It's Labor Day weekend in the U.S., a time for sitting around reflecting on all things labor-related and the contributions workers have made to our country. Contributions like sitting on the can at work playing some gaming apps instead of working. Games like this week's five Gaming Apps of the Day!
I realize it's hard to find time to play mobile games while you aren't working, but this week's crop is definitely worth your free time. We've got an innovative Windows Phone shooter that's only two years late (they were probably busy playing gaming apps), a hilarious pixelated adventure game, a brain-splitting puzzle game, a fantasy RPG runner, and a game that makes you bash an old woman through brick walls.
If those five titles don't encompass the spirit of the American worker, than I don't know what does (I don't know what does).
If you have a suggestion for an app for the iPhone, iPad, Android or Windows Phone 7 that you'd like to see highlighted, let us know.
After nearly five years with an iPhone in my pocket, I bought an Android phone last week. A HTC One XL. It's a glorious phone, and I had been looking forward to providing a little more Android coverage on GAOTD, but seeing as I've gotten side-tracked playing old Lucasarts adventure games on the thing, I haven't had enough time to play new Android games. Sorry. Maybe next week. More »
Back in 2010 when we were first getting to know Windows Phone 7, indie developer Mommy's Best Games demonstrated the platform's power with a mobile version of its unique Xbox Live Indie bullet-hell shooter, Shoot 1UP. Two years later... More »
Do yourself a favor: play some levels before you read the help in McPixel. You may not know what to do at first when the point-and-click game by indie developer Mikolaj 'Sos' Kaminski starts up. That's okay. You'll probably wind up triggering something very funny. Like kicking everyone in the junk. More »
The rollerskating Granny Smith is a spry old bird. She has to be, as developer Mediocre has dedicated substatial technology towards beating the living hell out of her. More »
I was having a fun time hustling through this dungeon, darting left, sliding, slicing up a gelatinous cube, picking up loot, when suddenly I turned splat into the wall. That's a fitting metaphor for One Epic Knight, too. More »
If you've been playing Guild Wars 2 at all, then you've probably seen people talking about jumping. Dancing is cool too, and actually, standing in one place is pretty neat as well, but the thing people love to do most is jump.
That's partly because jumping was impossible in Guild Wars 1. I visited Guild Wars 2 developer ArenaNet yesterday and sat down with lead designer Isaiah Cartwright to talk about all things Guild Wars 2. We talked about a lot of stuff, but one of the easiest questions was this: Tell me about the jumping.
"So, that just came, when we were sitting down going, 'Okay, what are we going to do for Guild Wars 2…. well, jumping." Cartwright laughed. "It was probably the number one thing that people brought up from Guild Wars 1: 'Yeah, it's great… you can't jump.' Everyone just kind of knew that about the game, so it's a big thing for us."
One of the most unexpected but enjoyable elements of Guild Wars 2 is the fact that there are actually jumping puzzles in the game. The MMO stops being about casting spells and blasting monsters and becomes something of a platformer. I asked Cartwright how that evolved—was it a sort of winking joke? You know: "Oh, so you wanted jumping? Well here, have some platforming sections!"
"No," Cartwright said, though he seemed to enjoy the idea of punitive platforming. "That actually kind of just came about as the map artists were playing around, saying 'Here's a fun little jumping puzzle,' and then we'd think… let's put a reward at the end of that! That looks fun! Once the map artists started doing one or the other, they [started saying]. 'Check out my puzzle,' and they started competing, and then we had a billion of them."
"It's sort of this joy of movement. It's fun to move around," Cartwright said. That's why he and the team decided to make it possible to perform actions while jumping and rolling around. "We were like, 'Okay, if it's this fun to move around, why do you have to stop to use skills? Why is combat not more fun?'"
Cartwright said he understands why not all games allow you to move and jump while performing actions. "It's a lot of work; there are a lot of aspects to it. Figuring out how to make the animations move around between each other, and all that kind of stuff, but in the end, when you succeed at it, it's hard to go back. And I think that the reason jumping was such a big thing is that people play games with jumping, and it's hard to play a game without jumping [after that]. The more fun, interesting movement we have in the game, the more fun and interesting it is."
