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Here's a video

Tue, 03 Feb 2015 13:45:00 -0500

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We've been debating publishing this video for weeks. Now, as imaginary armed men pound on the fictional doors of Joystiq's nonexistent office, we have precious little time to debate any further. So here it is, a video of Satoru Iwata set to the theme of Sanford and Son. It was created my Mike Suszek in a fit of madness and giggles.

We present it here, without context, because it's our last chance. Please understand.

Games of a Lifetime: Richard's picks

Mon, 02 Feb 2015 18:00:00 -0500

After more than ten years devoted to video games and the people who make them, Joystiq is closing its doors. We won't be reporting on the best games of 2015, so join us for one last hurrah as the Joystiq family reveals their Games of a Lifetime.

This is killing me. It's absolutely killing me. I haven't been able to write a thing since rumors of Joystiq's closure began circulating. I had plans. Grand plans of writing something eloquent and final. As usual, Ludwig has already done a better job of that than I could ever dream, so I'll leave the goodbyes to him (you'll read it soon enough). Suffice it to say that Joystiq has been my home since July of 2006. I was married two months later, a fact I point out to emphasize the following: I've been with Joystiq for my entire adult life. A year out of college, at the young age of 23, I began a career that seemed impossible. I would write about video games, and in return I would be paid by a company located hundreds of miles from my hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

It was too good to be real, and it still is. But the job isn't what I'm going to miss the most. Honestly, I could do without another 2:00AM review embargo for the rest of my life. What I will miss are the people I work with every day. I've met some amazing human beings over the last eight and a half years, but it is the Joystiq crew as it was in 2014 that has earned my undying love. I've always striven to do the best work I can, but work isn't what defines me. These wonderful people define me, and that's what tears me apart. A job I can lose, but how do you say goodbye to a piece of yourself?

With that in mind, maybe you'll understand why I've chosen the games I have. I've certainly spent plenty of alone time with some incredible games, but the ones that stand out in my memory are the ones that I've shared with others. I wish I could say that Joystiq isn't really closing down, that we've all just stepped into some ethereal version of Ludwig's San Francisco apartment for a TowerFall break. Like the schmaltzy ending to your favorite sitcom, we revel in victory and agonize in defeat. We clink glasses, punch thighs, pump fists. Before long, the credits roll and the sounds of our revelry grow quieter until everything finally fades to black. The show is over, there will never be another episode, but in your mind's eye we've never stopped. We'll carry on playing TowerFall forever (or Mario Kart, or Smash Bros, or...).

I'd like to imagine that's what really happened, and so I will.

How to make a game in an hour, no experience required

Fri, 23 Jan 2015 18:00:00 -0500

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For many, game development seems like an unreachable dream. We envision a world where we can come up with an idea, hunch over a laptop, bang out some code and – voila – video game. Tom Francis, creator of Joystiq favorite Gunpoint, is putting together a very handy Game Maker tutorial and, while it won't make things quite as easy as they are in your dreams, you'll have a working prototype in about an hour.

The tutorial is published as a series of videos on YouTube (here's the playlist) and all it requires is a free download of Game Maker, which you may recognize as the engine that powers games like Spelunky, Hotline Miami, Risk of Rain, Gods Will Be Watching, Nidhogg and many, many more. You can download the free version of Game Maker Studio right here.

Even better, the tutorials require no programming or game creation experience whatsoever. If you can follow instructions, you can follow these tutorials. After the first two lessons, clocking in at a total of 50 minutes or so, you'll have a character that moves with the WASD keys and shoots in the direction of your mouse pointer. As noted by Francis himself: If you can shoot, it is officially a video game (also it's pretty easy to program).

Don't take my word for it though. Just check out the trailer for my upcoming indie-developed blockbuster, World of Shoo(ting). If you want to do more than just shoot, of course, you'll have to watch the rest of the tutorial series.

