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Abyss Odyssey PS4 photo
Abyss Odyssey PS4

Abyss Odyssey: Extended Dream Edition is coming to the PS4


Dodge-cancels are in
May 11
// Chris Carter
Abyss Odyssey was a pretty neat little action game that was built on fighting game mechanics, and in addition to the PC, PS3, and Xbox 360 release, it's also coming to the PS4 as an Extended Dream Edition. The game will...
All you need is Rez photo
All you need is Rez

Note to self: Replay Rez at least once a year


'The journey will begin anew'
Feb 23
// Jordan Devore
On the rare occasion I use my Xbox 360, I'm amazed the thing still works. It's laughably slow to boot up, full of games as it is, and having gone through several broken systems last generation, there's a lingering fear that t...
PSN and XBLA photo
PSN and XBLA

Report: PSN and Xbox Live down after DDoS attack


Bummer
Dec 25
// Jonathan Holmes
I'm currently away from my consoles so I can't confirm this myself, but word on the street is that PSN and Xbox Live are both inaccessible. They've apparently been down off-and-on since last night. Business Insider reports th...
Marvel vs. Capcom photo
Marvel vs. Capcom

Capcom is delisting Marvel vs. Capcom Origins soon


Oh man, that filter
Dec 18
// Jordan Devore
It's a shame when companies delist digital-only games but it's even worse when they don't give a heads up. Capcom had the courtesy to let us know that Marvel vs. Capcom Origins is coming off PlayStation Network on December 23...
Jojo photo
Jojo

Jojo's Bizarre Adventure HD has been delisted on the Xbox Live Arcade


Sad
Sep 11
// Chris Carter
It's  a sad day when something gets delisted on a digital storefront. In terms of physical media we don't really have anything comparable, as so many copies are generally out in the wild after any release -- even the rar...

