Jack Gardner

Natsume is gearing up for the launch of Harvest Moon: Light of Hope, the first game in the franchise's 20 year history to release on PC. Though Light of Hope will also release for Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4, the PC version has been finished ahead of schedule and will release this year with the console versions following in 2018.  
"Due to the hard work of our team, development for Harvest Moon: Light of Hope for PC ran ahead of schedule, allowing us to release the game early to PC players," said Hiro Maekawa, President & CEO of Natsume. "We have enjoyed creating an all-new game that honors 20 years of Harvest Moon, and what's more, the franchise will finally be available for the first time on PC, something fans have long asked for!"
Light of Hope has players shipwrecked and washed up in a small harbor town devastated by the same storm that sunk the player's ship. With a small farm, players can help to rebuild the town and rekindle the lighthouse. Natsume has been trying to put the past two decades of Harvest Moon on full display in the newest game with familiar faces from previous titles making appearances along with the familiar gameplay players have been itching for. The newest and most interesting mechanic is the ability to slowly unlock the town by repairing its damaged structures, bringing new opportunities and characters with each repaired building. 
A point of contention among some fans, Light of Hope will be making use of what Natsume has dubbed a retro plus aesthetic. The visuals aim to recapture an SNES feel while putting a modern twist on everything. Some vocal fans haven't been too pleased with the aesthetic, but the graphics undoubtedly look unique.

In celebration of the series' 20th anniversary, Natsume has decided to hold a drawing contest on their Facebook page. They want fans to submit original drawings of their favorite Harvest Moon characters, animals, and events before 2017 comes to a close. Fifteen winners will be chosen, and each will receive some special Natsume prizes.
Harvest Moon: Light of Hope releases on November 14 for PC and early 2018 for PS4 and Switch. 

The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) and the ESA Foundation have been prolific partners with Extra Life from the very beginning! 

Each year we love announcing this challenge to our Extra Lifers and Children's Miracle Network Hospitals, and this year is no different! We're thrilled to announce the 2017 ESA Foundation Extra Life Challenge. This is a chance to unlock a huge donation for your local Children's Miracle Network Hospital by doing what you do best; Playing Games to Heal Kids.

The Internet simply does not have enough bandwidth for us to fully transmit our gratitude. THANK YOU, ESA FOUNDATION!
The ESA Foundation's generous $60,000 grant is divided into two prizes that Extra Lifers can unlock for their hospital by working together to raise all they can for the sick and injured kids that Extra Life supports.
Prize #1: Top Overall Fundraising - $30,000 2017 Recipient: Seattle Children's Hospital!
ESA Foundation is awarding a $30,000 prize to the hospital whose Extra Lifers raise the most money overall by 9:00am Central Time on Sunday, November 5th..  The total will include only funds raised and received by the deadline (all the more reason to get your offline gifts in early or convert them to digital donations). Last year, the San Francisco-Oakland market took home the funds!

Okay, but what if YOUR town is not as big as the top dogs on this list? The ESA Foundation has a SECOND prize to recognize the needs of smaller hospitals and the kids they serve. 
Prize #2: top Fundraising Per Capita - $30,000 2017 Recipient: Stollery Children's Hospital Foundation
Using census data for the areas served by our hospitals, an additional award of $30,000 will be unlocked for the hospital with the highest per capita fundraising.  To compute per capita we divide the population of the area by the dollars raised for that hospital.  The hospital with the highest per capita amount at 9:00 am Central Time on Sunday, November 5th will win.  Again, only funds that are raised and received by this time will be counted towards this figure. 

Note: A hospital can only unlock one award, even if they are the highest for both the overall fundraising and top fundraising per capita. In the event that this happens, the hospital will unlock the overall fundraising grant and the next highest per capita fundraising hospital will unlock that grant. Last year, UVM Children's Hospital in Vermont edged out the competition to win!

Working with the ESA and the ESA Foundation continues to make Extra Life and our communities stronger! Now get fundraising and unlock these major achievements!

What if I told you that you had the power to manage and share your Extra Life experience on the go? That this power was available to you and it was absolutely free? The Extra Life mobile app lets you fundraise and connect with others through SMS, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn & Email. You can update your Extra Life page and check your fundraising progress all from the palm of your hand.

Download the app here: iPhone | Android

Jack Gardner

This week we play a cruel trick: Doom (1993) or Doom (2016) which game should be inducted into the canon of The Best Games Period? Doom has changed the face of gaming arguably moreso than any other shooter in video game history, but does the original hold up in the face of its modern refinement? Which one wins out in this winner-take-all debate to the death!? This battle for the ages finds itself argued by Daniel Jones and special guest Joseph Lopes.
Each week we will be tackling a video game, old or new, that at least one of us believes deserves to stand as one of the greatest games of all time. We'll dive into its history, development, and gameplay, while trying to argue for or against the game of the week. Sometimes we will be in harmonious agreement, other times we might be fighting a bitter battle to the very end. However each episode shakes out, we hope that everyone who listens will find the show entertaining and informative.
Also, due to some technical hiccups, Daniel sounds like he is wearing a scuba suit this week. We'll have it sorted by next week!
Outro music: Doom 'Army Worthy of Phobos' by HeavenWraith (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR03433)
You can follow Joe on Twitter @pixelsnthoughts and give him grief for his opinions!
You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is (sometimes) available as well, so you can watch what we are talking about while we talk about it! 
If you want to have your opinion heard on air, share your opinion in the comments, follow the show on Twitter, and participate in the weekly polls: @BestGamesPeriod 
New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday

Jack Gardner

I have some words for you: Motor. Cycle. Wheel. Saws. If a combination of those words caught your attention, keep an eye on the upcoming Steel Rats.

