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Headlander reveal photo
Headlander reveal

Double Fine reveals 'retro-futuristic' metroidvania Headlander

That's using your noggin
Aug 27
// Darren Nakamura
Double Fine Productions rarely retreads ground with its games, so it comes as no surprise that its next big title is not Psychonauts 2 (like it should be) but is instead a 2D adventure about a disembodied head who can attach ...

Review: Duck Game

Jul 10 // Steven Hansen
Duck Game (PC)Developer: Landon PodbielskiPublisher: Adult Swim GamesMSRP: $12.99Released: June 4, 2015 Quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack. Quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack. Quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack. [embed]295748:59453:0[/embed] Quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack. Quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack. ...Ok, fine. Duck Game has a quack button. The feeling of impatiently tapping at an elevator to make it come faster has been turned to song and that song is the cacophony of up to four players mashing quack at the start of stages and, often, during combat. As much as the impish coquette in me would have delighted in leaving this review quacks in its entirety, I have a lot I want to say about Duck Game. Things that go beyond pure amusement -- the quack button, the ragdoll button, the tongue-hanging "Frog?" mask, the fucking name "Duck Game." There is an amusing set of solo challenge modes accessed through arcade cabinets. Success in these yields tickets which can be traded for gameplay modifiers, if you're stupid, or more funny hats, if you're smart. But the fatty meat of Duck Game is its multiplayer (online and local). While it could easily draw comparisons to a number of recently successful 2D multiplayer games like Samurai Gunn and TowerFall, I see a mix of randomness and pace from the likes of WarioWare and Super Crate Box. Matches can be over in seconds -- some stages seem designed that way. A victor is crowned, and it's off to the next fight. Breaking this whirlwind pace are intermissions where the ducks will toss their hats/masks across a field en route to 10 wins for ultimate victory.  They all look very mad and I love it. If the "Crazy Ass Goose!" video was not explicitly about a goose, I would say it was about these ducks. These ducks are the "Crazy Ass Goose!" of video games. Most interesting, though, is not that Duck Game has been energizing my living room of late, but how it does so. Part of it has to do with fast deaths and crazy weapons (riding chainsaws, magnet guns, Bionic Commando-claws, net guns, sledgehammers, trumpets). A lot of it boils down to an interesting take on what would otherwise be simple controls. In Samurai Gunn, you jump, slash, or shoot. In Duck Game, you jump, pick up/throw, and use. Along with the indispensable quack and its lesser relative, the ragdoll.  But Duck Game changes your interaction with the huge assortment of weapons that are scattered throughout maps. Everything needs to be picked up with a button press. With most guns, you can press pick up, then start pressing "use" (shoot, in this case), and it works as expected. But when you "pick up" a grenade, pressing "use" pulls the pin, and then you have to press "throw" (formerly "pick up") to toss it. It's not the assortment of weapons that is fun, it's the quick reflexes -- and their funny failures -- needed to remember how they all work, despite the simple two button layout. Shotguns are shot, then racked before they can be shot a again. Armor is picked up, then put on. Muskets are slowly, slowly reloaded. There are a litany of handguns, all with different properties. In the frantic panic, will you remember you were holding a derringer with one shot? I can't describe the amount of hollering coming from my living room after the tension-snapping slapstick of two ducks with shotguns meticulously coming up to the other before unleashing a barrage of empty-chamber clicks. They're both out of ammo and the calm, self-assured demeanor they came with dissolves into two panicked ducks jumping around looking for weapons. Quack. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Quack photo
Quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack qua...

