Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Nicalis

The Binding of Isaac photo
The Binding of Isaac

Looks like The Binding of Isaac is coming to iPad


I, Zack, write about Isaac, on iPad
Feb 05
// Zack Furniss
Oh, Edmund McMillen. Oh, Tyrone Rodriguez. You're both such teases. You always seem to have something new to show fans of The Binding of Isaac. Do you ever sleep? Is there perhaps a flying Twitter drone in your house that sna...
Isaac photo
Isaac

The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth might be coming to Wii U after all


And maybe the New 3DS?
Jan 14
// Chris Carter
Although Nicalis has been hesitant to actually confirm The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth on Wii U,  it looks like it may be coming after all. Tyrone Rodriguez sent out an ominous tweet last night noting "it's lonely ...

Nic Rowen picks the best of 2015

Jan 10 // Nic Rowen
Best game of the year: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater is one of my favorite games of all time. As I've shared before, I've replayed it at least ten times over the years. I didn't keep coming back to it just because it was fun, I kept coming back to it because it was surprising. Every time I played through it I'd find something new. I feel like I haven't even scratched the surface of The Phantom Pain's surprises. Forget replaying the entire game, every time I replay one of  The Phantom Pain's missions I find something new. Every other week someone posts a YouTube video of some outrageous tactic or bizarre mechanic I never even considered before. The other day, I found a new cassette tape despite having plunged more than 70 hours into the game already. Let that sink in, I've played this game for 70 hours and I haven't even uncovered all the easy to find stuff yet. Of course, it's also an amazing game to play. The Phantom Pain is a total leap for the series, a massively needed redesign of Tactical Espionage Action that finally, FINALLY, makes you feel like the super-spy Snake was always trumped up to be. Instead of the hurky-jerk movement of previous entries that saw Snake frequently kneeling in front of a a two-foot high obstacle and then somehow accidentally dropping a flashbang at his feet while searching for the right button, this Snake moves just like how you'd expect of the world's greatest soldier. He effortlessly hurdles barriers, dives into cover, slides down hills, and climbs sheer walls, and you never find yourself reaching for the manual. Combat is fast, fluid, and accurate, the enemies smart and responsive. A never ending supply of gadgets, gear, partners, and chopper support options provide an answer to almost any situation you could get yourself into. The Phantom Pain is one hell of a game. Despite Konami doing everything it can to ruin the game post-release, it still remains the best time I had playing video games this year, and I wouldn't be surprised if I end up coming back to The Phantom Pain just as much as I did with Snake Eater. Best spoooooky: Bloodborne Dark Souls is still my favorite From Software game to date, but Bloodborne certainly gave it a run for its money. While some elements of Bloodborne's design disappointed me (the PvP never felt as well developed and I would have loved a few more sets of clothing and armor to choose from), I was absolutely enamored with the Victorian Gothic look of the world. Yharnam is a scary place, and the population of werewolves, fallen priests, and creepy eye monsters never let me drop my guard for a second.  Best budget anatomy lesson: Mortal Kombat X I like to learn. I've always considered myself an eternal student, but have you seen the cost of post-secondary education these days? One can't afford to just take up a medical class as a hobby anymore! Which is why I was so delighted to see how detailed and painstakingly rendered the bloody viscera of Mortal Kombat X was. If anyone ever needs an emergency whole body bisection via a razor-bladed hat, I'm the man to call. I feel like MKX didn't make a lot of GOTY lists, and that's a shame. For my money, it's the best Mortal Kombat game ever made. Sure, it has balance issues and the PC launch was an absolute travesty, but the core gameplay is best the series has ever offered -- fast, brutal, and mean, the way Mortal Kombat should be. The variation system that gives each character three distinct fighting styles with different strengths and weaknesses is something I'd love to see more fighting games adopt. Best interior design options: Fallout 4: Happy Home Designer I have no idea why I put so much time into the settlement system of Fallout 4, but I did and I loved it. Fallout 4 is a magnificent game (even if it is lacking the role-playing options of New Vegas and the quests work a little too hard to funnel you down certain paths) with an amazing sense of exploration and surprisingly fun gun-play. But it turns out if you put a half-baked doll-house simulator in a game, I'll focus on it nearly exclusively to the abandonment of all else. Maybe I should just start playing The Sims and get it over with. Best descent into nihilism: Nuclear Throne Something about this game brings out the worst in me. It's my “2:00am, I should go to bed but I've been drinking and feeling sad, so why not do another run (or twenty)” game. A blitzkrieg of furious action and pointless violence that I'm more than happy to wallow in at the end of a long frustrating day. If Fallout 4 was my chipper little game about optimism and rebuilding life after a disaster, Nuclear Throne was its dark shadow, a celebration of defeat and chaos. Best dinosaurs: ARK: Survival Evolved Yeah, this is technically a Steam Early Access game, but who cares? It has dinosaurs! Who would have thought watching a mutant caveman getting devoured by a Carnotaurus could be so much fun (even when you are the mutant caveman in question)? I didn't play tons and tons of ARK, but my time wandering around the jungle jabbing my pointy little stick at anything that moved left an impression. I still think of heading back into the wilds every now and then. Best “I should play more of this”: Galak-Z: The Dimensional I love everything about Galak-Z; the way the ship moves, the rogue-lite structure of the missions and power-ups, the retro '80s anime aesthetic, it's all great. I just haven't played a ton of it. I got into the second season of the game (when you get the big robot), died, and never quite got back to it. It isn't that I haven't wanted to, it just seems to keep getting buried under something more pressing (or convenient) to play. I have a feeling if I played a little more, Galak-Z could end up being my next Binding of Isaac. Best argument to buy a Wii U: Super Mario Maker Why the fuck didn't I buy a Wii U!? I'm such a moron. Can I borrow yours? C'mon, just for a week or two? I've been watching all these videos and I have an idea for a level that uses P-switches in a really fucked up way and I'm just dying to try it and... Best way to find out your friends are total monsters: Jack Box Party Pack 2 Everything is all fun and games until someone makes a punchline out of Boko Haram. Best use of fingers: Fingered The stubby digit of justice.
Nic's best of the year photo
I mean, you've seen the rest
It's like the middle of January and you've read about five thousand GOTY lists at this point, so let's get to brass tacks. There were some great games released last year, but which ones were the best? I have no idea. Sorry,...

