Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Second Look at Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus. Also, get your own customized game swag!  

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Games: I recently covered Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus over at @Gamecritics, but in a very unusual turn of events, I continued to play it after I finished the review… That's wildly out of the ordinary for me, and after having spent another 20 hours past the point at which I wrote my opinion, I feel like I have more to say on it.


Now, this isn't to say that my review is invalid… Not at all. I feel like I gave it a super-solid breakdown based on the time spent, and I'm still happy with my final verdict. Absolutely. But, there were some details and small things I've grown to appreciate that were not immediately noticeable until after I had spent even more time going through the game with each character and seeing more of the Visual Novel chunks.

Although I touched on it in my review, I think one thing that’s really brilliant about the game is how small in size it is.

I've never liked Musou games before, but for some reason this one really clicked with me, and it had nothing to do with the naked ladies. As I was trying to think about why this one was so enjoyable when so many others bored me to tears, I came to the conclusion that the gameplay comes in perfectly bite-sized portions, so that fatigue never really gets the chance to set in.

It also helps that the 15 characters in the three starting schools feel wildly different from each other, even though they all share the same basic moves – a light attack, a strong attack, a jump, a ground pound, and a dash. However, despite this similarity, how they’re implemented and how they play are starkly different. Going further (and another example of how time revealed more) the girls of the Crimson Squad aren’t even selectable until after the player has completed the story mode three times -- something like a 20-hour investment. Once they’re unlocked, they’re an even more obvious example of how technically different the shinobi are.


Take the snake-eyed Hikage, for instance… She has lightning-fast knife attacks, a poison shot, and one of her special moves is to turn completely invincible as she goes into a primordial rage.  On the other hand, Mirai is quite fragile, but packs a machine gun inside of her umbrella. She needs to play very much like a sniper, and can only dash backwards, further emphasizing her lack of ability to engage directly.  Although I have my preferences when it comes to the characters, I found that spending time with each of them was well-rewarded, and I admired how much variation there was between them. 


Another aspect that didn't come to full fruition until I had gone through the story mode a second time (and was only enhanced with a third and a fourth) was just how much nuance there was to the writing, and how much attention was given to the story mode and backstory of each ninja.

While I thought they did a fine enough job in the content that I saw, I was quite impressed when I found that some of the ‘tropey’ characters ended up having more depth than I would've expected. The oversexed pervert character (well, one of them, anyway) actually had some good motivation underneath the surface stuff, some of the ‘focused’ characters had elements of self-doubt, or questions about their beliefs. It ain’t War & Peace, but there's more humanity in the writing than it had any right to have. In fact, after playing for another 20-ish hours past the point of review, I think I would probably re-characterize the game as having a heftier visual novel aspect -- probably another reason why this one has hooked me when other Musou games haven’t.

As an experiment, I decided to try Hyrule Warriors after being so thoroughly wrapped up in Senran... I wasn't sure whether this newfound appreciation was a change in my taste or if there was more to it than that, but after putting an hour into Hyrule, I wanted no more of it. 


It felt busy but shallow at the same time, none of the characters struck me as interesting, and the mechanics did not feel as complex. I don't know if that holds true over the course of the entire game, but it just wasn't as fun to control these characters, and the stages felt like they dragged on for-eh-ver. Of course, to be fair, I didn't spend enough time with the game to unlock extra weapons and some of the 
character modifier items and so forth, but then again, I wasn't really motivated to.


Although I'm sure many people will be put off by the T&A factor in Senran Kagura, I have to say that portion of the game was only noticeable for the first half an hour or so… After that, it just washed over me and I was more focused on trying to figure out the best playstyles for each character, practicing getting the countering down, and figuring out the best times to use ninja transformation or when to go into a Frenzy. I was even quite curious about how the story turned out! 

In hindsight, I feel like I should give the game and the developers more props for the things that are done exceptionally well, and I do think it's one of the few games in recent memory that genuinely got better with more time put into it.

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In other games news, I recently started Styx: Master of Shadows. I’d been looking forward to it for some time, but after the first hour and a half, I haven’t been back to it. 


So…. Yeah.

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Misc: I’ve mentioned it on Twitter a few times, but my wife has started making handcrafted videogame shirts, and she’s taking orders.

You can check out her site and see what she’s made so far, but she can do just about anything and she’s happy to take custom orders. Basically, if you don’t’ see a design you want, just email and ask! She can probably whip it up for you!

I wore this shirt yesterday!
If you’d like a shirt, sweatshirt, pair of socks, coffee sleeve (or whatever) with your favorite game-related thing on it, drop her a line.

