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Indivisible photo

Indivisible crowdfunding campaign extended

About $500K left to go
Nov 13
// Jordan Devore
It's not over yet. Lab Zero Games has secured a 20-day extension on its Indiegogo campaign for Indivisible, a stylish side-scrolling RPG with shades of Valkyrie Profile and Super Metroid. As it now stands, Lab Zero has raised...
Super Mario Maker photo
Super Mario Maker

Mario Maker has new costumes and checkpoints

Totem Link!
Nov 04
// Jordan Devore
It's a great time to get back into Super Mario Maker. As of tonight's update, we can now place mid-level checkpoints. Finally! They're going to have such a big impact on my willingness to clear people's levels. To add a check...
Penarium photo

Release date confirmed for 'sadistic' circus game Penarium

Leave 'em begging for more!
Sep 17
// Vikki Blake
"Sadistic" 2D arena arcade Penarium is coming to PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on September 22, 2015. Willy (snigger) is trapped in a "sinister circus," and the only hope of seeing his family again is to "run and jump his wa...

Review: Castle Crashers Remastered

Sep 11 // Jordan Devore
Castle Crashers Remastered (PC, Xbox One [reviewed])Developer: The BehemothPublisher: The BehemothReleased: September 9, 2015 (Xbox One)MSRP: $14.99 It didn't help that I was alone for most of the journey. Not only does the pacing plod as you methodically take out enemies by yourself, but certain fights aren't balanced well for solo play. When everyone's out to get you -- just you -- and they can collectively launch a volley of projectiles that stun, over and over again, it's hard to retaliate. My way around this was and still is to juggle foes in the air, but it's not fun feeling like you have to resort to such tactics. Of course, Castle Crashers is best played with companions -- even if it's just one other player. But I have a lone Xbox One gamepad and despite The Behemoth's promised matchmaking and network improvements for Remastered, my attempts at online co-op were sluggish. Even when slowdown wasn't an issue, it was hard to find other players around my character's level. While I opted to start fresh, you don't have to. If you played Castle Crashers on Xbox 360 and upload that save data via Xbox Live Gold, you can bring over your progress to Xbox One including weapons, animal orbs, and characters (but not including things like gold and consumables). That's terrific. So is the initial pricing for Castle Crashers Remastered. It's free if you're a Gold subscriber who owned the original game on Xbox 360. You have through September 20, 2015 to claim your copy, after which point the game will cost $5 with the loyalty discount. [embed]310233:60324:0[/embed] To be clear, Remastered is not a remake. It's more of a touch-up than anything -- a way to keep Castle Crashers easily accessible and relevant as the industry moves away from last-generation consoles. It's smoother (with a frame rate doubled to 60FPS) and better-looking (with five times larger textures). But this is a game from 2008 at its core. While the character designs remain charming as ever, certain backgrounds and other elements don't hold up as consistently. Bonus characters and animal orbs that were previously obtainable as DLC are now integrated, and the shallow, button-mashing mini-game All You Can Quaff is gone. In its place is a far superior time-waster called Back Off Barbarian. I didn't get it at first, but now I really dig it. You hop around a tile-based world and try not to get squished by other characters. The twist is that movement isn't as straightfoward as pressing up to move up. Instead, adjacent tiles are color-coded to match the Xbox controller's A/B/X/Y buttons. So depending on where you are at on the board, you may have to hit Y to move up. Or maybe X! You have to think fast to survive for as long as possible. Once Back Off Barbarian gets going, it's nerve-wracking in all the right ways. As much as I enjoyed the new mini-game, it's hardly enough of an incentive to justify paying full price for Remastered. It's a similar situation with the visual upgrades and behind-the-scenes tweaks. If you can snag the loyalty discount, by all means, go for it. An eventual Steam version is also planned, but release date and pricing details haven't been announced yet. I maintain that Castle Crashers is a good game. Great, even, if you're playing cooperatively. But seven years later, I'm not nearly as smitten. I just can't endlessly grind battles like I used to. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Castle Crashers review photo
Bring friends (or lots of potions)
In 2008, Castle Crashers rekindled my dormant love of beat-'em-ups. It had imaginative characters, strange and varied locales, and the four-player co-op was great at encouraging friendly competition. There wasn't much else li...

