Nintendo Platform RSS Feed | Nintendo RSS Feed on en Launch Media Network Ape Out Review: Crushing Guns Set to Crashing Drums Fri, 22 Mar 2019 10:05:35 -0400 RobertPIngram

Sometimes the best ideas are so basic you wonder how it took so long for them to come to pass. The developers of Ape Out answer a very simple question with their top-down escape game: wouldn't it be fun to play a game where you're an angry ape exacting righteous revenge on its cruel captors?

Yes. That would be very fun.

There's a little bit more nuance to be found in Ape Out, but not much. The game promises an ape trying to get out, and that's exactly what it delivers four times over.

The end result is a joyous game which you can breeze through in just a single setting, yet offers just enough replayability to keep you coming back for more.

If you're looking for a fun, inexpensive addition to your catalog, Ape Out more than justifies its modest price tag.

Simple Doesn't Have to Mean Basic

There's no tutorial to be had in Ape Out. Instead, you're thrown right into the mix, with all the instructions you need printed out on the floor of the opening stages in block letters.

Fortunately, there aren't a whole lot of controls to learn. Use the left trigger or mouse button to grab, the right trigger or mouse button to throw, and try not to get shot while you do it. There are some minor tweaks which show up from time to time, like punching through barriers or pulling off doors, but for the most part, that's all there is. Grab. Throw. Kill. Escape.

It would be easy to assume that such a basic control system would go flat after just a few levels, but that's where the strong design of Ape Out shines through. By slowly, yet consistently introducing new elements as players progress from stage to stage, the game manages to keep things fresh without overcomplicating the matter.

New enemies are introduced, with different weapons or defenses to require varied approaches. Removable doors which become shields offer you the ability to gain some much-needed defense, which is still more than capable of providing a dose of offense, too.

Everything comes together to make for a deep playing experience despite the shallow controls and goals. Getting through the green door which marks your safe exit never feels like just more of the same, and it gets no less frustrating to find yourself gunned down when you were so close to freedom.

Catchy Music Helps to Drive You Onward

In many games, it feels like the soundtrack is more of an afterthought than a part of the game, but there's no mistaking the importance of sound design in Ape Out.

The game is carried out with a constant jazzy beat as you progress through the various stages, but the true flourish comes in the crashing cymbals which accompany every crushing kill your ape scores.

There's a special satisfaction which comes from stringing together a series of timely kills to create a chain of crashing cymbals as you beat a bloody path to your destination. This is definitely not a game to be played on mute while you listen to your own music or a favorite podcast.

Every Level Carries its Own Twists

The other way that Ape Out gets a lot out of so little is in the way each new level changes the game just a little bit. No change is so severe that an explainer is required, but also not so small that it doesn't add a new element to worry about. In total there are four levels, each represented as its own album, and each carries unique tweaks to match its theme.

The first area you'll notice the game-changing is the enemies you face. In the beginning, you'll only have to deal with simple, easy-to-kill riflemen and shotgun-wielding enemies with the added protection of body armor. As your ape progresses, however, more and more foes enter the field, with everything from automatic weapons to flame throwers. There are even exploding enemies who must always be thrown far away when killed to avoid dying in their explosion. 

The bigger changes come in the form of the levels themselves. Each represents an ape imprisoned by a different captor in a different facility.

You begin in a testing facility, where your primary elemental concerns come from elevators delivering new groups of baddies. Fleeing a rich collector in a skyscraper exposes you to elite troops ziplining in, or sniping you through the big windows.

The jungle dictator has heavily armed troops and leads to a desperate escape through missiles dropped by the ruler's enemies.

Finally, the ape who makes its play for freedom from storage on a ship gets to run roughshod while playing hide-and-seek in the ship's many shipping containers.

Each album's unique elements make the play through a more charming experience, and keep you on your toes throughout the game.

Time Flies, For Better and Worse

One of the game's strengths may also be one of its biggest weaknesses. Between the relatively short levels and the upbeat tempo of the music keeping you pressing forward, the pace of Ape Out is outstanding. There's no time to get bored as there's always another enemy waiting around the corner, and every death just means a quick respawn to the start of the level. While a game which makes you want to keep playing is great, it does highlight a drawback in the form of the game's short playtime.

With only four base levels, each of which can be completed in under a half hour if you're on your game, you can find yourself at the end credits before you know it.

There are, however, worse things to say about a game than acknowledging you got to the end and didn't want to put it down.

Arcade and Break-In Add Life

It's clear that Ape Out's team knew players would be wanting more when their ape made a final successful escape from the freighter, and that's where Arcade mode and Break-In come into play.

Arcade is a simple mode which turns your progression through the game into a scored endeavor. You earn points the more kills you make and faster you progress, all while avoiding a run-ending death at the wrong end of a bullet. With local and global leaderboards, you can challenge friends or the world as you try for the best score.

Break-In doesn't offer just more trips down familiar territory, however. Instead, it turns the game on its head. Your ape is not trying to get out, it's trying to get in to rescue its child. That means that first, you have to beat a path through a new facility styled after the opening stage, but also that once you get there, you have to turn around and make it back out with your offspring on your back.

Although it is just one new level, the large size, difficult enemies, and need to double back makes it a challenging one which can provide a great deal of additional play.

Final Verdict

There's a lot to love about Ape Out and not many glaring flaws to point to. It's important to come into the game understanding what you're getting. If the idea of a game which occupies your time for just a few gaming sessions before you move on doesn't appeal to you, this likely is not the title for you.

If you're seeking something fun and fresh to give you a new challenge, however, then Ape Out is an excellent option.

It may be a simple game with basic controls, but that doesn't mean it doesn't still provide a challenge which rewards sound, strategic play. There's depth to be found in learning enemies' habits and plotting routes through each level.

  • Engrossing gameplay despite minimal controls
  • Easy to start but with growing challenges
  • Fantastic soundtrack drives you on
  • Short play time for the campaign
  • The random generation of enemies occasionally leads to runs, which seem unfair

Ape Out is not a game which is likely to still be on the top of your playlist several months down the line, but for an inexpensive short-term romp, it delivers.

[Note: A review copy of Ape Out was provided by the developer for this review.]

Cuphead is Coming to the Nintendo Switch This Spring Thu, 21 Mar 2019 11:42:09 -0400 Joey Marrazzo

To start off the Nindies Showcase on Wednesday, viewers were treated to a rather weird tutorial on how to pour milk. At the end of the tutorial, though, Cuphead and Mugman popped out of the bowl to confirm that the Dark Souls of Platformers is making its way to the Nintendo Switch on April 18.

Originally released back in 2017, Cuphead is a critically praised platformer for the Xbox One and PC; our review said it "it is probably the best example of the genre released in the past 15 years."

Behind its tough gameplay, Cuphead was beloved for its beautiful soundtrack and jaw-dropping art style, becoming a hit with fans and critics alike, holding an 86% on Metacritic

Cuphead on Switch will, of course, support two-player co-op, letting friends die together or make their way through the game's ludicrously difficult levels.

After the premiere trailer, Nintendo thanked "our friends at Microsoft" for allowing this to happen.

Of course, there have been the recent rumors about Xbox Game Pass making its way to Switch along with a port of Ori and the Blind Forest, which might not seem too far fetched considering Microsoft is planning to bring Xbox Live to the Switch

What's more, in a tweet after the showcase by Larry Hyrb (Major Nelson), it was confirmed that players will be able to unlock Xbox Achievements on the Switch port of the game, and that they'll be able to play as Mugman during the single-player mode thanks to a post-launch patch.

Interested players can pre-order Cuphead for the Nintendo Switch here for $19.99. The game is currently available for the Xbox One, PC, and MacOS. 

The Nindies Showcase also unveiled a surprise mashup between The Legend of Zelda and Crypt of the Necrodancer

Indie Studio Brace Yourself Games Making Legend of Zelda Title, Cadence of Hyrule Wed, 20 Mar 2019 13:54:47 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

Nintendo is well known for keeping its IPs close. For the most part, outside of a few games like The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons, the Oracle of Ages, and Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle, it's rare to see the company's core franchises handled by anyone other than Nintendo.

That changed in a big way today.

In today's Nindies Direct livestream, Nintendo revealed a new Zelda game. But it's a Zelda game developed by an indie developer.

Brace Yourself Games, a Canadian studio known for the critically acclaimed Crypt of the Necrodancer, is releasing a mashup game called Cadence of Hyrule — Crypt of the Necrodancer featuring The Legend of Zelda this spring. 

Necrodancer is a unique take on the roguelike dungeon crawler, where players must time their movements to the beat of the rhythm and learn how enemies move in relation to the music as well.

In a press release posted shortly after the livestream aired, Nintendo provided more information about Cadence of Hyrule:

As Link or Princess Zelda, players explore randomly generated overworld and dungeons on a quest to save Hyrule, and every beat of the 25 remixed Legend of Zelda tunes is a chance to move, attack, defend and more.

From modern-looking Lynels to the Hyrulean Soldiers of old, players must master the instinctive movements of each pixel-art enemy and strategically outstep them in rhythmic combat using an arsenal of iconic items from The Legend of Zelda, as well as the spells and weapons from Crypt of the NecroDancer

Of the many mold-breaking elements in this announcement, one, in particular, stands out: unlike the earlier games handled by different companies, this is the first time Nintendo, or any major developer, has entrusted its IP to an indie studio.

The other noteworthy info here is that players can choose Zelda as a playable character. It's something fans have clamored for increasingly in recent years.

Perhaps, then, Nintendo entrusting Mario to Ubisoft wasn't a one-off choice, and this sort of outsourcing will be the new normal — how Nintendo experiments with its franchises while the core games may or may not stay the same.

Konami Whips Up Hardcore Classic Collections for 50th Anniversary Wed, 20 Mar 2019 10:57:37 -0400 Jonathan Moore

On March 21, Konami will celebrate its 50th anniversary. But unlike a typical birthday bash, fans and players will be the ones getting the presents in 2019. 

In a recent post on its website, Konami confirmed that three collections of classic games would be heading to the PC (Steam), PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch this year. The games will cover those released on a wide swath of platforms, such as arcade, NES, SNES, and Gameboy. 

The first will be a collection of classic Konami arcade games, aptly called the Konami Anniversary Collection: Arcade Classics. It will release on April 18 for $19.99. The games included are: 

  • Haunted Castle
  • A-Jax (Typhoon)
  • Gradius
  • Gradius 2
  • Life Force
  • Thunder Cross
  • Scramble
  • Twinbee

Then in "early summer", Konami will release the Castlevania: Anniversary Collection. As of this writing, only four of the eight games in the collection have been announced, including: 

  • Castlevania
  • Castlevania 2: Simon's Quest
  • Castlevania 3: Dracula's Curse
  • Super Castlevania 4

Lastly, the company will also release the Contra Anniversary Collection at another point "this summer". As of this writing, it is not clear if this collection will release before, alongside, or after the Castlevania Collection, but we do know that it will also include eight games, four of which have been announced: 

  • Contra 
  • Super Contra
  • Super C
  • Contra 3: Alien Wars

Although all three collections will be released digitally, Konami will include other goodies, such as digital e-books books, behind-the-scenes interviews, design documents, and more. As of this writing, neither the Castlevania: Anniversary Collection nor the Contra: Anniversary Collection have been priced.  