FYI: She hasn’t found a reliable source for good hats yet, but she’s working on it. If YOU know a good hat wholesaler, any tips would be appreciated!  ^_^


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Tin Man Games’ seventh Fighting Fantasy digital gamebook app, Caverns of the Snow Witch, arrives on the iOS App Store, Google Play and the Amazon Appstore for Android, nearly 30 years to the day since the original publication of the paperback!
Tin Man Games has taken the classic Fighting Fantasy solo adventure and transformed it into an interactive digital experience, using their critically acclaimed gamebook engine. With animated page-turning, dynamic links, an automated adventure sheet to show changing stats and display magical treasures, the reader can also roll physics-based 3D dice to bravely battle the creatures found within the Crystal Caves and beyond.

Fighting Fantasy: Caverns of the Snow Witch is now available to download from the iOS App Store, Google Play and Amazon Appstore for Android. It costs $5.99 USD/£3.99/5,49 €.

Tin Man Games maintain a site dedicated to their Fighting Fantasy apps at www.FightingFantasyApps.com. The Official Fighting Fantasy site can be found at www.FightingFantasy.com. Tin Man Games also runs a developer blog at www.TinManGames.com.au.

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Hand of Fate, the Kickstarter-funded title from Defiant Development that seamlessly blends RPG, rogue-like and action-adventure elements with board and collectible card game features, will launch on Xbox One in January 2015 in addition to the previously announced PC and PlayStation 4 releases. 

Gamers who download Hand of Fate on Steam Early Access will be able to play new content created by industry luminary David Goldfarb, of Battlefield and Payday fame, prior to the game's official launch.  Goldfarb has designed original encounters, locations, items and a story which flesh out a hidden optional quest in Hand of Fate.

The Early Access build of Hand of Fate is now available for PC, Mac and Linux on Steam at a discounted price of $25 USD.

Information about Hand of Fate can be found at: http://defiantdev.com/handoffate.php

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Deep Silver Volition knows all too well the Seven Deadly Sins: Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy and Pride. For Johnny Gat in Deep Silver Volition's Saints Row: Gat out of Hell standalone expansion, the seven deadly weapons represent a means to devilish fun on his rampage through Hell. Can the Devil and his demonic allegiance withstand the persuasiveness of Johnny's unrighteous arsenal? Have a look at this new video featuring the seven deadly weapons and check out a description of the weapons below (don't be shy, curiosity is not a sin): http://youtu.be/z0rHaIeuiMY

In addition to the trailer release, Deep Silver announced that Saints Row: Gat out of Hell and Saints Row IV: Re-Elected will launch on January 20, 2015 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC for the software bundle, and PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC for retail standalone Gat out of Hell. Two different pre-order offers were also announce -- Purchase the new gen bundle for $49.99 with retailers such as Amazon, and receive two special DLC packs outlined below, or get the Gat out of Hell specific DLC when pre-ordering it as a standalone game for only $19.99.

Saints Row: Gat out of Hell Devil's Workshop Pack
SAINTS WINGS, JESTER'S SKULL
Tired of flying on the wings of a fallen angel? With the Devil's Workshop Pack you can fly on the purple wings of a Saint instead. Also included; Yorick, the flaming skull that acts as the source of Shakespeare's infernal might. Finally you can wield all of the power of Shakespeare with none of the iambic pentameter: what's not to love?

Saints Row IV: Re-Elected Plague of Frogs Pack
HELLISH PRINCESS, INFERNAL GUARD, LIL' CROAKER
Take some mementos from hell with you to virtual Steelport! Rain amphibian death onto Zinyak's army with the Lil' Croaker, and look good doing it wearing either Infernal Guard armor or Hellish Princess costumes.

For more information about the Saints Row universe, please visit the official sites:

Web: 
http://www.saintsrow.com
Facebook:
 http://www.facebook.com/saintsrow
Twitter: 
http://www.twitter.com/saintsrow
YouTube: 
http://www.youtube.com/saintsrow

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You can watch the Dragon Age: Inquisition The Hero of Thedas trailer at the following link: http://youtu.be/qzRjfkXW9Lo

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It's time to take the fight to the Divine Empire as Tears to Tiara II: Heir of the Overlord, the strategy RPG for the PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system is now available in the Americas for $39.99. Despite having a "II" in the title, the game requires no knowledge of the previous title, as the story and gameplay are all self-contained within the 80-plus hours of strategic combat and visual novel-style storytelling in the original Japanese audio. 

