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Super Mario Maker photo
Super Mario Maker

Super Mario Maker is getting the original Pokemon trio


20th Anniversary rages on
Feb 12
// Chris Carter
I have to say, Nintendo is doing a bang-up job of celebrating Pokémon's 20th anniversary. Hell, there's already been a ton of fanfare (the Mew event, tons of merchandise worldwide, amiibo restocks, a Splatoon Spla...
Tower Of Samsara photo
Tower Of Samsara

Tower Of Samsara looks like it has shades of Out of This World's art


On the radar
Feb 11
// Chris Carter
I had never heard of Tower Of Samsara until today, but after a few readers pointed me in its direction, I came away impressed. There's just a bit of alpha footage up now on the developer's YouTube channel, but it looks m...
Yooka-Laylee photo
Yooka-Laylee

Meet Yooka-Laylee's newest character, Kartos


'The god of ore'
Feb 10
// Jordan Devore
I'm not sure how many more ex-Rare staffers can pile onto the Yooka-Laylee team, but there's room for at least a couple more. Playtonic went on a little hiring spree for its first birthday, adding environmental artist Damien ...
N++ photo
N++

Precision platformer N++ headed to Steam


And possibly other places
Feb 08
// Jordan Devore
N++ released last year as a PlayStation 4 exclusive and, considering how dang good it was and how much of a following its predecessors N and N+ had, not nearly enough people played it. Hopefully that'll change this year when ...

Review: Unravel

Feb 08 // Caitlin Cooke
Unravel (PC, Xbox One, PS4 [reviewed])Developer: Coldwood InteractivePublisher: Electronic ArtsReleased: February 9, 2016MSRP: $19.99 Unravel’s story begins with an elderly woman making her way up to bed as Yarny, the game’s darling protagonist made from red yarn, comes to life downstairs. His adventure begins just outside of the cottage, roaming through the garden and into the beyond in search of lost memories made by the family that once inhabited the house, unraveling himself along the way. Yarny is able to roam freely throughout the cottage, a landing area for the ten chapters in the game which are accessed through framed pictures. Each photo transports our hero to the area it was taken where he encounters fragments of lost family memories, pictures frozen in time. At the end of each chapter he places the memories into a photo album that starts to come to life, weaving pictures into a story. [embed]339641:62166:0[/embed] To capture all the memories you guide Yarny through various terrain and strategize on how to make it past obstacles without unraveling him too much, as he only has limited amounts of yarn before reaching another spool. At first the game throws a lot of yarn techniques and mechanics at you quickly, but with time they start to become second nature. Coming up with clever solutions using environmental props along with grappling, swinging, climbing, rappelling, and tying knots for points of resistance are key to making it through. The yarn puzzles are fairly easy to figure out without being too simple -- each task is fairly small and broken up, not requiring long chains of thought but at the same time being challenging enough to feel rewarded when making it through. There were a few areas I was stuck on for longer than I’d like, but for the most part I found them to be fun and clever. Surprisingly, the levels never felt repetitive and the game was kept fresh by experimenting with the yarn’s mechanics in new environments. Outside influences also give a bit of flavor, requiring additional thought behind the puzzles -- for example, landslides, animal chases, and active machinery all play additional parts to the game beyond the yarn. Because the yarn is finite and will stop unraveling if you use too much, being cautious with solutions is critical to making it past obstacles. Yarny will get visibly distressed and emaciated if you pull too far away -- but don’t worry, you won’t kill him, he just won’t stretch any farther. If you find yourself in a particular bind (literal or no) you are able to reset back to the last save point by holding the down button. This is an extremely useful and necessary feature as it is quite possible to accidentally get yourself in an unsolvable situation. Spools act as save points along with providing the additional thread, and are fairly regular throughout the levels, however there are some small stretches that can wear thin if you’re not careful and make too many mistakes. Unravel as a whole is a whimsical and endearing adventure, pulling you further into the atmosphere through the intricate textures and bright effects. In one of my favorite levels you make your way through a snowy farm, rolling pine cones to make snowballs. The environment was so realistically captured and joyful that I felt I was right there with Yarny rolling around in the snow. Textures and light within the environment are slightly exaggerated, but in that magical way that makes fond memories stand out brighter. Everything from a log to a puddle comes to life beyond what’s contained in reality, almost like watching the most beautiful sceneries replay in your head. There’s a certain sadness to the experience that I can’t quite explain, perhaps lost nostalgia and a lingering familial longing that tugs at the heartstrings. It’s not necessarily "sad" or depressing in the traditional sense, but a thoughtful tale that brings forth various emotions throughout that will vary depending on the player’s personal history and connection to the story. These emotions are certainly drawn out even further by the sepia tones and lovely violin accompaniment, along with the self-discovering nature of the game. Unravel cherishes the best moments in life while recognizing the hard battles we sometimes face as families, all wrapped up within delightful gameplay and stunning scenery. The atmosphere is so compelling that I couldn’t help but feel like a piece of my own story was wrapped up in the game with the rest of the photo album. It’s rare but a special thing when a game manages to impart a story that touches strings deep in the heart, and Unravel manages to meet and exceed this feat. Get ready to have all the feels. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Unravel review photo
Simply beautiful
At first glance Unravel feels akin to LittleBigPlanet with its adorably miniature yarn-clad mascot, but don’t let it fool you. It’s a heartfelt story with little communication beyond imprinted memories, woven with...

