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And the breakout videogame character of PAX is ...


Sep 02
// Chad Concelmo
Zackasaurus! I am a little in love with Super Time Force here at PAX. The game is a retro-looking shooter in the same vein as Contra, with a great twist involving time travel. You can read all about how much we all love the s...
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PAX: Warren Spector compares Epic Mickey to Deus Ex


Sep 02
// Chad Concelmo
Okay? That was my first reaction when Warren Spector compared his upcoming Epic Mickey 2 to his legendary masterpiece Deus Ex in a PAX sit down I had with him earlier today. Actually, it was more of a huh? But then the outspo...
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PAX: New screens from Epic Mickey 2 show off new area


Sep 02
// Chad Concelmo
While here at PAX, I had a chance to sit down with a new section of upcoming platformer Epic Mickey 2. These just released screens show off the new section of the game that I got to play. Based on Frontier Land in Disneyland,...

PAX: Hands-on with Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask

Aug 31 // Chad Concelmo
If you are familiar with the Professor Layton games, you know how things work. Professor Layton and Luke (as well as some other members of the main party), explore various locations and meet an eclectic cast of some of the best supporting characters to ever grace a videogame in order to solve a series of mysteries. Along the way, the player must help them complete hundreds of progressively more difficult puzzles until all mysteries are complete ... and I am sobbing uncontrollably in front of my Nintendo handheld (seriously, the stories in the Layton games are genuinely heartbreaking!). With Miracle Mask, things start off on a similar note, but you will quickly realize how much things have changed. First, and most obvious, is the addition of 3D. Good news for people nervous about the sloppy use of 3D: the 3D effects in Miracle Mask are beautiful. The classic Professor Layton cinematics come even more to life and are stunning to watch with the added layers and depth the 3D effect creates. In addition to the cutscenes, the 3D works great in the actual game. After solving a puzzle correctly, when Layton approaches the screen and points at you with a congratulatory exclamation, he is really pointing at you. His finger comes right out of the screen! It is really cool and a nice touch. The benefits of the 3D are actually evident everywhere in the game. One major change to the game is the disappearance of static dialogue sequences. Replacing those beautifully rendered images are actual moving, fully polygonal characters. The change was jarring at first, and I kind of missed the old dialogue displays, but once things get going, you will love the new look. With this new style, everything feels more alive, as the camera can move around and every part of the character animates, as opposed to just their mouths. Also, again, the 3D looks great. This same style also moves into the actual locations. Instead of static images, the world is fully animated. You can't walk through it like you can in a normal 3D action/adventure game, but, when exploring, the camera moves ever so slightly and makes you feel like you are much more part of the environment ... rather than just looking at a beautiful painting of it from afar. These exploring sections also have another big change. The tap-tap-tap-tap-tap gameplay is gone! No need to tap everything with the touch screen to find a hot spot or hidden coin. Now, you drag a magnifying glass around the screen, looking for areas where the object "lights up," indicating there is something of note there (whether it be a puzzle, hint coin, or interactive item). Before you cry foul, this new technique works great. And it looks fantastic! As you slide the magnifying glass along the touch screen, a mirrored version of it appears on the top, 3D screen. The way important text is displayed closer to the screen and small pieces of the environment like rooms in windows are more pushed back in the 3D space is eye-popping and very polished. The demo was short, but one more difference that stood out was the inclusion of almost action-like sequences. One puzzle in particular wasn't even a puzzle at all! Professor Layton hops on a horse and chases a mysterious character. Instead of this being a traditional puzzle like you would normally see, the camera moved behind Layton as he chased the character through a vibrant village. Players are tasked with controlling Layton's horse to dodge barrels and navigate the maze-like streets. It was an interesting sequence and unlike anything that has been in the series before. All in all, Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask is looking great. As a giant fan of the series, this looks to be shaping into one of the best games yet. It looks beautiful, the 3D is surprisingly effective, and the puzzles are more challenging than ever. I can't wait to pick up the game when it releases for the Nintendo 3DS on October 28.
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As great as the Professor Layton games are (they are really great!), the last four released on the Nintendo DS have been very similar. While the art direction, puzzle-solving gameplay, and surprisingly emotional stories have ...

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PAX: My favorite cosplay of the show ... so far


Aug 31
// Chad Concelmo
There is a surprising amount of great cosplay at PAX. People walk around in some pretty elaborate and sometimes beautiful outfits. While all impressive, most of it is the same thing you normally see: a Lara Croft here, a Mast...
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Experiencing the Art of the Assassin


Aug 24
// Chad Concelmo
Last night, a downtown Los Angeles gallery hosted Art of the Assassin, a collection of art pieces inspired by Ubisoft's upcoming Assassin's Creed III. I was lucky enough to attend, and had a really great time! I got to play a...

How I learned to love the videogame flamethrower

Aug 23 // Chad Concelmo
Let’s start with the earlier years. Or, as I like to call them, the days I despised the videogame flamethrower. Dramatic, I know. While not actual flamethrowers, there were many games on the NES that had flame-based weapons that behaved much like the modern flamethrowers of today. In Ghosts ‘n Goblins there was the fireball weapon. In Castlevania there was the holy water. In the original Contra there was the dreaded fire-gun power-up. All of these weapons had one major thing in common: They were terrible. Well, more specifically, they were either short range, slow, or, even worse, both. This seemed to be a theme with all fire-based weapons leading up to the introduction of the actual videogame flamethrowers. They all focused on the burning part of the weapon, and not on the things that could potentially make them useful in a fast-paced action game: mainly range and speed. Yeah, if you happened to catch an enemy in the perfect position, a fire-based weapon was great. Should a flying devil be right in front of you and not moving in Ghosts ‘n Goblins, sure, the fireball would work wonders. It not only would hit them directly, but the burning fire left behind would deal even more damage. But that never happened! EVER! This same concept applied to almost all the games I used to play with flamethrowers. In Contra III, if my friend had the spread gun while I had the flamethrower, they would be leaping around the screen killing everything, while I would be struggling to even stay alive. The fire, while cool-looking, would not reach far enough to do any significant damage to the enemies constantly filling the screen. The weapon did not mesh with the frenetic gameplay. After years and years of playing videogames, I was finished with flamethrowers. If there was one as an option in the game, I would avoid it like the plague. As cool as I thought the firebats in StarCraft were, I would never manage very many of them. I was more addicted to the far more effective marines and their long-ranged guns. Same goes for the fire flower in Super Smash Bros. or the various flamethrowers in the Ratchet & Clank games. Sure, Peach burning Pikachu in the face with a giant flame makes for a great screenshot, but I never liked the way the weapon handled. I like attacking my enemies from a distance if given the option. I don’t mind standing in front of them to do damage, but give me something that will knock my enemy back or feel more impactful. With a flamethrower, you have to use the “burn and run technique.” Basically, burn them with a few sprays of fire, let the flames do damage while you run away and avoid retaliation, and repeat until the enemy is dead. This is not my preferred fighting method. But then something funny happened. As I started playing more and more games, the flamethrower started to feel more effective. Eventually, I started to love it. Now, I even make a point of using the weapon as much as possible! So what happened? I think this dramatic change occurred when I played games that used the flamethrower in the best way possible. Not just as a random weapon selection, but as part of the strategic gameplay. A very recent example is stellar XBLA game Bastion. In that game, the flamethrower handles like it does in most games. It doesn’t have a long range, drains power when used, and requires the main playable character to be very close to the target to hit them. What Bastion does differently is implement some actual benefits for using this very specific weapon. Breakable objects are all over the world of Bastion -- breakable objects with tons of loot hidden inside -- and breaking them can take some time. With the flamethrower, everything can be destroyed much quicker and easier with a giant wave of flames. Because of this, I started to love using the flamethrower in the game. True, it can be argued that the flamethrower has always had specific uses in every game it is featured in, but I don’t think that is always the case. This may be accurate for certain games -- I think the firebat balance in StarCraft is genius, but it is just not my preferred unit -- but in most games, I think the flamethrower is added because the designers thought it would add more variety and, frankly, just be really cool to look at. How else to explain why a short range flamethrower is featured in a chaotic action game like Contra.  It makes no sense! That’s why I never liked the flamethrower. It just never had a practical use in the games I played. But, lately, that has changed. Outside of Bastion, there have been many other videogame flamethrowers that I love. While hard to get excited about due to the dark subject matter, I respected and enjoyed the flamethrower levels in Call of Duty: Black Ops. The weapon felt like part of the story when used and really helped up the tension and realism of the awful, heart-wrenching scenarios. Games like Singularity, Scribblenauts, Conker’s Bad Fur Day, and Team Fortress 2 have also used flamethrowers in clever, much more user-friendly ways. Heck, even though it was wielded by a boss, I even loved the badass flamethrower in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. Years ago, after grabbing an “F” power-up and begging my friend to help save me while playing Contra III, I would have never thought I would learn to love the videogame flamethrower. It left just as bad a taste in my mouth as the Top Spin from Mega Man 3 (Don’t even get me started on the damn Top Spin in Mega Man 3!) But now I have come around. I love the videogame flamethrower and genuinely get excited when it makes a surprise appearance in games. Swinging a giant wall of flames back and forth may not be the most effective way to get the job done, but, man, if it isn’t the most satisfying.   ----- What do you think? Do you have a similar relationship with the videogame flamethrower? Are there any other videogame weapons that you were once cold on, but have since come around? Or are there certain videogame weapons that you hate and will always hate?
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I was never a fan of flamethrowers in videogames. I am not sure exactly where this started, but I have a pretty good idea: When I used to play Contra III: The Alien Wars with friends, I would do anything to avoid getting the ...

