Thursday, February 24, 2011

Third Rate Week: February 13th, 2011

Recorded Tuesday, we look at the previous week and all that jazz. It summarizes all the news we did not post articles on this past week. We've been busy busy.

This week:
00:20 - 3RM Update (3RGP Episode 1 uploaded, GOLP this weekend)
01:22 - Game News
-- EA Cancels Mirror's Edge 2 and My Garden
-- Double Fine's 3rd New Project (Sesame Street: Once Upon a Monster)
-- Lemmings Turns 20
-- IGN Hyped Trailer: Dead Island
-- Zynga Valued at $10 Billion
-- Telltale Games Blowout (Jurassic Park Trailer, Puzzle Agent 2, King's Quest, Hector: Badge of Carnage, Walking Dead, Fables, No Scott Pilgrim)
11:17 - Games We've Played: Stacking, chick chick BOOM
12:00 - Next Week: Microsoft Pre-GDC Event

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Weekly Releases: 2/20/11

Finish off February the right way: with some good gaming!

Significant Releases

Bulletstorm (PS3 / 360 / PC)

Developer: People Can Fly (Painkiller, Gears of War PC)
Publisher: EA

Time to go extreme to the extreme! Bulletstorm is a first person shooter with a unique "skillshot" system in which dispatching enemies in unique ways gives players points which can be used to upgrade skills and weaponry throughout the adventure. Players assume the role of Space Bounty Hunter Grayson Hunt and cyborg Ishi Sato, who have crash-landed on planet Stygia after attempting to take down Dead Echo General Sarrano. With both the two heroes and the baddies on the destroyed planet, it is up to Hunt and Sato to take care of business and escape the monster-infested hellhole they have landed on!

de Blob 2 (PS3 / 360 / Wii / DS)

Developer: Blue Tongue Entertainment (de Blob) [Console Versions]
Halfbrick (Raskulls, Fruit Ninja) [DS Version]
Publisher: THQ

The colorful creature and his posse have returned, this time to all consoles and even handhelds! In this adventure, the evil Comrade Black, masquerading as Papa Blanc, takes over the city and take the color from the world and its people, and now it is up to Blob and his companions to save the day once more. Blob has a number of new abilities this time, including a special dash attack. The game offers a number of side-scrolling sections, allowing players to venture inside buildings and the sewers for the first time in the series. A cooperative mode a la Super Mario Galaxy 2 is also available so players can help each other progress through the adventure! The DS version of de Blob 2 is exclusively side-scrolling and takes place between the two console games.

Killzone 3 (PS3)

Developer: Guerilla Games (Killzone Series)
Publisher: Sony

Continuing the epic first person shooter franchise, Killzone 3 takes place immediately following the second, after killing the Helghast's dictator. Without a leader, factions of the Helghast Empire are brought into a power struggle, and with an impending invasion of Earth on the horizon, it is up to Sev and Rico to gather the last of the ISA together in order to quell the invasion and end the conflict once and for all. Players will venture through various harsh environments and take flight on jet packs throughout the campaign, and Playstation Move will be usable for the game.

Other Releases:
Trackmania: Build to Race (Wii / DS)
Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood (PC)
Duke Nukem: Critical Mass (DS / PSP)
Radiant Historia (DS)
Knights Contract (PS3 / 360)
Trapped Dead (PC)
Grey Matter (PC)

Previous 10 Weeks:
2/13/11 - Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 / Dragon Quest VI / Tactics Ogre
2/06/11 - You Don't Know Jack / Stacking
1/30/11 - Bionic Commando Rearmed 2
1/23/11 - Dead Space 2 / Two Worlds II
1/16/11 - LittleBigPlanet 2
1/09/11 - DC Universe Online / Ghost Trick / Kingdom Hearts Re: Coded
1/02/11 - Lost in Shadow / ilomilo
12/26/10 - Raskulls
12/19/10 - Back to the Future: The Game
12/12/10 - Super Mario All-Stars Limited Edition

Source: NeoGAF

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Third Rate Game Play 1: Eternal Ring

Game: Eternal Ring

System: Playstation 2

Developer: From Software

Publisher: Agetec

Player: Alex Wanschura

Experience: Blind

From Software was formed in 1986 by only four people, specializing as a company for business and software development, but the company first went into video game production in 1994. The company’s first major franchise was King’s Field, a first-person role-playing game released on the Playstation and subsequently Playstation 2. From Software is, perhaps, better known for its second, now much larger franchise Armored Core, a series of games in which players control large mechs through a number of missions for multiple missionary groups.

