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News articles search results by Rory Young


Crypt of the NecroDancer tangos out of Early Access, trailer reveals April 23 launch

1 comments Rory Young - Apr 16, 15 10:50pm (PST) Like Share

Have you ever danced with a dungeon crawler in the pale moonlight?

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Rhythm and rogue, it's the perfect combination. Brace Yourself Games is ready to transition their successful Early Access release into a fully launched game, they revealed today. Crypt of the NecroDancer, a mixture of a rogue-like dungeon crawler and rhythm-based music game, has come together better than I bet anyone could have expected. Starting April 23, hopefully the entire world will be caught up in the dance -- compelled, even.

Crypt of the NecroDancer is magical. It's almost ridiculous that the concept hasn't been done prior. Dungeons are laid out in a grid as rogue-likes tend to be, but the player must move space to space in rhythm with the beat of the soundtrack. Each beat will also move enemies as well, which means if you aren't moving, you're giving your enemies the opportunity to flank you. Yes, it turns into a bit of a dance between you and the monsters of a dungeon. It's almost too perfect.

Attacking is done by moving into the enemy, so long as the player has a weapon which can reach them. Different weapons have different attack patterns, so pairing the right weapon with the right positioning, against an enemy who can't attack the player, is where the depth of the experience comes in. Each enemy is its own kind of rhythm puzzle and of course the deeper in the dungeon a player gets, the more complicated the puzzles.

That's just the shallow end of the pool for Crypt of the NecroDancer though. The game bleeds personality and retro fun in the same way that Shovel Knight and Rogue Legacy have done in recent years.

According to the game's Steam page, the final version will add the final fourth zone and end-game bosses as well as three additional playable characters. Veterans of the game will be excited to challenge themselves further and new players will find a complete game full of epic dancing difficulty.

Crypt of the NecroDancer will transition from Early Access to full launch on April 23. If folk can't wait they can buy into Early Access now for $14.99, which should be the same price as the game will be at launch. 

Categories: PC Games
 
 

Everybody's Gone to the Rapture has an unnerving new trailer, still no release date

2 comments Rory Young - Apr 16, 15 8:57pm (PST) Like Share

Ain't nothin' like a good ol' Rapture to get the party started

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Much like Sony helped From Software keep making great games by bringing Bloodborne to the PlayStation 4, they're also keeping The Chinese Room working too. After Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs didn't bear the weight it was hoped to, Sony and the British studio partnered to bring Everybody's Gone to the Rapture to PlayStation 4 instead of PC. Today the latest trailer for the unnerving first-person title has been released, but oddly enough a release date is still yet to be found.

With this latest trailer, The Chinese Room says they're aiming, "to go small and intimate with this one, be a bit different with it." The focus is on story and tone, which is why the trailer itself is rather uneventful yet still stirring. It's the kind of trailer worth watching a few or a dozen times, because of how it's styled. The intention is for the watcher's eyes to wander, as there's no clear focus. The more detail the watcher takes in, the better they're immersed in the experience being created.

I have to say, even after the numerous times I've watched the trailer, I have no idea what's going on. The implication being that the people in the game have gone through the "Rapture," the second coming of Christ where the faithful have ascended to heaven. How that fits into what the player will be doing in-game, however, is completely unclear. I respect that The Chinese Room is aiming for mystery. That's a big part of their games. Still, I want to know what I'm buying here, especially after Machine for Pigs, and these trailers haven't done that yet. It does look beautiful though, I'll give it that.

Everybody's Gone to the Rapture is planned for release this summer. The game is apparently entering "beta" soon and a release date is in the works, but you never know until you know. Hopefully we'll hear more soon. Let's hope Sony Santa Monica is helping The Chinese Room with their previous schedule-keeping issues. Make sure to check out both the trailer and a song that has also been released. 

 
 

Star Wars: Battlefront release date leaked in official site's source, battle begins November 17

3 comments Rory Young - Apr 16, 15 7:54pm (PST) Like Share

The force has truly been awakened, or should I say a-leak-ened

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Today saw the reveal of an all new trailer for upcoming film Star Wars: The Force Awakens and with it a waterfall of exciting things for video game fans. An updated Star Wars: Battlefront website openly provided the first official in-game screenshot of the game. The end of the Star Wars trailer teased an as-yet unseen cinematic trailer with a short, small clip. Then, unintentionally, the source code of the Battlefront's website revealed what we've all been waiting for: a release date.

An unused description within the code reads as follows, and keep in mind that it's code taken from the "News" portion of the site:

"The latest news and updates for Star Wars Battlefront. Available November 17, 2015 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC."

Obviously, it must be said that until the official word comes from Electronic Arts or EA DICE, this leak must be treated as a rumor. Though this about as official as it gets without being in a press release. It's literally coming from an official EA source, however unintended the publication of it may be. The date even lines up perfectly with standard holiday releases, as it falls on the Tuesday a week prior to Black Friday.

Let's be realistic here. Star Wars: Battlefront is going to get a huge marketing surge by coming out a month prior to Star Wars: The Force Awakens hitting theaters. There is no world in which EA misses the holiday sales surge, especially considering their prior willingness to release rather broken games to make that window. Too far? 

November 17 is the date to watch for Battlefront fans. Ahem, at least that's the rumor. The officially unofficial until it's official rumor. Star Wars: Battlefront is just 7 months away, everyone. Oh, and don't forget the big reveal tomorrow, which is likely to be that cinematic trailer teased in Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer from this morning.

Watch for the Star Wars: Battlefront teaser clip at the end of this Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer, and make sure your annotations are on!

