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Super Mario Maker photo
Super Mario Maker

An easy guide to the things NOT included in Super Mario Maker


No frog suit, no buy
Sep 03
// Nic Rowen
Super Mario Maker has been making me think dangerous thoughts about buying a Wii U. It just looks so charming and sweet that I've been secretly generating rationales and excuses to myself to go out and blow a few hundred doll...

Tearaway Unfolded faithfully breaks the DualShock 4th wall

Sep 02 // Steven Hansen
Tearaway used fourth-wall breaking about as much as Metal Gear Solid, which still, with the recently released Phantom Pain, has a character tell you to, "use the stance button to stand up." That you are playing a video game is addressed, here through the physicality of the thing. Your own face in the sky, representations of your fingers popping up in the world. Unfolded's entire opening is new. It plays off the home console's position as a living room box, likely hooked up to a television with some kind of cable network. The two voices that narrate the story switch through a fake cable TV guide, hastily bypassing shows called "Rubbish" and flicking through commercials before coming to the conclusion that there's nothing to watch, that there's no good story. So we'll have to make our own. Actually, it's almost like the beginning of Metal Gear Solid 4. The first new PS4 feature is light. The triggers produced a beam of light in the world that reflects the light emitted by the DualShock 4. It even keeps the same triangle shape and shows up in the world as if you were pointing to the front of the controller like a flashlight. So far it's one of the only useful reasons for that light existing, save for draining battery life and then blinding me every time I tilt the thing up to find the charge port. [embed]308798:60230:0[/embed] The You's -- that's you -- light has different effects, from simply illuminating the new, dim intro to making plants grow to scraping inky newspaper Scraps from the construction paper world to hypnotizing enemies that will follow the beam of light off a cliff. It doesn't have the same punchy feel as poking at them with giant fingers from below, but it does its job of grounding the player in both the game world and real world in a novel way. It's too hell with immersion and that's fine. Due to my lack of the PlayStation camera, I did find myself wanting with regard to my self-portrait showing up in the hole in the sky. Even if on the Vita it was grainy and always the least flattering angle (I never held my arms parallel to the ground when I played), it is missed, here. Same with the ability to, say, reupholster an elk by taking a picture of my cat. Of course, if lower case you have a camera, it's possible to sustain these touches, or if you have a mic at the ready you can record an intimidating yell for your scarecrow. A new gust of wind ability replaces your ability to physically leaf through the environment. Instead of swiping a platform down on the Vita screen, you swipe the DualShock 4 touchpad in the desired direction you want to the wind to blow. Atoi, the messenger you guide through Tearaway, can also throw enemies and items up "through" the TV screen and into your controller, and then you can aim a reticle and swipe forward on the touchpad to shoot the projectile back onto the map, whether to bash an enemy or solve a puzzle. The touchpad is also used for the paper craft segments where you're tasked with making wings for the local butterflies or snow flakes to pepper your mountain climb (I went again with some nice pink cherry blossoms). It works alright, but the lack of real estate makes precision hard. You might consider the companion app, which would give you (or a friend) a larger drawing surface, but, again, I don't want to be fiddling with three extra pieces of technological accessories just to get the same effect the Vita bundled up. Tearaway Unfolded isn't as elegant or holistic an experience as it was on Vita because of additional technical needs, but significant effort has gone to reproducing the same effects in new ways. It's pretty as hell, too, holding its own with anything on the PS4 despite its humble beginnings. New areas have been built from scratch, parts extended, others cut. No more log rolling troubles, which is the only Vita feature that bugged the hell out of me. A lot of care went into Unfolded. It may be another tacit admission that the Vita is dead, but at least this incredible, surprising game did not die with it.
Tearaway PS4 port photo
Challenging PS4 port flashes Metal Gear
Tearaway was the zenith of the PlayStation Vita. While many fine games have hit the platform since, few have been exclusive and original, and none used every inch of the Vita's additional capabilities to as good effect. That ...

