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Broken games

The Arkham Knight PC port proves yet again that only suckers pre-order


A real shame
Jun 24
// Nic Rowen
Tuesday morning, I had a moment of weakness. After reading some stellar reviews (of the console versions) I allllmost pre-purchased the PC version of Arkham Knight. I've loved every other entry in the series and with those re...

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 ...

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 ...


Metroid do photo
Metroid do

Nintendo announced a new Metroid so we gave Zack a haircut


Preview: Metroid Prime: Blast Ball
Jun 22
// Steven Hansen
Ah, young, handsome Zack Furniss. Relatively new to Destructoid and attending his first E3 for the site, Zack was wide-eyed and hopeful. He imagined a world of Metroid Prime 4 or Super-er Metroid and took his e3thusiasm to d...

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...

Feminism! photo
Feminism!

E3 2015: You play like a girl


And that's a very good thing
Jun 19
// Matthew Razak
[Here's a guest editorial from Matthew Razak, Editor-in-Chief of Flixist, and former Destructoid staff. You may remember him as Cowzilla. It's nice to have him back.] This year as I sat at home watching press events from all ...
Hot Pockets photo
Hot Pockets

Review: Free E3 'Breakfast'-flavored Hot Pockets


Shapes
Jun 18
// Steven Hansen
You see the depths I go for yous guys? I ate a Hot Pocket.

Xbox originally thought backwards compatibility was impossible

Jun 18 // Brett Makedonski
To be blunt, I was sort of astonished to watch the Xbox One transform into an Xbox 360. With a simultaneous press of the menu and view buttons, the Xbox 360's guide pops up -- yes, the exact one that still exists on the legacy console. From there, it's fully functional to look at friends, launch games, view Achievements -- all that stuff that everyone's already familiar with. Maybe the most interesting aspect of backwards compatibility is its cross-platform ability. The presenter stressed that, because this is essentially an Xbox 360 running off of an Xbox One, anyone can play and chat with friends who are on 360. That's a nice way to bridge the gap for those whose friends haven't taken the "next-gen" plunge yet. But, just because it's acting as an Xbox 360 doesn't mean that it forfeits the perks of still being an Xbox One. The system's sharing and broadcasting features remain live, so snapping screenshots, capturing video, and Twitch broadcasting are all available options. Have your cake, eat it too. While all this seems great, one has to wonder how on-board third-party publishers will be with the feature. After all, they aren't making money if you're playing a game you already own. In an age of remaster after remaster, you have to think that it's a more alluring prospect to opt out of backwards compatibility and re-release a game at a higher visual fidelity and -- more importantly to publishers -- a price tag. However, Xbox doesn't necessarily think this will be the case. Or, at least it hopes it won't be. One representative went so far as to suggest that companies will use backwards compatibility to grow their brands. "Our group doesn't talk to the publishers directly, but if you listen to what Bethesda had to say on-stage on Monday where you get Fallout 3 for free if you buy Fallout 4, I think they'll do things like that to encourage customers to buy the latest games and to get into the IP. They want more people in the IP to grow their audience, not just the same people coming back. I think it's a good channel for them to be able to do things like that," he said. Microsoft's intentions for backwards compatibility appear earnest and sincere, but all these advancements make it sort of seem like the Xbox 360 is an obsolete machine. When I asked if consumers can just throw away their 360s after backwards compatibility is fully up and running, the presenters laughed and said "We wouldn't advocate throwing them away! But, like Phil said at the conference, now's the time for 360 customers to upgrade to Xbox One. We want them to say 'everything's there for me. Let's go.'"
Backwards compatibility photo
'The team never gave up'
Microsoft's E3 announcement that the Xbox One would be backwards compatible was a big one for fans who have thousands of dollars invested in the last generation of gaming. Two years ago, many struggled with the idea that thei...

Nintendo E3 photo
Nintendo E3

Nintendo lost E3 because it failed to exceed my unreasonably high expectations


Why won't Nintendo do what I want?
Jun 17
// Fake News (So You Cannot Sue)
For me E3 didn’t start until Tuesday evening when, after a day of avoiding spoilers at work, I was able to sit down at my computer, open a bottle of wine and enjoy the annual Nintendo E3 Digital Event. As a life-long ...
Destructoid Podcast photo
Destructoid Podcast

Podtoid 297: E3 2015 Predictions, Tips & Tricks


Life is hard. Just have a beer, man
Jun 14
// Kyle MacGregor
Subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or download it here. Welcome back to Podtoid! It's the calm before the storm, so to speak. The Dtoid staff is descending upon Los Angeles for this week's trade show -- but we...

What I want from Fallout 4

Jun 13 // Nic Rowen
Better stealth I'm going to take for granted that better gunplay is a given for Fallout 4. The awkward, inaccurate shooting of Fallout 3 was probably the most common complaint about it, and New Vegas' attempt to address it with a janky iron-sights system was so rough and amateurish that it felt like a hacked together mod. Fallout 4 will obviously have to do better in the guns-and-ammo category, so I'm not going to waste my breath begging for it. What I will beg for though, is better stealth design. Some of the best moments in Bethesda's games have emerged from the shadows. The Thieves Guild and Dark Brotherhood had the best quests in Oblivion and Skyrim, encouraging many players to roll up at least one sneaky character. I know I personally spent a huge chunk of my time in Fallout 3 trying to skulk through super-mutant camps, silently seeding the area with mines and booby traps before pulling down on some mutant and watching the chaos pop off as his buddies came running. When done well, the tension and power dynamics of stealth can provide some of the best gameplay around. Bethesda seems to know this. It includes so many quests and options in its games that encourage you to be a sneaky little jerk. So why does sneaking around feel like some after-thought, Scooby Doo bullshit? The old "crouch down and watch an icon that tells you if a raider can see you or not" routine isn't going to cut it anymore. Stealth should be more than a factor of your sneak stat and a matter of breaking line of sight. I'm really not interested in another stealth experience that allows enemies to pick you off from 50 yards away in the dark like you were holding a road flare if your sneak skill is low, or let you squat down straight in front of their shins like you're the Invisible Man if the skill is pushing 90 and above. Make stealth active, give us something to do to make us feel sneaky. Instead of making the Sneak skill and active camouflage gear the end-all-be-all of stealth, how about throwing in some active abilities to let us dynamically manipulate the enemy? They don't have to be complicated. Take a page from the Far Cry games and give players with a moderate skill investment in stealth the ability to throw a distracting rock or bullet casing to draw enemies away. Make some cubbyholes or hiding spots that only intermediate ninjas can use. Let Sneak-Kings focus down like Joel from The Last Of Us and get some "I'm super good at hearing" ghetto-SONAR ability. I'm not asking for Metal Gear Fallout: Sons of the Atom Bomb or anything here. I understand that in a game as big and complex as the Fallout games have been, you can't layer on every little system and nuance you'd like (that's what paid mods are for, am I right folks?) but I'd like to see something to make crawling around in the shadows fresh for Fallout 4. More skill checks please, but keep them quiet One of the things I love, love, LOVED about New Vegas was its focus on non-combat skills. Reaching back to the original Fallout, New Vegas went out of its way to incorporate skills like barter, repair, and science outside of their obvious (and boringly pragmatic) purposes way more than Fallout 3 did. This is without a doubt the right direction to move in and I would love to see Fallout 4 double down on the idea. I love this idea because it makes each character feel unique. My tech obsessed teenaged hacker had a much different experience in the Mojave Wasteland than my cannibalistic night stalker. Not just because she preferred to melt her worries away with a stream of molten plasma while he would literally cut to the heart of a problem; they moved through the world differently, physically and socially. She would hack into systems, open doors, appropriate security drones, all that good, typically sneaky stuff. But she was also able to use her skills as a currency, occasionally repairing broken gear or fixing otherwise unsolvable problems for people in the Wasteland. She fell in with the equally tech obsessed Brotherhood of Steel and it felt natural. My cannibal used his detailed knowledge of anatomy to occasionally work as a makeshift surgeon, appearing as a wolf in sheep's clothing to the unaware, and was invited into a cabal of secret people eaters. Each of them had opportunities and moments that were totally unique and exclusive from each other and that's amazing. That's exactly what Fallout should be about. I just don't want to know about it up front. I would love a little more subtlety and mystery when it comes to skill checks in Fallout 4. As I loved how New Vegas worked, I couldn't help but find the giant, full caps skill messages jarring. Nothing quite reminds you "oh yeah, you're playing a videogame" like a big old block of mechanical text that says something like [MEDICINE 60 REQUIRED]. Fold skill checks into the game more organically. If a player doesn't have the skill required to pull something off, don't show the option. Or, maybe show the option, but don't promise success. Let Prof. Goofus with his measly 15 points invested in repair set off a bomb when he tries to defuse it. Let someone who thinks they're a smooth talker chat their way into a slaver's pen. I know some people may prefer to know their options up front and the stats they should shoot for, but I'm a big believer in surprises and trusting the player to figure things out. Besides, if you really want to know the stat requirements for every interaction, there are always wikis and FAQs.   I can't believe I'm saying this, but maybe make it a little darker? Okay, hold on. Don't go branding me with the mark of #Darksiders2 just yet. I'm not asking for Fallout 40K edition here and I'm not saying I want some grim and dirty "realistic" depiction of a blasted out radioactive wasteland, because realism wouldn't do the game many favors. All I want to see is Bethesda even out the tone. Make the normal world a little darker and saner so the black humor and absurd moments can pop in contrast. I love the line Fallout walks, that razors edge between unimaginable despair and corny '50s sci-fi pulp. It's a difficult balance to find and while I think both Fallout 3 and New Vegas did a decent job at it, I think they could have done better. I think the problem is that neither game is willing to let you get your feet under you before piling up the silly stuff. Fallout 3 starts in a Vault isolated from the realities of the world, so I'm willing to put up with the greaser shenanigans of the Tunnel Snakes. But then the first town you come across in the real world, Megaton, is full of equally goofy shit and ridiculous people. You go from one silly place to another without a big change in tone when the game could have set you up for a gut punch by showing you a very zany life in the Vault and then plunging you into the harshness of the wastes. New Vegas starts its story by introducing you to Victor, a robotic cowboy with a TV in his chest and machine guns in his arms like a very well armed Teletubby. Again, don't get me wrong, I love the idea of a robot cowboy, but couldn't we wait five dang minutes to establish the stakes and condition of this post-apocalyptic world before saddling up on the wacky horse? When you come across a crashed alien saucer, find a settlement of pacifist super-mutants, or liberate a slave mine with Lincoln's very own rifle, it should be a hell of a moment, not business as usual in the wastes. Fallout 3 and New Vegas come at you with the bizarre and ludicrous so hard and so often that it runs the risk of losing its impact and blurring together. I'd like to see Fallout 4 avoid that if possible. Don't get rid of the black humor and ridiculous moments, just space them out a little more, or make the average day in the wastes a little more grounded so they can stand out better. Going by the very sombre trailer we've seen, I may just get my wish on this one. How about you? What are you looking forward to in Fallout 4? What kind of perks do you want to see? What kind of companions? How much are you hoping all these rumors about a voiced protagonist and a very focused main-plot with a mandatory male character are black and filthy lies? I know I am! Hopefully we'll find out more at Bethesda's big event tomorrow. Then we can either sing the praises or count our dead.
Fallout 4 wishlist photo
We'll find out soon enough
I'm a huge Fallout nerd. I can wax poetic about the Fallout games and how much they mean to me all day (I've done it before), so to say I'm looking forward to what Bethesda does with Fallout 4 is a little bit of an understatement. I do have some requests though. A wish list of things I would personally like to see in the next installment.  

