hot  /  reviews  /  video  /  blogs  /  forum

Review: BandFuse: Rock Legends

Nov 29 // Ian Bonds
BandFuse: Rock Legends (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed])Developer: Realta Entertainment GroupPublisher: Mastiff GamesRelease Date: November 19, 2013MSRP: $69.99 (Artist Pack:  game + 1/4" to USB guitar cable), $79.99 (Band Pack: 2 guitar cables, mic, 4-port USB hub, acoustic guitar adapter - game NOT included), $179.99 (Guitar Bundle - Guitar Center Exclusive: game, guitar cable, & Fender Squire Bullet guitar) All right, so we know that this isn't the only game out there that wants to teach you how to play guitar with a real instrument. Plenty of games have tried this approach, with only one really having any great success with it. So, what is it that BandFuse does differently?   For starters, the layout is much more user-friendly. Rather than having the note highway diagonally, or seemingly flying at you, the fretboard looks as though you're looking straight at your guitar. Simple number icons and colors on each string are used to determine which finger and which fret you use, as everything is set up in standard tablature. The game is built with the beginner in mind. There are a series of video tutorials, led by the games "mentors," such as Slash, Bootsy Collins, Zakk Wylde, and more that walk the player through even the most basic of steps. And while some of the lessons may only seem as though they're reading the key points off a cue card (and Slash mostly seems like he's barely interested in being a teacher), these are still valuable skills for beginners like me. For those more familiar with the guitar who want to improve their chops, the difficulty can be increased through five different levels of skill. I will admit, however, that there is a bit of a learning curve from beginner to the next, but the game caters to all skill types. The tutorial videos are the biggest help here, and can of course be revisited if you're not quite moving with the pace or need refreshers on terminology or technique. As I said, however, there is a bit of a noticeable jump between difficulties. While the beginner mode is great for a guy like me, for an intermediate player, transitioning to one of the harder difficulties can be more taxing than anticipated, as they throw a lot more notes your way. Still, there's more than just tutorials. If you just want to play songs, there's plenty to chose from here, and plenty of ways to play them. Shred U is where most of your lessons lie, but there's a whole career mode to play through, where you begin as an opening act all the way through headliner. You can even play this multiplayer, hooking up multiple guitars, bass, and even vocals. The vocal sections are especially of interest, as these can be done solo as well (for a whole karaoke take on the game) as well as essentially being a borrowed asset for the game. That's right, the vocal note detection and regestration of those notes is the same technique developed by Harmonix for its Rock Band games here, and Realta has licensed it for use in BandFuse. Very cool. Beyond that, there's the Lick Lab, which allows you to dissect any song into as many parts necessary to learn how to play it. There's even a section for true virtuosos that provides a wide variety of generic backing tracks for several musical genres that allows you to play along as you see fit. The thing that most impressed me with this title is the attention to detail as far as sound is concerned. Realta has made sure that latency and lag will not be an issue, and the accuracy and responsiveness of the game was a constant treat. There's even an adapter for the Xbox 360 version (included with the package) that connects to the back of the system allowing for sound to pass through to your TV or sound system -- or even directly to headphones -- to ensure an accurate response. This is only necessary if your set up is connected primarily via HDMI, as there tends to be latency issues with sound via that single connection. It's impressive to see a game such as this, focused on not only teaching you how to play guitar, but also how to have fun with it. The multiplayer extensions are a blast (if you have that many guitars, or friends that can play), and the karaoke and backing track selections can really further the creativity. While the jumps in difficulty can be drastic at the higher levels, there's still plenty of ways to adapt, and BandFuse surprises at each step.
BandFuse: Rock Legends photo
The road to rock stardom
My family is very musically inclined. My father sings, and my mother sings and plays guitar. My wife's family is also musical; playing piano, guitar, drums, etc. between her, her brother, father, aunt, and so on. When I was a...

 photo

This 'Gamer Song' is just as good as you think


Now is the time on Sprockets when we dance!
Nov 24
// Ian Bonds
German YouTuber ForbiddenNickname clearly loves videogames. So much so that he has penned what I'm sure he feels is the greatest gamer anthem in the history of ever. Your mileage may vary. In what is some sort of weird hybri...

Review: Stick It to the Man!

