Review: Pushmo World

Pushmo returns in HD, and manages to rekindle my desire to shove blocks around.

The 3DS saw one of the most innovative puzzle games in recent memory with Pushmo a few years back. A simple downloadable title became one of the 3DS’s best games, if nothing else for the refreshing nature of it’s gameplay. It wasn’t about speed or necessarily skill, it was about thinking things carefully to get from the bottom to the top. Plain, simple, and immensely enjoyable.

Pushmo World seeks to bring that same innovative gameplay to the big screen. Admittedly, it’s not as fresh the second time, but it still delivers head scratching brilliance with a new batch of puzzles. You also get a more robust social feature through Miiverse, allowing you to find and endless assortment of user-generated Pushmo puzzles!

Here’s one I created! It’s kind of terrible, but you can scan the QR code into either version of Pushmo to try it!

What makes Pushmo great is it’s simplicity. The colorful art style, the peppy music, and the minimal amount of mechanics helps to keep the game clear and concise, and yet the variety of puzzles seems endless. The amount of innovation you get from a game about pushing and pulling blocks around never ceases to surprise me, even in the franchise’s second iteration.

Ultimately, Pushmo is a puzzle game only in competition with itself. It’s nice to see that Nintendo didn’t try and staple more weird mechanics into it, or re-introduce elements from the less favorable offshoot Crashmo (also available on the 3DS). What we have is a great game, in high definition, with nearly unlimited content. At the end of the day that’s all anybody could ask for.

Unplugged – Yomi Kickstarter

Fighting games meet poker in this extraordinary product.

(Editor’s Note: “Unplugged” is what I call my series of articles for analog games. It’s for card games, board games; really any game that isn’t a video game. I hope you enjoy.)

If you’re anything like me, you don’t have a head for fighting games. You want to get into them, they’re a blast to watch pros play, and they each have unique characters that you want to get to know. But you just can’t get past opening every fight by leaping forward and throwing a kick as your most advanced fighting tactic. Well for people like me, there is a solution in the card game called Yomi.

Continue reading Unplugged – Yomi Kickstarter

E3 Report! Nintendo’s Digital Event

I’m really glad I got that Wii U.

It’s hard not to love a show that starts with executives fighting each other like Street Fighter characters. Iwata’s flying headbutt, E. Honda style, was a better way to wake up than Folger’s shot directly into my eyeballs. It didn’t hurt following that up with some Smash Bros. footage showing off new Mii characters. It was a strong start for a strong show from Nintendo.

Highlights include the Kirby’s Epic Yarn spiritual successor Yoshi’s Woolly World, a new Kirby’s Canvas Curse game Kirby’s Rainbow Curse, and Mario Maker, a game where you make Mario levels and share them. But it’s easy to say the real winner was the new Legend of Zelda game. I don’t want to oversell it, but it looks to be Zelda meets Skyrim. Don’t believe me? Check out the video from the briefing.

The other big story out of this digital event was Amiibo. This initiative is Nintendo’s answer to Skylanders, where real world figures can be transferred into game content. The big highlight showed Smash Bros. themed figures where you can create and level up fighters and store them in your figure for use during fights or training. These figures will also be used in other games like Mario Kart 8, Mario Party 10, and more. It’ll be interesting to see if they allow Mario to be playable in the next Skylanders game, because if they do, it’s game over.

There were other trailers you can check out on Nintendo’s YouTube page for Hyrule Warriors, Xenoblade Chronicles 2, and Super Toad 67 Captain Toad’s Treasure Tracker. The downside here is, like the other conferences, most of these games are set for a 2015 release. The future is there, but we’ve got a little bit more of a drought to get us through. Fortunately, Bayonetta 2 is coming, and will include the original game, allowing you to also dress Bayonetta up as Samus, Peach, and others!

At the end of the conference was another Smash Bros. character announcement as Palutena leaps in from the Kid Icarus franchise. She looks great!

What did you think of Nintendo’s Digital Event? How do you like the format? Stay tuned for more E3 coverage throughout the week!

E3 Report! Sony’s Conference!

All over the place, but with the right intentions.

I feel like it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what narrative Sony was trying to deliver at their keynote conference. Honestly, as far as presentations go, I thought it was kind of terrible. It was too long, too unguided, and generally hodgepodgey. They could have cut that comic book/TV guy out completely. There was no need for that “Millions of our fans wrote in” load of horse shit. And I don’t know that anybody cared about Sony TV. But what Sony did do right was pack that abomination of a show to the rafters with real game footage of new and announced games alike. And that’s what ultimately won me over.