Review: Traverser

Jul 09 // Conrad Zimmerman
Traverser (PC)Developers: Gatling Goat StudiosPublisher: Adult Swim GamesMSRP: $14.99Released: July 9, 2015 The setting for Traverser is its strongest asset. The underground remnants of humanity live in Brimstone, a floating city suspended in a cavern near the Earth's core. It's a city with two sides, literally and figuratively, with one side using some form of anti-gravity technology to allow people to live upside-down. A wealthy populace occupies the upper, properly oriented half, enjoying a life of relative ease under the care of the Raven Corporation. A working class labors beneath, forced to wear breathing masks due to the poor availability of air their work makes possible. This arrangement caused friction over time, as one might expect. Workers striking at an oxygen refinery plant to demand better conditions has grown into a full-scale rebellion, turning to violence to deliver their message. It's in this environment that the player assumes control of Valerie Bennett, the daughter of Raven Corporation's chief scientist. Her story begins on the day she becomes a Traverser, a new form of peacekeeper in the city. With the rebellion more active than ever, Valerie becomes drawn into the conflict to play a central role. [embed]295678:59439:0[/embed] There is a cartoonish element that lies at the core of many aspects of Traverser. Brimstone is a bleak place, a society which has seemingly fallen back to an earlier industrial age in retreating from the world above, but there's a softness to the visual design which undercuts the aesthetic tone. A few scripted sequences exist solely for their comic effect in lightening the mood. Character designs are fairly simple, with slightly exaggerated features and energetic voice acting performances that leave no question exactly what kind of person each is. These are generally good things. Not in terms of the plot, necessarily, which probably would have benefited from a little bit of subterfuge for its twists. No, the whimsical elements function as a distraction in a game that wants you to think about its world, but not too deeply. They make the bigger incongruities easier to swallow. For example, the role of the Traverser itself makes little sense in practice. As described, the job is a sort of secret police force and, upon successfully completing her exam, Valerie is instructed to remain in her street clothes so as to not draw attention to herself. That would be good advice, were it not rendered irrelevant by the large electronic gauntlet she's given, the Gravity Glove, which everyone in the city seems to know exists and is the trade tool of a Traverser. It is a neat tool, though. With it, Valerie can fire a beam to manipulate objects considerably larger than herself with ease. This is done with the mouse, pointing and clicking to lift objects and move them freely. Holding the right mouse button allows a held item to be rotated while the scroll wheel raises and lowers it. Objects can be lifted from a considerable distance but are dropped if the beam is broken. The range of items that can be picked up and moved is not insignificant, but most of the time the Gravity Glove is used to move or stack boxes to gain access to higher areas. Occasionally, there will be a room that takes better advantage of its capabilities and limitations to produce something slightly more challenging, but most of the puzzles will underwhelm experienced players of 3D adventure games. This aspect is quite unfortunate, because it seems like the pieces are in place to do some interesting stuff. About a third of the way through, the player is introduced to the concept of using multiple objects together to accomplish goals, culminating in the game's first boss encounter. Yet it never proves more creative than at this point, the remainder of the game featuring fairly standard adventure puzzle tropes (mirror reflections, levers, dragging items from one end of a room to another) separated by bits of light platforming and stealth. The challenges in Traverser are not poorly designed, merely underwhelming. To Gatling Goat Studios' credit, many can be approached in a couple of different ways and it's enjoyable whenever the player has an opportunity to feel as though they have subverted the intended solution. As there's only light violence and Valerie's capabilities are mostly defensive, the game's content could work for a younger audience. Parents may want to do a solo playthrough (which should take 3-4 hours) or watch a video of the conclusion before sitting down with the kids, though. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Traverser review photo
The air isn't all that's stale here
The Earth has lost its sun and become a frozen wasteland bereft of breathable air, but humanity struggles on in Traverser, the debut title from Gatling Goat Studios. A 3D platforming adventure, the game excels in presenting a...

Review: Westerado: Double Barreled

Apr 27 // Jed Whitaker
Westerado: Double Barreled (PC)Developer: Ostrich Banditos Publisher: Adult Swim Games Released: April 16, 2015MSRP: $14.99 It starts like any normal day, waking up to help your family take care of the ranch, rounding up some buffalo back to their pen. The night sky glows orange in the distance while returning home, a strange sight for the west. The glow soon becomes embers as you realize your family ranch is ablaze, blood is strewn about the ground, your mother is slaughtered and your brother is fatally wounded. Your brother doesn't have much information about who did this, but he does give you one single clue, information about the killers clothing. He gurgles blood as he asks for you to end his suffering, you cock your gun, as tears stream down your face you pull the trigger.  The beginning of Westerado is one of the strongest openings of a game I've ever played, and gives the player a real sense of purpose, revenge.  The universe Westerado takes place in is easily recognizable: A western with cowboys, a quest for vengeance, a bank, an oil man, a saloon with strong female characters in tow; this is a spaghetti western. Dialog for characters is written in a south western dialect that makes anyone feel like a real life cowboy when reading it aloud. A film strip overlay is shown behind characters as they converse, just one of many indications found throughout Westerado that indicate it takes place on a film set. All this overlayed with a wonderful soundtrack that would feel at home in any western flick. Searching for the murderer entails wandering from town to town, through deserts and mines while talking to characters along the way. Conversations with characters often times lead to jobs. Jobs range from defending a ranch from bandits, to forcing a drunkard husband to leave the saloon at gunpoint, to sexing up "Miss Tress" a local promiscuous female. The variety of quests is refreshing, as each one is unique from the others. Upon completing these jobs characters reveal more information about the murderer, specifically what they are wearing. Clues are collected for you in a handy dandy notebook, which includes a wanted poster showing the murderer as described by clues.  Jobs aren't completed with just walking and talking as you'll be using your six shooter to leave a trail of bodies on your quest for vengeance. Equipped with infinite ammo, the six shooter is drawn by pressing a bumper button, the hammer is cocked with one press of the right trigger and then fired with a second press. Reloading is done manually one bullet at a time with the left trigger. The controls feel like you're holding an actual six shooter. Aiming, on the other hand, takes some getting used to. Your gun fires in a straight line from the barrel, which works mechanically but seems odd when the game is presented in three dimensional space, but after a few gunfights it will be second nature. Westerado can be played with a co-op partner, with any of the four characters that can be unlocked through multiple playthroughs. Every time you play you'll have a different murderer to gather clues on and locate, though the only things that change are clothing or gender, and the map stays the same. While having a randomly generated map could have been a better choice, it is a minor gripe for an otherwise near flawless game. Rarely do I sit down to play a game, finish it and instantly start a new playthrough; this is one of those games. Westerado is a great package with lots of replayability and can easily be recommended for fans of westerns or revenge flicks. No other experience that I've played has done revenge so well. If you've been hankerin' for a trip to the wild west saddle up and hang onto your hat, Westerado: Double Barreled is a dern tootin' good time. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Westerado Review photo
Yee-haw! Giddy up! Yip! Yip!
Do you like spaghetti westerns with charm, humor, hammy accents and over the top violence? How about revenge flicks, video games with retro style graphics? Do you like fun? Are you breathing oxygen?  Well then partner ya...

