For those of you who don´t know yet, there is a remake being made of the very popular Nintendo 64 game Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. It will be released very soon for Nintendo´s new handheld, the Nintendo 3DS. It will be a straight remake of the classic videogame with few alterations and will include Master Quest as well, which will feature an inverted Hyrule and increased enemy damage. Perhaps the greates upgrade the game offers is a complete graphical overhaul. The visuals have been greatly improved and will add a lot more depth to an already legendary title. Below you can see some of the visual comparisons between the original version(left) and the 3Ds version(right):
The entire open-world is in danger.
THE PLAYER is out for a friendly frolic of CRIME CAPERS when suddenly ambushed by EVIL GOOD GUYS. They will stop at nothing to end his RAMPAGE OF DOOM threatening the citizens of Theftropolis City. Are YOU bad enough to defeat the EVIL GOOD GUYS?
RETRO CITY RAMPAGE lets you play as THE PLAYER. Take the wheel with five-finger discounts on over 30 vehicles and wield over 20 weapons that will make you say “WHOA”! Run down innocent pedestrians to hear the magnificent monophonic modulated sounds. Order a pint of “SOUR MILK” from the barkeep to make yourself sick and avoid taking responsibility for your actions. At some point, defeat the EVIL GOOD GUYS then relax and go do it, when you want an ICED TEA.
The quote above is from the official site for the upcoming WiiWare and Xbox Live Arcade title, Retro City Rampage. The game is a parody of the open world games a la Grand Theft Auto. It promises to not only be a great gaming experience, but as you can tell from the text above it’s going to be good for a few laughs as well!
Check out this newly released gameplay video!
In the 18th episode of RoboCast Jessie, Lucas, and myself chat with Aubrey Norris from Deep Silver about Dead Island. Obviously, you can’t have a conversation about zombies without talking about being tea bagged by a zombie, or shooting zombies in the junk!
We also talked about Risen 2, the upcoming pirate themed RPG being published by Deep Silver.
As always, you can listen to RoboCast with your favorite podcatcher, via YouTube. subscribe via iTunes, download the file, or stream it right off of this page!
Have you ever sat to ponder about what makes a certain video game so great? What comes to mind at first is generally a memorable storyline, impressive visuals and great gameplay. Although these are very important components to a great game, there is one element that is greatly overlooked: the unsung hero of gaming — the video game´s musical score.
Music is so fundamental that it can single-handedly create any kind of atmosphere within any environment. It can also produce innumerable emotions and feelings in humans. It even has the power to change your mood or the hormone levels in your body. Many types of sounds correspond to many types of situations. A sad song might have the power to sadden or soothe you, while a fast-paced heavy metal song will raise your adrenaline levels causing you to change your behaviour in such ways from driving your “vintage” Corolla a little bit faster than usual to punching someone in the face just for fun.
The application of these principles in videogames has been around longer than you might have imagined. Take the 1978 arcade game Space Invaders for example. The game starts out with a moderately mild tempo and as the aliens get closer and closer the sound gets faster and faster. This causes your heart rate to increase and causes you to panic or feel an adrenaline boost. This game does not, by any means, have a great soundtrack but it is successful, however, in its objective which is to make the player feel a rush.
Music in the gaming world has come a very long way since 1978. Program director of game development at Full Sail University Rob Catto explains, “We have always known that sound is a very important component of games, but in the early days the hardware wasn’t there to do what people wanted to do with sound. Telling stories through movies and adding sound into it to help immerse people has been around for a while but the hardware resources just weren’t there for video games. So early on it was very, very…. well let´s put it this way, sound was an afterthought. It was left until the end when you knew all the resources were used for the actual graphics and IO part of the game. Nowadays it´s completely different though, because the resources are available. Any time you can involve another one of your senses, you immerse a person more into a virtual world.”
This digital world comes to life even stronger when these concept are paired up with a well composed soundtrack. The feelings it creates within the player greatly help set the tone of the game and makes the experience so much more memorable. Who can forget one of the most epic boss battles in gaming history against Sephiroth in Final Fantasy VII while listening to Nobuo Uematsu´s master piece, One Winged Angel. If you have ever had the pleasure of getting to this point in the game you probably still remember how much this song made that battle feel so much more than words can ever describe. This track made Sephiroth become one of the most iconinc videogame characters in gaming history as it perfectly exhalted the tone of the game and the essence of his character beyond any script or visual image could ever manage to do.
