Sep 19, 2014

PAYDAY 2: Hotline Miami Drops Sept. 30

What happens when two equally awesome franchises come together? We'll find out later this month with the release Payday 2's latest DLC package, throwing the game's maniacal bankrobbers into the chaotic neon-soaked insanity of Hotline Miami. Developer Overkill Software is being particularly tight-lipped with details, but if this violently ominous trailer is any indication, it's going to be off-the-wall bonkers.

*Queue pulsating techno music*
This is obviously a promotional tie-in for Hotline Miami's imminent sequel coming out later this year. Hotline Miami is one of my all-time favorite games, and Payday 2 is one of the most satisfying co-op shooter experiences I've had in recent memory. If nothing else, this DLC sounds like a match made in heaven.

Sep 18, 2014

Worth Checking Out - 24 Killers

24 Killers is a life sim/mystery game where players assume the role of a disembodied shape-shifting skeleton who has been recruited by an anonymous benefactor to act as a ghost hunting private investigator in a secluded island town inhabited by monsters. If that description alone doesn't inspire you to back this, I don't know what will!

The spirits that haunt your house are involved in the best kinds of debauchery. They possess a new person each day to get a little taste of life again, but never have peace. As you slap these spirits out of their hosts, you'll learn about their plight and why they're stuck in this loop of unrest. Who are the 24 Killers?

As it exists now, 24 Killers is "complete", fully playable from start to finish. But in the interest of further fleshing out the components of game-play content, creator Todd Luke has set up a kickstarter page and offered a ton of incentives to coax potential backers, including art prints and a full digital glossary of the island's inhabitants.

The game features a truly inspired premise and art style, sort of like Animal Crossing if viewed through the painterly stylings of David Hellman. The game emphasizes humor and playfulness, balancing a sense of morbid mystery with an off-beat tongue-in-cheek tone. Check out the funding page and see if it strikes your fancy. And while you're at it, play the original browser prototype!

Worth Checking Out - Band Saga

I've always had an passing flirtation with rhythm and music games, but Band Saga has to be one of the most inventive and interesting twists on the genre that I've seen in a long time.

A roguelike action-RPG where every level, enemy and weapon is generated real-time through music, Band Saga follows the story of a young man whose dream of starting a band is kickstarted by the presence of a mysterious woman and an army of otherworldly baddies and abominations that are out for his head. Throughout their journey players will recruit new band-mates, adding a host of new instruments to their musical arsenal.

Road trip~
Each new hub-city and level explored will unlock new sounds, items and the ability to modify and sequence them musically in Band Saga's built-in FM Sequencer. The novelty of remixing sounds and manipulating the soundtrack to traverse the environments as well as taking down enemies could add a whole other layer of challenging complexity to the gameplay. Here's hoping the team can pull it off!

As Band Saga's kickstarter stands now, the game is just over a third of a way to its funding goal. As incentive, creators Roger Hicks and Hillmon Ancrum have put the game's entire soundtrack up for sale, including a promotional mini-comic prequel. A music-oriented RPG with a gorgeously kaleidoscopic art style reminiscent a la Scott Pilgrim and Mercenary Kings? Sounds like a no-brainer to me.

Sep 4, 2014

Best of PAX 2014 - Upsilion Circuit

After a long weekend at PAX followed by a long string of days battling whatever monstrosity decided to overtake my immune system, I've returned to showcase some of the best titles of PAX. Unlike the past few years, I was actually able to play games at PAX (who would have thought?), and I'm happy to say that I couldn't be more excited for the next couple couple of years. To kick things off, I felt it was important to introduce possibly the most intriguing title on the show floor, Upsilion Circuit.

Upon first glance, Upsilion Circuit appears to be a flashy action RPG with a relatively modest combat system, fortunately there's a lot more going on behind the scenes than you would expect. First and foremost,  Upsilion Circuit is an MMO, but not in the same vein as you would expect. Rather than interacting with thousands of players, a maximum of 8 people will be given the opportunity to play at once, while the rest of those logged-in participate as an audience member. The mixture of players and viewers is where the game starts to get pretty damn insane.

Upsilion Circuit
 takes the idea of death in video games and makes it a very serious consequence, when you die in the game, you die for good. No, you can't jump out and create a new file, your time within the game is up for good, forcing you into the audience while the game gives another player a chance. I wasn't quite sure how being an audience member would be an interesting experience, but as one of developers at Robot Loves Kitty, Alix Stolzer, explained, Upsilion Circuit plays more like a game show than anything else. At this point I absolutely fell in love with the game.

Audience members are asked to take control of the player's experience. By voting on enemy spawns, experience gained and power ups found, Upsilion Circuit creates a constant interaction for those tuning in. In many ways it felt like a logical evolution from the insanely popular Twitch Plays Pokémon, but in a way I many players may not have expected.

