|Artwork by CitrusKing46|
Hello, and welcome to another edition of Robotic Gaming Monthly, Topless Robot’s monthly column devoted to the recent happenings, reviews of recent releases, and trailers in gaming! This time around we ask such questions as “Should the major players in the gaming industry think smaller?”, “Does Life is Strange show any promise?” and “Do giant purple bunnies really make the best mayoral candidates?” Let’s head in and see what the answers to those questions and many others are!
So kicking things off this month, I happened to notice that two of the biggest topics and discussions in gaming recently involved the news that games like The Order: 1886 being incredibly short are kind of a major flaw, and that Peter Molyneux is kind of a screw-up who promises players too much and then doesn’t deliver. I’d join in on these debates, but I’m afraid I don’t have a “Well, DUHHHHHH” big and sarcastic enough to get my opinion on them across.
So moving away from something obvious, I thought I’d spend a little time focusing on a recent trend that seemed to pop up in gaming this month more than usual. Namely, a trend including three notable releases made up of Grow Home, an artistic platformer released by Ubisoft, the first episode of Life is Strange, an episodic adventure game released by Square Enix (that we’ll get into later), and the first episode of Resident Evil: Revelations 2, an episodic installment of the survival horror classic released by Capcom.
Notice the trend here? All three are from major triple-A gaming companies, but they’re releasing notably smaller titles. Instead of massive triple-A games, they’re putting out…I don’t know, let’s call them “B-plus” games until I can think of a better name. And what’s also notable is that despite being released by companies currently with dodgy reputations, all three games are being welcomed with open arms and positive responses (well, save for the slight PC co-op snafu with Revelations 2). And we already saw some of this before: While games like Assassin’s Creed Unity and Watch Dogs were crucified at the stakes last year, Ubisoft found acclaim then as well with their smaller downloadable fare thanks to the likes of Child of Light, Trials Fusion, and of course, Valiant Hearts: The Great War. Not to mention love elsewhere for discount versions of major franchises like Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, Call of Juarez: Gunslinger and inFamous: First Light.
So what I’m pondering is this…should major gaming companies actually take a step back and focus more of their efforts on smaller titles, given how much more acclaim we seem to bestow on them compared to their larger offerings? After all, it seems like the obvious choice: Putting out more smaller games would allow these companies to take more risks and get more experimental while gaining credibility, and using resources the size of a triple-A games to create, say, three smaller games instead means we’d get more variety, not to mention a smaller dent in our wallets.
On the other hand, do we like games of this size simply because they’re better, or because they’re less prone to controversy? Going back to Watch Dogs and AssCreed, it feels like any mentions of the enjoyable bits those games had throughout them were drowned out by complaints of glitches and arguments over framerates…arguments you rarely see pop up with games like Valiant Hearts. Largely because less parts to the machinery means less parts that can come loose and screw everything up, but do we like these games because they contain interesting and fun content, or simply just because they don’t contain the symptoms of modern gaming that we hate? Furthermore, is this just a case of our expectations screwing with us? Do we just naturally lower our expectations for a $10 platformer compared to a $60 sandbox game?
In the end, I suppose it’s a bit of both. Yes, given a lot of crap in video games today, maybe major companies should focus a bit more on “B-plus” games (while still planning some larger, more ambitious projects in the wings, though) to spice things up a bit and deliver gamers some more affordable and simple yet still innovative fare. It’s good for gamers, and it’s good for the companies. Let’s just make sure that we appreciate them for what they are, give credit where credit is due, and don’t let petty discussions over crap like framerate spill over here as well (seriously, unless it makes the game literally unplayable, I could care less).
Moving on to something else, let’s go back to Law & Order: SVU’s recent GamerGate episode, “The Intimidation Game”. Now we’ve already discussed this episode before here on TR, but I feel I should offer some additional thoughts on it, largely because every time we mention GamerGate or anything associated with it, the site’s numbers noticeably go up. GamerGate, GamerGate, GamerGate, Anita Sarkeesian, ethics in gaming journalism. There, that got us like, what, an additional 500 views based on just those few mentions or something?
