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Review: Road Not Taken photo
Review: Road Not Taken
by Chris Carter

The term "roguelike" gets way too much airtime these days. If anything has permadeath, it's instantly a roguelike. If it takes place in a dungeon -- "roguelike!" But the original Rogue's core mechanical element was its grid-based gameplay, where every action by the player warranted an equal and opposite reaction, adding a puzzle element to the mix. 

Road Not Taken operates very closely to the formula of the original Rogue, but doesn't really hold that premise as well as it should throughout.

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Review: Call of Duty: Ghosts: Nemesis photo
Review: Call of Duty: Ghosts: Nemesis
by Chris Carter

Look, $50 is a lot of money for a Season Pass in a first-person shooter. If it was just comprised of 16 maps alone, no matter how good they were, it probably wouldn't be worth the money for all but the most diehard of FPS fans.

But thankfully, Infinity Ward has made amends for the rather bland core package of Call of Duty: Ghosts, and the Nemesis map pack is no exception. In addition to four solid maps, there's another chapter of Extinction, the developer's out-of-this-world take on Treyarch's zombies.

Because of these packs, I'm actually a bit more excited for Infinity Ward's follow-up in two year's time.

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Review: Sacred 3 photo
Review: Sacred 3
by Alasdair Duncan

"I love it."

The specter of Diablo looms large over the action-RPG genre; most games borrow heavily from Blizzard's seminal game and those games' success is usually judged on how close they stick to the formula and how well they execute on that.

"Oh baby."

While it's tempting to praise a game for breaking away from some of the genre's conventions in order to make itself stand out from the crowd, Sacred 3 has stripped away so many of the things that make an APRG fun. Stats? Pretty much gone. Loot? Almost none. A really enjoyable combat system? Nope.

"Sexy!"

Oh, and there's people talking wince-inducing garbage over the whole thing.

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Review: Steel Empire photo
Review: Steel Empire
by Chris Carter

Steel Empire is a game that not many people were able to experience, sadly. As a child, you likely only had access to either a Super Nintendo or Sega Genesis, which cut out a ton of potential classics for you to play and cherish as time's cold embrace passed you by.

I was very lucky to experience it for a few brief days attending a friend's house many years ago, and now, thanks to the magic of porting, everyone can give it a go on the 3DS. As long as the price point isn't too rich for your blood, you should jump on this opportunity.

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Review: Gods Will Be Watching photo
Review: Gods Will Be Watching
by Alasdair Duncan

Gods Will Be Watching is a tough game. It puts the player in positions that they'd rather not be in and asks them to make difficult choices. In order to succeed at a mission, you may have to do unthinkable things, betray your morals, and become a monster just to survive a little longer.

It's also tough in another sense: the game is bloody hard. 

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Review: Battle Princess of Arcadias photo
Review: Battle Princess of Arcadias
by Kyle MacGregor

A pastime needn't necessarily be transcendent to make for an experience enjoyable. So long as there's a hook, something to keep one captivated throughout the journey's duration, it's easy enough to look beyond some frayed edges and just enjoy the ride.

In the case of Battle Princess of Arcadias, the hook never really manifests. The action role-playing game casts out some nice ideas, but none are quite compelling enough to really reel one in.

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Review in Progress: Hearthstone: Curse of Naxxramas photo
Review in Progress: Hearthstone: Curse of Naxxramas
by Chris Carter

When many Warcraft fans hear the name Naxxramas, it conjures up memories of late nights and pizza, while taking on the tough-as-nails raid in World of Warcraft (or as I know it, Naxx). It was one of the most enjoyable areas of the franchise lore-wise, as it focused on some of the more nefarious villains in the series' realm.

Archlich Kel'Thuzad returns as the big bad in Hearthstone: Curse of Naxxramas, but you won't be able to fight him right away. Yep, that's right, each "wing" of the DLC will unlock over the course of five weeks, and although the first wing is free, each wing will cost in-game currency or real money.

It's an interesting way to deliver DLC, and so far, it's more than enough to get me back into Hearthstone.