N++ photo

N++ is even bigger and more difficult than we thought

For wizards only
Sep 10
// Darren Nakamura
N++ released back in July with a bold claim: "No way anyone 100%s it." Given its enormous level select screen featuring more than a thousand levels and the brutal difficulty the series is known for, it seemed fair enough to m...
Suge Knight? photo
Suge Knight?

Free Shovel Knight expansion out September 17

To all platforms and regions
Sep 09
// Steven Hansen
Yacht Club Games just announced Shovel Knight: Plague of Shadows is coming to, "all existing platforms and regions on September 17, 2015." The free expansion is a completely remixed story mode starring Plague Knight and featu...
Shovel Knight photo
Shovel Knight

Shovel Knight: Plague of Shadows looks wonderful

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

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

Super Shmup Bros.
Aug 21
// Jordan Devore
Super Mario Maker isn't out until September 11 and I'm already feeling inadequate. At this rate, any level I dream up will pale in comparison to what we're seeing on YouTube. I'll give it my best anyway. The folks at GameXplain have crafted a shoot-'em-up level called Super Shmup Bros. and it's another neat example of how powerful the creation tools are in the right hands. Wings for everyone!
Terraria photo

Terraria hits Mac and Linux at long last

PC save files are compatible
Aug 12
// Jordan Devore
Several years later, Terraria is still going strong. After a round of open beta testing, the Mac and Linux versions of the popular sandbox game have launched. If you're a Windows player, you won't need to pay for these new po...
Terraria photo

More frequent updates are planned for Terraria

Also Terraria 2 and mod support?
Aug 03
// Joe Parlock
In an interview with PC Gamer, Terraria’s lead developer Andrew “Redigit” Spinks announced that going forward, there will be more frequent but smaller updates to the game. Talking about the recent 1.3 update...
Iconoclasts photo

Iconoclasts finally gets a release announcement: Steam and Sony systems in 2016

Also drops the 'the' from its name
Jul 29
// Darren Nakamura
We have had our eyes on The Iconoclasts for a while now. It started development in 2010, and we have covered whispers of updates sporadically since then, including a rad mecha-worm boss fight using rail transport last year. G...
N++ photo

N++ has one hell of a stylish launch trailer

Out now on PS4
Jul 29
// Jordan Devore
I'm thrilled and terrified to dig into N++. Darren and I have been reminiscing about the cooperative levels in its predecessor, N+, so pain is fresh on my mind. These games are brutal but fair and so satisfying. If you're new...
Tembo the Badass Elephant photo
Tembo the Badass Elephant

Game Freak's Tembo the Badass Elephant drops on July 21

Draws first blood on PC, PS4, Xbox One
Jul 10
// Jordan Devore
I've covered Tembo the Badass Elephant only once -- back when it was unveiled in March -- and the side-scrolling action game is nearly ready for us with a July 21 launch on PS4, Xbox One, and PC. Nice to not drown in promotio...
Shovel Knight retail photo
Shovel Knight retail

Shovel Knight headed to retail with a proper instruction manual

'No two-page inserts here!'
Jun 30
// Jordan Devore
Shovel Knight is one of those games that's so good, you want as many people as possible to hear about it, play it, and hopefully dig it as much as you do. To that end, some good news: Yacht Club Games is pushing for a retail ...
Dad Beat Dads photo
Dad Beat Dads

Belated Father's Day: Throw babies in Dad Beat Dads

My dad could beat up your dad
Jun 26
// Darren Nakamura
True story: my dad used to be quite the brawler. At a stocky 5'5" (165 cm), he was often underestimated. What he lacks in height and reach he makes up for in tenacity. What I'm trying to say is that I'm pretty sure my dad co...
Hollowpoint photo

Hollowpoint gives co-op shooting a fresh perspective

Cover shooting from all angles
Jun 17
// Alessandro Fillari
Update: Cross-play for PS4 and PC will not be a feature for Hollowpoint.It feels like you can't go anywhere without seeing another co-op shooter set for release or being announced for the first time. Since the success of titl...
Bloodstained Kickstarter photo
Bloodstained Kickstarter

Bloodstained Kickstarter ends with over $5.7 million pledged

Hit all stretch goals, set records
Jun 12
// Darren Nakamura
It doesn't feel like it has been a month since we were first asked "sword or whip?" or we first heard the term "Igavania," but here we are. Koji Igarashi and company launched the Kickstarter campaign for Bloodstained: Ritual ...
Unlocking The Kid photo
Unlocking The Kid

