Most Recent: Top Story

The Scientifically Proven Best Video Games of All Time #16: Halo: Combat Evolved

Did you miss The Scientifically Proven Best Video Games of All Time’s Introduction? Catch up on how we decided to sort the games and the rest of the Top 100.

Microsoft is usually portrayed as the stodgy suit in contrast to Apple’s hip turtleneck, but would you believe that the first Xbox prototype was built on a whim by a quartet of guys from the company’s engineering department?

Kevin Bachus, Otto Berkes, Seamus Blackley, and Ted Hase first took their “DirectX Box” to Ed Fries, the head of Microsoft’s video game division, in 1998. Even though everyone in the world had played a dozen hands (or more) of Windows Solitaire, Microsoft wasn’t a big player in the game development arena at the time. Similar to today’s line of console-like PCs, the original “DirectX Box” was an off-the-shelf Windows PC with a video card and a hard drive that hid the Windows-ness of the system from the player.

Before the “DirectX Box” could move forward, Fries and his team had to fight off a challenge from a separate team within Microsoft that had worked with Sega to produce some of the system software for the Dreamcast. They were pushing for the company to create a more traditional console (no Windows, no hard drive), and Bill Gates himself ultimately stepped in to give his blessing to Fries and his “DirectX Box.” (more…)

Posted in Features, PC, Retro, SPBVGOAT, Top Story, Xbox 360, Xbox One | Tagged

The Scientifically Proven Best Video Games of All Time #90: Space Invaders

Did you miss The Scientifically Proven Best Video Games of All Time’s Introduction? Catch up on how we decided to sort the games and the rest of the Top 100.

“Drop down, increase speed, and reverse direction!”

Somehow, the writers of Futurama found a way to sum up the essence of Space Invaders (in 2002’s “Anthology of Interest II”) with a single succinct sentence. And yet, in the days and years after its release in 1978, the game was considered something of a phenomenon. Even today, an oft-repeated urban legend claims that obsessive Space Invaders fans caused a shortage of the 100 yen coin in Japan.

Obviously, dropping a coin into an arcade slot will keep it in circulation, so it would have been impossible for Space Invaders to be the cause of any shortage. Though one thing those obsessive fans did do was raise the profile of the game’s titular aliens so that now they’re something of a mascot for all video games.

But it all started with, “Drop down, increase speed, and reverse direction!” Which as a formula was later refined and improved upon by Namco when they created Galaxian and Galaga. (more…)

Posted in Features, Retro, SPBVGOAT, Top Story | Tagged

Kickstart This! Apocalypse Now

I ummed and awwed over whether to cover Apocalypse Now as part of Kickstart This! I try to steer the column towards games that may be overlooked and are desperately seeking funds, but the film, and by close association this game, feel more relevant than ever.

All is fair in love and war, but crowdfunding campaigns are the perfect analogy for Vietnam. And in its day, re-imagining Joseph Conrad’s novel Heart of Darkness served as a masterful allegory for the souls of the men sent to fight in a war that history has shown to be a massive mistake. Though this is not the first time Heart of Darkness has graced the gaming world. 2K’s third person shooter, Spec Ops: The Line, also used the book as a basis for its story, and is worth checking out.

Apocalypse Now seemed to strike a chord with many backers, but with each passing day it looked less and less likely that development studio Erebus was going to reach its lofty target of $900,000. And then what happened? The developer cancelled the Kickstarter campaign after reaching less than 20% of their goal.

This is the message they delivered to fans as the last Update on their now defunct Kickstarter page:

When we launched this campaign, we made a mistake. We forgot that many of you have been disappointed by overreaching games and overreaching promises. We had stopped paying attention to the Kickstarter world, when we put our heads down and went to work on this full-steam about 18 months ago — first with documents and then with prototypes. Because we went upriver, we did not remember that those of you who love games and those of you who love Apocalypse Now would immediately treat the announcement not with excitement, but with concern.

But the men and women behind the game have not given up. No sir. They have relocated the crowdfunding campaign to the official Apocalypse Now website, and issued a rallying call to all those who want to see this game happen. It will be done on their terms… and with a much larger funding target.

Queue Ride of the Valkyries(more…)

Posted in Features, PC, PS4, Top Story, Xbox One | Tagged

Is Nintendo Marketing the Switch to the Wrong Audience?

The Nintendo Switch releases on March 3rd, less than three weeks from now. There’s hype, speculation, premature predictions of the console’s failure, and tons of confirmed launch games lists floating around. However, that’s not what’s concerning me most right now. I’m concerned about Nintendo’s marketing.