Veryman! photo

I hope Veryman.Expert becomes America's next great pastime

Let's fast track this sucker
Apr 10
// Jordan Devore
Think about the weirdest thing you saw today. Veryman.Expert is probably weirder. It's a browser-based god game, so to speak, about creating men. There are no losers, ever. You can adjust your man's movements -- a touch of Le...
Oblitus photo

Oblitus is coming soonlitus

That's about it
Jan 27
// Robert Summa
Adult Swim Games has officially announced that their fantasy 2D roguelike scroller Oblitus is coming soon. How soon? Hell, I don't know, and I guess Adult Swim doesn't know either, since they're not telling us. At the very least, the trailer has some decent music and the art that has accompanied the game appears to be cool as fuck.
Castle Doombad photo
Castle Doombad

Castle Doombad is free on the Amazon App Store right now

Save yourself $3
Sep 09
// Darren Nakamura
Chris took a look at Adult Swim Games' Castle Doombad at the beginning of this year, and had the highest recommendations for it. Despite that, it sort of fell through the cracks for me. Now, there is another reason to check i...
Zenzizenzic photo

Zenzizenzic now being published by Adult Swim Games

Zigzagoon? Mr. Mxyzptlk?
Aug 20
// Brittany Vincent
Making a case yet again as to why it's one of the most awesome publishers around, Adult Swim Games will be publishing the frenetic twin-stick shooter Zenzizenzic. After the game completed a successful Kickstarter campaign, Du...
Super Comboman photo
Super Comboman

Adult Swim Games' Super Comboman features a fat dude with a Pikachu fanny pack

That's what it looks like, at least
Jul 09
// Brittany Vincent
Adult Swim Games has a great track record when it comes to their games, and Super Comboman looks like a fun little brawler. It takes place in a sticker world with destructible environments and colorful characters that give m...
More Rain World! photo
More Rain World!

Rain World has competitive slugcat multiplayer and bat attacks

Throw bricks and batteries like Eagles fans pelting Santa Claus
Apr 14
// Steven Hansen
Rain World is still the best. And it's coming to Vita (and more). Jonathan Holmes went and chatted with Rain World's developers at PAX. In the background you can see a very early alpha multiplayer sandbox that looks to be in the vein of Samurai Gunn and Towerfall. You get points for eating flies and lizards and killing each other. Did you know lizard only has one "z"? That's weird.
Rain World!  photo
Rain World!

Yes! Rain World is coming to Vita, PSN

'PSN, PS Vita and well beyond'
Apr 14
// Steven Hansen
Last week we learned Adult Swim Games had picked up and planned to publish Rain World, among other cool games. I have been unfettered in my enthusiasm for Rain World, which stars a slugcat who goes around stabbing other weir...

Adult Swim Games to publish Oblitus, Rain World, and Westerado: Double Barreled

Expanded version of Westerado heading to Steam
Apr 09
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Adult Swim's presence in gaming continues to rise, and their next selection of games they're publishing are all head turners. Oblitus is developed by Connor Ullman, and follows the tale of a spear-wielding creature who seeks ...

The man behind Lamar from GTA V to become Black Jesus

New live-action series coming to Adult Swim
Mar 11
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
This is TOTALLY barely even videogame related at all but I still wanted to write about it because Lamar from Grand Theft Auto V was one of my favorite characters from a videogame last year. So I'm happy to see Gerald "Slink"...
Adult Swim Games photo
Adult Swim Games

You can play Bionic Chainsaw Pogo Gorilla right now

He can have a saguaro cactus for an arm
Feb 07
// Darren Nakamura
Bionic Chainsaw Pogo Gorilla. Give yourself a few seconds for that to sink in. He is a gorilla, who has been cybernetically altered to have chainsaws for arms and a pogo stick in place of his legs. If that is not the most aw...