In the same manner in which you can experience a feeling of overwhelming epicness with a certain soundtrack you may also feel many other kinds of emotions with other types of music. An example of this is the Sonic, the Hedgehog franchise which pairs up its games with a soundtrack that will not only complement but intensify its style of play. Green Forest is the name of a stage from Sonic Adventure 2 and it serves to explain my point perfectly as it provides the player with an intense and fast paced track to go alongside the destruction and blazing speed that Sonic is so famous for. It prevents the videogame from becoming dull and pumps some blood through the gamer´s body. Older videogames such Pokemon Red/Blue did this too in track such as: the gym leader theme. Even with the gameboy´s hardware restrictions, a sense of adrenaline could be achieved just by listening to the music. Many examples of this exist, but this next song speaks for itself. I dare you to listen to it and not feel the urge to kick some ass:
Then we have music to set a mood within the digital world that enhances the expierience even further. This type of music is aimed at defining an environment. In the Legend of Zelda: Ocarian of Time there was a song corresponding to a spot named Gerudo Valley. Even though it was one of the smallest locations in the game, the track made it so much more appealing than anywhere else in the game. Koji Kondo, the composer for the game´s soundtrack, succeeded in creating an environment with a very strong ethnic taste. It highlighted the antagonism between the Gerudo and the rest of Hyrule by making you feel how different they really were from each other, music worked subjectively here. Getting a feel of your surroundings through sound is very important and has been used thoroughly in the gaming industry. Music in games such as Shadow of the Colossus might give you a feeling of loneliness and taking on the world on your own, while music in games such as Doom or Dead Space may create a mood of fear and mystery.
The Legend of Zelda series has always been very rich musicaly, but with Ocarina of Time, Majora´s Mask and The Wind Waker it went a few steps further. Not only do these games posses a great soundtrack but they incorporate music in the actual gameplay. The use of instruments and the learning of different songs was fundamental for solving puzzles and advancing through the storyline. Music played a huge role in these games combining great tracks with different situations and character development. Later came games directly linked to music in their gameplay such as Guitar Hero and Rockband. People love music, why not make a game about that?
The videogame music niche has grown so much that it has taken the concert stage by surprise. Many musical events have been created lately with the sole purpose of playing videogame music. There is even a famous power metal band called Powerglove that specializes in playing classic videogame music only. They have played titles such as the Tetris theme, FF7 tracks, the Mortal Kombat theme, and many more. In 2005 John Wall and Tommy Tallarico, renowned videogame music composers, launched an event known as Video Games Live. The event had some of the world´s finest orchestras performing the most popular gaming music. Many Orchestras such as ZREO, Zelda Reorchestrated, exist with the sole purpose of taking the music present in videogames a couple of steps further. The US Recording Academy has even decided to rename the “Motion, Television, or Other Visual Media” Grammy award to “Motion, Television, Video Games Music, or Other Visual Media” in order to include the rapidly growing gaming music genre.
Music in gaming has advanced so much that the difference between it and any other muscial categorization is almost indistinguishable. Music is no longer a passive experience but a fundamental element of any videogame that might be considered to be good in any way. It has been a long journey for videogame music but without it, games today just would not be the same. They add excitement, adrenaline, fear, and many other emotions within the gamer as well as setting up the mood for the environment, and will always be an integral component in the creation and enjoyment of gaming everywhere.
I am a big Empire guy. Sith or Bust for me, but the Trooper is definitely on my list of classes to play. On the crazy day I decide to roll Republic, It will be one of these bad boys. Bioware gives us another look at their highly anticipated game, and it does not fail to impress. I have to say though, at the beginning of the Vanguard portion, he’s kind of a dick.
“Oh hey guys, I notice you are being attacked by stuff, while I could probably just shoot them in the face and save you, I will instead use my shield generator and watch you die.”
