As we move along from one generation to the next, it is becoming more rare to see brand new gameplay inventions in the wild. Some of this is simply logical: as games progress, new gameplay is more likely adapted from an old system or refined over time with small tweaks rather than birthed anew.
However, on the flip side, one could make the argument that developers have just gotten lazier over time. Part of this is because of deadlines and sticking with what’s easy, and part of this is put on them by their bosses, who steal their princesses (Bowser style), and force them to put out whatever clone happens to be selling.
Issues like this are never completely cut and dry, but one thing that we can say for certain is that when you experience great gameplay inventions, it crushes your face like a Mike Tyson uppercut, announcing that it has arrived in a way that you can’t miss. Either because it truly defines a title or is simply copied by everyone else, good gameplay is a bit infectious, and tends to have some staying power. Because it’s, well, good.
So, in thinking about great gameplay, I thought I’d come up with a list of gaming’s greatest inventions.
While I have not played the newly released Sonic the Hedgehog 4, I have heard that some sniping exists between two differing viewpoints on the game. Some complain that the game is too similar to the old school Sonic games from the Genesis days, while others complain that it doesn’t feel similar enough. In my mind, that probably means that Sega probably nailed it on the head, but that’s a topic for another time.
On the discussion board for today is an impressive demo of Sonic Fan Remix, a lovingly crafted HD remake of a few Sonic the Hedgehog levels. It might be hard to tell from the gameplay video, but this bad boy was conjured up by a development team of just two people. If you want, you can download that sweet thing and play it on your PC. Apparently it’s a bit CPU intensive, but you’ll have to judge that for yourselves. Or just watch.
Although some are a bit premature in claiming that it might be better than Sonic the Hedgehog 4, I’m going to say that it is certainly stunning for a fan made project, and begs the question, yet again – why didn’t these guys just make their own game? Have we not learned from Notch that there’s a killing to be made for small indie teams with great games?
So what do you guys think? How many of you have played Sonic the Hedgehog 4?
In this age of constant over-exposure and gameplay trailers years in advance (even if it they look fantastic) it’s refreshing to be pleasantly surprised by a game that comes out of nowhere without much fanfare.
Until I started hearing rumblings about how great the screenshots and trailers looked, Enslaved: Odyssey To The West wasn’t even on my radar. However, I made sure to download the demo as soon as it dropped, and I was quickly hooked by the gorgeous visuals and engaging combat.
I liked it enough that I used some trade-in credit at GameStop to pick up the full game when it came out, and here I am a few weeks later with a verdict. The short version is that I’d love to see more underdog titles like Enslaved come up from behind to provide a bit of entertainment between the garden-variety triple-A sequel/franchise/FPS releases. Read on to find out more.
In talking to people about why they dislike games, there are any number of reasons that gamers use to discredit certain titles. Whether people don’t like an inventory system, a story, or long cut scenes, everybody has their own individual beef. However, it seems like one of the complaints I hear about games more often than not is that a game is perhaps “too repetitive”.
The interesting thing to me about this criticism is that when you break it down, all games are repetitive. In essence, that’s what a game is. It has to have an established set of rules, as well as a playing style that gets repeated constantly. Really, the often quoted Bungie mantra of designing a game that has “30 seconds of fun” over and over is what all games strive to do. The difference is that the best games just figure out a way to hide it. To me, Uncharted 2 is an excellent example of this, and probably one of the best I’ve seen at disguising repetition. Naughty Dog found a great balance of platforming, shooting and insane setpiece moments that really make you forget that you’re repeating yourself.
So what do you guys think about the issue of repetitive gaming? What games feel too repetitive to enjoy, and what games mask it? Go!
In 2009, I remember feeling a little left out of the geek fervor when I went to go attend a showing of the new Star Trek movie. For some reason or another, I just had never been a fan of the beloved series, and had only ever seen one movie (which I thought was boring). Still, the new movie seemed like it would be worth a watch, so I thought I would check it out with the rest of the red-shirt masses. Long story short: I left the movie feeling high on adventure, and itching to check out all the Star Trek that I had missed up until that point.