For the Playstation 2’s launch, From Software took it upon itself to develop a number of games. Armored Core 2 would appear at launch, but a new King’s Field was passed in favor of two new games in the company’s RPG repertoire: Evergrace, an action RPG with two unique storylines and an equipment-based leveling system, and Eternal Ring, a first-person RPG akin to King’s Field but with a unique ring-equipment system.

The publisher, Agetec, was originally ASCII Entertainment, formed in 1991 as the American branch for Japanese publisher ASCII. At the time, it had become popular for bringing over various Japanese titles including those developed by From Software. However, in order to focus more on American tastes, the company was spun-off in 1998 as "Ascii Game Entertainment TEChnology,” or Agetec. One year later, it separated from ASCII entirely, which in turn would cease game publishing in 2002.

"Who said fantasies had to be final? A young magician is sent by his king to investigate the strange happenings on the Island of No Return. Armed with his sword and his natural talent as a sorcerer, Cain attempts to be the first person to return from the island alive. Legend has it that magical powers are at rest on this island. It is inhabited by numerous beasts, enormous dragons, and magical items that were supposed to be buried long ago. As Cain, the player must solve several baffling scenarios whilst keeping his hide intact in his search for the ultimate magic ring."

Eternal Ring is a first-person RPG in which players control Cain Morgan, a young magician who is sent to the Island of No Return by the peaceful king of Heingaria in order to investigate a secret team sent to the Island by the kingdom's elders. The island is home to the legendary Eternal Ring, a ring with power well beyond mortal comprehension, and with little means to return, Cain must venture forth in search of the true intentions of the Heingarian Elders’ mission while perhaps learning more about his own past along the way.

At first, players only have the means to attack with a sword, but over time, they are capable of wearing magical rings which can boost abilities and allow spells to be cast. Furthermore, money is replaced by a number of elemental gems which can be traded in for items or used to make or improve ring powers and weaponry. Rings have set levels of strength, but adding elemental gems to them can boost their abilities to a degree.

The game itself is situated in a linear experience, guiding players into a cavern, then a town-like setting, and then into the first dungeon. Following that, the game leads players through a number of dangerous environments, encountering strange people and ferocious monsters along the way.

While there are no sequels to Eternal Ring, From Software has continued to bring role-playing games, including first-person variations, into the gaming industry. For Playstation 2, the company brought out King’s Field: The Ancient City (the fourth in the series, but the third to go overseas) and Forever Kingdom (which is a prequel to Evergrace); Shadow Tower Abyss, a sequel to Shadow Tower and another first-person RPG, was disallowed an American release by SCEA. For GameCube, the company developed the Lost Kingdoms franchise, which was published in America by Activision. This generation, From Software earned acclaim for its unique and, at times, excruciatingly difficult RPG products: 3D Dot Heroes, an overheard RPG akin to retro Zelda games with a focus on pixelated graphics and basic gameplay design, and Demon’s Souls, a dark fantasy action RPG in which players can be brought back to life as a soul, although the game ultimately punishes them for dying in the first place. Many have stated that Demon’s Souls is a spiritual successor to the King’s Field series.

