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[Update: Contest closed! Winners have been picked!] Today's 25 Days of Giving tastes like BACON! You can thank the folks at Hothead for that as we're giving away The Baconing for Steam today! That's not all! We're also giving...

Review: The Baconing

Oct 19 // Darren Nakamura
The Baconing (Xbox Live Arcade [Reviewed], PlayStation Network, PC, Mac)Developer: Hothead GamesPublisher: Valcon GamesReleased: August 31, 2011MSRP: $14.99, 1200 MS PointsThe main conceit behind the DeathSpank series is that it marries Diablo-style loot-grabbing action RPG gameplay with a story that takes itself far less seriously. DeathSpank first debuted during the summer of 2010. The sequel, Thongs of Virtue, was released only two months later. Now, nearly a year later, Hothead continues the story of titular hero DeathSpank in The Baconing.While it seems odd that the title is simply The Baconing, it is at least tangentially relevant to the story. DeathSpank attempted to simultaneously wear the six Thongs of Virtue that were collected in the previous journey, which created an evil DeathSpank doppelganger. Naturally, the thongs would have to be destroyed, but the only things powerful enough to destroy a Thong of Virtue is a legendary Bacon Fire. Even then, the thongs are so powerful that one will extinguish a Bacon Fire, causing DeathSpank to find a Bacon Fire for each of the six thongs.Although the details are comical and irreverent, it is still a pretty standard RPG setup. Though players won't be searching for the six legendary crystals to seal the ultimate evil, it's mechanically indistinguishable; DeathSpank must visit six distinct areas and surmount some sort of challenge (typically in the form of a boss fight) to gain access to the area's Bacon Fire. Fortunately, the different environments themselves are varied enough to maintain interest. While the prologue has DeathSpank in a generically futuristic setting, his journey takes him to the inside of a computer, a theme park gone wrong, a seedy casino, and other seemingly disjointed but somehow cohesive locales.The visual style is unique, with pop-up books being the popularly cited influence. Many of the environmental elements are entirely flat, though they exist in a fully rendered 3D world. DeathSpank himself is a polygonal model, and throughout the journey his appearance will change as he equips new weapons and armor.As far as weapons and armor, there are plenty of different pieces of equipment to discover, though it's a fairly mindless affair. All melee weapons handle the same, so only the damage stat and element need be considered when choosing what to equip. One of the particularly smart systems implemented in the DeathSpank series is the grinder, which allows the player to instantly turn unwanted equipment into money, without having to return to a town, or even send a pet, a la Torchlight.Speaking of equipment, a lot of DeathSpank's charm can be found in the flavor text for weapons, armor, consumables, and other items. One small line was written for every obtainable item in the game, and some are worth a smirk or a chuckle. Combat in The Baconing appears shallow initially, but as the game progresses it becomes clear that simply running into a group of enemies and mashing buttons is a great way to take a quick trip to the last checkpoint. In order to be successful, a bit more finesse is required, with properly timed shielding and projectile reflection. Even so, fighting isn't particularly satisfying or varied; despite a host of different enemy types, most battles play out the same as the previous.Some weapons (and some enemy attacks) have an element associated with them, but it's rarely clear why certain enemies are susceptible or resistant to certain elements. By the time the on-screen prompts let the player know that his attack is ineffective, it's easier to just hit with a non-element weapon than to open up the menu and switch to a different element. While it's not a huge complaint, it does take away from having possible strategy involved.Cooperative play is still a bit disappointing, with no online play, and more egregiously, no transfer of stats, items, or experience to a friend's game.  The second player now has four different characters to choose from, but it is still the same unrewarding tagalong experience that was present since the original DeathSpank.For those who need to consider the cost-to-time ratio, The Baconing fares pretty well. For the now-standard $15 price, the game offers around eight to ten hours of gameplay. However, since most of the gameplay involves either average combat or walking between quests, the big determining factor for a potential buyer is how much he enjoys smacking things with sticks and then picking up dropped items. The sense of humor adds a nice touch to a typically stonefaced genre, but it won't be the element that compels players to play through the game.So, to bring it all back to where we began, you probably already know if you want The Baconing. It's the same DeathSpank gameplay with the same DeathSpank flavor in some new DeathSpank environments. Those who relished the first two games will likely find the same enjoyment in The Baconing, but those who grew bored of DeathSpank last year won't find anything different enough in this entry to justify it. Those with no preconceived notions about the series would do well to try out the demo and extrapolate that same experience to several more hours.
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The Baconing is the third DeathSpank game. I was tempted to end the review with that sentence, as it really contains all the information many would need to make an informed decision about it. It can be either a wholehearted r...

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Live show: Mash Tactics plays Baconing with producer


Sep 07
// Bill Zoeker
[Not sure what Mash Tactics is? I've included a clip from the most recent episode to show you just a glimpse of what you've been missing, you daft fool! You can see all of Destructoid's previously-aired live shows in our ...
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The DTOID Show: The gingers are coming!