 
 

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel developer 2K Australia closes citing high operating costs in Canberra

5 comments Rory Young - Apr 16, 15 12:35pm (PST) Like Share

As ever, Australian AAA development will rise again

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Australia's largest game development studio has closed today, as 2K has confirmed that their offices in Canberra are no longer open. 2K Australia, popular developers of Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, Freedom Force, and Tribes: Vengeance, began as a sister studio for Irrational Games. Now, however, they'll be following their old partners into dissolution. All employees at 2K Australia will be laid off in the process.

Regarding why the studio is being closed, 2K references that costs of operating at the Canberra studio were too high to continue. A source in contact with Kotaku Australia says that the initial plan was to move the studio to Melbourne where costs would assumedly be lower. However, after a number of high-profile staff left the studio as a result of the planned move, 2K ultimately decided that the only option would be closure.

2K provided a statement regarding the studio's end:

"We can confirm we have taken steps to begin the studio closure process for 2K Australia in order to better manage ongoing development costs while improving the working proximity of our creative teams. We are very grateful for the team’s valuable contributions to numerous 2K projects, and are working with affected staff to explore reassignment opportunities where possible."

2K Australia began as Irrational Canberra in the year 2000, where it began work supporting Irrational Games on projects including Freedom Force, Tribes Vengeance and SWAT 4 for various publishers. After Irrational's acquisition by Take-Two Interactive in 2006, the studio was soon renamed to 2K Australia. Despite the name change, the studio would go on to support development of the original BioShock. From there their projects included BioShock 2, BioShock Infinite, The Bureau: XCOM Declassified and finally the first solo project -- their final project -- Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel

Unfortunately 2K Australia will become another sad tale in Australian game development, one which includes the closure of studios including THQ Australia, Team Bondi, and Irrational Games. Let's start a Kickstarter in the hopes of Halfbrick Studios taking on new talent for a AAA, narrative-driven and cinematic Fruit Ninja.

As ever, we at Neoseeker wish the best to all of the talented developers from 2K Australia now looking for work. With luck, you'll each find a new home and project which continues to drive your passion for games within a short window of time.

 
 

Rumor: Super Smash Bros. update 1.06 hides files for Street Fighter's Ryu and Fire Emblem's Roy

22 comments Rory Young - Apr 15, 15 3:25pm (PST) Like Share

Tekken, SNK, Tatsunoku, Namco and now Super Smash Bros.

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A 3DS tinkerer on Reddit has uncovered something special for Super Smash Bros. fans to think about. While decrypting the code for the fighting game's latest patch, 1.05, several sound files were discovered which were previously not there. Some of these were tied to DLC characters Mewtwo and the recently revealed Lukas. In addition to these two DLC characters, two other unannounced characters also had sound files added: Ryu from Street Fighter and Fire Emblem's Super Smash Bros. veteran Roy.

Is it possible that Nintendo accidentally pushed some files tied to upcoming DLC releases? It certainly seems so. After the sound files were converted to something we could listen to outside of the game, it's hard to deny. The sound files are in fact victory tracks. As in, the songs that play when characters win a round of Super Smash Bros. The existence of these tracks implies that somewhere Nintendo is at least experimenting with making these characters playable.

I've got to flag this story as a hard rumor right now, however, as shinyquagsire23 is so far the only person able to verify the existence of the files. He is, however, confirmed to be a rather well known 3DS "tinkerer" and can be verified as such just by his Reddit comment history alone. Without some secondary sources though, I'd recommend maintaining some healthy skepticism.

Even should the decrypted data be verified from Super Smash Bros. 3DS' 1.05 patch, it's best to keep in mind that nothing is official until it comes directly from Nintendo or Capcom. That Ryu might be added to the game behind closed doors does not mean that he can't be cut and left on the development floor. Same with Roy. Maybe Nintendo will decide to rush out some DLC from the community vote, rather than these guys.

Now that we've covered our bases regarding how Ryu and Roy are just rumored characters -- how awesome would it be to get them? How crazy would that be? A Street Fighter character being added to Smash Bros. is a cross-over that I think everyone in video games can support. Not to say Roy isn't a great addition as well, but come on, he's no Ice Climbers. Hopefully we get some official confirmation from Nintendo or Capcom soon!

 
 

Hoopa Unbound discovered in Pokemon Alpha Sapphire/Omega Ruby, mythical Pokemon's true form

33 comments Rory Young - Apr 14, 15 12:38pm (PST) Like (1) Share

I at first wrote Hoopa Unborn, which might change the dynamic quite a bit

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With the latest Pokemon movie finally coming to theaters in the west, it makes sense that that Pokemon Company would try to capitalize in the excitement. Introducing Hoopa Unbound, an all new form for the 720th Pokemon in the Pokedex. Details regarding the mysterious Pokemon Hoopa and its newly discovered form are unclear, though odds are you're going to want to hold onto your copies of Pokemon Omega Ruby and Pokemon Alpha Sapphire to find out more.

What we do know about Hoopa's Unbound form is that it will be a Psychic and Dark-type Pokemon. This is an alteration of Hoopa's standard typing, which is Psychic and Ghost-type. Those are the important changes, as least. The less important being Hoopa's growth of a total of 6 arms, an increase in height to 6.5 meters and weight gain up to half of a ton. The Djinn Pokemon doesn't mess around, so when Hoopa gains the Magician ability everyone best watch out.

Hoopa's acquisition is still a mystery, or at least that's what Nintendo and Game Freak are enforcing after a buggy way of discovering the Pokemon in-game was patched out. Odds are we'll find out the way to discover Hoopa, as well as Hoopa Unbound, closer to the launch of Pokemon the Movie: Hoopa and the Clash of Ages later this year. Will it be a simple distribution (like Diancie) or will there be some in-game tomfoolery? Hopefully Game Freak makes it fun.

