So, who is your favorite ninja turtle? You know you have one, everybody does. If you are aged anywhere between 20 – 30 years old, then this was THE cartoon show for you. You watched it religiously, bought the action figures, and debated with your friends about who was the best ninja turtle. And like any self respecting cash cow franchise, it had its own video game series, which is our topic of discussion.
Unlike the typical rushed out licensed game, I have very fond memories of ninja turtles video games. The first Ninja Turtles game I played was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turltles for NES (1989), and I don’t remember much of it other than it being Nintendo Hard.
However, the fond memories start with Ninja Turtles III: Manhattan Project on the NES (or Famicom, in my case). The game used the sidescrolling standard set by its predecessor (TMNT: The Arcade Game), and it blew me away. It was a faithful adaptation of the cartoon’s art style, featured most of the characters for the series, and had very tight gameplay.
The next big TMNT game after was Turtles in Time on the SNES, which was TMNT’s biggest hit in the video game industry. Unfortunately, as a Sega kid, I didn’t get to play Turtles in Time, but I got the next best thing: TMNT: The Hyperstone Heist, which featured the same style and gameplay as Turtles in Time, but with different level design. It was fascinating; the hack and slash combat was fun, the finishing moves were a blast to pull off, the level design and gameplay variations kept the player hooked, the bosses were a challenge (damn you, Baxter!) and the graphics were some of the best I had seen then.
TMNT: Tournament Fighters soon followed, and it did gain some popularity in its day. I was big on fighting games and loved the idea of a fighting game with TMNT characters. Yet, while did I enjoy Tournament Fighters, it didn’t make the impression on me that the previous games did. I had to wait for the next entry in the franchise to return the series to its sidescrolling glory.
But all of a sudden, Ninja Turtles didn’t matter anymore. Kids started playing with them shiny new FPSs and them fancy pants 3D games. TMNT had a new incarnation in television, but unfortunately the series didn’t make a successful transition to 3D video games, despite numerous efforts.
Yet I think there is still some potential in the series, and there might be great video game left within TMNT. I really believe AAA video game adaptation of TMNT could actually work. The series has a unique art style that would look great in high-end 3D graphics, while the series’ wide roster of characters have the potential of bringing with different gameplay variations, not to mention the online or split screen Co-Op possibilities.
Nostalgia itself won’t sell a game (as evident by the PSN remastering of Turtles in Time), but if a modern studio showed the same dedication to the franchise that Konami showed back in the day, then they would have the winning formula (Solid gameplay + Explosive nostalgia = sales, lots and lots of sales).
It seems that Steam keeps getting bigger year after year, and the online platform has seen its sales double in 2011, compared the previous year, making 2011 the seventh year in a row during which Steam sees doubling sales.
In the past year, Steam’s game count rose to 1800 games available to 40 million users. 14.5 million Steamworks enabled games were registered in 2011, which is 67% percent from 2010.
“Steam and Steamworks continues to evolve to keep up with customer and developer demands for new services and content,” said Valve head Gabe Newell. “Support for in-game item trading prompted the exchange of over 19 million items. Support for free-to-play (FTP) games, launched in June, has spurred the launch of 18 FTP titles on Steam, with more coming in 2012. Looking forward, we are preparing for the launch of the Big Picture UI mode, which will allow gamers to experience Steam on large displays and in more rooms of the house.”
TorrentFreak has recently released a list of the most pirated games of 2011 on various platforms; and looking at the list, it would be an understatement to say that a lot of games were pirated this year.
Unsurprisingly, PC games were pirated the most. The list of top pirated games is:
1. Crysis 2 (3,920,000 downloads)
2. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (3,650,000 downloads)
3. Battlefield 3 (3,510,000 downloads)
4. FIFA 12 (3,390,000 downloads)
5. Portal 2 (3,240,000 downloads)
For the Wii platform, the list is:
1. Super Mario Galaxy 2 (1,280,000 downloads)
2. Mario Sports Mix (1,090,000 downloads)
3. Xenoblade Chronicles (950,000 downloads)
4. Lego Pirates of the Caribbean (870,000 downloads)
5. FIFA 12 (860,000 downloads)
And on the Xbox 360m, the list is:
1. Gears of War 3 (890,000)
2. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (830,000)
3. Battlefield 3 (760,000)
4. Forza Motorsport 4 (720,000)
5. Kinect Sports: Season Two (690,000)
So there you have it. This gives you an idea of just how widespread game piracy is. But this is far from being a definite list, as there are other ways of piracy that are much difficult to track. And if you are wondering about PS3’s exclusion, it could be because the piracy figures are insignificant enough to ignore, but more likely, it could be because PS3 downloads are harder to track since illegal games are downloaded directly to the system.