Agetec still exists, albeit in a more muted form than what it was when Eternal Ring was released. It continued to publish a number of Japanese titles for American audiences, including games developed by SNK and From Software, as well as smaller budget Japanese Playstation titles. While From Software got publishing deals with Atlus and other, larger publishers, Agetec continued to publish smaller titles for the company, the last of which was Cookie & Cream for the DS in 2007. While it focuses mainly on budget releases, it still exists. The site has not been updated heavily since 2009, but it continues to publish titles, including three DSiWare titles: Go Fetch!, Paul’s Shooting Adventure, and Paul’s Monster Adventure, all developed by small Japanese developer ICM. Its most recent release was Treasure Hunter X for DSiWare in February 2011, developed by SilverStar, whose other works have been brought stateside by Agetec, too.

Currently, From Software is developing Dark Souls, a game similar to Demon’s Souls, published by Namco-Bandai, alongside Armored Core V and Capcom’s Kinect project Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor.

Agetec’s current activities are unknown, but it appears as though it is primarily focused on DSiWare projects.

Originally filmed early September 2010, this was supposed to be completed by the 10th anniversary of the American Playstation 2 launch, consisting of a collection of four games which released that October: Fantavision, Eternal Ring, TimeSplitters, and Dead or Alive 2: Hardcore. Alas, Fantavision had not arrived yet, so we assumed it would not appear in time. As a result, we named it a three-part Let’s Play before it finally arrived. As a note, we had not yet named the show Third Rate Game Play yet, so any “Let’s Play” or “Quick Play” mention is referring to Third Rate Game Play.

Alex had no prior experience with the game beforehand, and he had only seen screenshots and one video clip before playing the game. All reactions are made on-the-fly as both experience it for the first time.

In this episode, Alex ventures into the Island of No Return and completes the Water Temple, the first major dungeon. The runtime approaches an hour, and while it does not provide much insight into the game’s ring system, it does provide a good look into the game’s other, core gameplay concepts.

Eternal Ring was a surprising affair for me. Having only seen a video of the game briefly played, I had no real idea how the game would turn out, so I was surprised to find that the game was actually a pretty good for a launch title for the Playstation 2.

The actual game itself was smooth in pacing, and while the game’s dialogue and presentation left something to be desired, the gameplay was accessible and unique from my perspective. While we did not get very far into the game itself, I can imagine there is a lot more strategy involved with the rings, which could improve or damage the overall experience. The world seemed simple, artistically speaking, and the characters were nearly pointless in their interactions. So, perhaps the best way to describe my feelings for Eternal Ring is this: the gameplay is solid, though the scenario could definitely be more polished.

The episode went very smoothly, and having no prior experience to the game, we had plenty of comments to make, further improving the overall adventure. While I stupidly died at the beginning and end of the playthrough, I think the deaths added to the humor, looking back at the episode today.

It was certainly a good way to start off the series of videos!

If you would like us to continue making episodes for Eternal Ring, feel free to comment on the video's Youtube page or this page.

3RM Says: Eternal Ring is a fun RPG, but the Ring itself makes a great Hula Hoop!

Third Rate Week: February 6th, 2011 (wait, what?)

Skip the formalities and let us get moving! [A week late :/ ] Also note that the news will be forgone this week due to continuing side projects. However, the news this week will be discussed in the upcoming Third Rate Week video!

This week:
00:22 - 3RM Update (No 3RGP upload, Wii Needs Fixing, Working on GOLP)
01:53 - Game News
-- Hudson Entertainment Closes
-- The Darkness II Announced (Developed by Digital Extremes)
-- Cave Story 3D Announced (Published by NIS America)
-- Activision-Blizzard (No More Guitar Hero, Beachhead Studio, Skylanders)
11:04 - Games We've Played: Super Paper Mario, More Mega Man, Random XBLIGs, Namco Museum Megamix [slipped up and said Remix]
10:35 - Next Week: (it already happened!)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Weekly Releases: 2/13/11

Time to fall in love all over again this week!