Nov 24 // Ian Bonds
Stick It to the Man! (PlayStation 3 [reviewed], PS Vita)Developer: Zoink!Publisher: RipstoneRelease Date: November 19, 2013 (PS3), Early December (Vita)MSRP: $12.99 (with Cross-Buy) Ray Doewood is a schlub unlike any other. His day job testing different hardhats isn't exactly spiritually fulfilling, but he's generally happy, living with his girlfriend Arlene. However, after removing his latest hardhat and heading home during a rainstorm he is struck on the noggin by a strange object, and once he comes to he finds he has a giant pink arm coming out of his head that only he can see. This strange new appendage allows Ray some cool abilities, such as reading people's thoughts, and taking items or even the very thoughts of people as stickers to use around the world. The game is deliciously self aware, referencing the fact that the world looks two-dimensional, or even that it may all be paper (a pilot references that he's flying a paper plane in the rain early in the game, respawn checkpoints are machines called "Mr. Copy" that re-draw Ray into the game). There's tons of nods not only to general platformer tropes -- such as Ray's house being "all the way to the left" or how much jumping he has to do to get home from work -- but also sly references to Mario and Luigi, and even a flat-out mention of Silver Surfer for NES in one characters inner monologue. But the cleverness isn't only in the scripting. [embed]266040:51478:0[/embed] While at its heart the game performs like a platformer, with Ray's noodle brain-arm grabbing push pins around the world to get to higher ground or pulling down walls to reveal what's inside buildings, the majority of the game is puzzle-based. Ray must use his new-found abilities to find clues to solve problems, like helping a family of clowns perfect a high-dive act, or using an Opera singer's fear of the mob to slip past a road block. Many of the puzzles are inter-woven, so one puzzle's solution will give you a sticker you need for a puzzle you may have discovered previously in the chapter that you couldn't solve at the time. You must do this all while avoiding secret agents, hell-bent on getting whatever it is Ray has in his head that gave him these abilities. See, they know what fell on him, and the shadowy mastermind behind it all known only as The Man -- who is actually cleverly NEVER seen out of the shadows -- wants it back. Desperately. Luckily, some of these agents are tired, so you can grab their thoughts of sleep to make them snooze briefly, or even Rays face from their thoughts and slap it on another agent to make them chase him while you slip away unnoticed. The idea of reading thoughts and grabbing stickers formed by those thoughts is fantastic, and that coupled with the art style makes this look like the greatest Psychonauts/Paper Mario: Sticker Star mashup ever. In fact, I had to check a few times to see if Tim Schafer wasn't involved in this game in some capacity. The dialogue is so sharp and so funny that I actually laughed out loud several times while playing, even replaying several sections to hear certain dialogue points again. Even the levels are funny, from your standard stroll through a city, to escaping an asylum, and even the eventual trip through Ray's shattered psyche, each mission is inspired and rife with minds to read and puzzles to uncover. Each character you meet has a cool little backstory and is fully voiced, with some you may need to reads the minds of a few times to fully get what they may be looking for. I spent most of the game just listening in on people's thoughts...even dead people still had functioning brains you could eavesdrop. If there is one gripe I have with the game, it's that sometimes grabbing the right item with the head-arm (arm-head?) isn't as precise as I'd like it to be. Often I grabbed a pushpin when I was aiming for an agent's thoughts and popped up behind him and got zapped. I hope that on Vita you can just use the touch-screen to tap your subject to slap a sticker or swing around. That said, it didn't happen often, and it was really more of being being sloppy with the controls than the controls being sloppy. I just needed to aim better. If you haven't caught on, I enjoyed the ever-loving crap out of this game. From the cast of zany characters -- many of whom you may think are throwaways only for them to show up again in later levels -- to the crazy art style, level and puzzle design, and whimsically hilarious script. Everything is pitch-perfect. And while Stick It to the Man! isn't a particularly long title (it may only take you between three to five hours to complete the game's ten chapters) there's loads to observe and listen in on, and dozens of minds per level to explore, leaving you wanting more. I couldn't get enough of it. Man, I really want more.
Stick it to the Man! photo
What am I thinking?
If you know me, you know what a big comedy fan I am. Comedy is kind of my whole life, my passion, my raison d'etre, if you will. Videogames are obviously one of my other passions. So, when the two meet, I tend to be very hope...

Injustice photo
Injustice

Injustice: Gods Among Us finally available for Android


No longer an Injustice
Nov 21
// Ian Bonds
Warner Brothers Interactive announced today that Injustice: Gods Among Us is finally available for Android devices as a free download via Google Play, and will also be available through the Amazon Appstore soon. Previously o...
BandFuse photo
BandFuse

BandFuse: Rock Legends tracklist revealed


55-song list includes tracks from the '60s to today
Nov 12
// Ian Bonds
Realta Entertainment has revealed its star-studded track list for the upcoming BandFuse: Rock Legends, and it's an interesting mix. While standard rock songs from Pearl Jam, Rush, and Heart are expected, there's a smattering ...
BandFuse photo
BandFuse

BandFuse: Rock Legends announces final in-game mentor


Children of Bodom's Alexi Laiho
Nov 11
// Ian Bonds
BandFuse: Rock Legends, the music videogame that claims to transform players into real-world guitarists, bassists, and vocalists using legendary rockers, has announced its eighth and final in-game mentor: Alexi "Wildchild" L...

Impressions: Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams (Wii U)