Meddle in the affairs of others, control their minds in Randall

Sep 02 // Brett Makedonski
[embed]308786:60224:0[/embed] Randall (releasing on PC, PS4, and Vita) takes place in a world where everyone's been brainwashed by the authoritarian powers that be. A corporation has the citizens under its control, but the populace is completely unaware of the oppression at hand. We The Force wasn't willing to go too far into the story, but hinted at a "bigger things are at play" angle. One person is acutely aware of the oppression, however. That's the titular Randall. In a "taste of your own medicine" type of twist, he's trying to take down this faceless juggernaut through the use of mind control. It's this mechanic that takes Randall from an action-platformer and injects a puzzle element into it too. Rooms will often have a throng of enemies in them that need to be cleared out in a particular order. A rudimentary example was an area with one foe on the ground and two on platforms above who could shoot projectiles. Those platforms were unreachable from the floor, but if you controlled the bottom enemy, you could jump off of him and up to the top. Order of operations is important to figure out. It was obvious in that instance what needed to be done, but later encounters surely won't be as telegraphed. Most of these guys won't just allow themselves to get taken over, though. They require a quick beat-down. This comes in the form of simple button-pressed combos. We were shown an earlier level, but there was a definite sense that tactics would have to be switched up as the game progresses. That's only half the battle. Studio head Cesar Ramirez Molina told us that the developer's aiming for about a 50/50 split on combat and platforming. The platforming aspect isn't as intuitive as it could be, and it took several deaths before I got the hang of it. There's likely a better learning curve and teaching process in the full game than in the quick slice I played. Fortunately, Randall checkpoints graciously and there wasn't too much lost progress. There's promise in Randall, but there's more promise in what Randall represents. We The Force Studios is one of the few video game developers in Mexico. Currently, the scene is dominated by software and web developers. It's a much safer prospect to follow the established market than to risk your family's security pursuing what no one else is. That's why We The Force was doing web development up until it made the bold decision that it wanted a legacy. That's why the team started creating games. Randall is its first project, and Molina lamented what a tough transition it has been. He spoke about how challenging it is to make a decision about gameplay and then have to do all the research to figure out exactly how to implement it. Seasoned developers already know the technical side, but Molina and his crew have learned most of it on-the-fly. Randall is projected for a release sometime in 2016. It's a loose window, but it needs to be considering that the studio's inexperience possibly makes it more subject to delays than others. Regardless of when it launches and how it turns out, it's admirable that We The Force went out on a limb to pursue a dream while sacrificing safety. Just like its protagonist, these developers are going against the grain and chasing what they believe in.
Randall preview photo
Freedom fighter
Clerks has a scene where Randal Graves, an irresponsible and indifferent video store employee, tells a customer that he finds it best to stay out of other people's affairs. The laissez-faire approach isn't a noble a...