What’s wrong with Nintendo’s marketing, you might ask? Take a look at their first official trailer below, and then come back to me. Are you done…? Good. Now let me pose a question. Did you see any children in that trailer, any at all? No, you didn’t? Neither did I. But, I’ll tell you what I did see. I saw a bunch of millennials joyously playing with their shiny new Nintendo Switch consoles in the most unrealistic settings.

Now, of courses, this is just one trailer. If you’ve seen the Nintendo Switch Super Bowl commercial, then you’re aware that there were a few kids sprinkled throughout that one. But I digress. There are way too many millennials in sight. (more…)

Posted in Opinions, Switch, Top Story |

The Scientifically Proven Best Video Games of All Time #65: Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island

Did you miss The Scientifically Proven Best Video Games of All Time’s Introduction? Catch up on how we decided to sort the games and the rest of the Top 100.

I’m just guessing here, but I’d imagine that many Mario fans have no idea a sequel to Super Mario World even exists. Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island was released for the Super NES in 1995 and starred the titular dinosaur in his first solo adventure. Most fans refer to the game as just “Yoshi’s Island,” because it’s such a departure from the rest of the franchise to that point, and because the “Super Mario World 2” print on the game’s box is almost invisible.

Serving as a prequel to the entire Super Mario franchise, Yoshi’s Island introduced Baby Mario to the world and tasked Yoshi with protecting the infant from Baby Bowser. While it’s Fall 1995 release was overshadowed by the launch of the Sega Saturn and the Sony PlayStation, a dedicated cult following has built up around the game over the years.

Though they might not have known exactly which game it was promoting, I guarantee that everyone remembers the commercial Nintendo used to sell Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island in America. (more…)

Posted in 3DS, Retro, SPBVGOAT, Top Story, Wii U | Tagged

Metrico+ Review: This Visually Unique Puzzle Platformer Charts Its Own Course

Graphic designers who spend their days translating statistical findings into a series of colorful bars and charts are working in the interesting new field of infographics. And if you’ve opened an Internet browser at all in the last five years, you’ve more than likely seen dozens of them.

Companies love infographics because they’re able to distill complex statistical studies down into an image that is easily shareable across Facebook and Twitter. Audiences love them because they provide easily digestible primers on subjects as frivolous as the many on-screen deaths of Sean Bean to serious societal problems like income inequality.

Dutch development studio Digital Dreams used this same philosophy to create Metrico, a puzzle platformer that was released for the Vita in 2014. The team expanded on their original concept, and launched Metrico+, a remake/sequel, for the Xbox One last month. (more…)

Posted in PC, PS4, Reviews, Top Story, Xbox One | Tagged

Amnesia Collection Review: Are You Afraid of the Dark?

As a primarily console-centric gamer, I rarely use my PC to play games. But don’t get me wrong… I know it’s a great platform to play games on. I did download Undertale, and I do intend to play it, but quite frankly, my rig isn’t powerful enough to handle some of the best titles that PC gaming has to offer. This is a bit of a bummer for me, as I know I am missing out on a lot of quality games that are exclusive to the platform, one of which is Amnesia: The Dark Descent.

My interest was piqued in the horror game when I first heard about how terrifying it is, and I started looking into it. Coincidentally, that’s right around the time that “Let’s Play” videos on YouTube began to rise in popularity. There was nothing more fun than seeing someone play a horror game and watching their reactions to the jump-scare moments. And as a fan of all things horror, I was immediately hooked. But unfortunately, I was never able to play Amnesia… that is, until now. (more…)

Posted in PC, PS4, Reviews, Top Story | Tagged

Freedom Planet 2 Hands-On Preview: Not Your Parent’s Platformer

Over the last few days, I’ve had the pleasure of playing around with a demo for Freedom Planet 2, which is in development at GalaxyTrail. The demo itself isn’t that long (one stage with a boss battle), however, the game is just that damn fun that I kept coming back to it, trying to beat my time and experimenting with the four characters in an effort to determine whose move set best fit my play style.

Before playing the Freedom Planet 2 demo, I had never heard of GalaxyTrail or the original Freedom Planet game. Though fascinated by indie developers and the masterpieces that they create, I often shy away from playing them, instead opting for AAA titles. Freedom Planet 2 makes me regret that decision.

It’s hard to gather much from a demo that can be finished in a little over two minutes, however, I have drawn the conclusion that Freedom Planet 2 is definitely not your parent’s platformer. What do I mean by that? Despite its obvious similarities to Sonic the Hedgehog, Freedom Planet 2 sets itself apart from traditional platforming games while still holding on to the charming components that define the genre. (more…)

Posted in PC, Previews, Switch, Top Story | Tagged ,