Guns, Gore and Cannoli 2

Guns, Gore and Cannoli 2 receives an official PC launch date

Do you have a couple of TVs, a Metal Slug arcade cabinet, a pocket full of quarters, and a fog machine? If you do… rad. Watch The Godfather 2 and The Dirty Dozen simultaneously, turn on the fog machine and begin loading quarters into the Metal Slug arcade cabinet. You’ll have Italian gangsters, dead Nazis, foggy ambience and side-scrolling shooter action.

If for some reason you can’t simultaneously watch The Godfather 2 and The Dirty Dozen amidst foggy ambience while blasting through hordes of opposition in Metal Slug, then just play Crazy Monkey Studios‘ Guns, Gore and Cannoli, or it’s upcoming sequel: Guns, Gore and Cannoli 2.

The original Guns, Gore and Cannoli placed players into old Chicago, a world populated by early twentieth-century American gangsters… and zombies. Taking a page from side-scrolling shooters like Metal Slug and Contra, Guns, Gore and Cannoli let players frantically shoot their way through waves of zombies, overgrown rats, and mafioso as the screen scrolls by. As crazy as Guns, Gore and Cannoli is, its sequel, Guns, Gore and Cannoli 2 ups the ante and pushes the new series into even more absurd territory.

Guns, Gore and Cannoli 2 recently received an official launch date along with a launch trailer:

Zombies and gangsters are back in Guns, Gore and Cannoli 2, but zombies and gangsters may be the least of your worries this time around. Taking place during WWII, players will now also be up against the Nazi Socialist Party, and zombies who were once members of them.

With Guns, Gore and Cannoli 2, developers Crazy Monkey Studios have tweaked Guns, Gore and Cannoli’s gameplay mechanics. Now players can aim 360 degrees and can deploy double weapon-wielding. Luckily, players won’t have to go the distance alone. Guns, Gore and Cannoli 2 supports local co-op (up to 4 players).

PC gamers will be able to play Guns, Gore and Cannoli 2 upon its release on March 2, 2018. Plans to port Guns, Gore and Cannoli 2 to consoles are in the works, but no official release date has been announced.

Advertisements
Vampyr

Drink blood (or don’t!) on June 5th in DontNod’s follow-up to Life is Strange: Vampyr

June 5th: A date in which fans of horror games will be able to arise from their cobwebbed coffins and sink their teeth into a new, delicious looking slice of horror gaming courtesy of DontNod, the developers of Life is Strange. DontNod’s previously delayed Vampyr is finally on its way, night people.

Life Is Strange In Vampyr

Originally scheduled for a 2017 release, Vampyr seduces players into the world of Dr Johnathan Reid. Dr Reid is a doctor working hard to develop a cure for the Spanish flu in early twentieth century London, but Dr Reid is a vampyr. When he isn’t busy trying to develop the cure for Spanish flu, Dr Reid is busy cracking into the arteries of London’s denizens and drinking their blood.

Of course, the choice of how much time will be spent devoted to developing a cure, or to feeding on London folk will be left up to the player as players control Dr Reid. Despite the way that last sentence read, Vampyr is not a time management simulation. Vampyr is an action-adventure styled RPG less focused on combat and more focused on presenting players with an immersive, narrative-driven experience. Deciding whether to feed into your vampiric urges or abstain from feeding on innocent citizens will play an integral part of Vampyr’s experience.

Every London citizen with which Dr Reid interacts has their own schedules, lives, relationships, and stories. According to Vampyr’s official website, affecting one character will affect all characters. If you affect someone in the wrong way, you may find yourself under attack from vampyr hunters or clergy. As a means of defence, Dr Reid will be equipped with pistols, sabres, and an arsenal of supernatural vampire abilities.

Vampyr

Vampyr will be available for purchase on PC, PS4, and Xbox One on June 5th. Purchases of Vampyr do not come complete with cloves of garlic, holy water, or wooden stakes; you’ll have to pick those up separately.

Yume Nikki: Dream Diary

Yume Nikki: Dream Diary soon to bring a new dimension of horror to Steam

Horror gaming in 2004 was a different landscape than it is today. Resident Evil 4 had yet to come along and redefine the genre, and Silent Hill games were still good. Most horror games played like early Resident Evil titles, featuring low-poly player characters struggling for their survival amongst compressed, pre-rendered backgrounds.

Yume Nikki + Kikiyama

A two-dimensional horror game was completely antithetical to what early-aughts horror game developers were developing. So, a two-dimensional horror game in 2004 would have been a pretty weird concept, right? Right indeed. Yume Nikki is a horror game from 2004 as weird as it is two-dimensional.

Yume Nikki was created by Kikiyama, a secretive developer about which little is known. The game was created using RPG-Maker and features simple gameplay mechanics. Players navigate pixelated nightmare-scapes and solve obtuse environmental puzzles. Unlike most of its RPG-Maker counterparts, Yume Nikki pits these gameplay mechanics against a set of bizarre, colourful worlds. Yume Nikki is notorious for leaving players dazed because of its sparse story, abstract world, and all around one-of-a-kind experience. Now available for free on Steam, Yume Nikki is a game you should play if you have yet to do so.

Playism, the publisher of Yume Nikki, recently announced a sequel too… sort of. Less a sequel and more of a reboot, Yume Nikki: Dream Diary is a reimagining of the original title. Featuring direct cooperation and supervision from Kikiyama, Yume Nikki: Dream Diary is being developed by Active Gaming Media, a company known for its localizations of titles No More Heroes and Soul Caliber IV.

Yume Nikki: Dream Diary will feature the off-putting, psychedelic world of Yume Nikki in three dimensions. Much like the original Yume Nikki, Yume Nikki: Dream Diary focuses on the young girl protagonist, Madotsuki, exploring a variety of dream worlds while trying to avoid horrifying humanoid monsters. Yume Nikki: Dream Diary is coming to Steam on February 23 and will cost $20.

