Sunday, December 26, 2010

Review: Platformance: Castle Pain

Game Title: Platformance: Castle Pain
Developer: Magiko Gaming
Platform: Xbox Live Indie Games
Price: 80 MS Points ($1)

After playing so many large, 70-hour epics, one can get tired of drawn-out journeys and perhaps take pleasure in short, condensed experiences that are equally entertaining. Magiko Gaming demonstrates the condensed adventure with Platformance: Castle Pain, perhaps the beginning of a series of short-but-sweet platforming adventures for Xbox Live Indie Games. The ultimate question is whether or not the comparatively minuscule game time can match up against longer games currently available.

Platformance: Castle Pain is an adventure that takes place on a single screen. Players control a little sword-wielding knight who must save the princess located within a castle on the opposite side of the world. In order to get to her, though, the knight is forced to encounter a number of deadly traps, including bats, birds, and an evil spirit. There are no power-ups, save points, shops, or other things. There is only platforming toward a princess to save.

This is the game. That pixel near the bottom left is you.

The adventure begins by selecting a difficulty level, and the knight starts immediately at the far bottom left corner of the world. You will be quick to notice that Castle Pain is filled with torches which act like checkpoints, and you will need them, as you will die plenty of times against particular traps and creatures. Without health, one hit will send you to a swiftly-built grave. Thankfully, you have no lives, so death appears to do nothing but slow you down and add another tick to the “Death Counter” at the end of each adventure. There is still a way to truly die in Platformance, however. A Game Over appears once an evil ghost, awoken at a given point, makes contact with the knight. Do not assume that the ghost remains stuck at a single point along the adventure; the ghost will follow you throughout the entire adventure until either it gets you or you get the princess.

Here the ghost begins its chase!

Graphically, the game utilizes a pixel art style, and the main theme’s chiptune melody further echoes a faux-retro style. A couple of the sprites, such as the ghost, seem to lack detail for their relative size to the knight, but the background is vibrant and quite varied throughout the adventure. From dark caverns to a large, monster-filled moat, the environments are nicely done, even if they are so short that they only exist on the game’s path for a few seconds. Overall, it is a nice, retro experience that does a good enough job to accept.

The retro experience is uniquely short, however. There is short, and then there is Platformance short. On Easy difficulties, players will probably complete an adventure in less than ten minutes, though first-time players might take a bit longer at significant parts. Even so, the harder difficulties will most likely take more time than a game trial can offer. The Master difficulty especially will take multiple playthroughs for many gamers to endure.

Speaking of difficulties, the game does not play around once you progress to the harder modes. Enemy patterns change into more maniacal, faster movements. More traps are applied with each difficulty level, and the number of creatures also increases dramatically. To make matters worse, the Ghost moves faster along its path, resulting in a more tense adventure, especially with all the game’s additional traps.

If he fails the jump, it's okay. Knights have a habit of re-spawning.

Once the knight finds the princess, the game shows you how many times you died and how long the adventure took to complete. The game also provides a crown depending on how you performed: Bronze for completing it, Silver for dying less than thirty times and Gold for not dying at all. The scores seem entirely meaningless, however, once you realize that the game lacks a leaderboard or any save feature whatsoever. The game is fun for multiple playthroughs, but for a game as arcade-focused as this one, a leaderboard, even offline, seems pivotal.

The game has other shortcomings in the otherwise fun adventure. When the knight collides with the ceiling, he clips harder than he should, and while I have not personally had this experience, other reviews have noticed that the knight’s momentum is too much when jumping onto platforms. The steam clouds and cloud platform are the glitchiest parts of the game, and frankly should not have been released in that state. These issues do not damage the game beyond repair, but the game does lose a bit of its luster for having them.


Platformance: Castle Pain is short and, yet, delightful for a game concept. The graphics and atmosphere are catchy and unique in a world of Avatar games. The difficulties do add to the experience, but the lack of any means to save or show off previous runs through the adventure leave the game to be less of an entertaining product. If Castle Pain is the first of what will be a series of Platformance titles, I wholeheartedly recommend leaderboards (which may have already been confirmed) and a little more meat to the adventures in order to make the series even better than it currently is.

While the game is missing some expected features, Platformance: Castle Pain offers a unique, retro platforming adventure which is recommended to those on the lookout for a super-quick and altogether charming journey.

[NOTE: The game is also available on Windows Phone 7 with added content including leaderboards. This review is specifically tied to the XBLIG release.]

Disclaimer: As with all Xbox Live Indie Games, this game is not rated by any official electronic entertainment board but is rated by peers before release and given specific ratings on sexual content, violence, and other mature content. Furthermore, all Xbox Live Indie games require an Internet connection to Xbox Live in order to play the games.

WiiWare Demos Overview #5

Nintendo began to allow Demos for WiiWare titles as of November of this year, and with each week, there has been at least one new demo released alongside the new titles for WiiWare, Virtual Console, and DSiWare.

In order to help those see what the demos contain, we here at 3RM will explain what each demo contains content-wise relative to the actual game.

Please note that games which have a bronze rating or higher on the Nintendo Channel will keep their demos longer. In order to vote for the games, you must own the full version and have played the full version for longer than an hour in order to recommend it. Once recommended enough, the game will be given a particular rating on the Nintendo Channel.



