At PAX East this year I had the opportunity to check out Secret Ponchos, a spaghetti Western themed, top-down shooter from Switchblade Monkeys. The lush looking art, awesome music and simple premise drew me in, but the addicting gameplay was what ultimately won my heart.
“In Lonetree – a lawless, cutthroat town full of outlaws and bounty hunters – everyone is gunning for your head. Create your outlaw and engage in multiplayer duels to determine who lives, who dies and who becomes a legend.”
Click on the links to learn more about each character, their weapons and their stats.
The atmosphere is what really makes this game unique. You truly feel like you’re playing a Western – tension, itchy trigger finger and all. The music creates the perfect vibe, the colors make you feel all deserty… it’s hard to describe, but they truly nailed that feeling of when you were a little kid playing cowboys and Indians – ducking behind couches and peering around for enemies, reloading your imaginary six shooter – it’s all there.
Players can choose from six different characters with their own special moves and weapons. Each character has a primary and secondary weapon, and each weapon has a primary and special attack. You use the left stick to move around and the right stick to aim, with a cool shadowy line showing you where the bullet will strike. It takes a little getting used to at first, because you also have to make sure your weapon is drawn and aimed before you can attack, meaning you have to be a quick thinker to avoid death until you gain muscle memory.
The unique weapons and attacks of the characters really add a level of complexity to the simple gameplay, causing you to sacrifice certain advantages for others. For example, I played The Killer, and while my gun was pretty strong, I had to reload constantly. I tried to compensate by throwing my knife, only to find that I had to wait for the knife to “come back” before I could throw it again. Apparently, I should have been using it to stab instead of using my special attack. I tried to re-compensate by dodging all over the place, only to find that I was depleting my stamina bar. It became readily apparent that this seemingly simple game had much more nuance than I originally thought. There is also a lovely line-of-sight mechanic that let my opponents disappear completely if they hid somewhere. I think this contributed to that feeling of being little and playing cowboys and Indians… I really didn’t know where my enemies would turn up and the tension was excellent!
The multiplayer modes are fast-paced and just the right amount of challenging. There are four modes: one v. one, two v. two, four v. four and eight player free-for-all. Creative Director Yousuf Mapara said the team hopes to add more game modes if time permits.
I spoke with Eduardo Echeverria, the interface developer, who told me that the game will allow you to customize your character as you gain a reputation, essentially allowing you to create your own outlaw. He also revealed that they are developing a female character, when I mentioned the lack of ladies. Check her out looking slightly androgynous as a matador:
When I asked about the motivation behind the game, Echeverria looked me in the eye and said: SoulCaliber. You see, the developers used to play a lot of SoulCaliber, and they really loved how the game was easy to get into but had a depth of strategy for more experienced players. They wanted to create a game like that. What they ended up with has been compared to League of Legends, Street Fighter 2 and Team Fortress. In other words, this game is lined up to be ridiculous fun.
Secret Ponchos is slated for PS3 and 360 release only at this time.
One of the latest Kickstarter games comes from one of gaming’s most venerable legends: Richard Garriott de Cayeux, better known as Lord British.
Today, the man behind the Ultima series, an RPG series dating from the 1970s which broadly influenced RPG design in North America, Japan, and Europe, launched a Kickstarter for a project currently known as Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues. It is not an Ultima title, strictly speaking, since Electronic Arts holds the copyright to the Ultima series and Garriott is no longer involved with EA. Portalarium, Lord British’s current development studio, has set a goal to raise US $1,000,000 within 30 days on Kickstarter. As of this writing, 6,344 backers had raised a total of US$344,837, after one day. The game’s primary platform is the PC, although Portalarium has also expressed interest in making it playable on mobile platforms.
The game will be an episodic fantasy RPG with 3-D graphics, however, the developers promise that within the fantasy world, you will not be limited to cracking skulls and racking up loot, as the game will eschew the traditional class system. A robust crafting system, inspired by Minecraft according to Garriott de Cayeux’s video feed, is planned. The game is described as a multiplayer RPG with a persistent world in which your friends can join you, but is not an MMORPG as it is traditionally understood by most gamers.
