If there weren't enough games on the market that take up all of your time, there are even more of them to distract you from the daily responsibilities and tasks that you should be doing. Recently an MMO Bomberman was released, titled Bombermine. Yep, a Massive Multiplayer Online Bomberman where up to 1000 players can play on the same map at once. Prepare to lose all productivity, because it is addicting and entertaining.
BattleBlock Theatre Coming Spring 2013
And if that weren't enough, there are a few new indie titles coming to consoles later this year. Thomas Was Alone, an indie title previously released on PC and Mac, are now getting a PS3 and PS Vita port in the spring. This 8-bit style adventure game will feature cross-play between the Vita and the PS3 and looks to be a fun time for anyone who wants to pick it up. Finally, Behemoth's new platformer, BattleBlock Theatre has a spring release window. While we can't get an exact date of when these games will be released, it is still nice to see indie titles that are supported and promoted alongside bigger games like Tomb Raider and Bioshock: Infinite.
Still losing games? Don't worry, we're here to help you complete the rest of your training. Bust out your composition book and prepare to get homework assignments for a video game.
League of Legends is the most played video game in the world and new players are thrown into an ocean of pain and sorrow. Last week we went over important concepts like murdering midget cultists, engaging in the destruction of private property, and how healthy it is to beat up real people rather than taking out your frustrations where they can't hurt anyone.
This week, learn to be a paranoid, spying kleptomaniac!
The PS4 has just been announced and with it, a realm of possibilities is open. Devin, Colby, and Casey discuss what this could mean for Microsoft, the best features of the new console, and some of the new titles we can look forward to
Join us here at 6 PM EST/5PM CST for the liveblog of the Playstation event going on tonight in NYC. Will we see Playstation 4? Probably. Will the devs of God of War, Watch Dogs, Destiny, and Beyond be on hand? Yes. Will J squee like a little girl and try to preorder it every day until it becomes available? Most definitely.
Sometimes I feel like my brain isn’t as active when I am
playing a video game. I could be grinding for the hundredth time in Persona 3,
or shooting at a lot of things and watching them turn to red pieces of guts and
blood (or sunshine and bunnies if I turned on the gore filter). There are games
that allow for zoning out, but then there are games like Portal that challenge
me to think and problem solve. Puzzle games have often been overshadowed by
much more “fun” games. It’s hard to show people how going from one room to the
next solving puzzles is just as fun as shooting at your friends or going
treasure hunting in the jungle. Antichamber is a game where you discover the
“fun” of playing a puzzle game is finding out how to get to the next room.
From the beginning, Antichamber is set up as a simple game,
with settings and controls laid out on a wall in front of you. Everything about
the art style screams simplicity: almost everything is in either black or
white, or uses basic, bright colors as a way to set the tone, and there isn’t
any music playing in the background. Sound effects pepper the levels, from a
rainstorm pounding away overhead, to the sounds of a summer night, with
crickets chirping and grass swaying in the wind. Each level gives off a certain
vibe, and those feelings can change based on how you interact with the level.
One of the puzzles involves falling down a very large shaft, and before you
fall you can hear the rain and thunder as you interact with the level. Once you
jump down, the thunder and rain get louder, the volume increases and the rain
intensifies until it peaks, with a giant crack of lighting and the sound of
thunder roaring as you hit the floor. I was astounded at how simply moving
around in this labyrinth of rooms can enthrall me as much as Antichamber did.
It is so amazing to play a simplistic puzzle game that can put me on the edge
of my seat while trying to just move from one room to the next. What makes this
game even more astounding is that it can do all of this without a narrative.