Of course, no game show would be complete without a co-host, which is where the incredibly creepy Ronnie Raygun steps into play. With a personality similar to the "digital" host Max Headroom and an appearance similar to Ronald Reagan, Ronnie interacts with viewers like any normal host would while antagonizing players to do better. It's a really awesome experience that I'm excited to see fleshed out.

Uspilion Circuit still has a ways to go with a ton of hurdles to overcome (all of which the developers at Robot Loves Kitty seem to be aware of), but if it pans out I can see Upsilion Circuit making huge waves with those who enjoy that interactive experience that many streamers provide.

Aug 28, 2014

Mistwalker and Hironobu Sakaguchi's 'TERRA BATTLE' Has An Interesting Take On Crowdfunding (That soundtrack though)

I will always be a firm believer that Mistwalker's Lost Odyssey was one of the most underrated JRPGs of all time. Along with one of my favorite scores by the legendary Nobuo Uematsu, Lost Odyssey featured an incredibly moving story with character development that stood with the best (those flashback sequences still bring a tear to my eye).

With their followup The Last Story, also being highly underrated, I was became slightly worried for the studios future. Thankfully, it seems that the studio has found an interesting way at gathering funding for their game, by releasing a full game.

Rather than producing content based off of an initial Kickstarter campaign, the studio will instead be releasing future content for the already completed game depending on how well it sells, titling it as a 'download starter'. That means, if the game sells well enough, on top of the already beautiful art and soundtrack presented in the above trailer, we'll see even more characters and music

The game mechanics, while simplified for mobile devices, seem like an interesting twist on traditional turn-based JRPGs with a healthy mix of tactical RPGs thrown in. Using character placement and combo moves, it seems that the game will place heavy importance on team composition.

I won't lie when I say I'm rather skeptical of a mobile game, but it's apparent that the team at Mistwalker is incredibly passionate about this project. The game's beautiful art and soundtrack have definitely set me in the right mood, and the potential artists onboard have really got me hoping this campaign succeeds. Seriously, just look at the potential names on this project. A release date has yet to be announced, but it appears they're ramping up so definitely keep an eye out as this might be the last time we ever see a JRPG development team compromised of this many big names. I'm more than stoked.

Aug 22, 2014

Pokémon Gives Us A Dose Of Slowpoke Reggae With 'Yadon Ninen Ya no etc.'

You would think my time spent on the internet would have nulled any sense of surprised by now, but apparently not. It's not that Yadon Ninen Ya no etc. is weird per se, it's the fact that I've never correlated Reggae music with Slowpoke. It makes almost too much sense. To make sure that everyone is aware of the perfect match, Pokémon Japan's YouTube channel has uploaded the above music video which seems intent on improving everyone's day.

I will admit, the hordes of staring Slowpoke are a tad unnerving, but the chill accompanying track is destined to put you in a good Friday mood. Kick back and let Slowpoke peer into the depths of your soul, it's not nearly as awful feeling as you would expect.

Aug 20, 2014

The Behemoth Teases 'Game 4' For PAX Prime

I can't even fathom the amount of hours I put into The Behemoth's Castle Crashers, everything I loved about couch co-op was nearly perfected with the indie brawler. Years later I still find myself returning to it, and while the later released Battleblock Theater may not have captured the level of replayability of Castle Crashers, god damn was it fun.

Before the release of Battleblock Theater, The Behemoth began development on Game 4, a mysterious title narrated once again by the amazing Stamper. The trailer may not give any hint as to what type of game to expect, but it seems we won't have to wait long! 

Game 4 will be playable at PAX Prime, which lucky for us, starts in just over a week. Awesome Robo will be at PAX Prime this year, meaning we'll be more than sure to get as much info on The Behemoth's new project as we can. The Behemoth has yet to disappoint so color me psyched! 

Aug 19, 2014

BEGIRAGONS Is A Japanese Gameshow For The YouTube Generation

With videos spanning over 7 years, MEGWIN TV has been in the YouTube game longer than a large majority of top YouTube channels. Since the debut of their twisted take on Crocodile Dentist that appeared on the internet over five years ago, I've been an avid follower of the channel's ridiculous antics. While very few videos are officially translated, the majority of entertainment comes from the amazing Ken Sekine (aka Megwin) and his incredibly over-the-top persona. Garnering over 400,000 subscribers, Sekine is by far one of the most popular Japanese vloggers on the internet.

With the amount of popularity MEGWIN TV has garnered, it's no surprise the channel has expanded into gameshow territory with their more recently created BEGIRAGONS channel. The show's challenges may seem simple enough with names such as Convenience Store Game, No Sleep Challenge, and Tokyo Train Game, but the challenge rules are where the series really shines.