Check out one of the trailers here:

7 Billion Humans

7 Billion Humans makes my cortisol levels jump

Close your eyes and think of an office environment. What do you see? Are visions of cubicle workstations, cluttered computer desks, and rubbish bins full of disposable coffee cups rushing your mind’s eye? Can you hear the click-clack of keyboards and the soft noise emitting from computer hard drives? My mind floods with the aforementioned images and sounds when I think of work offices, but maybe when you think of an office environment you think of something else. Perhaps for some reason, you envision puzzles, quirky dialogue, and big eyes?

Tomorrow Corporation’s recently announced title, 7 Billion Humans, intends to realize the puzzle, quirky dialogue, and big eye-filled office setting some of you may imagine when you hear “work office”.

7 Billion Humans: No Sweat

Like Tomorrow Corporation’s 2015 title, Human Resource Machine, the heart of 7 Billion Humans’ gameplay is found in its programming puzzles. Players must command a bevy of office workers using programming commands. If you don’t know how to program, no sweat! 7 Billion Humans’ programming language will be taught within the game. Screenshots are intimidatingly confusing, but instruction should make understanding the UI and programming language a breeze.

7 Billion Humans
7 Billion Humans

Did I mention 7 Billion Humans’ office workers are working inside of a parallel computer? In 7 Billion Humans you are tasked with keeping a parallel computer running smoothly. As the player, you must program your office workers to solve puzzles within the computer. The puzzles, being the obstacle before you, will make your computer run poorly lest you use programming to solve them.

Of course, 7 Billion Humans is not set solely inside of a parallel computer, you’ll also be navigating your workers around a sky-scraping office building housing 7 billion human workers.

My lack of programming knowledge aside, looking at screenshots of 7 Billion Humans makes my cortisol levels jump. The art direction’s big-eyed office workers all look like they are on the edge of a breakdown, but hell, they are kind of cute. Besides a similar art direction, 7 Billion Humans will also feature the return of Human Resource Machine’s soundtrack wizard, Kyle Gabler. Gabler’s work in Human Resource Machine makes for great listening, and hopefully, his work on 7 Billion Humans will be just as great.

A release date for the game has yet to be announced. Be sure to check back here at Nitchigamer for 7 Billion Humans and its developments.

Strange Journey Redux

Strange Journey Redux gets Western release date

Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey was released on the Nintendo DS in both Japan and North America in 2009 and 2010 respectively. When was it released in Europe? Well… it wasn’t. Strange Journey never saw a European release, but Strange Journey’s 3DS port will see a European release.

Strange Journey Redux

Announced for European release in June, Strange Journey Redux (SJR) is an enhanced 3DS port of the original DS title featuring updated graphics, voiceovers, a new story arc, new characters, and a new dungeon.

No exact release date was given in June when SJR was first announced for European release, but with the New Year came news of a confirmed release. On January 17th a European release date for SJR was given. SJR will hit European store shelves on May 18th and North American store shelves on May 15th.

In addition to the release date, Atlus gave gamers their first glimpse of official artwork for SJR’s Western release:

Strange Journey Redux

As you can see, Gore’s body is just as ready for a Western release as you are.

Western Megami Tensei fans have long speculated on whether or not SJR would receive an English dub, but Atlus’ recently updated sales sheet for SJR confirms SJR’s Western release will feature the original Japanese voiceover audio and no English dub.

SJR was released in Japan on October 17th, 2016 as Deep Strange Journey and received a score of 33/40 from Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu.

Time Hollow

Time Hollow: A Forgotten Classic Lost In Time?

Have you ever wanted to travel back in time and stop yourself from making a mistake? I wish I could step back in time and stop my younger self from wasting money renting Superman 64. Alas, time travel is not yet a reality, but time travel is a fun concept which has seen much application (good and bad) in film, fiction, and video games. Junko Kawano is a video game designer and writer whose work often features themes of time travel.

Kawano’s video game writing debut was the 2001 PS2 title Shadow of Memories, a game centred around the concept of time travel. Shadow of Memories’ protagonist, Elke Kusch, is murdered shortly after the game begins, and spends the remaining length of the game travelling through the past to prevent his own murder. Shadow of Memories is an exceptional adventure game, but it’s also a game that is more concerned with telling an interesting story than it is with being a “fun” game. If you’re patient and like slow-paced adventure games, I can’t recommend Shadow of Memories enough, but I recommend Kawano’s Nintendo DS title Time Hollow more.

Travel with me seven years into the future, from 2001 to 2008. Nintendo’s DS was four years into its lifespan and a hit with gamers of all stripes. 2005’s Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney was a surprise hit that bolstered publishers’ confidence in visual novels. Publisher confidence led to the localization of many Japanese visual novels on the Nintendo DS. One such localized Japanese visual novel on the Nintendo DS was Kawano’s second foray into time travel, Time Hollow.

Time Hollow: A Forgotten Classic

Time Hollow is a visual novel about teenager Ethan Kairos and the people in his life. Ethan goes to sleep one night and wakes up the next morning to find himself in a timeline other than his own… a timeline where his parents don’t exist. Confused, Ethan sets off to discover how he ended up in an alternate timeline and what he can do to return to his original timeline. Throughout the progression of Ethan’s adventure, Ethan explores both the past and alternative timelines.

Ethan’s adventure begins in his bedroom on the evening before his 17th birthday, and in Ethan’s bedroom players are introduced to Time Hollow’s “gameplay”. Time Hollow, like other visual novels, isn’t exactly something you play, rather, Time Hollow presents the player a world they can explore through point-and-click mechanics.

