Closing rifts between mainstream and niche, bringing obscurity into light, and the past into the future.
I didn’t like Crysis as a first person shooter. Its pacing was bumbling and ineffectual, its story generic and insufferable, but there were some redeeming factors. I may not have liked Crysis as a first person shooter, but I loved Crysis as a first person shark attack simulator. A panic attack inducing shark acts as an invisible wall so players don’t swim too far away from Crysis’ main island. Wading your way out to the far horizon triggers a dorsal fin to cut above the surface of the ocean, and a great white shark quickly gnashes you to chum. It’s an unexpected and horrifying event the first time it happens. It’s also hilarious. My friend and I would take turns swimming out as far as we possibly could, almost peeing our pants in laughter at the ridiculousness of it all.
In Crysis you couldn’t fight back against the shark, but in SHARK PUNCH you can finally get some therapeutic revenge. SHARK PUNCH allows you to strap on an Oculus Rift headset and literally punch the heads off of circling sharks, exploding them into meat chunks reminiscent of JAWS’ infamous final scene. There’s no projected release date for the general public, but if you happen to be at SXSW in Austin, then you can try a demonstration of the game there. Here’s a trailer for SHARK PUNCH which humorously frames the game as a tool for therapy.
Just by glancing at the geometric aesthetic of Volume, you can see clear echoes of Nathan Bithel’s previous game, Thomas Was Alone. The flattened angular abstraction of Thomas Was Alone is ditched for a more deep and concrete set of luminescent polygons, but Bithel’s eye is still centered on solid and dynamic visual design. Volume looks like Metal Gear Solid’s VR missions wrung through an iridescent cascade of neon hues. A game that’s just as much about color as it is about sounds, Volume is a cyberpunk stealth game with an ear toward the community. Bithel writes on Volume’s official website:
The game will be released with hundreds of challenging and exciting environments, but that is only the beginning. Every area of the game can be remixed, added to and expanded upon. The community are free to take the game in any direction they want, even releasing their own takes on the core levels. This is a game which will evolve, warp and grow as players make their mark on Locksley’s legend.
Seeing screenshots isn’t the same as seeing levels materialize; spinning out of black cyber space into glowing paneled configurations. You can watch a gameplay demonstration from this month right here, and see the developer try his hand at the game’s level creator here. There is no projected release date.
17-BIT announced yesterday that they will be bringing Galak-Z: The Dimensional not only to PS4, but to PS Vita as well. An offshoot of the Time Pilot shmup variety, Galak-Z combines Asteroid starship maneuvering with the rogue-like random generation of Spelunky and Don’t Starve. Raj Joshi, Senior Producer of Galak-Z, doesn’t shy away from marking his team’s influences. Joshi gives insight on 17-BIT’s decision to move the game to handhelds:
Spelunky works so well as a handheld game, and we can’t put it down. Spelunky’s superpower is the extremely rich interactions between every last object in the game. When you’re collecting rocks to dislodge spiders to set off arrow traps, you’re pulling on a deep well of knowledge gained purely by watching the rules of the game grind against each other, and expressing it in a natural way. Every miserable, hilarious, catastrophic death doubles as a big chalkboard lesson in How The Game Works.
I’m excited that Spelunky has resonated so well with developers. If more of the subtle genius in Spelunky’s design philosophies were expressed throughout other games, the gaming landscape would be better as a whole. Galak-Z: The Dimensional is expected to release later this year for both PS4 and PS Vita.
One of the more surprising announcements to come out of Kyoto’s BitSummit indie games festival, the side scrolling mech-shooter Assault Suit Leynos is being remade for PS4. Assault Suit Leynos originally came to North America as Target Earth, which released in 1990 for the Sega Genesis and Mega Drive. You may be familiar with Assault Suit Leynos’ prequel for the SNES, Cybernator, which can easily be found behind a scratched and smudged pane of glass at your local pawn shop. According to Gematsu, “the game is utilizing ‘open development,’ taking public opinion into account at all times.” This open development strategy will likely be nursed by the community contributing to Assault Suit Leynos’ upcoming Kickstarter campaign.
