• MOBA Madness!

    With PAX now over, many games have made their debut and are enjoying the light of day. No more NDA means I get to write what I’ve been thinking about ...

  • Banger: A Review Of LUFTRAUSERS

    Vlambeer’s Jan Willem Nijman did a talk recently about what makes games enjoyable. Aimed at developers, the talk was designed to show how, through design tricks, you can get more ...

  • Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2: The Movie: The Interview

    [SCENE - AN UNDERSEA LABORITORUM. BRYCE sits before a desk facing a long window overlooking a coral reef. He is wearing a heavy tweed coat and penny loafers. The end ...

An American Tradition?

LA Noire and the American Institution

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Noir commonly attempts to expose the dark hearts of American institutions. In the novels of Raymond Chandler, and in films such as The Naked City and LA Confidential, corporations, police officers, and a vaporous force describable only as “The System” all come under fire. The antagonists are typically corrupt politicians and landowners. They present a veneer of wholesome Americana, but only to disguise murky capitalist agendas.

Noir portrays oligarchies as crooked and impeachable. It’s a genre best analogised by the real-life story of actress Peg Entwistle, who committed suicide beneath the glossy facade of the Hollywood sign. The outward visage of the American city might be glamorous, but underneath it, terrible things still happen.

Like its influencers, LA Noire is an exposé of American organisations. It probes into perhaps the most sacred institution of all: the nuclear family. (more…)

RPG Club Plays Secret of Mana: It's Dangerous to Go Alone

The crew explains why they're starting to sour on the game.

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Reid McCarterSecret of Mana takes an absolutely breathtaking nosedive after its first few hours. Ethan, our resident Mana devotee, will no doubt debate this. But, despite appreciating the unorthodox combat systems and narrative introduction, the minor flaws of the game’s beginning become emphasized to the point of distraction with time. (more…)

Four MOBAs enter - and all leave again, because this is just informational.

MOBA Madness!

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With PAX now over, many games have made their debut and are enjoying the light of day. No more NDA means I get to write what I’ve been thinking about for a while: a comparison between MOBAs. I take two familiars – League of Legends and DotA 2 – and compare them to two games in beta right now, Dawngate and Strife. I wanted this comparison is because I don’t fully understand why someone would try to hone in on a genre I consider to be pretty well dominated – so what better way than to look at each empirically, to analyze what each has to offer?

Of course, because they’re in beta, that means plenty will likely change. This information is accurate at the time of writing, but who knows what’ll change as the betas evolve.

Hopefully, this information will be helpful; and even if it’s not, it’s worth going to play a round or two – if for no other reason than to see who is trying to dethrone the kings of the genre.
Enjoy.

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wonferfully-conceived arcade action for everyone

Banger: A Review Of LUFTRAUSERS

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Vlambeer’s Jan Willem Nijman did a talk recently about what makes games enjoyable. Aimed at developers, the talk was designed to show how, through design tricks, you can get more Bang For Your Buck out of the gameplay. It’s interesting to see that talk, but it’s down right fascinating to see how literally every trick he cites is found in their newest game, LUFTRAUSERS.

It’s a raucous, concentrated blast of fun. Vlambeer practices what it preaches.

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Skills Not Required

The Hidden Joys of Puppeteer's Multiplayer

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Last year’s Playstation 3 exclusive Puppeteer has an amazing cooperative multiplayer mode.

It’s nothing life changing — there are no horde modes, persistent faction-based deathmatch, or even microtransactions — but it’s delightfully inclusive and represents the nebulous joy at the center of Puppeteer that can’t be captured in a back-of-the-box quote.

Puppeteer’s easy to approach multiplayer is perfect for adults and children alike, taking a charismatic platformer and turning it into an endlessly amusing toy box.

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RPG Club Plays Secret of Mana: Heroes and Rabites

We set out to explore the first act of Secret of Mana and discuss similarities to Dark Souls and Skyrim

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Secret of Mana remains an exemplar of the golden age of SNES RPGs–or does it? The RPG Club picks up this old Square Soft classic to see whether its endearing quirks help it transcend the derivative example set by its peers, or merely serve to distract from its own, similarly formulaic approach to the genre.

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SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY

Google Pokémon Challenge

Happy April Fools’ Day, and I would even pay a monthly subscription fee if the Google Pokémon Challenge were real.

Seriously – AR w/ Pokémon? HELLS FREAKING YEAH.

Okay, so the actual alternate reality stuff in the trailer seems to be fake; as it is, you can pull up Google Maps on your smartphone, click in the search bar, click on the blue “Start” button w/ a PokéBall, and then wander around maps finding small Pokémon icons. There are Pokémon Labs around (including Google’s bases in California and Japan and the CERN research facility in Switzerland), as well as Pokémon at plenty of landmarks (Empire State Building, Space Needle, Eiffel Tower, The Pyramids, etc etc).

But seriously. The alternate reality stuff they had in the trailer looked amazing – and who wouldn’t pay for that? Hell, I hate exercise and I would go jogging if it meant the chance to find/catch a Pokémon along the way. It’d be like GeoCaching, but even more gamified and better. 

Google, I know you already have everything you could ever want from me and I know this is an April Fools’ Day joke, but if you make it real I will sign away my soul.
I’ll even get it stamped at a notary; this has to happen.

 

 

Nostalgia and Smash Cuts

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2: The Movie: The Interview

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[SCENE - AN UNDERSEA LABORITORUM. BRYCE sits before a desk facing a long window overlooking a coral reef. He is wearing a heavy tweed coat and penny loafers. The end credits of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 flicker on the anachronistic holodeck built into the desk before him. From the hallways enters a chipper TOM--who is possibly Bryce's ghost, doppelganger, or clone--in a plaid suit.]

Tom: Good morning, good morning!

Tom flops onto a nearby divan. Bryce wheels around in his high-backed chair.

Bryce: Good afternoon!

Tom: My, you’re chipper.

Bryce: You’re one to talk.

Tom: I’m just excited. Finally–a game you can’t poo-poo all over with your relentlessly pessimistic worldview! I’d like to see you try and make this one about Syrian refugees, or genocide, or somesuch other misery.

Bryce: Believe me, there’s misery aplenty to be had, here. (more…)

We've played too much, and now Skyrim is tired.

RPG Club Plays Skyrim: Week 4 Finale

As the month comes to a close, so too does our time with Skyrim. After a long time playing, we all have basically arrived at the conclusion that The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has little-to-no replayability. Mike and Ethan reflect on that, while Caitlin gets distracted by over-analyzing the Daedra.

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Kiki's Delivery Service Meets American Psycho

Unnecessarily Uncouth: A Review of The Witch and the Hundred Knight

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Nippon Ichi Software have a good idea about what it means to be evil. Best known for the Disgaea games, which often put you in the shoes of the bad guy, NIS has built a reputation on the macabre and unsettling.

So it’s no surprise that The Witch and the Hundred Knight goes to some dark places. Don’t let the vibrant colors of the cover fool you, this is a very, very, adult game with a very, very, evil protagonist.

The problem is that, in trying to establish the vileness of that main character — the scantily clad Grand Swamp Witch Metallia — The Witch and the Hundred Knight goes too far.

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