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8:00 AM on 06.06.2013

LEGO Marvel Super Heroes is a ton of fun

I am so jealous of kids growing up this day and age. They have the coolest videogame consoles, the Internet, iPads, and now LEGO Marvel Super Heroes. Combining Marvel, one of the hottest movie proprieties right now (and not t...

Hamza CTZ Aziz



Tearaway is a must-own for the PlayStation Vita photo
Tearaway is a must-own for the PlayStation Vita
by Hamza CTZ Aziz

Last week, I got to preview a bunch of current-gen games, which we can expect to see during E3, at a special pre-show event that entailed several different game companies. The Sony showcase in particular had a handful of games that are now on my radar, such as The Last of Us, Luftrausers, and Doki-Doki Universe.

But out of everything I saw, Media Molecule's Tearaway was by far my favorite game to play. The papercraft world that they've created is incredibly charming, and the way it incorporates the Vita's features along with the actual players themselves makes it so you never want to leave that world.

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Killzone: Mercenary is the FPS the Vita has been needing photo
Killzone: Mercenary is the FPS the Vita has been needing
by Hamza CTZ Aziz

The PlayStation Vita is a great system with a slowly increasing library of great titles. The exception being in the first-person shooter genre, that is.

You'd think that after one of these big game companies made a handheld with two joysticks that there would be a bigger incentive to create more first-person experiences. Instead, we've gotten only a few first-person shooters to date: Resistance: Burning Skies was a joke, and Call of Duty: Black Ops: Declassified was an insult.

I recently went hands-on with Killzone: Mercenary for the Vita, and based on what I saw, it could finally be the FPS the Vita has been so badly needing. It's hard to say this early on if it's a must-own, but my early impressions are at least far more favorable compared to the previous two disasters.

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CounterSpy takes inspiration from classic side-scrollers photo
CounterSpy takes inspiration from classic side-scrollers
by Hamza CTZ Aziz

The first thing you'll notice about CounterSpy is its unique art style. Really, you can say that about a lot of the indie titles Sony has been picking up lately, but there's something extra special about this one. That probably has to do with the fact that the ten-man team at Dynamighty is comprised of ex-LucasArts and Pixar folks.

As you can probably tell from the title, CounterSpy has you playing as a spy tasked with infiltrating two opposing superpowers in order to sabotage their weapons of mass destruction.

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2:00 PM on 05.18.2013

Doki-Doki Universe is more than just flying around on poo

Doki-Doki Universe is a simple game to grasp but a hard one to describe at first. Basically, you play as a robot named QT377665 (or QT3 for short), who's just discovered that its entire line has become obsolete thanks to thei...

Hamza CTZ Aziz



Preview: Never the same levels in Cloudberry Kingdom photo
Preview: Never the same levels in Cloudberry Kingdom
by Abel Girmay

The challenge in creating a platformer is figuring out what you could do differently from everyone else. While the same could be said about any genre, you have to admit that it's especially challenging for plaformers, a genre that is so simple at its core. Cloudberry Kingdom's answer is in its AI level creator, which switches up the design of every level you play, every time you play it.

Originally a Kickstarter-funded project, Cloudberry Kingdom was  developed by a core team of four -- including around 12 contractors -- at Pwnee Studios. "When we did the Kickstarter thing, we had distribution deals on Wii U, PSN, and Steam, but Microsoft just really wasn't playing ball with us," said Pwnee Studios' Jordan Fisher.

In need of a major publishers backing to get on the restrictive XBLA, Pwnee started shopping around, eventually finding a partner in Ubisoft. "We actually met Ubisoft at E3, and they liked the game a lot, and they could get us onto XBLA." On the previously mentioned publishing deals, Fisher continues: "That was sort of the  trade-off. We would let them have a slice of wherever it was published in exchange for them getting us on XBLA. It's definitely been worth it though, since they've been getting us marketing and all sorts of support."

