I’ve written about LAN parties before, but I’ve never been to anything like this. The International 2014, the championship tournament for Dota 2, was held in Seattle from July 18 to 21. It was easily the biggest spectacle in competitive gaming. It was certainly the most lucrative, as the collective prize pool was over 11 million dollars, with the winning team taking home almost half of that. But how was the event? Was it successful? What does it mean for gaming? And, of course, how did it make me feel? READ MORE
For this edition of Snack Time, we take the occasion of Rogue Legacy’s PSN release to check it out on the show! Also: Henry talks about his trip to The International, we mull the merits of a stealthy pirate, Andrew is totally wrong about how awesome the Game Boy Micro is and we talk about games we love on the handheld celebrating its 25th birthday: the original Game Boy.
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In From Pixels to Polygons, we examine classic game franchises that have survived the long transition from the 8- or 16-bit era to the current console generation. This time, Chris Dominowski and Graham Russell look at Ubisoft’s mascot platformer: Rayman.
Starting in the late ‘80s, it seemed like every gaming company had to have a cartoonish platformer mascot. The trend kicked into high gear in the ‘90s, when advancements in hardware allowed for more expressive characters and worlds that couldn’t have been done on past machines. Many mascots fell to the wayside, failing to live up to the sheer dominance of Mario and Sonic; to be fair, none of them ever did approach that level, but many did at least survive. This is the tale of one such survivor that beat the odds to deliver some superb platformers that a crueler market would have forgotten. READ MORE
I was disappointed in last year’s Ascension offering, Rise of Vigil. The energy/treasure mechanic made the set too insular when applied to older releases, and getting the most treasures seemed to have a direct correlation to winning more often than not. When its expansion, Darkness Unleashed, was released, my local store had difficulty getting a copy in and yet I made no effort to pick it up elsewhere. I just didn’t care for more of that kind of gameplay, so I let it slide by.
This year’s new set, Realms Unraveled, feels more like the Ascension I’ve come to love, to the point where it almost feels as basic as the original release, Chronicle of the Godslayer. Of course it isn’t quite that simple, thanks to some new tricks I’ll get to in a minute, but a lot of the extra additions from previous sets are nowhere to be found. Unfortunately that includes Trophy Monsters and Events, two changes I enjoyed, but you can’t have everything. READ MORE
The Oddworld series has returned to its roots with New ‘n’ Tasty. Original 1997 classic Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee has been fully remade for new platforms, and returns to Abe’s original adventure as he frees his fellow workers. Abe is a janitor at RuptureFarms, a meat processing plant that is responsible for driving the creatures providing the meat for its products into extinction. Having run out of animals to harvest, the company’s newest scheme is to turn Abe’s species into its next product. Abe overhears those plans, and realizes he must escape from RuptureFarms as the game begins. READ MORE
Snackbar Games’ column carousel wraps up with Graham Russell taking a break from Multitap and Gaijin Guide to pen this edition of New Game+.
When faced with taking the baton from Andrew for a week and delving into the deeper sorts of topics in game design, I knew I had to write something about menus, because the topic is a very crucial one to everything I love. Set aside for a moment my graphic design day job, too: menu systems and general interface design can make or break local multiplayer experiences, as new players need to be able to dive in immediately, and they’re also crucial to playing import games, as if it’s done right, you know what each button and item does without having to understand any of the language. But even outside of those contexts, it’s a crucial thing, because the easiest way to keep people from enjoying a fundamentally good game is to frustrate them before they can learn the ropes. READ MORE
Is a better digital replication of the physical Magic: the Gathering experience a better digital Magic: the Gathering experience? That’s the quandary facing the newest installment of Wizards of the Coast’s Duels of the Planeswalkers standalone game series, as it comes closer and closer to feeling like Magic Online under heavy competition and pressure from games like Hearthstone. READ MORE
In From Pixels to Polygons, we examine classic game franchises that have survived the long transition from the 8- or 16-bit era to the current console generation. This time, Chris Dominowski and Jeff deSolla take on Namco’s long-running Tales series of JRPGs.
While the West prefers its action-RPGs to be open-world, narrative-light romps that emphasize freedom, Japan has another take, and no series embodies these goals quite like the Tales series. From its SNES debut to the most recent releases, the series has made many adjustments to try to find its footing in a shifting JRPG landscape. READ MORE
As part of Snackbar Games’ July column shuffle, Gaming Unplugged‘s Chris Ingersoll uses his local multiplayer knowledge for something more digital in this Multitap entry.
When Graham discussed the best options for handheld local multiplayer experiences, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate was mentioned as being “by far the deepest.” Well, thanks to our little feature column shake-up experiment, I’m here to get into that deepness a little more. You can consider this my sixth Hunter’s Notes if you want, although I’ll be taking a more traditional approach to writing for this one. READ MORE