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The Scientifically Proven Best Video Games of All Time #78: The Secret of Monkey 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.

Game publishers have been concerned with digital pirates illegally copying their games since the very beginning of the medium. Some have even gone so far as to include booby traps in their code for these would-be thieves. But when it comes to depicting actual pirates, gamemakers (along with major Hollywood players and one of the most celebrated fantasy authors of the last few decades) are content to pillage, plunder, and steal all the best ideas from each other.

It all began in 1967 when Walt Disney himself oversaw the construction of the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction at Disneyland. Over the years, the ride would go on to be recreated at Disney World, Tokyo Disneyland, and Disneyland Park in Paris. Borrowing a bit from Treasure Island, the ride’s exciting ship-to-ship battle, raid on a coastal outpost, group of prisoners trying to bribe a dog for a key, and the frothy ditty “Yo Ho (A Pirate’s Life For Me)” created the quintessential image of a pirate that was shared by kids the world over.

Tim Powers was not one of these kids. Already a teenager by the late 60s, Powers rose to prominence as one of the earliest authors of steampunk (and he, along with K.W. Jeter and James Blaylock, helped coin the phrase). In 1987, he published one of his most famous novels, On Stranger Tides. The novel tells the tale of John Chandagnac, an inexperienced youth who becomes the debonair pirate “Jack Shandy” and rescues the girl after he has a run-in with several undead buccaneers. (more…)

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The Scientifically Proven Best Video Games of All Time #38: Tomb Raider

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.

For better or worse, Lara Croft is the most famous woman in all of gaming. But all her fame might be a fluke, because the developers behind her creation claim it was all an accident.

Formed in the late 80s, Core Design was an unlikely candidate to be creating a wide open 3D title like Tomb Raider. The developer’s biggest claim to fame at the time was Rick Dangerous, a game that could charitably be called an “homage” to Indiana Jones. Other gamers might remember Chuck Rock, a platformer created by Core that starred a dimwitted caveman. But like many British developers of the time, they didn’t think about their limitations and just went for it. This definitely applied to Toby Gard, the artist behind Lara Croft’s original look.

Like Rick Dangerous, Lara began life as a man with no name that bore a striking resemblance to Harrison Ford. Fearing a lawsuit, Gard redrew the character as a woman and began tinkering with a number of different personalities. The artist told IGN in 2008 that the proto-Tomb Raider began life as a “sociopathic blonde” before morphing into a muscle woman, a “flat topped hip hopster,” and a “Nazi-like militant in a baseball cap.” None of these looks fit the game that Core envisioned, but Gard’s final pass at it proved to be the winner. Laura Cruz, “a tough South American woman in a long braid and hot pants,” was born. (more…)

Posted in Features, Mobile, PC, PS2, PS3, PSP, Retro, SPBVGOAT, Top Story, Wii, Xbox 360 | Tagged

For Honor rises to the occasion as the best-selling game of February 2017

Ubisoft’s For Honor conquered all comers during its first month of availability, as The NPD Group declared it the best-selling game during February 2017. The multiplayer brawler faced some tough competition, but it emerged victorious on the retail battlefield, besting both Resident Evil 7: Biohazard (#2) and Grand Theft Auto V (#3).

The only other new release to crack last month’s top ten was Nioh, an action RPG developed by Team Ninja and published by Koei Tecmo.

But the overall retail health of the industry was on a downward swing in February. According to GamesIndustry.biz, hardware and software sales were down: “Total hardware sales amounted to $204 million, down 30% from last year. Console and portable software dropped 14% to $344.2 million, PC software fell 26% to just $25 million, while accessories fell 21% to $150.8 million. All told, industry sales took a 21% hit, declining from $918.7 million to $724 million.”

However, it seems likely that the successful launch of the Nintendo Switch (and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild) will change that trajectory in March.

The complete list of best-selling games from February 2017 can be found after the break. (more…)

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The Scientifically Proven Best Video Games of All Time #56: Ms. Pac-Man

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.

It’s easy to forget nowadays, but Ms. Pac-Man was actually created by accident. Like Doc Brown’s invention of time travel after a tumble from the toilet, Ms. Pac-Man was created when a group of game developers from MIT attempted to release an unauthorized sequel to Pac-Man known as “Crazy Otto.”

Before turning their sights on the biggest arcade game of the day, the development team, General Computer, first used their programming skills to create an “enhancement kit” for Atari’s Missile Command. Instead of creating their own game from scratch, the enhancement kit hooked into Atari’s code and altered it to provide a new gameplay experience. Essentially, General Computer created the first expansion pack.

Even though the enhancement kit required an original Missile Command cabinet, Atari later attempted to sue General Computer for copyright infringement. But rather than become mired in a protracted court case, the arcade giant and the enterprising college students reached a settlement. Atari would hire General Computer to design original arcade games so long as they agreed not to create any additional enhancement kits without the permission of the original game publisher. The developers quickly signed on, but first they took a nearly complete version of “Crazy Otto” to Midway, the North American distributor of Pac-Man. (more…)

Posted in Features, PC, PS2, PS3, PS4, Retro, SPBVGOAT, Top Story, Wii, Xbox 360, Xbox One | Tagged


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Uncharted 4 leads all games at the 2017 BAFTA Games Awards with 8 nominations

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The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) has announced the nominees for the 2017 Games Awards, which will be handed out in a special ceremony in London on April 6. Viewers at home will be able to watch a livestream of ceremony through BAFTA’s Twitch channel.

