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Experience Points .17: Nier

Jul 04 // Ben Davis
Don't look at me! Nier's Emil is one of my favorite video game characters of all time. The player first meets Emil in his super creepy mansion, a young boy playing the piano alone with a piece of cloth covering his eyes. Due to the setting, his initial appearance is a little off-putting, but once he begins to open up to the player, he turns out to be anything but creepy. Emil is just about the sweetest, most kind-hearted kid you'll ever meet, but he suffers from a peculiar and unfortunate ailment wherein everything he looks at turns to stone, which is why he always wears a blindfold. His eyes are a great source of shame and guilt for him, which he has a hard time coming to terms with until Kaine, another outcast, comforts him by saying, "Your eyes are not a sin. Don't ever be ashamed of them. They're part of you. A vital part of you." Eventually, he brings the party to a secret laboratory in an attempt to find a cure for his ailment. After a few bizarre revelations and an emotional boss fight, the mission is a success. Emil regains the use of his eyes without the risk of petrification, but unfortunately this comes at a great cost. The process transforms his body into a grotesque, skeletal figure as the player finds him cowering and sobbing on the floor, horrified and ashamed by his own appearance. During a touching moment, Nier assures him that everything will be okay and that they won't treat him any differently. Poor Emil is such a tragic character. He goes from being unable to look at anyone without hurting them, to being ashamed to even be seen because of his disfigured body. But even after so much hardship, he never loses his cheery, optimistic attitude, and he never stops trying to bring happiness to everyone around him. It always makes me so happy that his friends don't treat him any differently after he transforms. Kaine and Nier are nothing but supportive and comforting, and it makes me smile to see Emil light up after being reassured. There are so many scenes with Emil that just make my heart swell. You're the greatest, Emil, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise! Those who dream Nier's gameplay is rather interesting as it's never afraid to suddenly switch things up by throwing in new mechanics from different genres. It may seem like a typical action adventure with RPG elements at first, but then it goes and adds side-scrolling platform segments, top-down perspectives, bullet hell boss fights, survival horror areas, and more like it's nothing at all. And somehow, all of these elements work well and feel completely natural. The strangest part of the game, though, is when it suddenly becomes a text-based adventure of all things, and they still manage to have it make sense within the context of the story. In the Forest of Myth, the party comes upon an odd village of sleeping people. The villagers warn Nier to beware of the words, the "contagious words," but by then it's already too late. A strange illness known as the Deathdream lingers over the forest denizens, trapping them in their dreams, and it quickly begins to take hold of Nier and Weiss. The illness manifests itself as words in the minds of the characters, which appear as text on the screen for the player to read. Rather than speaking, the characters' dialogue appears as written words and their thoughts and actions appear as narration. It's actually rather humorous, because they can read the narration being written about them, and sometimes react as though it's being unfair or deceiving (especially Weiss, who gets very irritated with the narrator's choice of words). There are several dreams the player must enter by speaking with the various villagers. Some of them require some light puzzle solving to escape, such as choosing the correct path to take or answering some reading comprehension questions which make sure the player isn't just skipping through all the dialogue. Failing these sections can actually lead to death and a game over, so players have to be careful and pay attention or they'll never escape from the dreams. It's so bizarre to see a game like Nier suddenly switch gears and try something completely unexpected like this, but somehow it worked so well that it actually resulted in one of my favorite parts of the game. I loved how they worked the text adventure mechanics into the actual story by forming an illness around it, so it actually made sense to be seeing nothing but words on the screen and it didn't feel jarring or clumsy. I'll be curious to see if they try anything else unexpected like this in the sequel! Resident Emil Speaking of the different genre elements, I have to bring up the survival horror section as well, because it's another one of my favorite parts of the game. The area in question is Emil's mansion, a wonderful homage to survival horror games, and to Resident Evil especially. Upon approaching the mansion, all of the colors of the world seem to fade slowly to gray, casting a gloomy atmosphere over the party. Inside, every room has that static Resident Evil camera angle. A butler directs the party to a waiting room, but after waiting around for a while, Nier decides to investigate. After leaving the room, Kaine mysteriously disappears. Weiss begins to panic, believing the mansion to be haunted, as strange things start to happen. Paintings begin changing, creepy, petrified statues of people start showing up, unsettling voices can be heard, a sink randomly starts filling up with blood... this is clearly not a good place to get lost! And yet, the mansion is owned by Emil, the kindest person in the world. His presence really threw me off at first. What is he doing staying in a creepy place like this? He admits to having the power to turn things to stone, so it's safe to assume that all those petrified people were his doing. But is he aware of the bloody sinks and scary paintings? Probably not, since he's always blindfolded. Or maybe he's just used to it. At least he's the one comforting thing about this place, so it's not all creepy. [embed]295242:59325:0[/embed] Play it again, Devola If there's one thing I think everyone can agree on, it's that Nier has a phenomenal soundtrack. It's legitimately one of the very best video game soundtracks I can think of. The fictional language and Latin-esque vocals are haunting and beautiful, and combined with the dreamlike music, memorable melodies, and unique sounds, the result is just magical. Every track is exceptional, but if I had to choose one track to share for those who have never heard anything from the game before, I'd probably choose the "Song of the Ancients." Like much of Nier's music, there are multiple versions, but I chose Devola's version for its peacefulness and the fact that it could be considered a main theme, since it plays in the hub village. It's one of my favorite vocal tracks, along with the themes for Kaine, Emil, and the Shadowlord. Even if you haven't played Nier, I highly recommend giving the rest of the soundtrack a listen if you enjoy this track! Defense against the dark arts Nier often gets criticized for its mediocre gameplay mechanics, most likely because of the combat, since the sword techniques are rather limited. However, there's one aspect of the combat that I found to be especially satisfying: the Sealed Verses. Nier's Sealed Verses are basically magic attacks which are learned by Weiss and can be used by Nier in battle. There are eight Sealed Verses to learn, and two can be equipped at a time. They're all very different and useful in various situations. Dark Blast shoots out small, quick projectiles; Dark Lance fires a barrage of large spears; Dark Hand summons up giant fists for lots of damage; Dark Phantom calls forth a shadowy doppelganger to fight for Nier; Dark Whirlwind creates spinning blades which block enemy projectiles and cause damage; Dark Execution causes spears to burst up out of the ground in straight lines; Dark Gluttony absorbs enemy projectiles and fires them back; and Dark Wall creates a shield around Nier. Combining the various Sealed Verses with the limited physical attacks honestly left me feeling very satisfied with the combat. Even though I usually stuck with Dark Lance, as it seemed to be the most useful for just about any situation, I had a lot of fun experimenting with all the other spells as well. Dark Execution is especially cool, since the spears can pop out of the ground in every direction, impaling enemies all around Nier. I loved that I could be slashing Shades with a sword one second, summoning a huge, magical fist to pound them into the ground the next, and then finishing them off by impaling them with spears popping out of the ground below them. Honestly, the Sealed Verses simply felt amazing to use, and I thought they more than made up for the lackluster swordplay. The bold and the beautiful Initially, I didn't like Kaine very much. Scantily clad woman with an attitude? I've seen that before, plenty of times. Show me something new! Well, surprisingly for me, Nier did show me something completely new with none other than Kaine herself. Kaine's backstory isn't revealed to the player until New Game+, and it sure as hell does its job in getting me to care about the half-naked heroine. Much like the forest text adventure part of the game, Kaine's backstory is told entirely through text. It opens with a young Kaine, running from a group of bullies in her hometown. The bullies throw rocks at her, call her a freak, and beat her up before finally dropping an unexpected revelation by saying, "I don't get you, freak. Whatcha acting like a girl for, huh? Everyone knows what you really are!" As it turns out, Kaine is actually a hermaphrodite. Because of this, she is viewed as an outcast and is bullied relentlessly, leaving her depressed, suicidal, and feeling as though she has no place in the world. The only person who stands up for her is her grandmother, a tough, admirable woman who doesn't take shit from anyone and isn't afraid to retaliate against those who have been bullying her granddaughter. She comforts Kaine by saying, "You're my granddaughter, and I love you, and if folks have a problem with that, they can just go to hell." What a wonderful woman! It may seem strange for a character to wear skimpy, revealing clothing, especially in combat situations, but in Kaine's case I totally get it. Her entire life, she was bullied about her body and made to feel ugly and bad about herself. But as an adult, she's become hardened to all of those criticisms and has decided to finally own her body and feel proud about herself. She may be different from everyone else, but she's no less beautiful, and after so many years of being ashamed of her body, she's finally comfortable enough to show some skin and not care about what anyone else thinks. Personally, I think that's terrific. If there was ever a good way to justify a character dressing in next to nothing at all, Nier certainly pulled it off successfully with Kaine. Shady business MAJOR NEW GAME+ SPOILERS AHEAD Few games utilize the possibilities which New Game+ can offer better than Nier. For any game, there needs to be a good reason for players to want to continue into New Game+. Usually, this means new content or more difficult challenges to keep the player engaged and wanting to come back for more. But in Nier's case, New Game+ offers so much more. In fact, it pretty much changes the tone of the story entirely. A major part of Nier's New Game+ experience focuses on explaining the game's main enemies, the Shades. It's revealed that the Shades are actually the souls of the original humans, also known as Gestalts, and they are meant to fuse with the Replicants, which are their corresponding shells and the characters that the player has gotten to know all this time. So essentially, the player has been killing off the souls of their human counterparts, without even realizing it until the second playthrough, at which point the killing spree must continue if the player ever hopes to see the final ending. And the game certainly tries to make the player feel as bad about this as possible. Many of the boss Shades are given sympathetic personalities and backstories, and then the player is forced to fight them all over again. It's true that they were trying to fuse with the Replicants, who had developed their own consciences and obviously didn't want to lose them, but it's unfortunate that the Gestalts and Replicants couldn't just live peacefully together. It really started to dawn on me after a while that there were clues to this all along. I mean, I always wondered why these creepy Shades were dropping items like coloring books, photo albums, earrings, and other personal things, and why I seemed to hear garbled human speech whenever they were killed. At first, I figured it was because the Shades had been killing humans and taking their stuff, but oh how wrong I was. New Game+ made me feel like a monster, and Nier deserves all the praise in the world for that very reason. Past Experience Points .01: The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask.02: Shadow of the Colossus.03: EarthBound.04: Catherine.05: Demon's Souls.06: No More Heroes.07: Paper Mario.08: Persona 4.09: Final Fantasy IX.10: Mega Man Legends.11: Rayman Origins.12: Metal Slug 3.13: Animal Crossing.14: Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King.15: Super Mario Sunshine.16: Final Fantasy VII
Nier highlights photo
Weiss! You dumbass!
Experience Points is a series in which I highlight some of the most memorable things about a particular game. These can include anything from a specific scene or moment, a character, a weapon or item, a level or location, a p...