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Review: Sokobond photo
Review: Sokobond
by Darren Nakamura

Chemistry is governed by a definite set of rules. Opposite charges attract, like dissolves like, matter is always conserved. There are more rules than just those, but one of the great things about the study of matter and its interactions is that if one truly understands the rules and laws governing chemicals, he can predict outcomes given a set of preconditions.

In that sense, Sokobond has even more in common with chemistry than it lets on. Though it boasts that no chemistry knowledge is required to play, it too runs on a specific set of rules, and any player who internalizes those rules can find success in-game. As a fortunate side effect, any who spend time connecting atoms in Sokobond might just learn something about chemistry too.

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Review: The Walking Dead Season 2: Amid the Ruins photo
Review: The Walking Dead Season 2: Amid the Ruins
by Chris Carter

The last episode of The Walking Dead was probably my favorite one yet -- and that's including all of Lee's tale from the first season. Clem has made the switch from tough to full-on badass depending on your choices, and it's clear that she is fully a part of some of the horrific life-or-death choices in the world.

Clem can no longer hold onto her innocence and fall back on her young appearance -- at this point, many decisions have been made that cannot be taken back, and the rest of the group is starting to notice it. That hook right there is what makes Amid the Ruins such a great tale, even if it doesn't have the same wow factor as its predecessor.

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Review: Dark Souls II: The Crown of the Sunken King photo
Review: Dark Souls II: The Crown of the Sunken King
by Chris Carter

2014 has been very good to me, but Dark Souls II is one of my favorite games of the year. Many debates have raged on as to whether or not it's as exceptional as its predecessor (Demon's Souls is better than both), but having played it prior to launch without any hints or guides, I heartily enjoyed getting lost in its labyrinthine tunnels and deadly arenas.

The Crown of the Sunken King DLC expands that goodness by about five to ten hours depending on your skill level, and even if it's one of the less remarkable levels in the game, it's still worth playing.

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Review: Squids Odyssey photo
Review: Squids Odyssey
by Darren Nakamura

Splatoon might be getting a lot of hype for Wii U squid battling, but it is not the first game featuring a squid squad to grace the console. Earlier this year, Squids made its jump from iOS to the Wii U with Squids Odyssey, and it even blazed a trail for cross buy on Nintendo systems.

Squids combines two disparate gameplay elements: tactical role-playing and skill-based slingshot physics. Squids Odyssey takes the original game, the sequel Squids Wild West, and adds in even more levels, characters, and hats into an impressively large package. That said, the package seems better suited for mobile than home console.

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Review: Oddworld: New 'n' Tasty photo
Review: Oddworld: New 'n' Tasty
by Chris Carter

One of the first games I ever played on PlayStation was Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee. I remember opening up the jewel case, adorned by a creepy looking creature with his mouth sewn shut, with no idea of what to expect. Over the course of the next few weeks I became acquainted with that creature called Abe, and slowly made my way through the difficult puzzle platformer at a slow, but steady pace.

2014's New N' Tasty is basically a recreation of that same experience from 1997, for better and for worse.

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Review: Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn (Patch 2.3) photo
Review: Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn (Patch 2.3)
by Chris Carter

The last time we left off in our assessment of Final Fantasy XIV's patch 2.3, I had experienced most of the tertiary level content, ready to face off against the big boss Ramuh himself in his true form, alongside of playing more Frontlines PVP and of course, more hunting.

Over the past week and a half I've tried just about everything there is to try, and I found that overall, it's getting people to do a diverse array of content -- as opposed to 2.2 which generally funneled people into a few venues. It's not the most balanced patch, but it adds a ton of stuff to do other than grind out end-game tokens, and I'm sure that makes a lot of former subscribers happy.

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Review: One Piece Unlimited World Red photo
Review: One Piece Unlimited World Red
by Chris Carter

One Piece games are kind of up in the air at this point in terms of quality. Just when I thought Pirate Warriors had solidified that seal of quality from the franchise, Romance Dawn snuck up and stole most of that good will.

Thankfully One Piece Unlimited World Red is not only a much more valiant effort by a completely separate developer (Ganbarion), but it avoids the trap of having to re-explain the story all over again, as Red is an original tale.

