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Review: Zombie Vikings

Sep 16 // Jed Whitaker
Zombie Vikings (PC, PS4 [reviewed], Wii U)Developer: Zoink!Publisher: Zoink AB, Rising Star GamesReleased: September 1, 2015 (PS4), October (PC), Q4 2015 (Wii U)MSRP: $19.99 Stick It to the Man! developer Zoink! decided to keep the same great art style from that game for Zombie Vikings, which is a like a combination of papercraft, stickers, and a pop-up book. The graphics really pop during the entirety of this Norse brawler, and that is about all the good things I've got to say. If I listened to my kindergarten teacher and "only said something if I had something nice to say," I'd stop here and this would be a very short review, but I'm a big kid now. Speaking of kindergarten, the humor is about on that level. Be ready for poop and anus jokes. Seems like every fantasy adventure game has to make some kind of stupid reference to the Lord of the Rings movies, which I get are iconic and loved by many people, but if I hear one more "you shall not pass" joke, it had better be next-level, second-coming-of-Christ impressive, otherwise don't. I understand that some people reference things and kind of feel like it is an inside joke -- or something only '90s kids will get -- but it isn't funny, especially when done multiple times. [embed]310977:60391:0[/embed] Now that I've made it crystal clear I think the writing and comedy are unfunny garbage, let's move onto gameplay, which isn't terrible but isn't exactly standout either. Zombie Vikings has the typical beat-'em-up flair. You'll be jumping, running, blocking, dodging, and mashing buttons to beat your enemies senseless, as well as using each character's unique special attacks and abilities. These range from more powerful attacks to swooping from the sky like a crow on top of your enemies, and clearly make some characters better than others. All in all, you're still just mindlessly beating up the baddies without much thought. The problem isn't so much what you can do, but the variety of who you're doing it to, as most every level has a variety of three styles of enemies: tiny, medium, and large. The different styles of enemies vary in appearance between stages but perform mostly the same, and after thirty levels, I was bored to tears. Bosses mix it up a bit every few levels, often requiring specific new strategies to clear before you're sent back to the same repetitive enemies. Every now and then there will be levels that mix up the formula a bit -- such as a few where you're forced to run as fast as possible from enemies -- which are the only fun levels throughout the game. Two levels have you playing a game of what equates to soccer mixed with basketball against the CPU and they easily are the most infuriating levels due to the mechanics just not working; points are really hard to score because the goals are extremely finicky when deciding if your ball goes in. Online multiplayer matchmaking was either devoid of players or just didn't function -- neither option would surprise me. Multiplayer felt necessary as you can revive other players instead of being kicked back to checkpoints, and when I was playing alone, I found myself replaying sections far more often due to death than when playing with a local co-op buddy. The cherry on top of this shit sandwich is the insane amount of bugs and glitches I experienced while playing: persistent screen tearing, levels that wouldn't allow me to complete them due to enemies getting stuck off screen or objective items not spawning, enemies getting stuck on and inside terrain, and so on. Zoink! has already released a patch on the European PSN addressing some of these issues earlier this month, which is still absent in the US for one reason or another, but that doesn't excuse the state in which it was released. I can only review the product I have in hand, not what the game could potentially be. I'm a huge fan of the beat-'em-up genre. It can be rather repetitive, but typically that can be overlooked as the games tend to be rather short. Zombie Vikings, however, overstays its welcome and starts to get rather monotonous around halfway through. While it tries to throw in some interesting levels and boss fights, those mostly end up falling flat, just like the humor. On top of all that, the game is buggy with screen-tearing issues, subtitles not working properly, and glitches preventing levels from being completed. If you're looking for a beat-'em-up to play, I'd recommend Castle Crashers Remastered and the original trilogies of Final Fight, Golden Axe, Splatterhouse, and Streets of Rage. Those games are worth far more than the asking price of this tragedy. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Review: Zombie Vikings photo
Laugh at this bug-infested corpse
Comedy is as diverse as the world around it. Some people love Larry the Cable Guy. Others prefer Louis C.K. But one thing is for sure: not every comedian is for every person. The thing that makes you laugh may not make me lau...

Senran Kagura photo
Senran Kagura

Senran Kagura 2: Deep Crimson out now for 3DS

Hakuna matata
Sep 15
// Kyle MacGregor
Senran Kagura 2: Deep Crimson, the latest entry in Marvelous and XSEED Games' bawdy action franchise, is now available for Nintendo 3DS in North America. The new release is available via the eShop for $39.99, as well as ...

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

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

Zombie Vikings brings humorous brawler action to the Norse landscape

Aug 20 // Alessandro Fillari
[embed]307158:60071:0[/embed] Zombie Vikings (PS4)Developer: Zoink! GamesPublisher: Rising Star GamesRelease Date: Autumn 2015 Set in a very goofy interpretation of the Viking era, the Norse god Odin has his last good eye stolen by the mischievous trickster Loki, and must unearth four undead viking warriors to chase after the rogue god and return his eye. Loki plans to use the eye for his own nefarious purposes, such the awful and evil act of playing beer pong, and Odin wants revenge. Over the course of their journey through the Norse lands, the Zombie Vikings will battle waves of monsters, creatures, and other oddities that will put their brawling skills to the test. But with their new zombie powers, they'll be able to match up to the monsters that await, while also coming to terms with their troubled past lives. Right from the opening cutscene, the game sets itself up as a humorous and cartoonish take on Norse mythology, and it was pleasing to see a game have some fun with the material. The art style is essentially like a 2D animated cartoon, complete with interludes where the characters bicker and talk amongst themselves. With the main story written by Zack Weindersmith, the creator of the Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal webcomic, Zombie Vikings blends together brawler action with comedy. Over 90 minutes worth of cutscenes are spread across the thirty levels, and the story goes in places you'd least expect. While some of the jokes are hit-or-miss, it's refreshing to see a brawler revel in its own ridiculousness. The game continually ramps up in oddball comedy, and it's all the better for it. As one of the four vikings, you'll battle through several stages utilizing unique character skills and weapons which alter your performance. In similar vein to Castle Crashers, gold acquired from your journey can be spent on upgrades and new gear. As you travel through the land and complete stages, you can head back to old areas and tackle new challenges and side-quests that open up, yielding greater rewards. While there isn't a leveling system or any other RPG mechanics, the items you can deck your character out with are plentiful, and allow for a great level of customization. Which is great, because each character has their own special playstyle. During my session, I mostly stuck with Seagurd, a viking who's corpse somehow fused with an octopus. Thankfully, it's not just for show, as he's able to use the tentacles for spin attacks and charged-up power moves which turn the small octopus on his torso into a massive monster that damages all nearby enemies. The other characters make up the more standard strength, speed, and technique archetypes for brawlers, and each of them not only shows a lot of creativity in their design, but also feels very different one another. Moreover, you can use certain skills together in unison, such as throwing your friends across the field and into a mob of foes where they can unleash a power attack. This adds another layer of strategy to combat, which can make the co-op nature of the game all the more appealing. You haven't lived until you've seen four undead vikings stack on top of each other and rush deep into battle. I'm a big fan of the brawler genre, and Zombie Vikings has got a lot going for it. Norse mythology is often ignored in gaming, so it's a real pleasure to be able to explore the lands while battling monsters straight from lore, albeit in a really goofy, comedic way. The guys at Zoink! Games made a really fun title. Those looking for a four-player co-op beat-'em-up that doesn't take itself too seriously will be intrigued by this one.
Zombie Vikings preview photo
Are you a bad enough dude to stop Loki?
When people think of the beat-'em-up genre, they most likely recall the dimly-light streets of an urban metropolis filled with thugs and other roughnecks looking to cause trouble. While there are some other notable titles tha...

