Aliens vs. Pinball: Ripley’s Back; She’s Got Balls Now

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AliensvsPinball_Logo_FDEZenAs a longtime fan of Zen Pinball 2’s creative digital tables, I’m always surprised when I see a new board that tops what I thought was their best work. This brief teaser for the upcoming Aliens vs. Pinball: Aliens Pinball made me grin way too much (in a good way) because it looks as if it’ll be a fun skill shot paradise for silver ball fanatics.

And yes, that art above, logo to the left and screenshots below reveal the other two tables in the pack. Alien Isolation was a terrifying game in its own right, but I’m betting the pinball version will be somewhat less scary (but still a blast to play) just because Zen makes its tables for a wider age range. As for that AvP table? It should be a lot better than the films (sorry, Fox!) if it avoids them entirely and is closer to what the old Dark Horse comics were.

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As usual, we shall see soon enough. Aliens vs. Pinball will be out April 26, 2016 (ALIEN Day!) for PS4, PS3, Vita, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Steam, Windows 10, Mac, as well as in-app purchases for Zen Pinball and as a standalone app on iOS and Android devices.

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Capsule Reviews 1: Some Games You May Have Missed (Me Yak About)

Well, 2015 zipped by too quickly (he typed, knowing that the year isn’t quite over but hey, everyone else seems to be doing year-end articles) and I while didn’t get to write as many reviews as I’d have liked to, I took a ton of notes on things so I could sit down and catch up a some point. The best laid plans of mice and men (and Bemis!) often go wildly astray, so instead of long form full reviews, I’m going to do a bunch of capsule commentary on games, films and books over the next few days just so you have a little something to read when you pop by. Anyway, some quickie game impressions to get started: 

Tales of Zestiria Cast 

Tales of Zestiria (PS4/PS3/PC, $59.99/$49.99 respectively) – Namco’s Tales Studio pulls out all the stops in this latest installment in the long running JRPG franchise (15 Tales to date!) with a game that’s part throwback and homage to the first Tales (of Phantasia) back on the Super Famicom while bringing in an all-new cast, storyline and for the first time, an open world map to explore. Although PS4 owners get the better visual end of the deal on console, the PC version should more than please those fans who pick it up looking for something to play and show off to friends. The game is consistently entertaining from the fast-paced combat to the usual humor found in character interaction and dialog choices. Yes, the use of classic literary references, myth and other tropes is piled on thicker than your mom ever spread mayonnaise, but it works well enough to keep the game fun. I’m actually still playing this one because there’s an extraordinary amount of things to do, stuff to collect and some 93 hours in, I’m close to the endgame but will probably dive in again at some point to revisit a few save files. There are enough divergent paths and interesting encounters (make friends with the Normin you meet!) to keep this one in the play stack for a while. Score: A- (90%)
 
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Review: Adventure Time: Finn & Jake Investigations

Adventure Time Finn & Jake Wii UPlatform: Wii U (also on PS3/PS4, Xbox 360/Xbox One, Nintendo 3DS)

Developer: Vicious Cycle

Publisher: Little Orbit

MSRP: $39.99 (PS4/Xbox One, $49.99, 3DS $29.99)

ESRB Rating: E 10+ (Everyone 10 & up)

Official Site

Score: B (80%) 

As someone who likes all the console and handheld Adventure Time games, it’s good to see a new one arriving so soon that’s even more of a throwback than the more action oriented titles that have come before. Adventure Time: Finn & Jake Investigations is a fine homage to old school classic point and click adventures with some nifty combat portions to keep your fingers limber. While the game isn’t all that difficult to complete (particularly if you use the hint highlight system to find clickable objects and locations), it’s a great diversion for a rainy weekend as well fun enough to warrant additional installments. It’s also the first Adventure Time game with rendered 3D characters and environments with developer Vicious Cycle doing a mostly excellent job in making Finn and company look great in polygonal form.

BMODance (Custom) 

The game is set up as a series of “graybles” as (re)told by the alien Cuber (voiced by Emo Phillips) from his space station. While it’s not quite Game of the Year material, the story is pure Adventure Time: pretty darn amusing and as usual, chock full of goofiness and tossed off references fans will knowingly nod and grin at. Fans of the show new to this style of game will find that it’s easy to get into and play, but experts at pointy and clicky stuff new to the show may find the game lacks a certain level of challenge save fora few puzzles that require knowing how certain episodes play out. Then again, unless you’re really bad at following prompts and using a tiny bit of deductive reasoning, you can do a bit of trial and error with not a failure state in sight.

There are five “cases” to tackle in the Land of Ooo that have Finn and Jake meeting up with the usual suspects from the show and everyone is voiced perfectly as you’d expect. In terms of gameplay, most of the game relies on a simple menu system that allows you to choose Finn to do most of the investigative work while Jake assists in getting him in and out of trouble or to seemingly inaccessible spots in the environment. Talking to everyone if you’re stuck will get you some clues that range from mostly direct to somewhat obscure (yes, like the show), but you can solve bits of some cases before you’d think if you have just enough info and accidentally or intentionally talk to someone who starts giving you a short quiz about evidence you’ve gathered.