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Review: Abyss Odyssey photo
Review: Abyss Odyssey
by Alasdair Duncan

One thing you can't accuse Chilean developer ACE Team of doing is ploughing the same, well trodden ground as other indie devs. Its debut hit Zeno Clash combined a surrealistic art style with first-person, melee combat, while the studio's follow-up title, Rock of Ages, combined Super Monkey Ball with a Monty Python-esque romp through classical history. 

Abyss Odyssey is the studios' third original title and again, its setting is unique from anything else I've seen in videogames. The structure of the game different, too -- a combination of procedurally-generated levels, 2D platforming, intricate combat systems and online, community-driven progression. It doesn't always fit these elements together seamlessly but when it does, Abyss Odyssey still has that "just one more go" factor.

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Review in Progress: Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn (Patch 2.3) photo
Review in Progress: Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn (Patch 2.3)
by Chris Carter

MMOs are constantly evolving beasts. Particularly in the subscription realm, developers are always searching for ways to keep players hooked, usually in the form of major updates -- big content patches that help ease the wait between even bigger expansions. The latest MMO to get an overhaul is Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, which is seeing its "Defenders of Eorzea" patch this week, bringing up the current version of the game to 2.3.

Since this update is even bigger than the vast majority of $60 retail releases, I'll be looking at everything it has to offer to supplement to our already existing review of A Realm Reborn, which covered up to patch 2.2.

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Review: 4PM photo

If you're like me, then you'll have staggered out of a pub, wandered home, and then tried to fill in the blanks but, like a favorite song of mine says, it's just the best bits that are colored in.

I can't honestly say there's been nights out where I've drawn a total blank but I know my mates and co-workers have repeatedly needed me to fill in the blanks ("You mean you don't remember swearing at the boss, then throwing up in the corner?") and that's never fun.

Caroline, the protagonist in 4PM -- a short interactive story from developer Bojan Brbora -- is having one of those days. What happened last night, why is the room spinning, and shouldn't she be at work?

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Review: Dynasty Warriors: Gundam Reborn  photo
Review: Dynasty Warriors: Gundam Reborn
by Brittany Vincent

When I was a kid, I loved watching Gundam Wing and the original Mobile Suit Gundam on Cartoon Network. The mecha genre has always been a personal favorite of mine so I tried to capture the same feeling while playing a video game as I had watching Gundam anime and pretending that I was Heero Yuy or Amuro Ray.

With interest in Gundam on the rise in the US after the Cartoon Network runs, some of the games were finally localized for North America. I thought I’d finally be able to play through the stories I loved so much, picking up Mobile Suit Gundam: Journey to Jaburo as soon as it came out and the disappointment I had in that game resonates with me today. It sure didn’t feel like I was in command of the mobile suit that won the One Year War. I felt like I was in control of a robot-shaped RC car.

Luckily, I was finally able to find the game that would finally reproduce the warm and fuzzy feelings that viewing Gundam for the first time did so long ago, and who would have thought it would have come in the form of a Dynasty Warriors game?

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Review: MouseCraft photo
Review: MouseCraft
by Darren Nakamura

At first glance, MouseCraft reminds players of two classic puzzle games: Tetris and Lemmings. The pieces are there on a superficial level. Three mice walk blindly forward under a specific set of rules; meanwhile, the player rotates and places tetrominoes to aid in reaching the goals.

That is where the similarities end. The mice themselves never take on any special roles, and the tetrominoes do not disappear when fit together in a line. Indeed, a lot of the puzzles require that the blocks do not fit snugly together, which runs counter to conventional play with them. MouseCraft is very much its own puzzle game with its own puzzle premise, and that premise is pretty good.

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Review: The Wolf Among Us: Cry Wolf photo
Review: The Wolf Among Us: Cry Wolf
by Chris Carter

The Wolf Among Us has been one hell of a ride. Although Tellltale's The Walking Dead managed to craft a grimdark world worth seeing time and time again, Wolf has a more nuanced take, with larger-than-life fairy tale characters who have decidedly human problems.

All of it comes to an end here with Cry Wolf, the last episode of the series. While I'll refrain from spoiling anything in particular, I will say that is indeed a satisfying conclusion.

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Review in Progress: WildStar (Mid-levels) photo
Review in Progress: WildStar (Mid-levels)
by Chris Carter

[We'll be reviewing WildStar over an extended period of time. For more details, check out our Reviews in Progress program.]