Red Ash photo
Introducing sci-fi shooter Red Ash
Keiji Inafune and Comcept have wrapped development on Mighty No. 9 and are now returning to Kickstarter to fund their next project, Red Ash, a spiritual successor to Mega Man Legends. Announced today at Anime Expo in Los Ange...

This Japanese FPS just misses its mark

Jul 04 // Kyle MacGregor
The Legend of Alfur isn't particularly good, but I was more than willing to overlook its rough edges, at least at first. The experience pulled me in from the get-go. It begins when our protagonists, a lass named Shalnawaz and her brother Leon, are taken captive by soldiers from a neighboring kingdom. And to make matters worse, the men openly plan to sell the siblings into slavery.  Things quickly take an unexpected turn, though. One of the soldiers kills his commanding officer, then frames the siblings for the murder, forcing them to escape and fend off their pursuers. It's just a pity that the actual game doesn't back up the intrigue of the premise. Despite being a few years old now (and being created by a small team on a limited budget), this thing was dated when it launched. It isn't pretty. At all. But its graphical shortcomings pale in comparison with the gameplay. [embed]295318:59341:0[/embed] While engaging in shootouts, I often found my character clipping through objects and getting caught on scenery. Hiding behind cover isn't always effective, as enemy fire can travel through boulders, hillsides, and trees. And firing back is just as troublesome, thanks to some truly awful iron sights.  Still with me? Despite those many issues, I still somehow managed to glean a bit of enjoyment out of The Legend of Alfur. It is by no means great (or the best use of $10), but the sheer novelty of an anime-style first-person shooter cannot be denied. It's something I'd honestly like to see more of. If you'd like to see more Doujin Dojo, check back with Destructoid every weekend for more (hopefully positive) coverage of Japanese indie games and the people that make and localize them. Want us to report on something in particular? Hit me up ([email protected]) and stay tuned!
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Alfur isn't so legendary
Welcome to Doujin Dojo, a new weekly column dedicated to the Japanese indie scene. Maybe I should have started this out by gushing about Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale or Astebreed (which is now available on PS4, by the way)....


Celebrate Independence Day with that Star Fox level that really ripped off the movie

Jul 04 // Zack Furniss
The final battle for the world (but mostly America) in Independence Day involves a gargantuan spacecraft with a charged beam that can destroy entire cities. After Jeff Goldblum hacks the shit out of some aliens in space, fighter pilots are able to launch missiles into the giant weakspots located on the bottom of the ships and end the onslaught. Oh, and Will Smith does some stuff, too. In April of 1997, Star Fox 64 came out and too many barrel roll jokes happened. The game was pretty solid, but one level in particular was a bit suspicious. When Fox and crew fly to the planet Katina (to which my mind wants to add an r every damn time), they also have to fight a mothership with a "Core weapon...able to discharge enough energy to vaporize any city in the galaxy." That bit of information is found on page 69 of the Official Nintendo Power Player's Guide that I found in my closet, so you know it's sexy and correct. [embed]295291:59338:0[/embed] So Fox and friends (including Bill Grey, a bulldog with a real bad surfer accent) set out to destroy this ship, which Wikipedia tells me is called the Saucerer, while it prepares to blow up a military base that looks like a shitty pyramid. After destroying various hatches on the mothership, you can target the core weapon, not at all unlike Independence Day. Between that and the swarms of small fighter ships, it all feels like Nintendo might be ran by Emmerich fans. Whether you call it a rip-off or an homage, it was a great level. Plus, Bill being introduced on Katina and Bill Pullman playing a character in Independence Day can't be a coincidence.  Happy Fourth of July to those celebrating!
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AKA the best Star Fox 64 stage
While you tell us about your favorite patriotic game in honor of the United States' Independence Day, I ask that you transport yourself twenty years into the past. In July of 1996, Independence Day came to theaters ...

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It will hit Japanese arcades on July 16
Two new official videos have arrived for Pokken Tournament, which unveil two new fighters for the game -- Weavile and Charizard. The latter was always going to be an obvious choice, but I'm interested in seeing what Weavile ...

Nintendo Download: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

Jul 02 // Chris Carter
If you missed last week's edition, here it is. As for what I'm getting, I can't resist another playthrough of Ocarina of Time, even if I already have the N64 cart, the 3DS remake, and the GameCube compilation disc. For those who are interested, sales are going on for both the Wii U and 3DS.
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Also, Roving Rogue
It's an odd day for the Wii U eShop, as the only big update is Ocarina of Time, which now can be played natively on the platform without going through Wii emulation. The Wii U is also getting Roving Rogue and Quadco...

Podtoid 298: Tales of E3 and Batman: Arkham Knight

Jul 01 // Kyle MacGregor
[embed]295129:59300:0[/embed] What We Discussed E3 press conferences Pele and the Hoop Gawd The Last Guardian OMG Bethesda! How Ubisoft sucks Star Fox Zero For Honor Brett's BBQ adventures AMD's shitty PC gaming press conference Batman: Arkham Knight Creepin' on people with StreetPass The ethics of previews Metroid Prime: Federation Force Zack's haircut SATPOTPAQ Recent Episodes Podtoid 297: E3 2015 Predictions, Tips & Tricks  Podtoid 296: On Fleek Podtoid 295: Squidnapped Podtoid 294: Croatian Vacation Send any and all questions, tips, and Gardevoir drawings to [email protected]  
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Mmmmm delicious HOT POCKETS
Subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or download it here. Welcome back to Podtoid! On this week's podcast, Steven, Brett and Kyle return from sunny, beautiful, wonderful Los Angeles to discuss our E3 adventures ...

Destructoid Magazine is here, and it can be free!

Jul 01 // Jonathan Holmes
Destructoid Magazine: Issue 1 Exclusive Bloodstained cover by Inti Creates artist Yuji Natsume Exclusive interview with Bloodstained creator and Castlevania legend Koji Igarashi A detailed examination of the MOTHER/EarthBound series and the reasons why Nintendo so afraid to love it, featuring artwork by Camille Young, Robert 'Robaato' Porter  and Jorge Velez Exclusive sprite art of adorable Cammy and blubbery Birdie from Street Fighter V from Martin Wörister, with a preview of the game to match A mini-guide for Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U and 3DS by ZeRo, the game's world champion, with art by Corey 'Reyyy' Lewis and David North A career retrospective with Mariel Cartwright (Skullgirls) and Adam Tierney (WayForward), including exclusive artwork and hints about upcoming projects A Splatoon for Beginners' guide by Chris Carter and Jonathan Holmes, with artwork by Sarah Thomas, Robert 'Robaato' Porter and Jorge Velez An exclusive full color Arem comic by Corey 'Reyyy' Lewis And look what GameFan made! GameFan: Issue 11 Our E3 picks come to life over 14 pages of scrumptious highlights HD Remasters: 10 we’d most like to see (and you’ll never guess) Blade & Soul LIVES. Hyung Tae Kim’s sweeping online epic (finally) heads west. Q&A with Omega Force on all things Kaiju for Toukiden Kiwami 20 plus pages of reviews!  Here's a low-resolution preview of Destructoid Magazine, Issue 1 Get your copy today!  You can pre-order the print copy here
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Debut flip issue with GameFan
Destructoid Magazine Issue 1 is finally here! To clear up any confusion: yes, it is a real, actual paper magazine you can lick. It's 36 pages long (minus ads), which isn't too shabby. Better yet, if you flip the magazine over...

