Jack Gardner

 
While not exactly a video game in the most traditional sense, Adventurrito is vaguely game-like and is advertised as a game and could result in twenty years of free burritos. Take this as a kind of service announcement because I am sure we'd all never forgive ourselves if we missed out on the opportunity to have access to years of free burritos.
 
Beginning on July 13th and running through August 1st, a new puzzle will be unlocked every day for a total of twenty quiz questions. The first twenty people who complete all twenty questions correctly will be eligible to win twenty years of free burritos to honor their twentieth anniversary as a company.
 
In addition to the grand prize, each day there will be a new drawing for a secondary prize of a year of free burritos. You can enter the daily drawing by attempting to solve the daily puzzle. The contest rules state that some of the questions will require a fair bit of internet research. However, codes that will unlock hints can be found on receipts from Chipotle.
 
I like Chipotle, I am moderately fond of quiz games, and I have a duty to inform you that this is a thing that exists. Best of luck to all who enter! You can enter the contest-game-thing and get more information here.
Jack Gardner

 
Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon Because I DON’T KNOW! is the follow-up to last year’s Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why’d You Steal Our Garbage?!! (both of which are serious contenders for the longest, silliest video game name award).
 
In Explore the Dungeon, players are tasked with saving the Candy Kingdom by exploring the 100 floors of the mysterious Secret Royal Dungeon. Players can choose between multiple characters including Finn, Jake, Marceline, Cinnamon Bun, and more. If you think that 100 floors might be a bit much by yourself, fear not! You’ll be able to team up with up to three friends for some co-op multiplayer. As you progress through each level, you’ll acquire Tokens, which you can equip to improve your character’s abilities as well as Sub-Weapons to deal out more damage to your enemies.
 
Series creator Pendleton Ward teamed up with developer WayForward to create a specifically video game-oriented story to preserve a distinctly Adventure Time-y feel. Along with Ward, the original voices from the show are all signed on to bring their dulcet tones to the game.
 
 
Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon Because I DON’T KNOW! is coming this Fall to Wii U, 3DS, Xbox 360, and PS3. 
Jack Gardner

 
The Regular Show is on track to get its very first video game treatment, and from what we’ve seen, it doesn’t look half bad.
 
Borrowing from classics like Super Mario Bros. 3, Contra, and R-Type, 8-bit Land features a unique blend of all three of the classic gameplay types. The 8-bit visual style even takes some of its cues from the classic titles and references can be found scattered throughout levels. Enemies will be made up of their adversaries from the show like The Hammer.
 
Fans of the show should can rest easy, Regular Show series creator JG Quintel crafted the story and concept of 8-bit Land and was heavily involved in its development.
 
 
The Regular Show: Mordecai and Rigby In 8-bit Land will release sometime this fall for the 3DS and retail at around $29.95.
Jack Gardner

 
Over the weekend, over 3,000 prospective champions descended upon Las Vegas, Nevada to battle to the virtual death. Of those 3,000, only eleven would be crowned champions of their respective games.
 
Normally, it can be a bit difficult to find VODs from EVO right after the event. Luckily, this year you can find a number of them over on IGN. For your convenience, we've included replays of the grand final match-ups below. If you don't feel like watching the matches, feel free to scroll lower to view the results!
 
Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition
 
 
King of Fighters XIII
 
 
Super Smash Bros. Melee
 
 
Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3
 
 
Injustice: Gods Among Us
 
 
Tekken Tag Tournament 2
 
 
Persona 4 Arena
 
 
Street Fighter x Tekken
 
 
Mortal Kombat
 
 
Skullgirls
 
 
Unfortunately, we weren't able to find any replays from the DiveKick exhibition matches that were on display at EVO.
 
Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition - DM.MCZ|Xian
King of Fighters XIII - AS|Reynald
Super Smash Bros. Melee - Mango
Ultimate Marvel vs. Capom 3 - FS.EMP|Flocker
Injustice: Gods Among Us - VxG.EMP|KDZ
Tekken Tag Tournament 2 - Cafeld|Knee
Persona 4 Arena - Yume
Street Fighter x Tekken - Infiltration
Mortal Kombat -Crazy DJT88
Skullgirls - Duckator
DiveKick - Mean Saltine
 
Congratulations to all of the champions and we look forward to seeing them appear in future competitiions!
 
For the complete results of the numerous tournaments, head over to Shoryuken.
Jack Gardner

 
Beginning Friday morning and running through Sunday evening, the annual EVO championship series (short for Evolution) will be held in Las Vegas, Nevada. EVO is an umbrella event that covers all of the major and some of the not-so-major fighting games, giving each game its own tournament or exhibition. This year, EVO will consist of nine sub-tournaments, one for each of the following: Injustice: Gods Among Us, Mortal Kombat, Persona 4 Arena, Street Fighter x Tekken ver. 2013, Super Smash Bros. Melee, Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition ver. 2012, Tekken Tag Tournament 2, The King of Fighters XIII, and Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. In addition to all of these games, there will also be exhibitions for indie fighting games Divekick and Skullgirls, as well as a demonstration of the upcoming box One fighting game, Killer Instinct.
 
