This is not an article about sports video games. It should be. Our regularly, scheduled Sportaku section runs in the spot this Easter Bunny animated GIF is going in. But our Sportaku writer is getting on an airplane.
So enjoy the bunny. Or be scared. Or both.
The Bunny was filmed by me on Easter Sunday, while I was recording a game demo of Steel Battalion at PAX East. That made for just one of the many previews we shot at PAX East. Want more? Check out our PAX East video previews of Super Monday Night Combat, Deadlight, Organ Trail, Air Mech, Natural Selection 2, The Curse of Nordic Cove, Miegakure, Jack Lumber, Wreckateer, Go Home Dinosaurs, Skulls of the Shogun, Dragon Fantasy, Monaco, Orcs Must Die 2, War of the Roses, Hell Yeah, Mark of the Ninja, Guacamelee, Super Time Force, Crimson Dragon, and the Xbox version of Minecraft.
In today's special cartridge-based edition of Speak Up on Kotaku, commenter Paradox Me realizes that he is a low-down, dirty, stinking Nintendo fanboy. Only not low-down. Or dirty. He probably smells quite pleasant.
I've just come to the realization that.. I'm a fanboy! D:
A fanboy of what, you ask? Nintendo. Yes, I am perhaps one of the saddest creatures in gaming.
It never really hit me until now, but I finally put the pieces together.
-I glance around my room, the walls covered in The Legend of Zelda posters.
-I still have just about every major Nintendo console in my closet, and that over half of (the games in my) collection are for Nintendo systems.
-Nintendo is the very first thing that comes to mind when I think video games. They essentially are video games to me.
-I genuinely think the Wii was a stellar gaming system with a library that rivals the N64 and GameCube.
-I'm constantly fighting the urge to hug them, despite the fact that they are a company - a non-huggable entity.
Maybe fanboy is the wrong word, because I'm able to acknowledge their flaws.
-The 3DS launching with a single circle pad years after Sony made the same mistake with the PSP.
-Friend Codes and lackluster online functionality.
-The Wii U pretty much locks Nintendo in for another 5+ years of being a generation behind the competition. Not a huge problem to me (see: "The Wii is stellar" comment), but they've essentially lost both developer support and a large chunk of the "hardcore" audience (see: "Wii makes my eyes bleed" crowd).
Anywho, to give this a little bit of purpose, which (if any) companies do you consider to be the bee's knees?
In GRFS' online portion, up to 12 players can play in 6 Vs 6 matches. Game modes include Conflict, Saboteur, Decoy and Siege, where players will need to execute co-op tactics to win. There'll be 10 maps at launch and you'll be able to play as a Rifleman, Engineer or Scout. You'll be able to tag enemies across maps, too. And a new suppression system will enable easier enemy flanking. Or so we hope. There's always the invisibility thing, too.
Sporting a story-driven solo campaign and an immersive snow-covered setting, Capcom's early Xbox 360 offering, Lost Planet: Extreme Condition, stood out in a sea of samey sci-fi fraggers and me-too military shooters. Sadly, its sequel abandoned the very things-rich narrative, icy environments-that helped its predecessor rise above the predictable lock-and-load pack. Thankfully, the recently revealed third instalment seems to be getting the series back on track.
A prequel to the 2007 original, Lost Planet 3 not only brings back the below-zero conditions, it also favors a cinematic single-player experience over the second chapter's undercooked co-op focus. In addition to making a welcome return to the franchise's roots, LP3 introduces a number of fresh features, not the least of which is a promising new horror element.
While most gameplay demos open with an attention-grabbing bang, our first look at LP3 begins a bit slower. More specifically, it starts with a guy taking a nap. Jim, the game's protagonist isn't fighting the series' signature alien-bug Akrid or piloting one of its mech-like Vital Suits; nope, he's just waking up. The demo's slow start is intentional, though, taking time to introduce Jim not as a super-soldier or space marine, but a blue collar everyman just trying to make a buck. He's a miner on E.D.N. III-the planet where the previous two titles took place-working to support his family back home.
