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Obscure Video Games photo
Obscure Video Games

Obscure Video Games: Combat Queen


Am I buggin' you? I don't mean to bug you
Apr 11
// Obscure Video Games
Remember FMV games? Back in the '90s they were briefly the hot new thing. Games like Phantasmagoria and 7th Guest were considered cutting edge adventure games. Perhaps you even bought a CD-ROM drive for your computer just to ...
Gal Gun photo
Gal Gun

Inti Creates' weird shooter Gal Gun is getting a sequel


Coming later this year
Feb 28
// Kyle MacGregor
Gal Gun, one of the most bizarre Japanese imports I've ever played, is getting a sequel. Inti Creates is making a follow-up to its bishoujo rail shooter, which first launched on Xbox 360 in 2011 and came to PlayStation 3 the ...
Blue Estate photo
Blue Estate

PS4 and Xbox One rail shooter Blue Estate is a violent crime story


Prequel to the award winning comic
May 30
// Steven Hansen
Red Steel versus Blue Estate, eh? Blue Estate for PS4 and Xbox One is a prequel story to comic, written by the same writer, who was kind enough to write this PS Blog post explaining the game. Apparently you can aim with the D...

Blue Estate photo
Blue Estate

Blue Estate is coming to the Xbox One and PS4 this year


It's that game for the Leap Motion PC accessory
Apr 14
// Chris Carter
Based on the comic book series Blue Estate, Focus Home Interactive adapted the property into an on-rails shooter for the PC back in 2013. It was made exclusively for the Leap Motion accessory, which turned your finger into a ...

Crimson Dragon is neat, messy, and not entirely on-rails

Nov 06 // Steven Hansen
[embed]265015:51193:0[/embed] Crimson Dragon (Xbox One)Developer: Grounding Inc.Publisher: MicrosoftRelease Date: November 22, 2013 Crimson Dragon features 6 different dragon types that can evolve into a total of 18 different configurations of dragon. Add in a skill system and you might find it worthwhile to train all sorts of dragons -- slow lumbering beasties, agile and lightweight ones -- to handle different missions. I started with an on-rails portion of the game. Different segments in the level are ranked uniquely; for example, one portion of the level will task you with destroying all enemies, another with collecting artifacts. I assume these indvidual ranks will offer some reflection of your overall stage rank. You have a main and alternate weapon type of three varying elements that act in a rock, paper, scissors power struggle of superiority and inferiority. The main with the dragon I played featured a lock on after painting up to eight targets with the reticule, which I could then unload upon. Meanwhile, my secondary was stronger and slower, featuring limited auto aim. It took me a while to get used to navigating the plane of movement while flying along rails, but eventually I was barrel rolling my way to high scores without too much of a hassle. I actually S ranked a boss with little effort, so hopefully my supplied dragon was just over leveled to facilitate demos. The one snag I did have, though, was controlling the reticule. It feels lazy, as if it occasionally hems and haws before springing into action, and floaty, carrying with it some momentum one way before if listens to your command to send it another way. If the game is indeed harder than I experienced, that lack of precision could be an issue. In trying the aforementioned boss fight, I also got to try out the new free-flight mode, which takes you off rails, as the name implies. It generally works, from the one scrap I was in, though navigating a three dimensional plane is always a bit wonky. Tagging along on ym glorious conquest was my wingman. You can go through your Xbox Live friends and hire their dragons out as AI wingmen to assist you in the game. Picking a wingman with the third attack type you're unable to cover will probably be a good idea. They're hired out with in-game cash; the better they are, the more money they cost. All of the missions can also be played in three player co-op. Unfortunately, Crimson Dragon, as demoed, just isn't all that great. I guess we'll see in a couple of weeks if the full package is any more worthwhile.
Crimson Dragon preview photo
I'm more of a leg man
For some reason, Crimson Dragon feels like the weirdest Xbox One launch title. Maybe that can be attributed to the spiritual Panzer Dragoon sequel's tumultuous development (from 360 Kinect exclusive to budget, $20 Xbox One ga...

Crimson Dragon photo
Crimson Dragon

I may be the only one who is excited for Crimson Dragon


Hey, it could be good, right?
Sep 19
// Chris Carter
[Update: it appears as if it'll be launching for $19.99. Nice!] Crimson Dragon hasn't been getting a lot of good buzz. After a tumultuous 360 development cycle, the now Xbox One launch title is nearly here, and this trailer ...
History of Star Fox photo
Former Argonaut Software staff recount their time with Nintendo
As much as we see Nintendo as a very insular company these days, it was much more so way back during the NES and SNES eras. If you tried to challenge Nintendo's power, you were met with intense scorn at the very least or liti...