Review: Super Mario Maker

Sep 02 // Chris Carter
Super Mario Maker (Wii U)Developer: Nintendo EAD Group No. 4Publisher: NintendoRelease: September 11, 2015MSRP: $59.99 The core theme behind Super Mario Maker is simplicity. Opening up with a rather lovely tutorial section, you'll be introduced to the creation process, which is as simple as touching an object with your stylus, and placing it in the on-screen grid. The entire experience can be played on the GamePad without the use of a TV, and never seeks to overwhelm the player. As the famous fictional Chef Gusteau once said, "anyone can cook!" and now anyone can create a Mario level. While Super Mario Maker doesn't give you everything your heart desires, you'll find plenty of toys to screw around with, from enemies like Kuribo's Shoe (which are actually Yoshi in select themes), to Giant Goombas that split into more Goombas, that can assist you in crafting objectives like P-Switch-centric puzzles, and even shoot 'em up levels with clouds or Koopa Clown Cars. You can create pipes or doors to send players into different areas of a level, tracks to craft moving platforms -- every basic Mario concept you can think of is here. The bread and butter of Maker is themes. You'll start with the original 8-bit Mario theme as well as the New Super Mario Bros. U series, then eventually work your way up to Mario 3, and the always delightful World. Themes (which have their own unique physics and in a few cases, movesets) can be shifted at the press of a button, including the ability to jump into underground, ghost, water, airship, or castle settings in every sub-franchise. It's awesome to create a level and see it switch to an entirely new gimmick within seconds. An "undo" option, eraser (which can be toggled with quick trigger presses), and a nuke-like reset button make everything easier. Costumes, however, are probably my favorite extra in Mario Maker, which provide players with a way to morph into other characters like Sonic, Pac-Man, or Mega Man. They're unlocked by way of amiibo, or another method I'll get to shortly, and have some unique animations and sound effects in tow, like Pac-Man's shift to an 8-bit sprite when he runs. Sadly, all of these costumes are limited to the 8-bit style only. The more you play it, the more you'll realize that limitations are a recurring issue with Super Mario Maker, despite its immense charm. [embed]306729:60161:0[/embed] Not all of these objects will be available immediately, either. Instead, you'll have to wait nine days to obtain everything, including major themes like Mario 3 and World. I can confirm that players will be able to fast-forward the Wii U clock a day ahead at a time to "unlock" the next set of items. But the process is still painfully tedious, as you have to play five minutes to "allow" the unlock, then switch to the main menu, then back to the game to receive the items, then play for another five minutes, and so on. Since this method is available, the entire requirement is rendered pointless. Having said all that, it wasn't really a dealbreaker in any way for me, and didn't have any direct correlation to my assessment here. However, there are a number of shortcomings inherent to Mario Maker's toolset even after unlocking everything. For starters, there are no assets related to Mario 2 outside of a select few re-skins. Not only is the entire theme missing from the game, but unique objects and enemies such as the iconic Phanto are nowhere to be found. Additionally, there is no way to eliminate the countdown timer (the max is 500 seconds), which takes the wind out of exploration-based creation's sails considerably. There's also a severe limitation in terms of how you can build out levels. Right now you can't choose to create a vertical-themed stage -- you have to go with the same horizontal blueprint the game gives you without fail. Maker also limits the amount of enemies you can have in any given level (for instance, only three Bowsers or roughly 100 smaller enemies) even in the 8-bit theme, which is a silly design. Mario Maker does have a few modes beyond the creation realm, thankfully, including a "10 Mario Challenge" mode that tasks you with completing eight levels in 10 lives. This essentially functions as the campaign, and brings players through a variety of different themes composed by Nintendo. The reward is two-fold -- you'll experience a fun pseudo-story mode, and obtain each blueprint for use later in the game's creation mode. They're relatively easy, but some of them provide mechanics very rarely seen in a core Mario game, and are worth spending several hours on alone. The online hub (titled "Course World") is probably where players are going to spend most of their time in the coming months. Having played other creation games with online functionality for years, I have to say that this is one of the better modules. There's support for everything, from bookmarking levels (with hearts), to viewing your "played" history, to queuing up your own creations, and sorting potential levels with qualifiers like popularity and newly shared. It's crazy to see what people have come up with already in the past few weeks, like re-creations of old school Mega Man levels complete with the 8-bit costume, to the classic "music videos" we've seen for years on end in games like LittleBigPlanet. My one gripe with viewing levels online is that they are automatically "spoiled" right before you start them. Basically, by looking at a stage, it will show the entire layout by default -- there's no way to "hide" this currently, and a lot of courses I played lost their luster as a result of this snafu. As a bonus of sorts, the hub has its own version of the 10 Mario Challenge -- a 100 lives version, which basically grabs levels online and mixes them into a custom world. This is probably my favorite element of the game, as it does a good job of curating content and giving it to you in a rapid-fire format. It also rewards players with costumes upon completion, so you don't need to use amiibo to unlock them. Super Mario Maker is a charming little creation tool, and I'm sure fans will come up with some amazing levels for years to come. However, it feels a bit more constrained than it needs to be, and is in dire need of updates or DLC to keep it going long term. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Super Mario Maker review photo
The costumes are the best part
Ever since I was five years old, I've been drawing my own Mario levels on graph paper. It's a pretty common story, because when I look at a series to give me a platforming baseline, it's usually Mario. Nintendo didn't ju...


