Easy-Mode Players Are The Real Gamers (GUEST POST by @Nintendo_Legend)

“Everything ain’t hardcore, you know.” -- Jay-Z.

At the time I am writing this, the current water-cooler topics of discussion include Harry Potter now being 20 years old and the SNES Classic releasing in the fall. Pop culture is a merry-go-round, an exercise in tempting bystanders through a cyclical display of the same bright lights, colorful motifs, and enchanting musical ditties.

Among the spokes on the spinning wheel of gaming topics is the intractable morass of difficulty levels. When Nintendo included an invincible Tanooki suit in Super Mario 3D World as an option for players who die five times in a row on the same stage, some people found this to be quite an objectionable thing, positing that including this item “destroys everything that playing video games is all about,” because the whole point of video games is “challenging yourself, improving your skills, and finally applying those skills you’ve learned to defeat the stage. Failing is an essential part of any video game. You have to fail to get any sense of accomplishment when you finally do win.”

One could wonder if having fun could be a worthy purpose for gaming.

I recommend reading Nadia Oxford’s piece at USGamer on the topic. Also, this Jimquisition video on Zero Difficulty, concerning reaction to an Easy Mode in StarFox Zero. While we’re recommending items on the subject, here’s a Kotaku article by Jason Schreier on the idea that maybe all games should have a ‘very easy’ mode. Here is a meaty piece on Dark Souls and how its identity is closely tied to its difficulty, among other sentiments. Finally, here is a long Twitter thread on (among other things) how even the meaning of the term ‘hardcore’ has shifted over time as the demographics of the hobby have changed.

Honestly, I do not want to rehash the entire discussion. It should be fairly clear, to anyone with common sense, that it is unreasonable to object to a feature being included in a video game that does no harm yet enhances enjoyment for others. Concerning yourself with how others conduct themselves in their gameplay to the extent of whining about it online is asinine, especially when it has zero affect on your own experiences.

Yet, even in recent days, we see the same old behavior dug back up for a new target, the SNES Classic. “Why don’t you just get a Raspberry Pi?” they cry, ignoring the fact that countless thousands within the target audience of the novelty have no clue nor interest in how emulation works, while also ignoring… the simple fact that it is perfectly fine for others to enjoy something you have no interest in. Again, it is a troll viewpoint, not worth covering in too much detail.

Simply: It is silly, at the very least, to care what difficulty level other people play at, or to scoff at how casual they are. Any half-decent human being with four brain cells can recognize that ‘hardcore’ and ‘casual’ players have equal value, and that worrying how someone else plays a video game is a waste of energy. To be a member of the gaming community yet hate on features that would only serve to include more people is a slimeperson position to take. Yet, I want to go a step further.

I want to say: Easy-Mode Players are the real gamers.

Yes, Easy-Mode Players are the ones who should have the cred, be looked up to, and have their opinions sought after. Why did it take me several paragraphs to reach my premise? … I don’t have an answer for that, ha. Instead, let’s take a not-too-serious look at why Easy-Mode Players are the real gamers.

They Are Different

On a simple, literal level, Easy-Mode Players are different. They take the path less traveled, they march to the beat of a different drummer. They take the scenic route, and do not concern their pride on such matters as violence and speed and competition. They are mold-breakers, and their type is still not thought of as The Default by developers or fellow fans.

Which is fine, mostly. But there is value in recognizing the ideas that a different sort of mind can contribute, and how these voices can help constructively craft the scene. Let them be taken seriously, and be appreciated for their distinct perspective. At times, it may even seem refreshing.

They Appreciate The Craft

Consider motivation: Why would anyone bother playing a game at its hardest difficulty, anyway? Sure they may enjoy the heightened challenge, but why? Does it not always come back to a personal point of pride? Having to conquer the game, having to beat someone else, having to prove something.

Now, consider the Easy-Mode Player, the player who is taking their sweet time to truly soak in the journey, to dive full-bodied into the story and lore that has been crafted for them, to let themselves be immersed and invested in the setting and characterizations. Just as there are connoisseurs in other fields, is there not room for gamers who really take measure of the artform we are so fond of?

Would Easy-Mode Players not more readily support games as an artform, since they are removing their ego from the equation and more readily embracing the total venue of experiences that the hobby can offer?

I am not saying that speedrunning is somehow bad, or there cannot be a healthy place in this world for esports tournaments. However, consider the artistic merit of these pursuits applied to other subjects of study. What would we think of a reader who speed-read a book? Of a viewer who watched a film in fast-forward? What if a listener made music more difficult, trying to listen to a track while punching their own ears underwater?

Should we not treasure the keen insights of those who truly involve themselves with the games in a real way? Those who really do regard gaming as an interactive art form, and see more clearly their narrative capabilities?

All I’m saying is that I bet people who play Easy have a sight for the craft of games that many others lack, and this is probably pretty cool.

They’re Nicer People

Look, um, I admit, this is a gross generalization, and totally unscientific, but -- if you put the hardest-core FPS player next to someone who likes visual novels, I’m just saying, I would wager on the visual-novelist being the kinder person if I had to pick. Kinder human beings are, generally, human beings I would rather associate and communicate with.

Okay, I am beginning to drift away from any legitimate point I could have had. At the end of the day, all I am trying to say is -- let’s celebrate and champion the easy-mode players, because they add a distinctive wrinkle to the community that should be appreciated. Let’s support and affirm one another, rather than… get bent out of shape because now even a baby can play a Super Mario game (I mean seriously, why the hell do you care wh-- never mind, sorry, sorry).

I do want to include a word about accessibility. The idea of having more play options for more people includes the benefit of opening possibilities for those with cognitive differences or bodily challenges. If including these players means a form of play that could be seen as an Easy Mode, can you really feel good about taking issue with that? Or feel malice for letting these players play at all?

I know some people find children annoying, as another example, but what objection can you truly have to a setting that finally lets a child enjoy a game? Feel free to tackle the issues of appropriate choices on a title-by-title basis, but the overall idea remains: Gaming inclusion beats gaming exclusion, and it is not a difficult debate.

Communities work better when people act more like friends and less like enemies. This seems like a simple-enough idea to me, but we have a bit of work to do yet. So, let’s do the work. Let’s stop turning our noses at folks for playing walking simulators, stop trying to push people into playing in ways they don’t really want to play, and conduct ourselves upliftingly toward those who slide the difficulty scale all the way down.

