Welcome back to Robotic Gaming Monthly, TR’s monthly column focusing on the latest happening in the video game world and then some! Thanks for the kind reception with our debut last time, by the way, even if your enthusiastic efforts to help promote this column wound up with us getting posted on a blog for nudists and swingers. Still, if any of them were gamers as well…
So what do we have for you this go around? Loads and loads of insanity, mud, steampunk, cartoons, Diamond Dogs, and a trip into sheer hell populated entire by loathsome beings that must be destroyed. Fun, fun, fun! Also, come see our column’s new video game reviews and one of the very first incarnations of Topless Robot from the ’90s (sort of)!
So let’s start things off with a little post-E3 discussion or two or three. Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Still?” And yes, some of you questioned how relevant a monthly column could be last time, and I can agree with you. But here’s thing: Nothing else major has happened so far this month. All the gaming companies both big and small already revealed their hands at E3, and those that haven’t are more than likely waiting for Gamescom or PAX. So we’ve kind of hit a Summer lull for now, hence why we’re still talking about E3. Of course, the Critic’s Choice Awards from the show having been announced helps a bit (and yes, No Man’s Sky thankfully cleaned up along with Evolve).
So on to some E3 talk. Now, I already chimed in with my own picks for the best games of the show, which one of our perennial trolls described in the comments as “cartoonish looking piles of shit that look like they should be played on the N64.” Oh, you lovable scamp! True, why should we care about trivial things like “creativity” or “effort” when we can just cover more shooters with purdy graphics? In your honor, let us start off with a discussion on those exact games you deemed piles of shit! Yay!
|I mean, CLEARLY this could only be 64-bit feces, am I right?|
Specifically, let us start with Splatoon and Sunset Overdrive, two of my choices for E3’s best games (along with several other critics). Why did I have them as my top picks? Well, aside from the reasons I already mentioned, these kinds of games receiving major attention and promotion represents not just a breath of fresh air for the industry, but also a return to form – which is kind of contradictory.
But allow me to explain. Years ago, there was this sort of point in the gaming world where – to pull two titles from the same time out of a hat – games such as Crash Bandicoot 2 and GoldenEye 007 would occupy the same store shelves, get the same amount of promotion, get the same amount of media coverage, and basically be considered equals despite being two completely different games. I just felt like there was a wide spectrum of games for all audiences and ages, is what I’m saying.
But then around 2006 or so, the spectrum began to dim. Actually, it was more like the spectrum split into the world’s worst double rainbow. One rainbow consisting entirely of greens, grays, and browns that led to a pot filled with “realistic” shooters and supposedly mature games where there was no room for joy in the world of uber-realism, and the other was a rainbow consisting of blindingly bright, cheerful colors that led to a pot filled with games designed to abuse the hell out of the term “casual” and pander to the family crowd. The last generation gave us some absolutely terrific games, no doubt, but at the cost of mainstream gaming basically having to commit a form of segregation, at least in terms of tone and presentation.
And that is why games like Splatoon and Sunset Overdrive should be praised and anticipated: For finally getting around to re-bridging the gap between serious, mature games and colorful, family-friendly games. We have shooters being designed for all audiences and action games putting the emphasis on color, humor, and as little realism as possible. Well-received games like Plants Vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare and WildStar have already proven to be a success in selling game with a more comedic tone and vibrant visuals, and Fortnite is almost a complete 180 from the folks behind Gears of War that’s getting some major attention. And heck, look at the debut trailer for Dead Island 2 at E3 compared to the (in)famous trailer for the first game.
Obviously, I’m not saying that there’s no place for more serious games in this world. I’m just saying that we need a wider range of triple-A titles again if we actually want to get out of this rut we’re it and the rift that has apparently divided several types of gamers. Because ironically, it’s going to take a bunch of immature games to hopefully get the medium to mature as an art form.
|It’s a known fact that the road to maturity is paved with bubbles.|
But moving on to something just a touch more serious: there are moments at E3 where you can actually notice specific trends developing, which isn’t surprising for a show whose tagline was “The Future Revealed.” And the future of gaming apparently is…games that place a large emphasis on the late 1800s/turn of the century setting. Huh.