Source: YouTube - Make a Game with No Experience

Moon Chronicles DLC episodes touch down on 3DS February 5

Thu, 22 Jan 2015 13:00:00 -0500

(image) After releasing its first episode last May, Renegade Kid's Moon Chronicles is finally ready to receive episodes two, three and four. Creator Jools Watsham revealed on Twitter that Nintendo has approved the episodes and "it's looking like" all three will hit the 3DS eShop on February 5. A "season pass" will be available for $9 to purchase every episode or, according to Nintendo's Moon Chronicles page, individual episodes can be had for $4.50 apiece. The first episode, which also includes special VR missions, remains $8.99.

For those who missed its debut last year, Moon Chronicles is a remake of Renegade Kid's DS first-person shooter, Moon, with improved visuals and 3D support. Also, as Watsham points out, the DLC arrives a week before the launch of the New 3DS, which should give players a reason to use that fancy C-stick.
[Image: Renegade Kid]

Source: Nintendo, @JoolsWatsham (1), (2)

Alien: Isolation: One million sold, scared

Wed, 21 Jan 2015 17:00:00 -0500

(image) Publisher Sega and developer Creative Assembly are indirectly responsible for one hell of a laundry bill, as it was announced today that Alien: Isolation has officially sold one million copies worldwide. Accounting for at least one million players, and factoring in regular sessions with Alien: Isolation's precision engineered terror, we're talking millions of soiled undergarments. We're not aware of any spikes in detergent sales, but it seems like a given.

We're rather fond of Alien: Isolation here at Joystiq, where the game stealthily crept into our top ten games of 2014.

'Her Story' FMV crime fiction game coming from Silent Hill: Shattered Memories designer

Tue, 20 Jan 2015 19:00:00 -0500

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The latest game from Silent Hill: Shattered Memories designer and writer Sam Barlow is a little different. It's not survival horror, it doesn't have motion controls and ... it's entirely full-motion video. Entitled Her Story, the game revolves around a police database containing several taped interviews with a female subject, concerning the disappearance of her husband.

Rather than interacting directly with the game, players "type search queries and the database returns clips of the answers where the woman speaks those words." Barlow claims, "If you can Google, you can play Her Story," elaborating that, while the search mechanic is simple, it "quickly reveals its richness and complexity." Non-linear storytelling seems to be the game's hallmark, with Barlow himself calling it "a sculptural way of viewing a story."

We're still not clear on exactly how it will work, whether players will directly affect the narrative or solve the mystery, or just soak in a unique, interactive crime fiction story. Either way, it certainly sounds different.

Her Story is set to arrive early this year on PC, Mac and iOS, and it's currently listed on Steam Greenlight.
[Image: Sam Barlow]

Source: Steam Greenlight, Her Story

Nintendo Direct wrap-up: New 3DS on Feb. 13 and more

Wed, 14 Jan 2015 17:00:00 -0500

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Today's Nintendo Direct dropped some huge news for both the Wii U and the upcoming New 3DS. The biggest announcement is that the New 3DS, which features a second analog stick, faster processor, amiibo support and a number of other improvements, will arrive in North America on February 13. The basic bundle, available in red or black, will retail for $199. Nintendo also revealed special Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate Edition and Majora's Mask bundles, the latter of which is apparently already sold out at GameStop. Friendly reminder, these bundles do not include an AC adapter, presumably with the expectation that early adopters will be upgrading from the current 3DS models.

In other big news, Wii games are coming to the Wii U eShop starting today with Super Mario Galaxy 2. Each game will be available for half price ($10) during its first week of availability. To put that another way, you can snag Metroid Prime Trilogy on January 29 for the ridiculously low price of $10.

Find a breakdown of all the Nintendo Direct news, as well as a heaping helping of trailers, after the break.

Joystiq isn't scoring reviews anymore, and here's why

Tue, 13 Jan 2015 09:10:00 -0500

Ever since we started publishing reviews here at Joystiq, we've striven to deliver the most timely and definitive critiques we can. The word "definitive" is important in this conversation, because things don't get much more definitive than a review score. The very purpose of a score is to define something entirely nebulous and subjective – fun – as narrowly as possible. The problem is that narrowing down something as broad and fluid as a video game isn't truly useful, especially in today's industry.