GnomeZap (Custom) 

At certain points during play, “Combat Time” sequences become available, adding a bit of button jamming action to things. These sections are short and easy to beat, offering simple rewards in the form of collectibles Finn and Jake can use to decorate their fancy over-sized tree house. The game probably would have been fine without the swordplay and special attacks, but someone generally gets some sort of beat down at some point on the show, so you get to dish out the digital pain on a few folks who probably deserve it. Then again, without these smack laying down parts, the game might be less amusing and fun to play to some fans who expect a knockout or three (or more) before all is said and done.

While the game isn’t all that lengthy (as noted, it’s a rainy weekend special), it’s well done enough to warrant a sequel or two in the same style or at least more Adventure Time games down the road. Actually, it would also be really interesting to see if Vicious Cycle can handle the crazy and contagious energy of a more recent Cartoon Network smash hit, Steven Universe. It’s a completely different look and vibe on that show, but so far, every tie-in from the comic to the sole mobile game Attack the Light has been very well received. As usual, we shall see. In the meantime, you may as well support Little Orbit and Cartoon Network by taking Finn & Jake on a few Investigations, I say.

Adventure Time: Finn & Jake Investigations – Mysterious Goings-On, Old School Style


 

“What time is it?” Um, 6:48pm as I type these words!. Hmm, that joke fell flat didn’t it? Fortunately, Little Orbit’s latest, Adventure Time: Finn & Jake Investigations has far better writing than I can muster up and looks as it’ll be a total blast to play through. Available NOW on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Wii U, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Nintendo 3DS, the game takes the popular show and characters into a less sprite-ly space (the game is made up of POLYGONS! *Gasp!*) and pace as it emulates some of the older-school adventure games us well-aged gamers grew up playing.

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Not to say there’s no action and occasional stuff being broken for no good reason other than it’s amusing, mind you. Don’t believe me? Well, take a looky at these GAME FEATURES:

Sleuth your way through five cases set in the Land of Ooo, each of which plays out a separate chapter (like your own personal episode of the show).

See the Adventure Time characters and familiar locations for the first time in 3D.

Tackle puzzles by creatively using inventory objects and Jake’s shape-shifting abilities.

Combat evildoers as Finn using a variety of unique swords and Jake’s awesome attack forms.

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I stole that info above from the press release, so maybe that’s a SIXTH adventure that needs to be solved? Uh, wait. I just gave myself away as the culprit. Oops. Well, Jake and Finn don’t know and you won’t tell them at all, so I’ll be camped out in front of my TV waiting for them to slap the cuffs on. Or slap me around the room. I think I’m insured. I think.

Adventure Time Finn & Jake Box Shots 

So, yeah – get this game. Well, you don’t HAVE to buy EVERY version in that photo above. But if enough of you did exactly that, I sure bet Little Orbit and developer Vicious Cycle would be very thankful indeed. Perhaps a bit baffled… but thankful nonetheless.

Gallery: Adventure Time: Finn and Jake Investigations

Gallery

This gallery contains 16 photos.

  All I know is there had BETTER be a line in Little Orbit’s upcoming Adventure Time: Finn and Jake Investigations where someone says to Jake (and that someone should be Finn) “Forget it Jake, it’s Chinatown…”. Okay, I’ll still … Continue reading

Retro City Rampage REALLY Goes Retro: 486 – MS-DOS / Windows 3.1 Version Now Available


 

Vblank Entertainment’s head honcho Brian Provinciano is a truly mad genius in the best possible way. His single-minded obsession with his hilarious “retro” game Retro City Rampage has led to it being released on PC, Mac, Linux, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, PS Vita, Xbox 360, Wii, Wii U, and Nintendo 3DS over a few short years. Now, he’s gone and reprogrammed the instant classic and has gotten the game onto a 3.5″ floppy disk for 486 computers along with a Windows 3.1 prototype as a free bonus. If you still have an old PC lying around with a floppy drive, you can (and should indeed) snap up one of the limited edition boxed versions (there were only 1000 total made) and prepare for a nostalgic trip down memory lane with a game that probably wouldn’t have existed back then and if it did, it would be hailed as a fine slice of comic genius or something like that.

Retro City Rampage 486
 

If you happen to own the more modern PC version of the game already and bought it from the developer directly, guess what? You should probably check your Steam account for a nice freebie surprise. Everyone else, run or click like the wind HERE and hope for the best. Like the PS4 and Vita retail editions, this will probably sell out ridiculously fast. Yes, the game will also run on DOSBOX if you have a newer PC. I almost forgot to mention this, so now you don’t need to hit up eBay looking for some aged system to run RCR 486 on.