While it might not be the remastered catalog gamers have been hoping for since the last ice age, these three collections will most certainly be welcomed by fans of Konami or those that may no longer have access to now-defunct Wii Shop.

Roguelite Sparklite Gets Shiny New Teaser Trailer Tue, 19 Mar 2019 12:46:47 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

Last year, developer Red Blue Games announced a partnership with publisher Merge Games for a brand-new roguelite adventure called Sparklite. The game flew under the radar for many people at the time, but Red Blue recently released a new teaser trailer as well as a batch of details explaining what the nostalgia-heavy brawler is all about.

Sparklite's plot has a few throwbacks to Secret of Mana. Sparklite itself, apart from being the title of the game, is the substance that keeps the world alive. It's a powerful force that people can channel for good or bad, or one of which they can consume large quantities for immense power boosts and serious consequences.

A villain styling himself the "Baron" conceives of a plan to harness Sparklite to power his war machines and embarks on a venture to monopolize the material. However, his overproduction and overuse of Sparklite creates a wave of pollution that washes over the world and slowly begins corrupting it.

The world has hope, though, in the form of protagonist, Ada. If she can prevent the Baron from taking control of the Sparklite core, his plans can be overturned.

Ada has quite the adventure in store for her it seems.

Sparklite takes inspiration from The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and Rogue Legacy, among other classic titles. With the help of Ada's gadgets and tools, players will fight their way through dungeons and overworld maps full of monsters.

The world of Sparklite is vast and varied, and Ada will explore dark mines, luminous nightscapes, and dense forests full of secrets along her journey.

The game's roots in A Link to the Past are visible in the gameplay trailer. However, Red Blue Games has yet to discuss much about its roguelite elements, though the developers are keen to point out that the game will carve its own identity to separate it from its inspirations.

Sparklite is set to launch sometime in fall 2019 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and Windows.

Splatoon 2 Getting Special Demo, Free Trial, and Digital Discount Tue, 19 Mar 2019 12:00:32 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

Splatoon was one of Nintendo's surprise new IPs in the Wii U days, with its sequel being one of the most anticipated Switch titles after the system was first announced. Now, having sold approximately 8 million copies since its launch in 2011, Splatoon 2 is placed alongside the likes of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe as one of the Switch's evergreen titles.

8 million is a large number, but there are plenty of people who haven't picked the game up or are curious but don't want to commit without further details. Nintendo knows that and is offering a special demo with a Nintendo Switch Online trial. The demo started today, March 19 at 10:00a.m. EST and runs until March 25 at the same time.

The demo gives you access to 4-on-4 Turf Battles, the game's primary mode; Salmon Run, a two-to-four player co-op mode; and League and Ranked Online Battles, higher levels of Turf War open to teams with higher ranking levels. Players with the demo can play with others who have downloaded the demo or those who own the full game.

As such, the demo requires a Nintendo Switch Online membership. Those who already have a membership can jump right in. If you've yet to purchase one, after downloading the demo, you're given the option to start a free 7-day trial membership.

Note that unless you cancel the membership at the end of the 7days, it automatically converts to a monthly renewal subscription.

If you like what you see during the demo, you can take advantage of a special 20% discount on the digital version of Splatoon 2 purchased through the Nintendo eShop.

Splatoon 2 received many content updates during its first year, including an expansive DLC campaign. It also has online competitions on a regular basis, and is often considered one of the best co-op games available. If you feel a little overwhelmed getting started, though, check out our Splatoon 2 guide coverage to help you rise through the ranks

8 Games and Franchises with the Biggest Translation Gaffes Mon, 18 Mar 2019 17:30:01 -0400 Joshua Broadwell


Breath of Fire II


Fans love to hate Capcom. Sometimes, it seems unfair. Other times, like when you remember Breath of Fire II, then it's completely understandable, and you just step back and let things go. Oh, if only the above picture had been true.


The early BoF games had an interesting history. Squaresoft handled the first one's localization and publishing. It had some problems, sure. The dialogue and mechanics were rough around the edges but there's still enjoyment to be had with it.


You would think of the BoF games, the first would have all the terrible issues, that Square would have taken the opportunity to sabotage a potential rival creeping in on its RPG monopoly.



Or perhaps someone at Square could tell that left to its own devices, Capcom would do that quite nicely on its own.


Breath of Fire II's translation and localization are full of ludicrous descriptions and sound effects and unclear dialogue. It's a showing on par with gems from the '80s like "all your base are belong to us" and Castlevania II.



It's near Deborah Cliff...


There are some classic signs of bad, careless translation as well, where the untranslated text is left in alongside the translated script, or even worse, the writer just added a transliteration, which isn't, y'know... actually a translation.



Manju are Japanese buns, so this particular instance is one of those cases where you forget  where the writer forgets to delete what they chose not to use. Note the transliteration was highlighted as the key point, though.



Other errors are less in keeping with the context. I'm not sure about you, but I see what could possibly be a boar — no bears, though.





It's amazing how punctuation can be so significant. Some bizarre uses of periods in here, except where a period is actually needed.



At first glance, there doesn't appear to be anything wrong with these two. It's just a nice, normal observation from a character who obviously hasn't seen Nina for a while. Except, she isn't seeing Nina now either.


This isn't a case where the party members all fold into the leader. The girl with the wings near the table? That's Nina. This woman just told Ryu he's not a little girl anymore, and I can only imagine how surprised he must have been to learn that.


If these things had remained a relic of the '90s BoF II, that would be a different story. But two different re-releases later — first on the Game Boy Advance and then on the Virtual Console — and Capcom still believed this translation was worth keeping.




Modern games aren't free from the plague of bad translation, sadly, but their shortcomings certainly do provide an amusing way to pass the time. Whether it's Capcom's carelessness in the '90s, Atlus's rushed schedule from a few years back, or the flood of cheap titles inundating digital platforms, it seems like bad translations are simply a universal factor of gaming life.


Got any examples of terrible game translations? Share yours in the comments!


Persona 5


Including Persona 5 on this list might be controversial. However, there's no denying that good though the game undoubtedly is, it falls far short of Atlus's standards in localization and what fans have come to expect from the company. That departure from the high-quality norm is a bigger gaffe than any translation awkwardness in the game.


Fortunately, for the most part, the game's dialogue quirks don't come anywhere near Kitty Love and Hollow Fragment levels of bad. You do have to pause for a moment and consider what's being said from time to time, though.



Morgana is pretty quirky to begin with, so at first glance, this seems like just another manifestation of that personality. But the sentence doesn't technically make sense. "seriously trying to kill us" maybe or "serious about killing us," but serious to kill us is what you'd expect from an inexperienced translator or an early ESL student.


Conner Kramer put together a site listing some notably egregious errors (and getting some flak for it from the fan community as well), and he added some alternatives for a few of them. Here's an example:




His revision is a lot more like what fans got in Persona 4 and much more in keeping with the character doing the speaking as well. One would expect a high school principle to say something like "misdemeanor is not tolerated..." as opposed to "you will behave yourself," which is better suited to an elementary school setting.


There are other signs of carelessness too.


Image via j-entranslations


Persona games rely heavily on good dialogue to push the story forward and keep players interested. These issues are hardly game breaking, but they do break the immersion, which makes it difficult to remain invested.


What lies behind the issue is a mystery. It's possible some elements of localization were a rushed job, since the game was delayed to begin with. But it's equally possible it was simply oversight.


Yu Namba, senior project manager at Atlus and responsible for a good deal of Persona games' localization processes, once said he couldn't account for everything that happened, but tried to make sure the core narrative was coherent and clear. Other things could slip through the cracks, as they apparently did for P5.


Kitty Love


The Switch has taken over the Vita's place as supreme host of otome games. The eShop is flooded with romance games, most of which are geared towards female audiences, and many of which have rather low production values.


Kitty Love takes the crown for one of the worst translations, though. It's the usual quirky premise for one of these games. The protagonist works at a flower shop by day and turns into a cat by night, because why not.


As is a growing trend with eShop games, the game's end result is less than stellar, with apparently very little in the way of quality control either by the developer or Nintendo's alleged curation process.



The quintessential tourist activity — buttering the day


Some of the errors here aren't quite Hollow Fragment bad, but they do range from the mild to the completely unintelligible, up to the "how could you think this was okay?"



The protagonist is in cat form in the above, so presumably, this is just a special way of saying he held the cat


Many of the scenarios just take a bit of figuring out to understand.



That isn't one of them, though.



Or that one.



Okay, so maybe it is on par with Hollow Fragment.



That's...not good.


Slapdash niche games riddled with errors aren't exactly new, but there are a couple of things that make Kitty Love stand out as particularly noteworthy.


The first is the fact that it exists at all on the Switch eShop. Nintendo claimed from the eShop's early days that it would be akin to a curated platform, and not every pitch, even from well-known developers, would be accepted. Fast forward two short years, and it seems that policy has quietly been abandoned.


What's more, unlike some games, including Hollow Fragment, Kitty Love continues to exist in this form — no patches, no changes, no discounts. Whether the amusing dialogue is worth the price of admission is for you to decide.


Pokemon Crystal: Vietnamese Version


Pokemon Vietnamese Crystal has been a thing on the internet for many years, and it's practically a meme generator. The game has a strange history. It started as a Chinese translation of the Japanese script, but despite being considered a Vietnamese version, the game is pretty much entirely in English.


Players are greeted with this.




They do? I' sorry


For some reason, the translator was a bit free with referring to Pokemon as Elf and as Monster, depending on the context, though there didn't seem to be much of a guiding reason behind which scenario got which reference. Either way, there's not much of a link between professor or scholar and monster.


Some of the text is comprehensible, and you can get an idea of how it went from the original meaning to the slightly garbled one.



Friend makes sense, since Pokemon are often referred to as friend in the script. Store... eh. Center and shop are close, but that's starting to stretch it (especially when everything in there is free).


And then you get ones like this, from the next script point.



It's easy to pick up on the fact that "grasp" is used for catch, but basin?


















This early conversation shortly after the rival makes an appearance is unique, but not actually instructive.



This one doesn't seem to be very clear either, until you realize he's talking about Mr. Pokemon.



Apart from the phrasing, it makes sense. I don't know what the original script says, but I imagine it's something referring to Mr. Pokemon as an older man, hence "Grandfather."


But then you get this again.



And this.



The battle system is its own set of special. The theory goes that perhaps there was an indexing error that threw descriptions and translations off, since some are correct, just out of place. Other issues involved transliterating Japanese grammatical particles that weren't intended to be spoken or read.



But it doesn't explain everything about it or the naming conventions.


It certainly doesn't explain the unique way of obtaining items, where the game throws the F-bomb your way every time you place an item in the bag.


Most of the game is almost impossible to understand. If you're interested, you can check out the original Let's Play that sparked the phenomenon. 


Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment


Sword Art Online is a popular transmedia franchise, spanning manga, anime, and video games. In most cases, SOA in all of its forms tells a compelling story with likeable characters, and it's garnered a decent-sized following in the West. We even ranked Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization as one of 2017's best anime franchise games.


Its sequel, Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment had a very, very rough start in the West, though. Like a handful of other Japanese games released in Asia before the West, it initially had an Asian release with an English language option.


But that translation was bad. In fact, bad doesn't even begin to cover it.



Japan has its share of race problems, but this wasn't an instance of blatant insensitivity. This is just referring to Kirito, the man wearing black. Though, I don't think he was sexually harassing anyone.



This isn't exactly what you'd expect to find as a subject line in a hero's inbox.  Fear not, though — it's just monster extermination, SAO Asian translation-style.



The translation was also just plain lazy. SAO games stray into racy territory now and again, but , this isn't a reference to one of those adult visual novel scenes. This is just bad translation of a symbol with a wide variety of meanings, most of which relate to war, exploration, and things like that.


Fans who played the version that existed prior to the improved translation patch saw lots of references to penetration throughout the game, in some unusual contexts as well.




Some of the (many) instances do make me wonder whether the translator had a slight idea of what they were saying and tried to just make a joke out of it.


This wasn't the only instance of single-minded determination to stick to one translation regardless of context either.



A standard Japanese greeting is yoroshiku, or the full version, yoroshiku onegaishimasu. It can mean a variety of things, from "nice to meet you," to "let's get along" or "let's work together," among other potential definitions.


It's useful when you first meet someone, of course. But Asuna and other characters  would say this every time Kirito chose them to accompany him on a penetration — er, that is, an exploration trip.



Same to you!


There are countless other instances of unclear or ridiculous phrasing as well.



This being one good example.


As a matter of fact, there is.


Bandai Namco isn't known for always making the best decisions, but it's odd how an established company ended up using a very evidently poorly trained translator for the original English version.


One of my favorite things about being underground is seeing the sky.


The Tales of... Games


Bandai Namco's Tales of... series is known for its endearing characters, interesting plots, and snappy dialogue. However, not all entries are created equally.


The most recent new Tales of game, Tales of Berseria, was lauded for its darker take on the usually chipper stories and characters, but it suffered from some very uneven dialogue and writing towards the end of the game



Not all the errors are quite as confusing as this one, though.



But the biggest issue with the numerous gaffes towards the end of the game is that most of them end up completely unintelligible, like these next two.




Bandit shrooms don't even exist in the game.


It's worth noting the voiced lines don't always match with the written dialogue, though. This fact leads some to suspect that perhaps what happened with Berseria was a sudden change in script or direction near the end of production that didn't make it to the localization department and was just crammed in at the last minute.

Errors in Earlier Games

Either way, these kinds of issues aren't restricted to modern titles. Clyde Mandellin with Legends of Localization noticed this interesting mistake in Tales of the Abyss that's rather easy to overlook.



In between all the talk of fonons and fomicry in the early part of the game, it's easy to forget that the seventh fonon was known about for a long, long time. After all, how could Tear be a practicing Seventh Fonist if it was only just discovered?


The error here comes from a loose translation of the original Japanese, which only said it was the most recently discovered, which doesn't give any kind of time reference.


Then there was the official English translation of Tales of Phantasia, with this interesting little nugget.



The original line was Ragnarok, but Mandelin says older versions of Microsoft Word didn't include Ragnarok in the dictionary and only offered Kangaroo with a capital K as the first recommended choice. This one was a careless spell check error that somehow managed to make it through to publication.


Why the editors of a fantasy game script thought spell check could be relied on anyway is another matter.


Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana


The Ys series is one of gaming's longest-running series, with Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana being the most recent entry. While its action oriented gameplay and immersive worlds haven't changed dramatically over the decades, its publication status in the West certainly has.


Most of the early titles after the original two ended up as fan translations, before XSeed began bringing them over as part of its partnership with developer Nihon Falcom (we won't talk about that Konami incident with Ys VI).


And then came Nippon Ichi Software America. As part of Falcom's attempts to expand its international audience, it gave the publishing license for Ys VIII to NISA, with some disastrous results.




This character's bowel habits became a running gag in the original translation, which shouldn't be too surprising from a company that thinks Esty Dee as a name (as they did in Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland) is a funny localization joke.




It's okay Reja; most of us don't either.


The game was riddled with untranslated text, randomly scattered here and there — a common error in badly handled games from the '90s, but not something one would expect from modern games. It's certainly not in keeping with XSeed's usual translation work, which makes it stand out all the more for longtime fans.



Lines like this are common as well, making certain narrative segments and even dialogue a sort of guessing game. But that's not the worst thing.




The game originally had a passable English translation, especially for most main segments and place names. Why NISA felt the need to re-translate is beyond me, particularly when the re-translation was so shoddy.


Fortunately, NISA publicly recognized its errors and re-re-translated the script, providing a much better experience all 'round and apparently earning Falcom's trust enough to warrant being given its next big overseas project, The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III


Final Fantasy Games


Most Final Fantasy games are high quality, well-produced works. That doesn't mean they are error-free, but for the most part, the base games are well-written with good localization.


Unfortunately, Square Enix has gained a reputation for not really caring about how those high quality works transfer to other platforms based on their lazy ports and similarly low-effort localizations.



No, the above isn't a screenshot from an alternate Final Fantasy IV universe where the Red Wings were Baron's premiere delivery service with Cecil as their leader. It's the first line of script in the mobile FFIV port.


The port was supposed to use the DS version's script, but obviously, something happened along the way. It made its own mistakes, while keeping those of its predecessor.



And then there's the mobile port of Final Fantasy VI.



Given how many times "esper" appears in the script, it's baffling how this mistake wasn't caught before the game launched, to say nothing of the awkward phrasing that was left untouched.


Still, the script is entirely readable, unlike some other inclusions in this list. The biggest issue is that errors like this are expected with most SE ports, causing one to wonder about the overall attitude of the port teams and the company towards its franchises.

Errors in Original Versions

However, the original versions are certainly not free from errors.



Final Fantasy VII fans will already know this screenshot contains two errors The potentially less obvious one is Aeris's name. It's actually meant to be Aerith, and that's how it appears in all later mentions in the Final Fantasy universe.


This was a common translation error in the 1990s, when localization teams were apparently not experienced in differentiating between easily misunderstood Japanese characters. Most people know about the "L" and "R" confusion, but "S" and "TH" is another one.


There are, of course, other linguistic challenges to overcome as well.



That above is a wyvern in Final Fantasy V.


There's not really any reason other than just "whoops" for this one from Final Fantasy X, though to be fair, it was fixed in the HD remasters.



Video game fans have been dealing with the highs and lows of translation and localization since the 1980s. It's a risk built into a hobby that often relies on media translated from one context-sensitive language to a very different one.


Some of the early examples of translation gaffes have made their way into meme-dom and are among the best-known examples of games gone wrong, games such as Top Wing and Ghosts N' Goblins.


As time progressed, one would think these issues would gradually fade away, with more experienced translators and bigger budgets.


That, however, didn't happen. Through the 1990s and up to recent years, video games still dealt shoddy translations, rushed schedules, and bad management — even some of the bigger games and studios.


Some of the more egregious errors in these games and franchises are what this list focuses on, examples of games that should have been better from companies that ought to know better. Along the way, we'll touch on the reasons behind the gaffes and explore what, if anything, was done to remedy the problems.

The New 8-Bit Heroes Introduces NESmaker, Software That Lets You Create NES Games Mon, 18 Mar 2019 16:49:09 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

It's the dream of many a retro gamer or devoted programmer to see a game of their own making printed on a real NES cartridge. The New 8-Bit Heroes is making that dream a reality with their NESmaker software.

Platforms like Unity have made game development infinitely more accessible in recent years, but retro development remained in the domain of the particularly skilled programmers. NES development in particular relied on the now-obsolete 6502 Assembly programming language. Books and tutorials are available for learning the language, but it's a time consuming and difficult process.

NESmaker bypasses that issue by using an interface similar to Unity and GameMaker, which means retro enthusiasts don't even need to have programming knowledge to get started. The software provides several genre models for users to tinker with, including platform, scrolling shooter, and adventure.

However, it also includes options for those who do know or learn the 6502 Assembly language to build a game from the ground up.

The New 8-Bit Heroes creative director, Joe Granato, said:

Our goal is to give aspiring NES developers a new access point. ...for non-programmers, systems like the NES have an almost impossible barrier for entry. NESmaker opens up development for this system for artists and creatives of all types

Finished products are saved in a .nes file. The file can be used in certain emulators, including The New 8-Bit Heroes' recommended emulator Mesen. However, another feature that makes NESmaker unique is the ability to transfer your .nes file via flash storage onto a genuine NES cartridge.

These cartridges come with a variety of benefits, including flash storage, so there's no need to remember passwords. Yet they are still recognized by NES and Famicom machines (but not Retron consoles), making the experience as natural as possible.

The NESmaker software, bundled with a DVD documentary detailing the project's origins can be purchased from The New 8-Bit Heroes website for $40. The site also includes a range of beginner's and intermediate tutorials.

Users wishing to transfer their games to actual cartridges would need to head to Infinite NES Lives, a retro programming site The New 8-Bit Heroes recommends, to purchase individual NES cartridges, the INLretro USB Programmer, and necessary circuit boards.

Those who are interested in seeing how the finished products look and play can check out The New 8-Bit Heroes' arcade section here.

New Nindies Showcase Announced for March 20 Mon, 18 Mar 2019 14:27:41 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

Since the Nintendo Switch launched two years ago, it has received massive support from independent game developers. Indies comprise some of the system's best offerings and most anticipated ports, such as the hardcore platformer Celeste and the quirky story adventure Night in the Woods, along with universal smash hits Stardew Valley and Undertale.

Every year, at least once, Nintendo hosts special presentations known as Nindies Showcases, focused specifically on its upcoming indie offerings. This year's first Nindies Showcase is set for just a couple of days from the time of writing, March 20.

What stands out about this Nindies presentation is the length. In previous years, the showcases have clocked in between 10 and 20 minutes long. The March 20, 2019 Nindies Showcase is set to be approximately 30 minutes, nearly three times the length of last spring's showcase.

The broadcast begins at 12 p.m. EDT, and you can watch the livestream directly on Nintendo's website here.

It's easy to overlook indie games on the Switch just because there are so many. However, the Nindies Showcases usually focus on particularly high-quality games or games from well-known developers. These are the sort of games Nintendo used as a third pillar of sorts to keep the Switch alive in between major releases.

For example, the first Showcase in 2017 previewed games that would eventually find great success, like Golf Story and SteamWorld Dig 2. Other games previewed might not go on to do quite so well — Dragon Marked for Death and Mulaka come to mind — but highlight the creative talent and visionaries in the gaming industry.

Another reason these presentations are important is that indie developers need to be spotlighted to get noticed. Despite Nintendo wanting to bring 20-30 indie games to the Switch per week, the Switch eShop has yet to receive a worthwhile update that makes finding specific games or following developers easy. The "Featured" tab often just highlights first party games as well.