Every game has to have a narrative of some kind. Many games
focus on the narrative, as it is the main vessel for conveying themes and
emotions to the player. Antichamber takes all of that and says “Who needs a
narrative?” Aside from small pictures and abstract sentences that really only
give the vaguest of clues, there isn’t a narrative in Antichamber. There is a
nice flow of the pictures that you find as they show off a kind of slideshow as
you find more of them, but for the most part, the game does away with any kind
of story or plot and instead just puts you in front of a puzzle and says “Here
you go, problem solve.” I think it is the best idea in the entire game. Without
having to worry about the framework of a narrative, or trying to find a way to
fit the puzzles to a certain theme within a story, Antichamber is refined into
its best possible form. And it conveys that overall sense of simplicity so well
I was constantly thinking and re-thinking about Antichamber even afterI
finished the game. It gave me a slight lab-rat vibe as there wasn’t any context
to why I was solving the puzzles, but after the first few chambers, I realized
that I didn’t care about the context because the puzzles themselves were so
much fun. Antichamber takes simple controls and complex puzzles and makes a
masterpiece of a puzzle game, while challenging you to re-think much of what
you assume about games overall.
From the first chamber, I was thrown off about how I thought
this game might progress. In it, I spawned on one side of a very large chasm
with what looked like a next room on the other side. Floating above in large
block letters was the word jump. So I obviously jumped, assuming that something
would happen to allow me to cross what looked like an impassable distance. I
fell down and surprisingly didn’t die. I was led to the next level at the
bottom of the chasm with a small picture and a simple statement “Failing to
succeed does not mean failing to progress.” I was stunned and excited,
realizing that this was not going to be as simple or as straightforward as I
first assumed. Antichamber constantly tricks you into changing the rules in
your head that have been built up by years of similar concepts that span
hundreds of games. It is a fantastic experience trying to expect anything and
still not realizing how to progress, until something clicks in your mind and
you realize how simple it is after the fact. Antichamber is very unique in that
the simple concepts introduced in the beginning are the same concepts that are
used throughout the entire game, and all of the difficulty, variety, and fun
come from changes or modifications on those simple concepts.
The first chunk of chambers involves simply moving through
various puzzles discovering some of the basic concepts of the game. Then, once
you receive your “gun”, things evolve and grow more complex. While the
contraption acquired is best described as a gun, it’s mostly just something
that you use to pick up and place the colored blocks that start appearing in
later levels. Once you start interacting with the blocks, you unlock further
levels and discover different rooms and how they are all connected. Some rooms
are stand-alone, where you are given a set number of blocks, or are limited in
where you can go, and other rooms are connected together, where bringing
materials with you grants access to rooms otherwise locked or inaccessible. As
the game progresses new functions are added by acquiring a new “gun” sporting a
new color, and different mechanics are introduced. Things like false walls and
floors or backtracking to find a different room than before are all smaller
parts of a bigger experience. And despite each of these aspects that add layers
of difficulty, and sometimes confusion, the same basic principles and ideas
that made you question everything in the beginning of the game are never
changed or grow too complex.
Puzzle games aren’t something people actively look for when
browsing for a new game to play. I’m sure everyone has heard of Portal or plays
a few puzzle games on their phone, but it’s not like there is a new Puzzle game
released by Activision every year like Call of Duty. I’m quite thankful of this
fact, for it is Antichamber’s uniqueness that adds to the long list of reasons why
anyone and everyone should pick this game up. If you have a PC and can run
Steam on it, buy this game. It is that good. I recommend this game
wholeheartedly and without reservation, because it has been one of the most
fun, challenging, maddening, and interesting games I have played in recent
Bungie has recently released the first footage of their upcoming FPS title "Destiny" (seen above), their first FPS game release since branching off of Microsoft and the Halo series. Though the exact date of release isn't set until near the end of 2013 for Xbox 360 and PS3, the company is banking a lot of their support on its development in the hopes that they once again redefine the FPS genre. You may have also noticed that a release for PC was not mentioned there.
In fact, the confidence at this redefinition is so high that Bungie co-founder Jason Jones has stated on Destructoid,
"We did a bunch of ambitious things on Halo deliberately
to reach out to people. We limited players to two
weapons, we gave them recharging health, we automatically saved and
restored the game -- almost heretical things to first-person shooters at
the time. We made the game run without a mouse and keyboard. And now
nobody plays shooters the way they used to play them before Halo 'cause nobody wants to."
