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July 2013

Plok Returns In Official Comic Strip

Plok It's been twenty years since Plok arrived on the Super NES, but the side-scrolling platformer also-ran from the era of mascots with an attitude has not been forgotten.  The character and his world belong to his creators, John and Ste Pickford, and they've brought Plok back in the form of a comic strip that chronicles what the so-called Exploding Man is up to after all these years.  Here's some of the launch announcement:

Starting today, and published exclusively on the Zee-3 website, Plok The Exploding Man will follow the adventures of Plok as he wakes up after 20 years of sleep to discover that the modern landscape of video games is not quite what he expected it to be.

"We are constantly being bombarded with fan-mail requests to bring back Plok," explained Ste Pickford, artist and co-writer of the strip, "with people asking us to make a sequel or to re-release the SNES game on Wii Virtual Console, 3DS, iOS, etc.  We've wanted to revisit Plok for a long time, and we eventually decided that a regular comic strip would be a great way to re-introduce Plok to the world."

"Will Plok return in his own game?" added John, the creator and co-writer of Plok, "Anything is possible, but for now he's got a lot to catch up on, and we can draw new comic strips a lot faster than they can make new games!"

Plok has a lot of personality and I hope to see it stand out in this comic strip.  The 1993 game is a fantastic adventure with memorable music that deserved a better fate than to be lumped in with the other mascot titles that failed to make a memorable dent in the market, but the Pickfords know that the character still has a following and I'd love to see a new game in the series.  The brothers are iOS developers these days, but I believe that a new Plok sequel belongs on the Nintendo 3DS or PlayStation Vita as a downloadable title.  I'd gladly buy it on release day if it stuck to the tenets of the Super NES title. 

(via GoNintendo)

Behind The Art Design Of DuckTales Remastered

King of the Terra-FermiesCapcom's upcoming DuckTales Remastered is just two weeks away from releasing for the Sony PlayStation 3, Microsoft Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii U, and PC, so it's about time for the developers over at WayForward to release another installment of the behind the scenes "Duckumentary" series chronicling the creation of the game.  The latest installment focuses on the game's art design and discusses how the animators gave life to Scrooge McDuck through fun idle animations including breathing and cane tricks as well as enhanced roles for Magica De Spell and Flintheart Glomgold compared to their part in the original Nintendo Entertainment System game.  You can tell that there's a lot of love and creativity baked into this high definition remake.  I always like to see people behind a project talk about it with such passion and pride. 

Continue reading "Behind The Art Design Of DuckTales Remastered" »

Of Course Batman: Arkham Origins Has Multiplayer Modes

BatmanWe're drawing closer to the release of Batman: Arkham Origins for the Sony PlayStation 3, Microsoft Xbox 360, PC, and Nintendo Wii U, and while I remain interested in the single-player story mode, I'm less enthused about the multiplayer modes (note that the Wii U version will not include the multiplayer modes, another telling indicator about that console's current status in the industry; but I digress...).  A variety of gaming journalism outlets were invited to sample one of the game's online multiplayer scenarios last week and many are publishing their impressions today.  Jeremy Parish at USGamer entered the room without having played any of the other two Arkham games and I believe that's gifted him with the least convoluted, most honest take on the multiplayer demo.  Here's how he explains it:

See, Origins' multiplayer works like this: It's an asymmetrical competition with two more-or-less evenly matched teams of criminal goons (the Joker gang and the Bane gang) working to take control of a map by holding checkpoints or wiping out the other team. Meanwhile, Batman and Robin stick to the shadows, taking out (not killing!) bad guys in order to raise the gangs' terror meter and drive them away in fear. Arkham Origins takes about zero percent of its inspiration from Batman Year One from what I've seen, but the idea of skulking around and driving criminals away in fear seems right in line with the wraith-like image Frank Miller created in that definitive work.   

The problem is that to be effective at terrorizing cowardly and superstitious lots, you really need a good handle on the controls. Granted, Origins will probably take some getting used to for even a seasoned player, since Batman controls a little differently than in the earlier games -- at least for multiplayer, that is. Because you're battling other people in a multiplayer setting rather than artificial intelligence in a single-player framework, Arkham's trademark melee dodge-and-counter combat system has been totally discarded for this mode. You can't very well have the game running in slo-mo every time Batman gets into a fistfight, right? So basically, Batman's imperative is to use up-close combat only as a measure of last resort.

