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Big City Stories mixes SimCity with GTA Online

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Goof as we might, there were a lot of people out there who loved PlayStation Home, Sony’s stab at a marketing-driven virtual world on PlayStation 3. Since it was shut down on April 1st, 2015 fans have been looking for a new place to meet and play (and stand in lines and dance). Seeking to fill the void are several projects from studios who previously created content for PlayStation Home like Atom Universe and the more specialized Four Kings Casino & Slots from Digital Leisure.

The latest is Big City Stories from Hellfire Games that looks like a surprising mix of SimCity and Grand Theft Auto Online. It may be a surprise to a lot of us but fans of PlayStation Home likely remember Hellfire’s last offering, Home Tycoon. Big City Stories looks to be a total overhaul of Home Tycoon which allowed players to design and manage a metropolis while also being able to jump down to street level for arcade-y action. Stunt courses can be built and zombies can be hunted by commandeering any vehicle that’s cruising around your city streets.

Big City Stories’ major addition is a layer of MMO that lets players invite friends to their city or run into strangers at the local train station; how very Animal Crossing of them. Of course there will be loads of clothing and costumes to customize your avatar which is where the free-to-play game hopes to turn a profit. Hellfire Games is already planning expansions and improvements once the game is out on PlayStation 4, umm, tomorrow! Katy and I may do a little co-op stream once we get our feet wet but if you’ve got a PlayStation 4 there’s little to dissuade you from trying it out yourself on the 23rd. That is, as long as you’re in the continental United States: other territories will get the game after the launch-day jitters are worked out.

Come to Universal Studios, stand in line and pick up our trash

Universal Studios Theme Parks Adventure on GameCube is a title I would never have appreciated on the day it released in December of 2001. Having found it 15 years later for $2 at a flea market, however, made it exactly my kind of Weird.

It’s a game that glorifies the Universal theme parks by making you buy special tickets to bypass the unending lines at every ride. And how do you pay for these tickets? By picking up garbage that constantly appears all over the park, even at the feet of mindless staff members. In this fantastical land of Hollywood magic each “ride” presents you with a mediocre minigame, all of which are unique but not really fun. At its best it puts Sega to shame by offering the closest thing to a home version of both Brave Firefighters and the arcade lightgun game of Jurassic Park. At worst, you watch a five second pre-rendered clip of the Waterworld attraction’s finale… from five different angles.

All it took was the $2 price tag to turn the awkward and simplistic gameplay into a pleasant (and hilarious) afternoon recording. Getting that recording online was the real traumatic experience here. My editing software refused to process the second half of the video so I spent a week chopping it into two parts that start and end at the right spots.

Oh hey, Galak-Z got The Void update on PlayStation 4 today

I turned on the PlayStation 4 this evening and caught an unexpected (although previously announced) update to the relentlessly-anime roguelike shooter, Galak-Z. I’m bummed that the final story content still isn’t available but The Void update did remind me that I 100% completed that game back in March.

With an accomplishment like that you’d think I would be a prime candidate for The Void which adds an endless, procedurally generated gauntlet of stages to throw myself against. But with nothing to unlock but a high score and no story content in sight I was quickly deflated. I played a couple of rounds to get back in sync with the demanding gamplay and fizzled out from there.

The best news is that this update brings the PlayStation 4 up to parity with the Steam version as far as content goes. With any luck at all that final “season” of content won’t be too terribly far away.

Over 4 Years later, Starbound is out today

Starbound is finally, finally, finally, FINALLY out. Let me give you some perspective on my overuse of the word finally. The last time I played Starbound was in the early beta testing period in January of 2014. When I pledged my support to the game’s crowdfunding campaign it was April 2013. When I first heard rumblings about the game it must’ve been late 2011 or early 2012. Over the last 4+ years I’ve casually watched the game’s progress reports roll in, eagerly awaiting this 1.0 release.

It’s come so far from “Terraria in space” and I’m so happy for the gang at Chucklefish. The trailer above, set to Curtis Schweitzer’s magnificent soundtrack, feels like the perfect bittersweet send off as the game launches into retail release. I hope to dig into it myself in streams and videos over the coming weeks.

Konami’s Snake Eater Pachislot hints at a new HD remake?

While everyone seems annoyed, pissed or heartbroken by Pachi Metal Gear Solid Snake Eater, I think it’s downright awesome. Not only are there a thousand things popping off in this EIGHT MINUTE INSTRUCTIONAL VIDEO but the amount of footage from Snake Eater they’ve recreated in the Fox Engine seems staggering. Hmmm…

It’s almost like they recreated these scenes in an engine capable of running in real time on modern consoles and PCs for something other than a slot machine. With Kojima gone another HD remake of the series would be the quickest offering to turn out. The last HD versions are only a generation old and dumping them into the Fox Engine could be a potentially efficient way to keep the series out there while a new team works up a sequel of their own.

Or Konami really did pour all these resources into a slot machine. That’s pretty cool too.