Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Opinion Editorial

What's so great about Undertale and The Witness?

Feb 07 // Ben Davis
That's unusual though, right? It seems like a new phenomenon. I don't usually come across games where I can't discuss some of the core mechanics without ruining it for others. The Witness creator Jonathan Blow made a point to warn prospective buyers that some reviews were full of spoilers, and I can definitely understand why he did. On the other side of the coin, in Destructoid's review of the game, Brett Makedonski was noticeably vague and short on details, and I know exactly why he wrote it that way. When I wrote my Undertale review, I had to dance around the parts of the game that excited me most. But Undertale and The Witness can't be the only games like this. While trying to think of other examples, the first that came to mind was Frog Fractions. Now, that's kind of an extreme example for a number of reasons, but I think the point still stands. If you've completed Frog Fractions, think about how you might describe the experience to someone who hasn't played it. It would be a challenge. You would likely have to convince them to try it without saying anything about it other than, "You're a frog, and you eat bugs to make fractions. Just play it!" Admittedly, Frog Fractions is a little different than Undertale and The Witness. There are many interesting aspects of those games one could discuss without giving everything away. But at best, I can imagine only being able to describe what sounds like an average to above-average video game. And then someone would (understandably) ask, “Well that all sounds okay, but what exactly makes it so special?" And that's a question you couldn't answer, even if you really wanted to, with anything other other than "Just believe me." It's even more onerous to justify the high praise to players who actually completed Undertale or The Witness, and somehow missed their hidden strengths. This could easily happen with either game. Even though I managed to discover Undertale's most unique element before even leaving the tutorial area, I've spoken to other players who had no idea what I was talking about, or had only noticed it in the game's final few boss battles. It's much more apparent once you start a second playthrough, but a lot of people that didn't get it the first time around probably wouldn't have much interest in playing the game again, so they might never know about it. In The Witness, I still hadn't discovered the coolest thing the game has to offer before the end. Brett actually had to nudge me in the right direction, and, when I finally found it, I was blown away. I was actually surprised I hadn't figured it out myself somewhere along the way, as it seems like something I should have noticed at one point or another, even if by accident. But it's certainly no surprise that, once again, many players will never stumble upon it. Some might argue this is bad design. 'Why hide an experience's greatest strengths to such a degree that some players might never find it?' you might ask. However, I've come to believe the reason these games leave such an impact on players is precisely because these secrets can be difficult to find. Undertale and The Witness start off as great games (or average, or bad, whatever your view), until something unexpected happens that elevates them to another level. And suddenly they might have you thinking, "Whoa, what?! This changes everything!' and make you want to excitedly tell everyone about how amazing they are before realizing, "Wait, maybe it's best to let them discover this on their own." If I've had a conversation with someone about Undertale or The Witness and it seemed as though I was deliberately vague or leaving out information, this is exactly why. I want to talk about them so badly, but at the same time, I know I shouldn't and it kills me. They really are amazing experiences, but unfortunately you'll just have to take my word for it!
Spoilers photo
It's a secret!
In the last few months, two games were released that I feel might be among my favorite games of all time, Undertale and The Witness. But what exactly makes them two of the greatest gaming experiences I've had in recent m...

The hardcore Destiny community forgets why we play

Feb 06 // Darren Nakamura
There are a lot of possible answers to that question, but the most common among the hardcore players is because they are not at the maximum light level, or don't have every piece of exotic gear. Basically, they're in it for the stuff. This isn't some mindblowing revelation. Bungie has employed specific knowledge of human psychology in order to hook people into the loop. It's a classic Skinner box through and through, and Bungie wants players to keep hitting that lever for the chance at getting a food pellet. This is even more apparent now that Bungie has shifted to its limited-time events. I read a sentiment about the Sparrow Racing League from late last year that paraphrases to "I play SRL because the loot drops are high and frequent." More recently, Iron Banner Rift has seen players manipulating the Mercy Rule to intentionally throw matches and get to the end-of-game rewards more quickly. The problem with this mindset is that it treats the game like work. As players, we should be saying "I want to engage with this content because it is entertaining," not "I want to get to the end of this content as quickly as possible because my number might go up." I played a decent bit of SRL when it was around because the racing was a nice change of pace to the usual shooting. I played the most recent Iron Banner because Rift is my strongest game type and I knew I'd enjoy the process. I run King's Fall because it's a great feeling coordinating six Guardians into a well-oiled machine. Heck, I will still run the old raids, Vault of Glass and Crota's End, despite that they drop useless rewards. I play Destiny for the intrinsic value. I play Destiny because it is entertaining. When you treat a game like it's a job, then the saltiness comes out. Farming materials for the exotic sword quest is a good example. If you view it as an item on a checklist and try to power through it as quickly as possible, you're in for a bad time. Sure, you can mainline material routes for four hours straight to get it, but it'll be a boring four hours. Instead, I would go on Patrol, grab a few materials, participate in public events, kill some Taken champions, and head back to orbit when I felt like doing something else. It probably took me twice as long over multiple days to finish farming, but that was eight hours of enjoying myself instead of four hours of hating the world. The economics here are clear: if you play only for the reward at the end, you rob yourself of the enjoyment throughout. I implore players: divorce yourself from the reptilian part of your brain that is so susceptible to Destiny's operant conditioning. If you ever find yourself playing because you feel you have to rather than because you want to, ask yourself, "Am I enjoying this?" If you find yourself more interested in the reward at the end than the content in which you use the reward, ask yourself, "Is this worth it?" If your answers to those questions are no, there's no shame in finding something else to do, inside the world of Destiny or outside of it. Never forget the reason we play in the first place: to have fun.
Destiny opinion photo
Forget chasing loot for once
I've been playing a lot of Destiny lately -- late to the party, I know -- and going deep into the rabbit hole almost requires players to frequent r/DestinyTheGame or some other similar community site. Without it, I'd never kn...