PS4 photo
PS4

Bit.Trip Runner2 jumps to PS4 this month


Cross-buy with Vita version
Feb 07
// Kyle MacGregor
Runner2 is coming to PlayStation 4 on February 23, Choice Provisions has announced. The auto-run platformer will support cross-buy compatibility with the Vita port Choice Provisions released a couple years ago. Unfortunately,...

Review: A Boy and His Blob

Feb 06 // Brett Makedonski
A Boy and His Blob (Linux, PC, Mac, PS4, PS Vita, Wii, Xbox One [reviewed])Developer: WayForward TechnologiesPublisher: Majesco EntertainmentReleased: October 13, 2009 (Wii), January 20, 2016 (Re-released on other platforms)MSRP: $9.99 WayForward's take on A Boy and His Blob is intentionally vague and that's possibly its best quality. In an opening sequence reminiscent of EarthBound, a child is woken in the middle of the night to a crash outside his window. After a brief bout of exploration, Blob is discovered. From there, it's just adventuring for the sake of adventuring, and saving the world for the sake of saving the world. Blob is billed as the greatest asset, a shapeshifter who can perform about a dozen different functions. For example, Boy feeds Blob a jellybean and Blob turns into an anvil. Or a soccer ball. Or a trampoline. Over the course of 40-some levels, variations of this sequence play out hundreds (maybe thousands) of times as the main function of this puzzle platformer. You wouldn't think it from the game's title, but Blob is actually a tertiary character. If it were named more accurately, this would be called A Boy and His Jellybean Wheel. A disconcerting amount of time is spent in a time-frozen state clumsily navigating a menu of the level's eight-or-so pre-assigned jellybeans. After a jellybean is thrown and Blob (hopefully) performs his duties, it's only a matter of seconds until you're forced to again pull up that menu. That process sucks the life out of A Boy and His Blob. Even though most of the game's levels are notably short, they often feel like arduous endeavors because the pace grinds to a crawl. Puzzle solutions are usually easily identifiable -- in fact, there are often giant signs pointing out the answer -- but their execution is needlessly slow and sluggish. [embed]338372:62152:0[/embed] Making matters worse, there are many many instances when Blob simply won't do what you want. Blob has a tendency to shift shapes just ever-so-slightly not quite where intended. It's annoying at first, but becomes a detriment in later levels. That combined with stiff and unresponsive platforming controls often leads to starting the section over from scratch.  And, that's all when Blob is actually on-screen. It's not uncommon for Blob to be missing altogether, either because it was left behind or it hopped into an abyss. When this happens, the game would like for the balloon jellybean to be tossed, causing Blob to eventually float to your position. Mercifully, however, there's a call button that can just be impatiently pressed over and over until it balloons your way automatically, slowly but surely. What A Boy and His Blob has on its side are intangibles, of sorts. They're plucky attributes that significantly and understatedly enhance a game, but don't necessarily make a game. For instance, there's no denying A Boy and His Blob's innocent aesthetic, unspoken emotion, or charming spirit. Those are the qualities that make the game more tolerable than it would otherwise be. Without much option of anything besides leaning on the NES version's method of using Blob (a non-playable character) as the means of gameplay execution, WayForward's take on A Boy and His Blob is frustratingly imprecise and inaccurate. But, by deviating a bit and adding the jellybean wheel, it killed any momentum and turned the game into a slog. That is truly the worst of both worlds. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
A Boy and His Blob review photo
Blah-b
A Boy and His Blob, a 2009 "re-imagining" of the NES game of the same namesake (and recently re-released on current platforms), is an interesting case study. When does retro game design and a devotion to source material becom...