Pokemon Alpha Sapphire and Pokemon Omega Ruby are currently available for the Nintendo 3DS. While Hoopa may not yet be unlocked, expect more news on the Pokemon in the weeks and months ahead. Nintendo loves to drag these things out, so at least we won't be starved for new bites of information.

 
 

Activision's Guitar Hero Live reboot mixes first-person FMV concerts and a network of music videos

6 comments Rory Young - Apr 14, 15 12:04pm (PST) Like (1) Share

Our time has come again, kings and queens of the plastic guitar

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Activision couldn't just stand around and let Harmonix reboot the plastic peripheral-based rhythm genre without them. Today Activision announced a reboot of the Guitar Hero franchise. Introducing Guitar Hero Live, developed by the DJ Hero studio FreeStyleGames, a modern pressing of the reset button the the guitar-playing franchise that kicked off an era of popular music games. While not reinventing the wheel, Activision is hoping Guitar Hero Live's changes will kick off a new era of music games.

Two core experiences are being advertised for Guitar Hero Live, one being the core experience of the base game and the second intended to give longevity to the experience. Let's start with the former. Guitar Hero Live is, well, live. The "single-player campaign," if we can call it that, is essentially a first-person "live-action" experience. The player will be put on stage and play in front of a "live audience." It can almost be said to be a full-motion video game, though I imagine it's a bit cleverer than that.

The second half of the Guitar Hero Live equation is the music video library, which Activision is calling the Guitar Hero TV network. It's a collection of "continually updated" official music videos spanning all sorts of genres which players will be able to play through. Examples shown include Best Days of My Life by the American Authors and Little Talks by Of Monsters and Men. This mode will include multiplayer features for local players or asymmetric leaderboards the world over.

Campaign changes and music videos are all fun and good, but let's get to the dramatic changes -- Activision is changing the guitar. Yes, the classic color-coded, 6-button guitar is changing. Guitar Hero Live's guitar will be designed to take into account for what must have been a rather large complaint -- small hands can't reach all of the buttons. With the new guitar, the buttons will be in two rows rather than just a single one. Three buttons on top of three buttons, rather than six wide. It's so simple, but so smart.

Lucky for me, I never grew tired of the Guitar Hero franchise. I was playing all the way up until the end and excited for more. It's great to have it back. I will say some of the new changes have me extra excited though. The addition of first-person sounds really fun, especially with the possibility of VR headsets coming into play down the line. I'd love to experience an actual concert experience in full 3D, but that may not become a reality just quite yet -- especially with no PC support.

Guitar Hero Live is tentatively scheduled for release in autumn later this year. Expect the plastic guitar game to come to all manner of platforms (except for PC) including PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Wii U and even mobile and tablet devices.



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Another Spiders new IP, will The Technomancer be what Bound by Flame and Mars: War Logs weren't?

0 comments Rory Young - Apr 10, 15 4:27pm (PST) Like Share

It's time to make the most of your opportunity, Spiders

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Spiders and Focus Home Interactive have unveiled their fourth game made in partnership in as many years. In 2012 there was Of Orcs and Men, in 2013 Mars: War Logs, in 2014 it was Bound by Flame and today we're introduced to The Technomancer. A post-apocalyptic action-RPG, The Technomancer is planned to come to PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in 2016.

Spiders continues to hunt for their breakthrough game and there's certainly evidence that The Technomancer may be their best opportunity yet. It's an unfortunate truth that Spiders' games up to this point have been wasted potential. Both Bound by Flame and Mars: War Logs have been intriguing games and Focus has done a great job showing their appeal pre-launch. The games themselves have not kept up their part of the bargain, failing to meet expectations. If that wasn't the truth, odds are we'd be seeing a sequel instead of another new IP.

Yet The Technomancer does start off with some favorable circumstances compared to its predecessors. For one, the game will seemingly have a much longer development period. Where both Bound by Flame and Mars: War Logs were put out within a year of the game previous (or less time), The Technomancer looks to have two-years of development being invested in it. We also see Spiders won't be burdened with learning new console development for the game, nor porting it to older consoles.

Of course, the most valuable asset Spiders has gained is experience. Hopefully that experience is telling them now, because it's certainly telling me, that they've got to step up their game with The Technomancer. How many studios get the opportunity to put together four new IPs in five years? How many get gamers to keep hoping they knock it out of the park?

The Technomancer is currently planned for release in 2016 for the PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Expect an action-RPG likely heavily adopting the systems from Spiders' previous games taking place on a dystopian Mars. See a style of cyberpunk-meets-Fallout where technology becomes indistinct from magic, where autocratic and tribal factions meet in the midst of monstrous indigenous lifeforms. And of course you, The Technomancer, lie somewhere in the middle.

 



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Call of Duty: Black Ops III teaser schedules an April 26 worldwide reveal

5 comments Rory Young - Apr 09, 15 11:27pm (PST) Like Share (1)

"How far are you willing to go?"

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Back in black, baby. Activision and Treyarch put out a teaser trailer today confirming the date of 2015's big Call of Duty reveal. Don't worry, they're not being obuse or having us watch a silly countdown stream. In fact, they give us the title and world reveal date straight away. Call of Duty: Black Ops III, Treyarch's third game ine the self-contained series, will debut on April 26. What time? Who knows. This is an okay way to tease a reveal. Thank you, Activision.

What's significant about this year's Call of Duty release? I'll tell you what, because I can already hear the grumpy goons saying that they're tired of annual Call of Duty and even more tired of Black Ops. This year's special though. Treyarch is now the leading Call of Duty developer working with Activision, with Sledgehammer and Infinity Ward forming up behind them. Three studios means that the franchise now gets three years to put together their game instead of two. Yes, this will be Treyarch's first Call of Duty game with three years of development behind it, as opposed to World at War and the other Black Ops titles which only had two.