Trolling the grieving photo
Trolling the grieving

'Find some common humanity' says That Dragon, Cancer dev to forum trolls


What is wrong with people?
Jan 14
// Jed Whitaker
That Dragon, Cancer is a deeply personal and emotional experience that tells the real-life story of one family's experience dealing with cancer taking one of their children from them at a very young age. The brief two-ho...
Can't we just have fun? photo
Can't we just have fun?

Gaming needs more safe spaces


Not more ways to alienate and harass
Dec 27
// Jed Whitaker
[Op-Ed Content Warning: Bigoted language, sexual violence] The definition of "safe spaces" varies depending on who you ask, but to me, a safe space is a place where you can be free of harassment regardless of your politi...

Why? photo
Why?

Coleco announces new cartridge-based console


Put it next to your Ouya in the trash
Dec 18
// Jed Whitaker
Are you old enough to remember the ColecoVision console from the '80s? Do you yearn for the days of old when games came on cartridges and everything had a nice physical manual? Do you often buy into new consoles announced wit...

Fallout 4 console players need cheats too

Dec 11 // Nic Rowen
When I first heard of the vendor glitch, that’s exactly what I thought it was. It was such a simple trick to do, reproducible at almost every vendor in the game, and so widespread mere days after release that I thought it was at least quasi-intentional on Bethesda’s part. An easy breezy way for console users to mess around with the game the way PC players get to. Sure, you can’t just unlock every door or terminal you come across with a magic word, or set your encumbrance level to 1 million and take the entirety of the wasteland on your back, but at least you can scam some free flamer fuel and a fusion core from Arturo. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think everyone should just cheat their way through Fallout 4. I’d recommend you play through the game legitimately at least once to get the proper experience. But, when it’s time to roll up your goofy concept characters, or go on a quest to renovate the entire Commonwealth, it’s nice to have a way to speed things up. I’ve always been a huge fan of the freedom Bethesda games give players. On the PC versions of Oblivion and Skyrim, I used the console command line, mods, and simple table edits with the construction set to give my characters flavor and unique equipment when I was done playing the game legitimately. It extended the lifespan of those titles tremendously and really let me play the character concepts I envisioned (honestly, my mage is supposed to be a road-weary old man with years of experience under his belt, you’re telling me he only knows a single stinking fireball spell out of the gate? Nah, let’s just tweak that spellbook there). It’s time Bethesda fully recognized what its fans like to do with its games -- namely, break them over their knee like a gas-mask-wearing drug addict. If we can’t get the console command line in the console versions of their games, the least Bethesda could do is leave an exploit that is as obvious as a screen door banging in the wind. Cheaters never prosper, but they do have a lot of fun with open-world RPGs.
Fallout 4 cheats photo
Lamentations for a glitch taken too soon
Earlier this week, Bethesda took a beloved glitch out for a midnight ride to a quiet parking lot, caved in the back of its skull with a bowling pin, and drowned it in a muddy puddle of rainwater and radiator fluid. I'm talkin...

Did the Star Citizen trailer at the Game Awards restore anyone's faith?