Umihara Kawase photo
Umihara Kawase

Umihara Kawase has returned to Steam


That didn't take too long
Feb 06
// Kyle MacGregor
The Umihara Kawase trilogy is now back on Steam, Degica has announced. The trio of bizarre platformers disappeared from Valve's store in December after their publisher Agatsuma Entertainment went out of business earlier that ...
Unravel photo
Unravel

EA and Origin Access subscribers can play the first two levels of Unravel right now


Oooh Yarny, kumbayaaaa
Feb 05
// Joe Parlock
It’s not long now until puzzle-platformer Unravel is launched. On February 9, the world will be too distracted by how adorable Yarny is to notice many of the world’s ills, and we will at last have achieved global ...

Review: Blitz Breaker

Feb 04 // Chris Carter
Blitz Breaker (PC [reviewed], iOS)Developer: Boncho GamesPublisher: Boncho GamesReleased: February 2, 2016 (PC), TBA (iOS)MSRP: $2.99 Blitz Breaker doesn't waste any time. Within seconds, you're in, learning the game's ins and outs, which are comprised of a sole jump button and directional inputs (with support for a keyboard or gamepad). Your player character can't move traditionally, and therein lies the gimmick. Instead, pressing a button will allow you to dash in any one of the cardinal directions. Jumping is a tertiary function, only used in specific cases, because trying to actually control your leap will only result in a wild dash. Here's the most interesting part of the game, mechanically -- once you commit to a direction, you have to see it through until you hit something. Since you can't just course correct constantly, it becomes part puzzler in that sense, especially when rooms start filling with spikes and conveyor belts. Smashing against a wall is commonplace, with the resulting force often catapulting you into danger. You'll need quick reflexes to get through this one, but paying attention to your surroundings is key too, so there's a balance. Some of my favorite puzzles involve multi-screen sequences, which force players to recall layouts to unlock doors and smash barriers that are required to reach the exit at the end of every stage. There is some trial and error involved though, as dashing into another unknown screen can result in an instant death. It's not too frustrating given the lenient level restart option, with the exception of boss gauntlets, which can get pretty tough and lengthy. [embed]338811:62114:0[/embed] The simplicity and relatively small rooms are clearly made with a mobile audience in mind, which makes sense after I realized that it's coming to iOS at some point in the future. Thankfully, pesky IAP (mobile DLC) is nowhere to be found, and you're getting the whole enchilada with your purchase. There is an "arcade" mode, but it's basically just a different delivery system for the campaign. With no multiplayer component, there isn't a whole lot there after all 101 levels are completed -- and once you get the hang of the game, they go by quickly. Blitz's art style is reminiscent of a bygone era, but the design team puts its own spin on it, and the soundtrack is one of the best indie productions in recent memory. Blitz Breaker will bring a smile to your face if you enjoy games like Super Meat Boy, though the experience isn't nearly as deep. Once you've blazed your way through, there isn't much there to coax you into staying, but you'll have fun with the ride all the same. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.] 
Blitz Breaker photo
Gotta bump fast
I've said it before, but I really enjoy this era of gaming. Sure, there were a lot of classics in the retro era, but many were few and far between from the same usual suspects. Now we have talented developers ready and willin...