Afterbirth ARG photo
Afterbirth ARG

Binding of Isaac's ARG is over, unlocks new character


Dug up a lost boy
Nov 14
// Nic Rowen
The craziness and drama surrounding the release of The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth has been almost as fun as the game itself (which in my opinion is pretty damn fun). As reported two weeks ago, the initial launch of the expa...

Review: Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth

Nov 06 // Nic Rowen
Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth (PC)Developer: Nicalis, Edmund McMillenPublisher: NicalisMSRP: $9.99 (DLC),  $24.99 (Bundle with Rebirth)Released: November 4, 2015 Afterbirth's “back of the box” bullet points are impressive – 120 new items, new level variations for every floor, a pack of new bosses and enemies, a new character, and an entirely new game mode to round it off - but those numbers only tell half of the story (maybe only a quarter). Any game can just add a bunch of new stuff, a crate of duplicate items, a pack of palette-swap enemies, a few coats of paint on some old levels, whatever. What makes Afterbirth so special isn't just how many new little doodads have been dropped into the game, but how perfectly the new additions entwine themselves into the experience. How they fit right in, but at the same time dramatically warp and twist the classic Isaac experience into an entirely new entity. Afterbirth takes a lot of risks to introduce new wrinkles and mechanics. Almost every new item does something wild, or weird, or aggravating. The Glass Cannon lets you fire a powerful mega shot every few seconds, at the cost of depleting your health down to a perilous single half-heart. The Fruitcake randomly changes the type of tears you fire with every shot, constantly shuffling between spread shots, homing tears, holy bolts, and the occasional randomly exploding fire shot (always a treat when you’re not expecting it). Items like the Scalpel, an infinite use ability that lets you make portal style tunnels between two points (either in the same room or different ones) complete changes the way you approach room exploration and some boss fights. Things like the occasional “Item Recycler” in an item room that will let you pay coins to change the offered item to another random selection, lets you make smarter, more interesting choices about how you play. This isn’t just “more stuff;” it’s all different, surprising, and exciting stuff. As someone who spent an ungodly amount of time with the original game, one of the things I've enjoyed the most about Afterbirth is finding new combinations and synergies with old items. There is more of an emphasis on layering and blending items rather than just replacing them in this expansion. An old standby like Mom's Knife can now be combined with the laser beam spewing classic Brimstone to create a spray of butcher knives that will travel across the screen. Or a mix of old and new, like the freshly introduced Incubus pet, a little demon that will mirror Isaac's tear effects, combined with a traditionally poor item like Soy Milk to scrub a room clean with hundreds of tiny, but rapid, tears. Further encouraging fresh experimentation with old items are a slew of new transformation effects. Collecting certain items that belong in the same set will result in a character-changing new look and a bonus ability or two. Rebirth only had two transformations (including the much beloved Guppy transformation that would change Isaac into brokenly powerful manifestation of his dead cat). Afterbirth comes correct with nine entirely new transformations to mutate poor Isaac. The effects of these transformations are weaker on average than the Guppy buff, but are sourced from item pools that are far more common, including several junky items. It's a smart change, instead of being monomaniacally focused on becoming Guppy, there are now potential advantages to picking up so-called dud items, encouraging smart play with a long-term vision. Or they can just serve as a consolation prize for a few limp item rolls. The new boss enemies follow the same philosophy, not just “new,” but “new and different.” Some of them are entirely fresh Afterbirth originals, while others are revamps of classic monsters. All of them are humongous jerks (often to the point of feeling overly difficult and imbalanced compared to the original cast of bosses) and they're all pitching curve balls. Even lightweights like Little Horn, a mere first floor boss, introduce crazy new tricks. He's a diminutive imp who spontaneously creates cartoon black holes for you to fall in which he'll try to herd you towards with slow moving tracking shots like a devilish sheep dog. Bigger bosses (telling would be spoiling) get even crazier, assaulting Isaac with entirely new mechanics as well as blatantly unfair levels of firepower. One particularly crazy fight involves a boss that will buff himself and summon allies if you don't destroy the icons he is constantly spiting out, making it a frantic race to stay on top of them before