Developer: Fugazo
Publisher: Fugazo
Original Release: December 20th, 2010
Price: 1000 Wii Points

What is it?
Frobot is an overhead adventure title in which players assume the role of Frobot, a funky robot developed in order to save the world from the evil corporation BotBlocker bent on world peace via planetary destruction. When his girlfriends are captured, he loses most of his moves, and as a result, he is forced to rescue each of them before going to kick some robobutt. The game is much akin to Zelda in that each level is an overhead dungeon filled with combat and puzzles. There is also a multiplayer mode and hidden items to be found in each of the levels to unlock more stuff for the multiplayer mode. All of the content is tied together with a funky visual and musical accompaniment, making Frobot one funky mutha robot.

What does the demo have?
The demo starts off with the tutorial level (Level 1) once the opening is over. The level allows players to use a fully-powered Frobot before his powers are stripped. Following the incident, players can venture into the next level within the Slums, and the single player experience ends shortly thereafter, while fighting the game's first boss. There is also a map available for multiplayer action, allowing for all modes of the game to be tested out. Once the demo is over, players can choose the usual three options: return to Wii Menu, Wii Shop, or the Demo Title Screen. There is a glitch involved, based on some reports, when the Demo Title Screen is selected, but this may have been fixed as of today.

How does it compare to the full version?
Frobot's demo only shows, all told, 2 levels and part of a boss with a hint of multiplayer. The full purchase allows players to venture through 20 levels across 5 locations and 10 maps through which players can fend off each other in multiplayer. The demo makes mention of Power Picks which can be found in each level, as well as rewards for beating levels as fast as possible, but neither are truly available until players get the full version.


Harmonix Sold, Now Independent

Rock Band and Dance Central developer Harmonix has been sold to an investment firm, putting the company back into independence since its purchase from Viacom earlier this generation.

Last month, reports arrived stating that Viacom, the entertainment conglomerate which owns MTV and its gaming division MTV Games, would be selling Harmonix Music Systems off and listed the company's investment as "Discontinued Operations." Rumors around potential buyers arose, but the sale today confirms the new owners to be investors, not gaming publishers.

The purchaser is Columbus Nova, an investment firm, and the company created a holdings company, Harmonix-SBE Holdings LLC, which now officially owns the developer.

Harmonix will be able to hold onto its IPs and will still be moving forward with DLC content on schedule. Nothing has been stated in black and white as to what new projects the company will undergo post-purchase nor what the final sale entailed.

Harmonix Music Systems was formed in 1995 with a focus in music interaction products, but its first video game came in the form of FreQuency and Amplitude for Sony in the early 2000s. The company also produced the Karaoke Revolution franchise with Konami before it worked with RedOctane to create Guitar Hero, a franchise in which players originally used a single replica guitar controller to play particular rock songs. After RedOctane was purchased by Activision, Harmonix was purchased by MTV Games and earned a publishing deal alongside Electronic Arts to make Rock Band, a series of music games in which players use guitar, bass, and drum controllers to play alongside a myriad of songs spanning a number of genres. The newest games made by Harmonix are Rock Band 3, which introduces a keyboard controller alongside other additions, and Dance Central, a Kinect launch title in which players dance to particular cues to the beat of today's and yesterday's top hits. The sale of Harmonix puts it back into independence, and it is believed that EA Partners will still be supporting the developer's future efforts.

SOURCE: Joystiq

Friday, December 24, 2010

Earth Defense Forces Getting Backup

Japanese publisher D3 has discussed four projects coming forth in the Earth Defense Force series, three of which are brand new projects in the series.

First, the company announced Earth Defense Forces 2 Portable for the PSP. The adventure is a port of the second Earth Defense Force title from Playstation 2, which only released in Japan and Europe (under the name Global Defense Force). Unlike EDF 2017 for Xbox 360, players can choose between ground soldiers or PaleWings, flying troopers who specialize in energy weaponry. The product is expected in Spring 2011 in Japan with no words on a western release

But it is not the only adventure into the portable world for the series. D3Publisher announced Earth Defense Force Legend for Mobile platforms, expected in January 2011. With Japanese Mobile titles hard to follow, it is hard to distinguish whether this will release in western territories.

Already announced for Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 is the next major title in the EDF series, Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon. The game is developed by Vicious Cycle rather than the usual developer Sandlot, a first for the series. When the game was first announced, weapon dropping and offline cooperative modes were not available, but thankfully those have since been added to the game. We will find out how it is when it releases Summer 2011.

As for the future of the series, there is one major project currently underway. In the trailer unveiling Earth Defense Forces Portable 2, D3 also unveiled that an upcoming Earth Defense Forces 4 is currently in development. No platforms have been announced, but the previous games have been on PS2 and 360, with Sandlot, the original developer, working on Wii with its most recent Japanese-only release Zangeki no Reginleiv. It is most likely slated for HD consoles, but that is pure speculation.

Looks like we will be shooting down aliens a lot in the next couple years! Keep your eyes peeled!


SOURCE: Siliconera

Super Meat Boy Cancelled for WiiWare

In an official tweet by Team Meat, the developers of Super Meat Boy, the duo has officially canceled the game's WiiWare version, citing size restrictions as the main cause.

Clarifying the point, designer Edward McMillen stated that in order to fit within WiiWare's 40MB size cap, the game would not have the game's Dark World, Leaderboards, or downloadable extras. Furthermore, the WiiWare version would not have music for the boss fights or cutscenes, and the music would be regulated to only six tracks and one for the retro warp zones. Seeing all of the content cut, the team could not see past the quality issues and canceled the project.