Once established as a likeable guy we can root for, Jim heads out to start his work day. He enters the hangar-an obvious homage to The Empire Strikes Back's Hoth base-and gets into his rig; more construction vehicle than mech, the enormous machine is a cross between a Vital Suit and the Power Loader Ripley uses to combat the queen xenomorph in Aliens. Of course, the rig's buzzing drill arm can do more than mine precious minerals, but the Capcom rep steering our demo first shows off its basic functions.
E.D.N. III's wintery conditions are as nasty as its oversized arachnids, so Jim first uses his rig to fight off the frigid elements. From a first-person cockpit view, he uses one of its mechanical arms to remove ice from the hangar's frozen doors before exiting into the snow-blanketed tundra. Once outside, the rig's cockpit glass frosts over and ice forms on some of its moving parts. Auto-rifle in hand, Jim jumps out to blast the ice from the crippled machinery. The gunfire apparently attracts some of the planet's pissed-off populace though, and Jim's hand-cannon quickly becomes more than a glorified snow brush.
Utilizing a combination of ranged fire, up-close knife kills, and grenades, he takes on a pack of hunter Akrids while still trying to get his ride back on-line. Combating the baddies between defrosting the rig yields an interesting dynamic, requiring both thoughtful strategy and quick reflexes. With most of the extraterrestrial bugs reduced to pulp, Jim manages to fix his rig and get back behind its controls. Using the rig's clamp arm, he then crushes the remaining threats like pieces of ripe produce.
Before he gets too cozy in the cockpit, he's forced outside again by a cave system that's only accessible on foot. Using a grappling hook-another series' staple-he enters the icy caverns to plant some thermal energy posts, which seasoned snow pirates will remember as the fiction's valuable power source. His work's quickly interrupted, however, by a giant crab-like Akrid that makes the previous threats look like pesky cockroaches. With his rig out of reach, he relies on a strafing and shot-gunning strategy to blast ice from the monster's shell. The frozen shards reveal glowing weak points, another returning gamplay element, on its joints and mouth; a few buckshot blasts to the limbs and a grenade in its maw later, and Jim's able to return to work.
As he delves deeper into the caves, the game's soundtrack takes a suspenseful turn and we get a taste of LP3's horror vibe. The cavernous interior begins to reveal itself as some sort of creepy alien base, complete with scurrying leech-like enemies evocative of Aliens face-hugging foes. One of the multi-limbed menaces tries to mate with Jim's head, prompting him to knife it-courtesy of a QTE-before its friends come crawling out of the woodwork. The fast-moving freaks are perfect shotgun fodder though, so it doesn't take Jim long to repaint the environment with their ugly innards.
After a bit more goosebump-inducing exploration, we find Jim back at his rig where another crab Akrid is waiting to be turned into a shellfish appetizer. Unlike his previous encounter of the clawed kind, this one's a fair fight; behind the controls of both mechanical arms, Jim essentially boxes the big bad with a combination of blocks, jabs, and weak point-piercing drill injections.
Reducing the monster to a snow-staining puddle apparently pisses off its momma, as Jim's quickly faced with a much larger Akrid threat. No thanks to the new enemy's thick exoskeleton, the rig's drill is unable to make a dent. Undaunted by the challenge, Jim incorporates a new strategy which conveniently showcases more of LP3's nuanced combat. Using one of the rig's arms, he raises the beast off the ground before grabbing his gun and exiting the vehicle; he then uses the hand-cannon to pepper the Akrid's exposed underbelly. After repeating this strategy a few times, the seemingly impenetrable alien collapses into the deep snow. While this showdown could have closed the demo on a pretty epic note, Capcom wants to ensure we leave wanting more. Back in the cockpit, Jim notices a severe electrical storm approaching as well as multiple spiky red blips on his radar-so yeah, looks like he'll be working a double shift tonight.
