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Path of Exile launches on Steam this month


1.0 update introduces new prestige class, PvP gameplay, and guilds!
Oct 04
// Alessandro Fillari
Over the past year, Path of Exile has made quite a name for itself. As one of the few and continually growing hardcore-focused action/RPG titles for PC players, Grinding Gear Games' uncompromising and open-ended playstyle has...

Review: Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures

Sep 26 // Tony Ponce
Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures (3DS, PC [reviewed], Wii U)Developer: FreakZone GamesPublisher: ScrewAttack GamesReleased: September 20, 2013 (PC) / 2014 (3DS, Wii U)MSRP: $14.99Rig: Intel Core i3-380M, 6GB of RAM, GeForce GT 425M, Windows 7 64-bit The games that the Nerd typically plays fall under one of three categories: otherwise decent games that feature relentless difficulty, average games with a number of very curious or backwards design choices, and outright festering ass. The last group is his main claim to fame, but for an official Nerd game to work, it would have to draw inspiration from all three categories while at the same time being enjoyable enough to play over prolonged periods. In other words, FreakZone had to take shit and simultaneously make it not shit. Quite the paradox, but one that FreakZone achieved quite handily. On the surface, Adventures is both an homage to and parody of the AVGN web series. The Nerd and his friends are sucked into the television and transported to Game Land, divided into eight levels inspired by the show's many themes. There is "Assholevania," a send-up of James Rolfe's own love for the Castlevania franchsie; "Beat It & Eat It," a puerile domain filled with the sights and sounds of Atari porn software like Custer's Revenge; "Blizzard of Balls," a wintry hell born out of the AVGN Christmas specials; and others. [embed]262392:50644:0[/embed] Long-time Nerd fans will note many nods and Easter eggs to the show's history in everything from the enemies and items to the obstacles and backgrounds. You consume Rolling Rock to refill health and acquire tokens to summon the Glitch Gremlin or Super Mecha Death Christ. You fly atop the board from Silver Surfer, go toe-to-toe with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and find Shit Pickle hiding in various locations. Then there's the final stage, a foul monument to one of the Nerd's most despised game companies. Several classic Nintendo games are also paid tribute. In the introductory level, you get instructed by Naggi, the green-hued cousin of Ocarina of Time's Navi, much to the Nerd's displeasure. The disappearing blocks from Mega Man and the giant goblin heads from Air Man's stage in Mega Man 2 feature prominently, as does Doom's Cacodemon, remade out of feces and appropriately dubbed "Cacademon." Even FreakZone's own MANOS is acknowledged with a boss battle pulled straight from that title. But what really gives Adventures the AVGN touch is the running commentary. Every so often, the Nerd will make some kind of rant or observation, although the fact that it's text-based makes it difficult to read during particularly harrowing platforming segments. Whenever you die, the Nerd will spout one of his famous curse-laden analogies (e.g. "This game is rotten fungus coming out of a badger's sphincter!") with keywords randomly generated from a pool of submissions from the game's Facebook page. The current pool isn't all that big, thus many phrases are repeated; perhaps ScrewAttack will continue to update the game with expanded word banks. All the references and potty humor in the world wouldn't be enough if the core game wasn't compelling. Thankfully, there is a solid quest beneath the surface dressing that even those completely unfamiliar with the Nerd's exploits would be able to enjoy. If you happened to have played MANOS, you'll notice that Adventures feels like an extension of that, with many shared elements and environmental hazards -- I wouldn't consider that a knock against this game, though. There's a classic "Nintendo hard" degree of challenge, but it's tempered by very solid controls and enough checkpoints and beer bottles to carry you towards the boss. Oh, and it's got a pretty bangin' soundtrack to keep your fighting spirit high! You begin the game as the Nerd with a multi-directional NES Zapper for a weapon, and careful searching will lead you to three additional party members -- Guitar Guy, who can run fast and shoot wave beams through walls; Mike, with a super high jump and the ability to spot destructible walls and invisible platforms; and Bullshit Man, who can double jump and lob extra powerful lumps of poo. Only by swapping characters on the fly and using their abilities can you reach formerly inaccessible areas filled with 1-ups, health, and weapon upgrades. You may even spot a few NPC cameos, like brentalfloss, Egoraptor, and our very own Jim Sterling and Mr. Destructoid! Every obstacle in the game operates on very simple patterns that can be observed from a distance before being approached. Spikes that emerge from the floor? Fire pillars or laser turrets that trigger at regular intervals? Maces that circle the bricks they are chained to? Just count the seconds and time your progress. Your mistakes are entirely your own. Naturally, the last level throws everything plus the kitchen sink at you at once, but that's what last levels are supposed to do. However, there is one persistent obstacle -- a skull-faced block that causes instant death upon touching -- that caused me great grief. Such blocks appear in clusters and typically blink in and out with the same rhythm as the disappearing blocks. They are everywhere, in every single level without fail, yet they always feel completely out of place. I mean, death blocks that kill you with a mere graze? What's up with that? In a way, death blocks are a quick and easy way to bump up a stage's difficulty without the need to create unique environmental hazards. Sounds rather creatively bereft, no? But if you were the Nerd, wouldn't such an obstacle become the focus of your rage and frustration, the breaking point after which righteous obscenities start flowing like wine? If the designers' goal was to put you in the Nerd's shoes, such an evil element would be necessary to trigger that transformation. Adventures is no insurmountable wall, but neither is it a welcome wagon. On Normal mode, you are given 30 lives and unlimited continues, which should allow anyone with enough drive to at least make it to the final boss within a couple of hours -- whether you can actually beat the final boss is another matter, the god-modding bastard. Beyond that are even tougher difficulty modes that prevent saving between levels and reduce your amount or health and retries. As a pseudo NES-era throwback, it nails the careful balance between cruel and inviting. As a tribute to the Nerd, it does a decent job covering his entire career, although repetitive dialog lessens the humorous impact on repeated playthroughs. As an authentic Nerd "experience"... well... your mileage may vary, but I'd like to think it is. Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures is not a cowa-fucking-piece-of-dog-shit, that's for certain!
AVGN Adventures review photo
He's gonna take you back to the past...
For years, James "Angry Video Game Nerd" Rolfe has suffered the worst that retro gaming could toss at him for the sake of your amusement. Why does he do it? Is he a masochist? Does the rage that burns inside with every sudden...

