More than eight years old, City of Heroes says goodbye tonight. In five hours—at 3 a.m. EST Saturday—NCsoft will pull the plug on both the superhero MMO and its developer, Paragon Studios.
If you still have an active account, there will be a final Unity Rally in one hour (11 p.m. U.S. EST) at Atlas Park, taking place on every server in the game.
For those without access, Massively is livestreaming the final hours of this venerable franchise.
Goodbye Paragon, so long to all the villains, and farewell to the world's finest heroes.
If you didn't already hate LucasArts enough for needlessly canceling Star Wars: Battlefront III, wait until you hear this: They shitcanned it when the game was "99 percent finished," said the co-founder of the defunct studio behind the game.
All it needed was "bug fixing," Steve Ellis told gamesTM magazine. That's it. Ellis earlier complained that a change in leadership brought in folks at LucasArts who were less interested in making games and more interested in killing the partnership.
In 2008 Free Radical was looking to rebound from the high-risk, high-concept, low-reward shooter Haze with a proven winner in the Battlefront franchise, and never got the chance. The studio ultimately dissolved and its core assets, including TimeSplitters—a franchise mourned as much as Battlefront—was sold off to Crytek.
"We were making a game with very high ambition. You could start a battle on the ground, jump into a ship and fly into space, continuing on to dock in a capital ship and continue the battle there," Ellis said. An hour's worth of video from this game was leaked back in July before LucasArts KGB'd it.
"We'd had to build all kinds of new tech and overcome numerous technical challenges and limitations but we had done it," he said. Having overcome that challenge plus the morale dent suffered from Haze, all they needed to get back on track was QA for Battlefront III, which it never got.
While they might be getting the most attention for their as-yet-unnamed Kickstarter project, Double Fine actually has another adventure game on the docket, and one designed by Ron Gilbert no less. While our own Kirk Hamilton got a preview of The Cave with Mr. Gilbert himself, there's been a dearth of game footage since it was announced this May. That is until today's fresh-from-the-oven trailer, which shows off one of the game's central elements for the very first time: the cave.
Not the place, of course, but the voice. You see, much like the excellent Bastion, The Cave has a persistent narrator, that being the cave itself. As your 3-person party explores his varied depths, the predictably wry rock formation will be giving a running commentary, just as he does for this trailer.
You also get a closer look at the team based adventuring/platforming gameplay. I'm particularly charmed by the way item descriptions materialize as you interact with them. That and the patented Double Fine humor. By integrating active platforming elements into a puzzling adventurer, can Gilbert reinvent the genre one more time? We'll see when The Cave comes out in January 2013 for PS3, Wii U, Xbox 360, and PC.
Coming to the end of the year's major release calendar, we still have no shortage of righteous indignation and implacable disappointment in the world of user reviews.
Released: Nov. 20.
Critic: monkeylion (Metacritic)
• "My first review was just with a couple of hours of gameplay, now after finishing the game I can tell you that there are 3 or 2 missions segments that are old classic hitman style, the others however suck, and suck bad."
Released: Nov. 18.
Critic: LesbianGoku (Metacritic)
• "The campaign is dull and overscripted, the online is cheesy and full of 12 year olds screaming in the mic, and the game is still full of cheaters."
Critic: Ubifail (Metacritic)
• "If CAPCOM did this Smash Bros clone, and made a small roster to sell DLC, you would have killed them. So WHY THE HELL would you support such a rip-off and distribute perfect 10's??? "
Score: 1 ("The '1' is for Nariko")
Released: Nov. 18.
Critic: capthavic (Metacritic)
• "I played for about 30 minutes before quitting because I was so mind numbingly bored with it."
Critic: wesker2012 (Metacritic)
• "I wouldn't recommend anyone buying this game unless you want to be really pissed off."
It was a very ballish week here at Kotaku. There were clay balls rolling down hills. We had eyeballs bouncing all over the place. We had ball-shaped hedgehogs killing candy creatures to feed their young.
We also had pixels two ways — exploded and photographic, as well as a hero with the power to fall with great gusto.
But mostly balls. Balls as far as the eye can see.
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.
From around the age of seven, I saw the world in 8bit color. The Nintendo Entertainment System was more than a revelation for my young eyes. It was a revolution. More »
The creators of Motley Blocks painstakingly crafted a series of 80 simple images using colored cubes, creating a collection of nifty 3D pixel art covering a variety of subjects. Then they blew them all up, and you have to put them back together. So much work, this mobile gaming. More »
For years the peaceful-yet-pecking Hoggyens battled the relentless Gobblen hordes that rained down from the sky. Then one day the embattled hedgehog creatures discovered their demonic nemeses' fatal flaw: they are delicious. This is why giant slingshots get built, people. More »
A nonsensical name. Annoying music. So-so art style. Gluddle has all of these. So why write about it? Because this iOS game also sports rock-solid, highly addictive gameplay. More »
All video games contain the fingerprints of their developers, the oft subtle maker's mark that set the work apart in the eyes of devoted fans. Clay Jam's prints are anything but subtle, covering every inch of this whimsical hand-crafted game for iOS and Android. More »
The good news is you never hit the ground in Sky Hero. The bad news is that it's not the landing that kills you every time, it's the fall. More »
I'm quite interested in Crimson Shroud, a downloadable 3DS game that was just announced for release on December 13.
