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10:00 PM on 11.17.2011

Capsized goes free for iPad in the new year

Over two years since it was announced -- and several months since it became available on Steam -- Alientrap's 2D shooter Capsized is coming soon to the AppStore, PlayStation Network, and Xbox Live Arcade. First things fi...

Joseph Leray



Review: FIFA 12 photo
Review: FIFA 12
by Joseph Leray

My first impression of FIFA 12 was not good.

Players moved like they were covered in molasses, my passes were inaccurate and under-hit, and apoplectic flailing had seemingly replaced tackling in my center-backs’ collective skillset. I left my first several matches feeling frustrated, impotent, and powerless.

So much for escapism.

FIFA 12 gets better, exponentially so -- though I’m not prepared to say if that’s through the realization of good design principles or some sort of digital Stockholm Syndrome. I’ve become pretty devoted to improving Paris Saint-German’s lot, but it may be that I’ve simply been beaten into submission.

Nevertheless, my initial problems getting in FIFA 12 illustrate that this game is not for dilettantes.

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Review: Dragon Age II: Mark of the Assassin photo
Review: Dragon Age II: Mark of the Assassin
by Joseph Leray

To play the first, oh, ten minutes of Dragon Age II: Mark of the Assassin is to gaze into the abyss, to confront everything weird about videogames and the culture that surrounds them.

The scene: protagonist Hawke is enlisted to help an exiled assassin, Tallis, break into the estate of an Orlesian nobleman to pilfer some jewels. Playing Hawke as an intrepid dagger-for-hire made sense when he/she was a hardscrabble immigrant; it's less convincing now that (my female) Hawke lives in a mansion and wields considerable social capital, having saved Kirkwall from imminent destruction and all.

Hawke is eventually convinced to follow a complete stranger to a foreign country to steal from a powerful oligarch when Tallis, voiced by Felicia Day, coos, "That's just what you do, isn't it?" The corollary goes unsaid, but here it is: "It is when you're the hero in a videogame."

That Day -- perhaps the most well-known ambassador of nerd culture -- is involved is equally distracting, serving as an umbilical link to real world and reinforcing how arbitrary and contrived the endeavor of videogaming can be.

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9:30 PM on 08.25.2011

Limbo dev: new game takes 3 years, our engine is FUBAR

In a recent interview with Edge, Playdead game director Arnt Jensen explained that the Danish dev's next game will take three-and-a-half years to make. "A good game takes time," says Playdead CEO Dino Patti. Game director Arn...

Joseph Leray

10:30 AM on 08.25.2011

Feast your eyes: indie platformer Vessel gets trailer

A few days ago, Strange Loop Games cut a sharp new trailer for their recently-announced puzzle-platformer, Vessel.  A few notes on the visuals: I love the lighting, the water effects, and the zoomed-out perspective, esp...

Joseph Leray

3:45 PM on 08.24.2011

Rad roguelike: Cardinal Quest is cheap and awesome

A few years ago, one of my best friends bought Baroque, an Atlus-published roguelike, after I turned him onto Persona 3. It didn't go well: lured by the Atlus name and the misconception that Baroque was another RPG, he w...

Joseph Leray





11:30 AM on 08.22.2011

Impressions: a promising Owlboy demo teases

The Owlboy demo makes a good first impression -- after D-Pad Studio's logo flashes, players are treated to a sweeping, pixelated vista as Otus looks on. Pastoral music plays and, though the demo begins in medias res, the menu...

Joseph Leray

8:00 PM on 08.21.2011

The Owlboy demo is both available and good

A demo for Owlboy, the much talked-about 2D platformer from Norwegian indies D-Pad Studio, is now available for PC -- a good sign for a game beset my development trouble, despite winning a visual design award at the 2010...

Joseph Leray

6:30 PM on 08.19.2011

Wonderputt is the best way to spend your next 15 minutes

What you're looking at, right there above this text, is a 620px-wide swath of Wonderputt, the best 15-minute putt-putt game I've ever played. Granted, I'm not exactly a golf aficionado, but Wonderputt -- designed by Damp...