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.
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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.
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RISE FROM YOUR GRAVE!
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...

AVGN Adventures photo
AVGN Adventures

Add your own colorful phrases to AVGN Adventures


"This game is ______ ______ coming from a ______'s ______!"
Jul 02
// Tony Ponce
In my E3 preview of the upcoming comedy platformer Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures, I noted that each time you die a random Nerd phrase appears on screen. Fans of the Nerd's foul-mouthed escapades are quite familiar with the...
AVGN Adventures photo
AVGN Adventures

Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures ISN'T a sh*tload of f*ck


But it will make you curse your mother
Jun 13
// Tony Ponce
Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures is a game that wants you to curse at it. It wants you to flip out and go ballistic and yell at small children. It wants to give you the experience of being the Nerd in more ways than one. AVGN...
Circle Pad Pro mods photo
Circle Pad Pro mods

Check these 3DS Circle Pad Pro mods from Japan


Because monster hunting is serious gosh darn business
Apr 22
// Tony Ponce
Anybody test out the 3DS XL Circle Pad Pro yet? Is it the cat's knees and the bee's pajamas? How does it stack up to the original Circle Pad Pro? For a certain set of Japanese gamers, the stock devices are hella weaksauce. Mo...
Brain Age photo
Brain Age

Brain Age: Concentration Training makes you feel dumb


Your memory skills are pathetic
Apr 09
// Tony Ponce
The latest entry in Nintendo's line of brain training software, Brain Age: Concentration Training, released to practically no fanfare whatsoever back on February 10. I think it's safe to say that the "brain age" craze has lo...
BioShock Infinite photo
BioShock Infinite

How to play BioShock Infinite's 1999 mode from the start


Using the Konami code
Mar 26
// Jordan Devore
Those looking for a heightened sense of challenge from BioShock Infinite will want to give the game's 1999 Mode a look. Although most players will gain access to this difficulty option by clearing the game normally, it can al...
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Dwarf Fortress

Why there hasn't been a Kickstarter for Dwarf Fortress


The creator speaks
Mar 18
// Joshua Derocher
I've spent a lot of time over the past couple of weeks checking out random indie games from Kickstarter, like Mage's Initiation, and I've also been playing a lot of Dwarf Fortress. I started to wonder, "Why doesn't ...