E3 Predictions: Cards Against Humanity Edition

Jun 13 // Ben Davis
1. Sony announces a new indie game about ___. Options:- A bland military shooter (Seems likely, but maybe not as an indie title.)- A tender bromance (D'aww!)- Looking for D Winner: Sony announces a new indie game about "a tender bromance."   2. Nintendo's next wave of amiibo will include ___ and ___. Options:- A classy lady + A sexist remark (It's possible these will both involve the same amiibo.)- Tripping in Super Smash Bros. + Zippers on everything- Anita Sarkeesian + Crying children (Uh oh.) Winner: Nintendo's next wave of amiibo will include "a classy lady" and "a sexist remark."   3. Surprising no one, Microsoft will announce ___. Options:- Uncomfortable silence (...)- Exactly what you'd expect- No items, Fox only, Final Destination (Typical Microsoft.) Winner: Surprising no one, Microsoft will announce "uncomfortable silence."   4. Nintendo reveals that Link will actually be ___ in the upcoming Zelda game. Options:- Bubsy the Bobcat (Please, no!)- An original idea for once- Something nobody asked for (What could it be?) Winner: Nintendo reveals that Link will actually be "something nobody asked for" in the upcoming Zelda game. 5. Nintendo declares 2016 as the Year of ___. Options:- Dem Titties (Typical Nintendo.)- Filthy Casuals (Sorry, hardcore gamers! Maybe next time.)- Microtransactions Winner: Nintendo declares 2016 as the Year of "Filthy Casuals."   6. In the new Tomb Raider, Lara Croft must navigate a harsh winter environment armed only with ___. Options:- DLC (They're charging for weapons now.)- A box of wine- A noticeable bulge (Or rather, two noticeable bulges...) Winner: In the new Tomb Raider, Lara Croft must navigate a harsh winter environment armed only with "a noticeable bulge."   7. Capcom will release a new Mega Man game, but only if enough fans pay for ___ first. Options:- Pissing on the corpse of a beloved franchise (Poor Mega Man...)- Dante's new hairstyle (Hahaha.)- Butt stuff Winner: Capcom will release a new Mega Man game, but only if enough fans pay for "pissing on the corpse of a beloved franchise" first.   8. Kojima and Del Toro are back together to work on a new game titled ___. Options:- A Kickstarter Campaign (With a cryptic teaser titled KC.)- A Ham Sandwich (You heard it here first, folks!)- Hideo Kojima (Well, he does like inserting his name into his games.) Winner: Kojima and Del Toro are back together to work on a new game titled "A Ham Sandwich." 9. Someone will take the stage wearing a shirt depicting ___. Options:- Quick-time events (Press X to take off shirt!)- Feminist propaganda- Batman's nipples (I'm sure there is an actual shirt like this.) Winner: Someone will take the stage wearing a shirt depicting "Batman's nipples."   10. The next Assassin's Creed will allow you to play as either ___ or ___. Options:- Kratos, the God of War + Nothing at all (Wait, Kratos is part of the Assassin's Creed universe now?)- A dildo bat + The girls from Dead or Alive (At least you can play as a female.)- A sausage fest + Beating a dead horse (It's always a sausage fest.) Winner: The next Assassin's Creed will allow you to play as either "Kratos, the God of War" or "nothing at all."   11. Fallout 4 will be set in a post-apocalyptic world ravaged by ___. Options:- Hardcore gamers (So, PvP then?)- A female protagonist (Way to ruin the game, Bethesda!)- A blasian Winner: Fallout 4 will be set in a post-apocalyptic world ravaged by "a female protagonist."   12. In the next Kirby game, Kirby will be made out of ___. Options:- Ebola- 1,000 rat corpses (Good lord.)- Reggie Fils-Aime's body (His body is ready... to swallow everything!) Winner: In the next Kirby game, Kirby will be made out of "Reggie Fils-Aime's body." 13. Instead of announcing Half-Life 3, Valve will announce ___. Options:- A new Mario game (Imminent lawsuit?)- Angry Birds (Geez Valve, get your own ideas!)- A box of kittens (We're sorry about Half-Life 3, here's some adorable kittens!) Winner: Instead of announcing Half-Life 3, Valve will announce "a new Mario game."   14. Mother 3 will finally be released outside of Japan, but it will now feature ___. Options:- The Kinect (How could this happen?!)- Obscene Miiverse posts (Well, yeah, probably.)- A dancing game (You know what? I totally want this now!) Winner: Mother 3 will finally be released outside of Japan, but it will now feature "obscene Miiverse posts."   15. In an unexpected turn of events, a Nintendo representative will remove Toad's hat to reveal ___. Options:- Crash Bandicoot- Barack Obama- A boner (So that's how Toads reproduce...) Winner: In an unexpected turn of events, a Nintendo representative will remove Toad's hat to reveal "a boner."   16. The Last Guardian is still coming, but will star ___ and ___ instead of a boy and his dogbird. Options:- An unarmed black kid + Corgi butts (Still a boy and a dog, but with more social commentary.)- A straight white guy + Booth babes (Noooo!)- Gardevoir + Llamas Winner: The Last Guardian is still coming, but will star "an unarmed black kid" and "corgi butts" instead of a boy and his dogbird.   17. Konami announces a new series of mobile games featuring ___. Options:- Social justice warriors (Someone already made that game, Konami.)- A nip slip- Solid Snake's perfect ass (Yessss!) Winner: Konami announces a new series of mobile games featuring "Solid Snake's perfect ass." 18. Shigeru Miyamoto will appear accompanied by ___. Options:- A racist old woman- A swift death (Oh no!)- A kid becoming a squid (You're a kid now, you're a squid now.) Winner: Shigeru Miyamoto will appear accompanied by "a kid becoming a squid."   19. Microsoft announces a new IP about ___. Options:- The guy from Hatred (Lots of stolen ideas going on at E3 this year.)- The end of video games (Goddammit, Microsoft!)- A cinematic experience (Well duh.) Winner: Microsoft announces a new IP about "a cinematic experience."   20. Microsoft will not stop talking about ___. Options:- Japanese schoolgirls (Creepy...)- A gigantic penis made out of LEGOs- Sports (Again, duh.) Winner: Microsoft will not stop talking about "sports."   21. What will be the most exciting announcement to come out of E3? Options:- A mayonnaise-related incident (I'm intrigued.)- Gamergate- The Citizen Kane of video games (It's finally coming!) Winner: What will be the most exciting announcement to come out of E3? "The Citizen Kane of video games." 22. What will be the most awkward thing at E3 this year? Options:- The f-bomb (But who's gonna drop it?)- A spontaneous rap battle- Body odor (Probably true for most gaming conventions.) Winner: What will be the most awkward thing at E3 this year? "Body odor."   23. Sony announces that ___ will finally be coming to Vita. Options:- Meat (And what do you know, Super Meat Boy was just recently announced for Vita!)- Full frontal nudity (Finally!)- MOBAs Winner: Sony announces that "meat" will finally be coming to Vita.   24. A new game coming to Oculus Rift will allow players to experience ___ in virtual reality. Options:- Mario's mustache (It's just so glorious!)- Teabagging (Well, some people are into that.)- Eating an entire bag of Doritos (Welcome to the wonderful world of virtual reality, folks!) Winner: A new game coming to Oculus Rift will allow players to experience "eating an entire bag of Doritos" in virtual reality. 25. In Dark Souls III, players recover by resting in front of ___ instead of bonfires. Options:- A single tear (I'm sure players will be shedding a single tear while resting.)- A clown on fire (Do we have to kill the clown first?)- Lara Croft's cup size Winner: In Dark Souls 3, players recover by resting in front of "a clown on fire" instead of bonfires.   26. What is the last thing you expect to see at E3? Options:- An immersive experience (Zing!)- A live shark- An unexpected amount of blood (We expected some blood, but not THAT much.) Winner: What is the last thing you expect to see at E3? "An immersive experience."   27. Microsoft is pleased to announce ___: The Movie. Options:- Peter Molyneux (It will be a life-changing experience!)- Bronies (I'm pretty sure this is already a movie.)- Product Placement (Unsurprising.) Winner: Microsoft is pleased to announce "Product Placement": The Movie.   28. Square Enix announces Final Fantasy XIII: ___ Edition. Options:- A nerdgasm (That certainly sounds exciting.)- Just the tip- Anime hairstyles (Isn't that every Final Fantasy?) Winner: Square Enix announces Final Fantasy XIII: "Nerdgasm" Edition.   29. ___ will be announced as an HD remaster. Options:- Caitlyn Jenner (Haha, this answer was too perfect! It wasn't my turn to judge, though.)- Yet another game about the zombie apocalypse (This is very likely.)- Two dudes making out hardcore (I wouldn't mind playing that game in glorious HD!) Winner: "Two dudes making out hardcore" will be announced as an HD remaster.   30. No Man's Sky will feature a planet inhabited by ___ and ___. Options:- 1080p/60fps + Utter failure (Hahaha! Well, at least Hello Games tried!)- Shigeru Miyamoto's darkest secrets + Bad Box Art Mega Man (You mean that was Miyamoto's idea all along? Who knew?)- Muscle bears + Unimaginable happiness (I want to live on that planet!) Winner: No Man's Sky will feature a planet inhabited by "muscle bears" and "unimaginable happiness." Unused white cards (meaning these things will definitely NOT appear at E3 this year): - A death ray- A bag full of spiders- The creature from The Last Guardian (Did someone lie to us?)- Slipping on a banana peel- Battletoads (Oh well.)- Flesh-eating bacteria- Lots and lots of money (Uh oh, no money at E3?)- Wasted potential (The irony of this card not being played...)- Rock-hard abs- The best thing ever (Well, that's sad...)- Maniacal laughter- Pure evil- Soccer moms- Waluigi (C'mon Nintendo, give the people what they want!)- Samus Aran (No more Metroid yet. Sorry, Zack!)- A fight to the death (Well at least no one dies.)- Powerful thighs
E3 Predictions photo
Expo Against Humanity!
[Update: Added video of Laura Kate and the Dtoid UK crew playing their version of the game.] E3 2015 is just around the corner, and there's no better way to pass the time than by trying to predict what this year's expo has in...

