Abyss Odyssey Asks You To Beat Time (and Plenty of Bad People) On PC, PS3 & Xbox 360

AO_WPACE Team’s games have ranged from the extremely strange (Zeno Clash, Zeno Clash 2) to the somewhat stranger (Rock of Ages), so it’s a fine thing indeed to see them making a more straightforward game in Abyss Odyssey, set to hit PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 on June 15 for $14.99 (or 9.99 if you pre-order the game on Steam, you lucky PC owners you!).

abyss_shot_pit According to Atlus, the game is “a new side-scrolling action adventure game featuring a complex fighting engine in procedurally generated levels”, which means no two players should see the exact same levels as they play. Gameplay will seem familiar to fans of Dragon’s Crown on the PS3 and Vita, but like that VanillaWare instant classic, AO owes a lot to gaming’s past on a few fronts.

screen1_plantworld01 screen2_bossfight08 screen3_caverns15 screen4_plantworld03 abyss_shot_deertaur abyss_shot_park

As you can see above, the art style here is certainly gorgeous, as is most of the animation, going for a mix of realism in the character models and lush fantasy elements in those lovely environments and enemies. Additionally, making a female one of the playable characters from the outset is a smart move, as a game such as this will have a wider appeal with the addition of a lady who can hold her own with the tough guys here.

That said, it’s too bad this isn’t on a disc, as I know a few folks who aren’t fond of digital all that much who’d LOVE this game to death. Oh well – I suppose one day Atlus will gather all of ACE’s games up and stick them onto a Blu-Ray for a limited retail release at some point. Or at least realize that not everyone prefers the “convenience” of not owning a physical product you can lend to someone without having to rely on the internet to make that loan or trade possible. Anyway, this one looks like an instant BUY in my book.

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South Park: The Stick of Truth Now Available: Obsidian’s Got A Solid Hit, It Seems…

 
I normally avoid reading other reviews until after I write my own, but the two I’ve seen for this game are pretty favorable and only knock the game for some bugs and technical issues that need patching up and some repetition in attack animations (a common complaint for RPGs for ages). This bodes well for developer Obsidian and publisher Ubisoft, who rescued the game from oblivion after original publisher THQ folded a few years back. Now, if only Obsidian could get a few more RPGs made using a similar combat engine (but a different visual style), I’d be even happier. Well, this goes on the buy list and in the “Play It!” queue (which has grown by a few too many titles as of late).

Thirteen Minutes of South Park: The Stick of Truth: Obsidian Nails It Quite Well Indeed…

 
While I’m not what I’d call a regular viewer of South Park, I’ve seen enough episodes of the show that I have to give veteran developer Obsidian huge credit for getting it right. I love how the game pokes at some traditional RPG/JRPG tropes (gotta love that main character with amnesia and no speaking voice!) while also nailing the rhythm of the show in the editing and other bits. It’s a good thing Ubisoft picked this up after original publisher THQ went under, as it’s got hit written all over it (provided you’re a fan of the show, of course). How this will do outside the show’s base is tough to say, as I know some folks despise the art style and limited animation the show uses. I’m not one of those, by the way. Anyway, March 4 is the big day for this one, so keep an eyeball peeled if you haven’t placed a pre-order yet. I have the feeling this may sell out in a few spots and be one of those overpriced eBay titles if it scores highly with the critics and people make it a surprise sleeper hit. Yeah, it’s NOT supposed to be for the kids, but you know how THAT always goes with South Park games, right?

Pac-Man Museum: Namco Bandai’s Fast Moving Fossil Still Rules.

 
I can’t recall a year since 1980 that Pac-Man wasn’t playable on something so it’s good to see Namco Bandai keeping things rolling along with this latest collection that focuses exclusively on everyone’s favorite power pellet chomping, ghost chasing (or avoiding) round yellow hero. PSN, Xbox Live Arcade (February 25) and PC via Steam (February 26). You know you want to play even if you’re not a gamer. Hey, EVERYONE is lousy at Pac-Man until they suddenly get really good at it from playing too much. And if you don’t think that will happen, a ha ha ha… you’ll see. You’ll be dreaming of colorful ghosts and those oddball sound effects soon enough.

Humor? So, Microsoft Says NOT To Stand That Xbox One On Its Side… Or Else.

XBOX_ONEGiven that the current model Xbox 360 can indeed be placed upright (although it can lead to disc scratching if the surface it’s placed on isn’t perfectly level and subject to being bumped into while playing a game or watching a DVD), it’s a given that some owners of the upcoming Xbox One will be looking to do the same with Microsoft’s new system.

However, according to this GameSpot UK article, a company representative says vertical orientation isn’t how the new console was designed. Of course, there will be a ton of hard-headed or space in that entertainment center challenged gamers who won’t follow the company’s “suggestions” at all or try out that standing position just once to “see if it works”, and you can never stop those folks from doing what they do.

On the other hand, I personally feel that there’s another, far sinister reason they don’t want you to stand that thing up… especially if you happen to do so and place that new, improved Kinect on the now top part of the system and power the thing on. To wit (actual test footage stolen from a Microsoft test facility):

(thanks, Donald Carten!)

Remember, you’ve been warned!