Capcom has confirmed that Takashi Miike, director of horror films like Audition and crazy action flicks like Sukiyaki Western Django and Thirteen Assassins is helming the live-action adaptation of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney. That’s right, the director whose episode of Masters of Horror was so grotesque and twisted that it was deemed too disturbing for broadcast on Showtime has been given control of everyone’s favorite anime-styled objection-slinger. Phoenix himself will be played by actor and fashion idol Hiroki Narimiya.
The Capcom press release can be viewed here. Phoenix Wright : Ace Attorney the Movie is slated for a Spring 2012 release in Japan.
With only a couple weeks before E3, which will include the unveiling of a companion trailer for Dead Island’s latest trailer, Deep Silver has spread another cinematic teaser and screenshots for their upcoming zombie thiller.
This latest trailer, entitled Part 1: Tragedy Hits Paradise, finally shows us some in-game footage while elaborating on the forlorn tragedy that has befallen Banoi Atoll.
Deep Silver will also have a playable version of Dead Island™ at E3 2011 within the Square Enix booth, check back with RoboAwesome once we get a chance to sink our teeth into it.
The latest trailer can be found here.
For previous RoboCoverage of Dead Island™, click here.
For more information on Dead Island™, click here.
It’s a pretty safe bet that when the Pirates of the Caribbean ride launched at Disneyland over four decades ago no one thought that it would have evolved into a multi-billion dollar franchise for Disney. Tons of movies, novels, merchandise lines, new rides, and video games have raked in a bigger cache of bootie than even Blackbeard himself could shake a peg leg at. The fourth Pirates of the Caribbean movie, subtitled On Stranger Tides, had the video game tie-in of LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean: The Game. Not to worry, however–unlike other games with movie tie-ins which often suffer from being rushed, this game will shiver the timbers of even the most mild of pirate fans.
LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean: The Game doesn’t really bring anything new to the galley table in terms of gameplay. What you get is typical and satisfying LEGO game fare where you smash everything in sight to pieces and collect the LEGO studs that act as the game’s currency. As you bash you will occasionally find important items like keys, or Lego bricks you can build a necessary item with. These items are needed to help you advance through the level and reach the next segment of the story. Along the way, you will probably see items you cannot activate or areas you cannot reach. This is because as you continue to beat the game, you will unlock more characters that have the special abilities you need to get to previously unreachable areas or items when replaying levels in Free Play mode. For example, cursed characters don’t run out of breath under water and Jack Sparrow comes with a magical compass that he can use to find certain items in each level. The reason this formula remains unchanged is that it is simple and fun, and it is often incredibly satisfying to run around a level on a destructive rampage after a long day of looting and pillaging at the office.
If you’ve played a LEGO game before, this may all sound a little typical. However, LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean does mix things up a little. Your objectives almost always center around solving a series of environmental puzzles. Previous games, such as the LEGO Star Wars games, have centered more on combat. There are also other additions, such as the golden arrow on-screen that guides you toward a particularly important objective or shows you where to place a crucial item. Unfortunately this feature was under implemented. There were a few times when there was little to no direction regarding what move should be made next, and many frustrating minutes were spent yelling “Show me the bloody golden arrow, ye scalawag, or it’s the plank for ya!”
Swashbuckling with a friend is a lot of fun thanks to the easy drop-in/drop-out feature, and the interesting use of the split screen. If someone wants to play along with player one, they simply need to pick up a Wii remote and Nunchuck and press the Plus button. They then can cooperatively help the other player solve the level’s puzzles. The game will keep both players on the same screen until they are too far apart to do so. Then the line separating the screens shifts depending on how far away the two characters are and what direction they are. The angle slowly changes when the players come back together and effortlessly disappears when the two characters are close enough. It is a really weird and unique effect that needs to be seen to be fully understood.