As someone who has very little experience with fighting games, I still find EVO to be a blast to watch. While I might not know the ins and outs of the gameplay and some of the nuances certainly go over my head, I know can still appreciate moments like my favorite video game comeback of all time from a 2005 Street Fighter EVO tournament between Daigo Umehara, who is widely considered to be the greatest Street Fighter player of all time, and Justin Wong, another contender for the position.
 
 
There will be three streams via Twitch bringing EVO’s content to you live on the srkevo1, srkevo2, and srkevo3 channels. Viewers will be able to switch between the three of them from Twitch’s EVO 2013 hub. Each stream will have two commentators who know the intricacies of the games and will be able to translate for viewers who aren’t as familiar with fighting games. While the main streams are free, it is possible to purchase a $12 HD ticket to view the streams in HD. All proceeds will go toward a scholarship fund at NYU Game Center for aspiring game makers within the fighting game community.
 
There was some contention yesterday, when Nintendo announced that they would not allow Super Smash Bros. Melee to be streamed from the competition, despite a fan movement that raised $94,000 for charity in order to bring Melee to the venerable EVO event. After about five hours of massive outrage, Nintendo reversed its stance, allowing the fighting game to be streamed.
 
The full streaming schedule for EVO 2013 can be found here.   
 
For a more in-depth look at EVO including players to watch and fighting game jargon, be sure to check out this excellent viewing guide over on Shoryuken.
 
Below you can find my favorite match-up from EVO 2012.
 
 
For any of you fighting game fans out there, who are you rooting for this EVO? Personally, I’m hoping to see Daigo sweep Street Fighter IV.
Jack Gardner

 
In the midst of a hectic, crowded, and noisy E3 2013, there was a quieter (albeit only slightly) corner of the show floor. Out of curiosity and after being dazzled by the lights and bombast of the larger booths, I decided to wend my way through the smaller set-ups in this calmer section of the expo. I was approached by a representative of Blue Marble Games, a relatively new developer that focuses on creating games that are both fun and will hopefully help people with brain injuries, especially returning veterans.

I was introduced to Nina Withrington, a physical therapist who works with the programmers and artists to help create Blue Marble’s games. At E3, Blue Marble was showing off a collection of games called RESeT, which collects information about performance that therapists will be able to use to identify problems with patient cognition like memory or attention span. I was able to chat with Nina about RESeT, Blue Marble, their other upcoming game Treasure of Bell Island, and their crowd-funding attempt, Zoezi Park.
 
Jack Gardner: Why don’t you start at the beginning?
 
Nina Withrington: To start from the beginning, this is a suite of games called RESeT. It basically has two parts: An assessment section and an intervention section. These games were made with funding from the Department of Defense for mild traumatic brain injury for the soldiers and veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan to serve them, because [brain injuries are] a big issue in that population. So, what we’ve done, we have a research team in-house, which I am a part of. I am a physical therapist. Bonnie here is an occupational therapist with a PhD in metrics and math and the owner of the company is a physical therapist and has a PhD in neural science.
 
Garnder: Wow, so you’re a bunch of smart cookies!
 
Withrington: [Laughs] We’re doing all right, we’re doing all right. Yeah, between us we have 75 years of clinical experience. It is really great that we get to work with a team of game designers, programmers, and artists to build these games from the ground up with clinical input in mind. So, going to the literature [and seeing] the current clinical guidelines, the evidence, what clinicians are using, and then inputting that into the game. That’s the whole idea behind this.
 
[Gesturing to the table-sized touchscreen computer on which RESeT is running, Withrington begins flicking through the menus, showing me different features.]
 

 
So, this is the assessive portion. You can see that it challenges different things that can be impaired in brain injuries: visual perception, visual-spatial inattention, memory, attention, executive function, which is organization and planning, coordination, and patient recorded outcomes. So, the game I’m going to show you here is called Asteroid Adventures and this is an assessment of executive function. It is our gamified version of a common test used in the clinic called 'the trail-making test.'
 
[I took a couple seconds to look the game over. It appeared to consist of identifying the patter and order of numbers and letters in the sand and pressing them in the right order. As I am playing, matching the correct pattern, Withrington continues to talk.]
 
The traditional test is done on paper with circles and a pencil. That’s the difference. Running in the background of all these games is a database that tracks every tap that is made on the screen. From that we can figure out what someone’s response time was, where they made an error, and what they did after they made an error. Did they keep tapping that same thing? Did they pause and make the same error? Did they pause and then make the right choice? That can tell us a lot about what is going on while they are doing an assessment. Another thing, on a big table like this we also know where you touched.
 