things gets out of hand. The new fights are wacky, crazy, and occasionally frustrating, but most of all, they're all fresh. Greed Mode, introduced in Afterbirth, turns the traditional Isaac dungeon exploration experience into a much more tightly focused, wave-based horde mode. I like to think of it as Isaac for the person who only has 15 minutes. Get in, kill a few waves, get some money, try to cobble together a build, and get out (by death or by victory) before your lunch break is over. I don't know if it will have a ton of staying power, but it is a fun alternative to getting deep and dirty in the basement. New floor variants and room layouts keep things fresh. Themed floors like the Burning Basement or Dank Depths have their own flavor, unique obstacles, enemies, and (universally killer) soundtracks. There are plenty of new room types, varying in all manner of size, shape, and hazard, making the dungeon crawl feel more natural and less like moving through a grid. Many of these layouts introduce new trap and puzzle elements, confronting players with spike floors that rise and lower in alternating patterns and need to be shut down by pressing different buttons, or explosive TNT chambers that need to be set off in the right order to avoid damage. Again, smart and exciting. There are also innumerable smaller changes to go into, some of which are obvious niceties (like expanded HUD options to display collected items without pausing) while others you can't discuss without sounding like a crazy person to non-Isaac nuts. Little things like “Devil Deal rooms will convert to soul heart prices automatically if you sell your last red heart!” or “the co-op baby can place bombs again, hallelujah!” I know, it sounds like gibberish, but to the diehard Isaac fanbase, these are big deals and welcome changes. Like many roguelikes, Isaac has always had a slightly masochistic bent. I've always said that the unforgiving and random nature of the game is something you have to lean into, have to embrace to really enjoy Isaac. Sadly, Afterbirth takes that bent and presses on it until it breaks, reaching a peak of difficulty that has even an roguelike-apologist like me throwing up my hands in frustration on a regular basis. For every clever, interesting, and fresh idea Afterbirth has, it also has some dickish, spiteful, little aggravation to throw at you as well. Those handy item room recyclers I mentioned earlier? Sure, you could get one of those in an item room, or you could get an item surrounded by spikes, or a “bonus” room infested with monsters, what a cute joke! Those new rooms and traps? Neat, until you wind up in a boss room the size of a closet with TNT barrels or spike blocks in all four corners, have fun with that! The new bosses? Sure, they all have new and clever mechanics, but many of them also flood the screen with nearly unavoidable shots and a legion of minions in addition to whatever fresh hell they're also bringing. I imagine the idea was to challenge seasoned players with this expansion, to push the skills of hardcore Isaac players to their upper limits. But the difficulty in Afterbirth goes so far it loops back around on itself, ending up with a game that feels more luck based than ever. In Rebirth, I used to feel that any run, no matter how unlucky, could be saved by smart play and excellent dodging. In Afterbirth, I’ve had several rounds that felt so hopelessly stacked against me that instead of galvanizing me to play better, they just demoralized me into throwing in the towel, hoping for better items in the next run. That's not a great way to feel after 200 hours of experience in a game. The nastiness of the difficulty spike leaves me in an uncomfortable position with this review. I think that the vast majority of changes made in Afterbirth are superb. The astounding creativity of the new items, modes, and rooms is flat out inspiring, as is the sheer amount of new additions. Afterbirth has found ways to significantly add to and improved on a game that I already considered to be a nearly flawless. I don't want to diminish that accomplishment at all - in a perfect world, this is what all DLC would be like. I'm still having tons of fun with the game and I'll probably be playing it for another hundred hours or so, but I'd be lying if I said I was having as much fun with Afterbirth as I did with Rebirth. It found my limit. You should absolutely play Afterbirth. If you're already an Isaac diehard, or someone fresh to the genre, Afterbirth has hours upon hours of genuine joy in store for you. But you should know it will also have moments of soul-annihilating frustration. Maybe that's the price for flying so close to perfection. [This review is based on a retail build of the game purchased by the reviewer.]
Afterbirth review photo
Deal with the Devil
The Binding of Isaac has always been a game of contradictions to me. It's both a game that embraces the fickleness of chance and the purity of skill. That encourages you to play around, explore, and experiment, but also rewar...

