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Jason Clement

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Everything posted by Jason Clement

  1. Developer: Image & Form International AB Publisher: Thunderful Publishing AB Platform: Nintendo Switch Release Date: April 25, 2019 ESRB: E for Everyone At this point in Image & Form’s rapidly-expanding SteamWorld franchise we’ve had two incredible Metroidvania entries; an epic, space-faring tactical strategy title; and a lesser-known tower defense game for DSiware that started it all. According to studio head Brjann Sigurgeirsson, fans had been clamoring for the Swedish developer to give the RPG genre a go and it seems his team was all too happy to oblige. Thus, SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech was born. A departure from the sci-fi setting of previous games in the series, SteamWorld Quest features a storybook tale that unfolds in an era of knights, dragons, and magic, narrated by SteamWorld Heist’s Seabrass in a welcome cameo. The journey begins with two adolescent female steambots named Armilly and Copernica -- a wannabe knight and a novice alchemist, respectively – who find themselves caught up in a plot against a rising evil. Along the way, you’ll pick up a few more party members and discover some unsettling truths about what’s really happening, and maybe even experience a twist or two. Naturally, SteamWorld Quest is a bit heavier on the narrative than previous games due to being an RPG. However, the cast is wisely kept smaller and contained versus large and unwieldy, thus giving each character just enough focus and attention to keep them interesting. The writing is downright hilarious at times too, once again showing that Image & Form really does have one of the best localization teams on the indie side of the industry. And though the plot is a little formulaic (yet entirely self-aware), the writers do subvert a few typical story tropes – the two main leads are both female, for one -- and ultimately, there are fulfilling arcs for each of the characters by the time the credits roll. Unlike many other 2D RPGs where a top-down or isometric view is standard, the out-of-battle sequences in SteamWorld Quest take place in a side-scrolling manner where you’ll mostly move from left to right (and vice versa) and screen to screen, coming across the occasional treasure chest and/or puzzle, a shopkeeper, and scores of enemies. Touch an enemy (they’ll be alerted to your presence if you come too close) and you’ll initiate a battle, which is far and away the best part of this game. In fact, I’ve never played a card-based battle system that I enjoyed more than this one. The mechanics are kept surprisingly simple: at the beginning of each battle, you’re dealt eight “punch cards” randomly from your deck of 24 (which you can customize throughout the game), and you can play up to three cards each turn. Playing base cards (usually lower level attacks that have no number) will help you build up your steam power gauge, in turn allowing you to play even stronger cards that unleash powerful attacks, restore health, or cast buffs that help your team (or debuffs on your enemies). What really propels the gameplay in a big way are the variety of options at your disposal. Sure, you can play your cards as they’re dealt, but you can also strategically choose to pass on some in order to get the right combination to line up special combos that can, at times, save your bacon entirely. The battle system is also amazingly well-balanced. I played on the Normal difficulty, but the challenge remained consistent throughout, picking up toward the end. Image & Form did a great job making boss fights feel alive and engaging thanks to a number of different scenarios you’ll have to play through. For example, one boss poisons your characters every five turns, forcing you to constantly switch between damage control and going on the offense. Other bosses might have lackeys or pawns whose extra attacks and damage can add up over time unless you defeat them. Creative scenarios like this kept me looking forward to each and every battle, which is a rarity for me when it comes to RPGs. If there’s one thing that disappointed me, it’s the lack of activities and interaction with the world outside of battles. There’s little to no interaction with NPCs due to them being sparse, little to no side quests that you can carry out that either reward you with more loot or delves deeper into the game’s lore, no interesting minigames to shake things up, and no engaging puzzles aside from the ‘lite’ ones you come across (find a switch to open a gate, or rotate images a certain way to open a door, etc.). While the battle system is near perfect, the out-of-battle activities and exploration are the biggest aspects Image & Form could and should expand upon should they give the game a sequel (or create other RPGs like it). Still, the game has so much going for it that it’s easy to overlook this aspect this time around. The art, like in other recent SteamWorld games, is fantastic and draws on the strengths of Image & Form’s talented and creative team while the music keeps the story suspenseful and allows for some lighter moments as well. If you’ve played other SteamWorld titles, then it shouldn’t come as a surprise to you that SteamWorld Quest is another great entry. And if you’re hesitant because you’re not sure what to make of the card-based battle system, be assured that this is easily one of the best battle systems I’ve ever played in an RPG; it’s both fun and engaging, as is the deck-building element. While the game still has some room to grow for next time (more out-of-battle activities, for example), SteamWorld Quest is a tremendous first step into the RPG genre for Image & Form’s ambitious franchise and more than lives up to the lofty expectations the studio has set with its prior games. Overall Score: 8.5 (out of 10) Great SteamWorld Quest is fun, zany, and boasts what is possibly the best card-based battle system in any game to date. Though not without room to improve, this is yet another genre Image & Form has shown considerable skill and expertise developing in, and I can't wait to see what's next. Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable Switch code provided by the publisher