Between pre-release reviews, post-release patching, online connectivity, server stability and myriad other unforeseeable possibilities, attaching a concrete score to a new game just isn't practical. More importantly, it's not helpful to our readers.

For that reason, above all others, we've decided that Joystiq will no longer score its reviews. Don't worry, we'll still give you a reason to scroll past the review before actually reading it (it's okay, we all do it), but the information you'll find will be more helpful and meaningful than a handful of stars. I've been mulling over this decision for several months and, after discussing it with the rest of the Joystiq staff, we decided that the new year was the perfect time to flip the switch. For a rundown of why 2014 was the year that broke the critic's back, and exactly how our new system will work, read on.

Clock Tower successor 'Project Scissors' becomes NightCry, gets live action teaser

Mon, 05 Jan 2015 20:30:00 -0500

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The spiritual successor to the Clock Tower survival horror series, Project Scissors, has a new name and a new live action teaser. The game is now called NightCry, and the trailer is definitely creepy, if a little light on information. One thing that Clock Tower fans will be sure to notice, however, is the presence of big, bloody scissors. Or, to put it more accurately, big scissors that appear to be made of blood.

The teaser is directed by Takashi Shimizu, director of the Ju-On horror film series and its American counterpart, The Grudge. Shimizu was revealed to be a part of the game project last year, along developer Nude Maker, which is led by the director of the original Clock Tower games, Hifumi Kouno.

NightCry is planned for iOS, Android and PlayStation Vita.
[Image: Nude Maker]

Via: IGN

Joystiq Top 10 of 2014: Bayonetta 2

Sat, 03 Jan 2015 12:00:00 -0500

ATTENTION: The year 2014 has concluded its temporal self-destruct sequence. If you are among the escapees, please join us in salvaging and preserving the best games from the irradiated chrono-debris.

Bayonetta 2 is exactly the game I needed in 2014. While major developers and publishers seem to cram more and more into every project – giant maps, hundreds of objectives, skill trees, systems, sub-systems, meta games, companion apps – Bayonetta 2 on the Wii U is an eye-opening, high-heeled kick to the teeth. It drops you headfirst into its bizarre world, where the bombastic war machinery of Heaven and Hell collide, your only real task being the gleeful destruction of it all.

The titular witch, Bayonetta, is as perfectly posh as ever and just as deadly, with a healthy supply of imaginative weaponry to dispose of holy angels and vile demons alike.

Best of the Rest: Richard's picks of 2014

Fri, 02 Jan 2015 11:00:00 -0500

ATTENTION: The year 2014 has concluded its temporal self-destruct sequence. If you are among the escapees, please join us in salvaging and preserving the best games from the irradiated chrono-debris.
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter

The best thing about The Vanishing of Ethan Carter might be that it tells its story in a way that only a video game can. Other games aspire to emulate other forms of media, to be more like movies or books. Ethan Carter, on the other hand, embraces the interactivity of the medium in a wonderful way, with an awareness of a video game's ability to let you live through a moment, rather than just witnessing it.

At first, Ethan Carter feels like a typical paranormal mystery, and its investigation mechanics are cleverly implemented, asking you to put the events of the past in the correct order to reveal the truth behind a series of murders. The mystery elements turn out to be just a small part of The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, though, and you soon find yourself pulled into some of the greatest moments of pure fantasy that I've ever seen in a video game.

I won't say another word, for fear of spoiling anything. If you appreciate a good mystery, and you believe in the transportational power of games, do yourself a favor and pick it up.

PSA: December 31 marks Wii U Digital Deluxe promo deadline

Tue, 30 Dec 2014 19:00:00 -0500

(image) This is it, folks. Time to make those holiday gift cards count. If you're an owner of the 32GB Wii U Deluxe console, you've got one more day to earn bonus eShop credit in Nintendo's Deluxe Digital promotion. The promotion rewards Wii U Deluxe owners with credit for making purchases on the Wii U eShop. Specifically, owners can get 10 percent of their purchases back in eShop credit.

