Tag Archives: Tim Schafer

Review: Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge

via Giant Bomb

Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge (1991)

PC / Rated E10+


Publisher: LucasArts

Developer: LucasArts

Things were looking great for wannabe pirate Guybrush Threepwood at the end of The Secret of Monkey Island.  Guybrush defeated the notoriously evil pirate LeChuck and he won the heart of love interest Elaine Marley.  However, all is not well in Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge, the sequel from Ron Gilbert, Dave Grossman, and Tim Schafer at LucasArts.  Guybrush has fallen out of good grace with Elaine and thanks to his quest to find the treasure of Big Whoop, his arch-nemesis seems to have resurrected again as the evil zombie pirate LeChuck.  The sequel to the classic point-and-click adventure game manages to retain the charm of the original and continues to offer some of the best adventure gameplay out there.


Monkey Island 2 is a classic.  The sequel picks up soon after the original, but Guybrush has had some back luck with Governor Elaine.  Despite these unfortunate circumstances, he goes on to carry out his next mission, which is the search for the grand and fabled treasure of Big Whoop.  This quest brings him to Scabb Island, which is one of three islands that you will adventure across over the course of the game.  The others consist of Booty Island, home of Elaine Marley, and Phatt Island, where Guybrush is currently wanted for a laundry list of crimes.  Things only get more treacherous for poor Guybrush when his quest to find Big Whoop’s treasure inadvertently resurrects LeChuck who has a thirst for revenge…and an unsettling fascination with voodoo.  In fact, everyone seems to have a weird fascination with voodoo this time around.  Finally, unlike its predecessor, Monkey Island 2’s ending offers a surprise twist that puts a nice cherry on top of a rather delicious sundae that is this game’s story.

Of course, point-and-click adventure games live or die depending on the strength of their writing and the crew at LucasArts manages to manufacture another charming story full of wry, smart, and sophisticated humor.  Monkey Island 2 is chock full of hilariously ridiculous and laugh-out-loud moments that still stand the test of time.  But the game’s strongest suit is the characters.  The characters this time around are well realized and each have their own quirks that make them all standouts.  There are a host of new characters as well as some series favorites, including Stan S. Stanman, the eccentric salesman from the first game, who is back and better than ever.  This time around he is trying to cut you a good deal on coffins and he still will not shut up.  Even though they did not do much to change the character, he still manages to be one of my favorites from the game.  You do not have to fix something that works like a charm.


I should note that I played the Special Edition remastered version of the game, so the games mechanics have been modernized.  The original game uses the SCUMM engine, which was the staple for most adventure games back in the day.  The remaster streamlines a lot of the tedious aspects of the aged engine and makes gameplay a lot more convenient with fewer clicks necessary.  Your standard “look,” “pick up,” and “talk,” etc. actions are relegated to the right mouse button, which brings up an action wheel of sorts, allowing you to click on an object or person in the environment and then pick the action you want to perform on it.  The inventory button on the other hand allows for easy access to the items that you pick up along the way.  Monkey Island 2 is truly an adventure game that stands the test of time in terms of its playability.  I never found myself getting frustrated with the mechanics.  Everything works and runs well.

The puzzles are tough, but they are always creative.  Fans of wacky puzzles and bizarre item combinations will feel right at home with Monkey Island 2’s brand of puzzles.  I must give the game credit where credit is due, however, as none of the solutions felt too far-fetched or crazy.  I like to think of myself as a seasoned adventure game player so I am used to the train of thought that these games require, but I still had to look for hints at certain points.  Luckily, the remaster’s included hint system does the trick.  Unfortunately, you do not have to use every item that you acquire to complete the game.  There are some items, including my treasured portrait of Elvis Presley, that go unused and occupy your inventory the entire game, collecting dust.  I am not sure how my lovely portrait of Elvis would have come in handy, but I was sure hoping it would come to the rescue at some point.


Since I was playing the special edition, the game’s presentation was much improved.  Additional features like HD graphics and presentation, audio, commentary, and concept art are all included in the final product.  The ability to switch between the modern and classic art styles remains my favorite part of the LucasArts remasters.  Although the modernized HD art is well done and true to the source material, I still tend to favor the charm of the old pixel art.  The audio commentary is another welcome addition, but I would have liked a little more.  It felt lacking compared to some of the other remasters of similar ilk and the fact that the audio commentary does not pause the game made me a little sour on it as well.  Gilbert, Grossman, and Schafer often have a lot of enlightening things to say, but you miss the scenes and the dialog that are happening in the background.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Monkey Island 2 from start to finish.  It is a nice and polished experience that was full of charm and humor.  It is also full of nostalgia, especially for those who are fans of the series.  The Secret of Monkey Island was a fantastic game and Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge certainly lives up to its name.