Nov 03 // Ian Bonds
Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams (Wii U)Developer: Black Forest GamesPublisher: Black Forest GamesRelease: September 5, 2013 MSRP: $14.99 On the surface level, there's not much different between the version we reviewed last year and the version now available on the Wii U. The dream-switch mechanic is still at the heart of the adventure, with each level hinging on its precise usage to traverse obstacles in every world. Switching between the "cute" and "punk" versions of the sisters changes how the entire world looks, and the music also switches to fit the personalities of each sister. The game is beautiful in HD on the Wii U. The stark diversity between the two worlds is breath-taking, and the colors and characters pop with eye-catching contrast. Likewise, the score is fantastic, and the differences with how the same theme changes styles with the dream-switch interface is truly inspired. However, if that becomes too distracting, you can choose to have the music remain the same through the switches. So, what does the Wii U version do differently? For starters, there's an "easy" mode available, which offers a lot more checkpoints mid-level, and allows for the boss levels to not be kept behind locks dependent on how many gems you obtain in the previous missions. Granted, Giana Sisters' easy mode is everyone else's "normal" mode, but if you're really sadistic, there's also the unlockable Score Attack, Time Attack, Hardcore, and Uber Hardcore modes from the previous versions, ready to blister your thumbs off your hands. There's also a ton of gallery images unlocked when you grab large gems, if you're in to that kind of thing. Control using the GamePad is perfect, as switching between the two personas is seamless and fluid, either through use of the right Z-trigger, or the dash or spin moves. There's even Off-TV GamePad play, though all is not perfect. Currently there's no audio for the Off-TV mode. Black Forest says this should be fixed with its next patch, which is due any day now. Also, while switching between sisters is seamless in-game, the actual load times for each level before you start are very long. All that said, however, you've still got an excellent, beautiful platformer for the Wii U. If you haven't picked up any of its other iterations, this is the perfect time to do so, and the perfect platform to do it on.
Giana Sisters photo
Twisted Sisters
Last year, after a very successful Kickstarter campaign, Black Forest Games was able to take what started as a Mario rip-off with the Great Giana Sisters and turn it into a unique, beautiful platformer. After being one o...

Review: Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate

Oct 31 // Ian Bonds
Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate (3DS, PS Vita [reviewed])Developer: Armature StudiosPublisher: Warner Brothers GamesRelease Date: October 25, 2013MSRP: $39.99 Blackgate begins with ol' Batsy running into (and chasing) Catwoman after he seemingly stumbles on to her robbing some government facility. After a brief tutorial as you chase Catwoman up a few buildings, he catches her and sends her to Blackgate Prison. Soon, he realizes the prison may be a bit too rough an environment for a mere thief. In exchange for her safety, she strikes a deal with him to provide intel while he infiltrates the prison, as its three most notorious -- and recent -- inmates have taken over. Penguin, Black Mask, and the Joker are each running a section of the prison, and Batman must traverse each one, fighting prison gangs and obtaining random WayneTech weapons hidden around. The plot is a fairly thin one, but it serves well enough to get you into Blackgate, and lays out the gameplay for Metroidvania fetch quests scattered around each section of the prison. The map is set up in such a way that you can chose whichever section you wish to start in, but invariably you'll have to backtrack and head to another area to find an item needed to advance. And there is a lot of backtracking. [embed]264434:51122:0[/embed] That's the problem with Blackgate right from the outset: no matter where you start, you end up having to go to a different section before you can complete the first. The game advertises that you can defeat the three main villains in any order, which by the time you unlock everything is mostly true, but it's never how you set out at the beginning. As you maneuver your way through the halls and ducts of the prison, you'll come across inmates that you'll naturally have to fight. This is where the 2.5D perspective loses some of its allure. While the camera may shift while walking so you can see around corners or down shafts, when in combat you may encounter enemies that are standing just above or below the plane you're on, making combat tricky. In the console versions, Batman could switch between targeted foes on the fly using the analog stick pointed in the direction he wanted to attack. That almost works here, but usually, you're just going to wail on the guy closest to you 'til they're down, as targeting doesn't quite have the finesse on the handheld as it does in the console version. At least the controller inputs are the same. That is to say, the button layout is the same, but sometimes the desired effect isn't quite there. Pressing the counter button requires accurate timing, and while it seemed like I had it in the console version, something felt off here. The same thing can be said for the cape stun, as pressing the button (especially when prompted in specific scenarios) only had it actually doing what it should about half of the time. Even when it did work, it would occasionally confuse Batman, and I'd end up facing away from the enemy I just stunned, allowing them to come-to by the time I turned around. Because of this, combat feels sloppy and hollow, and doesn't quite have the same punch as its bigger brother. Graphically, we run into a similar issue. While I already assumed it would be scaled down a bit for the handheld, there are noticeable effects that just end up being distracting. The standard look of the game is detailed and sharp, retaining a similar aesthetic to the console version. When zoomed in however, things get a little muddier. During dialogue sections facial animation is non-existent; characters flail about wildly as they speak and defeated enemies phase eerily into the floor. Cut scenes however make use of comic-strip-like animations, which are very well done...well, except for the voice acting and terrible dialogue. Even by comic-book standards, this is very hokey. There are a few new features in the game, utilizing the touch screens of the handhelds. Detective vision is activated by tapping the screen, and you can scan the environment by running your finger (or stylus) over the screen to search around for clues or learn helpful information about how to get past certain obstacles such as grates that can be popped with a well-aimed batarang. It's a minor feature, but one of the neater additions to the game. However, when it comes right down to it, Blackgate is just a bit on the boring side. Since the combat is so uneven, fights either get frustrating due to poor control input or end up being over too quickly. Sneaking up on foes for silent takedowns can be ludicrously easy in one section, and nigh impossible in another. Dropping from the rafters just doesn't have the same effect as it does in the console version, as the camera barely pans back enough to get the scope of the room, let alone the height of the ceiling in certain areas isn't even enough to stay hidden from most sightlines. The worst problem, however, is all the backtracking is needlessly empty. Once foes are defeated, they're gone for good. I'm never usually a fan of respawning enemies, but running through corridor after corridor of bleak, prison-gray nothingness just gets tedious after a while without something to do other than just traveling. Not to mention the fact that the in-game map is pretty much useless. The icons don't effectively define where you've been, what needs to be done, or what the icons even mean. They just show you a general way to go, but not really how to get anywhere, or even what floor of a building you're on. Just terrible. I really wanted to like Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate. It took a style of game I enjoy, but put everything together inside it so shoddily I wondered if a little more development time wouldn't have served this game better. However, since the console version of Origins is as buggy as it is, I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that Blackgate feels just as unfinished and sloppy. At least it doesn't take more than five hours to beat.
Blackgate review photo
Dull detective
Batman: Arkham Origins tries to tell the tale of how the Dark Knight was first introduced to many of his iconic foes. It was built on the groundwork of previous games in the series, and while the story may have faltered a bit...

