Guild of Dungeoneering: First Impressions

god_topI didn’t know what to expect from Guild of Dungeoneering, made by Irish indie developer Gambrinous. Still, when I loaded up the game and was greeted by an art style that looked like it was drawn with a No. 2 pencil, I was hopeful. This was clearly a game that didn’t take itself that seriously, and it looked like it would be funny, if nothing else. I was right, but I highly underestimated the title. [Read more…]

Tim’s Top Twosday: Licensed Disney Games

Licensed games get a pretty bad rap, and many of them deserve it. They’re often plagued by low expectations and thought of as nothing more than cash-ins for movies or television shows.

So when a licensed game came along that didn’t suck the root, well that was a quite the feat. This week I’m going to discuss two licensed games where I feel the creators got it spot on.

#2 Disney’s Aladdin (Genesis/Megadrive)

tt_lic_1Thinking back, there were two main categories of licensed games that you could sort of count on to be of higher quality: Star Wars and Disney. (It’s funny now, I suppose, considering those two are in the same bed.) Disney somehow managed to have many quality games based on their franchises, and, in my opinion, none were better than Aladdin on the Genesis.

Combining solid level design and responsive, easy-to-learn controls with levels and music based directly on the film, Virgin Interactive really hit it out of the park with this one. To be fair all the Disney platformers on the Genesis were really good. but I think Aladdin was the best of the bunch.

There was also a version of Aladdin for Super Nintendo, but the levels seemed drawn out and repetitive to me, so I never enjoyed it as much.

#1 Kingdom Hearts (PS2)

tt_lic_0Disney showed that it’s not messing around with its characters with Kingdom Hearts, a mash-up of Final Fantasy and classic Disney characters. Taking characters like Peter Pan, Goofy, Tarzan and even Jack Skellington and putting them into a role-playing game? For years I wrote this one off as a bad idea, but when I finally played it, it blew my socks off.

Kingdom Hearts takes you to Disney locations from films like Alice in Wonderland and Hercules and does it with such class and charm that the result is overwhelmingly joyous. I got to see some of my favorite childhood icons rubbing elbows with Cloud Strife and Squall Leonhart, and that alone is worth the price of admission. Top that off with a surprisingly deep and enjoyable action-RPG, and you’ve got a uniquely well done concept.

And those are my top two licensed games from Disney. Be sure to come back next time, when I look at my Top Two Actors Who played a Live-Action Mario!

Nintendo’s eShop Demos Are Shooting Themselves in the Foot

3ds demos feattopIn the last few months I have become much less of a Nintendo fan, due in large part to the mistakes the company has been making.

For example, their recent YouTube policies are drawing fire from YouTubers, and the fact that the new 3DS XL ships without an AC adapter is just plain criminal. And those are just the first two gripes that spring to mind; I could probably think up a substantial list in the time it would take me to find a pen to write it down with.

[Read more…]

Trailer Sailor: LEGO Dinosaurs, Evolve, and Tropico

TrailerSailor-TropicoHeader

Yarrg and hello again to the Trailer Sailor, ye deck swabs! This week we be takin’ a wee look at the newest trailers for Tropico 5, Final Fantasy Type-0 HD, Evolve, and others. Rudders to the waves, let’s get some water goin’ ‘neath us!

Final Fantasy Type-0 (PS4, Xbox One)

I played Final Fantasy Type-0 on the PSP a few months back and was very impressed. It seems the folks at Square Enix had a pretty good grasp on what fans actually want this time (as opposed to the endless shallow hallways of Final Fantasy XIII). The trailer for the HD port shows off several of the things I appreciate about this title, like character design and the raw emotion conveyed in the cutscenes.

This is going to be a system-seller for many an RPG fan, I’m sure.

Tropico 5 (PS4)

I’ve never delved into the Tropico games, personally. My strategy loyalties lie more with Civilization and Final Fantasy Tactics clones.

Tropico 5 looks like something I’d really dig though. The look of the land reminds me of Panau from Just Cause 2 — very tropical and green. The interface for the PS4 looks nice as well, and it’s good to see strategy games that would typically be PC-only coming to home consoles.

LEGO Jurassic World (Multi)

I can’t properly convey in words how excited I am for the Jurassic World movie. If only I could be playing with LEGOs while watching it, I would be in nerd Nirvana. Well, it looks like I’m covered on that front already, with  Jurassic World getting a LEGO game based on it .

Super Stardust Ultra (PS4)

Being an old school arcade gaming fan, I was happy to see a sequel to 2007’s Super Stardust HD, which combines elements from classic shooters like Robotron. The first HD Stardust game hit the arcade shooter sweet spot, and this one raises the bar with more game modes and a slicker presentation.

Evolve (Xbox One, PS4, Windows)

While this particular trailer doesn’t show much more than a bunch of kids running around, I appreciate the style and subdued atmosphere. It really flips in the last few seconds, showing off the frenetic gameplay we’re looking forward to when Evolve launches in a few short days.

Well well, ye grog-swiggin’ lads and bonnies, that’s all there is for this week’s sea jaunt. Don’t be leavin’ me bow all a’clutter now, pick up yer messes.

Drive Any Track Is Going to Let Me Live out My Super Trooper Fantasies

"Let it roll."

“Let it roll.”

As silly as it is, I love the movie Super Troopers. It has so many non-sequitur moments, and one of my favorites is when rookie trooper Rabbit steals the confiscated Porsche. He sports a silly wig, cranks up the German techno song “Bidibodi Bidibu” by Bubbles, and goes for a midnight joyride through town. Every facet of this scene builds silliness upon silliness, and I just love it.

