Features

unplugged_kingoftokyo2

One of the more widely-disliked game mechanics available to designers is player elimination. Nobody likes being forced to the sidelines early while the rest of the players continue the game, especially if that game still has a while to go before it finishes. Sitting around and doing nothing while everyone else is occupied is the epitome of “not fun.”

Some games can make player elimination work, though. As a general rule, the shorter the overall run time of a typical game session, the less of a drag being eliminated early has on the experience. The other main way to overcome the elimination factor is for a game to be as fun to spectate as it is to participate. With that criteria in mind, how does a half-hour king-of-the-hill kaiju battle royale sound? READ MORE

ngp_forza

There’s something calming about driving in video games. This is especially true of open-world driving games, many of which allow you to explore and learn more about the world you are (virtually) inhabiting. I do enjoy driving in Grand Theft Auto and the like, but it’s not the same. The original Forza Horizon and its recently released sequel are more my speed. It provides a similar feeling as sailing, but the sense of speed and (sometimes) laid back atmosphere the Forza Horizon games provide manage to scratch a different itch.

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multitap_screencheat

Looking to play some new games with friends this holiday season? While 2014′s already brought us gems like Mario Kart 8Fibbage and Starwhal, there’s more great stuff to come. Check out these six titles!

Screencheat

PC, October 21
If you’re a fan of local multiplayer, you’ve been there: in split-screen games, you sometimes can’t help but look at opponents’ screens to see where they are and what they’re doing. Screencheat turns this into a mechanic, forcing you to find people that way because they don’t actually show up on your own screen. It may be a bit tough for people to get their minds around for a while, but triangulating positions this way is a fresh idea, and we’re interested to see how it pans out.
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sero_DKC

Last year, I was sitting next to my buddy at a hockey game at the Memorial Arena in Victoria, British Columbia. We obeyed the voice telling us to stand, removed our hats and welcomed some aspiring local vocalist to sing what would, no doubt, be a rousing rendition of Canada’s national anthem. After a quick internal check to see if my ears were working (sadly, they were), I confirmed that it was the national anthem I was hearing.

Oh, for it to be any other song, for the butchery and obnoxiousness wouldn’t pain me as much. A true Canadian wouldn’t derive anything but sadness from this version of O Canada. The singer was trying too hard, she hit high notes where there shouldn’t have been, she hit low notes where low notes should never go and she stretched it out with unnecessary wailing and impromptu head and hand movements. It was way too long and over-produced. I turned to my buddy and said, “you know, it’s not a cover.” He agreed. READ MORE

unplugged_ageofwar2

Risk is one of the all-time classics and is probably among the first five games the general populace thinks of when they hear the term “board game.” It’s also, to fans of modern board gaming, right up there with Monopoly as a horrible game design that just kills fun. That said, conquering the world with military force is still an attractive theme, so it’s no real surprise that “improved” versions of Risk have cropped up from time to time. READ MORE

ngp_wolfenstein

A recent trend in the industry, specifically in action games, has been masterfully blending action and stealth to make for an excellent combo. Titles like Crysis, Metro: Last Light and even Dishonored have managed to make both play styles feel just right. No matter what your preference is, you’ll most likely find something to like about these titles. The recently released Wolfenstein: The New Order might be the best example, providing you with only a few options but polishing those options up to a mirror sheen. READ MORE

progressreport_Q32014

While many releases are packed into the last three months of the year, there’s more than enough going on in the rest of the calendar that can be easily forgotten by the holidays. Progress Report is our way of remembering: a quarterly look at the laudable and notable in the games industry. This edition covers July, August and September. Check out the previous installment here. READ MORE

gaijinguide_buy

I have two copies of Project X Zone.

It’s a common occurrence for the hobbyist importer: an eager import turns to regret when that game you thought you’d never see gets announced for a Western release. And sometimes, like with Project X Zone, it’s hard to avoid. After all, there’s a lot there that just didn’t make sense for a localization. But I’m here to help you keep this sort of thing to a minimum! If you follow these six easy guidelines, it’ll make your importing experience a lot less painful. READ MORE

dundef_moraggo1

My very first Serotonin was about how good games make failure fun. The concept was, through good design, it would encourage players to switch strategies and try again, rather than frustrate them to the point of quitting. I seem to have come full circle with this edition; the latest triumph my group had over Dungeon Defenders was an arduous, brutal journey of frustration, death and Game Overs. This went beyond a game making failure fun. This was an exercise in constant futility, humiliation and bewilderment. I would never have gotten through this one level had it not been for the excellent group dynamic of which I was lucky to be a part. Sometimes good game design isn’t enough. READ MORE

unplugged_sorcerers2

Hades has recruited minions of evil in an attempt to obtain Merlin’s magic crystal, which would allow him to take over the Magic Kingdom as his own personal summer home. Merlin can’t fight them off alone, so that’s where you come in. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to intercept these baddies via magic portals and use your spells to thwart them.

This is the narrative behind Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom, an interactive experience that can be found in the Disney theme park in question, first introduced in 2012. Sorcerers is a curious variation on a collectible card game, in that there is no actual purchase to play other than entry into the park itself. Those interested in playing simply need to visit the firehouse in Main Street USA (or the outpost behind one of the shops in Liberty Square) and talk to one of the cast members there. READ MORE