 photo

Celebrate flosstober with 'Luigi's Mansion With Lyrics'


brentalfloss does it again
Oct 31
// Ian Bonds
Internet impresario brentalfloss has done it again, taking yet another videogame theme song and adding his incomparable lyrical styling to it. For his yearly Halloween event (which he dubs "flosstober") he's taken the music ...
Walking Dead Season 2 photo
Walking Dead Season 2

Telltale posts Walking Dead Season 2 teaser image


All the feels are resurfacing
Oct 28
// Ian Bonds
Late Sunday night, Telltale Games posted a picture on their Facebook page with the caption "Keep that hair short." According to the text on the image, something to do with The Walking Dead Season Two will happen on ...

Review: Star Wars Pinball: Balance of the Force

Oct 23 // Ian Bonds
Star Wars Pinball: Balance of the Force (Google Play, iOS, PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, Xbox 360 [reviewed])Developer: Zen StudiosPublisher: Zen StudiosRelease date: October 14, 2013MSRP: $9.99 (PSN and XBLA), $1.99 per table (App Store and Google Play) The Star Wars franchise was a perfect choice for a set of pinball tables, and is arguably one of the best sets Zen Studios released for Pinball FX2. Once again, it is offering three themed tables, each filled with unique sets of trials, challenges, and special events that just wouldn't be able to occur on a real table in the arcades of yore. Full of the iconic sights and sounds of the films, there's a lot to take in with this set, and each table is better than the last. We'll start with the Episode VI table. Set on Endor, many of the elements of the last half of the film are represented, with the Empire base (complete with AT-ST guarding the front) and biker scouts lining the sides. Bright and vibrant, this table has the most ramps, nooks, and tricks to keep you playing, attempting to best your high score with each turn. As before, there are various places to lock or lose you ball, and multiple paths that trigger specific scenes reminiscent of the film. Since this table is based on one particular film and not just elements from the series, you'll hear a lot of specific lines of dialogue recreated here. None of the original actors' performances are used, and some are just trying too hard to sound like they came from the movie. It's a bit jarring, and sadly, on this table especially, you hear a lot of repeated dialogue. Thankfully, this is my only issue with the table. As with all three of the tables, multiple routes along the lanes and ramps yield multipliers that unlock special missions; ones that often take you outside of the playing field of the pinball table. One such example on the Episode VI table has you maneuvering a speeder bike using the flippers, trying to either steer around trees by flinging the ball down the right or left lane at the front of the bike, or down the center to fire your blaster. It's a bit disorienting, but a neat little diversion -- though some folks may not like the separation from the table game itself. The next table is based on the series' iconic villain (or centerpiece, if you allow the prequels to direct that idea), Darth Vader. Offset in blacks, reds, and chrome, this table is one of the coolest looking. Alas, it is also one of the blandest, feature-wise. There's not a whole lot of ramps or instances to encounter at first glance, but with time and skill, there are still a lot of cool bits to uncover. From the outset, you can chose to begin with the assemblage of Vader on the operating table by directing the pinball into a series of robotic arms used to build the Sith lord. From there, scoring allows you the opportunity to battle through such iconic set-pieces as the lightsaber duel with Obi-Wan, or even a trench battle on the Death Star. Swerving your way around pillars using the flippers is again utilized, but somehow manages to be more frantic on this table. Finally, there's my favorite table, Starfighter Assault. Split down the center, you choose to play as an Imperial Tie-Fighter or a Rebel Alliance X-Wing pilot, which determines which side of the table your ball is launched from. Missions vary depending on which side you chose, but there's always a ton of things going on. Bumpers are connected to blaster turrets, and X-Wings and Tie-Fighters zoom over the table to be blasted down during play. This table is arguably the most interactive, as you can actually earn upgrades during play to boost your turrets, your "fleet" of ships, and even the jackpot scores. As before, there's missions that take you away from the table, but this time around, it's a mock-up of the classic Galaga, with you controlling the direction of the ship with the flippers, and firing lasers with the launch button. I actually enjoy the moments where the action left the traditional pinball game, but I know not everyone shares my affinity for these sequences. Regardless of that, the tables as a whole are fantastic to play. There's so many different paths to find, skill shots to master, and challenges to unlock that you may not even see half of what they offer even on your 50th playthrough. It's impossible not to have fun with these tables, unless you just don't like Star Wars at all, or pinball. For those who do, these tables are the cream of the crop, offering everything you want not only in a Star Wars pinball game, but in a pinball game more generally.
Star Wars Pinball photo
I sense much TILT in you...
Back in February, Zen Studios released three tables based on the Star Wars series, adding to the already vast library of tables for Pinball FX2. They were fantastic, diverse, and just as feature-rich as the other tables for the game. Many believed it would be hard for the studio to match that collection. These newest tables not only match the previous set but manage to surpass it.