[Withrington pulls out her laptop and shows me a map of the Asteroid Adventures. The image is identical to the game I just played, but there are red marks across the left side of the screen, while the right side is relatively clear.]
 
This is actually some data from a person with a brain injury who played this in our offices and what you can see is that all of his mistakes were made on the left side of the screen. What that tells us is that he has some inattention to that side, which is common in brain injury, not necessarily in mild traumatic brain injury, but more severe brain injuries. We can collect that data, which is kind of neat. Let me show you one more thing… We’ll do the same test one more time, but a different version of it…. Just so you know, this suite of games is going to be at the clinical trials at Cedars-Saini* this summer. So, it will be a validation study of the assessment portion. Which is very exciting for us. Another thing about our games is that they are levelled, so that someone who is healthy can play these games and have just as much fun as someone with impairments. So, they level up and then they level down to a lower level. So, that way, if someone is going through the rehabilitation process their family can play with them, and they can play with their friends and they have something to talk about besides their injury. Which I think is really awesome, personally. I am going to show you one more evaluation. This is the same thing, but in this one, there is a line being drawn.
 
Gardner: So, same kind of deal as before.
 
Withrington: Yep, it is the same thing. The major difference being that you are getting this additional queue, right, so you know where you’ve been. Then I can show you the data and show you why that is interesting.
 
[In the interest of time, Withrington does the level herself, performing admirably despite the level being upside down from her point of view, and once more pulls out her laptop to show me data.]
 
This is what I wanted to show you. This blue line is the sandbox one, where you get this queue of where you’ve been, the line. This red one here is the one where you don’t get that queue. This was done with the same player with brain injury. You can see when he has the queue, he goes really fast in the sandbox. When he doesn’t have the queue, it takes him 3-4 times as long. That is a memory issue, where was I last? Trials B, where you switch between number and letter, he does about the same on both, which tells us he primary problem is memory, not flexible thinking. That’s the kind of granular data that you can glean from something that is on a platform like this and gives you data in the background. All of our games port to tablets and they play on the PC as well, so there are lots of platforms for them.
 
We also have another game called Treasure of Bell Island, which is a strategic adventure game, and what happens is- I don’t have a tablet right now, but the player has a cast of characters and they have to solve the mystery of an island. They have to explore the island, they have to hunt to feed their crew, they have to keep their crew sheltered, and all of these things as they go along solving this mystery and collecting golden bells. Each of the mini-games challenges a different aspect of cognition, memory, attention, and executive function. So, there is a whole narrative, you have a purpose, and it is real-life, you have to think about others, not just yourself. So, that is a really great, fun game that we are doing as well.
 
 
Gardner: Over time do these kinds of games improve that kind of mental cognition?
 
Withrington: That’s a great question. These were literally just built.
 
Gardner: So, we don’t know yet.
 
Withrington: So, we don’t know yet, that’s the answer. But, we have taken the evidence from the literature and I can say they do challenge all of the impairments, but whether that will translate into real world will take lots of studies to figure out over years. In the meantime, this is what we’ve got and it can be used, in my estimation. Especially when you consider that therapists are taking games off the shelf and trying to make those work. Saying, ‘well, at least I am getting this challenged a little bit.’ You know, they are looking at it from a task analysis perspective and saying, ‘what is being challenged here and can I make that work?’
 
Gardner: Is this available now?
 
Withrington: It will be available soon. Very, very soon.
 
Gardner: And people would just be able to buy this on the Apple App Store, or…?
 
Withrington: They could buy it from our website. That will be the first place you will be able to buy it. We’re not quite on iPad yet. We are working hard to get there, we have a preliminary build, but hopefully we will be. That’s the plan. But it can be played on PC if someone wanted to play on PC.
 
Gardner: What is this going to cost? Will it be free?
 
Withrington: No, that’s a great question. I am not the business person for Blue Marble, but I do know that we are committed to making these affordable. It will never cost more than an off-the-shelf game or what you would spend on a regular app. What would probably cost more would be if you wanted to know the data all the time. That takes a lot more maintenance on our end. But certainly, just to buy the game would be, you know, an average priced game, even though it has so much more going into it, like actual research.
 
Gardner: When someone buys the game, how do they access the data?
 
Withrington: The data is online. They can log in and see it there.
 
Gardner: Would therapists be prescribing these games?
 
Withrington: What’s great about our model here is that it could just be used by someone picking it up and wanting to use it or you can work with a therapist if you have impairments. The way I see these cognitive games is that they could be used as brain games too, because they level so high. But if you do have impairments, you probably should work with a therapist so they can help you through the game and develop strategies for you. In this game we have lots of mini-games as you go up in levels that challenge certain things specifically, so if a therapist has assessed someone, they can say, ‘you know, focus on these challenges, and don’t worry so much about these.’
 
Gardner: Are you working with other physical therapists not associated with the development?
 