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gamescom: Play as a puppet in pretty platformer Puppeteer


Aug 14
// Chad Concelmo
This post brought to you by the letter "P." During their press conference, Sony just revealed a brand new platformer for the PlayStation 3 called Puppeteer. Looking very similar in style to LittleBigPlanet, the game is a ver...
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gamescom: Sony announces Killzone Mercenary for PS Vita


Aug 14
// Chad Concelmo
Not much has been revealed yet, but Sony just announced a new game in the Killzone franchise -- Killzone Mercenary -- during their gamescom press conference. It will be exclusive to the PS Vita. More details promised on the PS Blog later today. Excited?
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gamescom: AC3 naval warfare trailer is wet and wonderful


Aug 14
// Chad Concelmo
We have already seen some of the absolutely gorgeous Assassin's Creed III naval warfare gameplay footage at this past E3, but this newly released trailer makes everything look even more fancy and glorious. As a fan of the As...

What's the most addictive videogame you have ever played?

Aug 02 // Chad Concelmo
I adore videogames, so it is easy for me to say I am addicted to them. But when I usually say this, I don't think I ever really mean "addicted" in the clinical sense of the word. I just mean I love playing certain games and think about them a lot when I am not playing them. The Legend of Zelda, Super Metroid, Uncharted 2, Portal, Final Fantasy VI, Contra III. I love all of these games, but I don't think my body has even been physically addicted to them. I have been able to stop playing when I was ready to stop playing. I never hit a save point in Final Fantasy VI after planning to quit and then just kept going in fear that I would get the shakes if I stopped. But there have been certain games over the years that have put me in some kind of hypnotic trance, taking control of my body and truly making it almost impossible to stop playing. In addition to Spelunky, this has happened with older titles like Tetris Attack and Uniracers, to more recent games such as Pinball FX2 and Shatter. (My God, I love Shatter.) These games are not just fun, they are physical addictions. When I start, I have a lot of trouble stopping. Physical trouble. The common "Just one more game!" turns into a legitimately scary "You must play just one more game!" (In my head, this is also in a super intimidating robot voice.) Nothing bad has come of this (yet?) -- all these addictions are mostly harmless -- but I would be lying if I told you there haven't been some pretty crazy moments. Moments when I can almost hear my mind saying to my body: "Um, shit is getting serious. You really have to stop playing after this next round. I am not kidding." But these moments usually result in me not stopping after the next round. These moments result in me staying up all night and eventually having to slowly put down the controller as the newly risen sun starts to creep through my window -- the only sound a whispered "Dag!" as I slowly tiptoe away as if trying to hide my shame from some invisible person judging me from across the room. I am not a doctor, but all of this sounds like an honest-to-God addiction. Which, honestly, I am okay with. It's only a handful of games, and I have a fun time playing them. Where's the harm in that? ... says the heroin addict. Now it's your turn. What is the most addictive videogame you have ever played? Is there a specific game (or games) that you can't physically put down? Is there a specific game (or games) that you can't physically ... oh man, I already typed that. Sorry. I was thinking about Spelunky.
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The other day I was playing my new obsession Spelunky and, of course, died while trying to complete the dreaded ice caves. It was late and I really needed to go to bed. Instead of turning off the game -- or even thinking abou...

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With recent news that the leaked "Xbox 720" dev kit pictures and specs may actually be -- gasp! -- genuine, what are your thoughts? Here are the facts: The console is codenamed "Durango," the dev kit allegedly has 8 GB of mem...

It's time to compete in the Destructoid Retrolympics!

Jul 27 // Chad Concelmo
Here is how this is going to work. This quiz covers 25 questions about retro games, each falling under a different category, or “event,” based on the Olympics. Once you reach the end of the quiz, add up all the correct answers and see if you have a high enough score for a life-changing .JPG medal! Go for the gold! You can click here for all the answers and just leave the window open as you progress through the challenge. Now, it is obviously very possible to look up all these answers on this magical thing called the Internet ... but try not to do that. Just take the quiz and see how well you do based off your memory of these classic retro games. You could look everything up, but where is the fun in that? Once you are finished, share your score in the comments. Let’s get started!   Easy warm-up question! What button do you hold down to run in the original Super Mario Bros.?Click here for the correct answer.   You are competing in the High Jump in the upcoming Olympics. (Congrats!) To give yourself the best shot at winning a medal, which of the below playable characters from Super Mario Bros. 2 should you select to be your coach?Click here for the correct answer. Which of these Final Fantasy IV characters would easily win in a "let's see who can jump the highest and attack with a badass spear" contest?Click here for the correct answer.   Which robot master is most vulnerable to Mega Man’s Knight Crush?a. Blizzard Manb. Flame Manc. Centaur Mand. Tomahawk ManClick here for the correct answer.   Oh no! Donkey Kong has created three fake hammers to confuse Mario! Help Mario find the real one by locating which hammer is in the correct place!Click here for the correct answer.   Choose wisely! In Ghosts ‘n Goblins, which has the quicker rate of fire?Click here for the correct answer.   When E.T. extends his neck in the infamous Atari game E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, what happens?a. He regains his energyb. He levitates in the airc. He sends out a radar signald. The game buries itself in the desertClick here for the correct answer. Which of the below creatures teaches Samus how to wall jump in Super Metroid?Click here for the correct answer.   Which business donates the bicycle to Ness in legendary Super Nintendo RPG EarthBound?a. Mach Pizzab. Fourside Department Storec. Punk-Sured. Onett DrugstoreClick here for the correct answer.   Which of the following Fire Emblem characters is the most vulnerable to an attack by arrows?Click here for the correct answer. In which dungeon does Link find the bow in the original Legend of Zelda (first quest)?a. 1st dungeonb. 2nd dungeonc. 3rd dungeond. 4th dungeonClick here for the correct answer.   Classic arcade game 720° is based on what popular, extreeeeeme sport?a. Freestyle BMXb. Skateboardingc. Surfingd. SnowboardingClick here for the correct answer.   What weapon does the scuba diving main character use to attack the lethal jellyfish and stingrays in NES game Jaws?Click here for the correct answer. What mystical creature is discovered after diving to the bottom of the well in the original King’s Quest?a. Trollb. Unicornc. Mermaidd. DragonClick here for the correct answer.   Which of the following political figures is not a playable character in arcade basketball game NBA Jam?Click here for the correct answer.   How many minutes can Guybrush Threepwood hold his breath underwater in The Secret of Monkey Island?a. Oneb. Fivec. Tend. FifteenClick here for the correct answer.   On their way to Narshe, which Final Fantasy VI party member jumps off the raft at the end of their wild river adventure?Click here for the correct answer.   Which of the following items can you not lift up and throw in Chip n’ Dale Rescue Rangers?Click here for the correct answer.   Mike Haggar wants to teach a class on fighting. Based on his available moves in Final Fight, which of these wrestling techniques could he not teach?a. Suplexb. Headbuttc. Piledriverd. ClotheslineClick here for the correct answer.   Which version of Aladdin equips main character Aladdin with a sword?Click here for the correct answer. Analogy fun! Excalibur : King Arthur :: Masamune : __________Click here for the correct answer.   You really want a homing gun. (Who doesn't?!) Which of these Contra games will help make your wish come true?a. Contrab. Super Contrac. Contra III: The Alien Warsd. Contra ForceClick here for the correct answer. Arkanoid alert! Which of the below capsules rewards players with the laser upgrade?Click here for the correct answer.   How many maximum carrots appear above Link when riding Epona in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time?a. 4b. 5c. 6d. 7Click here for the correct answer. The below horse racing minigame is featured in what Super Nintendo videogame?a. Pocky & Rockyb. Vegas Stakesc. Harvest Moond. The Legend of the Mystical NinjaClick here for the correct answer.   ----- Now that you are finished, add up all your correct answers and see how you did! Here is the scoring guide: Did you earn a medal? If you won a gold, congratulations, you are now officially a gold medal winner in the Retrolympics. When you tell people this exciting news, just mumble the "Retr" part and say the rest really loud. People will think you said "Olympics" and be really impressed. Trust me on this one.
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I can’t throw a javelin. Well, I guess I technically can. But I can’t throw a javelin very well. Not even close to the level of one of the incredible athletes in the Olympic Games. In fact, I can’t do anythi...