Super Mario Maker photo
Super Mario Maker

Oh hey, Professor E. Gadd is coming to Super Mario Maker


Is it the Year of Luigi again?
Feb 03
// Chris Carter
Super Mario Maker has been pretty fantastic in terms of its event course and 8-bit sprite offerings (read: free DLC), and this new one is no different. Professor E. Gadd of the Luigi's Mansion series joins the fray, comp...

Review: Shadow Puppeteer

Feb 01 // Laura Kate Dale
Shadow Puppeteer (PC, Wii U [Reviewed])Developer: Sarepta StudioPublisher: Snow Cannon GamesReleased: January 28, 2016MSRP: $14.99 Shadow Puppeteer is a puzzle-platformer about a young boy whose body and shadow become severed by an evil figure, and their quest to become one again. You use one analogue stick to move the child in 3D space, while using the other stick to control his shadow on a 2D plane. The boy can move items around, altering the locations of shadows, and can pass through obstacles like smoke that cast a solid shadow, blocking movement for the shadow child. The first thing to note about Shadow Puppeteer is its lack of technical polish. Cutscenes have visible compression artifacting, the menus are poorly produced, every move to another small environment involves a lengthy loading screen and the beautiful art style is let down by the quality of the in-game models when compared to the visual design of the cutscenes. In short, it looks and feels very rough around the edges. [embed]338045:62072:0[/embed] While playing Shadow Puppeteer, I couldn't help but compare it to Contrast and Brothers, the two games whose mechanics it poorly mimics. Where Brothers' use of dual character control felt seamless and responsive, SP frequently felt loose, unresponsive, and fiddly. Where the shadow manipulation puzzles in Contrast were thematically tied and provided impressive visual spectacle upon completion, those in Shadow Puppeteer often felt basic, simplified, and unconnected to the world of the narrative. Oh, and the game is terrible at proper checkpointing. There were times where I died, had to replay multiple rooms, each with a load time between them, and re-watch a cutscene to return to making progress. This did not feel challenging; it just felt tedious. Shadow Puppeteer tries to do interesting things, but ultimately comes off as unpolished, bland, repetitive, and mediocre. I really tried to enjoy it, but I just couldn't bring myself to care about it. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Indie photo
The worst of both worlds
Shadow Puppeteer; a game that takes the shadow-manipulation mechanics of Contrast and the dual character control of Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons and wraps them in a Tim Burton aesthetic… and doesn't do any on...

Umihara Kawase photo
Umihara Kawase

Umihara Kawase will return to Steam soon


Hopefully this week
Jan 31
// Kyle MacGregor
Umihara Kawase will "hopefully" return to Steam "this week," Degica told Destructoid today. In case you're wondering why it's making a comeback, the platformer trilogy was delisted from Valve's storefront in December followin...
Mario Maker maintenance photo
Mario Maker maintenance

Super Mario Maker is offline until tomorrow


Online services will return at 5pm PT
Jan 27
// Jordan Devore
[Update: Nintendo says everything's back to normal. Happy level hunting.] While you can still play and build levels in Super Mario Maker offline, the game's online features are temporarily unavailable while Nintendo fixes a b...
Mighty No. 9th delay photo
Mighty No. 9th delay

Mighty No. 9 delayed (again)


