Nintendo Special Big Band [SLYT] Spend an hour listening to Nintendo's jazz band jamming away at musical hits from Super Mario, Kirby, Pokemon, Fire Emblem, Donkey Kong Country, and The Legend of Zelda. [more inside]
This Fan has Reimagined the Original 151 Pokémon as Hearthstone Cards [PC Gamer] “Thanks to a Redditor named Corpit, the original 151 Pokémon have been reimagined as Hearthstone cards. [Full Imgur Album]"I tried to capture the character of each species while trying to make them unique as cards too," Corpit said.”
Steam Passes 14 Million Concurrent Users for First Time Ever [PC Gamer] “Steam has surpassed 14 million concurrent users. The milestone was hit early January 7 and peaked at 14,207,039, according to Steam's stats page. It's now back to the mid-to-high 13 millions. Unsurprisingly, Dota 2 was the game with the highest concurrent player count at the peak today with 951,942 concurrent players. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive followed with 675,195 players, while Grand Theft Auto V rounded out the top three with 116,230. It's worth underlining that concurrent users isn't the same as concurrent players. The 14,207,039 number includes users who have Steam running in the background while they're doing other things or away from the PC altogether. Still, the figure is one measurement of Steam's growth over time.”
Blizzard Celebrates 20 Years of Diablo [Battlenet] “Blizzard Entertainment is thrilled to commemorate twenty years of Diablo [wiki]. We’re ready to celebrate our passion for the world of Sanctuary and the brave heroes who inhabit it! Starting soon, you can experience special in-game events and goodies in Diablo III, Heroes of the Storm, Hearthstone, Overwatch, StarCraft II, and World of Warcraft to celebrate a few of the things we love about Diablo. These events and items will only be available for a limited time, so be sure to check them all out before they’re gone. A small taste of each tribute is below—keep an eye out for more details about these celebrations. . . and thank you, all of you, for allowing us to continue adventuring in the world of Sanctuary. Here’s to twenty years of loot!” [more inside]
PlayStation Vita: Is It Better to Burn Bright Than to Fade Away? [Playstation Lifestyle] “For PlayStation Vita, Sony hasn’t cut ties with its beloved handheld just yet. Third-party AAA support may be dwindling, but perhaps out of necessity the device has become more of a thriving hotspot for indie darlings, quirky Japanese titles and tactile platformers, and less a platform that boasts console gaming on the go. It’s been a funny old road for Sony’s handheld, though signs point to the PlayStation Vita motoring on for the foreseeable future, even if the Japanese platform holder’s attention, marketing and stage time will soon be occupied by PlayStation VR. The install base may have plateaued, but so long as the two-fold relationship between developers supporting the device and consumers picking up those ports — not matter how long they take to arrive — Vita will continue to exist as “the platform that could.” Let’s just hope we’ll be saying the same when its 5th birthday rolls around.” [more inside]
It was the 90's and anything was possible, including Lucasfilm's first venture into multi-platform storytelling, large shoulder pads, and a dashing smuggler named....Dash. Why yes, we're talking about Shadows of the Empire. Via Thrillist.com
A New Overwatch Comic Celebrates the Holidays and Establishes That Tracer is Gay [PC Gamer] “The newest Overwatch digital comic, entitled Reflections, follows the high-speed holiday adventures of Tracer as she races through the streets of London in search of the perfect gift for her partner. Because yes, as it turns out, Tracer has a partner in Blizzard's official lore, and her partner is a woman. The comic itself is a fairly straightforward heartwarming tale of what really matters during the most hectic season of all. But the reaction to Tracer's identity has been anything but. Messages decrying Blizzard's "mistake" have cropped up all over the Overwatch forums and other social media, countered by others praising the studio for explicitly stating—in a low-key fashion—that the face of one of the biggest games of the year is gay.” [more inside]
A History of Deus Ex's Racism Controversies [New Normative] “With futuristic, sci-fi sequel Deus Ex: Mankind Divided [YouTube], developer Eidos Montreal has once again found itself walking atop the fiery coals of controversy. The developer first landed itself in trouble by referring to the game’s poor treatment of augmented humans (‘augs’ are treated as second class citizens, forced to live in ghettos) as the ‘Mechanical Apartheid.’ Apartheid is the term used to describe the horrific, and very real, period of segregation and oppression faced by black South Africans during the 20th century (1948-94). Many have questioned whether it is appropriate for the term, which is based on the South African language of Afrikaans (which is itself based upon the Dutch language, introduced to the territory by Dutch settlers) to be adapted and used as a slogan in a video game. In subsequent marketing materials – concept art created to further depict this oppression – the movement in favour of better treatment of augmented people is referred to as ‘Aug Lives Matter. It’s an unmistakeable and questionable nod of the head to the real-world movement for the better treatment of black people, Black Lives Matter.” [more inside]