The ten most annoying flying enemies in videogames

Jul 10 // Chad Concelmo
I will never forget the first time I encountered Lakitu in the original Super Mario Bros. I remember thinking to myself: Oh look! That guy is flying in a ridiculously cute cloud! It's smiling! How cute! This warm first impression was quickly shattered when Lakitu starting throwing spike-covered Spinies down upon Mario's head. And then he continued to throw more. And more. And more! The rain of Spiny destruction never stopped until poor Mario ran away, ducked down a pipe, or made it to the end of the level. Why would you corrupt that poor cloud like that, Lakitu? He is so cute! So cute ...   Yeah, Rippers are near-invulnerable and can only be killed with the Screw Attack and other late-in-the-game Samus power-ups. But that is not what makes them really annoying. What makes them so frustrating is their placement in the Metroid games. The Rippers move back and forth in small, hard to navigate areas, making them tough to avoid. In addition, they are almost always found in tall, vertical shafts, causing Samus to fall all the way to the bottom if hit by them. It is super irritating and seems to always happen right before you make it to the safety of an elevator. Riiiiippeeeeeers! <shakes fist in air>   Even if you have never played The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, you may have heard tales about the dreaded Cliff Racers. These flying prehistoric creatures like to constantly swoop down and attack helpless players in giant swarms. And to make matters worse, since Morrowind is primarily a first-person game, you can rarely see them coming, resulting in a constant barrage of unexpected attacks. The Cliff Racers are so notoriously awful, that the designers themselves even admitted their inclusion may have been a mistake. THE DESIGNERS EVEN HATE THEM! It is no coincidence that the winged creatures have not appeared in any Elder Scrolls game since. And the sound they make. Oh, man, that sound ...   The original Legend of Zelda is a top-down, 2D game, so trying to include flying enemies must have been a tough design decision. How do you make something fly out of reach when Link can technically still hit it with his sword because of the perspective? Oh, I will tell you how. You make the Peahats spin their propellers, simulating flight and making them impossible to hit until they are motionless and back on the ground. Now, how do you make them super annoying? You allow the Peahats to hit Link at all times, even when he can't strike them. That'll do the trick. To this day, I still avoid fighting Peahats. It is too much of a hassle to bother with them.   When you are standing on the ground, the birds in Prince of Persia: Sands of Time are not that tough to defeat. Sure, they make quick jabs towards you, but their attacks can be easily blocked and immediately countered. Not too tricky. The birds become annoying when the Prince is balancing on a skinny ledge -- which, of course, happens throughout the entire game. When balancing, the Prince can’t block, forcing you to have to swing your sword at the exact right moment. There really is only a split second window when the bird is in striking range. Delay for even a moment, and the Prince is knocked off the ledge. It is beyond annoying.   I refuse to speak ill of Phanto in the fear that he will find me and kill me.   The Moas are flying eyeballs that, at first glance, don’t seem like they would pose too much of a challenge. Most of them can be killed with one sword slash, and they don’t have any armor to protect them. But encountering them is the worst. In the already-challenging-enough Zelda II, the Moas fly back and forth in strange, irregular patterns, making them very hard to connect with. In addition, some of the Moas drop fire, while others drain precious experience points when they hit you. There are even some -- the rare blue variety -- that are invisible unless Link possesses a certain item. When fighting in groups, this enemy will drive you insane. The only redeeming factor of the Moas is the satisfaction you get when attacking them with a perfectly timed down- or jump-thrust. It feels so good to connect with one of these moves, and almost makes fighting them worth it. Almost.   UUUGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHH! That was the exact sound I made as a child when I used to run into the Red Devil in Ghosts 'n Goblins for the NES. Actually, that is the noise I still make when a run into this flying red jerk. He is that annoying. The Red Devil swoops down on the helpless Arthur and is a huge nuisance to kill. For those of you that don't know (and have been spared the game's torturous difficulty level), main character Arthur is killed with only two hits in Ghosts 'n Goblins. Two hits. That's it! One sheds his armor; the other hit turns him into bones. When fighting a Red Devil, the flying demon is constantly hovering high on the screen so Arthur cannot hit him. When he does swoop down, it is very fast,  forcing the player to have to jump over him at the last possible second and then quickly turn around to attack. (Good luck if you accidentally get stuck with the fireball as a weapon.) The process is insanely difficult, made near-impossible by the brutal two-hit death rule. And don't even get me started on later in the game, when two Red Devils attack Arthur at the same time. Yeah, that actually happens.   I am laughing to myself as I type this because the eagles in the original Ninja Gaiden drive me so insane that I can't help but chuckle like a madman when I think about them. Ninja Gaiden is one of my favorite games of all time. I absolutely adore it and make a point to play it at least once a month. But every time I pick it up, I am still blown away by how frustrating the eagles are. The main reason the eagles are so infuriating is actually a fault in the design of the game. Throughout the entirety of Ninja Gaiden, if you move even one pixel in the opposite direction after killing an enemy, that enemy will immediately respawn. This is manageable for most of the enemies, since you are constantly moving forward, but the eagles always (always!) appear right before you jump over a pit. After killing them it is only natural to want to back up a bit to make the tough jump. By doing this, though, the eagles just keep reappearing. Over and over and over again. <sigh>   I am sure all of you know about the Medusa heads in the original Castlevania. I am sure you have all even experienced the Medusa heads in the original Castlevania. They are infamous for a reason. The Medusa heads are never-ending spawning enemies that approach Simon Belmont from both sides in a hard-to-hit wave pattern. This by itself is annoying, but what makes these enemies so awful is the fact that they knock Simon back when they hit him. This jarring knockback usually results in Simon being thrown back into a pit -- especially on the clock tower level. And these sadistic Medusa heads never stop, no matter how long you sit there and attack them. THEY JUST KEEP COMING! On the rare occasion that the Medusa heads drop a reward for your patience and skill (a heart or maybe a money bag), you can't even retrieve it on the very likely chance another head will appear and knock you back -- you guessed it -- into a pit. Eff the Medusa heads. And eff pits!   ----- I am sure there are many other annoying flying enemies in videogames, but these are the ones that have always bothered me the most. What are your picks for the most irritating enemies that just can't stay on the goddamn ground?
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It's a known fact that the most annoying enemies in videogames are the flying kind. They are the worst. When you are about to jump over a bottomless pit, they are always there to hit you right in the face. When you are equipp...

