What's the better game, a sequel that merely enhances ideas established in previous games, or one that goes in a completely new direction? Commenter DanimalCart is tired of people complaining about sequels that aren't just more of the same.
Something has been bothering me in the wake of the release of both Max Payne 3 and Diablo 3 last week. I've noticed a consistent complaint in reviews from game journalists and gamers on this and other sites. What I am describing is something I am dubbing Nostalgia Blinders: complaining when a sequel deviates too heavily from the original source material.
It seems many people have played through Max Payne 3 with Nostalgia Blinders on. People say that Rockstar didn't understand Remedy's old games, or that Max Payne should be set in New York, or that MP3 isn't as silly as its predecessors. One reviewer was upset that Rockstar didn't have any zaniness like Baseball Bat Boy in the game (Even though, Baseball Bat Boy is actually in the game). Or any number of complaints why game 1 is better than game 2 because game 2 doesn't have enough game 1 in it.
If you don't like Max Payne 3 because you feel like Max Payne should be a comic book noire game set in New York with Max battling crime; guess what! They already made that game, it's called Max Payne. Or similarly, if Diablo 3 pisses you off because the art style is nothing like Diablo 2, then please, go play Diablo 2.
I applaud when sequels go in a bold new direction, and Max Payne 3 and Diablo are both exceptional games. I don't want every sequel I play to be echoes of the same elements repackaged with different features (i.e. Modern Warfare 3, Assassin's Creed Revelations, Silent Hill Downpour, Prototype 2).
This isn't to say that if a games sequel is too much like the original I still won't like it a la StarCraft 2, but I just hate when deviation is automatically a negative. I think different is good; it opens your minds people.
Okay I am done, Thanks.
Die Gute Fabrik's hugely enjoyable screenless indie game Johann Sebastian Joust is the latest victim of app-store cloning. An iOS game called Papa Quash released yesterday apes not only Joust's core mechanical idea, but shamelessly lifts its marketing, imagery, and overall vibe.
Both Joust and now Papa Quash are games that are played outside of the screen—players all jostle and attempt to knock one another off balance, and their status is monitored by a PSMove controller (Joust) or an iPhone (Papa Quash).
It may sound like an idea that's difficult to claim ownership of. But let's put questions of legality aside for the time being and just watch the two games' trailers:
Here's the promotional video for Joust, which centers around demonstrating the rules while showing people playing in the street. I've seen many a Joust game in process, and their feel, look and pace feels distinctive and fresh. It's like some sort of weird, slow-mo dance, and unlike any game—video game or otherwise—I've ever seen.
Here's the trailer for Papa Quash. Note how it lifts not just the rules of Joust but the entire vibe—except for the wub-wub music, if you just replaced the iPhones with Move controllers, this may as well be a trailer for Joust.
Gamasutra spoke with a representative from Ustwo, the company who published Papa Quash. Ustwo director of marketing director Steve Bittan essentially redirected the blame for the clone on to its developer, Sam Pepper, claiming that "It's not a Ustwo app. It's a Sam Pepper App," and saying that Pepper had emailed Die Gute Fabrik to tell them about Papa Quash and get them to OK it.
Die Gute Fabrik has not yet issued a statement, saying only that they would have an official response tonight, and saying on Twitter, "Just to be clear, we have never and would never approve, give permission, or encourage anyone to clone of any of our games."
Kotaku has reached out to both Die Gute Fabrik and Sam Pepper and will update this story if and when we hear back.
The bold first-person shooter take on classic strategy game X-Com, long in development by BioShock 2 creators 2K Marin, has been pushed back another year by publisher Take Two to some time between April 1, 2013 and March 31, 2014.
Welcome, then, to the Panel Discussion
Dozen Quintet, where I pick out just-released or out-soon comics that I think are worth paying attention to. Ready? Then, let's meet the sequential art that'll be draining your wallet this week. Be sure to chime in with the books you'll be picking up or that you think everybody should be ready in the comments.
The Guild: Fawkes
This one-shot brings a team-up of two beloved nerd celebrities as Wil Wheaton and Felicia Day co-author the single-issue tie-in to Felicia Day's popular webseries. Fawkes focuses on the evil rivals of the Guild's merry band of dysfunctional rivals.
Mind MGMT #1
I always love comics where the very concept of what's real and what isn't gets played wih. This new series from Matt Kindt—where a journalist tries to figure out why every passenger on her flight lost their memories—looks like it'll be a twisty, conspiracy head trip.