Yeah, we had to re-read his statement too. Apparently, FPS gaming with a mouse and keyboard is no longer popular. With the gaming worlds of Halo, Call of Duty, Gears of War, etc. being played on console, there's apparently no longer a future of FPS gaming with the good ol' mouse and keyboard.
...Or Jason completely forgot about Counter Strike (with 1.6 still being the most popular title played today), Team Fortress 2, Planetside 2, PC versions of Call of Duty...we think you get it. It's not really understood where he was going with such a blatantly incorrect statement, but we get the feeling that there's going to be some backlash from the old fashioned mouse and keyboard gamers.
You've had enough of having nothing to add when the conversation turns to Teemos and AD caster mids and jokes about some guy named Warmog. You've heard about the millions of people tuning in to LoL tournaments to watch their favorite players get destroyed by Koreans. You've installed the game, completed the tutorial, picked a cool looking character, and had a ninja lady kick you the death before disappearing into a smoke cloud while shouting "BEST AKALI NA" in chat. Now what?
I'm not sure if Nintendo Collectively decides to just dump a bunch of info at once, or if various development teams all come up to some PR guy and say "Hey you want to talk about this new thing for our game?" Either way, it is never a bad thing for us when a Nintendo Direct Press Conference is held. To sum up the conference, a whole slew of 3DS titles were announced as well as more information was released regarding upcoming 3DS games. The previously announced Animal Crossing: New Leaf and Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon have had some new light shed on various aspects of gameplay. In Animal Crossing: New Leaf, your character and home will have more customization options as far as home decoration and wardrobe are concerned. Also, the 3DS Street Pass functionality will serve as a way to share and interact with other peoples cities and homes. In Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon, there will be a variety of upgrades for Luigi's Poltergust ghost-grabbing contraption, as well as the inclusion of co-op in some form. While there is still plenty to learn about these titles, it's exciting to see new games coming to the 3DS that are continuations of classic series.
In more 3DS news, Donkey Kong Country Returns, Mario Golf, and Mario&Luigi: Dream Team were all announced for the 3DS. While not much information was released regarding any content for the games, just this information alone is really enticing for anyone thinking about upgrading to the 3DS handheld. With E3 coming around in June, it's curious to see what else Nintendo has up their sleeve regarding their portable system
Join us in welcoming a new reviewer to the site! Apprentice Nine has come out swinging with his first review, Fire Emblem Awakening for the 3DS. You can read more about him in the "About Us" section.
Fire Emblem is a franchise with a rather complicated past, and one that fans in North America and Europe have struggled with. The first six games of the series were never released outside of Japan, and although the next four installments were released internationally, they catered to a very specific niche audience. To many gamers, the name “Fire Emblem” merely prompted a discussion of Marth, Roy, and Ike in Super Smash Brothers. To die hard fans like myself, the name meant a game with a deep, sweeping storyline, engaging turn-based tactics, and the certainty of a good challenge. After years of waiting, Intelligent Systems has not only released a game which caters to the die-hard Fire Emblem fan, but also to gamers who have never touched a strategy RPG.
Without spoiling anything, you soon find your customized Avatar unconscious in the middle of a field, with no memory of anything but your name. However, you are rescued by Prince Chrom of the Halidom of Ylisse, and his band of Shepherds. After helping Chrom protect a small town from a group of bandits, you are adopted into the Shepherds as their tactician. You will find yourself constantly faced by new enemies while rallying new allies to your cause. It is nothing short of an awesome adventure.
Awakening’s combat system is relatively intuitive and easy to grasp, especially to gamers who have picked up games like Advance Wars or Final Fantasy Tactics. Each battle takes place on a grid system, which your units move along like pieces on a game board. After all of your units have taken an action, the enemy’s turn begins, and so on. It’s a combat system with a surprising amount of depth, and you will have to think carefully about how you position your units, what weapons they equip, and what actions the enemy AI might take. There will be times when you have to weigh the risk between using a character’s turn to heal, or to risk death and attack a weakened, but dangerous, enemy in order to finish the chapter. Some battles may challenge you, but the feeling of success you experience as you watch your characters grow is unparalleled.