Okay, so maybe games with this type of setting didn’t take the show by storm, but it just kind of surprised me as to how many big games at the show modelled their worlds after this particular era. The Order: 1886 is obviously the big standout (if only because it’s right there in the freaking title), but we also had the likes of Bloodborne, BattleCry, Hunt: Horrors of the Gilded Age, and Project S.T.E.A.M., to name a few. And you have this many games on display with a particular shared element, you can’t help but wonder why the sudden fascination with it.
Now I now some of you are ready to belt out “STEAMPUNK!!” as an obvious answer, but Bloodborne and Hunt don’t really carry a steampunk card. Is it that the Industrial Revolution just offers up so many opportunities for unique tools to play with? The fact that weaponry from this era seems to fall right in between modern and antiquated, allowing for more creativity and skill to work around/with? Do the various bits of horror, fantasy, and folklore from this part of history just makes for better foes, challenges, and overall stories? Or is everyone here just riding the coattails of BioShock Infinite’s numerous GOTY awards?
|It’s the muttonchops, isn’t it? Totally the chops.|
Well, I honestly don’t have a straight answer for this one. Hell, I don’t even know if I’m making sense here, since I’m not an expert on history from this era or the various bits of fiction inspired by it. Much like what the great C+C Music Factory once talked about, it’s a thing that makes you go “Hmmm…” It’s just an odd little trend I took note of, and one that thankfully appears to hopefully let some quality games with unique stories and universes upon us.
Especially Project S.T.E.A.M., since it involves Abraham Lincoln entrusting you with ridding the world of aliens. Why are we only now just getting around to a game based around that?
|Seriously, why did we hesitate to try this again?|
For a final bit, I was going to talk about the Steam Summer Sale, in which I got addicted to crafting ammo pouches out of buffalo testicles via Far Cry 3 and where Reddit users rigged the sale’s traditional meta-game for stupid reasons, actually boasting about how they spent s***loads of money to win chances at winning free games, and thus basically endorsed ideas such as microtransactions and paying to win games in the process. But it got to the point where I couldn’t tell the mangled testicles apart from the Reddit users and it just got confusing. Plus, some more important news broke this weekend concerning Mighty No. 9 that I knew I had to cover.
So in case you didn’t hear, Keiji Inafune revealed two major developments with the spiritual successor to the Mega Man games this weekend at Anime Expo 2014. One, they’re starting a second round of crowdfunding to raise more money for the game, and two, Keiji’s company Comcept is partnering with Digital Frontier to produce a Mighty No. 9 animated series. Two pieces of news that each earned scorn and enthusiasm from the general public, respectively.
But let’s take a look at the crowdfunding news first. The initial reactions were pretty much what one would expect: “BOOOO!!! WE ALREADY GAVE YOU MILLIONS!!! YOU F***ERS ARE JUST GREEDY AND RAN OUT OF MONEY!!! IS THIS JUST TO MAKE THE ANIMATED SERIES AND NOT THE GAME?? BOOOO!!!” Okay, hyperbole may have been added, but you get the point. Of course, after people calmed down, the FAQs made it clear that this was done simply to help add bonus content to the game, and that there were people who missed out on the initial Kickstarter campaign who wanted to join in as well, and thus there is no emergency or anything, this is entirely optional and will not negatively impact the game. Still don’t like the idea? Then just don’t donate. Simple as that.
But I do question the first new stretch goal they’ve set up: Full English voice-acting in the game. Aside from the fact that voice-acting is probably one the least essential elements needed for a hit indie platformer, that it just seems superfluous, and that it would be better if the money went towards actually waking a longer, richer, deeper game…there’s also the fact that we all know Mega Man hasn’t exactly had the best track record with voice acting.
|The face that launched several YouTube Poops.|
But let’s move on to the animated series! And boy, am I psyched! They even have a teaser already that will hopefully be-
…Oh. CGI. Huh.