Dec 06 // Nic Rowen
The delays have been one thing. I expected delays. Even when the Dogfighting module was pushed back from the summer of 2013 to actually launching in June 2014, I was fine with that. Sure, it was irksome when the Dogfighting module finally released and turned out to be a steaming pile of glitches, but I could roll with that. What has really bothered me though, what's chipped away at my faith in the game for the past two years, has been the lack of direction the team seems to have had. How every time you turn around, Cloud Imperium Games is announcing another huge feature or gamemode it promises will be the best thing since sliced bread, despite not delivering on what has already been promised. It's the tin ear, how they keep doubling down and going bigger while leaving backers hanging. Moves like bringing in Hollywood talent like Mark Hamill and Gary Oldman to star in the single-player Squadron 42 campaign (now slated to come out in episodic chunks rather than one cohesive story, yay). Call me a cynic, but it's hard for me not to wonder if all that backer-funded money could have been better spent on actually getting the game out the door than footing the bill for premium stars. I was excited to see Star Citizen make an appearance at the Game Awards because I wanted them to show me something that would get me back on the team. I wanted them to wow me with something like an in-depth gameplay demonstration, or a concrete release date, or a expository clip of the single player storyline. What we got was a trailer full of smash cuts of generic action and choppy frame rates. [embed]324673:61426:0[/embed] I still want to believe in you Star Citizen, but you're not making it easy. So how about you? Did you ever believe in Star Citizen, or did you think it was hogwash from the beginning and none of this surprises you at all? Did you buy in and are still excited, or do you regret it? Am I just a big grumpy baby and you thought the trailer was awesome? Let me know, I'm really curious about what other people think of Star Citizen at this point.  
Star Citizen photo
Adrift in space
I'm a lapsed believer. Two years ago, I was all about Star Citizen. You would have been hard pressed to find someone more excited by the idea of a galaxy spanning rough and tumble space sim than me (well, maybe those crazy pe...

Does it matter if Link is a boy or a girl?

Nov 20 // Jonathan Holmes
[Art by  Kuvshinov-Ilya] To its credit, Nintendo has done an admirable job of concocting a way to help fans to imagine Link as both a specific person and an abstract concept at the same time. He's actually not always named Link. You, the player, choose his name before starting each of his games. He also never speaks, further solidifying him as non-character who's only purpose is to act as doorway for the player into the game world. Yet, by leaning hard on both the reincarnation myth and the use of multiple timelines, Nintendo has managed to shape Link into a series of individual characters in the minds of many. In doing so, it has squelched most of complaints the character/non-character used to attract, though it took them a little while to get there. Many fans were outraged when the Wind Waker radically changed who Link was and how he was drawn. A lot of these fans had become extremely attached to a singular idea of who Link was and how he should look. This new Link broke from those ideas, causing their suspension of disbelief to break along with it. It's no surprise then that it was fans who originally came up with the theory that the Zelda series takes place over multiple timelines. They were clearly more invested in believing that Link was real than Nintendo was. Strangely enough, it looks like a lot of those diehard fans are also against the idea of Link ever being a woman. Their devotion to their head canon feels similar to how some Catholics hold tight to their traditional gender divisions. Just a few days ago, a diehard Zelda fan was telling me that making Link a woman would be "pointless," and if someone wants to play a game starring a woman, that there are plenty of other choices out there. I pushed back with the idea that what's pointless to them may mean a lot to someone else. To counter that obvious point, they put on their best empathy-face and said that the Zelda series should not have to bend to the preferences of fans. It's the exactly line of thinking I've heard from well meaning but overly dogmatic Catholics over the years, who advise folks who want to bear confession to a female priest to simply abandon Catholicism in favor of Unitarian Universalism or some other wacky new faith.  [Art by Liart] Nintendo itself has been relatively inconsistent in explaining if Link has to be a man or not. The director of the recently released Triforce Heroes said for that game's story, it wouldn't fit the mythology for the leads to be women. So that's one answer. On the other hand, Eiji Aonuma, producer of the Zelda series as a whole, has never ruled out that we'd get a woman iteration of Link someday, stating that he was going to wait and see how the playable women characters in Hyrule Warriors were received before making that decision. I'm guessing the fact that Hyrule Warriors sold pretty darn well is one of the reasons Linkle went from being a rejected concept sketch to a full-blown character (who may or may not be a reincarnation of Link). In the absence of official word from Nintendo, fans have created their own schema around the question of Link's inherent maleness, just as they they created the split-timeline long before it was adopted as canon. The one I hear the most is that Zelda must always be a woman (because it's the Legend of Zelda, not the Legend of Zeldo) and therefore Link must be a man, as the potential for heterosexual romance between the two leads is a key part of the Zelda's legend. Of course, Nintendo has never explicitly stated any of that. Why would it? As a company that wants to appeal to as many potential customers as possible, it'd have little reason to insult its queer fans or cut itself off from the option of a female Link someday. Linkle is clearly a move towards testing those waters, though it won't likely jump all the way in until it is sure it will be profitable. It's a direction it has been publicly headed in for a while, driven in no small part by the stats showing how women are becoming a larger and larger part of Nintendo's customer base.  It's arguable that the company has been moving towards giving players the option to chose the gender of the green clad Hylian hero for years now.  [embed]321406:61194:0[/embed] It wouldn't even be the first time, technically. Some of the Satellaview Legand of Zelda games allowed for players to chose the gender of their character. So does every modern Fire Emblem, Pokémon, and Animal Crossing game, as will Xenoblade Chronicles X when it's released outside of Japan next month. It's not just in the RPGs either. Nintendo's latest hit character, the Inkling, also comes in boy or girl shapes. In fact, the vast majority of Nintendo's Wii U titles allow you to play as a woman some or all of the time. It could be that the publisher finally noticed that Monster Hunter, Mass Effect, Fallout 4 (the potentially biggest entertainment release of the year) and countless other modern Action-RPGs have let the player decide the gender of their "link" to the game world without suffering any loss in sales. Maybe they are on the cusp of allowing today's Legend of Zelda players to do the same.  That said, it's clear that many people would be upset if Nintendo began providing players with that level of choice. Ironically, a lot of these players are also harshly critical of Nintendo for not keeping up with the times when it comes to cross-buy purchases across consoles games and other consumer friendly practices. What we demand out of our game publishers says a lot about us, and will eventually determine what those publishers end up producing. My guess is that like everything with business, the question of how much Link's gender matters will be answered not in some political debate, but in dollar signs. 
Linkle photo
Linkle: The new Samus or a next Waluigi?
Linkle's debut as a playable character in Hyrule Warriors Legends seems to mean something big to a lot of people, but I guess that's par for course. Regardless of how long it's been since you actually played a Legend of Zelda...

