Switch-ing: With Reservations (And Some Ironing), Yes.

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Not surprisingly, actually getting out and about to lay eyes on and try out something for oneself is a hell of a lot better than sitting on one’s rump in front of a computing device babbling nonsense about what one thinks they know about something they haven’t touched yet. Be it food, books, movies, or in this case, Nintendo’s upcoming Switch game system, you really aren’t doing anything other than heavy guessing and heavier petting of your own negativity until you try the darn thing out.

Spending about three hours with the system and way too many games for one event revealed at its recent NYC showcase reveals it’s a solid bit of kit with a few big to little issues around things like software/peripheral pricing and a to be announced (imperfect) online service that sounds as if will need some major tweaking if it’s going to compete with the (less imperfect) services Sony and Microsoft offer for their game hardware.

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Let’s get the first point out of the way: that live press conference from Japan was somewhat awful if judged by western perspectives. The droning English narration, the greatness of Goichi Suda trying to work the room off-script and failing spectacularly as he revealed work not yet started on the return of Travis Touchdown, the too-sedate responses to every announcement – none of these made for good optics.

Couple that with too many YouTubers and a few games journalists putting out quickie bash pieces so quickly that by the time a bunch of post-conference trailers that weren’t shown dropped online, many complaints about the small software lineup were rendered invalid and worse, the short attention span theater antics didn’t take into consideration that early announcements change into more concrete plans that make better sense as launch windows open.

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But let’s talk games from this point onward until I get to the problem stuff I see that needs ironing out. Continue reading

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Oh, Deer! In the Headlights, Sideways, Somewhat Allegorically

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Oh, Deer! is apt enough and more than fast enough for these testy times that I can recommend it even though I’ve yet to actually play it. Scoreless swerving past or through lines of poor digital deer is an odd metaphor for the daily careening many of us do while glued to a news source, real or “alternative facts” based, eyes wider than usual. While this may not seem all that deep, developer Necrosoft Games is proudly stating this is indeed a beta that will end up as a more fully polished product. Initially released as a 49-cent PlayStation Mobile game (I missed it on the Vita? Noooooo!), it got bumped up to subscription-only freebie beta build for Humble Monthly subscribers where it caught fire and careened into a game a lot of folks want to see get completed.

So, yeah. Get this if you’re cracking up or something. Amusingly priced at an apocalyptic $6.66, that entry fee also gets you whatever ends up being the final version of the game whenever the fine folks at Necrosoft get to completing it. Hey, the world may end before that happens or it may not. No matter what, you’ll be able to swerve past or slam sideways into all the deer you choose without guilt or incurring and insurance fee increases.

-GW

Gravity Cat: A Royal Wedding of Tech As Advertisment


 

Yep. Japan still has the coolest game promos. This one’s for Gravity Daze 2, aka Gravity Rush 2 here in the US, which is set to land on the PS4 on January 20. You don’t see TV ads this lengthy for games in North America at all outside of trade shows and media events. But I’d take a few of these fun promo clips any day over another garbage infomercial or medicine ad selling snake oil with deadly side effects followed by a legal ad asking if you’ve taken one of those drugs and suffered from side effects, ugh.

Anyway, the recent demo was great overall – check out my somewhat rushed play through below:


 

-GW

Zelda: Breath of the Wild Site Is A Breath of Fresh Air Today

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Yep. While the disappointment of the release slipping possibly into next summer is a bit annoying, the fact that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild now has an official site chock full of too much info is a really good thing. Go poke around, please. Especially if you’re a big, cranky skeptic who didn’t get the chance to play the demo this past June and think an open world Zelda is somehow a bad idea despite the series being chock full of open world goodness from the very first entry.

-GW

Home Sweet Home Will Scare The Leftover Turkey Right Out of You

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Eeek. I made it about ten minutes into the demo for Thailand-based developer YGGGAME’s upcoming horror game Home Sweet Home before tapping out for the first time, too scared out of my skull to move another inch. Of course, I wisely (or not so wisely) went back and restarted, determined to push on through my nearly squeezing my poor mouse to death. Let’s just say you’re all very fortunate I’m not some YouTube streamer with a loyal or any following, as the assorted sounds I was making were often creepier than the demo, which is absolutely nightmarish and so far, very well done.

I’ll let the official site’s version of the story lull you into its spell here:

Tim’s life has drastically changed since his wife disappeared mysteriously. One night, after suffering from sorrow for a long time, he woke up in an unknown place instead of his house. While trying to escape from this place, he was hunted by a rancorous female spirit. Can he survive? Is this place actually his house? Does it relate to the disappearance of his wife? Some dark sinister secret is hidden inside this house, and it won’t be a place of happiness as it used to be any longer.