Super Meat Boy was originally announced for WiiWare back in 2009, but as it progressed through development, Team Meat signed a deal with Microsoft to release the game, with promotion, on XBLA first with exclusive online content. It was finally released this past October as the last game in XBLA's Game Feast promotion. A PC version was released this November with its own exclusive characters and an upcoming level editor to replace Teh Internets, and a Mac version is expected for release early 2011.

Some claification is in order. McMillen was not requested nor funded by Nintendo to make Super Meat Boy, but he was originally approached by Nintendo to port another adventure of his, Aether, to the WiiWare service. While Aether would not be completed, Meat Boy was selected to come to WiiWare instead, the result of which is now Super Meat Boy. Neither member of Team Meat hate Sony, but Microsoft's agreement bars a release on PSN indefinitely. The duo had attempted to get Nintendo to push the WiiWare limit up for the game, but the company would not budge.
"We knew of the limits early on but overestimated our ability to get Nintendo to raise the file size. It's lame that there is a 40MB cap on WiiWare games ... but it was our fault for blindly assuming this cap wasn't set in stone, and we are sorry for that."
-Edmund McMillen, Team Meat
With WiiWare inaccessible, they are looking for a Wii Retail release, but thus far, three publishers have rejected it on the grounds the Wii Retail games do not sell, apparently. Even so, Team Meat is still striving to get the game on Wii, but there is a rapidly-declining possibility of it making it on the system. 3DS development is not confirmed, though Edmund has shown interest in the platform; whether it will produce SMB or not is still unknown.

Here is hoping a publisher sees something in releasing Meat Boy onto the Wii platform!

SOURCE: Joystiq

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Activision After EA in Infinity Ward Lawsuit

In a unique twist in the lawsuit between Activision and Infinity Ward heads Jason West and Vince Zampella, Activsion is turning its attacks toward Electronic Arts, claiming the company helped push the duo into sabotaging the company's works and preparing to leave Activision for EA.

In early 2010, not half a year following the release of Infinity Ward's latest Modern Warfare title, Activision-Blizzard fired both heads of the company, citing what the two claim are false accusations and used only as a means to prevent paying massive bonuses for the game's sales. Following the removal of West and Zampella, a large group of Infinity Ward's development team left with the two and formed Respawn Entertainment through EA. A lawsuit is currently in progress regarding West and Zampella's removal from Activision, not to mention the lack of bonuses and stock options a number of employees were promised for sales of MW2 during Q1 2010.

Activision has finally come forth with a counter complaint against EA and the ex-Infinity Ward heads, claiming that they, "with full knowledge that the executives were under contract and legally committed to Activision for more than two additional years--conspired to set up an independent company."

According to the company's evidence, West and Zampella were brought by jet to have a meeting with EA CEO John Riccitiello, where they stated that they had over two years remaining on their exclusive contract with Activision. Since having a number of meetings and conversations with EA members, Activision claims that the duo had started to act against their contract agreements and act in such a way as to harm Infinity Ward and Activision as much as possible in order to be fired and work with EA as a result.

One such example involved stock options. Both West and Zampella were allegedly contacted by Activision to provide a list of all team members who would earn millions of dollars in stock grants in connection with the development of a Wii version of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, but the two refused to provide a list and, in a number of occasions, apparently requested that all stock benefits and the like be given to only the two heads.

EA has stated that this is clearly a false PR attack, when the lawsuit is strictly for the fired developers to get what money they earned from Activision.

This is going to be an interesting lawsuit come 2011.

SOURCE: Gamespot

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Retro City Rampage Coming to XBLA

Independent developer VBlank Entertainment announced earlier this week that its anticipated, overhead shooter Retro City Rampage will be delayed until late 2011, citing a release in the upcoming Summer of Arcade promotion on XBLA.

Retro City Rampage is a overhead shooter akin to the original Grand Theft Auto titles, but the game takes a heavy retro perspective on the experience, throwing in game mechanics and characters and situations from a number of franchises in gaming history. Originally entitled Grand Theftendo, the game was going to be releasing early 2011 for WiiWare with other releases expected shortly thereafter.

However, in a release made this week by Brian Provinciano, the head of VBlank, the game was officially delayed for WiiWare until Fall 2011, because the game had been signed into a timed-exclusivity deal with Microsoft in order for it to appear in next year's XBLA Summer of Arcade.

As a result of the delay, however, the final version of RCR will contain added missions and content for both versions. The XBLA version will have a number of exclusive additions, though: widescreen support, video replays, a challenge mode, and character creation.

In the end, it benefits both sides. The game is fully self-funded, and seeing as Provinciano has just started going into his retirement savings, the more venues for the game, the better.

SOURCE: Destructoid
DEVELOPER RESPONSE: Nintendo World Report

Weekly Releases: 12/19/10

With but one week until Christmas, new retail releases are not on the cards, but a handful of downladable games are here to try.

