Video Games

macho_man_deathclaw

It was inevitable.  After the Macho Man Randy Savage Skyrim mod that replaced all the dragons with the classy Slim Jim spokesperson we now have a mod that represents the greatest threat to the post-apocalyptic universe.  All deathclaws in the game have been replaced with our beloved gogo booted, cowboy hat havin’, sequin wearing professional athlete.

Even if you don’t play Fallout, give it a watch.  I was entertained.

Shooting doesn’t start until next week, but we are getting some promos early.  I expect they want to head off any leaks and give the AC crowd enough content to be satisfied throughout the production.

Looks a little complex to me, but lots of visual interest and enough of the source material to be satisfying. video game adaptions are hard so let’s hope they pull this off.  Storytelling > video game references.

Source: First Look at Michael Fassbender in the Assassin’s Creed Movie! – ComingSoon.net

 

banner

At least one of the Giant Japanese Robot staff members are obsessed with Ziggurat and I may join them shortly when I get a few seconds to breathe. The game is a bit difficult to describe if you haven’t played Heretic or Hexen from way back in the mid nineties. 

Imagine Doom, except with a fantasy setting.  Now add randomly generated levels and monsters with occasionally randomly generated attributes.  Now add a Roguelike element which means that when you die you will need to start all over again.  Now add a generous degree of difficulty coupled with an almost uncomfortable rate of speed.  On paper it sounds kind of terrible, in practice it rocks pretty hard.  Check out the video below to see if the game is for you and the Source link to see how you can play it.

Source: Ziggurat – Milkstone Studios

Mirrors Edge Catalyst

The earlier Mirror’s Edge was one of the most exciting, original games of its generation.  This game certainly looks like Mirror’s Edge and the running seems on par, so I am excited.  I’m hoping it captures the unique feel of the first game. Overall the trailer looks stunning, but the intercut cinematics and what feels like unfinished voice work are a bit distracting.  

Despite those minor flaws, I’m hoping this new entry turns the game into an ongoing franchise. Hopefully the world is ready for this in a way they weren’t in 2008.

Experience the moment where Faith begins her rise from a carefree runner to the hero the city needs.

Source: Mirror’s Edge Catalyst Gameplay Trailer – Mirror’s Edge™ Catalyst – Official Site

super_robot_wars_z3

Part of the melancholy of being a Super Robot fan is that some of the coolest stuff will never been seen in the United States. I guess this is how the rest of the world feels.

Check out one of the latest entries in the Super Robot Wars series, Super Robot Wars Z3. The Super Robot Wars series has been running since 1991, spanning multiple game systems. We have only seen a couple of official translations hit our shores notably the Original Generation games that feature no licensed characters. The complications in getting all the licenses worked out the US is difficult so we will probably never see these games here.  Click on the video below to see what you are missing.

Super Robot Taisen Z3

Vectrex_machines

I’m in the middle of building a tabletop arcade machine, which I will talk about more later but something came up when I was mucking with the software.  I saw that the game emulator handled Vectrex files.

You may not recall Vectrex, but I have a long memory when it comes to video games.  I remember walking in to Child World in Saugus, MA in 1982 and seeing this glorious mini-console on display.  I think I was about nine.

Vectrex had a couple of things going for it that I really dug. It had a screen built in, which in the early eighties was a huge boon because you had to kick people off the tv to play video games since most houses had only one tv and the graphics were vector which rocked pretty hard in my book.  Alas they were expensive and the game library was limited so they went the way of the dodo I believe even before the great video game crash.

Check out the ad here, I’m sure you’ll agree that this was rad.

https://youtube.com/watch?v=UNV4VTQFtsI?w=640

Image by Marcin Wichary (Flickr: Vectrexes) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

silent_hills_red

This post is absolutely breaking my heart.

Last year we wrote about the astonishing PT trailer that appeared on the PS4.  It was revealed that it was a playable teaser for Silent Hills which was a collaboration between fabled game developer/producer Hideo Kojima, my favorite modern horror director Guillermo del Toro and starring fan favorite Norman Reedus.

In the past few weeks Kojima has been fired or has left Konami, publisher of the Silent Hill series. Over the weekend del Toro and Reedus have seemingly left the project and all we are left with is a teaser, and probably a while bunch of concept art and preliminary code lying on the floor of Konami.  

Konami says they will continue the Silent Hill series, but honestly I don’t want them to.  The last few games have shown that Konami doesn’t understand what makes the franchise great.  Silent Hill 2 was one of the greatest gaming experiences I have ever had and they needed this new talent to make it survive.  PT gave me hope that it could happen and now without the creative team behind PT I think it may be time to shutter Silent Hill in a small room in the basement.