Heroes of the Storm's Butcher is another great addition

Jun 30 // Chris Carter
The Butcher is an interesting mix of styles, despite his labeled as an assassin. While he is big, he's not necessarily "tanky" in that he's an easy target while being focused. You also have to micromanage him at the start, as he needs to collect "meat stacks," power-ups dropped by enemy minions to charge up his attack power. Using the various talents acquired on your journey to level 20, you can reward yourself for constantly staying on top of your meat meter, with abilities like a higher meat cap and the ability to heal yourself from pickups. Or, you can simply build up your abilities. His standard "Q" is a straight line skillshot, and slows enemies in its path. It's very aggressive. You can chase down enemies, Q them, and a few seconds later, Q them again. Much like wandering with enemy stealth combatants unaccounted for, going solo with the Butcher roaming around isn't a great idea. This is exacerbated by his "E," which is a mad dash that grants him "unstoppable" status and stuns the enemy for a second after reaching his target. I actually found some neat ways to use this, like running away from enemies by targeting minions, or saving teammates who are being chased. It's also a dramatic move, with the target getting a demonic mark on their head and the Butcher giving in to his inner, terrifying bloodlust. It's powerful for sure, but it also has a long cooldown of 20 seconds. His "W" is probably his least interesting ability, as it can mark a target for a limited time which grants him health while attacking said marked enemy. I've found that for the most part in teamfights, the amount of healing involved isn't really sufficient enough to prevent you from dying, and it would have been more interesting if it gave teammates a low leech percentage (though you can spec it to heal more and grant movement speed). [embed]295040:59292:0[/embed] His ultimate (Heroic) powers are much more interesting. Furnace Blast is an area-of-effect (AOE) blast in a circle around him, and Lamb to the Slaughter chains an enemy to a hitching post for four seconds (it chains anyone in the radius at level 20). The first Heroic doesn't sound all that interesting, but it has a cool visual effect and can be used while charging with your "E," making it a bit more nuanced. The hitching post is my personal favorite, as it augments the Butcher's keen ability to kill lone heroes while they're hilariously chained in place. This works even better if you're ganking enemies with a partner like Nazeebo, who has enough time to set up his Zombie Wall. I also had a chance to test out the "Iron Butcher" skin as well as the "Butcher's Battle Beast" mount that's exclusive to his bundle. The mount isn't anything to write home about, as it's mostly just an existing Battle Beast with some iron armor added on top. It's exclusive to the bundle though, so some of you may want to spring for it. As for the Iron Butcher, it's a pretty safe choice, but it does fit the character and the fact that his face is covered does give him a new enough look compared to some of the other skins. While the jury is still out on whether or not the Butcher is balanced (it's the first day!), he certainly feels like it. To really capitalize with the hero you'll need to play your cards right, and with a distinct lack of escape abilities and the meat mechanic, players will need to master his ins and outs to truly perform. For now though, I'm happy with the results, and I'm tempted to work on my fifth master skin with him.
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15,000 gold or $9.99
Heroes of the Storm has just kicked off its Eternal Conflict event, which will bring more Diablo-related content into the game over the course of the next few months. Characters, mounts, and a new level are a part of the cele...

'You paint the world with your Soft Body'

Jun 29 // Jordan Devore
[embed]295022:59271:0[/embed] Introducing Soft Body on PS4, PS Vita [PlayStation Blog]
Soft Body photo
Gooey
Well, that headline wrote itself. Soft Body, *ahem*, looks like a cool, free-flowing take on Snake. Here, you're dodging bullets while filling in the world and your snake can split apart to form two bodies, each controlled by...

Club Nintendo  photo
Onto the next iteration
If you haven't spent all your Coins yet at Club Nintendo US, now would be a good time to do so -- the service is closing forever tomorrow. It will officially close at 11:59 PM PST on June 30, 2015, so get moving! Yo...

Which is your favorite Batman: Arkham game?

Jun 29 // Chris Carter
[embed]294941:59268:0[/embed]
Batman photo
Don't say 'Origins!'
Let's start at the beginning, shall we? Batman: Arkham Asylum, through and through, is just a good video game. It took a simple concept ("Be the Bat"), introduced the free-flow combat system and the Predator stealth...

Obscure Video Games: Kick Challenger - Air Foot

Jun 27 // Obscure Video Games
There's a variety of interesting power-ups to tread upon. A variety of Nike sneakers are available to alter your movement, but there's no indication that they were officially licensed. I assume Air Master was a reference to these swap-meet Air Jordans. As with many of the games I highlight here, piles of feces make an appearance, as well. For some reason in this game stepping in it makes you temporarily invincible. There is even one item that turns you into a pesticide can which can shoot at the bugs (as you can see in my GIF at the top). The game is not without its faults, though. The five levels included aren't very long, but in a way this is good because it does get a bit repetitive.  Also, the difficulty and frustration level can be a bit much. One of the main things that got me was the warp spots, which almost always take you back to an earlier point in the level. They spring up all over the place, and can be quite tricky (sometimes impossible) to avoid. The game also won't let you backtrack; if you get stuck in front of a warp, you have to take it. This kind of trial-and-error stuff is just begging to be played on an emulator with save states. Overall, if you're forgiving and want to try something truly original, different, and (of course) challenging, I'd say Kick Challenger is worth checking out. [embed]294633:59217:0[/embed]
Obscure Video Games photo
1, 2, 3, kick it!
In 1986 Nintendo released the Famicom Disk System add-on for the Famicom in Japan. For some reason the company decided it wasn't worth the time to sell it anywhere else in the world, but that didn't stop game makers from rele...

SQUARE ENIX photo
The market is moving on
There comes a point in every console's life cycle where we all collectively decide the party is over. Some people start filing out around midnight. Others will disappear later on. Eventually it's just one guy trying to keep t...

Review: The Controller Shop custom DualShock 4

Jun 26 // Kyle MacGregor
Okay, so maybe it wasn't a complete enigma. Still, cracking the case open and laying eyes on the controller for the first time, I was taken aback. It wasn't at all how I pictured it in my mind's eye. The thing literally glittered, metallic paint beaming in the sunlight, its splashy buttons distracting from the intricate detailed artwork in the periphery. It was shocking, really. Maybe a little gaudy. Certainly more than I bargained for, more vibrant and impressive than anything I might have conjured up. My attention was soon drawn to the portrait of Mr. Destructoid along the left handle. At a glance, our robot mascot looked flawless, so impeccable that I figured it was a decal. Upon closer inspection, though, you can see its tiny imperfections. This didn't roll off a conveyor belt in a factory somewhere. It was painstakingly rendered by hand, a labor of love. Subtle stripes and understated circuitry art accent the front panel, while the rear is underscored by a dozen or so little Space Invaders and an elaborate pattern of triangles clustered around the edge. While The Controller Shop offers rear paddles (similar to the ones featured in Microsoft's upcoming Xbox One Elite Controller) and foot pedal accessories, ours didn't come included with any significant hardware upgrades. But that isn't to say it feels identical to a standard DualShock 4. The surface is more glossy than matte, and the anterior lacks the grippy feel of other DualShock 4s. Having spent an extended period of time gaming with it, I can't say I prefer it over the basic edition, nor can I say it's any worse. Just different. Though there are a few specific instances where I might favor one over the other. In a side by side comparison, The Controller Shop's face buttons feel more satisfying. They're a tad clickier -- if that makes any sense. The shoulder buttons feel slightly heavier. The biggest difference was the D-pad, though. It takes more effort to move around, making it feel ill-suited for fighting games or other genres where a more rigid range of motion might be an impediment. On the other hand, the analogs feel firm and potentially more durable, which could be a plus, given how the set on the standard model are prone to falling apart. Whether or not a custom look and vaguely different feel is worth $100+ (or, in the case of this one, closer to $250 due to its hand-painted graphics and whatnot) is debatable and highly subjective. I can say that if you're in the market for such a luxury item, you could certainly do a lot worse. This may not have been the particular design I would have chosen for myself, but that was kind of the point. I wanted to see what The Controller Shop could do, and they produced a finely-made work of art that exceeded my expectations in many respects. If you can afford to channel that craftsmanship into your own style, it might very well be worth it. [This review is based on a retail unit of the controller provided by the manufacturer.]
REVIEW: Custom Controller photo
Handcrafted hardware
When a custom controller outfit offered to let us design our own tailor-made gamepad, it was a proposal we couldn't refuse. Except designing things is hard. So we rolled the dice and left that task in their hands, hoping thei...

