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Insert Quarter: The Rise and Fall of THQ’s Empire

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Insert Quarter is our showcase for some of the best and most interesting writing about video games on the Internet.

Gamers often didn’t know what to make of THQ. The publisher built its empire on the backs of tie-in games based on Nickelodeon and Pixar properties such as SpongeBob SquarePants and The Incredibles. But they also produced intriguing original games such as Saints Row: The Third and Darksiders. They were even the initial driving force behind Evolve, one of 2015’s most anticipated games. But that all changed when the company went bankrupt early last year.

So what happened? Tracey Lien, writing for Polygon, set out to discover the answer by talking to as many former THQ employees as she could including the charismatic (but possibly crazy) Danny Bilson. Her portrait of a publisher in free fall makes you wonder, could anything have been done?

Many blame the company’s fall on the licensed games well drying up. Some pin it on the commercial failure of the company’s uDraw tablet for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Others point to poor management and too many risky bets.

“There isn’t any one, isolated event that killed the company,” says a former THQ executive who asked to not be named. “This was one of the most successful video game businesses in America. We were a billion dollar company. It was complicated.”

THQ suffered a “death by a million spider bites,” the executive says.

The full article is available for your perusal at Polygon.

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Insert Quarter: Unreleased Games and the People Who Trade Them

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Insert Quarter is our showcase for some of the best and most interesting writing about video games on the Internet.

Unreleased games will always be of interest to gamers. Who among us wouldn’t be interested in Nintendo’s 64DD version of Mother 3 or Free Radical’s late, lamented Star Wars: Battlefront 3. But these games have managed to live on thanks to a shadowy network of collectors and archivists who trade and preserve the neglected pieces of gaming history. Kotaku UK’s Leon Hurley sought out some of these amateur historians to get the complete story on the trading of unreleased games:

You’ve probably seen videos of unannounced or cancelled games. Not necessarily the older retro stuff, but more recent things like Star Wars Battlefront 3 or Stranglehold 2. Did you know there’s a keen, and occasionally zealous, culture of collectors and traders passing these things around?

[…]

There are many levels to all this. Some simply collect and play the games, others code and and hack, extracting fresh info from old files or reinstating missing features. There’s even a community quite happily extracting and modding Halo maps. For others it’s about preserving the often transient world of video game history.

The full article is available at Kotaku UK.

Posted in 3DS, DS, Insert Quarter, Mobile, PC, PS2, PS3, PS4, PSP, Vita, Wii, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One |

Insert Quarter: Remembering the Best Instruction Booklets Ever

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Insert Quarter is our showcase for some of the best and most interesting writing about video games on the Internet.

Creating a beautiful and engaging instruction booklet has become a lost art in today’s go-go world of downloadable games and extensive in-game tutorials. Some, like Yacht Club Games and their awesome booklet for Shovel Knight, are attempting to keep the practice alive. But it seems like a foregone conclusion that the instruction booklet will have breathed its last in the not-too-distant future.

Thankfully, Jason Dafnis of Game Informer took some time out of his day to honor ten of his favorite instruction booklets, manuals, and strategy guides:

Let me spin you a yarn. Times were, you’d open that brand-new cardboard (or plastic) box and there, nestled right next to your cartridge (or disc), would be a booklet. Yes, a booklet – paper pages stapled together that told you how to play the game (and sometimes more). Remember those?

Now the left (or right) side of your game case sits bare or thinly veiled with tie-in ads or DLC codes. Those clippies that once held your booklet are all but obsolete. Booklets might not be completely extinct, but they are on the way out. Here are ten of our favorites in no particular order.

The full article is available at Game Informer.

Posted in 3DS, DS, Insert Quarter, PC, PS2, PS3, PS4, PSP, Vita, Wii, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One |



New Releases: Persona Q, Geometry Wars 3, Akiba’s Trip PS4, More

personaq-3dsxlBlack Friday (and the more-or-less unofficial end to the Fall game rush) is just a few days away, but there’s still a handful of new releases to talk about this week.

For example, Atlus will bring its popular Persona series of RPGs to the 3DS with Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth. The quirky Japanese publisher will also release Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed, a brawler where teenagers strip down to battle vampires in the heart of Tokyo, for the PS4 this week.

But this week’s biggest new release (in my opinion, anyway) is Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions. Activision and Lucid Games will release the twin-stick shooter for the PC, as well as the PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One.

Finally this week, the Penguins of Madagascar will waddle over to the 3DS, Wii, and Wii U and IL-2 Sturmovik: Battle of Stalingrad, the latest game in the dogfighting sim series, will be released for the PC.

Posted in 3DS, News, PC, PS4, Wii, Wii U | Tagged ,

Insert Quarter: Video Game Titles Have Gotten Ridiculous

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Insert Quarter is our showcase for some of the best and most interesting writing about video games on the Internet.

Video game titles have gotten ridiculous. I think I really noticed it earlier this year when Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix decided use Rise of the Tomb Raider as the title of the next game in the series. I’d gotten my fill of the word “rise” (and its variants) after being subjected to The Dark Knight Rises, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, Hannibal Rising, and many others at the movie theater. Especially because very few of the people or groups who are supposed to rise in those movies actually do!

Destructoid’s Steven Hansen shares my pain and has put together his own list of words that need to be stricken from game titles. Unsurprisingly, it all loops back to Call of Duty:

Lords of the Fallen and Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare just came out and they should be laughed out the damn building for their horrible, generic videogames names.

I originally typed “Armored Warfare” and was confused when Google failed to bring up results for our “Call of Duty: Armored Warfare” review. Then I realized it was “Advanced Warfare” after remembering I kept getting it confused with Advance Wars originally.

DO YOU SEE THE PROBLEM?

You can read the rest of the article at Destructoid.

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NBA 2K15 smashes to the top of Oct 2014 best-seller list (yes, even over Smash Bros 3DS)

nba2k15-boxEven though the month of October saw the release of a new Borderlands game and the first Smash Bros. title for a handheld, NBA 2K15 emerged victorious in The NPD Group’s recounting of the best-selling games of October 2014.

The basketball sim managed to hold off a pair of new releases as well as the continued sales success of Super Smash Bros. For 3DS (which landed at #2). A trio of new releases, The Evil Within (#3), Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel (#4), Skylanders: Trap Team (#6), were close behind.

And believe it or not, but Minecraft continues to hold a spot in the top ten as the retail release of the PlayStation 4 Edition propelled it into #10 on the list. Sunset Overdrive, Microsoft’s big Xbox One exclusive for the Fall, did not make the top ten though Joystiq is reporting that it was the ninth best-selling game among individual titles.

This month’s top ten can be found in a handy list format after the break. (more…)

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Insert Quarter: A History of (Video Game) Violence

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Insert Quarter is our showcase for some of the best and most interesting writing about video games on the Internet.

The video game industry’s fiercest critics will always say that games have never been more violent and that it is doing horrible damage to our children. But the game industry’s fiercest critics have always been saying that. In fact, many of them were children themselves when the first round of panic gripped parents during Death Race‘s 1976 heyday.

Vice’s Mike Diver examines this legacy of violence, citing everything from the obvious (Mortal Kombat and Carmageddon) to the obscure (Barbarian: The Ultimate Warrior and Battle Chess). I never thought of Battle Chess as particularly gruesome, but your primer on pixelated gore awaits:

If you came to games fresh during the previous console generation, where once-grainy graphics made the switch to full HD, you don’t know how easy you’ve had it. There was a time, long before the gushes of crimson coloring contemporary offerings of extreme violence–Gears and God of War, Dead Rising, and the more recent Resident Evils, Max Payne 3, the Dead Space series, Bulletstorm, and BioShock (to name but a few)–where you had to lean on your imagination to bring scenes of disgusting dismemberment to life.

You can read the rest of the article at Vice.

Posted in Insert Quarter, PC, PS2, PS3, Wii, Xbox 360 |

Retro City Rampage: DX will be available on nearly every platform imaginable next week

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Vblank Entertainment has announced that Retro City Rampage: DX, the expanded version of 2012’s Retro City Rampage, will be available on nearly every video game platform beginning next week.

Retro City Rampage: DX will be available on November 11 for the PS4, PS3, and Vita as a Cross-Buy title. The game will be a separate download from the original PS3/Vita version and will priced at $9.99 ($7.99 for PlayStation Plus subscribers).

If you’ve already purchased Retro City Rampage on the other previously available platforms, the DX version will be available as a free update. The game will be available through the WiiWare Shop for Nintendo’s Wii console on Thursday, November 13. The PC/Mac version will launch sometime next week, though the date is still to be determined. Finally, Retro City Rampage: DX is expected to be available for Xbox 360 next week through the Xbox Live Arcade, barring any last minute certification problems.

The DX version of Retro City Rampage was originally released for the 3DS earlier this year. This new version of the game fine-tuned everything about the Retro City Rampage experience including rebalanced missions, more checkpoints, tweaked controls, a complete graphical overhaul, and many more updates. A full rundown of the changes made to the DX version of the game can be found at Vblank’s official website.

If this wasn’t enough Retro City Rampage news for one day, stay tuned, because Vblank has promised “pretty big” RCR news will be announced later this month.

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