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Dropsy challenges perceptions of beauty, proves that love really can conquer all photo
Dropsy challenges perceptions of beauty, proves that love really can conquer all
by Rob Morrow

One of the highlights of my time at PAX East was sitting down and chatting with Dropsy’s creator, Jay Tholen. Jay’s a quiet, thoughtful man with what seems to be unlimited creative energy at his disposal. His sometimes offbeat, but unquestionably engaging creative force shines through in his surreal point-and-click “hugventure” Dropsy. At first glance, the Devolver-published game may seem as though it could be reduced to a psychedelic walking simulator built to shock or surprise the player, offering no real substance beyond that.

For some players that will surely suffice, and they’ll be very happy playing that game. That’s part of the sly brilliance Tholen’s weaving into Dropsy, in that it can be enjoyed, or perhaps more accurately said, interpreted, on many different levels.

In some ways it functions like a mirror – the observer, or in this case, the player, unconsciously injects something of themselves into the experience, ultimately shaping their perception of what the game is really about. Which is quite refreshing in that the game doesn't lead you by the nose, telling you what to think; it offers plenty of room for your own interpretations.

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Amplitude's multiplayer mode has been reworked for the better photo
Amplitude's multiplayer mode has been reworked for the better
by Darren Nakamura

I have some good memories of playing single player FreQuency years ago. However, the only memories I have of the multiplayer mode are of me playing against my friends in high school and crushing them, then going off to college and playing against a guy in my dorm and being crushed. Neither situation was particularly fun.

With Harmonix's new Kickstarter-funded Amplitude, the multiplayer is getting a nice upgrade. Instead of FreQuency's simple head-to-head score attack, it uses something closer to the system found in Amplitude (2003). From that starting point, the player count has increased from two to four, and a handful of other tweaks have been implemented, turning it into a party game I can imagine a group switching to after arms and voices are shot from playing too much Rock Band.

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5:00 PM on 03.12.2015

The Swindle perfectly balances roguelike mechanics with approachable gameplay

On my last day covering PAX East, I had the chance to sit down with the inimitable Dan Marshall from Size Five Games to have a look at his gorgeous, stealthy, steampunk-centric burglary simulator The Swindle. We’ve...

Rob Morrow







Ex-Nintendo exec tells Samus to 'consider going indie' photo
Ex-Nintendo exec tells Samus to 'consider going indie'
by Jonathan Holmes

Dan Adelman worked for Nintendo for many years, and was one of their unsung heroes for much of that time. While he has consistently voiced affection and respect for the company, he did end up resigning last year, in part because he felt like his role at Nintendo wasn't what it used to be. Now he's working on marketing and PR for a game called Axiom Verge, a game that Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime once said looked like Metroid

Samus Aran has worked for Nintendo for many years, and has been considered one of their most iconic characters for much of that time. While she has consistently garnered affection and respect from fans of the company, she hasn't had a game of her own since the year 2010. Many feel that her role at Nintendo isn't what it used to be. Now she's appearing in regular installments of the Smash Bros. series, but she'd much rather be in Axiom Verge, a game that Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime once said looked like Metroid.

If I didn't know better, I'd think that Dan Adelman was Samus Aran's secret identity. If putting on glasses and civilian clothes is all Superman needed to do to trick us into thinking he's Clark Kent, then why couldn't Samus do the same thing? If it weren't for this video, I may still believe that was the case. The similarities between these two "Nintendo characters" are hard to shake, though when it comes to the discussion of "going indie," their differences definitely start to show. 

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We Happy Few's bright exterior hides a dark secret photo
We Happy Few's bright exterior hides a dark secret
by Darren Nakamura

For a while, the general aesthetic in games was dark and grimy, with muted colors to convey dismal feelings. The more recent counterculture of color was welcomed, bringing happiness back to the medium. But a funny thing happens when colorful palettes are taken a step too far. Add too many big smiles, bright eyes, and soothing pastels, and the mood turns from joyful to creepy.

We Happy Few cashes in on this uncanny area past whimsy. Its world is so bright that it feels alien. Indeed, behind the vivid color of Compulsion's newest creation is a dark place. It may be pretty, but it is eerier than any run-down mansion on a stormy night.

