Category: Microsoft

The house of green and black; anything in general about Microsoft. Look to the tags for anything more specific.

2014 IGF entrant, Shiftlings, coming soon to Xbox One

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Since it’s turned into IGF week here at GameLuv I thought this would make for a fitting post. Shiftlings, one of my short listed picks from the 2014 IGF, is coming soon to Xbox One. The game page exists but there’s no release date or price info just yet.

Surprisingly similar in theme to a few of my 2015 picks, Shiftlings ties two alien astronauts together by an umbilical air hose that’s always over-inflated. The puzzling, platforming gameplay centers on shifting the air between the two which enables new abilities. Naturally, it’s also important to avoid space spikes and other pointy, poppy obstacles when your inflated with life-saving air.

Until there’s more to report I’ll just say congrats to Rock Pocket Games. It’s always good to see an IGF entrant come to release, especially the ones I haven’t been able to keep up with.

An update on Karaoke @ DAM for Japan’s Xbox One

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The post I made about Karaoke @ DAM for the Japanese Xbox One last July continues to get traffic so I thought I’d write an update. To promote the service Microsoft and Daiichikosho roped in prolific enka singer, Sachiko Kobayashi, and had her train up on the decidedly-not-enka rock song ‘One Night Carnival’ by Kishidan. The results are tremendous.

As for the “game” itself, I can confirm it’s pretty easy to switch your Xbox One’s location and download the app. Unfortunately you’ll quickly be confronted with a notice that “communication with the center system could not be sure”, according to Google Translate. I take this to mean it won’t connect to the server from outside of Japan but it could be because I don’t have one of Hori’s generic USB microphones. According to the Karaoke @ DAM page it seems no other headset or microphone will be tolerated. I was so close! I’m sure there’s some way to tunnel or proxy the Xbox One traffic so it looks like I’m in Japan but I’ll leave that work up to someone else.

Once you are properly signed in it looks like you can peruse and preview the entire catalog of songs for free. With plans to add 200 new tracks every week since launch that should give you around 102,000 songs to choose from. Got your VPN tunnel, Hori mic and a list of J-Pop songs you have memorized? Now you’re ready to pay. The rates still stand at a reasonable $3 for 24 hours of access or $10 for 30 days. DAM branded Microsoft Points cards are available at retailers in Japan as well. And at least for a limited time, that Hori microphone comes with a free 30 days of access.

That’s a lot of hoops to jump through to sing karaoke on your Xbox One and nab some Japanese Achievements. But until Microsoft gives the English speaking world a similar product (and with the death of Karaoke on Xbox 360) this is the only option we’ve got.

I’m going to keep trying to get on so I hope to be back with another update at some point. In the meantime, here’s some higher quality screens I grabbed from the Xbox One.

Xbox Avatars, What is going on?!

While the beloved (?) Xbox Avatars had to sneak into their own deprecated little Xbox One app, the party is weirder than ever back on Xbox 360. I spent a few minutes poking around the ‘#trending‘ section of the Avatar Store and found pricey homages to Grumpy Cat, Wrecking Ball, Turn Down for What and more.

You can check them out on the Avatar Store website and even see your own Avatar model them right here.

Boom Ball brings block breaking body bounding to Xbox One, today

Released amid the rampant consumerism and crippling food comas of this holiday weekend is a new Xbox One digital game: Boom Ball for Kinect. I know, it’s hard to think positively about Kinect’s motion controls but this $10 download is like a pleasant cross between Boom Blox and Breakout. It looks like a perfect low impact, low cost game to help recover from the festivities or show off that new Xbox One.

Commander Cherry wants you to pose for him

Ever the sucker for games that point cameras at my dumb face, I’m happy to inform the world about Commander Cherry’s Puzzled Journey. Like Leedmees on Xbox 360 and upcoming rival, Fru, Commander Cherry requires you to stand up and strike poses to create bridges and platforms for a 2D character. Where Leedmees was more like Lemmings and Fru has a gorgeous visual style, Commander Cherry looks to revel in dumb-itude.