Aug 31
// Tara Long
Well guys, PAX is officially over. Before I go submerge myself in a tub of ice cream and quietly sob myself to sleep, why don't we run down some juicy post-PAX news tidbits? First and most importantly, it looks like ginger F...

Preview: The Baconing

Aug 08 // John Speerbrecker
The Baconing (Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network, PC, Mac)Developer: Hothead GamesPublisher: Hothead GamesTo be released: 2011 Hothead Games asked their community for a title to the new game without divulging any information about it. The winner of the submission contest obviously has a thing for pork products of some type and hence, The Baconing was born. The title conveniently ties into the games storyline where our hero is bored from vanquishing too much and wonders what would happen if he would put on all six Thongs of Virtue (the powerful items from the previous game) at the same time. This attempt at bizarre fashion creates the monster in The Baconing known as the Anti-Spank. To stand a chance against this new menace, Deathspank will have to burn each of the Thongs in the five fires of bacon scattered around the world. Your journey will entail traveling a vast science-fiction world with inspiration from films such as Blade Runner and family home game Simon. So, the story sounds compelling enough -- who doesn't like magical thongs that can create your own personal nemesis, right? With the previous Deathspank games, the team admits that the gameplay did not hold up over the course of eight hours. Just an eight-hour button masher that you were finding yourself rushing through to get to the next scene, basically. One major fix with this is the improved AI that will now bring the fight to you instead of just standing around waiting for you to come and vanquish their faces.  In order to combat the new AI, which will overwhelm Deathspank in every direction, is his new shield charge that pushes enemies back. This will allow the player a chance to regroup and use different attacks such as his crossbow. There are seven different crossbow variations that are all chargeable to give you a stronger attack, much like the shield. The Baconing has quite a few puzzles to solve and you'll be able to decide on how to move forward. For example, in one puzzle, I had to make a rhyme with some monks to get a code to proceed into the next area. I could either choose to answer their riddles or simply kill them. To top it all off, there are also going to be seven unique Weapons of Justice which will be usable after defeating a certain amount of enemies. Other weapons include a chainsaw and my personal favorite, a laser-guided attack from fire-breathing dragons. The environments are all updated as well. In the last games, level design felt a little barren. Now they have added new set pieces to allow for a cover system where Deathspank can hide behind walls and barrels to plan his attack. There is also local co-op with a new character to the Deathspank world. Your co-op partner is Bob from Marketing and he is a freaking shark who uses a swordfish as a weapon! He might not be an integral part of the story, but he is a great addition to the world of The Baconing.  The environments in the game are as colorful and fun as the story. Along with the Spanktopia world which has the whole Blade Runner-future-slum feel, there are also ones that really add to the color of the narrative. There is the Forbidden Zone where we noticed elements from the game, Simon. You might also notice elements from Battlestar Galactica or Knight Rider here. Then there's the Forbidden Kingdom world where you will have to work with the Nuclear Family in order to restore order to their amusement park. In the park, you work with their mutant creation named Muto, the mutant mouse-type thing that resembles a certain superstar from Disney. The last area we visited was the glorious land known as Rainbows End. Of course, if you have rainbows, you have ... gangsta-ass leprechauns. In their musty old casino -- which resembles Atlantic City -- you must help them with some magical jobs to secure certain goods which will help you along with your quest to save the world. The inventory system has also been revamped to accommodate all the various items that are in the game and they have made it easier for you to organize your stuff. You will be able to quickly find what you are looking for instead of having to sift through hundreds of random items that you don't need to use. The Baconing is a revitalization of the Deathspank series. In this edition, every item, system and the design has been touched by the development team. The team at Hothead is really trying to give new and old players a nice sweaty thong wrapped in bacon, soaked in beer batter and deep fried to sink their teeth into. The game looks like it will be a hit and I can't wait to give this version a solid play-through or two.
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Much like the Rapture, the Quickening, and whatever other religious world changing event is coming, The Baconing is upon us and we must get our collective asses back into church and pray that our savior Deathspank can save us...

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Get Baconed with new The Baconing screenshots and info


Jul 14
// Victoria Medina
The team over at Hothead Games has been working on another game featuring our favorite Spanker of Death, this one dubbed The Baconing. New screenshots and character information have been released for the upcoming title, inclu...
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The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy coming from Hothead


May 25
// Conrad Zimmerman
Finally, the most wholly remarkable book ever to come out of the great publishing corporations of Ursa Minor represented in a digital leisure activity (again)! Hothead Games has announced today that they are developing a game...
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The 'Unconcluded Conundrum' of Swarmites


Mar 10
// Conrad Zimmerman
Hothead scores my enduring affection once more with their latest promotional video for Swarm, coming to Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network later this month. Unsolved Mysteries was a staple program in my family's w...