Tears to Tiara II features:
·  More than 15 main characters to get to know as the story unfolds in the visual novel. 
·  Strategic turn-based gameplay will challenge the most battle-hardened generals 
·  The joint attack combat systems adds extra depth to the strategy gameplay, and makes for more replayability
·  Original Japanese language story and battle audio at a discounted $39.99
Tears to Tiara II: Heir of the Overlord is now available in North and South America for $39.99. Pre-orders and a limited quantity of launch edition games will come with the Tears to Tiara II Visual Works, a 31-page booklet that combines sketches, concept art, character designs and background visuals. More information on the game, combat systems and more are available on the official website, http://www.atlus.com/tears2

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Wondering what is going on with Amazon Game Studios? Well, let us tell you! Today we’re happy to show you three new games that will be launching this year— Til Morning’s LightTales From Deep Space and CreepStorm. These are creative, hand-crafted games that are fun to play, deliver interesting new customer experiences, and utilize exclusive Amazon technology. Check out the game trailers and other assets here: http://games.amazon.com.


GungHo Online Entertainment America (GOEA), a multiplatform publisher for the online gaming community, today launched a Steam Greenlight campaign for its side-scrolling, puzzle-based adventure PC game Dokuro. Already available on the PlayStation®Vita handheld entertainment system and mobile devices (iOS and Android), Dokuro is expected to be released on Windows PC based on the support of the Steam community.

A recipient of industry awards, including IGN's Best PS Vita Puzzle Games of 2012 and Just Push Start's Original Game of the Year for 2012, Dokuro is a zany action-puzzler that enables players to manipulate the game's environment and transform its diminutive protagonist between two forms - a nimble skeleton and a dashing prince - to solve a variety of puzzles in order to help an innocent princess escape the Dark Lord's fortress.

Dokuro challenges players to utilize both Dokuro's skeletal and hero forms to approach and tackle various puzzles, traps, spiked pits and boss battles to save the princess. With nearly 150 levels of escalating complexity and difficulty, Dokuro puts even the most seasoned puzzle and platform gaming veterans to the challenge.

To check out Dokuro's Steam Greenlight page, visit:

To download the game on its current platforms, click: PlayStation VitaiTunes and Google Play.

For information on GungHo Online Entertainment America, visit: www.gunghoonline.com

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Starting now, Steam users can pre-purchase Techland’s upcoming open-world zombie action game Dying Light in a special 4-Pack bundle. At a price of three games, players receive four copies of Dying Light, one for them and three giftable extra copies for their friends. This promotion is a great way to delve into the world of Dying Light with a trusted team and get the most out of the game’s extensive multiplayer options.
Invasions by the Night Hunter are the asymmetric multiplayer aspect of Dying Light, revealed in the latest gameplay trailer. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=raVcgenC9No
Dying Light will be released in 2015 on January 27th in the Americas,January 28th in Australia and New Zealand, and January 30th in Europe and Asia.
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Dark Souls: Prepare to Die fans are amongst the most hardcore and tight-knit gamers in the world. In an effort to provide continued support to these players, FromSoftware and BANDAI NAMCO Games have worked tirelessly to make it possible for these most ardent of Dark Souls supporters to migrate their Dark Souls: Prepare to Die games, saves, and achievements from the Games for Windows Live platform to STEAM.
Pertinent details about the migration option from Games for Windows Live to STEAM can be found below:
·  Games for Windows Live users will be able to redeem their Games for Windows Live Tokens on STEAM to get Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition at no additional cost.
o To find your Games for Windows Live Token, please head to the support webpage at: http://support.xbox.com/en-US/billing/prepaid-codes/locate-games-for-windows-live-tokens
·  In the month of November there will be a period by which Games for Windows Live Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition users will be able to transfer their Save Data (character & progress) and Achievements over to their STEAM accounts.
·  Players will still be able to use their Games for Windows Live Tokens to redeem the STEAM version of Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition at no additional cost even after the migration period ends; but game Save Data and Achievements transfer functions may not be available.
·  Games for Windows Live Rankings will not be transferred to STEAM.
The specific migration start and end dates will be available soon; however the migration period will begin sometime in November 2014 with more specific dates to come.
We will be sharing more information soon regarding the migration process in upcoming media alerts. 

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If you're a fan of SENRAN KAGURA, get ready to slice and dice... up some delicious treats while rocking out to some funky beats! SENRAN KAGURA Bon App├ętit! is slated for November 11th in North America exclusively on the PlayStation®Store for $14.99, while the EU release by Marvelous Europe will launch on November 12th. The game includes the girls of Hanzo and Crimson Squad, complete with story routes for each girl to play through. If you're a fan of the straight-laced Gessen girls or the fierce Hebijo ladies, you can pick up the Gessen x Hebijo DLC pack two weeks later, on November 25th, also for $14.99. More info on the game can be found at the newly launched website at www.hanzonationalacademy.com/skba/

We're also kicking off the SHINOVI VERSUS DLC schedule today with two content packs, and the first one's free! The "Shinovi Hairstyle Set" includes 20 new hairstyles, one for each of the core shinobi, all on the house. Alongside that, there's "Costume Set 1," which includes five different outfits (the Gym Clothes, School Swimsuit, Uniform & Swimsuit, Uniform & Thigh Highs, and Japanese Dress) for a bundle price of $5.99. The outfits are also available individually, for $1.99 apiece. Marvelous Europe will be releasing the same DLC on the EU store tomorrow, October 22nd.