 photo

Deadly Premonition: Director's Cut: UE now on PSN


Download the FK out of it
Oct 19
// Ian Bonds
Deadly Premonition, Jim Sterling's favorite game of all time is now available on PlayStation Network, containing all the material from the Director's Cut that was released earlier this year plus all the previously released do...

Review: Atomic Ninjas

Oct 17 // Ian Bonds
Atomic Ninjas (PlayStation 3, PS Vita [reviewed])Developer: Grip GamesPublisher: Grip GamesReleased: October 8, 2013MSRP: $9.99 Cooking metaphors aside, the story of Atomic Ninjas breaks down like this: a security guard at a nuclear plant falls asleep on the big red button and the planet goes boom. Ninjas, using their natural survival instincts, are altered, and...um...must fight each other. For reasons. And that's it. I hope you weren't looking for more plot or depth than that, because you just ain't getting it, Johnny. In fact beyond that intro, the only interaction you have with "characters" is the sensei in the tutorial. There are no alternate characters to select to play as, either -- you're just a ninja, fighting other ninjas. There are costumes to chose from, but only once you increase your rank through battles. The main game plays out like Super Smash Bros.; you and three other players are let loose in an arena and must beat the living snot out of each other until they succumb to being flung into a pit and die. There are three weapons to chose from (punch, shuriken, and force grab -- used to chuck boxes at foes) and three gadgets (grappling hook, wall claw, and rocket) that allow you to travel around the arena and basically push your opponents to their doom. [embed]263693:50962:0[/embed] The game is built for multiplayer -- and not much else. You choose an arena, a game mode including the standard deathmatch, team deathmatch, king of the hill, and capture the flag, and try to connect to a room to duke it out with other folk. However the matchmaking is a bit lacking, as often times I would choose a room to play only for it to wind up already being full, or not really there. While fighting your opponents is the whole point of Atomic Ninjas, its execution is hampered by a poor camera and minimalist attacks. The camera is zoomed in on you, and never zooms out, so you never know if you're leaping (or swinging, or rocket-blasting) towards a foe, or a large pit in the floor. Thankfully in the games where there is a goal such as capture the flag, a small arrow points to where you need to go. Once you find a foe, you spam the attack button until they're pushed away. The shurikens are pretty effective, but using the right analog stick to aim while pressing the right trigger for your attack is a bit cumbersome, especially when trying to leap around, or hit a target that is also leaping around. The punches are usually the most effective and when timed right can knock shurikens away from hitting you. At least the game looks nice. The character models are cute and colorful, and the arenas are varied, even if there's not many to choose from. The layout can be confusing the first time you play through due to the camera, but once you learn where the hazards are, you can travel through them well enough. I will say that each stage seems a bit small at times, and the cramped camera angle doesn't help that. There is a single-player mode, but it's basically just a practice arena (strangely labeled "quick match") where you fight against bots rather than live players. It's effective if you're taking the game on the go or just can't connect in multiplayer, but the AI is a little high on the difficulty at times. There's at least cross-buy and cross-play included, so you can feel lonely when the room doesn't connect on either system of choice. The main problem with Atomic Ninjas is that there's just not enough to do. Each battle has Ninja Trials: different objectives to be completed during matches, such as killing three foes with shurikens, or stealing opponents weapons after defeat. While those help vary how you play each level, the limited number of weapons, gadgets, and especially arenas make the quick play even quicker, as I found myself getting bored doing essentially the same thing over and over. Still, there were minimal rewards as I leveled up, as different costumes and abilities were unlocked, but not enough to keep me playing for long periods of time. Atomic Ninjas isn't really a bad game, nor is it a good one. It just sort of exists. What the title does it does competently, but there's not enough options or variety to warrant many matches, unless you're absolutely dying for some multiplayer brawling on the cheap. It's inoffensive and fun, but like the radiation, only in small doses.
Atomic Ninjas photo
Pint-sized punches
Ninjas and explosions: two great tastes that you would think taste great together, right? Throw them in a pot, mix with weapons, gadgets, and frenetic multiplayer action, and you have a recipe for an awesome adventure. Sadly, I don't think this one cooked long enough.