Afterbirth secrets photo
Afterbirth secrets

Isaac devs Edmund McMillen and Tyrone Rodriguez are a couple of monsters


Sadists delight
Nov 04
// Nic Rowen
[Update: The plot thickens. Edmund has taken to Twitter over the past few hours saying the missing items were the result of a post-launch bug and not part of some nefarious plan to punish dataminers. Cagey as ever, Edmun...
The Binding of Isaac photo
The Binding of Isaac

Binding of Isaac: Rebirth hits Xbox One, Wii U, and New 3DS July 23


Poo and tears for everyone!
Jul 07
// Zack Furniss
Rejoice, fans of fetuses and feces! The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth will be coming to the Xbox One, Wii U, and New 3DS on July 23. Please note the new there, as it will not be available on the older model. It's wonder...
Rebirth alone photo
Rebirth alone

The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth 3DS lacks local multiplayer, cross-platform saves


Will be $15
Jun 12
// Jed Whitaker
Local co-op will not be available on the New 3DS version of The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth, confirms Tyrone Rodriguez, the founder of Nicalis. Tyrone also notes that patching it in after release is unlikely. Cross save is also...
Nicalis photo
Nicalis

Is Nicalis teasing more 1001 Spikes or something new?


1001, 1002, 1003...
Jun 08
// Zack Furniss
[Update: A little digging on Twitter shows us that Tyrone Rodriguez from Nicalis and Samu Wosada of 8Bits Fantatics have been exchanging ninja graphics for a little while now. Samu also released a free game called Goody Bad H...
The Binding of Isaac photo
The Binding of Isaac

New boss teased for The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth expansion


Rag n' Bone
Jun 03
// Zack Furniss
The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth's expansion, Afterbirth, is shambling ever-closer. Yesterday, Tyrone Rodriguez of Nicalis teased a new boss, Rag Man. This mummy-lookin' homie has purple eyes, purple attacks, and the abilit...
The Binding of Isaac photo
The Binding of Isaac

The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth to have daily challenges


Now I can suck daily
May 27
// Zack Furniss
In the months since November 2014, I've slowly developed some semblance of skill in The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth. While I've still got quite a lot of playing to do if I wish to earn the Platinum God achievement, I'm impresse...
1001 Spikes photo
1001 Spikes

1001 Spikes Wii U patch offers new control options and Off-TV play


...but it has some issues
May 24
// Jonathan Holmes
Last April, Nicalis announced that I'll be a character in 1001 Spikes someday. As you might imagine, that announcement has changed the way my brain works. "Is today the day that I get to play as myself alongside Jonathan Blow...
The Binding of Isaac photo
The Binding of Isaac

Check out The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth on the Wii U GamePad


23 glorious seconds
Apr 29
// Zack Furniss
When The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth came out last November, I got sucked back into the dark, dank basement full of doo-doo for a good two months. This video of Isaac on a Wii U GamePad is enough to get me thirs...
Afterbirth update photo
Afterbirth update

The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth expansion to feature new transformations, ruin my life


Norman Bates chic
Apr 28
// Nic Rowen
Well I'm doomed. The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth expansion, Afterbirth, is going to include a whopping eight new transformations to discover, experiment with, and obsess over. I'm already addicted to transforming into Guppy the...
Isaac shirts photo
Isaac shirts

Bind yourself in Isaac shirts


Show your naked crying boy pride
Mar 22
// Nic Rowen
These Binding of Isaac shirts from theyetee.com combine the terror of Isaac with nostalgic love for Zelda, creating something that is making me reconsider my “no game t-shit” policy. The three new shirts include a...
Castle in the Darkness photo
Castle in the Darkness