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Muramasa for Vita is amazing, plays great photo
Muramasa for Vita is amazing, plays great
by Steven Hansen

God damn this game is pretty.

Vanillaware’s 2009 Wii title Muramasa: The Demon Blade inevitably pops up in just about any discussion of the best Wii games. It’s sitting on my shelf, snug in its shrink wrap, because I simply don’t play my Wii enough. I’m a terrible person.

This egregious affront is soon to be rectified in the best of ways, however, as Aksys is brining Muramasa: Rebirth to Vitas stateside.The art was already gorgeous, but this hand drawn mastery being completely redone in HD for the Vita on the console’s ridiculously pretty screen is a sight to behold. Add in a new localization effort, a dedicated jump button, and DLC featuring four entirely new characters. The game comes out this week in Japan, but I’ve played the incoming English (summer 2013) build. It almost makes it okay I waited this long.

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Metroidvania-brawler Guacamelee! is guacamazing photo
Metroidvania-brawler Guacamelee! is guacamazing
by Steven Hansen

One of my favorite parts about Mexican cuisine is its cohesiveness. It's a property found in all my favorite types of foods: Italian, Chinese, etc. You take a swath of semi-disparate elements, tie them together with a sauce, and boom; you have an enormous meal you can gobble down in matrimonial mouthful. Just take guacamole, for example. Five or six ingredients plus spices come together to form a more perfect union, resulting in one cohesive dip so powerful Burt Ward's Robin exalted it in the 1960's Batman TV series.

DrinkBox Studio's (Tales from Space: Mutant Blob Attacks) Mexican flavored, Metroidvania-inspired brawler takes from its namesake an amalgam of loved elements and throws them together in a comprehensive, delectable dish.

There’s even a wise, angry, magical goat man. Also, you can turn into a chicken. At will.

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KickBeat is looking like music to the ears of Vita owners photo
KickBeat is looking like music to the ears of Vita owners
by Abel Girmay

Remember music games? Yeah, those were fun.

With the genre's better (or at least its mainstream) days behind, I'm always interested to see in what weird and unique ways it will pop back up. Enter KickBeat, from the house that brought out Zen Pinball.

While we covered a lot of its specifics when Conrad last saw it at E3, we did recently get to see a few new additions to the combat, including enemy types and combos.

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Killzone: Mercernary: A real Vita FPS finally arrives photo
Killzone: Mercernary: A real Vita FPS finally arrives
by Dale North

You want a first-person shooter on your Vita, right? Me too. Those dual analog sticks have been calling my name since the system's release, but we've got nothing to use them with. And no, that other game doesn't count.

Killzone: Mercenary swoops in to save the day with real, console-quality [I hate when people say that about portable games] FPS action. Those dual analog sticks? Put to great use with classic Killzone gameplay. Actually, everything in and on the Vita has been put to good use in this game, with everything from graphics hardware to the touchscreen working together to make what's shaping up to easily be the best shooter on the system. 

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Hands-on: Ripping into Vita platformer Tearaway photo
Hands-on: Ripping into Vita platformer Tearaway
by Dale North

Media Molecule debuted a papery present at gamescom last year with upcoming Vita game Tearaway, but they haven't said much about it since. And then, out of nowhere, we finally got our hands on a playable version at a Sony press event tonight. I ripped into this adorable game immediately. I ripped into it like, you know, paper. 

Tearaway plays out like a buddy movie, with the envelope-headed Iota as one side of the cast, and you as the other. Through the Vita's interfaces you'll literally poke your fingers into its world, punching through the ground with your fingers through the rear touch panel, or peeling away paper layers with the front touch screen. And judging by a new trailer you'll also be able to yell into the Vita's mic to sort of Fus Ro Dah enemies in the game. All of this might sound gimmicky, but it all looks and feels natural, like you're supposed to be in it.

And it doesn't hurt that it's super adorable.

