Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Ups and Downs of Being a Pirate  


Games: For my next big review, I've been working on Risen 2: Dark Waters (360). 

I was a big fan of the first Risen, and I was always disappointed that the game never got the credit I felt it was due. It was rough, to be sure, and I can understand why a certain section of people wouldn't give it the time of day. That said, there was a lot of great stuff happening in that game once you got past appearances, and people who I would've expected to dig into it never did. I was hoping that with the release of Risen 2 that more folks would give a chance, but again, it seems to be getting the cold shoulder.

What I like about it is that it's a smart game. The writing is consistently above average, and has a real sense of wit and humor. It's also smart in the sense that many of the quests are interesting and varied, and they fit well with the game's world.

I also appreciate that there is very little handholding going on in Risen 2. The developers clearly expect the players to puzzle things out for themselves and to make guesses, or use intuition. They don't completely hang you out to dry, but it takes a lot more thinking to get through the game than it would for a standard RPG.

On the other hand, I came very close to abandoning twelve hours of progress because of some poor planning on the part of the developers. I love them, I respect the hell out of them, but I think it's pretty clear that they are consistently shooting for something which is just out of their reach. I mean, I would rather see developers striving to achieve rather than resting on their laurels and turning out the same-old, same-old, but this was one situation that shouldn't have happened.

Essentially, my character is a pirate and I needed one more crewman before I could set sail. I knew that there was a man available in the local jail, but the commanding officer had the key in his pocket. Risen 2 is a game that lets players pick and choose skills as they see fit, but the problem here is that some skills are far more useful than others. Since I was building a lawful-ish pirate who focused on swords and guns, I didn't put any points into pickpocketing. Without being able to pickpocket the commander, I was at a loss to proceed.

After consulting with the game’s PR person, I was informed that there were two other ways to solve the quest -- except I couldn't do those either. I hadn't learned Voodoo, so I couldn't possess the commander. There was a nearby cannon which could have blown the door off of the jail, except that a previous quest told me to sabotage it, so it was no longer in working order.

The simplest fix for this situation would have been for the developers to not give me the quest to sabotage the cannons until the prisoner was out of jail. If that was the case, I could have easily gotten through the quest with no problem. However, all avenues were closed to me, and I was seriously contemplating starting over from scratch to re-spec my character correctly.

It wasn't a preferable option. I might have cried a little bit.

However, I wasn't quite ready to give up hope at that point. Fortunately, there was a lockpick teacher on the other side of the island, and I earned the required gold by selling every item I had. He taught me his lessons, but even so, I still didn't have enough skill. After rummaging around and finishing off one of the final sidequests left open to me, I scraped together enough experience to up my thievery stat, and I was finally able to pickpocket the commander by the skin of my teeth.

Seriously, itwasthisclose.

Although I managed to get myself out of this pickle, it very easily could have gone the other way. If I had completed the sidequest earlier and used those points for a different skill, I would've been stuck. The same goes for the gold. If I had sold some of my inventory off and bought the musket I’d had my eye on, I wouldn't have been able to afford to buy the skill in the first place, and then I would've had no choice but to restart the entire game.

I don't share this story with the intention of scaring people off from Risen 2 - not at all. Although I definitely think hitting this potential game-ender could (and should) have been caught by the developer, I think it says something that I would have been willing to start the game over from square one rather than calling it quits and moving on. There aren't many games when I would've even considered that whether I was on the hook for a review or not, so that speaks to how interesting and rewarding I find this series in certain ways.

My full review will be coming later, but if you're in the market for a roughly-made, challenging WRPG and you don't mind being asked to think a little, check out Risen or Risen 2. Neither are for the faint of heart or those with low tolerance for imperfections, but if you manage to click with either of these, I think you'll find they're worth the effort.


Giveaway: My good friends over at Hidden Variable gave me five codes for their recently-updated game, Bag It! It's a unique little puzzler where you fit groceries inside of a bag, making matches and being conscious of putting sturdy things on bottom and fragile things on top. 

If you'd like one of these codes, all you have to do is tell me the strangest thing you've ever bought (or done) in a grocery store. Post a comment here and the first five people who do are winners! 


NIS America proudly announced their plan to release Mugen Souls in North America on October 16 this year exclusively for the PlayStation 3. Mugen Souls features a free-roaming battle map, turn-based combat, and massive amounts of customization and growth to maximize the fun fans can have with the game.