Yes, I know the game is using CGI (for now), and I’m not necessarily saying it looks bad, just that compared to the 2D artwork we’ve seen so far, which is even being used to promote the series, it just doesn’t look as impressive and kind of seems to abuse the idea that kids these days don’t like 2D animation as much as CGI.
|Seriously, this alone would drive any ten year-old boy into a frenzy.|
Also, I am just not really digging the tone of the video. Yes, I know it’s only a pitch video and that things can and will change (the pitch video for the ’94 Mega Man cartoon is proof of that), but – and I know this might sound odd coming from a heavy supporter of kid-friendly games – it almost feels too kid-friendly. I know the show is aimed at six to eleven year-olds, but why not aim for all ages? Why focus only on humor that mocks our hero? I know I enjoyed it in the initial Big Hero 6 trailer, but something about this just seems…off. I’ll still give the finished product a chance, naturally, but here’s hoping things improve.
I do know one thing, though: In my list of Ten Other Video Games That Deserve Cartoon Shows, I said that if Capcom was too lazy to make a new Mega Man cartoon, then we should just help make a Mighty No. 9 animated series. And we have, so I’m counting this as a win! One down, nine to go!
Coming up next, we actually take a jab at some more video game reviews here, because why not find a way to further kill productivity?
Yes, it’s now time for some video game reviews! Because when you already have a ton of content crammed in each month, why not add more? Kidding aside, don’t worry: these aren’t replacing any lists involving video game reviews or anything. This is just for any games that are either too short for a full-on list or for any games we might have initially missed. So without further ado, let’s see what we have to work with this month…
Yes, Yacht Club’s much-anticipated ode to NES platformers is here, and I’ll make sure to be as subtle as possible with this review. So without further ado, BUY THIS GAME, DAMMIT.
*Clears throat* Okay, let’s try that again. Shovel Knight is a platform game inspired by the greats of the NES world, and boy, have the people behind this game done their homework. You play as the titular Shovel Knight on a quest to defeat the evil Enchantress, her Order of No Quarter, and avenge his partner Shield Knight. Yes, even the story harkens back to a simpler time. The game itself plays out mainly inspired by the Mega Man games in terms of look, feel, control, and with several customizable powers you earn along the away.
Then it throws in some DuckTales via a pogo jump-inspired move you need to master, a pinch of Super Mario Bros. 3 via nifty overworld map with various challenges that wander around and areas to visit, a dash of Zelda II, touches of Castlevania, and…well, virtually every NES game the developers thought would be awesome to work with. Shovel Knight is somewhat of a Frankenstein’s Monster of NES games, but the good kind of Frankenstein who puts on sunglasses, parties with the kids, and eventually helps his new friends defeat Dracula.
Or to put it another way, Shovel Knight represents the ultimate NES game, like something made in the console’s later era after years of practice. The greatest game 1991 never made, one could say. The graphics alone are absolutely jaw-dropping, representing 8-bit graphics at their very best with a wide range of colors and several astounding details. Not only does it look like one of the very best NES games, it plays like one too. Control is absolutely perfect, every level is plentiful in secrets to discover, and the challenge is just perfect, making sure that when you mess up, it’s because of your own fault and not because of any piss-poor level design or cheap enemies. And did I mention the soundtrack? I shouldn’t have to, because I think I’ve already seen tributes to it online. Hell, finding the various songs throughout the game to unlock for play whenever you want is a reward, and one damn well worth it. The game never even drops its pretense, it has a great sense of humor in the dialogue, but it never winks at itself and points out retro gaming tropes or anything. It is just a really. Damn. Good. Retro. Game.
But before I pleasure myself to Shovel Knight too much, I should point out a few slight flaws. Ditching the traditional lives system in favor of one where you lose a portion of your money each time you die that you can retrieve later is a nice move, but sometimes you can die in such a way that the game will leave the money you lost floating in an area that you clearly can’t reach without dying, which can get a tad maddening. The bosses, as impressive as they are, can also get kind of easy once you unlock the chalices, essentially this game’s equivalent of Mega Man’s Energy Tanks. Especially since they’re free to recharge without consequence after each level.