This Jazzpunk communist breakfast cereal is amazing

Part of this compliant breakfast
Feb 05
// Max Scoville
One of the difficulties with comedy is that describing or paraphrasing a joke frequently makes it cease to be funny, so it's hard to convey Jazzpunk's charm without completely squashing its humor in the process. However,...
Jazzpunk photo

New Jazzpunk trailer invokes spirit of Johnny Mnemonic

Jan 23
// Conrad Zimmerman
If you're going to validate your cult pop culture bona fides, this is how you do it. A new trailer for Necrophone Games' Jazzpunk has been released by Adult Swim, referencing the 1995 motion picture Johnny Mnemonic...
Winnose photo

Play Winnose, reunite a moai statue with his other half

Another strange Adult Swim game
Jan 08
// Darren Nakamura
Adult Swim always seems to publish games that have really strange setups, but are backed by solid gameplay mechanics and can easily eat up an afternoon or possibly even a work day. Winnose, developed by Todd Luke, appea...
Robot Chicken x Killzone photo
Robot Chicken x Killzone

Sweet Tooth planks in this Robot Chicken Killzone ad

No, seriously
Dec 17
// Brett Zeidler
Sony partnered up with Adult Swim recently to task the guys over at Robot Chicken with creating an amusing little ad for Killzone: Shadow Fall. It starts out with Sweet Tooth enjoying the game in his living room, and getting...
Sup Holmes photo
Get to know the people that make great videogames
8 days ago on Sup Holmes (now on iTunes) we welcomed Michael Molinari to the program. Michael has been developing games since high school, starting the the Team Fortress fan games T.F. Larry: Guard Duty and its seq...

Super Comboman photo
Super Comboman

Sup Holmes is super with combo man Justin Woodward

Get to know the people that make great videogames
Dec 08
// Jonathan Holmes
This week on Sup Holmes we continue Adult Swimember with Justing Woodward of Interabang Entertainment. Justin's worked in the industry for years, but it probably best known for Super Comboman, the 2D action platformer with be...
Sup Holmes photo
Sup Holmes

Sup Holmes is stabbed by sound with Michael Molinari

Get to know the people that make great videogames
Dec 01
// Jonathan Holmes
Today on Sup Holmes we kick off Adult Swimember with Soundodger+ and Basketbelle's Michael Mollinari. Rumor has it that Michael also on the iOS version of Bit.Trip BEAT, which is one of my favorite games ever. Michael's relat...

Only 4% of Volgarr the Viking players bought the game

The developers take to Twitter to talk honestly about piracy
Oct 22
// Alessandro Fillari
Volgarr the Viking is a hardcore-focused throwback to classic 2D action titles of the past. Released last month, it has already pleased many gamers looking for a challenge. After a successful Kickstarter and getting picked up...
Soundodger+ Contest photo
20 codes up for grabs
[Update: Contest over! Winners have been PM'd their codes.] Our friends at Adult Swim Games have just given us 20 codes for Soundodger+ to hand out to the Dtoid community! An updated version of the original flash game S...

Soundodger+ photo

Soundodger+ brings musical bullet hell to Steam on Friday

Eleven new tracks added for Steam version
Oct 07
// Darren Nakamura
Soundodger is a free online game that released on Adult Swim earlier this year. In it, you control a small white circle, trying to avoid a deluge of shapes spilling at you from all angles, set to music by a handful of great ...