Rodea: The Sky Soldier might be a bumpy ride

Jun 25 // Kyle MacGregor
Rodea: The Sky Soldier was initially conceived as a Wii game, but it came too late in the day for a system nearing the end of its life cycle. It needed to be reworked as a Wii U and 3DS title. The thing is, the Wii is a special console, and Rodea was developed with its unique attributes in mind. Motion controls are a tad different than standard inputs, and the transition between the two seems to have left an indelible imprint on Rodea's design. Taking to the skies in this aerial action game doesn't come as second nature. With the press of a button, Rodea lifts into the air and hovers for a moment as you aim where you want him to go. He can't fly indefinitely, though, and will fall to his death unless you find another object for him to bounce off within an allotted time frame. It seems like the type of interface that would work seamlessly with the Wii's IR pointer, but on Wii U GamePad, I found myself flying off at odd angles, often coming frustratingly close to objectives that seemed just out of reach. Perhaps it's the sort of thing that comes with practice, but in a brief demo on the E3 show floor, only got a glimpse at what sort of joys Rodea might have to offer.  Though it never felt intuitive, there were flashes when I managed to soar through the air with some semblance of precision. And in those fleeting moments I could really feel Yuji Naka's (Sonic Adventure, NiGHTS into Dreams) fingerprints all over the game, as I bounded from one floating isle to the next, collecting rings in this ethereal obstacle course. More than anything, my time with Rodea: The Sky Soldier made me oddly happy the Wii U version is coming tethered with a copy of the game on Wii. I'm not sure how much easier it will be to pilot on its original platform, but it feels like that's how it was intended to be experienced. Either that or flight isn't a skill easily mastered in a few mere minutes.
Rodea impressions  photo
Awkward aeronautics
My first flight with Rodea: The Sky Soldier wasn't a smooth one. But perhaps that's to be expected of a title that's seen such a turbulent development history. The project went dark shortly after its initial announcement in 2010, then underwent a change of platforms -- something that seems all too apparent after a few minutes with the final product.

Warner Bros., stop outsourcing your broken PC releases

Jun 25 // Chris Carter
As a PC gamer since 1989, I'm used to the occasional PC-related issue. I remember installing games on multiple floppy disks, only to have it error out on the last disk, forcing me to start all over again. You thought DRM is bad now? I remember dealing with physical dongles that didn't work, or copies that didn't come with notebooks or materials required to complete the game -- at that point, your only option is to write a letter to the publisher or just buy a new game entirely. It wasn't ideal, but we've made strides since then. At least, some publishers have. For whatever reason, Warner Bros. continues to outsource the PC versions of its major games despite the fact that it pushes them quite heavily, boasting enhanced features that don't actually make it into the final version -- presumably because they weren't given the same amount of care as the console editions. You know what? If WB deems the console business more lucrative and easy to control, so be it, just focus on that, and don't release a half-finished PC port. Or at the very least, wait until the inevitable Game of the Year Edition and release an enhanced PC version then -- one that works. Whatever you decide, I hope you get your act together for Mad Max this September. It seems as if Avalanche Studios is handling the PC version, but for all intents and purposes, we thought that was the case with Arkham Knight all the way up until launch. As it turns out, it had an "external PC development partner," which was revealed to be Iron Galaxy Studios in the game's credits. Play it safe until WB decides to play it smart.
WB photo
We can wait for a working version
Another Warner Bros. PC release, another nightmare for those of you who pre-ordered the game. This just happened with a broken Mortal Kombat X port and it's happening again with Batman: Arkham Knight. While man...

Steam Summer Sale, an embarrassment of riches

Jun 24 // Nic Rowen
Wolfenstein: The New Order Embarrassment factor: A Neville Chamberlain ass-tattoo From the moment I first laid eyes on Wolfenstein: The New Order I thought “that looks like a great game!” followed almost immediately with a second thought “I'll wait for a Steam Sale.” And so it was. Yes, I know, I'm the kind of scumbag that disincentivizes publishers from backing games like Wolfenstein, and I feel bad about that, really. But I know in my heart of hearts that between work and every other game tugging at my arm, I will probably never find the time to run through a single player shooter, no matter how much fun the nazi-murder spree looks. At least it's there for me now if I ever re-watch Jin-Roh and feel compelled to dump a belt-fed machine gun into a human wall of Wehrmacht. Long Live the Queen Embarrassment factor: Mortified monocle dropping Look, sometimes I buy games because I think they might be fun to play with my girlfriend. Stop judging me. Also, the trailer was cute, and it was $2.00, and sometimes I like nice things, and you're going to stop judging me right now or I will cut off your head and parade it around court on the end of a pike. Iron Brigade Embarrassment factor: Serving with pride I don't think I need to make excuses for wanting to ride atop a glorious mobile trench/mecha, obliterate endless waves of lethal cathode ray enemies with ridiculously oversized cannons, and sport a splendid hat while doing so. If you don't understand the self-evident joy of such things, we're just never going to see eye-to-eye. Sunless Sea Embarrassment factor: Muttering about mutiny Sunless Sea looks like Darkest Dungeon, but on the water, so it's bound to be a delightful time. The embarrassment factor isn't too high here because I'm sure I'll get some play out of this one and I love to support indie devs like Failbetter Games. Besides, any game recommended by our very own Ben Davis has to be worth a look. Borderlands 2: GOTY Embarrassment factor: C:/My Documents/DankMemes Ever hear of the sunk cost fallacy? Well this is it. I loved Borderlands 2, played through the main campaign with my brother, did a bunch of co-op and challenge stuff with Dtoid's StriderHoang, and bought the big dumb fancy DLC pack. Problem was, I did most of that playing during the first three weeks of the game's launch and never quite got back to all that expensive DLC. This is why you never buy the season pass folks. It's always loomed over me and I'd like to revisit those characters and see all that content I missed, but most of my 360 friends have moved on to other consoles and it's not like I'm going to solo another character through the game, that's not how I get down with Borderlands. But, the Steam sale gave me and my brother a chance to grab the game on the cheap on our PCs, so we can delude ourselves all over again that somehow we'll find 30 hours of mutually schedule-friendly time to plunder, raid, and explode all over Pandora again. Look forward to next year when I tell you all about how I picked up the Pre-Sequel Definitive Edition on the cheap and will toootally play through it.. Sometime. Westerado: Double Barreled Embarrassment factor: I aim to misbehave No embarrassment here. Everything I hear about Westerado makes it sound like a hell of a game. Rustlin' cattle, solving mysteries, and laying down the law by whipping out a gun mid-dialog scene, these are all things I can stare at over the horizon and give a knowing nod. Gravity Ghost Embarrassment factor: WHEEEEEE! Mea culpa. I did not do the research before I bought this game and I just assumed that you played as the deer wearing socks that you always see in the screenshots. 100% of my purchasing thought process was based on loving the idea of a deer wearing socks. Sadly, you do not play as a deer wearing socks. On the plus side, it's a beautiful, charming, and magical experience and all that... Sigh, I really wanted to play as a deer wearing socks. The Fall Embarrassment factor: File not found The only embarrassment here is that I didn't pick up The Fall sooner. Seriously, this is a gorgeous indie game about a possibly malfunctioning robot-suit trying to save his unconscious pilot while stranded on a planet populated by insane drones and fascist super-computers. Just saying that last sentence out loud activates my saliva glands. Payday 2 DLC: Clover Character pack, Alesso Heist, and the Butcher's BBQ pack Embarrassment factor: A poster of Waingro in the family room I picked up Payday 2 during last summer's Steam Sale and it was a gift that kept on giving. Surprisingly fun co-op heisting with months of content patches and bug fixes behind it, and I picked it up for a song. I ended up playing it for months before my attention drifted and I don't think I ever spent more than $15 or $20 on it all told. With that in mind, even though I'm living on the straight and narrow now, I thought it might be a good idea to pick up some of the cooler looking DLC bits I've missed just in case the bastards ever pull me back in. See, smooth over the truth enough and you can justify something as dumb as buying DLC for a game you don't even have installed any more. That's the kind of moral flexibility the Payday crew can respect. Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes Embarrassment factor: Listening to “Love Deterrence” by Paz Oretga on loop It's Metal Gear for like $5.00, how could I not? I know, buying Ground Zeroes is essentially paying for the privilege to play a demo of The Phantom Pain (which is not too far away from coming out itself now), but you know what? The demo from Metal Gear Solid back on the PS1 was dope as hell and I ended up playing it over and over again FOR HOURS. That demo was basically a loading dock and the front yard of Shadow Moses, so imagine the kind of fun I can wring out of an entire military base. Again, I miss demo discs. The Vanishing of Ethan Carter Embarrassment factor: Mistaking a shadow for a ghost and making a little yelping noise The Vanishing of Ethan Carter looks like a positively beautiful mystery/horror game that will sit in my Steam backlog with pride. I'll be glad it's there, and think of playing it often. “Maybe around Halloween” I'll say. But then the month will come and some big name title will drop hoping to get a jump on the November rush, or Team Fortress 2 will do some adorable ghost themed event and I'll end up plugging hours into an eight year old game again, and poor Ethan Carter will be forgotten. Left to haunt my backlog forever. More like The Vanishing of my Free Time, am I right? Wait, no, that doesn't make much sense. I'll show myself out. Alien: Isolation Embarrassment factor: Closing your eyes in the theater and hoping no one notices Oh man, I hope I don't lose this one to the backlog, because so far it's pretty great. Alien: Isolation is one of those games I was really interested in at launch, but just couldn't bring myself to cough up $60 for it. Now that I've had a chance to play it, I'd say it probably would have been worth the full sticker price (but I'm much happier paying the $10 or so it ended up costing me). The best part of the game so far has just been noodling around the station, checking out all the little touches and messing with the retro-future computers and technology. It's a lot like Gone Home, only instead of being “a little spooky” it's a full-on assault on the nerves that ratchets up the tension until finally skewering you on the end of a Xenomorph's spiked tail. I'm still holding out hope that Amanda will just find some nice girl to elope with and get out of the station. Marine Sharpshooter 2 Embarrassment factor: Marine Sharpshooter 2 I didn't buy this one. A friend “gifted” me a copy, and oh what a gift. Marine Sharpshooter 2 apparently came out in 2004, but after five minutes in it's muddy, jagged jungles, you'll swear it was 1999 all over again. With what I would describe as a “generous” Metacritic score of 52, it doesn't have many upsides. So of course I immediately installed it instead of any of the other many fine games I spent actual money on. In the clinical world, this is what they call “self hate.”
Steam Sale haul photo
We all have our vices
I still firmly believe that one of the greatest upsides of being a PC gamer are the twice annual fire-sales hosted by Steam. Those sales, alongside the multitude of other deals and bargains that can be scooped up from Humble ...