Visually, LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean: The Game has all of the brightly colored cuteness that has become the hallmark of any game carrying the LEGO brand. Characters and items are all made out of LEGO bricks, but the background environments have an almost photo-realistic look to them that seems strange at first, but works quite well overall. One of the best visual features of the game is characters’ facial expressions. They have a very limited range of expressions, but the development team at Traveler’s Tales did a superb job at picking the most effective and humorous looks for every character. Cut-scenes are pre-rendered, but their look blends seamlessly with the game engine. A lot of laughs can be found in these cutscenes as well. The most convoluted and complex plot moments are boiled down to a ten or fifteen second clip, and all dialogue has been replaced with grunting or other non-linguistic vocalizations. Sound in the game is also well-done. The music seems to be a mixture of both slight variations and direct lifts from the movie soundtracks. The fully orchestrated music helps boost the sense of adventure and lessen the stigma more “hardcore gamers” may feel has been placed on them for playing a kids’ game. It’s a blast to hear all the dramatic dialogue boiled down to a few grunts and growls and giggles.
LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean: The Game may not innovate or overhaul the tried and true LEGO game formula, but what you will get is a no-nonsense puzzler/adventure combining two wildly successful pop culture elements: LEGO and pirates. The environmental puzzles are surprisingly challenging at times, a fact that is perhaps compounded by the lack of in-game direction to identify the level’s objective. A solid multiplayer element means you and a crewmate can team up to run around and bash the holy hell out of everything in the game’s cutely rendered environments. There is, unfortunately, little to no incentive to replay old levels to collect every single item and character except for players of the “completionist” sect. Overall, this is a simple and fun game that can be a great alternative for players that want to get away from the dastardly deeds that are so frequently portrayed in video games these days.
[review title=”LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean: The Game” pros=”Great pick-up-and-play fun that literally the whole family can enjoy, good for some laughs at times, cute visual presentation” cons=”Replaying levels with new characters to arbitrarily collect items is pretty tedious, there is really nothing new here compared to other LEGO-themed games, lack of direction is frustrating” verdict=”It’s fun to bash up things made of LEGO, and the manner in which these movies are portrayed is often quite funny. This is a great game for any fan of previous LEGO games or Pirates of the Caribbean.” score=75]
With E3 and the launch of Ocarina of Time 3DS both getting closer and closer the Zelda series is getting the most of Nintendo fans’ attentions. Will Project Cafe get a new Zelda game? Will Skyward Sword get pushed back to Cafe’s launch? Are Oracle of Seasons and Orcale of Ages coming to the 3DS Shop as well? What details about Skyward Sword have yet to be revealed? Can 3DS owners look forward to a new Zelda game after buying up Ocarina of Time?
With Link in the spotlight I had to wonder if the 3DS would be getting a new Zelda and if it would continue on in the Phantom Hourglass/Spirit Tracks mold. After all there’s only so many technological generations you can jump ahead before Link is riding the Hylian bus to Ganon’s Tower.
See you next week.
There’s been a lot of talk about inFAMOUS in the gaming community lately. Not only is the release date for inFAMOUS 2 a few weeks away, but the original game is among the free titles Sony plans on offering PlayStation 3 users as part of their Customer Appreciation Program, following the PSN debacle.
For those who are unfamiliar with the game’s premise, let’s catch you up to speed. inFAMOUS places you in the role of Cole McGrath, a bike courier in the fictional metropolis of Empire City with a penchant for parkour and urban exploration. While on a delivery, the parcel Cole is responsible for explodes, destroying several city blocks and leaving thousands dead and injured. Miraculously, Cole survives and in the days following the disaster discovers he has acquired electricity-based superpowers, which become stronger as the game progresses. The game follows Cole’s adventures as he adapts to his new abilities, uses them to take down Empire City’s most notorious gangs, and unravels a mystery about himself and his new role in the aftermath of the disaster. inFAMOUS 2 picks up where its predecessor left off and has Cole and his friend Zeke fleeing their home for the city of New Marais, based on New Orleans, after a dangerous villain called “The Beast” attacks Empire City.
Those of you who are listeners of our RoboCast might recall that in our Holiday/End of Year edition, I stated inFAMOUS 2 was among the games I most looked forward to in 2011. inFAMOUS stands as not only one of the finest superhero games available, but is among my favorite current generation titles. From the smoothness of Cole’s parkour inspired movement, to the huge amount of powers to develop, to the innovative storyline, there’s not a shortage of positive things to say about the game. However, as with any title, nothing is perfect and there’s always room for improvements in subsequent adventures. Sucker Punch has already stated inFAMOUS 2 will contain plenty of new features, such as more fluid animation, stronger powers, greater interaction with the environment and user generated content. Although all of these will pique the interest of fans of the series, there are a number of things I’d like to see implemented in the game and improved on from its predecessor.