Review: Curses 'N Chaos

Aug 19 // Patrick Hancock
Curses 'N Chaos (Mac, PC [reviewed]. PS4, PS Vita)Developer: Tribute GamesPublisher: Tribute GamesRelease Date: August 18, 2015MSRP: $9.99  Curses 'N Chaos opens with a beautifully animated cutscene that sets up the threadbare story: Lea and Leo are cursed to live under Thanatos' Shadow by the evil Wizard King and need to kill monsters to break the curse. Then, it's time to fight monsters! Players can choose either character to brawl as, both of whom play the same. Multiplayer can be utilized either locally or online, and the PC version does use Steam for player invites. Gameplay is simple, challenging, beat-em-up action on a single screen. Players can run, attack, jump and double jump, and attacking at different times yields new moves. For example, attacking while jumping performs a jump kick that is stronger than a standard grounded attack. Players can also perform a running punch and an uppercut, both of which are as strong as a jump kick. Oh, and by pressing down, players can dance. This slowly builds up extra points, and it is recommended that players take every opportunity to do this as much as possible. [embed]306739:60064:0[/embed] Single-use items are a huge part of combat. Each player can hold one item at a time, but can also "bank" one by giving it to a friendly owl who will hold it until the player summons it again. Learning how each item acts is just as crucial as learning the enemy patterns. If an item is left on the ground for a few seconds, it will disappear for good, but players can "juggle" items to refresh its timer. New items can be forged in between rounds by using the alchemist. Here's a tip: don't go blindly combining items hoping for the best. There's a Grimiore that spells out what items can be combined, so use it! Once a new item is forged, it can be found and used during battle. The player can also buy items with the money collected from killing monsters, and start off battles by having certain items already. Each stage consists of ten waves of enemies followed by a boss. As the player progresses through the game's thirteen stages, enemies get more complicated behaviors and become harder to take down. The player gets five hearts and three lives to make it to the end.  Completing all the waves and beating the boss is no easy feat. About five levels in is when things start to get nuts, with enemy behaviors becoming much more erratic and difficult to deal with. Enemies that seemed so docile when introduced suddenly become incredibly potent when combined when paired with other enemy types. Enemies between stages do vary, but their behavior is limited. Many of the new enemies introduced are just re-skins of older enemies that take more hits to kill. They all look great and tend to fit a general theme, but I found myself saying "oh, this is just Enemy X, but with twice the health." In addition, each wave has a 60 second timer. When the timer reaches zero, Death shows up. This isn't an automatic loss, in fact it's more like the ghost in Spelunky that chases the player after they spend too much time in a level. Death will chase the player around and slash at them it catches up. A hit from Death means death (duh), but he's easily enough avoided. The biggest difficulty regarding Death comes with the boss fights. They too have a 60 second timer, which is definitely not enough time. Luckily, they will often drop an hourglass item that adds 15 more seconds to the clock, postponing Death's arrival.  The boss fights are traditional "memorize their tells and patterns" battles. They are beautifully animated and sometimes downright cruel in their behavior. Nothing is insurmountable, even for players going at it solo. The difficulty of these boss fights does tend to vary dramatically, though. Some boss fights took me several tries, while later fights left me with no hearts lost, only to have the next one be super difficult again.  While I've already mentioned how great the game looks, thanks in part to Paul Robertson, the audio is equally wonderful. Each track evokes a wave of nostalgia to older generations while simultaneously setting an intense tone for the battles. Likewise, the little jingles are perfect and I don't think I'll ever grow tired of hearing them. The entire art and sound teams over at Tribute has consistently shown that they know how to nail a theme. Curses 'N Chaos is an example of game purity. One screen, simple controls, and intense difficulty. There isn't much replayability outside of playing with new friends or going for a new high score, but just getting through all of the stages the first time will not be quick. For players who fancy a challenge, either solo or with a friend, Curses 'N Chaos is not one to miss. 
Curses N Chaos Review photo
Punches 'N Jump kicks
I've played Curses 'N Chaos at two consecutive PAX conventions, and have come away impressed each time. Part of it was due to their show floor setup of giant arcade cabinets. However, the biggest draw of the game was its...