If you want to bring this over to gaming terms, I guess you could say that Castlevania has always been my Star Trek, so to speak. It’s one of those titles that I’ve just missed out on over the years. And now, after having spent a whole weekend plumbing the depths of Konami’s newest entry in the long-running classic action franchise, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, the results are the same: I think Castlevania’s got a new fanboy.
It’s sad that more and more these days, the phrase “boss battle” seem to be getting removed from our vocabulary as avid gamers. Really, with so many shooters getting the green light over traditional games, there just doesn’t seem to be room left for great boss fights in most of the titles that we play. There’s something to be said for tackling a well designed boss, which is why I think Batman: Arkham Asylum resonated so strongly with me as an old school gamer.
Well, consider me stoked up on boss battles again, since I just spent most of the weekend marathon-ing Castlevania: Lords of Shadow. The game is not shy about throwing boss after boss at you, and I was in geek heaven because of it. I’ll save some more details for the incoming review, but let’s just say I liked them.
So, since it’s fresh in my mind after completing the game, I thought I’d bring the question here: what are some of your favorite boss battles you’ve faced in games? Any that were particularly memorable because they were frustratingly hard? Sound off!
Through a bit of a fortuitous circumstance, I found myself playing the first few hours of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow tonight. If you’re unaware, the newest entry into the classic series is styled a bit like God of War or Wolverine, with skill progressions and ability unlocks as you move along, collecting experience for each enemy you slash, decapitate or otherwise maim.
You see, I tend to treat action/beat-em-up games and RPGs with these kind of systems in almost exactly the same way: I horde. Perhaps this is because I’m a bit of a loot whore, I’m not sure, but I find myself desiring most of all the big abilities that you otherwise wouldn’t get until later portions of the game. I figure if I can make due with just the basic attacks, I’ll find myself with some useful combos or upgrades earlier than if I just bought every smaller thing as it became available. I do this with RPG skill points as well, or tend to max up one particular spell/ability rather than spreading it around.
My question to you is this: does this make me a crazy person? How do you handle skill progressions and the like? Do you horde what you’ve got for the big guns, or spend it as it comes in to get upgraded more regularly? Go!
If you were thinking of wandering in to your local video game store and picking up a new copy of Sonic Vs. The Black Knight anytime soon, you might be out of luck. With the upcoming release of Sonic Colors, Sonic Free Riders and Sonic the Hedgehog 4, SEGA is doing a little house cleaning, de-listing Sonic titles that have a poor or average Metacritic standing.
SEGA’s Senior Vice President of EMEA Jurgen Post explained that this was done to help “strengthen the brand” going forward, stating that having a large number of Sonic titles on the shelves will lead to a “cannibalization” of sorts. While it isn’t unusual for a company to phase out older games in a franchise to make way for newer titles, Sonic is sort of a special case considering how many mediocre games we’ve been plagued with since this generation started.
Fortunately both Sonic Colors and Sonic 4 are looking pretty good, so maybe it’s better to sweep those old ones under the rug. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to forget Sonic 2006, but what about you guys? Are the memories of old Sonic games still plaguing your thoughts?
Well, today is just the Saturday of deals, isn’t it? In addition to the XBox Live thank you gift Anthony posted about earlier, here’s another one for all of you dudes wondering how many couch cushions you’re going to have to turn over to get the rest of the games on your Fall list: GameStop’s trade in values for October 2010.
To me, one of the biggest question marks of the fall season hovers relentlessly around one title in particular: Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood. The follow-up to last year’s critically and commercially successful Assassin’s Creed 2, Brotherhood worries me in part because it is coming so soon, but also because it seems more like an expansion than a proper new sequel, with all of the increased polish that helped benefit the second game from the first.