Review: Abyss Odyssey

Jul 15 // Alasdair Duncan
Abyss Odyssey (PC [reviewed], PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)Developer: ACE TeamPublisher: AtlusMSRP: $14.99/£10.99 Released: July 15, 2014  Santiago, 1890: strange cracks in the ground have appeared across the city, revealing a nether realm of monsters and unusual beings. While the army tries to hold back the nightmarish tide, a strange woman appears, brandishing a sword and leaping into the fray to fight back. Her name is Katrien and she reveals these creatures and the Abyss itself are aspects of the mind of a powerful warlock. All of this is the setup of a particularly unique type of roguelike, a game that's closer to the recent Sunless Sea than The Binding of Issac or Spelunky. Those two games were more centered about you gaining knowledge and experience to help you progress a little further each time but Abyss Odyssey is built more about repeating levels and grinding XP to help the player progress. [embed]277987:54866:0[/embed] While Abyss Odyssey has permadeath of sorts, it's not implemented in the ways you're used to; for starters, if Katrien or one of the other player characters should fall, a soldier will take over and can revive the fallen hero if they're able to get to a shrine that might be in the level. This is neat because the soldier will level up along with the main hero (but will still be the weaker of the two). Sometimes it's easier to just run away from combat and try and find the nearest shrine, especially if you passed one on the way. Players will retain XP and their level between deaths, along with any money they've found. This is where the real progression lies as the more a player levels up, the easier the enemies will be in the earlier dungeons. There's still some difficulty spikes though, like some mini-bosses that will dish out a real beating even if you've breezed through the upper levels. It's here where frustration can set in as progress can feel quite slow at times, especially when you've replayed the opening few levels eight or nine times already. The procedurally-generated layouts aren't varied enough to make each run stand out, so you're left with a feeling of spinning your wheels while slowly getting your rewards. There's three entrances to the Abyss, each with its own set of levels descending deeper and deeper into the ground. Each level is procedurally generated and the difficulty level will be different each time you play, although that really only manifests itself in the enemies that you encounter. Things like spikes and lava pits don't drastically increase the challenge and in the first few hours, you'll only see a handful of enemies. The difficulty will ramp up to the point where you're going to just whittle down the amount of health you have until your eventual demise.  Don't be fooled, though -- enemies are still tough to deal with even on Easy levels. Undead soldiers and the freakish-looking, armless birdmen are tricky on their own but once you're facing two or three of them at a time, it becomes really important for the player to keep their guard up and pick off the weaker enemies first. They'll dodge projectile attacks and will chase you down, although there were plenty of times when I was slightly higher up than some enemies and they simply left me alone to wail on a single opponent without joining in. Some have counter attacks that will flip you up into the air leaving you vulnerable to combos and others will wield poisoned or cursed weapons. In a nice touch, it's clear when enemies are holding special weapons and things like keys, which makes it easier to know who you should take out first.  The combat in Abyss Odyssey is surprising in its depth. Each character can only wield one main weapon (different soldiers wield different firearms as their special attack), but there's still a lot to master. Enemies are smart enough to dodge and weave out of the way of your attacks, even at the easier difficulty levels. Swipes can hit enemies that are behind the player and while it's tempting to just button-mash, it's much more effective to get in a few hits between blocks. One frustration is that it's easy to get your character facing the wrong way. Katrien is the more balanced of the three playable characters, especially in terms of speed when compared to the Ghostly Monk. There's a range of moves that all characters have, from cancelling out of the special attacks to utilizing the air dodge to launch a new combo. While I'm hesitant to say Abyss Odyssey has the same depth of moves as something like Street Fighter IV, it has a much more robust fighting system than you'd expect from a game that appears to be a 2D action-platformer. The addition of two-player co-op makes fight sequences even more frantic and enjoyable. Another neat feature is the ability to possess enemies and use them as a secondary character. If you can accumulate enough mana, you can unleash a binding spell that will capture an adversary and allow you to flip between them and your main character. Your captured character has a separate health bar, so it's worth alternating between the two and taking advantage of any health drops to get your main all healed up. However, it would have been nice if this was explained at the start of the game; a lot of the small fundamental mechanics aren't properly introduced, which maddeningly enough extends to the no-death tutorial/prologue at the start. There are markers that point out where you should block, dash, and so forth but there's no button prompts to tell you how to actually do those moves. I had to exit to the main menu and look at the controller config screen to figure out what I had to do. That sense of discovery can be exciting to some but here it feels like a barrier to progress. In a game like this where mastering the mechanics is key, there's a lot to learn early on in Abyss Odyssey and it can feel slightly overwhelming. Once you understand that you're only expected to get so far in, die, and come back again, you'll be able to get into a groove that allows you to explore further and further. While it would be nice to see some more variety in the level layouts and early enemies, there's still a really enjoyable and deep combat system that's reason enough to descend into the Abyss.  [Note: There are some planned community goals that will affect the state of certain parts of the game but this wasn't able to be tested before release.]
Abyss Odyssey photo
A strange mix of 2D combat and surreal visuals
One thing you can't accuse Chilean developer ACE Team of doing is ploughing the same, well trodden ground as other indie devs. Its debut hit Zeno Clash combined a surrealistic art style with first-person, melee combat, while ...

Xbox sale photo
Xbox sale

This week's Xbox Deals with Gold sale has Wolfenstein cheap(er)


There sure are a lot of guns this week
Jul 15
// Brett Makedonski
Even though Microsoft just ended its summer's Ultimate Games Sale, it's not content to simply cease offering discounts altogether. Everything with a gun must go, apparently -- leading to some pretty decent prices on both Xbox...
Banjo-Kazooie photo
Banjo-Kazooie

Oh hey, an excuse to talk about Banjo-Kazooie


Both games bundled on Xbox 360
Jul 09
// Jordan Devore
Before 4J Studios became involved with the console versions of Minecraft, it ported Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie to Xbox Live Arcade -- rather well, I might add. If you haven't yet played them on Xbox 360, they're worth a re...
Platformers photo
Platformers

Max: The Curse of Brotherhood makes it to PC and Xbox 360


A Microsoft Studios title on Steam!
May 21
// Jordan Devore
Press Play's puzzle-platformer Max: The Curse of Brotherhood has only now released on Xbox 360 and Steam. My interest in the game has certainly dwindled since its Xbox One debut back in December, but there's a reason it'...
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KOOKABUNGA!
Super Time Force is officially out today for the Xbox One and the Xbox 360. YES YES YES! We loved the game, it's a ton of fun, and you should just go buy it already what is wrong with you hurry up. Capybara is celebrating the launch by unleashing ALL the gifs. There's so many gifs that you can basically communicate in gifs to your friends. Also here's a brand new trailer. It's pretty messed up.