Beard View: Castle in the Darkness


'Maybe I'm just good and you're not'
Mar 09
// Jed Whitaker
This weekend I was at PAX East and had been busy shooting some videos with our lovely bearded editor-in-chief when this was uploaded, so in case you missed it, check out the latest Beard View in which I show off one of my fa...
Beard View Live photo
Beard View Live

Watch me die in Castle in the Darkness on Beard View Live


NES style Metroidvania greatness
Mar 01
// Jed Whitaker
Hey Beard View fans, I'll be playing Castle in the Darkness over at our Twitch channel at 6:30 pm Eastern / 3:30 pm Pacific. You can obviously watch it embedded below, but I encourage to come join the chat and keep me co...
Nicalis platformer photo
Nicalis platformer

Ready for punishment? Castle in the Darkness awaits


Precious coins ease the pain
Feb 05
// Jordan Devore
I think I'm as ready as I'll ever be for Castle in the Darkness. It's out today for PC from publisher Nicalis and developer Matt Kap, who was also the lead artist on The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth. This super-challenging adven...
Cave Story photo
Cave Story

Cave Story 2 folder spotted on Nicalis desktop at PAX South


Could mean nothing, or it could mean everything
Jan 24
// Jonathan Holmes
PAX South is going on right now, and two of our most honey-loving sugarbears are in the fray as we speak, lapping up all that sweet golden joy. One of the games they're set to check out is Nicalis's Castle in the Darkness, a ...
NICALIS photo
NICALIS

Castle in the Darkness leaps to PC on February 5


Nicalis' forthcoming platformer hits Steam next month
Jan 22
// Kyle MacGregor
Castle in the Darkness, the next ultra-difficult platformer from Cave Story and 1001 Spikes publisher Nicalis, is poised to debut via Steam on February 5. The project was developed by Matt Kap, the lead artist behind Th...
More Binding of Isaac photo
More Binding of Isaac

Fan ideas will make it into The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth's expansion


A new mode will 'almost double the amount of things you can do'
Nov 25
// Jordan Devore
As a fan of The Binding of Isaac, I had lofty expectations for Rebirth and it more than delivered. Problem is, I don't have enough time to play it (and make any real headway). And now there's more content on the way. Like the...
Binding of Isaac photo
Who beats off on paper? Werewolves. That's who.
Max and I started playing The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth because it's a good-ass game, and we like to do gaming. Max has actually never played any iteration of Binding of Isaac before, so I let him go first, knowing that I'd only have to wait a few minutes before my turn.