Oh, right, Super Meat Boy is going to break me

Hello darkness
Jun 08
// Jordan Devore
We learned this morning that Super Meat Boy is coming to PlayStation 4 and PS Vita. I was ecstatic, and not merely because the game is going to be free at launch for PlayStation Plus members. Most of all, I looked forward to...
Terraria photo

Terraria is coming to Wii U and 3DS

Eyeball shall cast all sinners asunder
Jun 08
// Joe Parlock
It's looking as though Terraria is coming to 3DS and Wii U, if a recent Amazon listing for the game is anything to go by. Now I know, Amazon has a pretty bad habit of just listing any game it can think of in the hopes it...
Terraria 1.3 photo
Terraria 1.3

Terraria 1.3 has mine carts and a release date: June 30

Terraria jumps the shark
May 28
// Darren Nakamura
Every time a new Terraria update trailer comes out, I find myself watching and rewatching it to try to pick out things that are new. The most obvious one in this 1.3 trailer is the mine cart. Now that it's here, it surprises...
Rogue Legacy photo
Rogue Legacy

Rogue Legacy is still awesome (and aggravating) on Xbox One

May 27
// Jordan Devore
The last couple of times we talked about Rogue Legacy coming to Xbox One, a bunch of you let the good vibes flow, so here's the bookend to that coverage: it's available now for $14.99. Better yet, the title is only $11.99 (20...
Towerfall Ascension photo
Towerfall Ascension

TowerFall Dark World has one hell of a trailer

Releasing this Tuesday for PS4
May 08
// Jordan Devore
More TowerFall Ascension news is good news. There isn't any word on the PlayStation Vita port other than that it's still happening -- comforting to hear, I suppose -- but there is a release date for the game's Dark World exp...
Rogue Legacy photo
Rogue Legacy

Xbox One owners can explore Rogue Legacy on May 27

Sword or whip?
May 05
// Jordan Devore
I'd like to use a time machine to, among other deeds, dissuade Brett from using the headline "Xbox One inherits Rogue Legacy" so that I might use it right now in this post. Hate coming up with these things. But, really, savin...
Shovel Knight photo
Shovel Knight

Learn the real names of the enemies in Shovel Knight

Know your Blorbs from your Beetos
Apr 27
// Jordan Devore
Clearing Super Mario World for the first time and discovering that the fiery, big-eyed dinosaurs who leap out of the lava are named Blargg was quite the revelation. Come again? Blargg? I can't remember what I called the enemy...