Significant Releases

Back to the Future: The Game (Episode 1) (PC / MAC)

Developer and Publisher: Telltale Games (StrongBad's CG4AP, Tales of Monkey Island)

Great Scott! Adventure titles from Telltale Games are about to go back to the future! Based off the famous film trilogy, this series of adventure titles takes Marty McFly and Doc Brown on a brand new adventure, taking place not too long after the conclusion of the original trilogy. This episodic series of games begins with Doc Brown going missing. As the bank threatens to sell the old man's house, Marty learns that the Doc is lost in time, and now he has to save him! Starting this month, a new episode will be released monthly through April before the finale. Time to get moving, old-school!

echochrome ii (PSN)

Developer: Japan Studio, Game Yuruoze (echochrome)
Publisher: Sony

If the first one messed with your perception, you might find this one just as hellbent, without a shadow of a doubt. Using the Playstation Move controller, light emits onto blocks and casts a shadow onto the world, which becomes the major game mechanic this time around. Sometimes, you have to help guide a character to the exit, whereas other times you need to put the light in such a way so as to create a familiar shape in the shadows. Prepare to get your mind numbed once more!

Frobot (WiiWare)

Developer and Publisher: Fugazo

Who wouldn't like a fro-sporting robot with mines and a disco ball bomb device? The game stars Frobot, a jive bot who was created in the future in order to protect the world from the evil MicroShaft organization. When his multiple girlfriends are captured, however, he loses his masterful abilities and must rescue them one at a time and destroy their captors in the process! The game follows Frobot through a number of dungeon-like areas, akin to Zelda but with more disco and robot-themed locations. There is also a multiplayer battle mode available for up to four players to show who has the best moves on the dance floor.

Other Releases:
Neo Geo Station (PSN)
Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People (PSN)
A World of Keflings (XBLA)
The Oddboxx (PC)

Previous 10 Weeks:
12/12/10 - Super Mario All-Stars Limited Edition
12/5/10 - World of Warcraft: Cataclysm
11/28/10 - Disney Epic Mickey / Golden Sun: Dark Dawn
11/21/10 - Donkey Kong Country Returns / Gran Turismo 5
11/14/10 - Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood / Sonic Colors
11/7/10 - Call of Duty: Black Ops
10/31/10 - Kinect / GoldenEye 007
10/24/10 - Fable III / Rock Band 3 / BIT.TRIP FATE
10/17/10 - Kirby's Epic Yarn / Fallout: New Vegas / Super Meat Boy (XBLA)
10/10/10 - Medal of Honor / Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

WiiWare Demos Overview #4

Nintendo began to allow Demos for WiiWare titles as of November of this year, and with each week, there has been at least one new demo released alongside the new titles for WiiWare, Virtual Console, and DSiWare.

In order to help those see what the demos contain, we here at 3RM will explain what each demo contains content-wise relative to the actual game.

Please note that games which have a bronze rating or higher on the Nintendo Channel will keep their demos longer. In order to vote for the games, you must own the full version and have played the full version for longer than an hour in order to recommend it. Once recommended enough, the game will be given a particular rating on the Nintendo Channel.

As a note this week, it seems we have the first demo for a 500 Wii Point game, the cheapest a WiiWare game can get.


lilt line

Developer: Different Cloth (and Gaijin Games)
Publisher: Gaijin Games
Original Release: December 13th, 2010
Price: 500 Wii Points

What is it?
lilt line is an arcade survival experience in which players control the trajectory of a line as it moves deeper into twisted tunnels. The tunnels bend erratically, and players have to roll the Wii Remote in order to change the line's direction before it hits either side of the tunnel. Each level contains its own music track, made by dubstep artist 16bit, which brings the game's musical twist into play. Players must hit a button when the players' line collides with specifically-placed
horizontal lines in order to survive, as well; thankfully, these other obstacles are arranged to the rhythm of the song, providing a more musically enthralling and equally intense experience.

What does the demo have?
The title screen allows you to buy the game or play the demo. Upon selecting the demo, players are brought to the minimalistic game menu. Starting with "training," players will be able to complete the first four levels entirely, but part way through the fifth track, "right over," the game fades to black and returns you to the title screen. Any time you fail a level, the game leads you back to the title screen, allowing you to return to the demo or buy the full game. Scores do not save in the demo version, nor does game progress. Therefore, every time the demo starts, you have to go through each level, one-by-one, rather than by choice.

How does it compare to the full version?
For one, the demo seems to demonstrate roughly a third of the game's levels. However, the game's difficulty is magnified quickly after the first two actual tracks, so the actual length of the game will vary for different skill levels. Overall, the main game has 15 tracks, compared to the demo's four and a sliver of a fifth. Furthermore, as the game's major goal is to get perfect scores, and the demo doesn't save scores, it would be apt to say that the full game will have more replay value. If you enjoyed the demo even a little, the low price and the addictive gameplay are a great combination to push for a purchase.

Monday, December 13, 2010

THQ and Volition are Going inSANE

THQ and Volition have announced the upcoming gaming project directed by film legend Guillermo del Toro, a horror title named inSANE.

For months, del Toro, who has directed such titles as the Hellboy series and Pan's Labyrinth, has stated his interest in working directly with a developer alongside his film studio to produce a gaming product unlike any other. inSANE promises to be that title, but unfortunately, its announcement comes years early.

inSANE is currently scheduled to be released in 2013, so we may be a ways off before we actually see the game in action. Good luck, guys!


SSX Gets Deadly

After years of holding back on the franchise, EA Sports has announced SSX: Deadly Descents for all platforms, as one of the many announcements from Spike TV's VGA awards show this year.