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MLB 13: The Show focusing on bringing the fun photo
MLB 13: The Show focusing on bringing the fun
by Steven Hansen

October was a hell of a month here in San Francisco. There’s nothing like sports to shore up the bonds of comradely in otherwise disparate, eclectic pockets of the world. Just look at how the Olympics create a national binary; some seek sanctuary amongst the loudly irreverent while others buy into the nationalistic fervor. Those just trying to go about their lives get bombarded from on high by either side.

This year, the hometown Giants, a team I've followed with ardor since childhood, made history, winning nine straight do-or-die elimination games to propel them to the World Series, which they then swept against a favored Detroit Tigers team. This is a thing that does not happen, and has never happened before. And if you follow San Francisco game journalists or like sports, you probably heard about it from either side of the fence.

Come March, Sony's excellent MLB: The Show series will be making its yearly rounds, just in time for spring training and just in time to whet a collective appetite for the American pastime. There have been a lot of changes, not the least of which is the new Post Season Mode, intended to replicate that heart quickening post season play without the 162 games prior -- and to help build narratives like the one the Giants wrote with their historical 2012 run. Add in rebalanced gameplay skewed toward offense and the new beginner mode and you got something that's looking to be the most accessible, plainly fun The Show yet.

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Preview: Street Fighter X Tekken Vita brings plenty more photo
Preview: Street Fighter X Tekken Vita brings plenty more
by Abel Girmay

The PlayStation Vita's library has already seen its fair share of console ports, especially when it comes to fighting games. Mortal Kombat, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, and now Street Fighter X Tekken has made the jump. Having played many of these ports, there seems to be a common theme to them: get the base game, all the DLC released, then add in some Vita-specific extras.

In that respect, Street Fighter X Tekken isn't doing anything particularly new. Still, the Vita version packs a hell of a lot of content, offering fighting fans a good amount of incentive to take the dive.

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Hands-on with Call of Duty: Black Ops on the Vita photo
Hands-on with Call of Duty: Black Ops on the Vita
by Steven Hansen

In the same way armchair economists have explained how the release of a Monster Hunter title would “save” the Vita in Japan, many have espoused the necessity of a parallel big-name release for North America. That sales boon is expected to come in the form of Call of Duty: Black Ops: Declassified, which was announced for the Vita during this past E3, albeit with nary a screenshot or video clip to go on.

Still, whereas an unspecific Monster Hunter for the Vita was said to be scheduled for release before the year’s end, Declassified exists and is quite playable. I’m not sure it’ll be how the west is won for Sony’s wonderful handheld, but it’s definitely a Call of Duty game and they sell staggeringly well.

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TGS: It's all about Soul (Sacrifice, that is) photo
TGS: It's all about Soul (Sacrifice, that is)
by Conrad Zimmerman

[With apologies to Billy Joel]

Soul Sacrifice was certainly one of the biggest games at this year's Tokyo Game Show. I had a chance to play it on the show floor and, well, I'm confused. Demos are always a little bit confusing because you're often going in cold on a game. Then, add the language barrier by playing a Japanese demo and it gets a little trickier, and I know that I've missed (or misunderstood) a lot of things by playing it.

Standing in Sony's booth, I was teamed up with two other attendees and a company representative to take down demons in the title's cooperative multiplayer match. 

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TGS: Open Me, open you, open everything in the room photo
TGS: Open Me, open you, open everything in the room
by Conrad Zimmerman

Augmented Reality games are a neat thing, but there aren't a lot of them which have captured my interest beyond that. But I've finally found one that I'm really into in the Sony booth at Tokyo Game Show. Open Me is a game where the player is presented with a box, which must be opened. Think Hellraiser, but without all of the clean-up necessitated by a visit from alternate reality sadomasochistic demons.

The TGS demo featured puzzles meant for two players, though I was assured that there will be many solo boxes to open as well. After scanning a code block, a wooden box appears like the one above. The box is fully three-dimensional, and looks simple enough. On attempting to lift the lid, however, two metal bands flipped up from the sides and clamped it down, preventing me from creating more than a slight gap. 

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