That's it for this week, but hold onto your Hachigane, because next week, two new challengers will enter the fray...

To stay up to date, check out our official Facebook page!

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Rainbow Skies (Vita)



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The Phantom PI: Mission Apparition (great for kids!)

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RIVE (wiiU)

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How To Survive: Storm Warning


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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Marvel Puzzle Quest: The One-Year Check-In! An interview with MPQ's Kevin Teich  

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It’s hard to believe that @MarvelPuzzle Quest has been around for a whole year, but my favorite mobile game did indeed celebrate its first anniversary last week. Now that it’s reached the ripe old age of one, I thought it would be good to touch base with the developers and see how things have grown and changed since its debut. 

Fortunately, MPQ executive producer Kevin Teich was good enough to take a few minutes and fill me in.

Here’s what he had to say!

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Happy birthday to MPQ! A year after launch, how is the game doing?

RKT: Thanks! It’s doing super well! We just had our best week ever in terms of number of players playing the game, number of downloads, and sales. Our feedback is also better than ever. It’s really encouraging, and we’re psyched that so many people are enjoying the game.


Cap's about to open a can of whoop-ass on these goons. 

What are some of the biggest lessons the team learned during the last year?

RKT: Listen to the players! That may seem obvious, but we’ve learned it’s really hard to balance making the features that we want and understanding what players want.

It’s also important to know how listen to  different kinds of players; our experienced, hardcore players posting in the forums may be asking for one thing, while at the same time, we see thousands of players not making it through our tutorial missions.

We’re a small team and can only do so much, and it’s impossible to listen to everybody. But we’re trying!



What were the biggest assumptions you had at the beginning that eventually proved wrong?

RKT: I underestimated the importance of our live events.

I remember the day after we went live, our producer told me that he’d need a few hours of work from one of our designers to see what was going on in the live version of the game and make some tweaks. Now, we have a developers who are dedicated to making content that goes live right away.

We also try to make as many improvements and bug fixes to the live version as we can, instead of waiting for the next version to ship.


Modern Hawkeye's new Speed Shot ability makes him a solid choice!

The team seems to have become quite a bit more sophisticated in how the new characters are designed. The gap in usability between new faces and old is quite large at times… Are there Modern Hawkeye-style revamps planned for old characters that just aren’t seeing action?

RKT: I’d love to freshen up some of those characters that don’t seem to be used that much. There are also some characters that are unbalanced right now, and those are higher priority.

We’ve learned a lot of making characters for our game, and what kinds of character features players like, and we love applying those lessons to our older designs. I can’t talk about specifics, but we definitely keep a close eye on this stuff.


Nobody but Brandon Bales loves this loser. 

Speaking of unloved characters, which ones have been used the least over the last year? Bag-Man seems the obvious non-starter, but any others who’ve been ignored by players? Who have been the most popular?

RKT: Our forums are a great source for this kind of information. Our players run polls on all kinds of subjects, including character popularity. Yelena Belova is another unpopular character.

When we were making the first batch of characters before the game launched, it was hard to look at them all in relation to the rest of the game, because there wasn’t much to rest of the game yet. Now, it’s easier to evaluate how a new character will fit into somebody’s existing roster.

Thor, Goddess of Thunder has garnered a huge amount of interest. We’re really excited to bring her to the playing field in Season 7.



On a more macro level, what’s the team’s philosophy when designing characters? Is the intention that each one should be roughly equal in power/ability, or if not, what sort of roles are you looking towards when creating new heroes and villains?

RKT: We start by digging into the character as they appear in the comics, and identify elements about the character that we want to capture in powers and mechanics. Sometimes this means the character gets a brand new type of power never seen in the game, and sometimes it means they get a simpler power that reflects their personality.

We also look for roles and color combinations that are under-represented in the current roster of characters. We always want characters to be balanced; part of our efforts to make this a deeply strategic game is to not have any one character be clearly superior. Some characters have great synergy with other characters; we also have to consider how characters will be used in combinations.


The most recent implementation of Team-Up info before a battle. 

The addition of Team-Ups was a big change to the game. How have they been received by the players, and how happy is the team with their current implementation? Also, will we ever see location-specific tiles/effects again in the future?

