Happening now on GameLuv

Done Playing: Roundabout (PC)

doneplaying-roundabout1

I was never able to wrap my mind around the tricky spinning puzzle series Kururin but I was always fascinated by the titles. It also didn’t help that it was never released in North America and fell pretty low on my ROMs-to-check-out list. So when No Goblin revealed a wacky 3D spiritual successor packed with FMV and a hint of Katamari whimsy I was ready to jump right in. Short story short, I didn’t.

I wound up getting the game in January of this year from Humble Bundle but put it down a few weeks later for another trippy, cerebral experience with The Witness. I’ve been ready to get back to Roundabout ever since and this past weekend I finally did. Naturally, I was 2 missions away from the end but let’s rewind a little farther first.

Roundabout opens with the introduction of the silent hero… person, Georgio. The game never specifically says “him” or “she” and other characters throw around non-specific terms like “buddy” and “pal”. The character is obviously played by a female actress but the story and experiences are vague enough that anyone can read whatever they want into Georgio. It’s maybe the most unexpected part of this already inexplicable game and it was ultimately the reason I came back to finish it.

That’s because the parts where you’re piloting a constantly spinning limousine through an unpredictable series of timed missions can get a little frustrating. It takes a shift in your gameplay perception to even engage with the controller. Timing and alignment are most critical and staring at the spinning car for just the right angle of attack can turn invasive. It’s one of those games that gets into my head and forces its way into my dreams for a few days. I’m honestly not very good with the controls but the game is mostly gracious with checkpoints and never takes itself so seriously to make you feel incapable after exploding 5 or 10 times in a row. Completionists may feel a sting though as every mission has a tight time trial and there are hundreds of collectibles around the game’s moderately sized open world.

Even at it’s most frustrating Roundabout is compelling for the cavalcade of FMV scenes that bookend each mission. They feature a host of bizarre and hilarious characters portrayed by the familiar faces of No Goblin’s game industry friends (and by extension, the Giant Bomb circle). It’s funny seeing video game composer Danny Baranowsky playing an ultra-stereotyped Canadian tourist but the character that kept me playing was Georgio’s surprise love interest, Beth.

It is downright ridiculous that this absurd game of spinning cars and low budget cinematography could stir my heart like it did. Doled out in painfully short video clips over the course of the game, I went from writing off the bubbly Beth to worrying if she and Georgio would wind up together or not. There’s burgeoning friendship, a lovers spat, an unexpected reunion and ultimately the happy ending I was so worried about. All of this without a single word from Georgio and all filmed on a single crappy car-interior set.

Like so many open world games I found myself driving around town after the credits, hunting for collectibles but really searching for more offbeat FMV magic. I don’t know if I’ll ever go back and finish finding the hidden tchotchkes but I am so very happy that I finally finished this surprisingly sweet game.

Earth Defense Force 5 Announced for 2017 at TGS

D3 Publisher and Sandlot announced a new Earth Defense Force title overnight at the Tokyo Game Show. The appropriately titled Earth Defense Force 5 is coming first to PlayStation 4 in Japan in 2017. No Western release has been confirmed but as the series’ fanbase continues to grow in North America and Europe it’ll most likely happen at some point. For now: rampant speculation.

Giant bipedal frog creatures carrying guns! This is by far the most over the top thing I’ve seen in the series. At least one fan has already suggested these could be the as-yet-unseen Ravagers, the alien race behind the incessant attacks on Earth throughout the series. At one point we see one of them leap out of the way of incoming fire and another give a hand signal command, presumably to nearby insects.

New UFO types. The little saucer ships remind me of their counterpart in EDF2: Invaders from Planet Space hinting at more inspirations from the series’ older entries. There are also slightly reworked (and golden colored) dropships that rain down streams of giant insects and a glimpse of a gargantuan, blade-wielding mother ship.

A new monster spawner. At the 1:00 mark in the video we see giant spikes rain down in front of the EDF forces that start teleporting in a stream of ants.

A new map location. A few quick clips show a new metallic indoor environment. In one shot a group of EDF Rangers are running up a dimly lit ramp towards the battle raging outside. In another the fight takes place in the dark interior with red lighting and muzzle flashes illuminating the action.

Physics! Up to this point EDF has relied heavily on the design theory of “just add more explosions” when it comes to damaged vehicles and alien craft. But there are a few glimpses in the trailer of devastated tanks flipping over, mechs falling to pieces, giant alien debris collapsing to the ground and even an ant headshot with exploding skull!

Rain and splatter. It’s a very simple looking effect but there are a few shots of action with sheets of rain falling down the screen. There are also 2 really quick cuts with red and orange insect blood splattered on the ground and environment. We see a lot of this arterial spray when shooting the bugs but this is the first I can remember where it’s appeared on the environment.

