I don't generally get past the LEGO aisle in Toys'R'Us, so Playmobil is nothing but a distant childhood memory to me. Were I to venture to the other side of the brick section, I would likely see something very similar to what Gameloft is releasing tomorrow with Playmobil Pirates for iOS and Android.
Create a pirate camp, manage your pirate crew, play mini-games and visit your friends. Playmobil is pretty much getting a treatment similar to what Gameloft has given its other toy properties, My Little Pony and Littlest Pet Shop, only this time I don't have to feel so bad playing it in public because hey, it's pirates. Pirates were cool a few years back, and I am an old man that can afford to be behind the times. Everybody wins. Well, I win, and that's everybody as far as I am concerned.
Playmobil Pirates will hit iTunes tomorrow morning, with an Android version following soon after.
Flowers bloom. Beaches fill with people. Leaves fall from trees. Suddenly, it is Christmas time and another year has passed—another year of me not making Dark Cloud 3.
"Why would you ever even make Dark Cloud 3?" you might ask me, referring to a possible sequel to a terrific PlayStation 2 role-playing game from the Professor Layton people at Level 5.
"I have no plans to make Dark Cloud 3," I'd respond, chortling, since, hey, isn't that what game companies always say when they just don't want to give a straight answer?
Look, I don't make video games. I report about them. But ever since I interviewed the folks at Level 5 in October of 2009, I get e-mails from people who hope I will do it. I think they're getting their wires crossed.
Back then, I asked the Level 5 folks if they were interested in making a sequel, and one of their producers said: "There are many staff members, including myself at Level 5, who have worked on the Dark Cloud series... There are some who decided to join Level 5 because they love the Dark Cloud series. So, if requests from users should increase in the future, we would seriously consider making it."
Somehow that turned into people e-mailing me about making one, which is a tactic that's about as effective as asking Hideo Kojima to stop making Metal Gears.
In March 2010, I highlighted several of the requests I had received to make the game. I headlined the piece; "Nine People Want Me To Make Dark Cloud 3".
Naturally, I got a bunch of joke requests after that. Things settled down in 2011.
In April of this year, I got this e-mail:
So there won't be a sequel to Dark Cloud 2? I'm confused.. :(
...followed that same day with:
Could you at least make a PSN version of the prequel games with trophies? I'm sure a lot of people would buy it.. :'(((
In May, from someone else...
I also think you should make a dark cloud 3.
Also in May:
Make it. Surpass Diablo 3. Make Dark Cloud 4.
And then, in September:
Subject line: PLEASE MAKE DARK CLOUD 3!!!!
I never got into the game as a kid because I was like 7, but my mom, cousin, and brother beat both 1 and 2 and even then I loved watching them play, as of now I am 13 and I bought them both at a yard sale and I beat them both, "twice" and I would love a sequel, I honestly never thought there ever would be one so I decided to search up "darkcloud3" I saw the page and it said you weren't making one because only 9 people asked you to do it, not many people heard about it, my brother is a huge fan and he never heard even 1 rumor on this! people may of not heard about this and only 9 people messaged you, but as soon as it gets big on commercials, trailers, and big websites such as gamespot and IGN I know all of the old Dark cloud fans will literally shit themselves in excitement, And even some newer generation kids might be interested, if you do make it here's all I ask for better sells, I like both 1 and 2, but I disliked the amount of characters on 2, make at least 6 characters! and the music always had such good tune, but I recommend a much better plot, one you can really connect with and have time to bond with characters, then BLAMMO! awesome guy dies everyone crys! that's a good game, Me and my brother cried when ratchet died on crack in time, and I absolutely loved that, when you watch a movie you only hope you can bond with the characters, right?? also the game needs a MUCH darker theme, and it needs to put people on the edge of excitement, but along with all that you of course need to keep the classic dungeon to dungeon fighting monsters! if not the game wont feel the same! (optional) you could also maybe make character gender optional, I'm not sure if that would matter or not, but it would be different! not sure if you are familiar with a facebook fan page wanting a new dark cloud sequel but it has much more then 9 likes, Also I would love to play 1 and 2 on HQ so I suggest you make a collection pack, aaaaand make the weapons much more creative and have funner upgrades, make level ups and "possibly a online mode???" < I don't know?? and please make the cover art lovely looking...