Assassin's Creed E3 photo
Assassin's Creed E3

Ubisoft scrambling to make Assassin's Creed E3 demo more playable than final game


Disappearing face epidemic under control
Jun 12
// Fake News (So You Cannot Sue)
With just a few days until the start of E3, sources within Ubisoft say the company is doing everything possible to make the E3 demo of Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate the ultimate gaming experience -- unlike the broken, bug...

Podtoid 296: On Fleek

Jun 11 // Kyle MacGregor
NEW PODTOID photo
Welcome to The Donski Show
Podtoid is back with special guest Jeff Andonuts to discuss important world affairs like Fallout 4, whether the Lord of the Rings movies are better than the books, the virtues of mayonnaise (sorry Conor), Bloodstain...

Horror and secrecy need to be better bedfellows

Jun 08 // Zack Furniss
[embed]293479:58861:0[/embed] Don't Do This In this year's Resident Evil: Revelations 2, Capcom felt the need to release videos that focused on the various beasties players would be facing throughout the episodes. Any surprise or confusion that should have been reserved for a first encounter is squandered by any fan wishing to keep up with a product they are excited for and have most likely already decided to purchase. Though some consumers make the decision to go on media blackouts to prevent this exact situation, it shouldn't be on them to decide not to watch. This effectively renders these marketing efforts useless. Another title that gave away too much before anyone played it is last year's The Evil Within. One of the bosses, an amalgam of limbs and hair, was arguably the most unique creature in the game. It could teleport from corpse to corpse by climbing out of their coagulating puddles of blood and your best bet was to flee. This made for a thrilling moment in a mostly monotonous survival horror, but by the time The Evil Within came out, anyone who had been following it knew exactly what to do to survive. So what do we about this? Publishers want to make money, and the best way to do that is by showing the most exciting, gruesome sections of their newest product. But is that the only way? There are a few successful games from the last couple of years that prove there are other viable methods. So What Can Be Done? This is the part where I talk about P.T. (you knew it was coming). On August 12 of last year, P.T. was released alongside a short teaser at Gamescom. The teaser only showed reaction shots of people afraid of whatever they were playing. I immediately downloaded it out of curiosity and found the best horror game of last year. That it ended up being a teaser for the now-cancelled Silent Hills was icing on the bloody cake (I can already hear DashDarwin fuming in the comments). P.T. diffused through gaming media like a drop of blood in a glass of water; even with (and, let's be honest, because of) its utter destruction by Konami it will be remembered for a long time. I'd be foolish to deny that P.T. being free had no bearing on how often it was downloaded. However, I think if a new game came out of nowhere for only a few dollars it would have a chance of replicating this viral success. It's worth a shot at least.  Next up, we have Bloodborne. Sony spared no expense with providing images and videos of From Software's latest, but players had no idea what was lurking in its back half. BLOODBORNE SPOILERS FOLLOW, SKIP THE NEXT PARAGRAPH AND IMAGE TO KEEP YOURSELF SAFE. Though Bloodborne started off with beast-like enemies and Gothic environments, its latter half brought enough Great Ones, cosmic horror, and tentacles to merit numerous comparisons to the works of H.P. Lovecraft. Most players would likely have been content with fighting lycanthropes in their various forms throughout the dark descent, but this unexpected tonal shift provided an identity that separated it from the studio's previous work with Dark Souls.  Providing media only from the first half (quarter, eighth, whatever) could be a way for publishers to keep the horror skulking about in the shadows and allow room for players to be surprised. An example of the downside to this method would be Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty and its Raiden fake out. Though I appreciate that surprise now, Hideo Kojima earned a well of ire for that back in the day. There's definitely a risk here, but Bloodborne is proof that it can pay off beautifully. The last idea I have isn't exactly for releasing new games, but for adding content to them. The wonderful Lone Survivor: Director's Cut added extra endings, a new enemy, and fresh music to the original, yet no one could find them upon release. Creator Jasper Byrne teased this, and mentioned looking forward "to hearing your thoughts about the new edition, and interpretations of the new content… especially the secret endings!" And so began a mad hunt to uncover anything new, and no one could find anything for a few weeks (and if they did, they didn't tell the internet). Byrne created more excitement by doing this than he would have if he had just said "here's how you get the new ending, and here's where you fight the new monster." Though it isn't explicitly a horror game, Batman: Arkham Asylum did something similar. Just around the time the sequel Arkham City was announced, it was discovered that there were hidden blueprints for the Arkham City itself in the original game. How cool is that? Rocksteady Games waited until time had passed to expose this and it made players go back to see it for themselves. I understand that developers want everything they've made to get some time in the sun, but this delayed gratification can be just as, if not more, impressive. I'm not a marketing expert, and I won't claim to be. But in a time where the Internet can be used as a tool to spread information via experimental methods, we may as well try to change things up. P.T. and Bloodborne show that these risks can be well worth taking. Here's hoping some of these ideas are implemented next week at E3. Please don't show us everything!
Horror games photo
We can do better
Horror games, as much as I love them, have a serious problem right now.   In the modern-day media maelstrom, almost every scare, monster, and plot twist is given away or hinted at before a game is released. Of course, us...

E3 2015 photo
E3 2015

E3 2015: A look back at the most memorable moments of E3


Do you remember these classic moments?
Jun 08
// Fake News (So You Cannot Sue)
We are a week away from E3 2015, which is promising to be the most exciting yet. An estimated 50,000 people are expected to attend the three-day event to try out the latest and greatest video games from the top developers and...