So when I saw the trailer for music driving game Drive Any Track, I just knew I was going to have to recreate this sensation on my own.

The game features the ability to race to your own tunes — and the music will significantly alter gameplay, which is one thing I felt Audiosurf lacked.

Combine that mechanic with intense speed and…

Well, let’s just say I need to go wig shopping.

Diablo III’s First Season Ended Perfectly

d3_topSeasons in Diablo III are an interesting new take on the ladders of Diablo II.

See, “Seasonal” is a specific gameplay mode where players create new characters designated specifically for that season, and characters created as such can only play or interact with other seasonal characters. This gives you access to seasonal multiplayer, but it also means that your stash and artisan levels are also only shared between seasonal characters.

The idea is to level the playing field for everyone and get a fresh start with season-specific legendary equipment to find. It’s kind of like a miniature expansion, in a way.

[Read more…]

Dying Light’s Lack of Music Is Perfect

dl_8_topIn games like Doom, music is an essential part of the experience. If you can’t listen to rockin’ tunes, kicking ass as a space marine just doesn’t feel the same. In the Tony Hawk series, the licensed punk, rap and rock puts you in the mindset of a skateboarding daredevil.

But in some games, music only serves as a distraction. Dying Light is a prime example.

When the game starts out, you’re in the hold of a plane, listening to beepy electronic-type music while you’re being briefed on your mission. The music swells to a crescendo as your mission starts to go tits up, and fades out as you lose your vision. After that, things get quiet.

dying light cityMusic does play in a few key scenes, but for the most part, the only thing you’ll hear is ambient sounds. When I step onto the wicked Harran streets, all I hear is wind and the distant echoes of hungry biters, and that’s exactly the way I like it.

I can’t imagine how different Dying Light would be if it was full of music, even if that music was fantastic. When it comes to audio, sometimes less can be more.

Retro Rewind: Remember When Gamers Went to Arcades?

Source: bobosfun.com

Source: bobosfun.com

If you were a gamer in the late 70’s, you didn’t spend a lot of time browsing the shelves at your favorite electronics retailers. You went to the arcade. These were the places to play games with your friends. In those days home consoles simply tried to emulate what arcade games were doing, because they were so popular, not to mention lucrative.

In case you’re too young to remember, arcades were also a catch-all for birthday parties in the ’80s and ’90s. Parents would load up their minivan with kids, buy a bunch of tokens, and order a handful of disgusting pizzas. It was an easy, albeit expensive, way to host a birthday party. And kids loved it.

And the machines weren’t simply screens with joysticks attached. They often simulated cars, motorcycles, and fighter-jet cockpits. The experience was unique and immersive.

Source: atariage.com

Source: atariage.com

Sadly, arcades are almost extinct. As console technology began to rival arcade machines, and internet gaming became commonplace, gamers migrated into back to their living rooms. A few arcades have managed to avoid extinction, but being a gamer means something different these days.

Who knows? Maybe the future will bring an arcade resurgence. But I wouldn’t start saving my quarters.

Tim’s Top Twosday: Arcade Conversions

ArcadeSome of the greatest games of all time made their debut at the arcade. In this week’s edition of Tim’s Top Twosday, I’m going to showcase two of the best conversions from arcade to console.

One caveat: I’m excluding games that were literally arcade perfect, like Marvel Vs. Capcom 2 on Dreamcast. I want to highlight games where programmers had to get creative in order to replicate the coin-popping experience. [Read more…]

Trailer Sailor: Drive Any Track, Fantastic Four And More!

TrailerSailor-FantasticFour-Header

Welcome again, me landlubbers, to another voyage of Trailer Sailor! This week, we have puzzle games, music games, a comic book movie, and more. So batten down those hatches for another wet ride!

Drive Any Track (Steam PC)

I really liked Audiosurf (I especially loved trying tracks that nobody else would possibly play, like Boots Randolf’s Yakety Sax), and Drive Any Track looks kind of like a more updated, action-oriented version of that. I’m really looking forward to see how this shapes up.

Transformice (Steam PC)

There are quite a few cool physics-based games on iPhones and Androids — Bridge Builder, for example — and Transformice sort of reminds me of those. If this game has a good level creator, I can see this turning into a gigantic timesink.

Also, this has the added bonus of having cheese, and we all know that cheese makes everything better.

Playworld Superheroes (iPad)

The trailer for Playworld Superheroes doesn’t reveal a whole lot, but what it does show suggests a kid-friendly, make-your-own-superhero, Firefall-type game, which sounds great on paper. The graphics look really good for a tablet game as well.

The only problem is that Playworld Superheroes is one more reason for kids to want to hog our iPads.

Splice (PS4, PS3)

There’s not much information in this particular trailer, but that’s okay because we already know about Splice based on the fact that it came out for PCs, Macs and tablets a couple years ago. It’s great fun — you basically have a number of turns and have to build a structure with cells. That might sound kind of lame, actually, but I promise that it gets really addicting as you get into it. I can see this being a big hit on PS4 and PS3.

Fantastic Four

My first thought when I heard the Fantastic Four movie series was getting a reboot was this: “Please let it not suck.” Even though this Marvel team isn’t the most popular group of heroes (Avengers, ahem), they deserve at least one good movie adaptation. The effects look cool, and the all-young cast is an interesting change of pace compared to the godawful duology from the mid-2000s.

And that’s this week’s cruise on the trailer waters, passengers! Please check for your personal belongings in the storage compartments and around your seat before you depart.