Fear and loathing in Halo 5: Guardians

Nov 17 // Jed Whitaker
Anyone who knows me on a personal level knows I love Halo; I've played every game at or before launch, no matter the means necessary. While the hype train has been in full force for Halo 5 for months, I've stayed out of it. I hate getting hyped up only to be let down, and after the disastrous launch of The Master Chief Collection, I had little faith in 343 not screwing up Halo 5. At E3, I even purposefully avoided playing the build available there, though I had played and mostly enjoyed the beta earlier in the year. I say 'mostly' because it went from being fun and fresh yet familiar, to quickly catering to the screaming minority of MLG players that eventually lead to Halo 4's multiplayer being ruined when 343 heavily changed the balancing to favor the battle rifle, the go-to gun for wannabe eSports E-thletes. Suddenly the beta was all battle rifles, all the time, just like many of the game types included in The Master Chief Collection. I hated it. Almost every Halo game has launched with the default guns being assault rifles and the pistol, or something similar. The battle rifle was considered a power weapon that had to be collected from the map. Halo was a mad dash to obtain power weapons and to remember when they would respawn so as to grab them before your opponents. Not this starting with the best weapon in the game bullshit. Fast forward to just a few days before launch: I've avoided basically all hype and news regarding Halo 5, aside from thoroughly enjoying the amazing Hunt the Truth audio series. Then I slipped up and watched a video on REQ packs by GreenSkull, a popular Halo YouTuber. As much as I don't like microtransactions I have a thirst...neigh...addiction to opening blind packs of cards brought on by my obsession with Hearthstone. My hype meter instantly went off the charts. I couldn't wait. Midnight hits. My boyfriend and a couple of friends set out to finish the campaign. I typically play the campaign on the Normal difficulty, but my friends insist on playing on the game's hardest mode, Legendary. After about three grueling hours of dying, swearing, and respawning, the game freezes right at the end of chapter three for me. I can hear my teammates, and they can't hear me. They finish the mission. My progress doesn't save, and I receive no achievements. A nearby salt shaker falls, spilling salt everywhere. "Great! This new dashboard is a real piece of shit. It lags, games and apps crash, and I have constant issues with it. Somehow the Xbox One has managed to get worse since launch!" My friends sit in silence while I lament how console gaming has morphed into a bunch of hoops you have to jump through. "Remember back when gaming consisted of putting in the game, turning on the console, and pressing start? Those were the days. Now I have to update my consoles software, sign in to Xbox Live, install the game, update the game that just installed, open a party in a separate app, pray to a god I don't believe in that others can connect, and then I can play." Since then, the new Xbox One dashboard has gotten far better, but it doesn't change the fact that so much bullshit stands in the way. It is just me and my first-ever Xbox Live friend Kevin left now. Everyone else has gone to bed. It's getting pretty late. We decide to play some multiplayer, only to discover that my headset is cutting in and out. At this point, I'm still not sure if it was the software or hardware. I haven't bothered to attempt chatting since. I just yell into my Kinect, which works surprisingly well now, as if Microsoft has refined its voice functionality through updates.  