Morally Ambiguous Decision-Making – A key selling point for inFAMOUS was that it allowed gamers to play as good or evil. This was implemented through situations, dubbed karma moments, where the player was forced to make a decision that would influence whether Cole accumulated good or bad karma. The idea was novel and allowed for the player to develop Cole in the way they saw fit. Unfortunately, many of these moments felt tacked on and didn’t affect the outcome of the game. Additionally, the majority of the decisions were extremely clear-cut in a way that appeared unrealistic and forced. This especially holds true if you’re playing as evil, where some of the bad choices you make have little logical explanation, other than your character is kind of a jerk.
There is one decision you’re forced to make that stands out in my mind as one of the most emotionally engaging moments I’ve encountered in a game. If you’ve played inFAMOUS, you know what it is, and if you haven’t, I won’t ruin it for you. However, I will say it made me thankful that I was following the game’s evil path. If I opted to play as a morally upright character, I’d have ruined my good karma because I needed to make an incredibly selfish decision instead of adhering to the heroic standards I was supposed to. I genuinely felt Cole’s panic and confusion when there didn’t seem to be a right answer. Making the “bad” decision and it seeming justifiable in the context was a huge difference to the evil decisions I made simply to gather bad karma and strengthen my powers. inFAMOUS 2 needs more instances like this, events that challenge the player, define Cole as a character, and make morality more complex and with greater room for ambiguity.
More Variation in the Good/Evil Storylines – As the credits rolled after my first play-through of inFAMOUS, I didn’t experience the same bittersweet feelings I usually have when I’ve reached the end of a beloved game. The joy of completion, tinged with the sadness that an enjoyable experience ended wasn’t there because I knew that I could replay following a good path. I had barely finished the game, when I started pondering how different things would pan out when I became helpful, heroic, ‘I’m working for the betterment of all’ Cole, as opposed to the self-centered, soul-leeching, Machiavellian Cole I had been. I was disappointed to discover it didn’t turn out that differently at all. I developed some powers I didn’t have access to when evil, and there were a few different side missions and cut scenes to give light variety. I didn’t look haggard by the final battle, and it was cool not having Empire City denizens throwing punches at me, but there was nothing Earth shatteringly unique.
To an extent, I get it. There’s months of hard work that goes into developing a plot and writing dialogue, and it’s expected that there will be similarities between versions of the story. The subtle differences were enough to catch my attention and were a nice addition, but it wasn’t enough to keep me as entertained as I expected the second time around. I’d like to have seen more of my actions, especially ones during karma moments, have a greater impact on the outcome. Sucker Punch has stated that inFAMOUS 2‘s story will unfold differently depending on whether you opt to be heroic or an antihero, and hopefully differences in the narrative are more than minor subtleties this time around.
No More Blast Shards -Following the incident at Ground Zero, chunks of the exploded Ray Sphere, called Blast Shards, were scattered throughout Empire City. When Cole accumulates the radiated Blast Shards, he’s able to store larger amounts of electricity, necessary for many of his powers. Most of us aren’t strangers to item collection in games, and the task of traversing the city in search of the shards shouldn’t seem like a big deal. Did I mention there’s 350 Blast Shards?
Not only is that a huge number, but you’ll have to go out of your way to find many of them. You’ll catch sight of several as you jump from roof to roof, and scurry up pipes lining the side of buildings, but for the most part, you’ll rely on a pressing the L3 button which shows you where any undiscovered shards are in a small area. Having a means of locating them is a lifesaver, but you’ll still find yourself walking down every street of the city scanning for them. Even employing this method, and spending hours seeking them out, there’s still some I can’t locate. It’s both a time consuming process and a challenge to your sanity. After reading numerous forums, the general consensus is that the best strategy is to print out a map with their locations and cross them off as you find them. No thanks. Thankfully, finding all the Blast Shards is an optional undertaking and isn’t integral to the story. Regardless, it’s an experience that has caused so much frustration that I’d be ecstatic if Cole’s journey to New Marias didn’t involve scouring the city for fragments of an exploded, power-granting device, or anything that resembles it.