Ex-Nintendo chairman Howard Lincoln had big brass balls

Mar 17 // Tony Ponce
If you've ever read David Sheff's Game Over, you would already be familiar with some of Lincoln's earliest success stories. One such tale was how Lincoln got revenge against Tengen and Atari Games for their unlicensed version of Tetris on the NES. Tengen had originally sued Nintendo for refusing to allow Tetris on home consoles. Lincoln noticed a loophole in Tengen's licensing terms with Tetris property holder Mirrorsoft, which he exploited in order to "steal" the rights to publish Tetris on consoles and handhelds, thereby forcing Tengen to recall all copies of its version already on shelves. Lincoln's thoughts on the situation? "We knew we had those bastards by the balls. We knew we were going to make a fortune on this product and they, in turn, were going to get kicked in the head." [embed]248932:47619:0[/embed] During the videogame violence Senate hearings -- sparked in part by the 1992's Mortal Kombat and resulting in the formation of the Entertainment Software Rating Board -- Lincoln took the opportunity to deflect focus away from Nintendo and onto SEGA and retailers that stocked SEGA product. In the above video clip, he held up the infamous SEGA CD title Night Trap as an example of an adult game directly sold to youths. SEGA was furious that Lincoln would be so petty and self-serving during a period when the entire industry needed to band together. Lincoln was not bothered, and he even wrote a poem directed towards then-SEGA president Tom Kalinske: "Dear Tom, Roses are red, violets are blue, so you had a bad day, boo hoo hoo hoo. All my best, Howard." When not getting on people's bad side, Lincoln was strengthening relationships with other third parties. He saw great potential in certain teams to provide the kind of Western software that Nintendo couldn't develop on its own, which led to partnerships with Rareware, Retro Studios, Silicon Nights, LucasArts, and DMA Design (now known as Rockstar North). He even convinced Electronic Arts to publish sports games on the N64. In case you've forgotten, EA had long been nervously opposed to developing on Nintendo hardware; in fact, EA sports titles were one of the big bullet points the Genesis initially had over the SNES. Lincoln would step down as chairman in 2000, and most of the other major players of Nintendo's "old guard" -- first NoA president Minoru Arakawa, executive VP Peter Main, and global Nintendo president Hiroshi Yamauchi -- departed by 2002. Many of Lincoln and old-school NoA's accomplishments have since dissolved, resulting in the different we see Nintendo today. Ms. Rogers strongly implies that the current management is to blame for all those partnerships going the wayside, but I personally think Nintendo was forced to change. It's a shame that Nintendo lost excellent talent, but you have to remember that the company wasn't exactly firing on all cylinders at the start of the century. That was a different age, and Nintendo couldn't be the rampaging bull it once was in this new generation. Nonetheless, we could use another guy like Howard Lincoln at the helm, someone who actively courts Western studios in a bid to expand Nintendo's library and actually succeed. Especially in the wake on publishers' continued refusal to bring any of their upcoming software to the Wii U, a little of the 80s shark mentality couldn't hurt. Howard Lincoln: Kicking Ass Before Reggie Came Along [Not Enough Shaders via NeoGAF]
Nintendo's brass balls photo
Nintendo of America used to be cutthroat and vengeful
The Nintendo of today is known for being quiet and humble, making conservative decisions, and doing its best not to intentionally piss potential third-party partners off. Most of the complaints directed at Nintendo's current ...