As with most Kickstarters, larger pledges earn larger rewards. Smaller pledges earn beta access and digital copies, larger pledges earn physical trinkets and cameos in the game, and the truly dedicated ($10,000!) will be treated to a tour of Britannia Manor, Garriott’s home in Austin, Texas with Garriott himself, and an ultra-rare physical copy of Garriott’s first RPG, Akalabeth.
The estimated release date, according to the game’s Kickstarter page, is October 2014.
Mahjong is a game that most people by now have played or at least have heard of. The game involves of different tiles and the goal is to match them all up to clear the game. The game is widely available, in fact most people play this at work when they should be working, since it’s available in most computers. This game finally came to the PS3 back in 2009.
Mahjong has been around for quite sometime and is generally known as a time killer in China. As stated earlier, you start with a stack of mahjong tiles that have icons as well numbers that are in a certain shape or pattern. These tiles are to be matched up with each other and removed from gameplay. The concept is very easy just continue doing this until the board game is complete and cleared out.
The controls can be a little frustrating. The cursor is pretty much the same cursor you see on a computer, but the PS3 controller is nowhere near as precise as a mouse, obivously. As you can see from the video, when you move the pointer with your D-pad or your left joystick the selector doesn’t snap to the tiles. Instead you are having to navigate to each tile individually. It would have been a lot easier to have your arrow glide past the block and just scroll to each one. You need to micromanage and adjust for every…. single… move.
The developers of the game where able to give it a nice little twist, they took something that was old and gave it a new fresh look and concept. It features five parables that are told through nine chapters and narrated storybook cutscenes. After getting a piece of the story, you play a game of mahjong to advance to the next scene, which is a static background with the characters and objects moving around on top of the image, but it fails a bit. Example, the quality of the narration is bad. It’s one guy narrating the stories, and sounds tinny and echoy or far away. Also, the art is pretty plain and simple.
I liked that game, burned time. Which is what I would need when I was bored. Although I really can’t recommend to download this one. This game has plenty of potential if the story line, graphics and sound were a bit better. Not to mention the controls. The music is relaxing and calming. Once again as I stated in my Super Stardust HD review, this was one of those games that I downloaded mainly for the trophies.
Cherry Tree Comedy Club is the type of Japanese game you never see brought over to English audiences because it’s a type of game rather obscure to the action seeking video game audiences here (at least what you’d think it’s what they are from video game developer decisions), a visual novel, what makes it even more unique is it comes from a small doujin group known as 773.
You are Miley Verisse, the school’s goofball, and your ultimate dream is to become the next great stand up comic to come out of your high school and to get closer to that goal you aspire to revive the CTHCC, the comedy club founded by the famous comedy duo The Grinmeisters. So far you and your best friend are the sole members of the comedy club and you need a minimum of five founding members to create an official school club, so your goal is to recruit at least three more students to get your club up and running. Of course you have your arch nemesis and former friend Octavia Richmond trying to see that it doesn’t get to happen. Via social interaction and coordinating your daily activities, you work towards becoming close friends with potential recruits until they decide to join.
CTHCC is unlike a typical visual novel considering you manipulate your character strategically to achieve the goal of the game. Visual novels tend to be pure dialogue as the story is already made up for the player and the only interaction the player will get goes along the lines of, do action A or action B, and after that the story goes on. This game has you move your character as an 8 bit version of themselves throughout Cherry Tree Town and doing whatever the hell they want (sometimes only if she has the money for it).
There are about four things Miley can do. One of the most important things is she can do several activities to increase her expertise on select subjects, video games, romance, whodunnits, fashion, music, sports, art, travel, history, pets, politics, and cooking. Getting expertise on subjects is of primal importance because the best way to quickly advance the relationship you have with the characters is by discussing subjects with them, but be careful, characters can either love, like, feel neutral, or dislike a subject, and the best way to figure out their feelings on them to select the right conversations is to occasionally chat with them and get notes about it on their profiles. Now knowledge can be gained in a variety of ways whether it’s through reading, watching something, or going to various locations, but the options are as endless as the cash to accomplish some of these activities is limited. You go up to level 5 at the highest for each category starting from this.