What actually happens in the demo is you wake up with a hangover in a messy, unfamiliar bedroom you don’t recall (was that your wife’s voice telling you to get up?) and when you open the door, the stack of furniture in front of it is the first fright because it’s unexpected and wait? Was someone trying to keep you IN that room? Fortunately, there’s a flashlight under the table you’re crawling under that comes in very handy. A walk through a few filthy hallways and rooms leads to a simple puzzle where you need to find a key to get out of a suddenly locked room… but after that, it’s a descent into almost peeing yourself.

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BEVONTULE Hands-On: Liminal Effort = Maximum Results

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So, what’s a BEVONTULE, you ask? Well, first of all… you’ve very likely pronounced it wrong, so let’s go get that sorted. It’s Bay-von-chu-lay, and you quick thinking speed reading link clickers already know it’s an in-progress Unity 3D engine tactical RPG by a very dedicated team of two Portsmouth, OH natives, Derek Bradley and Andy Fenton. The Unity-powered game has been in development for a while and the recent demo kept me quite busy for a few hours. “Wait, a few HOURS?” you ask? Yep. As no save system was implemented and the gameplay was pretty solid, I kept at it and kept my laptop humming away for about four hours or so.

Granted, the demo can be completed in less time if you’re good at leveling up properly and can survive a pretty nasty boss battle. But my play style leaned heavily on hoofing it all the way back to a village you might not discover when playing the demo unless you turn around and make a beeline for it before you venture too far into danger. The spot has a few shops, an inn to heal up at and some nice treasures to find that help the cross-map journey considerably. You’ll also be able to pick up and turn in a few item fetch quests that make hoofing it back to worthwhile. Finally, heading to town resets the enemies outside, which means you can choose to fight or flee from them.

Yep, more often then not I chose to fight. Hey, a guy’s gotta level up, right?

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Busload of Horror: Or, Way Too Many Scary Games This Month, Part 1

detention-6Ha. You should see my inbox and backlog. You’d scream. A lot. Especially at all the scary games that try to elbow each other in the eyeballs for attention. Some of these end up beign great, some not so great, a few even end up like broken dolls you want to keep because they have promise but need to be taken to the toymaker and fixed up a bit. Anyway, here are (well, three at a time in this series) some quick looks at a bunch of games I liked that you may want to try… if you’re brave enough.

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arb_mainA Room Beyond: Currently up to its second of five chapters (the first one is free), René Bühling‘s excellent, distinctly smart psychological horror game does its frights up right, using a superb, intentionally crude yet perfect and gorgeous “2.5D” pixelated visual style that actually amps up the chill factor considerably. The experience is pure classic adventure/exploration game with a Lovecraftian vibe creeping throughout its narrative, but combat against creatures is a necessary and well-implemented evil in the second chapter.

From the opening moments when your character wakes up trapped in a cave and makes his way down that winding hill to a foggy village with some very strange residents, there’s a sense of uneasy dread that something terrible not only will happen, but has happened. Your character is tied into all this somehow, of course. But despite his hardiness and good intentions to help out while trying to solve his own mystery, in a way he seems not quite prepared for what’s coming. In other words, I’m hooked in for the long haul.

The official site notes A Room Beyond is “A novel story of crime, mystery and life-philosophy is told in five episodes which finally reveal into a complete story line,” which sold me right away. You can try out the FREE demo on Steam (highly recommended), but if you’re already a big horror game fan, I say just pay the $6.99 for the current build and play this at night with the lights out and a pair of headphones on for best results.

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The Silver Case Demo Hands-On: Dread, Delusion, And A Little Death

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With its October 7 release date right around the corner, Grasshopper Manufacture has released a new demo and trailer for the remastered version of The Silver Case, set to hit PC as a digital download on Playism, Steam, and the Humble Store for $19.99 (Standard Edition) or $29.99 (Deluxe Edition with a digital art book, soundtrack and comic). The new demo features two slices from the game starting with the harrowing opening chapter “lunatics”.

As I proudly still own the 1999 PlayStation import, seeing and playing this chapter all over again with enhanced visuals (and yes, in English) that still echo the original but with more detail brought a smile to my face despite the grin proceedings taking place. I won’t spoil a thing (you can and *SHOULD* give the demo a test drive) other than to say the mix of tried and true adventure gaming, unique interface and graphic novel meets cinematic presentation elements combined with a mature script will have you engrossed and enthused to play the final version. As with his other mature titles, Goichi Suda’s style is evident in the deadly manner in which some events play out, plenty of vernacular usage (hey, we’re all adults here, right?), and offbeat, welcome humor to break up the tension… or add it in cases where someone might not live.

tsc_lunatics For those of you craving physical product, you’d best move like a bullet. The fine folks at Limited Run Games are doing a fantastic (and yes, LIMITED) boxed retail version ($49.99) available for pre-order ONLY on their site until midnight, October 20. Yes, my eyeballs needed to be retrieved from under the couch after I saw this blissful box of beauty.