In the majority of past Fire Emblem games, characters could use a Master Seal to “class up” once they reached a certain level. For example, an Archer would be able to class up into the more powerful Sniper, a Pegasus Knight into a Falcon Knight, a Myrmidon into a Swordmaster, and so on. However, Awakening borrows two class up mechanics from previous Fire Emblem titles: branching classes and reclassing. Now, when a character classes up, you will have two class options to choose from (i.e. A Myrmidon can either become a Swordmaster or an Assassin). Or, you can use a “Change Seal” to become a completely different unit while retaining learned skills. This system has a complexity that allows you to customize each unit to meet your army’s needs!
Perhaps the most interesting new development that Awakening brings to Fire Emblem gameplay is the Dual System. In previous installments, characters would fight opponents one on one. In Awakening, if two characters are placed adjacent to each other, they will join each other in combat and boost each other’s stats. If those two characters have a support relationship, the status boosts are increased! You can also use the Pair Up command to join units together in combat for great status boosts (at the cost of the support character losing the ability to move freely and gaining less experience). It’s an amazing tactic, as you can pair a fragile Mage with a sturdy Knight and receive a substantial boost to the Mage’s defense stat!
One of the greatest things about Awakening is the amount of gameplay customization that is available. You can choose the difficulty level at the start of each new safe file, with the option of playing on Normal, Hard, or Lunatic. (Beating the game on Lunatic unlocks Lunatic+, which is basically designed to test every aspect of your sanity). You can also choose between playing the game on Classic or Casual mode. One of the trademarks of the Fire Emblem franchise is that when a unit falls in combat, he/she dies and is gone from your army forever. The exceptions are the main character or “Lord” of the game (in this case Chrom and your Avatar), whose deaths will result in a game over. Classic mode retains this battle mechanic, while Casual mode allows fallen units to return in the next chapter. However, Chrom or the Avatar’s death will still result in a Game Over.
While there are definitely benefits for new players opting to play on Casual mode, that sense of risk definitely takes something away from the Fire Emblem experience. At one point in an early chapter, I moved one of my units (a powerful but frail Mage) one square more than I had originally planned. Not only did I place her out of range of her support partner, but I had also placed her in range of three enemy Cavaliers. There was no way to correct my oversight, and so I could only watch in terror during the enemy phase, as they rode down on my fragile and friendless Mage. The first attack took away more than half of her health, and she responded by killing the enemy. The second would have killed her, but her Miracle skill activated, and saved her with only one health point remaining. My heart stopped in my chest as the last cavalier readied his lance for the fatal charge...and miraculously, my mage dodged the attack and struck down the opponent. At the start of my next turn, I felt only relief as I healed my Mage and continued my offensive. If her support partner was adjacent to her, she could likely have dodged every attack with ease. If I had not moved her that extra space, she would not have been in any danger at all. In Awakening, one single action can turn the tide of battle, or cost a loved character his/her life. It’s a feeling only Fire Emblem can produce, and Casual mode mitigates it somewhat.
Fire Emblem: Awakening is likely the series’ most well presented title, if it doesn’t possess the highest production value of any game in the 3DS’s library. The animated cutscenes are beautifully rendered and fully voice-acted, and characters also have brief soundbites throughout the text-box dialogue, as well as during battle. Every member of the large cast feels unique and memorable, and you will want nothing more than to watch their stories develop through the support system. Supporting characters can also eventually marry, and possibly result in a child you can later recruit to your army!
The story is also perhaps one of the most engrossing I have experienced in a strategy RPG. What starts off as a simply fighting off a small pack of bandits turns into a story where entire nations are fighting for survival, with Chrom’s gang caught in the middle and struggling to save their world. There are moments of pure laughter, triumph, heartache, and loss. The soundtrack is one of the highest quality, as each track captures the emotion of the scene perfectly. Even early in the game, one tragic moment, highlighted by the lamenting soundtrack, had me in tears.