Will this three-year development cycle prove significant? Dear god I hope so. It'd be great to see them get to put that much more effort into an annual franchise, making each iteration that much more unique than its predecessors. There's always the chance that that's not the case though. Maybe Activision filled up their three-year cycle with side-projects. We do know Treyarch also handles Wii and Wii U development of the other major Call of Duty titles. That may be neither here nor there.

No matter what on April 26 all eyes will be on Call of Duty: Black Ops III's website and social media. Let's hope it impresses, for all of our sakes.

 
 

LEGO Dimensions is a LEGO Movie inspired cross-franchise game, scan LEGO figures and play

4 comments Rory Young - Apr 09, 15 9:35pm (PST) Like (1) Share

It's about time, LEGO!

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It was only a matter of time, wasn't it? What with the success of Skylanders and Disney Infinity, and now Nintendo's amiibo too, how could LEGO not jump on the bandwagon? After all LEGO has partnerships with all manner of major franchises, including video games. It must have been The LEGO Movie with its "When Worlds Collide" premise that finally brought this all about. Introducing LEGO Dimensions.

LEGO Dimensions is the cross-media meeting of all of LEGO's many forms -- LEGO movies, LEGO video games, LEGO TV shows and of course the LEGO building blocks that started it all in the first place. What does that mean specifically for gamers? An all new title coming to PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360 and Wii U on September 29 later this year. The game will allow players to scan certain LEGO Dimensions-branded toys into the game with a special, buildable portal.

The "Starter Pack" of the game will come bundled with everything a LEGO Dimensions newbie will need to start playing. It will include the game itself, the "LEGO Toy Pad" which allows players to scan in toys and object into the game world, bricks to build a LEGO Gateway around the toy pad, and three LEGO mini-figures compatible with LEGO Dimensions. These three characters are set and include LEGO Batman, LEGO Gandalf and Wyldstyle, co-star of The Lego Movie. Oh, and a little thing called the Batmobile is in there too.

Expect to see all sorts of characters as part of Lego Dimensions' base game story. Franchises already confirmed to be part of the fun include: Back to the Future, The Wizard of Oz, DC Comics, The Lord of the Rings,  The LEGO Movie and LEGO Ninjago. Only purchased pieces will be playable in-game, however. Fans will have to buy "Level Packs," "Team Packs," and "Fun Packs" which include LEGO minifigures to scan in. Here are the currently announced figures, beyond the three included in the Starter Pack:

  • Back to the Future
    • Future Level Pack - LEGO Marty McFly minifigure
  • LEGO Ninjago
    • Team Pack - Kai and Cole minifigures
    • 3 Fun Packs - Jay, Nya, and Zane minifigures (sold separately)
  • DC Comics
    • 2 Fun Packs - Wonder Woman and Cyborg minifigures (sold separately)
  • The Lord of the Rings
    • 3 Fun Packs - LEGO Gollum, LEGO Gimli and LEGO Legolas minifigures (sold separately)
  • The LEGO Movie
    • 4 Fun Packs - Emmet, Bad Cop, Benny, and Unikitty minifigures (sold separately)
  • The Wizard of Oz
    • Fun Pack - Wicked Witch of the West minifigure

More packs are planned to be announced leading up to the launch later this year and there are additional plans for more waves of expansion packs after launch and into 2016.

What's still up in the air, and probably what I'm most curious about, is pricing. Compared to Skylanders, Disney Infinity and amiibo, which all charge $10-$20 for each individual figure, I'd hope that LEGO could bring the price down tremendously for their figures. Maybe a Level Pack which includes additional in-game content might be pricier, but a Fun Pack? How great would a $2-$5 playable Wonder Woman be?

No matter the price, it's cool to see LEGO doing this. Selling LEGO kits which can be imported into a game is really cool. LEGO video games have been coming out for years, it's only appropriate that gamers get to use their LEGO figures inside of their games.

LEGO Dimensions will be available starting September 29 on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360 and Wii U.

 
 

Caterer posts Tony Hawk event photo leaking a giant 'Tony Hawk 5' logo

3 comments Rory Young - Apr 09, 15 4:09pm (PST) Like Share (1)

This is such a Tony Hawk Pro Skater way of leaking a game

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Tony Hawk, much our chagrin, has not been a name in gaming since Neversoft dropped the series back in 2007. More than that, it's been rather a joke after Robomodo took over the series and latched on a plastic peripheral skateboard to each game. That day, Tony Hawk('s video game brand) died. Now, if a surprisingly leak and much rumor in the past months is to be believed, a resurrection is in store. In 2015, Tony Hawk lives once more.

A chef and caterer by the name of Joe Youkham, champion of Food Network's chopped, is hosting  an event today for Tony Hawk and crew. We know, because the man is all up in social media tweeting about it. He even went so far as to post a photo of the event on Instagram, or at least it was briefly posted before hordes of PR and marketing folk likely lynched the man and forced him to remove it. Why the quick reaction? Because in the background on a projection screen bounced a "Tony Hawk 5" logo screensaver.

Those familiar with the Tony Hawk Pro Skater franchise will remember that the series ended after the release of Tony Hawk Pro Skater 4 in 2002. 2002! Neversoft then went on to create follow-up series in Tony Hawk Underground, American Wasteland, Project 8 and Proving Ground. The Pro Skater branding, widely considered to be the best years of the franchise, was left on ice. The implication of the Tony Hawk 5 title is that it's hearkening back to those Pro Skater games, albeit without the Pro Skater subtitle.