Time Hollow

Don’t Forget The Hollow Pen

Time Hollow’s world is, in my opinion, its greatest strength. Not only are the beautiful sprite-based graphics easy on the eyes, the player sees the way Ethan’s world changes with the passage of time and transversal of timelines. A business in one timeline may not exist in another timeline, or the business may have different employees in different timelines. Ethan is able to interact directly with characters in the past to influence his present. Seeing Ethan’s world change as he manipulated time gripped me and made it hard for me to pull myself away from Time Hollow. Ethan explores the past and different timelines through the use of a “hollow pen” he is gifted by his dad for Ethan’s 17th birthday.

Ethan’s hollow pen is a Kairos family heirloom gifted to every successive Kairos on their 17th birthday. The hollow pen allows its wielder the ability to draw a “hollow” in the fabric of time. These drawn hollows function as windows to the past. Time Hollow’s gameplay hinges on using the DS’ touch screen to physically draw hollows in Ethan’s world, and using those hollows to manipulate the past and thus alter the present. Of course, you can’t run around Ethan’s world drawing hollows wherever you please; Time Hollow is very restrictive in regards to linearity.

Affecting “fun” factor and replayability most is Time Hollow’s linearity. On one hand, Time Hollow’s strict linearity can make repeated plays a dull affair, but Time Hollow’s strict linearity also streamlines the story, a nice (debatable) feature in a visual novel.

An Adult Story

Time Hollow’s story is often startlingly adult. Time Hollow’s graphics and anime-esque characters may lead one to believe Time Hollow is a predictable, childlike affair, but the story takes surprisingly dark turns. Honestly, I was shocked to discover Time Hollow is rated 7+ by PEGI. Time Hollow features graphic imagery like pools of blood, a dead body with blood spilling out of its head, and characters getting stabbed. Graphic imagery aside, suicide and murder are both prevalent themes in Time Hollow’s narrative. Time Hollow’s story is both dark and serious.

Time Hollow

As compelling as Time Hollow’s themes and world may be, the characters are typical anime fodder, but it is interesting to see how the characters change as Ethan travels from one timeline to another. There’s a devious villain, a nerdy, perv friend complete with glasses, a shy girl (who doubles as a psychic) with a crush on Ethan, and a cheesy theme song. The theme song (featured in DDR SuperNOVA 2) is the worst bit of music here though, the remainder of Time Hollow’s soundtrack is great.

Time Hollow is not a perfect game, it got a warm reception from critics and gamers alike, but it is a great experience for fans of visual novels or point-and-click adventures – you shouldn’t miss it.

January Nintendo Direct

January 2018 Nintendo Direct (Mini): Here’s Everything Announced Today For The Switch

On January 10th Nintendo of America’s Twitter was aflame after this ambiguous tweet:

Chibi?

Gamers everywhere wondered what prompted Nintendo to tweet a picture of a flaming Chibi-Robo. Was a new Chibi-Robo game on the horizon? Nope. It turns out Nintendo was just hyping fans for today’s surprise Nintendo Direct Mini. Despite not mentioning Chibi-Robo, Nintendo did announce a slew of new Switch releases.

January Nintendo Direct (Mini) Rundown

Here’s the full rundown for you, reader:

  • The World Ends With You Final Remix / 2018

The World Ends With You Final Remix

One of Nintendo DS’ greatest titles, The World Ends With You, will be re-released on the Switch sometime this year. In addition to a new, Switch-exclusive scenario, The World Ends With You Final Remix will feature both touch controls resembling those of the original DS release and new Joy-Con controls. No specific release date was given, but The World Ends With You Final Remix will be released in 2018.

  • Pokken Tournament DX DLC / January 31st, March 23rd

New Pokémon fighters will soon appear in Pokkén Tournament DX. Battle character Aegislash will be available for download on January 31st along with the support Pokémon set Mega Rayquaza and Mimikyu. On March 23rd a new battle character, the famous Blastoise, and a new support Pokémon set featuring Mew and Celebi will be available for download. Both sets of Pokémon will be released as part of the Deluxe Battle Pack now available for purchase. While you won’t have access to the new Pokémon until their release dates, you will be given a new set of avatar items upon purchase.

  • Kirby Star Allies / March 16th

Nintendo presented a new trailer for the already announced Kirby Switch title featuring two of Kirby’s new abilities: Artist and Spider. Now Kirby can paint Waddle Dee and other enemies into a world of pain using the artist ability, or Kirby can spin a web around foes à la Spiderman. A new co-op mode will also allow players to mix and match abilities.

  • Dragon Quest Builders / January 2018

Experience the world of Dragon Quest your way in the Minecraft-flavored Dragon Quest RPG. The cross-platform hit is making its way to the Switch later this month, but a demo is now available for download in the eShop as well.

  • Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition / Spring 2018

It’s both the Wii U and 3DS Hyrule Warriors in one. The Switch’s definitive version of Hyrule Warriors will include all the exclusive content featured in both the Wii U and 3DS versions of Hyrule Warriors. New to the definitive edition are Breath of the Wild-themed Link and Zelda costumes, and a same-screen co-op mode.

  • Mario Tennis Aces / Spring 2018

Mario Tennis Aces

The developers of the great Mario Tennis titles, Camelot, are at it again with a Mario Tennis title for the Switch. Mario Tennis Aces will feature the series’ first story mode since GBA title Mario Tennis: Power Tour, complete with boss battles and mission-based gameplay. The story mode looks ‘ace’…

  • Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of DANA / Summer 2018

RPG fans rejoice! Ys VIII: Lacrimose of DANA is making its way to the Switch this Summer. Ys VIII features a real-time battle system, a base-building mechanic, anime-style cutscenes, and an epic narrative.

  • Super Mario Odyssey Update / February 2018

Luigi’s opening up a new world for Mario to explore in Super Mario Odyssey’s free upcoming update. The update features post-game content where Luigi sources Mario to either find or hide balloons. Finding and hiding balloons brings with it international scoreboards where players around the globe can find other players’ hidden balloons and compare high scores.