Despite the similar gameplay elements they both look different enough to be equally appealing. Fru’s stages all take place on a single screen with an emphasis on puzzle solving. Cherry’s stages scroll like a traditional platformer with glowing pick-ups suggesting the shape you need to take. I could get into both as long as they don’t release around the same time. There’s only so much mild physical activity I can handle after all.

I’ll probably have more to post about Commander Cherry’s Puzzled Journey as it nears its “2015” release on both Xbox One and PlayStation 4.

Play your old tables on Pinball FX2; out now on Xbox One

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“Any available tables originally purchased on the Xbox 360 games and entertainment system from Microsoft will transfer over to the Xbox One version of the game at no additional cost,” reads the blog post over at MajorNelson.com

Score one for Team Internet! When Pinball FX2 was announced for Xbox One my excitement immediately fizzled into disappointment with the news that previously purchased tables wouldn’t carry over. How upset was I? In uncharacteristic fashion I actually sought out an online forum and openly expressed my feelings. Apparently loads of other Pinball FX fans did the same because now our table purchases do carry over. Oh and it’s out now on Xbox One so go play some free demo tables or load up the ones you already bought!

Done Playing: Strider (Xbox One)

It's not sprites but the game has a really great detailed look

It’s not sprites but the game has a really great detailed look

I finished Strider 2014 last week and overall it wasn’t great. As an homage to the arcade original I suppose that makes it a pretty accurate tribute because as much as I love that wacky old Strider it’s not much of a game. You run and jump wildly, hammering the attack button as everything explodes, you and your enemies alike. Peculiar characters come and go in a blur of flashes and there’s lots of deaths caused by wonky animations. Take away the coin slot and drag those traits out for a few hours and you’ve got Strider 2014.

As a tribute to Arcade Strider it hits every point you could list.

  • Hangglider infiltration
  • Constant shing-ing sword attacks
  • Quasi-Neo-Soviet regime
  • Grandmaster Meio
  • Dipodal Saucers, robo-hawks and panthers
  • A big mechanical gorilla
  • Super awkward gravity changes
  • The ‘Tong Pooh Three Sisters’ squad
  • Cartwheel jumps and slide kicks
  • Really annoying air skiff jumps

As a modern Metroidvania game it also ticks off the major checklist boxes.

  • Big map screen that you uncover as you play
  • New abilities guarded by bosses
  • Bosses that are defeated with the last ability you unlocked
  • Backtracking
  • Color-coded doors that require abilities to unlock
  • Hidden collectibles
  • Way fewer fast travel points than you’d like
  • Loading screen hallways
  • Upgradable health and skill meters

Combining both of those lists should result in an amazing game but in the end it’s neither a great Strider or Metroidvania game. It’s just ok and only recommended at a discount price. You’ll get just enough satisfaction from the Strider trappings by the time the frequent frustrations of actually playing the game set in. For a badass future ninja, Strider gets his ass outright stopped a lot. Being shot in the air will send you reeling to the ground, resetting the charge attack you need to deal with the frequent shield wielding enemies. Later upgrades let you bypass most enemies but then a lot of doors are locked until you kill everyone in sight anyways. This cycle alone probably added an hour to my playtime and breaks the pace at which you’d love to keep moving forward.

done-strider1

There are ways to counter all this stuff but the game doesn’t require more than constant button mashing

Boss fights are not only frustrating but boring and repetitive. I routinely died in order to figure out their  patterns instead of being able to dodge or counter until I could see what was going on. Seeing what’s happening in a boss fight is made even more frustrating thanks to the subtitles that fill the lower third of the screen with big banners. These usually cover up Strider and all the lasers and shockwaves flying towards him. It is astoundingly poor design and if the accompanying voice acting was recorded to be ironically bad à la Bionic Commando ReArmed, it fails.

