Portal 2

Whether it’s an Easter egg, a joke character, or just a little nudge at a competitor, developers love slipping the odd reference to other games into their own. Sometimes though, they go beyond just slapping a Dopefish on a wall or quipping about a ‘doomed space marine’, and we get to see our heroes stride into entirely new, often completely inappropriate new worlds.

Here are a few of our favourites, along the ones that caused the most ‘wait, what?’ blinking on discovery. 

Guybrush Threepwood, Mighty Jedi

Yes, he can hold his breath underwater for ten minutes and quip his way through any sword-fight… but only The Force Unleashed II let him try his luck with a lightsaber. Turns out that you don’t need a sharp wit if you’re waving around two of the universe’s deadliest glowsticks and aren’t afraid to use them. Guybrush Threepkiller is so famous in-universe, he even has his own statues. We’re almost positive that’ll be brought up at some point in the next movie. After all, Rey does need a new teacher. Just as long as Elaine never finds out about it. 

Final Fantasy makes history in Assasin's Creed

Obviously, everything in the Assassin’s Creed series is meticulously researched and true to life, especially the alien gods and the time Ezio punched the Pope. Write it all down in your history homework! Which means that, while aliens might not have built the pyramids, they definitely got up to a bit of chocobo racing on the side. That’s according to this crossover, where Assassins ended up in Final Fantasy XV, while its villain ended up pounding sand for a bit before being dragged back to his own game by a hastily summoned Bahamut. There’s even a stuffed Moogle lying around in case you feel lonely after they’ve gone, and some fancy weapons to keep and confuse archaeologists for a few thousand years. Along with that Stargate, obviously. 

Commander Keen hangs about in Doom II

There’s a few odd appearances in Doom 2, including the severed head of John Romero as the end-boss, and a trip back to Wolfenstein 3D in the secret levels. By far the strangest thing though is what lies behind those: former id star Commander Keen… murdered and hanging from meathooks. The story goes that Adrian Carmack was the childkiller in question, having chafed at making cutesy games instead of enjoying himself with blood and guts. However, that was not enough to get rid of the boy-genius forever, for both John Romero and Tom Hall have confirmed that Commander Keen, real name Billy Blaze, is in fact Wolfenstein hero BJ Blazkowicz’s grandson… and father to the Doomguy. What a strange family tree. 

Earthworm Jim digs into Battle Arena Toshinden

He’s the world’s mightiest worm! He fights aliens! He travels galaxies! He gets flattened by a lot of cows! And he’s one of the few 90s mascots to actually be awesome, starring in two excellent platformers, one surprisingly good cartoon series, and… well, let’s not mention the sequels. Like Bubsy, 3D was not kind to Earthworm Jim, though unlike Bubsy, people actually cared. His most successful jump into the third dimension turned out to be this Easter Egg in the PC version of Toshinden, where with the help of his super-suit and a really big club, he was finally able to make the future of gaming eat dirt. Pound them into the ground. Bury himself in glory. Be cut in half and yet… no, wait. Not that one. But it was still as good as fans were going to get.

Everyone plays Poker Night at the Inventory 

Easily the most ambitious gaming crossover in recent memory… and it’s all about hanging out between games. Telltale’s Poker Night series combined, amongst a few others (deep breath) The Heavy from Team Fortress 2, Max from Sam and Max, Strong Bad from Homestar Runner, Tycho Brahe of Penny Arcade Adventures and also some webcomic whose name we forget off-hand, GLaDOS from Portal, Brock Samson from the Venture Bros (not a game, but never mind), Claptrap from Borderlands, Sam from Sam and Max replacing Max from Sam and Max, and Ash from The Evil Dead. Phew.

They weren’t great poker games, but that wasn’t really the point. It was about the banter between the different competitors as they sat back and shot the shit without the customary heavy artillery. We could also have had members of the cast from The Walking Dead and Back to the Future, but they were deemed unsuitable for the atmosphere. They didn’t want anyone crying, or any kids seeing Doc and Marty in a sweary environment. A pity. When the game revved up, they could have seen some serious shit.