It started with Destiny, which still looks weird and sophomoric to me, but hey the kids love it. Then it went on to some gameplay of The Order: 1886, which I really hope isn’t as button-mashy/quick-time event filled as it looked. And after that it was just everywhere. They showed off a game called Entwined, which looked to pretentious for my tastes. They showed off Little Big Planet 3, which looked fine. I could never get into those titles myself, but I recognize a quality product when I see it. And that was a major announcement for a game coming out this year, which is something Microsoft had none of, and for which I am thankful.

They also had their share of sans-the-gameplay announcements, though. Bloodborne, Dead Island 2, and Uncharted 4 all showed up. I’d complain about sequels right now, but honestly there was enough interesting content that I didn’t come away from this feeling sequel burn.

There were a lot of mentions of great partner deals with publishers like Devolver, so it’s good to see crazy amounts of little games like Hotline Miami finding homes on the PS4.

My most curious game of the conference was No Man’s Sky. It was announced last year, but seeing more of it made me salivate for a chance to play. That may be the game that gets me to buy a PS4 if it doesn’t come out on PC at some point. Procedurally generated sci-fi worlds has me all kinds of excited.

Overall, it was a shotgun spray of announcements, news, and fuck-all that we could care less about. But when they were on their stride, Sony was doing great, and it should be commended that there are some serious contenders in there for game of the show.

E3 Report! Nintendo Posts Indie Trailer Avalanche

So many trailers, so little time!

Apparently Nintendo decided to dump roughly 20 trailers for eShop and indie titles onto YouTube without telling anybody. I’m sure there will be a sizzle real for this tomorrow, but it’s nice to see each game get it’s own minute to two-minute trailer. Below are 10 trailers, hand-picked from the bunch by me, to highlight the best of what’s coming on the Wii U and 3DS eShops.

Just click on the title of the game to view the video!

Continue reading E3 Report! Nintendo Posts Indie Trailer Avalanche

E3 Report! EA’s Press Conference

More dude-shooting and dragon-stabbing.

Earlier today I commented that we’re running out of ideas, and I think that EA’s press conference highlighted that some more. Dragons were stabbed, dude’s were shot in the face, and I’m pretty sure I saw that exact “behind the scenes” look at Mirror’s Edge the last time Mirror’s Edge came out. But hey it still looks way more interesting than goal cages that rattle when you hit them with a soccer ball.

Dragon Age: Inquisition honestly looks like the most fun a Dragon Age game has come up with yet, so I’m still watching that one fairly closely. Battlefield: Hardline almost sells me with Visceral Studios (the Dead Space folks) attached to it, but then it turns out that’s totally just a Battlefield game. And then there’s The Sims 4. So, yeah. Sims.

A big theme this year was looking at games that are still way early in their phases of development, which is kind of following the trend of “We have nothing new to announce for this year!” We got a look at a new Criterion game about open world exploration with every vehicle ever, a look at Mirror’s Edge, and most importantly: MASS EFFECT! I’m not going to lie, right now a technical concept video of a new Mass Effect is my game of show. Totally fanboying it up right here. Have a look:

What did you think of EA’s presentation? Let me know in the comments, and stay tuned! Ubisoft is up next!

E3 Report! Microsoft Press Conference!

I don’t regret holding off on the XBOX One.

This generation is starting to feel a lot like last generation with a facelift. The ideas and concepts coming out of the XBOX press conference were largely samey, and that’s starting to make me worry that we’re running out of ideas. But then I look at an indie highlight real and it occurs to me that we’re not that we’re running out of ideas, it’s just that nobody wants to place bets on anything other than shooting and dragon-stabbing. And that’s exactly we got out of this press conference.

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare looked to be a lite version of Titanfall, Evolve looks like a class-based Left 4 Dead (unsurprising given that it’s a lot of the same developers), and there’s more Halo retreading than you can shake a plasma sword at. Sunset Overdrive looked promising, even if it appears to be a more colorful inFAMOUS with (hopefully!) better shooting.

The folks who bored me with Limbo are looking to bring another slow, plodding platformer about a child in danger called Inside. There’s another Crackdown, and Tomb Raider, both shown off with cinematics not at all representative of gameplay. Then there was the new Tom Clancy’s The Division, which looked to be about shooting people some more.

There was a sizzle real of Indie games, which looked to be some of the most promising content (including the focus on Ori, which I hope isn’t another Limbo). But most of those will inevitably come out on Steam, so there’s no real rush there.

The most interesting thing on deck was a new Platinum Studios game, Scalebound, but it was just another CG trailer. I’m honestly only interested because it’s Platinum Studios and they haven’t disappointed me yet.

There were 7 games that weren’t previously announced, half of them were sequels/reboots, and none of them, except maybe Ori, are coming out this year. It’s hard to be excited at a press conference when none of the games you announced are coming out in the year ahead.