Two months ago Tony Hawk himself confirmed that a new Tony Hawk game was in the works for release in 2015. Speculation was rampant, some saying it was just a mobile game or event that the peripheral would be back just like Rock Band. Today's leak is perhaps the best rumor a Tony Hawk fan could hope for. A return to the franchise's greatness, without the gimmicks that ruined it the first time through. Well, at least that's what we should hope for -- what's hopefully implied by the title Tony Hawk 5.

Expect to hear more on Tony Hawk 5 in the months to come and almost certainly at E3. Tony Hawk 5, everyone. It's real.

 
 

First look at Project Spark's Conker's Big Reunion is almost unintelligible

9 comments Rory Young - Apr 08, 15 4:31pm (PST) Like Share

Somebody please teach this scarecrow how to enunciate

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I think it's fair to say that when Microsoft unveiled a new Conker game many Nintendo 64 gamers were very excited. Then they found out it would be modification built entirely in Project Spark, Microsoft's freemium construction yard for "making games" or at least something like that. The first episode of Conker's Big Reunion will be available on April 23, but today Microsoft released a trailer showing off some of the gameplay players can expect to find within.

I think it's fair to say that many Nintendo 64 gamers might be better served to temper their excitement with a healthy dose of skepticism at this point. The Conker trailer teases a bit of exposition between our furry protagonist and a scarecrow, a conversation all but unintelligible due to either poor recording or mouths full of marbles. Intermixed is gameplay showing off some platforming and combat that may be more familiar to the old guard.

Still, for a franchise that's so well known to be larger than life, to be outrageous and hilarious, to have characters that are both absurd and visually... unique, there's very little in this trailer to be excited about. The more that's shown of the project, the more it seems to be capitalizing on the voice and likeness of Conker without the content to support a full experience. I'd love to be proven wrong, but I don't think this trailer is that proof.

Episode 1 of Conker's Big Reunion will be available inside of Project Spark on Xbox One and Windows 8 starting April 23. Project Spark is free to download, but in order to try out the Conker mod/game players will have to drop either $4.99 for all episodes, or $9.99 for all episodes and the "Conker Creation Pack" which includes various Project Spark assets used to build other projects.

 
 

Mortal Kombat X Vol. 1: Comic Review

2 comments Rory Young - Apr 08, 15 12:49pm (PST) Like Share

More blood than is reasonable or necessary and all the better for it

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Mortal Kombat X, the next fighting game from NetherRealm Studios, is a week away from its April 14 launch date. The anticipation fans are feeling is palpable, as early impressions and marketing for the game have made it clear that Mortal Kombat X is more than just another iteration in the highly regarded franchise. NetherRealm has taken this opportunity to aspire to something more, something exciting. Of course, whether they've achieved such aspirations is yet to be seen. Yet there's no denying the anticipation continues to build.

Luckily for comic readers there's another option. Since early January DC Comics has been publishing a Mortal Kombat X  prequel series, written by Shawn Kittelsen who self-describes as an, "unknown scribe," with art by Dexter Soy who helped kick off 2012's Captain Marvel. Currently the prequel series is four issues into its planned seven-issue run and today marks the release of Volume 1. DC was able to provide us a copy of the book and I've decided to give it a review with two hopes in mind. I hope it both prepares me for the launch of the Mortal Kombat X with regards to plot and character introduction, and I beg that it helps sate my growing lack of patience for April 14 to arrive.

Good news, Mortal Kombat X: Vol. 1 certainly delivers that over the top, ultra violent action without taking itself too seriously. Bad news is that April 14 is still about as far away as it was before I started this review.

Volume 1 of Mortal Kombat X's prequel comic is about half of the story that Shawn Kittelsen and NetherRealm wants told. It must be said that there are some clear goals for the book that any reader should know about, or even assume, before flipping the first page. First is that this comic is intended to bridge the narrative gap between Mortal Kombat 9 and the upcoming Mortal Kombat X release. Considering Mortal Kombat 9 was rather unique, rebooting the franchise and focusing on narrative in a way the franchise has never done before, this a lofty goal. How does one tie together the unconventional narrative or MK9 to a sequel whose focus up to this point has been introducing half a dozen new fighters to the roster?

The next assumptions we can make leaps of faith by any means. We can assume that the Mortal Kombat X comic is meant to reintroduce players to the world and its characters, but without expecting they are familiar with it. We can assume that the comic will go out of its way to provide introductions to characters new to the roster in the Mortal Kombat X game. Finally, we can assume that the story is constrained by the fact that it's merely the prologue to the main event. As in, the roster of Mortal Kombat X  is "safe" from serious harm and, unfortunately, "safe" from any meaningful character development. It's these assumptions that the author is bound by, but also hopefully aware of. How he manages meet and bend these expectations will likely determine the overall quality of the comic.

Happily I can confirm that Mortal Kombat X, or at least its first four volumes, does a great job of reintroducing the setting and characters without expecting prior knowledge. Kittelson carefully uses his new characters, primarily Takashi Takeda and Cassie Cage early on, to feed readers details they'd otherwise be unfamiliar with. Slowly Kittelson reintroduces practically the whole roster, which considering its size should be impressive on its own. Yes, there's really only so much you can in four issues with so many characters to provide years of backstory to. Many characters are glazed over or remain absent throughout (perhaps to appear in later issues), and there's no argument that those familiar with Mortal Kombat will be much more comfortable with the book's story, but considering the near insurmountable task at hand it's worth giving Kittelson recognition where it's due.

Moving onto our assumptions, Kittelson continues to weave an intriguing story while  never "breaking the rules," so to speak. Characters both new and old are introduced, some well-changed from how we remember them. Scorpion and Sub-Zero both, two characters most would assume would be reliably unchanged, now both have intriguing complexities. Earth, Outworld and the violent history that ties them together are brought into focus as necessary. One can hardly introduce Goro, Reptile or any of the horrifying characters of Mortal Kombat without establishing the darkly fantastical world from which they came. Even the Netherrealm finds its place in the book, though only long enough to heat up the action -- if you know what I mean.