If large gaming publishers have done anything well with venerated gaming franchises it has been to squeeze them of any value and make them tepid, sad sixty dollar paperweights.  Getting rid of this new team guarantees that the next Silent Hill will be terrible and I love this franchise too much to see another boring game that I will feel loyalty to sit through and yell at the screen.

Konami, do us a favor, bury the franchise in a shallow grave. With hope it will rise from the dead someday, but right now it just smells bad.

axiom_verge

If you owned a Nintendo Entertainment System growing up the above screen will feel very familiar. In the pre-internet days video game secrets were a lot more daunting, unless you convinced your parents to buy a guide (which were sometimes incorrect) or had friends that owned the same game there may never be a chance to finish something when you were stuck. You may be stuck in a pixelated purgatory wandering the same halls and platforms over and over until the next holiday came and your interests changed.

Metroid and Castlevania were deep-dive, challenging platformers that had RPG like elements (items that increased your power instead of stats) They have received updates over the years of varying quality, but the originals are nearest and dearest to my heart.

I have a theory that things don’t stop being fun with age, if something is fun it will continue to be fun even if tastes and technology change over time. I think Axiom Verge is a bit of a testament to this concept. Metroid was fun, therefore games with the same quality of design and mechanics will be fun if it is 1985 or 2015.

No one is making games quite like this anymore, so it was up to Tom Hap to be the sole artist, composer and programmer for Axiom Verge and this five year effort shines in polish and nostalgia. Currently only available for the PS4, I expect this will take up a good chunk of the next few weeks for me. I hope you enjoy it too.

https://youtube.com/watch?v=T_n8IyHE3og?w=640

bloodborne

We are off and running today to pick up our launch copy of Bloodborne. Another spiritual successor in the tradition of the Demon Souls series, Bloodborne is a dark, violent fantasy with more grey than most modern humans can handle. I love having more than three colors in a game, but I will forgive a game when it is this beautiful and carefully constructed.

We have been Souls fans since the early days, but games of this ilk are not for the weak, they are insanely difficult and frustrating, but the rewards and accomplishment are unique to the series. If you are fans of disturbing fantasy then this could be your thing.  Warning: The following trailers are filled with gooey, squishy violence and may not be appropriate for children or the workplace.

Launch Trailer

Story Trailer

panda-is-sad

In a surprising turn of events Blizzard appears to have cancelled their unannounced but expected MMO codenamed Titan.  Citing the ever popular, but good reason that ‘It wasn’t fun’.

I hope this does shake up the industry.  Games like Everquest or WoW will never exist in their current forms again.  MMOs need to have a new business model.  I’ve always thought Guild Wars does it well, but there is room for improvement and we should see some innovative options come out of this.

You can read the full story HERE.

pt_demo_lisa

Last month we talked about the P.T. Demo and how much it gave me heart palpitations.  Hideo Kojima is the co-producer of the P.T. Demo and also happens to be famous for the creation of Metal Gear Solid, one of the beloved Sony Japanese franchises. (Here in North America too)

Kojima is apparently a busy man and it seems like he has inserted on of the antagonists of P.T., the lovely Lisa above into Metal Gear Solid: The Phantom Pain.

Check out the video below from the Tokyo Game Show where our buddy Snake (Who has his origins in Terminator and Escape from New York.  Yay, John Carpenter!) throws what appears to be a ghost grenade which spawns Lisa and frightens enemy soldiers so that Snake can sneak up behind them and um…liquidate them.

rastan_title

 

Every year I try and head north to the American Classic Arcade Museum at Funspot in Weirs Beach, NH.  When I was young we would vacation in Hampton Beach, NH and I would pour an unreasonable amount of pocket change into these machines.  The ACAM is like walking back through time and on busy days the sounds, people and lights are pure mid-eighties.

Rastan has vexed me since 1987.  Overall, it isn’t that difficult and can be finished in twenty minutes, but it requires a good bit of memorization and a few rolls of quarters until you are an expert.  I finally went back years later and finished it.  I will always play if it is currently working in the ACAM.

Rastan has a pretty strong Conan the Barbarian vibe, even down to almost copying the closing shot of the eighties film in the title screen.   The music, which is excellent, has almost a Harryhausen Sinbad movie vibe to it, and the sound effects are visceral clangs and digitized screams of protagonist pain that I remember so well from the days when I still had hair.

Gameplay wise it is a standard platformed with a thin skin of RPG mechanics in the form of multiple weapons with varying stats and items that give you additional abilities.  I’m not sure if they make a dramatic difference in difficulty, but I remember how cool it felt to get the mace early on in the game.

