Month: January 2015

Early Impressions: Adventures of Pip

Adventures of Pip shirt from Tic Toc Games

Adventures of Pip shirt from Tic Toc Games

PAX South came and went. It was a wonderful experience that I will never forget. One game out of the hundreds that were there left a good early impression on me: Adventures of Pip.

Adventures of Pip is a Kickstarter game made by Tic Toc Studios. The game centers itself on nostalgia, which is not a bad thing. We have Shovel Knight that reminded us what it was like to play as Scrooge McDuck again, we have Broken Age that takes a point-and-click adventure game to the next level with two protagonists, and Amplitude which is the successor to the first Amplitude released back in 2003.

Pip’s Three Forms via Kickstarter

Adventures of Pip is a side-scrolling action platforming game with a twist: a character that can evolve/devolve. There are a lot of inspiring games within the Adventures of Pip such as the Super Mario Bros., Donkey Kong, and even the Legend of Zelda. The story is very basic, where a princess gets stolen by an evildoer and she must be rescued. However, the gameplay is what makes this game stick out from other indie games out there.

The Demo

I was surprised to see the game I backed on Kickstarter at PAX South. On the last day of the convention, I gave the demo a try. The Adventures of Pip demo was short, but that did not take away from my experience. The controls were solid. The running and jumping mechanics responded well with the Playstation 4 (PS4) controller (this was also the first time I ever used a PS4 controller). Since the expo was so loud, I could not hear much of the music or sound effects.

Pip as Gif via Kickstarter

The Gameplay

Pip has three EVO forms: 1-pixel, 8-bit and 16-bit. Pip can traverse tiny hallways and jump on creatures that can carry him across spikes when he is 1-pixel. Also, this tiny, red pixel can jump higher than the other forms. While in this form, Pip is very responsive and easy to control.

1-Pixel Pip via Kickstarter

Pip’s 8-bit-self was my favorite of the three forms. 8-bit Pip has the agility of a gazelle and can wall jump like Samus. He also has a short jab, but I did not use it in the demo since the enemies were sparse. There was a tiny problem with this form; Pip attached to walls like scotch tape. I spoke with the publisher, Shereef Morse, about this problem and he assured me that it will be fixed by their next demo at PAX East.

8-Bit Pip via Kickstarter

Pip’s final form is powerful with all his 16-bits. He is a bulky, tough and wields a champions sword. Pip can slice through bricks, push over blocks and destroy enemies with ease. During the demo, there were not many chances to play as this powerful form. After watching many videos (and gifs) and demos of 16-bit Pip, it is easy to tell that he will need to evolve into this form to take out the most powerful adversaries.

16-Bit Pip via Kickstarter

The Environment

After watching the demo played by other PAX participants, the environment never ceased to amaze me. The colors and detail in textures made the demo ‘pop.’ There are not many games that fully capture an environment like this (unless your name is Shovel Knight). There were hidden areas within the demo with chests and villagers aplenty.

Part of PAX South Demo via Gamers in Beta

The demo was based on a portion of the game within a Temple. The mechanics of the game were easy to pick up from the start. For example, the demo taught me how to jump on enemies heads to reach higher areas. If I jumped on enemies heads that had a blue glow, it would give Pip the power to evolve/devolve. Thankfully, if I accidentally jumped on their head and missed a secret area, they would respawn later (I am not sure if that was for demo purposes or that is a game mechanic).

Near the end of the demo, I felt anxious and excited. Walls were closing from all around and I had to run as fast as I could. If blue blocks were in the way, I had to evolve/devolve to break them. There were walls that were too high, so I had to evolve/devolve into my 8-bit self and wall-jump as fast as I could. The ceiling and ground level were about to flatten me into no pixel Pip, but was able to evolve/devolve into 1-pixel Pip to fit inside a narrow space from harm. This entire scenario is what made this stick out from side-scrollers without time limits. Adventures of Pip could be one of my favorite indies this year based on this demo alone.