Also included in the Super Mario Odyssey update are new costumes for Mario and new filters for snapshot mode. The update will be free.

  • SNK Heroines Tag Team Frenzy / Summer 2018

SNK Heroines Tag Team Frenzy will feature female characters from SNK’s prolific catalogue of fighting games. Players will be able to customize fighters with different costumes and accessories.

  • Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle DLC / Spring 2018

A new challenger approaches in Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle and he is bringing all the jungle heat… and a banana boomerang (?) with him. Yes, Donkey Kong will be available for download this Spring.

  • Payday 2 / February 27th

The earlier announced Switch port of Payday 2 will release on February 27th along with a timed-exclusive new character: Joy. Joy brings with her hacking perks sure to make quick work of any security firewalls.

  • Fe / February 16th

Fe

This platforming adventure allows players to explore a huge 3D world. Heavy emphasis is placed on music as players use it to unlock abilities and battle foes. Fe will be available for purchase on February 16th.

  • Celeste / January 25th

Celeste is a 2D action-platformer featuring lovely pixel-based graphics. Play as Madeleine and help her ascend Mount Celeste using an air-dash and other abilities. Celeste lets players fully customize game difficulty allowing for both easy runs and impossibly difficult runs too.

  • Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze / May 4th

Another Switch port of a Wii U game, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze introduces Funky Kong as a new playable character with his own unique abilities.

  • Dark Souls Remastered / May 25th

Dark Souls Remastered

A trailer was shown for Dark Souls Remastered, but it didn’t include any details regarding changes or new gameplay. All that’s known about Dark Souls Remastered is its release date then: May 25th, 2018.

That wraps it up for the January 11th Nintendo Direct Mini. Are you excited about any of the titles showcased? Are there any games you were hoping to see that didn’t make the cut?

Gaming addiction soon to be labelled a “disorder”

Addiction in video games has seen a lot of press lately with some governments around the world considering legislation restricting the use of loot boxes.

Now addiction in a gaming context is getting a bit more attention: recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced gaming itself can be addictive.

Are you having difficulty pulling yourself away from your video games? Have you forsaken both your responsibilities and your relationships with others? Do you continue gaming despite negative repercussions? If so, as far as the WHO is now concerned, you are suffering from “gaming disorder”.

Gaming disorder is included in the draft of WHO’s 11th revision of its International Classification of Diseases. WHO defines gaming disorder as a consistent, recurring gaming habit of “sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, education, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.”

According to WHO’s new draft, gaming disorder is only possible to diagnose over a period of at least 12 months except for in extreme cases. As of the time of writing, WHO’s draft does not include treatment or prevention of gaming disorders.

It’s worth mentioning that another recent study, published in Molecular Psychiatry, discovered that playing first-person shooters can actually reduce grey matter within the hippocampus in the brain.

– PJ Says –

If you ask me, ten minutes alone with Superman 64 would prove sufficient treatment for any addiction you may have to video games.

80s Overdrive Review [Nintendo 3DS] – Speed Kills

The 80s, a decade unparalleled in its excesses and style. There’s nothing quite as “big” as the 80s, and arcade racers from the 80s are no exception. Games like Outrun and Chase H.Q. did everything bigger, better, and faster than the racers before them. Outrun and Chase H.Q. featured sports car sprites driving at speeds in excess of 200 kmh on winding roads through cities, deserts, beaches, and canyons.

As the 80s ended and the 90s began, racers started trading sprites for 3D-rendered graphics. With the high-powered PCs and consoles of the early 00s, racers further distanced themselves from their 80s predecessors. Realism in racers became a trend and it is a trend which persists today. Some modern racers still opt for wild and loose arcade physics, handling, and speed, but the majority of modern racers favour simulation gameplay with realistic physics, handling, and speed. Regardless of gameplay, both the arcade and simulation racers of today often feature realistic 3D graphics. Rarely do gamers get a new racing game which looks, plays, and sounds like it came from the 80s. Fortunately, gamers have recently been blessed with that rare occurrence by means of 80s Overdrive.

80s Overdrive is a 3D arcade racer using sprite-based graphics. Everything in this game is beautiful. The cities, trees, and beaches on the horizon you’ll forever be driving towards and the traffic you pass along the way all look great. Each car the player can drive, of which there are a handful, look like their real-world counterparts albeit in sprite form.

80s Overdrive’s high-quality visual presentation pairs well with its high-quality retro-wave soundtrack. Featuring artists like Vectorwolf and Vocoderion, 80s Overdrive’s soundtrack fits the “80s by way of 2017” aesthetic perfectly. Unfortunately, as good as the soundtrack is, it falls short when racing in the “Time Attack Mode”. Like Outrun, at the beginning of the race you can choose what song you want to listen to, but the time attack mode race goes on for much longer than whatever song you choose. Eventually, the song ends and is followed up by a few moments of awkward silence before looping. It’s a small nitpick, but the repeating song and loop grow tiresome. A random song feature would be a nice touch here, keeping things fresh.

80s Overdrive

Besides the audio, time attack mode is a lot of fun. Time attack mode is 80s Overdrive’s “Outrun mode”. Players race the clock as they dart from the beach to whatever is on the horizon. Closely passing traffic while carefully avoiding collision nets players more time on the clock. All the extra time is a big help because 80s Overdrive’s time attack mode features a huge map with an almost infinite number of different routes. Time attack mode is a lot of fun and just as addictive as Outrun, imbuing players with a sense of accomplishment as they get a little closer to the goal with each subsequent race. Developers Insane Code claims there to be a reward for players who 100% time attack mode, but I honestly haven’t been able to do it yet. Time attack mode is difficult as is, but a couple of bugs make racing even more difficult. More on the bugs later.