Review: Day of the Tentacle Remastered

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via Entertainment Factor

Day of the Tentacle Remastered (2016)

PS4 / Rated T


Publisher: Double Fine Productions

Developer: Double Fine Productions

Tim Schafer is a genius when it comes to adventure games, and I genuinely mean that.  All you have to do is take a look at his past work, which includes games like Grim Fandango, the Monkey Island series, Full Throttle, Maniac Mansion, and most recently Broken Age.  His latest trend, one that I wholeheartedly enjoy, is bringing some of these classics back, like Grim Fandango, as remastered versions.  Double Fine’s latest remaster project, Day of the Tentacle Remastered, brings back the wacky time-travel adventure that stars three odd-ball teenagers and one very evil purple tentacle.  The remaster beautifully modernizes the story while retaining the charm and amusement of the original.

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via multiplayer.it

You take control of the nerd Bernard Bernoulli, the weirdo Laverne, and the heavy metal roadie that goes by the name Hoagie.  They are a band of misfits that must work together to put a stop to the evil Purple Tentacle’s plans of world domination.  In order to stop Purple Tentacle in his tracks, they have to enlist the help of the mad scientist Dr. Fred and his janky time machine.  Dr. Fred attempts to send them back in time so the kids can shut off the contamination machine that is the source of Purple Tentacle’s powers, but thing’s go horribly wrong as you would expect.  The three kids are split up into three different time periods, the past, the present, and the future.  They must work together, in different eras, to bring a stop to Purple Tentacle and, in turn, save the world.

The game’s story, primarily designed by industry veterans Schafer and Dave Grossman, is consistently great and on point throughout the entire adventure.  Day of the Tentacle features a variety of comedy styles, ranging from benign potty humor to wry, sometimes dark, humor.  Every joke works well and there are a very slim few that don’t connect, even twenty years later in this day and age.  There was one early moment in particular, involving a down-on-his-luck product designer who puts a gun to his head in his hotel room, only to reveal a bright “BOOM” flag upon firing the weapon.  It was a shocking moment that still managed to paint a smile on my face.  The inclusion of time travel also makes for some great story and character moments as well.  Watching as Hoagie instilled his heavy metal slang on the founding fathers in the past makes for some great comedic material.  The story is smart and sharp all the way through till the credits roll.

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via Polygamia

What made Day of the Tentacle so unique from other adventure games of its time was its time travel mechanics and the ability to switch between the different characters in their respective time periods.  It makes for some inventive puzzles that require some smart solutions.  Speaking of puzzles, unlike most adventure games of its time, the game never had any puzzles that require obtuse or abstract solutions.  Everything that you do makes sense and I never had to bash random items together in hopes of progressing the story.  The game makes you feel smart by letting you solve the problems in logical and clever ways.  With that being said, there were still some tough solutions, especially towards the latter half of the game.  It made me wish there was a built in hint system, which these remasters seemingly never have.  The game wasn’t overtly difficult, but a little dynamic hint system would have gone a long way.

There’s a layer of polish that lathers Day of the Tentacle Remastered that delightfully brings the game to life in this modern era of games.  Every screen was reworked from the ground up, giving the game higher resolution graphics.  The art isn’t the only thing got reworked, as the music was given a remastered treatment as well.  Maybe the best part about it all is that you can switch between the remastered and classic versions of the game on the fly with one press of a button.  I constantly found myself switching between the two just to marvel in the amount of work that was put into the remaster.  There’s also the inclusion of concept art, developer commentaries, and a fully playable version of the original Maniac Mansion, a little Easter egg that could have been found in the original version as well.  This amount of work that the game’s original creators put into this version of the game shows in every nook and cranny.

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via Fan Pop

As far as remastered games go, especially adventure games, Day of the Tentacle Remastered holds up extremely well, in large part thanks to Tim Schafer and the team at Double Fine.  The game features a hilariously absurd and clever story that’s chock full of witty humor and ingenious references.  It also has a bright and cheery look that translates every single little detail from the original.  If you haven’t played the original, this is about as good as the game is going to get.  Now, the wait begins again for Tim Schafer’s next remaster project, Full Throttle.

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Also available on PC and PSVita.

Review: Grim Fandango Remastered

grim fandango re coverGrim Fandango Remastered (2015)

PS4 / Rated T


Publisher: Double Fine, LucasArts

Developer: Double Fine, LucasArts

1998 was a big year for video games.  The year ranks high among fans, due to the plethora of major hits that came out during that time.  Grim Fandango, although more of a cult hit, was one of the games that defined the year.  The game, which was made by LucasArts, was one of the last great adventure games released in the “golden era of adventure games.”  Almost sixteen years later, it was announced that a remastered version of the game would be released on PC and the PS4.  After spending a lot of time with the game, I have to say, the game still stands up to this day.

In Grim Fandango, we explore the story of Manny Calavera, a travel agent for the Department of Death, was tasked with fighting the corruption that plagued the Land of the Dead.  Manny is a pretty unlucky guy, and things never seem to go his way.  He’s at the bottom of the company ladder, and he’s barely clinging on.  The Department of Death is an agency that offers travel packages to the recently deceased for travel to the 9th Underworld, the final resting place for the dead.  The No 9. Train is the most luxurious way to travel the Land of the Dead, but it seems that Manny’s clients never qualify for anything other than a nice long walk through the dangers of the land.  Something must be up.