RKT: The initial roll-out of Team-Ups was not received very well. Part of our development philosophy is to get new features out to our players as fast as possible, and sometimes this means that we deliver features who promise in the fullness of time aren’t readily apparent. Team-Ups was an unfortunate example of that. 

We have lots of plans for them, and have been steadily rolling out features to make them better. In R63, you’re able to see what Team-Up your opponent is using before you select your own Team-Ups, which will make it a more strategic choice.

As a cool side effect of Team-Ups, people were able to collect Thor, Goddess of Thunder Team-Ups in the Lightning Rounds we ran last week, so they can call her in for help before she’s available as a full roster character.



I have several EU/UK players in my Alliance, and they often mention that the start and end times of events are usually incredibly inconvenient for them, putting them at a disadvantage compared to NA players. Any word on whether something can be done for them? EU/UK-specific servers, perhaps?

RKT: We are actively working on a feature that will make this better, not only for EU/UK players, but all players with busy lives who can’t stay up until midnight. No details yet, but stay tuned.


Those teeth aren't just for show!
After asking for him since the start, Devil Dinosaur was finally made a playable character. You have no idea how happy this makes me! What other characters have been heavily requested, and who’s on the team’s unconfirmed wish list for future characters?

RKT: This is another area in which forum polls give us a wealth of information. X-Men characters are hugely popular. Deadpool was a top request; we were really excited to bring him into the game.



Thanks so much for your time and answers. On a final note,what would you say to get someone to try MPQ if they haven’t yet, a full year after it’s been out?

RKT: It’s an authentic Marvel experience with dozens of characters and a uniquely strategic match-3 game at its heart, and new events every week. What’s not to love?

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Infinite thanks to Kevin Teich for the interview and to the whole MPQ team for giving me high-quality entertainment while stuck in boring places for the last year.  Also, mega thanks to Albert Reed for making this interview happen! 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Portland Retro gaming Expo - 2014  

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The Portland @RetroGamingExpo took place this weekend in the city's convention center. I’ve attended with the fam for the past few years, and it's been a great experience every time. I’m happy to report that his one was no different.

Since it’s smaller and in a different city, the PRGE is a great counterpoint to PAX Prime because the crowd is less dense and more laid-back. In general, everyone seems more easy-going, and there’s a stronger hang-out vibe. It's also pretty easy to bring kids… Not only will they have enough room to walk around without getting trampled by the crowd, it's not tough to snag them some time on the various free-play arcade machines and pinball tables.

Also, of particular note this year was how many vendors there were. Although I don't have hard numbers, it definitely felt like the arts and crafts/used games area was much bigger than last time, and there were some pretty phenomenal things to buy. I didn't spend a lot of time combing through the older titles (my backlog is plenty big enough, thanks) but I did buy several pieces of really awesome artwork, and I'm just so impressed by the talent there every year.

All in all, it's a great show and I absolutely recommend it to anyone who’s in the Pacific Northwest and has even a passing interest in old-school video games. It's one of the high points of the year as far as I'm concerned, and I'm already looking forward to the next one!


Caution: Pictorial approaching!!


This costume was fantastic. The kid inside said it was hot as hell, though. 


A view of the arts/crafts/used games area. It actually extended pretty far back.


Want to make your own drink-table arcade machine? You can find the materials here.




Just a *tiny* fraction of the vast array of old-school stuff for sale.




Read it closely. This booth had a ton of flasks, all disguised as semi-familiar NES carts. 


R2-D2 makes an appearance every year. 


This time, R2 brought a friend.



The second some of this perler bead artwork goes on sale, I''m buying it so hard.




  
This lineup of arcade machines was just a part of what was set for freeplay. 


And here's just a portion of the pinball tables. Also freeplay!


My son's still too short to reach the gas in SF Rush, So I lent him a hand. Er, a foot. 



An awesome poster I snagged from Artist's Alley. From what I was told,
it's a quasi-reproduction of a movie poster, and the artist didn't have a card on hand. = (





A truly stunning piece by Jeff Langevin. The wife and I actually ended up buying
four separate works from him. This guy is crazy talented!!




This stylized nine-tailed fox by R.H. Potter was an absolute must-have.
The lines are so clean! The design is so balanced!


Creepy and cute in equal measure, impossible to resist. You can find more at Fablefire's page

A Peach portrait from Jeff Langevin done in  the style of Mucha. So classy! 

A very cool piece celebrating Firefly, also from Jeff Langevin.
I can't get enough of this guy's work!!


