seems to happen. Whether I'm kicking someone's butt or getting my own handed to me, everyone is down for a rematch. The game doesn't publicly display any sort of ranking or win/loss ratio, so no one really cares about losing. It's all about getting better. Imagine that: playing a game of skill to get better at it and not inflate some arbitrary number! Here's some of my highlights so far: THE BADASS Sometimes you just have those badass moments in Smash; a clutch kill, an incredible meteor spike, whatever it may be.  [embed]283767:56306:0[/embed] I love weird characters. I have Villager, Game & Watch, Wii Fit Trainer, and Wario all in my main rotation. Some people don't know how to handle things like Villager's Tree. Most people know to avoid the chop down, but plenty of people fall for the old "plant'n'grow" technique I'm using here. I particularly love this GIF because of how perfect the timing worked. One second later and Pikachu would have Skull Bashed me and probably killed me, because this guy was really good as Pikachu. Not pictured: the millions of times I tried to Pocket and use Thunder. [embed]283767:56307:0[/embed] This Ike was pissing me off. This is probably our seventh match together. He won the first five in a row, and then I started winning. I figured him out, simple as that. He only had about three tactics that he rotated between, so it wasn't too hard. The problem is that Ike hits so hard you barely have time to figure him out in a single match! So anyway, I captured this moment as Samus because I felt so cool doing it. Most people's early impressions of Samus are not that good, but I still love playing her. I know this GIF isn't an actual combo, but it sure felt like one! Spike into the ground, then up smash as he tries to land an attack from above. GOTCHA! THE GOOFY The other times, you come across someone, even in For Glory Mode, who just wants to goof around! [embed]283767:56305:0[/embed] The above sequence legitimately happened in a For Glory match. This Wario (Username: Wariuzzo) was one of the best players I've ever faced in Smash. In fact, we're actually 3DS friends now! I found his username on Smashboards.com and sent him a message and boom! Now we're friends for life. This was our fifth match or so together, so I was accustomed to how he played. However, I had an early death that was my own fault. Since Peach is probably my best character, I got really sad. But then Wariuzzo jumped off the side himself! When we both respawned we taunted for a bit, and eventually he was farting on me. Only in Smash Bros. [embed]283767:56312:0[/embed] I'm not sure if this is goofy or badass. This was, up to and after this point, a completely serious match between myself (Game & Watch) and this stranger (Samus) in For Glory. The uhh, the GIF speaks for itself here. I'm honestly impressed. [embed]283767:56313:0[/embed] This was once again in a For Glory match. It's a short story: Pac-Man and Kirby have always been friends. Ever since they met as children in school, their similar shapes formed a natural bond. Even when the humanoid characters started to pick on them, their bond only became stronger due to their shared spherical nature. They trained together every day to get stronger and stronger. Kirby would practice with his weapons while Pac-Man would throw around pellets, hydrants, and even fruit. Pac-Man even let Kirby throw around fruit sometimes! One day the boys were practicing with each other when a wicked hunger overcame Kirby. Being the bearer of many fruits, Pac-Man naturally offered him some, to which Kirby graciously accepted. However, things did not go as planned! When Pac-Man send the fruit Kirby's way, it bonked him right on the noggin'! "Oh no!" shouted Pac-Man, as Kirby plummeted down into the abyss. Pac-Man walked over to the edge, hoping to see Kirby somehow hanging on. But when he peered over the edge, there was no Kirby to be found. It was just then that Pac-Man heard a cute little noise, like some sort of puffball crouching over and over again. It was Kirby! His best bud had returned! Pac-Man jumped for joy at the sight of his friend in front of him, and they were happy. Also we dicked around like this until Sudden Death and the asshole killed me with a forward smash. And just because, I'll leave you with an intense match between my friend Justin (Mega Man) and me (Villager). He's really one of the only good Mega Man players I've ever fought against.  [embed]283767:56311:0[/embed] FYI I've gotten much better at Villager since. I use his tilts now!
Smash Bros. online photo
Best community or bestest community?
I love fighting games. Well, I love pretty much all competitive games, but fighting games are some of the most satisfying. Pulling off combos (or kombos), discovering new "tech," and watching the metagame develop are all supe...

PC Port Inquisition photo
PC Port Inquisition

PC Port Report: Dragon Age: Inquisition


How does Varric's chest hair look on PC?
Nov 11
// Patrick Hancock
The third installment in the Dragon Age franchise is finally here. If you're like me, you are cautiously optimistic with this one after playing Dragon Age II. I'm more of a tactical player, and felt that I was left in th...
TF2 bumper cars photo
TF2 bumper cars

Team Fortress 2 is getting bumper cars


Because at this point why not
Oct 29
// Patrick Hancock
Just the other day I was curious as to what Team Fortress 2 would do for Halloween this year. In fact, the TF2 event is one of the reasons why Halloween is my favorite holiday! Well the update, detailed here, h...

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