Sunday, March 3, 2013

Playing Catch-Up  


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Misc:  The last week or so has been off-the-charts crazy here at GameCritics West -- tons of stuff going on and all of it equally important, capped off with the left front tire of my car literally falling off as I was in the middle of a busy intersection in Seattle. I don't like to go so long between Coffeecola updates, but there you go.

As a result, I'm going to catch up for my extended downtime and go rapid-fire through a list of random stuff that's accumulated on my desk here… Hang tight!

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Games: I traded in a big stack of stuff for credit and paid the difference for a WiiU a couple of days ago in anticipation of Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate launching this month. I didn't pick up any other games at the time, so I've only set up my account and messed around a little bit with the minigame compilation that came packed in. I don't have a lot to say about it yet other than it seems to load really slowly and that the friends system was horrifically unintuitive and confusing.


Oh, one other Monster Hunter-related thing… Capcom recently announced that they are changing plans to region-lock online play. In a fantastic turn of events, players in the United States will now be able to play with those in Europe when a patch launches about one month after the game hits retail. There was no mention made of the Japanese market, which leads me to believe that there are no plans to integrate there. 

That's a bit disappointing considering how hard-core Japan loves its Monster Hunter, but being able to connect with friends overseas for some quests is fantastic news. Cheers to Capcom for listening to the outcry from fans and giving them what they want.

In terms of what I'm reviewing, I’m spending time with Etrian Odyssey IV, and I'm quite happy to report that it's every bit as good as I expected it to be. I am definitely a fan of the series (played and finished the first three) and this newest installment is definitely the most polished and player-friendly.


I doubt that I'll be able to finish it for the review with the other deadlines that I'm currently juggling (it's huge!) but I've got absolutely nothing bad to say about it after the twenty or thirty hours I’ve put into it so far. It looks great, it sounds great, it's got tons of complexity without ever being overwhelming, the casual mode makes it incredibly approachable to newcomers, and the classic ‘holy sh*t this is HARD’ mode is still there for series vets. 

For people who are fans of the dungeon-crawl gameplay it offers, they just don't come better than this.

Aside from that, I just played through the new DmC DLC, Vergil’s Downfall. The embargo is still up so I can't say anything about it, but look for that review to come this week as soon as we are clear to publish it.

Finally, the PR people representing Coaster Creator 3D (3DS) sent over a QR codes that can be redeemed in-game for a special coaster.


The game is currently available through the eShop, so if you pick that up, snap a picture of this code with your 3DS and enjoy! For further info on this game, scroll down to the PR section below.

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Clothing: Recently, an online T-shirt company reached out to me about doing a review of their products. I can't say that I do a lot of clothing reviews, but several of their offerings were videogame-related, so why not? I mean, I do have experience wearing shirts, after all.


The company is called Design By Humans, and they’ve got an interesting spin as something of an artist collective. For those interested in such things, they've got interviews with the image creators and various bits of information on who they are and what they're about.

So, the shirts.

In the interest of full disclosure, I was sent three shirts at no cost for an evaluation. I've worn and washed them each a couple of times, and used them in a normal way -- I didn't put one on and then roll myself down a mountainside, or dip them in sulfuric acid, or anything crazy like that.


Although the material felt a little thin to me at first, it’s very soft and comfortable. It's got a good strength to it, and seems like it will hold up for long-term use. The print quality of the images on the cloth is actually surprisingly nice -- I've bought plenty of shirts at conventions that didn't look as nice or as smooth as these did. I've seen no fading or wear on the designs, and they look just as new as they did when I took them out of the package.


I was very satisfied with the shirts they sent and I would order from them in the future next time I'm up for a few more T-shirts. Looking through their offerings, I don't even know how many shirts they have, but it's a hell of a lot, and many of the designs are quite cool.

Click on over to their site if you're of a mind to, and tell them I sent you.

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TV: Community was one of my favorite must-see shows for its first three seasons, but now that the man behind it has left and control has switched to some new people, the magic is gone. It just isn't as funny, it doesn't crack as sharp as it should, and I'm definitely not enjoying it anywhere near as much as I have in the past. Although I do think that the first three seasons will hold up to repeated viewings, I'm going to present like season four doesn't exist and call this show done.

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Money: This video has been making the rounds on Twitter and other social media sites, and it's easy to see why: it breaks down the grossly disproportionate distribution of wealth in the United States, and it's pretty shameful. To no one's surprise, the rich keep getting richer while the poor keep getting poorer. What might be a surprise, is to what degree that holds true.



