Jul
17
Posted by Mark at 17:18
Featuring characters from BlazBlue, Persona 4 Ultimate Arena, UNDER NIGHT IN-BIRTH and RWBY, "BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle" is coming out next year on platforms to be confirmed. Here's a trailer:

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Jul
13
Posted by Mark at 16:18
A couple of days ago we mentioned that Slime-San, one of those precision platformers that are so popular amongst the indie developers, was getting a free expansion.

Blackbird's Kraken, as the expansion is called, is being release not only as low-price expandalone, but also as a free expansion to everyone who already owned the original game. The announcement also mentioned that there's a Switch port on the way, too.

It wasn't clear what the deal was with the DLC at the time, so we asked the publisher. They said this:
Slime-san's new free update (and stand-alone game for others) won't be included in the Switch version, but it will follow some day later on after we brought the game to Xbox One.
Now we know.
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Jul
13
Posted by Ben at 14:58
Bitparade has a bit of a history with legendary epilepsy-fest Polybius. Duane wronte an in-depth piece on Polybius many years ago.

As for the Nine Inch Nails link, Nine Inch Nails are fucking great and Trent Reznor's Quake soundtrack was superb

Given Trent Reznor's links to gaming I guess we shouldn't be too surprised that there's a videogame theme to Nine Inch Nail's new video, LESS THAN. It's maybe a bit of a surprise that said game is Polybius, Jeff Minter even gets his name featured!

The video is posted below, it's good, I'll join the people saying it sounds more 'The Fragile' than some of his more recent output, although the electronica of LESS THAN isn't miles off the more recent Hesitation Marks. The EP LESS THAN comes from is called ADD VIOLENCE, and it's out on the 21st July

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Toby
The Secret Mine
Jul 05
Posted by Mark at 17:15

A situation involving monsters, it seems, when combined with small, out-of-the-way villages, only really ever go one way. Towards the former kidnapping and hiding the residents of the latter- and that's exactly what's happened in Toby: The Secret Mine.

Toby, of course, decides he's not going to stand for this, and sets off to rescue his friends- following the paths of previous would-be rescuers, he heads into the nearby forest, where he discovers many of his neighbours are a long way from home.

We're in puzzle-platformer territory here, much the same as Limbo or Braid, but with slightly fewer pretentions of telling some ground-breaking, medium-redefining story- just getting straight into the platforming and the puzzling.

The platforming is quite simple, and early on, so are many of the puzzles, mostly equating to rubbing up against something that prevents your progession, then tracking back to find the hidden crate you'd walked past and then pushing it forwards, but it's not long before that changes, with later levels not only pushing your platforming skill but also creating increasingly complex puzzles.

In fact, Toby isn't shy about changing up its gameplay as you progress- discarding one type of puzzle for another well before you get bored of it.

The decision to stick to an art style where almost everything is flat black- as if the entire scene is being lit from behind, casting the foreground into shadow- allows the backgrounds to shine. Although, it can make it difficult to see different types of terrain or other traps before you're on top of them and on occasion it can be difficult to tell the difference between a usable platform and an object in the extreme foreground, which can lead to a lot of cheap deaths.

(Tellingly, there's a trophy for dying 100 times, but none for completing the game with a minimal number of deaths)

It also means that the game can over-rely on hiding objects and routes in blacked-out areas that only become visible when you enter them, which works for the hidden Friends you rescue as you go along (Just the 26 of them, which is a pleasing number of collectables for a game of this length), but can annoy when an important area is hidden this way.

These are minor issues, though- Toby keeps its gameplay varied, and doesn't outstay its welcome.
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Jul
03
Posted by Mark at 16:27
If you enjoyed precision platformer Slime-San- which Ben did, when he did a First Play- then you can look forward to a sort-of free, sort-of expansion!

Subtitled Blackbird's Kraken, the DLC features a short campaign of 25 levels replete with the obligatory collectables, as well as a house to customise, a submarine-based variant on the main game, and of all things, a mini-FPS.

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Interestingly, Blackbird's Kraken is going to be free on release for existing owners of Slime-San, but will be available on its own for $4- although there's been no word as to what happens if you buy the main Slime-San game after this date.

Incidentally, the Switch version is "nearly done", but they also don't say if that's just the base game or the expansion too.

Blackbird's Kraken will be available on PC from July 20th.

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Jul
03
Posted by Ben at 15:46
There was a bit of a furore when The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+ was released in the US for Switch but the European release was pushed back. There is now a confirmed release date, and while it's not exactly imminent it does come with some bonus news.

The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+ will get a physical and digital European release on the Nintendo Switch September 7th

The physical release of The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+ matches the US release, with a retro game manual, the game, and 2 sticker sheets. It also promises some bonus trinkets, but doesn't go into detail as to what they are



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Hidden Folks

Jul 03
Posted by Ben at 15:20

Hidden Folks has actually been out for a few months, I canít say that Iíve seen a lot of talk about it, I guess you wouldnít for a hidden object game. For whatever reason Hidden Folk has repeatedly cropped up on my Steam suggestions during the summer sale, so finally I caved in and gave it a whirl.