However, the occasional bits I see of the game actually keep my hopes up. Take for instance this new mission walkthrough trailer released by Ubisoft, where we get to see Ezio follow and interrogate an engineer of one of Leonardo’s war machines. It seems that a portion of the plot is going to center around Leonardo’s inventions, and we get to see a few of these war machines at the end of the video, including sea vessels and even battle tanks. Assassin’s Creed: Metal Gear?
What are your thoughts on the walkthrough? What is your level of excitement for Brotherhood?
Ladies and dudes, the time is here: the fall season of gaming is officially upon us, and all we can do now is paddle as hard we can to keep up with the avalanche of titles falling to our TVs and monitors. Sure, I’m mixing metaphors here a little bit, but the point here is the same: lots of games are coming out, and you no doubt want to play a large share of them. Yes, even though Little Big Planet 2 has been delayed.
Since we’re so nice, we’ve put together an epic list of our 30 most anticipated upcoming games of 2010. You’ll be surprised at just how much is waiting for you. We’ve got everything from RPGs to zombies, DS exclusives and sprawling PC MMOs. Check it out!
It’s sort of a running thread around here lately that downloadable titles are owning big full-price titles, something we mentioned on our last podcast. Just to add another bullet point to that argument, I would like to introduce you to Outland, the new side-scrolling platformer from Housemarque, the development studio behind Super Stardust HD. I saw this game running at PAX 2010, and the first thing that immediately caught my attention was the awesome art style. Take a look at the trailer and see for yourself.
Even if it was the sort of generic “PERIL OF TWO WORLDS OH NOES” type of story, the graphics are enough to get me anticipating this. Apparently the gameplay is sort of like Ikaruga where you need to switch colors to damage foes or interact with the environment. Blue bullets won’t hurt a blue suit, and vice versa. Consider me psyched for this, at least. Anyone else interested in this game? Are you finding yourself anticipating download titles more and more often?
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow drops next week on October 5th, and if the earliest reviews are any indication, the game could be a darn good one. To prep fans for all the changes and things to expect in this newest iteration of the long beloved series, Konami has released a brand new gameplay trailer that demonstrates how this is no ordinary Castlevania, and how they intend to take the series down a new path.
With Hideo Kojima in charge, I’ve been impressed with some of the cinematic trailers I’ve seen, and this 11 minute dose of gameplay and introductions is something I wish more game studios did with new releases. If you’ve been on the fence about Lords of Shadow, I’d recommend checking it out, as this might tip you one way or the other.
So, who plans on checking this out? What did you think of the trailer?
Enslaved: Odyssey to the West is a new game coming out from Ninja Theory, best known for the PS3 launch title Heavenly Sword. I’m not sure if we’ve ever posted about Enslaved on the site, so I’m going to do a quick recap for those who are unfamiliar with this game. Taking place 150 years in the future, the game follows two of the few remaining humans as they attempt to find their way home through a decimated North America past the various combat mechs that still plague the land. Sort of a different spin on the old post-apocalyptic yarn, and it borrows some design elements from the show Life After People, if I remember correctly. Check out the new behind the scenes video for Enslaved: Odyssey to the West which also stars Gollum himself, Andy Serkis!
It’s kind of a shame that I haven’t been following this game more closely, because it looks very intriguing. The game is actually coming out on October 5, so it’s hitting right at that perfect time before Call of Duty: Black Ops and Fallout: New Vegas dominate the market. Anyone here thinking of picking this up? Also, I want my title to be “Chief Creative Ninja”.
Wow. The more I see about Little Big Planet 2 and its incredible sandbox, the more I can’t wait to play it. The beta for the game is currently underway, which means that players are creating all kinds of madness that has been previously unknown to us. However, the NDA for the beta has finally lifted, which means that we are now getting to see just what people have been up to in secret. Some of the results include an FPS, Zone of the Enders and Street Fighter II. And frankly, the clips are incredible.
First, we have the Vietnam-themed first person shooter. While it’s fairly basic, I’m actually quite impressed with the graphics here, and the possibilities are enough to whet the creative appetite for more.