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One of the most unique things about the game is its blend of Mexican culture, as well as Mayan culture.  There is even a nice dose of film noir elements, inspired by movies like The Maltese Falcon and Casablanca.  Manny ends up going on an adventure to get to the bottom of the corrupt evildoings of the agency.  Along the way, Manny comes into contact with some lovable characters like the demon mechanic Glottis, and the femme fatale that is Mercedes “Meche” Colomar.

The story spans four years, and each year is pretty different from the other.  Unfortunately, this is at the expense of the story.  For instance, at the end of the year, Manny is out looking for Meche when he decides to stick around in Rubacavera and wait for her to come through.  The game then flashes to the next year, where Manny is the classy owner of the Calavera Café, a luxurious casino on the pier of Rubacavera.  It doesn’t make sense how Manny went from being a lowly travel agent to a business owner, but the player is just left to accept and move on.

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The environments that the player discovers on the adventure are some of the coolest parts fo the game.  The player starts in the city of El Marrow, which has a ton of art deco influence.  We then see all sorts of places, like the Edge of the World, the Petrified Forest, Rubacavera and its surrounding film noir locations, and a bunch of other unique locales.

The game is very much the same as it was back in 1998.  This probably brings up the question, what does the remastered version bring to the table?  The biggest update comes with the visual clean-up that Tim Schafer and the guys at Double Fine performed.  All of the characters models were spruced up and are now much more modern looking.  However, the same can’t be said for the surrounding environments.  This is due to the fact that they were all pre-rendered, but it still would have been nice to see more updated visuals.  The cut-scenes really haven’t been touched as well.  It’s almost like they should put an asterisk next to remastered, because the term can be a little misleading.

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A side-effect of 90’s adventure game design is the intense puzzles with crazy solutions you would never think of.  The game’s puzzles haven’t been changed, which made the game pretty tough.  With the surprising lack of a hint system, I was left playing the game with a FAQ at the side to help me get through some of the challenging puzzles that the game gave you.  This was a rather unfortunate oversight.  If you want an extra challenge, try maneuvering the game with tank controls.  The remastered version does contain modernized movement, but the option to go back to tank controls is there…only if you really want it.  (I suffered through it to get the stupid trophy…)

The neat thing about the remastered version is the developer commentary that is sprinkled throughout the game, only a click away.  Tim Schafer and the other developers from the game give some interesting insight into some of the design and creative decisions that were made, as well as some talk about the inspirations for the game, the technical aspects that made the game run, as well as some talk about the music in certain portions of the game.  They’re pretty enlightening tidbits of information that make the remastered version worthwhile on it’s own.

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Grim Fandango Remastered offers a lot for players that fondly remembered the cult hit.  This may not have been the remake that some fans would have wanted, but Double Fine did a good job at making the game more modernized and relevant in the modern landscape of video games.  If you’re going to go on the adventure for the first time, like me; I would definitely recommend a walkthrough for some portions of the game, because I don’t know how you would get through it otherwise.

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2014 Game Of The Year

It hasn’t been the best year for gaming when you take in to consideration all that has taken place.  The whole gamergate situation left a dark spot on the industry as a whole, even forcing some writers to leave their homes.  There were also an alarming number of games that released broken, or somewhat broken.  It left a lot of gamers questioning whether or not they should purchase their games on day one, which really shouldn’t be a question.

Despite all the woes of the year, their were some great games however.  Here’s my list of my favorites.  Once again, I should note that I have not played every game under the sun.  Thus, there are some great games that came out this year that I did not play.

Best game from previous year: Papers, Please

via PC Gaming Wiki
via PC Gaming Wiki

I was a little behind when it came to Papers, Please.  It was met with a bunch of critical praise when it came out last year for being a dark tale about a border patrol officer for the great country of Arstotzka, a Soviet-esque nation.  The mundane task of checking passport after passport, id after id, permit after permit, and more can become tedious and boring, but that captures the essence of the job.  Each immigrant wants to get into the country, and they all have their story.  It’s your job to determine whether their dreams can be realized, or shot down.  The game puts a lot in your hands and expects you to make the right decision every time.  It’s hard as hell to do this, and their will be many a decision that you make in which you feel awful with yourself.

10.  Spelunky (PS4)

2014 game of the year spelunkyTechnically Spelunky, the insanely hard rouge-like, came out in 2013.  But if we are being technical here, the game was ported to the PS4 this year, making it eligable for the list.  I have a love-hate relationship with the game.  It’s a game about learning from your mistakes, mistakes that you will simply not be able to avoid.  You play as a Indiana Jones like adventurer who explores randomly generated caves and ruins in search of treasure.  When you die (and you will die…horribly), you have to start all over again.  Yep, right back to the very start of the game.  However, this didn’t detract me away from the game.  Instead, it inspired me to keep working at it, so I could figure it out.  Each run granted me a new lesson to learn, as well as a new item to harness.  I always felt extremely accomplished whenever I finished a level unscathed…only to immediately die in gruesome fashion in the next level.  I hate you Spelunky.  I love you Spelunky.

