Posts byAndy Astruc
Not enough people played Stubbs the Zombie. This is true in a very literal and commercial sense, of course — the game wasn’t a big seller, and the only place you can find it now is buried deep in the bowels of Xbox Live’s Games on Demand section — but also in the sense that it is a game very much worthy of attention. Stubbs cast you as a freshly risen zombie participating in your very own undead apocalypse. Not only was it a chance to play as the other side of the equation, it also offered a nifty and twisted tale of the old world clashing violently with the tehnologically-powered and uncaring future. Not only that, but you could rip off your own hand and use it to possess police officers.
Alas, due to Stubbs’ unusual nature and many other boring business factors there never was a sequel to that brief but magical foray into the life of a 1950s corpse. Wideload Games went on to make little else of note and were acquired by Disney Interactive in 2009, who reassigned them to mobile games development. They were in charge of Avengers Initiative, which you probably haven’t heard of because nobody cares about licensed mobile games.
Not starving to death seems like a pretty simple goal. Positively low key in this world of alien chest-rippers, crater-riddled war zones and dragons with fricking laser beams in their heads that we gamers call home. Remembering to eat seemed almost laughable in comparison to my usual tasks, so I took it patronisingly under advisement and went about my business. And that’s how I died with my axe halfway through a tree.
Only a few days had gone by in the wilderness, and I had been busying myself with gathering supplies, fending off the odd spider attack and building the sturdiest fire pit known to mankind. That’s when Don’t Starve hit me with a big stick, as my hunger dropped to zero and my health began to ebb away. Frantic running in all directions looking for carrots yielded nothing but quizzical looks from nearby birds, and, before long, I made a horrible gurgling noise and left a very embarrassed corpse. You see, contrary to appearances, Don’t Starve is actually a game about surviving. It’s a game I’ve grown to absolutely love, but it continues to hate me. And I keep trying to impress it, like a sad child running after an indifferent father. Why won’t you just hug me, Don’t Starve?
On first spotting the game, you might be drawn in by the storybook art style, with the game’s hero (such as he is) staring grumpily out at you and a playfully spooky forest bringing back memories of Grimm fables and Tim Burton productions before he stared too Depp into the abyss. But Don’t Starve has more in common with the truly twisted works of Roald Dahl, with some Twin Peaks and Lovecraftian discomfort mixed in for taste.
[Money Shots showcases (in our humble opinion) the best games currently asking for crowdfunding help across the internet. If you have a project you'd like see featured here, feel free to contact us!]
When I was about 12 years old, our class went to the local graveyard for the afternoon as part of history lessons. While there were bigger graveyards in the area, the local example was a tiny place perched on half a hill. The entrance was appropriately shrouded in overgrown branches and it clearly hadn’t been tended to in a long time. Some grave markers were nicely polished, little pots of wilted flowers perched beside them. Other were covered in dirt and moss. Many lay broken, with no way to tell where the grave they marked now sat. We even found one stone grave mysteriously ajar — our tiny minds racing with the possibility that a long-dead soul had forced the lid. Our main goal was to get charcoal rubbings of some of the graves, but I became fascinated with one headstone in particular that stood resolutely under a small tree, lichen covering half and the rest worn down by age and neglect.
I couldn’t help but wonder who the headstone belonged to, and how it got that way. Was his or her family not interested in tending the grave, or were there simply none left to do so? Did they die at the same time, leaving nobody to mourn? I wanted to pull off the lichen and get a better look, but it felt wrong somehow. And the subtle clues of my rubbing were a bit beyond the mind of a 12 year old sleuth.
As I get older, I come to further appreciate moments of quiet reflection. I’m not saying I cross my legs and drink in the nirvana of existence in a transcendental meditative state. I can’t cross my legs for more than a few minutes without getting the early indicators of deep vein thrombosis. But it is nice to stop and let your brain de-clutter itself once in a while in the middle of this busy modern world. Perhaps with a stiff drink in your hand. May is a bit like that for video games, existing as it does before the maelstrom of E3 leaks and soundly hyped products coming in the new fiscal year. It’s a month for cogitating.
So, what can we look forward to this next 31 days? A few releases spring to mind, although it’s hardly a deluge. The first completely snuck up on me, and may be of absolutely no interest to you: Ragnarok Online 2: Legend of the Second. Okay, so free-to-play MMOs from Korea aren’t exactly the forefront of the gaming experience, but I have a bit of a soft spot for Ragnarok. I played the original game back when I thought webcomics were way cooler than video games (jury is still out) and bards were the god damn bees knees. Killing a hundred thousand slimes and selling their goo to crowds of idle merchant class players was totally worth it to eventually battle evil with a lute. Ragnarok 2 actually launched in March for Korean ne’er-do-wells, but now it’s available to every luddite and his dog. If you’re keen, track me down inside the game and we can dance.
We’re all criminals, deep down. It’s why we started locking people up indefinitely instead of resorting to revenge killings — in our heart we know we’re only a few steps away from that scumbag who killed our dog and stole our TV. I’d brutally murder all of you if the price was right, just saying.