Truth be told, I actually was willing and ready to do an entire list based on the episode, but after looking down at the notes I had taken while viewing it and seeing that it basically just consisted of the words “FUCK THIS SHIT” written over and over, I figured that maaaaaaybe I should wait until I’ve had the time to calm down and collect my thoughts before committing anything to an official article.
One thing that I actually thought of afterwards was how this botched hour of television compares to the time Superman helped take down a chunk of a Ku Klux Klan, or referencing more modern fare, how Team America took shots at Kim Jong-il. In each of those cases, the goal was to draw attention to these lunatics and show that while they may be threats, the actual people behind them are nothing but cartoonish dicks. To quote Chris Sims in the ComicsAlliance article, what they did was “paint them as being every bit as ridiculous as they were dangerous”.
But if Superman and Team America showed their targets as being as ridiculous as they were dangerous, “The Intimidation Game” went in the opposite direction…far in that direction, displaying GamerGate as even more dangerous than they are ridiculous. And yes, GamerGate has made legitmate threats that are absolutely awful that we should be concerned about and the harassment against female developers and gamers definitely needs to end, that’s all kind of a no-brainer. But SVU decided to make GamerGate into a fucking ISIS-style terrorist group instead of the more realistic threats we’ve actually heard about. Instead of presenting the truth that would have made for a fine episode as is so we can properly address the issue and deal with it, they opted to sensationalize it and crank up the hyperbole, and the end result comes across more as the clich?d fear-mongering against video game-related violence than an actual commentary on this whole quagmire.
And for another comparison, Superman’s tale actually convinced at least one guy to quit the Ku Klux Klan after realizing how stupid it was, while the horrible ending of “The Intimidation Game” seemed to accidentally tell GamerGate that they can win if they keep harassing folks, if anything. Bravo, SVU.
Oh, and for the record, Anita Sarkeesian hated the episode as well.
Predictably this week's Law & Order SVU was sickening. They trivialized and exploited real life abuse of women in gaming for entertainment.
— Feminist Frequency (@femfreq) February 12, 2015
Gee, it’s almost like trying to address mean-spirited threats and harassment against people like the woman who criticizes certain games for treating female characters as nothing but props that exist solely to be raped, beaten, and maimed for shock value and entertainment by having the character based on her be nothing but a prop that exists solely to be raped, beaten, and maimed for shock value and entertainment was a BAD idea! Who could have seen that coming?
Oh, I could go on for a while. There’s the fact that showcasing Ice-T as the lone “positive” gamer compared to the other asshole gamers comes across more like the equivalent of bragging on the Internet that you have a black friend to prove that you’re not racist, the fact that the Call of Duty expy featured was such a an eye-rolling Ultra Super Death Gore Fest Chainsawer 3000 called Kill Or Be Slaughtered that was basically a blatant straw video game, or the fact that absolutely none of it was about ethics in gaming journalism.
But one relatively minor thing that irked me was this: The majority of mainstream television clearly has no concept of indie games.
Instead of presenting something along the likes of Depression Quest or Revolution 60, the actual games from the female developers involved in all of this, what we got was a cartoonishly girly take on what a forty year-old with only a passing knowledge of Minecraft or Civilization would perceive them to be like. And of course, it was unveiled via a huge launch party with every press outlet coming to cover it, because a smaller game just wouldn’t make for what they call thrilling TV.
To sum things up, screw SVU. Do you want an better view of video games in pop culture? Watch House of Cards instead.
Those are clips from the show’s most recent season. You will notice actual, real-life indie games being played. You will notice them being played with interest. You will notice actual research done. You will notice them being treated with dignity, appreciated by even the leader of the damn country. You will notice none of that on over-the-top tripe like SVU. I salute you, House of Cards. You make me proud to be a gamer, dammit.
Huh, maybe we can trust them with a Legend of Zelda series after all…
Well, now it’s time for this month’s Burning Question! And we have a special treat for us this month! See, our good friends at Ivy Games not only gave us a copy of their new platformer Gravity Ghost to review this month (Spoiler Alert: It is indeed really damn fun), they also gave us an extra copy to give away because they want to share this experience with as many people as possible! Heck, they even offer two copies with a regular purchase, because they’re just that proud of this colorful little beauty!