Review: Uncanny Valley

Apr 27 // Stephen Turner
Uncanny Valley (PC) Developers: Cowardly Creations Publisher: Cowardly Creations   Released: April 23, 2015  MSRP: $8.99 (10% off until April 30) Things start off well enough with a panic-inducing nightmare, followed by a car journey through the pixelated wilderness. As Tom, the new night watchman at Melior -- an abandoned robotics facility -- it's your job to keep the pilot light running until the place gets bought up by new owners. Tom's only companions are Buck, a grouchy and overweight guard, and Eve, a cleaner who takes a keen interest in the new arrival. But while Tom suffers from nightmares of the past, his rounds at the facility quickly draw him into something much, much worse. Sure, there's a mystery to be found, but like a kid trying to pull a prank on you, it reveals its hand far too soon. In fact, with so many audio tapes freely scattered around the workplace, you'll figure out the major twist before you make it past the first night. Overall, Uncanny Valley is a good story poorly executed. It's choppy and muddled due to a reliance on repeat playthroughs and a presentation of two distinct halves. In the first half of the game, you're given a seven-minute work shift. In that time, you're allowed to go anywhere on four separate floors, where you can read emails, collect audio tapes, or play the arcade machines. Once the time limit is up, you have a choice of snooping around for longer (in which case, Tom eventually collapses from exhaustion) or getting back to your room for a good night's rest. Whatever happens, you're always thrown into a nightmare sequence that can be completed or failed without much consequence, beyond the reward of more backstory. [embed]291010:58344:0[/embed] Then after several shifts, time management is suddenly dropped in favour of a more traditional survival horror experience. It's an odd design choice; one minute, you're scrambling around to fit an investigation into your work schedule, and the next, you're given all the time you need, right before the point of no return. And it's in the second half that Uncanny Valley falls apart. It's certainly more engaging, even if it does wear several influences on its sleeve. There's a health system lifted from Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth, where injuries slow you down, make you louder, or ruin your aim, while the hide-and-seek gameplay intentionally evoke memories of Clock Tower. Unfortunately, and especially for long standing horror fans, it's the consequence system and vague puzzles that turns all the goodwill into a frustrating experience. For example, after your first enemy encounter, you're conditioned to stay out of their way, but then a door puzzle requires you to get attacked, just so you can control an enemy and let it aid you into the next room. There's thinking out of the box and then there's going back on everything you just said. The consequence system, while subtle early on, ends up being a detriment to the narrative. Get knocked out at one point and you go from Scene A to Scene C, skipping Scene B and its vital exposition in the process; all because you didn't react quickly enough or even know there was a choice. Tailored, unchangable choices are fine, but in one ending, a character shows up injured from a scene I never encountered. In another ending, a suspicious group wait outside for Tom without an introduction or a reminder of their identity. You just had to play better to know. And for that, beyond the facility's macabre history, you never really get enough motivation to care. Your decisions are informed by player experimentation rather than character incentive. In Clock Tower, Jennifer has the option to escape early on, mainly because of Scissor Man and a sense of self-preservation. Here, in an obvious homage, Tom chooses to run away simply because you stumbled upon Buck's car keys, long before you encounter the horrors in the scary basement. As previously stated, Uncanny Valley is intentionally designed for repeated playthroughs, but after the second, third, and fourth try, it feels like a chore as you piece together the core plotline from different decisions. Detours aren't forbidden in storytelling, but with several listless endings on offer (plus one or two deliciously disturbing ones), it never feels definitive. Once you get the gist, there's no need to go back for dimishing returns. But there are positives lurking under all this frustration. For a short game (clocking at 2 hours at best), it does panicky horror quite well; holding off on the worst elements and planting the seeds early on, like the only working generator in the woods. It's more a case of when things strike, not what will strike. Once alerted, enemies smash through doors and chase you down until they fall apart. The shadowy horde that follow Tom in his nightmares are another horrific highlight. The pixel art is equally vivid and grim, with body horrors roaming the hallways and disturbing sciences haunting the background. The soundtrack flicks between reflective melancholy and weighty industrial themes, and the voice acting on the audio tapes is perfectly pitched as offbeat and ominous. All in all, it captures the doom-laden mood of '70s sci-fi perfectly; though, why the game chooses to make all the in-game dialogue as one-lined text is just puzzling. Unfortunately, I never finished my fourth run. Another save bug deleted a key item from my inventory and progression ground to a halt. I felt that after several endings and Tom's history explored, I'd seen enough. All of which brings us back to that original dilemma, for which I'll sadly say that, no, Uncanny Valley isn't worth it. It's a game that rewards you for being better on the next attempt, which means a lot of players will get that same jarring and incomplete experience as I did, early on, only for it to be replaced by waning interest as repetition sets in. I wanted to enjoy Uncanny Valley, especially with its opening concept and jump scares, but despite all the assurances and hard work with those patches, it just wasn't to be. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
PC photo
Should've taken that job at the fireworks factory
I didn’t have the greatest of starts with Uncanny Valley. After only 15 minutes of play time, I’d wandered into one of the “bad” endings seemingly by accident. On my second attempt, I encountered so ma...

Starbound update photo
Starbound update

New Starbound update adds pets and teleporters

And what else? I don't know; SLIME!
Apr 21
// Darren Nakamura
It seems like these are being pushed out more frequently now. The last stable update to Starbound came out about three months ago, but before that it had been nearly a year. That said, this update seems much less substantial ...
Metroidvania photo

This cute Metroid-like hits all of the right notes for me

Environmental Station Alpha
Apr 21
// Jordan Devore
Here I was ready to call this the cutest little Metroid-like and then Holmes reminded me of the darling Minitroid. That helpful son of a... Actually, the point might stand -- I'm really feeling Environmental Station Alpha. T...
Shantae on Steam photo
Shantae on Steam

Shantae and the Pirate's Curse sheds Nintendo exclusivity for Steam

Releasing this Friday on PC
Apr 21
// Jordan Devore
Surprise! WayForward is bringing Shantae and the Pirate's Curse to Steam on April 24, 2015. Having failed to nab the well-received game twice now -- first on 3DS, and then again on Wii U -- perhaps Steam will make all the dif...