3D Streets of Rage 2 is a return to classic brawler action

Jul 22 // Alessandro Fillari
Released back in 1992, Streets of Rage 2, called Bare Knuckle II in Japan, was an immediate hit with Genesis owners and still stands as a favorite among beat-'em-up fans to this day. Set a year after the events of the first game, our street-fighting brawlers have to take back control after the sprawling criminal empire the Syndicate kidnapps one of their allies and plunges the city into chaos. Teaming up with pro-wrestler Max, and a young rollerblading brawler names Skate (the brother of SoR1's Adam), Axel and Blaze have to scour the city while scrapping with vicious thugs that work for the ever-elusive Mr. X. I spent many hours with Streets of Rage 2 when I was a kid, and the flashy neon lights and bombastic atmosphere -- along with Yuzo Koshiro's bumping synth score -- are imprinted in my memories of those glorious Genesis days. Surprisingly, there's a strong focus on plot in these titles. While most beat-'em-ups settle for the save X from Y plot and call it a day, SoR goes a bit beyond that by wrangling in government conspiracy and even throwing in some crazy sci-fi angles. Though the narrative is pretty much on par with B-level action movies, it still goes a long way with setting the tone and atmosphere. While there was another follow up with SoR3, the second game is my favorite and holds up remarkably well. Fortunately for us fans, Sega agrees and it's since been ported over to many different platforms, including Xbox Live, PlayStation Network, and even iOS. However, with its upcoming release on the 3DS, this marks the first time you'll be able to play the game in 3D. "Streets of Rage 2 was the most popular of the three games in the series, so we actually had 2 slated as a conversion candidate from the very beginning," stated producer Yosuke Okunari. "However, when we first starting the development on these games, there were technical issues around getting this game into 3D, and it was deemed an impossible task so we gave up on it. If you've spent time playing the game, you've probably noticed that these sorts of side-scrolling beat-'em-ups are extremely well-suited for stereoscopic 3D (we actually call them 'belt action' games in Japanese because it's like being on a conveyor belt). The benefit of being able to visually confirm that you are lined up with your enemy and thus avoiding whiffing is huge." Coming off the original, the sequel featured a number of innovations and upgrades that made it stand apart from its predecessor. Aside from the obvious visual upgrade, which features sharper graphics and more detailed environments and character designs, the combat mechanics were greatly expanded to include new character-specific moves and super attacks. While I'm sure there were many who missed the police backup from the original, the focus on character diversity and growth was what made Streets of Rage 2 a true upgrade. During their work on the original's 3D remaster, the developers overcame the challenges of translating the unique visual style to bring over its sequel. "The graphics in these games were not like modern 3D, so there's a lot of pseudo-3D going on [referring to the diagonal side-scrolling stages], and when you take that and apply real stereoscopic 3D to it, you get conflicting visuals. So at the time, we thought we wouldn't be able to get the game into 3D," explained Okunari. "That said, because we were able to get the first game in the series into 3D, the staff's ability and know-how around 3D conversions saw huge improvements, and we found ways to work around these sorts of conflicting situations, and thus making the project a reality." After several playthroughs with the 3D remaster, I was impressed with the quality of the port. I can assure you that the pictures do not do the game justice. The side-scrolling visuals really pop with the 3D enabled, and many of the animations and action sequences feel more pronounced. The visuals on the 3DS feel sharp and with no slowdown or loss performance, which is great for when things get really hectic. While the game is largely as it was, gameplay feels just as precise as it was back in its heyday on the Genesis. It's a true testament to the design of the game, and it feels right at home on the handheld. As with the other 3D Classic releases, Sega has decided to do fans one better with the addition of new gameplay modes. In 3D SoR2, players can now experience the new mode called Rage Relay, which gets people playing as other characters during their run. Upon death, your starting character will switch over to the next one from the roster. For instance, if you start out playing with Axel and you get taken during a tough encounter, then you'll switch over to Max upon respawn. Initially, I found it to be a pretty odd gimmick, but I'll admit it came in handy during tough bosses or enemies which called for a bit more brute force. The developers included this optional mode as a way to encourage trying out the other characters after noticing how often players would stick with their favorites. "The original development team that worked on SoR2 was heavily influenced by Street Fighter II when making this game, so rather than a normal beat-'em-up, they really wanted each character to have their own feel, so each character has a very unique play style associated with them," said the producer. "However, unlike competitive fighting games, people tend to only play with the character the choose first for beat-'em-ups, and we didn't think most people strayed from that initial choice. There's four characters here, each with their own play style, so we wanted to make sure every character got a shot and make it interesting by giving players a chance to try characters they didn't really used back in the Genesis era. Our answer to this was Rage Relay." To say I had a great time with 3D SoR2 would be an understatement. I was pretty damn happy with how this remaster turned out. Not only do the new features help liven up the experience, the core gameplay still shows that simple beat-stuff-up action can be a ton of fun. And with local play available, you'll be able to team up with friends to take down Mr. X. With its release approaching, I can tell that many fans of Streets of Rage 2 will feel right at home with the 3D remaster. Not only has this title held up well, but it makes some impeccable use of the 3DS hardware. Once you fire up the game, and Koshiro's synth score reverberates through the opening title crawl, you'll be hooked. It's a total blast from the past, and it'll get your adrenaline pumping in no time.
Sega 3D Classics photo
Taking back the streets on July 23
Growing up, one of my favorite genres was the side-scrolling beat-'em-up. From Final Fight to Double Dragon, I was quite fond of the action found in traveling through different stages and kicking the asses of gang members and...

Super Dungeon Bros plays like garbage, with humor to match

Jun 25 // Mike Cosimano
Super Dungeon Bros takes place in Rökheim. There are four rock-themed brothers: Axl, the angry one; Freddie, the one who knows no fear; Lars, the one who keeps saying 'love' ad infinitum; and Ozzie AKA Michelangelo From TMNT, But A Rock This Time. I had to look up this information on the provided fact sheet, because the 'bros' are not characters. They have a "thing" and that "thing" is drilled into your skull like a well-placed icepick at an Italian dinner party gone wrong. Here's an example: when the party encounters some enemies, Lars can say "Careful, they've lost that lovin' feeling." This is the patent pending "Bro Banter" system, controlled by the player via the d-pad. Now, imagine hearing this line dozens of times over the course of a single dungeon run. It's a joke that would be right on the edge of amusing...if told once. And that's not even the worst of it! Ozzie's catchphrase is "That's what she said," a phrase I literally have not heard in years. When this was presented to me, I had to check my calendar to make sure I had not been trapped in some kind of 2011-centric time vortex. The Bro Banter system is supposedly reactive -- you can respond to banter from your compatriots with banter of your own, but I never got it to work organically during my play session. I did manage to get a confirmation that more recorded lines would be coming. Although I wouldn't get my hopes up for that, considering the fact that somebody told somebody else that recording a line from everyone's collective middle school experience and putting it in the game was a good idea. Playing the game is on the same level as the writing; it's bad. The characters are floaty and unresponsive, it feels like you're controlling an invisible character pushing the player character around. And the combat is somehow worse. The heavy attacks and the light attacks feel almost indistinguishable. I also found myself struggling with the controls more often than I'd care to admit in mixed company. It's not that the game is complex, it's just flat -- like a can of soda left out in the sun. The enemies feel same-y, both in terms of design and attacks. What separates an ice giant from a small goblin? Not much aside from their health bars. And when the weapons feel so inefficient, that larger health bar can be a real nuisance. Some of the loot in the full game could potentially mitigate this issue, but the game still has fundamental control issues. Maybe it was that 'last day of E3 funk', but the action made me want to take a nap. In order to complete 100% of the game, players will have to spend about 100 hours of their time with Super Dungeon Bros, which feels like a threat. The game plays terribly, and it's not amusing. Yes, it has couch co-op, but so does the excellent Diablo 3 console port. There are funnier games, there are better brawlers, there are more engaging couch multiplayer titles, there are more rewarding dungeon crawlers. Just because Super Dungeon Bros comprises all of those elements doesn't mean any of them work.
Super Dungeon Bros photo
Keep that dungeon locked
Unnecessary negativity is a blight, especially for writers. It can poison the mind and alienate the reader; a cancerous state of mind that serves nobody. Personally, I try and avoid it whenever possible. That mentality does m...