Scram Kitty photo
Scram Kitty

Scram Kitty is an anti-gravity war against mice in mechs


It's a rail shooter... literally
Jun 12
// Tony Ponce
You thought all that talk about paying attention to indies was just lip service, and that Nintendo wasn't going to follow through on support? You thought wrong! Nintendo is loving the indies at its E3 booth this year! Mario ...
Resident Evil PSN sale photo
Resident Evil PSN sale

Resident Evil games get huge discounts on PSN in Europe


Horrifyingly good deals
Mar 14
// Kyle MacGregor
The Resident Evil series is on sale via PlayStation Network starting this week in Europe. The initial trilogy is being offered as a bundle for €14.99 (£11.99), while the most recent entry has been knocked down to &...
Dyad on Steam photo
Dyad on Steam

Dyad is coming to Steam, potentially in March


Steam release outed
Feb 04
// Chris Carter
Rumors for the Steam release of Dyad spread like wildfire when some crafty users found a listing in Steam's database. Now, the release is fully confirmed, as developer Shawn McGrath has informed Joystiq that Dyad will indeed ...
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Crimson Dragon demo accidentally released, recorded


What's the deal with this game, anyway?
Jan 03
// Jordan Devore
A demo for Panzer Dragoon spiritual successor Crimson Dragon somehow made it on to the Japanese Xbox Live Marketplace and before being removed, YouTube user Draikin1 managed to download it and record a playthrough, viewable ...
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Saddle up! Wavy Tube Man Chronicles to hit Windows 8


Also available for Microsoft Surface
Nov 12
// Jason Cabral
I have always enjoyed games that are a little out there in terms of its story, and who aren't afraid to break that fourth wall so hard that it leaves in shambles. That's why whenever I hear anything about an game from Twisted...