The more I read about the multiplayer option, the more I conclude that it's another multiplayer mode that I'll never play shoehorned into what has traditionally been a single-player series.  Franchises like Assassins's Creed, God of War, and Tomb Raider have all sprouted multiplayer modes that revolve around essentially playing for points in an endless series of matches.  I just can't get myself into playing those kinds of offerings.  They're distractions from the story and the central gameplay.  On the other hand, games like Saints Row: The Third's online co-op mode, Portal 2's co-op mode, and Red Dead Redemption's free roam options are all my ideal kinds of multiplayer.  Borderlands is built on this kind of mechanic.  I want to join up with friends and take on challenges that are part of (or based on) the single-player story.  Endless combat in limited battle arenas doesn't interest me, but I'll gladly co-op a story mode (or variation thereof) any day.  Seeing games like Batman take on multiplayer modes just for the sake of adding an additional bullet point to the back of the game case and trying to stave off sales back to GameStop is such a disappointment.  If I could patrol Gotham City with a friend as part of the main campaign, however, I'd have a much different opinion on Arkham's multiplayer offering.  As it stands and considering the other games I want to buy between now and the end of the year, I'll most likely rent the game, finish the story mode, and return it.  Had co-op been a part of the package, it would be a preordered purchase.  Losing a sale?  Now that is a lost opportunity.

Power Button - Episode 100: This Game Changed My Life

Power ButtonFor the landmark one-hundredth episode of the Power Button podcast, Brad Hilderbrand, Joey Davidson, and I decided to slow things down and take things in a more personal direction.  In this episode we discuss the video games that have changed each of our lives in some way.  There's tales of hundreds of hours spent in a virtual world in the name of total completion, romps through Princess Peach's castle changing the way the world is perceived, special bonds with parents achieved through stomping monsters, and so much more.  It's the most personal, most introspective, and most raw episode we've ever produced.  Thanks to everyone out there who joins us for each new episode of Power Button.  We wouldn't be here now without you.  Don't miss the major announcement towards the end of the show about the future of the program.  Onward to Episode 101 and beyond!  Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, or subscribe via iTunes, toss this RSS feed into your podcast aggregation software of choice, and be sure to catch up on past episodes if you're joining us late. Remember that you can reach us via , you can leave a message on the Power Button hotline by calling (720) 722-2781, and you can even follow us on Twitter at @PressTheButtons, @JoeyDavidson, and @aubradley84, or for just podcast updates, @ThePowerButton.

Power Button - Episode 100: This Game Changed My Life

BioShock Infinite DLC Revealed

Burial At SeaIt almost feels like an eternity since BioShock Infinite debuted earlier this year and fans have been patiently waiting for news on the announced (but still unexplained) downloadable content.  Now the focus of the game's three DLC packs have finally been revealed, and one of those packs is closer to release than you'd expect.  Polygon has the story about today's release of "Clash in the Clouds" and the still-upcoming "Burial at Sea" expansions.

[T]he bigger surprise is news that the next bit of content, a two-pack, narratively driven gaming novella of sorts, will return players to the original BioShock's sunken city of Rapture at the height of its glory. The first download of the two will have players exploring the living city as Booker DeWitt, the second, as Elizabeth.

Combat-oriented "Clash in the Clouds" hits Steam around noon for $5 today and the Xbox 360 over the day as it propagates out to servers. It will go on sale on the PS3 on Wednesday. There is no date set yet for the two-part "Burial at Sea," which the team just started work on.

[Ken] Levine calls "Clash in the Clouds" a "small, little focused experience." It is combat oriented, incredibly difficult and something developers believe gamers were clamoring for.

"Clash" offers a static combat arena with specific intense challenges and leaderboards offering an aim at speed running, engagement strategy, and general action with a narrative getting in the way.  I was more a fan of the story than the combat in Infinite, and when I played through the main game I often ran away from armies of enemies rather than fight if I had the option to flee to the next area.  With that in mind, it doesn't look like "Clash" is for me.  I want the story more than the shooting.  That's why I'm interested in "Burial at Sea" which brings Booker and Elizabeth into Rapture at its peak.  Here's Polygon again:

Continue reading "BioShock Infinite DLC Revealed" »

Weekly Poll: Smiles And Tears

Weekly Poll for 7-08-2013Most of you are uninterested in a camera watching your gaming area in the next generation of video game consoles.  I'm certainly hesitant about it.  We give these devices so much access into our lives already.  They record, track, and "know" so much about us.  Do we really want them to be able to see us on a regular basis?  There are already privacy concerns over the Microsoft Xbox One's controversial Kinect requirement in the wake of the PRISM scandal, and thankfully Sony has decided to let its new PlayStation 4 camera remain an optional accessory.  The Nintendo Wii U's camera is probably the least invasive since it's built into the GamePad and doesn't watch the entire room.  I'll resist the cameras for as long as I can, but even if I'm forced to adapt, I can see myself being paranoid for a while. 

Moving on, Nintendo has finally released the classic EarthBound to the Wii U Virtual Console.  Fans are replaying the game, while newcomers have the chance to see what all the fuss is about.  Where do you fall?  Are you playing the game with fresh eyes?  Is this your annual run through the game?  Or are you not interested at all?  Let's hear your thoughts.