The second activity Miley can do is earn money. One of the easiest way to earn it is to run around town and look for yellow circles on the floor. You can get a bottle you’ll collect and once you collect 10 turn them into your dorm manager for a bit of cash. Sometimes you’ll get an old discarded magazine and get a free boost from whatever category it covers, a great free advancement…. or if you’re really unlucky dog poop, but whatever. The only other “jobs” Miley has is making jewelry, cleaning up at a shrine, and later on in the game help at organizing an art museum. But watch your fatigue or Miley screws up whatever she’s doing.
The single most important action however is interacting with other characters, some just drop from the sky while others have to be discovered. I didn’t discover the last character until playing a second time and actually chatting with Harriet Sinclair, the only friend in the club with me. Choose your conversation topics and give them time to chat idly in school and over the phone because the deadline will be close before you know it.
The fourth thing and definitely the last thing you want Miley to do is have her waste her time by going back to her dorm early. If you ever do that you’ll regret that precious lost chance to do something.
With the game explained I’ll go further into my personal opinions about this game. The translation from Japanese to English has been done in a Phoenix Wright fashion, with the story localized in America and with the script occasionally changed to make references and jokes any English gamer can understand. I’m usually against localizing because sometimes I find it extremely unnecessary to deny the fact a game takes place in Japan, but because this series centers around stand up comedy and I’m sure Japanese people don’t know who the hell Dane Cook is any more than we know their stand up comics so it’s fair use. They did a pretty good job explaining why there was a shrine in America and they changed a character’s background pretty well. Basically an air headed foreigner’s ethnicity was changed from American to Swedish, however if you play the game with this knowledge it might be painful seeing how other countries view Americans.
The humor in this game is pretty nice, Miley Verisse is basically the type of overly excited girl often seen in anime and manga, and as a result some pretty funny stuff comes out of her. Also some outrageous shenanigans and subtle manipulation occurs, keep the every day aspect of the game interesting.
Miley’s comment afterward: Those were all rumors I started myself!
The characters you recruit in this game in general are very multi- dimensional and have a story that comes with them. As you get to learn more about them they start revealing themselves to you and you begin to understand them more. It’s sad that Miley on the other hand is more of what I call a “simulation character” on that aspect, a character who is rather undefined compared to the others so the player can feel it’s them in the story. It’s sad you only learn about the person who’s had the most impact on Miley’s life from Harriet and she doesn’t break out from her genki mold even in serious moments.
MILEY WIPE THAT EXPRESSION OFF YOUR FACE DAMMIT.
As for the look and feel of the game it’s very smooth. The background is charming, but a bit too simple in some parts. My only real complain is that I can’t play this game full screen and I’m restricted to a small window. I’ve read many other reviews complaining about the music but I personally like it and always keep it on while playing the game. Different atmospheres and scenes also changes the music so it doesn’t get very repetitive. The controls are simple and allow me what I want to do, all you’ll need to play are your arrow keys, enter, and escape, just perfect.
This game makes it easier to attain the best ending by saving your info on likes and dislikes of potential recruits as well as all the gains you’ve made with your repertoire. I still haven’t attained it, but I know it’ll be worth it. Honestly I really want a second Cherry Tree High Comedy Club game where you manage the club that time around, but whether or not that’ll happen depends on the support the game gets. Here’s my first ending.
And with that I give Cherry Tree High Comedy Club an 8/10.
Our friends at Urgent Fury and Brady Games are hosting two weeks of tournaments for Starhawk on the PlayStation 3.
Introducing the Urgent Fury Dust Tournament.
Dust is a Starhawk® tournament series designed to give teams an enhanced experience competing online in a cheat free and respectful environment. Each team will battle it out online in eight versus eight matches, preparing their teams for an upcoming Scenario Based TacMap Tournament to be held this summer. Prizes and additional sponsors will be announced at a later date. The Tournament starts in August, but you have to be pre qualified before you can jump in. Slots are filling up quickly, so you need to get over to Urgent Fury and get your information in.
Urgent Fury is one of the best Tournament communities on the net today. For seven years they has had a reputation of providing an excellent tournament experience like no other. Using the Scenario Based TacMap Tournament model, They have provided a fair and cheat free tournament experience. These guys know their stuff and we ate Real Otaku Gamer are eager to work with them on our upcoming tournament projects. So go and check the out at www.urgentfury.com and join this and many other tournament they host.