Orc Attack Double Blast: This Was My Stomach Earlier Today!

OK, I know, I know… “eww!” and TMI, am I right? Anyway, I was supposed to pop in to a big TV/Entertainment conference this morning, but something I ate last night put me out of commission for the better part of today. Lots of water and rest later after Mr. Toad’s Wilder ride (yes, my toilet has a new pet name), I’m up and much better, but as usual, a bit behind in my work. Oh well, but these new Orc Attack: Flatulent Rebellion trailers made my day go, er… smoother by giving me some laugh power (which is ALWAYS great for any sort of pain). So, now you know… and knowing is half the battle! The other half is too yucky to talk about, but use your imagination.

Anyway, now that you’re all turning green, I guess I can inform you that Orc Attack is launching this fall on XBLA, PSN, and PC. More to come on this “hack ‘n gas” game soon…

Shantae Is BACK… As A Kickstarter Project Well Worth Funding!

Shantae_Half-Genie Hero KS

After a pretty crappy early part of the day… now I actually feel like dancing around the room (but I’m in the library today and that’s not a really good idea). Anyway, WayForward Technologies is indeed working on a new Shantae game for anything that can play it (consoles and PC are the main targets) and YES, you should drop a few bucks to fund it for the stretch goals to make it even better. Here’s a peek at the pitch:

Shantae: Half-Genie Hero is the name of the game and it’s already set for a release on a few platforms (it’s already confirmed for Wii U, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One and Windows PC via Steam), but WayForward wants to make the game even bigger and is offering up some awesome bonuses as well as cool stretch goals if they fly way over their target. You know the drill: You have a month to pledge (well, 29 days and counting down) and this one’s worth your time to check out just because you’re a fan of the company’s work or you’ve never played a cute as hell platformer with a genie (or half-genie) before and Shantae’s shimmy has you intrigued.

I used to work in a game shop years back and I actually passed up the chance to buy a copy of the original Shantae, which was a DUMB move on my part as that old Game Boy Color title fetches a few hundred bucks thanks to a low production run (and the fact that the game is really fantastic). I’ve missed out on the sequels thanks to them being digital only (boo!), but I’m backing this new game because it’s coming out on a few platforms I can actually get it for (I’ll probably get a Wii U version just to use that GamePad more than I currently do). Anyway, I’m off to that screening I noted in the above post – go make WayForward happier and pledge towards this instant classic, I say…

Shantae Kickstarter

Hands-On With Pac-Man Championship DX: Dot’s Entertainment (And How!)

Pac_Man_Championship_DXAs an old fogey, I can’t recall a year not going by since 1980 without playing a Pac-Man game. Granted, I’m sure a lot of other people can say that, but it’s pretty incredible that the dot-munching, ghost avoiding/chasing character has held up for over 30 years. Of course, next to the arcade classic, the best ways to play a good game of Pac-Man these days is by hopping online and getting in some quality time with the excellently addictive Pac-Man Championship Edition on the Xbox 360, which is finally getting a content upgrade soon in the form of Pac-Man Championship Edition DX. The original game was an Xbox 360 exclusive, while DX made its Windows 8 debut earlier this year. Pac-fans old and new will LOVE this one for its spin on the classic game, the funky HD neon visuals and the lighting fast pace of the game that’s bound to keep you playing ’til the wee hours…

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Noose Flash: Microsoft Caves (Temporarily, I Bet) On Some Xbox One Restrictions…

Read it and weep, or clap or run to the window and make like Peter Finch or whatever… but don’t get TOO happy, I say. Sure, Microsoft is finally listening to some of the rage (justified and unjustified) that’s been washing up over them since the reveal of the Xbox One, but the console is still packing a slew of restrictions that make it unpalatable under certain conditions. For one, a mandatory online connection is STILL required to activate the console (set up an Xbox Live account and probably check in with Kinect), meaning those gamers without broadband access at home or nearby (you know, the ones Microsoft told to buy an Xbox 360 if they wanted to play games offline?) can’t use the thing at all (duh).

That’s the main sticking point for me, but I also dislike the current licensing terms that say the product can (and will) change any time at Microsoft’s discretion. So expect things to roll back in as the system draws in suckers users who don’t mind or don’t know this until it hits them in the face when they turn on their consoles one fine day and get smacked upside the noggin with a mega-update that smarts because it’s the company thinking it’s time to move “forward”… We shall see, but I got a sack of pennies (well, 21 pennies) riding on not all going as smoothly as the company would like. Hell, at LEAST the damn box is region-free now (something the Xbox and Xbox 360 can’t claim outside of a handful of games that run on consoles in almost any territory)…

Xbox One: $499, Always Connected, HUGE Cloud Focus, New Xbox 360 Model in Stores Now…

Xbox One

Hmmmm… so it’s officially priced (429 Pounds in the UK, 499 Euros in Europe), there’s still NO explanation about the license policies (awful PR there), most of the games look really impressive and if you have no online at home… welp, you need to buy another console. Also, the major focus on Xbox Live GOLD memberships across the board, while not enforced at the press conference, means it’s probably a given that it’s going to be the sole way to go. Well, at least Microsoft Points are now in REAL currency. Finally.

Back in a bit with more…