Withrington: Yes, all throughout our design process. It is what we call user-centered design. We go out and do focus groups with all of our end-users. That is clinicians, people with disabilities, caregivers, and family members. We get everybody’s input: What would be fun, what doesn’t work here, does this mechanic really disturb your vision, etc. We have to consider things like that. There are certain mechanics that we can’t do in games here. Is the art too complicated? These are things that are all barriers for [people with brain injuries to enjoy] entertainment games.
 

 
Gardner: Can you tell me a little bit about how Blue Marble started?
 
Withrington: Yes, absolutely. Dr. Sheryl Flynn is our CEO. She is a physical therapist and has a PhD in neural Science. She won a grant from the Department of Defense to make the Treasure of Bell Island game, which was our first game.
 
Gardner: Treasure of Bell Island is out right now?
 
Withrington: Almost. We just redid the art. So, probably in a month or two, that game will be out.
 
Gardner: Also on the same platforms as RESeT?
 
Withrington: Yes, on tablet and PC, working on the [iOS] process. So, anyway, she won the grant from the government to make that one and then we got a grant to make RESeT and we had gotten another small grant to create a prototype for a game that helps prevent falls in older adults, and that small grant enabled us to create a very basic prototype with just one or two exercises in it, but we want to put in a whole suite of exercises from the Otago exercise program, which has been shown to prevent falls in older adults by 35%. We would love to get the generations playing together and doing that. We are doing crowd funding to raise money to hopefully be able to build out that game. It is Whenyouwish.com and the game is called Zoezi Park and Zoezi is Swahili for exercise. Because you have to train balance to maintain balance and I know as our population ages it is a very big public health issue and just a caring-about-our-seniors issue. 
 
I think that what Blue Marble Games is trying to do is pretty great, and not something that we see very often in the video game industry. Check out their products and their stuff if you want to see something unique in the industry.
 
For more information on RESeT go here.
 
*Cedars-Saini is a non-profit hospital that also functions as an academic center for health science.
Jack Gardner

 
Fans of ridiculously silly, over-the-top, crazy flight combat games rejoice! Namco Bandai Games has proclaimed that a new Ace Combat is on the way.
 
Announced last Friday, we know only a few tantalizing tidbits. It will be available via PSN, but no other methods of distribution have been talked about, making it likely that it will be a downloadable only title. The new Ace Combat will take place in the real world and have something to do with meteors, a world war, and impractical super-weapons. You can watch the teaser trailer for yourself below.
 
 
Ace Combat Infinity is projected to release on September 25, 2013.
Jack Gardner

 
While at E3, I had a chance to sit down with a few of the people from Gaijin Games, the developer behind the Bit.Trip series to talk with them about the challenges of porting Runner2 to Vita and what it is like to be an indie developer in this day and age. The three members of the team that I had the pleasure of talking with during the interview were Danny Johnson – Designer Extraordinaire, Dant Rambo – Associate Producer (with the coolest name ever), and Chris Meyer – 3D Artist and Dream Maker.
 
(Note: Gaijin's official job titles probably do not include “extraordinaire,” “(with the coolest name ever),” or “dream maker,” but that doesn’t mean they don’t apply)
 
---
 
Danny Johnson: With the Vita Version, we heard the feedback from a lot of fans that there was a desire to get the game on Vita. We’ve heard from other independent developers that their games had done really well on the Vita and stuff like that, so it was a market that we really wanted to go after. It is just that we hadn’t scheduled to do it at the beginning of the project, so we finished the main game up on consoles and then have been doing the Vita version amongst other things. So, basically what we have to show is Runner2. It’s all of Runner2. It’s, you know, the same game, but on handheld. We’ve retained everything from the console version, so I think that’s pretty impressive.
 

 
Jack Gardner: So, you heard from other people that it would be good to have it on the Vita. What specifically makes Runner2 good to have on Vita?
 
DJ: I think part of it is that we heard there was a bit of a different audience on Vita versus even on the PS3. People just, you know, want to play it [on the go] or just as their main device or they don’t like playing consoles, I don’t know. I think the big thing was that people wanted access to the game without having to sit at home, [laughs] which, you know, is understandable these days.  
 
Dant Rambo: I guess I’d also add that it is cool to be a part of the big indie push on Vita, which is nuts.
 
Chris Meyer: Sony in general, not just Vita, is really embracing the indies.
 
JG: Did Sony approach you guys about putting it on the Vita?
 
DJ: I’m sure they kinda nudged us and said, ‘so you’re gonna put it on the Vita, right?’ You know? So we’ve kept in contact with them all throughout development, just making sure things were going all right. They definitely like to see stuff on the Vita. We kind of had that idea that we wanted to do it and it was a little bit of seeing how it goes and when can we fit it in and now is the time.
 
JG: Are there a lot of challenges involved in taking a game that was made with consoles in mind and putting it on a handheld? Artistically, programming-wise, etc.?
 