Mario Maker PAX photo
Mario Maker PAX

I made a terrible Super Mario Maker level at PAX


I had 20 minutes!
Aug 29
// Myles Cox
Super Mario Maker is playable on the show floor at PAX, and it turns out Nintendo is giving players a rather generous amount of hands-on time with the game. If you're patient and don't have anything else to do (also if y...
Mario Maker photo
Mario Maker

Get a better look at the different styles available in Super Mario Maker


The 'World' style still rocks
Aug 28
// Chris Carter
Nintendo is still feeding us information for Super Mario Maker, and this time, it's a quick look at the different styles available. As most of you know by now, the game has the original Super Mario Bros. 8-bit theme ava...
Renegade Kid photo
Renegade Kid

Renegade Kid gives us a few updates, Treasurenauts back in development


Mutant Mudds Challenge, Dementium done
Aug 27
// Chris Carter
It's hard to believe that Treasurenauts was announced all the way back in 2013, but here we are over two years later, and still no game. That's because Renegade Kid was sidetracked by a few other projects, but now, they ...
Gunman Clive HD photo
Gunman Clive HD

Here's what Gunman Clive HD looks like on Wii U


Coming next week
Aug 27
// Chris Carter
I really enjoyed both Gunman Clive games, as they were excellent little platformers that distilled so much of what made the genre great. The fact that they were sold for only a few bucks helped, but if you weren't keen ...
Volgarr photo
Volgarr

Volgarr the Viking is now coming to Wii U and 3DS


Great game
Aug 26
// Chris Carter
Volgarr the Viking, released in 2013 on the PC and Xbox one, is one of my favorite platformers in years -- and it's set to hit the PS4, Vita, Wii U, and 3DS platforms in the near future. Developer Kris Durrschmidt recently sh...

Review: Runbow

Aug 26 // Chris Carter
Runbow (Wii U)Developer: 13AM GamesPublisher: 13AM GamesRelease Date: August 27, 2015MSRP: $14.99 The concept is so simple, anyone could pick it up. Runbow is predictably all about running. It's not an auto-runner thankfully, as you'll have full control over your character by way of directional movement, jumping, punching, and if you wish, taunting. Since the latter ability isn't needed, it's essentially a two-button game. But there is depth here, as the punch button fractures off into multiple powers, granting players a horizontal dash if done in the air, an upward Street Fighter-esque punch, and a downward butt slam. All of these are functional when it comes to knocking around your foes (more on that later), but they're also great platforming tools as well. The uppercut in particular is excellently designed, and have saved me from pit deaths on more than one occasion. Every character in the game (of which there are a ton) has the exact same moveset, but it works that way -- there are a lot of nuances as it stands, and no one has to learn the ins and outs of different runners. Said nuance is found mostly in the way that platformers themselves are presented, in a number of different color schemes. A "wave" of color will periodically sweep over the screen, eliminating objects with that same hue. So for instance, there might be a combination of red, yellow, and blue blocks, and in three second intervals, said waves will eliminate each color in succession. So it's up to players to not only master the moveset, but pay attention and memorize patterns. [embed]307647:60143:0[/embed] The best part of Runbow is its variety. There's a staggering amount of modes available for players of all skill levels, and a few of the meatier ones are satisfying even if you're going at it solo. One such game type is "Adventure," which tasks you with defeating an evil monochrome boss who feels left out, amidst all the other colorful world inhabitants. You'll progress through over 100 levels to complete the story, taking on a number of different objectives within the campaign itself. The bright, vivid color scheme makes things more interesting, as well as appropriate sound effects, I don't normally talk about game soundtracks as they generally don't stick with me for very long, but Runbow's is one of the best I've heard all year. Just give it a listen. Levels can range from boss fights, to enemy skirmishes, to races, to even hunts. Even with no AI option, I had a great time playing through the story with friends and by myself -- it's never boring, and you have the option to go for the best clear times (which in turn can unlock new characters). It's delightfully old school and frankly, one of the best single player party games I've played in quite a while. Of course the party modes are core to the experience, which includes races, arena battles, and King of the Hill modes. The former is more of a traditional platforming experience, with levels that scroll like in Mario games, and plenty of enemies, pitfalls, and hazards to deal with. It's set at a rapid-fire pace, so if someone dies, they're out for that level, and they don't even have to wait long since most stages take 30-45 seconds to complete. It's fast, it's fun, and optional power-ups make things even more enjoyable if you have an array of skill levels playing. Arena and King of the Hill are more like a Smash Bros. experience, as all combatants will need to kill enemies by way of punching them into oblivion (or make them fall to their doom). This is where the butt stomp and uppercut shine, as you'll have a tool for every occasion in combat. All of the aforementioned modes are playable by up to eight people, with almost any combination of controllers (GamePad, Wii U Pro Controller, Wii Remotes, Wii Classic Controller, and Nunchuk). The "Colour Master" mode allows for a ninth player who uses the GamePad to add in hazards themselves, competing against the other team of runners. It's not as strong as the other modes, but it's a nice distraction. Finally, the Bowhemoth mode is the most challenging game type on offer, and will be an exciting prospect for even the most hardened platforming veterans. My first win took me 33 minutes and 73 deaths to complete, and it's also playable both solo and with friends. You can't save mid-session, so you'll have to make do with one full run with as few deaths as you can spare. Online play couldn't be tested at the time of this writing, but the fact that it's included in an indie game like this is a godsend. For the price, I'd still recommend Runbow for solo players, as long as you really love platforming. Even if you only enjoy the genre just a little though, it's still a fantastic party game. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Runbow review photo
Run like the colors of the wind
There's been a renewed interest in party games this generation, and I'm loving it. While I'm all for any number of engrossing solo experiences that take a hundred or more hours to complete, on an equal level, I want to chill out and play with friends. Luckily, Runbow is a rare example of a title in the genre that stands on its own, no matter how many people you bring to the party.