On a related note, Kotaku just did an article on underappreciated ’90s platformers recently, thus providing me with the inspiration for a proper question to tie in to the additional good platformer we have here. So here we go: In your opinion, what was the most underappreciated or underrated platformer you’ve ever played, and why? For me, Kotaku displayed it front and center: Pulseman.
…Which was underappreciated by Sega themselves, apparently, because they never ported it over to American shores until 2009 for the Virtual Console…despite being a sweet combo of Sonic the Hedgehog and Mega Man, which you’d think they would have given us when it was made in 1994 so they could earn god knows how much cash with a mix like that.
Anyhow, yeah, no Mystery Prize this time, you’re competing for a copy of Gravity Ghost. Comment with an answer to the question, and whoever makes the best case for their game wins. You only have one week to enter, though, so get cracking. As for last month’s Mystery Prize, though, congrats to LBD_Nytetrayn for winning it! LBD, contact us at [email protected] so we can send you your prize.
Well, that tackles the editorial bits. And despite finding myself being a bit out of breath after that, we have reviews coming up next!
Well, we were sadly not able to acquire the biggest games of the past month – Evolve, The Order: 1886, Dying Light – in time to review this month. Then again, if I learned anything from what I just typed moments ago, it’s that reviewing smaller indie games is still a vital part of gaming journalism that could actually lead to one getting recognized by the President of the United States. So I dunno, maybe my musings on a four-dollar game about space pizza will one day allow me to meet the Pope. So let’s get right to month’s reviews!
I’m just going to skip straight to the point here: Gravity Ghost is, in my opinion, the type of game that most “casual” games should be: Simple to play, fun and enjoyable, colorful, and yet still capable of telling a deep and compelling story while also delivering gameplay that works for both those who want to approach each level strategically and those who just want to dick around.
Also, the game has a rapping mouse at one point. All casual games are easily improved by the addition of a rapping mouse. It’s a fact!
The setup: You play as Iona, a young girl tasked with having to get an entire universe in order and eventually track down her lost fox friend by flinging herself around various celestial bodies, using the gravity to guide her to the star she has to collect in each level (and guide the occasional dead animal to the afterlife, naturally). As with the best games of this nature, things start out simple but then get a bit more complex as you have to not only contend with multiple planets and asteroids spinning around and having to calculate for their gravitational pull as well, but you also have multiple planet types that get introduced along the way as well, like those made entirely of water whose surface you pass through, trampoline-like surfaces you bounce off of, high gravitational pulls that attract you like a magnet, et cetera. Thankfully, it all escalates at a proper and fair rate, and the various unlockable additions in the form of gravity-defying powers and the ability to terraform planets help out perfectly as well.
Needless to say, the ability to run around an entire planet, jump off of it, and float around an entire chunk of space is fun and satisfying as all hell. But all of that is thankfully strung together with a particularly strong story as well, told via unlockable flashbacks. I won’t spoil anything, but you learn of Iona’s relationship with her fox buddy and her family and…well, just prepare yourself for when the feels hammer drops, is all I’m saying. The voice acting also fits perfectly, with Ashly Burch being a highlight as Iona, capturing the spirit of an adventurous young girl in one of the best ways possible.
Alas, Gravity Ghost’s desire to be a game that’s accessible to everyone kind of acts like a double-edged sword at times. See, while the game is set up so that each level can be beaten with several different methods, this means that since a lot of strategies work, there are other, more complicated strategies that feel kind of pointless. Mainly, some of the previously-mentioned gravity powers and terraforming abilities come across as overkill, with a good chunk of them hardly needed to get through the game. Heck, out of the six terraforming abilities, I only recall one – water – as ever being necessary to progress in the game. And this kind of harms one of the game’s other mechanics as well: Iona can catch animal spirits and stars in her hair as it flows behind her, with flowers you can collect allowing her hair to grow even longer for easier collection. The catch is that terraforming uses up some of Iona’s hair, but without the need to terraform a lot, I was never in danger at all of Iona’s hair growing too short. Also, I should mention that while the graphics and art style are absolutely stunning, vivid, vibrant, and inspired, the animation quality you get in the cutscenes is kind of stiff and awkward, sort of taking you out of the moment briefly. Not exactly Don Bluth quality here, is what I’m saying.