At the Bitsummit indie games festival in Kyoto, Keiji Inafune and Inti Creates announced the 3DS eShop title Azure Striker Gunvolt. If Mighty No. 9 is the spiritual successor to classic Mega Man games, then Gunvolt is the reincarnation of Mega Man Zero and ZX. There’s actually a heavy overlap of devs working on this game and devs who have worked on previous Mega Man titles (including Mighty No. 9), according to Destructoid. It’s highly likely that we’ll eventually see a North American release, considering Azure Striker Gunvolt already has an ESRB rating pending.
The indie scene can seem like a viscous pool of mediocre pixel art at times, and having a pixelated art style that carries some originality is advantageous in the Darwinist arena known as Steam Greenlight.The community voted the visually sharp roguelike Crawl into the Steam library after only one day.Crawl definitely has the aesthetic traits necessary to get the green light, and its asymmetrically focused multiplayer dungeon crawling surely bolstered its votes as well. In the game, one player controls the hero while the others possess the environment around the hero, kinetically controlling traps in their spirit form. If the hero is killed by these encroaching couch mates, then the hero-killer becomes the hero— right where the other player left off. The developers are currently “exploring online multiplayer.” Crawl is set to release sometime in the first half of 2014, and will be available for PC, Mac, and Linux.
The Vita’s premiere MMORPG, Phantasy Star Online 2, will crossover with Attack on Titan this Spring. Recently shown in a PSO2 broadcast, the Colossal Titan will be chilling out in the lobby while characters outfitted like survey corps run around, and even jump on, the steaming beast. Don’t worry, the Colossal Titan won’t be thrashing aroundhis enormous fists or anything, he doesn’t attack. He’s just going to stand there like a giant immobile bald baby. I don’t know if this collaboration matches the greatness of KFC’s Colonel Sanders appearing in Phatasy Star Portable 2 Infinity, but it definitely comes close. I’m always interested in seeing Colonel Sanders pop up in Japanese popular culture. Especially intriguing is the “Curse of the Colonel,” a Japanese urban legend which claims that the Hanshin Tigers baseball team was cursed by the Colonel after fans threw the mascot’s statue into the Dōtonbori river while celebrating the Tiger’s winning of the 1985 Japan Championship Series.
Sony’s heaping generosity towards releasing and promoting indie games has been a well calculated strategy that’s helped the Vita metamorphose into a rolling indie Panzer. Spring Fever 2014 is a promotion similar to Play 2014 in the fact that a slew of indie games will be released each week of the month, slashing 20% off of the regular pricing for their respective launch weeks if you have a PS plus subscription. Awesomenauts Assemble, Master Reboot, TowerFall Ascension, Vessel, Steamworld Dig, Luftrausers, and Fez are each making their way to various Sony platforms in March. I’m not excited for all of these games, but I’m definitely looking forward to Luftrausers after playing the in-browser version of the game last year. TowerFall Ascension also looks like a stellar alternative to Samurai Gunn, and we already know that SteamWorld Dig and Fez are solid titles after playing iterations on different consoles. Here is a list of all the games in the Spring Fever 2014 line-up:
A lot of virulent debates are still exchanged over whether or not the Sega Genesis or Super Nintendo version of Aladdin is superior. Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami claims that his preferred version would have been Virgin Game’s Genesis adaptation, even though he worked on Capcom’s SNES Aladdin.
"If I didn’t actually make [the SNES game], I would probably buy the Genesis one," Mikami told Polygon in an interview. "Animation-wise, I think the Genesis version’s better. The Genesis version had a sword, actually. I wanted to have a sword."
Mikami is so salty that he couldn’t play as a sword toting Aladdin. I think that while the graphics of the genesis version animate with a more impressive degree of fluidity, I might prefer the feel of the SNES game better. Either way you look at, Aladdin is an outstanding licensed game for either system. Thanks to Pixelclash for the gif, and shouts out to Polygon for stoking the flames of a console war that may never end.