Mother Russia Bleeds is a brutal throwback to classic brawlers

Jun 19 // Alessandro Fillari
Set in an alternate universe where the USSR has been crippled with crime and drug abuse, leaving society in an ever-present dystopian fugue-state, a group of street fighters take it upon themselves to fight back against the criminal element. Addicted to mysterious drugs in syringes that enhance their abilities, they'll have to use their skills to take down the Russian mafia, the powerful government, and a secret society of sexual deviants to exact revenge on those that have laid waste to the motherland. While the plot is pretty standard for a beat-'em-up, the story gets damn dark throughout. What's interesting is that you're not necessarily a good guy -- just a lesser shade of grey roaming the streets. The presentation does a great job of pulling you into this twisted world. Much like Hotline Miami, it uses dark and hypnotic lights to set the tone, and also manages to mess with your head. There were several points where I really tripped by the visual style. And I mean that as a good thing. The style is trance-like, and once it gets you, it doesn't let go. Much like the classic titles Mother Russia Bleeds pays homage too, its controls are largely easy to get into and remember. With a combination of heavy and light attacks, including grab and dash moves, you'll be able to take out the various enemies trying to rush you down. You'll also find weapons and gear in the field, such as bats, guns, and bar stools. Moreover, each character possesses their own moveset and stats. Out of the three characters available, I chose Boris, a seemingly homeless brawler with serious speed. With his moves, I made quick work of the mobs. Oddly enough, friendly fire was enabled by default, which made battles hectic but also irritating. Thankfully, you can turn it off (unless you're in need of an extra challenge). With that said, there are a number of cool additions to the traditional mechanics. The syringes that the fighters possess grant them buffs for periods of time. When used, the screen turns dark and the fighter on his high will gain super speed and increased strength. Also, they get access to a unique fatality, which instantly kills one enemy. They're brutal and satisfying to pull off, but you'll sacrifice the remainder of your buff period. Also, syringes are used to heal yourself and revive downed allies. Though if you're running on empty, you can sacrifice some of your own life to revive them. Playing Mother Russia Bleeds was a trippy experience. Though there were a number of odd quirks they'll have to iron out before released, I was very pleased with what I played. We also got a peek of some upcoming features outside of the story mode. Along with Boss Rush, challenge missions, Arena, and Versus play, the developers plan on giving the people the total package. I got the sense that this was made from folks that loved the genre, and with their aspirations to help revitalize the brawlers, I can say fans will find a lot to admire here.
Devolver Digital photo
Launches on PC, Mac, and PS4 in 2016
One of my favorite types of games from back in the day was the side-scrolling beat-'em-up. Though the sub-gene has sorta evolved into more standard and narrative-based action games, I still feel there's more to be done with t...

Japanese indie games! photo
Japanese indie games!

Playism is localizing doujin games for PS4, Vita

Astebreed, Croixleur Sigma, and more coming west in 2015
Apr 21
// Kyle MacGregor
Good news for fans of Japanese indie games: Playism is bringing its wares to consoles.  We've known this was happening for a while, but now it's official. The company has announced plans to localize a number of Japanese ...
Valkyrie Drive photo
Valkyrie Drive

Valkyrie Drive is Marvelous' next Senran Kagura

Kenichiro Takaki's latest looks like more of the same
Mar 30
// Kyle MacGregor
Marvelous recently announced Valkyrie Drive, a three-pronged multimedia project about teenage girls who can transform into weapons. Now that's taking objectification to a whole new level. In addition to an anime series a...
Senran Kagura photo
Senran Kagura

Senran Kagura sticks tongue through cheek with jiggling website, fake boob-based consoles

Fake fake-boob-based?
Mar 25
// Steven Hansen
We're a day away from Senran Kagura: Estival Versus' Japanese release on PS4 and Vita. I stumbled upon this page of the series' website, which is to say someone linked to it, gobsmacked, on Twitter, where I clicked on it and...