But those are minor quibbles, and in the end, Gravity Ghost is a brief yet incredibly fun platformer with a captivating gimmick and many well-crafted puzzles, so I highly recommend it. And again, rapping mouse. Seriously, how did that alone not sell you on the game already?
htoL#NiQ: The Firefly Diary
First off, I shall point out the obvious and say that no, I did not fall asleep there for a second where my unconscious head then fell on the keyboard and ended up typing that out by accident. htoL#NiQ is indeed the name of Nippon Ichi’s new puzzle-platformer, a stylistic way of saying Hotaru no Nikki. No, falling asleep would suggest that I had gotten bored of htoL#NiQ, and I was never bored by it…just incredibly, incredibly frustrated with it.
htoL#NiQ is the story of Mion, an adorable little antlered waif who wakes up from a slumber in a ruined building who finds herself soon joined by two fireflies, one green and one purple. You actually control said fireflies, using them to lead Mion through the various wreckage and dangers to safety while collecting various memories belonging to Mion along the way. You use the Vita’s front touch screen to move the green firefly around and determine what direction Mion moves in and what actions she performs, and the rear touchpad allows the purple firefly to move through a freeze-framed shadow dimension in order to activate machinery and objects out of Mion’s reach. This is all required to solve various puzzles in your path, naturally, and while it sounds simple, the touch-based controls can be tad frustrating at times and tend to be more of a hindrance then they should be. But to be honest, they never felt truly annoying to me, and I never thought them to be a dealbreaker.
What was a dealbreaker, though, is the enormous amounts of fake difficulty the game piles upon you.
See Mion? Despite the countless amounts of dangerous machinery and shadow beasts around her, she never moves or reacts at any pace faster than a seventy year-old with cement soles in her shoes. She’s also extremely fragile, not being able to take a single hit before wincing over in pain as blood forms around the screen, alerting you that you have failed. Oh, and several of the puzzles just happen to require quick timing to solve them as well. So combine all of the above and you get a chance to test your variety of curse words quite easily. I was stuck on one puzzle for close to twenty minutes where the goal was simply to open a door and get from one end of the room to the other before it closed. A room that was one screen wide. But between the absolutely perfect precision-timing the game demands and Mion basically being in a constant trance, the whole thing was an absolute chore.
But it isn’t just speed issues alone that contribute to the fake difficulty. The breaking point, as any other critic will tell you, was the game’s second boss. After an extremely tedious moment where you have to navigate a firefly through a maze without touching the sides – a level that exists for no logical reason – you face off against some sort of sentient dinosaur-shaped trash compactor. To defeat it, you have Mion walk on a button that causes dynamite to appear that you then have to push in front of the machine. It has two attacks: One where it shoots a flamethrower from its mouth that can destroy the dynamite, and one where it lunges forward and bites down. If it bites down on the dynamite, it gets damaged. Damage it three times and it gets defeated.
Sounds easy? Oh, of course it isn’t. See, where most games like this would give the boss some sort of pattern that it attacks in which you can figure out or some kind of signal that lets you know what attack it’s about to perform, htoL#NiQ feels that being completely random offers up a greater challenge. So whatever attack the boss performs is entirely up to chance, meaning my sole strategy was just to shove dynamite in front of it and pray that luck was on my side. Oh, and there’s the occasional falling debris throughout the fight that kills Mion instantly. And the fact that after the boss is defeated, you have to successfully use the purple firefly to detonate a missile it’s about to launch or you die and have to start the whole thing all over again. Fun, right?
The sad part is that in every other area, htoL#NiQ has the signs of a great puzzler. The graphics are absolutely terrific, with a superb style that makes the apocalypse look good. The little 16-bit styled isometric segments where you explore Mion’s memories stand out as well, as does the allure of an intriguing story to piece together overall. And aside from Mion’s reaction time, most of the puzzles and obstacles themselves are well-designed…they just deserve something better.