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What Namco Bandai characters should be in Smash Bros.?


Jul 06
// Chad Concelmo
The news that Namco Bandai would be teaming up with Project Sora to develop the next game in the beloved Smash Bros. series was unexpected, but very exciting. Namco Bandai is a talented developer responsible for some pretty m...

My favorite 4th of July videogame memory

Jul 04 // Chad Concelmo
A few years ago, I used to live in an apartment building at the foot of the Hollywood Hills in Los Angeles. There was nothing really special about the place, but it did have one cool feature: There was a patio on the roof that you could access to relax in the sun, barbeque, or, in my case, play board games with friends. On July 4th, though, this rooftop patio turned into the place to be. Because it was on an elevated spot in the city, you could see for miles in all directions -- from the skyline of downtown to the beaches of Santa Monica. When it got dark and the fireworks started, you would literally be surrounded by hundreds of colorful and, frankly, magical explosions. It was a pretty amazing experience. On one particular 4th of July night, my friends and I went to the rooftop like we always did. We brought some stuff to drink and sat back in the patio lounge chairs, ready to have an incredibly great night. As the sun went down, others from the building started to join us. Even the rooftops of nearby buildings were starting to fill up. It was turning into quite the fun rooftop block party. After the first firework, everyone became silent. We all stared in awe as the bright orange and red colors burst into the surprisingly clear sky. Suddenly more fireworks began to go off, followed by more, and more, and more! Before long, fireworks were exploding from every single angle. As the night went on, the spectacle of it all only got more impressive. People were laughing and smiling, not believing what they were seeing. Then it started. Almost in perfect unison, the grand finales of all the firework displays began at the exact same time. If you know firework finales, you know that they are the most insanely awesome part of the show. Bursts of color and sound seem to never end, as all the remaining fireworks are lit, one after the other. Now try to imagine this happening with dozens and dozens of finales at the same time, all surrounding you at once. Needless to say, it felt like the world was coming to an end, one fabulous color explosion at a time. During the craziness, my friends and I looked at one another, speechless. It truly felt like we were caught in the middle of a war zone. A very happy, exuberant war zone, but a war zone nonetheless. All of sudden, amidst the beautiful chaos, it happened. Someone from another rooftop yelled something at the top of their lungs.  "IT'S THE DAY OF LAVOS!" I couldn't believe what I heard. Did he just ... ? Did he just scream ... ? YES, he did! He just yelled "IT'S THE DAY OF LAVOS!" in the middle of this out of control fireworks display. This man was my hero. And, boy, was he accurate. It really was the Day of Lavos. If anyone has played Chrono Trigger and reached the part when Lavos destroys the planet ... well, this night wasn't too far off. Once I realized what this ... this amazing guy said, I lost it. I started laughing and gasping and smiling from ear to ear. My hero. Anyone that would think to shout that phrase -- and so loud, mind you -- was officially about to become my new best friend. But I had no idea what roof the guy was standing on. I knew it had to be close, but Los Angeles is a pretty big city, and there were many nearby buildings to choose from. I had no idea who said it or where it was even coming from. I would never figure out who screamed that now legendary phrase. Dammit, I thought, there goes our Crono and Lucca BFF bracelets I already had picked out in my mind. Accepting I would never find him, I just smiled and enjoyed the rest of the show, content with knowing that someone that cool lives in the same neighborhood as me. As the fireworks came to a close, I knew that I would never forget this moment for as long as I live. It was just so cool ... and special ... and absolutely perfect. To this day, I still have no idea who yelled "IT'S THE DAY OF LAVOS!" from that rooftop. If you are reading this, Lavos dude (my forever nickname for him), please know that I think you are awesome. Really awesome. Even though I have no idea who you are, you are responsible for one of my greatest videogame memories. I think about you every 4th of July. If I ever get the pleasure of meeting you, I will have a high-five ready.
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This isn't a particularly exciting holiday tale. It doesn't involve an abominable snowman, or misfit toys, or an elf that wants to be a dentist. It is just a simple story about something that happened on one dark and unassuming 4th of July night many years ago. A night that I will never forget for the rest of my life.

The ten best videogame laughs EVER!

Jun 27 // Chad Concelmo
[embed]229682:44186:0[/embed] The videogame laugh that started it all. In classic NES shooter Duck Hunt, if a player lets the on-screen ducks fly away without shooting them, the supposedly helpful hunting dog pops up from behind the grass and just laughs. Right in the player’s disappointed face. Just laughs and laughs and laughs ... What’s so funny, dog?! Those ducks were our dinner! Without that food, our family will starve. Including you! Not so funny now, huh?   [embed]229682:44187:0[/embed] This one is just strange. At one point in the first half of Final Fantasy X, Tidus is depressed about ... something. (Honestly, he’s a male lead protagonist in a later Final Fantasy game. All their dramatic problems blur in my mind.) To help cheer him up, Yuna recommends he laugh out loud. Sounds sweet and helpful, right? As good as her intentions were, I don’t think Yuna was expecting the creepy robotic cackle that comes out of Tidus’s mouth. And even crazier: SHE JOINS IN THE MADNESS! The whole scene is just amazingly insane.   [embed]229682:44188:0[/embed] Skip ahead to 8:30 in the above video. When buying something from the old, lazy librarian in classic PlayStation game Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, he will give a quick chuckle and offer a friendly “thank you.” This would not be that memorable if it didn’t happen over and over and over again. If you keep buying items, the “laugh and thanks” combo will not stop. It just keeps playing until, honestly, you almost don’t want to buy anything anymore. Maybe that’s the merchant’s tactic to avoid running out of items. Almost out of cloaks? No problem! HEHEHE THANK YOU! HEHEHE THANK YOU! HEHEHE THANK YOU!   [embed]229682:44189:0[/embed] Boo’s devious giggle, featured in many Mario games, may be short and sweet, but that doesn’t make it any less awesome. It makes me smile every time I hear it. Yes, Boo would probably hate this -- he would want his laugh to instill fear and make me run away in terror -- but how can anyone run away from something so cute? If I ever met Boo at a party, I would tell him a joke (a Goomba, a Koopa, and a P-Switch walk into a bar ... ), wait for him to laugh, and then give him a huge hug. Which might be impossible, since I would have to turn towards him to do it.   [embed]229682:44190:0[/embed] There are many great laughs in Punch-Out!!, but none as memorable as Bald Bull’s. I will never forget that laugh. In the (maybe literally) millions of times I played Punch-Out!! on my NES as a child, I heard that laugh more times than I can count. It would drive me crazy. And it wasn’t just the laugh that got me. It was that mocking, rhythmic head movement that accompanied it. I always wanted Little Mac to get back up from the mat and punch Bald Bull in his smug mug every time he laughed at me for losing. Sure, it wouldn’t be very sportsmanlike, but referee Mario and I had an understanding. He would have looked the other way.   [embed]229682:44191:0[/embed] Before watching the above video, I bet you could have mimicked not only Bowser’s laugh from Super Mario 64, but the music cue that comes right before it. They are both so iconic! Every time Bowser sends Mario a message in the revolutionary Nintendo 64 game, it is accompanied by the same music and deep, guttural laugh. In the real world, this added laugh would be the equivalent to including a frowny face emoticon in all your e-mails. The message you already have may be intimidating and grumpy enough, but that frowny face just makes your point perfectly clear: You are not happy about saying what you have to say. Come to think about it, the next time I want to add a frowny face to an e-mail, I am going to attach Bowser’s laugh instead. That’ll teach Netflix to ship me the wrong disc for Breaking Bad – Season 4!   [embed]229682:44192:0[/embed] This is, by far, the cutest laugh on this list. Clank’s laugh is the very definition of infectious. Whenever the adorable robot sidekick giggles, it just makes me so ridiculously happy. Listen to the tone of his perfect little laugh. It’s so cute and joy inducing! BLARGH I JUST WANT TO SNUGGLE WITH A PUPPY RIGHT NOW!   [embed]229682:44193:0[/embed] Zelda II for the NES is hard. Actually, it’s more than hard. It’s brutal. Nothing is more fun than making your way through a long, challenging dungeon, only to be accidentally knocked back into a pool of lava, killing you instantly and forcing you to start back at the beginning of the level. Oh, wait, I know what is more fun than that: Hearing Ganon laugh at you after all this happens. Jerk.   [embed]229682:44194:0[/embed] Ugh. This laugh. When I used to play Kung Fu on the original NES -- and I played it a lot -- I used to hate hearing this laugh. It plays whenever a boss defeats you, and the bosses defeated me all the time in this ridiculously tough game. In a weird way, though, this laugh only motivated me to keep playing. After hearing it, I was determined to beat the game and put an end to that frustrating sound once and for all. Ah, I can still hear it ringing through my ears. Now I have to go play Kung Fu again. It’s like a Pavlovian response. I also really feel the need to tight roll my jeans.   [embed]229682:44195:0[/embed] As great as all the laughs are on this list, nothing can top Kefka’s laugh from Final Fantasy VI. Kefka is evil, pure and simple. And his in-game laugh reflects this. Even though it is coming from a 16-bit game, the sound of his laugh somehow perfectly captures the combination of sheer madness and lunacy that Kefka possesses. The laugh is used at all the most tragic of times. After poisoning an entire kingdom full of women and children, Kefka laughs. After killing a once loyal ally, Kefka laughs. Even after mocking the main characters for attempting to do something good, Kefka laughs. He just laughs and laughs throughout the entire game, shaking his head and swinging his arms with a demented glee after something truly horrible has happened. Damn, Kefka is a bastard. And his laugh is sure to haunt your dreams.   ----- Since there have been a lot of great videogame laughs over the years, here is a list of runners-up. These laughs are all very memorable, but just missed the final cut. Calisto Yew (Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth)Norstein Bekkler (Chrono Trigger)Zoltun Kulle (Diablo III)Rudy (Funhouse)Villain (Impossible Mission)Heaven Smile (Killer7)Kun Lan (Killer7)Colonel Volgin (Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater)Soda Popinski (Punch-Out!!)Merchant (Resident Evil 4)Sagat (Street Fighter)   Engineer (Team Fortress 2)   ----- What do you think? Do you agree with my picks for the best videogame laughs of all time? What other laughs do you love (or love to hate)? TO THE COMMENTS!
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I have a very loud laugh. Some people say it is infectious, but I have been paranoid about it my entire life. When I am sitting in a movie theater, sometimes I laugh so hard that people think something is wrong with me. I eve...