Very Quick Tips: Volgarr the Viking

Sep 24 // Chris Carter
General Tips: Get in the habit of holding the zoom button constantly to survey your surroundings until you get a level down pat. The zoom button is a great way to eliminate any feeling of fake difficulty, because like Spelunky, any time you die it's usually your fault. Going along with the zoom function, spears are your friend. Throw them often, and make use of the double jump spear constantly. If you're trying to create a ledge, note that you need to be approximately three character lengths away before you can make it stick to the wall. Don't limit yourself -- you can throw spears a lot faster than you think you can, so sling away. Also, if you have the hammer shield, you can charge your spear up to make short work of multiple weak enemies. When in doubt, most puzzles involve spears. Create spear bridges anywhere you can, and note that you can throw them through certain barriers that are shaped differently than the rest. When you're on a chain or rope climbing up, keep in mind that creating a makeshift spear platform to rest on can save your life if you need to jump back down. The shield is very dynamic. You can even guard against attacks from behind as you're climbing on ropes while the shield is on your back (use this to your advantage and face the shield towards wall-mounted spear spitters). Said spear spitters are also positioned horizontally, by the way, so you can spot them while they attempt to disguise themselves among similar scenery. The crouching slash can trick most humanoid enemies in the game. Use this a lot on stage three against the shield-wielding skeletons -- better yet, try not to fight them if possible and double-jump over them after creating gaps with crouch slashes. Try not to backtrack a lot to avoid respawns of menial enemies. This includes the lizards in level one and the skeletons in level three. If possible, keep moving forward. Restart if you lose some gear early in a level. Getting incremental gear is key to your success, and having to re-earn everything can be a thorn in your side and not allow you to reach your full potential as a player. For instance, you can kill the first boss in one fell swoop (read: five seconds) with the fire sword. Your double jump is actually an attack. Learn how many hits enemies can take in total, and use this on their last remaining hit to avoid damage. You can also cancel a downwards stab attack into a spin jump. On that note, do not overuse the double jump. You can't compensate for over-jumping, so make use of the single jump often when leaping over traps. This is a trick I learned at a young age when playing Mega Man X2 -- when facing enemies that spit projectiles, visualize said projectiles and tune everything else out. Watch how the bullets move, where they end up, and focus entirely on not getting hit by them (can you tell I love bullet hell games?). Don't even necessarily focus on the enemy itself -- just avoid damage, and eventually you will be able to kill it without issues over time. For spitting plants (or enemy derivatives thereof), use scenery to plot out a fake safe zone. Often times this is between two vines, or so on. Go between those two vines, slice the enemy, rinse and repeat until you're comfortable with the pattern. After you've completed at least one stage, move left at the very start of the game to skip to a certain point. In case you didn't know, the game has a really clever Genesis style instruction manual.
Volgarr the Viking tips photo
Make Odin proud
Let's talk about fake difficulty in games. In the olden days, often times due to the limitations of the hardware, developers would create certain portions of games that forced you to resort to trial-and-error tactics, often c...