Here’s to you, Easy-Mode Players. I think you’re the real gamers.

     Guest post written by Eric Bailey [ @Nintendo_Legend
          Admin of [ skirmishfrogs.com ] [ @SkirmishFrogs ]

     For Eric Bailey's last Guest Post click [ HERE ]

DC Unchained: DC Comics' Mobile Counterpoint to Marvel Future Fight

     It looks like Korean publisher 4:33 Creative Labs announced at a recent Comic Con that their development studio Thumb Ageis has been officially working on a DC Universe based mobile game, called DC Unchained, and it looks like worthy competition for Netmarble's massively popular Marvel Future Fight.

     Much like the Marvel Future Fight, players will choose a team of 3 characters- such as Batman, Superman, or Wonder Woman- out of an initial 30 heroes and villains, for a variety of modes including story, PvP, and even real-time co-op.  There's been hints that there are still a couple modes yet to be revealed, and there's always the potential for the DC roster to expand greatly after the initial launch.

     Not much else is known at this point.  It looks a little choppy at points, but overall it could easily become the best DC Universe game available once it launches as titles like DC Legends or the mobile versions of Injustice, the 3rd person RPG fun just hasn't been matched nearly as well as Future Fight nailed Marvel's characters.

     I'm seriously looking forward to this and will be updating here as more information and news comes in.

     DC Unchained is expected to hit Western shores in 4Q 2017.

     For related posts [ Future Fight ]

     SOURCE [ EDaily ] via [ 2P ]


Morphite: A Second Trailer Arrives and a Release Date Announced

     I've been following Morphite for over a year.  It's one of the best looking games that is heading to mobile, and it is slated to arrive in about a month and a half.  Developers Crescent Moon Games and We're Five Games had originally planned a late spring release, but announced a delay so they could port the game to other systems, and now we have a release date for all but Android devices.

     Morphite is a gorgeous sci fi action-exploration game described as:
     "Myrah Kale will voyage to the furthest corners of space and explore uncharted procedurally- generated planets, each with diverse landscapes and teeming with exotic flora and fauna. With the help of a scanner, Myrah will sell biological information for ship, suit and weapon upgrades. She will explore hand-crafted worlds as part of the main storyline.  
     Inside Myrah’s vessel, players will engage in random encounters with real-time space combat, trade with other travelers across the galaxy and navigate outer space with Morphite’s easy-to- use Starmap system."
     Morphite releases on September 7th for the Nintendo Switch, X Box One, PS4, iOS, and Srtam.
     Of course, Android is left behind, and will release "A little bit later."

     My previous Morphite coverage [ 1 & 2 ] and on Droidgamers [ 1 & 2 ]


Stained Issue 2 Review (451 Entertainment)


     After Stained #1 hit the comic stands, it did well enough that it completely sold out at distributors, and will have a second print run featuring alternate cover art by Victoria Gedvillas! I can definitely see why Stained sold so damned well, as in my review I said, "In a market over-saturated with science fiction bounty hunter stories this book stands out due to the fact the main protagonist is so damned well written."

     451's newest book Stained is a sci fi, tech noir alongside time-tested giants like Ghost in the Shell and Blade Runner.  Writer David Baron and artist Yusuf Idris have brought us the tale of Emma London, a cybernetic bounty hunter in the near future trying to make ends meet in day to day life.  She worries about rent and taxes, and is willing to do whatever it takes to pay the bills.


     Following the path of police procedurals, and set in a dystopian cyberpunk world, Emma's story is packed with action, attitude, and criminal activities.  This issue takes a fresh start with two stories, an abduction and an art heist, each crossing into each other, with implications of something far more sinister beneath them both.
     Our bionically enhanced heroine is tracking an a man she refers to as a "classic movie villain," due to his appearance- a debonair, white-suited crime boss with conceited license plates on his fancy car reading R3d Devl- as he is transferring his stolen art.  In attempting to retrieve a particular painting, she finds an underground auction for artistic contraband.  During this reconnaissance and retrieval mission, she finds herself in a tough predicament by finding a crate in the art thieves' storage.  Leaving her in a situation where she needs to either finish her job, or help the individual being held captive with a swiftly depleting timetable for the art to be shipped away.  A great cliffhanger ending if ever there was one.


     Much like the first issue, Stained #2's writing is well done in keeping the flow and maintaining a believable cyberpunk world. Baron makes sure nothing is too over the top, nor anything too heavily tech focused.  It rides that fine line down the middle.  It's a simple story given depth through proper characterization, atmosphere, and plot.

     Yudris' art flows well again, not quite as smoothly as the first issue, but still well enough.  And I would like to remind readers that he's a newcomer, so he's still breaking in his skills and may need a little time to hit his stride.  Baron's double-duty on coloring keeps the pace and bolsters Yudris' illustrations.  What they do best together is the action scenes.  They look very cinematic and could easily be seen as one of the spy movies they are emulating.

     Overall, Stained issue 2 isn't quite as awesome as the first, but makes up for it with a great ending leaving readers wanting to know more.  Many comics do drop slightly in intrigue for the second issues, only to slow build to a tremendous finale.  I fully expect that will be the case for this series as well.  Every single series 451 Entertainment has put out has followed this track, and every single series has been phenomenal- so once again, I'd definitely recommend readers check out all their comic series', starting with this one.

     Stained #2 is available today! [ On Comixology ]

     Official Sites [ 451 Entertainment ] [ Twitter ] [ Facebook ] [ Youtube ]

     451's Other Comics on [ Comixology ]

     My 451 comic reviews [ HERE ]

*Review copy provided, thank you!


Freeway Fighter #1: Review

     Freeway Fighter began as a Fighting Fantasy gamebook way back in the 80's by renowned creator Ian Livingstone, and has been updated and adapted by writer Andi Ewington (451 Entertainment's Red Dog, Sunflower, and Six, as well as his creator owned series Overrun).  It's illustrated by Simon Coleby (The Authority, Judge Dredd), colored by Len O'Grady, and published by Titan Comics.


     There's no way to avoid a Mad Max reference due to the similarities, but that is not a bad thing.  You can easily tell where the inspiration came from, but Freeway Fighter paves it's own path with a post-apocalyptic dystopia, complete with harsh living conditions and awesome car battles.

