Author: ShawnS

Taking Screenshots as a Gameplay Mechanic in Eastshade

Some of us just can’t help walking around virtual worlds and spamming on the F12 key to take screenshots. It’s more an appreciation of the environment and artistry than a desire to capture broken mechanics, and now that meta mentality is being turned into a game itself.

Eastshade is an upcoming PC game from Eastshade Studios in which you, as a painter, explore a fantasy-themed 3D world in search of the perfect scenery. Plop down your easel, frame the shot and watch as it’s “painted” on the canvas as an in-game, 3D object. What do you do with it? That’s where Earthshade takes its next surprising turn.

The game promises “interweaving micro-stories” and dynamic conversations with its inhabitants who reveal the story, items and new locations as you gift them paintings and interact with them. It makes me think of Animal Crossing with its innocent and interconnected community.

Take a look at the trailer above to see an early version of Eastshade in action. It’s not due until sometime in 2018 but if that seems painfully far off you can get a taste Eastshade with Leaving Lyndow which releases tomorrow for $4. It lacks the screenshot-painting mechanic but will introduce you to the Eastshade universe and its characters through a short, exploration-adventure narrative that can be finished in one sitting. It’ll also bolster the development of Eastshade itself so if it seems like something you want to dive into next year, maybe give Leaving Lyndow a try this week.

Yes, of all the Switch Games, it’s Spelunker I’m writing about

Minna de Waiwai! or as Google calls it, Everyone is crazy! Speller Car

The only game in the entire Switch presentation that sent my fists pumping triumphantly into the air was Minna de Waiwai! Spelunker. It’s not a system seller for me like it was on PlayStation 4 but beyond Breath of the Wild it’s the only thing they showed that I was eager to play.

The gameplay (and stages) look to be the same as in Spelunker World but the trappings around them have been refreshed. There’s a new art style to the menus, a new world map and base camp screen, and the multiplayer lobby looks to be more informative about what gear everyone is bringing. Speaking of multiplayer, the game is reduced from a max of 6 players to 4, all of which can play together locally via splitscreen in TV Mode. It even supports 4 players in Tabletop Mode, though I can’t imagine staring intently at 1/4th of a 6-inch screen would be any fun. I was worried that the game would be local play only but word has it that online multiplayer is supported as well.

Visually the graphics feel pared down to me, lacking the reflections and sharp detail that frequently surprised me on PS4. Forgive me, but on the Switch it looks more like a Wii game in HD. It’s not a knock on the hardware, I think the flatter, more cartoony style just doesn’t play so well in screenshots. I’m still waiting to see it in motion beyond the 1.5 second snippet from the sizzle reel. See if you can spot it!

4 player local Spelunker is a brawl waiting to happen!

Possibly the biggest change is that the game isn’t free to play anymore! For roughly $45 you’ll be able to download the game or pick it up at retail. I am especially tempted to import the game just to have a physical Spelunker to hold and love and hate and love again… and smash against a wall for all the times it killed me. The price tag also means there’s no concept of buying Retries, at least there aren’t any Moon Stones in the screenshots released so far. New players will never know the real agony of death unless they come up with a new system to take its place. Maybe you lose coins or experience and it just takes longer to level up your gear.

But maybe my favorite thing about Minna de Waiwai! Spelunker is that Google translates the title to “Everyone is crazy! Speller car” which is the follow up to one of my favorite games, “Everyone with Sprank Car Z”. If I do somehow end up with a Switch you can expect much reporting on Speller Car after its Japanese release on April 20th (and then again whenever it hits the U.S.).

A Few Thoughts on Nintendo Switch Cases and Configurations

012017-switchicons

The backs of Nintendo Switch cases are going to be so very, very busy. With the freedom to “play it your way” comes the need to inform consumers of all their options. The ‘Number of players’ and ‘supported controllers’ icons are commonplace but now we’ll have three more just to depict the various console configurations. Alongside the boilerplate safety notices and tri-lingual game descriptions it should make for an awfully garish sight. No wonder the front of the box is so simple in comparison.