Review: Bladestorm: Nightmare

Mar 17 // Josh Tolentino
Bladestorm: Nightmare (Xbox One, PS4, PC, PS3 [reviewed])Developer: Omega ForcePublisher: Koei TecmoReleased: March 17, 2015MSRP: $59.99 (PS4/Xbox One), $49.99 (PS3) [Note: Screenshots used in this review are taken from the PS4 version of the game.] As an aside: this game, based on 2007's Bladestorm: The Hundred Years' War, is one of the weirdest choices anyone could've made when deciding on which games to add to the growing number of "remastered" titles popping up on current-generation consoles and PC. Despite initially generating excitement among the Dynasty Warriors-loving crowd as a long-desired European-themed entry to the franchise, the original game came and went without much comment. That was thanks to its odd-duck design, which even led Jim Sterling, a much bigger Warriors fan than yours truly, to call it a real-time strategy game in his review. I'm not quite as inclined towards that drastic recategorization, but ol' Jim does have a point: Bladestorm is, for good or ill, of a more thoughtful mind than most of Omega Force's  offerings. Indeed, whereas typical Warriors games take history's leaders and convert them into armies unto themselves, Bladestorm takes the player and molds him (or her) into a leader of their own squad of troops. If Dynasty Warriors is about being a human Cuisinart, Bladestorm attempts a wartime version of Katamari Damacy. More on that in a bit. [embed]289070:57824:0[/embed] Bladestorm: Nightmare comes with two main modes. "The Hundred Years' War" mode is essentially identical to the original 2007 release, aside from graphical/mechanical tweaks, and drops player-created mercenaries -- or "merthenaries" to hear the comically bad European-accented voice-acting say it -- on the battlefields of medieval France. There players can work for the French or English factions, supporting one or the other as pay and scruples dictate. They'll interact with luminaries of the era like Edward, the Black Prince, Philippe the Good, and Gilles de Rais, and participate in key engagements like the Battle of Crécy and the Siege of Calais.   The second mode, "Nightmare," is a more linear, scripted campaign set when a monster invasion interrupts the Hundred Years' War, forcing France, England, and the merthenaries they employ to ally against hordes of hellbeasts commanded by none other than Joan of Arc herself. Interestingly, though Nightmare mode is clearly designed to be played after finishing off The Hundred Years' war, players can switch between the two freely, with progression data like levels, money, equipped gear, and distributed skill points carrying over with virtually no restriction.  Graphically, Bladestorm works best on newer hardware. Aside from the added special effects and improved draw distance and environments, the frame-rate drops that I experienced on the PS3 are absent on the PS4 version. Additionally, the Nightmare campaign on PS3 is prone to drastic loss of frames as well, likely due to the much larger squad sizes and the hordes of monsters.  Both modes essentially boil down to an expansive form of territory control. Each of the battlefields is divided into numerous forts, towns, and castles defended by allied or enemy troops. Most missions ("contracts" in merthenary lingo), particularly in the more open-ended base campaign, will task players with conquering one or more settlements by killing off their defenders and beating their commanding officer. The bigger the settlement, the tougher the commanders, and some particularly large castles are basically defended by mini-boss enemies with distinct attack patterns. In Nightmare mode, those defenders can even include dragons, cyclopes, or grim reapers. Doing the killing involves taking command of a squad of troops. Though broken down roughly by weapon type, each soldier type is unique, with strengths, weaknesses, and a set of special attacks mapped to the face buttons. Players can pick up or drop squads they find in the field, or summon reinforcements directly. New to Bladestorm: Nightmare is the ability to create multiple squad leaders, commanding them separately via the battle map or attaching them to a personal unit as a bodyguard, ultimately allowing for up to 200 troops to move and act as a single unit, rolling everyone in the way (hence the Katamari analogy). This type of of structure provides Bladestorm with the same kind of dynamic as the typically more action-oriented Warriors games. Like in those titles, players in this game are often "fire-fighting," moving as quickly as possible between crisis zones, keeping scores and rewards up by plowing through everything along the way. Though ultimately shallow, Bladestorm's battle mechanics do lend the game an impressive sense of scale, particularly when playing as a cavalry leader. I must have done it hundreds of times in my hours with the game, but it never gets old to trigger a charge and flatten dozens of enemies under the hooves and lances of your soldiers. It also never gets old to watch horses slide across the ground like they are hovercrafts, a testament to how rough-hewn the game can be at times. Balance issues are also a concern, as properly leveled cavalry units basically trivialize the whole game except at the highest difficulty levels. I'd actually be more mad that cavalry are so overpowered if they weren't already the most fun class to play, but that's neither here nor there. Bladestorm: Nightmare isn't a Dynasty Warriors game, but it doesn't aim to be, and still ends up being good time when taken on its own merits. In fact, it's a little ironic that its unusual qualities doomed the original release commercially, but help this new release feel much more fresh and engaging than even the latest "core" franchise entries. [This review is based on a digital copy of the game provided by the publisher.]
Bladestorm review photo
Merthenary Lyfe
Bladestorm: Nightmare is not a Dynasty Warriors game. That bit of information might be good or bad news, depending which side of the fence one falls on with regard to Tecmo Koei's long-running brawler series. At the same...

Senran Kagura 2 photo
Senran Kagura 2

Senran Kagura 2 bounces westward this summer

Kenichiro Takaki continues to wrap the world in happy boobs
Mar 10
// Kyle MacGregor
Once upon a time, XSEED seemed pretty cagey about publishing the Senran Kagura games. Nowadays the plucky localization studio can't seem to bring the danged things over fast enough. Yes, you probably read the headline where ...
Toto Temple Deluxe photo
Toto Temple Deluxe

Headbutting for goats in Toto Temple Deluxe!

Mar 09
// Caitlin Cooke
For better or worse, sometimes you just have a hankerin’ to steal a goat. Those of us at PAX East with said craving headed over to Toto Temple Deluxe, which delivered goat-stealing gameplay in a fast-paced keep-away bra...

Warhammer: End Times - Vermintide goes all in with hectic co-op action

Mar 03 // Alessandro Fillari
Set during The End Times, Warhammer's take on the apocalypse, the world has been plunged into chaos as war breaks out, forcing the many factions and groups to take up arms and fight back. Set within the city of Ubersreik, five heroes must defend the massive metropolis from the hordes of Skaven, a race of quasi-rat creatures, that wish to sack one of the remaining bastions of the world. As a co-op action brawler, players will be able to select a class of hero and take them through several stages throughout Ubersreik. Each with their own weapons and abilities, the characters feel unique from one another. Some classes can jump into the fray, while others might be better off at a distance. The four classes that have been announced so far -- the Witch-Hunter, Imperial Soldier, Wood Elf, and Pyromage -- have an individualized backstory and arc, which unfolds as you move across the city. During my session, I got to play as the Soldier and Wood Elf, and each had their own banter and point of view regarding the End Times. [embed]288516:57596:0[/embed] In case you haven't quite picked up on it, Vermintide channels a lot of Left 4 Dead, which is actually a really good thing. Gameplay-wise, players will travel from one end of the level to other while using melee and ranged abilities to fight off waves of foes and complete objectives -- and on a narrative level, the story happens in real time. While on one hand it feels a bit more subdued and smaller in scale than what Warhammer tends to dabble in, the focus on these characters in such a smaller setting creates a greater connection to them, which was also one of Left 4 Dead's greatest strengths. I'm looking forward to exploring the city with these characters, some of whom don't seem to get along that well. As you travel though the city, you'll come across many different variations of Skaven that seek to eliminate those remaining in Ubersreik.  Often times you will come across the common types, which can be killed with a single blow but can easily overwhelm; there are tougher variants, such as the gatling rat and heavy-armor Skaven, and rats wielding poison bombs that aim to separate your group. What's impressive about these encounters is that the A.I. will randomly spawn enemies and special hordes. During my two rounds of play, the types of encounters were different, and we even got ambushed much earlier than expected. This dynamic aspect of Vermintide is very interesting, and will definitely keep repeated play exciting. As you clear levels, you'll be able to acquire loot for your characters, such as new weapons and trinkets. Each class has their own type of drops, which encourages experimentation. If you're especially adventurous, replaying stages on higher difficulties will lead to much greater rewards -- though be warned that the encounters are much more perilous and the foes are far more cunning. It's refreshing to experience a Warhammer game with a deep focus on action. While the strategy and online games were fun, I always kinda wanted a game set in the universe that allowed you to get up close and personal. Though there's definitely still much work to be done here -- what I played was in pre-alpha -- there is certainly lot for Games Workshop fans to look forward to in Vermintide.
GDC 2015 photo
Warhammer: Apocalypse Edition
I've long been an admirer of the Warhammer franchise. While a lot of people seem to put more of their attention towards the 40K universe, the high-fantasy setting of the former is so rich and features such...