That's a moving request. Really, the problem is I just don't know how to code. So it ain't happening. Sorry.
After a Wii U launch that was full of ports of big games from big game companies, it appears that the winter and spring will see the Wii U missing out on most of the major games coming to its rival consoles.
Over the last couple of days, we've been checking in on the Wii U status of several major multiplatform games, all of which are slated for the first half of 2013. Nintendo has promised that the Wii U will have a broader array of games than the Wii did and won't neglect the hardcore gamer crowd. But very few of the top multiplatform games for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 are slated for Wii U.
Release Date: February 12 (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)
Coming to Wii U? "Yes, ACM is coming to Wii U," a rep from Sega confirmed. We have not announced a specific date yet, just that it launches before the end of Nintendo's launch window (aka March 31, 2013)."
Release Date: March 26, 2013 (PS3, Xbox 360)
Coming to Wii U? "No plans," according to a rep for EA.
Release Date: March 26, 2013 (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)
Coming to Wii U? The game's creative director just told Destructoid that "nothing is brewing right now," so highly unlikely.
Release Date: 2013 (Not sure if early or late, to be honest) (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)
Coming to Wii U? "We can't confirm any info on the Wii U at this time," says a rep for Konami. (Whatever that means.)
Release Date: February 13, 2013 (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)
Coming to Wii U? "No plans," according to a rep for EA.
Release Date: April 23, 2013 (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)
Coming to Wii U? "No plans," according to a rep for Deep Silver.
Release Date: February 5, 2013 (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)
Coming to Wii U? "No plans," according to a rep for EA.
Release Date: January 15, 2013 (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)
Coming to Wii U? All we could get was a rep for Capcom reiterating that the game is "confirmed" for the above platforms.
Release Date: March 2013 (PS3, Xbox 360)
Coming to Wii U? "No plans," according to a rep for EA.
Release Date: Spring 2013 (PS3, Xbox 360)
Coming to Wii U? Nothing announced. Seems unlikely, but here's a glimmer of hope, if you're the unusually optimistic sort.
Release Date: April 2013 (Xbox 360, PS3)
Coming to Wii U? Yes!
Release Date: February 19, 2013 (PS3, Xbox 360)
Coming to Wii U? We asked the game's producer, Yuji Korekado, at an event in Los Angeles last week. Here's the transcript:
Kotaku: Do you have plans to bring Revengeance to Wii U?
Kotaku: Why not?
Korekado: We really developed the game based on these two consoles [PS3, 360] and the Wii U, we think, is unique in a way that the controller is innovative and the entire console's pretty much not hand-in-hand with the consoles that we're making it for now. So if we were going to make it for the Wii U we'd have to start from zero again and really design something for that console, so we could say 100% that it was a good game for this console.
Kotaku: Could Wii U run the Revengeance engine?
Korekado: I haven't really tried it, so I'm not quite sure.
Release Date: March 2013 (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)
Coming to Wii U? Not bloody likely.
Release Date: May 2013 (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)
Coming to Wii U? In August, Capcom's U.S. senior VP Christian Svensson said the idea of bringing it to the Wii U was "explored" but didn't synch up well with the developers' schedules.
Release Date: Early 2013 (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)
Coming to Wii U? "THQ hasn't announced plans for a Wii U version of the game and is focusing attention on the current versions," a THQ rep told us.
Release Date: Spring 2013 (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)
Coming to Wii U? "The decision to bring a game to the Wii U will be made on a case-by-case basis," a Ubisoft rep told us. "We don't have any details to share at the moment."