Star Wars: Darth Vader and the Ghost Prison #1
The guy who wrote The Force Unleashed games returns to the Star Wars universe in this new series. Yes, the second TFU title was terrible, but the story in the first was a great piece of Star Wars fiction in an era where that's not been the norm. Haden Blackman's one-half of the stellar writing team on DC's Batwoman, so I have high hopes for this book.
Batman Inc. #1
The Batman book that trots all over the globe reappears this week with Grant Morrison's trippy brand of Bat-adventures rendered in appealingly detailed fashion by Chris Burnham. A new villain tries to collect on a billion-dollar bounty on the Boy Wonder's head and what happens marks a thrilling return for this great piece of the Dark knight mythos.
Fantastic Four #606
Folks, the Black Panther is my favorite superhero of all time. And, in my opinion, he's been at the mercy of some terrible plotting these last few years. I hope that this issue of the Fantastic Four—written by Jonathan Hickman, one of comics' best talents nowadays—brings a bit of the Panther's past glories back into focus, if only for a little bit.
But the celebrities in question were the X-Men, not the Kardashians. And the wedding? It's going to be super-fast adventurer Northstar marrying his longtime boyfriend Kyle. Definitely not your typical talk-show fare.
While this storyline was likely in the works for months, the fact that Marvel chose to announce it now probably isn't just coincidence. Marriage equality and gay rights have been an ever-increasing concern in American cultural discourse, an the issue have become only more energized by President Obama's recent personal endorsement of same-sex marriages. So, Marvel's announcement of Northstar's storyline in Astonishing X-Men may just be a case of great timing.
However, rival publisher DC is playing coy with what may be even more ambitious plans. After top editor Dan Didio announced the news over the weekend, DC Comics exec Courtney Simmons confirmed today that they'll be reintroducing one of their "major, iconic" characters as a homosexual. The House of Superman isn't offering any teasers as to who it might be but that report at Comic Book Resources parses Simmons's wording to speculate that it'll be a male character. DC already has Batwoman as a new but prominent lesbian character.
As stated in this CBR article, Didio had previously said that DC's New 52 reboot wouldn't see reinvented characters changing sexual preferences. And there was an embarrassing moment in Northstar's fictional history where he was declared to be part fairy (as in the magical beings). Sigh.
Still, there's a sense that each publisher's trying to be on the proverbial "right side of history" with these moves, timed to hit during LGBT History Month. Of course, there's the naked hope that these plotlines deliver publicity, massive sales and sellouts in each case. But, mercenary motivations aside, if these editorial decisions get executed well, then they'll reflect a measure of the social justice that characters in Marvel and DC Comics spend so much time fighting for.
Oh, I'm putting money on Tim Drake, a.ka. Red Robin, being the gay character that DC brings out of the closet. He's not the current Robin but could still be called iconic, if you wanted to stretch. Who do you think it'll be?
Now, of course, you're not going to hear anything while reading this new comic by writer Brian Wood and artists Kristian Donaldson and Dave Stewart. It's on paper, after all. But the post-everything milieu that the trio ushers readers into feels eerily quiet.
The first issue of this Dark Horse-published series introduces readers to an Earth where a succession of freak ecological disasters have destroyed wildlife, coastlines and much of the world's socioeconomic structures. Navigating the seas of this broken world are the crew of the Kapital, led by Captain Callum Israel. Israel's the leader of the Ninth Wave eco-activist group and he's been looking to find the Massive, the Kapital's sister ship that's been mysteriously missing for years.
I love how the characters of the book are pulled from different nationalities, as it makes you think that the whole world's been affected by the series of catastrophes that are collectively called The Crash. The flashback sequences that offer glimpses of the breakdowns that crushed the planet come across as truly haunting. Donaldson's line work is sleek and sexy, with a real facility for drawing clothes, hair and facial expressions.
The humans drawn here feel passionate and expressive and Donaldson does great work with dialogue-heavy layouts. Stewart's muted palette doesn't feel make the fictional world feel dead, rather, the planet feels battered into submission. More poignantly, the Earth in The Massive doesn't feel like it's going to wake. These characters are stuck here and we'll have to watch.
In previous works like DMZ, Channel Zero and Northlanders, Brian Wood has previously demonstrated a unique ability to comment on societal changes through the eyes of his cast. Whether it's a latter-day civil war or a Viking battlefield, he chronicles the social order's cracks just after they've happened and excels at showing how human behavior reels in the aftermath.