Fatal Fury Final photo
Fatal Fury Final

Fatal Fury Final, a fanmade beat-'em-up, is now out on PC

For free of course
Feb 20
// Chris Carter
As we all know, Fatal Fury started off as a traditional fighting game in 1991. But over the years the cast has seem some genre crossover, even into the shoot-'em-up arena with one of my personal favorites, KOF Sky ...
Brawlhalla beta keys photo
This game looks nuts
Destructoid has partnered with our friends at Blue Mammoth Games to give away a TON of closed beta keys for their upcoming brawler Brawlhalla! Brawlhalla is a super fun, fast-paced, 2D platform brawler for the PC where champ...

ZHeros photo

ZHeros looks like a pretty neat robotic brawler

Coming to PS4, Xbox One, and PC
Jan 02
// Chris Carter
Developer Rimlight Studios is hard at work at a new brawler that looks deliciously oldschool. It's called ZHeros (yep, not Heroes) and it has a futuristic theme as well as a neat looking visual style. The announcement t...

Review: The Legend of Korra

Oct 21 // Chris Carter
The Legend of Korra (PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One [reviewed])Developer: Platinum GamesPublisher: ActivisionReleased: October 21, 2014 (PC, PS3, PS4) / October 22 (Xbox 360, Xbox One)MSRP: $14.99 For those of you who don't follow the Avatar/Korra cartoons, here's a quick refresher on what to expect. In the realm that Korra inhabits, there are four core elements: earth, air, fire, and water. Through rigorous training, benders can master any one of these, but the "Avatar," a living god-like entity who is reincarnated over time, can master all of them. Korra is one such Avatar. The game picks up in a strange spot having explained almost none of her backstory (outside of the aforementioned Avatar setup), and you're dropped into the action in Republic City right away. This is both a good and bad thing, depending on what you want out of Korra, as the story and any sort of real narrative takes a backseat throughout the adventure. Cartoon cutscenes are spliced in throughout, but they often last 30 seconds at most and serve as nothing more than quick, jarring transitions to the next area. The story plays out like a basic episode of the show. This time, the gimmick is that an evil seer has stripped Korra of her powers, and you'll have to earn each element back level by level. Every bending style has its own level system and sense of progression, and by the end you'll have everything at your disposal. [embed]282722:56009:0[/embed] Korra herself is a cool character, and tends to take a more hot-headed approach than Aang, the protagonist of the original Avatar series. She also has a pretty awesome friend in the form of Naga, a giant polar bear thing that you can ride during specific Temple Run-like sequences. Since the story bits are so short, you don't get to see a lot of Korra's personality, though. Like any Platinum game, the devil is in the gameplay details. You'll have light and heavy combos at your employ, as well as the power to use each element in tandem with one another -- water serves as a projectile of sorts, fire allows for quick melee blows, earth is slow but powerful, and air is more of an area-of-effect element. Korra can guard and counter (when guard is pressed at the right moment) for extra protection, as well as dodge when needed. All of this plays out like a "light" version of Platinum's previous games. Combos aren't as deep as the rest of the studio's action catalog, and while everything is rather smooth, you can often rely on the same few moves to earn success. It works as advertised though, and the game's visuals perfectly complement the smooth engine -- it really looks like the show. The game also tends to bank far too heavily on counters, which wouldn't be a bad thing if they weren't so finicky. For one boss in particular, anything outside of counters will do a pitiful amount of chip damage. The only problem is he randomly queues up some non-counterable attacks (lightning-themed abilities cannot be countered in general), and sometimes it can take a few minutes to get the "right" randomly generated counter move. It's not a huge deal considering these encounters only come around every so often. Each chapter is broken up by small hub worlds, which are connected to challenge rooms of sorts, putting up barriers to block your escape. There's not a lot of exploration -- mainly short hallways to locate elemental chests to break (some of which force you to replay levels with new powers). There's a small amount of platforming to master but not as much as I would have liked. Moderation is a recurring theme in Korra in that nothing is too frustrating, but nothing is too exciting, either. As you play you'll earn spirit energy, a form of currency used to buy health items and talismans from the shop. You won't need any of these items though, as normal mode is fairly straightforward in nature. Sadly, you'll have to complete the game on normal first before you unlock the Extreme difficulty. I get that it's a show aimed at younger audiences, but it would have been great to have the option to start there if you're a Platinum fan seeking a challenge. If you're keen on replaying the game there are a ton of unlocks, especially if you go back and try to find every elemental chest. There are also new costumes, including one for completing Extreme. One playthrough will last you around four hours over the game's eight chapters, and there's a "Pro-Bending" league to play afterwards with different rankings -- these are basically small arena-like encounters with special rules. At the end of the day, I wish The Legend of Korra was a fully-featured retail release. While Platinum has done a great job in terms of delivering a solid action romp, the jarring cutscenes and open-and-shut story leave little in terms of replay value. Avatar and Korra fans will likely rejoice at the fact that they're finally getting a decent game.
Legend of Korra review photo
A nice but brief romp with Korra and Naga
One of the biggest surprises of 2014 had to be the announcement of a Legend of Korra game, published by Activision and developed by Platinum Games. Yes, that Platinum Games -- the current master of action titles. It...

Croixleur PS4 photo
Croixleur PS4

Doujin brawler Croixleur Sigma coming to PS4

Devil May Cute returns! Again!
Sep 19
// Kyle MacGregor
Croixleur Sigma is coming to PlayStation 4, Playism announced this week at Tokyo Game Show.  "We're hoping we can get a western release out as soon as possible," Playism marketing manager and localization editor Nay...
Senran Kagura Vita photo
Senran Kagura Vita

Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus hits Vita next month

The ninjutsu showdown begins October 14
Sep 19
// Kyle MacGregor
Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus is cutting a trail to North America on October 14, XSEED Games announced today. The PlayStation Vita brawler will strike Europe the very next day. The story is a continuation of Senran Kagura Burst, wherein groups of teenage ninja girls fight one another with stuff like giant frogs and huge stacks of pancakes. You know, because reasons.
Warlocks photo

Warlocks takes its cooperative fantasy brawling to Kickstarter

Like Risk of Rain with magic and moonwalking
Sep 03
// Darren Nakamura
Risk of Rain was pretty cool, so anything that reminds me of that catches my attention. Warlocks looks to have a similar feel in some ways, bringing frantic 2D battles to a fantasy world. I typically shy away from fantasy in...
Akiba's Trip photo
Akiba's Trip

XSEED dates Akiba's Trip, confirms PS4 version

Coming to PS3/Vita in August and PS4 this holiday season
Jul 23
// Kyle MacGregor
XSEED plans to release the PlayStation 4 version of Akiba's Trip: Undead & Undressed in North America this holiday season, the publisher confirmed today. The PS3 and Vita iterations of the vampire-husking RPG brawler will launch on August 12.