About Mugen Souls
There exists a small galaxy in the universe containing seven worlds, shimmering in seven colors... These worlds exist and act independent of one another. This has allowed them to develop and nurture rich, unique cultures. Then one day, a decree was sent out... “I'm gonna make everything in each of these worlds bow to me!” – The Undisputed Goddess, Chou-Chou

• Expansive worlds to explore: Travel freely on each world to explore and find treasures and items. Monsters are roaming about, so be cautious or fight them head-on and make them your subservient peons! 
• Free-roaming style battle maps: Use Combo attacks to execute spectacular moves with your allies! Destroy Crystals on the battlefield to activate Hyper mode!
• Moe Kill: Execute the Moe Kill technique to enslave enemies and turn them into items by exploiting their weaknesses!
• Customization: Create a full cast of characters! Customizable body parts, facial expressions, and job classes!


Protect your Vita in style!  Pre-order Persona 4 Golden™ for PlayStation®Vita and receive a free P4G-themed protective Vita skin.  The skin adorns your Vita with the stylish, vibrant aesthetics of Persona 4 while protecting it from small scratches and dust.  It is easy to apply and won't leave any residue when removed.  Also included are 8 exclusive matching wallpapers, each featuring a main character from P4G and all designed to perfectly coordinate with the protective skin.  
Manufactured in Japan by Dezaegg, this Vita skin is the same one made available to Japanese fans, down to the use of the original title for the game, Persona 4: The Golden.

Offer only valid from participating retailers while very limited supplies last.  Not available for individual sale.
Persona 4 Golden is out this Fall exclusively for PS Vita system.  For more info, visit


Simutronics, the creators of the immensely popular and award-winning Tiny Heroes, today announced the launch of One Epic Knight for free on iOS devices everywhere. A new infinite runner, One Epic Knight features simple controls, numerous upgrades, and addicting gameplay that will amaze free-runner fans with its unparalleled epicness. Download One Epic Knight today on the iTunes App Store -

In One Epic Knight, players will take charge of an Epic Knight who is on a quest for epic loot. While avoiding spike traps and lava pits, gamers must carefully maneuver through an ever-changing dungeon maze to find secret passages and treasure rooms. Along the way, the Epic Knight can collect swords to combat enemies, shields to break walls and spikes, crystals for extra speed, and a leg of meat to pave a path of destruction. As gamers acquire treasure, they can upgrade the Epic Knight’s armor and weapons and purchase new outfits and power-up potions. No obstacle can prevent the Epic Knight from getting his epic loot!

One Epic Knight stands out from other iOS titles as developer Simutronics enlisted the help of a behavior psychologist while developing the game. This was done to ensure that the movements, animations, and sounds in One Epic Knight were polished and refined, leading to an awesome gameplay experience for fans and gamers everywhere.

Simutronics had previously released a preview trailer for the game, which you can view here:

Challenge the dungeon and download One Epic Knight from the App Store now -


Today, Big Fish, the most trusted global leader in casual games, announces the chance to play Phil Gordon, one of the world's top Texas Hold 'em poker players, on August 31, 2012, in Seattle at the Penny Arcade Expo, a popular gaming conference attended by more than 70,000 consumers. To enter for the opportunity to play Phil Gordon, win a round-trip ticket to Seattle, accommodation for one night, and free entrance into the Penny Arcade Expo, players will need to download the Big Fish Casino app for free  from theiTunes StoreGoogle PlayAmazon Appstore for Android, or Facebook, and start playing in the Texas Hold ‘Em Sit & Go Tournament at the High Roller table in the Big Fish Casino app. 

 The tournament will begin at 12:00:01 a.m. (PT) on August 18, 2012 and end at 11:59:59 p.m. (PT) on August 25, 2012. The winner of each Sit and Go Tournament will be automatically entered into the sweepstakes, and four winners will be drawn on August 27, 2012.  Limit one entry per person and e-mail address per day during the sweepstakes period. The sweepstakes is open to legal residents of the 50 United States and the District of Columbia, 21 years or older.  NO PURCHASE NECESSARY.  Odds of winning sweepstakes depend on number of eligible entries received.  See Official Rules for details, including free method of entry. 

More information about Big Fish Casino and Big Fish can be found at


Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack Now Available on Steam for PC
Today we are pleased to announce that indie developer DrinkBox Studios has released Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack on Steam for PC .