Cartwright and I talked about a range of different topics; check back for more from our interview soon.
How are we feeling about the Castlevania: Lords of Shadow: Mirror of Fate these days? The game played well when I tried it last spring. I think a side-scrolling Castlevania on the 3DS XL with the 3D slider pushing the backgrounds beyond the system, should be good.
UPDATE: And here are three pieces that were in the "Stages" folder within the "Art" folder of publisher Konami's press site.
Supergiant Games' award winning action role-playing game Bastion is now available on the iPad, and it's one of the best experiences you can have with the Apple tablet. Just don't ruin it by playing without headphones.
The gorgeous hand-painted graphics and the shooting and smashing gameplay make the trip to the iPad intact, but those aren't the main draws of Bastion. It's the deep, growling voice of the game's narrator and the rich tapestry woven by the game's gorgeous soundtrack that make this game so damn pleasurable, and that's not something you're going to get out of that tiny, tinny grill Apple passes off as a speaker.
I was horrified as I started to play the iPad version, ignoring the suggestion that I should don headphones for the full experience. The poor narrator sounded trapped, caged in a world in which his sonorous pipes were rendered impotent, their magic ripped away cruelly.
And then the music started.
That glorious tapestry unraveled before my ears, sound meant to lovingly caress my hearing places at both ends condensed into a cacophony of raw, stabbing noise.
One 3.5mm plug later and all was right with the world once more, apart from the whole thing falling apart.
Bastion is now available for the iPad 2 and new iPad for only $4.99. Use the extra money you should have paid for this masterpiece to buy yourself a capable set of cans, or buy some portable speakers and share the magic with the world.
At PAX today, Zen Studios said the next table in its acclaimed pinball lineup will be Plants vs. Zombies, licensed from PopCap, makers of the tower-defense hit.
Plants vs. Zombies releases with Zen Pinball 2 on PlayStation 3 and Vita (it's a cross buy title) on Tuesday in North America, and on Wednesday in Europe. The table will be added to Pinball FX2's DLC catalog on Xbox Live on Sept. 5.
The Mega Bloks World of Warcraft line has been unleashed, bringing tiny plastic versions of Azeroth's iconic people, places and Deathwings to toy stores across the country. I have one such Azerothian playset in my possession, and you get to watch me put it together, piece by piece.
To the zeppelin!
My LEGO-loving brethren are already to tear up my VIP card at the mere mention of Mega Bloks, but I firmly believe there is room on this big old ball of dirt for more than one line of construction toys. The two lines really have two very different goals. LEGO wants to give folks playsets that look like things made out of LEGO bricks. Mega Blocks wants to connect pieces in a very LEGO way, but ultimately the finished product looks more like a normal toy than a collection of bricks.
So while the more fanatical LEGO fans ignore that entire paragraph and run off to their brick vault to build a bigger and better Goblin Zeppelin, I'm going to build this one. It's quite purple.
Weighing in at 310 pieces and running $59.99 at ThinkGeek, the Goblin Zeppelin Ambush comes complete with a ballista, a Worgen Rogue, a Tauren Paladin and a Goblin airship captain, ready to launch cannonballs at that ridiculous furball.
This is a very Mega Blok playset, as evidenced by the large, zeppelin-shaped pieces you'll see in the video below. The vast majority of the airship's bulk is in the three-piece hull and two piece airship shell. The rest is just details. Take a look.
Those huge pieces make for a relatively speedy build, but those that shun Mega Bloks for being too simple will find their shunnings very justified here. Still, the end product is quite attractive. I'm pondering hanging it from the ceiling with fishing wire, with a separate piece of wire to loop around the Worgen's scrawny neck.
I am pleased with this set. It's not the one I really wanted...