Review: The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth

Nov 11 // Nic Rowen
The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth (PC [reviewed], PS4, Vita)Developer: Nicalis Inc, Edmund McMillenPublisher: Nicalis, IncReleased: November 4, 2014MSRP:$14.99 Everything about Binding of Isaac is crazy and feels like it somehow shouldn't exist. But it does, and there is a kind of naughty thrill in that, like getting away with a rude joke at the dinner table. For those unfamiliar with the original, Isaac is a roguelike twin-stick shooter/dungeon crawler where you play as a small naked boy named Isaac, whose mother, believing she has heard the commanding voice of God, is trying to kill him. He desperately flees into the basement where he encounters deadly insects, mutated siblings, and every sort of grotesquery you could care to imagine. He fights them with his tears. Yup. Every run is a new experience, a single chance at heaven or hell. If you die, it's back to scratch. The game is deeply mysterious, featuring no fewer than 16 different ending, at least 8 unlockable alternate characters, 4 bonus levels, and literally hundreds of items to discover, unlock, and experiment with. It's a deep, dark rabbit hole and if you have any kind of completionist streak it will ruin your life (take it from me). Isaac may present itself in the familiar sheep's clothes of a Zelda clone, a fun romp through some old-school top-down action, but that's just the skin-suit pulled tight around the beast. At its heart, Isaac is its own twisted, beautiful monster. The most notable difference between Rebirth and the original Isaac is the shiny new engine and graphical overhaul. The original was made in Flash, giving the game a distinctly smooth and cartoony look, and with no shortage of technical problems to boot. Rebirth ditches Flash (and thankfully all of the bugs and glitches associated with it), dropping the smooth lines for a more detailed, SNES-era pixelated look. More importantly than the faux 16-bit trappings, the new engine allows for a smoother and more stable experience. Where the frame rate of the original would drop through floor like a bowling ball when too many shots or enemies got on the screen, that's no longer an issue. Rebirth runs at a flawless 60 FPS come hell or high water. With the smoother graphics come some gameplay changes. Rebirth is a much more shooty (to use my highly technical vocabulary) game than fans might be used to. The dependable frame rate allows for much more intense fights than the original ever dared to attempt, veering into bullet hell shmup territory on occasion. All of the new bosses introduced in Rebirth (and there are a lot of them) are much faster and aggressive than the old guard, and some of the returning enemies, particularly the final bosses, have been overhauled to be FAR more trigger happy than they used to be. I never thought I'd be happy to run into the likes of Loki or Peep, but I'll take them any day over the new recruits in Satan's army. Thankfully, bullet hell is a knife that cuts both ways. Rebirth does not shy away from crazy item combinations that completely break the game. At one point I had a fully upgraded rate of fire with floating anti-gravity tears mixed with ricocheting rubber cement and a boomerang effect. I would step into a room, hold down the fire button for about a second or two, let go, and watch the entire room be enveloped in tears and instantly eradicate everything. The game might have gotten more difficult, but there are also more items to help turn it around. Along with the other technical advancements, there is more variety in the shape and size of the dungeon chambers in Rebirth. Rooms are no longer limited to the single screen rectangular format they used to be. You will come across long hallways rigged with traps, huge arenas filled with enemies, big multi-screen affairs that will scroll along with Isaac's movement. These massive rooms have hosted some of the most intense moments I've had with Rebirth, the added space allowing for multiple mini-boss battles or elaborate traps. Rebirth includes a small, but delightful, two-player mode. At any time player two can join in as a tiny, floating ghost baby at the cost of one of player-one's heart containers. Ghost baby is definitely second fiddle, unable to plant bombs, walk through doors, or pick up items (no cheating and grabbing something from across a gap), but he will benefit from whatever kind of shot upgrade Isaac has collected. It won't become the new way to play Binding of Isaac any time soon, but having a wingman is loads more fun than it has any right to be. Rounding out the new additions are a few quality of life tweaks. Control pads are now supported on the PC version, and work perfectly fine if that's your preferred style. You can choose between “Normal” and “Hard” modes now, letting you somewhat regulate what brand of insanity you're looking for. Hard mode, of course, hides its own set of exclusive items and enemies, so anyone looking to collect all the goodies should prepare to suffer for the compulsion. Rebirth graciously now allows you to quit mid-way and return later, instead of holding you hostage to a good run. (“I'm going to be late but I have fully powered tears and twelve heart containers! I mean, the divorce rate around here is like 55%, so I can probably get another shot at being my brother's best man, right?”). It is potentially a life-saving addition for the truly possessed. Rebirth surfaces the randomized “seed” of each run, a small series of numbers you can input to generate the same map/item pick-ups. You can replay particularly great runs, near misses, or swap favorable map layouts with friends. This is a shockingly generous addition that seems to run counter to much of the game's otherwise unforgiving and hard-nose posture. It seems so out of place that the idea rankled me. I respect the purity of the one-chance, perma-death run. Watering it down with de facto do-overs cheapened the experience for me faster than fall of the Berlin Wall devalued the Soviet Ruble. As an addict of the first game, my favorite enhancement is also the least consequential, Rebirth is able to visually stack multiple items on Isaac with fewer conflicts than before. It may seem silly, but watching Isaac's strange transformation from a tiny naked boy to a pustulating, winged, blood trailing monster, or failed Siamese twin with a chemical burn, or lipstick wearing cyclops being followed around by the floating head of his dead cat, or whatever, is one of the greatest pleasures in the game to me. My heart always broke a tiny little bit when one item would overwrite another, or just not appear at all. I love just about everything about Rebirth and (if you couldn't already tell) I can't recommend the game enough. But I feel like I would be remiss if I didn't talk about the poop. There is a lot of poop in this game, a lot of tasteless dead baby jokes, gross out gags, and weird Christian imagery, all of which might rub some people the wrong way. Personally, I don't mind that stuff and I think the game earns some of it's nastiness (the very core of Isaac is a sad story of child abuse as seen through the eyes of the child experiencing it after all, it's going to be horrifying and juvenile), rather than just being gross for grossness sake. Still, it's going to be a deal breaker for some people. The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth is hands down the best version of Isaac. It improves upon the original, a fantastic game in its own right, in every conceivable way. If you haven't played Isaac yet, this is the version to get. If you are a fan of the original, these are so many new items, enemies, and experiences to be found in Rebirth that it feels far more like a sequel than a remake. Rebirth is an incredible experience that can't be missed. Descend into the basement, lock the trapdoor behind you, and don't look back.
Rebirth Review photo
The best game you'll ever play about washing poop out of a basement with your tears
In 2011, I lost a chunk of my life. An insidious tendril of addiction, despair, and obsession caught me by the ankle and dragged me into the The Binding of Isaac's darkened basement. I lost dozens of hours, whole days at a ti...