In the end, htoL#NiQ is Nippon Ichi’s efforts to emulate a more Western indie game, right down to copying Yahtzee Croshaw’s noted recipe for success on the indie circuit by creating an arty 2D platformer about a very small character with a big head exploring a huge, scary world. But instead of opting to make a quick yet fun and memorable game like a lot of them are, htoL#NiQ opts to pad things out with artificial challenge and spoils the overall experience in the process. I wanted to love your adventure, Mion, but it just wasn’t meant to be. Maybe next time stop relying on fireflies to guide you and work on your damn cardio instead.
Life is Strange: Chrysalis
Okay, first, a disclaimer: Since Life is Strange is an episodic game, I plan to write a more full review once the whole game is out. As such, consider these to just simply be quicker first impressions based on the game’s first episode, Chrysalis. So it’s a short review for now, but the good news? The impression Chrysalis left on me was a mighty damn good one indeed.
Life is Strange is the story of Max, a photography senior who just moved back to her home of Oregon after five years, ready to attend a prestigious private school. As such, she has to deal with hassles of being the new girl in school again, having to reacquaint herself with her best friend, deal with the hassle of bullies, and the annoyance of discovering that she has the ability to rewind and travel back through time. You know, the troubles every teenage girl goes through.
Yes, we have a time manipulation mechanic on display here, which makes for the meat of the game’s puzzles. As this is the first episode, things start out simple: Figure out where to place a paint can so it splashes on someone in your way thanks to future actions you’ve foreseen, or use a newly-learned piece of information to answer an important question in the past you got wrong before. Rewinding time is easy to pull off, and I feel it kind of says a lot that I mostly used it to help Max make friends on campus, yet felt guilty knowing she didn’t really know anything about their interests…I just wanted to see her happy and able to fit in. Despite using more than a few tropes, the high school life presented here feels particularly realistic, and even the first episode has a particularly deep and nicely-sized world to explore.
Getting around is easy, and the controls are nice and simple, with the rest of the gameplay’s meat consisting of Walking Dead-style dialogue trees, complete with the moral choices that will apparently have consequences down the road (but we’ll see about that later). The whole game is a treat to look at as well, with some areas even using a more low-res style in a few pictures for a stylistic approach, as if to make everything feel like it came right out of the indie comic world that inspires it (Ghost World, anyone?).
Any flaws? Well, it did feel like there were too many places to sit down, which, now that I have typed it out, I realize may be the oddest complaint that I have ever had about a video game. But there just seem to be too many bits where you can have Max relax and deliver an internal monologue about everything that’s happened so far, which feels kind of pointless as it just tells you what you already know so far and sort of undermines the rest of the game’s sharp dialogue. But if that was the only real flaw I could think of, then hopefully this means that the rest of the episodes for Life is Strange turn out to be almost as near-flawness as well, adding up to an astounding experience. Keep ’em coming, Dontnod and Square Enix. I look forward to where Max’s journey takes her.
Pizzarian is a game about delivering space pizza. Again, this is one of those cases where if you need to know anything more beyond that one concept, then clearly something is wrong. But if that is the case and you need a more elaborate description, here you go: Pizzarian is a shoot-’em-up about delivering space pizza. What, still not already sold? Ugh, you people…
Actually, Pizzarian is a pretty simple game for the most part. You are the manager of your own pizza delivery store in the Jovian system that services the moons of Jupiter, and your goal is to deliver pizzas and earn as much money as possible. You do so by first starting out in a side-scrolling shmup where the goal is to not collide with traffic while you travel to your destination, where it then turns into a top-down shooter on the moon where you have to fire the pizzas at the houses that ordered them as they scroll along. Simple stuff, and it controls smooth and easy, all while a nice monochromatic Game Boy-style display adds a little old-school charm.