Data From an inFAMOUS Save Affects Portions of the Game – In general, I wish the impact of your actions in certain games would carry over into their sequels, but feel this would work especially well in inFAMOUS 2. I still remember how cool I thought it was when characters I recruited in Suikoden carried over into Suikoden II. Can anyone who
played Metal Gear Solid with a Castlevania: Symphony of the Night save on their memory card forget how mind-blown and creeped out they were the first time they encountered Psycho Mantis? It may sound insignificant and like a shallow feature, but when you come across things like this, you feel rewarded for your previous efforts and it makes past decisions seem more significant and long lasting. Because inFAMOUS prides itself on allowing you to play as the kind of hero you deem fit, it seems like the decisions you make should have a lasting impact on Cole as his story progresses.
Obviously, the bulk of the game can’t center around decisions made during inFAMOUS because it would alienate newcomers to the franchise, but there are subtle ways of giving a nod to fans who played the previous title. You could potentially start the game with Cole already established as good or evil based on how you played inFAMOUS, powers developed to where you leveled them up in the prior game, or it could be as basic as a few lines of dialogue that make reference to major decisions you previously made. I feel confident that if this was going to be carried out on a significant level, we’d have heard mention of it by now, but a guy can always hope Sucker Punch has a few tricks up their sleeve. If not, there’s always inFAMOUS 3.
Conflict With Zeke – If you haven’t played inFAMOUS and don’t want any of the game’s details revealed, stop reading here. **SPOILERS AHEAD!**
In my opinion, Cole’s best friend, Zeke Dunbar, stands as one of the worst sidekicks of all time. At the beginning of inFAMOUS, Zeke comes across as out there, but relatively harmless. He waxes about conspiracy theories and seems slightly jealous of Cole’s newly acquired powers, but there’s nothing to indicate he’s, at the core, a bad person.
As the game progresses, it becomes evident that Zeke is capable of worse atrocities than getting the munchies and polishing off the leftover pizza you were saving for lunch, an event the game never explicitly mentions but you know has happened. He demonstrates an inability to perform even the simplest tasks, even when the fate of the city could depend on it. One of the biggest responsibilities assigned to Zeke during the game is to guard an incarcerated super villain. Not capture him or extract information from him. Just stand there to make sure he doesn’t escape. Does that sound difficult? Not very. Can Zeke handle it? Nope. He’s so consumed with envy that Cole has been gifted with superpowers that he attempts to activate the Ray Sphere, fully aware it will probably injure or kill innocent by-standers. When it won’t activate, Zeke doesn’t do the right thing and destroy it, putting an end to the madness that’s transpired. Instead he turns to Cole’s enemy with the hope he can get the Ray Sphere to grant him powers. He also shares responsibility for an attrocity that I’ll leave unnamed, because it’s a twist that’s one of inFAMOUS‘s most shocking and emotionally charged moments and I can’t bring myself to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t played the game. For every minor, positive thing you gain from his friendship, there’s a negative, borderline life ruining thing he’s done. Zeke’s actions speak volumes about his moral character, so it’s surprising that not only does he not get his ass kicked at some point during inFAMOUS, but he accompanies Cole to to New Marais, indicating the two remain friends. There are a lot of personality flaws that one can forgive, but betrayal and disregard for the lives of thousands of people aren’t among them. It’s possible that Zeke has changed since the first game, but it’s unrealistic that someone who displayed extreme selfishness and apathy toward others could become the ideal best friend overnight. I’m hoping Zeke does something positively toolish during the game so Cole can dole out the ass-kicking this guy has long deserved. It’s a personal vendetta, but I’ve been wanting the chance to get revenge on him since midway through inFAMOUS, and I’d be thrilled to have the opportunity in the sequel.
Creating a new superhero with a unique perspective and story is difficult work, but is an undertaking Sucker Punch handled well in inFAMOUS. While there are obviously some changes I would like made in Cole’s latest outing, I look forward to seeing how the finished product turns out, whether or not they’re implemented.
inFAMOUS 2 is a PlayStation 3 exclusive and has a scheduled release date of June 7, 2011.