But those are but a few chips in the armor of glory that Shovel Knight wears. The overall result is a dizzying nostalgia trip that feels like eating an endless supply of fully fresh discontinued childhood snacks, like a giant pile of PB Max bars. I should point out that the version I played was the PC version, and that Shovel Knight is also available on the Wii U and the 3DS. I have heard that those versions are actually superior due to their dual screens allowing for easier inventory management (the 3DS version also offering 3D support), and that seems about right, so I’d recommend one of those incarnations if you have access to them. Besides, as some people have pointed out, it just feels more natural playing an old-school NES game on a Nintendo console. Shovel Knight is a true masterpiece that does its predecessors proud, and I cannot recommend it enough.
Oh, but one more thing: The game has an unlockable Butt Mode.
It has. A Butt Mode.
WHY HAVEN’T YOU PURCHASED THIS GAME ALREADY???
So…yeah. I’m guessing a lot of you are probably staring at your monitor with confused expressions by now. I mean, a simulator about hauling lumber in Soviet vehicles across muddy forest landscapes doesn’t exactly seem like the type of game one would expect Topless Robot to cover. But when said game instantly becomes the best-selling game on Steam upon initial release and proceeds to sell over 100,000 copies in just over two weeks…yeah, that’s the point where you get curious.
Now, I admit that I’m probably not the target audience for SpinTires, since I’m not even really into simulators, let alone one like this, and I do fear that any criticisms I might have will be met with cries that I just don’t “get it.” But dammit, I wanted to know what the appeal was, so in I went. And within moments, I had driven into a huge bog of mud that provided the game’s main draw and the one that led to its titular name: The realistic mud physics. They are amazing indeed, with ground that actually squishes beneath your wheel, gets stuck to your tires, and that your vehicles can actually sculpt as you drive through.
But great physics alone don’t form a good game, and thankfully as I spent more time with SpinTires, I began to get the appeal of it. There’s just something about plowing through a large pit of mud inch by inch until you eventually break through that feels good, and the game is full of those moments. It’s a game that provides you with a lot of hard work and challenge where even the smallest victory feels monumental. A game about exploration that encourages you to go off-road and discover little secrets, new vehicles, and de-cloak sections of the map. A game about exploring the beauty of nature and then flipping it the middle finger as you triumphantly cross a small yet raging river or trample down a vast plains with a truck full of lumber because screw the roads, you’re doing this delivery your way. It’s tasty combo of exploration, simulation and perseverance that definitely grew on me as time went on.
Shame, then, that this taste was spoiled a bit by one of the worst damn cameras I have ever seen in a driving game. For some reason, SpinTires eschews the traditional behind-the-car view that’s worked out perfectly in driving games for the past 30 years or so in favor of a more over-the-shoulder approach, which makes it difficult to see exactly what you’re driving into sometimes. It also tends to jerk around and thanks to its positioning, also tends to believe that the leaves in the random tree you just passed are too pretty to ignore and thus will shove them right in front of your view so you can bask in prettiness, all while you just rammed into a pile of rocks because you couldn’t see where you were going. There are also some technical niggles involved, the volume dropping or muting in between games at times, and a map and vehicle selection that definitely take some time getting used to and sort of feel more complicated than they should be. I’d also say the vehicle controls can feel a little wonky at times, but this is a game built around erratic terrain around foreign automobiles.
Long story short, SpinTires is a good game sadly marred by a few bad design choices and technical issue. There is still fun to be had, but it could definitely benefit from some tweaking. If you’re patient enough, can overlook an awkward camera, or are just really into these types of auto simulators, than I can probably recommend this. For everyone else, however, you want think about waiting for a sale to check it out (especially with a $30 price tag).
And thus ends our first attempt at providing you smaller video game reviews. If there’s anything upcoming or current in gaming you want us to check out, just let us know. For that matter, if you want to see older games or just games from a few months ago reviewed here, let us know about that as well, especially since I have a slight backlog I may as well work through. Next up, though, we travel back in time to the Summer of ’95!