Review: Fable: The Journey

Oct 07 // Jim Sterling
Fable: The Journey (Kinect)Developer: Lionhead StudiosPublisher: Microsoft Game StudiosRelease: October 9, 2012MSRP: $49.99 Fable: The Journey is the story of one man falling in romantic love with his horse. That is, at least, the impression I get of the relationship between protagonist Gabriel and the equestrian companion we spend most of our time with. There's some incidental storyline involving an ancient evil and Gabriel's heroic destiny, but the most pressing concern is clearly how much Gabriel wants to take that horse out to dinner.  In fairness, The Journey does retain some classic Fable charm, with lighthearted humor and silly characters, as well as the usual labored attempts to convince us we really do care about our pretend animal friend. It would have been easy for Lionhead to skimp entirely on the narrative and atmospheric aspect of the series for such a one-trick spin-off, but it has to be said that some effort was put into the writing and the retention of an environment in keeping with the series.  Effort, in fact, has been put into everything. Let it never be said that Fable: The Journey is the product of rushed development or a lack of attention. The graphics are relatively pretty, there's a simple but decent little upgrade system, and altogether it's evident that Lionhead worked hard on this latest Fable adventure. That does not mean, however, that it's good. Far from it. As much as Lionhead may have tried its level best, the limitations of Kinect ensure, at every step, that The Journey is boring when it works and tear-inducing when it doesn't.  [embed]236153:45344[/embed] Gameplay is split into roughly two distinct sequences - on-rails horse-and-cart stages and on-rails shooter stages. Typically, Gabriel will ride his horse, Seren, to a village or other area of interest, at which point he'll leave the cart for whatever contrived reason and blast at enemies using the magic gauntlets he acquires early in the adventure. Both sequences are in the first-person, with Gabriel and Seren's movements controlled automatically, though the player has some small measure of restricted locomotive control.  Horseback sections are viewed from within the cart, Gabriel holding the reins as Seren pulls him forward. To spur Seren between one of three speeds, the player must crack their arms up and down swiftly. Seren can also be slowed by drawing one's hands to the chest, or stopped suddenly by raising them above the head. By pulling one hand back and pushing the other forward, Seren can also be steered left or right in order to avoid obstacles or pick up experience orbs -- saved for use on a rudimentary skill tree that boosts health, improves the horse, or makes magic more efficient.  For the most part, Fable's horse riding sections surprise due to the fact that they actually work fairly well. Acceleration and steering are relatively responsive, though Seren's turns are a little unwieldy, tending to start slowly before suddenly curving. Though Seren will invariably end up smashing into something or missing orbs due to the unpredictability of the steering, at least I felt like the game always understood what I wanted it to do, something that so many motion-controlled games fail at. In this one area, The Journey stands head and shoulders above many others.  The only major problem is this -- riding a horse is boring, even when the game tries to gussy it up with fast-paced chase sequences or roadside distractions. No matter how often it tries to convince you it's exciting, carriage gameplay still just amounts to the player sat there, intermittently pushing and pulling imaginary reins. So slow are these sections that the game even frequently reminds you that you can just stop playing, put your arms down, and watch Seren do most of the work herself.  Combat sequences are dramatically less savory, and make one pray for the whole game to remain a dull roadtrip. Making many of the mistakes Sorcery did, The Journey's biggest failing is that guesswork is the primary mode of battle, since there's no targeting reticule and you're supposed to intuitively know where you'll be flinging your energy bolts. In theory, the idea of waving your arm and smashing stuff with magic balls is a great idea, but it can never quite work in practice. In any ideal playing situation, the Kinect isn't eye level, and thus can't provide a true 1:1 experience, not without it being suspended in the air directly in front of the television screen. As such, you're expected to just feel it out. If an enemy's approaching from the left, you throw your arm toward the left several times and hope you hit it.  With time, you'll eventually get a vague idea of where to thrust your limbs, but it'll never be perfect, and so projectiles will frequently miss -- especially when the merest twitch can make the difference of several meters in-game. For what it's worth, Gabriel has two magic spells -- a telekinetic "grab" move, bound to the left hand, and an offensive magic bolt bound to the right. With the left hand, players can latch onto enemies or objects and move them by swiping in the desired direction. With the right, players send out damaging attacks, and can later upgrade to fireballs by either waving the hand quickly or shouting "Fireball" at the Kinect. These spells can also change course in mid-air with a swipe of the hand -- theoretically, anyway. It rarely works in practice.  