Kirby's Extra Epic Yarn Review: Patchwork Brilliance Sat, 16 Mar 2019 12:04:41 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

Almost 10 years ago, near the tail-end of the Wii's life-cycle, developer Good-Feel games released an unlikely game starring one of Nintendo's legendary mascots. That game was Kirby's Epic Yarn, a unique experience that stripped away everything that made a Kirby game, well, a Kirby game.

Players were treated to worlds themed around crafts, with felt, stitches, and yarn as far as the eye could see. It was an example of successful experimentation with a franchise, and it spawned additional, equally solid releases from Good-Feel later down the line.

Now, at the tail-end of the 3DS' life-cycle, Feel-Good brought Epic Yarn back for the 3DS family of systems in the form of Kirby's Extra Epic Yarn. The "Extra" in the title refers to some new mini-games and modes, but the core of the game remains largely the same.

That certainly isn't a bad thing, though. Kirby's Extra Epic Yarn is a high-quality port of an already great game, bringing Kirby and platformer fans the ability to play one of the pink puff's most unique games on the go.

New Worlds

Most Kirby games don’t revolve around deep plots with twists and turns, and Kirby’s Extra Epic Yarn continues in that tradition, which is to its benefit.

One day while trying to grab a luscious Metamato he spied in the distance, Kirby falls foul of the evil yarn magician, Yin-Yarn. The wizard sucks Kirby into his magic sock (it’s true), which transports the pink powerhouse to a new world: Patch Land.

As befits a world by that name, Patch Land is made entirely out of crafty-type things. Yarn, naturally, comprises a good deal of the material, but felt, needles, bobbins, and other sewing and knitting equipment make their appearance quite regularly as well.

What could possibly go wrong in such an adorable land? Yin-Yarn broke it into pieces, and the magic yarn that ties everything together is guarded by a variety of terrifying yarn monsters. What’s more, the dastardly sorcerer created yarn copies of traditional Kirby enemies that are now running about, wreaking havoc in Patch Land, and even making their way back to Dream Land.

Now, Kirby must travel through Patch Land’s six fragmented regions and help Prince Fluff, his blue counterpart, restore order to the world.

The story is as utterly adorable and charming as you’d expect from a Kirby game and a Good-Feel game. That it has no great depth doesn’t matter, especially when it provides the backdrop for such creative graphics and gameplay mechanics.

The only detraction here is some slightly sketchy narration in each major story sequence. It isn’t terrible by any means, but the voice doesn’t quite match the content.

Held Together with Pins (In a Good Way)

Kirby’s Extra Epic Yarn doesn’t play like your usual Kirby game. For one thing, there are no copy abilities (since Kirby doesn’t have a stomach anymore). Instead, he uses a bit of yarn to pull things around, unraveling enemies and opening hidden passages in the process.

Our hero also loses the ability to inflate, since he loses, well, an actual body to inflate. Instead, when he jumps, Kirby turns into a cute little yarn parachute if you hold "A," which slows his descent some and requires a better sense of timing and landing judgement than most Kirby games.

These two factors also completely necessary for the game’s platforming, which relies entirely on the yarn mechanic in one form or another.

To get to high or distant platforms, Kirby can sometimes take advantage of a nearby pull-string with a strand of yarn to bunch up the environment and pull platforms closer. Or he can use a nodule on a dandelion puff to swing over to where he needs to go. There might also be times when Kirby has to unravel himself to squeeze through a small gap, outrunning yarn snakes at the same time.

The possibilities are almost endless, and Good-Feel created levels in such a way that these basic, core mechanics never get boring.

For example, obstacles like erupting volcanoes would normally be impassible or require a precise feat of platforming. But when they’re made out of felt and resemble drawstring bags, all Kirby has to do is pull the string tight and (quickly) pass over unhindered.

Ravel Abilities

In place of Kirby’s copy abilities, he gets ravel abilities, such as Wire (sword), Marking Pins, Nylon, and Knitting Needles.

Each ability has its own strengths, and some are used to solve simple puzzles. Nylon (aka the whirlwind), for instance, is useful for helping Kirby go just a little farther and higher, making it easier to reach certain platforms.

The Marking Pins let Kirby chuck three sharp pins (with cute star-shaped heads) in a chosen direction, which is useful for taking on incoming enemies before they get too close.

For the most part, though, they act the same as copy abilities — helping Kirby clear through a horde of enemies or overcome a particularly tough spot without being absolutely necessary to finish levels. They do sometimes help reach secret areas or hidden collectibles, though, and are just plain fun to play around with.


If you’ve played Yoshi’s Woolly World or its 3DS version Poochy and Yoshi's Woolly World, you’ll know Good-Feel makes collectibles an integral part of its games. Extra Epic Yarn is no different.

Each stage has three different collectible items to gather as you progress — two pieces of furniture (more on that later) and that stage’s soundtrack you can play back in the hub area. There are also secret Stars you can gather.

The primary collectible to gather, though, is beads. Beads are the currency of Patch Land and also act like Rings in Sonic games — get hit, and they all go flying. Kirby has no health meter in Extra Epic Yarn’s primary gameplay mode, so he can’t really die.

However, beads are necessary for purchasing goods from vendors in the hub town, plus gathering enough in each stage to earn a gold medal means you unlock extra stages after clearing that region’s boss battles.

Keeping hold of the beads you find becomes more challenging later in the game. Beneath Patch Land’s cuddly looks and deceptively calm first world lies a cleverly designed platformer with hard-to-find secrets, devious enemies, and areas that force you to think on your toes or risk losing everything you collected in that level.


Extra Epic Yarn (and the original Wii version) borrows the vehicle mechanic from Yoshi’s Island from time to time as well, varying the gameplay and offering some additional challenge. It’s actually incorporated more often and more smoothly than in many Yoshi games, as you tend to find at least a short vehicle segment in every or every other level.

The vehicles range from a massive Kirby tank complete with yarn missiles to a UFO that sends out an electric shock after absorbing objects, and even a fire engine. You’ll transform into some more than others, though, especially the mole digger, which is delightfully reminiscent of Drill Dozer’s mechanics.

Many of these segments are more challenging than the regular gameplay. One example involves the UFO, where you must maneuver it around bumpers to avoid hitting enemies or obstacles, yet move quickly enough to avoid getting squashed by the moving screen.

Fortunately, the challenge is purely in the gameplay and not in the controls. Each vehicle controls smoothly and easily. That’s a good thing, since completing most of these segments is required to finish the level.


The difficulty in the base game varies. With Kirby being essentially immortal, you’d think the game would be a complete cakewalk. However, if you go into it expecting a game where you can surf the ‘net or watch something while you play, you’ll be surprised the further you get into Patch Land.

The drive to preserve your bead collection will vary from person to person, but this writer found trying to keep every bead Kirby picked up more compelling than keeping a health meter full.

Stop, Look, and Listen

Epic Yarn was a lovely looking game when it debuted on the Wii, and Extra Epic Yarn is no different on the 3DS family. In fact, Extra Epic Yarn looks markedly better than its forebear. Colors are brighter and more vibrant, which goes a long way in making Patch Land stand out.

Extra Epic Yarn's soundtrack is quite a feat in itself, and like the game, it hides depth beneath simplicity. The soundtrack utilizes the piano almost exclusively and manages to create a unique and fitting atmosphere for every stage.

There will be a sort of overall theme in whatever world Kirby is in at the time, with each stage taking it and turning variations of all or parts of it into something completely new. If you're the type of gamer who does go back and re-listen to a game's tracks, then it's definitely worth the effort to find each stage's track.

Basically, it's a Good-Feel game. The studio isn't named Good-Feel for nothing. Like its older Yoshi siblings, Extra Epic Yarn has the power to make you smile or give the warm fuzzies just by powering it on.

When Woolly World first came out, some looked back at Epic Yarn and criticized its less dynamic designs and visuals. With Yoshi's Crafted World coming out later this month, similar comparisons will doubtlessly be made.

However, it's not a fair comparison. Apart from being based on an older game on less powerful hardware, Extra Epic Yarn's charms are more visual than tactile. True, you can't just about feel the feltiness of the felt like you can with Woolly World, but it's a delight to witness anyway.

So What's New?

If you've played Epic Yarn, then you likely know almost all of this already. But Extra Epic Yarn does include a few new gameplay features to set itself apart. Chief among those is Devilish Mode. This challenge mode adds a 5-hit health meter (shaped like a felt star) to include an element of risk, and there will also be a yarn devil pop out from behind the scenes periodically to chuck things at Kirby.

The thing is, it's not a necessary addition. As mentioned already, the base game presents its own take on challenging gameplay, and the same spots that would cause you to lose your beads are the ones that'll most likely take a chunk out of your star meter too, so it doesn't really add anything. The devils don't do much either and are easily dispatched.

More importantly, the soundtrack change when the devils appear is incredibly abrupt and jarring. Since it happens regularly, it ends up just making each stage annoying.

There's a time attack mode included as well, where you can try to beat your fastest times in each stage. On top of that are two rather fun new mini-games: Dedede Gogogo and Meta Knight's Slash and Bead.

The former is an endless runner in the vein of the Poochy stages in Poochy and Yoshi's Woolly World, while the latter is akin to an arcade game, where Meta Knight must destroy as many enemies as possible in each stage.

Both are nice ways to take a break from the main game, and performing well earns you mats and beads you can use to make decorative items just for fun.

Then there's Kirby's new pad. Remember those collectible items you gather from each stage? They serve as furniture for Kirby's apartment in the hub area. There's a wide variety of furniture to find, with each piece being themed around the world it's hidden in. The apartment is admittedly small, but like pretty much everything else in Extra Epic Yarn, it and the furnishings you can fill it with are absolutely adorable.

You get three different layouts you can decorate to your liking as well, which is good since the apartment's size means you have to choose carefully what you want to place in it.

Two vendors set up shop in Quilty Square shortly after the game begins as well, and you can buy new furniture and fabrics (used for creating wallpapers and the like) with your beads. They change their stock each time you unlock a new world, so it's worth checking back if you really want to dive into the crafting and furnishing side of the game.

One thing Extra Epic Yarn didn't keep is multiplayer. Unlike the Wii version, it's single-player only; Prince Fluff just offers moral support and some items in each stage.



  • Clever level design and gameplay mechanics
  • Exemplary soundtrack
  • Plenty of content beyond the main story


  • Not much new content in the main game itself
  • The primary new mode is more annoying than anything

The lack of new content makes Kirby's Extra Epic Yarn difficult to recommend to those well acquainted with the Wii original. However, newcomers, hardccore Kirby fans, and fans of clever level design and visuals could do far worse than spend their time with the pink puffball in Patch Land.

[Note: A copy of Kirby's Extra Epic Yarn was provided by Nintendo of America for the purpose of this review.]

TurtleBlaze Announces Adorable New Medroidvania Game Kunai Thu, 14 Mar 2019 09:50:20 -0400 QuintLyn

You may have played Metroidvania games before, but have you ever played one as a ninja tablet capable of pulling off insane parkour moves while wielding an armory of deadly weapons? Chances are pretty good you haven't. But that's OK because you'll now have the chance.