Alright, time for our Retro Gaming Mag Spotlight! And since we’re now full-on into Summer, I decided to magically pick a piece of nostalgia from the Summers of our youth, specifically the August 1995 issue of Game Players, a gaming magazine made famous for their offbeat sense of humor and general insanity (until they sadly went the more serious route in ’96, leading to their downfall)!
…And yes, I do have gaming magazines that aren’t just from the most EXTREEEEEEEME parts of the ’90s, I swear. We’ll get to them next time. But for now, back to the Summer of ’95, & OH MY GOD THE COVER IS BLINDING MEEEE…Yeah, if the Mountain Dew-shaded palette of colors and fonts bolder than brass love didn’t hit you with the full force of the mid-’90s, perhaps devoting the cover to one of the most over the top fighting games of the day, Killer Instinct, will do the trick. It was one of the biggest fighters back then, and today…well, I suppose it’s still one of the biggest fighters around, if only because the fighting game pool is a bit more than it was in the ’90s. Anyhow, say it with me now: C-C-C-C-COMBO BREAKER!!!
– So let’s just leap right into the letters section, AKA Readers’ Network here, and…alright, I’ll admit that I had a secondary reason for featuring Game Players. You know how I mentioned out front about seeing one of the first incarnations of Topless Robot here? Well, it might be a bit of a stretch, but the Game Players community…well, I’m just gonna let you experience it for yourself first. See each page here, here, here, here, & here, then come back.
…You done? Good. So yes, I hope you took it all in. Note the insanity, the snark, the presence of Elder God-like figures, the contests where insane fever dreams end up winning mystery prizes that I can only assume were hollowed-out Bomberman trophies filled with pills…maybe it’s just me, but the raving of a lovable bunch like this mark the earliest days of groups like us. Except they went even deeper into the well of insanity, to the point where this issue had an entire page for subscribers detailing their mythology! Dammit, we need to work on this more…I mean, we have one kickass elder god and the walking colon he tortures, but we need to do our ancestors here justice…
– Okay, going into some actual games, the news section comes first with the headliner being OW OW OW OH GOD MY EYES WHY IS THIS ISSUE CAUSING SO MUCH EYE TRAUMA…sorry, but the headline where a different size font is chosen for every letter is just so damn garish it almost hurts. And the fact that this is a story about the then-upcoming launch of the Virtual Boy doesn’t help either. It’s incredible how optimistic Nintendo was about this, imagining 1.5 million Virtual Boys and 2.5 million games for it sold within six months (actual number of VBs sold in its entire lifetime span: 770,000). And despite mentioning the criticisms launched against it, even GP wasn’t immune to additional optimism, saying that in a few months, they’ll be swimming in Virtual Boy games. Apparently they didn’t foresee a mere fourteen games not making much of a pool.
– Speaking of doomed consoles and virtual reality, we also have a story about the “long-awaited” virtual reality headset for the Atari Jaguar, which followed the Jaguar’s price drop and would only cost a mere $300. This is probably where you’d expect me to make a joke about the Oculus Rift and one of video game history’s most legendary failures, but I’m pretty sure every video game console back then had some sort of plan for a VR headset. GP questioned if it would be Atari’s savior or a 64-bit version of the Activator. Despite the obvious answer, it ended up being neither as the final product was never released.
– Next up we have the “Hit Lists”, the obligatory lists detailing the top games of the month from the readers, the staff, and in the UK and Japan. Now, if you paid attention to the Readers’ Network earlier, you’ll note one person asking why GP didn’t cover PC games, the response being they just couldn’t afford to at the moment. Now, combine that with a legion of gamers craving Doom in addition to the various platformers and fighting games of the day (with the SNES version of the game still not having been released yet), and what do you have? Desperation, as the readers had to actually put a 32X game on their list of favorite games in order to get Doom up there. In fairness, the 32X version of the game was well-received back in the day, but you can just tell how much this hurt everyone involved.
