Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Metrico, Road Not Taken, Rogue Legacy, Marvel Puzzle, Snatcher, and Danganronpa 2!  


Games: Although I think most reviewers would say that the "silly season" of game releases hasn't officially started yet, I'm beginning to feel a bit overwhelmed with everything that's been coming out, and everything that needs coverage. I'm playing games every minute of every day that's not dedicated to family or paying the bills, and there's just not enough time for it all.

So, what has there been time for?

Well, I completed my review of Metrico earlier today. This art-house puzzle game is a Vita exclusive, and puts the player in the role of a small character lost in an overwhelming world made up of infographics. It starts out wonderfully, but the developers soon stray from the initial content based on observing relationships in the environment, and begin to incorporate every single gimmick that the Vita is capable of, from gyroscopic movement to using the rear camera to scan things in the environment.

As you might expect, things go off the rails in a hurry, and I was absolutely frustrated by the poor use of these features. If the developers had kept it simple, it would've been an elegant pleasure. Instead, it was a hard-to-control mess that was far more frustrating than it ever should've been. I hate to say it, but file this one under ‘poor decision-making/missed opportunity’.

I also spent about an hour with Road Not Taken, one of the freebies on PlayStation Plus tonight. This one is a mash-up between a roguelike and a puzzler, where the player must work with a limited pool of energy to navigate obstacles and manipulate items in the environment. It's a little more complicated then I just described, but that's pretty much it in a nutshell.

The art is super cute and it's an interesting premise… I need to spend more time with it, but I have to admit that I'm a little puzzled as to why this is only available on PS4, when it seems like it would've been a perfect fit for the Vita. It's been fine enough to play so far, but I tend to like "bigger" experiences when I sit down in front of my home console, you know? I wouldn’t be surprised to hear a portable version announced soon.

Speaking of the Vita, I've been putting a lot of time into Rogue Legacy. I had heard nothing but kudos for it on the PC, and this is one of those rare occasions when everything positive I heard turned out to be absolutely true. 

In case you're not familiar, this is a 2D platformer/action game that tasks the player with getting to the treasure at the end of a deadly castle. The hook is that every time you die, the next character is one of your descendants, and they each have a variety of powers or characteristics that are passed down, and usually implemented in funny or interesting ways. For example, characters with OCD gain magic points by destroying everything in their environment, or characters with hypochondria tend to exaggerate the amount of damage they actually take from enemies.

The controls are tight, every upgrade the player earns is carried forward so there’s a constant sense of progression, and it's perfect to play in short bursts here and there. Absolutely loving this one, and I can't recommend it enough.

As usual, I've also been putting time into Marvel Puzzle Quest. I log at least a few minutes a day (usually more) and the developers have been working hard to provide new content and new updates often. In fact, the developers have just implemented a pretty major shift in the game in the form of "team ups". If you're at all familiar with the game, you might remember the environmental tiles which trigger level-specific effects. These have been removed and replaced with team-up tiles. when enough tiles are matched, players can call in a special attack from a supporting character, even if  the character is not on your team.

Seriously, ENOUGH already. 

It sounds like a neat idea at first, but I have to say that I don't care for it at all… Not only does it feel rough in the way it's been implemented (no way to get rid of unwanted team-ups, tough to see which team-ups enemies are using) but I feel like it chips away at the strategy of the game… If you know who you're fighting, then you can put together a team built to counter the enemy. Team-ups are a random element that can't be accounted for easily, and feels like they’re being a bit abused right now. The AI seems to pull off Sentry’s devastating “World Rupture” move all the frigging time, and it might just be my imagination, but the AI seems to have been ramped up a bit. Ever since the new update, I feel like I've been losing more than I have in a while, even with max-level characters. Hoping this evens out pretty soon.

The final games I'll talk about tonight are an interesting pair… I'm going to be making a guest appearance on the Cane & Rinse Podcast in a couple of weeks, and the subject of the show will be Snatcher, which has been my most favoritest game of all time for many years.

Snatcher, in one of its tender moments.

If you never played Snatcher (and I'm guessing that's probably 99% of you out there, since the game is only available on Sega CD or emulator) it's one of Hideo Kojima’s earlier works, and is essentially a visual novel based on Blade Runner/Terminator with a couple of really terrible shooting sequences thrown in.