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What is the most consistently great series of all time?


Jun 21
// Chad Concelmo
After yesterday's official announcement of Metal Gear Solid 5 (woot!), I started thinking about how there really aren't any bad games in the entire, long-running Metal Gear series. All of the Solid games are near perfect, the...

The winner of the battle of the E3 2012 predictions!

Jun 14 // Chad Concelmo
    If you want to get the details of how these questions were asked and the answers that were given, you can read the original predictions post right here. For this follow-up post, I will just get to the results. Because that's why you all are here, right? Here is a chart of which contestants made which predictions, and the results based on what was announced at E3. Remember, these things could happen eventually, but if they weren't talked about at E3, the result is "no." The original questions are on the left; results on the right. The correct predictions are highlighted in yellow, while the incorrect answers are in grey. After counting up all the correct answers, the winner is ... THE GAMER! Congratulation to Bill Platt on an outstanding victory! Nice job! But, as you can see, it was a close race between the gamer and the analyst. Only one correct answer separated the two! In a surprise, the horse and coin both put up some pretty solid numbers as well. Sorry, Sadie the toddler. You are so unbelievably cute -- and your positivity is infectious! -- but all those "yes" answers were your downfall. Here is an exact percentage breakdown of how many predictions each contestant got correct: The analyst - 38 out of 50 correct. 76%The gamer - 39 out of 50 correct. 78%The toddler - 11 out of 50 correct. 22%The horse - 25 out of 50 correct. 50%The coin - 22 out of 50 correct. 44% What do you think of the results? Did you pick the correct winner? Who were you rooting for? Are you surprised by any of this, or were you expecting the gamer to take it? It was an interesting E3. Only 11 and a half more months until next year! I am excited already. [UPDATE: The analyst, Jess Divnich, is such an amazing guy. To congratulate the gamer, he is donating $200 to Child's Play in Bill Platt's name and buying him a game of his choosing. CLASS ACT!]
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Before E3, I posted Destructoid's annual E3 predictions. It was an epic competition for the ages. A competition even more brutal than the Thunderdome, Hunger Games, and Battle Royale COMBINED! I asked a videogame analyst (Jes...

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Pre-order '31 Days of Zero Suit Samus' right now!


Jun 12
// Chad Concelmo
Friend of Destructoid and Weekly Geek host Chris Furniss, along with many other remarkably talented artists (including Destructoid's own Ashley Davis!), recently put together a book of videogame art pieces entitled "31 Days o...

E3: Hands-on with Rayman Legends

Jun 08 // Chad Concelmo
This game will make you want to buy a Wii U. It is that good. So far it is a Wii-exclusive, and, if it stays that way, this game could really be a system seller. If Pikmin 3 wasn't in the picture, Rayman Legends would easily be the best Wii U game I played at the show. Even me typing this hyperbole feels a little crazy, as the only thing on-display for Rayman Legends was the game's co-op mode. The single-player mode -- and the game definitely has one! -- was not playable. To fall this in love with an "extra" mode is insane. I can't imagine how incredible the single-player campaign will be. When I say "co-op mode," I don't mean it in the regular sense of the word. While you can play up to four-play co-op with four characters on-screen like in Rayman Origins, there is a new co-op mode that involves one player playing with the new Wii U Pro Controller and one playing with the GamePad. Let me break down how this works. As mentioned, one player controls the main character on-screen with the Wii U Pro Controller (you can read my impressions on that fantastic controller right here). The other player holds the GamePad and uses nothing else but the built in touch screen. While the first player is running through the splendid levels, the other player is "assisting" them by interacting with the world around them. This could be very basic like the co-op mode in Super Mario Galaxy, but it is not simple at all. There is so much variety to this "assisting" that it is always interesting and fun. In fact, it is so impressive that I gasped on multiple occasions because I was so impressed with what the game was letting me and my partner do. At first, the assisting is much easier. The second player can cut grass by swiping the touch screen to uncover shiny lums, tap on something in the background to open a secret area, or grab enemies and hold onto them to help the player. As the levels progress, things get much deeper (and much more fun!). In one section, the second player has to shoot projectiles at dragons in the background to protect the first player. In another, player two can grab parts of the environment to help player one proceed further. And this is some of the stuff that impressed me the most. In one level, a huge wooden wheel was in front of Rayman. The wheel had a complicated maze-like passage through it that needs to be traversed in order for the first player to proceed. In the passage were deadly, one-touch-and-you're-dead spikes and hooks to grab on to. In order to proceed, player two has to grab hold of the wheel and turn it for player one. To to this, the second player taps the touch screen to lock in the hold and rotates the actual GamePad back and forth. There is no lag and everything is smooth and intuitive. When the wheel is placed in the right direction, the first player can move forward. This dance between both players takes a lot of cooperation, and, when successful, is ridiculously satisfying. There were several puzzles like this, and they were all extraordinary. And then the second part of the demo started. I was already impressed by everything I played, but the second part of the demo involved Rayman running through a fast, auto-scrolling level timed to the music being played and activated by the second player. It's hard to describe unless you see the video (watch it right here!), but, basically, every jump, item grab, and movement the first player makes is timed to the music playing in the background. To help with the beat, the second player can tap on-screen statues. It is unbelievably cool and one of the most impressive levels I have ever seen in a 2D platformer. After talking about all this, I didn't even mention how beautiful Rayman Legends looks. I mean, it kind of goes without saying. But it should be mentioned. Rayman Legends is jaw-droppingly gorgeous. One of the best-looking 2D platformers ever. Hell, one of the best-looking games ever. I didn't think it was possible, but Rayman Legends looks ever better than Rayman Origins. And, keep in mind again, that I saw only two small sequences in the game. I can't imagine how amazing everything is going to look when all the various levels are opened up. Ubisoft and Nintendo were smart to show off the co-op version of Rayman Legends on the Wii U. A single-player demo would have been a nice bonus, but we already know what that is going to look like -- we have Rayman Origins to play over and over. With Rayman Legends, Ubisoft has taken things to a whole new level. The game looks incredible, it plays just as well as its predecessor, and the Wii U-specific co-op features are fun and never once feel gimmicky. Rayman Legends is a masterpiece in the making. If the final game is as strong as the demo, this could be some serious Game of the Year stuff.
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Rayman Legends is the direct Wii U-exclusive sequel to the beautiful, gorgeous, sublime 2D platformer Rayman Origins that was released last year. The good news if you were a fan of Rayman Origins: Rayman Legends is even more ...