Mighty Switch Force photo
Mighty Switch Force

A new Mighty Switch Force appears...for PC-only...on Early Access


Lame
Aug 26
// Chris Carter
My excitement for the recently teased Mighty Switch Force! game went from a "hnnngh" to a "meh" in one swift blow, as WayForward has announced Academy for PC, currently in Early Access. It's billed as a "part p...
Shovel Knight photo
Shovel Knight

Shovel Knight: Plague of Shadows looks wonderful


Free expansion coming soon
Aug 25
// Jordan Devore
Plague of Shadows looks like the perfect excuse to get back into Shovel Knight. It's a free expansion that remixes the game to tell an alternate story about the Plague Knight. Between his customizable bomb-based moveset and s...
amiibo photo
amiibo

This surreal Super Mario Maker commercial is worth a quick watch


Also, an amiibo trailer
Aug 25
// Chris Carter
If you ever wanted to watch a Dave Franco stand-in briefly play Super Mario Maker, while his world is depicted in a creepy surreal manner in front of him, this trailer is your huckleberry. Even though it is a commercial, it ...
Grow Home photo
Grow Home

You love Grow Home so much that it's free on PS Plus next month


Other PS Plus titles revealed, too
Aug 24
// Brett Makedonski
Grow Home entered the PlayStation Plus Vote to Play contest and it climbed, climbed, climbed in the polls. It climbed higher than any others. It climbed so high that it has left the stratosphere of games that cost money...
VVVVVV photo
VVVVVV

One of 2010's best games is finally coming to PSN


VVVVVV jumps to PS4, Vita this Tuesday
Aug 23
// Kyle MacGregor
Terry Cavanagh's VVVVVV is coming to PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita this Tuesday. The indie platformer was one of my favorite games of 2010, largely thanks to brilliant level design that makes the most of simplistic mecha...
Mario Maker shmup photo
Mario Maker shmup

Now there's a shoot-'em-up in Mario Maker


Super Shmup Bros.
Aug 21
// Jordan Devore
Super Mario Maker isn't out until September 11 and I'm already feeling inadequate. At this rate, any level I dream up will pale in comparison to what we're seeing on YouTube. I'll give it my best anyway. The folks at GameXplain have crafted a shoot-'em-up level called Super Shmup Bros. and it's another neat example of how powerful the creation tools are in the right hands. Wings for everyone!
Azure Striker photo
With Japanese voices!
Azure Striker Gunvolt was a fantastic platformer, and now it's headed to PC. You'll be able to snag it on August 28 for $14.99, and it'll come with a few extras, most notably the ability to toggle Japanese voices, which...

WayForward photo
WayForward

WayForward might be teasing a new Switchforce game


School edition?
Aug 21
// Chris Carter
Despite any shortcomings WayForward may have, they're pretty on point with Shantae and the Switchforce series. For the latter franchise we've seen heroine Patricia Wagon in the shoes of a policewoman and a fire...
Mario Maker level photo
Mario Maker level

This Mario Maker level plays like a Metroid game


Metroid U
Aug 20
// Jordan Devore
Between Metal Gear Solid V and Super Mario Maker, my schedule for September is Chinese-buffet full. Both games are going be huge time sinks. They're also tons of fun to watch pre-release. Take this level created by&...