At the same time, I am playing Danganronpa 2, which is also a visual novel, and the sequel to one of my favorite games of the year so far.

Danganronpa 2, I am just happy to see you!

It's fascinating to revisit Snatcher after so much time has gone by… The voicework and writing is still as enjoyable as it ever was, but playing it today shows how poorly its structure has aged. It's incredibly persnickety about letting the player progress, requiring very specific things in a very specific order, even if it's not entirely logical or clear. In comparison, Danganronpa 2 is absolutely painless to play and just flies by, thanks to improvements in the modern design of flow, pacing, and what it requires from the player.

I've got to be honest, it's been really tough getting through Snatcher, and as much as it pains me to say it, it might be time for me to kick it out of the top slot on my list… It will still have a place of honor, but it just doesn’t hold up like I remember.

Oh, and in case you want more details on Danganronpa 2… Well, I don't have a lot at this time. I only really began properly it this morning and I'm still in the opening phases, although I will say that it starts off quite strongly and has had a couple of really interesting connections to the first game. I'm totally hooked on it so far, so expect to hear more about this soon.

Movies: My youngest son (age 5) is just now getting to the point where he's finally able to sit down with an entire movie and fully comprehend what's going on, so we've been picking and choosing things that are both interesting enough, yet appropriate for his age. It's surprisingly difficult to find films which aren't too boring or insipid.

One recent win was Real Steel, starring Hugh Jackman and Dakota Goyo. The story is about a deadbeat dad who lives his life on the road, traveling from event to event with his boxing robots. He eventually gets custody of his son, and of course they go through their struggles to reconnecting… Although it's a very simple tale that will be familiar to most adults, the young boy’s role is well-done, and I appreciated that he’s shown as a capable, bold kid without entering smart-aleck territory.

However, putting the humanity aside, the robots in the movie were quite cool and watching them brawl was excellent. It wasn't quite as titanic as Pacific Rim’s jaegers, but the fights were exciting and the effects were great… As soon as the movie was over, my son turned to me and begged me to find him some of the action figures on eBay, so I knew it was a hit.

If you're in the market for a family flick that isn't painful to watch and offers some cool robot action to boot, Real Steel gets a thumbs up from me.


Nearly 30 years after the original frightened and amazed the world, developer Zojoi in cooperation with indie games partner Reverb Triple XP announced today that the re-imagined Shadowgate will launch on Steam and other digital outlets for both PC and Mac onAugust 21, 2014. Shadowgate will arrive on the App Store (iOS) and Google Play (Android devices) in fall 2014.

Zojoi has released a new side-by-side trailer that compares the 1989 NES Shadowgate version with this year’s re-imagined game.
Watch the YouTube Trailer HEREwww.youtube.com/watch?v=xfqy0qh2mrw

Shadowgate not only features a stunning level of detailed, hand-painted rooms but also tons of new, mind-bending puzzles from the makers of the original game. While there are more objects and new characters to interact with, there are also plenty of throwbacks to the original version, so veterans and newcomers alike will relish their journey through Castle Shadowgate… if they survive.
For more information on Shadowgate, visit the official Website at www.shadowgate.com, follow the development team on Twitter and “Like” the game on Facebook.


A man of many disguises, Sherlock Holmes reveals some of his skills, talents, abilities, and mustaches in Crimes & Punishments 'first gameplay-centric video! Watch as Holmes begins investigating the mysterious case of Black Peter with its various twists and turns, as you're led on a journey of intrigue, red-herrings, and interrogations. Crimes & Punishments releases at the end of September on PS4®, PS3®, Xbox One®, Xbox 360®, and PC.

Having been featured in all major gaming events recently, this is the first time players will get a prolonged and in-depth look at the game and its mechanics, from dressing up in a passable disguise to gain information, to throwing harpoons at dead pigs in a test of might. This 23-minute long video - with developer voice-over - is the most complete look at Crimes & Punishments yet.
Viewers will be privy to a range of features from the title, which takes place chronologically throughout a case. However, please note the video only shows a small part of the first of the six cases the game will ask you to solve. The video is devoid of spoilers, and the ultimate conclusion shown may not be the correct one, but rather a single option out of the many possible denouements of this specific case. This exclusive look into Crimes & Punishments is designed to show the range and scope of the final conclusions one can reach depending on what evidence is collected, and how clues are all joined together by the player in the deduction space.