Experience Points .15: Super Mario Sunshine

Jun 06 // Ben Davis
A nozzle for every occasion Ahh, the FLUDD. By far the most unique tool ever to be in Mario's possession, the FLUDD is a water-powered contraption which can be used to spray like a pump, clean up messes, hover through the air, dash or slide quickly across land and water, and rocket-jump straight up into the sky. It's immensely useful, and easily sets Super Mario Sunshine apart from any other game in the series. Every time I replay Sunshine, I can't help but be amazed at how fun it is to use the FLUDD. Hovering as a platforming mechanic feels wonderful. It allows Mario to cross huge distances, reach crazy heights, stop himself in midair to make a precise landing or correct an erroneous leap, and more. In addition, the Rocket and Turbo nozzles allow him to cover great distances both vertically and horizontally in record times, making it a piece of cake to traverse large levels or recover from a fall. I especially enjoy using the waterslide technique, which involves spraying water in front of Mario and then diving onto it so that he slides quickly across the ground on a layer of water. It's very useful for the levels where he has to chase Shadow Mario or race against Il Piantissimo, and it's simply a ton of fun to do as well. I also can't help using the FLUDD to annoy everyone around Mario by spraying them in the face with water. Drenching the Toads, Piantas, and Nokis on Isle Delfino and watching them shake it all off and throw a fit -- it never gets old. Some of them were asking for it anyway, makin' me break my back cleaning up all this gunk. Why don't I clean up your FACE while I'm at it? Dude, where's my FLUDD? While the FLUDD adds some interesting new mechanics to Mario's platforming, the game still manages to shine even without it. During specific levels, Shadow Mario will appear and steal the device right off of Mario's back, leaving him to rely on his excellent jumping abilities to finish the level. These FLUDD-less stages feel like a throwback to the Super Mario 64 style of Mario platforming. They all take place on floating platforms above a bottomless pit, so any misstep could end in a swift death. Most of these levels involve rotating platforms and other moving obstacles, and traversing them requires a lot of skill and careful observation. These areas manage to feel completely different from the main game, yet equally challenging (if not more so) and just as fun. It's a great way to change things up and keep the gameplay interesting by dropping the core FLUDD mechanic entirely, taking players out of their comfort zone by removing the ability to hover safely and testing their true platforming prowess. Some of these stages are the most difficult areas of the game, and it always feels nice and rewarding to emerge victorious and then promptly return to hovering around like normal. Sittin' on the dock of the bay All of the levels in Super Mario Sunshine are island-themed, but even so, they do a good job of providing diverse tropical locations. The beachside hotel, the theme park, and the village surrounded by giant palm trees and mushrooms are a few of my favorites, but for me, the coolest location is Noki Bay. Noki Bay is a quiet little area situated on the side of a large cliff, with a beautiful waterfall, towering seashell structures, and hidden ruins to explore. There are so many memorable moments in this level: spraying water along the cliff faces to reveal secret passages, discovering an ancient tomb, riding around in the mudboats, jumping from the top of the waterfall, diving to the depths of the bay to confront a giant eel... everything about this level appealed to the explorer in me. People often ask which video game world you wish you could visit or live in, and for me that would definitely be the world of Super Mario Sunshine. I've always had a soft spot for the sea and tropical locations, and the areas in Sunshine are some of the most beautiful and exciting examples of tropical places in a video game. I would love to live in Noki Bay, going for dives, taking in the sights, and visiting the other locations on Isle Delfino whenever I wanted. It would be such an amazing world to inhabit (as long as it was goop-free)! Climbing the giant palm tree Another thing that helped make the world of Super Mario Sunshine stand out was the giant, scalable set pieces. The shine sprite tower in Delfino Plaza, the windmill in Bianco Hills, the Ferris wheel in Pinna Park, the enormous palm trees in Pianta Village -- many of these things look nearly impossible to climb at first, but eventually Mario gains the means of reaching those formidable heights, and it feels incredible to be able to scale such impressive landmarks and look down at the world below. Aside from Noki Bay, my favorite place in Super Mario Sunshine is at the very top of the central palm tree in Pianta Village. This tree is so gigantic that it takes several rocket jumps to be able to reach the top. Not only that, but the leaves are so huge that Mario is easily able to run all over them without fear of falling off. He's like a tiny little red bug to this impossibly large tree. The extreme height might freak out some acrophobes, but those brave enough to make it up there are rewarded with a stunning view of the sky and the entire village far below. The Piantas even built a small wooden tower at the top of the palm tree, possibly to sit and look up at the clear night sky from a quiet, secluded place up in the clouds. Well, that's what I like to use it for, anyway! An apple a day keeps the ghosts away Super Mario Sunshine has some crazy boss fights. There's a giant flying Piranha Plant named Petey, a huge Gooper Blooper with delicate tentacles, and a massive eel with a poor dental plan. There's also a King Boo, an enemy we've seen before in other Mario games, but even so, he manages to be one of the most enjoyable bosses of the bunch. King Boo hides beneath the casino of Hotel Delfino. The fight takes place on a gigantic roulette wheel with three circular segments spinning in different directions, which can be dizzying and confusing until it stops moving. Water does nothing against this ghost, but after a while he'll bring up a slot machine out of nowhere and give it a spin, causing objects to appear depending on the result. If the slot machine lands on three fruits, then Mario is in luck! Just start chucking fruit at King Boo and see what happens. Most of the fruit will splash juice all over his face, which he'll happily lick up (that always makes me laugh). But toss a chili pepper at him, and he'll become so overwhelmed with the heat that a hit from any other fruit will send him reeling. It's such a bizarre fight, but that's why I love it. Killing a ghost by throwing fruit at it? Why not? It brings back memories of defeating Wart by forcing him to eat delicious veggies. Mario's foes sure don't like their healthy foods, do they? Big bad dad Bowser is one of my favorite Mario characters, and a lot of that love stemmed from his portrayal in Super Mario Sunshine. Granted, Bowser doesn't get much screentime in the game; the first time he shows up is for the final boss sequence, and he also has a short cutscene before the credits. But Nintendo manages to pack a lot of personality into him during such a small amount of time. Bowser never really had much of a personality until the Mario RPGs, where he was often shown to be a bit of a goofball and a softie (especially in Paper Mario). Super Mario Sunshine offers a completely new side of Bowser's personality. Sunshine introduced Bowser's son, Bowser Jr., revealing the mean old Koopa to be a father figure and a family man, a side of him we've never seen before. Sure, there were the Koopalings before Jr., but their relation to Bowser was often rather murky. In Sunshine, Bowser and his son are on vacation causing mischief, when Jr. kidnaps Princess Peach because his father told him that Peach was his mother. Jr. just wants to reunite his family so they can enjoy a vacation together. Of course, Peach being his mother was just a lie told by Bowser. After a rather bizarre boss fight against Bowser and his son in a giant hot tub, Bowser finally sits down to have a talk with Jr. and tell him the truth. Jr. isn't surprised by this, and instead of fretting, he vows to one day get revenge on Mario. The two Koopas share a nice moment of father-son bonding over their mutual hatred of the plumber. I really enjoyed seeing this side of Bowser, and it made him seem like an almost sympathetic character. He's still the bad guy, but he's also living his own life in the background, trying his best to raise a son and keep him happy. If only he could think of a way to do that without kidnapping princesses... 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
Super Mario Sunshine photo
Shine!
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...

In a better world, these games exist

Jun 06 // Nic Rowen
Street Fighter vs Mortal Kombat Released on the Dreamcast in 2002 to belatedly settle the fighting game rivalry that defined the 90's arcade scene, Street Fighter vs Mortal Kombat remains a legend in the fighting game community. Still considered the finest example of 2D sprite art and animation from its era, the silky smooth and obsessively detailed characters of SF vs MK set an impossible bar to follow. The almost decadent use of special purpose one-off animations and frames only adds to the visual splendor. Vega's sublimely gory “Shadowloo Slicer” fatality still elicits screams from the audience at EVO. As fierce as the fighting between the World Warriors and the forces of Outworld got, the battle behind the scenes is said to have been even bloodier; a runaway budget, arguments over almost every aspect of the design, and frequent shouting matches characterized the prolonged five year development cycle. Despite the astounding success and popularity of the title, a sequel has never been attempted. Ed Boon and Yoshinori Ono refuse to even speak to each other to this day for reasons neither of them will discuss. The licensing snake-pit of copyrights and legal redtape has prevented any other ports or remakes from ever being produced, spurring a cottage industry of Dreamcast re-sales and custom made fightsticks for the console, supported almost entirely by SF vs MK's diehard audience. Alan Wake: The Fear That Gives Men Wings One has to imagine the lengths Sam Lake and his team at Remedy had to go to to protect their secret, their lips held firmly tight, unable to tell anyone what they were really up to. Keeping things under wraps despite the kind of scrutiny placed on what would be the flagship launch title for the Xbox One. The kind of pressure they must have been under to tease even a bit of what they had up their sleeves. But, somehow they managed it, and the fourth wall shattering reveal of Max Payne as a playable character in the second act of the game will go down in history as one of the most surprising and surreal moments in gaming history. Max is every bit as cynical and bitter as ever. But this time he isn't raging against an indifferent and unfair universe with a vague sense of living a cliché. This time he can direct his anger against the very man who wrote the script of his sorry fate. The scene where he crushes Alan's writing hand with the butt of his pistol is almost unbearable to watch. Reportedly, Sam Lake spent the night of the launch locked in his office suffering an intense panic attack, a crisis of artistic confidence. He spent the last five years of his life calculating this surprise, this single plot twist. If the game failed it wouldn't just be the end of his career, it would end his self-image as an artist and writer. Hideo Kojima, no stranger to pulling a controversial character rope-a-dope called him that night and consoled him in his hour of need. From that experience, the two men formed a bond that eventually led to them collaborating on Snatcher 2, another smash success. City of Heroes: Issue 25 “Messages from a world ending” In the waning days of City of Heroes' lifespan, most of the development and design talent in Paragon Studios carefully made their exit to greener pastures. As everyone else was jumping off, one man climbed aboard the sinking ship to take over as lead designer. There would be no budget, a small (and rapidly shrinking) team to work with, and low expectations from fans and critics already aware of Paragon City's impending doom. He was supposed to be just folding up the socks and towels, putting the game to bed. Instead, Austin Grossman created one of the most memorable final chapters to an MMO ever seen. Relying on his background as a writer, Grossman set out to recast the tone of CoH to better fit the looming ennui of a world coming to an end. CoH's final storylines were not the Silver Age dust-ups that characterized most of the game's lifespan. Instead, Grossman wrote introspective questlines laced with sharp humor about heroes and villains looking inward. What compels someone to point a laser at the moon? What drives someone else to put on a cape and jump in front of that laser? And who gives a shit about the moon anyway? Couldn't these miracle men born of science and magic be doing something better with their lives and isn't this all a little bit silly and embarrassing when you step back from it? With no money to craft new areas or other big gameplay draws, Grossman had to get clever to generate new content. Flipping the familiar Giant Monster concept on its head, instead of creating new and impressive Godzilla-esque monster for players to rally against, he instead turned a single random player into an unstoppable force of destruction. An artifact known as Mournblade, a cursed black sword, would be “gifted” to a player once a month, immediately giving them an exponential boost to their stats, constantly depleting health that could only be regenerated by killing with the sword, and flagging them as a PvP target no matter what zone they were in. When the player fell, the next nearest player would inherit the blade, and the carnage would continue until a heroic sacrifice was made -- the deletion of the character currently holding the blade. In the final hours of the game's life one lone hero remained, wielding the Mournblade against a cataclysmic invasion of blatantly overpowered alien invaders. The beauty and value of struggling against inevitable darkness was CoH's final message. A fitting tribute for the beloved and fondly remembered MMO. Springfield Rockstar has always played it's cards close to it's chest but no one could have guessed that the schoolyard based Bully was a testbed for a much more ambitious project several years in the making. When Rockstar announced it's partnership with Fox to make an open-world Simpson's game where nearly every single NPC in the game was a known and beloved Simpsons cast member, the response was a mixture of unbridled excitement and raised eyebrows. Those eyebrows stayed raised as Rockstar made design choices so bold they bordered on absurd. Rather than make Bart or any of the other predictable Simpson family members the protagonists, Rockstar reached back to its tradition with mute characters and allowed players to make their own avatar, a recent transfer student to Springfield Elementary known only as “The Kid.” The game was structured similar to GTA and Bully, but with a Simpsons twist with “The Kid” taking on all kinds of missions from notable Springfield residents. Hijinks ranging from helping Comic Book Guy try to woo a regular customer (it ends poorly), to covering up an accident at the nuclear plant for Mr. Burns (it ends poorly), to trying to elevate Bumblebee Man's stature as an actor (you guessed it, it ends poorly). 400 hours of dialog, quips and jokes make Springfield a real, living place filled with the characters you know and love. Most precious of all, though, were the inclusion of previously unused and forgotten recorded performances from the late Phil Hartman, allowing a final farewell for beloved characters such as Lionel Hutz and Troy McClure. [embed]293426:58849:0[/embed] Those are games I see when I close my eyes at night. Games that I know could never have existed for a number of perfectly sound reasons, but still can't shake the feeling that we should have had them. Do you have any games like this? Titles that stick in your imagination and make you wish things had happened differently?
Dream games photo
All great ideas go to Heaven
Silent Hills was a dream game. Specifically, it was my dream game. If you asked me before P.T. crept onto the PSN servers what series I'd most like to see rejuvenated in a bold new way, I would have probably told you Silent H...