Where Kittelson runs into trouble is with our final assumption, that the game's roster is essentially safe from any true harm.  As a result of this unfortunate limitation, some of the story becomes predictable. Unfamiliar faces may be presumed to become dead meat for the grinder, where familiar faces seemingly in danger can be trusted to survive despite all odds. Certain characters do see meaningful events play out which play on their mental state, showing Kittelson is doing his best with what's been provided. Still, when Goro's teeth get kicked in on one page and then he's got a sparkling smile the very next page, all you can do is smile and say, "Well, that's Mortal Kombat for you!" Years of fatalities, decapitations, bone-shattering X-Ray moves and so on leave you less concerned with these sorts of creative decisions.

Speaking of fatalities, Dexter Soy does a fun and very disgusting job of bringing the violence of Mortal Kombat to life. What can I say? The man's got a touch with detail. Details like exploding innards, blood spatters, decapitated limbs and stab wounds -- so many stab wounds. I'm especially enamored with Soy's backgrounds, though to be fair they are few and far between what with all of the fire, multi-colored magical energies and blood pools. Yet when he gets the chance the landscapes, from Venice, CA to the Golden Desert of Outworld, and the temples, Sharai Ryu and Mayan alike, give each page a foundation from where these extreme characters, their expressions and their outrageous actions can grow from. Hell, Kotal Kahn's headdress alone had to be a pain in the ass.

Final Thoughts

Mortal Kombat X is a comic series destined to exist in the shadow of the game it's based on. Yet as a reader who understands that, it's much easier to enjoy it for what it is. The comic excels at providing an introduction (or reintroduction) to the setting and characters the franchise is known for. It provides a background, a narrative bridge between Mortal Kombat 9 and the pending game which is more than just filler. Even decade-long fans can appreciate the background and added depth that the comic will provide to the overall Mortal Kombat X experience. Many will read through these issues and come out saying, "I'm more excited for Mortal Kombat X than ever," and that's a compliment worth holding onto.

No, the series as it stands will never be, much to DC's disappointment, another Injustice. That series was provided an amount of freedom that would make Mortal Kombat X seem chained and gagged in comparison. It's unfair to even say it, though that's how the series was initially described to me. Mortal Kombat X is burdened with expectations -- get from point A to point B without touching C through Z. 

Yet Kittelson and Soy took what was given to them, a roster of characters from a fighting game known for its extreme violence and suspect story-telling, and they did what I wouldn't have expected -- they made a great read. They capitalized on all of the fun that the Mortal Kombat franchise provides. They left me bloodied and excited for the next fight. I'm ready for more Mortal Kombat X -- comic and game.

Follow Rory Young on Twitter @bluexy or check out his news and reviews every day here on Neoseeker. A copy of Mortal Kombat X  Vol. 1 was provided by DC Comics for this review. 



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Layton 7 is a mysterious multiplayer card game, iOS/Android title involves fortune telling and vampires

3 comments Rory Young - Apr 08, 15 5:44am (PST) Like Share

This is not the Layton you're looking for

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Despite Level-5 officially ending Professor Layton's adventures in 2013's Azran Legacy, the development studio has decided to milk the brand just a little bit more. Layton 7, which is indeed the official title, was revealed in 2013, but has undergone quite the transformation since. The title is now an iOS and Android exclusive, no longer planned for 3DS at all, and has become a multiplayer card game

I wish I could provide a much more thorough explanation after that, but there's really very little to go on here. According to some early photos of a slide-show presentation from Level-5 at the company's annual Vision 2015 event, the game has clearly become a card game of sorts. Several of the screenshots also show multiplayer chatting with other players as part of the game. Finally, there's a single shot stating "Vampire Win" which perhaps implies the players have to root out the secret vampire amongst the townsfolk.

The game forming in my head seems to be something similar to the game known as "Mafia" which several different websites provide ways to play with other online gamers. Screenshots from the presentation show multiple cards that look as if they're assigning roles, which provides further evidence towards this Mafia idea, but without a translator it's impossible to tell. 

One thing's for sure, this isn't your standard Professor Layton title. Much like the other Layton game released on mobile from Level-5, this game takes the brand and makes something new of itself. Whether that be Mafia or some other oddball trivia or social game I don't know. There does seem to be a Professor Layton card within the game though. Yeah, that's rather like a slap in the face, isn't it?

Expect more information on Layton 7 in the months ahead, though it's unclear if at this time Level-5 has any plans to bring the game anywhere other than Japan.

Categories: Mobile Games
 
 

Fantasy Life 2, sequel to the 3DS RPG, announced to be iOS and Android exclusive

8 comments Rory Young - Apr 07, 15 3:54pm (PST) Like Share (1)

Apparently our Fantasy Life wasn't meant to be on 3DS

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Fantasy Life, Level-5's mix of fantasy RPG and simulated life a la Animal Crossing, may not have found the outrageous success of some of the developer's other major franchises. It's hard to compare to siblings like Yo-kai Watch and Inazuma Eleven. Nevertheless, Level-5 hasn't given up on the franchise. It will, however, be facing a transition. Today Level-5 announced Fantasy Life 2 would be coming to iOS and Android only.

The full title of Fantasy Life 2 contains the subtitle of Two Moons and The Village of God, according to the annual Vision 2015 event's reveal. While the lack of a 3DS version of the game is disappointing, the shift shouldn't come as too much of a surprise considering Level-5's new focus on the mobile platform. Beyond that, little seems to be changing in the game. It will again feature 12 "Life" classes to pick from, as well as a new "Village" with a larger focus on building up your own city.