Of course, there are other elements in play. Successfully delivering pizzas increases your RPG-like experience after each go-around, with each level you gain allowing you to move faster, increase your odds of avoiding collisions and such. You can also use your money gained to purchase new ships, upgrades, and various options for your pizza store, all with their own advantages and disadvantages. Finally, there’s the “Coolness” meter during each delivery. See, despite what those Domino’s ads told you, fresher ingredients isn’t the key to success with pizza: coolness is. The more cool you are, the more money you gain per pizza. How do you gain coolness? By swerving around all four corners of a car as close as possible while on the space highway, or circling houses before you deliver pizzas. No idea how that makes people want to cough up more money, but whatever.
It all makes for a particularly fun and enjoyable shooter, but the one notable flaw is that after having played Pizzarian for just a couple of hours, I had seen everything I needed to see. I had earned enough money to buy every ship, all the notable upgrades that made delivering pizza easier, and engaged in combat with the ships the rival companies sent after me multiple times. After all of that, there just wasn’t much challenge left and the game was getting repetitive. Much like a particularly delicious slice, you scarf it down fast and then the thrill is kind of over.
However, the taste of that pizza still lingers in your memory, though, and as brief as it is, Pizzarian is still a fun little shooter that you can pick up for a few bucks. Maybe getting some discount slices at your local pizza chain seems like a wiser investment, but this is still definitely worth taking a look at.
So on the Steam page for Sunless Sea, “Lovecraftian” is one of top tags used to describe the game, and it carries the tagline “LOSE YOUR MIND. EAT YOUR CREW. DIE.”
Basically, I immediately realized that the only way you could sell a game as being more suited for the Topless Robot crowd is if you called it Marvel’s Pro Wrestling Pony Crammer: Abraxas Edition.
But maybe I should talk about the actual game, though. Actually, take any review I write of Sunless Sea so far with a grain of salt, because I’ve been playing for several hours now and have yet to truly scrape the surface. Figuratively and literally, mind you, since I have yet to gather enough fuel required to travel to the game world’s surface. See, what we have here is a version of Victorian England that has sunken into the cavernous void below the earth and created the vast collection of dark, murky, monster-filled islands and water known as the Unterzee. As an eager zailor (yeah, expect a lot of purposely misspelled words, by the way), it is now your goal to tame these waters and carve out whatever story you choose.
Indeed, Sunless Sea is a narrative-driven game, a top-down roguelike adventure all about exploring dangerous waters, interacting with the locals on various islands, the occasional naval combat needed to get the giant crab to stop ramming you, and having to pay attention to resource management and making the proper choices needed in order to avoid going crazy and/or dying. And indeed, practically every choice you make in the game has consequences, starting from the very beginning where you pick your character’s past, occupation, and overall goal you hope to achieve in the story, which determines the various statistics you start out with. The major crew members you hire all have various effects on your stats as well, and those statistics determine the chances you have in successfully pulling off various actions you can perform while visiting islands, which can make the difference concerning whether or not you gain or lose or money, which fuels the decision concerning how much fuel and supplies you can purchase or whether or not to upgrade your ship and…well, you see where this is going. It’s pretty deep, is what I’m saying.
Indeed, every decision you make is very rewarding. Even more so when you decide to explore each island and unlock a chance to explore all of the various tales this world has to offer, with a lot of gothic horror involving nearly-dead tomb dwellers, religious fanatics who worship Zee gods, giant mushroom farmers, bizarre medical experiments, and many more, to name a few. It all creates something fascinating that made me eager to discover even more islands and see what they have to offer, which also made me extremely frustrated that everything else in the damn Zee kept getting in my way. Maybe it’s just that my ship was still pretty low-level, but the combat is kind of awkward, especially when the reward you get from it sometimes doesn’t balance out the fuel and supplies you used during it. The controls are still decent, although having to turn decently just to get a shot at certain enemies is annoying. Speaking of which, everything in the water is out to kill you, be it jellyfish or pirates, and they seemingly refuse to get off your tail for the longest while. Honestly, I just tried to avoid combat in my pursuit of new lands whenever possible, even if it meant risking an explosion that killed a few crew members by diverting all power to the engines.