Eventually I will build my own arcade cabinet for the house, but will always make the pilgrimage up North when I am able.  If you find yourselves in the area, please stop by.  This is a good group of people and the museum is a non-profit.  A lot of these machines would be lost to time if it wasn’t for the hard work of volunteers who care about that era.

pt_balcony

If you haven’t played the P.T. demo for the PS4 be aware that there are SPOILERS that follow.  Proceed at your own risk.

I’m not going to go into great detail about what P.T. is or how it came to be. The short version is that P.T. most likely stands for ‘Playable Trailer’, with a half a dozen other theories bopping about including the scientific name for a certain species of tree.  If you can successfully play through the trailer (it isn’t easy) you will be rewarded with an additional trailer for the secret of the game.  SPOILER follows:
The game is a teaser for a new Silent Hill apparently named Silent Hills.

I’m a horror nut, I’ve watched hundreds of horror films in my forty years on this earth and I’m not planning on stopping any time soon.  Lately though I’ve had better horror experiences in video games compared to movies.  I’m not really sure how to explain this, it may be the immersion quality of games where I am actually participating in the plot.  In the movies you yell at someone to not enter the basement, in a video game this is something you actually control.

Out of my top three horror video games of all time Silent Hill 2 ranks really close to the top.  The second installment is almost a perfect combination of suspense, atmosphere, music and resource management.  Criticism would be poor English voice acting, some confusing elements and too much walking from place to place.  The game is starting to age, even though I still pick it up and play a bit from time to time.  It is thirteen years old at this point, which is relatively ancient in video game terms, so it gets a lot of grace from me.

I fell in love with Silent Hill 2 many years ago and stuck with the franchise even when the franchise didn’t love me back.  I came at the P.T. demo backwards, finding out that it was a Silent Hill teaser before I played the game.  This was an accident, but with all the info being spread around about it I probably would have been spoiled before I got the chance to actually play no matter what.

When I finally sat down and was able to play P.T. something really interesting happened, I had to stop playing.  I stopped playing for the most embarrassing of reasons, I was too scared.  Now I am a grizzled horror veteran, and while my tastes run more towards creeping dread and suspense rather than splatter I have seen my share of the icky stuff.  I generally know how to read horror films so I get a bit of a telegraph before something happens.  P.T. was completely disorienting, difficult to read and played on my fears in a slow building way where I was terrified before I even realized it.  By the time an inevitable jump scare came I was not prepared and I lost it.

The last time something like that happened was in Dead Space, and before that it was Silent Hill 2.

If you make it all the way to the end and watch the final trailer it is revealed to be a Silent Hill game with participation from Hideo Kojima of Metal Gear Solid fame and my favorite modern director, Guillermo del Toro, a surprise bonus for me that means I will be paying close attention to the development of this game.

If you don’t have a PS4 and/or have no intention of playing you can get a partial experience by watching the video below.

 

yars_revenge

I will never get over how great some of the old video game art is.  Yars was pretty sweet, looking at it now I didn’t realize that it was airbrushed. The cover art reminds me of t-shirts you would buy on the boardwalk of a New England beach town.

Yars came up because I was talking to my kids and they mentioned inventing a back story for a video game that didn’t really have any context.  When we were playing on Atari 2600 consoles we often did that.  You were a weird creature of character performing some kind of weird action without knowing why, so we created the why in our heads.

Because of this problem in early games Atari would sometimes package back story mini-comics with their cartridges.  The art was usually pretty strong, but the stories were dumbed down for a general audience. As you read them don’t be surprised if the stories are a little inane, but for me they were a gateway to build a whole story around these simple activities.

If you are interested in this little bit of video game history Atari Age has scans of all the original comic.  Check them out here.

no-mans-sky-concept

E3 has gotten fairly predictable over the years and there is nothing more soul sucking than watching a heavily scripted video game demo that turns out to be nothing like what will eventually appear. (or not appear for many years…looking at you The Last Guardian) I still stick around because there are still surprises.  At the end of the Sony press conference a thin, awkward ‘aw shucks’ kind of dude stepped up and announced a game I had never heard of and then proceeded to blow my mind with the trailer.  If I can fly around in No Man’s Sky for hours, take in the beautiful art and feel no pressure then Hello Games can have my money.

borderlands_ps

There is a whole lotta crazy going on before E3 comes up next week and I admit to being a bit quiet.  I’m working out how to properly cover the important bits of info without replicating the bajillion posts about the upcoming event.

I’ll leave you with this beautiful trailer to get started and distract you for a few minutes.  Borderlands is one of my favorite franchises and one of our date night games where I blow up monsters with my spouse, I highly recommend this as a human bonding activity.

Check out the trailer for the new game coming in October and stay for the secret moon dance.

FCD454_Inferno_DVD_Slip.indd

Movie Posters of Yore

Look at that movie poster.  Don’t you wish that you would see these beautiful painted posters again instead of the giant floating head Photoshop posters we get now?  I’m not an ‘everything new is bad’ sort of guy but there are some luxuries of the past that I wish we had more of.