If you've been waiting to make any eShop purchases, or if this is the first you've heard of the promotion, tomorrow marks your last day to earn points. Points earned via the promotion can be exchanged for eShop credit until March 31, 2015. You can find the relevant details on the promotion's website.
[Image: Nintendo]

Source: Nintendo Deluxe Digital Promotion

Game Boy Tetris leaving eShop on New Year's Eve

Mon, 29 Dec 2014 19:00:00 -0500

(image) Shall old acquaintance be forgot
And days of breaking lines
Shall old acquaintance be forgot
And Nintendo is pulling
Tetris from 3DS eShop on New Years Eve

Maybe it has something to do with Ubisoft.

Okay, so it's not as catchy as Auld Lang Syne, but it might make you just as weepy. Nintendo has confirmed via its UK Twitter account that the Game Boy version of Tetris, a game that helped define Nintendo's handheld and portable gaming in general, will be pulled from the 3DS eShop on December 31. It appears that Tetris Axis for the 3DS is also being pulled, according to an image from the 3DS eShop news section posted on Twitter.

Nintendo of America has yet to make a similar announcement, and the US eShops make no note of either game being removed, so it's possible that this applies only to the UK. As for why Tetris would be removed from the eShop, it may have something to do with Ubisoft's Tetris Ultimate, which was recently released on 3DS. We've contacted Nintendo of America to confirm if the US version is to be removed as well.

If you'd rather not take your chances, the Game Boy version can still be had for $3.99. Unless, of course, you've somehow managed to keep your old Game Boy in working condition all these years.

[Image: Nintendo]

Source: @NintendoUK, @NintenDaan

Chaos Reborn summons single-player mode

Wed, 24 Dec 2014 18:00:00 -0500

(image) Chaos Reborn, the latest turn-based strategy game from original X-COM creator Julian Gollop, now has a single-player mode. The new mode allows human players to take on AI wizards, or to play "hotseat" with other players, or a combination of both humans and AI. The update also includes a number of balance tweaks, a new spell that let's you "summon a pack of mutant, giant rats" and, in the spirit of the season, special Christmas themed graphics. If you're in the festive mood, keep in mind that the Christmas graphics will only be available for a limited time.

On a recent live stream of Chaos Reborn with Joystiq, Gollop discussed plans for other single-player content as well, specifically what sounds like a fairly complex campaign. You can hear him discuss it, and watch him beat the tar out of Joystiq's Alexander Sliwinski, right here. Chaos Reborn is available via Steam Early Access now.

[Image: Snapshot Games]

Via: Rock, Paper, Shotgun

Source: Steam

KOTOR finds the Androids you've been looking for

Tue, 23 Dec 2014 20:00:00 -0500

(image) Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, BioWare's beloved RPG, is now available on Android devices. To mark the occasion, developer Aspyr Media has slashed the usual $10 price in half (with a lightsaber, presumably). You can snag it from Google Play right now, so long as your device is up to snuff, of course.

Via: Engadget

Source: Google Play, @AspyrMedia

Uhh, Shovel Knight is in Road Redemption

Mon, 22 Dec 2014 19:00:00 -0500

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Is it weird that Shovel Knight is now a playable character in Road Redemption, the spiritual successor to Road Rash? Like, really weird? Yes, of course it is. It is also, however, kind of awesome to see our beloved, blue-suited hero smacking people with a shovel at unlawful speeds. If Croaker were around, he might call the whole situation a cycle of violence.

Road Redemption is currently available via Steam Early Access.
[Image: Dark Seas Games]

I only play Hotline Miami 2 on vinyl

Fri, 19 Dec 2014 13:30:00 -0500

(image) There's this game coming out called Hotline Miami 2. You probably haven't heard of it. Anyway, I found out you can get this sweet collector's edition with the soundtrack on vinyl. It's, like, sixty bucks and comes with three discs – all of them 180 gram, colored vinyl, of course – and it features 28 different tracks from the game. You also get a Steam download code for the game, printed on a special "phone card," which is, like, what old people used before smartphones or something.

