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Joystiq Top 10 of 2011: Saints Row: The Third

Mon, 02 Jan 2012 14:00:00 -0500

(image) If there's hope for mainstream video games, it's represented by Saints Row: The Third.

Yes, I know, it has dildo bats and treats women like objects and maybe leans a bit too hard on gags aimed squarely at Fratty McKegbeer, but look just beneath the surface and you'll find a game that loves and respects its player.

Saints Row: The Third plays fast and loose with the standards of good taste, but it's never willing to be reckless with your time.

Best of the Rest: Justin's picks of 2011

Sun, 01 Jan 2012 17:00:00 -0500

(image) The Gunstringer
As much as I enjoyed the actual game (and I did, make no mistake) it forever sold me with Wavy Tube Man Chronicles, a fully FMV campaign inspired by Mad Dog McCree. The Long Winters sing a song called "Honest," about a girl who loves a singer, that includes the lyric "for him to say so plainly / what your heart can vouch is true / means something is connecting you / something is connecting you."

If you can believe that a single mission in a video game gave me that exact feeling, you can easily see how it made my list. They made it just for me.

EA PC games are rather cheap on Amazon today

Thu, 29 Dec 2011 15:15:00 -0500

(image) You tried to be grateful, you really did. But with every Snuggie, Slanket and Opiate-Laced Cuddle Cocoon you opened, it became abundantly clear that you were getting none of the EA PC games you asked Santa for this Christmas.

Luckily, Amazon is there to set this sad situation right, with deeply discounted, digitally delivered diversions like Dead Space 2 ($4.99), Dragon Age 2 ($5.99), Mass Effect 2 ($4.99) and more. See the full list right here, and try to cut Santa some slack, okay? He always gets depressed this week.

Hot Shots Golf is best selling Vita game in Japanese launch

Thu, 22 Dec 2011 20:00:00 -0500

(image) Though they may live very far away, our friends in Japan aren't so different from us in the West. Sure, they most commonly mark Christmas with a visit to KFC over a ham or turkey, but at least Col. Sanders and Santa both have white facial hair, and isn't that all that matters?

Look at the Japanese Vita launch sales chart we've placed after the break (courtesy of Media Create), numbered according to their position in the total sales chart. There you'll discover that those in Japan love Nathan Drake just as much as you, making Uncharted: Golden Abyss the second biggest Vita game with 48,224 sold. What's more American than Nathan Drake skipping across the globe and killing the people he meets there? Nothing, that's what.

Of course, when you see that the most popular game is the adorably animated action of Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational, and that the hostess simulator Dream Club Zero Portable beat out the Katamari Damacy game -- well let's just say you'd be forgiven for eyeing that bucket of Original Recipe with some extra suspicion.

Last Guardian removed from GameStop's release schedule, but not canceled [update]

Thu, 22 Dec 2011 15:31:00 -0500

According to several GameStop customers and employees, The Last Guardian has been removed from GameStop's computer system and possibly canceled. Clerks at several stores confirmed that the game was no longer listed among titles that were coming soon and several customers of the store have received calls telling them that the game had been canceled. Blogger Darren Hupke even recorded the message. A search of the retailer's web site also shows no trace of the game.

For the moment we're without official confirmation, so we've got our fingers crossed that this is just a clerical error. Of course, with the recent departure of Fumito Ueda, we can't say this would come as a complete surprise (despite Ueda being "committed to completing" the game).

We've reached out to Sony and will let you know what we hear.

Update: You still can't pre-order The Last Guardian at Gamestop, but SCEA's Senior Director of Corporate Communications, Patrick Seybold, says reports of the game's cancellation are "not true." So, why has it disappeared from a major retailer?

Update 2: This just in from GameStop: "The Last Guardian has not been cancelled by Sony as we incorrectly stated in an automated call to reservation customers. Because the game did not have a specific release date, GameStop made the decision to remove the game from our system. The Last Guardian will be reinstated for pre-order when a firm launch date is known."

DC Universe Online invites Orange Lanterns for the holidays

Tue, 20 Dec 2011 01:45:00 -0500

(image) Not only is DC Universe Online already giving you the greatest gift of all (being free), but it's currently doubling down on the generosity with a bonus holiday event called "Season's Greedings." Not only will you find some festive decorations around the world, but Larfleeze, leader of the greedy Orange Lanterns, is stealing all the Christmas presents for himself.

