Review: Retro/Grade

retro-grade-review

Are you sad that Rock Band and Guitar Hero are dead? Good news! Retro/Grade provides the perfect excuse to dust-off your plastic guitar: it’s the only bullet-hell shoot-em-up that you can play with a musical instrument!

The Bit.Trip games may have been the first to famously mesh a rhythm game with another genre (like the runner platforming genre as in Runner and Runner 2). Sound Shapes may have gotten all the press’ attention before Retro/Grade for using a charming platforming world with licensed artists. There’s something about being able to enjoy a good challenge in a rhythm game, and Retro/Grade has that in bulk.

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The Inherhent Joys of Skill-Based Gaming

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I think there’s a large misnomer regarding “hardcore” gamers – the idea that we’re bizarro digital masochists who love failing at everything repeatedly. See the recent wave of indie games designed as difficult experiences by forcing your own death, or even mainstream games: Bioshock Infinite’s 1999 Mode attests to some desire on the part of gamers for a more challenging experience. That’s all well and good, but the implementation of that “difficulty” remains the sticking point here.

What do we mean, then, by challenge and difficuly?. Let’s define our terms before proceeding, using the terms established by Richard Tyrell’s Critical Gaming Network. Most games test five different skills:┬ádexterity, knowledge, adaptation, reflex, and timing. Many games designed for the “core” gaming rest on the idea of dexterity, or the skill of action. What can I do in a game, and what abilities do I have? Knowledge consists of a variety of different ideas we learn through playing the game – what do I do in this circumstance? How did I deal with the previous obstacles? Generally, we categorize them into short and long-term memory, but there are surely other ways to arrange them.

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Hump Day Cartoons: Our New Electrical Morals

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In an effort to prove that good cartoons are not dead, we have started on a quest to find the best little gems hiding in the cracks of the internet. We plan on presenting our findings in a fun little article called Hump Day Cartoons.

You remember growing up watching those cartoons which sometimes had a magical moral lesson at the end of an episode? Those little nuggets of wisdom which taught you how to be a better human being? Well Our New Electrical Morals, brought to you by the fine lads at Cartoon Hangover, is a show jam packed with such words of wisdom.

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Pixel Fusion – Ep 3: Bioshock In Fact Finite?

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In the third episode of Pixel Fusion take a gander at Bioshock Infinite. The game has received overwhelming critical acclaim for its narrative, world, setting, characters, music, and design. But we couldn’t help but notice one aspect of the game which seemed to be glossed over or forgotten: gameplay In many reviews, while all these other elements were covered in great detail, the actual in game mechanic seemed to be hardly mentioned.

So this got us thinking. Seeing as Pixel Fusion is the podcast where we talk about mechanics in video games, this seemed like a timely subject. Why the lack of focus on gameplay in a video game (keyword game)? In a game touted to truly innovate in so many other areas, do the gameplay mechanics follow the run of the mill first person shooter road map? Zach and I address these points and more as we dig deep into the world of Bioshock Infinite.

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Flowstorm: Indie Racing & Aerial Combat Game

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Sub-Terrania was one of my favorite oddball titles on the Genesis. It was always the game I seemed to played right after Sonic 2 (more than likely because Sub-Terrania just so happened to be right after Sonic in my small alphabetically arranged collection). A new game by the name of Flowstorm originally caught my attention because of similarities to the aforementioned Sub-Terrania. Though it kept my attention because of its unique twist.

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Three Things I Learned At Klei’s PAX East Booth

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Klei’s booth caught my attention at PAX East for a number of reasons. First of all, Mark of the Ninja won my heart last year. Yet they were showing again at their booth. I wondered why, especially when their latest game, Don’t Starve (which is presently in public beta), officially releases later this month. They were showing that game too. But I wondered: why are they were showing both games at the same time?

Turns out they had three good reasons.

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