Having launched earlier this year on the PlayStation®Vita to critical acclaim, Mutant Blobs Attack has now hit Steam with new features and custom content. In celebration, to sweeten the deal, DrinkBox Studios has opted to put Mutant Blobs Attack on sale for only $7.19 during its first week on Steam,10% off its normal price! That's one heck of a lot of blob for your gaming buck!

Steam Launch Trailer on YouTube: 
Mutant Blobs Attack Steam Page:


Dear wandering samurai,

We are pleased to announce today that Way of the Samurai 4 has been released as a digital download exclusively for the PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system on the PlayStation®Network and is now available for purchase at a price of $39.99. The latest sequel in the fan favorite series,Way of the Samurai 4 lets players choose their path as a lone Samurai warrior in the midst of an ongoing power struggle between three feuding factions.

 For more information please check out the official  

Way of the Samurai 4 is rated MATURE with Blood, Drug Reference, Intense Violence, Language, Partial Nudity and Sexual Content by the ESRB.


Dear gunslingers, 

We are pleased to announce today that we have teamed up with Red Entertainment to bring Gungrave: Overdose to Playstation®Network for only $9.99. Originally released in 2004 and popularized by its over-the-top action, flashy firepower, beat-downs with coffins and visual flair by Yasuhiro Nightow of Trigun fame, Gungrave: Overdose is a beloved example of addictive gameplay that brings substance with style to the table.

Set two years after its predecessor, Gungrave, Gungrave: Overdose once again stars fan-favorite Beyond the Grave as he seeks to destroy the narcotics empire Seed, built by the Corisione family. Two more characters, Jyuji Kabane and Rocketbilly Redcadillac, join Beyond the Grave on his mission as playable characters, each with his own unique way of fighting that lives up to the extravagant gameplay the series is known for.
Gungrave Overdose is rated MATURE with Blood and Violence by the ESRB.


Last week Capcom announced Resident Evil.Net, the free online service that will enhance the Resident Evil 6 experience for players across the globe and today sees the official release of a video showcasing all of this service’s features:
·         Comprehensive stat tracking
o   Enemies killed
o   Weapons used
o   Medals earned
o   And more
·         Compare your game with those of friends and other Resident Evil 6 players around the world
·         Link your status with Twitter & Facebook
o   Share your latest achievements with friends
o   Receive alerts when your high score has been beaten
·         Free Smartphone App to launch alongside the service
o   Will support iOS, Android and Windows devices
·         Earn RE.Net points just by connecting to the service or entering events
o   Exchange points for cool items including additional Mercenaries costumes or figures to place in your very ownResident Evil diorama
·         Compete in regular organised events such as:
o   Join fellow gamers to defeat a set number of enemies
o   Aim for a high score in Mercenaries Mode
·         Champion Belt events
o   Compete in these special events to win the ultimate accolade, the Champion’s Belt
o   Can only be held by one player at any time
o   Players will need to defend their title or watch it fall to another player

The free Resident Evil.Net service will be available when Resident Evil 6 launches on October 2 – a date which is now 100% confirmed as the title has passed the gold master stage of development for X630 and PS3, and manufacture of this latest instalment in the multi-million selling series has begun. A PC release will follow soon.


Natsume Inc., a worldwide developer and publisher of family-oriented video games, unleashed an unprecedented Natsume sale for their PSP library exclusively for PlayStation Plus members.  As part of the Harvest Moon 15th anniversary celebrations, three classic titles from the series have been included in the deep discount.  If you don't already own these titles, at 50-75% off, there's never been a better time!

A total of five Natsume titles are available now at a deeply discounted price on the PlayStation Store exclusively for PlayStation Plus members.  Natsume also hinted via Facebook and Twitter earlier this month that there may be more titles coming to the PlayStation Network, though nothing official was announced at the time.

A full list of the five sale games, with their original release dates, includes:

Adventures To Go! (10/27/2009) - $14.99 USD, sale price $7.50 (50% discount)
Harvest Moon: Boy & Girl (7/31/2007) - $14.99 USD, sale price $7.50 (50% discount)
Harvest Moon: Hero of Leaf Valley (5/20/2010) - $29.99 USD, sale price $7.50 (75% discount)
Innocent Life: A Futuristic Harvest Moon (5/15/2007) - $14.99 USD, sale price $7.50 (50% discount)
Reel Fishing: The Great Outdoors ( 11/6/2006) - $14.99 USD, sale price $7.50 (50% discount)

Players can follow news for all of the beloved Natsume franchises including Harvest Moon and Reel Fishing, or by harvesting all of the latest Natsume news at                  


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