Yesterday, publisher The Arcade Crew and developer TurtleBlaze revealed Kunai, a new indie action game coming to Nintendo Switch and PC. Although the game doesn't yet have a release date, it does have a pretty sweet trailer, which you can see above.

Swing on ropes across chasms, dash up walls, drop in on enemy targets, and cause insane amounts of glorious mayhem, all as a little electronic tablet "with an ancient warrior's soul."  

Of course, the game's protag isn't just a tablet, it's the main character, Tabby, who awakens after an apocalyptic event nearly wipes out humanity. 

The nearly destroyed world full of secrets, hidden passages, and strange characters, robots roam free. Players will need to make use of all their ninja skills to find all these hidden places and discover everything there is to know about the world.

On their way, players will use an arsenal of deadly weapons to fight their way through machines, androids, and mechs. They'll also be able to make friends with others in the apocalyptic world to have them join in their fight against the evil armies taking over. 

While there's no word on betas or anything of the sort, players interested in checking out the game are (kind of) in luck. The developers will be showing off Kunai at GDC on March 20-22 and PAX East on March 28-31. Those attending GDC can find Kunai in booth N3007 while PAX East attendees will be able to find it at booth #21097 in the Indie Megabooth area.

While The Arcade Crew has previously worked on games such as Dark Devotion, Chrome Blazing, and Young Souls, Kunai is only the second game from TurtleBlaze — and the small studio's first game for Switch and PC. Previously, Turtleblaze developed Road Warriors, an "intergalactic racing game" for iOS and Android. 

To learn more about Kunai, be sure to head over to the game's official site.

Fortnite Update Changes Console Cross-Play Pool Wed, 13 Mar 2019 14:36:05 -0400 William R. Parks

Another update recently went live on Fortnite, and it brought some new toys for battle royale fans to play with, including the Baller, a single seat vehicle with both grappler and boost functionality. However, new content is not the only focus of the patch, as it also looks to change the game's console cross-play pools.

Prior to the update, fans playing Fortnite on PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox One were all part of the same console pool when opting-in for cross-play. Now, this pool has been divided, and cross-play is no longer optional for battle royale. 

That is, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One players are now in their own starting pool, and opting out of cross-play will restrict them to Creative Mode and Playgrounds. Switch players, on the other hand, will now enter a starting pool with those playing on mobile, which Epic believes will lead to "an on-average better per-game experience for both mobile and Switch players."

To be clear, this does not mean that Switch players are no longer able to play with friends that own a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One. When joining a squad with one of these players, Switch owners will simply be back competing in the console cross-play pool rather than battling against mobile players.

That said, the change does suggest that Epic is, in general, finding that Switch players are having trouble competing against those with Sony and Microsoft's consoles. The patch notes do not elaborate on exactly how this discrepancy is manifesting, but it is easy to imagine the factors that might lead to it.

For example, Fortnite has been known to have decreased performance on Nintendo's console, which may be impacting the overall success of Switch players. Additionally, some of these fans are likely to be playing primarily in handheld mode, which may make it even more challenging to compete.

Whatever the case may be, fans are certain to have mixed opinions on the change. Fortunately, it does not mean that Switch players will be unable to continue playing with friends on other platforms — they will just be competing in a different pool when they do so.

The patch notes outlining the change to cross-play pools can be found on Fortnite's website.

New Power Rangers: Battle For The Grid Trailer Focuses On Gameplay Tue, 12 Mar 2019 13:03:38 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

The Power Rangers franchise has been around for a long time, and it has certainly seen a number of rises and falls in popularity over its lifespan — something that one would no doubt expect from a media entity spanning several decades. That said, the franchise is currently at a point of being back in the public eye, and a new trailer for Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid looks to keep excitement around the Rangers high.

In the trailer, fans get a peak at some of the upcoming fighter's action, character models, and environments. As seen in the video, Battle for the Grid is in the vein of the Marvel Vs. Capcom series, pitting teams of three against one another.

The title has been described as a full-fledged fighting game that skillfully balances accessibility with depth. This suggests that anyone that is interested will be able to pickup Battle for the Grid without feeling intimidated by the skill and difficulty curves that often accompany fighting games.

Along with this attempt at gameplay accessibility, nWay is also looking to offers longtime fans and newcomers alike an entry point to the title. That is, players will be able to choose their fighters from both new and old Rangers, and the game will feature classic and brand new villains as well.

Battle for the Grid will feature online multiplayer, letting fans team up to face off against challengers from around the globe. This co-operative play will be possible regardless of the platform players are on, due to the game's support of cross-play. That said, it remains to be seen if Sony will play nice, allowing cross-play with PlayStation 4, or if the company will continue being a loner.

nWay's reputation with the Power Rangers franchise means that fans should rest easy knowing that their beloved Rangers are in good hands. Legacy Wars, the mobile predecessor to Battle for the Grid, received very good reviews, and we even considered it one of the best mobile games of 2017.

Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid will release simultaneously on PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox One this spring, and it will come to PC later in 2019. The standard edition will be $19.99, and there is also a special Digital Collector's Edition available.

This special edition includes the full game download, the Season One pass, which includes new characters and a skin, and exclusive Lord Drakkon Evo II and Kimberly Hart character skins. Undoubtedly, players that are excited about the upcoming fighter will want to consider this as an option.

Truberbrook Review: A Vacation to Remember Mon, 11 Mar 2019 15:15:01 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

HeadUp Games is probably best known for its work on recent hits like Dead Cells and Double Cross, along with sleeper hits such as Slime San.

Truberbrook, the studio’s most recent title, continues the developer’s tradition of variety in output. It’s a point-and-click style adventure game set in 1960s Cold War Germany, in the eponymous village of Truberbrook.

The premise is this: Hans Tannhauser, a quantum physicist from Washington state, wins a trip to the village of Truberbrook in a lottery he didn’t even know about. After arriving in the village and setting his room up for the night, he’s startled to find someone rummaging through his suitcase and discovers the thief pilfered some physics papers.

Since it’s a point-and-click game, you guide Hans around the village and some surprising surroundings to uncover the truth behind the theft, some odd disappearances, and Hans himself.

Truberbrook suffers from a few setbacks in the tech department and one or two slightly "off" design choices, but it’s an engaging and charming adventure on the whole, one that’s easy to recommend.

It's Got the Looks

The first thing that stands out about the game is its visuals. Truberbrook absolutely oozes atmosphere. The village itself is a quaint, scenic hamlet nestled between scenic mountains that don’t look ominous at all and a lake that’s probably never seen anything terrible happen in it.

From the moment Hans steps off the bus, the game world immediately immerses the player in its gorgeous, handcrafted aesthetic, realistic lighting, and use of natural background sounds.

It’s difficult to imagine how much work HeadUp put into building every scene by hand, but their efforts most definitely pay off.

Hans visits a number of locations in the immediate area, all of which have their own atmosphere and leave a lasting impression on players.

By following the story, players eventually venture around the region in the late evening for one particular event, and the change in both Truberbrook itself and the surrounding area adds a tangible element of tension and creepiness at just the right moment, aided in no small part by the use of natural evening light.

Plenty of Personality

Truberbrook and the surrounding locales are populated by the sort of eccentric personalities you’d expect from a game in this genre, but they stand out immediately.

Part of their charm comes from their design, which wouldn’t be out of place in a Tim Burton film, especially Trude, the Guesthouse owner, along with another important character Hans encounters after the first main puzzle.

The characters were added into the built scenes via CGI, which gives the entire game a look and feel very much like something between an old Claymation film and those sci-fi TV shows from the ‘60s where the action played out with puppets in front of hand-built sets.

The other part comes from the writing and voice acting.

Each character has a unique personality that shines through within the first couple of lines you hear, and it goes a long way in making Truberbrook both feel like a real village with a history and like a place that’s completely foreign to Hans (which is good, because, well, it is completely foreign to him).

A Tale to Tell

Naturally, story is another thing a point-and-click has to nail. Truberbrook does that too, though not much can be said in detail without venturing into spoiler territory. It hits the right notes for sci-fi and mystery without tipping the balance too much in either way.

The mysteries are enigmatic enough to keep you wanting to find out what happens next. There is some more obvious foreshadowing and some obscure things here and there you know are significant, but can’t put your finger on why.

All in all, though, the player is rather like Hans — completing tasks and trying to move forward, all without a clue about where the various threads will meet and what will happen when they do.

The sci-fi elements are what you’d expect from a sci-fi narrative, all without venturing into hammy territory, and the story’s period setting is one aspect that helps keep it balanced.

As with any well-told story, there are plenty of twists and turns to keep you engaged along the way as well. The story's overall length is similar to other games in the genre and should take between five and eight hours total, depending on how quickly you move through things.

Kickstarter backers get an extra prologue scene to play through as well, starring a character Hans meets later on. Although the scene doesn't add too much to the narrative, it serves as a fun introduction to the game’s broader tone, mechanics, and world.

Truberbrook’s pacing is brisk, and the story’s natural peaks and troughs do an excellent job segmenting everything. Still, the developers decided to break things up into chapters, with some chapters having random sub-headings pop up for major events.

It’s a bit jarring, especially since the story does a good job of that on its own, and it actually makes the game seem shorter than it is. That, and the fact that the fourth chapter is the longest of the bunch, harms the game’s organic pacing and seems completely unnecessary because of it.

Getting from A to B

You likely already know what to expect from Truberbrook's basic gameplay if you're a fan of the genre. Being a point-and-click, you find areas of interest, click or select them, figure out what to do next from the context given, and determine which items from your inventory are most likely to solve whatever puzzle you’re dealing with.

Truberbrook doesn’t do anything astoundingly new to shake up the formula.

However, it doesn’t have to, because the gameplay uses it so well. There are many, many different items to interact with scattered all over the region. Not all of them are necessary to the story, but if you want to take part in the full experience, you’ll take the time to explore and read/hear Hans’ always interesting or amusing commentary on whatever he sees.

Inventory management is simple, too — so simple, in fact, that you don’t actually manage it. Hans automatically acquires a new item by interacting with it. If there’s an object or person that that item can be used with, it shows up under the gear option when you select the item to interact with.

However, some items can’t be used; only showing up as an option; thanks to some snappy dialog, though, it’s worth selecting them anyway, just to hear what Hans has to say.

Items that need to be combined in order to work show up as highlighted together, so you really never have to bother with figuring out the connections between seemingly random and useless items Hans picks up along his journey.

In other cases, you'll interact with everything you can in order to progress the story or find just the right item to solve a puzzle. If you get stuck and can’t figure out what to do next, you have the option to automatically highlight everything Hans can interact with.

It’s a highly useful mechanic because some items are easy to overlook, especially in areas where there’s a lot to interact with anyway.


Most of the puzzles in Truberbrook aren’t horribly difficult and involve observation and paying attention more than logic. There are a few moments where the design is slightly more obtuse than necessary, though.

For example, one puzzle in Chapter 2 uses a sequence based on context, but one thing in that sequence needs just a bit more description to give you an idea of where it fits.

Another point in the story requires you to venture to a new area outside the village. You can’t access it prior to that point, and there’s nothing indicating things have changed between beginning the game and that particular point.