Review: Super Time Force

May 13 // Jordan Devore
Super Time Force (Xbox 360 [reviewed], Xbox One)Developer: Capybara GamesPublisher: Capybara GamesRelease date: May 14, 2014MSRP: $14.99 What sets Super Time Force apart is undoubtedly its time-travel theme and the ridiculous situations that ensue, but it also manages to pull off something many games struggle with: humor. Stages are all based on different time periods and your organization's reasons for altering history are often laughably selfish. You'll save dinosaurs from extinction "because an integrated human-dino society is cool, enough said"; travel to a Max Max-esque wasteland in which your boss' daughter is no longer a boring, unfun baby; and journey to the future to bring back all of the updates and plug-ins needed to view a "must-see" cat video. Dialog is similarly lighthearted and ranges from smile-inducing to laugh-out-loud humorous. Time travel can be a messy, confusing mechanic when poorly implemented but that's not at all the case here. Super Time Force plays like a traditional, well-made 2D shooter featuring a large cast of characters up until you get hit by a stray bullet, or you decide to press the B button. Enter time-out mode. The game pauses, and you're able to rewind all the way back to the beginning of a level, if you'd like, or to a few seconds prior. You'll then return to the action as a new "you," either playing as the same character or a fresh one better suited for your current situation. [embed]274740:53852:0[/embed] So, say you got hit, and you'd rather that fact didn't make it into the history books. Just rewind, and kill the enemy in question before it can fire off the shot. Your past self is saved! And now the two of you can combine to give your current self an extra hit point and an improved charge attack. Imagine this and similar scenarios playing out about twenty more times over the course of a single level. It sounds crazy on paper, and it is, but in practice the chaos is manageable while you're in the thick of it -- you're only ever actively controlling one character at a time. Past versions of yourself will go about their business, killing foes and collecting items as you did moments ago. The logic powering the game may not make perfect sense as far as time travel is concerned (does time travel ever truly make sense?) but this makes for a better, more enjoyable videogame. Long story short, Super Time Force's brand of time travel is there to benefit the player first and foremost, which is especially important when it comes to collectibles and the like. That said, you start off each level with 30 total rewinds (though more can be earned) and you're always racing against the clock to make it to the end, beat the boss, or both. This results in a game that feels fast-paced, but not nerve-wracking; challenging, but not unfair. As much as time manipulation is at the core of Super Time Force, it would be a waste without solid running-and-gunning action to go along with it. Thankfully, the game is also a blast in that regard. While you'll start off with only a few characters -- each with a normal and special charged attack -- there are a bunch more to earn. There's someone for everyone. My favorite can charge her sniper rifle for a concentrated blast that pierces through multiple enemies, often one-shotting them. Another starter has a shield, which is useful for protecting future versions of yourself. Others include a skateboarding dinosaur with acid spit, a random dude from the future who essentially wields a lightsaber, and "Dolphin Lundgren." Several of them aren't practical for most situations, meaning you'll likely fall back on using the same few characters over and over again, as the game rarely if ever forces you to do otherwise. Which is disappointing. Some of the collectibles require you to plan ahead, making sure you're standing in the right spot at the right moment, but other than that you're allowed to brute force your way past enemies to your heart's content, particularly when it comes to bosses. Even if you aren't required to go for the full cast, unlocking everyone will be an extra motivating force, all the same -- not that one is needed. At several hours in length, Super Time Force does not outstay its welcome and there's plenty of room for replayability built in, too.  A significant part of that lasting appeal is due to commendable art and sound design. The chiptunes by musician 6955 fit in nicely with Capy's wonderful pixel artwork. After beating each level, you'll get to see a replay and I often watched these to completion -- there's so much to take in while playing that you can't fully appreciate it all. In particular, Rick, the blue-skinned, purple-bearded god responsible for keeping Atlantis above water, deserves a shout out. A separate hardcore mode opens up after clearing the game for the first time and you're able to access it and vanilla Super Time Force from the main menu at any time without worrying about progress in one mode overwriting the other. In hardcore, once a character dies, you're locked out from playing as them again in that level unless you prevent their death from happening. You can't be reckless, in other words, which is a habit some players will have to learn to break. All told, Super Time Force is a satisfying run-and-gun game made even better with a fun (and funny!) take on time travel. It's as enjoyable to play as it is to look at. You'll likely be able to burn through the game in a few hours if you're not going for full completion, but it has such a winning personality that you'll find yourself coming back for more.
Super Time Force photo
Army of one
Capybara Games has been demoing Super Time Force at trade shows for years now, offering players a chance to become acquainted with its neat take on side-scrolling shooters but not enough time to truly dig in. The people hover...