I think Spider-Man may rank in first place for having the most alternate dimension spin-offs. You have Spider-Man 2099, Ultimate, Manga, India, 1602, Reign; the list goes on and on. Despite the fact that there’s dozens of Spider-Men to draw inspiration from for a game, we’ve generally stuck to the same old Peter Parker with a few exceptions (such as last gen’s Ultimate Spider-Man). Franchise new-comer Beenox decided to tap into the rich tapestry of Spidey’s history and bring together four different version of the web-slinger-Amazing, Noir, 2099 and Ultimate-for a cross-dimensions web-fest. With four different play styles and multiple possibilities, how well does Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions do in delivering the definitive Spider-Man game?
There are a few times when I feel older than my years, despite the fact that I am only 23. One example is that children born when Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone came out are now teenagers. The other is that, 25 years ago today, Super Mario Bros. graced the Nintendo Entertainment System and changed the way we viewed home entertainment. What started that day in 1985 was just the beginning of a life long journey for Nintendo from a small playing card company to the video game giant it is today. Mario has been through a lot of changes in his life time, and Nintendo has cooked up a video to celebrate.
Watching that video brings a smile to my face as it makes me remember all the great times I’ve had playing Mario games over the years. Although Nintendo doesn’t really click with my anymore, there’s no denying that they were a powerful force in my childhood, and probably ruined my willingness to engage in physical activity for the rest of my life. Do you guys have any memories about the plumber? Any game you remember more fondly than the others? What do you hope to see from Mario in the next 25 years?
A few weeks ago, Valve released a brief Portal 2 co-op trailer. While it didn’t show us any actual gameplay, it finally gave us a small but illuminating look at what the game might entail for the many Portal fans that are dying to play with one another.
Over the weekend at PAX, though, Valve did even more: they brought a Portal 2 co-op demo with them for the world to see. As Mitch mentioned in his PAX 2010 round-up, there are definitely a few surprises to witness here. For one, instead of splitting the portal guns between the two players, both can each create both sets of portals, adding a layer of complication to the puzzles. There are some other surprises there, too, but I’ll let you guys see those for yourselves.
If these puzzles are any indication of how the later co-op puzzles could escalate, color me excited. Who else is dying to play this even more than before? What do you think of the gameplay they showed?
Limbo is an XBox Live arcade game, part of the Summer of Arcade that saw a slew of quality releases for the platform over the last couple of months. I remember leading up to the game’s release, I actually knew nothing about it, but kept hearing some buzz as people grew more and more excited. And even then, once I decided to look at a few screenshots, it was hard to get a sense of what people were so juiced up about. I remember people saying the same thing about Braid when it was released, and while I thought it was a good game, it seemed a bit overhyped and not as incredible as others made it out to be. In fact, I didn’t even finish that one.
However, after several of my friends raved about the short experience of Limbo, comparing it almost to Portal in its profundity and fun factor, I decided to give it a try. I downloaded the trial game, ready to play it and then toss it aside, never intending to click on that “purchase full game” option on the dashboard menu. But then I played the demo, and something happened. I was entranced by an atmosphere, thick and heavy and foreboding. I was lured by the puzzles and the platforming. And as soon as the trial ended, I didn’t hesitate to upgrade.
The closer we get to November, the more I know in my heart that I will not be able to refuse the siren’s call of Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood. While I do have my doubts about the quick turn around time, everything I’ve read about the game, from the single-player to the multiplayer, seems to paint it in a good light. I’m especially willing to give it a go after I watched this video, which details some of the single-player mechanics along with how you will be managing your Assassin’s Guild.
Pretty neat, no? Originally, I thought that confining the game to just Rome would severely limit the scale, but it turns out that I might be wrong. Sending my Assassins all over Europe to start riots and kill targets sounds like a lot of fun, and bossing people around is always a good time. What do you guys think of the video? Are you anticipating Brotherhood? Also, as you may notice by the title of the article and the little snippet in the video, the much maligned flag collecting is back. You may commence your complaining (or celebrating, if that’s more your thing.)