  2. It seems Epic Games is on a warpath to dominate the video game market these days, from their recent inroads with the Epic Game Store and acquiring exclusive rights to game debuts to riding high with Fortnite -- currently the most popular game in the world. Now it has been announced that the publisher is acquiring Rocket League developer, Psyonix. The transaction was discussed in a new post on Psyonix's website today and revealed that nothing is changing for Rocket League due to the acquisition. Not much was revealed about what this means for the developer other than expanded resources and reach for their popular eSports title, but Psyonix does state that the game will be heading to the Epic Games Store in the long run. According to The Verge, Rocket League will no longer be available on Steam after that point. As for the acquisition itself, Psyonix and Epic Games expect the transaction to close around the end of May to early June 2019. Source: Psyonix, The Verge
  3. When the SEGA Genesis Mini was announced in March, only ten of its forty included games were revealed, with the company set to announce the remaining titles leading up to the launch. Now the mini console's next ten titles have been revealed, including a few surprises. The newly announced titles include the following: Earthworm Jim Sonic the Hedgehog 2 Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse World of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck Contra: Hard Corps Thunder Force III Super Fantasy Zone Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master Streets of Rage 2 Landstalker As a reminder, here's a look at the total revealed list so far: While the first ten games that were revealed are 90% SEGA-published titles, the inclusion of three third party-published titles with the ten newly revealed games (Earthworm Jim, Castle of Illusion, and World of Illusion, specifically), two of them being licensed titles, shows that SEGA is going beyond their own library of games to include a good mix of the best and most classic titles on the console; not unlike what Nintendo has done with the NES and SNES Classics. Speaking of Castle of Illusion and its sequel, both games' inclusion have many fans excited at the prospect of potentially having more licensed games be part of the twenty games that have yet to be revealed. The Genesis was no stranger to great licensed Disney games in particular, including Aladdin (of which the Genesis port is widely claimed to be the best version of the game), The Lion King, The Jungle Book, Toy Story, and many others. However, it's safe to say that the remaining 70-75% of the list will likely be SEGA-published titles, so the prospect of even just one or two more Disney games appears low, especially considering that there are two core Sonic titles and two spin-offs of the series that are likely to make the list as well. In any event, SEGA has been revealing ten games of the Genesis Mini's confirmed forty titles every month so far, so the next ten will likely be unveiled in May if the company sticks to this pattern. The Genesis Mini is set to release on September 19, 2019 for $79.99.
  4. Former Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime is now enjoying his retirement from the company as of this week and, having just recently joined Twitter, he's shared an image of an epic painting that he received from The Game Awards' Geoff Keighley (and commissioned by artist Sam Spratt) to commemorate his time with Nintendo. The painting depicts Fils-Aime with his hands in the air as if he's manipulating marionettes as he's positioned over three of his most popular animated likenesses, as listed below. (From left to right in the painting) Reggie's Mii - which was most famously shown off during the reveal for Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS Puppet Reggie (some would say "Muppet" Reggie) - whom made his memorable appearance in a Nintendo Digital Event during E3 2015 and was designed/crafted by none other than Jim Henson's Creature Shop. Robot Chicken figure Reggie - whom made his appearance during Nintendo's 2014 E3 Presentation, which the Robot Chicken creators created special segments for. In any case, the painting certainly is an epic sendoff for the beloved former NOA president, who is now retired with Nintendo currently at the top of their game (no pun intended) in the industry. Source: Twitter
  5. One of this year's most anticipated superhero games finally has a release date. Today Nintendo revealed that fans would get the opportunity to play as Marvel's most popular superheroes in Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order on July 19, exclusively on Nintendo Switch (through both retail and the Nintendo eShop on Nintendo Switch). The game's story pits Marvel's Finest against the villainous Thanos and his cohort, The Black Order, as they engage in a race to find the Infinity Stones before the latter can use them to unleash chaos on the universe. Along with iconic superhero mainstays like Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, Spider-Man, and Wolverine, you'll also be able to play as other characters such as Black Panther, Deadpool, Doctor Strange, and even Spider-Gwen; all of which will have their own unique abilities and power sets. Also, in addition to playing through the story solo, you'll be able to play co-op with friends via local play or online play; the latter of which you'll need an active Nintendo Switch Online membership (which costs $20) in order to use. Despite the title's current exclusivity to Switch, it is currently unknown if this is a timed exclusive or a lifetime deal (Team Ninja is the game's developer). Square Enix's Octopath Traveler was exclusive to Switch upon its release last year but a Steam version of the game was announced recently, so we'll have to wait and see what happens with Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3. Source: Press Release
  6. Jason Clement