The best I can say is that the game does capture the Strider vibe…  and that it isn’t very long. Sometimes a game being short is a great thing; it sets the stage and lets you play with its systems just long enough to keep you enthralled. Strider offers a few encounters that feel really strategic and fun but mindlessly wailing on the attack button is the order of the day. A few thousand button presses and a minimum of concentration is all it takes to blaze through in 4 or 5 hours. It’s all flashes, explosions and wonky mechanics and while that is Strider in a nutshell, this 2014 edition isn’t as memorable as either a Strider game or a Metroidvania game.

Xbox One gets ‘Karaoke @ DAM’ service in Japan [UPDATE]

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UPDATED 01/22/15: I’ve done some digging, found out how to download the app myself and took some much higher quality screenshots. Check it out here!

Original Post: While I continue to wait for an Xbox One version of the 360’s Karaoke game, the new console will launch in Japan this September with a sing-along service in tow. ‘Karaoke @ DAM’ will provide an initial selection of 100,000 songs and corresponding HD videos with 200 new tracks delivered each week. A SingStar-esque scoring system called “Precision Scoring DX” is promised and videos of your performance can be recorded with Kinect. There’s even a SmartGlass app that can be used to queue up songs and playlists.

Rates start at an appreciably modest $3 for 24 hours of access or $10 for 30 days. Karaoke @ DAM sounds like some cheap fun but it sure could use a redesign based on these very tiny screenshots. Come on Microsoft, get The Karaoke Channel and iNiS on the ball and bring that Avatar-powered Karaoke to the Xbox One already!

E3 2014: A little more about a lot of Xbox One indie games

Chris Charla

Well that didn’t take long! Here’s a list direct from Microsoft’s ID@Xbox page with a little more about their ridiculous roster of indie games coming sooner or later to Xbox One. Most of these fall under the heading of “making their console debut on Xbox One” so if there’s something super interesting you can probably find it right now on PC or shortly after its Xbox debut on every other console.