Heroes of the Storm's Battlefield of Eternity may be the best map yet

Jun 24 // Chris Carter
[embed]294694:59216:0[/embed] The layout is extremely simplistic. It's the game's only other two-lane map, in addition to Haunted Mines, and sports a few extra hallways for mercenary creeps, as well as its main event in the middle (which I'll get to later). In short, I'm happy to see another smaller map in the fray, as Heroes is built on short matches and fast, frantic team fights even towards the beginning of the game. New minion and creep skins make everything feel fresh, as does the Heaven vs. Hell theme which permeates throughout the entire arena, and differentiates both sides more than any MOBA I've seen. Random Treasure Goblin events (which can happen on any map) featuring Deckard Cain as a guest announcer only drive this point home. The main gimmick (objective) is flashier for sure. In short, two immortals will be locked in battle after a certain period of time passes, and it's up to both teams to tip the scales in their favor. While your respective God is fighting, you can either defend it, or go after your rival, which will test your teamfighting mettle right off the bat. You'll have to do this while the other immortal is occasionally stopping to attack your team, so it can be a really risky affair (much like the Grave Golem) -- but it's worth it not only for the reward, but to see the badass animations that the immortals boast while fighting at certain intervals. It's a thrill, to say the least. Unlike some other objectives it feels paramount to help your God out, and constantly keeps you entertained. After destroying the other God your ally will jump into a lane and help you push, which usually destroys an encampment as long as most of your team is there to assist. The key is that the skirmishes feel like they matter, but they don't completely determine the flow of the game -- you can win some, and lose some. Another main reason why the immortals are a good idea is because they don't take you out of the game or force new players to learn a new strategy, like the Garden Terror and Dragon Knight do. Really though, it's just great to have another Blizzard franchise properly represented in Heroes of the Storm with an original work. Many complaints were levied against the current maps for being "Heroes of Warcraft"-esque, so adding in one that helps balance the scales a bit is a good move. It will be available on June 30, and a smaller map rotation will be implemented until July 7 so you have a higher chance to get Battlefield of Eternity.
Heroes of the Storm photo
Angels and Demons
The newest patch for Heroes of the Storm has hit the public test realm (PTR), which includes a number of character changes and reworks, in addition to the big piece of new content set to hit next week -- the Battlef...

Arkham late Knight photo
Arkham late Knight
A select handful of reviews for Batman: Arkham Knight have popped up on the net this morning. We don't have one up and we likely won't have one ahead of its Tuesday release. In fact, it's looking like I will be heading out to...

The GameFan/Destructoid magazine is almost here!

Jun 22 // Jonathan Holmes
The biggest feature on the Dtoid side of the magazine is the Super Smash Bros. for the 3DS and Wii U mini-strategy guide by Gonzalo 'ZeRo' Barrios (the game's reigning world champion) and friends, with character profile art by Corey 'Reyyy' Lewis. Reyyy also provided us with an all new, all color Arem story. In case you hadn't heard, Arem Lightstorm is a re-imagined version of Samus Aran, but instead of being a bounty hunter, she's a nature photographer. She's pretty amazing.  We also have a in-depth study of Nintendo's dysfunctional relationship with the Mother/Earthbound series (featuring original artwork from the Fangamer team), a behind the scenes look at the longtime partnership of Mariel Cartwright (Skullgirls: Encore) and Adam Tierney (WayForward), some custom Street Fighter V sprite artwork to go along with our preview of the game, and a beautiful cover story on Bloodstained, featuring never before seen art and exclusive interviews with director Koji Igarashi and artist Yuji Natsume. And that's all just on the Destructoid side of the mag! On the GameFan side, we have a tons of exclusive news, editorial, reviews, a wrap up of all the biggest announcements from E3, and so much more. We did everything we could to make this magazine something that you'll be proud to add to your collection of video game things. and I can't even tell you how excited I am for you to finally see it for yourself.
GameFan/Destructoid photo
Featuring tons of amazing original art!
Remember that magazine that we announced a little while ago? We won't be mad at you if you don't. The good news is, we haven't forgotten about it. In fact, we've been working with the crew at GameFan day and night for almost ...

Hyrule Warriors photo
More DLC is basically confirmed
It looks like there's going to be more to Hyrule Warriors Legends on 3DS than meets the eye, if this Famitsu interview with producer Yosuke Hayashi is any indication. Apparently the inspiration for a portable version is ...

E3 Photo Gallery

Jun 21 // Steven Hansen
E3 gallery photo
Xbox green, amiibo, nipples and more
[Maintenance note: Just a little weekend site upgrading madness, please let us know what you think of our new photo gallery system!  Also, you can now surf Destructoid via SSL though some non-https elements like comments...

E3 2015 community choice photo
What a year
It's the moment you've all been waiting for: the time to vote for your favorite game of E3! Click below and make your selection, then tell us about it in the comments! There's certainly no shortage of AMAZING games to choose from this year!

Rumor: Hidden data reveals new Splatoon stages, modes, and weapons

Jun 21 // Jonathan Holmes
Here's a list of the rumored weapons. I'm particularly curious about the Gatling Hyper and the Bamboozler.  1. Sploosh-o-matic - Squid Beakons & Killer Wail 2. Neo Sploosh-o-matic - Point Sensor & Kraken 3. Neo Splash-o-matic - Burst Bombs & Inkzooka 4. N-ZAP '89 - Sprinkler & Inkstrikes 5. Custom Dual Squelcher - Squid Beakon & Killer Wail 6. Luna Blaster - Ink Mines & Inkzooka 7. Luna Blaster Neo - Splat Bombs & Bomb Rush 8. Range Blaster - Splash Wall & Inkstrike 9. Custom Range Blaster - Splat Bombs & Kraken 10. Rapid Blaster Pro - Seekers & Inkzooka 11. Rapid Blaster Pro Deco - Disruptors & Killer Wail 12. L-3 Nozzlenose D - Burst Bombs & Kraken 13. H-3 Nozzlenose - Suction Bombs & Echolocator 14. H-3 Nozzlenose D - Point Sensor & Inkzooka 15. Carbon Roller - Burst Bombs & Inkzooka 16. Carbon Roller Deco - Seekers & Bomb Rush 17. Inkbrush Nouveau - Ink Mines & Bubbler 18. Octobrush - Squid Beakons & Kraken 19. Octobrush Nouveau - Splat Bombs & Inkzooka 20. Bloblobber 21. T_BigBall_Strong01 22. Triple Bloblobber 23. T_BigBall_Diffusion01 24. Bomlobber 25. T_BigBall_Launcher01 26. E-liter 3K Scope 27. Custom E-liter 3K Scope 28. Bamboozler 14 Mk I 29. Bamboozler 14 Mk II 30. T_Gatling_Standard00 31. T_Gatling_Standard01 32. T_Gatling_Hyper00 33. T_Gatling_Hyper01  
Splatoon photo
Ryu not confirmed (yet)
It's seems that Nintendo may have once again let some of their future plans slip out through the magic of hidden data. Some hard working hackers have found content in Splatoon's code that reveals two yet unreleased stages (Ca...