9.  Hearthstone

2014 game of the year hearthstoneBlizzard has a pretty high pedigree when it comes to the select list of games that they have put out.  This year, they introduced Hearthstone, a new game to add to their repertoire.  There are two things about this game that make it seem unlikely that I would like it; it’s a collectible card game and it is free-to-play.  However, the game took care of those things brilliantly.  I don’t tend to go for card games because of their complex nature, but Hearthstone managed to keep itself relatively simple, yet complex at the same time.  It was extremely easy to get into.  The game also didn’t seem like a free-to-play game.  Yes, you can put a lot of money into the game if you want to, but the game doesn’t shove it’s free-to-play aspects nastily in your face like other free-to-play games.  I spent countless hours grinding away and building my decks.  A good job by Blizzard.

8.  The Wolf Among Us

2014 game of the year wolfThe concepts that surround The Wolf Among Us were probably the most intriguing part of the game for me.  Telltale’s episodic adventure game is set in the backdrop of a secluded neighborhood in New York, populated by fables (fairy-tale characters disguised as humans).  The main star of the game is the detective Bigby Wolf, more commonly known as the Big Bad Wolf.  He is tasked with investigating some mysterious and fishy business that has been happening in the community, including a gruesome murder.  There are a bunch of likable character that you come across during the course of the mystery, some recognizable and others not so much.  There were also some quick time events that changed up the normal Telltale adventure game formula.  The art style of the game looked pretty great too.  I never got tired of the dark-cartoony atmosphere of the game.

7.  Tales From The Borderlands

2014 game of the year borderlandsTelltale has had a pretty good year with their own brand of adventure games.  Their newest one, Tales From The Borderland, is showing massive amounts of promise.  There has only been one episode released in 2014, but that qualifies it for one of my favorite games of 2014.  Telltale in the past has told a lot of dark and serious stories, but his time around we get a lighthearted and pretty funny adventure starring the unlikely duo of a Hyperion company man and a Pandora con-artist.  The two end up teaming together in the most unlikely way.  The dialogue trees and quick decisions are all there, and there is a lot more quick time events this time around.  They provide some action that the Borderlands games are known for.  The first episode showed lots of promise and I look forward to the coming pieces of the tale.

6.  Dust: An Elysian Tail (PS4)

2014 game of the year dustOnce again, this is another game that technically came out in 2013, but was released on the PS4 this year.  This was the first time I was introduced to the fantasy world of Dust: An Elysian Tail.  The game puts you in the shoes of Dust, a soldier who doesn’t know who he is or what he was doing.  He stumbles upon a talking sword, and then proceeds to meet Fidget, a flying squirrel like creature with a high pitched voice.  He has to help a village with their problems, as well as uncover the mystery that surrounds his history.  The story was brilliantly told.  The game also looked terrific.  It’s hand-painted feel made the game look mesmerizing.  The combat and gameplay was also extremely tight and satisfying.  Although it’s RPG mechanics aren’t your traditional mainstays, they still worked great and provided me with a great experience altogether.

5.  Watch_Dogs

2014 game of the year watch dogsThis game made me feel conflicted.  Watch_Dogs was a game that didn’t meet the intense amount of expectations that it was given.  But does that make it a bad game?  The amount of expectations may have been to high to begin with.  I thoroughly enjoyed my experience with Watch_Dogs.  Aiden Pierce, protagonist, is a family man, as well as a highly skilled hacker.  His main mission is to avenge the murder of his niece, and he is willing to go to extreme lengths to accomplish this.  Chicago was extremely fun to explore in this third-person open world.  The game also looked pretty great as well graphically.  The hacking mechanics, although not as deep as they could have been, were still fun and fresh.  There was also a wealth of side missions and other things to do around the city besides the main story missions.  This may not have been the “next-gen” experience that most wanted, but it was a game that I thought was pretty entertaining.

4.  Broken Age Act 1

2014 game of the year brokenTim Schafer and Double Fine were the masterminds behind one of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns in that service’s history.  What it produced was Broken Age, a unique point-and-click adventure game that hearkens back to the golden age of adventure games.  The game explores the story of two kids, who’s worlds seem to be far apart.  The boy lives in a spaceship that contains a mother-like AI that controls his every decision.  The girl on the other hand is forced with being selected as a sacrifice for a nasty sea monster.  The twist that comes at the end of the first act is mind-blowing, and brilliant.  It merges the two parallel plotlines in a perfect way. The game contains simple mechanics, akin to the adventure games of yesteryear, that made it enjoyable to play, and not frustrating.  The main focus with this game is it’s story, and I will be heavily anticipating the conclusion yet to come.

3.  Jazzpunk

2014 game of the year jazzpunkI can’t really find the necessary words to describe the zaniness that is Jazzpunk.  It’s a comedic adventure that is unlike anything that has come out this year.  Let me tell you something, intentional comedy is pretty tough to pull off in a video game.  It’s not an entertainment medium that favors comedy.  However, Jazzpunk, during my brief time with the game, managed to make me laugh a ton.  I never understood what I was doing in the game, or why I was doing it.  I found myself exploring the environments and finding it’s every joke more often then the actual objective itself.  I doubt I found every little secret in the game, but boy was it a fun game.  I can’t say that enough.  What a fun freaking game.

