When I first caught wind of Hello Games bringing their stunt-racing hero Joe Danger to iOS, I imagined a straight port of the original PlayStation Network release, complete with a screen cluttered with virtual controls. Instead they've delivered a game that fully embraces the touch-based platform, one that's as refreshing to play as it was for the company's founder to develop.
As Hello Games' Sean Murray tells it, after the success of Joe Danger on the PlayStation 3 he found himself in an ironic rut. The game was doing amazingly well and accolades were pouring in, but the success meant that the studio was transforming from a small group of folks making games into a proper company. The studio founder found himself administrating more and programming less.
Murray found solace by dabbling in iOS game development. Using some assets from the PlayStation 3 game he built a little tech demo for an iPhone / iPad version of Joe Danger, and soon it became a real thing. His friend Steven Burgess (creator of the amazing LostWinds, formerly of Frontier Developments) got involved, and Murray's weekend project became Joe Danger Touch.
What the pair have achieved is pretty amazing. Joe Danger Touch looks like a PlayStation 3 game (running at 60 FPS, no less) and plays like some of the best iOS titles—Murray told me play testers said it felt like a combination of Bike Baron, Jetpack Joyride and Rayman Jungle Run. That sounds about right.
A much younger Joe Danger rides the stunt-filled courses of Joe Danger Touch, automatically driving forward towards his goal. The player taps the screen to jump, swipes to perform speed-enhancing wheelies, holds a finger on the screen to duck—new controls become second nature within a level of being introduced. This is good, because your fingers are constantly doing more than guiding the hero's journey. Discoverables, coins, stars and other secrets float about each level, requiring taps to collect. This is a game that will keep your fingers occupied at all times.
The coolest feature of the game by far is the integration of Game Center challenges. Once you complete a level with all three medals, you can challenge a Game Center friend to beat your score. The friend will receive a notification, and when they accept it they'll instantly be transported to the level, even if they haven't unlocked it in their game yet. That's pretty damn cool.
There are ten chapters' worth of levels to unlock, 25 characters to collect (CUPCAKE!), all adding up to an estimated 20+ hours of Joe Danger goodness. It's an astounding amount of game for $2.99.
I liked Joe Danger and its sequel, Joe Danger: The Movie, on consoles. I love Joe Danger Touch.
Joe Danger Touch — $2.99 [iTunes]
All four major tournaments of men's golf—The Masters Tournament, The United States Open Championship, The Open Championship and the PGA Championship—will appear in Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14, a detail practically lost among other features announced for the game, such as nighttime golf and the debut of the LPGA Tour.
While the career mode of EA Sports' Tiger Woods PGA Tour series had offered four major championships in each season of play, it did not have the rights to use all of their names and symbols. Last year in Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13, The Masters was the only major championship appearing under its own name. The U.S. Open had last appeared in Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12.
The British Open was represented by a tournament called the "UK Open" and the "EA Sports Championship" had taken the place of the PGA Championship, the calendar's last major.
"Yep, you may now win the Grand Slam of golf," Craig Evans, the director of marketing for the game, told Kotaku.
The events may not appear on the courses where they will be played in 2013. Licensing a tournament and licensing a golf course are two separate things. For example, Tiger Woods PGA Tour had long had rights to The Old Course at St. Andrews, but no agreement with the Royal & Ancient Golf Club headquartered there, which operates the British Open.
So in the instances where a player's career comes to one of the major tournaments, it will be held among a rotation of courses that have hosted the event in the past. The Masters is played every year at the same course, Augusta National. Major tournament atmosphere will be a setting in the game's play now mode as well.
It seems that the drive to license all four tournaments came from the inclusion of this year's "Legends of the Majors" mode, which will have the player facing off against top golfers of the past, wearing period authentic attire and using equipment common to the game at the time. So, battling Ben Hogan at the 1953 British Open loses all meaning if the presentation and the commentary is forced to call it the "UK Open."
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 arrives March 26.
Some glitches are annoying. Some are downright infuriating. Still, they can (and do!) serve as the foundations of hilarious internet videos.
The one above is a prime example—all YouTube user Cr1TiKaL wanted to do was to enjoy a little bit of Sleeping Dogs. What he got instead was a bug-fueled journey of absurdity and frustration through the streets and various locales of virtual Hong Kong.
Beware: NSFW language and minor spoilers abound.
Sleeping Dogs Error [YouTube]
Last month I officially migrated from Apple's phone to Samsung's latest device, breaking a four-year streak of iPhone exclusivity. Next Media Animation's latest animated report explains how the winds have shifted for the two mobile giants.
It did feel a little bit like sawing off my foot at the ankle, now that I think about it.
Man, Luke Ritson keeps killing it with these alternative launch trailers. It might be because The Walking Dead was my personal favorite game of last year, but this trailer of Ritson's is the best yet.