Their current series, Tokyo Train Game, forces Megwin to traverse the entirety of the Keio Inokashira Line. The catch? Megwin is forced to proceed to each station following the rules he draws from a hand of cards. With ridiculous rules such as army crawling to the station, the Tokyo Train Game gets progressively funnier the further the series gets. Above are the first 6 episodes of the series, with future episodes releasing every Friday.

You can check out the BEGIRAGONS channel over here for the rest of their challenges. If you want to watch Megwin become progressively more miserable, I highly suggest the No Sleep Challenge, 48-hours of no sleep is far worse than you can imagine.

Aug 18, 2014

Aphex Twin Announces First LP in 13 Years

EDM pioneer and infamous recluse Aphex Twin announced today that his first album in over a decade, SYRO, is slated for release later this year. Following reports yesterday of a giant blimp bearing Aphex's signature logo flying over London, the album was announced via a URL posted from his official twitter account accessible only through the anonymous TOR-proxy browser, a staple choice for exploring the murkier depths of the so-called "Deep Web".

title and suspected tracklist
An iconic figure in the world of electronic music who rose to prominence in the mid-to-late 90's, Aphex Twin (real name: Richard D. James) is a perpetual cipher in the world of internet culture who seldom entertains interviews. Known for his anarchic brand of humor and his lovable propensity for scaring the crap out of his fan-base with outrageous music videos and album covers (see above), Aphex has been cited as a defining influence in the careers of such artists as Daft Punk, Flying Lotus, and Radiohead. With so much having transpired in the world of music since his last record, it's exciting to see what Aphex Twin has to bring to the table this time.

Aug 16, 2014

The Birth of Captain Murphy

Oh. Hell. Yeah. It's a terrific time to be a Flying Lotus fan right now. Following on the heels of his macabre collaboration project with Shintaro Kago, the fine folks at Adult Swim have released the first in a short video series documenting the origins of Lotus' malevolent rap alter-ego; Captain Murphy. And voiced by Snoop Dogg no less!

Captain Murphy's first mixtape Duality was one of my favorite rap projects of 2012. His menacingly pitch-shifted vocals, mischievously graphic lyricism and psychedelic sound production made for one of the most unique experiences I've heard since Madlib's Quasimoto. With Murphy making an appearance on You're Dead! this October and rumblings of a follow-up brewing in the background, consider this teaser a small taste of things to come.

Aug 15, 2014

'Dante's Redemption' Is An Incredible Fan Short

During EA's more experimental period of last generation, Visceral Games released Dante's Inferno, one of the more under-appreciated titles of that generation. The game may have been heavily influenced by God of War but I had a blast, the combat was solid and exploring Dante Alighieri's (highly stylized) depiction of Hell was a a treat in itself. Despite the game's subpar sales, there have been rumblings of a sequel in the works, and while I won't hold my breath anytime soon, Naughty Dog animator, Tal Peleg, has given fans quite a surprise.

Dante's Redemption might be labeled as a "fan short", but this is by no means an amateur animation, it's a 2-minute epic. The animation quality is on-par, if not better, than the original game's cinematics, seeming more like a teaser for the next entry than a fan-fiction. By far the most impressive feat, is seeing an animation of this quality by one individual. Peleg may have enlisted some help for the short's art, but all animation and lighting has been done by him. 

This is truly a 2-minute masterpiece, and it really goes to show the talent Naught Dog has brought onto their team. Not only has this got me hyped for the next rumored Dante's Inferno, but its gotten me even more excited to see what Naughty Dog has in the pipeline for this generation of gaming.

Worth Checking Out - Tetropolis

When the buzzword "Tetroidvania" was dropped, I was instantly intrigued. "How can the classic puzzle game Tetris ever find it's way into a game with Metroidvania style mechanics?", I asked myself before diving into the Kickstarter. My question was answered with a game far beyond my initial expectations, and it looks radical.

Tetropolis may be influenced by the 2-D exploration aspects of the Metroidvania genre, but it's mechanics are the true sparkle to this gem. The puzzle aspect of the game are incorporated in an awesomely unexpected way, Tetropolis focuses on platforming with a rather unique way of maneuvering. Each separate Tetris piece has it's own way of maneuvering, such as the long piece stretching in order to increase it's jump.

What looks to be the real meat of the game's Tetris influence is it's mini-map, which also consists of separate pieces. These pieces of the map can be rotated at any time, giving the opportunity to access room that were not originally accessible. With the mixture of movement based puzzles and the ability to reorient the map layout, I can already imagine some incredible puzzle opportunities.