Significant Releases

Marvel Vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds (360 / PS3)

Developer: Capcom (Marvel Vs. Capcom 2, Super Street Fighter IV)
Publisher: Capcom

It's Mahvel baybee! After years of waiting for the next major versus title (apart form rereleases and Tatsunoko vs Capcom on Wii), Capcom is finally bringing us Marvel Vs. Capcom 3. Doctor Doom, many Marvel villains, and Wesker have combined forces to conquer both the Capcom and Marvel worlds, but the activity awakens a greater evil, forcing both sides to come together and face off against total destruction of both worlds. The game features the same arcade experience with thirty characters spanning both Marvel and Capcom universes, and there are characters planned for DLC content (two already announced: Shuma-Gorath and Jill Valentine). So much fighting, so little time!

Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Revelation (DS)

Developer: ArtePiazza (Dragon Quest IV, V, VI, Opoona)
Publisher: Nintendo

Nintendo continues to publish the Dragon Quest franchise, this time bringing the Super Famicom-only Dragon Quest VI to American gamers. In this installment, the heroes in this adventure journey forth to save the world from destruction, but in a twist, most of them suffer from amnesia and, therefore, know little about what is happening or even who they are. There are a few changes to the original SNES release, such as restrictions on which monsters can join the party, and the tagging mode introduced in Dragon Quest IX will also return in the remake, so players can go meet up with other players for extra game content.

Tactics Ogre: Let us Cling Together (PSP)

Developer: Square-Enix (Tactics Ogre Series)
Publisher: Square-Enix

The second Square-Enix remake release this week, Tactics Ogre takes the original game and takes it to a new level. Made with the original team behind the game, Tactics Ogre for PSP offers revamped graphics, enhanced musical compositions, and new characters to further expand on the game's already massive story setting. Those who truly want to see how turn-based strategy games were back then, brought back with extra life, should certainly enjoy this title.

Other Releases:
Hyperdimension Neptunia (PS3)
Back to the Future: The Game (PSN)
Acceleration of Suguri X-Edition (PSN)
Dance Paradise (Kinect)
Hard Corps: Uprising (XBLA)
TNT Racers (XBLA / PSN)
Amnesia: The Dark Descent (PC Retail)

Previous 10 Weeks:
2/06/11 - You Don't Know Jack / Stacking
1/30/11 - Bionic Commando Rearmed 2
1/23/11 - Dead Space 2 / Two Worlds II
1/16/11 - LittleBigPlanet 2
1/09/11 - DC Universe Online / Ghost Trick / Kingdom Hearts Re: Coded
1/02/11 - Lost in Shadow / ilomilo
12/26/10 - Raskulls
12/19/10 - Back to the Future: The Game
12/12/10 - Super Mario All-Stars Limited Edition
12/05/10 - World of Warcraft: Cataclysm


Saturday, February 12, 2011

Spyro Returns, Brings Friends, Toys

Shortly after its conference call this past week regarding the future of the company, Activision announced Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure, a new experience in which players use toy figurines to import unique characters into the game.

Skylanders is an action adventure style game, but unlike previous games in the Spyro series, the game makes use of toys, or interaction figures, which are imported into the game via a special portal platform. Players put the figures onto the portal, and the game then puts that character into the game. If a player wants to switch characters, it's as easy as changing which figure is on the portal. Each figure also saves the character level data, allowing people to keep their progress as they switch characters or travel to play with a friend elsewhere.

The game will feature a total of 32 characters to choose from, all with their own interaction figure. Skylanders will come with 3 figures, trading cards, and the portal itself. Sounds like a franchise using these figures could arise in the future.

Not only is the game using a unique set of interactivity, but it is getting a number of big names helping from around the animation industry. The character design was done by Shrek character designer Tom Hester, whereas the music is being composed by Inception composer Hans Zimmer. The duo of Toy Story writers, Alec Sokolow and Joel Cohen, are writing the story.

The game's developer, Toys for Bob, was formed in 1986, and before being purchased by Activision had been known for the Star Control series on PC and Pandemonium games on Playstation. Since its acquisition, the company has largely worked on licensed games such as Madagascar.