     The story begins with De La Rosa as a race car driver trying to match her father's legacy, and shows her to be ruthless in reaching her objective.  It starts fast and keeps the pace as it rockets towards the end.  There's an extremely brief opener setting up her character that brilliantly segues into the "present" (2024) with her demolishing another tricked out and weaponized vehicle, and being chased by others.

     There isn't a lot of story here yet.  We get only the most basic facts- De La Rosa's a badass that gets the job done, and the job here is survival.  We don't know what the virus that killed off most of humanity was, we don't know where De La Rosa is going or what her goals are, and it really doesn't matter.  The sparse story is a commendable thing in Freeway Fighter's case.  We only get what we need in the first issue, leaving us wanting more.


     Simon Coleby's art is highly dynamic very befitting of the material.  Panels move and flow, creating well thought out, clean transitions that both tie the story elements together, and guide the eye along.  Honestly, it's something that perfectly encapsulates high-tension chase sequences of action movies- but in comic book form.
     Making this effect work even better is the fact that the illustrations are really fleshed out with the Len O’Grady's colors.  They are vivid and vibrant for the past, and in the present are primarily the typical muted palettes of post-apocalyptic tales, but with some splashes of the former world, shining brightly through.  It sets a tremendous tone for the story.


     Overall, the issue is just a bit short in length, but feels much shorter because it is so well done.  It reads so smoothly it's like water slipping through your hands- an effect only the best comic books can claim.  Freeway Fighter is in no way a mere Mad Max knockoff, but rather, it's a glorious homage to the grim and gritty, gasoline-fueled destruction in mankind's fight for survival in a wasted future.  It's a quick, action-packed, car-smashing thrill ride that has a ton of potential and I can't wait to see where the story goes from here.

     Freeway Fighter 1 hit stands today. [ For the issue on Comixology ]

*Review copy provided, thank you!


Morphite: Upcoming Metroid Prime-like Mobile Game Gets Delayed

     With many mobile gamers anxiously awaiting the release of the amazing looking, Metroid-esque space adventure Morphite, we are in for a small bit of sad news today.  Morphite has been delayed again.

     Originally set to release in late spring, that won't be happening now, and we also don't have a set time period now.  Over on the Touch Arcade forums, one of the developers (from Crescent Moon Games and We're Five Games) have posted the news and the reason why.
     Apparently the delay is so the game can be ported to "other console platforms."  What's even better news is the core development team is not handling it, a completely different group, Blowfish Studios, will be tackling the porting duties- meaning the main team is still focused on making the best mobile game possible. [ Reference ]

     I've been following and covering Morphite for a long time, and I would gladly wait for the game to get a proper work over than a rushed, bug-filled mess.  I'm sure no one wants this game to pull a No Man's Sky, and wind up nothing like the promises the trailers made it out to be.  I trust the developers to get this done, and get it done well at that.

     My previous Morphite coverage [ Here ] and a couple on [ DroidGamers 1 & 2 ]

Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Realm: First 15nMinutes of Gameplay Trailer!!!

     It's been a few months since I last reported news on Cornfox & Bros.' Oceanhorn sequel, but today they've released a new gameplay video, and it looks every bit as good as we could expect.  The video was captured directly from an iPhone 7 Plus, and is quite stunning.

     Since the first game they've completely overhauled the mechanics making it a 3rd person adventure game instead of the top down previously used.  A very bold and smart move, as there aren't many games like this available on mobile devices- potentially creating an iOS/Android kind of Legend of Zelda analog.

     As of yet, developers Cornfox & Bros. have neither given a release date, nor have they officially announced what systems the game will release on.  We can only hope that Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Realm will arrive sooner rather than later.

     To follow as the game develops check out their official links [ Oceanhorn ] [ Twitter ]


Stained Issue 1: Review (451 Entertainment)


     451 Entertainment's newest book, Stained, is a sci fi wonder in the same vein as Masamune Shirow's classic comic Ghost in the Shell.  Stained is brought to us by newcomer artist Yusuf Idris taking care of illustrating it, and David Baron doing double-duty with this being his first foray into writing, while keeping with his memorable coloring talents on the book.

     Stained is the story of Emma London, a bounty hunter with an attitude and lots of skill.  The book itself is hits just the right cyberpunk dystopian future tone, heavy police noir elements, and it's really quite reminiscent of Blade Runner.  It's loaded with action, violence, and cool technology all wrapped in a grim criminal underworld.

     What works well for the book is the simplicity it begins with.  The writing is snappy and quick.  All the characters sound real and the story flows quickly.  Nothing sounds forced, or absurd.  We get to see the Emma London being a regular person (albeit a bionically enhanced one).  She has to worry about day to day things like the high cost of living- she worries about paying the bills, making rent, and exorbitant taxes.  She has emotions and reactions to the people around her.  It feels natural and grounded in a real world.  Even the little actions, like Emma's evening where she makes dinner only to throw it out because she doesn't need it, but still longs for that ritual as it gives her a bit of comfort.  Conversely, she knows what her job is, and she will get it done- hurt the people, save the diamonds.


     My only real complaint about the book is what isn't explained.  We know something happened in Emma's past, but absolutely no clue as to what it was.  Whatever caused her to get her cybernetic parts, and we know that the term "stained"is a slur, but why that is is not even hinted at.  We neither know what caused Emma's situation, nor why "stained" is such a terrible slur to cause her to react so aggressively to being referred to as that.
     In addition, usually readers can kind of tell where a plot is pointing to for the future, but Stained doesn't give us any hints.  There aren't any leads on what will come next, and though this issue stands well enough on it's own, which does have some good merit, it feels kind of like a stand alone issue.

     I believe 451 did well in pinching Baron from Valiant for his previously untapped writing talents.  We know he could more than pull his weight with coloring with his outstanding work on big titles like Divinity, Doctor Mirage, and Bloodshot Reborn.  So this is one of those cases where utilizing a creative person's other abilities is a good turn.
     As for Idris' illustrations, I'll cut him some slack.  He is a relative rookie, and there's some small things that change appearance, like the looks of a couple faces, but they are small annoyances.  His style fits the book, and as such, it works really well- making him someone to watch.  He actually reminds me a lot of early Bryan Hitch (Marvel's The Ultimates) before his style become ultra cinematic, or even a bit like Travis Charest before he hit his stride with Wildcats.  What I'm trying to say is, Yusef Idris is definitely an artist to keep your eyes on.