Mostly because it was designed by Yasumi Matsuno, he of Final Fantasy Tactics and Vagrant Story fame. But also because it sounds kind of awesome.
Here's the official description:
LEVEL-5 and Yasumi Matsuno have brought together the industry's most venerated creators in the world of RPGs to take up the challenge and lend their support to the production of CRIMSON SHROUD. A tribute to the table-top RPG, crucial decisions hinge on the roll of a die. Players roll dice in real time and chain skills together to earn bonus dice of greater and greater face value. Use your dice strategically though, or your foes may yet get the best of you! Follow the tale of a young "Chaser" named Giauque, as he and his team find themselves drawn into the mystery of the Original Gift, the Crimson Shroud. A bold new adventure awaits!
- A brand new story from veteran creator, Yasumi Matsuno
- Roll dice to make crucial choices that alter your fate
- A classic RPG infused with modern elegance
A classic RPG infused with modern elegance! I've always wanted one of those.
Hey, remember Ouya? You know, that newfangled gaming console that raised almost $8.6 million on Kickstarter a few months ago?
No longer content to be imaginary, Ouya has decided to become an actual thing. Its creators say that the new console will be shipping to developers at the end of next month, writing in a blog post today that the first wave of Ouyas will be ready on time:
To the hundreds of developers who backed us through Kickstarter to get their hands on our advance dev consoles: Mark your calendars! On December 28, they leave the factory and should arrive within a couple of days (we've heard that Turkey and Russia might take a bit longer). Yes, we are shipping these to you on time, as promised.
The dev consoles are an early version of the OUYA console and controller designed for developers to test their games on OUYA. Our Kickstarter developers are the first to get a crack at ‘em! We're psyched to have you on board, and we can't wait to see what pours from your brain!
Of course, when the final consoles ship, EVERY OUYA will be a dev console. We told you that already. What we didn't tell you was that the advance dev consoles you ordered are pretty special – you'll know what I mean when you open yours. They're rare drops. :P
Exciting stuff. Although I've been skeptical about the new open-source Android console, it's good to hear that things are going smoothly over there. I'm looking forward to seeing it in action.
Plenty of FPS-parody videos have been filmed since, well, close to the beginning of the FPS genre. But my favorite aspect of this one? (Apparently filmed at New York Comic-Con last month.) Once this enters "Deadpool mode," the shame-o-meter goes to zero.
YouTube video uploaded by Lumberjack Films. (h/t Joel M.)
What does that mean? It means if you enjoy live-action professional baseball games, you had better own a PlayStation 3 or PS Vita, or be willing to buy one, or be willing to settle for user-modded rosters on a year-old MLB 2K12 title that underperformed most expectations (except for pitching and commentary) even as it had the Xbox 360 market all to itself. The expiration of that deal, and the fact MLB 13 The Show is made by Sony itself, means there's no new baseball game coming in 2013 on the Xbox 360.
This isn't breaking news, baseball fans. We knew MLB 2K was done for back in May. MLB 13 The Show's screenshot release makes that more of a reality six months later.
Why can't you escape the colorful cartoon ponies? Over the past two years the rising tide of adult male fans of the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic cartoon have invaded the internet, seeding internet forums, Facebook, YouTube and pop culture conventions with proof of their passion for animated equines. Don't understand the appeal? Perhaps I can help.
The My Little Pony fan community is beast that's grown far too large to ignore. There are brony conventions that draw in thousands of attendees every year. Equestria Daily, the largest brony community news site, has been visited more than 150 million times since it launched in 2011. The first issue of IDW's comic book treatment of the show garnered more than 100,000 preorders.
An informal survey places the U.S. brony population at somewhere between 7 and 12.4 million. That's a substantial chunk of people, and it raises the question...
What is a brony?
A brony is someone so enamored of the Hub Network animated series My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic that they're willing to identify as a member of a group despised by a large percentage of the internet. "Brony" is a portmanteau of "bro" and "pony". The term is generally used to refer to older male fans of the program. Most female fans identify as "pegasisters", which is incredibly clever. Collectively the community is known as "The Herd."
My Little Pony? The pastel-colored girls toy line from the 80s?
Sort of. My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic represents the fourth generation of the franchise, following the original line released in 1983 by Hasbro and the subsequent cartoon series in the 80s and 90s. Friendship is Magic was developed for Hasbro by Lauren Faust, an animator whose previous work includes The Powerpuff Girls, another girl-focused television show that enjoyed an uncanny adult male fan base. In fact, she's married to Craig McCracken, the creator of The Powerpuff Girls. Good for him.