'Spring 2016'
Jan 25
// Steven Hansen
Mighty No. 9 had a firm February 9 release date after a series of delays (the original Kickstarter estimate for delivery was April 2015) and then a recent promise that there'd be no more delays. Well, about that... A very hil...
Unravel Gameplay photo
Unravel Gameplay

Yarnie litters the land with his very fabric in this new Unravel gameplay


Yarn, yarn never changes
Jan 19
// Jed Whitaker
After seeing Unravel unveiled at E3 2015, I haven't stopped yearning to play it. The creator was super adorable as he nervously talked about his game on stage, the main character is cute as hell, and the gameplay looks ...
Rocketbirds 2: Revolution photo
Rocketbirds 2: Revolution

Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken sequel coming soon


Get set for Rocketbirds 2: Revolution
Jan 19
// Vikki Blake
Rocketbirds 2: Evolution is coming soon to PlayStation 4 and Vita. Writing on the PlayStation Blog, creator of the original Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken Sian Yue Tan confirmed that the team has spent four years developing ...
Mario and Religion photo
Mario and Religion

Did You Know Gaming takes on religion in the Mario series


Interesting stuff
Jan 18
// Chris Carter
Japanese media is no stranger to religious references, with many creators inserting them for no reason other than looking "cool." In this episode of Did You Know Gaming, we get to see a few of those concepts as they pert...
Gunman Clive photo
Gunman Clive

Gunman Clive HD sold '10 times' better than the PC release of Gunman Clive 2


9,000 copies
Jan 18
// Chris Carter
Bertil Hörberg, the developer of the Gunman Clive series, has shared a post-mortem of sorts for recent entries in the series on NeoGAF. In short, he concludes that Gunman Clive HD has sold 9,000 units (not coun...
One Dog Story photo
One Dog Story

Serious Cave Story vibes come off One Dog Story


Woof
Jan 14
// Darren Nakamura
Cave Story is so revered among indie game enthusiasts, it's little surprise it would be cited as an influence for others making a game. One Dog Story lists it up there with others like Battletoads and Shovel Knight. One Dog S...
Avengers photo
Avengers

Lego Avengers has some free DLC for PS3 and PS4 players


20 characters and a level
Jan 13
// Jordan Devore
Lego Marvel's Avengers is coming to a bunch of a platforms on January 26, 2016, but folks who pick up either the PlayStation 3 or PlayStation 4 version will have a head start in terms of characters. And if you're anything lik...
Yoshi photo
Yoshi

These early Yoshi's Woolly World concepts are neat


Touch fuzzy, get dizzy
Jan 13
// Jordan Devore
Before Nintendo settled on the name Yoshi's Woolly World, the game was known as Yarn Yoshi. Do you remember that? It was only a few short years ago. The art direction was originally more in line with Good-Feel's prior game, K...
Shovel Knight photo
There's still quite a bit of work to do
Recently I had a chance to chat with Yacht Club Games' David D'Angelo, who shared a bit about some upcoming updates to Shovel Knight. As a recap we've recently acquired the free Plague Knight campaign in addition to the $13 c...

Scuttlebugs! photo
Scuttlebugs!

This Mario 64 glitch walkthrough broke my brain


In the best possible way
Jan 12
// Jordan Devore
What is the meaning of life? I'm not sure, but I'm beginning to believe it's lurking somewhere in this ridiculously in-depth Super Mario 64 glitch video commentated by pannenkoek2012. The video, a breakdown of the game's inne...
Mario Maker costume photo
Mario Maker costume

Hatoful Mario Maker: Level design pigeon Yamamura gets costume


Mario Maker gives a date for the pigeon
Jan 12
// Steven Hansen
Super Mario Maker just keeps adding adorable new 8-bit costumes. Recently we've seen Birdo and the Excitebike biker and a fab Super Mario Land nod. Things are less nostalgic this time around, as Nintendo announced a Yamamura ...
What in the hell photo
What in the hell