Now, you have to team with Rudolph, Baby New Year, John McClane, Scut Farkas and Kevin from Home Alone to get them back. OK, so we're making the guest stars up, but we figured as long as SOE is cribbing plots from a Rankin-Bass stop-motion special, the rest of us could get in on the act.

"Seasons Greedings" will continue until January.

BioWare looking into Star Wars: The Old Republic server queues

Mon, 19 Dec 2011 11:10:00 -0500

If you're tired of being denied in your attempts to boldly go where no man has gone before in Star Wars: The Old Republic, take heart! BioWare has done the Vulcan mind-meld with you, heard your distress and is trying to figure how where they need to jam more dilithium crystals to solve the problem.

"While we can't promise that there won't ever be queues, we can promise you that we are taking this matter seriously and constantly reviewing them to make sure that they are manageable and reasonable," said Jeff Hickman, executive producer of live services.

Sounds like BioWare is concerned, though not necessarily able to make a sweeping fix. In other words, they're givin' it all she's got, captain!

Just Cause movie gets some traction with (re)writer, subtitle

Fri, 16 Dec 2011 07:00:00 -0500

(image) When we first heard about a film adaptation of the Just Cause franchise, we relegated it to the same part of our head where we store the Leonardo DiCaprio/Nolan Bushnell biopic: A fine idea with no shot of happening. Now it seems to be getting a bit more real with a subtitle -- "Scorpion Rising" -- and a rewrite by comics' Bryan Edward Hill, the man behind Broken Trinity: Pandora's Box (a Witchblade mini-series) and Dolph Lungren picture The Mechanik.

Perhaps more interesting is The Hollywood Reporter's assertion that a third Just Cause game is also in the works, something that's already been alluded to by developer Snowblind. Could that be the secret identity of previously announced Project Mamba, an Avalanche project due in ... 2014? Oh, we can't be that far off, can we?

Get your Blacklight Retribution beta key!

Fri, 16 Dec 2011 00:00:00 -0500

You know the classic scene in A Christmas Story when Flick gets his tongue frozen to a flagpole? Sure, we all do. But many (including some top film historians) are unaware that Flick performs the stunt on the promise that he'll be rewarded with entry into the PC Blacklight Retribution closed beta. It's true!

You remember when the Grinch stole all the gifts from Whoville? New research shows that the only one he was really trying to nab was a Blacklight Retribution beta invite, the rest were just a smokescreen.

Oh, and had he not arrived so late as to not be included in the Christian Bible, you'd know that the fourth king from the East brought unto the baby Jesus ... OK, so we're making this one up, but you get the idea.

Here's the great news: You PC owners don't have to steal from a village of diminutive pure-hearts or lick anything to start playing the Blacklight Retribution beta. Just claim your code and redeem it here!

Heroes Mode revealed for Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City

Thu, 15 Dec 2011 13:30:00 -0500

(image) (object) (embed)

When you're in a city overrun by zombies, the most welcome sight (that isn't attached the top of a gun barrel, at least) is a friendly face. In this spirit, Capcom has just unveiled Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City's Heroes Mode in which two teams of beloved franchise stalwarts, like Leon. S Kennedy, Jill Valentine, Hunk and Ada Wong, will square off.

Of course, since they'll be pitted both against each other and zombies and bio-organic weapons, "square off" doesn't really cut it. So get your first look at this trapezoid-off in the video above.


Uncharted series has shipped 13 million worldwide

Wed, 07 Dec 2011 11:25:00 -0500

(image) Sounds like the $5 footlongs should be Nathan Drake's treat the next time we pull into our participating Subway restaurant. Sony's Asad Quizilbash tells Industry Gamers that over 13 million Uncharted games have been shipped to stores worldwide. What's more, the series is on a big upward trajectory, with week-one sales for Uncharted 3 doubling those of Uncharted 2.

Just think: For all the time Drake has spent shooting dudes and climbing around in pursuit of riches, the answer was there all along: Make a video game about yourself.