Poncho is a mind-melting retro journey through post-robopocalypse

Aug 20 // Alessandro Fillari
[embed]307084:60068:0[/embed] Poncho (PC [previewed], PS4, PS Vita, Wii U)Developer: Delve InteractivePublisher: Rising Star GamesRelease Date: September 24, 2015MSRP: $14.99 After the apocalypse, humanity has been wiped out by an unknown scourge, and all that is left are machines. With mother nature having retaken the earth, the machines developed their own society and culture in the ruins of the old world. But one day, a poncho-wearing robot longs to discover his origins, and seeks out his creator. Using perspective-warping abilities and his own platforming skills, the resourceful little robot will travel through the landscape and encounter other machines trying to find purpose in the new world. Over the course of his adventure, he'll not only discover the meaning his own creation, but also the truth behind mankind's destruction. In recent years, retro-throwback games such as Fez have become common. What these titles share is an increased focus on subversion and playing with genre conventions, all the while crafting a compelling story that goes beyond what many would expect from the genre they're paying homage to. Poncho is no different. With the ability to travel between different planes of the level -- from the foreground, background, and middleground -- the poncho-wearing robot will have to tackle challenging puzzles and action set-pieces. The developers cite classic platformers such as Super Mario World and Sonic the Hedgehog, which had richly detailed backgrounds, as inspiration. I was surprised by how quickly Poncho ramped in difficulty. Initially, it's a very atmospheric game that focuses on storytelling, but once you're let loose into the various stages, things take quite a turn. While there are no enemies or bosses to battle, the challenges come from figuring out how to navigate the multi-layered levels with the perspectives-jumping abilities. With platforms, switches, and other obstacles that call for quick jumps between the different areas of the stages, there's tricky twitch-based gameplay to the platforming and some genuine three-dimensional thinking to the puzzles. It's trippy while still playing on the 2D plane.  With its release approaching, I got in some quality time from the current build of the game. As you acquire new abilities and skills from schematics, you'll be able to travel back to past stages and explore new areas. These abilities, such as the robot stomp, open a number of new avenues of exploration. This mechanic did a lot to make me understand the true scope of Poncho. It's very much a throwback platformer with modern puzzle gameplay dynamics. There were several moments where I felt I was stuck, but once I figured things out, I was left immensely satisfied.  If you're itching for a puzzle-platformer that plays with the genre's tropes and conventions, then keep an eye out for this little title. While on the surface it looks like a rather humble platforming jaunt through a post-apocylyptic world filled with robots, Poncho quickly goes into mindfuck territory, and it'll raise questions you'll be dying to get answers to.
Poncho preview photo
Out on September 24
Last year, we got a sneak peek at a rather peculiar puzzle-platformer named Poncho. Launching on Kickstarter and debuting at EGX for attendees, it showed a lot of promise in exploring the earth after humans went extinct. Unfo...

Gunman Clive Wii U photo
Gunman Clive Wii U

Gunman Clive HD Collection for Wii U slated for September release


For $3.99
Aug 20
// Chris Carter
We now have some more concrete details for the Gunman Clive HD Collection, which is a pairing of the first two games in the series, which were originally on 3DS. According to the developer Bertil Horberg, it's set for a Septe...
Freedom Planet photo
Freedom Planet

Freedom Planet on Wii U delayed indefinitely


'We're coming to Wii U no matter what'
Aug 19
// Chris Carter
Every few weeks or so I think to  myself, "is Freedom Planet coming out on Wii U yet?" We missed the review of the original, so I wanted to cover the console edition whenever it hit, and I'm getting pretty anxious. ...
amiibo skins photo
amiibo skins

Sonic, Splatoon, Pit amiibo costumes surface in Super Mario Maker


amiibo skins
Aug 19
// Steven Hansen
[Update: more pictures are available in the gallery below, like Waluigi.] It's no surprise that the sprawling Super Mario Maker supports Nintendo's amiibo toys -- we saw Wii Fit Trainer show up in-game a few months ago. All t...
Blubber Busters photo
Blubber Busters