Portal 2’s Space Core invades Skyrim 

When Bethesda showed off DLC for Oblivion, it was horse armour. And everybody laughed. Come Skyrim, the laugh was far more positive. One of the earliest additions saw the exiled Space Core (spoilers for a decade old game there) crash-land in Tamriel, still just as eager to explore SPAAAAAAAACE. Going bizarrely unnoticed by the locals, all probably fretting about that whole dragon invasion thing, it came crashing down in a plume of smoke. Pick it up and it still kept blinking and talking in your inventory, delivering… well, not very varied dialogue. In summary:  “Space. Space. Space!” And yet, still it was less annoying than all those guards and their epic tales of glory curtailed by the sudden impact of a ballistic stick to the lower-leg.

XCOM defends Civ V: Brave New World

What does XCOM do when there are no aliens to fight? Apparently, they learn to ****ing shoot straight. The XCOM Squad in Civ V is an elite tactical unit that gets the job done, air-dropping into friendly territory and laying down the law. Specifically, Thou Shalt Not Screw With XCOM. In the absence of aliens, they have their eyes set on "Giant Death Robots," and are happy to act as shock troopers or defensive units while they watch the skies and await their destiny. But since there are apparently no aliens interested in Earth during the Civ games, they’re probably going to be waiting a while. Should have taken the flight to Alpha Centauri.

Princess Rosella favours Leisure Suit Larry 3

Sierra On-Line loved its in-jokes. Not one but two sequels (this one and Space Quest III) ended with the characters somehow finding their way to the developers’ own offices for a chat with studio leads Ken and Roberta Williams, with Larry also taking trips to a Westworld style factory where adventure heroes are rebuilt after every stupid death, complete with King’s Quest’s King Graham being readied for duty, and finally showing up in the Old West for a cameo in Freddy Pharkas Frontier Pharmacist. By far the strangest cameos came at the end of Leisure Suit Larry 3, where the trip to Sierraland involved trekking through scenes from games like Police Quest and Space Quest 2, before meeting Roberta Williams directing a particularly annoying scene from King’s Quest IV, in which Princess Rosella is trapped in the slobbery mouth of a giant whale. Strange.

Frank West covers Lost Planet: Extreme Condition

He’s covered wars, you know. But oddly, Dead Rising’s original and best hero doesn’t seem to know how to cover himself in this odd outing. Despite Lost Planet being set on a frozen world, everyone’s favourite photographer show up not only without his camera, but also without his trousers. Somehow avoiding hypothermia, he runs around in nothing but underpants, while still managing to rain destruction on the armies of insects happy to not have to peel their food for once. What a trooper. 

Scorpion goes mental in Psi-Ops

Fighting game characters are probably the most cameo-friendly of all, whether it’s a full game like Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe, or bonus combatants-without-a-k-because-that’s-how-it’s-spelled in the likes of Injustice. But they show up in other games with curious regularity too. Lightning god Raiden for instance showed up in Unreal Championship, while invisible fighter Reptile could have popped into basically any game. Ever seen a flicker on your screen playing, say, Fortnite? As far as you know, it might be him.

But still, this was an odd one. Even though Midway was the publisher of both MK and Psi-Ops, it’s a bit of a leap from fighting game to third-person action game. Sadly, just wearing his palette-swapped ninja outfit didn’t actually make you the world’s clingiest fighter. He still had to swap out his “get over here!” attack for regular guns. On the plus side, having to beat every character in the game two out of three times would have gotten pretty darn tiring.

Poker Night at the Inventory - Valve
Poker Night 2 is Now Available for Pre-Purchase on Steam and includes a free copy of Poker Night at the Inventory! Already own it? Gift it to a friend!