E3: Hands-on with ZombiU

Jun 08 // Chad Concelmo
Let's get to all the good stuff first. Even though zombies are completely overused in videogames, ZombiU surprisingly feels fresh. This is due to a few key things. One, the controls. The Wii U GamePad feels great, and playing a first-person shooter like this with it is totally comfortable. The draw to this game -- and the feature that drew the most applause during the Ubisoft press conference -- is the cool implementation of the GamePad controller. While running around doing normal zombie-killing things, you can use the GamePad for many different things. When opening a box, you can see the contents on your touch screen. Just tap what you want and slide it into your inventory! Get to a door that needs unlocking? You can pick the lock in a super easy (almost too easy) lockpicking minigame on the GamePad! Need to type in a code to open a door? Type it in on the touch screen! This stuff is fun (if a little gimmicky) and helps mix up the action. Another cool addition to the game is permanent death. When you die in ZombiU, you die forever. There are no retries or lives in the game. When you die, you restart as a brand new survivor, with your old character walking around the level as a zombie. It's a really neat addition and makes death feel so much scarier than in most games of the type. Now ... the not so good. First, ZombiU doesn't really look that great. Compared to the Wii, the game looks incredible. The textures are detailed, the lighting is slick, and the environments are appropriately atmospheric. But when you compare the game to other current gen games of the same type, it doesn't hold up. If it was very stylized, this comparison wouldn't be fair. But it's not. It is supposed to look as realistic as possible, and the graphics just don't feel as advanced as they could. The game doesn't look bad by any means, but it's hard not to compare it to similar games on other systems. The comparison is inevitable. Another problem with the game is also one of the ZombiU's greatest strengths: the implementation of the GamePad controller. As mentioned, there are some really cool things about the new control scheme -- lockpicking and item management is particularly neat. But there are some sequences that are just plain weird and a little awkward. Some parts of the game have you hold up the GamePad screen and look "through" the touch screen. Sometimes this is used for aiming with your sniper rifle, which is pretty cool, but most of the times it is used to "scan" the area and find secret thing using a special kind of vision. In concept, it sounds neat, but it doesn't work very well and totally takes you out of the action. (It is also accompanied by a very awkward on-screen animation of your character also looking through the same type of tablet screen. Why does he/she have this device in their backpack?) Adding a few clever elements with the GamePad is great, but add too many and the game collapses under its own cleverness. And, unfortunately, ZombiU falls into this category more often than not. Some of this stuff could be cleaned up before the final version, but, as of now, the game just feels to unsure of its own strengths and weaknesses to excitedly recommend it. Seeing an M-rated game being promoted on the Wii U is very exciting, and bodes well for the future of the system. With ZombiU, though, a little more work needs to be done to stay away from the gimmicks and focus on the core gameplay. I liked ZombiU, but didn't. I was impressed by some of the new features, but confused by them as well. I had fun with the game, but also was frustrated. So, in short: Huh.
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Huh. That was my first reaction after playing ZombiU for the Wii U at Nintendo's booth during E3. Huh. Now, "huh" usually has a negative connotation, but that is not necessarily the case with this particular game. The "huh" i...

E3: Daedalic and the return of the classic adventure game

Jun 08 // Chad Concelmo
The two games Daedalic Entertainment showed off were The Dark Eye: Chains of Satinav and Deponia. The Dark Eye is a more traditional fantasy adventure game like King's Quest, while Deponia is a wacky adventure set in space that very much reminded me of Space Quest. Both games look absolutely gorgeous, with hand-drawn backgrounds and smooth animation. Just looking at the games for the first time brought back such memories of how beautiful adventure games used to look with their hand-drawn and hand-painted art. As great as the little I got to see of Deponia was, that game is still a little ways off. I will focus on The Dark Eye, as that is the game that featured an extended demo. It will also be available on Steam on June 22, so the release date is only a few weeks away! Like most point-and-click games, The Dark Eye involves a main character exploring a vast world, interacting with characters, and solving puzzles to reach the end of the game. Obviously, the first thing you will notice about the game is how gorgeous it looks. The fact that a small group of people made a game that looks this good really boggles my mind. It's incredible how talented some people in this world are. Exploring the world is as simple as clicking on any object or character you want to interact with. Again, it is classic graphic adventure stuff. In addition to this, a very large inventory system is also used. Like most adventure games, you can pick up a ton of items, some so random you won't even know where to use them until just the right time. One addition to The Dark Eye: Chains of Satinav is a basic, yet effective magic system. Along the way, the main character can learn spells that will interact with the environment. One spell will break items. This can be used in many scenarios with no real result -- it is more of an aesthetic thing. But some items need to be shattered to solve puzzles. In one scenario in the demo, the main character was tied up and trapped in a cave. By using his magic power combined with many items in his inventory, he eventually escapes in a plan of almost Rube Goldberg-proportions. It was quite complicated, but very well-designed, so the solution could be figured out eventually with some focused thinking. In fact, all of the puzzles in the Dark Eye felt very challenging, but never too challenging to be frustrating. I am one of the first people to admit being driven to madness in some old adventure games, due to the puzzles being near-impossible. That is not the case with Dark Eye. Yes, the puzzles are tough, but they are never too daunting. If I had to have one negative about both the Dark Eye and Deponia, it would be the localization. So far, the localization is not perfect, leaving jokes kind of hanging and some dialogue very awkward. It is not a deal breaker by any means, but when the games are so visually strong and beautifully designed, you want everything about them to be perfect. The same can be said for the voice acting. While not bad, it definitely could use a little work. Outside of these small issues (or big, depending on what you look for in an adventure game), both The Dark Eye and Deponia look great. I adore adventure games, and I am very much looking forward to playing both of these promising games. Deponia is still in production, but The Dark Eye: Chains of Satinav is set to hit Steam on June 22. If you are a fan of classic adventure games, you will want to check this one out.
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One of my favorite things to do at E3 is visit the smaller publisher and developers and try out their games. Usually creative and made with such a large amount of heart, the smaller games at E3 are always a breath of fresh ai...