The Giallo

Dario Argento films in the Giallo genre are not for the faint of heart, but they have a special quality to them that is unique to Italian cinema. Phenomena is an especially odd film with some disjointed logic and a young girl who can telepathically communicate with insects.  It is Jennifer Connelly’s first film, has an excellent early score by Goblin and a wheelchair bound Donald Pleasence playing a Scotsman. Something for everyone.

Trailer

Here is a long form possibly fan made trailer for the film. A bit melancholy, but I think it captures the mood of the film nicely.

Bonus Round

Phenomena inspired the 1995 Japanese point and click adventure game Clock Tower, even going so far as to copy Jennifer Connelly’s likeness plus scenes and plot lines directly from other Italian horror films.  Check it out below.

flappy_box

Check out the Flappy Box above.  If you took many of my interests and combined them into a small package it would be difficult to crate something better than Fawn Qiu has put together.

We have science, math, engineering, art, electronics and the physical skill needed to play a mean Flappy Birdesque game in single stop.  The geeky among us should be pleased.

I’m not sure if Fawn expected her project to explode like it did, but if you go over to her youtube video you will see that in a short time she has garnered almost 2.5 million views.

You may be thinking to yourself “This is a fine item that I may wish to possess” and I would not blame you, not one bit.  Flappy Box is not commercially available, but that doesn’t mean you can’t own one.  Soon the circuit designs will be available for the project as open source, which means you can download them for free and with the right hardware you will be able to make your own.  If you want a little less DIY and also help this project Fawn is running a Kickstarter aimed at using these boxes as engineering teaching tools.

Flappy Box Kickstarter

Proceeds from this very modest Kickstarter will go to holding free engineering workshops for underserved high school female students in NYC.  It ends on April 3rd, so if you are interested I encourage you to participate quickly.

On a serious note I think the potential in the kits is pretty powerful.  Learning how to build the kit and how it works is great on its own, but you can also customize the kits and change them into an infinite number of game variations.  Once the basic skills are learned they extend into other areas of your life.  This is what toys should do, be fun, inspire and lead to greater things.

photo-main

The Giant Japanese Robot staff are big Megaman/Rockman fans and when Keiji Inafune left Capcom in 2010 it broke our sad, nostalgic hearts.

I’ll forgive Megaman for being brutally difficult and I’ll forgive my younger sons for being better at the games than I am, but I will have a hard time forgiving Capcom’s poor treatment of the franchise and letting down fans.  We don’t know all the details about why Inafune left, but in the story that I have woven in my head Capcom is the great supervillain overlord and Inafune is the saintly creator who wasn’t allowed proper freedoms.  That’s probably a complete lie, but it is a nice convenient narrative.

Pretty much all of the earth citizens were excited to see that Inafune’s new company Comcept successfully Kickstarted Mighty No. 9 (image shown above) with the look, feel and spirit of the original Megaman games.  So, far it appears to remain true to the gameplay and charm of the original series.  I pray that Capcom will leave Comcept alone as there have been a billion platformers that share similarities with Megaman since its launch in 1987 despite the similarities of this particular title.

Comcept just released a gameplay trailer of Mighty No. 9 with some test gameplay footage and sketches of the bosses.  It all looks lovely and hopefully will hit its target date of April 2015.  Enjoy.

Wolfenstein-The-New-Order

Fans of the Wolfenstein franchise have been waiting for a new trailer for some time.  If you are not a video game junkie Wolfenstein has a long and rich history as a franchise, starting with 1981s Castle Wolfenstein.

castle_wolfenstein

Jump forward a bit more than a decade later and we have Wolfenstein 3D, which was an early first person shooter and a great game.  Wolfenstein 3D contained a lot of the elements that make up a modern game, key cards, secret areas, swappable weapons,boss fights and as a bonus, robo Hitler.

wolfenstein-3d

Since then there have been several entries in the series of varying success.  Unfortunately 2009s Wolfenstein was kind of a boring mess with low sales and there was some danger that the franchise would be gone forever.

Fast forward to this week where we have a new trailer that highlights the first three chapters of the game.  The New Order takes place in an alternate 1960s where the Nazis have won World War II and all of history has changed.  The protagonist of most of the Wolfenstein games William “B.J.” Blazkowicz awakes to find a world that has gone wrong.  (read that last sentence in a movie announcer voice)

You can see the trailer at the link below.  The trailer is a fairly hard R for violence, otherwise I would be embedding it in this post.  The New Order will be released in North America on May 20th and as a bonus pre-orders will include a beta code for the upcoming Doom, which should also be interesting.

Wolfenstein: The New Order – ‘Boom Boom’ Trailer