Eat trash as a bear in Wii U exclusive Epic Dumpster Bear


Because video games
Jan 11
// Jed Whitaker
I've covered weird Wii U eShop exclusives before, but Epic Dumpster Bear might be the most out there. Inspired by 16-bit platforming classics, you'll be playing as a bear who eats food out of dumpsters because an evil c...
Mario Maker insanity photo
Mario Maker insanity

Watch an absurd race through Mario Maker's hardest levels


Don't forget to blink
Jan 11
// Jordan Devore
"Mario Maker has really provided an opportunity for very sadistic individuals, like this man playing right here, PangaeaPanga, to create horrifying levels for our amusement," speedrunner Carl Sagan said during the gaming mara...

Looking at it like $13 DLC, the Shovel Knight amiibo is worth it

Jan 10 // Chris Carter
The primary function of the amiibo, as you may have heard, is co-op, but there's so much more to it than that. Tapping a figure to your GamePad base will in fact open up the "Custom Knight" character, which looks like the main hero at first glance, but is actually so much more. Instead of gaining powers by way of Relics and Meal Tickets, this hero levels-up as you play, and saves its data to the figure itself. Skills are granted randomly, and include both Shovel and Plague Knight powers, as well as a few extras. The extras are hefty too, as each Custom can equip a Relic (as well as swap between them with L/R like Mega Man X), a charge move, special effect (like a fire trail), gesture, color, and costume. It's literally like playing as a brand new character. As for co-op, it works very well. Two players share the screen, and if one hits a transition phase, the other will teleport to their location and begin the next screen. The game is designed so that most bonus areas and such are one screen, so you don't need be jumping on top of each other constantly. If someone dies, they can revive at any given time by taking half of the surviving player's health. In terms of jumping, players can actually boost off of each other vertically with a downwards thrust, and you can even enhance that boost by having the lower player leap in the air. It reminds me of the Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers NES game in all the best ways. Oh, and any supported controller can be used for either player (nice), and 10 challenges are added to the game as a result of the amiibo, including five that are specific to co-op play. So what are the aforementioned caveats? Well, to play with two Custom Knights, you'll need two amiibo. On paper it kind of makes sense (storing the information in separate figures, or as a form of DRM) but on another, it really doesn't (why can't the Wii U just store a local file?). Secondly, the Plague Knight campaign is not supported in any form, full stop -- so don't get too excited at the prospect of Custom and Plague joining forces. Though, it stands to reason that if the Shovel Knight amiibo is a smashing success, they could make more to suit the character roster. And I really hope they do, because it would make the game that much better. As far as $13 DLC goes, the Shovel Knight amiibo is pretty impressive. It not only adds co-op to the affair but it also re-ignited my interest in the single-player campaign with the Custom Knight. The concept of granting one individual character a level-up system is pretty unique, and since it rounds out the total roster to three, it adds even more content to this already packed game. At this point the Wii U has the definitive version of Shovel Knight.
Shovel Knight amiibo photo
There's a few caveats though
I managed to pick up a Shovel Knight amiibo yesterday for the US launch, and I couldn't resist giving it a go immediately on Wii U. Despite the fact that I've completed the campaign roughly 10 times since its launch (not counting the Plague Knight add-on), I was surprised to find that I fell in love with it all over again.

Mario Maker outfit photo
Mario Maker outfit

The latest Mario Maker costume is a nod to Super Mario Land


Sky Pop
Jan 07
// Jordan Devore
Nintendo has tied another Super Mario Maker costume to a branded level, but at least this time it's based on an existing part of the Mario universe (Super Mario Land), not a real-world car. To earn the Sky Pop plane, you'll h...
Unravel photo
Unravel

Unravel's Yarny came from the ideas of love and connectedness


And a camping trip, specifically
Jan 07
// Darren Nakamura
We've been pretty enamored with the feels-like-an-indie-but-is-actually-EA-published puzzle platformer since we first saw it last year. At the time, director Martin Sahlin got up on stage and talked about his inspiration for ...

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