As we all know, MMOs can drastically change not only over the course of months of updates, but even from level to level. We have already given you an early look at the first 20 hours or so of the game, but as I climb the ladder of leveling more and more starts to open up.

Let's take a look at levels 14-30.

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Review: Monster Monpiece photo
Review: Monster Monpiece
by Brittany Vincent

Too often, unique and engaging games are passed over due to their risqué content and gimmickry, and Monster Monpiece is inevitably one that will fall victim to this curse.

It's not difficult to see why some may be turned off by it, though -- despite the fact that it's a strategic card battler, it's also rife with many of the same tropes that will turn members of even its target audience off: like "rubbing" illustrations that happen to resemble young women and engaging in adult situations. But beneath the trappings of a fluffy "adult" game is a challenging and entertaining card game that's quite fun.

And believe it or not, that's actually the main attraction. 

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Review: Killzone: Shadow Fall: Intercept photo
Review: Killzone: Shadow Fall: Intercept
by Kyle MacGregor

Killzone: Shadow Fall was a respectable launch game. It showcased the power of the nascent PS4 with scintillating visuals, and paired its aesthetic beauty with a competent campaign and sound multiplayer component. 

The shooter wasn't exactly a revelation, but the glossy sheen, at the very least, provided a fine entrée to the new generation. It's been nearly a year since then, and Guerrilla Games has kept the lights on with a myriad of alternations and enhancements, the most recent of which has arrived in the co-operative expansion Intercept.

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Review: Sir, You Are Being Hunted photo
Review: Sir, You Are Being Hunted
by Alasdair Duncan

"Man is the most deadly of prey" -- whoever said that probably never thought they'd be chased around the desolate British countryside with robotic dogs snapping at their heels.

Sir, You Are Being Hunted is the debut game from Big Robot Ltd., which initially saw a release on Steam's Early Access program in August 2013 and after a steady stream of updates, has finally hit a full release as Version 1.0.

The team is headed up by Jim Rossignol, formerly a writer for both PC Gamer and Rock, Paper, Shotgun. While at both outlets, he wrote many articles proclaiming his admiration for the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series and there are plenty of similarities to be found in Sir, You Are Being Hunted. Both games have you traversing bleak landscapes in search of scattered items, all the while avoiding powerful enemies. 

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Review: Armillo photo
Review: Armillo
by Chris Carter

After following a number of indie developers who decide to go with the Wii U or 3DS eShop, I'm noticing a lot of the same sentiments in regards to loyalty to Nintendo. Not only have some of these developers grown up with Nintendo systems in general, but they are pledging their support because of the enhanced focus this generation on the indie side.

One such game that will be a timed exclusive on the Wii U is Armillo -- a "rolling platformer" that is a perfect fit for the eShop.

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Review: Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark photo
Review: Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark
by Chris Carter

High Moon Studios set a decent bar with its Activision-published Transformers games in terms of quasi film tie-ins (though the crown still goes to X-Men Origins: Wolverine, in my book). None of them were mind-blowingly good, but they succeeded in setting their own tone while staying inline with the film series, and delivered a mostly enjoyable action romp with a fun horde mode before it was featured in every game ever.

Here on the advent of the worst-reviewed Transformers film yet is by far the worst game so far in the franchise -- it's a shame High Moon couldn't have had a crack at it.

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Review: The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing II photo
Review: The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing II
by Patrick Hancock

The first Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing wasn't a bad game, however it did have crippling technical issues that held it back. Those issues have since been fixed, and developer Neocore Games has learned a lot in the process, it seems.

The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing II does what a sequel is known for and improves on the core idea of Van Helsing while adding enough content to justify a sequel. If you're a fan of "ARPGs," your ears should be perking up right about now.

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Review: The Rhythm of Fighters photo
Review: The Rhythm of Fighters
by Chris Carter

Over the past few decades, SNK has created a vast stable of memorable characters and franchises. I remember going into an arcade as a child for the first time and spending $10 on Fatal Fury, finding the fighters there more appealing in many ways than Capcom's Street Fighter cast.