    Obligatory - What are you playing right now!

    Tbh, I'm a little scared for Blizzard's future atm, especially after Activision finally made their first moves on putting checks and balances on them (with layoffs and such). Also, did I see that Overwatch is trending downward now (both in perception and sales)? Fortnite is really disrupting that whole scene, unfortunately for other developers. But yeah, if Blizzard doesn't knock it out of the park with Diablo 4, I really wonder what'll happen to them.
  7. Jason Clement

    What have you seen recently and what did you think?

    Saw Shazam last weekend. It was pretty good; DC is finally on a roll with their movies, even if I thought Aquaman was a little bit messy with its story and runtime yet still enjoyable. No story-specific spoilers here, but one of the cool things is that Shazam actually focuses more on the human drama element of the movie more than the superhero part; I'd say it's ultimately... 60/40 in that regard. The superhero parts aren't bad either (the villain is a lot better than I thought he'd be; Mark Strong really leans into his character here), but the film is obviously made stronger by Billy Batson's story as a boy who discovers who his true family is. All in all, it's a pretty strong superhero origin film, and one that actually builds up the villain from the start and gives them the screentime they deserve.
  8. Image & Form's upcoming title, SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech, has officially been dated for release and it's heading exclusively to Nintendo Switch's eShop (for the foreseeable future) on April 25th for $24.99 / €24.99 / £22.49. While the SteamWorld games are primarily known for action and platforming (and even tactical strategy!), SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech is the developer's first foray into the world of RPGs. You'll lead a group of aspiring Steambot heroes in a world where steampunk meets high fantasy, with treasure chests full of gold, dragons, magic, XP, colorful worlds, and all of the usual good stuff that comes with the genre. Oh, and the turn-based battles are card-based as well. You'll craft your own battle deck from over 100 different punch-cards in order to take on your enemies. Also, if SteamWorld Quest sounds familiar to you, the game's title was originally leaked back in 2016 by way of a European listing. It would appear Image & Form has had this SteamWorld entry in the oven for a good while now! At any rate, you won't have to wait much longer to get your hands on the next game in the SteamWorld saga, so get ready for plenty of steam-driven RPG goodness coming your way soon. Source: Press Release
  9. Nearly a year after the final release of Shantae: Half-Genie Hero – Ultimate Edition, WayForward has announced that Shantae 5 is officially in development and expected to release later this year. No details have been revealed about Shantae's fifth outing just yet – apparently, even the name isn't set in stone yet according to WayForward's official Twitter account. However, the developer did reveal a piece of art and a tentative logo, which can be seen above. Shantae 5 will be released later in 2019 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC, and the recently announced Apple Arcade. Speaking of which, WayForward also revealed that a new title called Spidersaurs being developed exclusively for Apple Arcade. Not much is known about this title either aside from the fact that it is an action game being developed by the team that made Contra 4. One of the titular Spidersaurs can be seen in the first piece of art that was released with the logo as well. Spidersaurs is set to launch later this year on Apple Arcade. Source: WayForward (via Twitter - 1, 2)
  10. Jason Clement

    Obligatory - What are you playing right now!