What recent games have actually had good box art?

Jun 03 // Steven Hansen
The Gravity Daze box art was supremely my shit (it's slightly better than the American Gravity Rush one). That full piece of artwork is one of many Gravity Rush pieces that long served as a desktop wallpaper for me. It's still my Vita lock screen. It sells the world instantly. "Gravity" in the title? Beautiful city and lead not adhering to gravity? I'm interested. Of course that box art gets to take full advantage of pulling from one of the most beautiful games ever made. Like the ICO box, it's just a great piece of art, used on the box. Hey, good thing I made 2011 an arbitrary cut off, right? Maybe I can sneak Rayman Origins in here, too. I think I just like how pink Catherine is. Aggressively. It might be the hottest pink thing I own (I have pink shirts and things, mostly pale, though). Especially given how dark the story gets. It subverts the idea of naive femininity the same way both characters (bubbly, but dangerous; serious, but pink-loving) do. Holy shit yes. It is basically a war crime that this isn't a box I own in my home. I either have to A) import the Japanese boxed copy or B) just get this as a giant poster, sans logos. Actually, let's just go with B. How the hell do I make that happen. -- All right. I've already had to dip into non-North American cover art. Help me out. Which games have done it right recently? What stands out on shelves full of thousand yard staring main characters and inscrutable action?
Box art! photo
Uncharted is uninspired
So, the Uncharted 4 box art is a bit shit, isn't it? It's not particularly bad. It even has a nice swoopy subtitle font much better than the one used for Uncharted 2 and 3. But it also follows the trend of central, silhouette...

22 (probably) games that are way harder than Dark Souls

Jun 01 // Steven Hansen
Conversation around From Software's turgid-uttered sacred cow, the Souls series (Bloodborne, too) has such a strange fixation on difficulty, of shuddering players shivering under its hurts so good sadism. Namco Bandai fed into it with Dark Souls and Dark Souls II's marketing. I've died hundreds of times in hundreds of games. And it's very strange how people nod in agreement to the novelty of death and difficulty as if instant fail states were not one of gaming's founding blocks (to the point where some people have stupid arguments about whether things are or are not games). It reminds me of how Telltale's recent adventure games trump up "player choice" as if players haven't been choosing since positioning their Pong paddle. Ok, "narrative" choice? Umm, how about text adventures from 1981. Come on. Souls games aren't hard. I don't say that as a nose-upturned, "gotten gud" vet. They are about endurance and resilience more than sadistic, chronic difficulty. They are a challenge, but not monstrous or mean as people often make them out. Heck, I've seen someone who plays maybe one or two games a year get a platinum trophy in Demon's Souls. There's no club. Anyone can do this. They're designed to let anyone play and finish. Over on the webpage (and mobile application) Twitter, one-time Destructoid contributor Stephen Beirne (no relation!) loosed a series of posts about Souls and I am in accord. "I can't get behind the argument that Dark Souls is abusive due to its (presented sense of) difficulty. And I think this is because I find Dark Souls to be far, far less difficult than a game like, for example, Super Mario Brothers. Platforming is difficult! It's very difficult! It's not fun and it's agonizing and it's pointless and hateful." I love platformers, but this raises some great points, aside from the subjectivity of difficulty. No one's good at everything. I am bad at not having loads of sex, for example. Irish Stephen (not to be confused with Welsh Stephen) is bad at platformers. Young Steven (me) was bad at telling Kurt Russell and Patrick Swayze apart. There is a relative novelty to Souls games, though, and I think that's where some of the obsession over exaggerating the difficulty comes from (aside from general chest pounding reinforced by marketing to try and create a positive-feeling in-group). But it isn't in death. It's as a 3D action game. Late '80s, early '90s gaming was filthy with platformers. Mario, a pop culture icon up there with Michael Jordan and the wild shirtless Mark Farner, comes from New Jump City. The genre has only gotten easier, shedding quarter-gobbling design (the removal of "lives"), allowing you to skip levels after repeated death. While some folks are plum bad at 'em, we've had a lot of tries at being good at them. Compare to the 3D action game, which might not have even hit its stride until the PS2-era in the 2000s (PS1-era ones tended to be wonky and platforming-heavy), but at least didn't even exist until 3D graphics. In our young medium, the 3D action genre is younger still, (blood)born(e) of platformers and agèd over the last decade. Souls games occupy a genre that has a decent chance at being a new challenge to folks. It also operates different than genre-defining stuff like Devil May Cry or God of War, thanks in part to the RPG bits. The latter, reflex-based ilk are linear and need momentum. And so you can limp along, button mash, and be not all that good, for which they'll stratify you (chumps skirt by with C-ranks and stamina, experts carve up the world with SSS-rank endless combos). But you're still getting through, moving along. Even I meandered my way through the "hard" Devil May Cry games. And on the RPG side of the Souls mix, there's a history of having the numbers and grind fallback, limited reflex-oriented fighting. And suddenly, Souls, where the difference isn't "coast by or be good," but, more closely, "coast by or die." It rewrites the expectations of 3D, third-person action relative to genre standard bearers. All it asks you to do is get by, and so it skews the relationship to death and performance. The general experience of Devil May Cry is that sometimes you'll die. Mostly, you'll empty out rooms with the killing precision of a child flailing at a piñata. Eventually, you'll be an expert slayer. Souls changes that bell curve. Mostly you'll die. Eventually you'll get by. Rarely, you'll be a wrecking machine, an offensive weapon. It's about winning, eventually, instead of winning more and more impressively.  Souls offers other outs, too. You can go grind and level up, get more gear, buy more arrows. You can often fuck off elsewhere, to another stage, or on another path, rather than bang your head against one boss. Masochistic? When's the last time a text adventure let you type, "this is stupid, next question?" How about trying to suss a point-and-click puzzle that expects you to pry open a manhole, stretch a patch of human skin over it into a trampoline, and jump up through an open window? Souls games are designed to encourage you towards eventual success, even if it means breaks, detours, or extra hours. You don't get a gold star for killing the Flame Lurker without the ribcage exploit. You don't get a demerit for safely perching yourself with a bow and taking 100 potshots to down a far off creature. In Souls' judgment, it's all the same. What matters is you did it. I don't find that sadistic at all.
Not actually a listicle photo
Why the Souls series' hardened rep?
"Prepare to die," Dark Souls warns, flashlight under face, as if 30 years of video games hasn't already prepared me. "I'm not a masochist," people say, letting six years of Souls pass from afar, like they're looking out a tra...

Podtoid 295: Squidnapped

Jun 01 // Kyle MacGregor
PODTOID photo
I'm a kid now, I'm a squid now...
Oh hey there! Apologies for missing the past couple weeks -- technical difficulties conspired against us -- but the Podtoid kids are back and ready to fill your ears with ink. Or the spoken word. You can tune in to the podcast via direct download and subscribe to the show on iTunes.

Sony E3 photo
Sony E3

Sony remastering its 2010 E3 press conference for 2015


Call it an E3peat
Jun 01
// Fake News (So You Cannot Sue)
After admitting it has nothing worthwhile to show for the rest of 2015, Sony today confirmed rumors it will be remastering its 2010 press conference for this year’s E3. Called “Sony 2010 Press Conference: The ...