Gabriel can defend himself from melee and ranged attacks with the counter spell, a shield that is activated by drawing one's left arm up towards the body. This is the real pisser, since it seems to work on a totally arbitrary basis. Sometimes it'll activate without you actually doing anything, other times it won't work no matter how hard you try, even when it's really needed. The nature of the input is such that the game just can't efficiently tell if you're launching a grab spell or trying to shield, so it just decides for you.  Even if it worked perfectly, however, that wouldn't alter the fact that you're just playing a very, very poor version of House of the Dead. I like a good lightgun shooter, but "good" does not describe this spell-slinging trot through mundanity. Enemies are sparse and predictable, player attacks little more than just the same two spells spammed over and over. When playing a motion game, I find it a good mental exercise to imagine it played with a traditional controller or gun-like peripheral, and ask whether it would be acceptable by the standards of similar games -- after all, the gimmicky nature of the input shouldn't be an excuse for inadequate gameplay. No matter how The Journey would be controlled, it'd be vacuous to a mind-numbing degree.  Vacuous and, of course, not very comfortable. Being expected to repetitively thrust one's arms back and forth is wearisome work, and if you think it's just because I'm fat, do bear in mind I'm also an habitual masturbator -- my arms are used to a good workout. The simple fact is that the game, designed as it is to be played sat down, is a pain to play -- not least during moments when projectile commands just won't respond and you're forced to literally whip your arm forward to get the thing to recognize you. There's a reason why both the Xbox 360 and the game frequently remind you to rest your arms during the quieter on-rails sections. It knows how uncomfortable it is, and it doesn't care. Why should it care? Player comfort never matters when making tech demos for technology that's several years old! Yes, the "old tech demo" atmosphere that surrounds most Kinect and PlayStation Move games is here in full force, exemplified during moments of downtime where Gabriel comes to a rest stop. At rest stops, the player is made to perform all kinds of mime artistry, from healing wounds to pumping water to tugging on light switches to opening chests. Pretend to brush dirt off a horse, or why not pull an apple from a tree and hold it out for her? Naturally, any pretense of being a videogame is dropped for these sections, as the player performs banal gesture after banal gesture, in no way feeling like the entertainment value is being enhanced. You're not supposed to be entertained in these sections. You're supposed to be impressed by performing the same pantomimes you've been performing on this machine since 2010. Needless to say, only somebody with the memory retention of a goldfish could be impressed -- and even then, "impressed" may be too strong a word for it.  Every now and then, things may be spiced up with a very minor spin on the formula, but the intensity of any such changes are usually a case of smoke-and-mirrors. For instance, one level sees Gabriel trapped in a minecart as it speeds through a cavern, Hobbes launching a volley of missiles at him. For experimentation's sake, I put my hands down and watched to see if any of the considerable enemy fire would hit me. Gabriel got through the entire section unscathed, without me having to move a muscle. It really is difficult to understand how Peter Molyneux ever had the gall to say directly to peoples' faces that this thing wasn't on rails.  I'll confess to not seeing The Journey through to its ultimate conclusion for, after one failed counter spell too many, an unplanned event happened that saw the disc find its way into my hand -- whereby it took on a new, bendier shape and became unreadable by the Xbox. However, my elbows are thankful for the respite and, given that the hours already spent in Albion hadn't changed one iota since the adventure began, I'm confident in the knowledge that nothing of value was lost. Nothing can change the fact that, in its very best moments, The Journey is stale, and at its worst, it inspires the player to try and crush the disc with arms rendered too weary to crush an egg. As I said early in the review, Lionhead did try. However, it tried to accomplish the wrong things. It didn't try to make the game enjoyable for the player, nor did it try and make things engaging or fun. It tried to show off to the audience, to make them think what they were seeing was clever, rather than entertaining. The Journey is a child screaming at its parents to watch as it does a handstand, blissfully unaware that the adults are only feigning interest as the uncoordinated minor repeatedly falls to the ground and tries again, before managing maybe three or four seconds of stability.  In other words, it's yet another motion control game masquerading as something adventurous and bold, but frequently exposing itself for the shallow, monotonous, borderline broken experience it actually is. While some elements of Fable: The Journey really do work, and no effort has been spared to make this look and feel like a quality product, the reality is that no amount of polish can hide the inherent faultiness of the end result. The Journey wants so desperately to impress you, but it can only ever ruin your day.  And it's on-rails.
Fable: The Journey photo
Looking a gift horse in the mouth
The fatal flaw of Kinect games is that they are built on a foundation of lies. You are the controller -- except most games control much of the action themselves to make up for the lack of input. It's more immersive -- except ...

