June 12, 2012

E3 2012 – Hands On with Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit

Filed under: Features — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Jamie Love @ 11:08 pm

E3 2012 Hell Yeah Wrath of the Dead Rabbit
Sega’s booth at E3 finally offered me a chance to catch up with Ash, the rabbit prince of hell who has his dignity compromised when an embarrassing photo surfaces online. Learning that one hundred monsters have seen the photo, Ash promptly sets out to accomplish the only reasonable course of action, killing everyone who saw said photo.

With brush strokes reminiscent of the works from inmates at a Guatemalan insane asylum, Arkedo has created the most vibrant digital offering shown on the floor of E3. Hell is a honeycomb maze where cartoonish gore constantly splashes the screen, shiny gems glisten in the muck, and one hundred beautifully drawn monsters wait for Ash to bring about their violent end by the most ridiculous means possible.


June 9, 2012

E3 2012 – Sound Shapes

Sound Shapes E3 2012
Sound Shapes’ quirky visual style was seduction at first sight, a natural fit on Sony’s new handheld, with organic and charming designs that offered surface reminders of Sony Japan’s Patapon and Loco Roco, as well as the continuing work of Q-Games.

But while Sound Shapes has always presented easy eye candy for me, it’s never simply represented another pretty face at the dancehall.


E3 2012 – Hands On with Guacamelee!

Filed under: Features — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , — Jamie Love @ 2:50 pm

Guacamelee E3 2012
There’s some humour in the idea that I traveled to Los Angeles in order to play a game being made in Toronto. Of course there were plenty of other reasons to make the trip, but catching up with the latest creation from Drinkbox Studios was high on my radar and necessitated a priority stop at Sony’s booth during E3.

Drinkbox’s Graham Smith was on hand to aid me in a co-op session of Guacamelee!, which puts players behind the mask of a burly luchador, but also offers the chance to transform into a chicken with the press of a button. There’s something rather joyous about running across the screen with your beak in the air – in fact Graham might have had to wait a few moments while I abused the opportunity to keep doing that.

Eventually I regained some composure though, and the demo was able to move forward.


May 22, 2012

Review – Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 2

Filed under: Reviews — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — Jason Westhaver @ 9:04 am

Review Sonic 4 Episode 2
Let’s not beat around the bush; Sonic 4: Episode I was a major disappointment. Despite its build up as Sonic’s triumphant return to form, the game lacked just about everything that made the original Genesis titles fun. The art style was uninspired and had a glossy sheen, the levels and bosses were rehashes of earlier works, and the physics system made the speedy hedgehog handle like a drunk duck.

Fortunately Sega has FINALLY listened to the complaints, and for the first time in more than a decade delivered a Sonic game that fans of all ages should actually enjoy.


March 20, 2012

Sweet’N Low – My Journey

Reviewing Journey would be a bit like watching the sun set over the water while holding a lover’s hand, and then breaking the silence of that precious moment with a number from 1-10. I understand that it’s some people’s jobs to stick a number to everything, and I sympathize, even if the act suggests knowing something about the price of everything and the value of nothing.

But don’t take that to mean that I’m in a hurry to help rekindle the games as art you hang on the wall angle either.

Journey is simply an experience, and one that I wouldn’t have been able to understand had someone tried to explain it to me beforehand, which someone did. Chris Lepine was going to write about the game here, and has since crafted some fine words you can catch up with here, but the moment I read them I knew that this was a Journey I would have to make on my own in order to discover some sliver of understanding.

Since my desire to have the longest scarf possible seems rather vain however, I’m still left wanting for words to begin describing what I found.

I can tell you about sinking heavy footsteps into glistening sands, or floating ever higher to ascend a tower, or even sliding down hills while the camera bends to let the light of the sun break through ancient ruins.

I can tell you lots of things, but I can’t convince you of the feelings such a journey inspired within me.

Maybe I should tell you that I met eight different people along that journey. I know this because the game has told me so, and I can only take that on faith since every encounter with another person provides the same anonymous companion that shares my own likeness. Perhaps one companion is less eager to chirp back with the musical notes of expression I continually sought to communicate some primitive intentions with. Perhaps one companion remains close at hand rather than rushing off toward the mountain in the distance. The only time the difference of your companion stresses itself is when they rush off beyond your line of sight with little regard for your company, and even then I can’t help feeling happy to find them again.