In something that took everyone by surprise, the company Ocean Media has been under internet fire lately. The main reason for the combined attack from many outlets is because of a VERY poor decision made by an employee Ocean Marketing, the company who was behind the creation of The Avenger game controller. In what seemed like probably the most ridiculous choice made by someone in the work environment, Paul Christoforo decided to verbally attack a customer of Ocean Marketing’s website.
Known now only as Dave, Dave wanted to inquire on the status of his order for 2 Playstation 3 controllers from their website, with hopes of it arriving before or on Christmas day. When he received a few lackluster responses from Paul, who at the time was responding to Dave’s emails to the company, Dave began to explain his displeasure of the treatment he was getting from Ocean Marketing’s service. To which Paul decided to aggressively respond back to Dave with less then stellar treatment from a company employee.
Having felt insulted and appalled at the response, Dave responded back expressing his anger, demanding he receive the product which he paid for WAY in advanced. Paul had then responded with another aggressive email, almost along the lines of bragging about people he, and/or the company, knew within the game industry, including dropping names like Kotaku, IGN, and PAX. Dave, after recieving the email response, sent over the email chain to Mike Krahulik, the man who runs PAX and the Penny Arcade website. It was at this point the whole situation got as low as it possibly could, to which Paul had continued to go back and forth with Mike on various topics, all leading to Mike posting the craziness on the Penny Arcade website.
After the post went live, Ocean Marketing started receiving huge backlash for the remainder of December 27th. Places like Twitter, Youtube, and even the Ocean Marketing website felt the power of many angry people from the internet. It had even gotten to a point to where not only were multiple Twitter accounts were made from the fallout, but at some point, it was made public that Paul Christoforo was let go from Ocean Marketing.
The whole situation is crazy in of itself. This is a prime example of what NOT TO DO to your customers in any field that you work in. Sometimes, a little common sense can go a very long way, and save you a very big internet flaming headache.
Read the original post from the Penny Arcade Website — http://penny-arcade.com/resources/just-wow1.html
The Entertainment Consumers Association ( or commonly known as the ECA) is the non-profit membership organization that represents consumers of interactive entertainment in the US and Canada. They are people who have come together to help gamers stay informed about rising issues within the industry, as well as the various communities throughout the internet. One of the many things they do for us is host various podcast that help inform and educate gamers out there, old and new. Their Community Manager Joe Betancourt host many podcast on there, one of which is called Voice of a Gamer. It is a small show where individuals can have the opportunity to talk about their experience and interaction with Video games, the industry, and how it has impacted or influenced their life. On one of their episodes, I was given the chance to shine and talk a bit about how video games were a part of my life, as well as share a few thoughts on the industry and past time we all love. Click the link below to listen to the MP3, you can also find it and all the other episodes of Voice of a Gamer on iTunes via the link below the MP3.
When I first started my playthrough of ‘Avatar Panic!’I had a feeling of dejavu. I was thinking to myself that I remember a game back in the NES days which was very similar to it. After doing a tiny bit of research I found the answer I was looking for, or rather the game I was looking for. If any of my readers recall a Nintendo game titled ‘Buster Bros.’ then you’ll have a very good idea what this game is all about. Basically ‘Avatar Panic!’ is a bubble busting game (similar to ‘Buster Bros.’) that uses your avatar as a playable character, and has you trying to shoot down bubbles with a harpoon. The game is presented in a 2D style with 3D accents/backgrounds. The game features two modes of play (Arcade, Panic!) in which the objective is to pop all the bubbles while trying not to get hit. Milkstone studios, the developer behind this rendition of the arcade classic is well known for their online scoreboard based games. I was pleasantly surprised when I did my playthrough of ‘Avatar Panic!’, and found out that they included online leaderboards in this game.
Avatar Panic features two modes of play, each with their distinctive objectives. Both modes can be played with up to four players locally. When playing with multiple players the score is shared as well as the lives. Lives won’t be subtracted until all of the players have died, and even then it only counts as one life. During my playthrough I played singleplayer, and found the game very fun and addictive even without someone to share the experience with. The really cool thing about ‘Avatar Panic!’ is that you get to play as your own Xbox LIVE avatar! The downside to that is that the avatar is fairly small on the TV screen until you actually lose a life.