LEGO Dimensions Gets A Doctor (Or 12) In The House


 

Remember that Doctor Who episode where he goes into the LEGO universe and everything is turned into plastic bricks? No? Well, either you’re not paying attention or you haven’t got your copy of LEGO Dimensions yet because you can’t time travel and haven’t already played the game. Silly you. Okay, for mere mortals who don’t have the ability to travel through time (or who don’t know a certain other Doc named Brown), the game is out September 27, 2015 for PS3/PS4,Xbox 360/Xbox One and Wii U, is developed by TT Games (who else?) and looks pretty darn awesome.


 

The cool thing is not only do you get the current Doctor to play around with, expect to be able to regenerate into the eleven other Doctors (whee!) during the game. That alone should get console owning fans of the show to snap up and step into LEGO Dimensions when it ships out. Oh, as for the new season of Doctor Who, BBC has released a nice and long teaser trailer that packs in a few surprises:


 

The modern era of “Toys to Life” category started by Activision’s Skylanders has gotten even huger over the years thanks to later competition from Disney with its Infinity line, Nintendo’s Amiibo figures and now LEGO stepping into the fray. LEGO has a wild edge as the “new” kid on the block thanks to the massive popularity of the blocks and instant appeal to all ages. TT Games is also key to their success thanks to years of making some incredibly FUN games nearly anyone can pick up, play and have a total blast with. Expect Dimensions to be another winner on a few fronts. Well, it looks as if I know how my Saturday nights will be spent for a few months.

Metal Gear Solid V: Konami In Stealth Mode, Dodging Bullets


While this demo of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is incredible, not seeing “A Hideo Kojima Production” or his name (or his studio’s name) anywhere on the demo is a bit heartbreaking. Granted, Kojima does get credit for directing and editing the also great E3 trailer (which also has him properly credited as designer at the end):

But for some gamers the upcoming PS4/Xbox One/PC release itself may as well have “Alan Smithee” in the credits at this point. If you want a real laugh, watch the trailer with YouTube’s closed caption option set to ON. The messed up English that results is pretty damn funny considering the language being captioned in such a wacky manner IS English. Anyway, the game looks great and should sell quite well. But for some fans it’ll be a bittersweet play through with its creator ousted from what could be his best work.

Mad Max “Eye of the Storm” E3 Trailer: Here Comes The Avalanche

Mad Max Logo

 


 

My poor heart can’t take this suspense much longer. I know Avalanche Studios does some outstanding work and all, but this latest Mad Max game trailer is pretty damn spectacular, classic AC/DC tune and all. Even though the game isn’t anything close to a role-playing game, the open world and car customization are getting some fans to go a bit kooky making comparisons to Fallout 4 or other post-apocalyptic genre titles. I wouldn’t go that far with the comparisons but I’ll admit that this one will be a bigger game than some expect partly thanks to the success of the film. At least on the critical front as I don’t know what the box office take is to date.

Guitar Hero Is Back. Plastic Guitar Gods, Rise!

Out with the old...

Out with the old…

GH Live (1)

…in with the new!

1. The new Guitar Hero Live logo looks a wee bit like the original Star Trek TV show logo. That made me laugh a bit because it’s not intentional at all. I’m just really old.

guitar hero live 333 (Custom) 

2. Plastic guitars are back after a five year hiatus.It’s hard to say how those who bought the rock games that required real guitars will feel about this. However, it’s entirely possible that both camps will find something to like or not about GHL.

GH Live 4 

3. There are no colored buttons this time and instead of five colored buttons, you get three buttons set into two rows. This is because testing showed most people play GH using three fingers and never got past the harder modes. The game’s easier modes use only three buttons while the harder modes use all six.

GH Live 5

4. There’s an autoplay button on the controller for people who just want to practice the songs or look good cheating. Longtime GH players seem to hate the new controller already, but EVERYONE will need to get used to the new controller should they pick up the game. It shouldn’t take long, though.

Yes, this is ALL actual gameplay.

5. Or: If you owned a PC, Sega CD, 3DO, PlayStation or Saturn back in the 90’s, you’ll be pleased to know FMV games are back (but much better looking). Yeah, that’s right. Gone are the cartoon-like players and now it’s you onstage playing that plastic guitar in front of an actual audience in first person mode. But this time, it’s for PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Wii U and mobile devices. Yes, the crystal-clear FMV can run on any current console out there, so you’ll see all looking exactly the same (like it or not).

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6. There’s a music video channel-like online play mode. You can choose from hundreds of videos to battle someone against, there will be a MASSIVE library of songs from classics to indies and overall, this mode may be the bigger deal for some players who love their social sharing stuff.

GH Live 10 

Guitar Hero Live is coming this fall for those systems noted above. So many changes after five years off, right? Will it be a house band in millions of homes, or is the new look and focus on both simplifying and complicating things be too bumpy a ride for the loyal fan base? As usual, we shall see.