...but it certainly captures a moment in World of Warcraft that's near and dear to my Hordie heart. I don't have to wait for the Zeppelin anymore. I've got one right here.
Check out the official Mega Bloks World of Warcraft website to see the full line in marketing product shot form.
As you read this, I am wandering around Seattle for PAX Prime, playing games and talking to people and crafting stories for my glorious Kotaku overlords. So, sadly, there will be no JRPG column today.
But! Let's not waste the week. Let's use this as an opportunity for some reader feedback. Let's chat.
What do you like about Random Encounters? What do you dislike? Do you think articles should be longer? Shorter? Mediumer? Would you like to see more interview-driven pieces or more personal opinions? More silly experiments? More crazy discoveries?
Are there any games or series you want to see more of? Any big questions you want answered or debated? Any great JRPG-related stories you want told?
Now's your big chance to tell me what you think. All opinions not posted on this article will be instantly ignored. Just kidding. Maybe. But I will be reading everything you have to say here, so speak up!
Random Encounters is a weekly column dedicated to all things JRPG. It runs every Friday at 3pm ET.
Paragon Studios has announced that effective immediately, all work on superhero-themed MMORPG City of Heroes will be ceasing, and the game will be shut down by the end of the year. In a post on the official City of Heroes site, community manager Andy Belford wrote:
In a realignment of company focus and publishing support, NCsoft has made the decision to close Paragon Studios. Effective immediately, all development on City of Heroes will cease and we will begin preparations to sunset the world's first, and best, Super Hero MMORPG before the end of the year. As part of this, all recurring subscription billing and Paragon Market purchasing will be discontinued effective immediately. We will have more information regarding a detailed timeline for the cessation of services and what you can expect in game in the coming weeks.
The team here at Paragon deserves special praise for all that we have accomplished over the last 5+ years. These developers are some of the most creative and talented people in the gaming industry. By now, we've all been given this news internally, but to anyone who may be reading this message after the fact; know that your hard work and dedication has not gone unappreciated or unnoticed. To any potential studios looking to grow your team; hire these people. You won't regret it.
Belford also concluded with a heartfelt thanks to the community, adding, "We couldn't have come this far without you. I implore you all, focus on the good things of CoH and Paragon Studios. Don't dwell on the "how" or the "why", but rather join us in celebrating the legacy of an amazing partnership between the players and the development team."
City of Heroes launched in 2004. I first saw it when its companion expansion City of Villains came along in 2005; I always liked playing the bad guys better. Sadly, this superhero game will soon be no more.
Farewell, from all of us at Paragon Studios [City of Heroes]
Let's not beat around the bush: Dishonored's iOS spinoff game owes a whole lot to Fruit Ninja, with a few clever tweaks. There's on big difference, though. At the end of a game of Fruit Ninja, you may feel like getting a smoothie. At the end of Rat Assassin, you may feel like throwing up.
I've lived in or around New York City my entire life. That means seeing giant, abnormally large rats in the subways (and sometimes above ground) for much of that time. It also includes a few apartments that had problems with mice. I'm not deathly afraid of the things. The problem with glue traps and other rodent deterrents is that they don't always kill the furry pests. Sometimes that task was left to me. I hated it.
Rat Assassin reminds me of having to take a box-cutter to a mouse's neck so it doesn't shake itself free from a glue trap and come back to exact revenge. Which I've done. Seeing the insides of the rats that I'm slicing up in Rat Assassin is a gorier experience than any of my real life mouse encounters. If you like that kind of thing, then go ahead and download the free app (built for iPhone but plays on iPad) for your iOS device. Me? I think, I'm done.
This teasing screen for the next big game from the developers of Ratchet & Clank briefly appeared on screen during Ted Price's PAX Prime keynote moments ago. Is Fuse a renamed Overstrike, or something entirely new?
The shot looks a lot like something from the comapny's multiplatform project, Overstrike, which we've not heard much about since its debut in June of 2011. They have made toys, however, and it sure would be a pity to waste them.