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Super Time Force isn't just crazy shooty-shooty-bam-bam mayhem


It's also slow motion shooty-shooty-bam-bam mayhem
May 09
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Capy released a new trailer for Super Time Force today, and it shows off some of the slow motion aspects of the game. Every level contains three mysterious inter-dimensional power-ups called Shards. Shoot them and time will ...
Capy photo
Capy

Super Time Force has a release date and it's soon


May 14 for Xbox 360 and Xbox One
May 02
// Jordan Devore
"Prepare To Die DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE DIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!" It's true. There will be plenty of death when Super Time Force drops on May 14, 2014 for Xbox 360 and Xbox One. Capy Games has a shiny new trailer to acc...

Review: Trials Fusion

Apr 17 // Jordan Devore
Trials Fusion (PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360 [reviewed], Xbox One)Developer: RedLynx, UbisoftPublisher: UbisoftReleased: April 15, 2014 / April 24, 2014 (PC)MSRP: $19.99 / $39.99 physical release with Season Pass (Xbox One, PS4) To be clear, more of the same in Trials' case is by no means a bad thing. In fact, it's mostly what we want. The motorcycles you'll drive and hop across crazy puzzle-like environments feel as tight as ever, but if you hope to best the hellish post-credits Extreme levels, you'll need a mastery of the game's precision controls. And patience. That hasn't changed one bit. Getting up to that point -- the point at which Trials is at its absolute best, becoming less of a straightforward motorbike racing game and more of a methodical, notoriously difficult platformer -- will be a smooth ride for long-time players who have maintained most of their muscle memory from prior installments. As for newbies: godspeed. The difficulty and complexity of levels ramps up a bit slower than I would have liked as a returning player, but the bigger issue for me was that they feel less varied, less interesting than those featured in Trials Evolution. There's a lot of stuff going on in the background, some of it eye-catching, but the visual design this time around is a downgrade. It seems less inspired. [embed]273366:53453:0[/embed] Now, it's worth stressing that levels can be made significantly harder by going after new optional challenges. There are three per level and they range from "Always hold the gas pedal down and don't use the breaks" to "Don't lean, ever" to "Perform 10 flips without faulting." These objectives are tough even on the earliest of tracks and should help extend Fusion's replay value beyond the monstrous amount of time it will take to rack up Gold and eventually Platinum medals. Unfortunately, challenges are one of the few welcome additions to the tried-and-true Trials formula. Fusion places a heavy emphasis on a new futuristic setting which, in theory, could have worked okay. In reality, it just ends up feeling boring and, again, uninspired. While there are themed stages -- arctic, urban sprawl, and rainforest, to name a few -- even then you're still beaten over the head with the future theme. An attempt was made to weave a light story in by way of AI narration (again, "future!") but this dialogue adds little of value to the experience. Franky, I'd recommend turning it off -- lines annoyingly repeat if you restart at a checkpoint. Another seemingly big feature is the ability to perform tricks using the right analog stick. Once again, this concept really could have worked for Trials. Could have. There are specific levels built around the new FMX system in which you pull off insane moves while trying to keep a combo going for maximum high-score potential. Sadly, they're not challenging, rewarding, or even much fun. I can't quite put my finger on why, but performing tricks feels off, somehow -- especially compared to the precision found elsewhere in Trials. Thankfully, there are very few of these FMX levels so you'll burn through them quickly. I appreciate that RedLynx was trying something new here, but the effort falls short. Maybe next time around. Similarly, there's a new quad bike in certain levels that might sound like a potentially solid addition to Trials. It's all right. While it does have a different weight and feel compared to the other vehicles, it's not that different -- and the courses you'll use it on are more of the same. At this point, I'm starting to worry that it sounds like I dislike Fusion, when that's truly not the case -- it's just that most of what's brand new to this installment adds little to the terrific core gameplay foundation. But let me be clear: the core of the game is still terrific. The wacky Skill Games return, now one per each stage, and those serve as enjoyable distractions. There are tons of bizarre secrets to uncover, like a tennis minigame. (Seriously.) A new leveling system ties experience points to medals and challenges, allowing you to feel a further sense of progression and unlock new cosmetic items for your rider and bikes. Multiplayer also returns, albeit in a four-player, local-only capacity. And there's the hugely important level creator, which I've never been able to properly wrap my head around -- it's back, and since the Trials community has proven itself capable of making high-quality, even ingenious levels, it's fair to expect more of that in the coming months. I'd also expect RedLynx to be great about curating levels as it has been in the past. Trials Fusion is a good game -- and I can only see it getting better over time as user-made levels excel and DLC is released -- but what's there now, at launch, is a step down from Trials Evolution. It's disheartening, then, to see the game come in at a higher price point than its predecessor and also try to sell users on a $19.99 Season Pass in-game right out of the gate. Trials fans will want to play Fusion, that's a given -- but everyone else should wait.
Trials Fusion review photo
Losing speed
There's nothing quite like Trials and, after several games in the popular racing/platforming series, fans know what to expect from developer RedLynx: more of the same. Yes, there will be a stupid, amazing theme song you'll ha...