But the combat never truly harms the game, and the strategy ended up being the more enjoyable part. In my pursuit to travel as far and wide as possible on a limited amount of fuel, do I turn off the ship’s lights in order to conserve it, even if that means increasing my terror meter and possibly driving the crew mad or causing various nightmares and hallucinations to pop up? Do I pay money I’m trying to save up in order to fix the ship, or do it by using supplies I have on hand, even if that means increasing the chance of my crew’s hunger spiking due to low supplies and possibly resorting to cannibalism? Sunless Sea offers up a nice chunk of challenge indeed, causing you to consider every option and take risks at times.
That being said, maybe the game relies a little too much on the player willing to take risks. It encourages you to do so quite a bit, and it sometimes comes off to me like someone encouraging you to go all in on a pair of threes. Maybe that’s why I haven’t exactly advanced much so far, but it just feels a bit awkward to reward recklessness as opposed to being more logical. Then again, I’m trying to be logical in a Lovecraftian world, so maybe I’m crazy…
But even while still in its earlier moments, Sunless Sea still remains a truly captivating game, a perfectly nightmarish universe to work with where you forge your own Zee-story and where the tales are front and center, accompanied by perfectly murky, minimalistic graphics. It’s a little bit of insanity that I definitely recommend checking out…just be prepared to spend quite a few hours on it all.
Alright, so that was all we have for reviews this month. Maybe next time we’ll get to cover something even bigger…or maybe it’ll just be one of those cheap games on Steam with naked anime women in them. Well, we’ll see. For now, on to some trailers!
Okay, so with the major game season about to kick into high gear and with GDC and Pax East happening next month, there was quite a lot to work with when it comes to game trailers recently. Needless to say, odds are you’ll probably find something here this time around that grabs your attention, so let’s take a looksee…
Toejam and Earl: Back in the Groove
Yes, kids of the ’90s, the original creator of the beloved Sega classic Toejam and Earl is finally bringing the boys back with a brand new video game via Kickstarter, thus explaining why the nostalgia center of your brain has been triggered recently and is causing you to open up your wallet. And considering that the original was a roguelike action game with randomly-generated levels, a new title in the series should fit in perfectly with the indie gaming scene of today that adores gameplay elements like that. There are some videos showing off the early stages of the actual gameplay and the sweet old-school comic book style on the game’s Kickstarter page, but I decided to go with the animated music video here that sets the tone for the game. What can I say? I’m a sucker for the more innocent age of hip-hop where the biggest songs were about busting a move or doing the wild thing.
What do you know, another arty 2D platformer about a very small character with a big head exploring a huge, scary world (we need to come up with a smaller term to describe them). Like it was said before, an instant key to critical acclaim with indies that everyone loves.
Of course, it also helps that we have veterans of the acclaimed LittleBigPlanet and Tearaway games Tarsier Studios working on this. And if they can bring as much suspense and horror to this story of a young girl escaping a monster-filled underwater labyrinth as they have whimsy to their previous hits, expect something incredible. Something incredible that makes you crap your pants in horror, but incredible nonetheless.
Say, have you ever thought to yourself “Boy, I sure do love bullet hell shooters, but I also love pissing off my friends as well. Isn’t there any way to combine the two?” Well, your dreams are coming true now thanks to Friendship Club, a four-player arena shooter with random level generation where every bullet you fire infinitely bounces off of walls until it hits something! And all of it takes place inside of a child’s head, so you have the bonus knowledge that you’re contributing to the traumatization of a young kid as well! Fun for the whole family (seriously, looks damn fun)!
Batman: Arkham Knight
Even before the actual video starts, you can tell s*** is really going down in the Arkham games this time around due to the reveal that this is the first game in the series to receive a Mature rating. Mind you, nothing we see here suggests anything warranting that rating – mostly just villain monologues and punching – but we’ll just have to wait and see. Methinks the Scarecrow hallucinations will be more intense than ever this go around, though…
Rodea the Sky Soldier
After nearly five years in the making, former Sonic Team head Yuji Naka’s new game is finally coming out for the Wii U and 3DS. Thankfully, it looks like it’s going to be worth the wait, promising some pretty intense aerial action that seems to evoke a hint of one of Yuji’s other big successes, Nights: Into Dreams. And it kind of goes without saying that any game reminding me of Nights is probably doing at least something right…
Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls
By now I think I may be ready to finally accept that I am possibly the lone, solitary Danganronpa fan on this entire site.