Overall, though, puzzles and progression have a natural, seamless feel to them and flow at a good pace. Despite not being very difficult, there’s still a noticeable measure of satisfaction as everything falls neatly into place — when that can of tuna comes in handy or when the can opener has an unexpected (and hilarious) use.

Dialogue in Abundance

Humor is something you’ll encounter a lot in Truberbrook, and it works far more often than it doesn’t. A good bit of it is visual in nature, like when you first enter the guesthouse and try to get service at the front desk.

Hans always has a dry or witty comment to make, and some of the dialogue options are laugh-out-loud funny, particularly if you’re a fan of quirky or dry humor. The juxtaposition of the incredibly odd with the seemingly mundane, as if it’s just another part of daily life, works in that same way.

There is a wide range of dialogue options to choose from as well. As you’d expect, most of them relate to getting more information out of the people you’re talking with to help move things forward. Not all of the information is necessary, but, just like with the game's items, it provides a good amount of backstory to help flesh out the game world nicely.

Sometimes in a chapter or scene, new dialogue options become available after finding an item or speaking to someone new, so it’s worth checking back now and again or if you get stuck.

Most dialogue options have branching paths as well. HeadUp advertises the game as having multiple scenarios where persuasive dialog reigns, but during my playthrough, there was only a handful of such moments.

Some of these “there-is-a-right-answer” moments have fairly obvious answers — or, at least, answers that are clearly wrong — though some might take some guesswork. It’s fun to pick the ludicrous ones sometimes, just to see other characters' reactions, even if it does mean replaying a short segment to get back to where you need to be.

For the options that are definitely wrong, Hans doesn’t even speak the option when it’s chosen. It’s as if there’s an invisible filter silently rebuking you for your bad decision. Whether that’s intentional or a bug, it’s endearing nonetheless.

Falling Short

As enjoyable as it is, Truberbrook does have some shortcomings.

It’s a polished experience overall, but there are some glitches that need ironing out, such as the non-game-breaking but annoying lag in misty areas. 

Outside of that, the mouse cursor on PC also disappears randomly from time to time, or the game won’t register that you’re moving the mouse for a second or two. When it does register, it shows up on the other side of the screen from where it was. 

A few more noticeable problems popped up less often but stood out due to their seriousness. Hans will clip through objects from time to time, including people. One instance involved him putting his hand through a door to open it, rather than pushing on the door itself.

There is also a scene where Hans climbs up to and down from a treehouse. Going up is fine, but coming down is another matter. Rather than descending the ladder, Hans just walks off-screen, with the game transitioning to Hans back on the ground. He then proceeds to walk in a circle for a minute before the game realizes he should be coming down the tree. Hans' “climbing down a ladder” motions begin, which, since he is on the ground, means he disappears through the earth, and it repeats for the rope ladder portion.

The other egregious "walking in a circle" problem occurs near the end of the game when Hans must interact with an object. If he's not positioned carefully, Hans books it back toward the area's entrance. 

And while the writing in Truberbrook is excellent for the most part, there are some typos and grammar issues. Strangely, these become much more prominent in the last third of the game, so it’s unclear whether it was just an accident or if perhaps the end was a bit rushed. The same applies to times when the written and voiced scripts don’t match each other.

Lastly, HeadUp included a Kids Mode, which censors parts of Truberbrook, particularly where Hans smokes and encounters a sex toy. These funny moments aren't integral to the plot, although they are referenced in the game's joke dialog options. 

The main issue is "why include these instances at all, though?" We can all probably count on one hand the number of kids who would willingly choose Kids Mode. What's more, the goal was to create a family-friendly game, and the game is up for a Best Youth Game in the German Game Developers’ Awards.

Maybe the goal should have been not including those instances to begin with, if a younger audience was intended all along.

  • Fantastic handcrafted world
  • Dripping with atmosphere
  • Engaging story and characters with fun puzzles
  • Slightly uneven pacing
  • Some technical and writing issues
  • A few obtuse design choices

Overall, Truberbrook is a delightful experience. Bugs and glitches aside, it’s an engrossing game bound to capture your imagination with its fantastic visuals and atmosphere, loveably bizarre characters, and engaging plot.

It’s the first game of its kind from HeadUp, and I can honestly say I hope we see more like it in the future.

[Note: A copy of Truberbrook was provided by HeadUp Games for the purpose of this review.]

Dungeon Defenders Awakened Now On KickStarter Mon, 11 Mar 2019 10:13:58 -0400 PapaSisler

Chromatic Games, formerly Trendy Entertainment, is looking for help in raising money for the development of the new Dungeon Defenders title, Dungeon Defenders Awakened, on Kickstarter. Under new leadership, the team plans to take the series back to its roots. 

Taking place after the events in Dungeon Defenders 2players will be sent back in time with the four champions from the original game: the Monk, the Archer, the Swordsman, and the Ranger.

Players will be dropped off at "their parents'" castle, which is a normal first map; however, "there will be a time-altering menace who will attempt to reshape the past, present, and future of the game."

Alongside new maps, Dungeon Defenders Awakened will allow players to experience map locations from the first and second games with updated mechanics and visuals. 

Like many current titles, Dungeon Defenders Awakened will be designed using Unreal Engine 4, which, in the long-run, will help with "cross-platform support and faster game development." Players can also expect "four-player split-screen local multiplayer" as well as "four-player online/offline multiplayer."

Dungeon Defenders Awakened is currently slated to release on the PC and Nintendo Switch; on the game's Kickstarter page, Chromatic Games confirms that Switch players will be able to take full advantage of the system's motion controls. The game will be released on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 if the title's Kickstarter campaign reaches $350,000. 

Chromatic Games' original goal for Dungeon Defenders Awakened was to "recreate what made the original such an epic adventure while giving it that modern polish and cranking it up to 11."

Currently, the Kickstarter's goal is set at $250,000; as of this writing, backers have raised $166,779. Stretch goals include: localization support ($275,000), new challenge maps ($300,000), PS4 and Xbox One support ($350,000), massacre difficulty ($450,000), a new enemy and map ($550,000), and a customizable tavern ($650,000). 

For more information on the campaign or to support Chromatic Games, head over to the game's Kickstarter campaign.

Nintendo Celebrates Mario Day with Switch Promotion and Mario Game Discounts Fri, 08 Mar 2019 16:35:02 -0500 Joshua Broadwell

For several years now, Nintendo fans have celebrated all things Mario on March 10, dubbing it Mar10 Day, or the more formal Mario Day.

This year, the Big N itself is getting in on the celebration with several promotional deals and discounts. Among other things, My Nintendo members can spend their points to redeem some unique Mario Day themed items to hold their own celebrations.

The flagship deal in the promotion is a Nintendo Switch system plus one of five Mario Switch games for $329.99. That amounts to 50% off the selected title, which is noteworthy for being the steepest discount Nintendo has offered on its own Switch titles since the system launched.

The games to choose from are:

Most major retailers are taking part in this promotion, including:

  • GameStop
  • Amazon
  • Walmart
  • Target
  • Best Buy

Those who already own a Switch can still join in the fun, though. The digital versions of the five games listed above will be available for $39.99 from the same retailers, except GameStop.

These promotions begin March 10 and run until March 16.

There are other ways to celebrate Mar10 Day as well. Nintendo has added new My Nintendo rewards in honor of the day, and fans can redeem points for Mario-themed wallpapers and a Mario March calendar.

Also on offer are Mario-themed invitation cards and bingo sheets for those planning their own Mario Day gathering. Special Mario envelopes are available as well.

The Switch recently celebrated its second birthday and has succeeded beyond what many thought possible. Mario Day is a good way for Nintendo to celebrate that milestone and spread the message about its latest system to an even wider audience.

Doug Bowser, currently the Senior VP of Sales and Marketing (and future NoA president) said:

What better way to celebrate Mario Day than by playing some of the most popular Mario games on Nintendo Switch. This promotion is a great option for consumers who want to pick up Nintendo Switch and some hit games at a value price.

Looking at the list of games above, Bowser is right. Super Mario Odyssey redefines the platformerMario Kart 8 does the same for the kart racing genre, and while Mario Tennis Aces has a few drawbacks, it's the best Mario Tennis offering in years.

10 Dormant Resident Evil Plots Waiting to Rise From The Dead Fri, 08 Mar 2019 15:58:30 -0500 Thomas Wilde

On March 22, we’ll be celebrating the 23rd anniversary of the original Resident Evil. That game’s release began an unexpected franchise for Capcom, which went on to span seven direct sequels, 14 spin-offs, and three computer-animated films set in the same universe as the games.

Over the course of those two decades, Resident Evil has become justly infamous for its story. Even the simpler games in the series tend to be a hodgepodge of betrayals, conspiracies, secret government organizations, evil corporations, surreal architecture, mad scientists, and, of course, exploding helicopters.

Explaining the overarching plotline of Resident Evil often sounds like you’re talking about a lost season of 24 that involves a zombie outbreak. It's all further complicated by Capcom's history of, let's say, interesting storytelling decisions.

Surprisingly important background details are often thrown in a file that’s deliberately hard to find, locked behind collectibles, or stuck in Japan-only supplemental materials that don't get officially translated for years afterward, if at all. It’s a degree of deliberate, unnecessary complexity that you usually don’t see outside of American superhero comics.

Much of the time, this goes back to several behind-the-scenes issues at Capcom, particularly early on:

  • many core games go through multiple wildly different versions of themselves during development
  • RE’s head writer, Noboru Sugimura, passed away in 2005
  • the somewhat acrimonious departure of series creator, Shinji Mikami, in 2006
  • multiple creative teams and writers, many of whom don't last for more than one game

Because of the chaos around the series, Resident Evil is littered with abandoned plot arcs, forgotten characters, canceled projects, and untold stories.

However, in the last few years, Capcom has made a distinct effort to mine that history through the newer games in the franchise. Resident Evil 7, in its final couple of hours, connects its storyline to a mysterious organization that was last mentioned in 2000’s Resident Evil: Code Veronica. 

2015’s Resident Evil: Revelations 2 features Moira Burton, who first appeared as a child in an obscure file in the original 1996 Resident Evil, and while 2012’s Resident Evil 6 was a mess, it brought back Sherry Birkin after 13 years.

It’s been a little over a month out from Capcom’s successful remake of Resident Evil 2, and the rumor mill has begun to churn regarding what’s next for the series.

With that in mind, here are 10 of the most potentially interesting plot hooks that could appear in future RE titles, including Resident Evil 8. These are plot points that Capcom has introduced, then proceeded to leave alone for at least a couple of years, if not a decade or more.

Naturally, this article involves major spoilers for many of the games in the Resident Evil series. 

10. “Jenny K”

The first four games in the Resident Evil series are all about dealing with the underground activities of the megacorporation Umbrella, which was a billion-dollar drug company by day, weapons manufacturer by night.

After all four of those games ended with characters walking off into the sunset, promising to bring down Umbrella, it was eventually taken out by a government lawsuit, rather than one last heroic adventure, according to the opening text crawl of Resident Evil 4.