Review: Black Knight Sword

Dec 13 // Chris Carter
Black Knight Sword (PlayStation Network [reviewed], Xbox Live Arcade)Developer: Grasshopper Manufacture, Digital RealityPublisher: D3PublisherReleased: December 11, 2012MSRP: $9.99 / 800 Microsoft Points Black Knight Sword features a minimalistic story, which is really what you make of it, all the way up to the game's unfulfilling ending. Set behind the backdrop of a theater play, it combines this premise with platforming mechanics resembling linear old-school Castlevania titles. There are giant fire-breathing chickens, pig-motorcycle hybrid creatures, and a lot more I don't want to spoil here. Still, despite the addition of quite a few obvious oddities, it doesn't really feel unique. Everything on offer here, whether it's level design or gameplay mechanics, you've seen before. I don't know whether or not Grasshopper is losing that "Oh my God, it's Grasshopper -- I have to buy it on principle" effect, or if this is an isolated incident, but going in with lowered expectations for Black Knight Sword is probably a good idea. The art style, while not wholly original, does look pretty neat however, especially on-screen. The best way I can probably describe it is as the illegitimate lovechild of LittleBigPlanet, Rock of Ages, and Monty Python (that's a compliment, mind you!). The aptly named mysterious hero can attack, evade, double jump, and use magic, as well as utilize a charge attack, and a few other typical staples of the genre. Everything pretty much works as advertised, save one move: the evade mechanic, which is enacted by pressing down and jump. This counter-intuitive dodge method can be a problem, as you need this ability fairly often in higher difficulties, and the controls are so finicky that it's hard to perform consistently. I don't see why it couldn't have corresponded to a button like Symphony of the Night's back-dash, especially since so many buttons go entirely unused. Once you actually get a handle on the jumping physics, you'll have to do quite a bit of precision platforming. Truth be told, I didn't really think any of the platforming sequences were that difficult until one small section on the game's final stage. That's either a good or a bad thing, depending on what you want from the game, but I know a lot of people will most likely have trouble acclimating themselves to the sometimes floaty jumping system. Also, when the Black Knight attacks, he sort of thrusts, kind of like Sir Arthur in Ghosts'n Goblins, which may take some getting used to as well. But the controls aren't the only thing you may be at odds with. Since you're in a "play," a giant stage obscures a lot of the screen. You can use the right analog stick to move the camera around and view your surroundings, but this might not be enough to work around the annoyance. For me, it was fine. The ability to manipulate the camera while running and jumping was a godsend (and should be in a lot more games), but it still would have been nice to turn off the stage in subsequent playthroughs. Nearly every enemy drops hearts, which can be used in the game's shop. It gives an incentive to fight enemies, but odds are unless you're playing on the hard difficulty, you won't go out of your way to get them. The shop is pretty barebones, and isn't really needed outside of the crucial maximum health bonuses. It would have been neat to see the shop expanded, but sadly, like a lot of the rest of the game, it feels way too familiar and trite. Another strange design choice is the fact that there's no autosave function. If you want the game to remember your progress, you have to manually save -- and when you do, there's no notification that you were successful. I can imagine quite a few people glossing over this (as it's only briefly mentioned in the tutorial), and getting pissed off at the loss of progress. One major thing to factor into Black Knight Sword is the difficulty level, which harkens back to the days of yore, when 2D platformers were actually challenging. While it will probably give you a run for your money more than most contemporary platformers, you have to play it on hard to really get the feel of a true challenge. Provided you do that, you're in for a treat. For a $10 platformer, there's a decent amount of content to hold you through after you finish your first playthrough. There are easy, normal, and hard difficulty levels, as well as a number of collectibles, an Arcade mode, and a few Challenge missions. It took me about three hours to beat the game's five total levels, including the final "Dr. Wily-esque" re-boss stage. At the end of the day, there's not much to Black Knight Sword. It's a platformer, it's kind of weird, and it doesn't really do anything new. When I was finally finished with the game's controller-flingingly hard final boss, I kind of looked at the screen and went "Huh, that was nice." I guess I'm a little numb to Grasshopper's tendency to exploit the world of weird, but either way, I did enjoy my brief time on stage, and fans of old-school platformers should too.
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Gray, by Grasshopper standards
Within my first thirty minutes of playing Black Knight Sword, I encountered a menu option called "cat head grass," a giant mother eye that eats hearts, and severed skulls in a microwave oven that serve as health power-ups. Yep, this is definitely a Grasshopper Manufacture and Digital Reality joint.

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Jimquisition: Dumbing Down for the Filthy Casuals


Jimquisition happens every Monday!
Dec 10
// Jim Sterling
There are valid concerns with the "dumbing down" of our entertainment, but as with so many issues, there are just as many invalid ones. This is especially true when "inclusiveness" and "dumbing down" are seen as the same thi...
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Pat the NES Punk & brentalfloss channel their inner Queen


A Nintendohemian Rhapsody for charity
Oct 22
// Tony Ponce
[Update: Whoops! The actual NES marathon ended yesterday at 3 PM PST, but Pat is still accepting donations through his site until tomorrow.] Zealous NES collector Pat the NES Punk is holding a Child's Play charity that runs ...
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'Worst game ever' gets an awesome tribute/sequel


Sep 30
// Jonathan Holmes
Back in 1986, famous Japanese actor/director Beat Takeshi contributed to the design of a videogame. Legend has it that Takeshi did not have an affection for videogames at all (not unlike Jack Thompson), and in a half-intoxic...
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I Wanna Be the Guy: Gaiden is out and making adults cry