Be careful about spoilers, though, because this trailer spans a few episodes of the adventure series. Fortunately it doesn't spoil too much. But it does effectively capture the tension and emotion you experience while playing.
You like to live on the edge of urban animal husbandry. No domesticated felines or canines for you. It's all ferrets, dingoes and boa constrictors in your often-raided abode. But even those species of barely tame fauna aren't enough. You want to laugh in extinction's face. You need… dinosaurs.
One of the weirder games in this week's Nintendo eShop is 101 DinoPets 3D, which lets you dress up, pet and totally otherwise humiliate these once proud alpha predators. Yes, you can play fetch with a stegosaurus in his downloadable game. But you better hope that he doesn't remember what he once was and try to maul you to bits.
Speaking of animals living counter to their instincts, how about that Hello Kitty, huh? The iconic Sanrio character has always seemed like a walking mass of contradictions. A housecat that owns a home, goes swimming and is friends with a dog. Hello Kitty Picnic gathers a bunch of these ‘toons together and has them eat outside in nature, the way God intended. And, hey, it sure looks like someone's trying to hustle Tuxedo Sam at 0:33 in the trailer. The ol' Shell Game… a classic.
Along with those animal lovin' games, Nintendo platforms also see demo versions of Zombi U and NBA 2K13 for the Wii U. Here's the full list:
I play lots of online shooters—from esoteric indie ones like Waiting For Horus to popular ones like like Call of Duty. This means I have (possibly crackpot) ideas on how online shooters could improve. While it's important that different franchises retain what makes them special, there are some things that I think nearly every shooter could benefit from adopting.
Here is my personal list of six things more online shooters should do.
Putting your time in and 'earning' your guns, perks and skills can be gratifying and all, but lord, I can't be the only one that's getting tired of having to do it in nearly everything I play. I'm not saying get rid of unlocks entirely (though I wouldn't miss 'em if they absolutely went away), but at least give me a mode where everything is unlocked from the get-go—like Black Ops II does with League Play.
Sometimes I don't have the time or inclination to
grind out earn the 'privilege' of playing how I want to play—and there is nothing wrong with that. Really, there isn't. More importantly, high level play doesn't start until I can mess around with everything at my disposal. Hence, when everything is available to me, I can start considering the finer details of how I should put a bullet between someone's eyes.
I love it when games like Battlefield or Gears of War let me spot an enemy.
Typically, this is a mechanic where I can mark a visible enemy, allowing everyone to 'see' that enemy. I can, for a brief time, vaguely tell where someone is, and so can my team mates (if I have any.) That's beneficial. And, spotting adds a layer of nuance to a game. What's not to like?
Choosing between different characters or classes is not enough. Every last one of us is a special snowflake, and our murder vehicles should reflect that, goddammit. I know we like to act tough and make fun of Team Fortress 2 for the hats, but straight up: customizing cosmetic stuff is rad as hell. I like letting everyone know that my character is mine.
The sense of attachment cosmetic customization brings is great. I felt a little closer to my mech in Hawken when picking out its paint job. Even stupid stuff like choosing a cellphone charm for my gun in the Blacklight games feels personal and touching in ways I can't explain. And I was saddened when Black Ops II took away the ability to put face paint on my dude. That was the best part! How am I supposed to look like The Joker or KISS now?
So: give me more hats. All the hats. And lets not forget tops, pants, helmets, armor, guns, charms, decals, paint jobs, and, and...!
Yes, trading items and unlocks with friends is useful and creates an economy of sorts. But on a smaller scale, it's nice to be able to switch a weapon with a buddy, if not trade ammo.
If I can hold it, I should be able to give it away if I want to.
A game should do everything in its power to create a balanced match. This means creating situations where one can threaten a comfortable lead.
Special modes like Regicide in Halo 4 tell you to target the best player in a match for extra points. Similarly, Homefront did something interesting in its Battle Commander gametype, where actions would give you a certain level of threat that would then result in X number of people being 'assigned' to kill you. The better a player you were, the more people you had nipping at your heels.
I'm more of a fan of what Uncharted 3 did in its normal multiplayer: power plays. I didn't have to play in a special mode or anything. But what it did was, when it recognized that a match was being won by a wide margin, special conditions would activate where a losing team could close the gap. A winning team, meanwhile, had an incentive to keep the lead for extra money.
Power plays could be stuff like double damage or being able to see where an enemy was—these examples are no laughing matter, but they only last for about a minute. But what deliciously tense, hectic minutes those were.
Giving you incentive to go after good/better players can be done in a small scale, too. Gears 3 for instance gives you a medal for getting revenge on someone that's killed you a lot (i.e., your 'rival,' as far as the game is concerned.)
I want more games to experiment with ways to keep a match close—not to mention more interesting for the people in the lead. And I don't want to go into a special mode to experience it.