Spyro the Dragon was created by Universal Studios (now Vivendi, which controls Activision-Blizzard) and developed into a three-game series on Playstation with Insomniac Games. Insomniac stayed a Sony-exclusive developer with the Ratchet and Clank series, so Universal gave the game to multiple developers since. The first two console non-Insomniac titles were Year of the Dragonfly, made by what is now Backbone Entertainment, and Hero's Tail, produced by Eurocom. Since then, Krome Studios produced a trilogy of titles, known as the Legend of Spyro franchise. Skylanders brings the Spyro series into its second reboot since its inception in 1998.

No specific platform has been unveiled for the title, although the trailer states that the game would expand to console, mobile, and computer-based releases. It is expected to release this fall.


SOURCE: Gamespot

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Cave 3D! (In more ways than one...)

Developer Nicalis and publisher NIS America are teaming up to bring a 3D remake of Cave Story to 3DS, simply titled Cave Story 3D.

Cave Story 3D takes the original title and remakes it entirely, shifting from the game's classic 2D sprite design toward a more modern 3D-modeled game. The game will still retain its 2D gameplay, thereby making Cave Story 3D a 2.5D game, of sorts. This allows the game's backgrounds to be affected by the Nintendo 3DS's display, adding to the world's large, organic design.

A comparison of the WiiWare and 3DS protagonists

The game is being worked on with the supervision of Cave Story-creator Daisuke Amaya, or Pixel. The original Cave Story was released in Japan for free in 2004, but in the past year, the game has seen a revamped graphical release on WiiWare in March 2010 and a DSiWare port this past November. Like in those projects, any art asset or musical change goes through Pixel for clearance before being implemented into the final product.

Concept art of the starting cave

Beyond the graphical and musical recreation, Cave Story 3D will include sections and gameplay elements unique to the game. When originally creating the game, Pixel had cut a number of locations and a couple elements from the final product, but in Cave Story 3D, the extra game content will be brought back to create a fuller, richer experience. Furthermore, Pixel says that the reception of this game could dictate whether Cave Story will see a full-fledged sequel in the future, despite his statements prior removing the possibility of more Cave Story.

Cave Story 3D is still early, but Nicalis and NIS Ameica expect to see the release in early summer of this year, close to the end of the "launch window" for the new Nintendo handheld.

SOURCE (and interview): GameSpot GamesRadar

WiiWare Demos Overview #8

Nintendo began to allow Demos for WiiWare, 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. Overviews are made every so often.

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.

This update, we focus on two two-game weeks and expect to do another four-demo roundup this upcoming week, as well.


Fish 'Em All

Developer: Abylight
Publisher: Abylight
Original Release: June 8th, 2009
Price: 800 Wii Points

What is it?
Fish 'Em All! is an arcade experience in which players control Jack and Walter, two old fisherman who encounter fantastical ponds where fish leap right into their nets! Unfortunately, the ponds are also filled with creatures who are willing to get in their way. Players control the selected fisherman, moving left or right across the stage in an effort to catch flying fish with his net with a swing of the Wii Remote. Dodging enemies and jumping over hazards are key to making a big enough catch to succeed. The game features three game modes: Arcade, Challenge, and Fishtris.

What does the demo have?
The demo is actually quite robust, considering the game's focus. Players can select all three game modes and attempt to get the highest score, although that will not be saved in the demo. Challenge mode only allows the first set of challenges to be completed, whereas the other two modes seem fairly open for play. As I was unable to survive long enough to encounter a kill screen on either of those modes, my guess is that the demo will cut players off after a particular environment is encountered.

How does it compare with the full version?
The full game consists of access to all the aforementioned modes without any cut-off and with the ability to save scores. Multiplayer is also available, although whether it is available on the demo, too, I cannot recall. The challenge mode's remaining challenges are opened to the player as well.