Pimping Pip Art via Nintendo News

Conclusions

Overall, Adventures of Pip has great ideas, amazing controls, and needs little tweaks. Each time I would pass by the booth, two people were always playing with smiles on their faces. I remember hearing from onlookers the phrase, “Awe, he’s so cute.” And I mean, look at him! That tiny, 1-pixel Pip is cute. I have a good feeling about this game and cannot wait to see the final results later this year. Adventures of Pip releases in May 2015 for the PC, Mac, PS4, Wii U, Xbox 360 and Xbox One.

Wait, who is this Pip? via Amazon

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The Fall and Rise of the Skating Empire

A Proper Kickflip in OlliOlli by The Verge

The Incredible Dream

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater created the skateboarding genre for video games. The first few games performed well, but saw a decline after Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4. It was not until 2014, when OlliOlli revived the skateboarding genre and gave me hope.

“If I had to pinpoint one tipping point, from skateboarding being underground to truly mainstream… it was probably the release of our video game in 1999. That brought a lot of attention to the skating world because of its success, and it inspired a lot of new kids to try to skate. But, it also made people appreciate skating that maybe would never do it themselves, and understand the intricacies and difficulties of it.”
– Tony Hawk; from an interview conducted by CNBC

Tony Hawk’s 900 via Reddit

The Great Beginning

My much younger self knew what skateboarding was, but I was never truly interested in it until the first Tony Hawk video game was released in 1999. I remember the first time I played Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. It was not the full game, but a demo. I was still in my Nintendo stage and only had a GameBoy, Super Nintendo and Sega at the time. My family could not afford a Playstation, so I had to rely on the nearest mall, a friend’s house, or even Sears to play any games from that console.

I remember playing Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater at my good friend’s house who lived down the block from me. My friend did not own the full game, so we played a demo disc from Pizza Hut that only had one level. That one level entertained us for hours. We loved trying to beat each others scores, bail in the most painful ways, and try to discover all of the interesting tricks.

The Warehouse Level via Gamasutra

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater was released August 31, 1999 on the Playstation. I did not own the full game until December 25, 2000. That day changed gaming for me since it was the day I received both my Nintendo 64 and the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater game. I remember hooking it up to our old television and being blown away by the graphics at the time. I spent hours beyond hours trying to beat the entire game and perfect my skills along the way. I remember my favorite skater was Chad Muska; partially because he could do a frontflip, 360 shove-it rewind, and he wore a backpack.

I continued to play the Tony Hawk skateboarding series for as long as I could handle it. I remember that I rented Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 often, but I never owned the game. When the GameCube came out and I saw Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3, I knew I had to have that game. The third game was easily the best in the series based on graphics, music, and crazy level designs. Since I did not own many GameCube games, I played this third installment non-stop (along with Super Smash Bros. Melee).

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 Airport Level via Gameological

The Abysmal Fall

After Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3, I lost interest in the series. I must have been in high school around the time they released the next few Tony Hawk games, but I thought they were all rehashed from the older ones. I did rent Tony Hawk’s Project 8 and perfected that game, as I did other Tony Hawk games, but it was not as fun. It felt bland with nothing new added to the series. When Tony Hawk: Shred released, I knew the skateboarding genre for video games was over. Who wanted to do fake tricks on a skateboard controller? Not only that, but a new competitor with superb controls, Skate, was on the market (which was fun, but still not the same). It would be years until I played another skateboarding game.

A Rad Combo via Sticktwiddlers

The Eternal Rise

Back in 2014, I gave OlliOlli a try. The tutorials were simple enough, but the game did not make a big enough impression to keep me interested. Skip to 2015. I am looking through my Steam library and found OlliOlli once again. After I started the game up, I learned how to fully comprehend this amazing indie skateboarding game.

OlliOlli is like the brilliant lovechild of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and a 2D platformer. Its fast-paced gameplay has 27 unique tricks and 11 smooth grinds. The developer, Roll7, created a game that surprised everyone, and it gave those who loved the Tony Hawk series hope for the future of skateboarding games.