Jul 15
// Allistair Pinsof
The quasi-prequel to 2007's relentlessly difficult platformer I Wanna Be the Guy is finally released and ready for your *ahem* enjoyment. So, how hard is it? Considering I died 15 times in the first minute on the map screen, ...
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I Wanna Be the Guy: Gaiden to melt brains at EVO 2012


Jul 01
// Tony Ponce
Oh, sh*t. While discussing the Indie Showcase at the upcoming EVO, we failed to mention another little surprise that will be making an appearance. During the July 5 pre-show at 10 PM PST, I Wanna Be the Guy: Gaiden will be p...
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The return of Mr. Angry Eyes, Kid Icarus edition


Jan 17
// Tony Ponce
Masahiro Sakurai can't catch a break. The "angry eyes" curse that plagued the Kirby series seems to have followed him to Project Sora and rooted itself in Kid Icarus: Uprising. How dare he try to present a character who is cu...
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Badass! This Mega Man Zero sprite film is intense


Jan 09
// Tony Ponce
No, sir! Sprite films will never die! NEVER!!! What you see above is a re-imagining by YouTuber ultimatemaverickx of the final battle in Mega Man Zero 3. If you haven't played any of the Zero series, you'll probably be wonde...
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'Impossible' Famicom game Takeshi's Challenge translated


Dec 30
// Tony Ponce
Takeshi Kitano, Japan's most extreme eliminator, hates technology. Naturally, he was the best person to ask to help make a videogame. The result was Takeshi no Chousenjou (Takeshi's Challenge), a Famicom title that was nearl...
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Here's your dose of testosterone for the day


Dec 14
// Tony Ponce
I'm really starting to warm up to Fighterpedia. First came that comparison of South Town and Metro City, and now comes the manliest example of mighty manhood to ever make you question your lower confidence. We're talking EXPLOSIONS! PILE DRIVERS! MUSCLES! BACK DROPS! MORE EXPLOSIONS! Fighterpedia Episode 4: Ode to Grapplers: BALLAD OF THE BODY EXPLOSION [YouTube]
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Action Adventure World: The Game will stomp your bawls


Dec 13
// Tony Ponce
Back in July, I had a chance to chat with nerdcore rapper 8Bit Duane, and one of the things we brought up was the game he was co-creating. Action Adventure World: The Game was an opportunity for him to branch out in game dev...
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The Jimquisition: Hardcore Hypocrisy


Dec 05
// Jim Sterling
There are hardcore gamers out there so proud of their self-styled character trait that they shall defend it jealously. For indeed, it is they who get to judge whether or not others are worthy of being called gamers, it is th...
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NVIDIA puts out holiday GeForce GTX 560 Ti with 448 cores


Nov 30
// Daniel Starkey
For those of you looking to pick up a new graphics card this holiday season, NVIDIA is releasing a limited-edition high-end card: the GeForce GTX 560 Ti with 448 CUDA cores. The MSRP is $289, though that will vary based on ca...
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Dude, Zelda's controls don't work like... WHOA, DUDE!!!!!


Nov 23
// Tony Ponce
Chief, I know you're getting into the game, but I think you're taking the "immersion" bit a little too... HOLYFLYINGCHEEZUSWHATDAF*CK!?!?!? Skyward Sword is Serious Buisness [YouTube]
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The sad reality of Dark Souls


Nov 12
// Jeffrey Thiessen
I dreaded Dark Souls in the weeks before its release. I really did. This was mainly due to a couple of inescapable realities: 1) Demon’s Souls was probably the most mentally grueling experience of my life (grueling even...
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Zelda rap video features a gangsta Great Deku Tree


Nov 02
// Tony Ponce
What!? RAP!? Yes, rap. I like rap, so expect lots more rap from me in the future. YouTuber HIimRAWN has a history of making hardcore hip hop music videos based on videogames. His latest joint, "I'm Questing," takes Ocarina o...
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Play / ESCAPE \ and watch your weekend disappear


Sep 03
// Tony Ponce
It's Saturday, the start of Labor Day Weekend, and you don't have any plans. Rather than cry into a pint of Ben & Jerry's Phish Food, why don't you give this little Flash game a go? The hours will melt away. / ESCAPE \ is...