Release Date: March 5, 2013 (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)
Coming to Wii U? A Square Enix rep says: "the announced platforms for Tomb Raider = X360, PS3, PC. No Wii U."
As you can see, the winter and spring will be pretty good seasons for big-budget games on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC. But on Wii U? Pickings will be slimmer.
It's not all bad news for Nintendo console owners. The Wii U is getting some promising exclusives—Rayman Legends, Lego City: Undercover, Pikmin 3 and Game & Wario, for starters. (Naturally, the other consoles are getting their own exclusives, with new Gears of War and God of War games coming to 360 and PS3 along with a few other big in-house productions). [UPDATE: Monster Hunter 3: Ultimate is another Wii U exclusive, slated for March 2013. No disrespect intended for not mentioning it. It'll be massive in Japan and hopefully well-liked in America, too.]
What to make of this?
The Wii never had tons of big-name, big-game support from major third-party game publishers. But that's partially because the Wii couldn't even run the first Mass Effect or Grand Theft Auto IV. The Wii U can run the same games that run on other consoles. Tech isn't much of a barrier here. Timing and business are the key factors. Nintendo and the companies making these games have to want these games to be on the Wii U. They have to make the effort.
The Wii U launched with Mass Effect 3, Call of Duty: Black Ops II, Madden NFL 13, Assassin's Creed III and several other major games that also were released for PS3, Xbox 360 and, in some cases, PC. It's been reasonable to think that such support for Wii U will continue, but in the next six months, it seems that it won't. One hopes that Nintendo and the world's major game-makers at EA, Ubisoft, Take Two and elsewhere will have a few more chats, maybe fund some ports. Otherwise, if you only own a Wii U, you'll be missing out on some very promising games.
In a small town where everybody has a secret, a rift between two powerful families threatens to tear apart bonds formed through history, business and blood. PopCap's upcoming hidden object mystery for Facebook bears the mark of many classic tales of drama and suspense. It also bears bears.
Anthropomorphic animals populate Hidden Agenda, due out in the first quarter of 2013 from those PopCap people. Good for them. Small town drama with humans is played out, but with a cheetah girl journalist, a panda city planner and a rhino sheriff? That's gold right there.
From the screens and the minimal info given so far, I can't tell if PopCap is treating this as a serious drama that just so happens to feature animals, or a crazy lampoon of the genre. Whatever the case may be, PopCap isn't known for releasing shoddy social games, so we should be in for a treat early next year.
There's a listing for Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy up on the New Zealand iTunes Store, which almost certainly means that the rhythm game will be out in North America later today.
Theatrhythm is a tap-tap-tap game in the style of Elite Beat Agents or Guitar Hero in which you strum your fingers across the screen to the beat of Final Fantasy music. It's quite fun.
Square has yet to make an official announcement about the iOS port of Theatrhythm, but this version is a free app that comes with a couple of songs and asks you to pay for the rest. And of course it has Twitter integration, because why even play games these days if they don't have Twitter integration?
The Secret World seemed like a promising evolution of the MMO formula when it came out this summer. But publisher Funcom has hit a series of stumbles that have left many wondering how they were going to move forward. One crucial step was revealed today with the announcement that subscriptions are no longer required.
New players will still need to pay $30 / €30 / £24.99 for the base game but will be able to access all of the content released thus far for the conspiracy-laden online title. You can still shell out monthly fee if you choose. Doing so gets you the following perks:
For those who want to get the most out of their Secret World experience we have an optional Membership available. Being a monthly subscriber, for the same cost as before, now gives great benefits. For being a member you get the following:
• Time Accelerator (Clickable item which increases experience gain for defeating monsters by 100% for 1 hour, 16 hour cool-down – only usable by Members and Grand Masters)
• $10 worth of Bonus Points (given out every month)
• Item-of-the-month gift (given out every month)
• 10% discount to everything in the in-game store
The Grandmaster pack includes all these benefits and gets an additional 10% discount to everything in the in-game store, for a total bonus of 20%. So being a Grandmaster is better than ever!