Of course, then he would just be making a game about a guy making a video game about a guy making a video game about a guy making a video game ... and so on into infinity. The snake would eat itself and the universe would collapse from the weight the endless feedback loop of cause and effect.

So ... maybe he should just stick to the shooting dudes and climbing. Yeah. That's best.

Mike Capps: New IP is 'radically different' for Epic

Wed, 07 Dec 2011 10:25:00 -0500

When Epic finally pulls the cover off its big VGA debut this Saturday, don't be surprised if what's underneath looks nothing like a muscly space marine. Epic's Mike Capps tells that the recently teased IP is "radically different" for the company's internal Cary, NC team.

"So this is going to be one of those projects where we try something totally different, and it just went 'boom,' because everyone had this pent up energy to do something new," Capps told the site.

Exciting! So, how does Capps and Co. plan to harness this new wave of intense funnovation? You'll never guess. "I can't wait for [the team] to get back to something like Gears in the future," he continued, "because it's sort of our bread and butter, and they're going to be more energized for it."

Hooray for video games!

Come and get your free Starhawk beta keys [update: we're out!]

Tue, 06 Dec 2011 17:14:00 -0500

We had the weirdest night.

Typical Monday, we hassled Tom the Soup Salesman about those two shillings he owed us until he slipped us some free broth and gave Cratchit some grief about Christmas. No big. But no sooner had we drifted off to sleep then we were visited by three spirits. They showed us how callous we'd been to our fellow man through an increasingly elaborate set of what we can only assume were broth-induced hallucinations.

This morning, we awoke to find that not only had we not missed Christmas, we hadn't even missed the series premiere of Storage Wars: Texas. To show the spirits our gratitude and that we're serious about our new commitment to generosity, we're giving away one thousand codes good for entrance into the closed Starhawk beta.

What? ... No, they didn't cost us anything, Sony gave them to us for free. But if you think about it, isn't gifting something you got for free double generous?

... Alright, funny guy, just shut up and get your key.

[Update: And just like that, our generosity dries up. No more keys, paupers! Back to your ... you know, pauper caves!]

Portabliss: Superman (iOS)

Tue, 06 Dec 2011 12:30:00 -0500

Did you know that you can download handheld games now? That's amazingly convenient! The only inconvenient part of it is finding the right games to buy -- and that's where we come in, with our Portabliss column. In each installment, we'll tell you about a downloadable game on the iPhone, iPad, Android device, DSi, 3DS, PSP, etc. Today: Superman.

You have to give a little credit to anyone willing to put "Superman" in the title of a game, considering The Man of Steel's history with interactive entertainment is ... suspect at best.

But for Chillingo to have that be the only word in the title of its new mobile release? You could smash a mirror over the head of a black cat that lives in a haunted asylum built on an ancient Native American burial ground, and still not be risking that much peril.

Mustard: Infinity Blade success didn't stall Shadow Complex 2

Thu, 01 Dec 2011 14:20:00 -0500

(image) Chair creative director Donald Mustard was nice enough to sit for a few moments with us to talk Infinity Blade 2 so, naturally, we took advantage of his generosity to grill him about the long-discussed (and apparently "largely designed") Shadow Complex 2.

We asked if the runaway success of Infinity Blade is what's kept the follow-up to the side-scrolling action-adventure off of Chair's radar.

"No, I think that's a complete misnomer," Mustard said. "When we sat down to figure out what we wanted to do after Infinity Blade, and we started to wonder 'Do we want to do Infinity Blade 2?', it wasn't about 'Do we want to make more money?' it was about 'Do we have more to say in this genre?' 'Can we push this gameplay somewhere meaningful?' Those are the questions we ask ourselves.

"Now that we've made the first Shadow Complex we kind of know what we're doing and we feel like we can really bring a lot to the Metroidvania genre and Shadow Complex franchise. We want it to be amazing, we want it to be perfect, and we want it to be delivered on the right platforms. It's really about finding the right opportunity for Shadow Complex, not that we've been diverted in any way.

"Everyone on our team at Chair will be dead long before we run out of games we want to make. So we try to be very careful about where we spend our time."