Owlboy Is A Masterful Tale of Transcending Disability [Kill Screen] “It is striking, to say the least, that a game which has the levity and freewheeling inventiveness of a Studio Ghibli film introduces its hero with a sequence of cold abuse. But this is the unlikely balance that Owlboy [YouTube] achieves. From its unforgettable opening sequence to its equally devastating conclusion, the game never lets us forget that its hero is an unusually vulnerable one. He can’t even defend himself when the local owl bullies—cheekily named Fib and Bonacci—tease him. Nor does Otus gain fabulous new powers as the story goes on to deal with all the strife; the most he can do is stun foes with a stylish twirl of his cloak and escape.” [more inside]
The Best Horse in PC Gaming [PC Gamer] “And no one understands the value of a loyal, healthy horse companion better than PC Gamer. They’ve helped us scale vertical cliffsides in Skyrim, disable tanks with their poops in Metal Gear Solid 5, and be less angry than normal when we couldn’t fast travel The Witcher 3. They’re also very pretty and I like the noises they make. But the time for sharing the love is over, as we've decided to declare the best horse in PC gaming through rigorous horse analysis. Tuck that shirt in, champ your bit, and let’s ride.” [more inside]
The classic action puzzle game Lode Runner is now on the web, implemented in HTML5 by Simon Hung using CreateJS! It has all 150 the levels from the original and the 50 from Championship (VERY HARD), plus some more collections. Here's the source on GitHub. More info. [more inside]
Diving Into One Dishonored 2 Player's Obsession With “Explosive Orgies” [PC Gamer] “Videogames aren't just for entertainment, they are also the foundation for scientific research. For years players have been asking questions like "How many tanks does it take to stop the train in GTA 5?" [YouTube] or "How many people can I lure into a pool of electrified water?" [YouTube] You know, the difficult inquiries that really further us as a species. But sometimes science goes too far, as might be the case with one player and their obsession with "explosive orgies." What started as a little joke has spiralled into a madness to test the limits of what Dishonored 2's physics engine can handle. His name is 'Fattydude66' and he originally posted a screenshot to Reddit entitled "Is this one of the orgies the Duke loves so much?" It was a morbid jab at Luca Abele, the Duke of Serkonos, an oppressive ruler who offhandedly mentions a certain affinity for orgies during Dishonored 2's story. Fattydude66 was so committed to his joke that he spent an hour piling up 80 unconscious bodies, four dead ones, and two wolfhound. But that's where things got a wee bit dark. [.gif]”
Everybody plays as a creature made of male genitalia in this game: a flaccid penis, a pair of inflated testicles, and an anus. (NSFW because come on now)
Doom Composer Mick Gordon: A Chat About Dissonance, Making Music Responsive, and How Doom 2016 Ended Up Getting a Metal Soundtrack. [PC Gamer] “Back when Bethesda and id Software were making announcements about the recently rebooted Doom [wiki], one of the hints that it might end up decent was confirmation that Mick Gordon was onboard to compose the soundtrack [YouTube]. His work on Wolfenstein: The New Order and Killer Instinct is cherished among those games’ playerbases, and the intensity of both owe a lot to his anarchic (but still impressively subtle, when it needs to be) approach to getting visuals and music swinging to the same beat. Based in Australia, Gordon’s been around for a while. He’s worked on two Need For Speed games, as well as Shift 2 Unleashed and ShootMania Storm, to name a few examples. Currently he’s working with Arkane Studios on its Prey reboot, which—as he relates below—will mark a departure from his recent, foot-to-the-floor audio rampages.” [Previously.]
Overwatch and Dark Souls 3 win big at this year's Golden Joystick Awards. As does The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine. [PC Gamer] “The winners of the 2016 Golden Joystick Awards [YouTube] have been revealed, with the coveted Ultimate Game of the Year title going to the grossly incandescent Dark Souls 3. Elsewhere, Overwatch took home the most awards of the evening, including Best Original Game, Best Multiplayer Game, Competitive Game of the Year, Best Gaming Moment, and PC Game of the Year.” [more inside]
Duckfeed.tv is a frighteningly prolific videogame and pop culture podcast network founded by Gary Butterfield and Kole Ross. Though best known for the Dark Souls/Bloodborne podcast Bonefireside Chat and the 'video game bookclub' Watch Out For Fireballs, the network also includes shows about bad games, D&D monsters and 90s music videos. Duckfeed has so many ideas for podcasts they even have a podcast devoted to podcast ideas. The network also hosts sites like Hex Crank (Kole's survival horror blog) and the inevitable Youtube and Twitch channels.