2.  Smash Bros for Wii U

2014 game of the year smashThere haven’t been too many Smash Bros games, but they have all been some of the best game that Nintendo has put out.  This time around, Smash Bros is on the Wii U and it provides the amount of fun you would expect.  The game is obviously best played with a group of friends, but new for the series is the addition of an eight player brawl mode.  It was one of the best parts about the game, yielding some insanely fun chaos.  The additional new characters this time around, sans Mega Man, all feel great and bring some new stuff to the table.  There’s also a new mode called Smash Tour, which is basically a new board game with some fights in between.  In terms of content, there is a ton of it.  Nintendo fans should be pleased with the package that Nintendo has delivered.  The game is by far one of the best for the Wii U.

1. Far Cry 4

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Far Cry 3 was a lot of fun, despite some of the gripes that people had with it.  Far Cry 4?  It’s pretty much the same thing, but with some much needed improvements.  This time around we have a story that is more well-thought out and believable.  We also get Pagan Min, who is, in my opinion, a much better villain than Vaas.  He’s charismatic and brings his own brand of insanity to the table.  The best part about Far Cry 4 is the emergent gameplay that is a by-product of the game’s open world.  I cant’ begin to explain the amount of crazy and ridiculous situations that I got myself into as I roamed the fictional region of Kyrat.  And don’t get me started on the animals.  They are a vicious bunch.  I didn’t like them one bit.  There was a ton of fresh new side missions to take part in, as well as a rich amount of collectibles to go after.  I haven’t completed the game yet, but I think it was easy to make my decision in calling this my best game of 2014.  I’ve had a great time with the game, and I don’t think my opinion is going to change when I finish it up.  Bravo Ubisoft.  Bravo.










What Got Me Excited At PlayStation Experience

It’s been a busy weekend for the gaming industry.  Friday kicked off the weekend with the presentation of The Game Awards 2014 in Las Vegas.  Then, starting Saturday, PlayStation took it’s turn with their inaugural expo called the PlayStation Experience.  It was a unique event that put the games in fan’s hands, with hundreds of demo stations and panels.  Sony announced a ton of new projects at the show, and they showed off some already announced games as well.  There was a ton of stuff that got me excited for the coming year for PlayStation.  Here is the stuff that caught my eye at the show…

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Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End (PS4)

Sony kicked off their keynote for the show with a massive gameplay segment of their favorite game series, Uncharted.  The fifteen minute demo of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End showcased Nathan Drake walking through a jungle-esque environment, coming across a couple of mysterious skeletons.  The first thing that can be noticed is the amazing visuals.  The game looked stunning, and Nathan Drake looked sharp.  The guys at Naughty Dog have been doing a fine job.

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Then Nathan Drake stumbled upon a gang of enemies, which in turn caused things to go south.  We then saw a mix of combat and stealth, as Nathan maneuverd the environment with ease.  We saw him climb up rock faces, swing around with a grappling hook, and take down enemies using the environment as his defense.  The gun mechanics looked pretty good and overall, the combat looked generally fun.  Although, this looks like a game where stealth will be your friend.  There were a multitude of enemies that Nathan could not have taken down.  A combination of stealth and quick action got him safely away from the encounter.

The demo then ended with Nathan Drake narrowly avoiding getting pummeled by a avalanche of falling rocks.  When he got solid footing on ground, he quickly noticed a man that was waiting for them.  They both quickly drew their weapons, but there was no need because the two knew each other.  It turns out the man was actually Nathan’s older brother, voiced by Troy Baker.  Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End looks like an amazing game so far, and I can’t wait to see more of it in the coming months.

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The Forest (PS4)

It was announced that The Forest, which was previously a Steam early-access game, would be making it’s console debut on the PS4.  The game is a survival action game that starts you on a crashed plane that landed in the middle of a forest.  It’s up to you to figure out where to go from there.  You have to adapt to your environment and watch out for the locales, because they don’t really fancy your presence. I have not given the game a try myself, but now that it is coming to the PS4, I really don’t have a good reason not to play it.  It has some cool ideas and I am sure that it will be a great fit for consoles.

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Persona 5 (PS3 & PS4)

Persona 5, which is being developed by P Studio and Atlus, is part of the classic RPG series that puts you in the life of teenage students.  The series is known not only for it’s RPG elements, but it’s elements of daily life that the players have to control.  It was announced that Persona 5 was coming to North America for English players.  I have not played a game in the series myself, but I look forward to giving the newest game a try.

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Grim Fandango Remastered (PS4 & Vita)

Grim Fandango, released by LucasArts in 1998, has gained cult following.  The adventure game is about a grim reaper-like character who goes around the Land of the Dead.  The story has a lot of references to Mexican folklore.  The game was released near the end of the golden age of adventure games.  The game had a unique art style as well, sporting cartoon-like visuals.

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The Remastered version, which is exclusive to the PlayStation systems looks great.  Every aspect of the game is going to be remastered.  The audio, graphics, and more are all getting reworked for the next generation of consoles.  It makes me happy that I can finally try out the popular adventure game.  I am a huge fan of adventure games, and Double Fine looks like they are doing a great job with the remaster.