SSX was a series created by EA Sports BIG in which players raced down mountains and other snow-covered courses while doing tricks in order to gain speed and ultimately make it to the finish line. The tricks and series craziness peaked with SSX Tricky, and the emphasis of the mountain ride became the focus for SSX 3. SSX On Tour introduced skis and took a more punk approach to the game's art design, while SSX Blur took SSX 3, merged in some On Tour levels and concepts, and threw in motion controls.

Now EA Sports and EA Canada are bringing the series to a darker place.

SSX: Deadly Descents puts players in a crew of snowboarders whose goal is to race down the world's most deadly mountain tops before anyone else. These range from the heights of the Himalayas, where racers have to race down face before they run out of oxygen, to the coldest lands of Antarctica, where a wrong move will send the snowboarders to deathly cold terrain.

Of course, the series mainstay of insane tricks will remain, as far as the PR statement reads. The teaser trailer, only CGI and not gameplay footage, gives a sense of the intensity the game will have. The ultimate question is: will it be as crazy as the previous SSX games?

The game is slated for all platforms on its website.

Prototype 2 for 2012

Developer Radical Entertainment and Activision have announced that they are producing the sequel to 2009's Prototype, taking a new lead while remaining as destructive as possible.

Prototype 2 shifts positions of the game's protagonist from Alex Mercer, the Prototype being who destroyed most of New York City, to Sergeant James Helen. James returned home from the war overseas to find that he had lost his loved ones and, in an effort to kill himself, enlisted himself to fight in the Red Zone, the area Alex and all of the first game's monsters attacked. However, as James notes, he is instead infused with the same powers Alex was given, and now his mission has changed to hunt down his creator.

Prototype 2 appears much like its predecessor, where players move the character within an open city, using their powers at their discretion to survive, whether it meant to destroy everything or to use the powers strategically.

Slated for some time in 2012, the game is still a little rough, but in time, it could match or exceed the quality of the original product.

Elder Scrolls V For Next Holiday

As this holiday draws to a close, the VGA awards on Spike TV let loose a myriad of announcements for next holiday season. Bethesda Game Studios announced Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim as their venture into 2011's shopping season.

The Elder Scrolls series is a first-person RPG adventure taking place in the world of Nirn, a land filled with many histories, races, cultures, and monsters. The Elder Scrolls themselves are pivotal to the games' stories, ultimately telling the future of the world, although its interpretations are entirely ambiguous.

Elder Scrolls V takes place in Skyrim, a Norse land where dragons rule. Major details for the game were sparse, but the narrator of the trailer dictates that the dragons fear but one being: Dovahkiin, the dragon born.

The trailer gave brave claims for its release, however: Skyrim will see release on November 11th, 2011. It is certainly expected to arrive on PC, though PS3 and 360 releases are also to be imagined, following the release pattern for Oblivion, the game's predecessor.


Forza Motorsport 4 For 2011

Turn 10 and Microsoft Game Studios announced Forza Motorsport 4 at this year's VGA awards on Spike TV.

The Forza Motorsport series is Microsoft's answer to the sim racing series Gran Turismo. Developed by in-house developer Turn 10, the series has grown since its inception in 2005. Forza Motorsport 4 was originally demonstrated at E3 2010 as part of the hardcore titles for Microsoft's Kinect-focused press conference. At the press conference, a developer showed how you could physically walk around and examine each car from outside and inside the driver's seat. According to reports, the game will still feature these elements.

The trailer did not fully demonstrate what the game would have, merging both in-game and real-life footage together. One could predict that the game will feature more environmental aspects including weather conditions and muddy terrain to affect the controls and graphical effects within each realistic race.

While no specific date was given, the game is expected for release in the holiday season for 2011.


Resistance 3 Dated and Trailer'd

Resistance 3, the newest title from Insomniac Games, had some new details shown off on its trailer released during this year's VGA awards on Spike TV.

Resistance is a series of games taking place in an alternate time-line in which an alien invasion hits Russia and heads eastward, taking over Britain in the first iteration and heading across Eastern America in the sequel. This iteration takes place across the remains of the United States as people struggle to survive against the Chimera and whatever twisted parts of the human race remain.

The trailer specifically shows a combination of both real-life and in-game footage. In it, the trailer follows Joseph as he protects a boat from oncoming Chimera, and the end shows him, bearing a sledgehammer, just as he rushes into a fray of multiple Chimera.

Resistence 3's release date has been provided as well: September 6th, 2011. Besides Resistance 3, Insomniac Games is currently working on Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One, also slated for next Fall, and a new franchise to debut Insomniac's multiplatform strategy.

Mass Effect 3 in Effect

One of multiple announcements of upcoming titles from this year's VGA awards on Spike TV, Bioware announced Mass Effect 3, this time taking the battle home.

Mass Effect 3 stars the series protagonist, Commander Shepard, who is now tasked with bringing an assault on the Reapers, which have now reached Earth and are killing off the human race as quickly as possible.

Unfortunately, information on the game outside of the tease of worldwide travel in the future is scarce. The game is slated for a holiday 2011 release, but no platform was announced alongside it. Mass Effect 2 has seen a release on both Xbox 360 and PC, and the game is also slated to get a PS3 release next month. It would be wise to assume that all three platforms will see a release of Mass Effect 3, but whether they will all be released at once remains to be seen.