After a few games of SWAT, which my friend is absolute shit at, we move onto Team Slayer, which my friend is also absolute shit at. "Kevin, we have played Halo together since the second game in the series. How are you suddenly so terrible?" He laughs. His laughter is one of my favorite things; it is contagious. Kevin heads to bed, so I decide to go back to completing matches to be assigned a rank in each of the online game types, starting with one of my go-to playlists, SWAT. In SWAT, there are no shields, a single headshot will bring opponents down, and you either start with a magnum or a battle rifle (one of the only times I don't mind BR starts). After ten qualifying matches, I am awarded the rank of onyx, or what was previously known as semi-pro in the beta. Onyx is the highest rank you can qualify for apart from being one of the top 200 players in each playlist; those players are ranked as champion. After achieving onyx in SWAT, I decided it would be a good idea to go ahead and get ranked in all the other playlists. Next on the list was free-for-all, because I'm a wolf pack of one. Free-for-all is probably my most-played game type across all of the Halo series because I don't have a lot of people I play with and tend to avoid making new Xbox Live friends for no particular reason. Even though I'm confident in my skills, I lost a few of my ten qualifying matches but still managed to achieve onyx. Then I set my sights to the all-new Breakout game type. I wasn't a fan of it in the beta, but perhaps I'd like it now. I got destroyed nearly every single match for my first few matches and managed to get carried for a few wins by my teammates. After winning my last few qualifying matches, I was feeling confident I'd be ranked at least in silver or higher. Nope. Bronze. Me in bronze, the lowest rank in the game!? The person who has played every game in the series at launch given the lowest possible rank!?!? Bullshit. I went to bed after angrily shutting off my Xbox One while cursing 343 and Breakout. The next day I finished getting ranked in the other playlists by achieving gold in Slayer and platinum in Team Arena. I couldn't stand that I was ranked bronze in Breakout, so I decided to torture myself some more and give it a go again. Turns out, I was hilariously under ranked.  "What a relief," I thought to myself, "but wow are these kids awful." My opponents and teammates were so bad, it was like competing with someone that had never played an FPS before, or like a young relative. They walked into walls, stared at the sky and ground, and were just all-around bad. I'm not saying this from a place of feeling superior, but the people I was playing with were clearly ranked correctly. Suddenly Breakout became fun. I'd hear people on my team cheering me on as they watched from the grave as I mowed down the remaining three players on the other team. This happened again, and again, and again. Eventually, I hit rank six of bronze, and the competition picked up a smidgen but would wildly vary between matches; some were a piece of cake, others were more evenly matched. Then it finally happened: I hit silver with a nice five-round sweep. I know it wasn't much of an achievement since I was grossly under matched, but I was thankful for it. Thankful for the opportunity to learn how to play Breakout without having much in the way of competition, and learning from my opponent's mistakes, as well as seeing the error of my ways in the qualifying matches. Plus, it doesn't hurt that I could easily get commendations for kills.  Breakout has quickly become one of my favorite game types, and not just because I win a lot, but because it is fun. I know a lot of Halo players aren't huge fans of it yet -- including the team that rage quit during the finals of a tournament recently by suiciding and afterward tweeted at the official Halo account, "I'd rather commit suicide on mainstage than play your shitty game type." But really, people should give it a chance. It might just grow on you. I'm sure I'll be playing Halo 5's multiplayer for some time, as it feels like one of the most balanced games in the series thus far. If you'd like the chance to hear me angrily swear from time to time while playing Halo 5, then be sure to join Destructoid's Spartan Company and prepare to be carried.
Not your dad's Halo photo
Or how I learned to love the Breakout
"Fuck this stupid fucking Call of Duty bullshit. Get your shit together, Bungie...er...343, whoever!" This is how my first night with Halo 5 ends, in a fit of rage after a kill-less losing streak in the game's new tepidl...

Is Rise of the Tomb Raider the best Uncharted?