I need to show my bro some love, man. Like I said last time, being a bro is all about bravura and veneer of cool, with an earnest lifestyle that puts camaraderie and love above all. And I need games to give me avenues to express my brotherly love for my bro.
Really, in a way, what I'm asking for is more lighthearted taunts involving my teammates—this is another thing Uncharted 3 did well. I'm saddened that none of the options in Uncharted 3 are "buttslap your buddy," but I guess that would get out of hand quick. Alas!
SkiFree is a simple little skiiing game that was first released in 1991 as part of the Microsoft Windows Entertainment Pack. I got a copy free with a ten-pack of Verbatim 3.5" floppy disks. It was all good fun until the abominable snowmen started showing up.
The primitive pixel monsters in SkiFree were a complete surprise to the new player, giving chase after the completion of a normal free-style, slalom or tree slalom course. Suddenly the game became an early version of the endless runner, the skier pursued by first one and then two or three creatures hungry for his flesh. Imagine completing a game in Madden football and then having zombies take the field, completely unexpected.
Released this week on iOS along with Rodent's Revenge, another 1991 Windows game, SkiFree looks to be a faithful port of the original, though as Tommy Tornroos of GearSprout tells Destructoid, the name SkiFree was taken so they had to go with SkeeFree for the game's listing. The mobile version runs $.99, or you can head to game creator Chris Pirih's page and grab a 32-bit version of the 16-bit game for free.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, given this pitch, the game is the brainchild of Ted Terranova, a former developer at Big Huge Games (Rise of Nations) who has taken that RTS experience and turned it into one of the most interesting ideas for a board game I've seen in ages.
Rivet Wars borrows two key elements from games; the goal is to capture command points which let you create more units, while the units themselves can be upgraded and customised not with cards or tokens, but by literally attaching things to their little plastic turrets.
The whole thing has a wonderful First World War aesthetic, somewhere between Toy Soldiers and Iron Brigade.
Rivet Wars is a Kickstarter project, but before you go thinking this is a pitch post—or that this will likely never be made—know Terry only asked for $20,000, and has received over $160,000 in backing. So far.
Rivet Wars [Rivet Wars]
Company: Sony Computer Entertainment Japan
Keyword/phrase: "A Year of Laughter!!" We hope it will be a year where people will be able to be brighter, more vibrant and happier through PlayStation.
Look To 2013: We look to expand the PlayStation platform. We hope to let more customers play the PlayStation [brand] and increase our fans.
Company: Microsoft Japan
Keyword/phrase: Make it a year of "Connecting to Users and Expanding Their Enjoyment," be they existing or new.
Look To 2013: The Xbox 360 is creating a new value centered on hardware, software, and service, and we hope to strengthen that in 2013. We will also offer a new interactive entertainment-filled user experience through the broad spectrum of device connectivity enabled by the "Xbox SmartGlass" to a wider audience.
Keyword/phrase: "Continuous, New Enjoyment."
Look To 2013: It's top secret, so we can't disclose it now. It's a secret.
Company: Square Enix
Keyword/phrase: "A Shift to Online Service"
Look To 2013: Establish MMO games and social games as well as strengthening IP.
Keyword/phrase: "A Year of Leaping Forward"
Look To 2013: We will provide a balanced lineup of completely new titles, series titles, multiplayer games and such for a wider audience to enjoy. We also hope to obtain new consumers in both the home console and arcade market and increase customer satisfaction.
Look To 2013: We look to increasing our user base by delivering the "Atlus" brand to new stages through methods like mixed media and collaborations.
Company: Namco Bandai
Keyword/phrase: "Challenge! Growth! Evolution!"
Look To 2013: Namco Bandai plans to expand by thinking out of the box and through our IP-centric products and services.
Company: Tecmo Koei Games
Keyword/phrase: 2013 makes the 30th anniversary for the Nobunaga's Ambition series. We will "Make It a Year of New Challenges" while caring for our existing series and fans!
Look To 2013: We aim to be the world's number one entertainment content provider by offering products and services to satisfy our customers.
Company: Platinum Games
Keyword/phrase: In April, 2011, our CEO, Tatsuya Minami, delivered the message, "Challenge The World As Representatives of Japan." In 2013, we will re-acknowledge and strengthen this feeling as we slowly begin releasing the titles we have been preparing. This will be the year that the second stage of Platinum Games comes to form, and it will be a year that we vigorously push forward as both a brand and as a group.
Look To 2013: It looks to be a very dense year with the release of Metal Gear Rising Revengeance and new information on the already announced The Wonderful 101 and Bayonetta 2. We have become widely recognized internationally as an action game maker, but we hope to strengthen our image through the release or announcements of the aforementioned titles. We hope that 2013 will be a year that many more users across the world will hear and know of the company, "Platinum Games."
Note: No official statements from Nintendo or Capcom were released.