Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Xmas, Nintendo's Nonsense, Knack, Doki Doki Universe and Arkham Blackgate  


Before I get to my usual batch of game-related stuff, I just wanted to take a minute to wish a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone who stops off here at Coffeecola to read my rantings. 

Not to be cheesy, but as I get older, Christmas becomes more about the people I share my life with, and less about what I got for somebody, or what somebody left for me under the tree. All talk of presents aside, I'm incredibly grateful that I’ve been able to provide for my family in this tough economy all year long (not just on December 25th) and that they’ve got everything they need to be comfortable and happy. I'm also grateful for the bizarre array of friends and acquaintances in my life, and I appreciate every single one.

I don't have all the swag I’d like and my bank account is nothing to crow about, but I'm grateful for the things I do have, and I hope that you all feel the same way as well. Best wishes to you all.

Now, onto the games talk…


Podcasts: In case you missed it, the new @Gamecritics Podcast (episode 102) is now up for your listening pleasure. It's a solid game-talk show, featuring Batman: Arkham Origins, ZombiU, Zelda: Link Between Worlds, and Beyond: Two Souls. As a bonus, former GC host @TimSpaeth makes a rare guest appearance to hang with us for the chat. Click here to come aboard.

If you can't get enough of me (and I sure can't) you can catch me guest-appearing on the Chic Pixel Plus Podcast (episode 13) hosted by the super-cool @ApricotSushi. We talk about random Japanese topics, Kaiju/Tokusatsu stuff, Marvel Puzzle Quest vs. Puzzles & Dragons, and a load of other nifty things. Give a listen!


Games: I picked up Super Mario 3D World to play with my family over the holiday, and we went through it for an hour or two the other day. I have to say, our multiplayer aspect was pretty horrible, mostly due to the mix of people that we did… My wife and I are goals-oriented, and my young son (of course) just likes to screw around. Both of those things are fine, but mixing them together wasn’t great. In the future, we’re definitely going to have to split into "serious" and "screw around" sessions, because otherwise it doesn't mix.

Side note: playing Mario really drove home how badly I need to buy "regular” controllers for the WiiU, and how ridiculous Nintendo's controller strategy has been in the last two generations.

When they were trying to break new ground with the Wii, I could understand the Wiimote, but it became immediately apparent that it wasn’t viable for a wide variety of games. With the WiiU, the gamepad lacks that same clear vision behind it, and that lack is obvious. Holding the gamepad is like holding a small dinner tray at best and grows tiresome over extended periods, the touchscreen functions are novelties, and there aren’t even any killer apps which make the case for why the thing even exists.

Nintendo's insistence on supporting the Wii’s peripherals on top of pushing the gamepad seems like a poor idea as well -- my wife and son were not happy using the Wiimotes held sideways and I'm sure it's got to be a nightmare for developers trying to take all possible configurations into account. Anyway, getting back to Mario, it seems like the only solution for all of us to be satisfied is to get everybody "normal" controllers, which sort of proves Nintendo's controller-related flights of fancy to be… just that. 

In terms of what else I've been playing, it's been fairly scattershot…

I finished Knack on the PS4 last week and was completely underwhelmed by it. It looks decent enough (certainly not a graphical powerhouse) but it suffers from an incredibly confused design that appeals to children but requires hardcore skills to cope with the difficulty of combat. 

On top of that, the game design is so flat and repetitive that there's really nothing to it, so of course it grinds on for at least twice as long as it should. Every now and then I got a glimpse of what it was trying to be and there’s potential for a sequel if it addresses most of the complaints, but in its current form, it's a bloated non-starter.

After that, I checked out Doki Doki Universe on PSN, and it was a fairly disappointing experience. The aesthetic is incredibly cute and endearing, and I love the concept of its robot trying to become more human, but the gameplay is so simple that I kept falling asleep. 

Just like Knack, it's another game with mixed-up design… The graphics are totally appealing to little kids (my son was dying to try it) and it uses a bizarre nonverbal pictograph menu system, but it's heavily text-based and there are complex concepts and questions that are communicated in the frequent dialogues. It’s interesting enough for adults, but the play is far too simple to keep their attention. The play is just right for little kids, but too complex for them to understand. What's going on with Sony's games these days?

Finally, I'm now playing Batman Arkham Origins: Blackgate on the Vita, and it's been quite a pleasant little surprise. I didn't hear much about it when it came out except for people being disappointed, and Warner Bros. didn't send a review copy despite requests, so I was expecting the worst. However, it’s been solidly enjoyable, and a real treat for someone like myself who wanted more Batman after Origins.

The 2.5 the perspective works fabulously and doesn't feel like a “lesser” experience at all. Going through the levels has a very Metroidvania feel to it, and it reminds me a bit of Asylum, although the level designs aren’t as tight as that game. The cutscenes are told in a great ‘moving comic book’ style, and I like the way Blackgate prison has been divided into three sections, each one controlled by one of Batman's foes.

So far progress has been good and I like that enemies don’t respawn. I've seen this particular aspect called out as a negative by some reviewers, but I totally disagree. I feel like the "big" Batman games have far too much combat, and I never liked the idea of thugs respawning anyway… Besides, it feels like an accomplishment to have areas cleared out in this game, and finding new enemies is a good clue that you’re on the right path since Batman must do a good bit of backtracking.

Speaking of which, this “hey, new enemies… I must be on the right track” aspect is especially important because the game’s map is unbelievably awful. I have no idea why the developers thought this crapmap was going to fly, because the game is presented via side-view, but the map is presented as top-down. It makes absolutely no sense and is utterly disorienting. Apart from that, it's just plain hard to tell which way to go, and how to get there. They would've been much better off copying any of the dozens of map systems which came before, as in Castlevania or Metroid to name a few painfully obvious examples. 