This year’s top nominee is Naughty Dog’s Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, which scored eight nominations including “Game of the Year.” Nathan Drake’s final adventure will also compete in the “Artistic Achievement,” “Audio Achievement,” “Music,” and “Narrative” categories, as well as with three separate nominations in the “Performer” category (Troy Baker, Nolan North, and Emily Rose).

Uncharted 4 will fight for BAFTA’s “Game of the Year” honor against five other critically-acclaimed games from 2016 including Campo Santo’s Firewatch, Playdead’s Inside, Blizzard’s Overwatch, Concerned Ape’s Stardew Valley, and Respawn’s Titanfall 2.

The complete list of nominees in all categories can be found after the break. (more…)

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Sleeping Dogs lives on with a film adaptation starring Donnie Yen

Remember Sleeping Dogs?  Sure you do… it’s that game that spent years in development hell. You know, the one that initially started off as the third installment in the short-lived True Crime franchise. It was that game that eventually got picked up by Square Enix and turned out to be one of the most amazing games of 2012. Well, apparently I’m not the only one who loved Sleeping Dogs, because Neil Mortiz of Fast and the Furious fame has opted to produce a movie based on the game.

In case you’ve been living under a rock, or have simply, for whatever reason, chosen to avoid playing Sleeping Dogs, here’s the rundown. Sleeping Dogs was a game released in August 2012 for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Windows PC. And it was later ported to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One as one of the first Definitive Editions for the current generation of consoles.

The game centers around protagonist Wei Shen (played by Will Yun Lee), a Chinese-American cop who goes undercover for the Hong Kong Police Department to take down the local Triad organization. Shen finds his loyalties tested as he’s reunited with old friends and finds himself deeper drawn into the Triad underworld.

A free-to-play spinoff known as Triad Wars was scheduled to be release in 2015, however, it was canceled by developer United Front Games, which has since closed down. Square Enix retains the rights to Sleeping Dogs, but as far as the future of the franchise is concerned, the publisher has kept silent since the release of the Definitive Edition.

According to Deadline, the Sleeping Dogs movie will star Donnie Yen, a rather famous actor and martial artist in his native China. If you’re not familiar with Yen’s name, you certainly know some of his recent roles. The actor began to break into Hollywood features this year, and had memorable appearances in both Rogue One: Star Wars Story and XXX: The Return of Xander Cage.

Yen is an excellent choice for the lead, especially given the heavy use of hand-to-hand and martial arts combat featured throughout the game. And here’s hoping that an international interest in the upcoming Sleeping Dogs movie will generate a renewed enthusiasm for the game, perhaps compelling Square Enix to start working on a much-desired sequel.

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Video Game History Foundation wants to create a digital record of the industry’s past

Frank Cifaldi is a developer who has worked on Mega Man Legacy Collection and IDARB, but he is also the founder of the Video Game History Foundation, a new non-profit that seeks to preserve and digitize the history of video games.

The Video Game History Foundation launched their first “Digital Collection” yesterday, focusing on The NES Launch in 1985. Cifaldi is also seeking donations to expand the scope of the Foundation, as detailed on their “What We’re Doing” page:

The heart of the Foundation is its digital library, an online repository of artifacts related to the history of video games and video game culture. The ultimate goal is to create a searchable, organized, always-online archive of verified, high-quality material that is accessible to researchers and historians as a public education resource.

All donations to the Video Game History Foundation are tax deductible, and I can’t wait to see what collections they come up with next.

Posted in 3DS, DS, Etcetera, Mobile, News, PC, PS2, PS3, PS4, PSP, Retro, Switch, Vita, Wii, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One |

Microsoft will launch Xbox Game Pass subscription service this Spring

It looks like Microsoft will challenge Sony’s PlayStation Now subscription service in a big way with the Spring, because the consolemaker announced their own Xbox Game Pass this morning.

Unlike Sony’s service, the Xbox Game Pass does not stream games to your console. Instead, subscribers will gain access to full-game downloads of more than 100 titles for the Xbox One and Xbox 360. But like Netflix, new games will be cycled into the service every month, while older titles will be cycled out.

However, subscribers interested in purchasing any game offered through the Xbox Game Pass will be able to do so at a hefty discount.

Naturally, Microsoft themselves will supply many of the games available to download through the Xbox Game Pass. But the consolemaker has also recruited a huge number of third-party publishers to participate including 2K Games, 505 Games, Bandai Namco, Capcom, Codemasters, Deep Silver, Focus Home Interactive, Sega, SNK, THQ Nordic, and WB Games. And the first wave of available titles will include Halo 5: Guardians, Payday 2, NBA 2K16, and Soul Calibur II.

The Xbox Game Pass will be available later this Spring and Xbox One owners will be able to subscribe to the service for $9.99 a month.

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