The 2.5D action arcade title combines motorized combat with stunts to create retro-futuristic destruction gameplay. Motorcycles operate based on the physics of Steel Rats with customization options. Players will pilot their battle-hardened racer on sketchy streets, over near-future rooftops, and through grungy tunnels.
You might be asking yourself at this point, "What exactly is a Street Rat?" The Street Rats are a punk biker gang who rule the streets of Coastal City. You might think that makes them a threat to law and order, but quite the contrary. The Street Rats are the last remaining line of defense for a city under constant siege by an oncoming army of junkbots bent on its destruction. Players can choose their own characters, unlock special moves and bikes, and fight across the near armaggeddon cityscape of their once sacred turf. 
The soundtrack of Steel Rats is being created by the Japanese rock trio The's who are known for their song "Woo Hoo" featured in Kill Bill: Volume 1. 
“Steel Rats is set in an atmospheric, stylized, retro-future version of 40s and 50s Americana,” says Jacek Gburczyk, art director on the project, “we’ve taken everything we love from America in that time period and mixed it up with our favorite parts of dieselpunk and steampunk influences to create something that has a wholly original feel and character.”
A new CGI trailer released today conveys the essence of what developer Tate Multimedia envisions for their project.
Steel Rats comes to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC in 2018. 

Jack Gardner

Recent years have seen the rise of visual novels in the gaming landscape, interactive stories with light "choose your own adventure" elements. If you've ever dreamed of making your own visual novel, Degica Games is gearing up to release Visual Novel Maker in November.
Essentially, Visual Novel Maker follows the RPG Maker conceit of allowing someone to create what they want with little to no programming expertise. The set of tools in Visual Novel Maker includes support for click, drag and drop, or type interfaces for the stories users are itching to tell. Completed games can be played on PC, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS.
Of course what is a visual novel without the visuals? Visual Novel Maker comes with 11 different characters, each with a variety of outfits and expressions. Those characters don't exist within a black void, either, as the software tool comes with over 150 pre-made backgrounds. Those who prefer to create their own art can import it into the game or even use Live2D to include some animations. Same goes for music; a selection of pre-made tracks, but the option to add more personal music if the user desires. 
Experienced developers can create and add extensions to edit the game or even the toolset itself. 
Visual Novel Maker releases on November 16 for PC.

Marcus Stewart

Monument Valley 2, the sequel to the well-received (and super pretty) MC Escher-esque mobile puzzle game, launched as a surprise iOS exclusive during Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference this past June. Given Monument Valley's availability on both Apple and Android devices, fans of the latter platform worried about how long they'd have to wait to get their crack at the sequel (if at all). 
Turns out not for much longer, as the game arrives on Google Play on November 6. Unlike the first game, Monument Valley 2 features two characters, a mother and child, that players must navigate across the mind-bending environments. Just like the previous title, though, the sequel boasts a calming pastel color palette and a serene soundtrack. 
If you're an Android user, are you looking forward to Monument Valley 2? How did you feel about the first game? 

Marcus Stewart

First-person puzzler/philosophical journey The Talos Principle received acclaim when it first released on PC in late 2014. After being ported to console and mobile, the game makes the next logical leap: virtual reality.
The Talos Principle VR is available now on Steam for Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. According to developer Croteam, the game has been entirely redesigned for VR and features fully customizable controls. This version runs for $39.99 but owners of the original game receive a 25% discount (knocking it down to around $29.99). Additionally, the four-episode Road to Gehenna expansion is included with The Talos Principle VR.
 Any of you Oculus or Vive users plan on to taking a look at The Talos Principle? 

Marcus Stewart

Star Ocean faithful and newcomers alike will have the chance to experience the earliest point in the series' timeline. Square Enix announced that Star Ocean: The Last Hope is getting a 4K and HD facelift, launching for PlayStation 4 and Steam on November 28. 
The Last Hope is a prequel to the first Star Ocean game, taking place several hundreds years prior and features a heavier sci-fi theme than other entries. It originally released on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in 2009.  In addition to controller, the PC version of the remaster features full mouse and keyboard support. Naturally, the 4K upgrade applies to PlayStation 4 Pro users as well as PC players with a compatible setup. 
The remaster will release digitally for $20.99 (no word on a physical release). Purchasing before December 12 nets players a 10% discount, with Steam users also receiving an exclusive mini-soundtrack. PS4 players can get a special Star Ocean theme and 12 avatars if they pick up The Last Hope before January 12. 
If you're a Star Ocean fan, how do you feel about The Last Hope's remaster? What other entries would you like to see get the same treatment? 