E3: Hands-on with Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion

Jun 08 // Chad Concelmo
Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion was inspired by the classic Mickey platformer Castle of Illusion for the Genesis. This inspiration shows from the minute you start the game. The graphics -- while obviously improved for the slick 3DS -- look very similar. Even the animation and controls are very reminiscent of the original classic ... but I am getting ahead of myself. Not much is known about the story in Power of Illusion, but, as in Castle, Mickey is tasked with journeying through multiple Disney-themed worlds to put an end to the evil witch Mizrabel (who looks eerily similar to Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty). Along the way -- and this is the best part -- he will run into and rescue many Disney characters from different movies and TV shows. Seeing these awesome characters in the game was both surprising and exciting. As a huge Disney fan, I squealed with happiness when I found Scrooge McDuck and smiled when I talked to Rapunzel. The whole gang is included, and the game's creative director, Peter Ong, promises there are many, many appearances in the final game. To control, players use the slide pad or D-pad to move Mickey around the screen. Jumping is done with one button, and, like, Castle, a stomp is performed by hitting the jump button once again. You can also shoot paint and paint thinner projectiles by pushing the attack button. These controls, while very similar to Castle of Illusion, are only the very tip of the amazing iceberg. Like its console Epic Mickey counterparts, in Power of Illusion, Mickey can use paint or thinner to draw objects or take them away. This is done using the touch screen of the 3DS. When an object can be interacted with, it will appear glowing in the map on the bottom screen. By tapping this, a "paint" screen will be shown. In this screen, players will have to "paint," or outline, the object to make it appear, or erase it with the thinner to make it disappear. While only a few levels were shown in the demo, this technique was used to fantastic effect. Sometimes it was simple, just having to erase a vine blocking your path or painting a block to stand on. Other times things were more complicated. In one section, a series of cannons was on the screen that Mickey could launch himself with. Some cannons needed to be painted and some needed to be erased in order to form the perfect path to move on to a high platform. Since the action pauses when painting, some of the cannons had to be painted while in mid-flight. It made the sequence not just about strategy, but timing as well. To add more detail to a constantly deepening game, the painting mechanic is graded on how good of a job you do with painting the items. The better you do, the better rewards you get. For example, if you paint a stone column perfectly, fewer enemies will attack in the next section. If you do a bad job, more enemies may be waiting for you further on in the level. In addition, special painted objects can be found, unlocked, and carried with you throughout the game. As in Metroid, these acquired powers can be used at any time and help you access hidden areas and defeat enemies. In the demo, you could carry two special objects. One was a "Thwomp"-like enemy that would crush anything underneath it (even Mickey!). By drawing it anywhere on the screen, the monster will slam down and destroy anything underneath it. This is very helpful in defeating enemies that may be a little out of reach or guarding a tough platforming section. And, again, if you paint it perfectly, the enemy is more powerful and slams to the ground more times. The other item was a chest that would release helpful items such as money, more paint, or helpful hearts. The graphics and animation in the game are truly wonderful. DreamRift's other games -- Henry Hatsworth and Monster Tale -- have very similar, 16-bit retro graphics, but Power of Illusion seems to look even better! It's hard to tell in the screenshots, but parallax scrolling is in full effect, with backgrounds and gorgeous out-of-focus foregrounds looking incredible. And seeing this all in 3D makes everything look even more colorful and stunning. If this was the entire game, it would be great. But there is so much more! After rescuing the numerous Disney characters, they will return to your castle and find shelter in one of many rooms. These rooms can be upgraded to look more and more like scenes from the characters' respective universes. For example, I upgraded Scrooge McDuck's room and it was a perfect recreation of his office from DuckTales (complete with giant vault door!). And these upgrades aren't just aesthetic. After fully upgrading, characters will help out Mickey on his quest! Some may open a shop to sell helpful items, others may offer new powers, and others will assign side missions that can be completed for even more fun rewards! There is so much to do in Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion and so much to gush over. It truly is a beautiful game with fun gameplay, clever mechanics, and many surprising Disney appearances. I can't wait for Power of Illusion. As a fan of both retro 2D platformers and Disney, this game is a dream come true.
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I haven't made a final decision as to what my favorite game at E3 2012 is yet, but Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion for the 3DS is right up there. When DreamRift's game was announced a couple of months ago, I was shocked. Inste...

E3: Interview: Yasuhiro Wada on 'Project Happiness'

Jun 08 // Chad Concelmo
My interview with Yasuhiro Wada was very casual. We sat down together with his kind and professional translator and immediately started talking videogames. As a fan of Harvest Moon, I told Mr. Wada how much I respected the things he has done for videogames. I told him that I thought his games were refreshing in a sea of videogames that are starting to look and feel the same. He expressed gratitude for the kind words and agreed that he likes to create games that mean something to the player and aren't just a bunch of muted colors and loud noises. This brought us to his new game, codenamed "Project Happiness." As of now, "Project Happiness" is shrouded in secrecy, with only a loose 2013 release date attached to it. According to Mr. Wada, "Happiness" will take place in small village that will grow larger as the game progresses. You play a shopkeeper that will have to collect and sell items to the people in the village. Instead of the items doing generic things to generic villagers, Mr. Wada is designing the game to really establish an emotional connection to the things sold in the store. For example, some of the people in the town (all of who will have elaborate backstories) may have one particular item that makes them happier than all others. It is the job of the shopkeeper (and, in turn, the player) to figure this out and help make the villagers' dreams come true. In addition, there will be many moral choices in the game that will really help shape the entire story, which, according to Mr. Wada, will feature one of the most powerful and emotional endings ever experienced in a videogame. This may sound like a bold statement, but after talking with him and thinking back at his body of work, I am confident that Mr. Wada may be speaking the truth. The Harvest Moon games are brave in that they follow around the life of an ordinary farmer and his family. This seemingly simple concept is surprisingly emotional, and Mr. Wada knows how to take everyday experiences and relate them to the player. He revealed to me his favorite game in the Harvest Moon series is A Wonderful Life for the GameCube, and this bodes well for the future of "Project Happiness." A Wonderful Life is also my favorite game in the series and features a very sad, extremely moving ending. If "Project Happiness" has a similar emotional experience, we are all in for something truly special. "Project Happiness" will be released sometime in 2013 for unspecified platforms. We will keep you updated when more information comes in for this promising title. Thanks again, Mr. Wada, for a wonderful chat. The videogame industry needs people like you.
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Interviewing the creator of the Harvest Moon series was one of my highlights of E3. In fact, it may have been the highlight. Yasuhiro Wada is an amazing, talented person with an unbelievably refreshing attitude about videogam...

E3: Hands-on with Project P-100

Jun 08 // Chad Concelmo
While not nearly as violent as MadWorld or polished as Viewtiful Joe, Project P-100 still has that weird, fascinating vibe that only Platinum Games knows how to create. It almost feels like a hybrid between Pikmin, Little King's Story, and old arcade classic Smash TV. In the game, you play as a group of washed-up superheroes -- superheroes that, alone, don't amount to much at all, but, together, can almost do anything! Project P-100 is entirely controlled with the new Wii U GamePad. The group is moved around the screen with the left analog stick, and all attacks are done with the face buttons. In addition to these normal attacks, special moves can be performed with the GamePad's touch screen or right analog stick. On the touch screen, images of different things are displayed. In the demo, there were three special moves: a sword, a fist, and a gun. By "drawing" a specific shape on the touch screen (like Okami!), the superheroes combine and form whatever power you are summoning. The sword is a great, powerful melee weapon, while the gun is good for long-range attacks. The fist can be used to turn cranks and solve puzzles. Like Pikmin and Little King's Story, all of the heroes move around in a giant group. At certain points, and after defeating certain enemies, citizens can be rescued to join the group and make it bigger. The bigger the group, the more powerful the attacks. It's a simple concept that is made more interesting in a few ways: First and foremost are the somewhat odd controls. Moving around and attacking is easy enough (and really fun!), but accessing the touch screen is really tough to do while holding the GamePad. It just doesn't feel natural. If there was no time limit on drawing your shapes, this would not be as much of a problem. But you have to activate these special powers during some pretty intense battles. It was a stressful process and needlessly difficult. The powers throughout the game can also be "drawn" with the right analog stick, but that is almost trickier, since the accuracy is tough when not using the touch screen. The graphics in the game are colorful and polished, if a little simple. And, at times, some things even looked low-res, which was very strange. All in all, though, Project P-100 looks pretty good and uses a refreshing, bright color palette when compared to many other recent games. My favorite part of the demo was a section when your superhero group enters a warehouse. After entering by turning a crank with the fist power to open a door, the leader of the superhero group runs inside the building. Since the game is played in an isometric, top-down view, the insides of buildings are not shown (the roof blocks the view!). Because of this, the action moves to the Wii U GamePad's screen. Once inside a building, the leader of the group runs around in a third-person perspective as the player navigates him through some simple, yet fun puzzles. The graphics on the GamePad touch screen are really great and it was fun and surprising to switch play to the GamePad and then back to the T.V. screen once exiting the warehouse. It was a great sequence and made me think about all the cool possibilities that could happen with the GamePad in the future. Overall, I liked Project P-100, but didn't love it. I liked the interesting style and gameplay, but did not like the awkward, tricky controls. This could be remedied once the final game is released and players are not just thrown into the middle of the confusing action like the demo, but, as of now, I am hesitant if Project P-100 will be a must-buy when the Wii U is released later this year. If anything, Platinum Games did a good job of surprising with such a different game.
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Project P-100 (working title) from Platinum Games (creators of Viewtiful Joe and MadWorld) was one of the strangest Wii U games I played on the show floor at E3. And that is not necessarily a bad thing. In a way, it reminded ...