  • “#IDARB” by Other Ocean – “#IDARB” is a chaotic eight-player eSport jumping jetpack future arena ball game that is as inspired by “Bomberman” and “Smash Bros.” as it is by cans of soda, paint-by-number books, and driving five miles faster than the speed limit.
  • “Another World – 20th Anniversary” by Digital Lounge – Also known as Out Of This World, “Another World” is a pioneer action/platformer that released across more than a dozen platforms since its debut in 1991. Along the years, “Another World” has attained cult status among critics and sophisticated gamers alike.
  • “Aztez” by Team Colorblind – “Aztez” is a real-time action and turn-based strategy hybrid set in the world of the Aztecs. Push on the borders of the empire and manage political chaos with thrilling combat segments, where victory or defeat has immediate ramifications in your burgeoning empire.
  • “Calibre 10 Racing Series” by Bongfish – “Calibre 10 Racing Series” is a spiritual successor to “Harms Way.” The game is entirely multiplayer in a new experience that combines action-packed racing with fast-paced first person shooting.
  • “Chariot” by Frima Studio – “Chariot” is a humoristic physics-based couch co-op platformer in which a brave princess and her suitor carry a funeral wagon through ancient caves, fending-off swarms of looters while amassing riches, to bury the King’s remains in a worthy gold-filled tomb.
  • “Cuphead” by Studio MDHR – “Cuphead” is a single player or co-op run and gun platformer, heavily focused on boss battles. Inspired by 1930s cartoons, the visuals are hand drawn and inked, and the music is all original jazz recordings. Cuphead & Mugman traverse strange worlds, acquire new weapons, learn powerful super moves and uncover hidden secrets.
  • “Divekick” by Iron Galaxy – “Divekick” is the world’s first-ever two-button fighting game! It has made a splash with the fighting game community for not using a stick, yet still retaining the strategic gameplay and spacing techniques employed by professional fighting game players. Now anyone can experience the thrill of fighting games without memorizing complex combos and finger-contorting button presses.
  • “Earthlock: Festival of Magic” by Snow Castle Games – “Earthlock” is a turn-based fantasy RPG where an intriguing cast of characters must embark on a bold adventure to unlock the deepest secrets of Umbra, a world that mysteriously stopped spinning ages ago. The combat features an innovative twist using combat pairs and chain attacks.
  • “Fenix Rage” by Reverb Triple XP, Green Lava Studios – “Fenix Rage” is an inspired, frenetically-paced, challenging and aggressively addicting 2D platformer that will keep your palms sweaty, your thumbs fatigued, and your wits sharp. Gamers take on the role of Fenix, whose village is decimated by a huge explosion, leaving only two survivors – Fenix and Oktarus, a mysterious figure who manages to elude Fenix’s best efforts at capture.
  • “Fibbage” by Jackbox Games – “Fibbage” is the lying, bluffing, fib-till-you-win multiplayer trivia party game from the makers of “You Don’t Know Jack. Fool your friends with your lies, avoid theirs and find the (usually outrageous) truth. And get this: your phone or tablet is your controller!
  • “Forced” by BetaDwarf – “Forced” is a hectic co-op arcade adventure RPG for one- to four players. Intuitive twin-stick controls, tons of intelligent enemies, diverse settings, devastating skills and fiendish puzzle elements. Use teamwork to contain your enemies and control your Spirit Mentor to unleash the power of the ancient shrines, or die trying.
  • “FRU” by Through Games – “FRU” is a Kinect-based puzzle platformer in which the player utilizes both a joystick and their body to control the game. In fact, in “FRU,” the player’s silhouette is used to reveal what lies beneath the world at first glance. “FRU’s” gameplay changes according to the player’s shape, pose and movement.
  • “INSIDE” by Playdead – From the creators of “LIMBO,” Playdead is bringing “INSIDE” to Xbox first in 2015. For more information, visit playdead.com/inside.
  • “Get Even” by The Farm 51 – “Get Even” is a fast paced first person action game for PC and next generation of gaming platforms. It tells two very dark stories of ultimate foes whose lives were bond in some accident that led them both to tragic situations and put them at opposite sides of destructive conflict.
  • “Grave” by Broken Window Studios – “Grave” is an open-world fusion between modern horror and classic survival horror. Fight off armies of fearsome foes that each have their own unique strengths and weaknesses. No creature is alike and no weapon is foolproof in a reality that can shift or change at a moment’s notice.
  • “Guacamelee Super Turbo CE” by DrinkBox Studios – “Guacamelee! STCE” is a Metroid-vania style action-platformer set in a magical Mexican inspired world.  The game draws its inspiration from traditional Mexican culture and folklore, and features many interesting and unique characters.
  • “Habitat” by 4gency – In Earth’s orbit, where crisis is guaranteed, “Habitat” is the only strategic space simulation game that utilizes orbital debris to build the future homes of humanity and where hope for survival lies in your creativity as Commander.
  • “Hellraid” by Techland – “Hellraid” is a dark fantasy action game from the studio behind “Dying Light,” the “Dead Island” and “Call of Juarez” series. The game is a unique mix of melee, magic and ranged combat and can be played both in single-player and co-op.
  • “Hyper Light Drifter” by Heart Machine – “Hyper Light Drifter” is an action adventure RPG in the vein of the best eight-bit and 16-bit classics, with modernized mechanics and designs on a much grander scale.
  • “Knight Squad” by Chainsawesome Games – “Knight Squad” is a one to eight player action game that can be described as “Bomberman” meets “Gauntlet.” Play as a Knight in the arena and defeat your opponents using epic weapons and power ups. Challenge your friends in the Versus mode or play as a team as you complete the challenges on each floor of Destiny’s Tower.
  • “Lifeless Planet” by Stage 2 Studios – While seeking life on a distant planet, a skeptical astronaut discovers an abandoned Russian town. He suspects his mission is a hoax until a mysterious young woman saves him from a strange and deadly phenomenon. A third-person action-adventure featuring an old-school sci-fi story and spectacular environments in the spirit of classic adventure games.