Wii U photo
Wii U

The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth teased for Wii U


Smiley face
Oct 07
// Jordan Devore
Fans of The Binding of Isaac have long wanted the game on 3DS and while that'd be great to see one day, I'd be just as happy to to have it on Wii U. Which might actually happen! I know! Nicalis uploaded this video yesterday and that blip at the beginning sure is a Wii U overlay. There's also this Twitter exchange between designer Edmund McMillen and Nicalis' Tyrone Rodriguez. [Via GoNintendo]
Nicalis photo
Let's get down to business
After checking out The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth at PAX Prime, I spent a decent chunk of time with another upcoming Nicalis project, Castle in the Darkness. It's a challenging platform-adventure PC game that feels all too app...

Binding of Isaac photo
Binding of Isaac

The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth is everything I hoped it'd be


PS Vita owners especially are in for a treat
Sep 08
// Jordan Devore
One of my favorite parts of PAX Prime this year was an appointment with Nicalis. Not only was the meeting away from the crowded, noisy Washington State Convention Center, it was an opportunity to get sucked into The Binding o...
Binding of Isaac photo
Binding of Isaac

Co-op in The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth is looking good


A short Let's Play preview from the McMillens
Aug 19
// Jordan Devore
Here's Edmund and Danielle McMillen previewing cooperative play in The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth including one of the game's twenty challenges, Head Trauma, in which you have tons of tears spraying all over the place but the...
Nicalis photo
Nicalis

Nicalis announces Castle in the Darkness for PC


Coming to Steam this summer
Aug 06
// Kyle MacGregor
Castle in the Darkness is leaping to Windows PC this summer, Nicalis announced today. The retro-style platformer draws inspiration from "the golden era of videogames," vaunting an expansive open-world and a "damning" difficulty curve. The story follows a kingdom's last remaining royal guard on a mission to save the land from a sorcerer and his evil army.
Binding of Isaac photo
Binding of Isaac

Replay runs, customize controls in The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth


PS Vita visuals won't be exactly on par
Jul 29
// Jordan Devore
I convinced myself long ago that The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth was something I needed in my life, so every additional detail or feature we're told about in the lead up to release is just icing on top. This week, customizable ...