It seems that Skyrim has not satisfied PC gamers’ appetite for RPG games; instead, it looks like it has whetted it even more, and now PC gamers are demanding that Namco’s successful RPG, Dark Souls, be released on PC
A article on Rock Paper Shotgun has sparked a petition to bring Dark Souls to the PC platform, which has picked up a few thousand signatures in its first few hours, and has collected over 34,000 signatures as of writing. The petition states “A port of this game has a high chance of being extremely successful for From Software and Namco Bandai. Given the sales of games such as The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim and The Witcher, there is a large market for games like this. PC gamers love unforgiving, hardcore games.”
Namco’s hit game has released on both Playstation 3 and Xbox 360, but strangely enough was excluded from the PC platform. This does seem strange, given the PC’s long history with RPG games and PC gamers’ affinity to them.
So, if you are interested in yelling at your computer screen in mind boggling frustration sometime soon, sign the petition here.
The last official word we got from Blizzard about the release date of Diablo 3 was “early 2012″, without specifying a day or a month. However, we now have reason to believe that release date will be Febraury 2012. A Minnesota branch of Best Buy recently put up a banner for the game, which gave a February 1st release date, and a picture of the banner was tweeted by a Canadian Twitter. The tweet seems to have been taken down, but Joystiq acquired the picture.
To add fuel to the fire, Best Buy’s webstore also states the release date for Diablo 3 as February 1st. Furthermore, UK retailer Gameplay has the game’s release date as being February 3rd. So, this sounds pretty legit.
It is interesting to see how popular cinematic game trailers have become. With every game released, we get two trailers; a cinematic one, and a gameplay one. While gameplay trailers are the only ones that are really “necessary”, I find myself much more drawn to the cinematic ones. We rarely, if ever, get faithful film adaptations of our favorite video games, and cinematic trailers fill that gap. They are mini films that are very faithful to the video games but are still presented in the style of a film.
We will be doing a Game of the Year article by the end of this year. So, as an appetizer to that article, we are listing the top trailers for the games in 2011. These trailers aren’t necessarily for the games, rather, these trailers will be judged on their own merit, and on how they represent their respective franchises.
Dragon Age 2
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Seeing this trailer, one has to admire the amount of work put in those clips. The animation is superb, the fighting is intense, and the editing is polished, and all this for a two minute clip. We also get to witness the new depiction of the “Qunari”, and see just how badass they can be.
With the Isku, Roccat has given us a a keyboard that can do all but author books. An imposing gaming monster where no feature was spared, all designed to provide the most complete gaming experience. Now with the Arvo, Roccat has taken a different turn. It is still intends on providing a gaming keyboard, a but a more compact one, which doesn’t provide the all encompassing functions of the Isku, but aims at satisfying different needs and functions
The Arvo is a compact little keyboard that is meant to save as much space as it can on your desk, and you will notice right away how small it is and how little space it occupies on your desk. Like all Roccat products, the keyboard has a great design, and while other gaming keyboards go for an imposing design, this keyboard sports a slick and slender look, and does not feel lacking in any way despite its small size and build.
The first thing that will draw your attention is that there that arrow keys and the Numpad have been combined together, where each key has two functionalities, first for the numbers, and the second for the arrow keys and the Delete/Home/ Page Up/Page Down…etc keys. The functionalities can switched with the the press of the top right Mode key, with the change being indicated by the back light on the arrow keys going on and off.
So, despite the measures taken to reduce the keyboard size, all basic keys are present, along with three extra thumbster keys below the spacebar. Also, the keyboad has no wrist wrest, which some might find irritating, but then again, this is a compact keyboard after all, and the wrist rest isn’t exactly a necessity.
The keyboard also has rubber pads at the bottom of each edge to hold the keyboard in place (we all know how annoying it can be to have a the keyboard sliding on the desktop in heated gaming moments), as well as two retractable stands in the upper corners to lift the keyboard and give you the ideal angle for gaming.