Day of the Tentacle: Special Edition (PS4, PS3 & Vita)

Double Fine and Tim Schafer were not done with their announcements at the keynote.  Schafer and Adam Boyes had one last announcement, and that was the special edition of the famed adventure game Maniac Mansion: Day of the Tentacle.  There wasn’t too much additional information given, but the announcement alone got a ton of people excited.  The game, which was released during the golden age of adventure games, has gotten a big cult following as well.  Once again, I have not played the game, but I am looking forward to giving the game a try.

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The Order: 1886 (PS4)

During Sony’s keynote, we got look at some more of the steam-punk style game The Order: 1886.  We got a trailer that showcased some cinematics, as well as some of the gameplay.  We got a look at a shootout that takes place in a kitchen.  The gun mechanics look pretty good, and it was clear that there will be a ton of quick time events.  What’s got me most excited is the concepts behind the game, as well as the game’s retro steam-punk look and feel.  I am looking forward to exploring London and seeing what else the game has to offer.  There hasn’t been to much information about the story, but the game has still caught my interest nonetheless.

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Until Dawn (PS4)

Until Dawn, a game from Supermassive Games, has been an intriguing game to me.  The story features eight teenagers who are spending time at a mountain resort.  However, a serial killer is out to get them, meaning they have to play the survival game.  What’s the most attention grabbing about the game is the gameplay style.  It’s most akin to Heavy Rain, the popular PS3 game that features a lot of quick time events.

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The demo that was shown features the girl who is played by Hayden Panettiere.  She is fresh out of the shower when a juggalo-looking character breaks in with a mission to kidnap her.  The rest of the demo consisted of quick time events and quick decisions with the mission of escaping unscathed by the kidnapper.  It was a thrilling and intense sequence.

Every decision that you make in the game will affect how the story turns out, and you can’t take anything back.  If you die in the game, you are dead for real.  You can’t bring anybody back and you can’t replay the segments.  This puts more weight on your decisions, and this can lead to a very deep and engrossing story.  I am looking forward to playing this intense thriller.  If the whole game is like the gameplay segments that they have been showing, it’s going to be a good one.

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No Man’s Sky (PS4)

Sony’s keynote at the PlayStation experience was far from the first time that we heard about the ambitious game from the small indie studio, Hello Games.  However, the more I see the game, the more excited I get.  During their PlayStation experience showing, they gave us a look at the true scale of the procedural generated world that players will be able to explore.  The planets that we will encounter and explore look massive, and probably bigger than most maps on your everyday game.  The trailer then zoomed out and revealed the mind-blowing size of the galaxy that surrounds the planet, before zooming back in to a totally different planet.  I can’t wait to get totally lost in No Man’s Sky’s world, a world that is too massive to explore fully.

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The Next God of War Game

The next God of War game was talked about at the God of War retrospective panel at the PlayStation experience.  Santa Monica Studio’s Cory Barlog was talking about it, saying that it is in the works, and that it will not be a prequel to the existing games.  This means that it could be a sequel, or even a reboot.  No other information was given, and it doesn’t look like the game will be coming out anytime soon either.  Either way, it still gets me excited for the future.  Will the next game in the series even star Kratos?  Everything is still up in the air at this point.

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A More Genuine Video Game Award Show

Over the past couple of years, video game award shows have been anything but special, or entertaining for that matter.  They have mostly been a bunch of PR babble and celebrities paid to act like they actually play and enjoy video games.  Spike TV has been the channel that has hosted the video game award shows over the past couple of years, but that was not the case for this year.

Geoff Keighley, a video game journalist of GametrailersTV fame, was the brains behind a new type of award show.  One that was independent, and free from TV.  It would be an award show for the gamers, run by gamers.  The industry would play a big part in them.  Thus, for the first time ever, The Game Awards was brought to life as an internet only broadcast, taking place at the AXIS Theater in Las Vegas.

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Numerous members of the industry, as well as journalists and fans alike, crowded the theater to watch the inaugural year of the award show.  For the first year, the show actually felt genuine, and not fake.  (However, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the audience cheer heard on the live stream was fake).  The Game Awards did a lot of good things, and they took some steps in the right direction.

However, after forty minutes and only one award handed out, you know there are still some problems that hover over the show.  The show had more of an E3 vibe to it than an award show.  There were countless “World Premieres” as developers showed off their newest trailers and sneak at games to come in the future.  There were some cool announcements here and there (including some new ones) but they mostly got tiresome as we hit the later parts of the show.  The show also lasted a whopping three hours.  It was a little on the long side, and their seemed to be a lot of filler that clogged up the show in between.

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With that being said, how about we actually get to some of the stuff that took place during the show…

The ceremony kicked off with a pretty neat musical performance by Koji Kondo, one of the main music composers at Nintendo.  He played the piano as Mario appeared on the big screens behind him.  It was a cool little retro homage to the early days of gaming.  Then Reggie Fils-Aime (the President of Nintendo of America), the crowd favorite, came out to start the show.  He then directed our attention to a video that had Shigeru Miyamoto highlighting some of Nintendo’s biggest releases coming next year, including the likes of Majora’s MaskMario Maker, and Star Fox for the Wii U.  The show was off to a good start.