Experience Points .16: Final Fantasy VII

Jun 20 // Ben Davis
The descendant of the Shinobi Picking a favorite character in a Final Fantasy game is usually pretty tough (unless that game is Final Fantasy IX). I have a soft spot for most of the party members in Final Fantasy VII; Cid and Barret are comically vulgar, Red XIII is awesomely adorable (that part where he's trying to walk like a human <3), Tifa has this sort of quiet badass-ness surrounding her, and Cait Sith is really weird, but I just want to snuggle up with the giant Mog like Mei napping on top of Totoro. If I had to choose a favorite, though, I would have to pick Yuffie. I feel like Yuffie often gets a bad rap. She's a thief, after all, and is constantly plotting to steal the party's Materia. She's also kind of a brat, and can come off as rather obnoxious and selfish. But even so, she has so many shining moments throughout the game where she demonstrates a wonderful sense of humor and optimism. It's also revealed through a side quest that she only wanted to steal Materia to help out her father and their home town, so even as a thief she still manages to be a sympathetic character. Then again, Yuffie and her father hatch up a plan to steal everyone's Materia again after the adventure is over, presumably for selfish reasons. I guess some things never change. When she's not stealing things, she can be found suffering from motion sickness, slicing things up with giant shurikens, calling people "old farts", pretending to be a news reporter, and other crazy stuff that a teenage ninja girl might do. She also has my personal favorite theme song; it's very upbeat and cheerful. Hearing it always makes me really happy! Whenever I replay Final Fantasy VII, I always make it my mission to recruit her to the team as quickly as possible. How anyone could hate Yuffie is beyond me. Interrupted by fireworks The Gold Saucer: an endlessly exciting theme park with obnoxiously happy music, filled with games, rides, haunted houses, live theater, fireworks, racetracks, battle arenas, and all sorts of fun stuff. Not to mention the fact that it's built on a giant, almost unreal, tree-like structure towering above a desolate wasteland. It's a truly magical place. While the rides and games are fun and addicting (the motorcycle and snowboarding games are my favorites), the highlight of the Gold Saucer occurs after the party decides to rest at the inn. Depending on certain choices the player has made in the game up to this point, one of four characters will knock on Cloud's door late at night and ask him out on a date, where they walk around the park, take part in a theatrical performance (which is always hilarious), and go on a romantic gondola ride during a fireworks show. Obviously, the two main options for date night are Tifa and Aeris, but it's also possible to go on a date with Yuffie and, surprisingly, even Barret. Tifa and Aeris might make the most sense, but the scenes on the gondola with Yuffie and Barret are some of my favorite moments in the game. The date with Yuffie is adorably awkward. Yuffie clearly likes Cloud, and she even manages to work up the courage to give him a peck on the cheek, but Cloud just sits there like a grumpy, silent lump and embarrasses the heck out of her ("Gawd, I could just die."). Poor Yuffie! The date with Barret, on the other hand, is just plain awkward as hell. Barret asks Cloud to accompany him because he wants to go for a walk, so it's not framed as a date at all, but it sure starts to feel like one. The gondola ride starts out in awkward silence as the two men just sit there and stare at each other with their arms crossed, until Barret gets pissed about having to enjoy the fireworks with another dude and asks Cloud why he never asked one of the girls out. He then goes on to basically accuse Cloud of pedophilia by falling in love with his daughter, Marlene (she's like four years old!), and gets even more pissed off to the point where he starts shooting at the fireworks to make them shut up. I mean, geez, you could just cut that sexual tension with a knife, am I right? The protector of Cosmo Canyon Final Fantasy VII has no shortage of emotional, tear-jerking moments. Of course, while there is the big one which you're no doubt thinking about right now, my personal favorite moving moment happens much earlier in the game when the party first arrives at Cosmo Canyon and learns a little more about their mysterious animal friend, Red XIII, or as he's known in Cosmo Canyon, Nanaki. While sitting around a big bonfire, Cloud has a chat with Nanaki. He reluctantly begins to open up about his parents and how the thought of his mother fills him with pride and joy, while the thought of his father fills him with anger. Apparently, his father abandoned his mother and the town and left her to die. Nanaki's grandfather, Bugenhagen, overhears the conversation and asks if Nanaki really cannot forgive his father. Bugenhagen then leads the party through a dangerous cave full of ghostly terrors in order to show Nanaki something special. At the back of the cave, the party finds themselves at the bottom of a cliff, at the top of which sits a stone statue resembling Nanaki. Bugenhagen reveals that the statue is actually Nanaki's father, Seto, who was turned to stone by poisonous arrows as he was trying to drive enemies out of the canyon to protect the town. He still remains there today, watching over Cosmo Canyon. Learning all of this about his father, Nanaki has a sudden change of heart. He decides to accompany Cloud and the team in order to help protect the planet and proudly declares, "I am Nanaki of Cosmo Canyon! The son of the warrior, Seto! I'll come back as a warrior true to that noble name!" Upon making this announcement, drops of water begin to fall from above, and Nanaki looks up to see that the statue of his father is shedding tears of joy. Nanaki jumps up onto a small outcrop and begins to howl up to his father. This scene always sends a shiver down my spine, and the howling almost makes me shed a tear. It leaves me feeling simultaneously sad that Red XIII's father is dead and happy that the two could reunite and come to an understanding. And the music, a more melancholy version of Red XIII's theme, fits the scene perfectly. It gets me every time! Love and rockets Another wonderfully touching moment happens a bit later in the game, when the party sits down to have tea with Shera at Cid's place in Rocket Town. The relationship between Cid and Shera comes off as particularly volatile, with Cid constantly shouting and cursing at her and generally acting very agitated whenever she's around. The party asks her how she can put up with all of his anger, and she explains that he wasn't always this way. This cues a flashback of Cid's first attempt to launch a rocket into space. Shera is busy checking an oxygen tank, which Cid claims she's wasting her time with. It then cuts to Cid in the cockpit, ready to take off, and the countdown begins. But there's a problem: a mechanic is still in the engine section of the rocket, a very dangerous place to be when the rocket is about to blast off, as the heat would surely kill them. The lingering mechanic is Shera, of course. She stuck around to do some final checks on the oxygen tanks, since they weren't testing to her satisfaction. She's urges Cid to continue with the launch, and seems to be dead set on fixing the oxygen tanks even if it means she'll be killed. She only wants the launch to be a success, to fulfill Cid's lifelong dream of making it into outer space. Cid doesn't want her to die, but the countdown has already started, and if it's canceled they'll have to wait another six months until the next launch. In a panic, Cid shuts down the engine at the very last second, saving Shera's life but sacrificing his dream. Later, the Space Program was cut back and plans for another launch were canceled. So that's why, according to Shera, she's okay with all of his abuse. She blames herself, so she feels she deserves it. Deep down, though, I still think Cid really cares for Shera. He may not show it very well, but he did save her life, after all. It's a complicated relationship for sure, but that just makes it all the more interesting. [embed]294343:59146:0[/embed] Just play it cool, boy Is there no cooler theme song than the Turks' theme? It fits the group perfectly, with their cool, confident demeanors, sleek suits, and take-no-shit attitudes. It's a really interesting part of the soundtrack, too, because it's made up almost entirely of percussion sounds, with a slight bit of melody thrown in occasionally for good measure. I like to imagine the Turks walking down the streets of Midgar with this song playing, snapping along to the music and kicking stuff out of their way while other people look on in intimidation. Maybe they throw in some subtle dance moves while they're at it, like they're performing a more subdued version of "Cool" from West Side Story. They could totally pull it off. Awkward encounters at the Honey Bee Inn Midgar's Honey Bee Inn, a seedy brothel run by women in sexy bee costumes, happens to be the home of some of the most unexpected scenes in Final Fantasy history. During Cloud's visit to the inn, he has access to one of two rooms: the Group Room and the &$#% Room. They sound pretty exciting, no? Choosing the Group Room, the sexy bee lady steps aside as a mob of sweaty, muscular men barge into the room and practically force Cloud to take a bath with them (what a lucky guy!). Or if he chooses the &$#% Room... well, I'll just let you imagine what goes on in the &$#% Room. I'm honestly really surprised these scenes weren't censored from the game. I'm also kind of glad that they weren't. Not only because my pervy teenage mind enjoyed them (even if I probably didn't fully understand what was happening at the time), but also because this awkward, racy, unexpected content was part of what made Final Fantasy VII feel so special. I mean, who honestly thought they would see stuff like this in a Final Fantasy game? Hits like a truck I love it when Final Fantasy gets real weird with its boss fights. The Ultros fights from Final Fantasy VI and the fight against Sandy, Cindy, and Mindy from Final Fantasy IV always stick in my mind because of how silly they were. There always seems to be at least one humorous boss fight, and in Final Fantasy VII, that boss is Palmer. Palmer is the head of the Space Program for Shinra, but he's a very incompetent and obnoxiously childish old man. In Rocket Town, the party interrupts him while he's trying to steal Cid's plane, the Tiny Bronco, which leads into the boss fight. During the entire fight, Palmer bounces back and forth in a ridiculous, taunting manner. Occasionally, he'll use up a turn to spin around and smack his butt in the party's direction, muttering, "heh heh hic!" as though he's drunk (and he probably is). The best part, though, is at the end of the fight. After Palmer is defeated, he does this weird little dance, almost gets his head chopped off by the propeller of the Tiny Bronco, mocks the party to save face, then turns to run away only to get hit by a truck out of nowhere and sent flying. The entire cutscene is just crazy. Why is the Tiny Bronco suddenly moving on its own? Where did that truck even come from? I mean, they're fighting in Cid's fenced off backyard, so did it drive over his fence? It's the most absurd, unexpected way to end a battle, especially in a mostly serious game like Final Fantasy VII, but that's exactly why I love it so much! Past Experience Points .01: The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask.02: Shadow of the Colossus.03: EarthBound.04: Catherine.05: Demon's Souls.06: No More Heroes.07: Paper Mario.08: Persona 4.09: Final Fantasy IX.10: Mega Man Legends.11: Rayman Origins.12: Metal Slug 3.13: Animal Crossing.14: Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King.15: Super Mario Sunshine  
Final Fantasy VII photo
This guy are sick
Experience Points is a series in which I highlight some of the most memorable things about a particular game. These can include anything from a specific scene or moment, a character, a weapon or item, a level or location, a p...