Also, the JRPG classic Secret of Mana was still beloved by gamers nearly two years after it game out, which just proves how awesome it was. Just sayin’.
– In the magazine’s pop culture section: remember Izzy, the mascot of the Atlanta 1996 Summer Olympics? Remember Izzy’s animated special? Remember Izzy’s very own video game? No? Well, lucky you. I didn’t even know there was an animated special until I read this again, and I’m probably better off the less I know about it. Also, Dean Cain trading cards, a list of addresses for video game websites in this whole “Cyber Space” thing, and Marvel’s own doomed contribution to the collectible card game boom Magic: The Gathering had started.
– Time for previews! And we start things off with a preview for one of the very first planned Ultra 64 games (the Nintendo 64’s earlier name, in case you didn’t know), Robotech: Academy. Billed as one of the most ambitious space flight sims ever, with incredibly versatile combat and a world where everything was to be rendered in 3D right down to the stars in the sky, a major accomplishment back then. Truly a game that showcased the power of this fifth generation of video games…or it would have been if the game weren’t eventually cancelled in 1998 after developer GameTek went bankrupt, sadly. Oh, and they also covered this “Chrono Trigger” game, though I can’t remember if that was important or not.
– Also in the category of “Sadly Canceled”: Shredfest, a snowboarding game from EA that would have been a spiritual successor to the incredible 3DO version of Road Rash (which itself is shown here being ported to the PlayStation). In fact, the entire page contains several EA games, back from the era in which they actually still had something resembling a soul. Yeah, that’s going to be tricky to explain to the kids of today…
– Now for some reviews, and as the cover stated, one of the big draws this month are reviews of the very first PlayStation and Saturn games…and it’s where this particular issue of Game Players becomes a bit infamous and hilarious in hindsight. See, this is where they review Battle Arena Toshinden, indeed one of the very first PS games. And out of a score from 0 to 100%, they gave it a 98%, which was the highest ever score they had given a video game they reviewed up to this point. Reviewer Chris Slate pretty much gushed all over the whole thing, ending with “It’s the kind of games that not only ‘wows’ your friends, but it’ll also hold up over time.”
Now, if your first thought upon reading that was “What the f*** is Battle Arena Toshinden?”…precisely.
Not that Battle Arena Toshinden was a bad game, mind you; it received several positive reviews back then. But “highest score ever” good? Eh, no. And it definitely didn’t hold up over time, as the Toshinden franchise cranked out two more sequels and one game only released overseas before being abandoned at the end of the ’90s and dying off.
Other award winners from this month, though? Daytona USA for the Saturn and Jumping Flash! for the PlayStation, the latter being a first-person platformer that most critics actually would like to see make a comeback…
– Also in notable reviews was the actual cover story, the first-ever review for the SNES version of Killer Instinct…which kind of felt a bit anti-climactic since it was just a two-page review where they give it an 83% and say it was cool, but not as good as the arcade version. Also, the stinker of the month apparently went to the 3DO version of Hell: A Cyberpunk Thriller, which received a 34% and was a game they cared so little about that they apparently botched the review, accidentally repeating the intro in place of a conclusion. Oops.
– The section covering arcade games soon follows, highlighting the dilemma happening around this time that with more powerful home video game consoles out that can actually deliver improved versions of coin-op games (like Tekken, as mentioned), how can arcades survive? By updating arcade boards to add extra content as time passes, they say. A good idea, but too bad it still didn’t stop the decline of arcades. They also threw in their two cents in picking the Top 10 arcade games out at the moment, with Virtua Fighter 2 taking the top spot. Oh, and notably, all of the games on the list would eventually see home console releases within a year (with the exception of Ridge Racer 2). Also, they accidentally used a picture of X-Men 2 for the Genesis in place of the X-Men: Children of the Atom arcade game, leading me to believe that by this point, they gave their proofreader a good flogging after this issue hit the stands.