Save space whales from disease in this pretty platformer


Blubber Busters
Aug 18
// Steven Hansen
With a name like Blubber Busters I was expecting something akin to that video where some knuckleheads try and dispose of a beached whale with dynamite, sending gore and viscera all over looker-ons (not to be confused with th...
American McGee photo
American McGee

American McGee encourages petition for Alice series' rights


Despite EA's disinterest
Aug 18
// Zack Furniss
American McGee's Alice series holds a special place in many a gamer's (queen of) hearts for its grim take on Lewis Carroll's classic tale. Despite a lackluster sequel, there are still fans holding out hope for a third ga...

Super Mario Maker is more fun than I initially thought it would be

Aug 18 // Chris Carter
Super Mario Maker starts in the best way possible -- a miniature creation tutorial featuring the first Super Mario Bros. After jumping across an impossible-to-make gap, you'll have the option to "finish the course," and bring Mario to the safety of the goal flag. Objects are located at the top, and it's very easy to use the stylus to create platforms, Question Mark Blocks, enemies, and hazards. Putting wings on enemies, piranha plants inside pipes, and items inside of blocks is also as easy as dragging it on top of said item. You can also tap or drag to clone the last-used item, which is useful for dropping tons of blocks. There's a lot of personality present, especially with the auto-tuned voice that notes item placement, cutely shouting out things like "block! block block! block block block block!" to the tune of the classic Mario theme. Maker even has its own tutorial character named "Mary O." who functions as a Power Line Expert of sorts, complete with a headset. I love little touches like this. The way amiibo support works is by adding characters to a roster with a GamePad tap, which will allow players to change into new cast members when touching a Mystery Mushroom. Each character has a special emote with the up d-pad button (for example, Pac-Man will raise a piece of fruit) -- most of the ones I've seen so far also have their own sound effects, and if you're hit, you'll transform back into Mario. Here's a full list of compatible amiibo.  Changing your "theme" (such as above or underground in the first Mario game, or even a new series entirely) is as easy as pressing a button, and only takes a few seconds. It's awesome seeing a stage change from the retro style to the "New" visuals instantly. It's also important to note that more tools only open up "over a series of days, as you continue to create in the game," and only 12 are available right away -- Nintendo notes that this is so you aren't overwhelmed but I don't really buy into it (hence my lingering issue). Expect thoughts on how this scenario plays out in the coming weeks. In terms of modes, you'll start off in the editing portion, but you can also access a challenge mode of sorts that limits your lives, and "Course World," which is a full online hub that allows you to play, star, download, and comment on levels. I love how Nintendo has this mode laid out, as you can clearly see the entire level by way of an icon in the hub menu, giving you an idea of whether or not the stage is up your alley before you even play it. You can also sort by rating and filter "up and coming" levels if you wish, and each map only takes roughly five seconds to load. There's tons of levels available right now for reviewers, so I'll be able to provide some thoughts on how the hub works at a later date. I don't want to spoil too many secrets, so expect our review in early September ahead of the September 11 launch of Super Mario Maker.
Super Mario Maker photo
First hands-on with the retail edition
Although I haven't been super excited for Super Mario Maker based on the initial pitch, we've slowly been drip-fed more and more information over the past month or so, and some of it looks intriguing. Now, I've had the chance to play the game myself, and left pretty satisfied outside of one lingering issue.

Stories: The Hidden Path photo
Stories: The Hidden Path

Developer of Tiny Brains reveals Stories: The Hidden Path


Floating islands? I'm in
Aug 17
// Chris Carter
Tiny Brains was a delightful little puzzle game, and showed us that developer Spearhead Games had chops. Now they're moving onto Stories: The Hidden Path exclusively for PS4, which looks fantastic on paper. And "paper" ...
Super Mario photo
Super Mario

Super Mario's Question Block has come a long way


I remember my first encounter
Aug 17
// Chris Carter
One of my favorite gaming experiences is playing something completely blind. That's just what I did for my first ever Super Mario playthrough on NES. While I played with my parents at my side, they didn't really know a ...
Super Mario Poi photo
Super Mario Poi

Poi looks like all the best 3D Mario games combined into one


Now on Kickstarter
Aug 15
// Jed Whitaker
[Update: Added some gameplay videos below] We have written about Poi prior to now, but somehow it flew under my radar. Poi looks like all the best parts of Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, Super Mario Galaxy&n...