E3: New details on Paper Mario: Sticker Star

Jun 07 // Chad Concelmo
First thing I want to get out of the way: There were no partners in the extended demo we saw. This got me nervous. What is a Paper Mario game without the myriad of fun and unique partners that can join your party in the game? No word on whether partners will be in the final game -- outside of the one lone screenshot in the gallery that shows someone named "Kersti" who may or may not be an actual partner -- but in the demo, at least, they were absent. I am holding out hope they make an appearance in the final game. Also strange and a little troubling: There are no experience points in Paper Mario: Sticker Star. Yeah, I know. Between this and the lack of partners, things sound scary for this new sequel to the charming RPG series. BUT NOT TO WORRY! From what we were shown, the game still looks pretty great. A few details: -Replacing experience points are other ways to "level up" your character. By discovering secrets, hidden chests, or helping out NPCs, Mario is awarded bonuses that will boost his maximum heart points. This replacement is a little odd for fans of the series, but, in practice, it looks like it will work just fine. -The "stickers" from the title really do make up a bulk of the gameplay. In battles, you don't have normal menu-based selections like usual. You actually attack, block, and use special moves by selecting stickers from your giant sticker book and placing them on-screen. The stickers seem to be everywhere in the world, but I am curious to see what happens if you ever run out. Can you not attack? Can you "recharge" your stickers somewhere? -Usually, only one sticker can be used in a battle at a time, but there is a fun new mechanic during battle that's let you use your coins to take a chance on a slot machine. When this slot machine is activated, Mario can try for more sticker slots to attack more than once. Also, if all three slots are matched, a huge bonus is awarded, like coins or more stickers. -Environmental stickers look like the most fun in the game. At times, Mario will run into giant objects that are rendered as if they are from the "real world." Seriously, there is one point where he finds a fan that looks like an actual fan. He can collect these items and bring them to a magic wall and transform them into stickers. From here, he can use these stickers to solve puzzles later in the story. It's a pretty cool addition and seems to add a lot to the game. -As far as the look of the game, the graphics look just as topnotch and stylish as the previous games in the series. We obviously couldn't see the 3D effect, but I imagine Paper Mario being the perfect game to display this featured effect. -The general gameplay is also the same gameplay you know and love. Battles are turn-based and involve hitting the buttons at the exact right time to do extra damage or block attacks. -Only a tiny piece of the game was shown, but a town was talked about during the demo. This is a good sign, as I want the final game to be as robust, long, and RPG-like as the older games in the series. The Paper Mario RPGs have always had such great stories set in such a huge world, and I don't want to lost that in the transition to a handheld. Final thoughts: I thought the demo of Paper Mario: Sticker Star was really solid, with great graphics and a welcome, refreshing sense of humor that the series has always been known for. But I am not going to lie that I am just a tad bit worried. Not that the final game won't be great. Nintendo makes great first-party games, and this looks to be no exception. I am just worried that the final game won't be as epic in length and scope as the previous games in the Paper Mario series. With no experience points and the chance of no partners, I am slightly concerned that some sacrifices were made to put the game on the 3DS. Also, I still have yet to see a giant variety of worlds and characters, which also gets me a little nervous. But I only saw a short demo. All these fears could be put to rest when the game releases this holiday season. I can't wait!
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Paper Mario: Sticker Star for the 3DS is not playable on the show floor at E3. Let me say that again: Paper Mario: Sticker Star is not playable. WHAT THE HECK, NINTENDO?! Of all the games here at E3, I was really hoping to ge...

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E3: Ranking the games of Nintendo Land


Jun 07
// Chad Concelmo
There will be twelve total minigames in Nintendo Land for the Wii U, but only five were on display in the Nintendo booth. Now that I have played and previewed them all, which did I like the best? Since this list will change t...

E3: Hands-on with Nintendo Land: DK's Crash Course

Jun 07 // Chad Concelmo
The concept of the single-player Donkey Kong's Crash Course is simple: You just have to guide a rolling, triangle-shaped vehicle through a crazy, complicated obstacle course without crashing it or flipping it over. It sounds simple, right? It's not. Crash Course is super-challenging, and, my God, so much fun. The only "simple" thing about it is the controls. All players have to do is tilt the Wii U GamePad back and forth to roll the vehicle left and right. Occasionally, the ZL and ZR triggers are used to activate levers and cranks, but, outside of all this, the controls are very easy to learn. Mastering them is an entirely different story. As you can see in the screenshots, the course in Crash Course is HUGE! And these screens don't even give you the entire picture. The level actually scrolls way up, so it is much larger than the images indicate. Everything starts out easy enough, with some hills to navigate over. Just tilt the GamePad and the vehicle rolls. If the hill is big, just tilt the GamePad even more more and the cart will roll much faster. But you don't want it to roll too fast. If it does, it could easily crash or flip over when you get to the next obstacle. You have to be slow and meticulous. And as the obstacles get more complicated, things get tough! BUT SO MUCH FUN! The whole thing reminded me of a combination of Uniracers and The Incredible Machine -- which is kind of the best combination ever. Some of the obstacles involve navigating giant loops with cranks, riding elevators, and navigating a crazy series of steep hills. To help you out, there are checkpoint markers every once in a while that you spawn from if you die. But with only five lives, getting through the entire course is tough. I played the game multiple times, and never made it. Is is really challenging. To add incentive and competition to the proceedings, your time and distance is recorded on a leaderboard, making getting farther and earning high scores oh-so tempting. I really, really loved Donkey Kong's Crash Course. It was such a breath of fresh air and a genuinely fun and surprisingly deep minigame. I can't wait to play more and finally make it to the end of the course!
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This is the last in the series to preview all five of the games within Nintendo Land for the Wii U. (You can check out the other previews here, here, here, and here! Whew!) Let's talk "Donkey Kong's Crash Course!" I am going ...

E3: Hands-on with Nintendo Land: AC: Sweet Day

Jun 07 // Chad Concelmo
Why did this game surprise me? Well, when I saw video of it, Sweet Day looked the least interesting of all the Nintendo Land games. The good news: It's not. It's actually very fun! Although somewhat similar to Luigi's Ghost Mansion, Sweet Day has enough differences to make it feel unique. In the game, four players control the townsfolk with the Wiimotes, while one player controls the evil chefs with the GamePad. And, yes, I said chefs. With an "s." In a cool mechanic, the player with the GamePad actually controls two chefs at the same time. One is controlled with the left analog stick and one is controlled with the right. This can be tricky, but that is part of the challenge. The other four players have to run around the screen and collect pieces of candy. This can be accomplished by two players standing next to each other on a set of buttons. Once done, the candy flies out of a tree and all over the screen. In total, 50 pieces of candy are eventually released into the Animal Crossing-themed arena. To win, all four players have to pick up all 50 pieces between them. When attacked by a chef, all candy is dropped and the player is stunned. If all 50 pieces are collected in the time limit, the players win! What is really neat about the game, is that when you pick up a piece of candy, your character starts to slow down. Pick up a couple dozen and you almost grind to a halt. This makes it almost imperative to split up the candy collection between the four players, as when you start to move really slow, the chefs can easily stab you with their giant knives. Yup, they have giant knives. Although simple in concept, there is a surprising amount of depth to Sweet Day. Something I wasn't expecting at all. This polished, colorful little game is a welcome addition to Nintendo Land and very fun with five players. It was a good time!
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Only two more left! This is the fourth in a series to preview all of the games within Nintendo Land for the Wii U. You can check out the other three here, here, and here! I swear, I really had a great time with the Nintendo L...


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