A promising mix of the original LP's best elements and a number of fresh features, LP3 was the biggest surprise of Capcom's recent Captivate event. While we didn't get our hands on it, we're already looking forward to helping Jim squash alien bugs and fight frost bite when the title hits in early 2013.
Then you, challenge-hungry rider, will be happy to learn about the new level editor coming to Trials Evolution. Watch the video above and start plotting just how awesome your custom-made Burning Man motorbike trick extravaganza is going to be.
Game creator Jonathan Blow is best known for developing 2008 indie hit Braid, and perhaps second-best known for his prickly views on games and the game industry. He aims to be profound with his games, and hopes that his next project, The Witness, can proudly stand in the "games are art" column.
The May, 2012 issue of The Atlantic, available online, features a lengthy profile of Blow from writer Taylor Clark. In it, Blow discusses what he accomplished with Braid, what he plans to do with The Witness, and how he feels about the state of the modern video game in general (not positively). "As harsh as Blow can be toward his industry," Clark writes, "he applies even stricter standards to his own work." He continues:
With The Witness, produced with about $2 million of his own money, [Blow] plans to do nothing less than establish the video game as an art form-a medium capable of producing something far richer and more meaningful than the brain-dead digital toys currently on offer. Blow envisions future games that deliver experiences as poignant and sublime as those found through literature and film, but expressed in ways distinctive to games.
"If the video game is going to be used for art purposes, then it has to take advantage of its form in some way particular to that medium, right?" he told me. "A film and a novel can both do linear storytelling, but novels are very strong at internal mental machinations - which movies suck at - and movies are great at doing certain visual things. So the question is: Where are games on that same map?" It's a question Blow intends to answer.
He later adds:
"The de facto reference for a video game is a shitty action movie," Blow said during a conversation in Chris Hecker's dining room one sunny afternoon. "You're not trying to make a game like Citizen Kane; you're trying to make Bad Boys 2." But questions of movie taste notwithstanding, the notion that gaming would even attempt to ape film troubles Blow. As Hecker explained it: "Look, film didn't get to be film by trying to be theater. First, they had to figure out the things they could do that theater couldn't, like moving the camera around and editing out of sequence-and only then did film come into its own."
Whether Braid is the only authored, intelligent work of video game art worth consuming out there, as Clark repeatedly asserts, is up for debate. (Personally, I disagree.) But it is true that many games produced and sold every year have a kind of sameness to them. Jonathan Blow is trying to do something different with The Witness, as he did once before, and every game that adds more variety to what we consider the world of gaming to be is a good thing.
Whether or not The Witness ends up being a masterpiece, Blow eloquently summarized the indie and experimental game design he and others do:
People like us who are doing something a little different from the mainstream have each picked one direction that we strike out in into the desert, but we're still not very far from camp. There's just a huge amount of territory to explore out there-and until you have a map of that, nobody can say what games can do.
The Most Dangerous Gamer [The Atlantic]
The servers that support the mostly-offline video game The Saboteur are scheduled to go offline tomorrow. With that flip of a switch, we will lose the ability to make some of the women in the game topless.
Will you cheer this development? Will you boo it?
It doesn't matter much what you think of a game that lets players download a $3 content update that lets you see some breasts. It doesn't even matter that that feature, designed to incentivize people who bought new copies of the game—buy it used and those women in the cabaret won't be naked!—was crass.
What strikes me as odd is that, when publisher EA takes down the servers for this game, supposedly tomorrow, we're supposed to lose the ability to make this tweak in the game. And that will mean that anyone from April 14, 2012 and onward who finds a copy of The Saboteur and a gaming console to play it on, will only ever be able to experience the non-nudity version of the game. The topless version will be locked inside of consoles like my PS3. Should my PS3 break, then I'll lose that experience too, since the topless thing isn't tied to the disc but to the download. (It is possible, I should note, that the downloadable version of the nudity mode will still be available and EA is just turning off the ability to redeem the content through new copies of the game; we'll find out soon enough, but the point stands.)