Review: Commander Cherry's Puzzled Journey

Aug 14 // Jed Whitaker
Commander Cherry's Puzzled Journey (PS4, Xbox One [reviewed])Developer: Grandé GamesPublisher: Grandé GamesRelease Date: August 11, 2015 (PS4), August 14, 2015 (Xbox One)MSRP: $13.99 Think of the most basic indie platformer you've ever played with minimal graphics and okay at best platforming mechanics, because that is what Commander Cherry's Puzzled Journey is, only worse.  Commander Cherry has to get from one side of the ten available levels to the other, using snapshots of your body taken with the Xbox One Kinect or the Playstation Eye as platforms. When posing for pictures you'll have to position yourself so the edges of your body touch red circles causing them to light up, thus making them collectible for Commander Cherry. These yellow dots must be collected to allow advancement to the next part of the level and granting you a rating of yo, yoga, or yogawesome depending on how well you performed, then rinse and repeat for what felt like a billion times. Here's the thing about capturing your body in crazy poses: in theory it sounds great, but in practice the functionality blows. The Kinect was picking up like half my arms, half my face, and half my legs. On top of that, the detection wasn't that great, often times leaving wide areas of the room behind me in the picture, instead of cropping me out. So don't be fooled by Commander Cherry's original trailer, it certainly doesn't work as well as I was led to believe it was; foolish me. [embed]304686:59976:0[/embed] As far as the actual platforming goes it could be better. Early on you're asked to press a button that shows you all what all the controls are, only you can't do two of the functions yet: double jump and laser. You can only double jump if you have a power-up that turns your weak mustache into a long wizard-like beard, but the game doesn't tell you that as the control screen just says "Hold A to double jump" which isn't even how you double jump once you have the ability! The laser is granted to you in later levels allowing you to cut through your snapshots of yourself, which helps a great deal and should have been available from the start. Speaking of available from the start, double jump should have been as well. The platforming isn't exactly smooth, and most of the time I only found myself able to make it through sections when I had the power-up. The double jump power-up is lost upon falling to your death or hitting the weird eyeball grass and oranges that shoot flames, much like the super mushroom power-up in Super Mario Bros. The big difference between this and Super Mario Bros. is the added double jump ability; getting hit as Mario makes you smaller and harder to hit versus in Commander Cherry it just causes you to lose functionality and makes the game harder. Because of this I started to purposefully kill myself three times in a row when I lost the double jump ability, as it causes a power-up to spawn for you. Nothing says "this might not be a great idea" like someone playing your game and killing themselves deliberately to make your game even remotely possible let alone enjoyable. I'm clearly not in shape, at all -- though Seaman once told me round is indeed a shape -- but I didn't have much trouble posing to complete the platforming puzzles. Poses start with just making basic platforms to guide your character across, but eventually add other mechanics, like avoiding touching grass-like eyeballs, blocking firebreath from oranges, and bodies that move when you have Commander Cherry jump on them. The problem is it gets tedious when sometimes you're asked to make up to six poses for one section while holding the controller in your hand and contorting your body in all different positions. It just wasn't fun, and eventually I had to take a break as my knees, and back started to ache a bit. Later on I figured out I could just play while sitting in my chair closer to the camera, and totally cheesed my way through the final levels with no shame.  All the levels look pretty similar, just bland textureless polygons, and what music there was was pretty forgettable, just like the rest of the game. With only ten levels you'd think Commander Cherry's Puzzled Journey was over far too soon, but it was quite the opposite; I couldn't wait for this yoga-like Hell to be over. Knowing the game was made by only two people makes me feel a bit like a yogasshole by saying this game is yogawful, but this is one cherry pit I couldn't wait to spit out. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Review: Commander Cherry photo
Yogawful
"A game that captures pictures of you when you pose to build levels for your character to platform on? This is gonna be a blast," I thought naively as I excitedly volunteered to review Commander Cherry's Puzzled Journey, "Finally something I can use my Kinect for!" Note to self: Never, ever, ever volunteer to review a Kinect game again, no matter how cool it might look.


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