Jack Gardner

Earlier today, EA sent out an update regarding the development of the unnamed Star Wars title. The title, codenamed Ragtag, has long been rumored to have internal development troubles, and the announcement all but confirms those rumors. Patrick Söderlund, EA Worldwide's executive vice president, penned the public message that attempted to clarify the company's decision to close Visceral Games, one of their most well-known subsidiary studios:  
This move seems to be coming from EA in an attempt to move the game away from being a linear, story-focused experience and toward a more long-term investment. Essentially, this is EA stepping in to make sure that project Ragtag can continue generating money post-launch, probably through microtransactions and/or DLC, both of which have become core parts of their business strategy in recent years. I suspect that it will also be shifting focus of the title from a linear, single-player story toward a multiplayer competitive title that can be milked for money via DLC and microtransactions for years after release.      
Kotaku was able to get some further clarification on Visceral's closure. Söderlund responded to their questions by saying that the EA Vancouver team that was already attached to the project would take the lead along with a team taken from across EA Worldwide Studios. EA executive producer Steve Anthony will lead the entire effort and much of the work done by Visceral will be used in the final game such as assets that have already been built.
Amy Hennig, known for her work directing Uncharted 1-4, had been helming Visceral's Ragtag project. Her fate seems to be uncertain, although an EA spokesperson stated that, "We are in discussions with Amy about her next move." EA has said that they are trying to move as many devs as possible to other parts of EA, but many will be finding themselves without a job. Other studios across the industry, such as God of War developer Sony Santa Monica and 2K Games, have expressed their sympathy for the people affected and opened their doors to applicants who might not make it through the dissolution of Visceral. 

Article written by Nathan Weyenberg, a third-year participant playing for Children's Hospital of Wisconsin.

My wife and I have teamed up to raise money for the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin for many years. The last two years doing Extra Life and over a decade volunteering at the Joey O'Brien Memorial Golf Outing. We have always recognized raising money for children's hospitals as being vital not only to the children who have maladies, but also for the families.
In March my wife and I were ecstatic to find out we were going to have our first child. In July, we found out we would be having a girl! (I was very excited about this!) In August, nearly six months into the pregnancy, we found out our daughter had a rare congenital heart defect. My wife and I decided to move forward with a surgical option, without which our daughter would not live.
While our daughter is healthy in utero, as soon as she is born, she will experience circulation problems and will die without surgery. The doctors will have to perform three open heart surgeries on her before four years of age, two of which will be before she turns six months old. Chances are she will survive, and hopefully become everything we want her to be; a happy, wonderful and independent grown woman.
There is too large of a chance that she will not have that opportunity. I have no way of knowing what will happen, and I am powerless to help before she is born. What I do know, is we will be spending time in a children's hospital come November/December and hopefully beyond.
Right now, the only thing I can do to help my daughter and families like mine is to raise money for children’s hospitals. I will be streaming myself playing video games  now until the gaming marathon on November 4th. On November 4th I will participate by playing games while standing for 24 hours.
It was the hope, care, and expertise of a children's hospital that turned one of the worst pieces of news we have ever received into something that our team at the hospital, myself, my wife and our daughter can tackle together. It is that expertise and care we are trying to foster and support.

Jack Gardner

Developer Fatshark held a livestream today in which it pulled the covers off of the sequel to Warhammer: End Times - Vermintide. The company's modest attempt at creating a medieval fantasy version of Left 4 Dead has now given way to a much more expanded universe full of all kinds of creatures and dangers beyond the Skaven rat-men who plagued the first game. 
The heroes from the previous game have united to take on the remnants of the Skaven army who have allied themselves with the Chaos faction. The five heroes can choose from 15 difference career paths, each with different appearances, abilities, talent trees, and equipment. This team of hardy adventurers are the only thing standing between the oncoming hordes of rat-men, Chaos, and more that seek the destruction of the empire.  
As you might deduce from the earlier comparison to Left 4 Dead, Vermintide 2 continues the series penchant for four player co-op. Players will need to work together either with their friends or NPCs to survive each of the 13 deadly levels that take place around the fortress city of Helmgart on the border of the Empire.  
Vermintide 2 will come with integrated Twitch functionality. More information about just how exactly Twitch will be integrated into Vermintide 2 remains to be seen. More information will be coming during a livestream this December.

“Vermintide 2 is the evolution of the genre. If you liked the first game, you’ll love the second.” says Martin Wahlund, CEO of Fatshark, “We have listened to the community, analyzed hours and hours of online playthroughs, and combined this with our passion for co-op games to bring you the very best experience possible.”  

Warhammer: Vermintide 2 will be available first quarter 2018 for PC and consoles.