Through the month of December we have a special offer where we give 30% off on the first purchase on the 3, 6 and 12 month Membership plans.
Funcom's running a special end-of-the-world ARG right now. Maybe this new change in payment model will extend the life of The Secret World's virtual reality, too.
I'm no lawyer, but I've watched enough TV to think I know how to coach a witness. Mostly, shut up. Answer the question and don't say any more than you have to. Don't volunteer anything. It'll only make things harder for you later.
Cpl. Damon Baird—pardon me, Lt. Damon Baird—never learned that lesson. That forms both the main story for Gears of War: Judgment main story, and the manifold ways through which you'll be invited to replay it when the game arrives in March.
In the Xbox 360 game Gears of War: Judgment, each mission is a flashback, and each flashback is a Gears testimony—whether Baird's, Augustus Cole's, or two newcomers, one a deputized prisoner from the Pendulum Wars forming the story before Emergence Day, i.e. when everything went to hell.
Science fiction, by setting things in the future, has the luxury of tying off its characters' loose ends in the past while keeping the characters fresh. Gears of War: Judgment will seize the opportunity. At a preview event two weeks ago at Epic Games headquarters, I got to play two chapters of the game's campaign: Baird's opening statement, and then the testimony of Garron Paduk, an ethnic Russian who fought for the adversaries of the Coalition of Ordered Governments, before the Locust came to town.
Each chapter unfolds with voiceover narrative from the character you're inhabiting at the moment, whether that's Baird, Cole, Paduk or newcomer Sofia Hendrik. The mission plays out as the character relates its events to a kangaroo military court run by Col. Loomis, an antagonist brought in to try Baird's unit for treason and/or war crimes. It becomes evident, fairly early on, what the war crime is.
As each character relates his or her experience, you're given the chance to run a "declassified" version of the mission—which is essentially the same story segment run against a more complicated difficulty. For example, completing an operation in a pre-set time before a Hammer of Dawn strike occurs. Or finishing it with Locust weapons only, in defiance of COG orders, or discovering new variants of Locust foes that your witness relates to the tribunal.
It's a shrewd way to incorporate an alternate story into a broader canon, but it's not the only way Gears of War: Judgment's campaign will vary the experience.
For example, I have a note in my pad that says, "Cole doesn't get chatty until the third mission; what's up?" What's up is an 80,000 word script that still follows the same storyline, but doesn't serve the same NPC dialogue, at the same moments, as you're accustomed to hearing in other combat shooters of this type.
What was happening, as I was dying repeatedly, is that the game was cycling to dialogue options in the other characters more than it was in Cole. In another playthrough, it's likely I would have heard him more, talking about the wine cellar he'd made for his home as a Thrashball star before enlisting.
"That variability grew out of the fact that they knew people would die a lot (in campaign)," said Tom Bissell, who along with Rob Auten co-wrote the story and dialogue for Gears of War: Judgment. "They didn't want people to keep hearing the same shit over and over after they died and went back into the game."
Combat in the campaign mode moved largely from wave attack to wave defense to set piece, but again, thanks to a directorial AI that changed enemy spawns, never in the same way. Hanging back to snipe at the Locust from cover will spawn different adversaries and tactics (mostly flanking), for example. Most of the "declassified" missions, the higher-difficulty alternate testimony—were doable except for the timed missions, which may be owed more to my careful nature.
Surrounding all of this was a luxuriously shredded Sera, whose set direction ramped up the beautiful destruction of the original Gears of War (set 14 years beyond the events of this story) and made it something more recent, even current. Structures are on fire, loudspeakers spout public safety bromides, you'll hear the frantic whisperings of refugees as you fight building to building. This most gripping flashback the game supplies is the one surrounding all of the campaign: You're seeing the aftermath of Emergence Day, the watershed moment that started this story.