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That's it for the Portland Retro Gaming Expo 2014... See you there in 2015!
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Monday, October 6, 2014

Mega Linkage, Shadow of Mordor, Frozen Synapse Prime, Chariot, and 1984's D&D  


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Links: We've had a crapton of stuff go up at @Gamecritics (and elsewhere) over the last week, so here are some quick links for your reference in case you missed them on Twitter…



Destiny Mistakes Busywork For Fun – Editorial from @Horrorgeek
  
D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die (XBO) – by @GC_Danny

Shadowgate (PC) – by @SparkyClarkson 

Wayward Manor (PC) – by @JimB_85

Natural Doctrine (PS3/PS4/Vita) – by me!

Velocity 2X (PS3/PS4/Vita) – by @MikeSuskie

Wildstar (PC) – by @Gelles22

Blood Knights (PS3/360) - by @GC_Danny

Tex Murphy: Tesla Effect (PC) – by @GC_Danny

The Adventures of Pip (PC/WiiU) Preview – by @SnakeyDavid

And finally, here's a re-enactment of an interview between Next Generation magazine and Sony's Steve Race from 1995. I play Steve and @DefunctGames is NextGen... It sounds a bit weird since we recorded our tracks separately, but hey.

Whew! Now, on to the blog as usual…


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Games: I’ve spent most of my recent free time playing Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor. I was pretty hyped for it after I saw it at PAX and mentioned it here at Coffeecola several times. After having completed the campaign last night, I think the game delivered on much of what I promised, although not all of it. 


The action is great, very reminiscent of what I thought Assassin’s Creed should've been since the start, and the links to The Lord of the Rings are good. Fans of that franchise will be satisfied, I suspect.

On the other hand, the main character is boring and the plot doesn't feel fully baked. Worse, the really fun "brainwash the orcs" mechanic that was so heavily promoted in the demo isn't even available to the player until about two thirds of the way through the adventure! Rather than being the core mechanic that I was led to believe it was, it ends up being rushed in at the end, and doesn't play nearly as large a part in the campaign as it should. 

Despite this disappointment and a few other concerns, it remained a positive experience overall… It's not the home-run that I thought it would be, but still quite good. Look for my full review soon.




In other review game news, I've been playing Frozen Synapse Prime for a while on Vita.


To be honest, I feel somewhat torn over it. Essentially, it's a very pure tactics experience where the player has quite a bit of control over their characters… It's somewhat reminiscent of the original XCOM in some ways, and when things go according to plan, it makes you feel like a genius. On the other hand, the tutorials don't really scratch the depths to which the game goes, and I've got some concerns about the AI and the things that are going on underneath the hood.

For example, there have been numerous times when I posted a guard pointing straight at a door in the highest readiness state, and when the enemies come around the corner, they somehow still get the drop on me?  Some of the win/fail conditions also feel a little draconian in their implementation, and despite how much I've been enjoying it when I win, the frustration factor of playing (and replaying) the campaign is quite high… I've been stuck on the same mission for three or four days in a row, and I'm starting to question whether I'll be able to complete it.

That said, I've heard it's absolutely brilliant in the versus mode and I haven't had a chance to test it out yet, so that's next on my list. Either way, fans of tactics should absolutely give it a once-over… There's a lot to like despite my misgivings.




Finally, I just started playing Chariot today with the wife. 


It is absurdly cute, and functions as a local co-op game where two people must bring a king’s coffin to his final resting place. The hook is that the coffin is on wheels, and the two characters must use ropes while pulling and pushing to get the coffin over various obstacles and towards the goal.

We didn't get a chance to play much, but we absolutely loved what we saw… Can't wait to play more, but at the moment, it seems like an obvious thumbs up.


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TV: I've been mining my own past for things to share with my five-year-old, and one program that I recalled enjoying as a child was the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon series which first ran in 1984.


In a nutshell, six kids were on a roller coaster ride that went into a D&D-themed funhouse, and somehow they get warped into a fantasy world where they all assume a class role and start questing. 

The first time I saw it, I must have been eight or nine, and clearly my taste wasn't quite as developed back then as it is now. As I sat through the first episode, I thought it was a pretty wretched piece of garbage… Definitely not one that holds up past the rose-tinted glasses.

There was no real intro or 'start' to the series past the opening theme song sequence, there's no pacing at all with each scene coming right on top of the last (and none of it giving the actors any time for anything but reading as fast as they can) and the action was quite lame, to boot. I'll watch a couple more because, hell, I bought the damned thing, but it's amazing to see how terrible it is after all these years. 

Epic sadface!