The Silent Hill Retrospective: Silent Hill

May 30 // Stephen Turner
Silent Hill was as much about crumbling economics as it was about night cries and picket fences. Much like Resident Evil’s Raccoon City, the dilapidated lakeside town was undone by greed. America losing its values to modernisation was a recurring theme in survival horror. It was a warning from those whom had lost their own traditions to capitalist growth, not that far removed from the J-Horror zeitgeist at the time. But more often than not, Silent Hill takes its inspiration from days gone by. Old Silent Hill's influences are worn on street names and ledgers, from Stephen King to Sonic Youth to Psycho. Even the intro pops to the sounds of vinyl, its theme song in equal parts Eastern tremolo and Western twang. These influences come together to create small-town America on the slide, full of “mom & pop” stores and tight-knit suburban mazes. But rather than a tourist, you’re a trespasser. Horror in all its forms has this element of invasion. Here, Harry Mason breaks into homes, schools, and hospitals, as he searches for his missing daughter. Though the overall plot ends up becoming more about the Otherworld, his parental fears are always at the forefront. Essentially, it's not Harry's story, but Alessa Gilesspie's. As the player, and as Mason, we're the outsiders looking in. Perception is the key to the story and scares. Memories are skewered to point where friendly faces are misjudged and emotional attachments lead to narrow-minded decisions. Harry falls through the layers of reality, like the waking waves of a bad dream, and sees the town for what it really is. The Otherworld is an abstract place, clearly a concept that reflects its tortured conduit. What could’ve possibly been a new paradise takes a horrific form because of Alessa's abuse and lack of care by her mother, Dahlia Gilesspie, and Dr. Michael Kaufmann. Later games would force the perspective onto the main protagonist, and at times would suffer for it, but few would capture that “traveller in a foreign land” feel of their predecessor. It's because of the Otherworld that Silent Hill is relentless and oppressive. It constantly toys with the audience, waiting to take shape, and gradually stripping away the safety nets. Harry is shown to be extremely vulnerable, early on. He stumbles off steps, puts out his hands as he crashes into walls, has to catch his breath, and is a terrible shot. Our first contact with the Otherworld ends in seemingly death. It’s a far cry from the shrug-it-off antics of S.T.A.R.S. or Edward Carnby P.I. Every attempt is made to obfuscate the audience, either by claustrophobic gaze, location, sounds, or virtual threat. Radio static is both friend and foe; warning us of monsters beyond the flashlight's reach and ramping up the tension just by letting us know that something's there. Ominous, hollow synths give way to industrial noise, punishing and overbearing. Akira Yamaoka’s soundtrack is comparatively brutal to his later work, the kind of unsettling cacophony that would give a pre-Grammy winner John Congleton nightmares. Even at its most calm in the Fog World, the music still sets your teeth on edge. And yet, by the final act, where reality is in actuality nothingness, Silent Hill does an amazing job of drawing sympathy out of horrific circumstances. To many, Lisa Garland is the human face of Silent Hill (both town and title), and our perception of her stems from Alessa’s own memories. She’s seen as this kind and selfless nurse that only wants to help, but as we delve deeper, endure and learn, we discover what lies beneath. The bright smile, the homely uniform, and her position of warmth and care, are all her “picket fences.” By the end, we find out Lisa was a drug addict, terrified of her only patient. Through Harry, she finds the strength to push onwards, only to realise her own fate was already set in stone. Truth shatters the façade, breaks down her body, and we’re confronted with yet another disturbing subject of horror. For Harry, it's too much and he runs away. But for once, instead of the oppressive percussion of Yamaoka’s themes, we’re treated to the melancholic Not Tomorrow. These were people, not monsters. [embed]292927:58733:0[/embed] In a time of hi-five heroics, Silent Hill offered no such compliments. The best ending closes on a bittersweet note. The town is still lost to the Otherworld, though probably not as powerful as it once was, and Harry doesn't quite get his daughter back. In a shot mirroring the intro, and with his cop friend, Cybil Bennett, standing in for his deceased wife, there's the nagging suspicion that for all we've done, it might just happen again. Sure, we saved a young girl's soul, but we didn't really win anything. Only lessons and traditions were learned. Maybe that was the point, considering the start of this article. As a game, the first and only PSX release has undoubtedly aged in the last 16 years. But much like the low-budget horror movies and low-fi recordings it emulated, Silent Hill overcame handicap through inventiveness. The Otherworld, the town, the storytelling, they were all informed by thinking outside the box. Everything we know about Silent Hill – every fan theory, every femme fatale characteristic, run-down aesthetic, social commentary, urban quest, childhood memory, occultist lore, and personal demon – stems from this very title. So it might be a little frayed around the edges, and certain conveyances are needlessly obscure, but for a mainstream horror game that was intended, quite cynically by Konami remember, to chase after that sweet Resident Evil success, it really was a very unique and artistic beast. It's still wonderful to think how something like that could be produced by such a small group of rag-tag developers, left alone to their own devices in a fairly corporate environment. Of course, though we had survived our first trip through the dark side of Americana, the world had been left open for more lost souls and more horrific layers to come…
Feature photo
What's going on with that radio?
Western horror, Eastern eyes. That was what made Silent Hill memorable for a generation. It was visceral and relentless, oppressive and paranoid, and underlined with a tragic tale that hadn’t been seen on the normally e...

My greatest gaming regret is never making it to one of those ridiculous BattleTech Centers

May 29 // Nic Rowen
While BattleTech Centers were a video game experience, I'd say they had more in common with a laser-tag joint than an arcade. It was a production; one part video game, one part fantasy. They'd sit you down inside an overly-complex facade of a mech cockpit they called a “battle pod,” complete with WWII bomber-style tail art and mock technical information plastered on the side. Inside were a dizzying array of peddles, throttles, joysticks, and an assortment of quasi-functional warning lights and buttons. The pod was totally enclosed, fully immersing the pilot in the fantasy of actually being in command of a giant war-machine. They'd give you a call sign, have you watch poorly acted in-universe tutorials of how the game worked (staring Jim Belushi of all people!) and print out “after action” military reports (scorecards) of your performance. Mechwarriors would play a networked multiplayer death match, piloting their giant mech against with other real live humans piloting their own mechs from separate pods. All of this in the year of our Lord 1991. It was astounding for the day. In just a few short years, they'd have the technology to allow players in different BattleTech Centers around the country play against each other, likely the first introduction to online multiplayer for many mech nuts. Again, this is in the early '90s! [embed]292997:58730:0[/embed] Even voicing the idea out loud, I have no idea how it got off the ground. It sounds like a pipe-dream. A mad fantasy scribbled down in the margins of a high school notebook during the last few minutes of a particularly boring English class. Not something real people would spend real money on. It sounds exactly like the product of one of the “wouldn't it be cool if...” head-in-the-clouds conversations I'd have with my brother when we were kids. Even at the absolute height of the franchise's popularity, I can't imagine dedicating an entire building to mechanized combat. Nowadays, The Avengers are about the most popular thing on Earth, with their combined movie franchise making more money than some national GDPs. Still, I can't imagine getting any investors jumping on board to make Iron Man Centers where you strap on some fake Tony Stark gloves and a helmet and shoot repulsor blasts at other players. It's insane. Still, BattleTech Centers happened. There was a time when you and 15 or more friends could pile into a couple of vans, drive to a BattleTech Center, and spend the afternoon recreating the 4th Succession Wars of the early 3000s from the comfort of your personal cockpit -- and I fucking missed it. Nothing gold can stay. As the popularity of BattleTech as a whole began to wane, and the general market shifted away from arcades in favor of home consoles, BattleTech Centers around the world began shuttering their cockpits. There were reattempts at the idea. BattleTech: Firestorm came out in early 2000s with improved Tesla 2 cockpits (capable of “Advanced Mission Mode” which actually turned on all of the extra switches and controls in the cockpit, changing them from a cute cosmetic affectation to necessary instruments). But despite a small hardcore audience of enthusiasts, battle pods are on the brink of extinction. There are a few places still running BattleTech pods, but they are scattered throughout the country and operate on a much smaller scale. A few half-functioning pods tucked in the back of an arcade at a Go-Kart track in New Mexico. A small mech cache in Houston that is only open on occasional weekends or by appointment. Or the Fallout Shelter Arcade's wandering BattleTech exhibition that travels between conventions and events, dropping pods in the middle of a show floor for curious attendees. Even with these last few preservationists, the clock is ticking. The machines are getting older, spare parts and the knowledge to repair them increasingly scarce. Soon, the few remaining pods around may suffer the “lostech” fate that befell the advanced Star League technology of the BattleTech series (an end that is deeply depressing to the part of me that still wants to climb into a cockpit, and bizarrely exhilarating to the part of me that is a bone-deep MechWarrior nerd). Look, I know these centers are dead for a reason. I get that they were cheesy as hell even when they were new. I know the games probably haven't held up. The once quasi-mystical LAN multiplayer experience is completely unnecessary these days and there are any number of better mech games and pilot sims to spend your time on. [embed]292997:58731:0[/embed] But good lord, I just would have loved to have gone to one back in their heyday. Just the idea of dragging a few of my friends and family (who aren't obsessed with giant robots) to one of those centers puts a smile in my heart. Sitting through the terrible videos, climbing into one of those big fake cockpits, it's just the right blend of something I would enjoy both ironically and completely sincerely. Of course I would immediately switch it to the so-called Advanced Mission Mode and spend most of the time flailing about trying to figure out the controls and basically waste the opportunity. I know myself, I'm exactly that kind of jerk. I guess I should start planning a road-trip to catch up with one of the few remaining clutches of pods scattered around the country. The big, silly BattleTech Centers of yesterday are gone, and I'll never get the chance to go to one, but their legacy is still around -- at least for now. I don't want to add another regret to the pile. 
BattleTech Centers photo
They'll never bury me in my robot
I've done a lot of things I'm not proud of in my life. I've made a lot of mistakes, missed some opportunities that still feel like a cavity in my heart, know that I've done wrong. But if I'm being honest? My number one regret...