As of now, Tetropolis has 30 days left to reach it's $50,000 goal. If you'd like to help Kickstart NextGen Pant's project, you can head over to their Kickstarter here.

Aug 14, 2014

Cyriak's 'Malfunction' Is More Insane Than You'd Expect

From the depths of the insane animator Cyriak's harddrive comes malfunction, a seemingly straight forward Cyriak experience that slowly (or as slow as a 2-minute animation can go) transcends into hell. The description Cyriak has left states, "I've no idea what this video is. It crawled out from some dark corner of my computer after evolving from the virtual maggots that feast on rotting film footage", which is rather spot on with what I was feeling after my first viewing.

It's always an awesome day when Cyriak finds the time to leave a trace of his insanity on YouTube, especially with the immense popularity he's gathered since through his equally insane commercials and music videos.

With malfunction it seems that Cyriak may have finally lost it completely, transforming his staple "loop animations" into pure nightmare fuel, with a batch of found footage. I'm not really sure what to expect from Cyriak's next animation, but that's ok, I'm happy to be pleasantly disturbed time and time again.

Worth Checking Out - Under the Dog

I find it difficult not to claim Japan as the final frontier for televised animation, the amount of quality animation that's released every season is outstanding. Despite a constant stream of anime, it would be silly of me to claim that Japanese animators get full reign of their projects, which explains the massive amounts of slice of life and your run-of-the-mill shonen entries. Luckily our crowdfunding friend, Kickstarter, exists for the sole purpose of putting the control back into the creators grasp.

After the success of Masaaki Yuasa's Kick-Heart, it's no surprise that another talented team has turned to Kickstarter to fund their next big project. Under The Dog is a science fiction thriller animated by the talented folks at Creative Intelligence Arts, Inc. The team is compromised of an incredibly talented bunch, including Masahiro Ando (key animator for Neon Genesis Evangelion and Ghost in the Shell), Yusuke Koazki (character designer for No More Heroes and Fire Emblem: Awakening), and Jiro Ishii (producer of the incredible 3DS game, 999).

It's awesome seeing the work of each individual member of the team, and seeing them collaborate on a project like this is insane.

This project looks and sounds too good to be true, but the team seems wholly dedicated to creating a top-notch sci-fi anime. While it's a bummer that only one episode is planned, the stretch goals promise a second and third episode, along with a full-length film if funded enough. The scenes presented in the Kickstarter video are absolutely phenomenal, and the team's dedication to stick with an original story shines a very hopeful light for this project.

Other than the more recent Psyco-Pass, it's been a minute since we've gotten a solid science fiction and Under the Dog looks to be attempting to fill that gap for the time being.

If you'd like to donate, hit up their Kickstarter over here. $25 will gets you access to the episode, which is set for December of next year.

Aug 13, 2014

Stop Motion Usagi Yojimbo Is The Fan Tribute Stan Sakai Deserves

While not directly related to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, this fan tribute couldn't be more timely with Michael Bay's big screen adaptation. As a kid, I first learned of the Usagi Yojimbo comics through the animated series, in which the turtles travel through dimensions and meet Usagi. It was a rad concept then, and still an equally rad concept now, but also a concept that I'm glad Michael Bay never touched with his newest film.

The Last Request is a fan tribute to Stan Sakai's original character, and while there aren't massive explosions and Megan Fox cameos, Lintika Films holds the feel fans of Usagi Yojimbo have come to expect. The above short, originally created as a proof of concept for Sakai has since been approved for a full length film.

With about 90% of the film completed the small team at Lintika Films has their work cut out for them, with a DVD release planned after the film's completion. It's not everyday a comic book creator gives their thumbs up for a fan project, especially for a character as iconic as Usagi, but it's alway pleasant to see the acknowledgement from the creator. If you'd like to learn more on the full length film you can check out their Facebook over here.

New 'Rime' Trailer Shows Off It's Cel-Shaded Beauty

Once again, Sony has gone hard with their indie lineup at this year's Gamescom and while some may be looking for a more AAA titles out of Sony's lineup, games like Rime showcase that indie developers can stand with the "blockbusters". With more indie games than big-budget announcements, it became apparent that this generation is the time for the small guys to shine and after the newest trailer for Rime, I can safely say that I'm more excited for this than any of the offerings from Ubisoft, EA, and Activision put together. 

With visuals very reminiscent of Nintendo's Legend of ZeldaWind Waker, Rime appears to have an incredible amount of polish. With talent from Blizzard and Weta Digital, it's hard to be surprised what the team at Tequila Works has pulled off, but it still hasn't stopped my drooling.

No release date has been confirmed for Rime, but I would hope we'll see it by 2015, the last thing we need is another The Last Guardian from Sony.