Nov 11 // Steven Hansen
Now, though, Lara's come out ahead. It was a mild challenge during the Rise of the Tomb Raider review to not compare it to Nathan Drake's adventures. The things that excited me about Uncharted 4, that differentiated it from its stale third entry, a lot of those have -- at least superficially -- been done by Rise of the Tomb Raider. The contextual stealth bushes (as seen in the upcoming Horizon Zero Dawn, too), the grappling hook. Uncharted has always had stealth and its grappling hook might prove more meaningful than Rise's I-can-jump-further-now tool, but those things might not feel like meaningful additions with two games from a direct competitor now released since the last Uncharted five years ago. Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception was less than well-received for bringing little new to the table, instead offering a disjointed series of set-pieces that could have been strung together by throwing darts at a board. Rise of the Tomb Raider threads its hub worlds and set-piece sections -- a derelict Soviet gulag built vertically into the side of a mountain -- together much more organically. It also basically mushes Uncharted 2 and Uncharted 3's antagonists into one game (spoilers in this paragraph). Konstantin is a Burberry-clad Lazarević, just as driven and merciless -- a common trope of a character -- and even serves as Rise's final boss fight in full tactical gear, not unlike in Uncharted 2. Here, though, it's a stealth affair with Konstantin disarming Lara, who must sneak around the ruined arena and stab him a few times. Meanwhile, equally posh Ana, the character really running things, has shades of Katherine Marlowe. Superficial, maybe. Maybe it stands out because of the general rarity of older-aged British women as villains. Rise of the Tomb Raider also handles the requisite third act turn to the supernatural better than any Uncharted since the first, which became a creepy, horror-tinged affair to smartly contrast all the lush jungle violence. In Rise, it means expansion to the visual palette with all the blue flames and orange embers (shortly after introducing the new class of regular enemy with the lens flare-ish flashlights and dot sights -- a good look). The enemies' melee focus makes sense and moves the third act away from strict cover shooting, which is welcomed for its variety but also because the cover shooting is probably Tomb Raider's weakest part. Then there's Rise's position as one of the prettiest games of the year, an Uncharted staple. It isn't just the technology or graphical fidelity, but a new focus on using color, lighting, and other visual cues to set the mood. It is colorful without Uncharted's more cartoonishness. Had Uncharted 4 made its holiday 2015 release, it mainly would've been up against itself, or its past self. Being better than Uncharted 3 would've been enough for a lot of people. Rise of the Tomb Raider raises the standards though, by iterating in a lot of areas where Uncharted excels. The former is still bogged down by bloat (crafting and skill trees and static menu audio logs and so on) and a go-nowhere story that was more than tired by the time Uncharted got to it (protagonists want thing, antagonists also want thing), but it nails movie-like visual direction (down to the color grading) and exhilarating platforming.
Rise of expectations photo
Standards up five years post Uncharted 3
Both Crystal Dynamics and Microsoft lucked out that the tumult behind Uncharted 4: A Thief's End's development shift and scrapped work pushed Naughty Dog's adventure into 2016. It gives Microsoft the best exclusive holiday...

Halloween games photo
Halloween games

What are you playing this Halloween season?


The season of the witch
Oct 14
// Nic Rowen
Halloween is my favorite holiday. Aside from being a great excuse to dress up like an idiot, party with friends, and drink terrible pumpkin-flavored booze (that any other time of the year you’d dump into the nearest gut...
Chibi-Robo photo
Chibi-Robo

It's time to pray for Chibi-Robo


God have mercy
Oct 08
// Jonathan Holmes
Chibi-Robo is a refugee from GameCube country, born from the co-mingling DNA of the industry's most well-known publisher and one of its least mainstream-friendly developers, he was ready to die from the moment he hit the grou...
Snake Eater photo
Snake Eater

Snake Eater is still the best Metal Gear game


Kuwabara kuwabara
Sep 04
// Chris Carter
Having played Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain for roughly 100 hours, I think I'm ready to make an assessment of it in terms of how it relates to the rest of the franchise. While it's definitely up there, it's far fr...
amiibo photo
amiibo

What other indie amiibo would you like to see now that Shovel Knight is confirmed?


A Binding of Isaac amiibo would be rad
Aug 28
// Chris Carter
Now that the Shovel Knight amiibo is officially official, the floodgates have presumably been opened for other indie collaborations. While we aren't 100% sure that he'll appear in Super Smash Bros. as a guest character, ...
Episodic games photo
Episodic games

How long is too long to wait for updates on episodic games?


Six months to a year and I lose interest
Aug 20
// Chris Carter
Episodic games can be a mixed bag. While there are many examples of some incredible successes, others fall by the wayside, partially due to the restrictions involved with the model. Take a look at Sons of Anarchy: The Prospec...