SNK has melded these characters into just about every genre imaginable, from beat-'em-ups to shoot-'em-ups (King of Fighters Sky Stage rocks by the way), and now, they're pushing out a rhythm game. Despite the fact that it doesn't defy genre conventions in the slightest, that reliable stable of IPs works strongly in SNK's favor yet again.

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Review: PlayStation Vita Pets photo
Review: PlayStation Vita Pets
by Brittany Vincent

Of the many digital venues I'd expect to see a virtual pet simulator, the PlayStation Vita was certainly not one. PlayStation Vita Pets is an interesting diversion, not only because of the bizarre system it released on, but the fact that is breaks all the "pet simulator rules" I've become accustomed to. Forget Nintendogs -- these puppies don't need a leash and they surely aren't relegated to frou-frou accessories. They don't need you to make sure they go on walks, either, because they've got their own thing going on. Did I mention they talk?

Where most games are content to offer a selection of pooches for you to groom, walk, and train as you see fit, British studio Spiral House apparently sought to revolutionize the genre, and it's clear from the very beginning that this isn't your average Dogz or Catz clone. It's easy to dismiss as an uninspired piece of shovelware, but those who give it a look will undoubtedly end up pleasantly surprised by its refusal to adhere to traditional pet-raising convention -- even if it does have some accidents here and there.

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Review: Shovel Knight photo
Review: Shovel Knight
by Chris Carter

Good things come to those who wait. And boy, have we been waiting for Shovel Knight.

Even though they only just completed their Kickstarter last April, it feels like we've been twiddling our thumbs for eons for Yacht Club Games' debut release. With delay after delay prohibiting us from getting our hands on this love-letter to retro platformers, at one point it felt like it was never going to see the light of day.

Well, it's here now -- and it's everything we hoped it would be.

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Review: Valiant Hearts: The Great War photo
Review: Valiant Hearts: The Great War
by Chris Carter

You don't see a lot of games taking place in World War I outside of the strategy genre. Beyond that, you don't see a lot of representations of World War I in general in any form of media, because the "Second Great War" tends to take up that spotlight.

But Ubisoft Montpellier decided to take on the first worldwide conflict in the form of Valiant Hearts: The Great War, meshing a beautiful cartoon veneer with very serious (and historically accurate) source material.

As a result, you might learn a thing or two while you're solving a well designed pulley puzzle.

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Review: Ultra Street Fighter IV photo
Review: Ultra Street Fighter IV
by Brittany Vincent

The Street Fighter series is one that will always invariably undergo several revisions, all in the name of uncovering the perfect fighter. Ultra Street Fighter IV, the latest iteration of 2009's massively popular Street Fighter IV, is an exemplary specimen of what cherry-picking mechanics, features, brawlers, and balancing alterations can do for an already venerable fighting game.

Despite being the fifth "remix" of a solid title, Ultra Street Fighter IV is a comprehensive series of tweaks and upgrades that come together to showcase the most feature-rich version of Street Fighter IV yet.

On the surface, the alterations may not even be noticeable to players who breeze in and out of Street Fighter in a casual manner. Other than additional characters and cosmetic augments, it seems very much like the same game. Indeed, much of where Ultra Street Fighter IV's appeal will lie is within the fighting enthusiast crowd.

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Review: Magical Beat photo
Review: Magical Beat
by Chris Carter

No matter what the climate is in the industry, there seems to be an overwhelming demand for battle puzzle games. That's ok with me though, because ever since playing Yoshi, Dr. Mario, and Wario's Woods for the NES, I've been enjoying the fierce competitive element that these games can bring, and playing with a formidable rival can be quite the rush.

The newest kid on the block is Magical Beat -- a rhythm puzzle game for the Vita by Arc System Works. Naturally, they couldn't resist putting in Guilty Gear and BlazBlue tunes, which are easily the best part.

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Review: Entwined  photo
Review: Entwined
by Kyle MacGregor

Entwined mesmerized in its unexpected E3 debut, washing over viewers like a breath of fresh air, with its sweeping strings, pastel waves of color, and a romantic scene between two creatures from different worlds.