     I've said it numerous times before, and I'll say it yet again, 451 has yet to have a bad series.  Stained is no different, it's off to a great start, and I eagerly await what's to come for our rebellious bounty hunter friend and finding out what makes someone "stained."  In a market over-saturated with science fiction bounty hunter stories this book stands out due to the fact the main protagonist is so damned well written.  Emma feels like a real person, and because of that I want to keep reading just to see what she'll end up doing in the next issue, and what new and dangerous cases she'll come across.  Stained is an easy book to recommend, so go check it out.

     Stained #1 will be available this Wednesday, May 3rd.

     Official Sites [ 451 Entertainment ] [ Twitter ] [ Facebook ] [ Youtube ]

     451's Comics on [ Comixology ]

     My 451 comic reviews [ HERE ]

*Review copy provided, thank you!


RiME Gets a Release Date!

     RiME has had a rocky production since its announcement at the at Sony's Gamescom 2013 Press Conference, but Tequila Works' game has finally received a set release date!

     Rime appears to be an amalgam of Journey, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, and the Team Ico games and set on a strange Myst-like island.  The story is of a boy needing to find a way off the island and away from its terrible curse.

     What has me most excited is that it sounds like the game has a few procedurally generated elements, or it may change depending on how you play it.  In an interview with Polygon, the game's creator, Raúl Rubio Munárriz, said, "-"Every time you explore this island or islands you are going to experience it differently."  So not only might there be more than just one island, but it changes.
     Going on he says:
     "The island is a paradise, but that does not mean that what you see at the start is the same as what you see at the end. This is not a game about black and white. It is not about good and evil. We are trying to play with what the player takes for granted. This is a puzzle adventure game but that doesn't mean that you are going to enter houses and start gathering stuff. I see this environment, it is beautiful, but something is wrong. Who built this?"
     RiME will arrive on PC, PS4, and XBox One on May 26th, and at a later date for the Nintendo Switch.

     I also wonder if odd capitalization on the name probably has ties to the tower featured in the game.

     For related posts [ Rime ]

Streets of Rogue: Short Review

     I've had my eye on developer tinyBuild's gem of a game called Streets of Rogue since last September, and this weekend I finally got to it.  Taking a top down rogue-like approach to stealth shooters, the game is a procedurally-generated sandbox world game tasking players with completing a series of missions in each level on a quest as a member of a resistance.

     How you complete those missions is completely up to you.  Need to steal a tooth from a safe? You can set off the alarms, poison the air supply, bribe guards, or just smash your way through the walls.  What amazes me is the sheer absurdity of what you can do in the game.  Considering there's 40 characters (not all unlocked initially) there's a lot of opportunity.
     So a hacker can hack computers to open doors and not rudely read peoples' emails, doctors may tranquilize someone, and soldiers can blast their way through mobs of people, where a scientist might use a shrink ray or a growth serum to get the job done.
     Though each character also suffers a deficit in some area so they aren't all powerful.  As the gorilla, I was really tough and strong, but couldn't speak English and it eliminated the possibility of  talking to any other characters (other gorillas would follow me however).

Nobody expects a gorilla with a hard hat and a wrench to be the bad guy.
     The only negative I've found with Streets of Rogue is the multiplayer is all messed up.  I couldn't get either local co-op, nor the online to work.  Granted it's still in the early release stage so I'd give it time to really get the bugs worked out for the full co-op experience.

     There's a brilliance in the way tinyBuild has somehow reduced a game to basics, but expanded it's depth of experience that is kind of staggering.  I highly recommend giving Streets of Rogue a chance, it's worth every cent.  It's got great gameplay, great music and sound effects, and what I like best is how brief the experience can be.  Once you understand the fundamentals, you can dive in play a few levels, and quit.  Then jump in again at a later time without an issue.  Trying out new characters just to see how the world reacts to your silly antics is a sublime kind of enjoyment.  Streets of Rogue is just loaded with silly humor and crammed with fun gameplay.  I honestly haven't had this much fun with a rogue-like game for a long time.

     Streets of Rogue on STEAM for $14.99 (get 10% until March 17th- $13.39)


Stained: Awesome New Sci Fi Comic Series from 451 Entertainment Arriving May 3rd!

     David Baron (colorist of Valiant comics' great books Divinity, Doctor Mirage, and Bloodshot Reborn) will show off his considerable writing talents with 451 Entertainment's new sci fi noir title Stained.  He'll be pulling double duty, and will still be coloring the book himself, while Yusuf Idris handles the illustration side of things.

     "Meet Emma London: recovery artist and bounty hunter for hire. She is strong, possibly indomitable, and did we mention...part machine. 
     Emma is the type that dives head first into things that most wouldn’t and shouldn’t. Those dark places that no one else will go to track down the subhuman criminals lurking in the underbelly of society and brings them to justice. STAINED first comes to life with Emma trying to take down a pair of international diamond smugglers. Emma's story explodes forward when initially what was thought to be a hunt for priceless painting with a record high bounty, leads her to something darker and more monstrous than she could have ever imagined."
     Stained looks like it might give Masamune Shirow's classic Ghost in the Shell a run for its money.  The book has definitely nailed the cyberpunk dystopian future tone properly.  It's also got action, its got violence, and its got a whole lot of a Blade Runner feel to it- which is always a good thing.  It means the book is being handled right.

     And it doesn't hurt that the trailer is spectacularly done for a comic book!  Seriously, 451 Entertainment has yet to have a dud of a comic.  Every single series they've published is great, and this is just one more to add to that number.

     Stained #1 hits store shelves on May 3rd.

     Official Sites [ 451 Entertainment ] [ Twitter ] [ Facebook ] [ Youtube ]

     451's Comics on [ Comixology ]

     My 451 comic reviews [ HERE ]

STYX: Shards of Darkness Launch Trailer!

    The highly anticipated follow up to the tremendous Styx: Master of Shadows, Shards of Darkness, is finally arriving next week and we get an all new launch trailer to whet our appetites!

     Cyanide Studios' stealthy goblin assassin returns with a new mission- steal the scepter of an ambassador for a mysterious new human named Helledryn.  The reward for this dangerous task?  An absurd amount of Amber- the highly addictive source of his strange powers.