else Heart.Break() (trailer) is simultaneously one of the most delightful, and most melancholy, games in recent memory. Welcome to Dorisberg, a town in which reality itself can be reprogrammed—using a variant of BASIC, no less!—and in which a group of aimless twentysomething rebels suffers under the watch of the all–seeing Ministry. The story is short, but the town is ridiculously complex, as hinted at by the sheer length and breadth of its soundtrack. There are secrets within secrets. And sadnesses within sadnesses, too. Users have been writing delightfully complex scripts, too, rewiring the entire city to suit their purposes. eH.B() was created by Erik Svedang, whose ultrashort Blueberry Garden has been one of my favorite games for close to a decade.
A man achieves his dream of becoming Dr. Robotnik, the God of Dance. This is actually a hijacked video, the original had the sin of an inadequate soundtrack.
Kirby Café [Japanese] Starting this August, several Kirby Cafes will open across the country [Only in Japan]. Here are some of the dishes that will be served. The Kirby Cafe opens August 5 at Lucua 1100 in Osaka’s Umeda and will run until September 4. Similar cafes are slated to open this August in Tokyo and Nagoya. [via: Kotaku]
Happy 20th Birthday, Quake by John Romero [rome.ro] “Twenty years. Wow. Where has all the time gone? We've all had many adventures during those years and Quake spawned many a game franchise and/or game company whether directly or through its influence. For this 20th I'm going to share a document created by Joost Shuur called QUAKETALK 95. This Quake FAQ was created on 10/22/1995 to keep people up to date on everything that had been posted about Quake up to that point. People wanted to know what the game was about and information was spread thin all over the place: magazine articles, IRC logs, even in hint books.” [You can download QUAKETALK 95 here.] [more inside]
DOOM [Campaign Trailer] As the iconic DOOM Marine, you wake to learn that the Union Aerospace Corporation’s facility on Mars has been decimated and overrun by hordes of demons. Humanity’s survival rests in your hands – and your hands alone. [more inside]
On April Seriousness Day, Vinny from Vinesauce streamed himself playing and watching four instalments of an obscure but beloved video game franchise. What, you've never heard of Scrimmy Bingus "and the" Crungy Spingus? [more inside]
Dark Souls III [YouTube] [Trailer] Dark Souls III is coming April 12, 2016! The opening cinematic from Dark Souls III sheds a tiny beam of light onto the mystery of where and when Dark Souls III takes place. [Previously.]
In the 1980s Atari offered golden treasures as gaming prizes, most of which were lost to time. Until now.
The Man Who Made A Million Empires by Colin Campbell [Polygon]
Not many creators have the brazen audacity to slap their name in the actual titles of the things they create. John Lennon didn't call his 1971 album, "John Lennon's Imagine." Mrs. Dalloway isn't called "Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway." James Cameron has so far managed to keep his name out of all his movie titles. But a lot of Sid Meier's games flash the words "Sid Meier" right there in the title. Most famously: the Sid Meier's Civilization series, which has sold more than 33 million units over the past 25 years. The most recent is 2010's Sid Meier's Civilization V. It's one of the greatest strategy games ever made.
The Forgotten Politics Behind Contra's Name by Matt Morey [Kill Screen]
Do a quick Google search of “contra.” Browsing the first few pages, you should see a saturation of links about the videogame—the now-primary version of the word—sprinkled with other definitions. Next in the deck is contra as preposition: “against, contrary, or opposed to,” suitingly enough. Then, a “contemporary New York cuisine” restaurant; contra-dancing, a folksy flirty form adaptable to many musical styles; the second album by Vampire Weekend; and eventually, peeking through before being closed out again, you’ll stumble upon the elephant in the room.
Devil Daggers is an irresistible Sisyphean nightmare. [The A.V. Club]
It’s an endless first-person shooter where you run around a floating arena and try to kill everything that moves before they kill you, which usually happens in under 60 seconds until you get the hang of things—and even then, you’re lucky to last much longer than that. The only weapons at your disposal are your wits, your agility, and the infinite daggers you can shoot from your hand in either a concentrated shotgun blast or a machine-gun-like hose of death.[more inside]
‘I am a radicalised goat hell-bent on jihad’ – the FBI’s new anti-Isis video game: “As the title suggests, there are more metaphors to unmangle here: a wooden mannequin bound by strings, for example, which you can free by visiting all the site’s sections. These are rendered as rooms of a confusing family home, which appears to contain a dingy, windowless lecture room and a serial-killer basement.” (SLGuardian)
The always-excellent Shmuplations has translated a 2011 interview about the creation of classic NES game Rockman, known in the US as Mega Man, and its sequel. It's a great depiction of the creative process relating to game development.