Unveiled by a team of unknowns under the industry's brightest lights, it came totally out of left field, interposed between two of PlayStation's hottest upcoming properties. We were made to presume this was the successor to Flower, or perhaps the next Unfinished Swan, given Sony's track record taking talent out of university programs under its nurturing wing.

Talent is the key word here. It's obviously something Pixelopus, the nascent studio behind Entwined, possesses in large quantities. But those gifts seem raw and unrefined. The developer's first effort desperately wants to be brilliant and profound, but too often settles for something decidedly more vapid.

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Review: EA Sports UFC photo
Review: EA Sports UFC
by Ben Pack

Usually when I'm watching two grown men beat each other up, their names are Ryu and Ken.

I am a fan of a good fight in games, but aside from the occasional boxing match I have never been very interested in MMA. After watching trailers for EA Sports UFC, I figured now might be the time to start to learn the sport through the game.

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Review: Pushmo World photo
Review: Pushmo World
by Chris Carter

People say Nintendo never does anything original outside of Mario and Zelda -- but as we all know, that's absolutely not true. Not only has the company taken chances on wacky IPs all throughout its storied history, but the advent of digital downloads has further satiated its desire to try out new characters and games.

Take the 3DS for example, which rolled out new properties like Dillon's Rolling Western, Sakura Samurai, and my personal favorite of the bunch -- Pushmo. It's hard to believe that in just three short years there have been three Pushmo games, but all of them are good, even the newest iteration that's hitting the Wii U for the first time.

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Review: Dead Rising 3: Super Ultra Arcade Remix Hyper Edition EX + α photo
Review: Dead Rising 3: Super Ultra Arcade Remix Hyper Edition EX + α
by Chris Carter

Although the DLC for Dead Rising 3 has been disappointing as a whole, Capcom surprised us all during E3 with the announcement of a new exciting prospect -- the Super Ultra Arcade Remix Hyper Edition EX + α add-on.

Simply put, this pack is a massive piece of fanservice, complete with a giant zombie M. Bison boss, outfits ranging from Street Fighter to Darkstalkers, and even little extras like Power Stone billboards.

It also has a Rival Schools reference and a playable Sigma outfit, which is enough for me.

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Review: Aban Hawkins and the 1001 Spikes photo
Review: Aban Hawkins and the 1001 Spikes
by Jonathan Holmes

I'm angry that I had to write this review of 1001 Spikes, as I would have rather spent this time playing more of it. That anger makes me all the more similar to the game's titular hero Aban Hawkins. Neglected and disrespected by his famous father and stuck in the shadow of his intelligent and responsible sister, he's got every reason to be a grump. This is a man with something to prove and he doesn't care how badly he's going to get hurt in the process. He's not going to stop until he shows the world that nobody and nothing can keep him down.

Aban's story is a perfect fit for the world of hurt he runs into headfirst. 1001 Spikes is a game of endless danger, a place where eye contact with death is a near constant. The game fights you nearly every step of the way, but it always fights fair, making each small victory feel like a life affirming success. Those who can summon the bravery to risk the challenges here are bound to discover that they are capable of more than they had given themselves credit for.

For the tenacious, nothing is impossible.

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Review: Tomodachi Life photo
Review: Tomodachi Life
by Darren Nakamura

Nintendo catches a lot of flak for relying too heavily on its established franchises. Though it has been producing new properties, few have gained traction among hardcore gamers since Pikmin. Tomodachi Life might be overlooked for the same reasons. Its use of Miis and its nebulous gameplay could lead to some labeling it as too casual.

Do not fall into that trap. Tomodachi Life is one of the best Nintendo games in years.

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Review: Call of Duty: Ghosts: Invasion photo
Review: Call of Duty: Ghosts: Invasion
by Chris Carter

So far in the saga that is Call of Duty: Ghosts, the fun factor of the game has increased tremendously through the first two map packs -- Onslaught and Devastation, which allow you to play as Michael Meyers and Predator, respectively. Slowly but surely Infinity Ward has been addressing concerns from Ghosts, adding in more interesting locations on top of a ton of little extras that add up over time.

Although Invasion doesn't have a gimmick as strong as say, a playable horror or action movie villain, its tricks are more spread out over the entire DLC, making for one of the best map packs yet.

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