Players will still be able to build up parties and go dungeon crawling. There will even be returning characters to make the experience even more familiar. So despite the new focus on building the city, most Fantasy Life fans should be very comfortable with the new game. Well, that's at least the perception that Level-5 is trying to create with this reveal. Whether or not the experience is entirely retooled for microtransactions or the like is yet to be seem. Let's not hold our breath.

Fantasy Life 2: Two Moons and the Village of God is planned for release on iOS and Android this summer in Japan. A localization of the game for North America or other regions has not yet been made. Don't be surprised if we end up waiting for Level-5 to measure the games initial success, port the game to 3DS for Japan and then consider localizing it for other territories. In other words, it may be a while -- if ever.

 
 

The Snack World is Level-5's latest cross-media franchise, coming to 3DS, iOS and Android in Japan

1 comments Rory Young - Apr 07, 15 10:32am (PST) Like Share

There's a distinct lack of snacks anywhere in this announcement or trailer

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Level-5's annual Vision 2015 event wrapped up with the announcement of their next major project, The Snack World.  According to Level-5, The Snack World will be a "hyper casual fantasy" cross-media franchise, which is to say that they're pulling out all of the stops right from the start. The Snack World will launch as a CG television cartoon, a manga, a toy line, a movie, and a game coming to 3DS, iOS and Android. 

Very little is known about The Snack World as of yet, as the focus of the presentation was in introducing the movie rather than the game. A teaser trailer shown introducing the stop-motion-esque visual style that the movie and show will take on, the main characters of the franchise including hero Chup, and the fantasy nature of the setting. For instance, Chup holds a sword and shield, while his friends bear a staff and a dagger respectively. Then there's the troll friend.

One would expect that the game will be some sort of RPG, but it's perhaps too early to make that call. Level-5 has been leaning towards more typical mobile fare in recent years, so if The Snack World turns into a pachinko game, a match-5 or Puzzles & Dragons-esque game, then I wouldn't be surprised. Let's all cross our fingers and hope that The Snack World will be more inspired by its Yo-kai Watch, Professor Layton and Inazuma Eleven predecessors.

My goodness, though, can Level-5 make great looking content. The animation in the trailer is outstanding. Though I have to admit it's a bit intimidating when Chup goes to the store and buys a new sword and shield for him to use in battle. Oh god, the microtransactions are already apparent.

The Snack World is currently announced only in Japan for 3DS, iOS and Android. Expect more news on the new franchise in the months to come. Hopefully Level-5 can work something out, perhaps with Nintendo, to get the game localized for North America. Hopefully that happens sometime soon, rather than two years from now.

 
 

Two 'massive' The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt expansions announced, Hearts of Stone and Blood and Wine

9 comments Rory Young - Apr 07, 15 9:36am (PST) Like (1) Share

Apparently The Witcher 3 isn't the conclusion that fans might have expected

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Surprising Witcher faithful, CD Projekt RED has announced two "massive" expansions for their forthcoming RPG, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Previously, CD Projekt RED has avoided releasing premium expansions for the The Witcher in the past. That changes today with the reveal of "Hearts of Stone" and "Blood and Wine." The two expansions will be offered together via an expansion, but CD Projekt RED insists that players wait to buy the content until they're confident in the product.

Fans will be quick to recall that CD Projekt RED has previously announced that The Witcher 3 will be receiving 16 DLC packs for free. The new expansions, it appears, will be entirely separate from this previous promise -- they're not reneging on their word.

CD Projekt RED co-founder Marcin Iwinski expounds on just what their goal is with the two expansion packs:

"With the development of Wild Hunt coming to an end, the team has embarked upon the creation of two new really big adventures set in The Witcher universe. We remember the time when add-on disks truly expanded games by delivering meaningful content. As gamers, we’d like to bring that back. We’ve said in the past that if we ever decide to release paid content, it will be vast in size and represent real value for the money. Both our expansions offer more hours of gameplay than quite a few standalone games out there."

Here are the descriptions provided via press release for both Hearts of Stone and Blood and Wine:

  • Hearts of Stone: Hearts of Stone will take Geralt on an all-new, 10-hour-plus adventure into the wilds of No Man’s Land and the nooks and alleys of Oxenfurt, where he’ll try to complete a contract from the mysterious Man of Glass. Caught in a thick tangle of deceit, Geralt will need all his cunning and strength to solve the mystery and emerge unscathed.
  • Blood and Wine: Blood and Wine, a 20-hour-plus tale that will introduce the all-new in-game region of Toussaint, will take Geralt to a land untainted by war, where an atmosphere of carefree indulgence and knightly ritual masks an ancient, bloody secret.

Hearts of Stone is scheduled for release in October later this year, followed by Blood and Wine in the first quarter of 2016.

Before closing out, it's worth discussing the fact that The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt will have DLC at all. Previously, CD Projekt RED has made it clear what their opinion on DLC content is. Both The Witcher and The Witcher 2 have had no premium DLC -- all post-launch content put out has been entirely free. Yet here they are going back on that, and with an Expansion Pass announced pre-launch of all things.

Marcin Iwinski, likely realizing this announcement would have its fair share of backlash, responded regarding the studio's decision:

"While we’re offering the Expansion Pass now, we want to make one thing clear: don’t buy it if you have any doubts. Wait for reviews or play The Witcher and see if you like it first. As always, it’s your call."

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunts' expansions are currently listed on the official website for purchase, but links to the content redirect to listings of the base game. That is to say, pricing for the individual packs or their bundled Expansion Pass are not yet clear. Nevertheless, The Witcher 3 will launch on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One starting May 19 worldwide. Its "massive" expansion packs, Hearts of Stone and Blood and Water, will be released in October, 2015 and early 2016 respectively.