Furry Legends

Developer: Gamelion Studios
Publisher: Gamelion Studios
Original Release: July 19th, 2010
Price: 1000 Wii Points

What is it?
Furry Legends is a platforming adventure in which players assume the role of the Furballs, lovable beings whose world of Furland is attacked by the evil Lord Squarie. The purpose of the game is to get the selected Furball to the end of each stage, and over the course of the game, players will have to use each Furball's select FurPowers in order to pass certain enemies and obstacles. The humorous dialogue and wide-open level design make this game unique from other platformers on the service, if the FurBalls did not already do that. The game is, in essence, the first chapter in the overall game; whether a sequel will actually arrive has not been noted.

What does the demo have?
The demo sends players into the game's storybook, only to skip the whole story in favor of the demo itself. Players control a green Furball named Furzzle, who has the special ability of super speed. The game lets players experience the first level of the game, which allows them to encounter some Squarie enemies, use the game's unique tackle gameplay methods, and experience the game's platforming puzzle elements which carry on throughout the full game. Once the demo is completed, players have the choice of returning to the game, leaving to the Wii Menu, or heading to the Wii Shop.

How does it compare with the full version?
The full version of the game allows players to see the full story and venture onward through the game in its entirety, which is said by some to be a five-level experience. While the later levels are much longer than what was demonstrated, the game is still seen as fairly short, but those interested in trying out the rest of the adventure should not be discouraged if they enjoyed what they played. As said earlier, the game is supposedly episodic, with the next chapter apparently on the horizon.

Zombie Panic in Wonderland

Developer: Akaoni Studio
Publisher: Akaoni Studio
Original Release: May 3rd, 2010
Price: 1000 Wii Points

What is it?
Zombie Panic in Wonderland is an arcade shooter in which players control characters from classic tales from east and western corners of the world, all in an attempt to mow down onslaughts of zombie armies and monsters and save Wonderland from damnation. Players can strafe back and forth from a fixed plane, shooting down approaching enemies with various attack patterns to learn and avoid. Thankfully, there are plenty of weapons to bring the hurt on the undead. What further intensifies the experience are the fully-destructible environments, turning once hospitable lands into warzones. All with fairy tale characters to blame!

What does the demo have?
The demo allows players to experience part of the game's Story Mode, in which they can play as Momotaro in one of two different costumes. After selecting the character, a cutscene opens the game, leading to the first stage within the adventure. Starting in a store, the mayhem quickly spreads outside to the streets, where players face off against a number of zombie types, including a number of ninja zombies. The game demo ends after the stage is completed, prompting players with the usual three choices: Buy, Replay, or Quit.

How does it compare with the full version?
Zombie Panic in Wonderland contains a Story Mode which consists of three chapters, each with three stages to encounter. At the end of each chapter, players face off against a large boss, which can be more difficult than the stages beforehand! Players will be able to play the game with seven characters from which to choose. After beating Story Mode, players can enter Arcade Mode, where a special stage awaits. Those interested in what they saw will certainly get a challenge and a treat with the full version.

Racers' Islands - Crazy Racers

Developer: Artefacts Studio
Publisher: Zallag
Original Release: October 4th, 2010
Price: 1000 Wii Points

What is it?
Racer's Islands: Crazy Racers is a racing game in which players control one of six riders in swift races across a number or islands in order to win a the championship. Besides the usual items obtained and used a la Mario Kart, Racers' Islands also gives players the ability to shoot at their opponents with the Wii Remote's Pointer. The game also offers multiplayer races for those who would rather spend time playing with friends than by themselves.

What does the demo have?
One race. By clicking on the "Play Demo" option, players are sent to a race track with a randomly selected character. There is no tutorial and no warning as to what is about to happen. Once a three-lap race around the islands is completed, the game shows the winning scores and proceeds to provide the three end-of-demo options. The bluntest demo ever posted yet on WiiWare.

How does it compare with the full version?
The full version allows players to choose which of the six racers to play as, and the game provides ten tracks (and their mirrored versions) across the same map as the demo's. The game allows for multiplayer, as well, whereas the demo barely gives players a single-player experience to even judge the game correctly.