Review: Volgarr the Viking

Sep 23 // Tony Ponce
Volgarr the Viking (PC)Developer: Crazy Viking StudiosPublisher: Adult Swim GamesReleased: September 13, 2013MSRP: $11.99Rig: Intel Core i3-380M, 6GB of RAM, GeForce GT 425M, Windows 7 64-bit You've played Volgarr the Viking before. It is Contra. It is Battletoads. It is Ghosts 'n Goblins. Most appropriately, it is Rastan, a 1987 Taito arcade game infamous for its unrelenting nature. From the types of hazards and enemies to the general play style and progression, the parallels are so numerous that it wouldn't be wrong to call Volgarr a spiritual sequel with a Nordic flavor. Even the stage layout on the first few screens of the first level mirrors that of Rastan's opening moments. Like its forebears, the greatest achievement in Volgarr is survival. Even if you never come close to completion, being able to squeeze out a few extra seconds of life is its own reward. Volgarr was designed with the mind that just because a game isn't immediately accessible to all players doesn't mean that it can't be enjoyable. The trick is to balance the sheer brutality with a simple control scheme and obstacles that can be overcome with enough patient observation. Knowing what needs to be done doesn't guarantee victory, but it goes a long way towards keeping hope alive, even if barely. [embed]262298:50578:0[/embed] This is why I hate it when people call a difficult game "cheap" or "unfair" when such terms aren't warranted. They imply that the developers didn't know what they were doing, leading to a haphazard assembly that misleads the player into unavoidable situations. Crazy Viking Studios knew exactly what it was doing -- Volgarr is constructed in such a way that the greatest obstruction to victory is your own mediocre skills. What's refreshing is how Crazy Viking Studios did away with seemingly all modern game trappings for a true old-school experience. There are no cutscenes, no dialog, no save files (more on that later), and no hint bubbles. Hell, there isn't even a proper main menu -- after the game loads, the title flashes for a brief moment, Odin commands you to rise from the dead, and you immediately start marching. The lone allowance is a series of brief text prompts in the first few seconds that tell you how to perform the basic moves. You begin with a weak wooden shield that only absorbs two projectile impacts before breaking. You can upgrade your gear by opening treasure chests -- first you'll acquire an indestructible shield that also allows you to throw charged spears, then a helmet that grants an extra hit point, and finally a flame sword with double strength. As you receive damage, you'll lose your equipment piece by piece until you're reduced to an explosion of bloody bones. There is no progress without risk; you'll often find yourself in situations that demand more unconventional strategies. For instance, Volgarr's jump trajectory is locked once he leaves the ground, not unlike in Castlevania, but you can change your trajectory in midair by performing a double jump. This technique comes in handy later, such as when jumping to an adjacent platform means overshooting the ground then doubling back. Perhaps you'll be climbing a rope and can't reach a platform overhead. You can leap away from the rope, toss a spear at the nearby wall to create a makeshift platform, then quickly double jump back onto the rope lest you fall to your death. Now you'll be able to jump onto the spear then hop up from there to the target platform. Your only hope for success is to discover such advanced techniques on your own and master them in controlled environments so that they can effectively be employed in more dangerous territory. As tough as your enemies may be, foolish platforming mishaps will be your greatest adversary. There's nothing to do but try again until your talents are honed to a brilliant sheen. The secret weapon in your arsenal is the zoom function, performed by tapping L on your controller or the space bar on the keyboard, which pulls the camera back and gives you a greater view of the terrain and enemy placement. What makes this so invaluable is that enemies remain motionless while off-screen in the normal camera view. That means you'll almost always have the first-strike advantage if you can hit them with your spear before they have a chance to react. Even with the zoom, Volgarr is a frustrating experience that taxes your spirit like few others. In particular, there is only a single checkpoint in the middle of each level. Even if you fall to the boss, you'll be tossed way back to that checkpoint instead of outside the boss chamber. This setup infuriated me at first, but I later realized that by making you replay half the stage, you have the opportunity to max out your equipment and greet the boss at full strength. In its own way, the game is offering the smallest of mercies. The exception to this is the final stage, which is divided into multiple rooms each with checkpoints at the entrance, including one just before the boss. It's ironic that after enduring five stages of cutthroat brutality, the last stage would be the most forgiving of all. It almost seems like a letdown... until you realize that the game is only half complete. There may not be any save files, but it is possible to skip levels that you've already completed. However, doing so will prevent you from getting the game's best ending. If you manage not to lose your equipment in a level and continue to open treasure chests, you'll eventually start collecting life orbs. Upon beating the boss, you'll unlock the Path of the Valkyrie, an alternate and more challenging route through the following stage. And only by clearing all the alternate routes will you be able to enter the true final stage. The Path of the Valkyrie plays by a different set of rules compared to the main game. Those life orbs you collect indicate how many times you'll be allowed to respawn. Exhaust all your lives and you will be shunted back onto the main path, unable to reenter that level's alternate route without replaying the previous level again. In other words, there isn't much room for practice and experimentation on the Path of Valkyrie -- you are expected to be a master already. I don't mind hardcore difficulty, but the requirements to reach Volgarr's finale strike me as just a tad too restrictive. Essentially, you're being asked to 1CC (one credit clear) the game, or close enough to it, all without ever getting touched once. I've never been one to attempt "perfectionist" runs in anything, which require a level of patience and perseverance far beyond that required to enjoy the base game. If I had to draw the line dividing what I'm willing to endure for the sake of enjoyment, that would be it. That aside, the rest of Volgarr exemplifies the type of experience few games dare to attempt these days. It will humble you, make you feel weak and inadequate. I started playing with great confidence, and within minutes I was reduced to a whimpering mess. I even considered giving up a couple of times, resigning myself to writing a scoreless review. But somehow, in some way, I mustered enough energy to go on. My journey may technically have only just begun, but seeing even a single ending has given me a deep sense of accomplishment. I understand that not everyone is looking to put their pride on the line with every game they play, but sometimes we need a reminder that games can be a test of skill. What kind of test would it be if the average person could coast along merely by doing the extra credit? By guessing the multiple choice? What kind of hollow victory is that? Like a drill sergeant, Volgarr the Viking is here to yank us out of our comfort zone and put us through hell unending. If you survive, you'll feel like the biggest badass of all time.
Volgarr the Viking review photo
Can I talk about DuckTales Remastered for a minute? I'm not going to cite any specific examples, but I've read more than a handful of reviews that knocked Remastered down for being a bit too "classic" in the difficulty depart...

Pause Ahead photo
Pause Ahead

Tower of Heaven creator releases new game Pause Ahead

You can play it for free on Adult Swim
Aug 27
// Darren Nakamura
Do you remember Tower of Heaven? If the answer is yes, skip ahead to the next paragraph. If the answer is "no" because you never played it back in 2009, then you can (and should) rectify that immediately. It's not very long; ...

Venture Bros creators would love a game based on the show

Someone make this happen!
Jul 26
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Doc Hammer and Jackson Publick, creators of The Venture Bros. series, gave their usual unprepared Q&A panel at San Diego Comic-Con this year. At the 15:00 mark here, a fan asked the duo of the possibility of a full on Ve...