    Haven't played it yet but I hear Anthem had a pretty rough start in its first few weeks? I'm wondering it'll be able to pick up like Destiny did.
  11. Rumors have abounded for quite some time that Google has been gearing up to spearhead the games industry via a streaming service but today the tech giant made it official at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. Their new game service, Stadia, is being designed to run on everything from PCs to Android phones and Google Chromecast devices by means of streaming technology. Essentially, games played using Google Stadia will run on the company's own centralized servers, taking user input via the controller and sending back video and audio with no download or install (or patch/update) necessary. Google exec Phil Harrison demoed the process on-stage, showing a comparison between playing on Google's own Pixel 3 XL and what he referred to as the least powerful PC they could find; both worked equally as well. Google states that Stadia games will run as 1080p, 60 frames per second; also, 4K will be supported at launch, with plans for eventual 8K support. There's also a controller you'll be able to buy which connects over Wi-Fi instead of Bluetooth; among the usual face buttons, d-pad, and analog sticks, there will also be a capture button to save and share your screencaps/gameplay with others over social media. Also worth noting: Harrison and Head of Stadia Games and Entertainment Jade Raymond both confirmed that Google Stadia will have its own exclusive first-party games from their studio as well as in partnership with other developers. The only release window given so far for both Stadia and the controller is 2019. However, not everyone is as bullish on Google Stadia as the company is. The reaction on social media thus far is pretty split, with many showing their support for the news, and many also equally questioning its viability this early on. IGN's Max Scoville had some criticism for those who are writing off Stadia entirely before its release. But a few other Twitter users retorted back with a few realistic points of their own. While the idea of streaming games anywhere is highly appealing, it is a fact that broadband isn't readily available to everyone everywhere just yet, not only in the United States but in many countries around the world. The question is: can Google Stadia can take off regardless of that fact? We'll have to wait and see how things play out. Source: Ars Technica, Endgadget
  12. The classic Data East game Windjammers has had a massive resurgence in popularity in recent years, thanks to Giant Bomb raising awareness of the title during their many gameplay livestreams (you can check out the story behind that in this Waypoint article). So much so, in fact, that publisher DotEmu decided to grab the rights to re-release the original game and even produce a full-blown sequel. And while Windjammers 2 was originally announced in August of last year, we're only just getting our first official look at the gameplay in today's new trailer. Featuring some fast-paced, frenzied disc-flying action, the footage also provides a glimpse at the new players, abilities, and the game's gorgeous, hand-drawn visuals and animations. Check out the new trailer below. Windjammers 2 doesn't have a release date just yet but the game is expected to release in 2019 on Nintendo Switch and PC. Source: Press Release
  13. Many 3DS owners are likely familiar with Gunman Clive, a 2D action game with a Wild West theme that caught worldwide attention after it rose to the top of the Japanese 3DS eShop charts and was noted for its relatively inexpensive price ($1.99 USD) when compared to the game's high quality. The game’s developer, Bertil Hörberg, went on to develop a sequel and, more recently, the Gunman Clive HD Collection, which just released on Switch in January. Now Hörberg has revealed what his next project is, a game called Mechstermination Force. Like the Gunman Clive titles, this is also an action game though this time it has a unique twist: the gameplay is comprised of boss rush fights against giant robots. Hörberg describes it as a “mix of Contra and Shadow of the Colossus” and also mentions that the game is quite a lot bigger than the Gunman Clive titles, adding that this is the first of his projects where he’s hired additional people to help. Mechstermination Force is currently scheduled to release on the Nintendo Switch this Spring. Hörberg recently mentioned that the game has entered lotcheck (one of the last processes before a game releases, which involves certification) so expect a release date soon. Source: Press Release
  14. Jason Clement

    What have you seen recently and what did you think?