That's right, that's the answer: Mustard is choosy about projects because he's worried about his own mortality. We may not know when Shadow Complex 2 will arrive, but at least we know the source of the shadows: Donald Mustard's gloomy bummer clouds.

MotorStorm devs saved from Apocalypse by Sony

Wed, 30 Nov 2011 17:00:00 -0500

(image) After the well-reviewed MotorStorm Apocalypse failed to move the sales needle in the states and Europe (it wasn't even released in Japan, following the March tsunami) Evolution Studios boss Matt Southern worried it would be the death of the studio. "We made a game we're really proud of and for some really heartbreaking reasons things didn't go so well," he told Eurogamer.

But like a late-race turbo boost saving a car from elimination, Southern said that Sony has given the studio a shot in the arm with the Vita-bound mini-racer, MotorStorm RC. "We split the company up into three teams, one making RC, one supporting MotorStorm Apocalypse post-launch with DLC and multiplayer, and another bunch of guys just brainstorming new ideas. In a climate like the one we've had this year, that is rare."

It's great to hear about any studio staying in business for whatever reason, but if the last MotorStorm sold poorly despite its quality, isn't yet another MotorStorm game an odd choice for a follow-up?

Portabliss: Infinity Blade 2 (iOS)

Wed, 30 Nov 2011 09:00:00 -0500

Did you know that you can download handheld games now? That's amazingly convenient! The only inconvenient part of it is finding the right games to buy -- and that's where we come in, with our Portabliss column. In each installment, we'll tell you about a downloadable game on the iPhone, iPad, Android device, DSi, 3DS, PSP, etc. Today: Infinity Blade 2.

"Hey Marjorie, thanks so much for bringing the kids by for the holidays, we've had such a wonderful week. I'm just sorry your husband couldn't come along."

"But Michael ... he did come. He's just ... been in your bathroom since we got here."

"Ahh, Infinity Blade 2?"

"... Infinity Blade 2."

Desert Bus comes to a stop, raises nearly $400K for Child's Play

Tue, 29 Nov 2011 02:40:00 -0500

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In perhaps the most compelling proof yet that we humans will happily donate money to see other humans suffer, the team at LoadingReadyRun announced that this year's Desert Bus for Hope marathon earned a whopping $378,895 for the Child's Play charity. All it cost the crew was 150 hours (a little over six days) of playing the stupifyingly boring "Desert Bus" minigame from unreleased Sega CD game Penn and Teller's Smoke and Mirrors.

So LRR gets nearly $400K for playing a dull game, yet we listened to Great Uncle Jerry's post-Thanksgiving lecture on the ethical failings of the BCS system, and nobody gives us a dime? Where's the justice?

You don't need to get pepper sprayed for these Walmart 'Cyber Monday' deals

Fri, 25 Nov 2011 19:30:00 -0500

As we watch the Black Friday madness from our geodesic hoverdome, we're increasingly happy we waited to do our holiday shopping online. The one retailer to rule them all has just unveiled a few of the bargains it'll boast after the weekend, including an "Xbox 360 Holiday Gamer Bundle with choice of select game plus bonus Halo Reach, Fable 3 and 3-month Xbox Live card" for $319. The 250 online-only deals will technically be in effect all week beginning Sunday, but we don't imagine most will last too far into the week.

The e-savings will be delectable, even more so because no one will pepper spray you in the face for partaking in them.

Sony doesn't want to drop PS4 too long after Wii U and next Xbox

Fri, 25 Nov 2011 14:15:00 -0500

Showing up late to a party is just the pits. All the good bits of the Chex Mix have been picked out, everybody already watched The Room and you're often the only one sober enough to go right back out and buy more alcohol. In much the same way, Sony says it learned its lesson after letting a year go by after the start of the current generation before launching the PS3.

Speaking to Eurogamer, SCEE chief Jim Ryan, said: "I think we would consider it undesirable to be significantly later than the competition [with the next PlayStation]."

With Wii U slated for next year and the next Xbox possibly in 2012 (that is, if you believe the rumors), it looks like we could be in for a very interesting 12 months. Well, a very interesting 12 months capped off on Dec. 21 with the return of Quetzalcoatl, and ensuing end of human civilization.

But you can't start thinking that way. Yet.