This is a game whose depth can keep you going almost indefinitely. If you wish to play with the various class-up mechanics and create the strongest possible army, you can expect to put a minimum of 60 hours into this game. For those of gamers who wish to simply experience the story without micromanaging the strategic depth, you can experience it all on a lower difficulty in 30-40 hours without being punished for it. There are plenty of optional sidequests with new characters, as well as paid DLC chapters and free Spotpass teams all featuring former Fire Emblem characters to recruit. With the complexity of the support system and all of the online add-ons being released every week for the next few months, this game has insane replayability. I haven’t even fully completed my first play through, and I’m already anxious to start my second.
Verdict: This game is one of the greatest additions to the 3DS library, and one of the best strategy RPGs ever made. Fans of the Fire Emblem franchise absolutely must get this game, as it not only gets everything right, but it also contains wonderful references to previous titled peppered throughout support conversations and storyline, as well as the DLC chapters. Newcomers to Fire Emblem will still find Awakening to be a fantastic introduction to the series, and a great addition to their gaming library.
Long story short, if you have a 3DS, get this game. You absolutely will not regret it.
With Sony teasing about a big announcement at the end of the month and Nintendo having their own press conferences. Microsoft seems to have felt a little left out in the video game playground. Yet not to be outdone, new information has leaked from Edge about Microsoft's new console. So far the information on the new hardware is good, bad, and possibly annoying.
The new Xbox will receive a nice bump in hardware specs, sporting an AMD 8-core x64 1.6 GHz processor and 8 Gb of ram, and a Blu-Ray drive to finally accept defeat over the historically useless HD-DVD format. Translated from tech-speak, it means that the new console will be really powerful and as new games are published for it, there will be a very noticeable difference in graphics. Now the bad news: The console will require a constant internet connection and new games are supposedly going to come with an activation key to link the game to a single account. While I can see the purpose of an always-on internet connection, as a way to tie customers to the Xbox Live Marketplace, the supposed activation keys will not only attempt to stop piracy, but also kill any second-hand market that exists. Even though this information comes from "First-hand experience" with the new console, all of this is still rumors and speculation until Microsoft decides to lift the curtain and show us all the bells and whistles of their new hardware.
I played Ni No Kuni for the first time at SDCC and it was
love at first sight. Though I had already preordered the game and was
thoroughly excited, seeing the graphics, experiencing the gameplay, and
becoming immersed in the world solidified it all. After my twenty minute affair
with the game, I was ready to throw down as much money as possible to get it --
and pay I did. Even though I had already preordered it, I decided to do it
again for the exclusive Wizard’s Edition. This edition came with killer
preorder bonuses, including a real book explaining the lore from the world with
monsters’ stats, spells, and history. I had to have it. I cancelled my previous
preorder and waited anxiously for the six months it would take for release.
First, I got an email in August saying the game would be
released September 4th. After happily scrambling to confirm this
news and being in a general daze about potentially getting to play the game
four months early, it was confirmed to be an update bug in the system. Kind of
cruel, but I understand. These things happen.
What shouldn’t happen is what happened on release day.
I was told by the rep I preordered from that I would receive
my copy the day it came out. Sure enough, the day came and went with nary a
package. Perhaps he was mistaken, I
thought, surely it shipped today and will
Yes, this problem warranted an FAQ. Not one created by
NamcoBandai, mind you, but rather by one person just wanting to play the game
he tried to pay for.
So had they let us down? Was NamcoBandai, the company
responsible for so many classic and iconic titles in gaming culture,
responsible for disappointing and nigh-betraying their customers? The answer is
complicated. Though the storefront is for NamcoBandai, the company actually
keeping track of orders and shipping them out is Digital River, an ecommerce
site responsible for the online stores of Microsoft, EA Games, and Capcom.