Newstoid #2 photo
Newstoid #2

A Taco Bell with Bloodstained windows painted by Splatoon - Newstoid #2


RIP green screen?
May 29
// Jed Whitaker
Newstoid is back, and this time with no green screen! We heard your cries of "your heads look weird" and "get rid of that fucking green screen" and we listened. Is this better? We are thinking of getting a small piece of gre...
Wave 4 amiibo photo
Wave 4 amiibo

Wave 4 amiibo launch a bust after only 10 people trampled to death


That's one for every Robin made
May 29
// Fake News (So You Cannot Sue)
The highly anticipated fourth wave of amiibo figures hit stores today and by all accounts sold out within a matter of minutes. This should be good news for Nintendo, but sources within the struggling video game company say ma...

Top Tentacles: Gaming's greatest cephalopods

May 29 // Ben Davis
Blooper - Super Mario Bros. series Bloopers are the classic squids of gaming. They've been a part of the Super Mario Bros. series ever since the first entry, and have appeared in many different forms, including the Gooper Blooper from Super Mario Sunshine, the Big Blooper from Super Paper Mario, King Calamari from Super Mario RPG, and many more. Blooper was even a playable character once in Mario Party 8. He was the only character I ever played as in that game, of course, but it made me wish Blooper was playable more often. I hope we see him in Mario Kart as a racer sometime, or participating in one of the Mario sports games, or even just appearing as a party member in a Paper Mario game. We need more friendly Bloopers! Ultros - Final Fantasy VI Oh, Ultros. This musclehead-hating, fire-fearing octopus acts as a comic relief boss fight, whom players must battle several times throughout Final Fantasy VI. He'll fight you in the water, on land, in the air, and even on stage during a live opera performance! It's hard to pick a favorite character in Final Fantasy VI, because the cast is so rich and diverse, but Ultros is pretty high up there. The game just wouldn't be the same without him, popping up in the most unexpected places with a big, goofy grin on his face. How can you not love adorable old Uncle Ulty? Octorok - Legend of Zelda series Another classic video game cephalopod, like the Bloopers. Octoroks are octopus-like enemies from the Zelda series, although unlike real octopuses, they often only have four tentacles and they like to spit rocks instead of ink. Octoroks have undergone some major design changes over the years. They started out as little round red and blue land-dwelling dudes who barely resembled octopuses, then moved into the water, turned purple, and began to look more like their namesake in Ocarina of Time, and then became more of a giant squid-like enemy in Wind Waker in the form of the Big Octos. The Big Octos are my favorite incarnation; it was always quite a thrill to encounter one in the big open ocean. No matter what they look like, though, you can almost always expect to run into an Octorok at some point during Link's adventures. Ikachan - Ikachan Splatoon isn't the first game where you could play as a squid! Way back in 2000, Daisuke "Pixel" Amaya released a freeware game called Ikachan, the predecessor to his wildly popular indie game, Cave Story. Ikachan follows the story of the titular hero, a cute little squid on a mission to aid his fellow sea creatures who have been trapped in a cave after a series of earthquakes and are running out of food. It's a rather short game, but it's free and unique enough to be enjoyable. Plus, Ikachan has a little starfish buddy named Ben, so of course I'm gonna like the game! Ikachan actually makes a cameo appearance in Cave Story as well. If players manage to beat Ironhead (another character from Ikachan) in the Waterway without getting hit, a swarm of squid that look just like Ikachan will flood the screen! Octavian, Marina, and Zucker - Animal Crossing series Ever since the first Animal Crossing game, all I've ever wanted was to have an octopus neighbor move into my town. At first, the only available octopus villager was Octavian, the grumpy red dude. I saw him in a list of possible villagers, and dreamed that one day he'd move in next to me, walking around on land like it's no big deal. But alas, it never happened. I never even saw him visiting in a tent or igloo. The newer iterations of Animal Crossing have introduced two more octopus neighbors into the mix: Marina, the cute, pink one; and Zucker, the one that looks like a walking takoyaki. While I was playing New Leaf last year, I somehow had one spectacular week where both Octavian AND Marina moved into my town! They're both still there today, and I'm never letting them leave. Now all I need is Zucker, and I'll have the holy trinity of Animal Crossing neighbors! Launch Octopus - Mega Man X Launch Octopus is the robo-octopus boss from Mega Man X who resides in an underwater military base. He's able to fire homing torpedoes and create huge whirlpools, which can be very dangerous when X is trapped underwater. I also love his opening animation, where he points at X with a tentacle and then points to the ground. "You're goin' down!" There was another cephalopod boss later on in the series in Mega Man X5, who goes by the name of Squid Adler. Unfortunately, I have yet to play X5, but I heard Squid Adler is named after Steven Adler from Guns N' Roses, so that's pretty cool. It reminds me of the Squid Vicious character from the newest Chibi-Robo game. I'm liking this trend of rock star squids. Who's next, Ringo Squid? Inkay and Malamar - Pokémon series Inkay and Malamar are a pair of squid Pokémon from the newest generation. They're pretty interesting because, while based on aquatic animals, they're actually not water-types and cannot learn any water-type moves (aside from one TM move). Instead, they are Dark/Psychic-types. With special techniques like Topsy-Turvy and Contrary, these squids like to pull the old switcheroo, reversing stat changes on themselves or the enemy. Inkay also has a really weird method of evolving. Players actually have to hold the 3DS upside down while it levels up in order for it to evolve into Malamar. Of course, Inkay and Malamar aren't the only cephalopod Pokémon. There's also Octillery, a pretty cool octopus Pokémon, although I've never understood why it evolves from Remoraid. I mean, remoras and octopuses don't really have anything to do with each other. It would have made more sense for Remoraid to evolve into Mantine or Sharpedo, or just not evolve at all. But I guess Pokémon doesn't really have to make sense biologically, so whatever. They can have a fish evolve into a cephalopod; why not? Octodad - Octodad series Hmm... I must have made a mistake. I figured a game called Octodad would be about an octopus, but all I'm seeing here is a normal human dad in a fancy suit standing alongside his beautiful family. How strange. Sorry for the mix-up, folks! Moving along... Giant Squid - Endless Ocean series This one's a bit more on the realistic side. What makes the giant squid in Endless Ocean so exciting for me is the fact that real life giant squids are so incredibly rare that only a few people have ever actually seen one alive. Even though they live on our planet, the chances of actually seeing one are slim to none. So encountering one in Endless Ocean is really as close as I'm ever going to get to meeting my favorite animal. In Endless Ocean: Blue World, players can find the giant squid in a deep ocean crevasse. It blocks the entrance to a cave, threatening to attack, so it has to be lured out by leading a sperm whale (its natural enemy) over to the cave. The squid and the whale then begin an epic fight for survival, right in front of you! Swimming alongside the giant squid in Endless Ocean was such a magical experience for me. I usually went out of my way to visit it, just to watch it float gracefully through the water, propelling itself with its tentacles, staring at me with its huge eyes. It's honestly one of my most cherished video game memories. Inklings - Splatoon I've only played about an hour of Splatoon so far, during the Global Testfire, but I can already tell that these squid kids are amazing. I mean, they're humans with squid-like features and the ability to turn into cephalopods at will. How great is that? If I had the ability to transform into any animal in real life, there's a very good chance I would choose to be a squid, just like the Inklings. This game really speaks to me. I'm a kid now! I'm a squid now!
Top Tentacles photo
Octopus, I love you
Happy Splatoon Day, everyone! With the release of Nintendo's new squid-based cooperative shooter, it only seems appropriate to celebrate by taking a look at some of the great cephalopod video game characters out there. For th...

Splatoon Live Stream photo
Splatoon Live Stream

Tonight we paint the town orange in Splatoon live on Twitch


Splat-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-Splatoon
May 28
// Jed Whitaker
Update: The stream is over, but feel free to watch the replay embedded below! Tonight the game you've all been waiting for releases at midnight, Splatoon. I'm so darned excited I'm sitting here dripping ink in anticipation, b...