…Still doesn’t stop me from getting incredibly excited over the news that the recent spinoff is coming over here this Fall, though. Puhuhuhuhu…
Not a Hero
All you need to know is that you’re playing as an assassin that helps a giant purple anthropomorphic rabbit run for mayor by killing lots and lots and lots of criminals. The rest is just gravy.
…Delicious, delicious, adrenaline-filled, comically blood-soaked gravy, as the trailer shows. Again, god bless you, Devolver Digital.
Strength of the Sword: Ultimate
Basically, two men need your help to create an updated version of a crazy-ass 3D weapon-based brawler that they made for the PS3 so they cram it with even more weapons, gear, bosses and more than is humanly imaginable.
Needless to say, this is a cause I can get behind. Hell, it’s worth it just for the illustrations on their Kickstarter page alone.
Damn you, Mekazoo. You knew from earlier that as a child of the ’90s who played a lot of platformers, I am highly susceptible to any game that allows me to play as a colorful robot armadillo. You are triggering my inner child’s need for this type of game, and I curse you for it. You evil bastards.
Just Cause 3
Okay, I’m excited for Just Cause 3 based on what I’ve heard. And I don’t mind that the first official trailer is pre-rendered. It still looks neat.
But that being said, can we PLEASE put a ban on video game trailers using obnoxiously moody cover songs? We’ve already had Evolve using covers of Danzig and The Delfonics in its trailers, and now The Prodigy here? God damn you, Gears of War and your “Mad World” cover…
On one hand, I am always a bit skeptical of indie games that tell us up front that there’s some sort of message or commentary to it – in this case, social anxiety disorder with Sym – largely because the potential is high for the delivery of the intended message to have too much priority over, you know, the actual game. Luckily, what we have here appears to be quite a unique and intriguing platformer with a striking style, so okay, I’ll play along for now.
It might look pretty good in several areas, but sorry guys, I refuse to believe that this is a true Pok?mon fighting until you add Scrafty and/or Hawlucha. Suicune? Pikachu? A hearty, snarky FEH to both of them.
I’m going to confess that the only game in the Shin Megami Tensei universe that I’ve ever played for a long amount of time and completed was Catherine, so I honestly have no complete idea as to what’s going on here.
I do notice that this game apparently has a new Teddie in the form of a big-headed ninja cat thief, though. And I can’t think of an occasion where a big-headed ninja cat thief isn’t a plus, so at least we have that working in Persona 5’s favor.
So remember how I’ve said in the past that the upcoming Titan Souls looks quite a bit like Shadow of the Colossus circa 1991 or such? Well, aside from shaping up to deliver a terrific old-school Castlevania experience as well, it looks like there are going to be at least a few scenes in Death’s Gambit that suggest that it’s gunning for that Retro SotC title as well. Here’s hoping it succeeds, because you can never have enough games like that.
We Happy Few
From the makers of Contrast comes something pretty unique. I mean, we’ve all seen countless dystopias across several video games, usually zombie or steampunk-related, but an alternate 1960s dystopian Britain where everybody is forced to wear eerie, blank, smiling faces? Color me intrigued at this BioShock-meets-A Clockwork Orange-meets-“Black Hole Sun” premise they appear to set up. Can’t wait to find out more.
And thus we reach the end of another edition of Robotic Gaming Monthly. Thanks for dropping by, feel free to leave any comments offering suggestions, questions, additional discussions on what we talked about, or messages about how much we suck, and we leave you with one final notice that Topless Robot’s own R.K. Stein will be covering PAX East this weekend, so stay tuned for any exciting news and opinions from that! See you next time!
Previous Editions of Robotic Gaming Monthly:
– Robotic Gaming Monthly #9 – Nintendo (Minus) Power
– Robotic Gaming Monthly #8 – The Best-Looking Games of 2015
– Robotic Gaming Monthly #7 – Press F to Decorate Tree
– Robotic Gaming Monthly #6 – Harmonix, Hatred, and an ex-BioShock Bonanza