Preview: Dark Souls

Aug 31 // Wesley Ruscher
Dark Souls (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 [Previewed])Developer: From SoftwarePublisher: Namco Bandai GamesTo Be Released: October, 4 2011 My demonstration began with our protagonist slaying a sinister looking snake-man through the bars of a gate.  As the body fell to the ground, the next step was to see what loot could be scavenged from his body. With luck (well, I'm sure it was designed this way), a key was found and the gate opened. As the gate swung forth, we stepped out and found ourselves in -- what I was told -- was a location that many may never see in the game, Duke's Archive. Walking in to this massive Harry Potter-esque library, the sense of scale was intimidating. As I watched our hero slay more snake-like creatures who were equipped with sword and shield, an alarm sounded to alert more foes.  With the alarm tripped, the hero proceeded farther along the spiraling path to the top of the archive. At this point the snake-men were no longer interested in fighting our hero as they were too busy making a run for it. Even more menacing monsters soon appeared -- something the snake-men apparently wanted nothing to with -- large squid-like medusas. These slithering blue nightmares were just as punishing as you would expect, but then again this is the spiritual successor to Demon's Souls. As our hero fought fearlessly against the medusas, he quickly learned why the snake-men had been hightailing it out of the Duke's Archive. In one nimble lunge, the medusa-esque monster swooped up the hero and impaled him with a spike created from its body, before turning and hurling the valiant warrior off the staircase to his would-be death. Luckily for us, this demonstration was more of a showcase for one of the game’s mysterious locations that demonstrates how punishing Dark Souls can be to the untrained and impatient. As our hero fell to his death -- thanks to the power of a debug console -- he landed steadily on his feet to make the trek back up to the top of the archive. True to Dark Souls’ predecessor, Demon's Souls, never once did the game try to reach out and hold the player’s hand. The fact that we were searching this massive library was all the motivation needed to push forward, exploring wherever mystery and adventure lurked. As our hero made his way back up the spiraling pathway onscreen, I began discussing with the people at Namco Bandai about how Dark Souls is going to take the addictive passive multiplayer experience of its predecessor to the next level. Players can come to expect similar online systems from Demon's Souls still in place, but what has been added sounds truly astounding. Dark Souls incorporates what they call the "covenant system," a sort of guild-like structure that has players swearing allegiance by oath to God-like bosses they find in their travels. With allegiance sworn, the player will be bestowed with certain powers and/or attributes that will help them overcome the game's many perils. How this covenant system plays into multiplayer really depends on whom you've sworn allegiance to. When playing the game in its online state, players of the same allegiance will benefit from each other with what was only described as something truly sensational, the Miracle Resonance. How the Miracle Resonance works or what it actually does still remains a secret, as does much of Dark Souls, but isn't half the fun of the game discovering every last detail for yourself? Returning our focus back to the game, the hero finally made it to his destination -- the top of the archive -- where he was able to shut off the alarm. With the more imminent threat of the medusa creatures handled, the pursuit of exploration resumed. A key to a large gate had been discovered while in the Duke's Archive and our hero proceeded onward to unlock the mysteries behind it. With the large gate opened, more stairs paved the way ahead. Crystal stalactites could be seen covering the walls and ceilings as the hero pressed on, but unfortunately this is where the presentation ended -- well at least what I'm allowed to actually talk about. Let's just say that what I saw was pretty freaking awesome, though something I kind of wish I would have discovered on my own. Dark Souls looks to truly up the ante in every way from its spiritual predecessor. Bigger, more devious enemies and a true, living open world to explore -- which I was told was three times as large as Demon's Souls level-based world structures -- has me foaming at the mouth to get my hands on the final release. Oh, did I mention that I got to see the standard-price Collector's Edition of the game too? Anyone who picks the game up during its initial printing on both PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 will be treated to a steel case that contains the game, a special redemption code for some extra goodies, and a lavish art book. October 4 has never felt so far away...
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While many gamers’ attention this fall may be on a certain open-world action-RPG -- which is awesome according to Jim Sterling because it has "f*cking dragons" in it -- I myself can't be more excited for From Softw...

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Powerglove tears the Batman theme a new one


Jul 30
// Tony Ponce
Videogame power metal band Powerglove made Danny Elfman their b#tch with their cover of the 1989 Batman theme off last year's album Saturday Morning Apocalypse. In this new music video, they also teach an army of crabs and bats that it's not cool to attempt a hostile invasion of their mystical sky palace. Holy sh#t. [Thanks for the tip, Morris!]

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