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Harmonix Music VR could supplant Audiosurf for me photo
Harmonix Music VR could supplant Audiosurf for me
by Darren Nakamura

Audiosurf is more than seven years old now (wow), but it still holds a place as a desktop icon on my computer. I still play it regularly. The thing is, I almost never play it on any setting other than Casual with Mono. It is the thing I go to when I want to turn off my brain for a bit and just enjoy some music along with some pretty colors.

I got a chance to try out Harmonix Music VR at PAX East this past weekend, and it looks like it could fill that role perfectly. There is even less to concentrate on, but the step into virtual reality makes it more engrossing. I could see myself coming home from work, putting on the headset, and just chilling with it to decompress.

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11:00 PM on 03.11.2015

Did Social Justice Warriors Win PAX East?

Mere seconds ago, I discovered that I am on the original list that inspired the development of a game called Social Justice Warriors. There is even an attack in the game based on some of the specific wording found ...

Jonathan Holmes

8:00 PM on 03.11.2015

The best thing I saw at PAX was not on the show floor

Let me set the scene: Day 1 of PAX has come to a close, or at least the show floor has. My friends and I have just finished dinner and are on our way back into the convention center to check out the Super Smash Bros. tou...

Patrick Hancock

6:00 PM on 03.11.2015

Dad by the Sword features limp, floppy swords

Dad by the Sword is iOS developer Rocketcat Games' first entry into the PC market and boy howdy, is it a doozy. Part sword-fighting simulator, part long-running dad joke, all demented loveliness. Rocketcat's design expe...

Rob Morrow



Cosmochoria is a perfect blend of serenity and chaos photo
Cosmochoria is a perfect blend of serenity and chaos
by Patrick Hancock

Cosmochoria is a Kickstarter success story that is now about to see the light of day. It's a mix of exploration and tower defense all wrapped up in a warming, yet occasionally stressful package. There's a strong sense of wonderment to the randomly generated universe, and the art style is totally cute.

My time with Cosmochoria at PAX East brought a huge smile to my face, and if it wasn't for an upcoming appointment, I would have played for probably an entire hour or so!

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1:30 PM on 03.11.2015

D&D meets bullet-hell shooter in Enter the Gungeon

During my time on the show floor at PAX East 2015, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Dodge Roll Games to get a hands-on demo of its new gun-fighting dungeon crawler, Enter the Gungeon. When you think gun-centric games, ...

Rob Morrow



Tumblestone is the most intelligent 'match three' game I've ever played photo
Tumblestone is the most intelligent 'match three' game I've ever played
by Patrick Hancock

The first impression of a game matters a lot at PAX. If people aren't intrigued almost immediately, they may never play the game at all. My first impression of Tumblestone was "oh cool another match-three game." I don't play many of them, so I barely had any interest.

However, knowing that Tumblestone and The Bridge, a brilliant indie puzzle game, share the same developer, I just had to give it a chance. Thank goodness I did, too, because it was easily the most intelligent game on the show floor.

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Samus wants to be in Shovel Knight photo
Samus wants to be in Shovel Knight
by Jonathan Holmes

When we last checked in with Samus, she was trying to score an interview with Tim Rogers, co-creator of Videoball. Despite the fact that she's been appearing in videogames for over 25 years, he still didn't know who she was. That wouldn't have bothered her at all under normal circumstances, but life hasn't been too good to Samus lately. Nintendo stopped celebrating her birthdays. She hasn't had a game of her own since 2010. Kids today don't know why she can't crawl. It's gotten so bad that she's been forced to share a house with a washed up former last boss and a deceased painting instructor from public television

It makes sense that she would turn to Sean Velasco, co-creator of Shovel Knight, for aid in this time of crisis. He and the team at Yacht Club Games recently announced plans to help Battletoads hop back into the spotlight, after having been shunned by their makers for even longer than Samus has. On top of that, plenty of fans have been asking Sean and company to allow Samus to be a special guest character in Shovel Knight on Nintendo consoles, and Yacht Club is known for making its fans happy.