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Kiefer Sutherland, who was the voice of Snake in the Metal Gear Solid series, came out to introduce the mastermind behind the series, Hideo Kojima.  Sutherland’s presence was actually a nice surprise.  His little talk about where games have come was even better.  Kojima gave us a little sneak peek at the new Metal Gear Online.  The little trailer showed some of the tactical strategies you can employ as a team to carry out your mission.  The game looks beautiful, but the online components don’t seem like they fit the Metal Gear style.

After that, we then got our first award of the night, which went to Trey Parker for Best Performance in a Game.  Trey Parker did a ton of voices for the game South Park Stick of Truth.  The best part about the whole thing was Tim Schafer, the presenter of the award, who cracked some jokes about the fake nature of past video game award shows.  It was actually pretty funny and clever.

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It was then Fullbright, a small independent studio known for their hit game Gone Home, who took the stage to give everybody a surprise teaser for their new game Tacoma.  Coming in 2016, the game looks like it has an retro art-deco atmosphere to it.  If it’s anything like Gone Home, it should be pretty interesting.

Then there were more announcements and sneak peeks, which was slowly becoming the theme of the show.  We got a look at Bloodborne, a PlayStation exclusive RPG that borrows a lot from the Dark Souls games.  We also got an announcement of Banner Saga 2.

Some other highlights of the show included EA’s Peter Moore, who came up to announce Hazelight Studios, a new development team working on a next-gen game.  We got a little teaser, but it only showcased two men on a train car looking off into the distance.  Nothing much, but still intriguing.  We also got a cool laser light musical performance that showcased some old video game music of yore.  It was weird, but a good kind of weird.

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Nintendo was the big winner of the night, taking home three awards by the end.  They won Best Fighting Game for Super Smash Bros for Wii U, Best Developer, as well as Best Sports/Racing Game for Mario Kart 8.  They also ended the show with an exclusive look at the next Legend of Zelda game for the Wii U.  The sneak peek showcased some of the open world traversal features that they were working on, as well as the scope of the game itself.  The game looked pretty, and the fans loved it as well.  Nintendo had a great night at the awards.

Probably one of the best moments of the show was when the Industry Icon award was handed out.  The new award was designed to honor icons in the industry who have put in a lot of work to get them to where they are today.  It was Sierra, the studio behind classics such as Kings Quest, that got the spotlight.  The founders of the studio, Ken Williams and Roberta Williams, received the award.  There was a video that showcased some of the work that the two worked on, featuring some of the history of the studio.  The two really deserved it.  They also brought out some developers working on the revival of the series, aptly named Kings Quest.  They gave us a look at the stylistic 3D re-imagining of the series.  Some thought that this game took the prize for game of the show.

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Some other notable awards included Best Shooter, which surprisingly went to Far Cry 4, Best Indie Game, which went to Shovel Knight, and Best Handheld/Mobile Game, which went to Hearthstone.  However, the award of the show, Game of the Year, was saved for the end.  Geoff Keighley came out on stage and announced the winner, which was Dragon Age Inquisition. The game, which has gotten high praise the past couple of weeks, seemed like a sure lock for the award.

The award show concluded with a nice, and surprisingly intimate, performance from Imagine Dragons.  It turns out that they are pretty big video game fans, as evidence by their performance of some of the music from the Legend of Zelda.  They were also joined by Koji Kondo, who played piano in the background.  Kondo was a good sport through it all, and it was a nice conclusion to the show.

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As I said before, the Video Game Awards 2014 was a big step in the right direction.  The show has rallied a lot of support from the industry, and it seemed like they were free of the PR antics that plagued past shows.  There is still a lot of work that needs to be done however to make it spot on.  Nevertheless, the show was still entertaining after all.  But, I got tired of “World Premiere” by the end of the show.  They need to cut that stuff out.

Here’s the full list of winners from the night:


GAME OF THE YEAR: Dragon Age Inquisition




BEST NARRATIVE: Valiant Hearts: The Great War


BEST PERFORMANCE: Trey Parker as Various Voices, South Park The Stick of Truth

GAMES FOR CHANGE: Valiant Hearts: The Great War

BEST REMASTER: Grand Theft Auto V



BEST ROLE PLAYING GAME: Dragon Age Inquisition

BEST FIGHTING GAME: Super Smash Bros Wii U





MOST ANTICIPATED GAME: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt




BEST FAN CREATION: Twitch Plays Pokemon


Review: Broken Age Part One

broken age titleWhen Double Fine and 2-Player Productions started a Kickstarter campaign back in February 2012 for a project that was titled “Double Fine Adventure”, it brought lots of speculation as to what this project would turn out to be.  Tim Schafer, the CEO at Double Fine’s last adventure game was Grim Fandango, which was released back in 1998.  To much surprise (or little surprise, depending on who you talked to) the campaign for this untitled Double Fine adventure game broke records and made history by raising 3.45 million dollars, the most (and still the most) money raised for a project on Kickstarter.

The project then turned into Broken Age, an adventure game about a boy who is stuck trying to get out of the daily grind of his life aboard a ship and a girl who desperately wants to kill a monster that roams town to town demanding a sacrifice of the town’s best women.  The two stories, provide for an interesting premise for an adventure game.  However, the stories were not complete because of some developmental delays that caused Tim Schafer and the Double Fine team to split the game into two parts.