Arcade mode in ‘Avatar Panic!’ is very involved when it comes to gameplay, and it offers a lot more features than ‘Panic Mode’. The neat thing about ‘Arcade Mode’ is that you can collect some really cool power-ups from the bubbles you pop. There are additional weapons to gain such as a plunger which lasts longer than the harpoon shot, and even a spray shot that shoots out multiple bullets at one time. Aside from popping bubbles you must also tend to enemies that move around the screen. Ladders are also added to enhance the difficulty in the later stages/levels of the game. Avatar Panic features a wide variety of bubble types as well that each have unique movement patterns to them. Learning these patterns will mean the difference between a life lost, and a life gained. Whenever you pop a large bubble in the game (the initial size) it will break up into smaller and smaller bubbles. If you pop the smallest bubble size it will vanish. There are several different unique backgrounds in ‘Avatar Panic!’ that have a 3D look to them, and feature a variety of different landscapes (snow covered land, volcanoes, trees, stonehenge …). I’m not 100% sure, but I think you can unlock new backgrounds as you play through ‘Arcade Mode’ for ‘Panic Mode’.
Panic mode is a lot like a survival mode. You are given a set amount of lives in which to achieve a highscore with. Like ‘Arcade Mode’, ‘Panic Mode’ uses your Xbox LIVE avatar as the playable character. Your goal in this mode is to simply survive as long as you can while popping as many bubbles as you can. There are only time stopping (Clock), and bubble clearing (Star) power-ups in this mode. You can also pop special smaller bubbles that are surrounded by light to briefly stop time as well. Stopping time with either method will freeze the bubbles in mid-air giving you an opportunity to clear more of them. As you pop bubbles in ‘Panic Mode’ a meter at the top of the screen will fill up until you reach the next level. As you progress in levels the bubbles will increase in number, and speed. While the levels change the backgrounds will not. Unlike ‘Arcade Mode’ where the levels change in appearance/content as you clear all of the bubbles, ‘Panic Mode’ constantly stays the same. Bubbles in this mode will continuously appear until you are hit. One hit from a bubble in either mode means an immediate loss of one life (unless you are playing multiplayer).
In the end I was extremely impressed by ‘Milkstone’s’ rendition of this classic arcade genre. Everything about the game was of high quality. The sound, and the graphics were what you’d expect from an XBLA game. The gameplay itself very is challenging, but extremely fun at the same time. Since there is an online leaderboard for both ‘Arcade Mode’, and ‘Panic Mode’ the game has some serious replay value. I actually tried my hardest to get 1st place before typing up this review, but only managed to get 10th. I won’t give up until I secure that top spot though! If you are a score hound like myself then I definitely suggest this game as a worthy buy. I’m not quite sure what the msp asking price is since I forgot to check, but even if it is 240 msp, or more it would still be worth it.
What do you do once you’ve added working on games like Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, Open Season and Rayman 3 to your resume? You go indie, of course. That’s just what former Ubisoft / Eidos employees Jonathan Lavigne, Justin Cyr and Jean François Major did. These three amazing talents have come together to form Tribute Games, developer of the newly released game Wizorb on Xbox Live Indie Games and coming soon to PC.
The Tribute Games team was kind enough to offer some comments on Wizorb, Tribute Games and the indie game scene. I’d like to share that interview with you now.
Chellemo: Who is Tribute Games? What inspired you to go indie?
Tribute Games: Tribute Games is basically three guys passionate about videogames. Jean-François Major is our programmer, Justin Cyr is our animator and sound design and I’m game designer and pixel artist with some coding skills. We decided to go indie mainly because we’ve wanted to make the kind of game we love for a long time and that was the only way to really achieve that.
Chellemo: Tell us about your current project, Wizorb.