Colin Hanson, aka Active_ate, goes through the original (fan-translated) version of Final Fantasy V with only a single Time Mage character, and provides complete, exhaustive details of how this feat was achieved: Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3. From retrogaming enthusiast site Skirmishfrogs. [more inside]
Scott Buchanan is a Super Mario 64 challenge runner who can do amazing things in the game while pressing buttons as little as possible. Here's a 25 minute long video of him collecting the Watch for Rolling Rocks in Hazy Maze Cave star while only pressing the A button one half of a time.
Jeremy Parish writes about video game(-ish) music label Brave Wave and has interviews with Ninja Gaiden composer Keiji Yamagishi and Mega Man composer Manami Matsumae, both artists on the label. (Brave Wave previously)
Game artist Jude Wilson, like many of us, spent a lot of time playing Goldeneye (previously) on the Nintendo 64. Videogame graphics have come a long way in the nineteen years since Goldeneye was released, so Jude undertook to recreate part of one level in Unreal Engine 4 for his portfolio. [more inside]
A Father, a Dying Son, and the Quest to Make the Most Profound Videogame Ever: Wired interviews Ryan Green about That Dragon, Cancer, the upcoming game he created about his terminally ill son.
Video game composer (and longtime video game remixer) jake has composed an album on behalf of a boy band. A boy band composed of established video game villains, including Ganon(dorf) and brooding bad boy Sephiroth. He and a group of video game YouTubers have finished recording, and now there's a video! [via mefi projects]
Zelda Day 2015:
- If you love the NES original but are sad you know where everything is, try the Zelda Randomizer! (Windows EXE, requires ROM). Tries to guarantee solvable games! YouTube play.
- Did you know that, in the original releases of N64 Ocarina of Time, if you hold the R button down when you get a certain item, you get a different one instead? Info with more OoT glitches.
- From Double Fine! Devs Play The Legend of Zelda, four parts: 1 - 2 - 3 - 4
- Fan animation, "Racing For Rupees".
To avoid spoilers by quoting JHarris from here, "Retro Sabotage is a collection of recreations of classic video games. Or is it?" And they have just released their first content in almost six years to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Space Harrier: To War. Oh, and here's JHarris's hint about Retro Sabotage in general: "If a button needs to be pressed, it's the space bar unless it's explained otherwise." [more inside]
To paraphrase: Grappi is the fun friend from story and products, now in the light and shadow of a television! Interact of Grappi and do the good; make a health, not a hurt. Find a place, a weather, a friend! Do a many thing, make a Grappi joy! Hupa! You have found a strange video game that appears to originate from no known civilization. You have found Virtual Grappi. Be sure to check the instruction manual. (More from the real creator in the unfiction plane. And here's her original forum game [WARNINGS: PERHAPS TO SPOILERS])
Steve Meretzky has released a treasure trove of (minimally redacted) Infocom working documents. Written from 1981 to 1987, these internal documents were instrumental to Jason Scott when producing his documentary GET LAMP and have now been released on the Internet Archive. They include business memos, playtester notes, design documents, mockups by their packaging designer, and a tantalizing look into the elements of games that got cut or never fully developed. Stanford University has the originals.
In Cities: Skylines ... it can be hard to keep tabs on a single person's life for very long, and difficult to find them again later. I thought I'd fix this problem by creating a city in which only a single home could be built. Then I'd see who moved in and keep track of their lives. Here's what happened.[more inside]
Hideo Kojima's new game, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, is the video game analogue of Jonathan Franzen's books: technically dazzling, but built upon a bed of sophmoric ideas.
Here is the new series of video articles started by the ultra-knowledgeable folks at Hardcore Gaming 101. The first two are up, the beginning of series on Pre-Super Mario platform games and on the early history of JRPGs. Related is the video adjunct to the Game Club 199X Podcast, with over 50 videos. (Previously.)
Laura Hudson at Boing Boing has a thoughtful, in-depth review of Undertale, the new RPG by Toby “Radiation” Fox, the creator of the new RPG Undertale. (Kickstarter) The game was inspired by the Shin Megami Tensai franchise and Earthbound. All combat can be resolved through pacifist means, and the consequences of subsequent playthroughs stack and change the environment. In her review, Hudson compares playing the game to the classic spider-man piñata video –at least, if you want it to be. [more inside]