Review: Assassin's Creed Chronicles: China

Apr 21 // Chris Carter
Assassin's Creed Chronicles: China (PC, PS4, Xbox One [reviewed]) Developer: UbisoftPublisher: UbisoftReleased: April 21, 2015MSRP: $9.99 (China is part of the Assassin's Creed Unity Season Pass) Assassin's Creed Chronicles: China isn't a new concept, as Assassin's Creed II: Discovery basically built upon the older Prince of Persia games, which Ubisoft even took a crack at last generation with a remaster. Nonetheless it's a welcome one on paper if we get to see other parts of the world beyond western civilizations, even if it does feel rushed in many aspects. The story this time around follows Shao Jun, one of the lone assassins left in her order after Zhang Yong of the Tigers (Templars) wiped them out. It takes place after the events of Assassin's Creed: Embers, which ties her into the core storyline by way of a chance encounter with Ezio Auditore. Fans will enjoy the connection for sure, but most of you out there can completely ignore it as yet another wacky "Assassins versus Templars" adventure and just enjoy this as a 2D platformer. You might want to ignore the story anyway, because it's not very good. Framed as a standard revenge tale, Shao Jun will hobble across various landscapes killing whoever gets in her way to the top. The dialog is particularly terrible and not in a funny B-movie way, and no one that turns up is memorable. I know a lot of people didn't dig the meta-narrative fluff in the core series, but at least it was something worth talking about. In many ways it feels like a missed opportunity to flesh out the brotherhood in China, but hot damn if the setting itself isn't beautiful. [embed]290711:58237:0[/embed] In fact, the first thing I noticed about the game was the killer art style. The lazy slideshow cutscenes aren't that big of a deal when everything looks like a living painting, especially Shao's flowing red cape. In-game the art is still wonderful, but the environments themselves often lack detail, with washed-out backgrounds making a frequent appearance. That feeling of disappointment will pass quickly though once you reach another vibrant setpiece. Fans of the core series will find it easy to acclimate, as the controls are very similar. There's a button to hold down to run and initiate reckless mode, a button to go all stealthy, and your standard light and heavy attacks. While the narrative isn't all that slick, Shao Jun controls like a master assassin, and I had very few issues getting her to go anywhere I needed her to be. Grabbing ledges, crawling about, and avoiding guards was a breeze. All of this action will be navigated around awareness cones for enemies, which are visible front and center on-screen. Enemies are fairly observant of their surroundings, with clear "sound" circles and other nuances influencing their movements, but sadly they don't follow you to the ends of the earth like past games -- if you're in a tricky spot, they'll just sit there for about 10 seconds before returning to their patrol route. It reminds me of the camp of the original Tenchu, with mixed results. Non-lethal force is preferred, but Shao has access to a whistle ability for distractions, in addition to firecrackers, daggers, and a noisemaker tool. Every power feels roughly the same which makes for some dull variations early on, but every level will unlock newer, cooler abilities that mix things up much more than her basic skillset. I'm talking grappling hooks, more options for hiding places (like that "quick switch" leap Sam Fischer is so good at), and sliding assassinations. Melee combat is run-of-the-mill but it looks sexy, especially when coupled with Shao's unique animations. Backwards blocks and bullet dodges are fluid and responsive, which is key as you'll be doing both of those things a lot. You won't fight many interesting enemies, but even the meat grinder of foes the game throws at you is fun with this system. Once you're done with the five-to-six-hour adventure there's two New Game+ options to replay with slightly different mechanics, which do just enough to justify another playthrough or two. Assassin's Creed Chronicles: China has the makings of a good 2D Prince of Persia re-awakening, but it lacks a lot of character both aesthetically and mechanically. Still, there's very little actually wrong with it if you're looking for another platformer to add to your pile. Hopefully future iterations of the Chronicles subseries can build upon the foundation that China has provided. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Assassin's Creed review photo
Shao Jun gettin' it done
Just last week I asked readers if they were into the idea of 2D Assassin's Creed games. Roughly 41% were on board, 33% preferred the 3D iterations, and 26% have checked out of the series entirely. Ubisoft doesn't really care what you think, though. As long as they sell, those assassins will keep on stabbin'.

Super Time Force photo
Super Time Force

Super Time Force lands more PlayStation characters

Coming soon to PS4 and PS Vita with Cross-Buy
Apr 16
// Jordan Devore
Be honest: if you were putting together an intergalactic team of time travelers to help save the universe and also destroy it a little bit, you'd enlist Sony Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida. His Twitter game is tha...

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