The chips are down and the ante is up in this sentence already bursting with poker clichés! Take the fifth seat in Poker Night 2, at a table featuring Claptrap (Borderlands 2), Brock Samson (The Venture Bros.), Ash (Army of Darkness) and Sam (Sam and Max series). Play to unlock new Team Fortress 2 items and win unique skins and heads for Borderlands 2! Your dealer is GLaDOS (Portal series), but at no point will you be considered as a candidate for a visit to Aperture Science’s Enrichment Center. Unless you lose.

Poker Night at the Inventory - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

Cake groovy marginally volatile hostage situation

I’ve only played poker twice! Yet here I am writing a post about a poker game! That’s the kind of consummate professional I am. I know enough about poker to get away with this, though – for instance, I know that if someone plays five Jacks at once it’s called a Belgian Tickle and everyone else in the game has to take their trousers off. I know that if anyone scores 21, they immediately have to give their car keys to a homeless person. And I know that Telltale’s first attempt at a poker-based game starring a selection of pop-cultural characters was disappointing. Given that, post-Walking Dead, the studio is presumably now aware of the critical and commercial benefits of making really good rather than merely adequate and formulaic games, hopefully that means they’re going to give Poker Night 2 their all. (more…)

Poker Night at the Inventory - Steve Watts

Though it was leaked a little early, Telltale Games officially announced Poker Night 2 today. The card-playing cast of mixed intellectual properties is bringing a few new faces for the sequel, which will hit PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 in late April. The announcement also teases "other systems to be announced."

As seen in the leak, Claptrap from Borderlands, Brock Samson from Venture Bros, Sam from Sam & Max series, and Ash Williams from Army of Darkness will be joining at the table. GLaDOS will serve as the dealer, and we previously noticed Mad Moxxi tending bar in the background.

The game will offer "Bounty Unlocks" for skillful gambling, which will let you unlock rewards within other games. You'll be able to score exclusive skins and heads for all version of Borderlands 2, character accessories for the PC version of Team Fortress 2, unique Xbox 360 Avatar items, and premium themes for PlayStation 3.

Poker Night at the Inventory - Alice O'Connor

Internet detectives have blown the cover of a teaser campaign Telltale Games started this week. No, not for the Fables game--that was officially announced today as The Wolf Among Us. This mystery game has been unmasked as a sequel to Poker Night at the Inventory, and this time Ash from The Evil Dead, Borderlands' Claptrap, and Brock Samson of The Venture Bros. are joining the table.

Telltale has been running a, ah, 'Key Party' teaser campaign for the mystery game, dropping a new hint each day in the run-up to an April 1 announcement. Only, NeoGAF forum member 'Vert boil' uncovered box art, screenshots and a banner graphic for Poker Night 2 are hosted on Microsoft's web server for the Xbox Live Marketplace--if you happen to know the URLs.

Shacknews confirmed they were, and still are, there, though one imagines they may vanish soon. It's real. The keys in Telltale's bowl all match up to characters in the screenshots, too.

The original Poker Night was, as you may guess, a poker game. But! It was a poker game featuring characters from various video games, including Team Fortress 2's Heavy and Max of Sam & Max--whose canine partner Sam appears in this new game. The conceit, see, is that The Inventory is a place where they all get together and relax. You'll notice Mad Moxxi from Borderlands is tending bar, and Portal's GLaDOS is hanging around too.

As all we know is what we can gleam from screenshots, the game platforms, release date, price and all that are largely a mystery--beyond a safe guess that it'll hit Xbox 360. The 2010 original was only released for PC and Mac.

Tales of Monkey Island Trailer - Andrew Yoon

In celebration of its 7th anniversary, Telltale Games is taking 75% off most merchandise from its online store. That means you'll be able to pick up the entire season of Sam & Max: The Devil's Playhouse for only $8.75. The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition is available for only $2.50. Who knows what else you'll discover by clicking around? The only things omitted from the sale's scope is the Back to the Future series and Puzzle Agent 2.

You'll have plenty of time to peruse the store before the sale ends on June 30th. What are you going to pick up?

Team Fortress 2

Steam Plays A Game That Could Win You 100 GamesValve is giving Steam users a new way to win video games—up to a hundred of them!—and even score some new headwear in Team Fortress 2. The "Great Steam Treasure Hunt" is a game for winning games.


