Features

ngp_graham

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

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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 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

multitap_ingersoll

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

thebureau3

We all have one (or more): a game that we know isn’t very good, but we love it anyway. Maybe it evokes memories of a happy summer with friends, maybe there’s one shining jewel that overshadows the surrounding desert, or maybe all of the bad comes together in an amazing, swirling maelstrom and manages to make something better than the sum of all its substandard parts. These are a few of our games that aren’t great, but we love them all the same.

Justin Last: The Bureau: XCOM Declassified

Why it’s not great: The story is all over the place, characters are only fleshed out immediately before a “powerful” moment and numerous things are left unexplained. Why is there not a push to get more people chunky power bracelets like Carter’s? How does everybody know to call the aliens by the species name upon first contact? Where do all of those turrets come from, and why is my engineer only smart enough to make them after I’ve unlocked the skill to yell “build a laser turret over there!” at him? READ MORE

serotonin_andrew

It’s a column shake-up! Andrew Passafiume steps away from New Game+ for a week to explore his emotions in Serotonin.

I’m a sucker for good mystery novels, especially pulpy noir stories. I grew up reading Joan Lowery Nixon and eventually graduated to the big leagues: Raymond Chandler, James M. Cain and many others. This is why I found myself eagerly anticipating the release of Murdered: Soul Suspect. I wasn’t optimistic about it, but it gave me the vibe of a cult classic in the making.

Playing through it made me realize why mysteries in games are even more satisfying than novels or films. Those stories are about the mystery, sure, but you are only a mere witness. Games, such as Murdered, make the act of solving these mysteries compelling in and of themselves. Sure, you want to know what’s really going on, but being tasked with figuring it out on your own is what makes the mystery truly shine.

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fp2p_ng

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, Andrew Passafiume and Lucas White look at Ninja Gaiden, the classic Tecmo action series.

Few series have made as painless a transition from 2D to 3D as Ninja Gaiden. It began its life as a notoriously difficult (yet surprisingly addictive) 2D series before becoming a notoriously difficult (yet surprisingly complex) 3D series. Boiling down Ninja Gaiden’s formula like that doesn’t do the series justice, however, as there is a multitude of small, yet meaningful changes made along the way.

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unplugged_henry

For the next two weeks, Snackbar Games’ columnists are all mixed up! Serotonin‘s Henry Skey steps in for this installment of Gaming Unplugged.  

I’m not exactly a board game person. Oh sure, I pretended to like Monopoly like everybody else growing up, and we’d roll out some obscure card game at a friend’s house, usually involving multiple languages, ripped cards and missing instruction booklets. The obvious joke of playing a “bored” game came up frequently. I sound like the perfect guest host for a column dedicated to talk about non-electronic games, don’t I?

The truth is, I like board games and card games, but they’re an entirely different kettle of fish from video games. READ MORE

ngp_valianthearts

When attempting to recreate historical events in video game form, few actually succeed, often relying on a base understanding of history in order to provide a well-rounded experience appealing to a broader audience. These games seemingly sacrifice accuracy for entertainment and potentially lose something in the process. Ubisoft’s Valiant Hearts is a title that surprised me for a multitude of reasons, but its focus on utilizing historical facts in an otherwise-fictional representation of World War I is what stood out to me the most, creating an experience that felt authentic despite its cartoonish exterior.

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fp2p_fe

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, Graham Russell and Andrew Passafiume look at Intelligent Systems’ strategy-RPG series, Fire Emblem.

The evolution of the Fire Emblem series has largely been from capability to intention. On the surface, the formula hasn’t changed much; you’re still moving units around top-down square grids and pitting them in menu-based combat. Once you dig below the surface, though, you’ll see that the series has become increasingly defined by how and when it chooses not to progress. READ MORE

gaijinguide_radarS14

Whether or not you’re a fan of importing games, nothing can really beat playing something in your native language. It’s sometimes hard to know just what is going to make it to the West and what isn’t, though. In the second edition of the Guide’s Localization Radar, we’ll take a look at the likely candidates to get picked up in the near future.

The time since the last Radar has been absolutely full of localization announcements, from the likely (Monster Hunter 4) to the not-so-much (A-Train 3DS). So… what else is out there to make it out of Japan? Oh, don’t worry: plenty.

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