Time attack mode is just one of 80s Overdrive’s gameplay modes. 80s Overdrive also features a career mode where players race NPCs for cash to buy more cars and car upgrades. Career mode is fun because it mixes things up with each race. Some races have more difficult routes with lots of twists and turns, other races have a lot or very little traffic, and some races will see players trying to outrun police while trying to maintain pole position.

Career mode occasionally presents players with the option to take on “missions” to pick up a number of collectables on the track, place above or below certain NPC racers, or deliberately wreck into other NPC racers. I noticed a lot of the missions present little risk but maximum reward. The missions are just another way to line your virtual pockets and access vehicle upgrades including faster speeds, better handling, nitrous oxide boosts, and a police scanner.

At first, the career mode is easy, almost too easy, but it picks up as players progress through the different races. The police chases make things difficult because the police will pull out in front of a player and hit their brakes. If players fail to avoid rear-ending the police, they will likely be set back several places in standing and maybe even get arrested if too slow to recover from wrecking.

The third game mode is a track editor. While you never do more than adjust sliders affecting different parameters to develop a track, a code is given uniquely to the developed track. Theoretically, players can take this unique code and share it with other players either in person or online, giving others the opportunity to race on player-designed tracks. I can’t decide whether this method of sharing a created track is appropriate because it holds true to the way people would share cheat codes with each other in the 80s and 90s, or whether it’s just inconvenient. It would be nice to be able to share created tracks on a server or even race other people online, but that’s an expensive proposition for developers. Maybe if 80s Overdrive does well, 80s Overdrive 2 will include multiplayer or PvP features. Cross your fingers.

80s Overdrive

Now for the bugs I mentioned earlier. Making the races difficult regardless of which game mode are the vehicle upgrades. Yeah! It’s weird. Typically vehicle upgrades make racing games easier but in 80s Overdrive it only kind of works that way.

Sure, maxing out your vehicle’s top speed will give you a leg up on other racers, but safely driving through each race without accidents becomes difficult. As I began to surpass speeds of 250 kmh, I found my surroundings chopping up and stuttering at a speed just as insane. It’s a framerate issue. Despite 80s Overdrive’s graphics being lovely to look at, the graphics just don’t do a good job of handling speed. Framerates dip as speed increases and the screen fills up with different assets. The graphical issues aren’t game-breaking, but they are frustrating and work as an artificial difficulty.

The only other problem I noticed was a sound issue in the “Elite City” track. It didn’t happen often but occasionally I would be speeding towards the horizon and a very sudden and very loud sound would just scream at me from my headphones. The sound resembled the sound the player car makes as it’s careening around a corner, tires squealing, only louder. The problem was I wasn’t careening around any corners when the squealing would sound, and the sound was so much louder than other sounds in the game. Even without my headphones I experienced the same sound quirk. The good news is I didn’t experience the bug on any other tracks.

80s Overdrive is currently available in the NOE 3DS eShop and will be available in the NOA eShop on December 14th. No plans have been announced for release in Japan or ports to other platforms.

10tons Talks: An Interview With The Twin-Stick Developers

If you want twin-stick shooters, you go to 10tons. If you want puzzlers? You go to 10tons. The studio develops their games with a variety of platforms in mind so no gamers miss out. Odds are if you own a platform made in the last decade, you can find 10tons’ games available on said platform.

The Nintendo Switch, young as it may be, has recently been blessed with a number of 10tons’ games. Everything from their debut work, Crimsonland, to the recent cyberpunk-themed hits, Neon Chrome and JYDGE, are available for purchase on the Nintendo Switch eShop.

10tons’ next planned release, Tesla vs. Lovecraft, looks to be another strong addition to not only the Nintendo Switch but also Steam, PS4, and Xbox One.

I recently had the opportunity to speak with 10tons in regards to their prolific catalogue, their involvement with the Nintendo Switch eShop, and their plans for the future. Our conversation is as follows:

10tons released plans earlier this year for a number of releases on the Nintendo Switch and has followed through with that plan. I’d like to talk to you about plans you may have for future releases on the Switch, how developing for the Switch has affected 10tons, and what it is that attracted you to development for the Switch in the first place. I’m a big fan of JYDGE so I’d also like to ask you about Jydge and some of your other games.

As a multiplatform developer and publisher, our plan is straightforward. When we start to support a platform like a new console, we support it with everything that makes sense. In the case of Switch, we’ll be bringing our entire console catalogue – as seen here – to the platform pretty much as fast as we can. We’re more than halfway through by now. From then on we aim to treat Switch as an equal platform to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. That means our next brand new game, Tesla vs. Lovecraft, should be available for Switch simultaneously with other console platforms, in early 2018.

As for what motivated us to start supporting Switch, we’ve always dreamed of being on a Nintendo platform, and now that we have gotten comfortable with PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and Switch coming up at the perfect time, it was the most natural thing to make the effort now. It’s also no secret that indie games are a tough business these days, and a new console storefront is well known to be one of the best business opportunities there is. As long as a new console is popular and the amount of available games is limited, everyone who gets on board early will reap outsize rewards. Our games have done really nicely on Switch, but more importantly, the reception among gamers has been awesome.

10tons’ first release, Crimsonland, was recently ported to the Nintendo Switch. How long ago did development begin on Crimsonland and how has 10tons’ philosophy behind game development changed since the initial release of Crimsonland? 

Crimsonland indeed is the first proper game 10tons, or rather the founders of 10tons, ever made. That was back in 2002-2003 when they were still university students, and as the shareware game gained popularity, they figured to give indie game development a shot as a career and founded 10tons. The next 11 years or so the company made casual games, as the shooter market just seemed very risky. With PS4 and Steam access via Greenlight, it was decided that Crimsonland would be remastered, which took 2-3 months with mostly two developers. 99% of the code is the same as in the classic version, the most notable difference being entirely redone graphics. The Switch port in itself took a bit over a week for one developer. I can’t even begin to think how much the original creators of Crimsonland have learned in the past 15 years, but I’d imagine a lot!