How and why Platinum Games is making Nier 2

Jun 19 // Kyle MacGregor
"So, with the previous game, we got some feedback from our fans, not only in Japan but also from abroad, that for being an action RPG, the controls weren't great," Nier producer Yosuke Saito told Destructoid (through a translator) earlier this week at E3 in Los Angeles. "And that's one of the things we've really learned from the previous game." "When I thought about developers that are really known for great gameplay and design (in terms of gameplay implementation), there aren't that many," Saito continued. "But Platinum is one of them. They're known for great gameplay and development of gameplay engines and so we brought up this conversation dialogue and decided to make this collaboration project." "Honestly, in my personal opinion, the best action game developer in Japan has to be Platinum Games," Nier director Taro Yoko added. "So, being able to collaborate with them on this endeavor on the new Nier project is a great feat for us." But Platinum Games is known for action titles, not role-playing games. I wondered how different from its predecessor the sequel might turn out. Would it just be a straight-up action game? "It's more of a varied approach," Yoko replied. "It's not necessarily going to be the same way as before. I want to keep trying new things. And obviously with Platinum Games, they're renowned for their action game controls. So, we may do a little re-balancing and redesign in terms of some aspects, but we are considering a varied approach." [embed]294470:59163:0[/embed] What does that mean exactly? "Obviously Platinum Games are known for their quick, speedy combat. But if we go too far that direction, it gets too difficult for other people to really enjoy. So, since this is a JRPG we're trying to do that good balance with typical Platinum Games-style action elements with JRPG-element combat." "A lot of people think of action when they think of Platinum Games, but with this team they really showed a lot of respect to the original Nier. We actually have several fans of the previous game on the team, and through that respect they haven't completely deconstructed the old combat system or created a completely new one. They've taken the old combat system from the original and out of respect sorted of added onto it, added their own sort of flair here and there to improve upon what we already had and make a better game experience." It sounds like people needn't worry about this being a linear action game. "It's not going to be a game on rails so to speak," Yoko said when asked about the game systems. "It's not going to be one straight path. You are going to have room for exploration similar to the previous Nier." Yoko has long lived in Tokyo, but the director recently moved across the country to Osaka, where he is now embedded at Platinum's offices. So I asked him to talk about the studio, while also expressing some concern about the sheer number of titles Platinum is working on at the moment. "I don't know what Platinum Games was in the past. I've only been with them recently. I can't really comment on Platinum Games. But for my team specifically -- it's a very young team. For example, the game designer [Takashi Taura] is 29 years old." "So it's a very young, but passionate team. They have a lot of desire and passion for our project to do a good job. They're extremely skilled and very quick. Obviously we may do overtime here and there, but it's not like we're slave drivers necessarily. They love their job, they love being in the industry. Honestly I've been in the industry and I'm just amazed at the amount of skill and how efficiently this team works." We can look forward to seeing more of what the team has been up to sometime this fall.
Nier 2 interview photo
An interview with the RPG's creators
Nier isn't the sort of game you would expect to get a sequel, but that's exactly what's happening. Square Enix surprised (and delighted) folks the world over when it announced the new project at E3. That news alone would...

Five great (not) Metroid games you can play right now

Jun 19 // Jonathan Holmes
Guacamelee! Available on just about every console but the 3DS, Guacamelee! is more of a brawler than any Metroid title to date, but if you think of protagonists Juan and Tostada as luchador versions of Captain Falcon and Zero Suit Samus from Smash Bros., then it's a little easier to take as a Metroid-like. There are actually fan mods that can make that kind of thing a reality, but only on the PC version. The good news is: every version of Guacamelee! has tons of action, atmosphere, and weapons-as-tools-for-exploration gameplay, just like Metroid! There are even statues of Chozo and Metroid-looking characters in a few places, one of which grants the power to morph into a "chicken ball," which you use to crawl through some tight spaces and lay "egg bombs." Still skeptical? Our own Chris Carter recently said "I think Guacamelee! is literally the most Metroid out of all of those games," so there you go.   Environmental Station Alpha At first, I was only interested in Environmental Station Alpha because it reminded me of Metroid. More specifically, it reminded me on Minitroid, the now abandoned Metroid fan game that seemed to be the perfect antidote for all the ways Other M made me poisoned. Now I don't dislike Other M as much as some. The game turned Samus into an emotionally stunted nerd, but I can relate with nerds, so no problem for me there. Most of my problems with Other M come from the fact that it does so much to hold your hand, and left so little to the imagination. That got me down. Minitroid worked to do the opposite of both of those things, which made me happy.  So does Environmental Station Alpha, which feels a lot like a lost Metroid prototype from the old days. It's got cute but creepy alien environments, a bunch of neat power-ups, and more questions than answers about the protagonist and their world. If the game had been on the 3DS, maybe it would have found more of an audience.  Xeodrifter While it's never been confirmed, I'm pretty darn sure that Xeodrifter is a 2D demake of Moon, another title from developer Renegade Kid. A lot of people say that Moon is like a cross between Metroid and Metroid Prime Hunters. If that's the case, then it would make sense that Xeodrifter is a Moon demake, as it wears its love of Metroid and Super Metroid prominently on its sleeve. One of the ways that Xeodrifter harnesses the original Metroid feeling is by dropping brick walls in front of the player. The game allows you to fly from planet to planet in a cute little ship. but that sense of freedom is balanced out by danger at every turn. Most planets are so hostile and difficult to traverse at first that chances are you'll be running for your life back to the ship in no time. The first Metroid did something similar. Though it may be hard for many Metroid veterans to imagine, most people who pick up the game for the first time do not run left to get the morph ball first. They run to the right, like almost everyone does in a 2D action platformer, only to find themselves stumped in the end. Only by returning to the start and trying something different can you obtain the tools you need to move on. Thankfully, Xeodrifter is so densely packed that backtracking rarely takes very long, so you'll rarely feel like you're time has been wasted. Eventually, your tenacity and optimism will be rewarded to the point where there is no obstacle that you can't overcome. That brand of feature pacing is one of the basic principles behind Metroid-style games, but that's pretty much Xeodrifter in a nutshell. It nails the Metroid basics and never wears out its welcome.  La-Mulana La-Mulana is like the most evil, alienating, and suddenly fantastic areas of the original Metroid, but for 12 hours. It will require you to draw your own map. It will leave you completely stumped as to which way to go next. It will also blow your mind when you stumble into a new area that will make you think "what did I do to deserve this?" for better or worse. Through equal parts luck and hardcore action-archaeology skills, you'll most likely end up in heaven or hell, and it all feels like one big happy (or not so happy) accident.  That style of "anything goes" world design was something that few Metroid games were really willing to embrace after the first title. It seemed that later games were too afraid that players would feel alienated if they were given a truly disorienting, unpredictable world to explore. La-Mulana, and its upcoming sequel, are not encumbered by that fear. They aren't afraid to hurt you, because they respect you. They believe that you're strong enough to tolerate some pain, and that your unwillingness to accept defeat will keep you coming back for more. Axiom Verge In a lot of ways, Axiom Verge takes all the elements that these (not) Metroid games and maxes out on them. It looks so much like Metroid that even Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime couldn't help but shout about it. It offers multiple questions about the protagonist and the world he's invited to explore while giving few concrete answers until much closer to the end. It isn't afraid to provide the player with road blocks, but it also goes out of its way to reward the player for defying conventional thinking, to the point where actually "breaking the code" of the game becomes a legitimate gameplay mechanic. The problem for Nintendo fans is, Axiom Verge is currently not on the Wii U or the 3DS, and given how it took one-man development team Tom Happ about five years to make the game in the first place, chances aren't too high that we'll be getting in on Nintendo consoles any time soon. Unless, of course, Nintendo decides to step in and lend Tom a hand.  I have to wonder how fans would react if Nintendo announced it was aiding in the publishing of Axiom Verge, and allowed the developer to create some Nintendo-exclusive Metroid-tribute section with a Samus-like character in the lead. In the end, all most Metroid fans want is the opportunity to play a game like Axiom Verge but with Samus as the lead. If Nintendo were to recognize that by allowing Tom Happ, Renegade Kid, Joakim Sandberg, or any of the many other talented developers who have proven that they understand what we love about Metroid to take a crack at the series, I have to wonder if fans would still be salty about side games like Metroid Prime: Federation Force. 
Metroid photo
Pacify your Metroid urges (Metrurges?)
When it comes to Metroid, I'm an entitled baby, and I'm not ashamed to admit it. When I heard that the next official game in the series was going to be like the Metroid Blast mini-game from Nintendoland mixed with s...