Swarm will warm its way into your heart

Jan 20 // Tara Long
Swarm (XBLA / PSN) Developer: Hothead Games Publisher: Ignition Entertainment To be released: Early 2011 The story goes like this: A swarm of 50 creatures, or “Swarmites” as they’re called, awaken on a desolate, war-torn planet with no signs of life for miles. Suddenly, a umbilical-like appendage bursts out of the ground and sucks you inside. It’s your mother. She has a task for you, and that's to collect enough DNA to ensure that at least one of your race survives. This involves traversing treacherous and often deadly domains while explosions and utter chaos unravel in the background. Unfortunately, not all of the swarm will make it. Casualties are a necessary evil, but all you need is one Swarmite at the end of each level for the journey to continue. The physics and strategy in Swarm are what I imagine a hybrid of World of Goo and Liquidity would be like, but in the form of a side-scrolling platformer. Instead of controlling individual Swarmites, the player controls the center of the swarm and manipulates it in various ways. You can ‘huddle,’ causing the Swarmites to draw closer together, or ‘spread,’ causing them to disperse evenly. You can also form a totem pole by huddling the Swarmites together and then jumping repeatedly. The totem can then be slowly maneuvered, which is handy when you need to travel on a path that’s narrower than the smallest possible diameter of your swarm. Scattered throughout each level are explosives and other deadly traps which must be avoided. There are also glowing boxes which the Swarmites must ‘bash’ in order to collect DNA and gain points. Sometimes these boxes are on the ground and sometimes they’re suspended high up in the air, in which case they must be bashed while the swarm is in totem formation. Other times, the swarm must be manipulated in a specific way in order to complete time-sensitive tasks. Subtle puzzles that provoke the player to discover more efficient ways of gathering points while minimizing Swarmite casualties are sprinkled throughout the game and provide a pleasant addition to an already thrilling gameplay experience. Each level has several health packs which, when hit, restore the swarm to 50. They also create a safe point to which the player can return in case the whole swarm dies. Unfortunately, it’s near impossible to finish the game without killing any Swarmites. Once I came to terms with that, I began to realize how much of the gameplay involves making split-second decisions about how many Swarmites you can reasonably sacrifice in order to complete a task. Occasionally, it may be necessary to kill over half of your swarm to continue. In light of this, players can receive bronze, silver, or gold Death Medals (which also count toward Achievements) based on the number of accumulated deaths in a given level. The game’s developers realized early on this would be a key component of the game, so they put a great deal of effort into creating extravagant and messy deaths. Don’t be shocked to see your Swarmites decapitated, sawed in half, bear-trapped, or exploded 100 feet into the air, because those are only four of the dozens of ways your poor, tiny creatures can perish. Fortunately, for me, the gruesomeness is overshadowed by the adorableness of the characters. The DNA collected by your swarm go toward your combo multiplier, which becomes crucial in achieving a high score and, subsequently, pleasing dear Mother. However, if you complete a level with several hundred deaths and a poor score, then chances are she’s going to be upset. After only five minutes with the controller, even I found myself shamed by her disapproval in a way I hadn’t experienced since high school. The creators of Swarm hoped to promote more competitive gameplay by having a global leaderboard with a good deal of variation amongst the top scores. Fortunately, because there are so many opportunities to scores points in the game, including time bonuses for completing levels quickly, this is entirely possible. It's obvious that the developers put a lot of care into the feel and look of the game. I was especially impressed by the physics and the realistic movement of the swarm. Add to that fifty adorable alien creatures, hundreds of hilariously tragic deaths, and one truly unique style of gameplay, and you’ve got a delightful game that I’d recommend to just about everyone.
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"What are those little blue things?!" shrieked the tiny elderly woman guarding the front desk at the Larkspur Hotel in downtown San Francisco. I found myself sitting at the hotel bar last week with Joel DeYoung, the Director ...

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Hothead Games walks us through Swarm


Jan 20
// Jordan Devore
With Pikmin 3 continuing to be the no-show that it's tragically become, Hothead Games' Swarm for PlayStation Network and Xbox LIVE Arcade is beginning to look hotter by the day. This first video from Dr. Mike Hayward and lea...
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Hothead shows developers in their natural habitat


Dec 17
// Conrad Zimmerman
It has been a while since we saw one of these delightful developer diaries from Hothead Games, the third in a series started back in August. This time, they're taking us into the wilds to observe various species of game deve...
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The friends and foes of DeathSpank: Thongs of Virtue


Sep 15
// Conrad Zimmerman
Hothead Games sent over a bunch of character bios on the people you'll meet in the upcoming sequel to DeathSpank, subtitled Thongs of Virtue. These are both folks you'll help and enemies that you'll dispense hot, foamy justic...

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