There are many reasons why we play games. Some play games to experience a story, some play to compete with others and some play to have experiences they have never had otherwise in real life. Alot play games to escape into another world, and live completely different lives, and this is what drives Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls series, a series that has excelled in creating complete virtual worlds, inviting the player to live parallel lives. Skyrim is the latest world offered by Bethesda to live in, and it seems like its Bethesda’s finest accomplishment yet.
Similarly to the two Elder Scrolls games before it, you start off as a prisoner, and this case you are on your way to be executed. Just before the axe greets your neck, a dragon appears and the entire army base you were in goes into disarray. You are set free after the incident, and it is up to you to find out why are the dragons appearing, and what is your role in the whole ordeal (hint: it rhymes with Shmagonborn).
Bethesda displays such dedication to concept of open world that makes other open world games pale in comparison. Skyrim isn’t just a series of buildings, environments and NPCs, it is the closest there is to virtual living world in a game. The sense of freedom found in Elder Scrolls is unparalleled, and Skyrim is the best implementation of this yet. The main quest is a minimal part of the game, and most of the fun comes from exploring the world built for you. As you go exploring dungeons, assisting NPCs with their problems, joining factions and reading ingame books, you realize what a dense world Skyrim is. It is compelling to learn more about Skyrim, about its citizens and about its politics, and the more you learn about, the more you are invested in the well being of the world.
Through all the running around and exploring, you come across a wide range of missions to complete. The main mission is, as usual, the most interesting one, but the rest of the missions can be worthy, and they are necessary to help you know more about the world. You can complete missions for The Companions (Skyrim’s equivalent of the Fighter’s Guild) to understand how ingrained the warrior culture is in Skyrim, or join the Mages College and be looked down upon by Nords who believe that magic is for sissies. Even miscellaneous missions, such as simply standing up for a Dark Elf against a bunch of racist Nords can be satisfying. Standard fetch quests are to be found here and there, but there are far from being the norm.
The games graphics have been talked about endlessly. Now, Skyrim’s graphics are great, with detailed textures and wonderful environments. Yet it terms of detail, they don’t hold a candle to games like Rage and Battlefield 3. Yet Skyrim is nicer to look at than the aforementioned games, and that is because of Skyrim’s aesthetics. Bethesda knows that when it comes to graphics, art direction trumps fidelity, and in Skryim, the beauty of the world comes from its style. Part of the reason Morrowind is generally viewed as a much better game than Oblivion is because of its fantastical designs; while Oblivion came off as a standard European fantasy setting, Morrowind was a truly outlandish and exotic location that had its own unique identity. Skyrim returns with the art direction that made Morrowind so unique. While the location might not be as exotic as Morrowind, Skyrim it is exactly the blistering norse region that you would think is occupied by burly, war-faring people. The buidlings, the environments, the apparel, the weapons, the creatures, and even the music all give Skyrim its unique identity, an identity that is inspired by real-life Scandinavia, but is in no way identical to it.
A report from Blue’s News says that Atari has announced that it will be releasing two packages of Classic CRPG games on November 15th.
The first package, Dungeons and Dragons Anthology: The Master Collection icnludes six games: Baludr’s Gate and Baldur’s Gate II, Ice Wind Dale, Ice Wind Dale II, Planescape Torment, and Temple of Telemental Evil. The package will cost 20 Dollars
The other package is Dungeons and Dragons: Neverwinter Nights Complete, and will include Neverwinter Nights and Neverwinter Nights II, as well as a limited edition map of Neverwinter. The package will cost 30 Dollars.
So far the packages will be released only in the US, and no word whether there is international or Steam Release.
The World Gaming Executive network has recently surveyed 1000 developers for what they think is the best game of all time, and that is to include the survey in the first issue of its WGE Magazine. You may have not heard of World Gaming Executive, but many studios that you have hear of, including Blizzard, Apple and Ubisoft are part of the network.
The results of the survery are:
- Baldur’s Gate (series)
- Diablo (series)
- Monkey Island (series)
- Shadow of the Colussus
- Mass Effect (series)
- Batman: Arkham Asylum
- The Legend of Zelda
- Devil May Cry
- Tomb Raider (series)
- Metal Gear Solid
- World of Warcraft
- Deus Ex
- Super Mario (series)
- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
- Silent Hill
- Assassin’s Creed
- Dead Space