Inside are the following items:

  • DRM-free game disc with installer
  • Soundtrack CD
  • Artbook
  • 22-page manga
  • Two-piece manual set
  • Individually numbered box – numbers will be issued by order of purchase. The box is 7.75″ x 9.5″ x 1.75″ – the same box dimensions as many classic PC games from the 80s and 90s.
  • Game download on Steam

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Of course, broke-ass me will have to settle for a standard digital code, but I can live with that. Getting to finally play this and fully grasp the plot is well worth the long wait. Or short wait, if you’re new to the game and are holding your breath for the next 48 hours. Also, if you’re only buying the game digitally and want to do a double-take of sorts, go with the Playism version, I say. That purchase gets you a DRM-Free download as well as a Steam key, meaning you can choose to get gifty with it if you like. Hopefully the game does well enough to get console ports down the road, as it’s quite a ride and deserves to be played by as many as possible.

As usual, we shall see.

-GW

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PAC-MAN Championship Edition 2 Hands-On: PAC-ing Plenty of Heat, And Soon


 

Pac-Man CE2_game-boxBandai Namco has kept Pac-Man relevant for decades in all sorts of games, but that speedy yellow dot-gobbler is always best when things are simplest. PAC-MAN Championship Edition 2 does an excellent job at blending old and new gameplay elements that allow classic fans to dive in and play while giving newbies an actual fighting chance to keep up on the scoring front.

Some hands-on time at the company’s recent NYC event revealed a game that’s faster and more frantic than the first installment, adding new modes, fixing up a few things and overall, making for a guaranteed thrill ride experience that’s going to be hard to put down.

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Releasing digitally on Sept. 13th for $12.99 on PS4, Xbox One, and PC (via Steam), the game will “PAC”-in several modes for solo or competitive play, all featuring flashy, energetic visuals that riff on the classic arcade game flawlessly. During my ten minute session and plenty of minutes watching people dive in and play with the same “no way!” grins on their faces on a PS4 build, it was clear as a bell that the game would be a total smash when it drops next month. The non-stop action handles like a dream using the PS4 pad, so you don’t need to fret that the game needs an arcade stick. In fact, the game handles so well that I’d bet a nickel all those moms or dads who were PAC-MAN players that don’t play many modern games, but have a console or PC in the house for the kids just might get a bit scared their kids can now keep up with them in a competitive game.

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Time Attack and Adventure Mode offer up their own sets of challenges, and the while the very idea of tutorial stages to play a PAC-MAN game may seem horrifying to some stalwarts, what’s here works exceptionally well in getting everyone up to speed. New maze types and some massive boss battles in Adventure mode plus the crazy train Ghost Train stuff in the main mode will keep this one in play stacks even when the inevitable third installment arrives at some point. All I know is some of us will be taking a sick day or hoping for a rainy weekend after the game launches so we can have an excuse for staying home in our PJ’s grooving on a bit of CE2 action. Er, I’m speaking in CLEARLY hypothetical terms, of course.

The Silver Case Demo Out NOW: Get It And See Why It’s So Desired

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As someone who owns the original PlayStation game that never completed it thanks to poor Japanese language skills (hey, I’m working on it!), I’d been hoping to get some hands-on time with the recent BitSummit demo of The Silver Case even though I didn’t go to BitSummit. Thankfully, the folks at grasshopper manufacture and publisher Playism read my mind and have decided to help me (and you) out significantly.

So, what’s this all about? Watch and learn:


 

1999 – the “24 Wards”. A string of mysterious serial killings plagues the city.
The detectives of the 24 Wards Heinous Crimes Unit have their eyes on one man: Kamui Uehara, legendary serial killer and assassin of a number of government officials 20 years prior in the now-famous “Silver Case”. However, nobody knows the true identity of Kamui.

Has he really returned? Who is this infamous serial killer?

The player takes control of the protagonist, a member of the Special Forces Unit “Republic”, from a first-person perspective. The game takes inspiration from the adventure and novel genres, leading the player through an in-depth story in which the truth is gradually revealed as they solve various puzzles, offering a fresh and unique experience.

“The Silver Case” was the debut game from developer SUDA51, who has worked on “Flower, Sun and Rain”, “Killer 7”, the “No More Heroes” series, “Lollipop Chainsaw” and currently “LET IT DIE”. Now, “The Silver Case HD Remaster” will become the maiden work of Grasshopper Manufacture Inc., scheduled for release this Fall, 2016 on various PC distribution platforms.

The game will be fully remastered, while retaining the same atmosphere of the original 1999 game for Sony PlayStation, and the game will be fully localized into English for the first time, finally giving fans of SUDA51 worldwide the chance to enjoy “The Silver Case”.

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Yeah, so color me thrilled that this is coming out and sooner than later. Feel free to download it and give it a go if you’re a fan of point & click-style adventures and keep an eye peeled for more news as to the game’s release date.

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