The Switch is still under a year old and 10tons has already released a wealth of titles for the young console. On a scale of 1-10, how exciting has it been to help support such a young Nintendo console?

It’s a 9. We’ve wanted to be on a Nintendo platform for a long while, and we’re super happy to have that come true. The platform has also exceeded all our expectations regarding developing and publishing, as all that stuff is just very good on Switch. The only slight kink in an otherwise perfect experience is that we’d have liked to get a dev kit sooner and to start our release barrage sooner. Well, if we’d have been able to start six months earlier, we probably wouldn’t have released our catalogue in such a hurry. We just saw that by the time we got there with Sparkle 2, there already were 149 games in eShop, and 19 games launched that week. I think it’s been about 10-20 per week ever since. So while it’s still kind of early, competition has definitely arrived. It’s still good though, our success with Switch will register for everyone’s Christmas bonuses.

What about developing games for the Switch appeals to 10tons?

The Switch is a really good fit for our games, as we’ve always, and especially nowadays, made games that work on desktop, TV, and handheld/touchscreen. Then again, we never think of any single platform. Multiplatforms are so deep in our DNA that we’re really platform agnostic. We just make games, and we make them in a way that we won’t exclude any screen sizes, input methods, or use scenarios. At least to the best of our abilities, obviously, something like King Oddball works ideally in handheld/mobile scenarios and can get kind of monotonous in a three-hour console gaming session on the big screen. Although we know for a fact that a whole lot of people have enjoyed that specific title precisely that way. Anyway, we don’t really target any specific device or platform, because we’re multiplatform developers.

I’ve read about plans to release Tesla vs. Lovecraft on the Switch. How would you describe this games to someone who hasn’t heard or read anything about it? 

Tesla vs. Lovecraft is a top-down twin-stick arena shooter featuring the two cult personalities, genius inventor Nikola Tesla and horror author H.P. Lovecraft. Science and metal clash with madness and tentacles in a big way! Twin-stick shooters are obviously one of our things, and with Tesla vs. Lovecraft, we’re exploring yet another direction within the genre.

It’s closer to Crimsonland than Neon Chrome or JYDGE, as we feel we’ve exhausted the cyberpunk vibe with those two titles for a while. Overall we feel like twin-stick shooters are somewhat more niche than we perhaps realized, and with Tesla vs. Lovecraft, we’re seeing if we could widen the audience a bit with the theme we chose and somewhat less obscure mechanics. We’ve also upgraded the graphical fidelity from Neon Chrome and JYDGE quite a bit, and it’s looking great! We’re really excited to have it soon in the hands of gamers.

Why is Nikola Tesla at odds with H.P. Lovecraft in Tesla vs. Lovecraft? How did this idea come about? Will Tesla vs. Lovecraft feature a spooky narrative full of inter-dimensional gods? Are there any game modes where players can play on the H.P. Lovecraft side? 

The game was actually originally prototyped as a mage themed shooter, but it quickly evolved into a game with scientists against monsters. Then we just realized after a little while that Tesla vs. Lovecraft is just the perfect distillation of that and a really cool name for the game too! We also learned quickly that Tesla and Lovecraft have already been combined in popular culture quite a bit, which is even better. There’s not many adversarial setups between them though, so everything lined up just perfectly.

As to what the lore of the game is about, it all starts with Tesla’s endeavour to provide free wireless energy to everyone, and Lovecraft is convinced the technology is actually based on really dangerous, otherworldly powers that Tesla doesn’t fully understand. And what happens next, you’ll just have to wait and see for yourselves…

When can gamers expect Tesla vs. Lovecraft to be available for purchase?

We’re currently aiming for an early 2018 release, possibly even January. The game’s practically finished, there’s just the usual final cleanup and console certification processes to go through. With the holidays messing things up, we don’t dare say January 2018 for sure.

Do 10tons have any plans for future Switch releases besides Tesla vs. Lovecraft? Ports? 

We plan on finishing our project of bringing our existing console game catalogue to Switch, and then to release every new game for Switch as simultaneously with other platforms as we can. We’ve learned by now that that’s probably the best way to go with multiplatform console releases, as few people actually like their console to be the second one or the last one to get a multiplatform game.

Do any of your planned titles focus on competitive, PvP gameplay? 

Online and PvP seem to be all the rage these days, and we’ve discussed it internally a lot. We use the same in-house engine for all our games, and we don’t have online multiplayer tech yet. We could create it for sure, it’d just cost a big chunk of money. We’ll see, it’s certainly possible. Although we can see a whole lot of games, especially twin-stick shooters, with online multiplayer or co-op, and it looks like it’s not at all a feature that guarantees any level of commercial success.

Will any of your future Switch titles include Switch-exclusive features?

Frankly, we try to avoid console specific features as much as we can. Firstly, platform holders by and large demand feature and content parity. So if we made one platform something exclusive, we’d have to make something else exclusive to other platforms. That’d be a whole lot of exclusive stuff! Secondly, we indeed try to treat all our fans as equally as we can, regardless of platform. Sometimes it’s just not possible, but at least we can try to make our games as identical on every platform as we can. We know it’s not a stance a lot of superfans of a specific console will agree with easily, but from our perspective, it’s a very clear case. All gamers are our preferred customers, not just gamers on platform X, Y, or Z.

Recent Switch releases, JYDGE and Neon Chrome are both set in the same universe, right? Are there any plans to expand upon this universe either through sequels, new titles, or other media?