Review: Scribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure

Oct 05 // Ian Bonds
Scribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure (Wii U [reviewed], 3DS, PC)Developer: 5th CellPublisher: Warner Brothers GamesReleased: September 24, 2013MSRP: $59.99 (Wii U), $39.99 (3DS, PC) So, how did the world of DC Comics and the game of Scribblenauts come together? For the uninitiated, Scribblenauts centers around Maxwell and Lily, a brother and sister who each posses a magical item. Max's notebook can conjure up anything he writes in it, and Lily's globe can take them to any location. Maxwell gets the brilliant idea to slap a page from his notebook with "Gotham City" written on it onto the globe to be taken to their world. Unfortunately, the word "Doppleganger" was somehow on the back of this paper, and Maxwell's evil twin is let loose in the DC Universe, joining up with the villains. After a chance meeting with Batman, they are all now in search of the starite bits that escaped from Lily's globe that broke when they landed in Gotham City. As you complete tasks around town you earn reputation, which allows you to unlock more cities from the DCU. Metropolis, Oa, Atlantis, and more are all available. Tasks range from the simple to the bizarre, such as a guy who wants to be taken to the Wayne Manor roof where there is a trap door ... that leads nowhere, or the security guard who simply wants a glass of ice water. At Wayne Manor, Batman and Alfred give Maxwell access to the Batcomputer where he can pull up just about everything in the DCU for use in the game. Want to call upon Green Lantern? You can either write his name in the notebook, or pull him up via the Batcomputer. But that's not all, oh no. You can also specify which version of Green Lantern, be it Hal Jordan, Guy Gardener, Kyle Raynor, Jon Stewart -- the level of detail in the minuscule facts of the characters are amazing. [embed]253724:48672:0[/embed] If you're playing on Wii U or PC, the Batcave also houses the Hero Creator, where you can design your own heroes for summoning in the game. Want to make some Marvel hero look-a-likes? Sad that Neil Gaiman's Sandman isn't in the game? Make them here. There are loads of tools and outfits available. When in a mission, however, is when the game starts to fall apart. While there are tons of words in the game that can be used to conjure up items, heroes, and more, how they act in the game tends to be hit or miss. Want Superman to melt some ice with his heat vision? Well, you can summon him, but he may just stand there. Likewise, tapping on the ice and using the word "melt" makes it drip, but it never really melts away. It's as though the game promotes creativity, but only the creativity the programmers designed into it. The game's main story missions are the most fun, where you'll interact with the characters from the comics and stop the villains from grabbing the starite bits, utilizing the book in the coolest scenarios. However, the instances between these where you earn your reputation points only seem to be menial tasks at best, used to stretch out the game length. Some don't even make any sense, and by the time you've figured out what you're supposed to do, some instances end without warning, such as the man beating up the guy dressed as Julius Caesar. By the time I figured out how to stop them, Caesar was dead, and there's no way to reload the instance as they're all randomly generated as it is. Sadly, these types of puzzles must be completed, as the reputation you earn unlocks more places to find starite missions, but hopping from place to place usually opens up better missions if you don't like or can't figure out the ones you have presently. Also, you can only earn half of the reputation points for a task if you use a word you've already used on that map. Switching areas helps negate that. From time to time, Mr. Mxyzptlk appears and issues a challenge for that level, such as not allowing you to solve any puzzles using a weapon, or only using words that begin with a certain letter. This certainly opens up the creativity, and these are some of the best moments of the game for me as it presented me with a more challenging way to solve things. However, I still would run into trouble with finding just the right way to solve certain tasks, as certain puzzles seemed to only want one answer. Scaring a snake was one such puzzle, and summoning a mongoose really was the only option. Playing on the Wii U is kind of a silly thing, as you spend the entire game looking at the GamePad rather than up at the TV screen, so the HD graphics don't really make much of an impression, though they are fantastic if you do happen to look up. There's an option to switch everything to the GamePad to free up the TV, which I highly recommend since you'll never really need the TV to begin with. Scribblenauts Unmasked, when it boils down to it, is a good idea wrapped in poor execution. The main missions for grabbing the starites are fun, but the puzzles that you need to complete to gain reputation to unlock those missions seem to be there to stretch the game to it's 8-12 hour length. The inclusion of the DC license is very cool, and the level of detail included with all the characters, vehicles, and lore is astounding, allowing the player to spend a ton of time in the Batcomputer checking out everything in the game, plus the familiar characters done in the Scribblenauts style is just so frikkin' cute that it's sickening. Still, getting everyone or everything to behave how you want in a mission or a puzzle makes thing just extra aggravating. Though there is a certain amount of satisfaction when summoning Aquaman and having the game tell you "Aquaman is not useful here." Ain't that the truth.
 photo
Not so heroic...
When they announced that the next Scribblenauts game would include characters and settings from the DC Comics Universe, I was excited. That's a lot of history to pull from, and with Scribblenauts' reputation of including tons...

 photo

The Daily Hotness: Artsy Fartsy


Check out everything Destructoid did today
Oct 02
// Ian Bonds
Yeah, I think this bit of art from the upcoming Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Two Worlds is my new desktop image. Today, Conrad and Jordan brought us another Wake Up!, this time with Eldritch, Chris gave us some very quick ...
Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate photo
Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate

Impressions: Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate


Third time's the...same?
Sep 30
// Ian Bonds
"If at first you don't succeed..." is an interesting business model, especially considering that Dead or Alive 5 wasn't really a "failure," per se. However, try, try again Team Ninja did, and we are now treated to a third version of this particular entry in the franchise. When it all boils down to it, does Ultimate really make that big of a difference?
 photo