The easy comparison is Whereís Wally (or Whereís Waldo depending where youíre reading this), Hidden Folks gives you a sizable image, busy and bustling with lots of distractions, characters and objects move, itís all animated in some way. Youíve got a list of characters or objects at the bottom of the screen and you need to hunt them down to check them off. For some youíll be able to just spot them, matching the image at the bottom to the character placed somewhere in the picture, for others youíll need to use the attached description to work out where theyíre hidden.



In the early stages Hidden Folks features fairly small Ďmapsí, zooming out will let you see most of whatís there, and zooming in will give you the detail. This is probably Hidden Folks at its most fun, itís charming and the game gets a chance to show that. The inventive puzzles, characters hidden behind, under, or in things, they can be showcased here and be fun, later on thatís not the case. The maps eventually become huge, ultra busy, with needle in a haystack levels of detail. Itís impressive, I wouldnít say no to a screensaver or a wallpaper, but it can tip the balance from fun to frustrating. If you compare the desert level to the later factory level, the factory is set out in compartments, if one of the hidden folk is obsessed with tyres, it probably means theyíre hidden near some tyres, so scout around the map for some. Compare that to the desert, with its almost featureless landscape, finding everyone can be a bit of a chore

That being said, itís probably for the best you donít have to find everyone. Find enough folks and you can move on to the next map, so there is an argument that a lot of the frustration I felt playing Hidden Folks was my own doing for not moving on until Iíd found everyone. Itís also probably worth mentioning that while Hidden Folks isnít a multi-player game as such, itís the kind of game that lends itself to a few people working together, certainly I hit a wall a 2nd pair of eyes helped me get past.



All this being said, Hidden Folks didnít take me that long, and returning to a map after being stuck for a while meant I solved it. It took me around 4 hours to find everything, but I suspect binging like that isnít the best way to experience Hidden Folks. At £6, less in the sale, itís not exactly bank breaking, and there is a level of charm and humour to it. Once you complete the game thereís the promise of more content to come. So, while itís hard to get too excited about a hidden object game, Hidden Folks is certainly worth a look if youíre after a change of pace

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RPG Maker FES
Part 01
Jul 02
Posted by Ben at 10:17

I originally had this post titles as RPG Maker FES 001, but saving enough space for 99 of these posts already seems like the ultimate in optimism. Anyway, here we are, after the stalled attempt with Tyrano Builder (maybe one day Iíll go back) Iím going again attempt to make a game.

I, like a fair few other people Iíd wager, own a copy of RPG Maker on the pc, I think I picked it up from a Humble Bundle. However, after not being immediately amazing at it when I took a 5 minute look at it I put it down, never to be picked up again. So hereís hoping that the more simplified RPG Maker FES on the Nintendo 3DS will be a more manageable tool.

Before I start though let me get a few touch points out of the way, both good and bad. First, you donít have to make anything to spend time with the game, so long as other people are doing the work you could keep downloading new, similar, rpgs for ages, easily getting your monies worth. Which brings us to money; RPG Maker FES isnít cheap, you can save some pennies by shopping around, but itís still the most Iíve spent on a 3DS cart in a fair old while, which makes the presence of DLC more than a little unsightly. Your initial tileset is fairly limited, fortunately there is some free dlc which will give you more to work with, but having to pay for extra upload slots, extra theme packs, some of which are approaching £5, Iím not keen on that. You can, however, download a free app that lets you, and more importantly your friends, play created games. Hopefully someone finds a way to export creations to other platforms somewhere down the line.



So, how is it going? How far have I got? Not very far.

I downloaded some other peopleís creations, played a bit of one to see what was possible. It all seemed simple enough. I then went in to the creation tools myself and made a map. The problem RPG Maker FES has, and itís a fairly major one, it doesnít have a tutorial. You can press the 3DSí Home button and pull up a manual, but thereís no ď... and next, select the tile you want to place and place it on the mapĒ. You can work out how to put down some trees easily enough, but how do you set up a battle? Well, weíll find out in episode 2 (002?) because Iíve still not got that far.

Iíve made a map, replaced what I thought were small trees that would block a route with other small trees that I think actually will block out a route, rather than not remotely hinder their progress. From there I set an event, the plan was that the event was the introduction to a battle. Thatís where a guide would have been handy, as it seems, from playing about with some things, I need to create some monsters, then I can set which monsters will appear in battle. I think anyway, I really need to read a guide. When I tested the map the text just streamed through on repeat, Iím not sure if itís because I didnít manage to lock down anything else, or if I need to Ďendí it in some way. Who knows, again, probably need a guide.

The text stuff is ok though. I suspect you wonít be seeing a lot of story heavy games, typing on a 3DS touchpad, particularly when Ď?í are hidden in a different keyboard on its 2nd page. Itís not impossible, but the dictionary option only works when youíve spelt something correctly, so isnít great as a speed tool. That said, I managed to add a character portrait, set up to 3 lines of text, then if that character needed more Iíd have to add them as another bit of dialogue, which would give me the chance to change the character portraitís expression. Itís fairly simple and useful. I found out I could change the music, this doesnít blend well so I removed it, it was a bit heavy handed for what I was going for.