DJ: I think the ideal is that we could bring the same exact game and put it on handhelds. I mean, at this point we’ve only been working on it for about a month or so, but we’ve got it running. We just need a lot of the little optimization stuff and to work out the kinks. But it seems like it has been pretty good, pretty easy. You know, always bringing a game to a new platform brings a new set of challenges, but the whole thing is that we are looking to retain the main game and keep it at a solid frame rate.
 
CM: We just don’t want to trim it down. We don’t want to give handheld users a lesser experience.
 
DR: And it is also cool that it is level-based, so it already lends itself well to being on a mobile device, so you can pick it up and play it for five minute or for hours.
 

 
JG: With the PS4 coming out soon, will Runner2 be available on the PS4?
 
DR: That’s not out of the question.
 
DJ: Yeah, I think part of it was we were waiting to see how their backwards compatibility was going to work and if you could still play it on PS4. I think they’ve said they have some streaming capabilities, but I think it is possible that we would port it up to PS4. Who knows if we would add stuff or what, but the whole thing about Runner2 was we didn’t want to leave it out of the hands of anyone. We wanted to make sure that anyone who wanted to play the game could play the game. So, we put it on whatever we could.
 
JG: Alright, makes sense. Are there plans to create a follow-up or branch out into different explorations of the concept?
 
DJ: Um… There is still stuff yet to be done on Runner2. We’re not going to go into that quite yet, but we are not done with Runner2, but definitely at this point we are looking into other avenues, other games, future projects, a couple of exciting possibilities, but that stuff is still probably a little ways out. But we have been toying with smaller stuff and bigger stuff, so… yeah.
 
JG: Has the reception of the game been pretty good today? 
 
DR: Yeah, I would say so. I haven’t heard anything negative. Even people who had never played it on console seemed to really enjoy playing it.
 
CM: There are also a lot of fans who have already played it, beaten it, one-hundred percent-ed it that want to play it again on their Vita. [Laughs]
 
DJ: The console version was so well rated, that we hope it would bring out the people who are interested on Vita.
 
JG: Yeah, that’s always the mark of a- [clattering noise] Always the mark of a great game when someone throws their pen in the middle of an interview. [laughter] When people like the game so much that they want to buy it again so that they can play it again.
 
DJ: We certainly love how the fans have accepted the game and gone far beyond what we would expect. Like, one-hundred percent-ing the whole game and posting videos on YouTube.
 
DR: One related anecdote to that, is that someone on Twitter said that they one-hundred percent-ed it and then deleted their save file so that they could start again. That was nuts.
 
JG: Wow, I don’t know of anyone that actually deletes their save file…
 
DR: At least not intentionally. [Laughs]
 

 
JG: So, about how big is your team at Gaijin?
 
DR: It is nine, I can confirm.
 
DJ: Nine full-time, I think we have two or three contractors.
 
JG: And how involved is Sony in the process of creating a game like Runner2?
 
DJ: I’m not the person that they deal with, but I think that they just sort of make sure that things are going well for us, that we have the stuff we need. I think the PS4 dev kit came before we even ordered it or anything, so we were like, ‘Oh, awesome! We’ll have to check this out!’
 
JG: They are kind of hands off when it comes to-
 
DJ: Yeah, I mean they’ll talk to us when we need to. I mean we have some people over there that we know pretty well and will answer our questions if we need them.
 
JG: But it is a pretty good relationship?
 
DJ: Yeah, we definitely like them. We make them happy and they make us happy. Everyone wins.
 
DR: It is a good relationship.
 
JG: I’m just wondering with the whole indie push coming out of Sony and the implosion of Microsoft’s indie stuff, people have been kind of wondering about indie development on consoles and for big companies like Microsoft and Sony. They’ve hear a lot about how terrible Microsoft has been for developers, but I haven’t heard a lot of people talking about Sony.
 
DJ: Part of it was, you know with all the console makers, they have a lot of guidelines that you need to go through. Some of them make it easier or harder for you, which is a bit rough. We kind of like the Steam model where they are very hands off and they let you do what you need to do to make it work. It is a different approach from the consoles, but they are a little more nimble than these big corporations. I don’t know, it is tough to say.
 
DR: I guess there is a little bit more of a hurdle with Microsoft because they don’t allow you to self-publish.
 
JG: Is it hard to find a publisher for indie developers on consoles?
 
CM: If I am not mistaken, we were able to establish Gaijin Games itself as a publisher. I think we can take that route if we want to. We worked with Aksys in the past because we wanted someone to help fund our game and get it through, because that is always really beneficial to a small team to see if they can get a game out there. But we’ve allowed ourselves the ability to self-publish on some of the platforms. Whenever that option is available we like to do it, but whenever there is publisher assistance then that is also pretty helpful.
 
