Category: Feature

Let’s Talk About “This Digital Life” with Fwends [Episode 001]

Age-old friend Rob and I haven’t recorded much together since the days of NfamousGamers back in 2009. The site is long gone now but our five episodes remain online, as does Rob’s guest spot on an early GameLuv PodShot episode.

That’s not to say we haven’t kept in touch. Across town and across the country we IM and chat pretty regularly but just finally decided to sync up in real-time to record a new (hopefully weekly) show. Based on Rob’s “Let’s Talk About it” videos, the new show will focus on a single topic each episode, frequently about gaming but anything is up for discussion.

Right now you can find it on either of our YouTube channels (mine | his) but I’m going to get it up on the podcast circuit so you can subscribe wherever you listen to shows. But for now, here’s Episode 001: This Digital Life where we try to wrangle the entirety of digital media – games, movies, and music (oh yeah, and print too!) – and how the move away from physical goods sits with each of us.

Leave a comment wherever you hear the show and let us know what you think or what you’d like to hear us talk about next.

NieR: Automata invades Spelunker World through August

NieR: Automata invades Spelunker World through August

Tozai has revealed the latest Spelunker World cross promotion after a long break from new content and naturally it features Square Enix’s most goodwill-garnering title of 2017, NieR: Automata. The details page is broken at the moment but all you really need to see is that new loot that lets you dress up your hapless spelunker as 2B, 9S, A2, and Emil.

The promotion begins July 27th and runs through August 24th in both the U.S. and Japanese versions of the game. I’m not sure if I’m ready to return to the grind just for some chibi gear but I might pop in to see if they did anything clever. NieR subverts a lot of video game conventions and if they squeezed something like that into Spelunker World I’d hate to miss it. Video probably coming soon!

Is Super Mario Odyssey Nintendo’s response to annoying Mario canon questions?

This scene couldn't be any more Japanese

Everything in Super Mario Odyssey seems designed to rattle even the most absurd head-canon that fans have crafted for themselves over the decades of loosely connected Mario games. It started with the debut trailer back in January with Mario running around in the human-sized New Donk City and it’s only gotten stranger with this week’s E3 reveal.

Pauline, Mario’s original heroine from Donkey Kong, is the mayor of New Donk City and its streets are named after members of the DK clan. We’d seen Bowser in a white tuxedo before with Peach at his side in a matching wedding dress but now we see that Mario is also dressed for “the big day”. So who is crashing whose wedding and does Peach have any say in this nuptial knockout? Finally, just who is singing the vocal track heard in the new trailer with lines like “I’ll be your 1UP girl”? The camera sure lingers on that saucy singer at the New Donk City Festival, doesn’t it? Could this be the end for Mario and Peach?

Is Mario butting in on a harmonious union?

Things are just as extraordinary on the gameplay end of things. Mario’s traditional powerups are nowhere to be seen and he instead utilizes the sentient, mind-controlling tophat we now know as Cappy. With Cappy, Mario can do typical video game things like boomerang his hat around to hit enemies or grab coins. What was revealed at E3, though, is a completely surprising mechanic that lets Cappy possess most enemies and suck Mario into them, slapping the red cap on their heads and a mustache on their face.

Goombas, Hammer Bros. and Bullet Bills are all commandeered by Mario as well as totally unexpected objects like taxi cabs, tanks, frogs, Rapa Nui statues and rocket ships that look straight out of Super Mario Bros. 2. Then there are the scenes where Mario is squashed flat a la Link Between Worlds and things get decidedly old school.

Between this and Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle I’ve never been more excited for new Mario games and there’s surely more bizarre stuff to be seen from both; at E3 and in the months leading up to their releases. Bring it on Nintendo, the weirder the better!

Crossout: Surprisingly Fun Car Building & Car Destruction

Crossout: Surprisingly Fun Car Building & Car Destruction

Super quick pitch here since I’m only an hour or two into Crossout. What is it?

Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts car building
with
Mad Max, post-apocalyptic styling
set in
Online arena battles between two teams

The description bills it as an MMO but Crossout is much simpler than the long-lost “CARPG” Auto Assault. The real draw is the Build mode where you pluck from an expanding array of car components, mods, and weapons to build your ultimate fighting machine… or the dumbest thing on 4 (or more) wheels.

While I’m simply trying to balance a Howitzer on top of a 4×4 others are offering up insane creations in the Exhibition area. There are plenty of cool looking tanks but I laughed out loud when I scrolled to a vehicle named “Bruce Willis”. Using the various car parts and paints, someone managed to create a Minecraft-like character model holding two cannons that’s too big to get out of the garage. Elsewhere was a 28-wheeler with no weapons and a ton of booster engines. Are they useless in combat? Maybe? I’m still very early on with the game but the idea of loading in and seeing Bruce Willis stampeding around the battlefield is enough to keep me coming back for a while.

Crossout comes from Gaijin Entertainment, the folks behind War Thunder, so there’s more going on than simple run ‘n gun. Waiting in ambush or building an artillery vehicle to fight at a distance are already viable strategies. Each of your vehicle’s parts can also be individually destroyed so it’s possible to pick off someone’s guns or leave them spinning in circles with 2 tires. It puts even more emphasis on your build: do you weigh yourself down with layers of protection? Do you keep your weapons close, sacrificing their attack radius to protect them from damage?

These are the things I started to realize just as I was about to write the game off. I’m glad I stuck with it just a little longer because now I’m hooked on what I can create, how I can get the most out of my lowly level-6 parts, and what new toys I’ll unlock next.

Crossout is out now and free-to-play on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One but coming to Steam as well, presumably by the end of June.

First Impressions: Flinthook

MenuBounty

Oh, crap. This game is difficult.

The first thing you need to know about Flinthook is that it is merciless in its mechanics. It’s a roguelike, so that means I’m back at the beginning of the level every two minutes or so. I’m having such a hard time just trying to shoot enemies, fire my hook in the right direction and not step in the bad stuff all at the same time. I loved Spelunky, where I felt like I was actually making progress in the caverns before dying a hero’s death (not really). Flinthook is not like that. Flinthook doesn’t care about your feelings.

On the upside, the game is beautiful and has really fun music. I mean, check this out. This is cool. I fell in love the second this started playing, not knowing that I would be crying within five minutes.

So, onto the combat itself.

You have a gun. It shoots plasma orbs. You can slow down time. I always forget this feature exists, because I’m too distracted. It would probably help a lot if I remembered to use it. I could not fathom playing this game with a keyboard and mouse, however, if you’re using a controller I hope you can get used to everything being mapped onto one side because you can’t change it. Hahahahaha!

Ha.

…Damn.

Honestly? This doesn’t bother me. While playing I never stopped to think, “man, I really wish I could reconfigure the controls.” Some people might, but for me, it wasn’t a deal breaker. I’m just bad at the game, and a different control scheme is not going to save me.

SquareSpinningBalls_NickOfTime

Fortunately, even though I’m dying a lot I’m still making progress. I’m still leveling up and collecting items that will open up new worlds to explore. The downside is that the worlds are all a bit samey. I haven’t played far enough to see if this ever changes, but it seems like all the worlds are pretty much the same theme which might get a little bland after a while. It also seems like there’s a fair amount of grinding involved. This will either be hit or miss for some folks. I personally don’t mind shutting off my brain for thirty minutes on the couch while I grapple hook around and break things. It’s cathartic.

SquareDodgersHelmet

So far, I like Flinthook a fair bit but I really wish it was on the Switch. I’d like to curl up in bed and play it.

Developer: Tribute Games (Shawn says he enjoys the look of their stuff but doesn’t actually like playing any of it. Shawn, you’re not going to like this one either. Go back to Spelunky.)

Release date: April 18th, 2017

Platforms: PS4 (played), Steam PC, Xbox One

Regular price: $14.99

Official website