Here's what you thought of Metroid Prime: Federation Force

Jun 19 // Chris Carter
[embed]294352:59156:0[/embed] Crooks kicked things off, explaining why people might hate it: I don't care about Metroid, but that game just looks like some cheap shitty looking robots with the Metroid name slapped on. These could be any kind of robots, only the form of the head looks a bit like metroid. I can understand that people hate it. FlanxLycanth is already done with Federation Force: Why is this even a question. It's shit, we can all see that. Let's talk about something more important like Lemonade or bra sizes. Electric Reaper says it shouldn't be called "Metroid": Speaking for myself, I was looking for another main entry in the Metroid series, like another 2D sidescroller adventure platformer shooter, or a 3D adventure shooter with puzzle elements. Federation Force just doesn't really fit with the Metroid games with Samus Aran as the player character, like Fusion, Zero Mission, or Corruption. I'm honestly thinking the "Metroid" part of Metroid Prime: Federation Force should be removed, since even though it takes place in the Metroid universe, it doesn't seem to involve Samus Aran in any way, or the traditional elements of a Metroid game. The game might still be fun on its own, but it's not a true Metroid game. NinjaBlaze is not happy with any aspect of it: I don't like the notion that being disappointed with the game is associated with being a rabid Metroid fan or a Nintendo fan that doesn't like change. I have no problems with games going in different directions and trying new things, and I'm not the biggest Metroid fan by any stretch I just think the game will be shitty because it, well, looks like shit, in general. Everything down to the aesthetics to the gameplay design choices. It's not that it looks like a bad Metroid game, it just looks like a bad game in general imo. Nathan D says this is indicative of a bigger problem at Nintendo: The problem with the "don't buy it" argument is that if it bombs, knowing Nintendo they'll take it as no one being interested in the series and shelf it for longer. As of now it looks like even if this doesn't bomb that another core game is at least 3 years away regardless. Applying simple business properties to Nintendo is like trying to use calculus to unplug a toilet, not compatible. JohnSmith123 had a lighter view, but was still disappointed: After Other M, I hoped that Nintendo would make a good Metroid game that'd bring fans back to franchise. This was their answer. A co-op dudebro shooter that takes Samus out the game entirely with Metroid tacked on the front. Oh and soccer. I'm kind of bummed out by that. Pedrovay2003 weighs in on this, and Other M, and it doesn't sound hopeful: Honestly, from what I've seen right now, it looks like Generic Space Shooter: The Game. I haven't even seen a hint of what makes Metroid Prime what it is other than the camera angles, and graphically, I think Hunters on the original DS looked better. I'm one of the very few people I know (at least on the Internet) who truly liked Other M. It wasn't without its flaws, sure, but I thought it was a fine entry into the Metroid series. This new game doesn't even remind me of Metroid; if it wasn't in the title, I wouldn't know what series it belonged to, if any. Seeing as how it's more of a spinoff than a main title, though, I really can't complain too much; I just probably won't buy it, because it doesn't look like it offers anything over co-op first-person shooters I can get on consoles or the PC. Fenriff has a pretty middle of the road view on it: Whether or not it will be a fun game is anyone's guess at this point. It might very well turn out to be good. The problem is the slapping of the Metroid name on it seemingly just to help it sell. It's not even the fact that Samus isn't in it. Metroid, at least for me, isn't about Samus, it's about that sense of wonder and exploration. Fighting your way through alien hordes on an alien world alone. This seems like a mission based co-op shooter with Metroid Prime paint. Who knows though. Warruz is more hopeful: I am generally ok with this game, I wish the style was more....Hunters looking and personally I think they should drop Prime from the title (Metroid: Federation Force), but generally the concept I am for. Its a chance to actually expand the Metroid universe outside of just Samus which simply put hasn't happened and if the franchise is to grow then its a must. Nintendo know's its fans in that they don't take to new IP's well(see Code Name Steam, even though its a good game), so if Nintendo wants to provide different games like an FPS game that involves co-op then they need to take an existing universe and do it there. Simply put, Metroid is the universe to build FPS games in, and Metroid Prime is more of an adventure game then it was a shooter(first two games didn't even really have aiming, it was just lock on). So whats the way to get a more traditional FPS game for Nintendo? Expand the Metroid Universe. Just drop prime from the title and reconsider the look. Zen Grenadier will wait until launch to decide: Honestly I don't care much for the title. I only want to know two things. Is it fun? And will it keep me invested in playing it after the first day? Answers I won't know until I get to try it. These are the only things I care about in a video game. And Waifus. I REALLY care if it was Waifus. Evergreen doesn't seem to mind at all: Would I rather have a more traditional Metroid? Of course! At the same time, I'm glad to see Nintendo taking a risk with one of their IPs and doing something new with it. chiptoon is another righteous individual who liked Other M, and weighs in on Federation: I loved Other M. Its such a blast to play. Its like arcade Metroid. I'm also quite keen on Federation Force. I think they could have sidestepped alot of the negativity by not adding Metroid Prime to the name. Just let it be in the universe without headlining that fact. Vectorman12345 says this situation is familiar: Honesty, I'm willing to give it a chance. I remember when the original Metroid Prime came out, people complained about the first person view and how it wasn't true to the nature of the Metroid series. As a group, we gamers have entitlement problems, I admit it. But when it comes to situations like this, I'll choose to judge the game for what it is and not for what it isn't. Doing that sort of thing can deprive you of potential enjoyment. Seriously though, someone should write an article about the vitriol for the original Metroid Prime before it came out. Isay Isay gave us some valuable insight into the decision: Well 4 isn't a prime number, so they had to mix it up. There you have it! See, we can have a discussion about video games.
Metroid Prime photo
Mixed emotions!
So, Metroid Prime: Federation Force, guys! It was announced, and it was quickly banished into the corner of E3 hours later -- the corner that no one wanted to talk about. But there were a lot of people who had strong opinions...

Heavensward photo
Pretty standard stuff
The Heavensward expansion launches for Final Fantasy XIV in a few hours, and Square Enix has sent over a copy of the Collector's Edition. For $130, it includes the expansion, a special box, a dragon mount figure, an...


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