     Armed with his trusty blade, creative new ways to kill people, some reliable old supernatural skills, and even some new co-op play- Styx will need all the stealth and snark he can muster to achieve his goal to make it through a web of deadly intrigue in this world of dark fantasy cloak-and-dagger.

     Styx: Shards of Darkness launches Tues. Mar. 14th.

     Related posts [ STYX ]


Dark Souls 3: The Ringed City: New Screenshots Revealed

     With a mere 3 weeks until the release of the final Dark Souls 3 DLC content, The Ringed City, we are sure to get tons of teaser hype.  Today Bandai-Namco and From Software have given us a bunch of new images and snippets of text to whet our appetites.

An ancient city that has sunken under darkness.
Many things have sunken, but at the same time, many have arose.

Because there may be spoilers contained in the images and descriptions click to continue:


Warner Bros.' DC Films: Quick Thoughts About Comics Looking Towards R-Rated Films

     After ignoring what fans have been bitching about for years, the box office numbers of Fox's Deadpool film, and last weekend's Logan raking in huge numbers, have made some studios rethink the ratings on their own films.  Deadpool had over $130 million just for the opening weekend.
     The Wrap reports that an Insider at Warner Bros.' DC Films recently said that, "With the right character(s)" they would definitely make an R-rated film.  A "100% yes," they would consider making a more adult oriented movie.

     Granted there have been previous R-rated superhero films such as Blade, Kickass, and Watchmen, but I worry that the studio goal is to simply make money, without putting in the effort to understand why Deadpool and Logan are doing so damn well at the box office.
     DC Comics in film has generally been handled very poorly.  Zack Snyder doesn't seem to grasp what makes these iconic characters important and lasting, and the result can be clearly seen in the vast difference between the abominable Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and Christopher Nolan's tremendous Batman: The Dark Knight.  Would making BvS: Dawn of Justice an R-rated film give it the boost it needed?  Not really, as the extended version showed.  It was a better version than the theatrical cut, but it still fell short of what is should've been.  They need to learn character insight before a rating will make a difference.  Deadpool nailed the character, and Logan got it almost 100% right- it made a giant leap forward and I think the first 2/3 is amazing and then it falters a bit.  What is important with Logan is they learned that they need to make a good film first, then add the R, as I'd been complaining about for years.  It's why X-Men: Apocalypse was garbage, they didn't make a good story.

     Not every comic book movie needs the grittier reboot.  The rating doesn't matter if the writers and directors don't "get it."  Look at how shitty the first two Wolverine films were.  As the Insider mentions, with the right character an R rating could do very well.  Ben Affleck's Batman in the right hands could be an R rated masterpiece.  Think of Casino or Goodfellas with the Batman- a hardcore crime story filled with the mob focused villains, and maybe a very serious take on the Riddler.  It could be absolutely astounding, but I doubt it would work with Snyder a the helm.  He lacks the fundamental knowledge of the underlying significance of these characters.  We need a Scorsese leading the project, something handled by people that understand more than a simple good looking shot.  They have to know what makes the stories and characters matter, and in the end it needs to come down to substance over spectacle.

     Source [ The Wrap ]

Red Dog: Issue 3 Review (451 Entertainment)


     Red Dog, 451 Entertainment's newest series, is brought to us by writer/creator Rob Cohen (director of The Fast and the Furious, XXX, and- one of my top 3 favorite films of all time- Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story) and adapted by Andi Ewington (writer of 451's  Sunflower and Six, as well as his tremendously entertaining self-published series Overrun).  With this new issue Alex Cormack takes over illustration duties for Rob Atkins, although the coloring is still handled superbly by John Rauch.


     Kyle's had a rough life.  Being the only kid on an inhospitable mining colony on the planet Kirowan is tough, but it's even tougher when you are living in the shadow of a former sibling and your only friend is a robot dog named Q.  Luckily for Kyle, his newest Birthday gift from his inventor Uncle was 5 more robot dogs.
     After getting his 5 new canine companions, Kyle steals a bunch of miscellaneous stuff to customize the looks of all the dogs, which swiftly gets him into trouble.  The colony's council decides Kyle can keep the stuff he stole, and the dogs may be kept, but he has to work off the debt- in short they think he needs to grow up.  Kyle takes this in stride and sets out to work, but during a play break with the dogs, Red Dog accidentally escapes the protective dome the colonists live in during a time when the natives are on a hunt.
     Kyle's decision to venture into the desolate environment of Kirowan to find the titular Red Dog sets in motion a series of events that reveal a new clue to the natives' lives and shows that not all of them are dangerous- some may even be friendly.  A group of colonists set up a search party, Kyle and the dogs get into danger, and circumstances take a very dark turn and some characters might not make it back alive.


     The new art style is a welcome change, it isn't too harsh of a change, and the lighter style makes Kyle's youth more apparent.  It also helps make individual characters more distinct, because at times it was a bit unclear previously.
     On it's own, this issue feels much more like a calm breath before the storm to come, but I mean that in a good way.  Red Dog issue 3 reads like a great segue to the future, it points to a monumental finale.  The writers are definitely setting up some big things for the final 3 issues.  We haven't gotten any more hints towards a big reveal about Kyle's relationship to his brother from issue 2, or of the huge implications about the 23rd century discovery of the time-travelling element Imperium the mining colony is after.   Both have taken a back seat to Kyle's story of heading into the desert while the war of Kirowan's natives on the outside is ramping up.  The book is shifting gears looking more towards survival with a journey into the deadly alien landscape and I'm quite eager to see where these story threads all lead to.

     Red Dog 3 hits the stands tomorrow (Wednesday Mar. 8th)

     Official Sites [ 451 Entertainment ] [ Twitter ] [ Facebook ] [ Youtube ]

     451's Comics on [ Comixology ]

     For more 451 comic reviews [ HERE ]

*Review copy provided by 451, Thank You!


Cover Up for Killers in Serial Cleaner Coming to PS4 Summer 2017

     I stumbled across this trailer this morning and really am excited for it.  Serial Cleaner is what happens when killers need their tracks covered by a specialist.

     "Serial Cleaner is a story-driven, fast-paced stealth/action game, characterized by a 1970s theme and aesthetics. You are a professional cleaner. Your job is to clean up murder scenes by disposing bodies, covering up blood stains and hiding murder weapons and other incriminating evidence."
     The stylized take on art and setting it in the 1970's is brilliant.  It definitely looks like a tremendous little game with hilarity.