In the interests of group therapy, AWESOMEoutof10 is going to play Monaco, the bird’s eye heisting simulator, until all our criminal urges are sated. Because we’re so generous, this comedy of illegal errors will be streamed live via our Twitch.tv channel. It’ll help all of you realise that crime doesn’t pay. Not because there are inherent ethical systems in place which punish extra-social behaviour, or because the justice system creates a framework that discourages profiting from such acts. Just because we’re probably not very good at it. Think of the criminal duo from Home Alone.
The stream begins at 5:00pm Pacific US time, whatever that means! All I know down here in New Zealand is that’s about 30 minutes from now. Check it out here, or open the full article to reveal a magically embedded version. Come chat with us as we steal things to affirm our humanity (also for profit).
[Money Shots showcases (in our humble opinion) the best games currently asking for crowdfunding across the internet. If you have a project you'd like see featured here, feel free to contact us!]
Comedy isn’t particularly popular in gaming. It isn’t dead, but it does get pushed into the corner and brought out only on special occasions; like the good dishes, or your poor, crippled grandma with the lazy eye. It’s incredibly difficult, of course; tell a rubbish action story and people will let it slide, but fail at being funny and the audience will crucify you with awkward silence. Adventure gaming is in a similar state of perpetual limbo, existing as it does to greatly entertain fans while never forgetting its place as a B-level genre.
Something about these two ideas, alike in infamy, attracts game creators, making for quite a collection of funny point-and-clicks. I suspect it has something to do with the fact that while games are made by developers, adventure games are made by writers. Writers with balls. I assume this sort of testicular fortitude runs through the creators of AR-K, an episodic adventure in an outer space utopia.
There aren’t many downsides to working in the gaming press. Oh sure, if you focus on the total lack of respect and the fact that, if anything, it actually costs money to get involved, then seems a little bleak, but at the end of the day we’re allowed to play video games and pretend it’s business. But one can get a bit jaded, especially when yet another small developer comes along with one more 2D platformer. It was with this cold, cynical, heartless soul I began playing Guacamelee, and I have been reborn.
Effortlessly charming and infectiously enthusiastic. That’s how I would summarise Drinkbox’s latest offering, were I forced to curb my enthusiasm and verbosity. From the moment you turn on the game and are bombarded with the bright colours and happy music of cartoon Mexico, Guacamelee is a good time. Even simple explanations of the premise seem disingenuously positive. You play as Juan, an unfortunate fellow who must rescue a beautiful woman from an evil skeleton by punching and kicking hundreds of other skeletons. You die, and then you come back to life with the power of a luchador mask, then you take fighting lessons from a giant chicken and a man who lives as a goat. One of the bad guys tries to defeat you with her sexy hips.
Ambient Studios, the creators of Monster Meltdown and the unfinished Death Inc., have closed down for good.
The only certainties in life — so goes the saying goes — are death and taxes, and often one leads inexorably towards the other. The guillotine for Ambient came down swiftly and surprisingly today in the form of a short post on their own website. It seems the harsh realities of insufficient cash flow were to blame. The post states “ultimately we didn’t manage to make enough money to keep the wolves from the door. And so we had to make the difficult decision that it is no longer feasible for Ambient to continue operating. Thank you so much for all your support and encouragement along the way, we’ve got no regrets and have loved every minute of it.”
Frank had seen them coming a few blocks away. Their unmistakable black sedans hummed along Main Street and stopped outside Juliani’s Pizzeria. Frank continued tending to his hot dogs, but kept one eye on the situation. Those were government cars, and Juliani’s was mobster central. Suits poured out of the second car, all of them wearing sunglasses; then a tall man in a grey pinstripe emerged deliberately and glanced up and down the city block. Frank could see he had short, grey hair and a scar that ran from his ear to the corner of his mouth. Pinstripe stood for a full minute, staring at the pizzeria door, before it opened and three people came out. Frank recognised Tony the Shoe and his morbidly obese offsider, Patty Cake Jake, while the third was a small black woman with bloody bandages wrapped around her hands and arms. They all pulled out their guns and a lot of people died in a shootout of no particular note.
Variety and imagination are not the prized commodities in video games that they perhaps should be. The idea of sticking to a formula is rather helpful when you’re solving a mathematical problem or curing AIDS, but the gaming industry clings to proven ideas with fevered desperation. Violence is one of those memetic standbys, appearing as a conflict creation and resolution helper monkey in almost every game you might think about. Not to say that violence is bad, exactly; in the right context it’s a powerful tool and a sad fact of human existence. But surely with the collective minds of all the game designers and writers we can come up with more reasons to interact with a vast and unexplored fictional world that don’t involve a bunch of people shooting a different group of people from behind a waist-high concrete wall.
Certainly. Let’s just take away their guns and imbue them with the liberating power of dance.
A popular Twitch.tv streamer has faced accusations of fraud after he got up out of his wheelchair and walked on camera. That may be the most ridiculous non-fiction sentence I have ever written.
It appears to be accurate, nonetheless. Angel “zilianOP” Hamilton was a regular broadcaster on the streaming service who was known to be paralysed from the waist down and confined to a wheelchair. On April 5th he was seen getting up from said chair and disappearing off camera. His girlfriend Breanna (or “Panthoria” on Twitch), who was frequently involved with streams, was heard exclaiming loudly before discussing mundane facts about their dog. A truncated clip of the incident can be seen below, all the way up to the point where the camera abruptly eats the keyboard.