DR: This isn’t even related to us, but I met someone in the Sony booth today who had an idea for a game and they said Sony and Nintendo wanted to play ball right away, but he was here trying to find a publisher for Microsoft. Which isn’t to say that it is harder or easier.
 
DJ: And I mean, we’ve talked with Microsoft, and they do support developers. It is just that they have a different approach to who they want on their system. It’s not a terrible approach or anything like that, it is just that they have their own mindset. Sony seems to be more, ‘we’ll take any cool games we can get,’ whereas Microsoft is a bit more exclusive with their stuff.
 
DR: One last thing: The intended launch window for the Vita version of Runner2 is between mid-July and mid-August.
 
JG: If you loved Runner2, you’ll love Runner2 on Vita.
 
DR: You’ll love playing it on the toilet!
 
CM: That’s the new feature. [Laughter]
 
 
Runner2, fully titled Bit.Trip Presents Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien, is a side-scrolling platformer currently available for Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U, PC, and Mac. The Vita version, as stated in the interview, will release sometime between mid-July and mid-August.
Jack Gardner

 
The Lost Planet series is a bit of a gaming anomaly. The first game, Lost Planet: Extreme Condition, gave players robotic suits of armor called Vital Suits, a grappling hook, and giant enemy monsters to shoot. The gameplay was pretty straightforward and the game world was refreshing and fun, but the story was the special kind of so-bad-its-good. All of these elements combined to create a pretty enjoyable game. Extreme Condition also had an online multiplayer component, which became the main focus of Lost Planet 2. Many people felt alienated by the shift in direction from the first Lost Planet game and most people assumed that the series died after the sequel.
 

 
Then, Capcom did the unthinkable. They decided to try and revitalize the series with a story driven, single-player experience. Early trailers showed a bearded man both in and out of a gigantic Vital Suit fighting off Akrid, insect-like enemies that were the mainstays of the previous two titles. This seemed like a step in the right direction for a series seemingly back from the dead.
 
I was able to play the single-player demo and what I saw was in desperate need of last minute tweaking. Picking up the single-player, I was thrust into a boss battle against a giant ice worm. The creature thrashed at the room sending claws through the broken window and occasionally spitting larva reminiscent of the face-huggers from the Alien series. All of the elements were present for a thrilling, satisfying battle. Unfortunately, the sheer amount of health the ice worm had made this battle last for nearly seven minutes. During that time I stood in one place constantly shooting at the worm, occasionally turning to take care of the face-huggers. After defeating the worm, I ran through some hallways of the destroyed facility before running onto a platform outside and waited for an elevator. Surprise! The worm appeared again and a repeat of the last encounter began. I stood still and shot at the giant worm and its larva for a prolonged period of time until the elevator arrived. Then I got into a giant Vital Suit to fight the worm in close-quarters-combat. What I thought would be an awesome culmination of the demo, possibly redeeming the lackluster combat up until that point, turned out to be a difficult quick-time-event to which I died repeatedly. After pressing on through the frustration generated by the ice worm sequence, I encountered a cutscene which sets up the story of Lost Planet 3.
 

 
Visually, Lost Planet 3 is gorgeous. Snow swirls, creatures and VSs look appropriately amazing, fantastic, and cool, and the animations are smooth and pleasing. The cutscenes in particular were dazzling and left me wanting to just watch a Lost Planet CG film. However, in pretty much every other area I found Lost Planet 3 to be in need of some polish. Many of the sound effects seemed to be place-holders, guns made strange, unsatisfying, and decidedly un-gunlike noises. The music would probably have been pretty great, but after spending twenty minutes listening to the same, looped orchestral track it began to wear a bit thin. The gameplay seemed sluggish and unresponsive, moving from cover to cover seemed to take too long and the aiming felt slippery.

To be fair, most of my time spent in single-player was standing stationary and holding down the shoulder button to shoot. This is mostly a balancing issue that could be taken care of with a bit of effort between now and release. It remains to be seen if these problems will persist into the full retail release or if I happened to play through a particularly frustrating part of the game.
 
 
Lost Planet 3 is being developed by Spark Unlimited and published by Capcom. Expect to see it hitting stores August 27 for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC. 
Jack Gardner

 
For people who may not be familiar with Octodad, you play as an octopus that masquerades as a human and tries to perform mundane tasks like walking or using forks without alerting normal humans that he is, in fact, an octopus. During E3, I was able to sit down and play as the sneaky cephalopod on the PS4. 
 
The demo of Dadliest Catch (by the way, how can you NOT love such a terrible/hilarious play on Deadliest Catch?) tasked me with making it to my wedding without drawing too much attention to my rather obvious tentacles. Shoulder buttons control leg movements in conjunction with the analog sticks, while tapping one of the face buttons allows you to control one of the hand-tentacles to grab and manipulate objects. While the controls seem simple, deadliest Catch goes to great lengths to inform players that if an octopus was to put on a man’s suit, tie, and pants, it would be very difficult for that aquatic creature to assume the role of a father. By using the octopus’ natural (See: completely unnatural) ability to walk and pick up things, players will need to figure out the best way to complete objectives like cooking dinner or putting a wedding ring on a beloved’s hand. Often, picking up a single object or walking in a straight line results in hilarious destruction and much limb flailing.
 