Tribute Games: Wizorb is a breakout style game with some RPG overtones. It’s like a lot of breakout games you might have played before but with some strategy on how you spend your money in order to progress. We wanted to make sure you don’t have to grind like you would in some RPGs but rather focus on a performance and skill based style of game. The RPG side of it, while light, is really just there to help you along, add some variety and help solidify the world in which it takes place. It’s also got some modern touches like leaderboards so we’re hoping that after players finish the game they’ll compete for high scores because the potential for oneupmanship is there. ^_^ The game is mostly targeted at old school gamers but it’s fun in its own right so I could imagine anyone playing it really.
Chellemo: What sets Wizorb apart from the other games on the market?
Tribute Games: There’s definitely a graphic aesthetic that we feel sets Wizorb from a lot of games. It’s a blend of different styles from bygone eras of gaming with our own sensibilities mixed in. It’s also a very straight up kind of game where you don’t have to learn some kind of never before seen kind of game play. That’s not to say that you don’t have to learn a few tricks to your advantage in order to play well but we’re not trying to reinvent the wheel.
Chellemo: I see that Wizorb will be released for XBLIG and then a PC version is coming at a later time. It is my understanding that this can be done in two ways, making a solution file for each platform or using one solution file with multiple projects. Which have you chosen and why?
Tribute Games: We use one solution file with multiple projects since both versions share most of the code and the same assets. This allows us to build versions of the game for both platforms while keeping things simple and organized. In the case of Wizorb, the PC version is already working and is stable, but we need to adapt the menus and controls for mouse and keyboard input.
Chellemo: Since I’ve started writing about indie games, I have felt an increasing willingness from gamers in general to try something new which doesn’t necessarily have the backing of a big name producer. Do you feel this is true as well?
Tribute Games: I can definitely relate, yeah. ^_^ Right now we’re hoping to do everything ourselves and gain as much experience along the way. Someday we could work with a big name producer but only if it worked to our advantage (like helping us work out a release on a major platform). We’ve all worked for other companies in the past so now it’s time for us to do things ourselves.
Chellemo: What can be done to increase awareness for indie games?
Tribute Games: I’m not sure if it’s important in increase awareness for others to want to make games that don’t involve a big producer but I do think it’s important to shine a light on people making indie games. We’re at the point where we are now because we’ve had the chance to make great games for companies other than ourselves. I’d actually encourage somebody to work for a bigger company first before making games independently. That way it almost seems like a rite of passage of sorts.
When I asked if there was anything else he would like to add Mr. Lavigne thanked me for the interview and added this, “I hope that you’ll enjoy Wizorb and our next game (which is still top secret ^_^) !”
Thank you, Jonathan and Tribute Games for sharing your positive insight with us! Good luck to you with your company and all your future projects!
From Untext Film Productions comes an amazing 34 minute short film called Aurora. I saw it first advertised on a website in the body of a post, got interested, and went to see. The result had me bolted to my seat for the length of the film waiting on the next thing to happen. My main complaint: It’s too dang short. I can see so many possibilities for this film, but if leaving you wanting more is a hallmark of success this short simply blows a lot of stuff out of the water. Unabashedly Steampunk, it really looks like it was made in a different world despite the epic panoramic views of the places it was made which can be found using Google earth. The film uses natural beauty, costuming, and modern technology weaving them seamlessly together in a way that has to be seen to be believed.
Critically, the storyline could be considered a bit simplistic, but for the length of the film it fits perfectly. Good Vs. Evil never gets old, and I was ready to cheer at the end. It’s almost impossible to believe that the entire budget for this film was $1800. The actors are intense, and their acting rivals big-screen heroes of today.
The filmmaker states: “We’re HUGE Star Wars fans but have also drawn inspiration from a number of sources like Firefly, Star Wars and Pirates of the Caribbean to create something we hope is fun and original.”
Well, it is. You’ve succeeded! I can hardly wait to see the next film you guys come up with, because this one hit hard and came on swinging. Indie film-making is a tough market, but I really hope you guys submit this to all the right contests and win big. You deserve a shot at the big time.
“After his wife Alina (Nikki Gaertner-Eaton) is kidnapped by a group of slave traders and put up for sale to the highest bidder, Emerson Marks (Peter Rossi), captain of the airship ‘Aurora’ flies out in search of her. With his crew’s opinions divided and the ruthless slave trader LeMaher (Mark Aitchison) in his way, Emerson must decide how much he is willing to sacrifice in order to bring back the one he loves.”