  • “Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime” by Asteroid Base – The game is a frantic co-op platformer-inside-a-shooter, in which players work together piloting a neon-drenched battleship to save space animals, explore the galaxy, and fight evil robots. Deep space is a dangerous place, but at least you don’t have to face it alone!
  • “Mighty No. 9” by Comcept
  • “NERO” by Storm in a Teacup – “NERO” features a simple gameplay with accessible controls in a rich interactive environment filled with puzzles. NERO invites players to explore and experience emotions and feelings that are uncommon in videogames, redefining the visual novel genre and reshaping it in a next-generation first-person game.
  • “Never Alone” by E-Line Media, Upper One Games – Built in partnership with the Alaska Native community, “Never Alone” (Kisima Ingitchuna) delves deeply into the traditional lore of the Inupiat people of the Arctic to present a game experience like no other.  An atmospheric puzzle platformer of wondrous adventure and survival in a place where survival shouldn’t be possible.
  • “Plague Inc: Evolved” by Ndemic Creations – “Plague Inc: Evolved” is a unique mix of high strategy and terrifyingly realistic simulation. Your pathogen has infected Patient Zero – now bring about the end of human history by evolving a deadly, global Plague whilst adapting against everything humanity can do to defend itself!
  • “Pure Pool” by Ripstone – “Pure Pool” allows you to connect to a living, breathing pool hall from the comfort of your own living room. With all the buzz and vibrancy of a real pool playing environment, “Pure Pool” is set to serve up the most authentic pool experience on the market!
  • “Q.U.B.E. Director’s Cut” by Toxic Games – “Q.U.B.E. Director’s Cut” is a brain-twisting first-person puzzler. Using special high-tech gloves to manipulate cubes in the environment, the player solves an array of conundrums – from physics-based challenges; to 3D jigsaws; to platform-based trials.
  • “Rip Tide GP2” by Vector Unit – Get ready for adrenaline-inducing water racing action with “Riptide GP2,” from the makers of “Hydro Thunder Hurricane.” “Riptide GP2” kicks everything into overdrive delivering intense online head-to-head multiplayer, 6 player split screen, upgradable hydro jets, enhanced graphics, stunts, and realistic wave-filled action.
  • “Roundabout” by No Goblin – “Roundabout” is an open world driving puzzle game where you control a constantly rotating limousine! Pick up passengers, find secret collectables, take on dangerous missions, and fall in love while reliving the 1977 rise to fame story of Georgio Manos.
  • “Siegecraft Commander” by Blowfish Studios – Create the ultimate medieval fortress and wreak havoc and destruction on your enemies with tower flinging fun! Carefully plan the location of the towers and walls in your fortress network to outmaneuver your foes. Easy-to-learn strategic elements combine in subtle ways to yield a rich tactical experience!
  • “SlashDash” by Nevernaut Games – “SlashDash” is a competitive party game for up to four players. Combat is fast paced, strategic and deceptively simple. The first game mode is Capture the Flag, where two teams of ninjas slash and teleport their way to flags and glory. Cooperation is key — when your teammate has the flag, slash them to make them dash!
  • “Source” by Fenix Fire Entertainment – “Source” is an adventure game that exists in another dimension. You control a firefly with the power to manipulate energy with all living creatures. However, this world is being devoured by a dark energy that is tearing the world apart, and it’s your destiny to stop this threat of extinction.
  • “Spectra” by Gateway Interactive – From new studio Gateway Interactive and Chipzel (the amazing chip-tune artist behind the “Super Hexagon” music) comes “Spectra,” a fast paced retro style racing game destined to get your heart pumping and test your skill like no other!
  • “The Golf Club” by HB Studios – “The Golf Club” is a next generation golf simulation which offers outstanding gameplay and gorgeous visuals. With the ability to procedurally generate courses and the depth of social interaction within the game there truly are an unlimited number of golf courses that can be created, shared and played with your friends.
  • “There Came An Echo” by Iridium Studios – “There Came an Echo” is a real-time strategy title with a heavy narrative focus being developed for release. The player can use an innovative voice control system to direct their units around the battlefield to ensure a tactical advantage over the enemy.
  • “Threes!” by Sirvo / Hidden Variable – “Threes!” is a tiny game about matching numbers that grows on you. Learn it in a minute. Play it for a lifetime. Featuring cute, charming characters, a catchy score, and deceptively deep gameplay, “Threes!” is a tiny game that will wrap up your heart and mind in a warm hug and never let go.
  • “Volgarr the Viking” by Crazy Viking Studios – Return to the Golden Age of arcades with an all-new hardcore action experience that pulls no punches. “Volgarr the Viking” possesses all the hallmarks of the true classics – simple controls, high challenge, and meticulous design – combined with hand-made pixel animation, an epic soundtrack, and buckets of blood.
  • “White Night” by Osome Studio – In America’s early thirties, explore the macabre past of an old family manor and solve puzzles of light and shadows. At the crossroads of fantastic literature, cinema and videogames, this fully black and white survival horror will teach you that light can be very fragile… and darkness often lethal.
  • “Woolfe – The Red Hood Diaries” by GriN – “Woolfe – The Red Hood Diaries” is a non-sugarcoated fairytale platformer, full of drama and dark twists. In a fantasy-like setting – with dangerous smoke-spewing factories, a charming medieval village and nature manipulated by the evil – we follow the vendetta of a fearless Little Red Riding Hood.
  • “Wulverblade” by Darkwind Media, Fully Illustrated – “Wulverblade” is a side-scrolling brawler created in the spirit of the arcade greats. It’s 120AD and the Roman army has seized control of Britannia. Their goal: march north and conquer the island with brutal and bloody efficiency. The 5,000 strong 9th Legion are preparing for war, but little do they know what lies in wait for them.