Uncharted 3 Unveiled

As one of the multiple announcements to hit this year's Video Game Awards on Spike TV, Naughty Dog released its first trailer and information on Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception.

Uncharted 3 follows the series' protagonist, Nathan Drake, as he explores the world with his father figure and mentor, Victor Sullivan. The two are off to find the lost city known as the Iram of the Pillars. As with the previous games, however, he will not find the land without conflict.

The game will mostly take place in desert locations, as the team wanted to explore and take the challenge of making a realistic and equally entertaining experience in sand-filled locales. The series mainstay of a cinematic experience is most certainly still on the cards for this game, and added tweaks to the control system will ensure it is the tightest adventure yet. Not to mention additional online aspects and multiplayer activities will be included, as well.

One significant part of its debut trailer is the emphasis of the game's release date: November 1, 2011. It is a PS3 exclusive, as is the rest of the Uncharted franchise.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Weekly Releases: 12/12/10

Two weeks, man. Can you handle the pressure of Holiday shopping?

Significant Releases

Super Mario All-Stars Limited Edition (Wii)

Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo

Celebrating Mario's 25th Anniversary, Nintendo is bringing out a collection of titles from Mario's past and releasing it out for the Wii audience. Essentially, the game itself is nothing more than a rerelease of Super Mario All-Stars, a collection of games released for the Super Nintendo, consisting of revamped visuals and music for Super Mario Brothers 1, 2, 3, and Lost Levels (what is actually Super Mario Bros. 2 from Japan). There is nothing that differentiates this version from the SNES version, even the screen size. The Limited Edition does come with more, though; it contains a 20-track CD of music and sound effects from the Mario franchise as well as a booklet covering the history of Mario, along with interviews and never-before-seen drawings used during Super Mario Brothers' development.


Developer: Backbone Entertainment (XBLA and PSN ports)
Publisher: Konami

Originally developed in 1992, the X-Men Arcade adventure is now coming to download services and in swift order. Players can assume one of six X-Men: Cyclops, Colossus, Wolverine, Storm, Nightcrawler, or Dazzler. In this adventure, it is up to the team to work together to stop Magneto from wrecking havoc to the world. The game allows for 4-player cooperative play offline as well as 6-player online cooperative play. If you were looking for classic beat-em-ups in High Definition, you might have just found your game.

Lilt Line (WiiWare)

Developer: Different Cloth and Gaijin Games
Publisher: Gaijin Games

Gaijin Games debuts its publishing duties by bringing Different Cloth's unique line-driving title from iOS to the world of WiiWare. Players tilt the Wii Remote to steer a line as it ventures further into a twisted tunnel which bends and shifts to the music. At points, players have to pass through glowing columns, hitting a button to the beat in order to ensure more points and survival through the paths. Using music from dub-step artist 16bit, the game consists of 15 tracks, each more intense than the last.

Other Releases:
Quake Arena Arcade (XBLA)
Europa Universalis III: Divine Wind (PC)
Little Red Riding Hood's Zombie BBQ (DSiWare)
Sackboy's Prehistoric Moves (PSN)

Previous 10 Weeks:
12/5/10 - World of Warcraft: Cataclysm
11/28/10 - Disney Epic Mickey / Golden Sun: Dark Dawn
11/21/10 - Donkey Kong Country Returns / Gran Turismo 5
11/14/10 - Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood / Sonic Colors
11/7/10 - Call of Duty: Black Ops
10/31/10 - Kinect / GoldenEye 007
10/24/10 - Fable III / Rock Band 3 / BIT.TRIP FATE
10/17/10 - Kirby's Epic Yarn / Fallout: New Vegas / Super Meat Boy (XBLA)
10/10/10 - Medal of Honor / Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1
10/3/10 - Castlevania: Lords of Shadow / Shantae: Risky's Revenge / NBA Jam


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Review: Limbo

Game Title: Limbo
Developer: Playdead
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Platform: Xbox Live Arcade
Price: 1200 MP ($15)
Released: July 21, 2010 (Summer of Arcade)

“Unsure of his sister’s fate, a boy enters the unknown.” Certain of Limbo’s amazing atmosphere and frustrating puzzles, I start my review. After almost six years in limbo, Limbo has finally been released on XBLA as part of Microsoft’s Summer of Arcade 2010. Promising nightmare-ish visuals and challenging puzzle-platforming, does Limbo take players to paradise or does it leave them suffering in gaming limbo?

“Unsure of his sister’s fate, a boy enters the unknown.” That line bears repeating because that is the only description the developer, Playdead, gives the players about Limbo’s story. No text, no dialogue, and no explanation. Everything you encounter, whether it is horrifying monsters, deadly traps, and surreal environments, is yours to interrupt. Even the game’s ending left me wondering, “What just happened?” Similar to Braid, another platfromer on XBLA, the story is in the hands of the player, whether that’s good thing or not is all up to the player’s imagination.

Venturing to the unknown...