    I finished Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood recently and I gotta say, it's amazing. Possibly the best anime I've ever seen. The pacing is great and never lets up, and even the more character-centric episodes are really good. But man, the last 15-20 episodes are pretty dang epic. Also, its epilogue episode is also one of the best I've ever seen; I wish more anime (and TV shows in general) would dedicate an entire episode to what happens after the final conflict.
  15. Though Yacht Club Games originally were planning to release their final Shovel Knight campaign, King of Cards, along with Shovel Knight: Showdown (the multiplayer competitive mode), an amiibo 3-pack (featuring King Knight, Plague Knight, and Specter Knight), and a physical version of Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove (the complete collection of every piece of Shovel Knight content in one package) on April 18, the indie developer has now announced one last delay for all of the content. The reason for this is because the team needs more time to polish off the gameplay and make sure everything is in tip-top shape before they're satisfied with the final result. As for the amiibo, Yacht Club Games mentioned that their functionality is tied to the launch of King of Cards, which means it only makes sense to release them when that campaign is ready to go. Due to all of this, Yacht Club Games is not announcing a new release date until they're certain of it, but insist that the delay should only push the release back several months. Here are a few other interesting tidbits that the team revealed: A new screenshot showcasing King of Cards reveals a brand new side-character named 'Traitorus,' who happens to be King Pridemoor's former advisor. Another King of Cards screen reveals what the world map looks like; quite a bit different from Shovel of Hope's. A new story screenshot shows Specter Knight rushing off to confront The Enchantress. King of Card's levels are shorter than previous Shovel Knight levels but are more numerous (with more than 30). At one point, Yacht Club wasn't sure if King Knight would fit on the 3DS due to his size, but that problem has since been solved. Words of Magic and 8-4 Games have helped translate the game into 9 languages now. In the meantime, stay tuned for a final release date for the rest of Shovel Knight's upcoming content. Source: Yacht Club Games
  16. Bleh, getting over a sore throat right now. Hope everyone else is doing well!

     

    Also, hi DarkCobra. Thanks for sticking around and keeping tabs on things here every now and then. Going to try and see if we can get some life back into the forum again sometime.

  17. Jason Clement

    heyo, not new just taking a swing by

    Your art is getting better over time. Nice job. Like DC said, it's neat to see you sticking with this.
  18. Last month, Nintendo's Damon Baker, who had become synonymous with the publisher's efforts to spearhead indie and third-party content, announced that he was leaving the company to take on a new role elsewhere. Today, Baker officially revealed on Twitter that he is now the new Head of Portfolio at Xbox. The rest of his tweet indicates that his role is still pretty much the same as it was at Nintendo, with him evaluating 2nd/3rd part content for Xbox's overall strategy. Still, a big congratulations to Baker on his move, especially as Xbox continues to make key moves that could indicate a brighter future for the console giant in the coming years as the next generation of gaming looms ahead. Source: Damon Baker (via Twitter)
  19. Nintendo's Shinya Takahashi dropped a bomb on unsuspecting Metroid fans today via a short video on the company's Youtube channel, saying that Metroid Prime 4 would be delayed and its development restarted. Takahashi stated that Nintendo was not satisfied with the current state of the game and that it has "not reached the standards" they seek in a sequel to the Metroid Prime series. Thus, the game is being handed over to the series' former steward, Retro Studios, and development will be restarted. Metroid Prime 4 was previously being worked on by Bandai Namco Singapore. When will we next hear about the game, then? Takahashi stated that "it will be a long road until the next time we [Nintendo] will be able to update you on the