The difference with this game compared to other skateboarding games is the fact that you must click a button when you land. If you land sloppy, you get less points and the combo is broken. The point of the game is to get through each level with a high score while completing the challenges. It sounds simple enough, and that is what makes this game work.

A Sick Landing by Softpedia

The levels get harder the longer you play. You may see three flights of stairs and a few grinding posts in the first levels, but by the end, you will find neon spikes, grindable helicopters, and random beachgoers impeding your progress. By the last levels, the chaos may be too much for some, but your confidence will build as you progress through the game. One tip that I did not find out until the end of the game is that when you are about to grind, you need to hit the same button as if you land to get an even bigger score and faster grind.

Anticipate Greatness by Digital Spy

The Reputable Future

Roll7 is hard at work making OlliOlli 2. This is one of my most anticipated indie games since I want to see what new features crazy level designs they might have. Word is that Tony Hawk is working on another game for consoles, which has me pretty excited as well. Skateboarding games have provided a ton of entertainment for me and I hope that the new generation of gamers can appreciate skateboarding like I do, thanks to the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series.

 

 

Conquered Games of 2014

Video Game Accomplishments via MRWGifs

Backlog, I hate the word. I choose not to put any of my games in that list. Instead, each individual game I conquer goes into a cleaner, better list. A list that shows the date and name of each game I beat. I started this list back in 2013 and will continue to make a list each year. The reason why I love this list is because it shows my gaming habits and brings back memories of games that I might have forgotten. One thing worries me each time I look at this list: it looks like I game less and less each year. Am I losing interest in video games? Do I focus too heavily on certain video games? Maybe, just maybe, my life is becoming more important than video games?

Stacks on Stacks of Games by Pioneer Project

Enough speculation; here is my list:

January

  • 01/01/14 – Dead Rising 3*
  • 01/02/14 – Dead Rising 3 Overtime Mode
  • 01/10/14 – Papers, Please (2 different endings)
  • 01/14/14 – Need for Speed Rivals (Racer mode)*
  • 01/19/14 – Rogue Legacy*

February

  • 02/07/14 – To The Moon
  • 02/08/14 – Do You Remember My Lullaby (interactive movie/game from the “To The Moon” creator)
  • 02/15/14 – Poker Night 2 (Tournament’s Won = 1)

March

  • 03/18/14 – Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes

April

  • 04/11/14 – Cool Pizza
  • 04/20/14 – Rayman: Jungle Run (100%)*
  • 04/22/14 – Trials: Fusion

May

  • 05/03/14 – Metroid: Fusion (3:47 with 46%)
  • 05/26/14 – Super Time Force

June

  • 06/06/14 – Mario Kart 8 (50cc)
  • 06/14/14 – Mario Kart 8 (100cc)
  • 06/14/14 – Wolfenstein: A New Order
  • 06/27/14 – New Super Mario Bros. U

July

  • 07/04/14 – 140
  • 07/04/14 – Shovel Knight
  • 07/13/14 – Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag

August

  • 08/03/14 – Final Fantasy X
  • 08/03/14 – Final Fantasy X Eternal Calm (interactive movie/game)
  • 08/24/14 – The Banner Saga
  • 08/30/14 – Finding Teddy

September

  • 09/01/14 – Invisible, Inc. (Early Access)
  • 09/21/14 – Kingdom Rush*
  • 09/21/14 – 10000000*

November

  • 11/28/14 – Kalimba (Beta)

Please Note: The games with a * were started in 2013.

Conquering 29 games is pretty successful, especially when you consider three time-consuming games I did not put on this list: Titanfall, Destiny, and Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U.

Titanfall’s Shot Put via Reddit

Titans Can’t Fall

Titanfall is a game that is meant to be played online. The story is insignificant and, possibly, pointless. If you wanted to beat the “story mode,” you had to join matches in progress and hope to play two different sides of the story. I did complete both factions, but the game does not end there. I do not want my story for a shooter to consist of playing online matches. The only way I would consider Titanfall fully “complete,” is by completing 100% of the achievements (which is nearly impossible). The only achievement that is next to impossible is “I Killed Them All” achievement.