Fighting games and roguelikes are my personal school of hard knocks

May 26 // Nic Rowen
Titles like The Binding of Isaac, FTL, Nuclear Throne and (my latest obsession) Darkest Dungeon make it their business to stymie and frustrate your futile attempts to get to the credits screen. They delight in throwing a wrench into the works, tearing apart promising looking runs or dungeon crawls with a few merciless rolls of the RNG. They move around the win conditions and goalposts from the traditional idea of “I gotta get to the end and dunk on the last boss!” to “oh God, please just let me survive a little longer this time.” Victory isn't just marked by, well, victory, but by discovery and learning. Seeing a new enemy, figuring out a new trick or strategy, and learning to avoid whatever awful thing killed you last time. Those small successes are what dubs a run a win. It's tough to turn that switch that demands progression off in your brain. It has been dutifully conditioned by years of games where victory is the expected outcome. But it's those wild unfair swings in a roguelike that completely mess you up that makes them so satisfying. The emotional roller-coaster of suddenly losing a beloved party member, or picking up an item that completely gimps your current build, or getting screwed by a few unlucky rolls that leave you facing almost certain doom. These factors that push you out of your comfort zone and force you to come up with new strategies broaden your horizons, you have to think about the game and really consider all of your options rather than relying on one or two recipes for success. Those runs that truly are hopeless? Well, they just let you appreciate the good ones a little more. It took me a long time to realize it, but fighting games are much the same when you get right down to it. While you always want to win a fight, just adding more notches to your W/L ratio isn't, and shouldn't be, the goal. What you really should be aiming for is learning. When Street Fighter IV came out, I was very hot-to-trot for some online play. I remembered dominating at SFII in grade school, all the hours I sunk into collecting every ending in Alpha 3 on the PS1, the times I used to rush through Marvel Super Heroes on one quarter in the arcade. I thought I was good at fighting games, and was looking forward to a chance to prove it. I swagged online like I was O'Hara from Enter the Dragon, obnoxiously breaking boards in front of Bruce Lee like it meant something. My fights ended up going about as well as his did -- Boards, and CPU opponents, don't hit back like the real deal. [embed]292757:58670:0[/embed] I'll be completely honest, I almost quit playing fighting games at that point. Nobody likes to lose, especially when you're losing at something that used to be a point of pride for yourself. Thankfully, despite its rough and tumble exterior, the fighting game community actually has a great attitude about these things. EVERYBODY loses. It's what you take away from those losses and how you come back from them that defines you as a player. Shortly after SFIV came out, I was introduced to David Sirlin's Playing to Win, a book that is all about the philosophy of fighting games and is as close to a bible for the fighting game community that exists. I remember when I first read it I distinctly thought “this guy is an asshole.” Playing to Win can be a very abrasive read if you come from a background of playing fighting games for fun. If you ever thought your next door neighbor was cheap for constantly sweeping in Mortal Kombat 2, or angrily called someone a “spammer” for repeatedly tossing out fireballs from across the screen, or think there is such as thing as too many throws in one round (a philosophy I can no longer recognize except in direct reverse), Sirlin's opinions will probably rub you the wrong way. These self-imposed rules and ideas about how the game should be played are the foundation for what he considers a “scrub mentality,” a mental framework that will always limit how far you can go in fighting games, and ultimately, how much joy you can derive from them. Embarrassingly, I saw a lot of that “scrub mentality” in myself. The way I'd get angry at “coward” Guile players for tossing endless sonic booms, or frustrated with people constantly choosing the blatantly over-powered emperor of Muay Thai, Sagat, for easy wins. But when you stop looking at what other players are doing as “cheap,” and start looking at your losses as learning experiences rather than straight out defeats, a lot of that frustration evaporates. It takes real effort and time, but when you internalize that outlook, fighting games become less stressful, more enjoyable, and infinitely more beautiful. Of course people are going to throw sonic booms as Guile, he's a machine made by the Air Force to do exactly that. It may be true that Sagat (or whatever character) is over-powered and easier to win with and disproportionally popular as a result, but how can you blame people for making a choice that will tip the odds in their favor? You have that choice and opportunity too, and if you decide to stick with a different character you'll just have to make peace with the fact that you'll run into tough matches and try and develop a strategy to deal with them. You can either get frustrated, stomp around, and quit/uninstall the game forever, or you can thicken your skin. Learn how to roll with the punches, and take something away from the mistake. Either figure out ways to avoid it in the future, or come to peace with the idea that sometimes things are out of your control. These are not new concepts, ideally we should always be trying to find the positive side to a set-back or learn from a mistake. But to me, at least, nothing else crystallizes the idea of learning from a loss into a rock hard truth than pitiless rougelikes and fighting games. And after spending so many years immersed in both genres, I like to think that I've been able to take those lessons and apply them to other areas of my life. It's not always easy, and I won't claim to be some kind of Zen master who never gets frustrated, but I know I'm definitely a more patient person now than I was five years ago.
Learning from failure photo
Learning from my (many) failures
The last few years of games for me have been all about defeat. Constant, unending, expected defeat. I think I'm better for it. It wasn't always like that. In fact, for most of my life, games have been all about completion, vi...

Your future gaming TV might be a wallpaper magnet

May 24 // Niero Gonzalez
We've been reading about paper-like televisions for years, and it seems like they're finally going to be commercially available. This prototype was unveiled last Tuesday, and looks similar to convex OLED panels shown by Panasonic a year ago aimed towards commercial display applications. Mashable and Yonhap are reporting that this new line of OLEDs may be see production from 55 to 99 inches this year, though no price or date have been set though LG hopes to ship as many as 1.5 million OLED sets by 2016. It's unlikely that this is the model you'll be taking home this year. I meant the television. The company was not quick to talk up the quality of such displays, so we can assume that they're similar to the 1,200x810 flexible OLED panels can be rolled up to a radius of 3 centimeters from CES 2014. The cool factor is indisputable, though. [embed]292686:58648:0[/embed] Sony can enjoy the title of thinnest 4K TV for the summer Earlier this year, Sony announced "the world's thinnest TV" which is a cow in comparison. Their 4.9mm 4K television at it's thinnest point out-slims the Experia Z3, their other cutting edge waterproof phone whose marketing department forgot isn't actually waterproof. At least their other guys got publishing Bloodborne accidentally right. Between this, the disputed islands, and Yoshinoya gouging their beef bowls it's been a shitty year for the Japanese, but LG's wallpaper TV not a high end 4K TV. How long until Sony announces expensive magnets? Anyway, how about those $300 42 inch TV's at Walmart, eh? I was going to make a joke about Vizio (because we own one) but the famous budget TV maker looks like they're close to making the best TV ever: the same Dolby Vision technology that's making people almost jizz over George Clooney is making its way to the home theater with their yet-to-be-priced reference series. We saw this set during CES this year, which promised a 120 Hz low-latency refresh rate for gaming (which they call 240 Hz Effective, but don't believe the BS). Like Sony and high-end Sharp TV's, you'll see a $2k extra dollars added to the price tag when they say stuff like "local dimming array", which is a second grid of sensors to help boost contrast, but will always have love handles because unlike OLED units it requires some form of back-lighting hardware. There's no real standard for this, so companies can put anywhere from 30 to 384 sensors and still call it the same thing. Its unclear if you can tell any of these televisions apart when you're not running around looking at all of them in a show room. It might be fun to kidnap the most serious television editors, cover all UHD televisions in duct tape, and have them tell us which ones are closest to Rec 2020, the holy grail that Vizio hinted at delivering but fell short. If you're keeping track of buzzwords this is similar to Sony's "X-Tended" technology in their higher end Bravia line, which by the way isn't compatible with HDR. It's all shit, send it back, start over. X-cept that we're halfway towards some serious pretty.  Chauncey spends his evenings in silence hoping that GTA 5 will someday play like this one frame 4K wallpaper There's not much new tech to talk about over at Samsung. The're busy making high-quality TVs tainted by Orwellian privacy concerns and pop-up ads in smart televisions. I do have one gripe, in that the company insists that their high-end TV line should be curved. This seems like the dumbest trend in TVs possible. On one hand, you have PR reps hamsplaining that OLED makes non-OLED TVs look washed out if you look at them at an angle, but what good is that when the television is then angling away from you? What if I want to watch all the amazing available 4K content in 3D at the furthest possible corner of my house? Lastly then there's Toshiba, who made a mirror. Sharp lost 1.6 billion dollars somehow. Apple was praised for ditching its 4K TV plans, as it makes more sense to market its "retina" displays, which your mom thinks means UHD but instead refers to ultra-dense pixel density.  After researching a dozen of these future television articles you might lose your mind in trying to determine what television has the best darkness contrast, in the same way you'll lose your mind actually trying to get a 4K stream that isn't about nature or more Korean women. But back to the girl. Just look at her. She's like, "Why am I wasting away my late 50's modeling? I could be installing LG TV's all day." You'll probably want to start stapling metal sheets around your toilet or moving into shipping container, because it's just as economic as it sounds. Upsampling shows, I've upsampled a few It seems there's a ton of 4K content until you actually buy a 4K TV. Enjoying 4K is mostly the art of upsampling non 4K content, unless you (1) bought an expensive computer or (2) are convincing yourself that 4K 30 Hz on your mid range equipment is the future. Chotto... I truly want 4K to happen in a bigger way already, but delivering that content over Blu-Ray or typical internet it is super inconvenient. You can't even use a GO PRO 4K with most 4K TVs. CNET says they can't tell the difference between House of Cards in 4k or 1080p with a $4K 4K Samsung. So brace yourselves for another year filled with hints of 5K, as all of the above are in an arms race to convince you that your most excellent 1080p television is garbage because you're sitting too far from it. Then there's 8k or Super-High Vision, which is different from what you did in college. We'll likely see more of this during the next Olympics. Your children and cool uncle that works for the CIA will enjoy 8k at home. For the rest of us we'll likely have to wait a decade. Let's not forget Ultrasonic TVs [embed]292686:58647:0[/embed] Did you ever have one of these when you were a kid, or recently as a hipster? Our Zenith held up for ten years before it hissed, turned pink on the edges where the giant magnet held the remote, and sometimes you could hear trapped fried moths dying a slow death from boldly going into it's dark forbidden crack. One clever colony of termites focused their efforts on its rotating base, a 20-pound slab of wood that was supplied ideal damp conditions by a mother's well intentioned mopping. Prior to that, I thought it was pretty keen and daydreamed I could stack all my gaming consoles or just come home after a hard day and plank on it.  Dtoiders, what TV do you game on? Any plans on picking up a new TV soon?
The future is anemic photo
What TV do you game on?
Doesn't it look like she's just putting up a glossy poster? They're calling them wallpaper TVs.  That's an OLED flexible TV being affixed to magnetic sticker. Put up a sticker, install a TV. The unit is light enough to b...


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