I'm going to miss tripping in Super Smash Bros. 4

Jul 12 // Jonathan Holmes
[embed]277959:54854:0[/embed] Tripping (also know as prat falling) was a new aspect of the Smash Bros. gameplay system added with Brawl, the third game in the series. When playing on solid ground (meaning not on ice or wet ground) you have a 1/100 chance of falling every time you go from a still position to a dash or a roll. Chances of tripping increase on ice and wetness. There are also attacks specifically designed to make others trip. After tripping, you'll remain vulnerable to attack for half a second.  This was enough to enrage many Smash Bros. fans. They took the inclusion of this mechanic as a personal attack -- as an intentional move to get them to enjoy Brawl less than other games. It wasn't the only reason they were upset with the game. Compared to Melee, the characters in Brawl generally move a little slower and have longer hang times after jumping. Throw tripping on top of all that, and it was just too much. This is despite the fact that most human beings wouldn't be able to see the difference in how the games play unless presented with a head to head comparison. Even then they may not be able to see it. Unless you're accustomed to the lightning fast pace of competitive Melee play, the differences may be undetectable.  [embed]277959:54855:0[/embed] So if the differences are minor, and tripping is a rarity, why did Brawl cause Melee devotees to feel so robbed? It's because contrary to what many may think, the core appeal of the series isn't watching a bunch of  Nintendo characters hit each other into space and then explode. The thing that really makes playing Smash Bros, particularly Melee, feel different than other fighting games is the absurd level of control that it allows you to take over your character.  Smash Bros. was created by Masahiro Sakurai. He also created Kirby, a series that was designed to be the philosophical opposite of Super Mario Bros. when it it comes to control and empowerment. Where Mario has to constantly weigh the rewards of running (increased jump distance and speed towards the end of the course) with the risks that come with it (decreased character control and potential to speed into a deathtrap), Kirby allows the player to move their character almost anywhere they want at all times, and at little cost. Kirby doesn't have to worry about getting a running start and jumping over the giant pit at the very last second. He'll just fly over the thing, with the spirit of "whatever" firmly planted on his face as he floats on by. Go up against an enemy that has an ability greater than yours? No need to cautiously approach and wait for just the right time to attack. Just swallow them whole and you're done. Just don't forget to make that "whatever" face. It's so alpha.  [embed]277959:54856:0[/embed] Smash Bros takes that "go anywhere, do anything anytime" edict and applies it to the fighting game genre. Every character has at least two jumps, can block in the air, and advance with invincibility while rolling. Almost all fighters have projectiles, attacks that strike in two or more directions at once, or help them to travel vertically to help them recover after a jump (or two). In Melee, there are even unintended abuses of the system (like L-canceling) that allow for even greater levels of power and safety. This is all without the prerequisite complex stick and button combinations that most fighting games require you perform before you do anything "special." Like in Kirby, Smash Bros. allows you to do the most amazing things without really trying.  When every character in a fighter has this many abilities, the game becomes not so much what strategies you choose, but how fast and efficient you are in implementing them. This eventually turned most high level Smash Bros. Melee play into a race to get in there then start a poke and fake routine until your opponent makes a mistake. Any sort of long distance game, alternating between closing in and backing off, or anything but fast, short range normal attacks has been mostly thrown out the window. The most statistically successful and commonly used characters (Fox, Sheik, Captain Falcon) all are all about speed and risk reduction, making the game a contest of reflexes and dexterity more than anything else. To put it bluntly, competitive Melee has become a game that attracts impatient control freaks who want full authority over their player character and their opponent at all times, leaving nothing to chance and no time to wait and see how a situation will unfold. [embed]277959:54857:0[/embed] This is why the inclusion of tripping in Smash Bros Brawl felt like a slap in the face to them. The idea of having a 1/100 chance of being vulnerable and out of control for even a split second is the exact opposite of what they wanted. In part due to fear of tripping, play-style culture in Brawl quickly became geared towards the static and defensive. Chatter in competitive circles told of horror story loses due to tripping. Videos of comically tragic trip fails spread across Youtube. The consensus began to preach that if you wanted to maximize your chances of winning at Brawl, you has to minimize your chance of tripping by dashing as little as possible. This lead the most dedicated Brawl players to master the art of playing defensively, while the majority of Smash Bros die-hard community just played Melee.  This return to the familiar happens in fighting games a lot. Time spent learning new characters and mechanics means time spent losing to less adventurous players who stick with the standbys. When Street Fighter 3: The New Challengers  [Edit: The game is actually called Street Fighter 3: New Generation. Error fixed. My apologies] (another game shunned for not rewarding aggressive players enough) was first released, it had replaced the entire cast of Street Fighter 2 with (you guessed it) new challengers, except for series mainstays Ken and Ryu. What Capcom and the fighting game community discovered is that most players cared more about winning than experiencing something new. Most Street Fighter 3 players played it safe and stuck with Ken or Ryu, robbing themselves of most of the new content that Capcom had dished up for them. The same is true today. Even on home consoles, where you don't have to worry about losing a quarter or two when you lose, Ken and Ryu are still the most played characters in the Street Fighter series across the board.  Tripping doesn't fit in a culture that values winning and being in control over experiencing new things and overcoming new problems. This is why I love it. Tripping forces the players and the spectators to remain on the edge of their seats all the time, watching and wondering if something "unfair" is about to happen, and what that will lead to. Tripping just means you can't just follow a series of recipes from the "How to win at Smash Bros" cookbook. It means you have to be ready for anything.  [embed]277959:54858:0[/embed] In Brawl, every dash is a test of character, a display of willingness to play the odds. That kind of acceptance of random elements is what elevates a game to a sport. When a pitcher stands on the mound, or the batter steps up to the plate, they aren't going to back down because there is a chance that wind, rain, or other random environmental variables may cause an "unfair" loss of control. If a fighter in the UFC accidentally slips on his or his opponents spit/sweat/blood, he or she wont demand that the rules of the game be changed so that "tripping is taken out". They're willing to face the fact that in sports and in real life, some amount of chaos and discomfort is inevitable. It's their love of the game and their passion for self improvement that pushes them to face their fear of the unknown.  Truly passionate athletes are playing more against themselves and less against their physical opponents. They know that losing is just an idea. The real game is in their own minds. Winning is maintaining optimism no matter the hardship, and achieving by your own standards, not just by the standards of a scoreboard. Losing "unfairly" just drives them to try harder, to plan their next game where they'll set the record straight. Real athletes don't quit a game just because they might trip. [embed]277959:54861:0[/embed]  That's part of why I'm sad that tripping has been reportedly removed from Smash Bros for the Wii U and the 3DS. While I respect that decision, I feel it would have been better to give players the decision to turn it on or off, or better yet, have the option to make the frequency of tripping even more likely. A game where 1/50, or even 1/5 dashes lead to a trip would be an exciting, hilarious decent into barbarism.  Even better than that would be a mode that punishes players for attacking an opponent after they've taken a random fall. We instituted a system like this back at my local arcade when Street Fighter 2 was new. Everyone who played in our town knew each other, and we all agreed that throws were against our rules, as they were "too cheap". If you accidentally threw your opponent, you would willingly agree to take your hands off the stick and the buttons and count to "three Mississippi" as a penalty. It may be hard to imagine that kind of sportsmanship in today's world of online rage quitting and near constant anonymous trash talk, but that's the way it was.  [embed]277959:54862:0[/embed] To have those kinds of rules built into the next Smash Bros could make for an extremely interesting dynamic. If you take a "cheap" hit on an opponent and a red or yellow card is thrown in, you're going to have to face consequences. Maybe the player who was fouled on would get a free Smash Ball attack in compensation, or worse, the offending player may be removed from the game. In Ice Hockey (both in real life and on the NES), those kinds of risks are taken regularly, sometimes as part of a larger strategy. It may be smarter to take out a particularly opposing player with a cheap shot, even if it means being taking out of the game with them. That kind of thing is a lot grosser in real life, as it's real people getting physically assaulted, but in Smash Bros, it's just a relatively harmless foray into calculated crime and punishment.  These types of risk vs. reward, self preservation vs. sacrifice, ethical vs. practical, law vs. chaos conflicts happen in sports all the time. That differs from eSports, where every effort is usually made to remove variables that detract from overall "fairness". I'd argue that valuing "fairness" too much only works to make games feel fake. All games, including sports, are based on the way we naturally order our lives. Consciously or subconsciously, we all conceive of arbitrary win states to strive for and rules to follow in order to make those wins "fair." We assess our capacity and our worth by our ability to obtain those wins "fairly." What makes that experience feel "real" is balancing those fixed rules and goals again the mushy, inconsistent nature of existence. Living things are not a series of ones and zeros. We're all amorphous, ever-shifting blobs, whether we like it or not. [embed]277959:54859:0[/embed] Personally, I prefer games that give me the opportunity to safely practice dealing with a flawed, unfair world and an even more flawed, fallible person (myself) than games that work to provide a perfect fantasy where I have total control and predictability. If that's what I was looking for, I'd just play Checkers. It's got the best balance, responsive controls, and is 100% free of unfairness. That's exactly why it's so boring. 
Smash Bros.  photo
Also, some Melee bouts from EVO 2014
[Art by Fallen Party] [Update: Some of you are pretty upset about the article! Sorry about that. Also, a few people pointed out a couple of mistakes I made. First, I wrote that you can block in the air in Smash Bros. Looks li...