 

E3 2014: The Coins in Microsoft’s Couch Cushions

Phil Spencer

UPDATE: I found a huge listing of all of the ID@Xbox games if you want to read a little more about some of the indie games. It’s not hard to find the big headlines from Microsoft’s E3 2014 press conference today but a few little coins always sink down into the couch cushions. Here’s what bubbled up from the ensuing press release explosion.

The Xbox 360 didn’t get mentioned out loud at the conference but Microsoft isn’t quite ready to put their past-gen console out to pasture. Coming, presumably through 2015, to the console are:

  • Forza Horizon 2
  • Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel
  • Ori and the Blind Forest
  • Project Spark
  • Magic 2015 – Duels of the Planeswalkers

D4, the Kinect-centric game from Deadly Premonition creator, SWERY, is now touted as having Kinect and controller support. The four D’s also stand for: Dark Dreams Don’t Die. I’m not sure if I ever heard that last year. D4 is out in 2014.

While Xbox One games like Ori are falling back onto Xbox 360, Microsoft announced that the 360’s free-to-play “online multiplayer action game”, Happy Wars, will make the jump to Xbox One. To be released before the end of 2014, the Xbox One version will include a story-driven campaign mode and support for up to 30 players. I have no idea if those are just the same features from the 360 version.

Somewhere towards the end of the show Microsoft shot off a rapid fire reel of indie games coming by way of their ID@Xbox initiative. The first few listed below are worth pointing out because they appeared on Microsoft’s press site but not in the footage at the show. The rest are coming to other platforms or are already available on PC so I won’t go into detail but here’s a handy list for anyone looking.

  • Wulverblade
  • Another World/Out of this World
  • Q.U.B.E.
  • There Came an Echo
  • Cuphead
  • Fenix Rage
  • Earthlock
  • Knight Squad
  • #IDARB
  • Aztez
  • Plague Inc. Evolved
  • White Night
  • Hyper Light Drifter
  • Lifeless Planet
  • Slash Dash
  • Fru
  • Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime
  • Might No. 9
  • Grave
  • Threes
  • Woolve
  • Hellraid
  • Below