     Serial Cleaner will be launching on PS4 in summer 2017.
          (But can be currently found in Early Access on Steam for $9.99)


Fungus-Focused Platformer Mushroom 11 Infests Mobile Devices March 9th

Over a year after developer Untame's ingenious "anti-platformer" Mushroom 11 hit Steam, the game's spores will be landing on Android devices.

Mushroom 11 takes the platforming genre to entirely new levels with a genuinely unique innovation in the way it handles level traversal.  The game requires the player to destroy parts of the strange amorphous being they control to encourage it to grow and spread in other directions.  The closest thing to this game I've ever played was The Ooze for the Sega Genesis, which was very similar in concept, but Mushroom 11 certainly looks to be a huge improvement over that.

Squirm through tiny tubes, shear parts off yourself, and dissolve enemies to solve puzzles and make your way through a post apocalyptic world in Mushroom 11 on March 9th.


Boor: A Tremendous Indie Sci Fi Puzzle-Platformer

     I've been impressed lately with publisher Badland Games, from their kids game Ginger: Beyond the Crystal to the hilarious and very under-rated action-RPG Zenith, and their most recent title Boor is no exception.

     Boor is the story of a girl in the future that awoken from a sleep chamber by a computer malfunction to find that the planet Eden settlement has been taken over by a rogue Artificial Intelligence.  The machine Boor was created to aide the colonists on Eden, but as with all great sci fi AIs, it turns on those it should've helped.  Boor's reign has left very few survivors, and it's up to this unique little girl to put an end to the corrupt machine's tyranny.
     The girl has a very special ability that allows her to create disposable clones.  They can pass certain walls and access areas that you may not be able to yourself.  They are vital to solving the puzzles throughout the game.  Because it doesn't matter if they die or they run out of their limited life time, you can use them to do a little exploring and scope out parts of what is to come.

     The puzzles themselves begin quite nicely, none too difficult, and gradually progresses to much more complex and tough ones, which does lead to some trial and error moments to see what is working and what isn't later in the game.  That being said, I only found the last couple puzzle-rooms to be of particular frustration, because even after figuring out what to do, the jumping mechanic is a timed one.  A tap on the button gives a short hop, and holding the button results in longer, floating jumps that can be moved around directionally with the thumb stick- which in itself isn't an issue, it's having to make numerous jumps across multiple moving platforms while also attempting to avoid getting hit by the rockets being shot at you.
     If the rockets we're just a touch slower, it'd be much less of an annoyance of having to continually die and replay the puzzle.  It's really not too awful, just something that stuck out as being just a little too difficult for the more casual feel of the rest of the game.  (Heck, there's even a small arcade about 70% through the game that offers 3 distinctly retro mini-games.)

     Boor's visual aesthetic is outstanding with the black, white, and grays comprising the main palette with some things accentuated with splashes of red are phenomenal.  It highlights what's important, and gives it a bit extra pop on the screen.  The design work is minimalistic, but it works very well for the futuristic setting.  Rounding out the experience as a whole is the original soundtrack by Paltian.  The music was good enough that I found myself pausing the game a few times just to listen to it.

     Developer Dazlog Studio has created an amazing 2D puzzle platforming experience loaded with a a downright sublime story to tie it all together.  Boor is one of those indie game gems that I'd recommend to pretty much everyone, it plays well, it looks even better, and it has captivating story that will sit in mind for some time afterwards.

Boor can be found on Steam for $4.99  It'll be 20%  ($3.99) until Feb. 21st

*Review copy of Boor was provided


Marvel Future FIght: Update 2.9 Teaser Images

     After the last update, I was a bit underwhelmed.  I wasn't too impressed with the characters, less impressed with the new uniforms, and so on.  Especially because it followed such an awesome Asgard update.  The small teaser we are getting is two images showing a "New Areas"

     Right off the bat, I'm a bit off put by the fact that it appears to be the same area, from two different vantage points.  It's a small irritation, but it's also true.  Anyways, Netmarble won't say what these will be for- perhaps new dimensional rifts, an Epic Quest analog, new levels, etc- but they will be definitely available with the update.
     The pictures look very reminiscent of the inside of Ronan the Accuser's ship, The Dark Aster, from Guardians of the Galaxy.  It wouldn't surprise me at all with all the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 hype going around.  Granted the film won't be out until May 5th, there's still something possibly there.

In addition there will also now be an Alliance Store with Alliance Tokens.  No word yet on what the store will feature or how the Tokens will work.  Plus they're finally adding a customizable Alliance Emblem.  It isn't much, but it is a nice small treat.

     I'll continually update this blog with whatever info I find, as well as a longer post on costumes and ideas for the game and so on.

     For related posts [ Marvel Future Fight ]

     Marvel Future Fight Official [ Mobirum ]

Dark Souls 3: Descend into the Depths of The Ringed City DLC: NEW Gameplay Footage Trailer & Thoughts

     The last portion of the Dark Souls era is coming to a close, and the end of the Age of Fire is upon us.  This new gameplay trailer gives us a ton of little clues about what we can expect from The Ringed City DLC.


     I'm strangely intrigued by the notion of the fading flames.  With all the Londor story making huge leaps forward, and the fires receding we get nice bits like the last witness of Izalith, the Old Demon King, dying, and then the last of the Demons of the Choas Flame, it makes me wonder if the new game From Software is working on will be a series in the Age of Water- being spiritual successors to this series.

     There's a bunch of things hidden in the trailer, but I won't go over them all- just note that there's probably a good reason they hide the health bars and stuff- maybe enemies using poison or curse or something.  I'm also really hoping they've been hiding whole areas of the game from the video.  Bandai-Namco doesn't want From Soft's series to go out with something small, they'll want a lucrative DLC like Bloodborne's Old Hunters, which was, to me, a bit too small and short, but on the other hand completely perfect at the same time.  Seriously, in Old Hunters, you travel backwards in time through the zones from the time period you begin the main game in- something they never actually say, but you have to realize on your own.  Absolutely brilliant.

     With The Ringed City, I'm thinking with all the rings forming an amalgamation of time and space, that you are descending through this "City of Pygmies" to help Gael find the original Dark Soul- and maybe we'll find the Furtive Pygmy along the way.