 
I began by having to put on a bowtie, which proved incredibly disastrous, as I sent wedding gifts scattering across the floor before falling onto a table, burying myself underneath a mountain of presents. When I tried to rise up, like a beautiful, aquatic phoenix, I smashed a few of the gifts through the stained-glass window of the church. Luckily, no one was around to observe my miserable performance and I was able to saunter away from the wreckage of my bowtie adventure, whistling innocently (or whatever the cephalopod equivalent of whistling would be). Following the bowtie escapade, I needed to walk down the aisle of a church to get married to my human bride. On the way, I wobbled from right to left, knocking over several pillars that lined the pews and nearly falling over multiple times, all while the digital wedding-goers wondered at my clumsiness. If these missteps occur too often while other people can see you, they will begin to get suspicious and eventually see through the ruse, resulting in a game over. Luckily, I successfully made it to my bride, after which I needed to make my way to a nearby chest and retrieve the wedding ring. Retrieving the ring with little effort (okay, I might have thrown a ton of jewels out of the chest all over the church altar), I carefully placed the ring into the possession of my bride. And just like that, the demo was over. 
 

 
I could tell you a lot of things about Octodad: Dadliest Catch. I could say that the animations are amazingly funny; that the ridiculousness of the premise is really enjoyable if you can find some modicum of joy in your heart; that the team at Young Horses has put a lot of genuine heart into Dadliest Catch. I could say those things. But I think what really speaks for the game is that throughout the entire demo I couldn’t stop smiling and laughing.
 
 
Dadliest Catch is a direct sequel to the original PC game (which can be downloaded here) and will be releasing on PC, Mac, Linux, and PS4 sometime this year.
Jack Gardner

 
One of the biggest “huh” moments of E3, overshadowed by the console war between the PS4 and Xbox One, was the revelation that a new game based on the 1980 film Mad Max was in the works by Avalanche Studios simply titled Mad Max. We were given a live, hands-off demonstration of Mad Max in action. How does Max hold up in the 21st century?
 
Slated as a next-gen, open-world title, Mad Max will put players in the boots of the titular Max himself as he struggles to reclaim his classic Interceptor car from the marauders of the post-apocalyptic wasteland in which the game is set. Along the way, Max is aided by the twisted genius of the deformed Chum Bucket, a mechanic who builds Max a new vehicle called the Magnum Opus, which can be upgraded in a variety of different ways.
 
In the demonstration, Max needed to get to a place called Gas Town for unspecified reasons. Along the way, he saw some wrecked cars along the road and stopped to scavenge them for supplies. Scavenging will be an integral part of surviving in Mad Max and will net you all kinds of new equipment and upgrades. By searching the wreckage, Max walked away with a beat-up, but serviceable harpoon cannon. This new weapon was put to use a few moments later when Max was ambushed by bandits while driving toward Gas Town. Using the harpoon cannon rips pieces of other cars off, exposing enemies or even destroying the vehicle outright. During this encounter, one of the bandits managed to jump onto the roof of the Magnum Opus and started trying to get into the car. The demonstrator took the opportunity to show off how the game’s physics can be used to repel boarders, swerving to and fro, eventually dislodging the tenacious bandit.
 

 
After the dust had settled, we were told that if we went back and searched the bodies and vehicles, we could probably find more cool stuff, but in the interest of time we pressed on. The map system in place right now looks like a placeholder for the final design, but it functions. Really important areas will be highlighted on the map, but random encounters, roving bands of marauders, and smaller sidequests will not be. While the roads are always the safest routes to take, players will be able to cut through the more dangerous wilderness to find riches and glory. Off-road exploration of the desert wastes will be necessary to find some of the coolest gear and locations.
 
Encountering a bandit camp roadblock and an entrenched sniper, Max stepped out of the Magnum Opus to take care of both on foot. The combat in Mad Max is brutal and intense. Max will use whatever he can to best his adversaries, be it fists, shotguns, or explosive harpoons. Using these weapons, Max caused havoc in the camp and destroyed the roadblock before sneaking up behind the sniper to finish him off with a silent takedown. It was at this point that the demonstrator paused to make it clear that Mad Max is not a stealth game, nor do they encourage that type of play, but there are times when you can make use of the element of surprise.
 
After taking the sniper’s rifle and making his way back to the Opus, Max continued on his way, before encountering a walled fortress blocking his route. The gates of the fortress glowed red, alerting players that the Opus would need to be upgraded before being able to bash through them. This is where the team at Avalanche has tried to make Mad Max shine. There are numerous ways to approach a combat scenario: head-on with guns blazing, long range sniping/mortar attacks, by using vehicles, etc.
 