Senran Kagura 2 photo
Senran Kagura 2

Senran Kagura 2 trailer sure is very Senran Kagura

That ground-pound also sure is something
Jul 05
// Kyle MacGregor
Marvelous is keeping its cheeky money-printing machine going strong with Senran Kagura 2: Deep Crimson. The latest effort from self-proclaimed "huge boob producer" Kenichiro Takaki is due to be unleashed in Japan starti...

Kyoto Wild is a quick but thoughtful Bushido brawler

Jun 20 // Brett Makedonski
The premise is simple. Each player tries to get to five kills. Once they hit that mark, they turn gold. After they turn gold, they must be the last player standing in a round to win the game. Upon winning, they grow to become a giant gold figure for just a few seconds to really rub in the achievement. The demo that we saw was a bit pared down from what Diefenbach projects for the final game. In our build, there were three maps on a constant rotation and swords were the only available weapon. When Kyoto Wild releases, every single respawn will equip players with a new set of weapons (such as rakes, knives, and paper fans), and each one will control differently. Although we only got to use swords, it did a fine job of showing off how Kyoto Wild won't just reward players that dash in and melee as quick as they can. There's a pronounced pause with every swing that ever so briefly opens the attacker up for an easy kill if he's reckless or just unlucky. That, combined with the prospect of being hit with a projectile, create an atmosphere where you never feel safe until you've won the round. The fact that Diefenbach hasn't put a ton of time into Kyoto Wild yet shows. Right now, it's a bit bulky with regard to the controls. It's the subtle weight that wouldn't matter much in most genres of games, but it's notable and makes all the difference in a Bushido brawler. Despite some roughness, I had a great time playing Kyoto Wild. Upon ending each match, it was only a matter of seconds until someone fired up a new one to everyone's delight. Once it's polished, it'll be a fine brawler -- the kind you and your friends can use to declare supremacy over one another over and over again.
Kyoto Wild preview photo
Murder, rinse, repeat
Teddy Diefenbach is a busy guy. He's one of the developers on the high-profile indie title Hyper Light Drifter, but when he isn't doing that, he's making more games. Kyoto Wild is his side-project, and Diefenbach says he...

Guacamelee! photo

Guacamelee! coming to Wii U, PS4, Xbox One, and Xbox 360 in early July

With the bigger and better Super Turbo Championship Edition
Jun 19
// Jordan Devore
DrinkBox Studios' Guacamelee! was part brawler, part platformer, and loads of fun. Enough so that double dipping isn't entirely out of the question -- far from it! The game is coming to new platforms soon with an expanded ver...
Senran Kagura 2 photo
Senran Kagura 2

Marvelous AQL reveals new Senran Kagura 2 gals

Introducing Daidouji and Rin!
Jun 01
// Kyle MacGregor
Senran Kagura 2: Deep Crimson is coming to Japan on August 7, and I'm sure we'll see the Nintendo 3DS brawler here sooner or later. In the meantime, Marvelous AQL has unveiled a couple faces that will be joining the titl...
Akiba's Trip 2 photo
Akiba's Trip 2

Hashtag all filters: Akiba's Trip 2 has a weird editor on PS4

May 29
// Steven Hansen
Akiba's Trip 2 is being ported to PS4 in Japan in a couple months (we get it on PS3 and Vita in August) and Acquire has some videos full of swimsuits and bouncing breasts to show off (below). There's also a weird "visual editor" (above) that lets you change sky color and, for some reason, all color. I get the Instagram "vintage" filter, but what's with the EVERYTHING IS GREEN filter?
Akiba's Trip 2 photo
Akiba's Trip 2

Akiba's Trip 2 acquires a flashy PlayStation 4 trailer

But will XSEED publish it here?
May 13
// Kyle MacGregor
Akiba's Trip: Undead & Undressed is a game where you, erm, beat the clothes of vampires. You see, their skin is weak to sunlight, so forcibly removing their clothes makes perfect sense actually. Earlier this year, XSEED ...

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