Another fair comparison: 1001 Spikes is better than Game of Thrones

Jul 05 // Jonathan Holmes
Death with a purpose Game of Thrones and 1001 Spikes are known for their surprise deaths. In Game of Thrones, these deaths usually manifest by witnessing one or more characters who were once pivotal to the larger narrative being maimed or murdered in a graphic and disturbing fashion. In 1001 Spikes, death usually pops up in the the form of a sharp object suddenly piercing into your flesh, resulting in an adorable and gruesome spray of blood-red pixels.  Both types of deaths work to send the message that no one is ever safe. That's all well and good, but that message in and of itself doesn't say anything particularly novel. The world is a hostile place filled with lethal problems. We're all going to die. No one is safe. Water is wet. Hamburgers are not actually made of ham. These are all truths, but telling the truth is not in itself very compelling. There needs to be a message beyond the gimmick, an idea behind the violence for it to hold any lasting emotional resonance.  Sadly, Game of Thrones doesn't manage to pull that off. Like so many other aspects of the show, its deaths are dressed up to appear sophisticated and meaningful but are really just softcore porn, in this case, of the gore-porn variety. After the shock and awe has passed, the drama continues, with no lessons learned or philosophies shared.  In 1001 Spikes, every death is a lesson. Every surprise stabbing is an opportunity for growth. Those who start the game with a feeling of dread and hopelessness may learn, through many hardships, that they are smarter, stronger, and more capable of survival than they would have ever thought possible. Game of Thrones is a largely nihilistic one-note tune, where even the survivors end up emotionally/ethically dead on the inside in no time flat. 1001 Spikes is a celebration of the negative space that death offers to our mortal experience, and how it shapes every moment of brilliance, inspiration, and virtual athleticism that brings life to its fullest.   Escape from the victim/victimizer/protector triangle You know what's hot in entertainment right now? Trauma and victimization. The Walking Dead, Orange is the New Black, 24, and of course Game of Thrones all chronicle the experiences of those in a constant state of fight-or-flight response. Our society is currently fascinated with witnessing what lies beneath society's veneer of civility and compassion. Why are we so obsessed with turning over the rocks of the human soul and seeing how gross the bugs are underneath? I'm guessing it's because we're living in the least safe time in human history. Everyone is spying on everyone. We can't go a month without hearing about another young man violently attacking a group of strangers. Drones are in our air space. Terrorists are in our news feed. Hackers are stealing our credit card information. Everyone is at everyone on Twitter/Facebook/Tinder and we're all thinking about how stupid, fat, and ugly everyone else is. When people are under threat, their minds naturally shift towards grouping everything around them into one of three categories: the victims, the victimizers, and the protectors. You see this all the time online. People take on victim posture in order to drum up sympathy and entitlement to attention and care, or abuse and threaten each other to give themselves the illusion of power and safety, or lash out at others that they deem to be victimizers, granting themselves entitlement to be as destructive and hostile as they want "for the greater good." This is exactly what we see happening in shows like Game of Thrones. Every character is moving around within this triangle, taking on victim, victimizer, or protector posture depending on what works best for them at the moment.  The question is, where does it get anyone? Either dead, angry, alone, or evil. Those are the only options for an endgame in the victim/victimizer/protector structure. There is no room for empathy in that triangle. There's no room for enlightenment. There's only room for conflict.  There is another way, though. There is a road out of the triangle's trap. There is the path of the victor. This is the path that 1001 Spikes presents us with. In 1001 Spikes, the environment is the victimizer, and Aban is the victim. In time, he learns to be the protector, actively fighting back against the forces working to render him powerless. That's not the end though. As any 1001 Spikes expert knows, truly mastering one of the game's levels doesn't feel like a fight. It feels like a conversation. The developer is communicating through their level design, and the player communicate back through their actions, and the back and forth gradually transforms from an angry screaming match to a beautiful duet. To get to know and love the developer through surviving, and eventually then thriving, the world of challenges that they created with you feels a lot like love. When you're able to elude every trap, make every jump, hit every note with pitch-perfect accuracy, you join with the developer in a way that the Spice Girls once sang about. That's not just surviving. That's living. That's living life right. A hunger that leads to improved nutrition Most of the aspects of Game of Thrones and 1001 Spikes affect us on an deep, guttural level. Human beings are suckers for the guttural. We spend so much time being self conscious, or worried about our futures, or obsessing about mistakes we made in the past that when something can help us turn off our brains for a while and grab us by the balls (or nipples, or whatever), it's intoxicating.  Game of Thrones grabs our balls in multiple ways. Sex, violence, taboos, mythologies, drama -- all things that capture our attention on primitive level. But what do they offer us for emotional/psychological sustenance? Sadly, not much. If you're lucky, the story may help you to conceptualize and gain insight into your own relationship problems. Through witnessing the ugliness on display in Game of Thrones, you may become more aware of the ugliness in your own life.  How is that fun? It's not, and it's also not why most people watch Game of Thrones. It's because it hooks them in a world of constant negative stimulus, constant emptiness and pain, and dangles a carrot in their faces promising that things might get better, that they might gain some emotional sustenance if they watch just one more episode. Stories like Game of Thrones (and certain videogames) are designed like sour candy. They start off sweet, with fun stuff like sex, intrigue, and power fantasy, but leave you hurting, with the sour taste of trauma and sorrow in your mouth. That sour leaves you hungry for an antidote to cancel out the sour, something like the sweet sex/power/intrigue that got you watching the show in the first place. So the cycle of sweetness, sourness continues, leaving the audience continually hungry and never truly fed. 1001 Spikes grabs you by these instincts as well, but it's all in the service of feeding you something real. 1001 Spikes and Game of Thrones both inspire a similar morbid curiosity for how bad things can possibly get next, but where Game of Thrones leaves you feeling like the world and everyone in it are horrible, 1001 Spikes inspires you to believe that you (and every one else) are capable of anything. Game of Thrones is a syrupy, acidic, sweet and sour soup made from anger, hopelessness, and nihilism. 1001 Spikes is a bitter but hearty broth that inspires patience, problem solving, and the knowledge that as long as you believe in yourself, anything is possible.  So if you've got some internalized victim/victimizer/protector issues that you'd like to work out externally, stay away from Game of Thrones. It will only work to reinforce that maladaptive power dynamic and leave you hollow inside. Instead, try 1001 Spikes. While it's not as easy to digest as a show that invites you to sit back and passively watch as the atrocities unfold before you, it's well worth the effort if you're at all interested in becoming a more psychologically well-aligned and resilient person. 
Game of Thrones photo
Ukampa > Westeros
Believe it or not, there once was a time when many, many people thought that Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare was better than Advance Wars. Thankfully, those days are over now. According to my numbers, 89.6% of those who o...


Auto-loading more stories ... un momento, corazón ...