Category: News

Topical, time sensitive, new releases.

Maximum Games sends Road Rage back to the shop

Remember nine months ago, just before E3 2016, when I posted about a potential Road Rash successor called Road Rage? At the time it was little more than concept renders and a feature list… and well, it isn’t much beyond that point today. I checked in with the official site (and that of publisher Maximum Games) throughout the year but I missed this one-and-only trailer of the game in motion from last September.

It has wonderfully extreme ragdoll physics when weapons collide with riders. There’s a bunch of environments from city to countryside (sadly, sparsely populated) and there’s even a couple of big jumps and shortcuts to be seen. But what’s most troubling is the final frame of the video that proudly touts “In Stores November 15, 2016”. Uhhh.

Thinking I might’ve missed a potential underdog favorite I checked Amazon to find the new date of “December 31, 2017”. That’s retail-talk for Unknown. Digging a little further I finally turned up some confirmation in this Facebook post from October.

“Since the beginning, our goal for Road Rage has been to create the highest quality motorcycle combat game possible. We’ve been hard at work to make this vision a reality, and while we’re incredibly proud of the work our team has done, we’ve come to the realization that the game needs more development time to ensure it lives up to our standards. Therefore, today we made the difficult decision to delay the release of Road Rage till next year. We’ll keep you updated on the progress, but in the meantime we appreciate your support and understanding!” – The Maximum Games team

I’m sure that was a gut-wrenching and heartbreaking decision to make a month after finally announcing a release date; my sympathies to all involved. Hopefully Maximum Games has much more to show at this year’s E3. I’m still holding out hope that Road Rage has stolen even a little of the secret sauce that made Road Rash so memorable.

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.).

Spoons-On with Dragon Quest Builders at Menchie’s

The minimal amount of promo goods filled up the tiny space

While doing some more Delisted work last week I checked in at Licensemag.com where I look to see what games have upcoming licensing deals. Lo and behold, there’s Dragon Quest Builders in a deal with Menchie’s, one of the many nationwide froyo franchises. I immediately signed up and redeemed their DLC code but over the weekend we decided it’d be worth the trip to check out the point-of-purchase experience.

I lit up even before we got into the place at the sight of Pippa and Rollo beaming out of the front door. Posters, window clings and tabletop standees adorn the tiny space but only one of them implies what Dragon Quest Builders even is. The single employee on duty said that her and the boss have been trying to figure out what these colorful characters were from. Katy and I explained and got the usual blank stare and “oh ok,  that’s cool” response. A simple PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita logo would’ve helped a lot.

Character selections are clever but I think they could've been clever-er

I did like the touch of calling out specific flavors as “So-and-So’s Favorite” but I think they missed the mark on the selections. I mean, a Blue Slime probably has to go with a blueberry flavor right? I really can’t remember a lot of the food items in the game but I’m sure there were better accompaniments than cake batter, Reese’s peanut butter and chocolate.

Finally, after we ate (I had carrot cake with graham cracker crumbs, Katy had a mix of vanilla and chocolate) I asked if I could grab a couple of clean cups and the girl also gave us a pair of pins. She said they’ve been trying to give them out but nobody wanted them. Awww. Please allow this 40-year-old couple to take them off your hands!

Now to hang onto these for 30 years

It’s been a long time since a game I cared about got a real world promotion. It was genuinely exciting to see it advertised outside of the typical game shops and surprising to see Dragon Quest marketed in North America, period. JC from Tiny Cartridge said it best, “most importantly: Square Enix, in the year 2017, has gone out of its way to advertise a Dragon Quest game. This is far outside of what I’m used to, and I love it.

If you’ve got a Menchie’s nearby and if Dragon Quest ever meant anything to you, take a look; you’ve got until January 31st for the promo.

I finally got to play NieR: Automata

I’ve played through the NieR: Automata demo 3 or 4 times now (once on Hard with no weapons, even) and I’m still not sure I love it. I don’t usually enjoy Platinum Games’ releases but I love the ultra-weird anime universe of NieR and especially its soundtrack. The music is very much in place for Automata but that was a given since the first teaser where original composer Keiichi Okabe was confirmed for the sequel.

The combat gameplay seems dense and involved — expanding on NieR’s penchant for turning into a shmup — but it’s hard to tell with only 3 weapon choices in the demo. All of the weapons have upgrade levels that will expand in the full game but even on the Hard difficulty it was pretty easy to button mash through fights. Simply holding the Square button initiates an automatic (and elaborate) 4-hit combo animation but it doesn’t feel especially rewarding without working for it. Dodging attacks is super simple as every enemy telegraphs their intent with flashing red eyes and the window for the counter is super wide. Hopefully the final game is a little more nuanced as the team has shown in a few different livestreams.

One intriguing element that I only found by digging into the menus is the Plug-in Chip system. It’s basically a system of passive skills but all of the UI interface options are in the list. I can imagine trying to squeeze in a powerful buff and disabling, say, health bars or the mini-map to make it fit. Your OS Chip is also in the list and I can confirm the game definitely ends if you remove that critical system. You also pick up a ton of crafting materials in the demo that you can’t do anything with and unlock shortcuts to previous areas implying that we’ll be running through these maps multiple times.

I came out of the demo more looking forward to the features I couldn’t actually put my hands on than the gameplay that was there. I’m still undecided but I recorded a brief playthrough without commentary for anyone else interested in the game. Of course, you can try it yourself for free by grabbing the demo from the PlayStation Store. Let me know what you think if you do check it out.