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Apropos of nothing, here are some great-looking screens from The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt
https://ssl.gstatic.com/ui/v1/icons/mail/images/cleardot.gif






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Techland recently released a new gameplay trailer for Dying Light to showcase the asymmetric multiplayer aspect of the game. Featuring a game-changing day & night cycle, unprecedented freedom of movement, and vast open world with 50+ hours of gameplay, Dying Light will also offer a full-fledged co-op multiplayer for up to 4 players – with a twist.
“The game is absolutely huge as it is, but to provide the ultimate zombie survival experience, we added an extra element of unpredictability to our nighttime gameplay” – says Dying Light’s Producer Tymon Smektala. “Online players can face the threat of a possible invasion of their game by the Night Hunter, an extremely powerful, human-controlled zombie mutation. These invasions are an inherent part of Dying Light, available on all platforms for all online players from day one. However for our hardcore fans who pre-order, we’re offering them a bonus Be the Zombie which lets you actually take control of the Night Hunter and invade online games of other players.”
Dying Light can be pre-ordered from the game's official website, from select retailers and is also available for pre-purchase on Steam. These pre-orders and pre-purchases come with the free Be the Zombie DLC, letting players take control of the Night Hunter themselves. By playing as the Night Hunter and invading other games, players get access to a completely new character with a unique set of moves and abilities which can be upgraded using experience points. The Be the Zombie mode will be available across all platforms.
Dying Light will be released in 2015 on January 27th in the Americas, January 28th in Australia and New Zealand, and January 30th in Europe and Asia.
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D3Publisher (D3PA) and Marvel Entertainment announces that on October 3 Marvel Puzzle Quest will celebrate its 1-year anniversary since its worldwide launch on the App Store and Google Play.  In commemoration, Marvel Puzzle Quest will be the first Marvel video game to feature the brand new character, Thor: Goddess of Thunder.  Thor: Goddess of Thunder will be a legendary (4 star) character reward for Season VII and all players will be able to test her powers in a battle starting on October 17th

The celebration of the 1-year anniversary will also bring Devil Dinosaur as a playable character to Marvel Puzzle Quest via an Anniversary Pack and as a daily reward for Day 365 players starting on October 8th.  In addition, the days leading to the Thor: Goddess of Thunder reveal, Marvel Puzzle Quest will be featuring fan-favorite special in-game events based on a recent poll with the community.

For New York Comic Con Convention (NYCC) attendees, the Marvel Puzzle Quest team will be at Booth #347 inside the Javits Center during show hours on October 9 – 12, 2014.  Visitors to the Marvel Puzzle Quest booth at NYCC will be able to go hands-on with the game on tablet and PC to discover the expanding gameplay within the Marvel Universe.  Members from the team will be on hand to walk players through gameplay and discuss upcoming in-game tournaments and events.

Attendees will also have the opportunity to earn in-game resources for Marvel Puzzle Quest at the booth via a free raffle.  For a limited time only, D3Publisher will be offering bonus Iso-8 resources to new users that download the game now through October 18th.  

Marvel Puzzle Quest is developed by Demiurge Studios and available for free on the App Store for iPhone®, iPad® and iPod®, iPod touch®, Google Play for AndroidTM devices, and Steam® for PC.  The game is rated “T” (Teen – Violence, Blood, Suggested Themes, Drug Reference, and Mild Language) by the ESRB for PC.  For more information on Marvel Puzzle Quest, please visit www.marvelpuzzlequest.com and follow us on Twitter @MarvelPuzzle or like us on Facebook www.facebook.com/MarvelPuzzleQuest.


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SEGA® of America, Inc. and  SEGA® Europe, Ltd. today announced that  fan-favorite Japanese role-playing-game (RPG) Resonance of Fate  is now available for purchase for the first time on PlayStation® Network for PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system.  Resonance of Fate is a unique RPG set in a dystopian future where Earth is no longer capable of sustaining life. Adding a fresh spin to the RPG genre, the game features a cinematic action gameplay system centered around gun-play and a fascinating steampunk-styled world.
As part of the Private Military Firm, our heroes (Vashyron, Zephyr and Leanne) seek out and complete quests for their clients but are eventually led on a journey that will reveal the dark secrets behind the world they live in. Key features of the game include: 

         Battle System: Battle in fantastic cinematic action as your characters wield firearms in a semi-real time gameplay system
         Hero Actions: Pull off spectacular moves and precision attacks through this special mode designed to chain attacks together
         Unique Story: Built around a gigantic tower-like machine, the story will delve deep into fate and the machinery that controls it
         Beautiful environments: Masterfully crafted environments pepper this title to illustrate the deep tapestry of this dystopian world
         Customization: Customize your characters and give them a unique look within the game

o   Extensive Weapon customization allows your character to have specialized weapons from parts unlocked or bought throughout the game
o   Change the look of your character by unlocking costumes along the way


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505 Games and Hidden Path Entertainment announced the official launch of Defense Grid 2 (DG2), the long-awaited sequel to the 2008 quintessential tower defense game, Defense Grid: The Awakening.DG2 introduces new worlds and threats to test player's tower placement strategies in single-player mode, online player-versus-player and multiplayer co-op campaigns. With 21 engaging maps and countless ways to win, DG2 will challenge your strategy skills and redefine the tower defense genre.
 