You probably haven't pre-ordered it yet. I mean, I heard about it months ago, but it's cool if you like it now, or whatever.
[image: Devolver Digital]

Source: Hotline Miami 2

Duck Hunt flocks to Wii U Virtual Console on Christmas

Thu, 18 Dec 2014 17:00:00 -0500

(image) As the turkey takes the prominent spot at your dinner table this Christmas, Nintendo has another bird in mind for your TV. The Wii U Virtual Console edition of Duck Hunt, announced earlier this year, will hit the eShop on December 25. Once you're stuffed to the gills, why not take aim at a few virtual ducks? Or, if you need to cater to Grandma's delicate sensibilities, you can always blast a few clay pigeons instead.

Here's hoping the Wii Remote makes a decent stand-in for Nintendo's classic Zapper light gun.

[Image: Nintendo]

Source: Nintendo (1), (2)

'Lords of the Fallen 2' in early stages of development

Wed, 17 Dec 2014 20:00:00 -0500

(image) It looks like Bandai Namco's other brutally punishing action RPG, Lords of the Fallen, is getting a sequel. The news comes by way of developer CI Games executive producer Tomasz Gop, who confirmed on Facebook (and also to Eurogamer) that development on the sequel's "vision and concepts" has begun. Gop refers to the game simply as "Lords of the Fallen 2," though we fully expect a grim subtitle to be tacked on at some point. Lords of the Fallen 2: Dim Spirits, perhaps.

Our own review of Lords of the Fallen praised the game's departures from the Dark Souls series, with which it shares a great deal, but ultimately found that "there comes a point at which it has no more tricks up its sleeve."
[Image: Bandai Namco]

Via: Eurogamer

Source: Tomasz Gop (Facebook)

Xeodrifter review: Snacktroid

Wed, 17 Dec 2014 13:00:00 -0500


There's a purity to Xeodrifter that I really admire. The 2D action exploration game is brief, but Xeodrifter explores its simple, well-executed mechanics to a T. It takes the best elements of other exploration-driven action games like Castlevania and Metroid and packs them neatly into a handful of hours.

Nimbly rewarding you with health extensions, gun upgrades and special abilities along the way, Xeodrifter plays something like a "greatest hits" compilation of the genre, though not without adding a few B-sides of its own. Before long, you'll be running at turbo speed, soaring into the sky with rocket-propelled leaps and cleaving your way through enemies with enhanced firepower.

There's no cruft, no filler – just a competent, compact adventure.

We're paying for broken games, and it's unacceptable

Mon, 15 Dec 2014 11:00:00 -0500

(image) There was a time when you bought a game, pulled it out of the box, popped it into your device of choice, and that was it. In today's video game industry, however, a single game isn't even the end product. Now we have downloadable content and expansion packs – and don't forget to buy the season pass so you get it all for a nominal discount. Never mind just pre-ordering your games either, now we can pre-load them, guaranteeing access the very second a game becomes available. And the pre-order bonuses, bestowing us with trivial costumes or weapons, or maybe even some extra levels that will inevitably be sold after launch, despite being billed as pre-order "exclusives."

Even without these premium additions, the game you bring home isn't the static creative work it once was. Developers and publishers are free to update their games now, patching out unforeseen problems or even adding fan-requested improvements. It's good that issues can be resolved, but the darker side of this is the now infamous "Day 1 Patch." These crucial updates are applied on launch day, providing fixes so last-minute that they couldn't make it onto the discs before they were pressed (or even onto the downloadable code, for that matter). The implication of the Day 1 Patch, of course, is that the game in the box, or sitting in your Steam download queue, isn't actually finished.

The troubling part, as 2014 has proven, is that even after you've applied that patch, you can still wind up with a broken game. Not only that, but if the marketing has done its job, you have a broken game for which you have already purchased additional content. Maybe you paid a little extra for a special edition. You're a savvy shopper, so you saved five bucks on future DLC with a season pass. In today's climate, it's easy to plunk down $100 on a game before you've played a single minute of it. If said game doesn't work, all you've got is a fancy SteelBook case, a useless download token for DLC and maybe a plastic tchotchke for your desk. And that's assuming you didn't pre-order digitally, in which case all you have is a broken game and no hope of a refund.