– Looking at some previews of international games, the clear highlight was Gunner’s Heaven, a PlayStation game that was favorably compared to the cult genesis classic Gunstar Heroes. A colorful, brilliant, action-packed romp that wowed the hell out of everyone who saw it and by now you’re probably guessing that it was actually never released over here, and you’d sadly be correct. It was released in Europe under the name Rapid Reload, but to this day Westerners have yet to even see a PlayStation network re-release of it. Kind of a shame, to say the least…
– Moving into the section on cheats, tips, and strategies, we have an entire bit teaching how to pull off finishing moves in the hidden gem of a Sega CD fighter that was Eternal Champions: Challenge from the Dark Side, just in case you actually thought you could escape one month in the mid-1990s without a reminder that this was an era dominated by Mortal Kombat and all of its ilk.
– There was also “Game Slayers”, the section where frustrated gamers write in to ask how to to solve certain parts of games that are stumping them. Basically the same deal as “Counselor’s Corner” in Nintendo Power (before GameFAQs made it all obsolete). One notable difference is that readers could actually send in their fellow strategies for beating games, and GP would actually publish them. Case in point, here we have one reader sharing tips on how to beat The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, which goes to show that Link’s Awakening was still stumping people more than two years after it came out. Pre-Internet was an odd time indeed.
– And in the actual part about video game cheats, we have TITTIES!!!…Not even kidding this time around. They discovered that an old, obscure Genesis game called Rings of Power included a code to see a topless lady in the intro, which they actually included an uncensored pic of here (NSFW, naturally) – a pretty ballsy move. And yes, that’s the same Naughty Dog best known today for Uncharted and The Last of Us…the latter of which ended up accidentally containing a number for a phone sex line, because apparently old habits die hard.
– Finally, one little outro at the end advertising challenges and even more challenges to win games and mystery prizes from Game Players, because apparently their insanity involved giving away as many free games as humanly possible…another philosophy from them we should adopt, eh? Also, physical violence! Yay!
And thus ends this month’s Retro Gaming Mag Spotlight. As usual, a big thanks to Retromags for making the archiving of these treasure chests of nostalgia possible. Make sure to give them your support, even check out the full issue featured this month right here if you want, god bless ’em! Next, the latest crop of recent video game trailers!
…Well, as you may have guessed, we were kind of light on non-E3 trailers this month. Still, there were some surprises to be had, including notable amount of bullets and asses, so let’s take a looksee!
– Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
We may as well lead off with the trailer that’s actually still making headlines, as the Metal Gear Solid V trailer has apparently been getting praise from the likes of major film directors such as Guillermo del Toro and Nicholas Winding Refn…which would probably mean more if they were praising, you know, the actual game.
Honestly though, the Metal Gear Solid V keeps reminding me of such works as Apple’s “1984” commercial or the original trailer for the 1992 film Toys…all of them gorgeous, acclaimed, unique, well-constructed works of art that still end up telling you somewhere between jack s*** and the bare minimum about the actual product they’re supposed to be selling. The game will quite obviously kick ass, and I’m not saying this isn’t an impressive bit of video…just not one that I feel is as incredible as everyone says it is.
– Titan Souls
If there was a surprise hit at E3 that everyone was talking about afterwards that I sadly didn’t see (largely because I couldn’t get an appointment to see it), it was Titan Souls. The premise sounds simple: You are a lone hero trying to assemble the shards of the Titan Soul, which you can only do by eliminating several huge bosses that are the only enemies in your path. The catch? Titan Souls was created as part of a game jam with the theme “you only get one.” So bad news: you only have one hit point. Good news: the bosses only have one hit point as well. Bad news: your arsenal only consists of one arrow, which you have to retrieve each time you fire it. Quite challenging and quite interesting, but those of you still unsure, let me try summing it up like this: Imagine Shadow of The Colossus if it were made in 1992. Now imagine more SoTC, period. So yeah, color me excited.
I still think the claim of this PS4 puzzler being a “4th-dimensional” game is BS, since that would probably have to involve time manipulation as opposed to just manipulating the environment to get your hero to notice things, but it still looks like a beautiful and interesting puzzler nonetheless.