But it's still a show for little girls, right?
That's the target audience, sure, but one of Faust's goals in creating the series was to challenge the established "girly" nature of the toy line, creating characters with depth and stories with a real sense of adventure. The underlying educational life lessons lurking beneath the jokes and song and dance numbers are universal ones.
As with many modern children's programs (Yo Gabba Gabba, Tiny Toon Adventures — man, remember Tiny Toon Adventures? It was the best), the show was also written with adults in mind, laced with humor and references aimed at keeping parents entertained while watching with their children. While the kids are mesmerized by the bright colors and sounds, the adults are doing double takes — were those ponies from The Big Lebowski? Yes, yes they were.
Parents get a pass. How did all of these teenage and older males get hooked on a cartoon about ponies?
It was a process.
What sort of process?
A lengthy one? I'm not getting out of this, am I?
Like all great stories, this one began on the infamous internet image sharing site 4chan. In October of 2010 a link to an alarmist article from the site Cartoon Brew appeared on 4chan's comics and cartoons board (/co/). Titled "The End of the Creator-Driven Era in TV Animation", the piece centered around My Little Pony and other toy-based cartoons being developed for Hasbro's Hub network. The article led to 4chan users watching the program with the intention of lambasting it. Instead, they became addicts.
Ponies invaded 4chan's cute and cuddly /b/ board. Trolls followed, only instead of getting the rise they expected they were either ignored, tolerated or bombarded with pony pictures. You can read about the whole inspiring affair over at Betabeat. Long story short, My Little Pony conquered 4chan and then infected the rest of the internet.
Seriously, what's the appeal?
Did I mention The Big Lebowski Ponies? I believe I did.
It's different for everyone, I suppose. Some fans are drawn to the sharp and expressive flash animation. Others enjoy watching each episode to catch the pop culture references.
A lot of the growing appeal stems from the show creators' reaction to the unexpected adult male fan base, incorporating fan creations and terms into cartoon canon. A grey pegasus pony with a googly-eyed expression that appeared in the show's first episode was named "Derpy Hooves" by fans. After several cameo appearances throughout the first and second season, Derpy was given a speaking role in the episode "The Last Roundup", referred to by her fan-given name (though later airings removed the name and changed the character's voice after it was deemed insensitive to the mentally handicapped). That sort of interaction and integration is something new and exciting.
Others (myself included) believe the show's appeal lies in it being a shining example of innocence and purity in an increasingly dark world. The Elements of Harmony — a central plot device — are kindness, loyalty, generosity, laughter, honesty and magic. Turn on CNN and take a drink whenever you see all of those gathered in one place. It's much more effective than AA.
Right. They're just watching the show ironically, aren't they?
Quite the opposite, actually. The brony phenomenon is considered part of the "new sincerity" movement, which is directly in conflict with the whole irony trend in film, music, literature and the appreciation of things. Instead of irony and cynicism, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic fans enjoy the show for what it is.
It's a difficult concept, engaging in an activity because you enjoy it. It's led to a great deal of hatred and intolerance aimed in the bronies' direction. That the fans generally abstain from lashing out at their detractors is a strong indicator, to me at least, that they're on to something.
But it's a show for girls.
You keep saying that, but that's not the way the world is anymore. Despite what the Secret deodorant marketing team would have you believe, women and men don't have to like separate things anymore. There was a time when men with a penchant for the color pink and products marketed towards females were the subject of hatred and derision. That still happens to a somewhat lesser extent, but frankly we don't give a shit anymore.
Why do people hate bronies?
Well, we do tend to paste pictures of ponies everywhere, which is admittedly rather obnoxious, but other than that? For one, we're on the internet, a place where people with hate in their hearts are always looking for something to piss on, and My Little Pony fans have painted a giant pastel-colored target on their chests, just above their cutie marks (the simple icons on the ponies' flanks that are indicative of their personality or purpose).
But I think the hate stems from the challenging of the status quo, the blurring of gender lines. This is not the sort of entertainment men traditionally flock to. Men should be out at bars, downing beers and leering at women, not collecting pink toys and making friends on the internet. Why aren't they out making a living and supporting a family? Why can't they just enjoy golf and watch porn?
What amazes me is the assumption that all bronies do is sit around the internet talking about fictional characters with names like Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy. Don't get me wrong, we do those things. We also have time to go to bars and leer. We play golf. We watch a lot of porn. We raise families. We even create some of the most popular video games in the business.
Do bronies want to have sex with horses?
What's your favorite hobby? Playing video games? Do you want to fuck a video game?
Don't answer that.
Researching this article the author discovered he is quoted in the Wikipedia entry for bronies. He couldn't be more proud.