Tales from the Borderlands Episode One review: Busy earnin'

Wed, 26 Nov 2014 09:00:00 -0500

PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC, Mac, iOS, Android

You should probably know who Handsome Jack is. That's really the only advice I'd give to anyone looking to dip into Telltale's latest episodic series, Tales from the Borderlands. Granted, Borderlands doesn't have the most sophisticated lore, subsisting largely on dick jokes, pop culture references and lots of screaming jerks, but suffice it to say that you don't have to be intimately familiar with Gearbox's first-person shooters to appreciate Tales. If you know that Handsome Jack is a villain, perhaps heard his smarmy voice in a trailer or two, you should be fine.

In other words, regardless of your level of Borderlands experience, Tales from the Borderlands is a witty, well-written adventure with broad appeal. And yeah, there's a dick joke or two.

Expanded Dark Souls 2 coming to smite Xbox One, PS4 owners

Tue, 25 Nov 2014 00:00:00 -0500

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You might have thought that buying into the new generation of consoles would protect you from the gleeful, maniacal punishment of the Dark Souls series, but you were wrong. Namco has revealed that a new edition of Dark Souls 2, subtitled Scholar of the First Sin, is headed to Xbox 360, PS3, PC and now, for the first time, Xbox One and PS4.

On all platforms – according to Namco – the expanded edition of the game packs some new features, including improved balance, new NPCs, an expanded story, and new item descriptions. These improvements will also be available to existing Dark Souls 2 owners via a free update. Meanwhile, the Xbox One, PS4 and DirectX 11 PC versions of the game will offer "enhanced graphics," with Namco explaining to Joystiq that this includes higher resolution textures and improved lighting effects, among other things. Furthermore, these versions of the game will increase the maximum number of online players.

Of course, it wouldn't be a proper re-release without packing in some DLC, and all versions of Scholar of the First Sin will include all three of Dark Souls 2's DLC episodes. Dark Souls 2: Scholar of the First Sin is set to arrive on April 7, 2015 – just after Bloodborne, developer From Software's newest game, hits the shelves.

GameStop stock drops on declining sales, despite new hardware

Thu, 20 Nov 2014 19:30:00 -0500

(image) GameStop's third quarter financial results show global sales are down for the quarter ended November 1, 2014, totaling $2.09 billion, compared to 2.11 billion over the same period last year. Net income fell to $56.4 million, as compared to $68.6 million during the third quarter last year.

Despite this overall decline, the company says that sales of new hardware rose 147 percent, adding that after a year on the market, the installed base of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 is 73 percent larger than that of the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 after their first year of availability. GameStop's bread-and-butter pre-owned sales, meanwhile, grew by 2.6 percent over last quarter. Sales of mobile devices, a new focus for GameStop, grew by 125 percent thanks to "continued expansion and strong results" for the company's new Spring Mobile stores.

So, with all of this apparent growth, why the drop in sales? GameStop CEO Paul Raines pins the decline on Assassin's Creed Unity, which was delayed to November 11 earlier this year, meaning it couldn't be included in GameStop's third quarter results. Wall Street hasn't taken kindly to the news, with VentureBeat reporting that GameStop's stock has dropped by 13 percent.

Source: GameStop, VentureBeat

Desert Bus for Hope rides again, charity drive begins today

Fri, 14 Nov 2014 11:30:00 -0500

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The eighth Desert Bus for Hope charity drive officially kicks off today. We've been fans of the marathon for many years here at Joystiq, but in case you don't know what it's all about, here's the rundown. The folks at LoadingReadyRun sit down to play Desert Bus, one of the most mind-numbingly boring video games ever created, in which players drive a bus from Las Vegas to Tucson ... in real-time (a feat that takes 8 hours). Nothing happens. Just a long stretch of desert road and a bus that lists just enough to make sure you keep paying attention. The more money the charity makes, the longer these brave souls have to keep playing. Proceeds go to Child's Play.

In other words, you pay to watch people suffer, and the money goes to a good cause. Everyone wins! Not only that, but you'll have your shot at winning some prizes (including lots of games donated by Joystiq). Okay, not everyone wins – someone still has to play the game, after all.

Source: Desert Bus for Hope