Apart from the map, it's been all good… It feels like a great fit for a handheld, it looks great, and it definitely feels like a genuine Batman adventure.

Also, bonus points for the Deadshot boss battle. I played that side mission in Arkham Origins, and was disgusted at how absurd a fight it was. In contrast, Blackgate gets it exactly right, and it feels just the way it should. No spoilers, but it's pretty cool and makes a hell of a lot more sense with regard to the comics continuity.


The clouds of war are gathering on the Nintendo Wii U as super genre mashup CastleStorm is making its way to the eShop on December 26, 2013 in North American for $9.99 and in Europe for €9.99.
CastleStorm makes full use of the Nintendo Wii U Gamepad, which mirrors the action being displayed on the TV allowing the game to be fully playable on the GamePad without a TV. All functionality is available without touch as well, using the sticks and action buttons. In local multiplayer, one player uses the Pro Controller and looks at the TV, the other player uses the GamePad and plays on the Gamepad screen.
To learn more about CastleStorm, check out the developer diary on the Zen Studios YouTube Channel!

For CastleStorm Wii U assets, please visit the Zen Studios Press Center.
CastleStorm is a super genre mashup of 2D physics destruction mashed with tower defense brawler! CastleStorm was born out of the fond childhood memory of building and destroy Lego castles, and currently available on Xbox LIVE® Arcade, PlayStation®Network and Steam for $9.99.


Techland and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment released today a new gameplay video from 
Dying Light, showcasing the darker side of the game's revolutionary day-and-night-cycle mechanic. The video gives a glimpse into different strategies that players will adopt depending on the time of day in order to survive.

Slow, apathetic, and easily visible, the infected are not much of a threat in daylight. A skilled courier, sure of their parkour skills and smart enough not to engage in combat with too many enemies, can effortlessly avoid larger groups of the infected or escape beyond their reach. But this relatively safe state of affairs is turned upside down as the sun sets!

At night, it is you who is at a disadvantage. Without daylight, the senses of the infected become more acute while their thirst for human flesh skyrockets. They run, jump, and climb, so there is really no place where you are safe anymore. They grow in strength, which means fighting them is not even an option. Those of them who were too afraid of light to come out during the day now swarm the city hunting for you. Still, there is something even worse lurking in the shadows...

See it with your own eyes!
What tactics will you use to survive the night? Will you put your trust in your agility and try to outrun the infected despite the odds? Or use the lack of light to your advantage and sneak past them? Remember, your decision determines if you will see the sunrise today!

Dying Light is a first-person action survival horror game set in a vast and dangerous open world, where players scavenge for supplies during the day as to be best prepared to survive the night. The game will launch for Xbox One, PS4, Xbox 360, PS3 and PC in 2014.


It's party time at Halfbrick as the Aussie studio's final game of the year 
Colossatron: Massive World Threat launches around the world simultaneously on the App Store for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, and on Google Play and Amazon Appstore for Android.

Players take the role of Colossatron in the ultimate role reversal, on an explosive quest to destroy cities and ultimately the entire planet. Hardened military hero General Moustache is the key to Colossatron's demise, but the best players will create powerful strategies to fend off the General's gunships, mechs and battle tanks. And I, for one, welcome our new gigantic robot snake overlord.

Colossatron has been a year in the making, with gameplay innovation being a key focus for the development team. Using a core color-matching mechanic to build Colossatron and fight off hordes of military attackers takes inspiration from tower defence and real-time strategy. There's nothing else quite like it, and Halfbrick is always proud to add another unique game to its portfolio of mobile hits.

Adding a fresh layer of style was also important to keep the action covered and the story moving. Everything is presented from the viewpoint of Action News 6, the hard-hitting team of reporters who see Colossatron as both a catastrophe and chance for ratings! Rick Dalton covers all the action from the studio, and field reporter Katie Hazard checks in with live updates from the battle zone.

Colossatron: Massive World Threat is Halfbrick’s flagship game of 2013. It is available now worldwide as a paid title with optional in-app purchases.

Download Links
Launch trailer:
Press kit:
Official website:


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3 comments: to “ Merry Xmas, Nintendo's Nonsense, Knack, Doki Doki Universe and Arkham Blackgate


    Lots of thoughts here, but man your thoughts on Knack really reflected my own. Not bad I guess, but underwhelming and totally does not live up to the launch hype Sony tried to pin on it.

  • Jay


    Hey Brad,

    about your first segment of your latest post, I agree! Xmas gets different once you get older and becoming a father (instead of being a son). I know the feeling, since I became a father last june, and it's great!!!

    I like how you appreciate these kind of things and how you share your feelings and perspectives on these kind of things. I criticized you guys' podcast style, or where it was kind of going lately, but I do very much appreciate you guys talking about non-gaming items, actually. Especially your opinion I appreciate, without wanting to kiss the big ass. My problem was more with the niche-gaming related topics on the show, or niche in my opinion. But ah well, let me not drag on to make my point. I guess what I am trying to say is that I appreciate your blog, your contributions to the podcast and your perspective on things in general.

    Happy Xmas, good luck to you and your fam and keep up the good work! Have a great 2014!!!

    PS. Thanks for your opinion about Knack. I thought it looked interesting or fun, but thanks to you I can save my precious time!

    PS2. I just want to quickly say that I smiled while driving my car and listening to you mentioning, some shows back, that a personal highlight of you was this whole story with this guy and cinema and the "seat in between or not-thing". I also thought thats was very funny, and I recall me writing you about that. Very funny stuff...


    Thanks for the comments, guys.

    Also, a shame about Knack, but I'm sure we'll see a sequel. A better one, hopefully. ^_^