Magic photo
Magic

Magic 2015 Duels of the Planeswalkers coming this summer


Introducing fully customizable decks
Apr 16
// Caitlin Cooke
Magic 2015 Duels of the Planeswalkers was announced for release this summer on Xbox One, Xbox Live Arcade, Steam, and mobile devices. While not a surprise considering they've produced a new game every summer for the past...
Games with Gold photo
Games with Gold

Hitman: Absolution, Deadlight are April's free Games with Gold


It's a step up
Mar 31
// Jordan Devore
The featured titles in Microsoft's Games with Gold promotion have tended to not be compelling, I think most of us can agree. April shows signs of improvement, with Hitman: Absolution available to Xbox Live Gold members for fr...
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Ubisoft bringing Watch Dogs, Child of Light, more to PAX East


You can't play Watch Dogs, but you can watch Watch Dogs
Mar 26
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Ubisoft is the first major player out of the gate to reveal their lineup of content for PAX East next month. On the AAA front, fans can't play it, but they can watch Watch Dogs be played in a never-before-seen demo. Plus ther...
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Mojang still making buttloads of money from Minecraft


$128 million in 2012
Mar 19
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Buttload. It's totally a phrase.  Mojang, the makers of the runaway hit Minecraft, doubled their net income in 2013 according to The Wall Street Journal. They made $128 million last year, and revenue wise they saw 38% fr...
Dust photo
Dust

Dust: An Elysian Tail passes one million sales


Niiice
Mar 03
// Jordan Devore
A bunch of us liked Dust: An Elysian Tail and it puts a smile on my face to hear that the game wasn't merely a critical success. Creator Dean Dodrill tweeted over the weekend that the game had passed one million units sold ac...
Pac-Man photo
Pac-Man

Pac-Man Museum out today for PSN, XBLA, and Steam


Includes previously arcade-only Battle Royale
Feb 26
// Jordan Devore
Pac-Man Museum, released today on Steam, PlayStation Network, and Xbox Live Arcade, caught my eye this morning. It was my first time hearing about the game and the $19.99 price stood out. What could a compilation like this po...