Instead of developing an in-depth story, Playdead focused on giving Limbo an engaging atmosphere. Even though the environments are limited to black and white tones, the faded objects in the distance, simplistic forms, and video reel-like filters create an appearance unlike anything on the market. This game’s style is a perfect blend of 2D and 3D graphics to the point where they are indistinguishable. Limbo’s 2D design is so convincing that sometimes I forgot that it had 3D graphics. As for the locations themselves, Limbo is made up of eerie forests, damp caverns, and twisted factories, each giving off a chilling uneasiness and a constant fear that where you stand is not safe. The forest areas feel savage and the machines areas feel cold and emotionless. These emotions are even reflected by the creatures you encounter. Spiders want to eat you, people want to kill you, and brain worms… well… they want to do something bad to you. What Playdead does well in Limbo is create a world where not just the inhabitants want to kill you but the very landscape itself is eager to end your life. In Limbo, the world is the out to get you.

Despite the artistic atmosphere, it disappointed me how the second, mechanical half of the game became empty and less engaging when compared to the forests and tunnels offered in the first half. It felt as though the developer had spent so much time working on the first half, which was filled with devious tricks and monsters, that the later half became comprised of simple physics-based puzzles that one can find in just about any other puzzle-platformer. While there is nothing wrong with that, I just expected more from the game after the amazing first half.

While mechanical is cool and all, the forest was scarier.

Limbo has a limited musical score, which is both eerie and adreline-inducing. Though musical pieces are restricted in use to certain events, they really enhance the game’s sense of danger. If only they were used more often. The sound effects also work well, making the world sound both real and surreal at the same time. There are different sounds for walking on grass or metal as well as very specific, gruesome sound effects for the boy’s various deaths. Since the music is limited, prepare to listen to these eerie sound effects through out the majority of your play-time.

Moving from the atmosphere to the game itself, the game’s formula is pretty simple: walk, jump, move object, or pull lever. You cannot attack any of Limbo’s monsters and you don’t get any more skills as the game progresses. What you start with is what you get. Plain and simple. It is the world around you which changes. Plain and scary.

Contrasting the game’s open story, the gameplay itself leaves little room for interpretation. Every puzzle placed before you usually has one correct solution or requires some precision to overcome. Any other path will lead to death. A very horrific death I might add. In fact, the deaths in this game are so gruesome that there is a warning at the title screen and an option to block out the gruesome depictions, if you can’t stand it. And you will die. A lot.

While dieing at a challenging puzzle is okay the first few times, dieing at the same puzzle over and over again can be frustrating. What frustrated me more was that most of my deaths came not from misunderstanding the puzzle but from the game’s poor jumping mechanic, or should I say hopping mechanic. No matter how much I prepped, practiced, and performed my jumps, I never felt comfortable making them. This may have been done to increase the game’s tension, but as a puzzle-platformer, I felt it was a poor choice. This boy is definitely not Mario.

Climb faster, darn you! FASTERFASTERAAAGHH!

Another disappointment is the game’s length. The game’s first playthrough can take between 3 and 4 hours to complete, and that’s with all of the deaths and mistakes you will make along the way. However, once you’ve played through once, the length is much shorter, and for a game that costs 1200 Microsoft Points, I’d expect something longer or with more substance.

The game tries to create replay value with its hidden achievements. Throughout the game are hidden eggs that when squished increase the game’s completion percentage. Besides that, the game offers little reason to try again. Even Limbo’s leader board seems pointless since all of the records are completion percentages. No number of deaths. No competition time. No nothing. This was a wasted resource that could have increased Limbo’s replay value significantly.


Limbo has an amazingly eerie atmosphere that makes it stand out from other puzzle-platformers. Very few games have you question your safety quite like Limbo does as it manages to create a sense of danger even at moments of peace. Beyond the atmosphere, Limbo’s trial and error gameplay is okay at first but once you die several times due to faulty jumps, you will start to get frustrated at the game’s physics engine. With a worthless leaderboard system and lack of other modes, Limbo’s experience is one note, and given the game’s price point, the game should have offered more content. Limbo is a game that pulls you into a unique experience but fails to keep you there for very long.

Try it before you buy it.

Game On: Let's Play 2.02 - Jet Grind Radio

Game: Jet Grind Radio
System: Sega Dreamcast
Developer: Smilebit
Publisher: Sega
Players: Wilson Garcia
(with Ivan Kowalenco)

Game Overview

Jet Grind Radio is the first title developed by Smilebit, an internal developer for Sega formed in 2000. The team was mostly comprised of members from the recently-disbanded Team Andromeda (AM6), the development team behind the Panzer Dragoon franchise. The game was originally named Jet Set Radio in its Japanese release, but the game was renamed to Jet Grind Radio in Western locations to emphasize the game’s roller skate gameplay.

JGR takes place in the city of Tokyo-to, where people known as rudies spend their days expressing themselves with graffiti and rollerblading around the city, much to the dismay of the law. Three particular gangs of rudies have taken over the city in sections: the Love Shockers in Shibuya, the Noise Tanks in Benten, and Poison Jam in Kogane. The main protagonist, Beat, is a rudie who, after being kicked out of gang after gang, decides to create his own gang, the GGs, and that is where the game begins.

The purpose of Jet Grind Radio is to claim specific territories of Tokyo-to as those of the GGs, and the way for rudies to claim territory is simple: replace every rival gang’s tags with your own before time runs out. Unfortunately, there are a number of things in the way, specifically other gang members and the police, run by Captain Onishima. Do not expect just police officers chasing you down, though; over the course of the game, members of the SWAT Team, helicopters, and even more insane things will chase you down. Thankfully, players have roller skating abilities which allow themselves to maneuver around the three regions and escape enemy pursuers. Once every territory has been taken, the gangs must give up their land to the GGs, all until the GGs become the main gang of Tokyo-to. But first, the gang is going to need some members; over the course of the game, other people will challenge you to perform particular tricks or follow them through difficulty territory before joining the crew.