The above image isn’t from the back of a box though, it’s from Fast RMX’s website so the final iconography could be more succinct. Nevertheless, all that information has to be present and will eat up even more space on boxes for marketers to tell you anything about the actual game. It’s not a big deal as there’s a whole internet out there to explain what a game is like but with most news on the Switch these days, this little tidbit raise more questions.

012017-switchicons2

It’s been taken for granted that all games would support all three Switch configurations (TV, Tabletop and Handheld modes) but could some games simply refuse to work on the go? With the alleged performance drop when the Switch is undocked could some games run so poorly that Nintendo would require them to disable on-the-go play?

If there’s a performance edge to be gained by prohibiting undocked play then at least a few studios will use it. If that gamble pays off — or if demand just isn’t there for portable play thanks to the battery life —  I could see the majority of Switch games going “TV Mode” exclusive. It’s just a thought, I’m sure there are details out there already in subreddits and forums but I wanted to throw it out there in the crazy chance that I’m onto something.

I’m Providing a Valuable Zombie Workout Service

You just don’t realize how much a game means to some people until it goes away. Running Delisted Games has brought all kinds of people to me, usually lamenting the loss of one of the hundreds of games I’ve dug into. It feels good to provide them a page to mourn the loss of a favorite game but sometimes I can go a little deeper.

I really didn’t know how many people regularly used and relied on Xbox Fitness until I got my first Delisted video online. People have been requesting uploads of specific workout and this past weekend I finally got everything recorded that I still have access to. Sadly, it isn’t much but I did get to record the 2-part Zombies workout. Yes, there are even zombies in fitness videos now.

It’s really peculiar. It feels like an FMV game — fitting, as it’s produced by SUMO Digital, the team behind the actual FMV game Intel Discovered — only you don’t have any control over how things happen. Instead, the team of survivors do a typical workout routine for a few minutes and then you repeat the sequences as they rush to a new safe location. It’s really something to see as the cast tries to apply burpees, walking push-ups and high jumps to zombie encounters.

Whether you exercise alongside them or not, those two videos in particular are worth queuing up sometime.

Achieving: Stealthy Steampunk Satisfaction in The Swindle

Achieving: Stealthy Steampunk Satisfaction in The Swindle

I started out not thinking The Swindle was very good. It wants to combine Spelunky with Mark of the Ninja into a roguelike stealth/action game but the finicky controls keep it from feeling as solid and reliable as its predecessors. Nevertheless, it’s got style, an amazing soundtrack and some clever gadgets tucked up its sleeves.

Completing the game in 100 days feels as much like an accounting class as it does a heist. You need to raise over £500,000 to access all the districts leading up to Scotland Yard where the game’s McGuffin is stashed. You’ll never do it by farming the starting area in the slums so you initially have to be choosy about which of the 30+ upgrades you buy. One of them is a teleporter that lets you zip through solid walls, obviously decreasing the difficulty, and the other is a computer you can use to extend the 100-day deadline (for an exponential fee).

I managed to rely on neither of them and was still well prepared for the major swindle… until I boned it up. In the final stretch I slid off of a wall directly in front of the last guard who stood between me and the goal. I’ll take the blame on that one after a nerve wracking hour spent infiltrating the place, but that mechanic has dropped me into trouble numerous times before. See, it’s finicky.

Second attempt and it’s getting a little later than I wanted to be up playing. Once again I gingerly explore the randomly generated tower which, this time, is filled with sound detecting bots that launch out a flurry of thief-seeking, one-shot drones. Super. After even more time with this tower I’ve finally quelled the opposition in total silence and set up a path to run straight out in case something tricky happens after I grab the goods (which I’d never done up to this point). After the requisite pause for effect, I grabbed it and ran on my pre-planned path, completely uneventfully to the finale of the game. That there. That felt good.

The A-rank I was given only made me feel better so I reloaded my save and set off for another Trophy: to Ghost a bank while killing every enemy. It was essentially what I’d just pulled off on the final mission only with slightly less opposition so I had it done in about 25 more minutes. Icing on the cake for the evening, and another Ultra Rare, less-than-1%-completion Trophy was scored.

Achieving: Tales of Pointless Self Reward retold in brief posts whenever we feel like it.