Review: Double Dragon: Neon

Feb 14 // Patrick Hancock
Double Dragon: Neon (PC [reviewed], PSN, XBLA)Developer: WayForward, Abstraction GamesPublisher: Midnight CityMSRP: $9.99Release Date: February 6, 2014 (PC)  Double Dragon. Billy’s girlfriend, Marian is kidnapped. Get her back. Story. The plot is barebones because, well, games of this time and genre always had barebones plots and this is really a re-telling of the original Double Dragon tale. The story advances through some in-game actions at the end of levels along with lines of voice work interspersed throughout the levels themselves like “I have to find Marian!” Special praise goes towards Skullmageddon, the pun-loving antagonist in Double Dragon: Neon. His voice work and dialogue are so damn amazing that each encounter is something truly special. The ending, in particular, is something you won’t forget any time soon. In the beginning, players may think that Neon has “clunky” controls. Things seem to happen sluggishly, regardless of what your fingers are doing. You see, the controls take some time to really understand. They’re “clunky” on purpose. Everything has some weight to it, even running. It’s deliberate, not clunky. Mashing buttons, which is common in the genre, is sure to result in a swift death. Think of it like a fighting game: everything has a certain amount of frames, and that’s how long the move takes. Like a fighting game, a player who understands the controls will be pulling off some “bread and butter” combos to defeat even the most common of enemies. The first enemies encountered are no joke: if they manage to pull off their combo (two hits), you’ll be down about half of your health. Half! On Normal difficulty! Give it time, and after a while you will be executing very intentional combos that really feel satisfying. [embed]270593:52601:0[/embed] At the core of the gameplay is the dodge mechanic. A perfect dodge results in “Gleam,” significantly increasing the damage of all attacks. Even without perfect dodges, evading attacks is absolutely crucial because as I mentioned, one mistake can lead to a lot of health being taken away. If a direction is pressed while dodging, the player will roll in that direction. Mastering the dodge is the first step to mastering the combat. When playing cooperatively, both players can high-five each other. This is a mechanic in the game. Players can high-five to gain health or earn Gleam, chosen by the initiating high-fiver. But be careful! Your bro can totally psych you out and leave you with nothing!   In addition to punches and kicks, there are special moves, called Sosetsitsu, which can be collected and used. In order to unlock Sosetsitsu moves, a player must first collect cassette tapes from defeated enemies. The more tapes of a specific Sosetsitsu collected, the more powerful that tape gets. This means that your favorite Sosetsitsu might be significantly weaker than others, due to nothing but dumb luck. On the other hand, this situation may encourage players to use Sosetsitsu moves that they would otherwise ignore, adding more diversity to their playstyle. These moves use an energy bar, and each moves uses a different amount of energy. There are also Stances, collected in the same way. These are passive abilities, usually in the form of stat increases. Some will have specific conditions, like increases attack power in correspondence with consecutive hits, while others will straight up increase a player’s defense. Like the Sosetsitsu moves, these are acquired and improved by collecting tapes. Double Dragon: Neon supports fully rebindable keybind controls, but regardless of which keys were used I couldn’t get comfortable playing on a keyboard. Once I began using an Xbox 360 controller, however, everything was much better off. It doesn’t natively support controls outside of the Xbox controller, so keep that in mind when jumping in. This game is the '80s. It’s a beat-'em-up with cassette tapes, bright neon lights and colors, and over-sexualized men and women, the latter occasionally screaming “punish me!” as they die. Everything about the aesthetic acts like a time machine to an era saturated with hair metal, jean jackets, and Rubik’s cubes. The game is also absolutely hysterical. As mentioned, Skullmageddon steals the show every single time he’s on screen. Enemies cartwheel on screen yelling “GYMNASTICS!” Billy will ask “What the butt?!” when trying to use a key on nothing. It’s as campy as Adam West’s Batman on a camping trip in the best of ways. Super special mention has to go to the game’s audio. Jake Kaufman is absolutely brilliant. It evokes classic '80s metal and arcade games simultaneously, fitting the game’s theme perfectly. In what might be the best thing ever, each Stance and Sosetsitsu has its own jingle to go along with it for when the player hovers over it. These jingles are, to put it bluntly, completely mindblowing. They’re simple, stupid, and again, contribute to the overall campy '80s feel of the entire game. Without Mr. Kaufman, Double Dragon: Neon would fall painfully short of being “the complete package.” With him, the game is elevated to a level that very few achieve. Not everything is perfect in this PC version, however. There seems to be some stuttering after playing for a certain amount of time, likely due to a memory leak. Rebooting the game solves the problem, but that doesn’t absolve the issue. Online multiplayer is also included in this version, but from my experience, the lag makes it unplayable. Considering how demanding the combat system is, input lag is nothing short of a death sentence. In addition, it is possible to join someone else’s game at any point, without being able to filter. When I searched for a game, I joined someone who was in the process of fighting the final boss, even though my save file was still on level three. Had I not already beaten the game, I would have been pretty upset considering how delightfully wonderful the finale is. If you don’t want anything spoiled, host your own games. I fear that a lot of people will give up on Double Dragon: Neon too early, either because it “isn’t real Double Dragon” or because of the “clunky controls.” I encourage you to stick with it, because Neon truly is one of the best games in the genre from any decade. It’s got humor, visual flair, excellent gameplay, and a brilliant soundtrack. Some technical problems hold this version back from being near-flawless, so it might be in your best interest to grab a “bro” and team up in local multiplayer, high-fiving each other until your hands bleed. I think Double Dragon: Neon can be summed up perfectly using a jingle from one of the game’s Stances, titled "Training Wheels": "Dad took off my training wheels, boy oh boy how good it feels!"
Double Dragon Neon review photo
Grab a bro
Beat-’em-ups are quite the strange genre to me. I grew playing many of them: Simpsons, X-Men, and Turtles in Time in the arcades were my jam. In fact, I’d say they are still my jam. That said, it’s easy to r...