Review: Fist Puncher

Jul 01 // Fraser Brown
Fist Puncher (PC)Developer: Team2BitPublisher: Adult SwimReleased: June 21, 2013MSRP: $9.99Rig: Intel i5-3570K @3.40 GHz, 8 GB of RAM, GeForce GTX 670, and Windows 7 64-bit You're just hanging in your dojo, minding your own business, when a group of Miss Universe contestants are kidnapped by the local crimeboss -- the Milkman. What does this have to do with you? Well, your sensei was one of the contest judges, so he wants you to rescue the lovely lassies.  Lampooning the damsel-in-distress scenario from River City Ransom and Double Dragon, just to name a few, Fist Puncher gets off to a very traditional start, yet it deftly avoids being trite thanks to the irreverent lady-loving sensei and the colorful gallery of heroes. Four characters are available for this rescue attempt, initially, including a sexy beekeeper and a karate-loving doctor named Dr. Karate, with the roster eventually growing to 15. This is not your average dojo. Character selected, and it's off to save the ladies by traversing a city map, covered in nodes representing a large array of missions. Most missions involve sauntering across the screen, punching, kicking, grabbing, and throwing very rude people until they are dead. It doesn't get more simple than that. Thanks to an RPG-lite leveling system, the combat does become considerably more involved, however. Characters come with their own signature moves, like Dr. Karate's flying kick, and develop even more special abilities, perks, and increases in their strength, speed, special meter, and all sorts of other RPG-esque junk. Experience comes hard and fast, thanks to the vast army of enemies that charge at you with little regard for their safety. They hate you a lot, and they also desperately want to die.  The plethora of thugs that attempt to halt the heroes' progress are as varied as they are bizarre. Evil nudists, strippers of the male and female variety, racists, werewolves, zombies, genetically enhanced shark-alligator-human hybrids -- they are a strange bunch. Most groups have unique attacks, as well. There are convicts who can shank you, grabbing you by the throat and stabbing you repeatedly; thugs who throw molotov cocktails at you, covering the ground in flames; ninjas that toss slow-moving shurikens; and soldiers that employ assault rifles, spraying bullets all over the screen. Even with the special abilities and the range of enemies, Fist Puncher does devolve into stringing together simple punches and kicks over and over again. It's arguably also an issue with the games it's trying to ape, and at least Team2Bit has attempted to spice things up with perks and strange powers -- like a kiss attack that turns an enemy into an ally, or an attack that launches bees at an unsuspecting foe. In an attempt to break up the repetitiveness, special missions crop up from time to time, demanding that the heroes do more than simply kill bad guys along a corridor. Unfortunately, these missions are rather poor, their weaknesses merely disguised by the zaniness of the scenario. In one mission, I found myself on a train that had been hijacked by convicts, and for some inexplicable reason, the train was full of lawyers. I had to defeat all of the enemies, but the moment I struck a lawyer, the mission would be failed because the dojo couldn't afford the lawsuit. My initial laughter turned to shouts of frustration, as the lawyers would basically walk right into my attacks. At times they'd literally swarm me, ensuring that any punch I launched would result in me restarting the section. Likewise, absurd boss battles are also very poorly thought out, hiding irritating mechanics behind a veneer of silliness. Most bosses are larger-than-life villains, literally towering above the heroes, and they are admittedly rather funny. Defeating them is less amusing however. They spam extra powerful attacks, take many hits, and dish out a lot of punishment -- yet beating them amounts to the same strategy every single bloody time: run in and punch them a couple of times, and then roll away (dodging makes you essentially invisible). Rinse and repeat. From running through a minefield on the back of an ostrich, to protecting a "spunk soda" delivery truck from ninjas, Fist Puncher has been designed to make you laugh hard enough so that you'll ignore the shortcomings. It works, too. The setting and the gags provide plenty of entertainment, and whenever I became frustrated, it would only take minutes for me to start laughing again.  Less forgiveable is the ridiculous lack of online co-op. Local co-op is available, but on a PC-only title, this seems a bit pointless. Fist Puncher is a co-op game, the start menu for each mission shows four character slots, the enemies make references to there being more than one hero, and it's inspired by classic co-op romps, so it beggars belief that I was unable to play with anyone online.   When I play titles with older aesthetic sensibilities like Fist Puncher, I always have to ask myself, what does it add? In the case of Fist Puncher, I've lamentably come to the conclusion that it adds nothing whatsoever, beyond making it clear that the game is inspired by NES-era brawlers. There's no artistry behind the pixels, and while the backgrounds can occasionally inspire a chuckle, they are really rather ugly. The game definitely isn't nostalgia just for the sake of nostalgia -- there're too many additional features to claim that -- but the art certainly is. Despite the art, Fist Puncher manages to be an homage that isn't simply cashing in on nostalgia, capturing a lot of the simple joy of beating up hordes of merciless villains that kept people pouring into arcades or hooked to their NES in the '80s and '90s even though the experience has lost some of its luster over the decades. It's hard to overlook the shoddy boss battles and the lack of online co-op, but if you've got a PC set up that allows for couch co-op, you could do a lot worse than taking Fist Puncher for a spin.
Fist Puncher review photo
And fireball flinger, leg kicker, and bee hurler
There are few things quite as cathartic as punching a nigh-endless horde of villains in their ugly mugs. I'm all for highfalutin, emotionally charged, wordy games where you are meant to care about people, but sometimes I just...