The game was originally on the glitchy side when it released in Japan, but in its future releases, the game became more refined. In America, Sega added two extra levels to the game and fixed the bugs found in the Japanese release. Furthermore, the game added the ability for players to download user-created tags for use in their games, with the help of SegaNet. Following this release, a special edition of the game was released in Japan through Sega Direct, the company’s online store. The game, entitled De La Jet Set Radio, included the added content from JGR with Japanese voiceovers and content.

Since then…

Jet Grind Radio as a franchise would continue for a couple more products, although its current existence is almost negligible. After Sega announced that it had stepped away from console production, it went to Microsoft Xbox with a number of exclusives, one of which would be a futuristic sequel to the franchise, JSRF: Jet Set Radio Future, where the villains are not the other gangs but a corporation which has begun to take over the city. A year later, Sega would commission a GameBoy Advance version of the original Jet Grind Radio, using an isometric view of the levels rather than full 3D representations. That version would be developed by Vicarious Visions (now part of Activision) and published by THQ in the US.

The current generation has not been graced by the appearance of Jet Grind Radio, with the exception of Sega character titles including Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing and Sega Superstars Tennis, both developed by Sumo Digital, now an official developer in Foundation 9 Entertainment. However, in 2009, developer Headstrong Games attempted to reboot the franchise, pitching character artwork and other concepts to Sega to produce the title. While Headstrong did get the ability to reboot House of the Dead with House of the Dead: Overkill, Sega denied the Jet Grind Radio project. It is believed that Jet Grind Radio will be seeing a release on XBLA and PSN in the near future, as many Dreamcast projects are being ported to those venues as of late.

Smilebit did not continue well into the previous generation, either. The company existed officially for another four years, continuing to work on a set of Sega franchises: Panzer Dragoon Orta, Jet Set Radio Future, the Typing of the Dead series, and Derby Tsukos 2-4 (a Japanese-only horse derby series). However, Sega was not doing well financially, even after dropping the Dreamcast from production, and the company merged with Sammy, a predominantly Pachinko-oriented corporation. Following the merge in 2004, most developers for Sega were merged inward, including Smilebit.

Smilebit in its current form is now referred to as Sega Sports R&D Department or Sega Sports Japan. Since its creation, the development team has worked on Virtua Striker 4 (and its variants) and most importantly the Mario and Sonic and the Olympic Games franchise, which now sits on two editions. It is believed that the group is working on a third product for the upcoming 2012 London games.

The Let’s Play

Valentine’s Day 2009 was the date for this recording, and we had dubbed it D-Day, referring to the usage of a Sega Dreamcast to record our newest episodes. Provided to us by Ivan Kowalenco, this functioning Dreamcast was to be our method of playing as many Dreamcast games as possible for the show. Unfortunately for us, the day was also Valentine’s Day, as mentioned earlier, and despite our lauding of the event, only two people showed up to do the recording, one of which was Ivan. The other was Wilson Garcia, who needed to leave early for a dinner date with his girlfriend.

Still, he wanted to do Jet Grind Radio, so we did an hour playthrough of the game, unaware that he had almost no experience on the game at all. The end result would be the episode of Game On: Let’s Play you see before you.


Wilson did not do so well from a gameplay perspective. From the moment he incorrectly introduced himself, he met a few problems. During the introductory segments, he accidentally hit the return to menu option instead of retry, therefore forcing him to redo the entire opening segment again, this time with Ivan calling the shots.

It is a good thing Ivan was there for backup, as he would be used at least twice in order to make it through the adventure. In the hour’s time, Wilson and Ivan together would be able to venture through one mission for each of the three sections of Tokyo-to as well as add Mew to the GGs roster. There were a number of faults on their part, but they were not beyond help.

In the midst of the missions, Wilson made a half-assed RTN tag, which helps to give viewers a look at the rest of the game’s abilities, but clearly the game could not be completed in an hour.
And yet we claim that he failed. Why? His abilities did not improve greatly over the segment and required Ivan to save him multiple times. He is welcome to try further segments of the game, but without Ivan to help, the question is how well could he finish the game?

D-Day would have one more GOLP episode to its name…but what game would it be?

Journey's Debut Trailer

After months of screens and concept art, thatgamecompany has finally released the first trailer for its upcoming PSN title Journey.

Journey is an adventure title in which players, having awoken in an unknown, sand-covered world, must walk and fly through the landscape in order to discover what happened to the world and its now vacant civilization.

Where the game differs from a singular experience, though, is in the game's multiplayer online components. Players are encouraged to explore and find others who venture throughout the land; together, the journey becomes something even more unique than what the development team may have envisioned.

Journey is the third title in thatgamecompany's three-game agreement with Sony, the first of which was an advanced version of flOw and the second being the unique petal-adventure Flower. The developer was founded in 2006 with its PC adventure Cloud and the PC version of flOw, which originally caught Sony's eyes. There is no say as to what thatgamecompany will do following the end of the agreement, but for now, we greatly anticipate whatever they bring with Journey.

Journey is expected for release on PSN in 2011.


SOURCE: Sony Blog