With Neon Chrome we indeed got to fulfil a longtime dream of making a cyberpunk game, and it was great. While a lot of people really loved Neon Chrome in every way, we quickly learned of a subset of players that didn’t enjoy the roguelite aspects much but did like the core gameplay, the theme, the style, the world.

We still love cyberpunk, so the idea of an anti-roguelite Neon Chrome was pretty much there. And it became JYDGE just like that. We’re extremely happy it went exactly as planned, as all the people who had misgivings about Neon Chrome just loved JYDGE! What we didn’t expect, and which really made JYDGE the commercial hit it is, is that even the fans of Neon Chrome’s roguelite aspects loved JYDGE. That said, now that we’ve made Neon Chrome and JYDGE as the official prequel/spinoff, we don’t immediately see ourselves making a third title in the same universe. We still love cyberpunk though, so who knows.

I like how you brought a Robocop/Judge Dredd-esque figure into a classic cyberpunk setting in JYDGE. Is the title “Neon Chrome” itself an homage to writer William Gibson’s Burning Chrome? What else inspired the world and characters of JYDGE and Neon Chrome? 

Oh yeah, Neon Chrome comes very much from all the cyberpunk we know and love. Shadowrun, Gibson’s Neuromancer/Count Zero/Mona Lisa Overdrive trifecta, Bladerunner, Deus Ex, you name it. And then JYDGE is obviously a homage to all the future-cop stuff there is, probably more Robocop than Judge Dredd. Early in the project we discussed how on the nose we can or we should be about it, and how tongue-in-cheek.

We settled with very on the nose and tongue very much in cheek, all the way to the silly title and silly spelling everywhere in the game. It worked out fantastic, the recognizability and unusuality catch people really well and by far the most that end up buying the game are really happy with it.

Physical media is great unless you’re concerned about space. Do 10tons have any plans to release physical copies of games on the Switch in the future?

We don’t have any physical copy plans at this time. We haven’t studied it in detail, but as far as we know there’s a quite significant cost associated with it, and these days most indie games don’t sell tens of thousands of units anyway. The superhits may sell millions or hundreds of thousands, but that’s really the top 1%. By far the most, like us, sell some thousands or low tens of thousands of units of a digital game in a few years, including pretty deep discounts, so it’s really iffy if we’d be able to sell a few thousand units of a premium priced physical copy, or whatever the minimum print would be.

Personally I also really love digital, it just skips all the clutter and fuss of it. I appreciate some people’s desire for collecting physical libraries, however.

– END –

There you have it, folks! Check back for more 10tons news as it comes. In the meantime, brush up on Miskatonic lore in preparation for Tesla vs. Lovecraft.

My First Impressions Of Pokémon Ultra Sun

It’s been just a few days over a week since the release of Game Freak’s 3DS swan song, Pokémon Ultra Sun & Ultra Moon. Pokémon Ultra Sun is good – if you’re wondering whether or not it sucks, I’m here to tell you what I’ve played of the game has been fun and I don’t see it beginning to tank anytime soon.

While I never bothered with either Pokémon Sun or Moon, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed what I’ve experienced of Pokémon’s seventh generation and its Alola region. Having dawdled around the Alola region’s Melemele and Akala Islands, I have yet to see everything Alola has to offer, but I really want to see more of Alola.

Melemele Island, the first island available for exploration in Ultra Sun & Ultra Moon, is jam-packed with Pokémon both old and new. The inhabitants of Melemele Island offer a number of sub-quests. There is an abundant variety of time-specific events scattered across the island for the player to find, and you can even take time out from your journey to pet friendly Pokémon you happen across.

The Alola region and its different inhabitants all look beautiful on 3DS hardware old enough to qualify for a senior discount. Really! This game looks great. I’ve read about players playing on either original 3DSs or 2DSs experiencing low graphical fidelity in places, but I’ve been playing with a New 3DS and haven’t seen any dips in the frame rate.

As far as improvements over previous iterations go, Pokémon Ultra Sun does well to try something new with the structure and story, but it isn’t enough. While the traditional gyms and Elite Four have been left by the wayside in favour of a new trial system, it all seems trite. Although I’ve only participated in one trial I feel so far the trial system works and at other times it just seems like an ill fit for the Pokémon series.

Necrozma for Ultra Sun
Necrozma for Ultra Sun

Pokémon’s seventh generation places a lot of emphasis on story and character relationships, but the characters often fall short. The trial captains and kahunas I’ve run into are interesting characters but they haven’t been compelling, and the rival is far too friendly to inspire any rivalry. However, Gladion and Lillie are both compelling enough characters to make me wonder where the story goes. While it’s clear Pokémon writers aren’t trying to write the next Shenmue, it would serve their more story-focused game well to include more dynamic characters than those present.

If you’ve already played Sun & Moon, I’ve heard there isn’t much different here outside of new features like wormhole travelling, mantine surfing, and a few new story beats. The postgame is said to be chock full of features new to Ultra Sun & Ultra Moon, but I have yet to reach this. Ultra Sun & Ultra Moon are more expansions than they are sequels to Sun and Moon.

The difficulty of Ultra Sun & Ultra Moon isn’t anything too challenging but it’s no pushover like X & Y. You’ll encounter trainers on routes not afraid to use full restores on their Pokémon, but most route trainers use only one.

Despite not offering much of anything new to the series, Pokémon Ultra Sun & Ultra Moon are great Pokémon games. Gamers with a soft spot for the games will find plenty here to enjoy. If you’ve never played Pokémon before but you’ve always been curious, Ultra Sun & Ultra Moon are great entry points into the series.

Insane Code On Their (Kind Of) New Racer, 80s Overdrive

Outrun is one of the best arcade racers – nay, one of the best video games, ever made (and played).

Developed by legendary development studio, Sega-AM2, Outrun took early 3D arcade racers to the next level. 3D arcade racer releases since have been content following Outrun’s lead, but a new 3D arcade racer looks as if it may overtake Outrun’s decades-old pole position. 80s Overdrive is that new 3D (by way of 2D) arcade racer and it looks great.