Joseph Leray

11:30 AM on 08.19.2011

Death, memory, space travel: To the Moon lands this fall

To the Moon, an indie adventure game developed by Freebird Games, is slowly but surely gaining traction around les salons of the games press circuit. And why not? It's heartbreaking premise and genre-swapping aesthetic ...

Joseph Leray

11:30 AM on 08.18.2011

New book PIXELGALAXY collects Game Boy art and essays

"PIXELGALAXY is a book all about the Nintendo Game Boy and the pixel graphics. It includes its secret of success, an overview of the top games and takes a closer look at the graphics," writes Sergio Ingravalle, the book'...

Joseph Leray

9:00 AM on 08.18.2011

Adventures of Shuggy dev tells of XBLA publishing woes

No one, I reckon, really wants to talk about David Johnston, the one-man dev team behind Smudged Cat Games' The Adventures of Shuggy. That's because his four years of development hell illustrate most of the systemic shor...

Joseph Leray

8:30 PM on 08.11.2011

If only there were an 8-bit Nyan Cat game by Konami

So. Nyan Cat. There is very little left to be said about Nyan Cat, except that it's my profound disappointment to inform you that Konami did not, in fact, release a licensed Nyan game in 1988. Not only would Nyan Cat vs. Tac ...

Joseph Leray



Review: Dragon Age II: Legacy photo
Review: Dragon Age II: Legacy
by Joseph Leray

“Legacy” comes from humble beginnings: Varric, our dwarven narrator, tells Cassandra, a Chantry seeker, that he didn’t tell her about Hawke’s excursion into the Vimmark because he “didn’t think it was important.”

An inauspicious start for the first piece of downloadable content available for Dragon Age II, BioWare’s biggest release this year.

But Varric’s explanation points to something vital about the Dragon Age series as a whole. Dragon Age II offers a surprisingly focused look at Hawke’s rise to fame in Kirkwall. The “Legacy” DLC doesn’t further that aim, doesn’t fit into the strict confines of Hawke’s character development.

But Dragon Age has always been, often explicitly, about world-building, and this is one area in which “Legacy” shines: it introduces a new area -- no seriously, it’s brand new, and none of its assets are recycled -- around Kirkwall while adding texture and detail to Thedas’ ancient history, to the Grey Wardens, and to House Hawke.

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Review: The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile photo
Review: The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile
by Joseph Leray

Without digging into the semantic details too much, auteur theory -- the idea that a single, charismatic designer can leave his mark on a game -- was a popular talking point a few years ago. While no longer part of the games criticism zeitgeist, auteur theory is usually applied to the monoliths of the games industry (Shigeru Miaymoto, Gunpei Yokoi, Will Wright), or the unapologetically quirky (Goichi Suda, Keita Takahashi).

I might submit to this category James Silva, co-founder of and lead designer at Ska Studios. His most recent game, the 2D beat-'em-up The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile, is such a weird amalgam of pop culture, so bizarrely presented that it couldn't have come from anyone else: if it weren't so fun and polished, I'd call it a vanity project.

Vampire Smile wears its influences on its sleeve: the plot reads like a bloodier, more straightforward Count of Monte Cristo; the setting is equal parts cyberpunk and kung-fu flick; the visuals ripped from, say, a Megadeth show in 1988. These elements are blended together to form an aesthetic that, while culturally disjointed, should seem familiar to most twenty- and thirty-somethings.

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12:00 PM on 03.28.2011

QWOP dev releases GIRP; hilarity ensues

You remember QWOP, don't you? (Now on iPad!) Of course you do -- it almost spawned a meme, and you can't hear Chariots of Fire without seeing the bruised and broken body of QWOP's nameless protagonist. Today, Bennett Fod...

Joseph Leray