While he knew that the fans wanted Samus in Shovel Knight, I don't think Sean expected to have the real live Samus Aran approach him about a cameo, but who better to represent Metroid fans than the star of the series herself? After watching this video a few times, I'm still not sure if Sean went for the idea or not. The only thing I know for sure is, Sean has some pretty awesome ideas on how a Shovel Knight Vs. Tingle boss fight would work. He told me all about it after Samus cleared out. As much as I love Samus, I think Tingle might be the right choice on this one, assuming that Shovel Knight ever ends up with guest Nintendo character at all. 

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Harebrained Schemes nails it once again with Necropolis photo
Harebrained Schemes nails it once again with Necropolis
by Rob Morrow

As I explored the opening area of Harebrained Schemes' third-person action roguelike Necropolis at PAX East 2015, I discovered an inviting treasure chest. Upon opening it, I realized too late that I wasn’t alone in that first room. While my back was turned, a shadowy, crystalline figure called the Grine had seized the opportunity to launch a flurry of attacks at my unprotected rear; all the while, my character stood there helplessly locked in place throughout the chest’s opening animation.

It was at this point in the Necropolis demo that the game made complete sense to me. In that singular moment I felt as though I’d been here many times before. Not here in the literal sense of playing the demo beforehand, of course, but here in that the game’s unspoken rules were so familiar to me that it felt like coming home. And what a treacherous home it is.

It’s become passé to compare titles to the Souls games, but in this particular instance, I feel the comparison is completely justified. Anyone familiar with From Software's work will know, almost instinctively, what will be expected of them when they pick up the controller. The control scheme (light and heavy attack buttons, shield, jump, and evasion) and stamina system are very much in line with what we're used to in those titles, with a couple of notable deviations.

Necropolis doesn't feature a parrying system, for starters. Instead, your character can use their equipped shield to perform a bash maneuver as well as block incoming attacks. However, stamina is drained when doing so and should be used sparingly in battle. For example, if you try to hold off enemy attacks with the shield indefinitely, you'll soon wear yourself out as your enemy lands each attack, thereby leaving your character susceptible to taking damage.

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12:00 PM on 03.10.2015

Steam Controller and FPS: PAX East 2015 impressions

One of what was seemingly the better-kept secrets at PAX East 2015, the Steam Controller, was available for hands on at the Alienware booth connected to the company's Steam Machines. I was able to test the previous iteration...

Jed Whitaker



Who had the sexiest Nintendo cosplay at PAX East? photo
Who had the sexiest Nintendo cosplay at PAX East?
by Jonathan Holmes

Sexy Nintendo is inevitable. Some will try to fight it, or even mock it. In doing so, they are choosing to live on the wrong side of history. I know how they feel. I scoffed along with the rest of them back when the burgeoning "Sexy Luigi Brother" lingerie genre first hit the scene, but that was years ago. Since that time, Sexy Luigi has gone from being a exotic fetish to a cultural institution. It's gotten to the point where oftentimes, being Sexy Luigi isn't enough anymore. At PAX East 2015, Sexy Luigi had to become Sexy Zombie Hunting Luigi in order to make a difference. That's how bad the Sexy Luigi over saturation situation has become. 

Thankfully, Sexy Layton hasn't had to bend to our culture's current zombie fixation in order to stay fresh. Despite becoming the stuff of animated gifs and Kotaku news posts, he's still the same humbly thrusting, puzzle-loving professor he was the last time that we saw him. Only one thing about Layton has changed. He and Sexy Luke are no longer a pair. Now they're part of a threesome of uninhibited, logic-and-lust fueled erotic icons, thanks to their new sexy bowtie wearing pal  Emmy. Many have said that monogamy is the greatest emotional puzzle that any consenting adult will ever face. Leave it to Layton and company to solve that problem with style. 

You can vote for Layton, Emmy, Luke, Ness, Misty, Red Pikmin, Zelda, Mario, Isabelle, Fusion Suit Samus, Zero Suit Samus, The Pikachu Pimp, and multiple other participating Nintendo cosplayers here in the comments. The winner gets a surprise!

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