The Daily Hotness: Joss, Give Me A Season


Check out everything Destructoid did today
Sep 25
// Ian Bonds
So, just about everyone watched the premiere of Agents of SHIELD last night. 11.9 million people tuned in to the new series, and I was one of them. And I loved it. I think it did a great job of introducing us to the new char...
 photo

The Daily Hotness: Echos


Check out everything Destructoid did today
Sep 18
// Ian Bonds
I saw Dr Awkward open for mc chris a few weeks ago, and he did this AMAZING song about The Last of Us called "Echos". I just managed to track the song down on YouTube, and I've been bumping it on repeat for the past hour. To...
 photo

The Daily Hotness: Waffle


Check out everything Destructoid did today
Sep 11
// Ian Bonds
This is the pinnacle of the internet. We may as well pack it in. On Dtoid, Conrad and Jordan check in with another Daily Spelunk, Alasdair reviewed MirrorMoon EP, Chris gave his impressions of the Disney Infinity Cars add-on...
 photo

The Daily Hotness: Cabinet


Check out everything Destructoid did today
Sep 04
// Ian Bonds
A few weeks ago, I attended BitGen Gamer Fest: a day-long concert sponsored by MAGfest in Baltimore featuring artists such as Rare Candy, The Megas, The X-Hunters, and MegaRan, and hosted by brentalfloss. It was an awesome s...
 photo

The Weekend Hotness: Dragon Con and PAX


Check out everything Destructoid did this weekend
Sep 01
// Ian Bonds
This was just a huge weekend for cons. Both Dragon Con and PAX Prime were this weekend, and have a bunch of info from both. This weekend, we got a look at a lot of cosplay pictures from Dragon Con, a ton of video game preview...

Review: Open Me!

Aug 31 // Ian Bonds
Open Me! (PlayStation Vita)Developer: SCE Studios JapanPublisher: Sony Computer EntertainmentReleased: August 13, 2013MSRP: $9.99 Do you still have those laminated AR cards that came with your Vita? Well, brush the dust off, because you finally have a worthwhile reason to use them. If not, Open Me! doesn't really need one, as any flat surface with a discernible pattern on it will work, but it's infinitely easier to play if an AR card is present. Basically, the game uses the Vita's camera to drop a box onto whatever surface the AR card is sitting on, and you use the touchscreen to interact with it -- pulling, poking, and swiping at the box until it opens. The Vita's camera basically acts as a magnifying glass, allowing you to observe the box from just about every angle and move in close for inspection to discern how exactly each device opens.  [embed]260336:50085:0[/embed] It's a simple premise, and one that works surprisingly well. The variety of puzzle boxes is fantastic, utilizing multiple locks, switches, even a camera that as it watches you, turns the box to prevent you from seeing behind it. Figuring out each puzzle in the quickest amount of time to open the box nets you a higher score and ranking on the leaderboards. Each box is unique and while the game won't win any awards for graphics, no two boxes are the same and each one is more complex than the last. That said, this is not a title you will simply sit and play. You almost have to get up and move around the box to see every angle, every possibility, and while it may not be the most relaxing title -- or one you could play on the bus or toilet -- it certainly gets the immersion down because of it. However, because you move so much, this increases the chances that the Vita's camera won't always see the AR card. If it moves out of range, the box disappears off the screen, and the game takes a moment to readjust once you get the card back in frame. It takes even longer if you're not using an AR card, as it uses about 40 separate points on the pattern in frame to keep the box firmly in "reality". Despite this minor flaw, however, the puzzles themselves are what kept me playing. Admittedly, augmented reality games are a bit of a novelty, and that novelty can wear thin relatively quickly. In Open Me!, however, each puzzle is fresh, making the whole experience one surprise after another. Some boxes required multiple buttons to be pressed at the same time, switches that must be flipped in a certain order, even finger slicing blades that block you from hitting keys all require you to, if you'll pardon the obvious pun, think outside the box. There are 12 packs of puzzles, with four boxes in each pack. Buying the full game gets you all 48 different boxes, but there's also the option to download the demo for free which gives you the tutorial level, with the option to buy each puzzle pack separately for 99 cents each. There's a multiplayer option too, where two players solve a puzzle box co-operatively, but clearly, this only works in ad hoc with the players in the same room. Every box you solve earns you XP, which in turn can be used to obtain complex parts to devise your own boxes. Creating your own challenge box is fairly straight forward, and you can share them online with other players. Earn enough XP to create more complex boxes and climb the leaderboards with your insane, mind-numbing creations, or solve the crazy contraptions that others have made for even more XP. Eventually, there will be even more puzzle packs released as well. Open Me! was a surprise. Most augmented reality games are fun for a few minutes, but after the initial novelty wears off you may not pick it up again. Here, despite the occasional odd angle I had to maneuver myself into (all while my wife laughed at me as I circled a seemingly empty table) I found I couldn't put the game down, as I tried to beat my time and unlock more boxes. It's simple, yet challenging, and although it seems low-tech, it actually gives you some rather high-tech contraptions to overcome. It's not just one of the best AR games available, but one of the most fun, challenging, and satisfying puzzle titles on the Vita in general.
Open Me! photo
You took the box! Let's see what's in the box!
Augmented Reality games tend to be very hit or miss, with the majority falling squarely in the "miss" category. Either they don't quite fit well within the reality setting, or they don't do enough to capture your attention to...

 photo

The Daily Hotness: Have You Seen This Yet?