Of course, it wasn’t quite that simple, and several later games dealt with the events that surrounded Umbrella’s closure.

Near the end of Resident Evil 5, you can find Spencer’s Notebook, a file that discusses the measures Spencer took to protect his interests after Umbrella was shut down, which included having the rest of Umbrella’s executives quietly assassinated.

There was one exception: “Jenny K,” who disappeared without a trace.

Every high-ranking Umbrella executive we’ve seen in the series so far has been a billionaire psychopath with a plan for world conquest. Jenny K, whoever and wherever she is, is the last survivor of Umbrella’s original upper echelon, and she could show up again at any time as a new, major player.

9. The Raccoon City Testing Ground

2003’s Resident Evil: Outbreak was at least a few years ahead of its time. It was a four-player cooperative survival horror game, which was mostly held back by the PlayStation 2's technology barrier and janky matchmaking.

Outbreak wasn’t confirmed as part of Resident Evil canon until relatively recently, when a few references to it appeared in RE7, the RE6 prequel manga Marhawa Desire, and the 2019 RE2 remake. Now that we know it definitely is canon, it means that one strange scene in Outbreak is suddenly relevant.

After you complete "Decisions, Decisions," there's a bonus scene after the closing credits. It shows that, a month after the bomb dropped at the end of Resident Evil 3, an unspecified agency has set up a laboratory in the ruins of Raccoon City.

Whoever the organization is, it's conducting tests and has gone to the trouble of making sure its lab doesn’t show up in aerial photographs of the area. As the setting for a back-to-the-beginning plot, this has a lot of promise, particularly since we don’t know who or what was running the lab.

8. Steve Burnside

2000’s Resident Evil: Code Veronica is an interesting sort of mess. It came out on the Dreamcast after a troubled development history, and has a lot of weird quirks that are particular to that period of game design.

Among all of its other missteps, like that glass cannonball "puzzle" near the end, its biggest is arguably Claire’s NPC sidekick, Steve Burnside. A trembling ball of Matrix shout-outs and adolescent angst, with the most Canadian accent this side of Bob & Doug McKenzie, Steve creates almost exactly as many problems as he helps the player solve.

In the end, he’s infected by the ant-derived T-Veronica virus, mutates into a lizard monster, and dies in Claire’s arms.

That’d be it for Steve, except his body is subsequently stolen by Albert Wesker, who tells Claire that there’s a chance Steve might come back from the dead someday, just as Wesker himself had.

That was 19 years ago. Since then, Steve’s name hasn’t come up outside of a flashback level, set during the events of Code Veronica, during 2009’s Darkside Chronicles.

It’s probably safe to assume that Steve got thrown into a meat locker somewhere and forgotten. That being said, HCF, Wesker’s mercenary squad from the same game, was mentioned in Resident Evil 7, and that's far more obscure than Steve was.

It’s also worth mentioning that Steve was infected in late 1998 with a virus that, according to the main plot of Code Veronica, takes a full 15 years to mature, and it’s been longer than that in-universe. Not only could Steve still come back at some point, but he could have bizarre new powers and abilities when he does.

Steve Burnside riding back into the series on top of his giant ant steed, firing a submachinegun into the air with either hand, might be the kind of crazy nonsense he needs to overcome nearly 20 years of fan jokes about how awful he is.

7. Corporate Masterminds

It’s been a plot point in the series for a long time that Umbrella was the leader in the bioweapons industry, but wasn't the only company in the business. There are multiple other companies working with the T-Virus, and their version of corporate warfare usually involved mercenary squads and quiet assassinations.

A lot of these companies have popped up in the series over the years, and they usually end up somehow dismantled by the end of their first appearance.

Resident Evil 5's Tricell is officially dead by the time of Revelations 2, which is set two years later, and the vaccine manufacturer Wilpharma goes out of business after the events of the 2008 film Resident Evil: Degeneration.

Currently, the last identified corporation in the bioweapons black market is a Chinese company called Shen Ya, which was introduced in the 2015 Heavenly Island manga. It had a well-funded paramilitary force working for it, as well as a particularly dangerous undercover agent, although none of them survived the events of the manga.

With mainland China in bad shape following the events of Resident Evil 6, the time may soon come for Shen Ya to consider expansion. There's also the Connections, the criminal syndicate responsible for creating Eveline in Resident Evil 7; "Blue Umbrella," the original Umbrella reincarnated as a black-market weapons dealer, as seen in the notoriously poor Umbrella Corps; and whatever other companies might still be waiting in the wings.

6. The Remnants of the FBC

The Federal Bioterror Commission was the American organization that predated the BSAA, Chris Redfield’s anti-bioweapon task force that first appeared in Resident Evil 5.

In 2011’s Resident Evil: Revelations, it's revealed that the original version of the FBC was basically one step up from park rangers, and was virtually powerless. To fix that, the FBC’s commissioner, Morgan Lansdale, purchased a handful of bioweapons on the black market and duped a small-time terrorist group into using them to take out an entire city in 2004. A year later, and thanks to the ensuing panic, the FBC is a well-funded and respected international task force, with Lansdale as its dictatorial leader.

Thanks to Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine, this is eventually brought to light and Lansdale is sent to jail. The FBC’s assets and personnel get folded into the BSAA, which turns it into the international organization it's become by the start of RE5.

However, in 2015’s Revelations 2, one of the major twists is that Claire’s friend and boss, Neil Fisher, is still loyal to Lansdale. Fisher has a plan to set off another large bioterror event in order to bring back the FBC, and it fails spectacularly.

There’s every chance that Lansdale, wherever he wound up, has a few more obsessed underlings out there, and any one of them might be willing to start another serious outbreak in order to prove that Lansdale was right, bringing about another interwoven plot for a future Resident Evil installment. 

5. The Other Wesker Children

2009’s Resident Evil 5 told the origin story of the series’ primary antagonist, Albert Wesker. It turned out that he was one of 13 children who were products of Umbrella’s secret “Wesker Project,” which was named after its chief researcher. Its goal was to create a more advanced breed of human through a winning combination of brainwashing, child endangerment, and genetic engineering.

The other 12 Weskers were named in RE5’s Lost in Nightmares DLC, including Albert’s “sister” Alex, who would go on to be the villain of 2015’s Resident Evil: Revelations 2.

Since both of the Weskers shown in the series so far are brilliant mad scientists with personal body counts like a natural disaster, it could be inferred that the other Wesker kids would be similarly gifted and/or damaged.

According to Revelations 2, however, the other 11 Wesker kids are all dead. Although that information comes from Alex, a somewhat unreliable narrator, one of the primary characteristics of Weskers is that they don’t stay dead.

After all, Albert famously got his spine clawed out by an angry Tyrant in the very first Resident Evil, and Alex dies twice in Revelations 2.

Therefore, any time Capcom feels like it, they’ve potentially got another 11 backup Weskers on deck, ready to continue their family legacy of smugness and murder for another console generation.

4. The Family

One of the more infamous details of 2012’s Resident Evil 6 is the existence of “The Family,” an international conspiracy that draws its influence and power from financial manipulation. Its primary goal is maintaining the global status quo for the sake of continued profit.

Derek Simmons, one of the major antagonists of RE6, is a member of The Family, and considering the organization’s stated goals, he couldn’t have failed harder on a bet. Not only does he have the U.S. president assassinated as part of a major bioterror attack, but Simmons' girlfriend Carla Radames nearly ends the world just to spit in his face.

The Family is barely a presence in RE6 outside of Simmons, Carla, and a couple of stereotypical Men in Black (the conspiracy-theory version, not the ones from the Will Smith movies), one of whom shoots Carla dead near the end of Chris' game.

As a theoretical “final boss” for the Resident Evil series, however, you couldn’t do much better than The Family. The series has run heavily off of conspiracies and underground organizations since nearly the beginning, and The Family, which is basically the Illuminati with its serial numbers filed off, is depicted as the ultimate conspiracy.

3. The Biosphere

The setting of Resident Evil is an Earth a lot like our own, with much of the same history and culture, a few different nations, a couple of extra cities, and a biosphere that is intensely warped.

From the very first game in the series, the T-Virus has been capable of infecting just about anything organic. We’ve seen it turn humans, crows, dogs, crocodiles, sharks, spiders, insects, bats, elephants, lions, tropical birds, and even plants into zombies, mutants, and monsters.

In1998's Resident Evil 2, there are several files explaining that the mansion from the first game was located in the middle of a national forest. As far as the T-Virus is concerned, that’s one big infection vector, conveniently located somewhere in the American Midwest.

In subsequent games, there have been biohazard incidents involving the T-Virus or one of its derivatives all over the world. Here are just a few instances: 

  • Resident Evil 6 ends with a massive bioterror attack with the C-Virus on the Chinese mainland
  • An ocean liner full of infected humans goes down in the middle of the Pacific Ocean in 2002’s Resident Evil: Dead Aim
  • The wreckage of Terragrigia in the Mediterranean Sea is still heavily contaminated at the start of 2011's Resident Evil: Revelations 
  • the T-Veronica virus is let loose in the South American rainforest during the main story levels in Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles

There’s even a handy map at the start of the Degeneration movie (see above) that highlights 27 separate bioterror attacks spread out across six continents, all before 2005, when the movie takes place.

What this means is that in the Resident Evil universe, the T-Virus and a couple of its later derivatives have been loose in its biosphere for years. Capcom’s already laid the groundwork for monsters or outbreaks to show up virtually anywhere on Earth at any time, without any need for a villain to set them loose.

2. The Umbrella Archives

Several of the scenarios in 2007’s Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles are about Albert Wesker, as he tries, initially fails, and eventually succeeds at stealing the only remaining backup of Umbrella’s cumulative research data.

The next time we see him in series continuity, Wesker is incredibly rich — he has his own personal stealth bomber in Resident Evil 5 — and has been quietly selling bioweaponry to dictators and lunatics around the world.

After his death, however, it’s never been established what happened to Wesker’s archives. This includes the single most valuable thing in Wesker’s arsenal, the P30 drug, which is about as close to an actual super-soldier serum as the series has ever had. It’s why Jill is a mind-controlled superhuman assassin on Wesker’s team in RE5 and Marvel vs. Capcom 3. P30 in particular would be the most valuable bioweapon in the Resident Evil franchise, and it isn’t even close.

The hunt for where Wesker stashed his personal research archives could be fuel for a world-spanning adventure, trying to keep his most dangerous secrets out of the hands of the last people who should have them.

1. Natalia Wesker

Even in the “good ending” of Resident Evil: Revelations 2, Alex Wesker has technically won. Her plan throughout the game is to "test" various survivors to see who would make a good host for a copy of her memories and personality, allowing the terminally ill Alex to cheat death.

While it doesn't quite go according to plan for the original Alex, she does manage to capture 10-year-old Natalia Korda and imprint her personality on Natalia's brain. Six months later, Natalia already has abilities and memories she can't explain, and two years after that, in Revelations 2's epilogue, it seems as if Alex has begun assuming full control.

This plotline would provide the series with a new primary antagonist in the wake of Albert Wesker’s death, and one who’s been growing up in Barry Burton’s household for the last few years. Not only does that imply she'd have a lot of weapons training now, but it means that she's already undercover.