Capcom Puts Darkstalkers Back In The Vault

Darkstalkers ResurrectionWhile Street Fighter has enjoyed a mighty resurgence over the past few years and even Marvel vs Capcom has returned for more action, fighting game fans have been asking for a new installment in Capcom's monster party brawler Darkstalkers.  Even the company's Street Fighter producer, Yoshinori Ono, has been vocal about wanting to bring the series back.  Still, Capcom felt the need to test the waters by releasing Darkstalkers Resurrection for the Sony PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Xbox 360 back in March to see if there was any actual profitable interest in reviving the franchise.  Unfortunately, the high definition port of the arcade versions of Darkstalkers Revenge and Darkstalkers 3 did not meet sales projections, so as Siliconera reports, Darkstalkers has been packed up and stored in the vault once again.

Speaking with Siliconera, Matt Dahlgren, fighting game manager at Capcom,  said “Darkstalkers Resurrection did not perform as well as we would have liked to perform. You never know what the future may hold, but Street Fighter is definitely not dead.”

We pressed and asked about the trailer as well as a rumor about a new  Darkstalkers game using the Street Fighter fighting game engine. “There is nothing Darkstalkers on the immediate horizon for  sure,” Dahlgren commented.

It's a shame to see Darkstalkers denied, but there is such a Capcom fighting game glut on current generation consoles that I'm not surprised at all that Resurrection did not meet sales goals.  However, I bet if the company had positioned a new Darkstalkers for next generation hardware, it would do very well.  Right now there aren't many announced fighting games for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.  The next Street Fighter update is planned just for the current platforms.  Why not give a forgotten franchise a next generation boost?  We may see the franchise again someday though.  Bionic Commando was on ice for decades before Capcom tried it again, WayForward is wrapping up work on its DuckTales revival, and a new adventure in the world of Strider has just been announced.  Capcom franchises don't stay dead forever.  Fans just need a lot of patience waiting for them to return.

It's Gaming Gold Box Day At Amazon Again

Buy somethin' will ya!Amazon is running another of its video gaming Gold Box and Lightning Deal events today where games and accessories go on sale for limited windows of opportunity all day long.  Skylanders Giants if the big sale item today with a variety of discounts on different bundles of the game across multiple platforms.  Beyond that you'll find sales on Sony PlayStation Move accessories, Disney's Epic Mickey 2, more Skylanders accessories, a Turtle Beach gaming headset, Hitman, and more.  A portion of every purchase you make via the green link above goes to help support Press The Buttons which continues to be very important.  Skylanders really is the big attraction today for this sale.  It's almost as if Amazon is trying to clear out stock of last year's model in preparation for the next sequel with its own pile of required accessories.

Lex Luthor's New Doomsday Suit And Other Injustice Gags

Injustice: Gods Among Us has a knack for honoring its characters' established personalities, but thanks to a little hacking and some imagination, it's possible to twist the heroes and villains into new roles.  Check out this YouTube video in which character models have been swapped around during introductory posing and victory preening which leads to unusual sights like Superman hanging off a gargoyle in Gotham City, Aquaman proclaiming how happy he is to be a hero, Ares rip his own head off, Killer Frost playing hopscotch, Sinestro lighting a cigar, and Lex Luthor powering down his fancy Doomsday suit.  You'll laugh, you'll cheer, and sometimes you'll cringe.  Sometimes the best comedy comes from unexpected places.

Capcom Revives Strider

StriderAlongside titles like Street Fighter and Final Fight, one of Capcom's other great arcade hits from the old glory days is Strider.  Set far in the future, players take control of protagonist Strider Hiryu has he fights his way through various levels to eliminate evil with his trusty Cypher weapon.  His acrobatic skills and combat prowess make him a powerful force.  After appearing in a few home console conversions and attempts at sequels, the Strider franchise faded away, but Hiryu himself bounced around the Capcom universe to appear in various fighting games like Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3.  The last proper Strider sequel was released back in 1998, so fans have been waiting a long time for a proper revival.  Now Capcom is ready to make it happen as the company has announced it's teamed with the franchise's original designers and developer Double Helix Games to create a new Strider title for the Sony PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Microsoft Xbox 360, Xbox One, and PC due out early next year.  Hiryu's back!

Originally released in 1989, Strider remains one of Capcom’s most enduring franchises.  The game tells the story of Hiryu, the youngest ever “Super A” ranked agent of an elite corps known as the Striders.  Strider Hiryu receives orders to assassinate Grandmaster Meio, supreme dictator of Earth, who has plunged humanity into a dystopian dark age.

New to the franchise is the massive interconnected world of Kazakh City which players can explore in any direction they choose.  The traditional level structure has been replaced with a retraceable world and a deep ability upgrade system which enables Hiryu to build more power and abilities to penetrate ever deeper into the dystopian adventure.

No word on if this downloadable relaunch is the lead-in to a gritty, dour reinvention of the franchise as in Bionic Commando.  Early buzz is that this new Strider adventure is an open world, 2.5D adventure following the Metroid and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night styles of exploration and weapon upgrading.  That sounds like an excellent and enjoyable way to bring the series back and modernize it for today's audiences.  Check out this announcement trailer and an extended look at the game in action.  Between this and Killer Instinct's revival for the Xbox One, somehow Double Helix has worked itself into dealing with some of gaming's great sleeping properties.  I hope the studio can do them justice once they wake.