In the demo, Max used his newly acquired sniper rifle to take out a couple of sentries on the fort’s walls. This caused an alarm to go up and loud bells began clanging within the enemy camp. Max had awoken the horde, which began pouring from the now open gate. Running back to the Magnum Opus, Max jumped in and floored the accelerator, rushing straight into the oncoming sea of marauders. Then the screen faded to the slogan for the title, “Only the savage survive.”
 

 
Everything we saw was from a pre-alpha version of Mad Max, and is subject to change as the final version is still quite a ways off. To be honest, not much is known about the game, but from what I saw I thought it looked like an intense, visceral, and potentially fun experience. Look for Mad Max in 2014 on Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
Jack Gardner

 
UPDATE: Don Mattrick, Microsoft's president of interactive entertainment has released an official statement on Microsoft's stance change. Below you can find his full statement.
 
Last week at E3, the excitement, creativity and future of our industry was on display for a global audience.

For us, the future comes in the form of Xbox One, a system designed to be the best place to play games this year and for many years to come. As is our heritage with Xbox, we designed a system that could take full advantage of advances in technology in order to deliver a breakthrough in game play and entertainment. We imagined a new set of benefits such as easier roaming, family sharing, and new ways to try and buy games. We believe in the benefits of a connected, digital future.

Since unveiling our plans for Xbox One, my team and I have heard directly from many of you, read your comments and listened to your feedback. I would like to take the opportunity today to thank you for your assistance in helping us to reshape the future of Xbox One.

You told us how much you loved the flexibility you have today with games delivered on disc. The ability to lend, share, and resell these games at your discretion is of incredible importance to you. Also important to you is the freedom to play offline, for any length of time, anywhere in the world.

So, today I am announcing the following changes to Xbox One and how you can play, share, lend, and resell your games exactly as you do today on Xbox 360. Here is what that means:

An internet connection will not be required to play offline Xbox One games – After a one-time system set-up with a new Xbox One, you can play any disc based game without ever connecting online again. There is no 24 hour connection requirement and you can take your Xbox One anywhere you want and play your games, just like on Xbox 360.

Trade-in, lend, resell, gift, and rent disc based games just like you do today – There will be no limitations to using and sharing games, it will work just as it does today on Xbox 360.

In addition to buying a disc from a retailer, you can also download games from Xbox Live on day of release. If you choose to download your games, you will be able to play them offline just like you do today. Xbox One games will be playable on any Xbox One console -- there will be no regional restrictions.

These changes will impact some of the scenarios we previously announced for Xbox One. The sharing of games will work as it does today, you will simply share the disc. Downloaded titles cannot be shared or resold. Also, similar to today, playing disc based games will require that the disc be in the tray.

We appreciate your passion, support and willingness to challenge the assumptions of digital licensing and connectivity. While we believe that the majority of people will play games online and access the cloud for both games and entertainment, we will give consumers the choice of both physical and digital content. We have listened and we have heard loud and clear from your feedback that you want the best of both worlds.

Thank you again for your candid feedback. Our team remains committed to listening, taking feedback and delivering a great product for you later this year.
 
It is good to know that even a giant corporation like Microsoft can understand which way the wind is blowing. If you didn't feel like reading the full statement, Mattrick clarified the following things:
 
Downloaded games can still be accessed anywhere at any times, but disc-based games cannot, unless you have the disc. This effectively ends the "you can take your library with you" line that Microsoft was trying to sell.
  You will need to download a day-one patch in order to disable the Xbox One's 24-hour check-in component.
  The regional restrictions on the Xbox One have been lifted. You can buy an Xbox One from anywhere in the world and it will play Xbox One games from anywhere in the world.
  Original story: In a stunning turn of events, Microsoft has revised its policies on 24-hour required system check-ins for the Xbox one and used game DRM that would restrict the resale of games.
 
The reversal of Microsoft's stance for the Xbox One was likely in response to Sony's PlayStation 4 press conference during E3, after which they received numerous complains and were on the receiving end of pretty intense consumer hatred. You can check out the important points over on their official site, or read the important bullet points below.
 
- Though the Xbox One is still designed to be connected to the internet, it will no longer cease playing games after 24-hours pass in an offline state.
 
- The Xbox one will not have used game DRM that prohibits or restricts the sale of used games. There will be no additional hoops to go through if you want to lend a game to a friend or trade your game in for cash or store credit.
 
Needless to say, this is incredibly unexpected and has left most of the folks across the industry feeling like the gif below.
 

We'll continue to monitor the story as it develops.
  • Member Statistics

    8,189
    Total Members
    877
    Most Online
    Keevo
    Newest Member
    Keevo
    Joined
  • Who's Online   0 Members, 0 Anonymous, 24 Guests (See full list)

    There are no registered users currently online