Activision Closes Studios, Guitar Hero, True Crime

Amid the announcements surrounding the company's focus toward its AAA properties, Activision has decided to lay off 500 employees and cancel a number of projects, including the Guitar Hero franchise and True Crime: Hong Kong. Developers 7 Studios, Freestyle Games and Vicarious Visions were affected particularly, with the first of them closing its doors.

According to reports, Activision had seen a great decline in its music properties, and in preparation to focus more on Call of Duty and Blizzard franchises, the company has laid off a large group of employees. President Bobby Kotick confirmed that no Hero games would be seeing a release this year, and it is understood that the Guitar Hero brand is on ice indefinitely.

In light of those factors, great layoffs have hit DJ Hero developer Freestyle Games and Guitar Hero developer Vicarious Visions. The worst hit was 7 Studios, which was purchased by Activision to bring mobile music games out into the market and help design additional content on DJ Hero 2; the developer is now closed.

True Crime: Hong Kong has also been canceled, even though the game was near completion. Its developer, United Front, is known for its recent development of Sony-published ModNation Racers. As the company seems to have been working solely on this project, the cancellation could lead to layoffs at the independent studio.

Along with the cancellations, Activision stated that it would not be releasing a Tony Hawk game this year, as well, which could be a bad thing for current-Tony-Hawk developer Robomodo, but time will tell whether worries are warranted.

This is not unexpected for Activision, sadly. Last year, the company had decided to close Bizarre Creations (who developed Blur and James Bond 007: Blood Stone), Luxoflux (known for making True Crime and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen), Underground Development (which was making a new Call of Duty), RedOctane (originator of the Guitar Hero franchise), and BudCat Creations (known for Wii and PS2 editions of Guitar Hero games before Vicarious Visions). Layoffs also hit other in-house developers including Robomodo (the newest Tony Hawk franchise holder), Radical Entertainment (which caused the cancellation of a new Crash Bandicoot title), and NeverSoft (canceling its work on Guitar Hero).

Best of luck to those involved.

SOURCE: Eurogamer

Activision Announces New Studio: Beachhead

In its conference call this week, Activision confirmed the creation of a new developer, Beachhead, whose focus would be to produce online content for the Call of Duty franchise.

Activision head Bobby Kotick explained that Call of Duty downloadable content has been selling consistently high, and the creation of a new wholly-owned developer would be his answer to maintaining a continued usage of online features in the Call of Duty franchise.
Beachhead will create the best-in-class online community, exclusive content, and a suite of services to supercharge the online gaming experience like never before. The platform will support in-game integration and bring online experiences and console play together for the first time. The platform has been in development for over a year and we're very excited about the increased value we can bring to the community. We look forward to sharing more specifics on this exciting new endeavor with you in the near future.
-Robert Kotick, CEO, Activision-Blizzard
What exactly will become of this new platform of Call of Duty content is unknown. Is the platform just a meta-game framework to put all titles together, or will it be a full-fledged Call of Duty game with a focus entirely on multiplayer content?

Could this become the subscription-based Call of Duty project many are speculating will eventually happen? We will not know until the projects is closer to completion.

SOURCE: Joystiq

Hudson Entertainment to Close

In preparation for the impending acquisition of Hudson Soft, the American branch of Hudson, Hudson Entertainment, is to be closed by the end of the month, and some projects have been canceled in the process.

In a now missing blog post, Hudson Entertainment brand manager Morgan Haro stated that the company would be closed by the end of the month. The company acted as US branch for Hudson Soft, working specifically on its western releases and marketing in the same markets.

The closure of Hudson Entertainment comes as the firm became redundant in the face of pending mergers with Konami, which is set to fully acquire Hudson Soft and shift its focus in the next couple months.

Hudson Entertainment was formed in 2003, although Hudson had published games via Hudson USA beforehand. Its most recent release was Lost in Shadow, which came out early January for the Wii.

Hudson Soft is believed to be changing its focus toward social and mobile projects post-acquisition. Before the announcement, Hudson had recently announced three specific 3DS projects: Bomberman, Deca Sports, and Nikoli's Pencil Puzzle. All current projects by Hudson Entertainment have been canceled, but the fate of all currently announced products from Hudson Soft is still unknown. The projects close to completion with most likely see release under the Konami brand, while those in pre-production are probably canceled or to be reshaped.