What happens in a decade if a scholar wants to see the topless version of the game? What code will they be able to access? It shouldn't matter, right? We're just talking about the tawdry topless mode in The Saboteur a good but not great open-world action game that casts the player as an Irish freedom fighter in German-occupied World War II France.
No big loss, right?
Last week, in Boston, I was talking to a game designer who is releasing his game later his year. Someone told him that the Library of Congress will accept any game developer's code for storage and posterity. He's going to send his code. He's doing it because, he told me, he wonders who in the world will be able to play his game in 10 years. Ten years! That's not long ago at all, but think about it: which games did you have 10 years ago that you can still play?
Big publishers shut down servers for games like The Saboteur to save costs and, often, because not many people are playing them anymore. Say goodbye to the game's topless mode. Good riddance, you might think, but as it disappears, part of that game likely becomes locked to just a few consoles and then, eventually lost.
Books decay. Records warp. And so, it seems, the games we like one year risk disappearing bit by bit.
(For more on preserving old video games, read this.)
It's been a long time since Shigeru Miyamoto's directly worked on a Legend of Zelda game. 1991, to be exact. That's the year that the classic A Link to the Past hit the SNES. Now, recent remarks from Nintendo's creative leader make it sound like he'd be up for revisiting that chapter of Link's video game life.
Speaking to Edge Magazine, Miyamoto expanded on previous comments about a game in the style of A Link to the Past—which has been mentioned before by current Zelda mastermind Eiji Aonuma— on the 3DS:
"I think the answer would be the same if we're talking about just porting," he said, "but I think I'd be even more interested in creating something new maybe based on, or starting from, A Link To The Past. I think it's important to bring some really new software."
However, the creator of Mario cautioned that he wouldn't be leading the development on such a game, were it to happen:
"To be very honest and open, it really depends on the directors that have time at the moment as well," he said. "Some directors, I can give them the title and I know they will do something great with it.
"Other directors I'm not so 100 per cent confident [in], so they're the ones I'd rather take a more remake approach to the title. It really depends on that as well."
This last comment strikes me as particularly interesting, given how opaque Nintendo tends to be about who does what on which games. Miyamoto hints—however obliquely—at the idea that the approach on a title's development shifts on available talent. Such a statement runs counter to the mostly monolithic creative face that Nintendo tends to put out there as responsible for its games.
Teases about a possible F-Zero return on Wii U also turn up in the interview, so head on over to Edge and read the whole thing.
These people have things to say about what rocks and what doesn't rock about being a great cosplayer.
Sometimes they need to say these things through an Autobot voice filter or using their best Mr. T impression. That's ok. The mic of Kotaku's ace video editor Chris Person picks it all up.
Please enjoy one of our favorite elements of this past weekend's PAX East show: the great cosplayers. And please feel their triumphs and their pain.
The online component of From Software's first Souls game let players enter the adventures of other users to help or hinder their battles against the game's notoriously brutal enemies. Being able to grief or aid others via hints or indirect intervention created a loyal community of players who continued to play even after the sequel Dark Souls came out last year. Atlus VP of sales and marketing Tim Pivnicny sent Game Informer a goodbye note where he said:
It has been a tremendous honor and privilege for all of our staff at ATLUS to have been involved with so innovative and groundbreaking an interactive entertainment experience. We poured our heart and soul into every facet of our involvement with Demon's Souls, particularly the title's memorable Deluxe Edition, which served as the only avenue through which to purchase the game's official strategy guide. It was also of the utmost importance for us to sustain the game's online experience as long as possible, even beyond the point at which sales could help to offset the expense. Regrettably, the online servers cannot be sustained forever and now the end draws near.
Two more World Tendency events will be held next month and the publisher's encouraged Demon's Souls players to log on before the May 31st final shutdown. Perhaps there's some sort of parting gift in the offing?
Demon's Souls Going Offline End Of May [Game Informer]