Far Cry photo
Far Cry

Far Cry Classic coming to US, launch date revealed


Arriving one day earlier than in EMEA territories
Feb 07
// Harry Monogenis
Ubisoft announced Far Cry Classic quite a while ago, but things quickly went quiet -- which is understandable, seeing as how most people were too focused on news coming out of E3 to really care too much. That change...
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Blood of the Werewolf heading to XBLA and PSN


Avalanche 2: Super Avalanche heading to Steam
Jan 28
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Majesco's indie label, Midnight City, has announced that Blood of the Werewolf is heading to Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network Q2 2014. The Metroidvania-style game was released on Steam last year, and the console relea...
Deals photo
Deals

Xbox Live deal: Dark Souls, Tales of Vesperia, D&D


Worth a look
Jan 22
// Jordan Devore
The Xbox Live deal of the week features a strange group of games, but strange can be good. These discounts are valid until Monday, January 27 for Gold subscribers: Dark Souls ($4.99) Tales of Vesperia ($4.94) Powerstar Golf ...
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Microsoft still missing the point of 'free-to-play'


Happy Wars can be played by Silver members now, kind of
Jan 21
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Happy Wars is one of the handful of free-to-play titles on Xbox Live. It's free-to-play if you're a paying subscriber of Xbox Live Gold that is. Well Happy Wars was finally made playable for non-paying Silver members, kind of...
Lara Croft photo
Lara Croft

Guardian of Light's free now for Xbox Live Gold members


You have two weeks
Jan 16
// Brett Makedonski
It's time for another predictable but helpful bi-weekly reminder that a new game is free for Xbox Live Gold subscribers. This time, it's 2010's Summer of Arcade title Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light. Of course, this offe...
Far Cry bundle photo
Far Cry bundle

Europe is getting a much better Far Cry bundle


Far Cry: The Wild Expedition
Jan 09
// Jordan Devore
Ubisoft's Far Cry Compilation for PlayStation 3 -- which includes Far Cry 2, Far Cry 3, and Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon -- has been outdone by ... Ubisoft. Europe is getting a bundle of its own, dubbed Far Cry: The Wild Expeditio...
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Assassin's Creed Liberation looks way better in HD


No duh
Jan 08
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Assassin's Creed Liberation is making the jump from handheld to consoles and PC. Liberation HD is completely remastered visually, and Ubisoft released some new screenshots to show off how much prettier the game looks. Otherwi...
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Rekoil comes out this month on PC and Xbox Live Arcade


Oh look, another first-person shooter
Jan 05
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Plastic Piranha's Rekoil is coming out at the end of this month. Expect the Windows PC version on January 28 through Steam. The Xbox Live Arcade version is titled Rekoil: Liberator, and that's out January 29. Each version wi...