Check out everything Destructoid did today
Aug 30
// Ian Bonds
I love fan-made movies. They're not always great, but the heart is there. And when they ARE well made, they're awesome. This, this is awesome. Today, we had a lot of previews from PAX. You know, since today was the first day...
 photo

The Daily Hotness: Back in the Game


Check out everything Destructoid did today
Aug 29
// Ian Bonds
GTA is a few weeks away. It's not close enough...no sir, not enough. Ahem. PAX is this weekend. Once again, I'm unable to attend. It's barely begun and gaming news from the event is already trickling in. Tomorrow, the floodg...
 photo

The Daily Hotness: Saints Row IV REVIEWSICAL!


Check out everything Destructoid did today
Aug 21
// Ian Bonds
So, in case you hadn't heard, I write songs about video games. And occasionally, I review games here at Dtoid (my review of Open Me! will be up later this week). Well, thanks to my pals in Fortress of Attitude, I got the ide...
 photo

The Daily Hotness: United Saints of America


Check out everything Destructoid did today
Aug 14
// Ian Bonds
Today, Jim reviewed Saints Row IV and deemed it awesome. I agree. Definitely worth picking up on the 20th. You'll be the most badass President since Bill Pullman in Independence Day. Also, other things happened, like communi...

Impressions: Urban Trial Freestyle (3DS)

Aug 13 // Ian Bonds
Urban Trial Freestyle (3DS, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita)Developer: Tate InteractivePublisher: Strangelands Ltd.Released: June 27, 2013MSRP: $6.99 The main layout of the title remains relatively the same; get generic biker dude from point A to point B on his motorcycle while accelerating, braking, flipping, rotating, and generally jumping around like a goon while you try to top your best score through each puzzle-like level. There are technically 40 levels in total, though you're actually traipsing through 20 levels in a stunt run, then the same 20 in a speed run. Along the way you'll collect money bags spread around which allow you to buy upgrades for your bike and outfits for the rider. [embed]257958:49553:0[/embed] As in the PlayStation versions, Urban Trial is fun enough, but never quite reaches the same heights of Trials HD due to the repetitive level maps -- though it's still a serviceable title. The "events" that happen in certain levels to change the terrain are cool, the leaderboards add to the need to top scores, but at times the game seems a bit on the easy side. Even with a few mistakes, you can get three out of five stars on just about every level, making unlocking the next and moving ahead a breeze. In fact, for a while I didn't think you could even get any lower than three stars, as I unlocked all the levels in just a few hours with minimal backtracking. Graphically, the 3DS version doesn't quite hold up to the PS3 or Vita versions, but that's to be expected. The backgrounds are still the standout feature, showcasing a sharply detailed desolate and apocalyptic backdrop to the crazy runaway trains and boulders that randomly breeze through the levels. The 3D is implemented well, too, though the character model on the biker himself is a but fuzzy, which hinders the 3D a bit. As for the exclusive track editor, you get what you expect: a minimal experience at best. There's a wide variety of set pieces to choose from, but sadly no real rhyme or reason to their organization. Also, placing items or rotating them for placement is a tedious event, as control varies between touch screen and d-pad without any indication of which is necessary for either task. Also, inexplicably, there's no way to share any of the tracks you create online. They simply are there for you, and you alone. Urban Trial Freestyle isn't a bad game -- there's just not much to it. The 3DS version doesn't vary much from the other versions, but the few differences are noticeable. The one draw, the track editor, is a fine distraction, but it's missing a few key elements. If you already have the PS3 or Vita version, the track editor may not be reason enough to pick up the 3DS version, but as far as physics-based motorcycle stunt games, you can't do much worse.
Urban Trial photo
The so-so Trials HD clone comes to 3DS
Back in February, PlayStation 3 and Vita owners finally got their taste of the motorcycle madness found in the Trials HD series that Xbox owners have been enjoying for years. Sadly, Urban Trial Freestyle just didn't seem to h...

 photo

The Daily Hotness: I WANT THIS LUNCHBOX


Check out everything Destructoid did today
Aug 07
// Ian Bonds
Also, the game. Especially the golden NES cartidge version. But yeah. Ducktales. WANT. Today, stuff happened. There was a Nintendo Direct. I dunno, I lost track of it all after seeing this lunchbox and knowing I don't have on...
 photo

The Daily Hotness: Game Of All The Years


Check out everything Destructoid did today
Jul 24
// Ian Bonds
Dale informed us of this title, set to be the Goaty (or Game Of All The Years). I am excite. Or something. Okay, maybe not. But it's a thing that exists, apparently. A couple of other things of note happened today, including...
 photo

The Daily Hotness: Aw Yea-uh!


Check out everything Destructoid did today
Jul 17
// Ian Bonds
Regular Show is one of my favorite cartoons on now. To say I'm excited about the 8-bit adventure they have coming up is an understatement. Steven's preview has me even more excited. Steven also gave us previews of the WiiU v...

  Around the web (login to improve these)




Back to Top


We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -