Tag Archives: digital

Can You Call Crytek Indie? Probably

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Microsoft finally released some information on where Xbox One is going with indie games — a list of developers who will be self-publishing Xbox One games starting early next year. Some people are a bit miffed at the list’s inclusion of Crytek — a company with hundreds of employees responsible for several AAA games. GameSpot even just had a whole roundtable on what you can really call the company. I think Crytek defies this whole “indie” description because the kind of studio it is has become a lot less common on consoles since a time before Crytek was prominent.

Before the current console generation, a company like Crytek probably would have been called “independent,” because it isn’t owned by any larger publisher but must seek those companies to publish its games. Crytek may be capable of building full-scale $60 games, but it still lacks the ability to publish those games at retail, having to sign with EA to release the Crysis games and Ubisoft to release the original Far Cry. This is what developers like BioWare and Pandemic were before publishers like EA bought them out. Large independent developers used to be fairly common before so many either died, got bought out, or both. Similar developers today include Insomniac, Platinum Games, and CDProjekt.

What’s important to note here is what “indie” actually entails. I’ve started to think it doesn’t actually make a lot of sense to call an entire company in and of itself “indie,” but rather to refer to games as having been released independently. That is, without going through a publisher. That doesn’t really set any rules regarding how big the game’s budget is or how many employees the developer has.

I think that also brings up a peculiarity of how many digital games were handled on Xbox 360 and PS3. A lot of Xbox Live Arcade games had to go through Microsoft as a publisher which, in a way, defeated the point of being indie. Even if some those games were from two-man teams they still had to go through a publisher to actually get released — hoops similar to what larger developers go through. Many of the PSN games that Sony published are the same.

This is what’s so different about the advent of self-publishing on consoles. Essentially, you’ll start to see more games, especially on Xbox One compared to its predecessor, that are truly independently released with no publisher affecting the content. The guy behind that Oddworld remake chastised Microsoft’s original decision to not allow self publishing on Xbox One by basically saying developers didn’t need publishers on digital marketplaces. The whole purpose of a publisher is to print the discs and get them on store shelves (and arguably advertise the game), which you don’t need to do in a digital environment, but Microsoft and often Sony on current-gen consoles were acting like you still do. What we’re about to see on PS4 and Xbox One is quite a bit closer to how developers have been independently releasing games on PC for a long time, even developers with 100-plus employees.

Crytek’s example is Warface (which could very well be the game it’s self publishing on Xbox One). If a developer like Platinum or Insomniac wanted to release a digital-only game on PC or next-gen consoles they would be independently releasing that game because they wouldn’t need to go through publishers, effectively making those games “indie.” Just compare the different dynamics behind how CDProjekt releases the Witcher games.

CDP needed Atari to print the disc versions of the first two games (in North America), but released the digital PC versions independently. CDP has already said it’s going through Warner Bros. for the retail versions of The Witcher 3 but will independently release that game on Steam. Now under GOG CDP of course isn’t indie because that’s its own distribution channel on which other publishers release games, but GOG doesn’t extend everywhere. Let’s just say for instance CDP didn’t care about retail discs for TW3 and went digital-only with the game. It could then self-publish that game everywhere and it would essentially be an indie release, despite having a multi-million dollar budget.

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A.R.E.S. Extinction Agenda

One of the games that’ll be on sale on Steam until Monday is A.R.E.S. Extinction Agenda. I think an enhanced version also just got released on Xbox Live. I’d basically never heard of it until the sale, and after trying the demo I wanted to get it out in the open a little bit.

Basically, this game attempts to be the love child of Mega Man and Contra. The demo feels a bit more the latter than the former, but nonetheless it looks like a completely solid sidescrolling shooter.

Even the presentation evokes Super NES games but with today’s graphics, or at least GBA games but at a higher resolution. The opening explanation of the story plays out by scrolling across still images while subtitles fill in for dialogue. It all works the same way the cut scenes in Mega Man X might, and is basically just as effective. The music hits the same spot too.

From there, you immediately end up in corridors jumping over and shooting at robots in six directions. It’s pretty tough for me to think of another indie game that captures the spirit of the aforementioned shooters this well.

The demo only covers the beginning of the game so I didn’t get the see much evidence of the kind of platforming you might find in classic Mega Man, but the bosses are pretty much Contra bosses. They’re massive, and beating them depends on rote pattern memorization while never letting go of the trigger. Though because you don’t die instantly they’re a lot more forgiving here.

A.R.E.S.’s own mechanics come into play when you collect scrap from defeated enemies to build pretty much everything, from health items to new weapons. The dynamic is a pretty smart one if you ask me: if you don’t take as much damage you won’t have to waste scrap healing yourself that you’d otherwise spend on new weapons. Though, enemies seem to respawn so it probably is possible to grind for scrap. There are also some unique tools and abilities you get throughout the game.

After trying it out I went ahead and bought A.R.E.S. on Steam and hope to eventually get to it. When asking around for more handheld 2D action games like the classics in a previous post someone actually suggested me A.R.E.S. It may not be handheld, but it seems to otherwise fit the bill.

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I Need Some New 2D Handheld Action Games

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Indies are just getting better and better every time I look at Kickstarter or even Steam Greenlight. I’m starting to get a strange urge with these games though. I’m wondering if anyone else is feeling a desire to play games like Rogue Legacy or La-Mulana on handhelds. It’s bringing up a whole mess of technical issues though.

I suspect this desire in me is coming from nostalgia for the Game Boy Advance.  A while ago I set up all my old game boxes on a shelf, including my old Game Boy games. Now, whenever I look the boxes for Metroid Fusion, Castlevania Aria of Sorrow, or Mega Man Zero, I start wanting to play new games like those on a handheld, specifically 2D action games. I see all the new indies coming out and think those would be great to play on handhelds, but there aren’t that many options.

A lot of these games are eventually gonna be out for Vita. Even if I bought one though, I’d just have to end up re-buying some games I already own like Rayman Legends or Rogue Legacy. The other problem is that the dominant platform for these games still seems to be Windows.

Many of these fresh indie games like Frogatto, Oniken, The Swapper, Valdis Story: Abyssal City, or Chasm, don’t even have console versions, much less Vita or 3DS versions. I’m pretty much forced to just play them on my PC.

Valve’s Steam Machine initiative is a nice thing for bringing this kid of gaming to the television in an easy way, but I keep wondering if some kind of handheld Steam Machine would even be possible. Maybe the Nvidia Shield is what I need to take a look at.

I’m thinking this theoretical handheld Steam Machine would stream Windows games (like Vita remote play). Hopefully it could be just beefy enough to play some indie games natively — many of them don’t take a lot of horsepower to run. Basically it’d be a portable Linux machine and Linux is getting extremely popular with indies.

That’s just fantasy land thinking at this point though. I should probably just start looking at existing handheld action games I haven’t played yet. I think there are still a few.

I’ve got a handful of unplayed games installed on my PSP like Maverick Hunter X, Prinny: Can I Really Be the Hero?, and Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness. On the DS I still haven’t played Castlevania Order of Ecclessia, or finished a bunch of the RPGs on that system. SteamWorld Dig for the 3DS looks pretty good.

Maybe I’m just mad Nintendo never made another 2D Metroid for the DS or 3DS.

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Six In-Development Indie Games That Deserve More Attention

When people talk about indie games and crowdfunding campaigns there are a relative handful of games that get enough traction to get actual news coverage. But if you take a good look at Steam Greenlight or some forum that actually pays constant attention to the scene, you eventually see that for every Mighty no. 9 or Nuclear Throne (the new title for Wasteland Kings), there are a few other awesome games barely getting noticed. I’ve decided to devote this post to a few of them, ones that I’ve probably mentioned in bullets before. There are a lot of others, but these are the ones I most want to play and that look the most high-quality to me.

Kromaia

As of this writing, Kromaia is only just beginning its Kickstarter and Steam Greenlight campaigns but it’s already one of my most anticipated indie games. Looking at the extremely well-done trailer gives off the impression this game is kind of like the original Star Fox meets Rez, on crack.

The description is honestly not all that specific because the concept is pretty unusual. From what I gather though, this game is supposed to be very nonlinear in terms of the level designs as well as how players progress through them. Depending on what stretch goals the game hits Kromaia might also have a procedurally-generated world. Just the thought of that brings up ideas of endless, high-concept playability.

Liege

The most striking thing about Liege to me is that it takes the visual perspective of 16-bit RPGs, but the 2D art is rendered at much more modern resolutions, giving an idea of what those old games might look like if they took full advantage of today’s hardware but otherwise remained the same. The trailer is so good I’ve actually watched it multiple times — it gives a sense the developers are trying to use those classic visual perspectives to tell a deeper, more mature story.

The story itself seems pretty ambitious too and I have no ideas if these guys can deliver on it but I’d at least like to see them try. The combat though seems to be its own beast — a very tactics-oriented system built on very high lethality. Liege also seems to be planned for a whole lot of platforms, including mobile.

A.N.N.E

I didn’t find out about A.N.N.E until it showed up in a fan-made montage of upcoming Nintendo eShop games (it’s also coming to PC, Mac, and Linux so far), which shows how under-the-radar this game is. A.N.N.E is indeed another pixilated indie game, but it happens to look like a smart fusion of two game types that might actually work really well.

The Kickstarter page calls it “Gradius meets Metroidvania” which sounds extremely interesting to me. Looking at the trailer (which looks very action-packed), on foot the game plays like a sidescrolling action shooter with some exploration, but you can hop into a ship and all of a sudden it becomes a shmup. The idea of playing a sidescrolling shooter where I’m in a space battle, I land on a giant ship, then run around inside is definitely something I want to play.

Broforce

In between all the explosions Broforce looks like a callback to Contra and classic action movie heroes in general, but with a lot more action and destructibility. It’s actually gotten a bit of attention from PC-oriented websites but I still see it as a bit in the background.

It seems like the devs behind this game really nailed the quickness and tactility of the gunfire and explosions that made older sidescrolling shooters great. This, combined with multiplayer, the variety of play styles, and Broforce’s sense of humor might make it an incredibly fun game.

Ghost Song

Ghost Song is definitely one of my most anticipated indie games. Basically, it looks like Super Metroid with today’s graphics, and I mean that in all the best ways.

What caught my eye about this game is its fantastic 2D art design and animation. The videos make it seem like it’s going to have the same slick visual design, responsive action gameplay, and sense of challenge that made Super Metroid and 2D action games like it great.

Hyper Light Drifter

Reading descriptions and interviews about Hyper Light Drifter pegs it as taking inspiration specifically from A Link to the Past and Diablo. It’s apparently a game where you explore the world and complete dungeons to unlock new areas, but you also fight mobs of enemies to obtain loot. If they can pull it off with that visual style then I think this could be an incredible game.

What really caught me from the trailer though was how well-developed the gameplay systems seemed. You can already pick out various mechanics like shields, dashing, teleporting, and some kind of jump that all look really fun to use. The situations shown in the trailer also look pretty challenging.

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Why All-Digital Console Games?

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As we near a console generation that’s going to be increasingly digital, I’ve started to ask myself what it actually takes to get me to trust a digital storefront enough to buy all my content from it. Maybe the answer is different for everyone, but mine brings up a lot of issues over DRM and service that console gaming has yet to address.

I actually find it a bit strange that neither Sony nor Microsoft has said much about the fact that games on both Xbox One and PlayStation 4 will release on Xbox Live and PlayStation Network respectively on the same day as retail. The whole software library of a generation of consoles is going to be available digitally, and both Sony and Microsoft are still acting quite retail-oriented (I guess Sony’s promoted the whole play-while-you-download feature).

A while ago on this blog I wrote about how the current XBL and PSN marketplaces still weren’t very appealing for full-priced games, and I still have no idea how Microsoft and Sony respectively are going to do to improve them for next-gen. To figure out what I would want I took a look at everything else I do buy digitally right now.

I’ve gone all-digital for basically all my media except movies, comic books, and console games.

I think music is pretty much the easiest thing to go digital with for everybody. The files are small and almost every distributor has abandoned the notion of DRM. Until I really thought about it I never realized how much DRM was a deterrent to my buying digital content. It’s probably the biggest reason I haven’t gone digital with comics yet.

For anyone who hasn’t dabbled in the emerging digital comic industry, it’s really sprung up on mobile devices, but every major publisher has set up its own shop and limited its content to that shop. Only being able to read digital DC comics on the DC app and Dark Horse comics on the Dark Horse app feels restrictive in the worst way. Download-to-own movies face pretty much the same problem as far as I’m concerned.

And I already know I’m prepared to go all-digital for comics as soon as they’re DRM-free. The world of manga fan translations has already established smooth distribution models and very reliable software on which to receive and read DRM-free content, and it feels great. Fortunately Image Comics is already going DRM-free, meaning I can read its comics on whatever I want.

That’s really what it takes for me to be able to trust digital I guess — knowing that what I buy isn’t trapped on one device or one piece of software. Even the existence of DRM can be forgiven if it’s liberal to that point, or offers enough convenience to that end.

Steam is pretty much the ultimate example of DRM we’re willing to put up with. The most famous reason for that is the sales but people also ask for Steam copies of games because the service offers basically all the features of a console with one important difference: you can install that “soft console” and all its content on any PC you log into.

I’ve actually been recently re-buying some of my Xbox games on Steam. For some reason my games feel more secure to me on Steam as opposed to Xbox Live Arcade. I think it’s the knowledge that those Xbox games are only playable on one machine that I pretty much just use for playing games whereas my Steam games are playable on theoretically any computer I buy. The lack of backwards compatibility on next-gen consoles makes the problem worse by letting consumers know their existing software is forever trapped on the old machines. Sony is staring to get around this problem though.

I, like probably a lot of other people, have become perfectly fine with buying a lot of software and digital content through Apple’s iTunes store. For me that even includes books from iBooks (I know there’s Kindle but using the iBooks app feels better for me). I think it’s because I’ve invested myself into the Apple family of devices (except actual Macs), meaning I own several devices on which I can use that content and software, even if it’s all still locked to DRM.

Sony’s trying to create a similar relationship between the PS4 and the Vita, and it might be working. I gotta admit the idea of playing a game like Rogue Legacy on your PlayStation console and then on your handheld sounds cool. Cross-buy is still utilized far too seldom for games that have Vita versions. If Sony can actually get universal Remote Play to work it would give a whole new functionality and value to PSN purchases. Microsoft’s family sharing idea could have a similar effect on Xbox Live purchases.

Nintendo is the game platform company that frustrates me the most with this right now because it has the most content I would buy if it got its digital service in gear. For starters if Nintendo would just create an account system independent of the hardware — let me download my 3DS games on any 3DS I log into, I’d immediately go all-digital with 3DS games. Being able to open my 3DS and instantly launch Mario, Pokémon, or Zelda would put an unprecedented amount of convenience between me and some of my favorite games. And then there’s Virtual Console between 3DS and Wii U.

It’s almost criminal Nintendo hasn’t unified the Virtual Console stores between its existing devices. The ability to play Super Metroid or Earthbound on a console, and then continue on a handheld would almost by itself make me get a Wii U. It’s frustrating that in my eyes Sony has the better service but Nintendo has the content I really want. Hopefully Nintendo’s suggestion of accessing the eShop from browsers and mobile devices means it’s planning to upgrade its service.

Now this is all just my opinions on what makes an all-digital service valuable — the freedom to do what I want with my digital content, or at least some illusion of that freedom. Some people might want adjusted prices or still want a physical box or whatever.

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The Future of Game Manuals

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One of the issues old school gamers sometimes lament in these times is the disappearance of manuals from game boxes. I’ve started to rediscover them a bit to see where they’re starting to take their place in today’s world.

Basically, the future is digital manuals. That brings up a debate similar to that of the rising eBook industry but I think digital manuals present a lot of advantages, and you’d be surprised how many developers and platform holders are making good use of them.

But first there’s the question of why even have manuals today when every game has a tutorial. That’s honestly a good question. Manuals probably aren’t necessary anymore for everyone or every game. If you take a case-by-case look at them though you’ll find at least a few games that still make them seem worthwhile.

A lot of games, particularly modern RPGs, have begun to include large codices packed with what is essentially the same text you’d read in the manual. The codex in Mass Effect basically is a manual of hundreds of pages containing not only information about the lore but also basic tutorial info. Before CDProjekt patched a proper tutorial into The Witcher 2, learning that game demanded players read either the actual manual or the in-game codex. A most interesting example of this is Ni No Kuni’s Wizard’s Companion which comes both in the form of an actual massive book (which is pretty hard to buy now) and a sort of in-game eBook that is required for gameplay and is even a part of the story itself.

Ordinary digital manuals though are overall better if you have to have a manual with your game. They save trees, it’s impossible to lose them as long as you keep the game, and the developer can pack as much content in a digital manual as they want without worrying about the page count (see the codices above). Digital manuals are already a requirement for 3DS (and I think PlayStation Vita) games, and I think they should be on next-gen consoles too.

One smart thing platform holders have already done is include digital manuals with the old school games they’re re-selling, like all the Virtual Console games, PS1 and PS2 classics, everything on Good Old Games, and most old school games on Steam. Many of those games were designed to basically require the manual. It’s nice that Nintendo actually rewrites every manual in a new digital style, but I’m equally impressed that the PC services and PSN include full scans of the original manual for each classic game.

More recently a lot of indie developers have actually written and designed manuals for their games, despite most of those games never being sold physically and how few of those fans probably even know those manuals exist. One of the most impressive manuals of recent times is the one for La-Mulana which includes a lot of cool artwork exclusive to that manual. Indie games like Inquisitor and Legend of Grimrock do something similar.

Basically, I don’t think manuals are going away at all. Even aside from tutorials they’re just transitioning into something new.

BULLETS:

  • “The Chinese Room: Balancing fun with terror in Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs” http://t.co/8O9gpsuJao
  • Cowboy Bebop O.S.T. is now on the U.S. iTunes store – bit.ly/158XsUR
  • Rapture again? Honestly Rapture was a “one and done” for me once I finished the original BioShock. I didn’t feel anything from the environment in BioShock 2, but I’ll still probably get this new Infinite DLC coming. Now if they could get the Von Braun in there…
  • PLANETSIDE 2 RAP | Dan Bull flip.it/DmXfA
  • Crazy Buffet 2 – by John Pading after Frank Miller – bit.ly/14ew1tA
  • Really Square Enix? (NSFW) – bit.ly/19t4eH9
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Kentucky Route Zero And The Case for Pure Interactive Narrative

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Kentucky Route Zero in some ways more than any other, is a game that seems to have been made with some of my specific desires in mind. It’s almost scary how much of this game I’ve wanted to see attempted for a while now.

If I had to summarize Zero, I’d say it’s an adventure game about travel, about journeys. You should know it’s totally within the mechanics of point n’ click adventure games, but in principle it’s actually a sort of western visual novel, with almost no puzzles to speak of. The most important part though is that it’s a game about travel, and methods of travel.

Zero was already an interesting game from the get-go when it immediately rooted its appeal in pure, good quality writing. The point where I really got sucked in however was when I asked a character for directions and he told me to, specifically, “drive northwest on the 65, take a left at the burning bush, and you should see a barn on your right,” and I exited the area to be greeted by an actual overhead road map.

World maps are commonly the point at which I get sucked into a role-playing game because it’s my first glimpse at just how much content there is to explore. Zero seems to take the mechanic and purpose it specifically for a story, even using pure dialogue as the player’s direction where most modern games would just throw you waypoints.

You see, I’m usually terrible at remembering the names and especially numbers of roads when driving. I’ve always been much better with landmarks when finding my way around. Zero plays directly into this at one part during Act II when you travel a road that only makes sense through the use of landmarks.  All in all, it’s an ingenious use of an old game design trope I love in conjunction with storytelling.

In that area, Zero really is more interactive narrative than video game, but it’s very well-written interactive narrative, taking the time to really give depth to each character. It’s impressive how much the game let’s this stand on its own too.

When you’re exploring the map, most of the locations you visit aren’t even rendered in the game, they’re just described through text. Zero basically turns into a text adventure at this point with some dialogue and action choices strewn about. The only companion to these novel-like locations is some really great use of sound design, and that’s enough.

It’s the “Take a book and turn it into an explorable world and don’t add unnecessary combat or other ‘challenges,’” concept I’ve wanted to see for a long time — a game where you just walk around and talk to people, and that’s done well enough to be stimulating for the player by itself. I fear it’ll still be a long time before we see this happen outside of visually abstract indie games though.

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The Solar Infiltration: An FTL Story

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FTL: Faster Than Light is an unfair game. It’s one of my favorite games of 2012 and one of my favorite games to play right now, but it’s still an incredibly unfair game. You never really have any idea if your next jump through space will be a Kobayashi Maru situation. It’s basically gambling.

The most successful run I’ve had as of this writing took a lucky streak when, on a detour, I found a fourth crewmember. For once I managed to eventually get some decent upgrades for my ship, but I wanted to save up for a claw arm which would help me get more scrap. If you’ve played Demon’s Souls or Dark Souls it’s kind of like having thousands of souls in tow, hoping you don’t run into a crappy situation before you’re able to spend them.

That bad luck was waiting for me when I came out of warp too close to a star spitting out solar flares. And then three pirates beamed onto my ship and started tearing up the cockpit.

The only guy in there was the helmsman — Vincent, so I immediately had him run out of there towards the aft. Luckily he outran the intruders so I could lock them in the bow, which I promptly exposed to the vacuum of space. All I could do at this point was lock my crew on one side of the ship and wait for the pirates to suffocate on the other side. It was at this point a solar flare started to engulf my ship in flames.

Luckily the first flare only started fires where the pirates were, weakening them further. Unfortunately those pirates were pretty tough — despite fire and a lack of oxygen (there was only just enough oxygen for those fires to last a little while) they were able to fight their way through my upgraded blast doors into the half of the ship I still held… at the same time another solar flare started a fire there.

So I had a seven-man brawl going on in my weapons systems area which was also on fire. I think life support was on fire too, so the whole ship was now running out of oxygen. Luckily the pirates were so weak by this point my crew could easily finish them off and immediately start working on the fire. Oxygen loss had already suffocated the first fire towards the bow. I just needed to get the hell out of there before the next flare.

To do this I needed to charge up the hyperdrive, which required me to get Vincent back in the cockpit. It still hadn’t fully re-oxygenized though, so he had to risk suffocation in the process while the rest of my crew repaired life support.

Waiting for the hyperdrive to charge back up I got a warning another flare was approaching. I managed to hit the button to jump just in time to hear the flare behind me as I reached the next star system.

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On Edge

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Mobigame’s Edge has probably gotten more attention than most mobile games, partly due to its troubles with a copyright troll. There’s probably a good chance though that the game still hasn’t gotten enough attention for how good it is. I also want to talk about the central problem that I feel has dogged Edge across like four platforms.

Edge (and its expansion pack) is basically a really good puzzle platformer available for iOS, Android, PC, and a bunch of other stuff I’ll probably list below. You roll a cube over and around rectangular obstacles to collect smaller cubes and reach the goal of each stage. For those who may toss their nose up at in-app purchases or free-to-play, Edge has none of that. It’s just a good old-style game with a unique premise, excellent level design, and very cool yet simple graphics.

Edge is an example of one of those puzzle games that takes a simple concept and runs with it through continually inventive level design. Just rolling a one rectangle over other rectangles is simple enough, but it quickly get’s pretty insane when you’re dealing with shifting platforms, speeding traffic, and giant mechs made of cubes. I’m still trying to get the hang of the game’s titular trick — hanging the edge of a cube on moving objects in order to travel along walls.

I also really like how the game looks — somehow managing to be simple yet also technically impressive. I mean, it’s just cubes rolling around with some subtle glow effects in the base game. When I read the description for the expansion though it noted improved graphics and gameplay running at a smooth 60 frames per second. I was shocked to be able to tell the difference immediately. The special effects are jazzed up just enough to make the game look flashier, and the game itself actually does look faster and smoother. Mobigame timing the update alongside the introduction of the iPhone’s retina display didn’t hurt.

I’m one of the first people who’ll tell you mobile gaming is probably 99 percent crap, but for almost as long as I’ve owned an iPhone I’ve tried to hold up Edge is part of the platform’s one percent.

All that said, if I were to succinctly describe all my feelings on Edge, I’d call it an excellent game in search of the right control scheme.

The fact that the mobile version has three different control schemes: tilt, rub, and virtual Dpad, in my opinion spells out the problem. I won’t lie: half the time I die in this game it’s because I slipped up with the controls. I keep switching between schemes on my iPhone, and for a while I kept waiting for a version of this game I could play with some buttons. Even after those conversions came, I still haven’t found the perfect control interface for Edge. It’s one of the reasons why the aforementioned wall trick is so hard to pull off.

Even most people who know about Edge probably don’t know that there’s a PlayStation Minis version playable on the PS3 and PSP (and I presume Vita). I think it’s pretty much the base game but of course with the benefit of a PlayStation controller.

The problem there though is Edge’s isometric camera is fixed at an angle skewed diagonally to the directions of a conventional Dpad. It’s probably necessary for the style of the game, but because of it you’re never pressing up, down, left, or right — only diagonal directions. Things work if you only press he diagonal Dpad directions but it’s still not a perfect glove fit.