 
 

Nintendo to publish Level 5's Yo-kai Watch on 3DS worldwide, Yo-kai Watch 3 announced in Japan

8 comments Rory Young - Apr 07, 15 9:05am (PST) Like (2) Share

The second coming of Pokemon has arrived

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The long wait is over, Level-5 fans. Today Nintendo announced that they've reached a deal to publish the hugely popular 3DS title, Yo-kai Watch in the west. The 2013 role-playing game has sold over 7 million in Japan alone; the Yo-kai Watch franchise is a modern day, Pokemon-tier money-maker. It's no surprise then that Nintendo latched onto the project to publish it in the west then, despite Level-5 self-publishing in Japan.

This announcement comes on the same day when Level-5 is hosting an annual community even in Japan. The event is extra special this year, as Yo-kai Watch 3 has been announced at the event. Well, Yo-kai Watch 3 as well as several 3DS side projects including Yo-kai Watch: Busters, Yo-kai Watch x Romance of the Three Kingdoms, and mobile games. This is our future, everyone. Yo-kai Watch is quite seriously the second coming of Pokemon.

Release details are scant at the moment, as Nintendo has only confirmed that they'll be publishing Yo-kai Watch. In fact, they'll be bringing it to North America, Europe, Latin America, Australia, New Zealand, and Korea, too. Release dates are as-yet unconfirmed, as well as whether Yo-kai Watch will be released as two different version, a la the Pokemon series' Red/Blue style. There's also the issue of merchandising, which Yo-kai Watch has built much of its success around. Expect figures and toys to be announced later this year as well. Maybe they'll just stick with amiibos for western regions?

A lot of folk may be suspect over this announcement. I don't think many people realize just how big of a franchise Yo-kai Watch has become in Japan. If Nintendo goes all-out, we could be on the verge of a Yo-kai Watch revolution of games, cartoons, toys and more. Of course, that potential may be overstated. Yo-kai Watch could have trouble translating well to western culture, what with its spooky ghosts themes which tie heavily into Japanese mythology. Just look at how poorly Nintendo published Inazuma Eleven in North America, another of Japan's largest and most historied franchises. Is there any hope?

Yo-kai Watch is an adventure RPG much like Pokemon. The player wanders around the setting hunting for yokai, ghosts, and after defeating them can acquire their "medal" so that they can be summoned for battle later. There are dozens of yokai to catch, as well as a much more linear and narrative-driven single-player experience to follow. If the original Yo-kai Watch proves successful, expect a large wave of sequels and spin-offs to quickly follow.

Expect more information on Yo-kai Watch for the 3DS to be revealed in the months to come, especially at E3. I fully expect Nintendo to push Yo-kai Watch as one of the 3DS' major releases for 2015.

 
 

NISA's Rodea the Sky Soldier localization takes flight September 22

3 comments Rory Young - Apr 02, 15 4:31pm (PST) Like Share

This is forever, by September Rodea's wings will be so tired

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NIS America dropped some updated information on the pending release of Rodea the Sky Soldier today. After being kept on ice for a few years by Kadokawa Games, the Wii RPG updated for Wii U and 3DS platforms now has a North American launch date. NISA's localization will arrive on September 22 in North American and on September 25 in Europe. Recall that the initial Wii U printing of Rodea will also include a copy of the game for the Nintendo Wii.

I really wish there was more I could add to this story -- a trailer, some new screenshots or a deeper look at some of the game's various features. Unfortunately NIS America tends to drop these small details at rather surprising times. I'm not sure if it's because these localizations tend to come together fast and closer towards a release date, or if NISA's team is too busy to put together marketing assets once a month. Nevertheless, a release date is a big deal and we can't just pass it by without writing it up.

In the mean time we still have the original Rodea the Sky Soldier trailer that accompanied the game's localization announcement. Note that the trailer is made from footage taken from the Japanese version of the game, since localization is still in the works.

Rodea the Sky Soldier is coming to Wii U and 3DS starting on September 22 (September 25 in Europe).

 
 

Bravely Second: End Layer's intro cinematic has Agnes and her musketeers ready for adventure

3 comments Rory Young - Apr 02, 15 3:41pm (PST) Like (1) Share

In which the Bravely series goes full anime

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Those lucky jerks in Japan, they'll be picking up Bravely Second: End Layer in a matter of weeks. Meanwhile the western world has yet to even hear about a potential release window. Jokes on them though, because while marketing of the game hasn't even yet begun in North America, we can still latch onto videos being released via Japanese accounts. Today Square Enix released the cinematic for Bravely Second which will run ahead of the game beginning.

The trailer reintroduces our Bravely Default heroine, Agnes, straight away. She's quite clearly an important figure in Bravely Second as well. As the video goes on we're introduced to several new characters, including the three musketeers promised to protect Agnes in her quest -- whatever that may be. We also see Magnolia, who a scant few might recall from a special ending in Bravely Default: For the Sequel. It wouldn't be a Bravely game without teasing Tiz, too. Tizzing.

What I took away from the trailer, more than any character introductions or the looming threat of Emperor Oblivion and his fairy, was the scope of the game. The world seems much larger, though it must be said that it's the same world just a few years later on. The world seems better realized, a livelier, vivid setting clearly taking steps away from the more mobile-oriented modern design of today and closer to the expansive RPG worlds of yesteryear. Or I'm just building up a dream world in my imagination.

Hopefully news of Bravely Second: End Layer's localization comes soon. The RPG arrives on 3DS in Japan later in April.

 

Thanks to Ciel Phantomhive for bringing this to our attention!

 
 
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