The “I Killed Them All” achievement consists of killing all the enemy pilots during the evacuation phase, single-handedly. That means when your team wins, the losing team has a chance to escape by boarding an evacuation ship. First of all, if you are on the winning team, there is a good chance that your team members will attack and kill any enemy pilots who are making their way to the ship. If, somehow, all the pilots get inside the ship without being killed by your team members, you must be the one to destroy the ship before it departs. However, since everyone will be shooting at the ship, it is nearly impossible to be the one that gets the final shot off. This achievement is nearly impossible, and I know I will never achieve it with the diminished number of people who play now.

The Never Ending Game via TFJ

Destiny’s “Endgame”

Destiny never ends. I have completed all of the story missions (including the new Dark Below expansion), but that does not feel like I beat the game. I almost wanted to consider beating the raids on their hardest difficulty was “beating the game,” but I just cannot do that. I continue playing the raids over and over again to get better gear or upgrade my current gear. It never stops and it almost seems pointless at times.  It feels as if there is no ending to this game since there are continuous updates, expansions, and possibly hundreds of hours of gameplay.

Sleeping Soundly via Mii Gamer

Super S-“Meh” Bros.

Surprisingly, the newest Smash Bros. is not all it is cracked up to be. I love the game, it is polished and well balanced, but something is missing from my experience. The main reason it feels “meh” to me is because my friends have lives of their own and cannot usually come over to play this party game, so I have no one to look at my awesome kills, swift dodging or bat-swinging madness. Playing this party game solo is not quite as thrilling as it is with a group of friends, but I have beaten the single-player mode with seven or so characters, and I own two amiibos (Little Mac and Fox). It is a fun game to pick-up and play, but only for a few minutes. I have not tried to play online much since it is not the same as having the person next to you and talking trash. Players can complete this entire game by either collecting all of the trophies or unlocking every challenge. Since this can take nearly 120 hours to complete, and since I have lost motivation to play, there should be no surprise as to why I haven’t been able to add Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U to my list.

Conclusions

I have no idea where I will end up this year with video games. I beat two games already this year, but continue to play Destiny more than ever. I want to work on all the games I received during Christmas and try to get away from Destiny. I do not believe I am losing too much interest in video games, I just have other priorities that are more important. Video games are not a lifestyle, it is a hobby. I would rather look at my accomplishments in video games, and be impressed rather than force myself to play every video game on the planet. Luckily, I have tons of video games that I am looking forward to playing in 2015.

Scott Pilgrim Always Continues via The AWL

Another Year, Another Game

The Very Best via shawnblanc

2014 is over. There is only one way to start off 2015, and that is with my Game of the Year (GOTY). My GOTY is not an easy choice to make. I believe my GOTY will surprise many, and video game websites and magazines will probably not even give my game a mention. Instead of picking one game to talk about, I picked three. All three of the games on my list were very close, but there can be only one.

Shovel Knight

Shovel Knight Camping Out by Yacht Club

The moment I saw Shovel Knight in 2013, I knew this game would be great. Shovel Knight is no ordinary game, it is the Kickstarter game. I was one of the early backers before every gaming website and editorial wrote about it. When the media basically made it a must-have in 2013, everything changed. The Kickstarter page blew up with more goals, promises, and backers than anyone could have imagined. Shovel Knight’s Kickstarter goal was only $75,000, but it raised over $310,000 instead. That is an incredible feat.

I backed Shovel Knight on April 13, 2013. The game was set to release in September 2013, but with more and more support, new stretch goals appeared. In their fourth update, stretch goals introduced achievements, new music, genderswap, battle mode and much more. While the new additions sounded nice, it only meant that the game would most likely not release on time. At first, I was a little upset since I am impatient when it comes to video games, but once Shovel Knight released on June 26, 2014, my entire view of on the game changed.