Enjoy visiting some of the many game mechanics found in Crimes & Punishments that will let you truly become the famous detective. The eloquent voice acting and rich atmosphere is evident, asSherlock Holmes enjoys higher production values across the newest generation of consoles. This truncated case, shortened in the interest of spoilers and time, will teach players how to prepare their journey with using Holmes' skills, and their wits.

Watch the video


Trion Worlds, publisher of the hit MMO Defiance, will be releasing “Silicon Valley,” an all-new, completely free world expansion to its ever-growing game, on Tuesday, August 5. The Silicon Valley content raises all new questions for the Defiance universe.

 Within the world expansion, players will find Karl Von Back has disappeared into Silicon Valley with his EGO-imbued followers, but it’s not the paradise they promised. The valley is overrun with Grid, and a strange cult, the Pilgrims of the Guiding Light, have taken hold in locations across the zone. As all new mysteries unravel, the populace of Silicon Valley calls for help, and only ark hunters have what it takes to face the trials ahead.

Defiance recently became free-to-play on PC and will be free-to-play on Xbox 360 and PS3 later this year.


Today, Ubisoft® and Carbon Games announced that AirMech Arena, the fast-paced real-time strategy game free to play* for all Xbox Live accounts on the Xbox 360 games and entertainment system from Microsoft, is now available.

In AirMech Arena, players command giant transforming mechs that fight to capture and protect bases while building colossal armies to take on waves of enemies. As players conquer fortresses, they unlock powerful units, pilots, items and AirMechs and can customize their armies to fit their personal gameplay preferences.
“AirMech Arena combines real-time strategy with fast-paced action in an exciting new way,” said James Green, game director at Carbon Games. “Strategy fans will appreciate that AirMech Arena was designed for consoles from the very start, and how natural the controls feel in their hands.”

Players can choose between nine giant transforming AirMechs, each with their own unique abilities and upgrades in the battle to capture and protect bases. Sixty different support units are available to select from, and eight can be used during each match to help defeat opponents. Featuring single-player, head-to-head, multiplayer cooperative and multiplayer competitive gameplay for teams of two to three players, teamwork and strategy are vital as players must work together to defend their fortresses against an onslaught of relentless enemies.

For more information on AirMech Arena, please visit airmecharena.com and follow @AirMechArena on Twitter.
For the latest on all of Ubisoft’s games, please visit ubiblog.com.


Two Tribes announces their new game, RIVE. Video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=lDRvMMpDwtk



- The most romantic of all the bird romance games invites you to tap your inner adolescent fowl -
The Nest - The bird-loving folks of developer Mediatonic (Amateur Surgeon, Foul Play) and avian-friendly publisher Devolver Digital are pleased to announce that the revamped Hatoful Boyfriend will launch for PC, Mac, and Linux on August 21st. Early birds can get 10% off the $9.99 worm by pre-ordering Hatoful Boyfriend before it launches on Steam (http://store.steampowered.com/app/310080).

Ornithological gamers with finer tastes at the top of the pecking order can fly away with the Hatoful Boyfriend "Summer of Dove" Collector's Edition that includes the official digital soundtrack, an exclusive digital comic from series creator Hato Moa, exclusive wallpapers of Oko-san, and a digital St. Pigeonations 2014 Yearbook.

As the only human in St. PigeoNation's prestigious school for birds you'll encounter a feathered cast of characters and choose a suitable love interest all while managing elective school classes. Follow your heart as you choose your path and go on romantic dates you but be wary of fowl twists and turns along the way that could turn you love life upside down.

Longtime fans of the series can expect to discover an exclusive all-new scenario and ending designed by series creator Hato Moa.

"You nerds can keep your virtual reality headsets and your haptic feedback," said Devolver Digital CFO Fork Parker. "Pre-pubescent bird love games are the next big growth category."

For more information about the leading romantic bird simulator Hatoful Boyfriend, Mediatonic or malevolent publisher Devolver Digital, please visit www.devolverdigital.com or start chatting up some local birds just to see what's up.


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