Although this raised a little bit of controversy, I think it was all struck down when players reached the end of the first part, where a cliffhanger was presented.  I thought they did a great job of wrapping up the first part of the story, giving players a cliffhanger that will definitely make them come back when the second part is released later this year.

Shay, the name of the boy stuck on the ship Bossa Nostra, starts out getting awakened from his sleep by his “Over-Mother” that runs the ship. She is very over-protective of Shay as she guides him step by step through his daily routines, using her machine arms to make sure he gets where he needs to go.  They go through a series of non-dangerous missions that put Shay through a trial of boredom.  He’s desperate for something more fun, something more dangerous, something that will get him out of his daily routine and out of the clutches of his “computer”.

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His answer to the to his problem comes when he finally stumbles upon a secret passage that leads him down to what looks like the control room of the ship, where he meets Malik, a shady creature who is disguised as a wolf.  Malik lays a mission on Shay that tasks him with saving different creatures in different systems, a mission that is much more dangerous than his “daily missions”.

On the other hand, Vella a young women from the town of Sugar Bunting is going to be part of the Maiden’s Feast, which is each town’s sacrifice of young girls to the Mog Chothra, the gigantic monster that has been ravaging the lands.  The young girls are set outside the town, in a staging area where the Mog Chothra will pick which sacrifices he wants, which he then eats.

broken age 4Vella happens to escape with the help of a bird named Jessie, and ends up in the cloud village of Meriloft.  From there, she has to figure out a way to get back down to the ground to find a way to destroy the Mog Chothra once and for all.  Along her journey, she meets a (close to insane) lumberjack and she also finds her way to the town of Shellmound, the next city that will be hosting their Maiden’s Feast.

Both stories have their mysteries.  What is Shay’s Over-Mother hiding from him on the ship, and why is she so overprotective of him.  And, as for Vella, why do the people of the land think that this Maiden’s Feast idea is a good one.  Vella always mentions that it’s time to stop Mog Chothra, but she is always met with crazy looks and is blown off every time.  I assume that these questions, and probably more new ones will be answered in the second part.  At least I hope.

It’s nice that the game allows you to freely switch between Vella and Shay’s story at any point during their respective adventures.  If I was stuck on what to do next during Shay’s story, I could just switch down to Vella and take a break from Shay for a little while.  I used the switch function a lot as I made it through the stories.

Probably one of my favorite parts about the game in general is the art direction that Double Fine took with Broken Age.  Every character model and every location that you can visit is hand-drawn and bursts with color.  Every screenshot that you see from the game looks like you could hang it in an art museum.  Yeah, its that good.  I can just imagine that a lot of the money from the Kickstarter probably went into the art of the game, because it looks gorgeous.

A lot of money also probably went into getting the voice actors to do the characters.  There is a lot of talent that signed on for the project and I was generally impressed.  Elijah Wood did the voice for Shay and Masasa Moyo did the voice for Vella.  They both did a really good job and they both managed to capture the emotion of each character brilliantly.  Other talent included Jennifer Hale, Richard Horvitz, Nicki Rapp, Ginny Wescott, and even Jack Black.  broken age 1

Now, as for the gameplay.  The game blends classic adventure game style with a more modernized feel.  Each character still has their respective inventories where they can put items that they pick up up, just like your classic adventure games.  You can also interact by clicking and dragging your items to other items or to other characters.  Dialogue between characters presents itself in the form of dialogue trees.  However, just because there are dialogue trees, doesn’t mean that the story differs much based on what you say.  It just allows you to ask questions in a different order if you so choose.  The puzzles were not too hard, in fact most of them were pretty easy to figure out.  There was only one puzzle that tripped me up, and that was during Vella’s story.  Other than that, if a player makes sure that he picks up every item that he finds, they should have no trouble getting through the game.broken age 2

The game is fairly short (I completed both stories in just under 5 hours).  Perhaps this is because it was only part one of the full story. Or maybe it was because the budget that they had (even though it was pretty substantial) was not enough.  Either way, it would have been a little nicer to get a little more time to spend with Shay and Vella and maybe a little more puzzles that challenged the imagination like the classic adventure games of old.

Even though the game is short, it packs a lot of humor and charm into the couple of hours that it takes to complete.  A lot of dialouge was subtle, but funny at times and there was lots of clever lines.  (In particular, my favorite was from the mayor in Shellmound when you try to give him the cloud-shoes from your inventory).  And if your really observant, there is even a way to unlock an 8-bit mode, which allows you to play the game with retro graphics, LucasArts style.  If you are stumped and want to find out how, click here.

All in all, I am pretty pleased with the adventure that Double Fine put out.  Like I said before, it does a great job with blending classic style with a modern feel that makes it seem like this is the direction that adventure games are going.  The art style is awesome and the charm and humor that was put into this game makes it a memorable experience.  Hopefully the second part offers more in terms of length and puzzles, but more importantly, I am just eager to see the second part so that my questions are answered.Broken Age 5

Also, that cliffhanger…