Shovel Knight Stretch Goals via Kickstarter

I remember the first level like it was yesterday. The game looked flawless and everything felt right. The controls were spot on with simple to use jumping mechanics (inspired from the greatness of Scrooge McDuck from DuckTales) and the simplicity of its attack/spells system (heavily inspired from Castlevania and even Zelda II). The puzzles were not mind numbingly hard, the characters/villains were all hilarious, and the music was phenomenal. Without a doubt, Shovel Knight was better than most platformers I have played in recent years. The worst part about Shovel Knight was the ending; only because I did not want this game to ever end.

Comedy At Its Best by IGN

Shovel Knight will go down to be one of my favorite Indie Games of all time. If you have not played it for yourself, what are you doing reading this? Go play Shovel Knight, right now!

Destiny

Squat Like A Guardian via Verge

If you have been reading my blog, you noticed the large number of Destiny articles. Yes, the game is very addicting and I am still going to write about it. However, it is not my GOTY.

Instead of stating reasons why this game should/could be my GOTY, I would rather make a list of concerns.

  1. My total play time is currently 334 hours.
  2. I am stuck at level 31 since I do not have enough Radiant Shards (a new currency which came out with the new Dark Below expansion).
  3. I have three different characters.
  4. I play at least 1 to 2 hours a day.
  5. Changing the volume in the game’s option menu is impossible.
  6. I lose heavy ammo when I die, everytime.
  7. The Iron Banner is not a constant thing.
  8. I have lost a lot of interest in Player vs. Player (PvP).
  9. Random Number Generators (RNG) is the worst.
  10. The story is hidden in the grimoire cards.

Y U DO THIS via Troll.Me

Again, these are just concerns, not complaints. I want to state one thing though: the Destiny Raid’s are the absolute best part about Destiny. It would make too much sense to put Destiny as my GOTY with all the time I spend with it, but it did not change anything. It is a Massive Multiplayer Online (MMO) game with lots of potential. I believe future installments in the Destiny world could change my opinion about the game, but it is not my GOTY.

Titanfall

Titanfall = GOTY via WCCF

I bet you did not see that coming. Titanfall is my GOTY. After talking to myself on numerous occasions, I picked this game because it reminded me of how good PvP can be. I do not care that Titanfall has no story (it was there, somewhere), I do not care that I always had to be online, and I do not care what people say about my decision. This game was the multiplayer experience I have been waiting for after all these years.

It is worth noting that my favorite multiplayer experiences are from Call of Duty 4 and Gears of War. Both of these games showed me what PvP was all about. I found many of my current friends online with these two games. I have never played anything remotely close to these two games that resembled an excellent multiplayer experience, until Titanfall came along.

Titanfall was a breath of fresh air (or exhaust from the Titans). It gave me the first-person shooting (FPS) aspect I like with Mirror’s Edge mixed in; the wall-running and platform climbing changed everything. Titanfall is a fast-paced game with mechs thrown in for fun. The maps are are easy to remember and strategic on their own with numerous game type. A huge plus was that I played/met tons of great people because of this game.

I do not play Titanfall much anymore, but overall, it was a phenomenal trip (all 107 hours of it). This game gave me hope that PvP can change, and will change with time. Call of Duty: Advance Warfare and the next Halo game took a page out of Titanfall with their increasing speeds and unique futuristic equipment. The FPS experience is changing for the better.

Even though the community may be dead for Titanfall, I know I can still go back with a group of friends and have fun. The updates they provided are some of the best in the industry. We have seen tons of new game modes, new and improved burn cards (these give your character boosts with their equipment, Titans or extra experience), and even emblems.  I am very surprised by how far Titanfall has came and will continue to watch it close; I am definitely looking forward to the next Titanfall.

Conclusion

I use the term “Game of the Year” cautiously and believe my opinions are probably not ideal. I am not handing this prestigious award to just any game, but I hope that Titanfall can/will change the FPS experience. I would be surprised if someone agrees that Titanfall is the GOTY, since there are so many strong games that came out this year. I have yet to play Far Cry 4, Shadow of Mordor and other indie titles, but will eventually. My opinion could change down the road, but I hope we all can agree that 2014 was one of the best years for video game enthusiasts everywhere.