Soon, we won’t be able to move for Roguelikes – or, for that matter, Roguelike-likes. Things are already getting a little crowded, in fact, ever since Derek Yu’s Spelunky apparently caused the industry to collectively catch on to the notion of the structure being inherently compulsive, and to the presence of an audience hungering after flintier challenges. The likes of Rogue Legacy prove these games don’t necessarily have to do anything particularly interesting mechanically so long as they have a half-decent hook. Nuclear Throne’s hook is disarmingly simple but blisteringly effective. In short, it gets a move on.
Monday, 18 January 2016
The adaptable Swedes with Just Cause to celebrate 12 years of sandbox success
Things can get hairy pretty quickly in Avalanche Studios’ Just Cause games, but the player always has enough tools at their disposal to improvise a solution – or, if all else fails, an escape route. And the developer certainly has plenty of experience when it comes to winging it. When Just Cause – then known as Terror In The Tropics – was conceived, the newly formed studio set up a meeting with Eidos, despite having nothing more to show than a short design document. As a matter of fact, it didn’t even have an office. Co-founders Christofer Sundberg and Linus Blomberg hurriedly put a plan into action, calling up old colleagues and temporarily borrowing office space from a friend in a media company. “We basically staged an office with computers that weren’t even plugged into the wall,” Blomberg tells us. “We had our friends sit there and pretend [they were] working as we quickly escorted the Eidos delegation into a conference room and presented what would become Just Cause. It was four pages, on paper – not even a PowerPoint.”
How Halo and classic anime inspired a Roguelike shooter with the brightest of enemies
Like any ambitious space mission, Galak-Z’s launch was fraught with peril and the potential for disaster. The game represented 17-Bit’s difficult second album following the success of Skulls Of The Shogun, and one that packed remarkable and potentially problematic enemy AI behind its atmospheric 2D visuals. It didn’t go smoothly. A litany of bugs and technical glitches blighted Galak-Z’s release, forcing 17-Bit’s small development team into three weeks of damage limitation as they tried to get their new vessel back on course.
Why Capcom is hitting the reset button and rebuilding the world’s favourite fighting game
In December 6, 2015, thousands of Street Fighter IV fans descended upon San Francisco to unite in their hatred of Blanka. Admittedly, there was also the small matter of Capcom Cup, a tournament in which the best players in the world battled for the biggest prize pot in Street Fighter history. But the Brazilian mutant has long been despised by all but the handful who play him – and, of course, Yoshinori Ono, Street Fighter’s relentlessly cheery series producer, who takes a tiny Blanka toy with him wherever he goes.
Getting into the thicket of it
Beneath goofy scenes of a wand-wielding rose turning opponents into goats, zombies charging around on roaring jackhammers, and an angry stick of corn spitting projectiles while wearing a soggy bowl of cereal around his neck, Plants Vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 is serious business. With this sequel, PopCap’s energetic classbased shooter grows away from the top-down iOS tower defence on which it took root and blossoms into an experience even more involved than 2014’s initial foray into thirdperson action. “The art style helps take the edge off,” senior gameplay designer Chris Fox tells us, “but from a gameplay point of view, all the designers on our team are hardcore gamers. For us, it’s important to have a game that, while accessible for everybody, didn’t lose that depth.”
Kazuma Kiryu finds life more than acceptable in the ’80s
Ten minutes in, we finally get to press a button, and it’s to skip a line of dialogue. Soon afterward, we’re strolling through the streets of ’80s Kamurocho, with red no-entry signs forbidding us from exploring any side alleys. As we push through a group of pedestrians, one glides sideways out of Kazuma Kiryu’s path. Moments later, we retire to a bar for some whisky and all-night karaoke. Venturing out into the Tokyo sun, half-cut, we walk towards a pink objective marker and another cutscene lasting several minutes. If you were expecting Yakuza 0 to shed two generations of baggage, you’re in for a disappointment.
The space-based dogfighter setting out to define modern VR gaming
The countdown begins as our ship adjusts itself on glittering red lanes before locking into place. Three… Two… One. Suddenly we’re propelled forward at such force we almost fall out of our chair, the speed and the roar rapidly increasing until there’s nothing but silence. We’ve gone from a warm clone bath to cold space in ten seconds and, aside from a pounding heartbeat, it’s an almost tranquil experience. Until the lasers start firing, that is.