Review: Max: The Curse of Brotherhood

Dec 29 // Wesley Ruscher
Max: The Curse of Brotherhood (Xbox 360, Xbox One [reviewed])Developer: Press PlayPublisher: Microsoft StudiosReleased: December 20, 2013 (Xbox One) / 2014 (Xbox 360)MSRP: $14.99 For Max, it’s quite clear that nothing annoys him more than his nerdy little brother. After coming home from school one day, our titular hero finds his sibling playing in his room and quickly getting on his nerves. Fed up, Max turns to the Internet and stumbles upon a spell that, after reading aloud, opens up a portal in his room where a giant monster’s hand reaches through and snatches away his little nuisance. Though relieved for a moment, Max quickly comes to the realization that the impending ramification from his parents outweigh the benefits of being an only child again. So without hesitation, Max jumps into the portal in pursuit, which leads to a fantastical new world. As he comes to, Max sees his brother off in the horizon being taken away by the horrifically large creature that grabbed him, and thus Max’s journey begins. [embed]268141:52041:0[/embed] This all takes place within the first few minutes of Max: The Curse of Brotherhood. A game that wastes no time throwing players into a world of wonder that’s full of puzzles to unravel and suspense to be had. As the adventure begins, you traverse the whimsical landscape akin to any 2D platformer of yesteryear. Max moves at an adequate pace, and can jump and climb basic obstacles with ease. The first five minutes or so are designated as an introduction to Max’s control and the overall responsiveness to the physics behind his movements. But you won’t pay too much attention to all this as it is all cleverly hidden as you move through the game’s beautiful environments. For the most part, Max’s controls are typical for the genre aside from using his nifty magic marker -- which is assigned to the right analog stick and each trigger depending on whether one is drawing or erasing. Typically, having to draw shapes in the midst of action with anything but a touch/stylus based interface would be considered cumbersome, but Max: The Curse of Brotherhood excellently balances its action and puzzle sequences. And when the two do collide, it is usually met with some Matrix-style slowdown that reduces the stress of having to make just the right shape in the nick of time. The game takes a minimalistic approach towards showing players how to use each of Max’s skills, while also teaching how everything isn't as innocent as it seems at first glance. For example, as you make your way through the beginning area, you most likely will fall prey to a tumbling rock. It’s somewhat of an unfair death -- as only those familiar with the stage are going to know it’s coming --  but  it teaches a valuable lesson without bogging down the gameplay with tedious tutorials. The game is full of these moments, but thanks to the way it nurtures throughout, you’ll often be prepared for them and always feel heavily rewarded when you make it through unscathed. But even if you fail, the game is more than generous with its checkpoints, reducing unnecessary retreading. As you start to earn Max’s main skills -- which additionally serve as the game’s main draw -- each new ability is presented in a manner that slowly lets players become accustomed to their intricacies. Armed with a special magic marker, Max will eventually gain the ability to create pedestals from the earth, vines to swing from, conform roots as platforms, and create currents of water to propel himself to new heights. As you learn to use each power, what starts off merely as tools to assist Max in his platforming escapade, eventually become useful aides in finding every hidden secret placed throughout the game. The ability to make branches into platforms eventually evolves into creating movable platforms, battering rams, and even weights in order to solve some fairly obtuse puzzles. Eventually, each skill begins to accentuate other skills adding even more depth to the platforming and puzzle solving. While ultimately the puzzles may fall on the simple side of things, they never ruin the pace of the action, and more importantly, they make you feel accomplished upon completion. In the end I couldn't have been more pleasantly surprised with Max: The Curse of Brotherhood. It’s a game full of wonder and magical moments, that while light on actual narrative, still delivers a world that is hard to forget. The visuals are Pixar-esque charming and the combination of cerebral puzzles with thrilling action offers up a bite-sized experience that is a welcome addition to the Xbox One’s library. If you’re looking for a change a pace, I couldn't think of a more fitting way to finish off this gaming year.
Max reviewed! photo
Magically hits the mark
As the eldest of three, there have been more than a few occasions in my life where I wished my siblings would just disappear. Whether it was from them breaking my things; disrupting my privacy; or as I grew older, the embar...


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