     In addition they've announced there will be more multiplayer maps coming, so we won't be stuck in just the bland Hollow Arena.  I wouldn't mind an arena that was more vertical and labyrinthine.  Perhaps even a kind of procedurally generated arena even to keep things interesting.
     Although, still no word on whether they'll finally bring back Cracked Blue Eye Orbs to help out all the Darkmoon Blades.  It would add a whole new layer to the multiplayer base.  They should also bring back the Covenant reward auras as a neat little badge of honor (that would also need to be able to be turned on or off if you didn't always want the visual effect on).

     Still hoping for Velka as well, hell, she could even be the Furtive Pygmy...

     Dark Souls 3: The Ringed City will be available March 28th.


Orangepixel Games: Meganoid Reboot Coming in 2017!

Today, the one man development team called Orangepixel has announced that not only has he been working on the post-apocalyptic Ashworld, but he's also been working on a Meganoid reboot.

With this reboot Orangepixel intends to take the great simple ideas from the original and its sequel and adding as much new and interesting extra content in as possible.  There will now be some story, inventory items such as skills like a double jump to obtain, and a rogue-like element to round out the overall improved experience.

Returning to his beloved Meganoid series, Orangepixel has been working on a new level generator akin to that of Spelunky's.  Levels will now be partially designed and partially procedurally generated, resulting in near limitless and unique challenges to play through.

This gorgeous looking reboot is currently only slated for a general 2017 release.

Meganoid [ Free to play ] or [ Premium for $2.57 ] via Google Play.

Meganoid 2 [ Free to play ] [ Premium for $2.54 ] via Google Play

Source Orangepixel Techblog


Dark Souls 3: The Ringed City: The Final DLC Announcement Trailer & Thoughts

     Dark Souls has been going strong for years now, and Bandai Namco and FromSoft have released the most recent trailer.  The final DLC of the entire series is titled The Ringed City, and touts a new world, new enemies, bosses, armors, weapons, and magic- all at the end of the world, and at the end of the age of fire.

     According to the official description:
"At the close of the Age of Fire, as the world ends and all lands converge upon themselves, a lone adventurer descends into the madness of the earth and uncovers the secrets of the past. As players make their way to the fabled Ringed City they will encounter ancient beasts, a new cast of characters teetering on the edge of insanity, new armor, weapons, magic, and at the bottom of it all, a long lost city filled with new horrors for players to overcome."
     The Ringed City looks like we'll finally get to see the city of hollows itself, Londor.  It also makes me wonder, was that tall woman with the crumbling jar thing Velka?  Regardless, I'm super excited for this last installment, and looking forward to what other games FromSoft will move towards after this.  Though, I do hope this last DLC will offer us answers to questions from long ago, as well as point to the future.  Maybe the end of the age of fire means their new dark fantasy game will be from the age of water Aldrich dreamed of.

     As much as I liked Ashes of Ariandel, I have to truly hope that they can match the scope of Bloodborne's Old Hunters DLC which was unbelievably well thought out and executed.

     Dark Souls 3: The Ringed City arrives on March 28th for $14.99.
          (Or as part of the DLC Season Pass for $24.99)


Logan: Trailer 2: Quick Thoughts and X-23 in Action

     The second trailer for Hugh Jackman's last Wolverine film has arrived, and Logan is looking good.

     The new direction the series is taking appears to be a welcome departure from the pure action of the other films and moving towards a traditional old western type feel.  I have to say I like the girl they cast as Laura "X-23" Kinney.  She seems to have the role down well, although some of the flips and jumps in scenes look like ridiculous wire-work (same for Logan himself).

     All in all, this should be a better movie than the last few, hopefully better than X-Men: Apocalypse as well.  I mean there's a few odd looking shots that definitely don't look "right" (as I said the absurd flips/jumps always look "wrong or off"), but other than that the story appears to be cut down to the essentials which bodes quite well for how poorly it's been handled in the past.

     Another thing I'd like to wonder about is Professor X.  I have a sneaky suspicion that he's "Sixth Sense-d" himself into the mind of Logan.  Or what if he's got Dementia or Alzheimer's- think of how dangerous someone with telepathy would be on that scale.  There's the potential for him to inadvertently kill, mind wipe, or cause mass hallucinations to everyone around him.  That could be a truly staggering story if handled properly.  I won't cross my fingers on that one though.

     Logan Arrives in Theaters on March 3.


Red Dog: Issue 2 Review (451 Entertainment)


     451 Entertainment's newest series Red Dog is brought to us by the talented writers Rob Cohen (of XXX and The Fast and the Furious fame) and Andi Ewington (writer of SIX, SunflowerEx Mortis, as well as his criminally under-appreciated series Overrun), and featuring art by Rob Atkins and colors by John Rauch.


     Red Dog is the story of Kyle, the only kid on the inhospitable planet Kirawan.  Kyle describes it as the "worst place imaginable" because Kirawan is a giant desert wasteland, devoid of water and oxygen.
     He's one of the mining colony of almost 200 souls sent to mine for the highly sought after time-altering element Imperium, and suffers the loneliness that plagues many young people in an adult world.  He has no real friends, perpetually getting in trouble, and always attempting to fit in.  A typical kid.  Fortunately he has a faithful robotic-canine companion in the form of Q, short for Quantum, the titular Red Dog to keep him company.

     After the cliffhanger ending of the first issue, this issue starts off with a large dose of action.  Right away Q saves Kyle from the onslaught of attacking natives.  The insectile race of natives have been making trouble for the mining colony, threatening the stability of the bio-dome they reside in, and they are warded off by some quick thinking, heavy weapons, and a helping hand from a great beast (and nice homage to Dune) from this twin-sunned world.
     Later, Kyle's parents argue, and he mopes.  His father has insurmountable standards he feels he'll never meet.  But his Uncle Jake has something special for Kyle's birthday.  Not only did he make Q, but now he's given him 5 more robotic dog siblings.  They of course get an immediate make over, and shortly thereafter they get busted during some play time.


     The struggle for survival is tough out in the far reaches of space and I'm sure we'll see much more of the natives and their interactions with the human colony.  We can't yet say for sure why they are so hostile, and we could learn a lot in the coming issues what they are really up to.

     There was a small tease at the time-travelling properties of Imperium in this issue with the return of a robot that had vanished previously- making me wonder if we'll see how and when the mass accumulation of it might make its reappearance soon.  We have yet to see it work on anything living, which might open an entire new potential for storytelling promise, and I believe that is what writers Cohen and Ewington have in store for us.