Review: Super Puzzle Platformer Deluxe

Jun 06 // Darren Nakamura
Super Puzzle Platformer Deluxe (PC)Developer: Andrew MorrishPublisher: Adult Swim GamesReleased: May 24, 2013 MSRP: $7.99 Super Puzzle Platformer Deluxe channels the essence of retro gaming in more ways than one. Immediately apparent are the functional pixel art and the rocking chiptune soundtrack, but past that, the gameplay hearkens back to a simpler time when the ultimate goal of a videogame was simply to obtain a high score. It is perhaps a bit too vague at first, especially for those used to having tutorials. Super Puzzle Platformer Deluxe begins by dropping the cape-clad protagonist into a factory that looks suspiciously like a Tetris arena with spikes underneath it. Thrown straight into the action, the player is left to figure out the mechanics, but they are mostly straightfoward. [embed]254847:48973:0[/embed] Blocks fall from above and the anthropomorphic block of cheddar can jump on them or shoot them. Destroying a single block awards one point and drops a chip that can be collected for another point. The kicker is that adjacent blocks of the same color take more shots to destroy, but award points with a square relationship, where two blocks give four points, three blocks give nine points, and so on. Additionally, after collecting a certain number of chips, the player levels up, which increases the power of his shots and adds a multiplier to the score. While this is going on, traps will occasionally fall instead of blocks, introducing deadly implements that will immediately end a run when touched. These include lasers, chainsaws, spikes, explosives, and even spinning beams of fire a la Super Mario Bros. What results is an experience that is very true to the "puzzle" and the "platformer" in the title. Playing it as a pure platformer with only the intent to stay alive awards few points, while playing it as a pure puzzle game often leads to sticky situations with little space to maneuver. Ideal strategy involves a mixture of the two gameplay concepts, and what comes out are constant risk/reward decisions that need to be made quickly in order to be successful. Every so often, a gem will drop from a destroyed block. These jewels are worth 100 points, but they also serve as the currency for progression. There are six levels to play on, but each one after the first must be unlocked by collecting a set number of gems on the previous level. Thankfully, this requirement is cumulative, so even those who aren't able to collect many in one run can still experience all six levels with a little persistence. The differences between the levels are more than just aesthetic. In addition to providing new scenery and music, each level has its own set of traps with which to contend. The variety in killing instruments definitely gives each level a distinct feel, and the feeling when encountering a new trap and handling it on the fly is particularly satisfying. Adding more content to the game are challenge rooms, which pit the player against a set series of one specific trap. Not only are these rooms challenging, but they also serve the purpose to teach the player about some of the more nuanced game mechanics that they might not otherwise figure out. For instance, the spike challenge room requires the player to know how to walk on spikes, and the TNT challenge room requires the player to have a firm grasp on the exact blast radius. This form of teaching, through engaging, bite-sized challenges is nothing short of brilliant. After having figured out the trick behind the challenge room, the player is then that much more prepared to deal with the traps in the main game. In addition to the default cape outfit, there are seven unlockable outfits for the player to choose, with each conferring its own stats for speed, jumping ability, and shot power. The cape is a good all-around outfit, and it lets the player fall more slowly for easier platforming. One of the later outfits features a rocket launcher, which deals high damage to blocks, but significantly reduces jump height. My personal favorite is the ninja outfit, which offers a double jump, giving the player high mobility at the cost of relatively weak throwing stars. What is interesting is that while I certainly have a favorite, it would be remiss to say that there is a best outfit. I can imagine other players being successful with some of the other costumes, but there is definitely one that suits my play style the most. Graphically, Super Puzzle Platformer Deluxe is presentable. The pixel art is completely functional for the type of game that it is, but it isn't the most breathtaking work out there. The soundtrack fares a bit better, with high-energy chiptunes that fit the pacing of the game well and just sound rad in general. Aside from the somewhat uninspired graphics, there isn't much to complain about with Super Puzzle Platformer Deluxe. However, although it takes a good, simple idea and executes on that idea well, it is not a truly great idea. After a few hours of dense entertainment, it is as easy to put down as it is to pick up. Where other games may grab hold of the psyche and threaten to never let go, Super Puzzle Platformer Deluxe is comfortable to be simple fun and nothing more. Adult Swim is known for curating really memorable independently developed games, and in that regard it faltered a bit here. Super Puzzle Platformer Deluxe is a solid game that takes a good concept and runs with it without overstaying its welcome, but it isn't likely to reach cult hit status like Robot Unicorn Attack. It takes some of the best elements from games released twenty years ago and leaves behind some of the more frustrating aspects of the old school. For gameplay purists, this is a gem to behold. For others, it is a fun, but ultimately forgettable game.
Super Puzzle Platformer photo
New kid on the blocks
It has become somewhat of a running joke that indie developers only ever make puzzle platformers, with famous titles like Braid, Limbo, and The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom on the list of the most successful indepe...

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