Full list of Amazon Black Friday Lightning Deals (now with times!)

Fri, 25 Nov 2011 12:15:00 -0500

If you're planning your Black Friday around time-sensitive deals popping up at Amazon today, you can find the full schedule over at Thrifty Nerd. Some of the list is guesswork, but all the deals look pretty reasonable to us ... that is, except for for Rayman Origins which you should feel guilty about buying that cheaply.

Any in particular you're looking to grab?

Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim apparently contains much of Tamriel

Tue, 22 Nov 2011 14:28:00 -0500

You might have thought the world of Skyrim was big, but we can guarantee that, until now, you had absolutely no idea. As discovered by a Finnish blogger, Bethesda not only modeled the Nordic playground of Skyrim for the game, but much of the Elder Scrolls world of Tamriel. Why is it all in there? Your guess is as good as ours.

Here on PPSh-41, you'll see that the scale is a bit off, and some details are awry, but the lands of Morrowind and Cyrodiil are right there available to those willing to do a little no-clip exploration. Your guide, 19-year-old Jesse, assumes that the other major landmasses are in there too, but he lacked the patience to check for himself.

It's a shame too, because if he'd traveled just a bit further, he would have discovered 3D models of the Mushroom Kingdom, Seaman's tank and his own home.

Excerpt: Behind-the-app book Buttonless explores Broken Sword

Thu, 17 Nov 2011 16:00:00 -0500

(image) You'll be able to pick up Ryan Rigney's Buttonless: Incredible iPhone and iPad Games and the Stories Behind Them (available for pre-order now) on Dec. 13. To tide you over until then, we've got the sample below, just one of the dozens of fascinating stories you'll find in the book. In this chapter, Rigney explores the creation of adventure classic Broken Sword and how it made the leap to iOS.
All Charles Cecil wants to do is create fantastic adventure games. After founding Revolution Software in 1990, Cecil led his team in the creation of two of the most critically acclaimed point-and-click adventure games ever: Lure of the Temptress in 1992 and the beloved Beneath a Steel Sky in 1994. Both were published by (the now defunct) Virgin Interactive. After both games found success, Virgin approached Revolution with demands for another, even bigger game. "Virgin said that it wanted to up the ante," says Cecil. "It wanted a game that was really cutting edge."

Metal Gear Solid: Rising gets new producer

Thu, 17 Nov 2011 10:15:00 -0500

(image) Team members at Kojima Productions continue to play Hot Potato with poor Raiden's emotions. After Kojima announced in June of 2010 that he was passing the reigns of Metal Gear Solid: Rising to Shigenobu Matsuyama, control has now passed to Yuji Korekado (who's also working on Zone of the Enders HD). The news was confirmed via the Twitter feed of Kojima Productions producer Kenichiro Imaizumi.

The announcement raises a lot of pressing questions, not the least of which are these: "Joystiq, how did you spell all those names correctly on the first try and without any sort of reference material?" Please, please. We appreciate the flattery, but we're professionals. This is what we do.

With any luck, we'll have a better idea of the direction Korekado is taking the game when it's shown off at this year's VGAs.

PETA targets Mario, we challenge the facts

Wed, 16 Nov 2011 11:45:00 -0500

(image) Look, we like seeing an organization desperately flailing in an ill-fated attempt at relevance as much as the next site, but this time PETA has gone too far. The organization has created Mario Kills Tanooki, a 2D platformer that has a skinned tanuki (or raccoon dog, if you prefer) trying to retrieve its outer layer from a flying, blood-spattered Mario.

Taking a swipe at the world's favorite plumber is pretty low, but it's worse in this case because PETA is blatantly lying. As everyone knows from reading the Nintendo Comics System (specifically the "Tanooki Suits Me" story from the Super Mario Bros. line) the Tanooki suit was hand-crafted by a tailor named Tanooki rather than any animal the material was lifted from.

Mario's not an animal abuser, PETA. He's a furry. And for the record, when you manage to make even NMA look sane, you know something's wrong.

For the record, yes, this is a grab for attention and we're making it rain eyeballs. But this is Mario we're talking about. We'd hope that when we're inevitably targeted by a crazy group, you'd leap to our defense too.