Gears of War: Judgment will be a different trip through the series' canon, but it doesn't set up as a side journey. You're still facing and repelling the same existential threat; the personality of the unit comes out at key moments. You're doing it with two new characters and two familiar faces, even if they still have long histories to explore.
John Davidson is dead broke. Yesterday he arrived in Garbage City. Jobless, circling the block in his car—his last worldly possession—desperately, desperately looking for any kind of work. He has no other options. He's hit rock bottom.
Why else would John be in Garbage City?
John Davidson's story: it's transient. For just a few short seconds you can grasp it, before it dissipates, lost in context and the fiction of an invented city in transition.
Hover your mouse over John and you'll get a short, one-sentence summary. A single life reduced to six short words. John Davidson: Dead broke, looking for a job. You invent this man's life, you hear his story and your reaction is to elaborate, to ask questions. Why did John come here? What happened to John? What went wrong? How did John's life become so bad that he felt he had to drive his broken-down, rust-bucket of a car all the way to Garbage City, where trash goes to die?
Sim City is about stories. And this story is about John Davidson.
Garbage City. A broken-down place. The worst place. When Sim City producer Jason Haber started building an eco-system of multiple different towns, he realised he had a problem. A garbage problem. How do you dispose of all the rubbish produced in a network of brutally consumerist cities? How do you manage the waste of human beings committed to consumption?
His answer was Garbage City. A dark, dilapidated collection of buildings and homes dedicated solely to processing trash from other more extravagant cities.
Jason built a number of places. A town like Las Vegas: driven by gambling, shopping, and a criminal element the city couldn't afford to imprison. Another creation featured a highway inspired by the worst feverish nightmares of MC Escher. A tumbling, fucked-up roller coaster of a road that represented the very worst of Jason Haber's tyrannical money wasting autocratic rule.
But Garbage City is the turd in the crown. Garbage City is where the trash from all other cities ends up. It goes there to be recycled by people like John Davidson, those who exist at the arse end of the social spectrum. People desperate for jobs, circling around Escher-esque highways desperately seeking purpose and employment.
Garbage City was an experiment, says Jason. Jason is showing us Sim City. He is showing us Garbage City.
"I talked about Garbage City before I actually built it," he explains.
In previous demos Jason would show off the game's new ‘specialisation' system. Sim City allows you to build complete cities that focus on one thing: extraction of certain resources, for example, or a city like Vegas, focusing on gambling.
"But then I'd always say to the press, ‘but you could create your own specialisation, like a Wind city, or even a Garbage city!'"
One of the US PR managers got a little tetchy about Jason's constant references to ‘Garbage City'. At this point it was just an idea. No-one had actually built a place called Garbage City. Could it really be done? Could a user build a city that existed and functioned purely to process trash? Sim City's PR Manager was worried Jason was making the press a promise the game couldn't keep.
"The other PR manager used to be like, ‘you can't keep talking about Garbage City, you haven't even built it yet! You don't know if it even works.
"So I took that as a challenge, and I made Garbage City!"
It could be John Davidson, or it could be any of the downtrodden residents who make up the populace of Garbage City, but every day Jason Haber takes a truck full of sewage from his Las Vegas city and empties the contents of that truck directly onto someone's lawn. Just to fuck with them. Just to see what happens, to watch the reactions of the poor, poor bastards that make up Garbage City.
Sim City is about the little stories. It's about John Davidson, but it's also about prodding at your city. Stories exist on that level too. The story of the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent Man-God who creates a city for the sole purpose of filling it with trash.
"When it comes to stories I like to play at a little bit of a higher level, explains Jason. "I still like to play at the level of my city.
"I always try to do something stupid, like dump all the sewage from another city in one guy's backyard. I love the little moments like that. That's been my favourite Sim City story so far—putting sewage in someone's backyard!"