     This issue in particular gives us one very nice clue to the the future of our protagonist.  Kyle may be much, much more than he knows, as is hinted at with a steaming cup of allusion (hint, hint!), a nice conversation with Uncle Jake, and one small interaction with his mother.  I won't spoil it for you, but it is an extremely tantalizing one that directly involves Kyle.

     Red Dog is only at issue 2 (of 6) and it's shaping up to be a tremendous sci fi series.  It holds all the right elements for a good sci fi tale, it has strong writing and excellent art, and keeps things honed in on the true heart of the story- the boy and his dog(s).  On top of that, we've gotten some robots, aliens, and time travel, what more could we want?  There's a lot of questions that remain unanswered, but there's also 4 more issues to come- and I for one am quite eager for them to arrive.

     Red Dog Issue 2 hits stands tomorrow (Wed. January 11th, 2017)

     Red Dog Issue 1 [ Review ]

     Official Sites [ 451 Entertainment ] [ Twitter ] [ Facebook ] [ Youtube ]

     Link to 451's [ Comixology ]

     For more 451 comic reviews [ HERE ]

*Review copy provided by 451, Thank You!


Marvel Future Fight: NEW Now Update Teaser Hint 3 & Thoughts

     With the new Marvel Future Fight update nearing, the official website Mobirum has been giving us nice clues to try and puzzle out as to what we'll be getting.  Yesterday, I posted the clues and what they meant, and today we get a new one.

     The new message:
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Yet another code has come in, and we are unsure as to why Future_ME@mobirum.com is sending emails with images, and honestly, I was kind of concerned about opening them (after all, that seems like a fake email, and even if it was legit, we could've had some strange paradoxes and what not). After opening the file however, I was relieved that it was just an image of a random group of characters. 
I would Frame it if there was any quality involved in the image, but for now, I'll just leave it here so everyone can see it! 
     I like that they are going with a varied set of hints.  First the ASCII, then the simple cypher, and now an image.  The first two messages translated to, "3 New Characters,." and "ALL NEW THREE CHARACTERS ARE FEMALE."  This picture shows characters with the first letters of their names coming down to, NOW MARVEL.

     A clear indication that the 3 new female characters will be from the newer Marvel Now material.  Marvel does like to push things that tie in to their current content. I had previously guessed quite a few from that list with Spider-Woman, Kate Bishop, Medusa, Crystal, America Chavez, Monica Rambeau, Moon Girl (with a summon-able Devil Dinosaur).  Although I had forgotten about Hellcat, and she'd be pretty cool, or Riri Williams.  I also hadn't considered Mary Jane Watson from the Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows series.  But, honestly, that's a horrible costume design and do we really need yet another Spider-character?

     As much as I think we could do without another Captain America or Iron Man clone, chances are pretty high we'll be getting Miss America and Riri's Iron Man, but the 3rd go go any direction.  I wouldn't mind a Kate Bishop and I really, REALLY would like to see Moon Girl (& Devil Dinosaur) - especially because Netmarble has been pushing the summons like crazy lately.  Plus if they made it so she became Devil Dinosaur, it'd be the first time a non-human was playable.  Which could eventually lead to a playable Lockjaw to go with Black Bolt.

     In addition, I'm really hoping we get a plethora of new costumes as well.  Some characters haven't had a singe new costume yet, and others have a ton.  Some of the choices of costumes seem a bit strange as well, like the Attilan Rising Ghost Rider instead of the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Robbie Reyes one seems like a huge miss.

     For related posts [ Marvel Future Fight ]

     Source [ Mobirum ]


Marvel Future Fight: Mysterious Messages Hint Towards Next Update & Thoughts

     The official Marvel Future Fight website has posted two new hints at the near future of the game. Netmarble always gives their player base a series of clues to the next wave of incoming characters and levels, bits at a time and allows us to try and figure out what we're getting. For this one we get some codes to decrypt.

     The first one reads:
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 
Our journey's into the future have seemingly stopped. It seems that we have altered realities one too many times, which has blocked our abilities to see into the future. This is not good as just last month our seers helped us in preventing catastrophic damage to Asgard! 
We have however managed to intercept messages sent through the fabric of time by our future selves, in order to reveal at least something in the upcoming update. We have no idea what it means, and we tried the lottery, and it doesn't seem to be that. Can you help us decipher the numbers and bring meaning to what is coming? 
051 032 078 069 087 032 067 072 065 082 065 067 084 069 082 083
     The second one reads:
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
More jumbled code has been discovered. We have our codebreakers working on deciphering the code, but we're starting to suspect that they have absolutely no clue what they're doing. We're forwarding this code to you, agent, so that you may decipher the code and bring light to the information that we can't decipher. 
     For those of you that do not wish to be spoiled finish reading the post here.  For those that want to skip to the good stuff, click the "read more" below to see the decoded messages and my thoughts.

For related posts [ Marvel Future Fight ]

RiME: Finally Arrives in May 2017!

     I've had my eye on Tequila Work's gorgeous game RIME since 2014.  Through the last couple years, RiME has gone through some changes behind the scenes and now the game will be coming to more than just the PS4, it'll also be arriving on Xbox One, Steam, and the upcoming Nintendo Switch.  Which is great, a wider audience to share the experience.  RiME looks to be a wonderful amalgam of the games Journey, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, and Ico all placed on a strange and mysterious island like Myst.

     The 3rd person puzzle-platforming will help the shipwrecked boy unravel the mystery of this island he finds himself stranded on.  You are an interloper on this island, and it will react to your presence- the island IS a character in that way.  To find meaning, you'll need to delve in and try to solve the questions of who built this place, where is everyone else, and how the island changes.

     That last part is what really peaks my curiosity as the game's creator, Raúl Rubio Munárriz, mentioned something that immediately caught my eye in an old interview with Polygon, "Every time you explore this island or islands you are going to experience it differently."  It makes me think there will be an element of procedural generation, and then further question exactly how reactive will the world be.  Will every decision you make really change how the entire world around you functions?  Can you alter how animals populating the island react by changing what you do to them?  Will the island actively try to assist you in doing good, and try to thwart you from harming stuff?  Can the island fight against your goal?  I look forward to seeing if this is truly how the game is built.  A real reactionary world.

     Experience the subtle beauty of RiME in May 2017.