From December 6 to 19, Steam users are tasked with completing online and in-game objectives, like setting up a Steam avatar and unlocking The Heavy's Iron Curtain in Poker Night at the Inventory, which can lead to winning free games. Prizes will be handed out bi-daily to lucky winners and at the end of the whole affair, Valve will hand out 100 games to three lucky Steam users.


There are also deals to be had, like cheaper copies of R.U.S.E. and even cheaper copies of Chime. Begin the hunt!


The Great Steam Treasure Hunt [Steam]


Announcement - Valve
Now through December 20th, the Great Steam Treasure Hunt will have folks spending time in the tropical sun, earning Steam Achievements in select games, joining Community groups, and earning a slot atop the Steam Leaderboards all in the name of winning free games. Every 48 hours a new set of four tasks will be announced. Select games will also be on sale throughout The Great Steam Treasure Hunt.

Completing a objective qualifies you for a drawing to win the top 5 games on your Wishlist. Each objective has its own drawing, so the more you complete, the better your chances. At the end of the Great Steam Treasure Hunt, there will also be three grand prize winners, each awarded 100 individual Steam games of their choosing. Importantly, our lawyers tell us at this point to say, "No purchase necessary" and to check out the official rules here: http://store.steampowered.com/treasurehunt.

The first objectives are:
  • Self Portrait: Setup an avatar on your Steam Community profile.
  • Got Tanked?: Earn the Desert Fox Steam Achievement in R.U.S.E.
  • Up the Ante: Win The Iron Curtain in Poker Night at the Inventory
  • More Cowbell: Set a leaderbord score of at least 1,124,400 in easy mode for the 'Paul Hartnoll' level in Chime

  • The promotions over the next 48 hours are:
  • 33% off R.U.S.E.
  • 40% off Poker Night at the Inventory
  • 75% off Chime

  • Good luck!

    For more details, please visit http://store.steampowered.com/treasurehunt.

    Poker Night at the Inventory - Valve
    Updates to Poker Night at the Inventory have been released. The updates will be applied automatically when your Steam client is restarted. The major changes include:

    Compatibility Fixes

    • Anti-aliasing quality control added to Graphics Settings screen.
    • Improved compatibility with Shader Model 2.0 graphics cards.
    • Fixed cases of invisible and garbled text on the title screen and settings screen on some systems.
    • Some lower end video cards which formerly just drew a black screen should now display the game.
    Poker & Gameplay Fixes

    • At the end of a hand, winners of the main pot and any side pots all announced individually. (Previously, only the winner of the biggest pot was announced.)
    • Each round, the minimum raise starts at the big blind until someone raises, after which the minimum raise is the amount of that last raise.
    • In heads up (one on one) play, the dealer is now the small blind and first to act pre-flop.
    • If a someone folds and is part of a side pot, and after the fold only one person remains in the sidepot, the sidepot gets cleared and paid out to that one remaining person.
    • The tutorial now automatically comes up once, the first time the game is played. It is still also available on-demand from the Poker Help screen.
    • Players who have a straight flush, four of a kind, full house, flush or straight will now get the appropriate hand achievement even if everyone else folds to them in that hand.
    • Fixed issue causing character tells to rarely play.
    • Fixed issue causing only one of the player's hole cards to display when skipping dialog.
    • Improved readability/consistency on the unlockable Strong Bad card deck.
    Content

    • Two new poker tables available on the Unlocks screen: “Poker Night,” and “Inventory Security”
    Poker Night at the Inventory - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (John Walker)

    I probably shouldn't fart that loudly.

    Telltale have released their all-star super-cheap poker game, Poker Night At The Inventory. Starring characters from a range of games, and including all their original voice actors, it’s a really fun idea. But is it also a fun game? I’ve been through an awful lot of its tournaments, and am ready to throw in my chips and tell you Wot I Think.>

    (more…)

    ...

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