Sim City has stories in every corner of its existence, in pockets dotted throughout the cities. The homeless people that live in the park created to reduce pollution; the criminals released into the wild because there aren't enough prisons to hold them. On a grander level the story is about the cities themselves: how they evolve, how they grow: what works, what doesn't work.
But Sim City can also be about the relationship between a creator and his creation, or a Father and his son.
"I play with my son," laughs Jason. "He loves to destroy the cities!
"He watches me build the cities up and he says, ‘do the tomato! Do the tomato!' Which means tornado. And I'm like ‘okay, I'll do the tornado'. Actually I think he's finally starting to get the distinction between tomato and tornado now!
"He's really fascinated with watching the cities develop and grow. I really looking forward to playing the finished game with my son."
Sim City layers stories upon stories. It works in that way. Sim City could be about the cities you build, or it could be about the relationships you build whilst playing. But Sim City starts with the details. It starts from the ground up.
Sim City starts with John Davidson, a man who came to Garbage City with nothing but a piece-of-crap car and lint in his pockets. A man prepared to shovel shit for a fistful of dollars and a single shred of dignity. A man who, at Jason Haber's whim, has every chance of waking up to a sea of toxic sewage poured directly onto his lawn. Poor bastard.
John Davidson. We follow him for a while. Amazingly, John now has a job. He leaves his house, jumps into his rusty car and heads to work at the sewage plant in the heart of Garbage Town. He shuffles his tiny body into his car, he drives to the factory, he wanders in and then he vanishes. Like magic, he is gone.
"You can follow the sims but they don't really persist," says Jason. "Once they go into a building they are just a number within that building. John might go down the street into a factory, but once he's in the factory he's just another worker."
John Davidson is transient. His existence could be measured in minutes, but his stories were real. After John Davidson leaves the sewage plant, once he's spent a full shift shovelling the shit sent from three other cities, he will leave the factory with a whole new identity. A different name, a different person heading to a different house, driving a different car. He will no longer be John Davidson…
But he'll have a whole new story to tell.
Coming later this month from Fuhu Inc., the company behind the wildly popular Nabi line of kids' learning tablets, the Nabi XD is a 10.1 inch Tegra 3 powered Android tablet with near field communication technology and a style so distinctive I don't really care that it's aimed at tweenyboppers.
Is a little color too much to ask? That a splash of red around the edges of the latest Nabi device to hit the market so completely marks it as aimed at the younger generation is a sad statement about the tablet market in general. Keep that in mind, Apple, Microsoft, Asus and Amazon — the next tablet I buy will be pink. The rest is up to you.
As for the Nabi XD here, it's got enough power to put it in the same league with the most popular Android tablets out there. It's sporting a Nvidia Tegra 3 4-PLUS-1 quad-core processor (with an extra core that helps push battery life up to 10 hours between charges), a 10.1-inch IPS 1366x768 HD touch screen, and it's running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. It can run any Android game out there, and do so beautifully.
That sexy tech is topped off by Rightware's Kanzi 3D user interface, which consists of a tiled arrangement of widgets that can automatically update according to user-defined rules. For instance, say you want news and educational stuff to show up there in the morning, and games to appear in the evening. You can do that. Say you only want to play the THD version of Horn when you're within the state of Oklahoma. You can do that too. You can define the home screen you want, and when you want it. I want to play with it!
But alas, this is a device for tweens. I would be a pariah were I to shell out $250 for the 16GB version or $349 for the 32GB version when it's released in limited quantities later this month, or even when it goes wide in January. Were I to also purchase the optional Pad-folio that makes it look like a Microsoft Surface tablet only more fun, they'd set my house on fire.
What I am trying to say here is I am totally getting one of these. I have kids. They'll be tweens in another decade.
This is actually a Japanese pun as the character's name "Kikaider" (キカイダー) carries the nuance of "machine" (機会 or "kikai"). Here, Sony is explicitly using the Japanese word for "chance", which is said as "kikai", but uses different characters (機会). Oh, Sony, you're so punny.