I used to love Konami

Aug 12 // Jonathan Holmes
There aren't many video game characters from 1987 who are still relevant today. I've selected a few for your perusal below. See if you can pick out which one is not like the others. I've added a generic chart of realistic human proportions to help you guess the answer.  While not quite "realistic," Castlevania's Simon Belmont is far and away the design who comes closest to following actual human proportions. He doesn't rely on bright colors, baby proportions, expressive facial features, and other tools borrowed from the language of traditional hand drawn cartoons to win over the crowd. He's an earnest attempt to harness the style of a classic action film hero and apply it to a video game. Most of Konami's games back in the late 1980s went for this style. While other publishers tried to tickle players with clownish antics, Konami titles like Gradius, Rush 'N Attack, Castlevania, The Adventures of Bayou Billy, Contra, and Metal Gear rejected cuteness in favor of a feel that payed tribute to Hollywood action films of the day, though they often walked dangerously close towards the line between tribute and theft. It was common practice for Konami to "borrow" the visage of big name actors for the games. Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Boris Karloff, Sean Connery, Kurt Russel and Mel Gibson are just a few of examples of big names who bear a strong resemblance to classic Konami characters. That kind of thing is pretty common in our modern world of games, with actual Hollywood actors (like TV heartthrob Norman Reedus) regularly lending their names, faces, and voices to AAA titles, but back in the 8-bit era, only Konami had the balls to consistently leap over tech limitations in an effort to deliver something more like an R-rated film. If the ESRB had existed back in the '80s, chances are a few of Konami's games would have flirted with an M rating.  While Konami may have worked to divorce itself from the cartoon mascots of '80s gaming, it did not work to avoid video game logic. Castlevania payed tribute to the dark, intimidating worlds depicted in classic Universal monster films, but it also hid meat behind walls and implanted Valentine's hearts inside of candles. Metal Gear combined James Bond's spy action with Rambo's lone soldier in a politically unstable world, but underneath that macho exterior, it's basically Pac-Man with guns. It's a game where characters may discuss the seriousness of World War III in one scene, only to have a large exclamation mark pop up above their heads in the next. That's a tradition that the series has never let go of, and has gone on to be one of its defining characteristics.  Playing off the tension between film and video game logic lived on in the Konami brand for over 30 years. The Silent Hill series centers around entering worlds that defy conventional reality, where subconscious thoughts and feelings fuse with the horrific and supernatural to create an environment that's emotionally real but physically impossible. At their heart, that's what most video games are -- worlds that feel real even though we know that they are not. Konami used to dart between realism and surrealism, symbolism and literalism, unplayable cinema and interactive gameplay, to create something larger than the sum of its parts. That interplay is the natural evolution of its old 1980s practice of depicting real life Hollywood icons with stripped down, iconographic sprites. It's something we see so often in modern games that we may take it for granted, but if it weren't for Konami working to pave the way, who knows where we'd be now. I sincerely hope that Konami returns to this kind of game design, or any kind of game design that doesn't involve sexy Pachinko machines.
Konami photo
I also used to love Mel Gibson
There aren't a lot of good things to say about Konami these days. Its missteps over the past few years have been frequent and severe, including: the embarrassingly poor Silent Hill HD Collection; the cancellation of Silent Hi...

The 90s are bad photo
The 90s are bad

Rude old PC ad suggests all men are casual console babies


The 90s are bad
Aug 08
// Steven Hansen
Can you believe this 3Dfx ad from the 90s recently unearthed online by Felipe Pepe? In the era of "attitude" (or just 'tude), 3Dfx had the gall to suggest all men, the fairer sex not graced with breasts, are all casual consol...
Metal Gear Solid V photo
Metal Gear Solid V

What is your platform of choice for Metal Gear Solid V?


I'm going with PS4 first, then PC
Aug 07
// Chris Carter
When Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain hits next month, it'll arrive on PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One platforms all at once. I totally forgot it was being developed for last-gen consoles, and thought that was o...
Dynasty Warriors photo
Dynasty Warriors

Dynasty Warriors as we know it turns 15 years old today, so what's your favorite game?


Mine is super old at this point
Aug 03
// Chris Carter
I still remember where I was when I discovered Dynasty Warriors. I was in a Blockbuster Video just perusing some games, and my friend shouted that I needed to hurry up so we could get to a meetup of some kind. So I kind of ju...
ZombiU photo
ZombiU

How do you feel about Ubisoft's ZombiU and the current-gen remake?


I'm fairly apathetic towards both
Jul 31
// Chris Carter
I'm kind of apathetic towards this new ZombiU re-release on PC, PS4 and Xbox One. I remember playing the game for the first time at a preview event, and being generally blown away by the Wii U GamePad's comfort factor wi...
Rare Replay photo
Rare Replay

What's your favorite game from Rare Replay?


You have 30 choices
Jul 29
// Chris Carter
I got my hands on Rare Replay, and I've been playing it quite a bit for our review next week. It's crazy how addicting Blast Corps is, as I just completed it earlier this year on my N64, and was enticed to beat it y...
Super Mario Maker photo
Super Mario Maker

Will you be buying Super Mario Maker?


I wonder how this will turn out
Jul 23
// Chris Carter
I'm very interested in seeing how Super Mario Maker will turn out when it debuts on Wii U later this year. While there have been a lot of people vocally supporting the project, I see a lot of indifference towards it. In ...
Virtual Boy photo
Virtual Boy

Did you ever own or play a Virtual Boy?


I wish it was more readily available
Jul 21
// Chris Carter
On July 21, 1995, 20 years ago today, the Virtual Boy was released in Japan. It was widely considered a failure in just about every respect, and Nintendo pulled sales seven months after it debuted in August of 1995 in the US....