development progress," indicating that it could be years. The last new game Retro Studios completed was Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze in 2014, and it took about 3.5 years for that game to be finished after its predecessor, Donkey Kong Country Returns, released in late 2010. Considering Retro's average timetable for developing games, then, it seems likely that we may not see Metroid Prime 4 until 2022 at the earliest, especially if all previous development is completely scrapped. Former Retro Games Environment Artist Eric Kozlowsky revealed on Twitter that the company's former project may not be in production anymore if the studio has now taken on Metroid Prime 4 unless there are now two development teams. Retro had been rumored to be working on a racing title called Star Fox: Grand Prix, though the game had not yet officially been announced. In the meantime, legendary game designer Shigeru Miyamoto's famous words come to mind: "A delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is bad forever." Source: Nintendo (via Youtube)
  20. It's been a long time coming but the the third entry in the Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel is finally making its way to North American territories. However, unlike the first two games, which were published by XSEED, Trails of Cold Steel III is being published by NIS America instead. While some might be put off by this change due to the translation issues with Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana (which NIS America also published in 2017), the publisher is attempting to nip this in the bud by mentioning that some of the localization staff that had worked on the previous two Cold Steel entries have returned for this one as well. Trails of Cold Steel III features a new Class VII led by "Ashen Chevalier" Rean Schwarzer, who is now an instructor at Thors Branch Campus. The story follows the cast as they journey into the Empire's recently acquired land and find themselves embroiled in another plot that could result in war or an even worse calamity. Also new to this installment is the "Break System"; expect to hear more about that in the lead up to the game's release. The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III is slated to release exclusively on PlayStation 4 in the Fall. Source: Press Release
  21. Digital versions of Nintendo's games seem to be showing up in more and more places for purchase these days and, as of today, Humble Bundle can now be adding to that growing list. Right now the selection features a mix of 40 different Switch and 3DS titles, from recent games like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and the Pokemon: Let's Go titles to even Virtual Console titles like Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda. All titles are selling at their full MSRP, and none qualify for charity contributions either. Nintendo titles are eligible for the $5 discount you get with Humble Bundle monthly subscriptions, but beyond that, there doesn't appear to be much of a difference from any other retail store (online or brick and mortar). Humble Bundle has not stated whether third-party and indie Switch and 3DS titles will be offered at some point, so hopefully we'll hear more regarding that sooner versus later. Source: Humble Bundle
  22. Fans of niche Japanese games publisher NIS America might be aware that the company had announced a console port of RPG Maker MV for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One in 2019. Unfortunately, it looks like you won't be getting your hands on it anytime in the next few months. NIS America announced today that it is delaying the title due to ongoing issues with the development and that it won't release until later in 2019 now. No details have been given regarding the development issues, but suffice to say that porting a game to consoles isn't always a clear cut process. RPG Maker MV originally released on PC back in 2015 and features the ability to upload and share your RPG creations with others. This new console version is slated to have twice as many assets, including brand-new voices, music, and lyrics; making it the most comprehensive version of RPG Maker to date. We'll be sure to update you on a new release date as soon as it's announced. Source: Press Release
  23. Jason Clement