At this point I’m pretty confident that an XBOX One won’t be on my shelf anytime soon. None of these ideas were fresh enough, or exclusive enough, to make me run out and get the system. And I’m about exhausted with the continuing trend of “Play DLC first on XBOX.” I’m actively starting to think of it as a BS tactic to try and hamstring other platforms because XBOX has nothing innovative to bring to the table.

But maybe I’m just calloused and burned out on mainstream games. How excited are you after that press conference? Stick around, I’ll have more thoughts on the other press conferences after they air throughout the show!

What would you like from a “Mario Maker?”

Recent E3 “leak” has me pondering…

With just a day before E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) starting proper, I thought I would have some fun with one of the supposed leaks going around. The craziest leak is a game titled “Mario Maker.” As seen above in this suspiciously blurry picture (taken with a 3DS?), there may just come an announcement during Nintendo’s digital E3 presentation featuring a game that involves making and/or Mario. But what could a game like this be? We won’t know until Tuesday if it even exists, but a game like this could just as easily be a real project. So I decided to make believe that it is real and talk about what I want it to be.

The obvious answer here is that this is a Super Mario Bros. level creator. Using either the 3DS or Wii U stylus, you plop down blocks and create your own levels. We’ve seen these types of ROM programs on the internet before, which is why I feel that this alone is too much of a low hanging fruit. If that’s all “Mario Maker” turns out to be, I think that’s cool, and I’d love to see sequels using Super Mario 2, 3, and World assets as well.

Then we can get into some sick shit.

But I do hope there’s more to this whole “Mario Maker” than a level creation/sharing tool. What if you could have access to a sprite maker to make your own enemies/stage designs? Heck, they could even go full blown Mario Paint and give you access to the same sound font that Koji Kondo once used to create the famous Mario tune we all know in our heads. This would allow level creators to also create original tunes to add to their unique characters and worlds, all using the Mario Bros. gameplay. Adding this almost Little Big Planet level of customization could really turn a simple ROM stage creator into a full-packaged game maker. Now -that- would be an E3 surprise.

There could also be a chance to add some of that NES Remix magic in here too. Nintendo could include other characters like Kirby or Samus. There was an old flash game, called Super Mario Crossover that allowed you to play through the original Super Mario Bros. as other NES favorites like 8-bit Link, or Mega Man. Tapping into Nintendo’s nostalgic collection of characters to play Mario games as could really open the whole “Mario Maker” project.

We’ll see if this is even a real thing come Tuesday, but for now it’s just fun to pretend what kind of things Nintendo could do, even if it’s sometime in the future. What kind of game would you want out of a “Mario Maker?” Drop a comment below and let’s speculate together!

Adachi joins the growing roster of Persona 4 Arena 2: Ultimax

“You’re a dumbass.”

News from Siliconera comes our way that Adachi, the defective detective from Persona 4, will be joining the growing roster of fighters in Persona 4 Arena Ultimax, the fighting game sequel due out later this year.

We only have a few shots to go off of, so it’s hard to tell exactly what kind of fighter he’ll be off the bat, but we know he’s packing his revolver. It’s safe to assume he’ll have some distance fighting. We also know he brings his Persona, Magatsu-Izanagi, but we have yet to see if that will be a clone of Yu Narukami’s Izanagi or its own thing.

Adachi-baby joins the growing roster of Persona 4 Arena Ultimax as a DLC character. He adds to previously announced fighters Rise Kujikawa and the tag team of Ken and Koromaru from Persona 3.

What do you think of this news? I’m personally pumped for Adachi and may just main the representative of the Hunger Arcana.

Mario Kart 8 – A Hundred Word Review

Fast, gorgeous, and full of online fun.

MK8Shot2 Mario Kart 8 is probably one of the strongest Mario Kart’s to have come out. It’s gorgeous, fast, and entertaining.

As far as Mario Kart‘s go, you’re not getting a bunch of new territory here outside of the brilliant zero-g racing. Riding upside down and on walls never fails to be fun. Above all else, come to this game for it’s gameplay, but while you’re here, enjoy the bountiful visual feast blowing out of your screen.

The battle mode is the worst, but the online works phenomenally! Creating videos with Mario Kart TV and viewing them at Mariokart.tv is a blast. MK8Shot1 This is a new format I’m trying called the “Hundred Word Review.” Just like it says, I take only 100 words to describe my feelings towards a game. I’m doing this in an attempt to find a gimmick that appeals to folks. Quick, bite-sized reviews are the idea. Something to counterbalance the half-a-novel reviews you see elsewhere.

I could write a lot about Mario Kart 8, but I feel like these 100 words are all I need to say to tell you what I think of it. Let me know what you think in the comments. Does this format work for you? Am I omitting things? Do you like the idea of shorter reviews in general, or have I taken it to far? Please slap that feedback on the table so I can write more gooder for you.