Mistakes were made with the Shenmue 3 Kickstarter

Jul 16 // Chris Carter
Lack of transparency When Shenmue 3 was announced during E3, the whole world (myself included) went crazy. Series creator Yu Suzuki was teasing it a day before, but no one really could have expected it given how long the series had been on hiatus. Then the questions starting coming, and things got a little more complicated. It came out the day after the announcement that even though the team was asking for money on Kickstarter, Sony would be funding the game. I kind of feel bad for Suzuki as he had to apologize for "misleading" people, but the entire "Sony is funding some of it, but we're not actually going to tell you how much" business was a bit weird. That's definitely something that should have been explained at E3. If there's one thing we learned about backers over the years, it's that they want an idea of what they're contributing to, and where their money is going. With Shenmue 3, there are still some doubts though in terms of the latter point Yu Suzuki has confirmed that all of the campaign proceeds are going directly to the game, and not Sony. Stretch goal wackiness Yes, one of their stretch goals, one they haven't reached yet, is actually a "new Kickstarter [cash] record." I'm speechless. While the campaign runners did end up catching on to the concept of stretch goals, it took them days to scramble to come up with ideas. At first, the campaign only had a mere few mentions of what they'd do if they surpassed their funding amount. The days of "let's just see how much we get on Kickstarter and be surprised later!" are over. Campaigns need to think about the big picture and keep the train running with constant engagement and new goals and activities. IGA's Bloodstained campaign did this impressively, with multiple social media metagames and daily stretch goal updates. Maybe the Shenmue team can up their funding with a good post-Kickstarter PayPal campaign and reach that lofty $10 million mark. Of course, a lot of future Kickstarter success is going to be contingent on luck and timing. Having Sony announce Shenmue 3 during its E3 press conference did wonders for the campaign, yet Inafune is struggling to have lightning strike twice with Red Ash -- his unofficial Mega Man Legends project, announced at Anime Expo. The Shenmue 3 team has your money -- now we just wait for the finished product. As for myself, I backed it at the $29 level. Shenmue means a lot to me as a series, and it got me through some really tough times. If the campaign was handled a bit better and was more focused, I may have upped my pledge.
Shenmue 3 photo
But everyone loves Shenmue so it's okay
The Shenmue 3 Kickstarter has surpassed five million in funding with just under a day and a half to go, but creator Yu Suzuki has insisted that they need roughly $10 million to have a fully realized open world. It's shooting for the stars for sure, but a number of different choices could have been made to bump the campaign up significantly.

Online game talk photo
Online game talk

Do you go out of your way to help people in online games?


Why or why not
Jul 11
// Chris Carter
As a general rule, I play online games by myself if at all possible. In Final Fantasy XIV, the game I've been playing most lately due to the release of the recent Heavensward expansion, I politely declined most groups to...
Patriotic video games photo
Patriotic video games

What is your favorite 'patriotic' video game?


It can also be ironically jingoistic
Jul 03
// Chris Carter
Over the years, we've seen a ton of games featured in America. Whether it's the days of old with Oregon Trail and Assassin's Creed III or a snapshot of modern consumerism with the American Gladiators on the SNES, it...
Video games on Fallon photo
Video games on Fallon

The Tonight Show's (lack of) video game coverage has been disappointing


Show some Fallout, Fallon
Jun 30
// Darren Nakamura
I have been a fan of Jimmy Fallon for a long time now. I used to have to qualify that statement with something like, "I know it's not cool, but..." These days it's a lot more acceptable to enjoy his playful take on late night...

Which is your favorite Batman: Arkham game?

Jun 29 // Chris Carter
[embed]294941:59268:0[/embed]
Batman photo
Don't say 'Origins!'
Let's start at the beginning, shall we? Batman: Arkham Asylum, through and through, is just a good video game. It took a simple concept ("Be the Bat"), introduced the free-flow combat system and the Predator stealth...

Troops vs Women photo
Troops vs Women

Murder women in SJW Riot: Troops vs Women - in Video Game


'Terrorising men, just for being men'
Jun 27
// Jed Whitaker
An Indiegogo campaign for a new game called SJW Riot: Troops vs Women - in Video Game, in which social justice warriors -- who are apparently only women -- have "lost their mind, again, and are terrorising men" according to t...
Broken games photo
Broken games

The Arkham Knight PC port proves yet again that only suckers pre-order


A real shame
Jun 24
// Nic Rowen
Tuesday morning, I had a moment of weakness. After reading some stellar reviews (of the console versions) I allllmost pre-purchased the PC version of Arkham Knight. I've loved every other entry in the series and with those re...

Auto-loading more stories ... un momento, corazón ...