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Sony Online Entertainment LLC (SOE) today announced that it is now accepting applications and submissions for its 2013 Gamers in Real Life (G.I.R.L.) Game Design Competition. Now in its sixth year, the G.I.R.L. Scholarship prides itself as being an active catalyst for inspiring women's involvement in the video game industry, as well as for providing an open gateway for those pursuing careers in the field of creative and applied arts.

SOE will award one winner of the 2013 G.I.R.L. Game Design Competition with a scholarship in the amount of $10,000 to be applied towards tuition and other educational expenses at the winner's school of enrollment. Winners will also be given the opportunity to participate in a paid internship of up to 10 weeks at SOE's headquarters in San Diego for hands-on experience working on one or more of the company's games.

"At SOE, we believe that diversity is one of our keys to success and it is truly woven into the fabric of who we are as a company," said Laura Naviaux, Senior Vice President of Global Sales & Marketing, Sony Online Entertainment. "We want to help make the games industry even that much more approachable and our goal with the G.I.R.L. Scholarship is to provide an easy way to usher even more women into the industry."

Submissions for the 2013 G.I.R.L. Game Design Competition will close on March 29, 2013. To apply, applicants must register with Scholarship America®, SOE's scholarship administrator, and submit their application for evaluation, as directed here:  https://www.scholarshipamerica.org/gamersinreallife/

Since its inception in 2008, the G.I.R.L. program has granted scholarships to five winners through its annual "Game Design Competition," with each winner making an impact within the gaming and art industries.

For more information about G.I.R.L., please visit girl.soe.com. To follow G.I.R.L. on Twitter, go tohttps://twitter.com/SOE_GIRL or to join G.I.R.L. on Facebook, go to http://tinyurl.com/SOE-GIRL.






Following the recent announcement of Capcom Arcade Cabinet it’s now time to lift the lid and reveal the full list of classic 8-bit titles and how gamers will be able to transform their PlayStation3 or Xbox 360 into their very own customizable, HD 80s arcade.

Starting February 19 until early May, a total of 15 titles from 1984-1988 will be released on a staggered schedule available to purchase digitally either as a series of packs or individually, allowing players to choose what they want to buy. By purchasing all 15 titles, either separately or together, players will gain access to two bonus games absolutely free.

In order to share their experiences with friends, PlayStation 3 users will be able to capture video of gameplay to post on YouTube, while Xbox 360 users will be able to upload screenshots to Facebook. Further additions include a sound gallery that allows players to listen to the background music of any of the games in their cabinet, and an art gallery which fills with new pieces as players progress through the games.

Game Pack 1 and the first individual title, Black Tiger, will be available on February 19. Xbox 360 owners will be able to play through the game with a single credit before restarting. On the PlayStation 3, players will have unlimited credits effectively giving them the full game for free.


BUNDLE PACKS/INDIVIDUAL TITLES
NORTH AMERICAN SCHEDULE
PRICING
Black Tiger demo
February 19 (PSN)
February 20 (XBLA)
Free
GAME PACK 1
Titles: Black Tiger, Avengers, 1943: The Battle of Midway
February 19 (PSN)
February 20 (XBLA)
$4.99/400MSP
GAME PACK 2
Titles: Ghosts n Goblins, Gun.Smoke, Section Z
March 5 (PSN/XBLA)
$9.99/800MSP
Avengers
March 5 (PSN)*
$3.99
1943: The Battle of Midway
March 5 (PSN)*
$3.99
GAME PACK 3
Side Arms, Legendary Wings, Trojan
March 19 (PSN/XBLA)
$9.99/800MSP
Ghosts n Goblins
March 19 (PSN/XBLA)
$3.99/320MSP
Gun.Smoke
March 19 (PSN/XBLA)
$3.99/320MSP
Section Z
March 19 (PSN/XBLA)
$3.99/320MSP
GAME PACK 4
Titles: Commando, The Speed Rumbler, Exed Exes (Savage Bees)
April 2 (PSN/XBLA)
$9.99/800MSP
Side Arms
April 2 (PSN/XBLA)
$3.99/320MSP
Legendary Wings
April 2 (PSN/XBLA)
$3.99/320MSP
Trojan
April 2 (PSN/XBLA)
$3.99/320MSP
GAME PACK 5
Titles: 1942, SonSon, Pirate Ship Higemaru
April 16 (PSN/XBLA)
$9.99/800MSP
Commando
April 16 (PSN/XBLA)
$3.99/320MSP
The Speed Rumbler
April 16 (PSN/XBLA)
$3.99/320MSP
Exed Exes (Savage Bees)
April 16 (PSN/XBLA)
$3.99/320MSP
1942
April 30 (PSN/XBLA)
$3.99/320MSP
SonSon
April 30 (PSN/XBLA)
$3.99/320MSP
Pirate Ship Higemaru
April 30 (PSN/XBLA)
$3.99/320MSP
Bonus Pack (for those who have purchased all five game packs or all 15 individual titles
Titles: Two titles (names to be confirmed)
TBC
Free for those who have purchased all previously released packs or individual titles
All-in-one-pack
Titles: All 17 games
May 21 (PSN/XBLA)
$29.99/2000MSP
* Not available as an individual title on XBLA