Defense Grid 2 features gorgeous landscapes and intuitive gameplay as players defend against new threats to ensure the survival of the human race. The game features dynamic level movement, a rich story and cast of characters, hundreds of challenge mode experiences, new multiplayer modes, and a procedurally driven audioscore. DG2also introduces players to DG Architect, a level creation tool set connected to Steam Workshop, in which players can create their own unique levels to share and potentially sell.
 
Defense Grid 2 is priced at $24.99 for digital download on Steam (PC, Mac, Linux), PlayStation®4 and Xbox® One. A special edition of DG2, priced at $29.99, is also available on Steam and includes: the digital book, The Art of Defense Grid 2; the ebook,The Making of Defense Grid 2: The Complete Story Behind the Game by Russ Pitts; and additional content including “A Matter of Endurance,” a new original audio story written by Hugo award-winning author Mary Robinette Kowal and performed by the English voice cast. 

Defense Grid 2 for Mac and Linux is now available to play and will be optimized for each platform on October 14.
 
A new trailer is available for launch: 
http://youtu.be/OJFbC2cknZw


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The wait is over, HE is here. Slender: The Arrival, launches today on PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system. Tomorrow, Xbox fans will have their chance to experience The Arrival on Xbox 360 games and entertainment system from Microsoft; both are priced at $9.99. Slender Man takes to the big screen with his first foray into the world of console gaming, promising big thrills and chills for a whole new audience.

Developed by Toronto indie team Blue Isle Studios and the only official Slender Man game, The Arrival puts you at the heart of a mystery surrounding the enigmatic Internet persona that has captivated and terrorized millions. Experience lives touched by Slender Man and follow the trail to connect them all to this unstoppable force of evil. Slender: The Arrival wraps players in a dark, foreboding atmosphere and a story fraught with terror, paranoia and other-worldly forces lurking behind every turn.

Written by the creative team behind Marble Hornets, this latest iteration in the Slender Man universe expands the canon established by the original web-series, with some new twists and extended content. Building on the successful Steam launch last Halloween, Slender: The Arrival comes to consoles with brand new story elements and features extended levels that continue to unfold the Slender Man mythos. Players are enveloped in a world of sensory deprivation filled with haunting visions and audio cues that create an ominous backdrop perfect for fostering a healthy dose of tension and paranoia. Follow the clues and unravel the mystery, that is, if you can survive.

The new content will be offered to Steam and PC players who already own Slender: The Arrival at no additional charge as free DLC. More information about this offering will be announced in the coming weeks.

Slender: The Arrival is rated T for Teen and is available starting today on PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system for $9.99 digital download from the PlayStation®Network, and tomorrow (September 24) on Xbox 360 for $9.99 digital download from the Xbox Live Games Store.

Independent publishing label Midnight City will also release Costume Quest 2 this Halloween season from Double Fine Productions.

For more information, please visit our website: www.midnight-city.com
For more on Blue Isle Studios, please visit: www.blueislestudios.com


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Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment has released Gauntlet, a fully modernized reboot of the celebrated dungeon crawler, on Steam for PC, offering full support for SteamOS and the upcoming Steam Machines shipping next year. Developed by Arrowhead Game Studios, the game is available for an M.S.R.P. of $19.99.

Players select from four classic fantasy-based characters: Warrior, Wizard, Valkyrie, or Elf. Each character has its own distinctive play style and unique strengths and weaknesses. Upon selecting a playable character, the gameplay is set within dungeons where the object is to fight through the chambers slaying evil creatures and completing challenges. An assortment of special items can be located in each dungeon that can restore the player's health, unlock doors, and shift the odds in the player's favor with magical relics which can aid the player in surviving longer in the Gauntlet. The enemies are a vast assortment of fantasy-based monsters, including ghosts, grunts, demons, spiders, sorcerers and skeleton warriors.

Players can improve their heroes' abilities and powers by unlocking achievements called "perks." Multiple difficulty settings add to the game's replayability. 
  
Gauntlet consists of environments like dusty crypts, dark caves, and fiery dungeons, each with varying styles of gameplay. Some dungeon maps allow players to explore and fight their way through chambers slaying evil creatures, completing challenges and discovering hidden secrets and gold. In other levels, Death itself chases players through an unpredictable labyrinth. There are also endurance maps where players must defeat waves of monsters to survive.

Gauntlet is rated Mature for Violence, Blood and Gore, with a setting to disable the game's gore.

For more information on Gauntlet, please visit 


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