The closest thing to a “definitive” edition of Edge is probably the Steam edition for PC, Mac, and Linux. I’m pretty sure it’s the base game with the expansion along with some achievements and controller support. That controller support is more or less the same as the PlayStation version but the Steam edition’s higher resolution really puts it above and beyond (unless you count playing it on a retina iPad). Sadly, hooking a PC up to a TV is probably the closest you can get right now to playing Edge on a console in HD.

Anyway, despite the paragraphs I devoted to chronicling my troubles with this game, I still think Edge is absolutely worth the ultra-low process Mobigame probably charges for it.

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Where is Power Stone?

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Maybe it’s because I don’t have any history with the Darkstalkers franchise, but when I saw Darkstalkers Resurrection show up with the latest PlayStation Store update this week, all it did was make me mad that Capcom had re-released another of its fighting game classics that wasn’t called Power Stone. Everywhere you see the subject of Capcom’s classic re-releases brought up someone mentions Power Stone, but the publisher’s continued silence with that brand has become increasingly awkward given their recent activity.

I get it; Power Stone is a niche entity. It’s not exactly Street Fighter. Heck, I read an article a short time ago about how Capcom producer Yoshinori Ono had to fight tooth and nail just to get the company to commit to Street Fighter IV — a new entry in arguably the franchise that made Capcom what it is today. Now one of their cash crops is fighting games, even niche ones, except Power Stone apparently.

Fighting games have become such a reliable thing on today’s consoles that we’re seeing re-releases of classic ones pop up left and right. Mortal Kombat II was one of the most popular PlayStation Network downloads for a very long time, Namco put the original Soul Calibur on iOS, even SNK got into the action a little bit (here’s another opportunity to remind you that both Last Blade games are available on Wii Virtual Console).

Of course you’ve got Capcom’s library too — 3rd Strike Online Edition has been one of my favorite games to play on my PS3 period, new or old school. However, it’s gotten down to the point that even Capcom’s lesser-known fighters have shown up on digital distribution services. We’ve got Darkstalkers, Marvel vs Capcom, some of Capcom’s non-fighter arcade classics, and even Jo-Jo’s Bizarre Adventure. Jo-Jo man!

Okay okay, Jo-Jo has an anime license attached to it that’s gotten a bit of a revival as of late, and Darkstalkers has a little bit more history than Power Stone. Is the difference between the two former franchises and Power Stone that big though? Was Power Stone really not that popular on the Dremacast? Did the PSP conversion really not sell that well?

And no, the PSP conversion isn’t enough. I’m not even asking for a Power Stone 3 here. Even if they just throw me Power Stone 2 in HD for four local players and maybe online, I’ll be satisfied. I just want a console copy of Power Stone 2 that I don’t have to shell out $200 for. If Capcom can give people Darkstalkers and Jo-Jo, they can make time for Power Stone too.

And Power Stone is probably the most unique of Capcom’s fighters. It’s one of their only re-release prospects that isn’t a hardcore standard 2D fighter. If nothing else it would stand out in a genre that has come back to life in a big way. Is it that uniqueness that’s holding Power Stone back maybe?

Does Power Stone being a 3D game make the HD conversion more expensive? Would getting the game to re-render in HD cost too much to justify given potential sales? Come to think of it, digital re-releases of old 3D fighting games aren’t as common as the 2D ones. You’ve got Virtua Fighter 2, Sonic the Fighters, the original Soul Calibur on Xbox Live, and I think that’s pretty much it. All those except Sonic are probably guaranteed to sell to a certain extent. I don’t know man.

When was that last Capcom survey asking about all their neglected franchises? Three months ago? Maybe they just need some time to act on the data from that. I know I put it down for Power Stone when I took the survey.

BULLETES:

  • To be fair, not yet re-released from Capcom you’ve also got Rival Schools, Tech Romancer, Capcom vs SNK (understandably tied up), a couple of the earlier Marvel games, and probably more. There’s even Street Fighter Alpha if you don’t count the PS1 versions available digitally (assuming they aren’t arcade-perfect, I myself don’t know).
  • Scanlations of the final chapters of Blade of the Immortal have begun to appear.
  • How the new Tomb Raider saved at least one person’s life: http://t.co/Rvken9m289
  • IGN has a nice analysis up of the time period surrounding Assassin’s Creed IV: http://t.co/u8ZnFvKbyb
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