"Natalex" prepared for all of this six months beforehand. She also has substantial financial resources, a brilliant mind, and no scruples whatsoever. Forget all of the conspiracies and monsters: the scariest thing in the Resident Evil franchise as of right now could conceivably be a teenage girl.

Of course, Capcom might decide to ignore any or all of these for another decade or come up with something entirely new. What's impressive, however, is the sheer amount of potential that's still left in the series after all these years.

How To Play Silent In Slay the Spire Fri, 08 Mar 2019 10:00:02 -0500 Jordan Baranowski

Unlike the brute force of the Ironclad or the inevitability of the Defect, Slay the Spire's Silent is a tricky class that will need precise planning to master. There are a bevy of strategies available with the class, but things can fall apart quickly if they don't come together.

This is due to the fact that the Silent requires card synergies to work, meaning careful deck management is of the utmost importance. Keeping your deck free of bloat is priority number one, as this approach will minimize the randomness of the game and reduce the frequency at which your combos simply fail to materialize. 

The fact that it is possible for things to just fall apart means that the Silent can be a frustrating class to play, but, when everything clicks, it can be extraordinarily powerful and fun. You can devastate your enemies with poison, draw your deck perfectly and play Grand Finale, or whittle a foe's health down in a single turn with zero cost cards. It's all a blast, which means that the risk-reward for the Silent is totally worth it.

Think you're ready to tackle Slay the Spire as this tricky class? Here're some of the best ways to do it.

Silent Basics

Starting Relic

The Silent's starting relic is called the Ring of the Snake, and it allows you to draw two extra cards in the first round of every combat. This can help you set up combos, build a defense, or take out a weak foe early by giving you better options from the beginning.

Poison, Discards, and Shivs

There are a lot of offensive options you can take with the Silent, and there are three central themes within these options:

  • Poison: Many of the Silent's cards will add poison to an enemy. Poison is a status effect that will cause the enemy to lose an amount of life, equal to its poison count, each turn.

    After dealing poison damage, the count will be reduced by one, and the enemy will be hit for this new amount the following turn. Poison can add up in a hurry, and can cause massive damage, with a small investment, if you can find multiple copies of cards like Catalyst.

  • Discard Only Cards: Another tactic available to the Silent is using cards that are unplayable but offer benefits when they are discarded. Gaining extra energy or drawing new cards, all while filtering through your deck, means that you will have a huge toolbox to play with in each fight. However, without proper discard outlets, these are dead cards in your hand.

  • Shivs: Finally, many cards in the Silent's deck create or effect Shivs. Shivs are zero cost attacks, and the general goal is to buff them and play as many per turn as possible, making use of the Silent's massive amount of card draw in the process.

The Ironclad has strength as a core stat, the Defect has Focus, and the Silent has Dexterity. Dexterity increases the effectiveness of all of your block cards, just as Strength affects your attacks. One Dexterity corresponds to one extra Block per card, so extra Dexterity can add up in a hurry.

Silent Builds


Most mechanics that are unique to a specific class make for obvious builds, and the same is true with the Silent's Shivs. There are plenty of cards, like Accuracy, and relics, like Wrist Blades, that will amplify your Shivs. There are also a number of not so obvious cards, like After Image, Envenom, or A Thousand Cuts, that will take advantage of being able to play a ton of zero cost cards every turn.

Finisher is also a great choice in this deck. It can deal a ton of damage if you've played several Shivs in a turn.


It isn't entirely intuitive, but playing more than one copy of Blur in a single turn will allow your Block to stay on for consecutive turns. If you can increase your Dexterity, packing multiple Bursts and Blurs in your deck will give you insane durability. This will allow you to setup any manner of finisher you choose — be it strong powers, slow poison, or rapid attacks.


There are really two types of poison builds, but we'll group them together for simplicity's sake. The first relies on slow build cards and lots of defense. Things like Noxious Fumes take a few turns to really put out much damage, but nothing is going to stop them once they are rolling — just turtle up and wait for your enemies to die.

The other popular poison build relies on multiple copies of Catalyst. Upgrading Catalyst causes it to triple the current poison on an enemy, thus increasing poison to extremely high levels very quickly. This approach can defeat even end-of-run bosses in only a turn or two, and, if you can get your hands on a Snecko Skull, poison should be the natural route to take.


The Silent has a massive amount of card draw at their disposal, though it often has a discard drawback tacked on. However, you can make that drawback work for you by picking up cards that generate advantage by being discarded. With these cards, you can cycle through your deck, discarding your way to more energy, more card draw, and, if you can swing it, relics that add even more effects when you discard.

This build tends to be really swingy, but it can be extremely powerful with the right cards. It also doesn't take too many discard effects to make it go infinite.

Cards To Look Out For

The cards you need are very build-dependent with the Silent, as certain cards are amazing in one build but are complete garbage in another. Here are a few cards that are almost always good, but, again, keep an eye out on your ultimate goal for a deck.


Despite what I've just said, I can't imagine a deck where you wouldn't want to play this card. Without healing options, the Silent needs to play defense, and even one copy of Footwork in play gives you much better durability. A few at a time can make you simply unstoppable.

A Thousand Cuts

Another terrific card, no matter what you are building, A Thousand Cuts will punish your enemies. The fact that it hits all your foes is amazing, and the damage numbers can add up extremely quickly, especially if you can get multiple copies in play.

Noxious Fumes

Even in non-poison decks, Noxious Fumes is a heavy hitter. Again, per turn damage adds up in a hurry, and the Silent loves to sit back and play defense while powers do the dirty work. Just like most of the Silent's power cards, it's even better with multiple copies.

Well-Laid Plans

There's nothing worse than ditching one of your "essential" cards because you have too many of them. A zero-cost power that allows you to carry something over is extremely useful.


Backstab is super useful for taking out early enemies — its damage is high, it partners well with many powers and strategies, and it will help you save damage to make combat math easier as you move forward. Yes, please.

Blur + Backflip

These are the two Block cards that you want to look out for. There are situations where one will be better than the other, but neither of them are ever bad. In a vacuum, Blur is almost always my pick, but both are excellent.


This is another card that is almost never unwelcome, and it makes every single build better. It is an absolute monster once upgraded, and multiple copies will make any wacky combo you dream up that much more likely to materialize.


The Silent has a ton of options that can work, which also means there are a lot of ways it can go wrong. Since it relies on playing so many cards per turn with most of its builds, certain bosses (Time Eater!) can be a complete nightmare. That said, there's nothing you can't overcome once you start backflipping and poisoning your foes.

Nintendo Introduces Labo VR Kits and Starter Packs to Bring Make, Play, Discover to Life Thu, 07 Mar 2019 14:44:06 -0500 Joshua Broadwell

Nintendo surprised the gaming world last April when it unveiled the Nintendo Labo line for the Switch, a DIY-themed gaming experience centered around using cardboard to build Toy-Con, the materials used in the actual augmented reality (AR) games that come with the kits.

It was an unexpected move, given the decline in toys-to-life products and sales. Despite high hopes for the line, Labo didn't do as well as many had hoped, even in Japan, where it was more successful overall.

However, almost exactly a year after Labo's original reveal, Nintendo held to its promise of continued Labo support and announced a brand-new line of Labo sets, this time based on virtual reality games, set to launch on April 12.

The company recently filed a VR patent, but regularly dodged the VR question, voicing concerns about health effects and its suitability for Nintendo's commitment to sharing gaming experiences.

However, the Labo VR kits are designed to negate those concerns and ease players into VR gaming, while still adhering to the Labo core promise of "make, play, discover."

The VR Goggle set itself is a Toy-Con, meaning players have to build the object into which the Switch tablet will slide for the VR game. Nintendo emphasizes the fact that unlike most VR sets, the Toy-Con VR set has no strap.

This makes it easier to remove from one's face and, more importantly, easier to share with others. In other words, it's still a social experience, and the shareability reduces the risk of health problems through overexposure.

Doug Bowser, Nintendo's Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing (and future Nintendo of America president) commented on this feature, saying, "We wanted to design an experience that encourages both virtual and real-world interactions among players through passing around Toy-Con creations."

There's no word as yet what the included games will be, though Nintendo did tease an alien invasion experience relying on a Toy-Con blaster, along with a Toy-Con camera for photographing exotic and colorful waterscapes

The Labo VR kits will launch in stores in two forms:

Nintendo Labo: VR Kit — $79.99

  • Labo software for Switch
  • Toy-Con VR Goggles
  • Toy-Con Blaster
  • Toy-Con Bird
  • Toy-Con Wind Petal
  • Toy-Con Elephant
  • Screen holder and safety cap

Nintendo Labo: VR Kit, Starter Set + Blaster — $39.99

  • Labo software for Switch
  • Toy-Con Goggles
  • Toy-Con Blaster
  • Screen holder and safety cap

Those who purchase the Starter Set and wish to explore Labo VR further can purchase two expansion sets exclusively from Nintendo's online store.

Nintendo Labo: VR Kit — Expansion Set 1 —$19.99

  • Toy-Con Elephant
  • Toy-Con Camera

Nintendo Labo: VR Kit — Expansion Set 2 —$19.99

  • Toy-Con Wind Petal
  • Toy-Con Bird

Each Labo VR kit will also include the Toy-Con garage standard with all Labo kits, a feature that lets users learn and experiment with basic coding. Nintendo will release further information regarding the included games before Labo VR launches.

Mortal Kombat 11's Story Trailer Is Kind Of Nuts Wed, 06 Mar 2019 16:45:07 -0500 QuintLyn

While we might still be almost two months away from the April 23 release of the next entry in the Mortal Kombat franchise on April 23, players don't have to wait any longer to get a peek at the game's story.

Today, Warner Bros. Interactive and NetherRealm Studios dropped the official story trailer for Mortal Kombat 11, highlighting the game's time travel-based narrative.

The narrative kicks off following the defeat of Raiden at the hands of the Elder God, Shinnok. This defeat has had some less than desirable effects on the universe, upsetting the balance between good and evil. At least one individual has a problem with that, and she's out to fix it.

Kronia, a newcomer to the franchise, intends to use her powers to rewind time and effectively reset the universe.

Like some previous games in the series, Mortal Kombat 11's story mode allows players to experience the narrative through the eyes of various characters, both past and present. All of these characters will join forces to defeat Shao Kahn's army before things get even more out of hand.

As we draw nearer to the release date for MK11, the game's developers are still revealing the roster of characters fans can expect to play as. Today, three more playable characters were revealed in addition to the new gameplay trailer: Cassie Cage, Jacqui Briggs, and Erron Black.

Unfortunately for fans who may have been hoping that he'd still appear despite the devs already saying "no", Shaggy was not announced as a playable character in this batch.

Of the three characters, Cage, the daughter of Sonya Blade and Johnny Cage, was highlighted today in Kombat Kast on the NetherRealm Twitch channel. Briggs and Black didn't get quite as much love, but may appear on the stream at a later date.

Mortal Kombat 11 releases April 23 on Nintendo Switch, PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Pre-orders are available and will grant players access to the beta and Shao Kahn.