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Aksys Games is pleased to announce a new visual novel adventure title, Sweet Fuse: At Your Side, a heart-felt blend of bomb-defusing action and death-defying romance for the PlayStation®Portable. Developed by the Idea Factory Otomate Studio, Sweet Fuse: At Your Side is the newest addition to a growing catalog of adventure titles published by Aksys Games. Featuring an eccentric cast, engaging puzzle mechanics, and numerous unique story segments, Sweet Fuse: At Your Side is your ticket to a wild and explosive adventure.

Story Summary
Saki Inafune, niece to legendary game developer Keiji Inafune, can’t wait to visit her uncle’s new theme park. She’s been invited to the opening day ceremonies, and is looking forward to a day of fun and excitement when suddenly Count Hogstein—a villain as corpulent and clich√© as he is evil—blows up the Ferris wheel, takes the park management hostage, and declares the beginning of a deadly series of games.
Desperate to save her uncle, Saki volunteers to be one of the participants in Hogstein’s games, and finds herself thrust into the midst of excitement very different from what she’d expected when she woke up that morning. She’ll need all of her cunning, determination, and exceptional insight to get herself and her fellow participants—all available bachelors—out alive and maybe, with a little luck, find love along the way.

Sweet Fuse: At Your Side Features
Vast, Diverging Story – 14 different endings and a host of unexpected twists and turns allow for over 30 hours of compelling gameplay.
Stylish Art – Sweet Fuse: At Your Side is an experience that is stylish and easy on the eyes, with complex, eye-catching character designs.
Disarm Perilous Puzzles – Reach an epiphany and solve dangerous puzzles; the fate of you and your companions depends on your insight.
Unique Characters and Interactions – Blow your fuse or stay completely cool, the choice is yours when dealing with this crazy cast of characters.



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From the team that brought you Rainbow Moon comes Rainbow Skies, a brand new fantasy role-playing game. Eastasiasoft—the Hong Kong-based developer and publisher of interactive entertainment—announced that they have once again teamed up with their trusted indie developer SideQuest Studios to work on Rainbow Skies.

“Built on Rainbow Moon’s system, Rainbow Skies is a completely new game that is set in a new world with new characters and a new story,” said Marcus Pukropski, CEO of SideQuest Studios. “A lot of feedback has been taken into consideration and we are confident that Rainbow Skies will offer an even deeper and more versatile gameplay experience, while staying absolutely true to its roots. We can’t wait to show more of Rainbow Skies to our fans.”

These are just some of the new features that players can expect from Rainbow Skies:
Monsters can be caught, upgraded, and become part of the player’s party
An advanced battle system with new combo attacks
New treasure-hunt quests and an improved side quest system
Various buildings can be entered and explored
A lot of new and exciting dungeon elements
New mini games
Tons of new and exciting content that will keep gamers hooked

Rainbow Skies is currently in an early development stage and expected to launch for consoles and handhelds in late 2014. More information, including confirmed target platforms, will be announced in the near future.
For first work-in-progress screenshots, and frequently updated game information, visit Rainbow Skies' official website at www.rainbow-skies.com and its dedicated Facebook page at www.facebook.com/RainbowSkiesGame.



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Independent developer Dennaton Games and rogue game publisher Devolver Digital have announced that the award-winning Hotline Miami will arrive on the PlayStation®3 (PS3™) and PlayStation®Vita (PS Vita)  this coming spring. Crashing onto the scene last fall, Hotline Miami grabbed the attention of gamers all over the world with stylish sights and sounds, tough as nails gameplay, and a perplexing narrative that garnered Dennaton Games’ debut effort awards and nominations from nearly every video game media outlet. Hotline Miami has gone on to sell over 300,000 units on PC and solidified its place amongst the best releases of 2012.

 Dutch developer Abstraction Games has been appointed to deliver Hotline Miami’s trademark style and gameplay to both PS3 and PS Vita via PlayStation®Network under the guidance of Dennaton Games. Hotline Miami will also launch with Cross-Buy allowing gamers to play Hotline MIami on both PS3 and PS Vita with a single purchase. Boom.