Sandlot has made tiny, iterative improvements on the series since it began so it’s not a surprise that I’m calling out blood splatter as a hot new feature. I was a little dismayed at how similar the game looks but there are a lot of surprises hidden in the quick cuts of this trailer. I hope it’s hinting at even more changes and surprises that only we dedicated fans can truly appreciate.

Good Karma, Bad Game: The Music of Super Bombad Racing

Because nobody asked — no, wait — because one person asked, here is the entire soundtrack from one of the most maligned Star Wars games in existence: Super Bombad Racing. I bought it just over a year ago to see if its soundtrack offered any fun remixes of Star Wars themes for a feature I wrote on Original Sound Version. Turns out, it doesn’t.

But I am nothing but a conduit: passing something I have (and don’t necessarily love) onto someone who wants it. I’m like a Video Game Buddhist, or at the least I’m paying it forward for my fellow gamers in search of obscure coverage.

Who’s next? What do you want to see or hear? If I’ve got it or can get ahold of it I’d love to do some more requests. Bonus points if you pick a game that happens to be on my growing backlog.

You can buy Joust again. I also started a new Site

Joust when you thought you’d never see the Midway arcade classic on Xbox again, Major Nelson confirms that it’s been been re-listed out of nowhere. Joust is once again available to buy on Xbox 360 and Xbox One for $4.99. I recorded a quick little video of the game running on Xbox One which you may notice isn’t on my personal YouTube channel.

Surprise! I started working on a new site back in March that officially launched on June 1st that’s all about delisted games. Not surprisingly, it’s DelistedGames.com. It all started with the delisted games I recorded last year and the commenters who repeatedly (frustratedly) asked why their games had disappeared. Beyond simply confirming that “[Name of Game] has been delisted” I wanted to compile as much information as I could on where the game came from, when it disappeared and why.

083116-delistedgames

It’s been fun, enlightening research and it’s sent me into mysterious new areas of the internet to dig up licensing terms and copyright expiration dates. The site has come a long ways already with 90 games fully detailed and pages for over 100 more. While investigating older games I’ve kept the main page updated with new delistings and server shutdown announcements.

It’s become more of a Memorial to the Lost than the simple database I initially started with and I love it. Even bad games deserve to be remembered! So check it out if you’ve ever been curious about a game you lost or if you’re worried about one that might soon go away.

Metal Gear Survive interview confirms Single Player and more

082616-survive2

In an interview with PlayStation Dengeki Magazine translated by Play-Asia a Metal Gear Survive staffer has revealed some intriguing new details. The most relevant being that there’s a single player component and it’s more difficult and stealthy than the 4-player co-op thanks to the swarms of monstrous new enemies.

Further detailing the zombie-esque horde seen in the trailer, the interviewee refers to them as “creatures” and describes the world of Survive as being similar to Ground Zeroes’ Side Ops. That specifically calls to mind the spooky Jamais Vu mission where Raiden has to identify otherworldly “snatchers” posing as human soldiers. The loading screen text for that mission may have also served as a jumping-off point for Survive. It lays out the vast possibilities for life on other planets and with wormholes involved there’s no telling who or what could be sucked into Konami’s new alternate universe.

082616-survive1

These guys have no heads to headshot!

So far it looks like the interdimensional Hoover has only scooped up the remaining Mother Base soldiers, both dead and alive. This sets the stage for character customization which the interviewee confirms and adds that players will be able to “develop your own equipment for your own play style”. And where do you do this R&D? At the remains of Mother Base which the interviewee mysteriously refers to as the “starting base”. So will we eventually move our operations to bigger facilities or was this just a quirk of the translation?

Developing gear and building up a base are the foundation of both Peace Walker and The Phantom Pain with it all tied together by a series of repeatable missions. Survive looks to follow suit here as well with the staff member indicating an escalating flow to the gameplay.

“Enemies will be surrounding the base and may attack at certain points.” When asked for a final comment on the game they add that “we’re bringing the highly enjoyed MGSV:TPP action and following it up with a little twist where you battle non-human creatures alongside a mass of difficult missions.”

Finally, there’s some vague confirmation on just who is making Metal Gear Survive. The interviewee reveals that several Phantom Pain staff members are returning indicating that this is more than just a lavish expansion from the Metal Gear Online team.

That’s a few more answers than we had last week but it’s already painting a brighter picture for me. Metal Gear Survive looks to retain the gameplay loop I loved in The Phantom Pain but stars the cast of underdog dorks I turned into badass soldiers in Peace Walker. I know it’s popular opinion to smother the game with scorn but I honestly can’t wait to see more.