It seems they oversold their inventory, which is an
unfortunate thing that happens sometimes, and would be almost understandable
under the proper circumstances. Unfortunately for Digital River, it was their
oversight that caused the error. See, around the same time as the update glitch
that showed the release date being radically pushed forward, there was an open
preorder period for the wizard's edition called the NinoStarter in which anyone could order as many copies of the Wizard’s
Edition as their heart desired. Seeing this, Play-Canada, an eBay upsale shop,
preordered 200+ copies of the game. It was in this time that preorders for
certain customers were cancelled unceremoniously and without notice, according
to a Digital River representative. Play-Canada received their orders and claimed
to have worked closely with Namco to have those orders filled. To make matters even worse, their price is exorbitantly marked up. Originally, their listing was for $199, but it increased to $249 toward the end of the year. If that wasn't bad enough, on the day Namco announced they could not fill all the orders, their prices skyrocketed to $399.
Around this time, pitchforks started rising, BBB claims were
being filed, and Digital River was scrambling to find a solution. All hell
broke loose on the internet. Numbers for Digital River support were given to
inquire about orders, workarounds for DR’s buggy shipping notification system
were talked about, and at some point, and an ordering backdoor was found and
quickly turned off. Oddly enough, those who used the backdoor got their orders
whereas some people who preordered as early as July did not.About this time is when Namco finally
broke their silence on the matter. Though they denied any involvement with
Play-Canada and claimed the issue was a glitch in Digital River’s system, they
could not help the customers whose orders were cancelled. The affected
customers were to receive the game, a hard cover copy of the strategy guide,
and a $20 credit to the Namco store. Presumably, the cost of pulling the
materials together for more Wizard’s Editions was too great, leaving many
gamers without something they preordered months in advance.
After calling and emailing, my payment was finally processed
and my Wizard’s Edition on the way. Once I received it, the book alone was more
than worth the extra time and hassle. But that doesn’t make it better, it
actually makes it worse. Now legitimate customers can’t get what they tried to
pay for without going through over a 200% markup by an eBay scalper.
Did Namco screw up? By trusting a company with such a bad
track record, yes. Perhaps it’s unreasonable to ask for more Wizard’s Editions
to be created, but what they offered in compensation pales in comparison to
what the jilted gamers want. The strategy guide, though beautiful in its own
right, simply doesn’t fill the shoes of the wizard’s book, and the $20 credit
to a store still run by Digital River is no compensation for art, a soundtrack,
collector’s coin, and a plush toy. I understand Namco is trying to placate
gamers with free things, but at the very least make them equal in value to what
gamers tried to pay for originally, if not get the Wizard’s Edition remade. To
make matters worse, Play-Canada
still has their copies of the Wizard’s Edition up for sale for $399.
Though, on the surface, it’s a rotten thing for them to keep
their copies, it’s a business decision to keep the things they paid for. But at
the very least, at the very least they should lower the price to something reasonable, instead of using gamers' plight to make a quick buck. Ultimately, the blame for the fiasco falls on
either the lacking tech, or ignorance of Digital River.Their negligence caused the situation, their
sluggish response worsened it, and their system provided next to no information
for a consumer to use to check on their order. Customers had to do their own
footwork to find answers, find numbers they shouldn’t know about, and not have
an answer to their questions for days.
This is not good business for anyone and in the end, paying
customers were the only ones who were hurt. What can be done to try and remedy this
situation, and prevent future debacles from happening?
That trailer is all we have from the official Playstation blog. The most popular bit of speculation is that this is going to be the first real peak at the highly anticipated next generation console that Sony has been developing. Could the new console redefine graphic capabilities of console gaming? Is Sony moving away from their foot-in-the-door of motion gaming? Will it both bake and broil?
Granted this is still speculation that it's about the new console and could be based entirely on gamers just clinging to hope for some information. However you want to look at it, with a title like "See The Future", it should prove to be of at least a good amount of interest for us. So let's see what February 20th brings.
According to an internal email from Microsoft, the XNA
development kit is being discontinued and is not currently being worked on.
Microsoft XNA is a development platform that many
independent development teams used to create games for digital distribution.
Many games like Fez, Basion, and Dust: An Elysian Tail were created using the
XNA platform. It is sad to see a development tool like this be phased out since
many games of that were created with XNA helped define Xbox Live and the indie
game scene. Microsoft has not yet announced whether a new development tool is
in production as a successor to XNA, but hopefully they are waiting for some
conference or larger announcement to release more information.