    Game of the Year 2018 - Jason's Picks

    2018 always had an uphill battle going for it. After all, how do you compete with an amazing year in video games like 2017 had? And yet, even though it predictably did not reach those lofty heights, 2018 still had its share of good video games. Especially indie games, which really seemed to get more of the spotlight thanks to a lesser amount of super high profile AAA games out on average. A few of the titles that didn’t quite make my list but deserve shoutouts include No Man’s Sky, which had a great update that added a lot of content and made the story way more meaningful. Surviving Mars is an excellent simulation game where you attempt to build and sustain your own colony on Mars. Swords of Ditto is a neat little game with a creative twist in that you play as a new hero in a changed world (100 years in the future) each time you die. Runner 3 is great fun and much improved from its predecessor. Miles & Kilo is a neat, 8-bit-esque runner that could almost be summed up as “Uncharted action setpieces if they were attempted on the NES.” And The Gardens Between is one of the most creative games I played this year that I didn’t get to spend quite as much time with as I wanted. But I digress. Here are my top 10 games of 2018. 10) Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido If I’m being completely honest, Sushi Striker almost didn’t make my list. I didn’t fully understand the nuances behind the gameplay until maybe about halfway through, meaning I was coasting on my knowledge of the basics until that point. That said, developer Indieszero did an admirable job creating something entirely new and fresh. Amidst the fast-paced (and admittedly stressful at times) puzzle gameplay there is a full-blown anime that has a completely ridiculous yet fun and self-aware story about sushi and a resistance that is fighting against an empire trying to control it. Sadly, Sushi Striker is likely a one-and-done deal since it didn’t sell well, but I’ll cherish my time with it as one of the more interesting chances taken in gaming lately. 9) Kirby Star Allies Star Allies is the first game since Kirby’s Return to Dreamland to really make me feel like a kid again. Having three allies fight alongside you seems like an unnecessary gimmick at first since Kirby titles aren’t usually known for their difficulty (at least not upfront). But HAL really found a way to make having four characters on-screen at once compelling, and it’s just plain cool to see Meta Knight or other series stalwarts fighting alongside Kirby (especially in boss battles). This might also be the most beautiful game in the series to date (Epic Yarn and Rainbow Curse aside), thanks to the increased capabilities of the Switch. Also, this particular entry has the most Dragon Ball Z-like ending ever and it’s something you need to see to believe. 8) Mini Metro Mini Metro is a great example of a game that’s simple to play, yet difficult to master. I love how simple it is; you literally drag your finger across the screen to create lines for trains. And... that's pretty much it. At first, you’ll have only a few trains to work with, but as both the city and your infrastructure grow, you’ll need to allocate your resources in such a way that you can meet the needs of all the people needing to get to their respective stops. I do wish the game had more achievements and was more goal-oriented, but the basic score attack mode is so addictive that I lose hours at a time just trying over and over to create the best train system I can. If you love strategy games, you can’t pass up Mini Metro. 7) Overcooked! 2 Somehow I didn’t play the first Overcooked! until shortly before 2 came out. I think it’s because I always viewed it as a multiplayer-only title and since I don’t have many other people to play with locally, well, you get the picture. However, the critical acclaim of the first original spoke to me and I was determined to play the sequel when it launched. And I couldn’t have been more wrong about it. Even as a single-player experience, Overcooked! 2 is a blast to play. You’ll need patience to master controlling two characters by yourself; just imagine it as a sort of relay race that goes on for a few minutes each time. Preparing each meal and keeping up with each order is fast and frantic fun, especially when combined with the way each level throws different curveballs at you and tries to impede your progress in different ways. Overcooked! 2 is easily a strong contender for the best co-op multiplayer game of the year; it’s that good. 6) Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom I grew up in a Nintendo household so I really had no experience with the Wonder Boy/Monster Boy series until last year’s excellent Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap. Playing through it made me feel like I had pretty much experienced all I needed to from that series, but boy was I wrong. Although Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom still feels like a SEGA Master System/Genesis game at its heart, it’s also a much more in-depth experience. It’s a happy marriage between Metroidvania and Zelda 2 with so much exploration, new skills and abilities, and puzzles to solve that it’s impossible for me not to love every moment of it. Cursed Kingdom is also gorgeous; I can now see why it took some 5+ years for this game to finally come out. All of the callbacks to previous games in the series, whether through new musical arrangements of older themes, visual nods, and cues also help make this one of the most memorable and charming games of 2018, if not a bit difficult in spots. 5) Octopath Traveler Going into 2018, I thought Octopath Traveler had real potential to be my favorite game of the year. Upon playing it, there are a few things that unfortunately prevent this, but I really can’t complain too much since most of the characters have compelling stories to tell and the game features one of the best battle systems and possibly the best soundtrack of the year. Octopath Traveler is that rare game I couldn’t put down because I just had to see what was next; hopefully its success means it won’t be too long before we see another entry. 4) Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Super Smash Bros. Ultimate absolutely lives up to its name as the best Smash game to date. An insane 74-character roster (at least starting out) with great new additions (shoutout to King K. Rool in particular) gives this game tremendous replay value. It also offers some of the most entertaining, challenging, and creative fights I’ve played thanks to the new Spirits mode and World of Light, which acts as the game’s single-player campaign. We might not get another Smash for a long while now, but that’s okay because Smash Ultimate will be played for a long time to come. 3) Splatoon 2: Octo Expansion + Season 2 content With over 750 hours of game time and counting, Splatoon 2 is still my most played Switch title by far, and it’s gotten even better in its second year. The free updates that have been provided for the main game have added everything from new levels to new weapons and gear, great Splatfests, and even new Salmon Run stages. But let’s talk about Octo Expansion for a sec. To date, it’s the single best piece of DLC I’ve ever played. It’s what Super Mario Galaxy 2 was to its predecessor. Forget the main campaign -- the creative scope of Octo Expansion’s 80 levels is nothing short of incredible. Not every level is a winner, mind you, but most are thoroughly enjoyable. Octo Expansion also adds a great new piece of lore to the Splatoon universe with the Deep Sea Metro and all its weird inhabitants. If you thought Splatoon had a weirdly cool, urban vibe to it before, the DLC dials it up to 11. And the story and final boss make up one of the most memorable and unique moments in the series so far. If you’ve ever been a fan of Splatoon 2, Octo Expansion is a must-play. 2) Yoku’s Island Express Every year there is at least one game that resonates with me in a deep way, usually because it has a great atmosphere that I connect with. Yoku’s Island Express is that game in 2018. I can’t fully express to you why, but it hits all the right notes for me. The art style is superb, the characters are charming as heck, the gameplay is a wonderful marriage between Metroidvania adventure and pinball, and the plot is like something out of a Pixar film (even if it’s a bit anticlimactic in the finale). Even the soundtrack is possibly my favorite from the whole year, borrowing from more lighthearted Polynesian/Hawaiian fare to trip-hop and more; it’s wonderful. Heck, I even platinumed the game, which is only my second time ever. Yoku’s Island Express is an incredible debut for developer Villa Gorilla and I can’t wait to see what they do next. 1) Marvel’s Spider-Man I knew Marvel's Spider-Man was going to be a good game. Heck, I even imagined it’d be great. How could it not be after those incredible E3 demos, two years in the running? What I didn’t expect, however, was for it to completely shatter my expectations and give us the best cinematic Spider-Man story to date (save for Into the Spider-Verse, which just recently released at the time of this writing and is amazing, no pun intended). Spider-Man really is the complete package. It offers a fully-explorable New York, tons of sidequests and enemies to fight (too many, some would even say), lots of collectibles, and a combat system that is extremely fluid and well done. But at the end of the day, it’s the story that really makes the game special for me. To explain why would delve into spoilers, but there’s an emotional narrative that’s pulled off extremely well, and the climax and final battle are a huge payoff for the story arc that slowly builds throughout the game. This is the single best representation of Peter Parker as Spider-Man and, without a doubt, the best superhero game to date. Bravo, Insomniac Games.
  24. If you've regularly watched the various Nintendo Direct videos over the last few years then you're more than likely familiar with Damon Baker. He's been the face for presenting indie games on Nintendo consoles ever since Dan Adelman moved on from the role in 2014, and sadly, his time is also now coming to an end at the Big N. Baker announced his departure from the company on Twitter today, and while he gave no specifics on what lies next for him, he expressed excitement for the next opportunity as well as gratitude for the many developers, publishers, influencers etc. that he had worked with over the years. While Adelman was known for being the first point man at Nintendo who helped establish a platform and communication line for indie games, Baker will be remembered for his cheery disposition and sophomoric efforts in continuing that legacy on the 3DS, Wii U, and more recently, Nintendo Switch. There's no word yet on who his successor will be, but you can bet we'll be introduced to them in a Nintendo Direct (or at E3) during 2019. Source: Damon Baker (via Twitter) Are you sad to see Damon Baker leaving Nintendo?
  25. Steam has been king of the hill for more than a decade when it comes to being the number one digital distribution platform. But recently, the Valve-owned platform's dominance has been threatened by the slow withdraw of the industry's biggest AAA publishers as they moved to create their own digital platforms. Now things are about to get even more difficult for Valve as Epic Games has announced plans to create their own digital distribution platform, with an interesting twist that could disrupt the former's stranglehold on the industry. Dubbed 'The Epic Games Store', Epic's digital platform will split the revenue with developers in an 88/12 ratio, with 88% of the revenue going to the developer. This is a huge shakeup from the more traditional 70/30 model that Steam had been using, and could see developers favoring The Epic Games Store over Steam going forward. But how is this possible? In an interview with Game Informer, Epic co-founder Tim Sweeney stated that when they looked at the expenses of developing and running a digital store, they were negligible at a large-scale. Sweeney also noted that stores taking in 30% of the revenue were, in effect, marking up their costs by 300-400%, leading to an opportunity for Epic to lower that threshold so developers could take in more revenue. Also interesting to note: Epic will be waiving all fees that it would normally take in through its storefront for any developers that use the company's own Unreal Engine to develop their games, instead relying on revenue share from a small percentage of the games' profits due to the usage of Epic's engine. The store will also offer a free game every two weeks (funded by Epic themselves), perhaps taking a cue from what Humble Bundle and EA's Origin have done in the past. The Epic Games Store is slated to launch soon on PC and Mac with a number of curated titles, though the company does plan to open up the store to more titles and platforms over the course of 2019. And like Steam, it will also feature free-to-play games, support mods, and non-commercial games. Source: Gamesindustry.biz What are your thoughts on Epic launching their own digital storefront?
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