It's pretty inspired to take an analogue to controversial ecological groups like Earth First! and Greenpeace, throw them into a situation that bears out the logic driving their activism and show the existential diminishment that follows. If you wind up being right about what the systemic implosion of the earth's biodynamic systems would do to the planet, then it would really suck to be stuck in the shattered remains of what you once knew.
I can already tell that The Massive's going to offer a perceptive look at how the loneliness, paranoia and philosophical tensions of the book's premise play out amongst the comic's cast.
How do pacifists defend against predators? Do you bother sticking to ideals when no one's watching? How long can hope hold out when everything else has run dry? Already, these questions coalesce into the subtext of the first issue of The Massive and from this strong debut, it looks like the answers are going to be entertaining and thought-provoking. Pick it up
tomorrow on June 13th and prepare to be cast adrift.
This quick teaser packs in a few Avengers, a couple of mutants and two of Marvel's biggest bad guys. Marvel Heroes has a storyline that will touch on epic arcs from the fictional universe, written by superstar scribe Brian Michael Bendis. The free-to-play PC game should be out some time soon.
Are we still pretending that comics and video games don't have anything to do with each other? Not anymore, we're not. Welcome to Panel Discussion, where the focus will be on comic books and sequential art, whether they connect directly to video games or not. Confused? Read this.
In two week's time, the E3 press conferences will be over. You'll have seen the biggest newest from Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft, EA and Ubisoft. You'll know all about the Wii U, the next big things for Xbox 360 and the future of PlayStation.
But how will you have seen this news?
If you are near a TV, you will hopefully have enjoyed the splendid 17 hours of marathon coverage planned by our friends at Spike TV. They're airing all of the E3 press conferences. They are, in fact, the only TV network airing the Nintendo one on Tuesday, June 5 (noon ET, 9am PT). They will do the other four live on Monday, June 4.
But what if you're not near a TV? What then? Or what if one screen is not enough for you? Have no fear. We'll be livestreaming Spike's 17-hour marathon right here on Kotaku on June 4 and 5, including all five conferences and lots of behind-the-scenes analysis featuring Spike's master of all things gaming Geoff Keighley and a smattering of your favorite Kotaku editors.
Things kick off on Monday, June 4, with Microsoft's showcase, followed by EA, Ubisoft and Sony. Nintendo rounds it out Tuesday morning.
Closer to the show, we'll post a reminder with a full rundown if times for all the big events.
The first time I saw the word PulzAR on a list of upcoming PlayStation-brand video games, I laughed.
Or did I scoff?
One of the two.
Having played Halo, I should know that you can't judge a game by its name. I didn't have to. PulzAR, I would soon learn is an augmented reality game for the Vita. OK. Kind of cool. AR games mostly seem like parlor tricks. I like them but I don't see myself playing them much.
PulzAR, however, is an AR game I'd play.
It's very simple. You use the Vita as a viewfinder of sorts, pointing it at a table. You place one of the augmented reality cards that ships with the Vita in the middle of the table. It triggers the rendering, on your Vita screen, of a missile silo. Since this is AR, it looks like the silo is on your table (as long as you're looking at the table through the Vita). It then generated a puzzle around the silo. The puzzle consists of a single lazer and a target. The target will be a certain color and will be angled in a specific direction. You can then place a handful of other AR cards on the table to make the laser strike the target.
Each card is associated with a mirror or a filter that can change the color of the laser. You're given a finite quantity of mirrors and lasters at the start of a puzzle and it's up to you to figure out card placement that works.
The light-bouncing puzzles in PulzAR aren't that different from those we've seen in Zelda and other adventure series, but there is something gained in being able to physically place and orient the cards (read: mirrors) in the real world.
The best thing about PulzAR isn't the gameplay. It's the game's own cheap trick. You play through each puzzle on a timer, racing to place your cards/mirrors before it's too late. Too late = the meteor overhead crashes onto the playing field and blows everything up. At any time, while you're playing, you can look up at the ceiling or sky above you in real life and—guess what?—there's a huge meteor hanging up there, slowly bearing down on you! It's a very cool effect, reminiscent of the menace of the falling moon in The Legend of Zelda: Majoras's Mask.
Hopefully if you play PulzAR that meteor will never crash on you. You will have connected the laser to its target and blasted it with a missile.
PulzAR will be out for the PlayStation Vita on June 12.