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Tetsuya Mizuguchi takes a step back from development


Sep 20
// Chris Carter
Tetsuya Mizuguchi, famed creator of Rez and producer of classics like Space Channel 5, Gunpey, and Child of Eden, is apparently taking on a more "spokesman-like" role in the immediate future. Q Entertainment director Nob...

Review: Dyad

Jul 19 // Allistair Pinsof
[embed]231623:44444[/embed]Dyad (PlayStation Network)Developer: ][ GamesPublisher: Sony Computer EntertainmentReleased: July 17, 2012MSRP: $15 ($11.99 with a PlayStation Plus subscription)The difficult thing with describing, assessing, and scoring Dyad is that it has few constants in its design. Each of the game’s 27 levels -- 26 of which have an entirely different trophy level -- has its own unique goal, visual style, and mechanics. Throughout all of them, you progress forward, move your squid-like avatar in a loop (think Gyruss or Amplitude), race toward a goal, and do it all to an eclectic electronic soundtrack.The appeal of Dyad is in its trippy-ass-balls visuals and incredibly fast twitch-based gameplay. Unfortunately these two things have a way of nullifying the enjoyment of the other, at times. The intense gameplay will keep you far too busy to appreciate the visuals, while the visuals are far too busy for you to thoroughly enjoy the gameplay. Since the backdrops and enemy types change level-to-level, this isn’t always a major issue but it it is more often than not. The developer insists that this is a game that you play by feel, but a proper game feel will always be dependent on clear visual and audio cues which are far and few between in the psychedelic tunnels of Dyad. On it's most basic level, Dyad centers on pairing enemies (orange or blue) by shooting them and grazing their center to fill your boost ability. Once you boost (read: Lance), you can tear right through enemies and go even faster. The game eventually introduces enemies that can stop your lance move and enemies that create a speed-up zone when linked with another. The rules of Dyad are constantly in flux, as is the music which reacts to your movement, speed, and performance. There are a couple sublime moments when the blurred action and high-tempo music created a surreal experience that I've only had with a couple games before. If your only goal is to reach the game’s immense, brain-melting 27th stage, you won’t be too bothered by the confusing visuals. However, if you want to place high on the leaderboards, you’ll need luck and one hell of a sixth sense because these levels come at you fast. As for beating the trophy levels that unlock after you score a three-star rating on a level -- well, good luck! It can be done but coming to terms with the perplexing visuals, shifting mechanics, and lengthy stage explanations will take some time and dedication for most players. McGrath can blaze through these levels, but who knows a game better than its creator (especially on launch week)? You'll either get by on luck or by being a more patient, low-scoring player.If one word describes Dyad it’s "exhausting." Keeping up with the ridiculous speed of the stages is exhausting. But, most of all, it’s exhausting to have to relearn how you play 27 times. Though Dyad’s main menu is slick, it’s in-game briefings are a mess. The enemy icons aren't accurate, the wall of text descriptions ruins the flow of the game, and there are rarely visual explanations of mechanics. Whether intentionally or not, Dyad is not a game eager to please players. It’s a game for survivalists wishing to prove something within the game’s ruthless tunnels. However, each stage does have a remix mode that lets you alter the visuals and audio, all while playing the level without a fail state. It’s a nice addition that can produce some great eye-candy but it’s not likely to keep any sober bodies in front of the TV for long. The same can be said of Dyad as a whole. It’s a game made of gimmicks that can be enjoyed and mastered, but they are all just gimmicks in linear levels, at the end of the day. Though the game has latched onto the minds of some other reviewers, its hooks never quite got a grip on me. I couldn’t help but feel apathetic toward scoring high. I also couldn’t help but get angry at many levels that have enemies and mechanics that are as novel as they are frustrating. Some of the game's levels do a great job of turning everything you learned so far on its head. One of the early trophy levels requires the player to link enemy pairs by their audio cues instead of visuals. It's incredibly tricky but has a unique thrill to it, once it sinks in. Most of the trophy levels are brutal and not very interesting. Some are just plain unfair. One starts the player off at maximum speed, tasked with dropping to a still state. You accomplish this by colliding with enemies, but it's all so random that you don't feel in control. It's just a matter of luck with a bit of skill involved. A good arcade game shouldn't be centered on luck. Dyad is a simple game complicated by including a hundred simple ideas in the same package. It’s a packed closet full of items once individually wrapped but now they form an avalanche with you buried underneath it all. Some players may welcome the madness, but I couldn’t look past the game’s mixed messaging. On one hand, Dyad wants to be a classic arcade game where leaderboards occupy players’ minds. On the other, it wants to be an ambitious, navel-gazing experiment that culminates with a lengthy light show that makes the ending of Fez look like a Lite-Brite. Dyad is an interesting drug but one that only gets you so high for so long. It’s side-effects and complications will get in the way of your mile-wide high, but, hey, everyone’s high is a bit different. Maybe you’ll enjoy it. Or maybe you’ll play Dyad for 20 minutes and jump off your roof, thinking you’re a dragon. Regardless, Dyad is not substantial or well designed enough to occupy this body’s time once its effects wear off. The games's visuals that recall MTV's Amp are a treat and its manic gameplay is challenging, but these two elements never quite gel together. Also, it made me shit my bed last night. Thought you should know.
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“[Dyad] is a racing game with some shooting elements, puzzle elements, and there’s like a meta-game on top of it that sort of comments on your state of mind when you get into the flow state of playing the game.&...

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Resident Evil Chronicles Collection shambles to PSN


Jun 27
// Kyle MacGregor
Strap on that PlayStation Move, it's time to jam! Capcom is bringing the Resident Evil: Chronicles HD Collection to the PlayStation Network today, giving players another reason to search their living rooms for the s...
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Mad Dog McCree is gungslinging his way to the 3DS eShop


Jun 01
// Chris Carter
Yeeehawww! I can feel the excitement already! On June 14th, you'll be able to download the 3DS iteration of Mad Dog McCree for $7.99. For all you youngins out there, Mad Dog McCree was an old 1990 light-gun arcade game -- at ...
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Resident Evil Chronicles HD aiming for June launch on PS3


May 25
// Kyle MacGregor
[Update: Capcom announced today that the Resident Evil: Chronicles HD Collection will be available for purchase on the PlayStation Network starting June 26th for $27. If you're only interested in purchasing one of the tw...
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New Gal Gun trailer is best enjoyed solo


Mar 02
// Hiroko Yamamura
Still feeling embarrassed and dirty from viewing the Gal Gun PS3 DLC gallery we posted the other day? Well, prepare to dive right into the mud pit of shame. Alchemist has posted a new trailer, showing us a...
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Dress ladies up after you shoot them in Gal Gun PS3


Feb 28
// Hiroko Yamamura
The wacky rail shooter, Gal Gun has finally made its way to Japanese shelves on PS3, more than a year after the Xbox 360 release. Since the game has shown up so late to the party, it has decided to bring a few tanta...
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'Project Draco' officially dubbed 'Crimson Dragon'


Feb 27
// Conrad Zimmerman
At 2010's Tokyo Game Show, we were shown the first glimpse of "Project Draco," a Kinect-based title from Panzer Dragoon director Yukio Futatsugi. Today, from an event celebrating ten years of Xbox held in Akihabara,...

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