The nameless stranger that lingers on my mind is the one that crossed the icy mountain path with me, taking shelter behind stone markers as strong winds threatened to thwart our advance, and huddling in the shadows while large beasts flew overhead. As we overcame these obstacles, the path forward began to vanish in the rising winds, and my feet became heavier with each step forward through the thickening snow.

What kept me pushing forward on the analog stick was my companion, slightly ahead and providing a beacon, a reason to continue pushing against the blinding storm.

I had imagined that Journey’s limitations on communication would leave me saying that the game is about the most earnest connection two people can share, that it cuts away all the things we think we know about each other.

But Journey cuts deeper than that, to the raw source of motivation and hope we find in others, to the fact that our existence on its own is not enough to necessitate that we continue for our own sake. Certainly we live for ourselves to project strength and obey the demands of our DNA, but beneath that skin, we always hope for others to connect and share the journey with, strangers that we’ll never really know, but who when you strip external constructions away, are perhaps exactly the same as us.

March 14, 2012

Notes On The Robocalypse

Shoot Many Robots
“Chairmanlove, buy some equipment!”

Those were the first words of wisdom another player offered to me as I started my multiplayer session of Shoot Many Robots. And I was admittedly feeling underdressed for the occasion as we waited for the stage to load, still wearing the standard clothing while others were thumbing their noses at the Tsars of fashion with all manner of ridiculous headgear, belts, and heavy weaponry.

If I’d never jumped online, I’d have likely missed the point entirely because from a disinterested distance, Shoot Many Robots seems to simply replace the tired zombies of other party shooters with chainsaw wielding mechanical fiends and trailer park humor. There’s certainly some awe in how many bloodthirsty robots can fill the screen, exploding with bursts of oil and scrap metal as you fill them with lead. But watching others rack up kills in the hundreds while I nabbed twenty or so left me certain I was doing it wrong, which I was.

Between stages players can access their inventory along with a store, where items discovered during play become available for purchase via exceedingly large amounts of bolts earned whilst crushing the robot uprising. And that is the point at which a game that visually resembles a 2D Borderlands taps the comparison far deeper to produce spiraling lists of weapons and equipment that opens a vortex of customization opportunities.

There’s plenty of work creation going on here, earning bolts to buy items that help you earn more bolts, marching on in the quest to unlock ever more ridiculous toys before returning to playgrounds that split between short stages and survival arenas. My scores improved dramatically when I returned with a cowboy hat and jetpack, holding my 110%-American machinegun – a primary weapon that offers unlimited firepower. There’s also a secondary ammo-conscious heavy hitter weapon – everything from rocket launchers to Gnoming missiles.

The results are delightfully ludicrous with a party of four, filling the screen with bullets and scrap metal as the waves of mechanized terror endlessly crowd the screen. Shoot Many Robots can’t escape the limited appeal these types of quick party shooters offer, but the vanity options and depth of experimentation raise the bar significantly, begging for plenty of time in finding the ideal balance of stat raising items and range versus power weapons. If you happened to be playing the game alone, the value falls of fairly quick – this is about joining others and arguing about the perfect tools for surviving the robocalypse after all. And while that emphasis isn’t necessarily at the top of my agenda, I’ll certainly tip my cowboy hat to a game in that vein that merits the ten dollar pricetag with an immense amount of toys to unlock and talk about.

Of course, you can give the demo for the full game a shot and let me know what you think.

February 3, 2012

Nostalgia Trip – The Simpsons Arcade

Filed under: Editorial Rants — Tags: , , , , , , — Jamie Love @ 9:07 pm

The Simpsons Arcade
The Simpsons’ trip to the arcades in 1991 represents a perfect intersection, the point where Konami’s apparent ability to create beat ’em-up quarter-munching arcade cabinets with any license, crossed paths with The Simpsons’ surging ability to sell any product their images were plastered upon.

Today the game hit Xbox LIVE Arcade for 800 Microsoft Points, and will appear on the PlayStation Network next week for $9.99 – or free to PlayStation Plus subscribers on that platform. Like last year’s release of X-Men Arcade, The Simpsons Arcade game was what I often longed for on home consoles, rather than the infuriating adventure games we got instead.


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