– Heavy Bullets
A first-person shooter where you only have six bullets throughout the entire game that you have to retrieve afterwards…wait, that sounds familiar. Huh, turns out this is being published by the same folks publishing Titan Souls, go figure. So is “extremely limited ammo” another possible trend we’re looking at? Anyhow, we’re looking at a roguelike FPS here (because of course every hit indie game these days needs roguelike elements) with procedurally-generated levels (ditto) that apparently overdosed on neon and seems quite intense, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t intrigued, go figure.
– The Legend of Korra
Ugh. Another cheaply made churned-out licensed game that’s just going to…
Wait…is that…Platinum Games? As in the Platinum Games behind MadWorld, Bayonetta, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance and several other notably excellent action games? As in one of my favorite game developers? They’re making this? Well then…this just got interesting.
– The Witcher III: Wild Hunt
…I’ll be honest, I do not personally understand the appeal of the Witcher games myself. But a lot of you do, and it still looks like a solid game with stunning graphics, so here you go, have at it.
– Dreamfall Chapters
The first chapter of the long-awaited second sequel to the adventure game classic The Longest Journey is finally set to be released…though hopefully without the awkward combat sections that made the previous game a chore. But even then, at least we’re finally getting to see more of this epic tale, so huzzah!
Just when you thought there was no way to truly put the “fun” in “funeral”, here’s a puzzle-platformer about hauling a dead king’s funeral chariot containing his body of the appropriate resting place he wants! Wheee!! In all honestly, though, the bit I got to play was legitimately fun and challenging, looks damn promising, and was this close to being included amongst my list of the best games at E3. Still, more power to ya, guys.
God, I wish the trailers for this game were longer. I mean, we did get the news that this incredible Fleischer-styled action game is going to be a trilogy, so we’re definitely going to get more of it, but man, is it being a tease. I understand not wanting to spoil everything, but come on, I can’t subsist on the occasional 30-second clip alone…
– Action Henk
Gotta be honest, at least 50% of why I’m including this trailer is largely because of the phrase “glorious ass slides.” The other 50% is because it also features said flaming ass slides in action.
A stunning trailer the expertly shows off…wait a second. Ooh, that’s right! I only feature cartoonish looking piles of shit! Oh ho, silly me! Alright, let’s see what we have that falls under that category…
– Kim Kardashian: Hollywood
Yes, this is an actual game that exists for iOS and Android. Yes, it is official as far as I can tell. Yes, it embodies the worst aspects of “social” mobile games, right down to microtransactions. And yes, we should all be ashamed of ourselves as a species for having let this happen.
Now, you might be questioning the actual absence of a trailer here. Oh, there is one, but embedding it here would mean having to view even microseconds of it before I hit pause, and in no way would I want to expose myself to such torture. Also, the trailer is apparently one f***ing hour long. Good lord. The trailer is located in the article here, and if you have actually seen it and lived to tell the tale, you are a braver man than me. And an infinitely more insane man. Anyhow, make sure to thank our troll friend on the way out for reminding me to including this type of drek that I apparently specialize in!
Retro Game Showcase: Simon the Sorcerer
So earlier last month while my while waiting around for my cable and internet to be reconnected (long story), I decided to pass the time by finally getting around to tackling some old-school adventure games I had purchased on GOG.com. Turns out some of them haven’t held up that well. But I was finally able to play Simon the Sorcerer for the first time and dang, was I wowed. Not only does Simon share the same SCUMM engine that powered the adventure game classic The Secret of Monkey Island, it has a great sense of humor to match, except with a bit more of a British bent to it (particularly in the voice acting). Throw in a grand world you can freely explore filled with amazing visuals, a cast of fun characters, and some creative puzzles, and you definitely have have something from the golden age of adventure games not to be missed out on.
And so we come to the end of our sophomore effort in bringing you a monthly gaming column. We thank you for checking out the latest edition of Robotic Gaming Monthly, and hope you somehow come back for more! And remember, sometimes shooting a vinyl record into a pulsating mutant’s crotch is the mature thing to do! See you next time!
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