I realised I needed an intro, so I added one. I placed it as close to the characterís starting point as I could, because I couldnít place it on the starting point. Hereís where I got very confused though. For some reason when I tested the level the character conversation I made first, which was supposed to be triggered a number of steps up the map, would trigger on repeat immediately, I couldnít move nor trigger the intro. In the end I had to delete the conversation, so now the intro plays, but Iíve no idea if I can move past it. So yeah, guide.

I have now started to build a monster. Thereís stock ones, but I donít want to start with a Slime, so Iíve picked a portrait I want, then I can alter the stats. Iím not sure what Iím supposed to be aiming for, but fortunately for what Iím trying I need them to be weak and the hero strong, so all I need to do is get it all running, at the very least so I can move and have a battle, that shouldnít be asking for too much...

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Guilty Gear Xrd
Revelator 2
Jun 12
Posted by Ben at 16:41

The thing that always strikes me about Guilty Gear, and I guess Arc System Worksí fighters in general (even Battle Fantasia), is how idiosyncratic they are. For the most part, anyone with a passing knowledge of fighting games could sit down with a Street Fighter or a King of Fighters and do something, Guilty Gear takes a bit more time. Itís testament to the work put in by Arc that it doesnít seem insurmountable, in fact a lot of Guilty Gearís systems quickly start to make sense.

Guilty Gear does things differently, in terms of attacks thereís Slash and Hard Slash, but then punch, kick, and now ĎDustí. Youíll sometimes find specials do work across buttons, but not often. In short, each character has to be learnt, even on a basic level. Go beyond the basic level and the characters reveal themselves to be even more unique. Thereís characters whose attacks have to be set up, characters who can teleport, characters who counter, getting the best out of them is something you need to learn to do, itís not simply a matter of practice, you arenít always going to stumble on to these techniques. It does though mean that when you take the game online you arenít facing the same character over and over. The wealth of depth to the characters means that thereís no Ďflow-chart Kení, youíll see a variety, and every character will have someone who has learned exactly how to wipe the floor with you. Whether by luck or design, itís an impressive feat

Itís why the tutorials are always going to be a big part of any modern Guilty Gear review. They arenít perfect, but they do a good job of showing off the systems. You start with the absolute basics, moving and jumping to pop balloons, then quickly progress to not just attacking, but effectively attacking by comboing attacks together. These are simple chains, but then itís the next step, bursting so you can can land an extra hit or two, or dashing so you can keep a combo going. From there you can learn specific character moves, learning how to chain specials, even how to defend effectively. Itís here where I wish theyíd gone one small step further and had the option of a demo to show whatís expected of you, as thereís some I just wasnít sure where I was going wrong.

Guilty Gear Xrd Revelator 2 has a few modes outside of training, maybe a couple less than youíd hope, but enough. Thereís more periphery stuff like the gallery and figurine mode, nice little bonuses but not where youíre going to spend serious time. Thereís also the arcade mode, which has character specific stories and sets up the actual Story mode, which is like an in-engine anime, free from combat but quite well done. The online is handled fairly well, and I really like the lobby system. Itís a world you enter, and while thereís not a lot to do there, and itís a shame you canít spectate, I do like that you can sit at an arcade machine and wait for an opponent. They might need to broaden the servers sooner rather than later to keep them populated, although I didnít have too many problems finding a match. Not true of Ďrankedí, where I did struggle to find a match, but you can queue a ranked match up and get on with other things. I guess the real shame is that the PC version doesnít have cross-play with the PS4.

I had a few fights where there was a strange sense of dropped frames online. Itís not lag, and itís not dropped frames as youíd (potentially) see if the game was struggling, but it felt like inputs were being ignored. I had plenty of good fights, but I could see people who take online more seriously really cursing it.

I guess the only real criticism I have of Guilty Gear Xrd Rev 2 is that I just donít really like playing as a lot of the Guilty Gear characters, and the ones I do like Iím familiar with, exasperating the feeling that Revelator 2 is an incremental change, even over the 2 game predecessor Xrd Sign (my last Guilty Gear). Itís a good game, as good as itís ever been, but Iím not sure Guilty Gear has the luxury of being able to just throw more characters in to the roster and calling it a day, theyíre all too idiosyncratic for that. If youíre a die-hard then more of the same is probably enough, but know thatís what it is going in, if youíre new then itís as good a place to start as any.
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Jun
10
Posted by Mark at 10:57
They've done a new IP!

It's a multiplayer third-person adventure title, where up to four players investigate various exotic locations as an Egyptian witch queen has resurrected all sorts of monsters.

It's explained slightly better in this 1930s-style trailer:

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It's due 'soon' on PC, XBone and PS4, and we'll be seeing gameplay footage during E3.
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