Best of luck to the team.

SOURCE: Gamasutra

I Am Alive: Maybe Not Downloadable

According to Jeux Video, the statement regarding I Am Alive's fate as a downloadable title is not currently confirmed.

Last week, many sites (including 3RM) were reporting that I Am Alive was coming out this year as a downloadable title. This was accompanied by other reports that the game had been through a bit of developmental problems over the last few years.

At least one of those facts has been proven false, or at least unconfirmed. Apparently Jeux Video was joking when it stated that it had been demoted to downloadable status. So, while the development issues might be true, the means by which it will release are still unknown.

SOURCE: Desctructoid

The Darkness II Comes Forth!

2K Games has announced The Darkness II, developed by Digital Extremes, expected for release this upcoming fall.

The Darkness stars hitman Jackie Escatado who, upon turning 21, manifests the power of The Darkness, a godly being which represents destruction and chaos. Over the course of his previous adventure, Escatado exacts revenge on the mafia who has attempted to kill him and all who supported him in his life. The Darkness II will still star Escatado, but will instead follow a more brutal pathway into his past.

The original game is best known for its innovative "quad-weilding" gameplay, in which players control both Demon Arms to slash and cut through enemies as well as hold normal weaponry for more traditional slaying.
The game takes a unique stance on fighting in the dark versus light. Combined with the arsenal of weapons at Jackie's disposal and the gruesome attacks of the supernatural Demon Arms and Darkness powers, we're proud to announce another title that delivers on our core values of creating games for gamers.
-Christoph Hartmann, President, 2K Games
The developer is different from the first game, however; Digital Extremes is best known for its assistance in the Bioshock and Unreal series and the creation of Dark Sector. The original developer, Starbreeze, is supposedly working on a project with EA to be announced soon.

The Darkness II will see its release this fall for Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and PC.


Weekly Releases: 1/30/11

Halfway into the week...but better than never!

Significant Releases

You Don't Know Jack (360 / PS3 / PC / Wii / DS)

Developer: Jellyvision (YDKJ Series)
Publisher: THQ

The craziest trivia game is back, and this time it is available on consoles, as well! You Don't Know Jack is a trivia game which stars crazy host Cookie Masterson as he tries to fry your brains with humorously-phrased questions. There are a myriad of question types, and they are phrased in ways which require an outside-thinking mind to complete. To top it off, there are downloadable question packs in the works, so the questions can keep coming and the laughs keep roaring.

Stacking (XBLA / PSN)

Developer: Double Fine (Brutal Legend, Costume Quest)
Publisher: THQ

Double Fine's second downloadable title hits consoles this week, this time focusing on an adventure puzzle experience based in the old times. Players assume the role of Charlie Blackmore, a young boy who is sent off to free his family and more from the tyranny of The Baron. Every character are matryoshka dolls, each characterized with unique designs, and in order to solve puzzles, Charlie can enter dolls one size larger than he is and use their abilities around the world. The game has Double Fine's humorous quirks, and the idea is fairly unique. How will it stack up against the competition?

Other Releases:

Tales from Space: About a Blob (PSN)
Explodemon (PSN)
Trinity: Souls of Zill O'll (PS3 / 360)
Body and Brain Connection (Kinect)
TNT Racers (XBLA)
Mario Sports Mix (Wii)
Dungeons (PC)
Superstars V8 Next Challenge (PS3 / 360 / PC)

Previous 10 Weeks:
1/30/11 - Bionic Commando Rearmed 2
1/23/11 - Dead Space 2 / Two Worlds II
1/16/11 - LittleBigPlanet 2
1/09/11 - DC Universe Online / Ghost Trick / Kingdom Hearts Re: Coded
1/2/11 - Lost in Shadow / ilomilo
12/26/10 - Raskulls
12/19/10 - Back to the Future: The Game
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