Follow Hotline Miami on Twitter via @HotlineMiami and become a fan on Facebook at facebook.com/hotlinemiami for more information on the game’s progress. For more news on Devolver Digital hotness follow them on @DevolverDigital and facebook.com/DevolverDigitalGames.



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In a new direction for the mecha genre, Heavy Gear Assault will combine over-the-top combat with the pageantry and spectacle of gladiatorial games, delivering a  AAA world-class sporting and gaming event for fans.  Stompy Bot Productions, Inc. is publishing and MekTek Studios, Inc. is developing this online, multiplayer title for the PC.

The core of the game features Duelists -- who pilot war machines known as Gears -- battling for fame and fortune in the highly competitive, action packed sporting arenas on the interstellar planet Terra Nova.  Pilots can use their winnings to invest in more advanced Gears, weapons and equipment that allow them to participate in more dangerous, hence more profitable, events.  Gears are also extremely customizable from their weapon loadouts to their paint schemes. 

The game utilizes a dynamic destruction engine that shows visible, physical damage to Gears and the environment.  Damage to specific body parts affects performance which creates tactical options.  One pilot might choose to target an opponent’s leg to slow them down.  Another player could blow off an enemy’s arm to force them to drop their main weapon. Even the arena can become a weapon for cunning players that use firepower to level obstacles or create their own cover.   

Additional information can be found on the new Heavy Gear Assault’s website www.heavygear.com.



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February 19, 2013– The AbleGamers Foundation is proud to announce a new partnership with Paradox Interactive to help bring accessibility to the Penny Arcade Expo East (PAX-E) in Boston, Massachusetts. Each year, the AbleGamers Accessibility Arcade displays the latest and greatest assistive technology for gamers with disabilities to play today’s hottest games with just a little help.

“Paradox has been a longtime supporter of the AbleGamers Foundation and our work to make video games as inclusive as possible,” said Mark Barlet, President and Founder of the AbleGamers Foundation. “We cannot thank them enough for their continued support of the disability community. By committing to be an annual sponsor, Paradox has guaranteed the AbleGamers Foundation will be able to attend PAX-E each year, where we will continue our work of enabling all gamers no matter their abilities.”

“What we love the most with AbleGamers is their hands-on and all-encompassing approach to making games more accessible to gamers,” said Fredrik Wester, CEO of Paradox Interactive. “Their formula includes a few easy steps publishers and developers can adopt to open up their games to gamers with disabilities, and combined with their relentless dedication their organization has changed the lives of thousands of people through the medium we are all so passionate about: games.  We are proud to stand by AbleGamers in this important cause and invite others to do the same.”

The AbleGamers Accessibility Arcade will be featured on the main level of PAX-E directly in front of the showroom floor. Everyone attending the event is welcome to stop by for hands-on demonstrations of the coolest gaming technology found anywhere in the world. AbleGamers staff will be on hand all three days to answer your questions about accessibility, gamers with disabilities and assistive technology.



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Coaster Creator 3D from Big John Games and Gamers Digital will release on February 28th, 2013 in the Nintendo eShop for the Nintendo 3DSTM gaming console for $9.99.
Build your own roller coasters using fast and intuitive touch screen drawing and editing controls, and share roller coaster creations with friends and online communities through the use of QR Code® graphics. Make sure to check out your favorite Nintendo news sites for pre-built Coaster content.

Learn the ropes of roller coaster design in career mode from Gill McGee, the owner of Classic Coasters. He'll guide players through 20 Career Challenges with each player starting as a coaster design apprentice and working their way up to expert level. Along the way you will unlock new theme park locations, cart models, decals, and more!

As you learn new skills, you can put them into practice in the coaster sandbox, where it's possible to design and ride almost any roller coaster you can dream up. There are five exotic theme park locations to choose from. You’ll be able to select a steel, wooden, or inverted track type, and then draw the basic track design on the touch screen. Coaster Creator 3D will turn this design into a completed roller coaster in full 3D in just seconds.

Coaster Creator 3D is rated E for everyone and will be available for download February 28th, 2013 from the Nintendo eShop for the Nintendo 3DS for $9.99. Be sure to check out upcoming Coaster Creator 3D screenshots, videos, and news as they become available, and watch for new coasters available via QR Codes from bigjohngames.com after the February 28th release date. Also, make sure you visit your favorite Nintendo news sites for more pre-built Coaster Creator 3D content.

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