80s Overdrive is described by its developers, Insane Code, as:

A 2D pixel art racing game, designed to take you back in time to when 8 and 16 bit consoles and arcade games ruled the world. Compete against opponents in career mode to unlock new races, buy new cars and upgrade them with state-of-the-art technologies! Try your skill in time attack mode and see how far you can get in this race against the clock! Create your own tracks with the built-in track generator and easily share them with your friends!

I accidentally happened across 80s Overdrive’s Twitter account a couple months ago and I was immediately gripped by a childlike excitement. However, being a huge fan of Outrun and the racers it spawned, 80s Overdrive sounded to me almost too good to be true. I began to wonder whether or not 80s Overdrive was real or some variety of illusory, retro-flavoured racing oasis in a desert-themed fever dream.

Questioning my grip on reality, I decided to reach out to 80s Overdrive developers, Insane Code. Fortunately, Insane Code informed me 80s Overdrive is real, and they were also kind enough to answer a handful of questions I had regarding the game and their history as developers.

The following contains my questions and their answers:

What’s your development studio’s name and how long have you all been
developing games?

For a long time there was no studio name, as there was no studio! We just started to mess around with game mockups and an engine prototype. Me, I had my design business running and Krzysztof had his programming business. So, it was more of a B2B cooperation. Later on, Krzysztof gained rights to develop and publish for the Nintendo 3DS eShop so we decided to go under his label – Insane Code.

Later on, a second programmer, Marcin, and a tester, Sebastian, joined to help. When it comes to our game development history, we all had over 5 years of experience (including on the Nintendo 3DS), but 80’s Overdrive is our first self-developed and published title.

What games have you developed and for what platforms?

None as of yet. Separately, we worked on mobile, iOS/Android, Sony PSP, PS3, Nintendo DS, DSi, 3DS and Wii games. For example, I worked on Rage of the Gladiator, Hazumi, League of Heroes and many, many more.

Arcade racers aren’t as popular as they once were. Why in 2016 did you begin developing a racer inspired by and modelled after classic arcade racers like Outrun, Rad Racer, Road Rash, and Cruisin’ USA?

Somewhere around the summer of 2015, we had a talk about ideas for games we would like to see and develop. We used to play a lot of 2D racers when we were kids. We loved them and started to wonder if this kind of game made any sense nowadays. So, to bring the memories back, we returned to playing: Outrun, Lotus 3, Crazy Cars/Lamborghini American Challenge, Top Gear Series, Cisco Heat, Jaguar XJ220 and found something interesting. Most of them aren’t arcade games even.

As you play old games they often don’t match what your brain remembers about them. After replaying them nowadays, you often feel disappointed about the frustrating gameplay, graphics, sound. But, there is still something that works. The simple but addictive gameplay mechanism, precise controls and overall feeling of the game which is lost in modern productions. We try to match the good things of the old and minimise the bad.

Are you excited or afraid to release a game the likes of which hasn’t been released in a while?

Both. Anyway, 80s Overdrive is our part-time project. We do have day jobs and our lives don’t depend on 80s Overdrive, so we just took the risk. From the creative point of view, it was worth it. We did fulfil our creative needs. When it comes to success, we will see, but it wasn’t the most important part.

Why the 80s aesthetic? Why not something aligned with more modern tastes?

That’s easy. Modern looking game wouldn’t be “something new”. Isn’t that ironic? We would end up with another NFS or some F2P racing. Also, our creative needs wouldn’t be fulfilled and our nostalgic feelings wouldn’t be satisfied.

One of 80s Overdrive’s trailers features text dialogue and character portraits. Is there a story mode?

Well… I can’t say. There will be a treat for dedicated and patient players. Anyway, too much story in an arcade racing game isn’t a good idea…

What are other gameplay modes available in 80s Overdrive?

There will be 3 game modes:

Career mode in which racers are competing against each other on various, point-to-point style tracks or complete special missions. The player can be also chased by the police.

Time-attack mode (“Outrun Mode”) in which  the player is fighting against the clock and tries to get as far as they can until the time runs out.

The Track Editor in which players can race on their own tracks. Tracks are be made by editing parameters. This generates the track code which can be shared with friends.

Many people on forums have been wondering what the green bar graphic seen on the left side of the player car in trailers is?

You mean green, rounded bar on the magenta background? In Time-attack mode, the player will be able to gain extra time by doing risky overtaking! Depending on how close the player passes traffic, they will be able to get an extra 1-3 seconds. It could be life-saving if you’re running out of time and a fork (junction) is still far away. But, you could also crash into the traffic if you aren’t careful.

What cars can players expect to drive? Is the soundtrack original or will it feature licensed tracks?

6 retro-supercars: Aggressor, De Loan, Intruder Turbo, Penetrator Turbo, Testosterando and Tensor V12. When it comes to music, some tracks are licensed, some are made especially for the game. There are 13 synth/retro wave music scores in total.

Are there any secrets or cheats you want to reveal before release?

No… But be sure to watch Facebook and Twitter carefully… and also please do complete the game 100%!

Will there be any DLC in the future?

If that’s what the audience desires, we don’t see any problems with that. Adding a new car or a visual theme won’t be that problematic. Also the Nintendo 3DS eShop supports updates so… who knows.

Are there any plans to port to Switch or other platforms?

Honestly, we don’t know that yet.

When can players expect 80s Overdrive to be released?

The game was sent to Nintendo Lotcheck. I think that December 2017 is very probable.

END

There you have it. Are you a fan of 3D arcade racers? If so, keep an eye on the 3DS eShop this December for the release of 80s Overdrive.

Until then, check back here at D-pad Joy for news and updates regarding the game.