It’s a short week for us and we’re sort of burnt out from reviewing like two-dozen Wii U games so it’s a short week, but we still stumbled into the podcast room to record a new episode!
This Week’s Hosts: Hollander Cooper, Henry Gilbert, Tom Magrino
Post date: November 22, 2012
Intro song by: Danny Baranowsky
The Question of the Week: Give us your uninformed, knee-jerk review for Black Ops II (like the one found in our user review round-up)! You could win one of many games we have in the office, including download codes and a bunch of Wii U games!
If you’ve ever played Assassin's Creed III you may have noticed that it suffers from the occasional glitch. While glitches can be a nuisance for the player, for everyone else they can be a source of much entertainment. With this in mind, we thought we’d compile five of the funniest Assassin’s Creed III glitches we could find, for your entertainment.
1. The Bionic Jump
I don’t get it. Please explain the glitch to me: The bit where the man goes up into the sky isn’t meant to happen. What’s meant to happen is that he just stabs everyone without going up into the sky. The going into the sky bit is the glitch.
2. Unusual horse
I don’t get it. Please explain the glitch to me: You probably noticed the unusual behaviour of the horse. If you didn’t, try watching the clip again and keep your eye on the horses — one of them is more unusual than the others because it is behaving in an unusual manner. The unusual horse is the glitch. It should be behaving like the other horses, just standing around and being more horse-like.
3. Amusing arm animation
I don’t get it. Please explain the glitch to me: Ask your dad.
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By Matt Cundy
This is the way the world ends
According to millions of people with no knowledge of astronomy, history, or ancient civilizations, the world is going to end on December 21, 2012–this Friday. Some say that Earth’s imminent destruction will come via collision of the mythical (and super nonexistent) planet Nibiru, while others expect all life to be obliterated by a solar flare. But one thing’s for sure: It’s totally, definitely, really going to happen. Seriously.
It’s because of this that we’ve decided to celebrate the end of the world… in video games. We’re kicking things off with this Top 7, honoring the most awkward, embarrassing apocalypses gaming has ever seen. What villains have gotten their way due to the ignorance of the heroes? What world-ending catastrophes seemed to have happened by mistake? We’ve picked our seven favorites, so that we may better understand Friday’s inevitable disaster.
7. Smoke detonates the planet (Mortal Kombat 3)
We’re not sure if cyber Smoke suffers from faulty programming, or if he’s always had a penchant for overcompensating. But neither is a very good excuse for destroying an entire celestial body in the effort to execute a single person. During one of the goofier Fatalities that the Mortal Kombat series has ever seen, Smoke launches a good thirty or so bombs from his chest, covering the ground at his dazed opponent’s feet with explosives. But the plan somewhat backfires when the resulting explosion shatters the Earth–Smoke included–in the blink of an eye. Smoke… wins…?
Even if Smoke kills himself–and the rest of humanity–in the process, maybe he’s doing us all a kindness. With such an abrupt end, there’d be no time to panic, mourn for the things you still wanted to do, or accompany John Cusack on a CG-fueled rollercoaster ride of plot-hole stupidity. One moment, you’re living your life; the next, your ashes are floating through space. Could be worse.
6. The Dark Wanderer jabs himself in the face with the devil's soul (Diablo)
We’ll give the Dark Wanderer this much: He honest-to-God tried. See, at the end of the original Diablo, Aidan, as he was then known, had successfully gone mano-a-mano with Diablo, the Lord of Terror himself. His victory meant Hell’s maw had shut, for the time being. However, Diablo’s not one to stay down, so Aidan had a choice to make. On one hand, he could devise a clever solution to keep Diablo contained, a solution akin to the demon’s original Soulstone. On the other hand, he could just man up.
So he did what any good hulking brute of a warrior-man would do: He jammed that sucker right into his own forehead. Seriously, who could’ve guessed that taking a giant, pulsating shard–a shard that contained the imminently corrupting essence of evil–just taking that thing and ramming it right into one’s skull would be, in fact, the incorrect option? Long story short, he failed. Diablo thus back in the world, the Dark Wanderer then heads off and frees Baal, The Lord of Destruction. Fun times.
5. Stubbs spreads zombie plague after a night with the farmer’s daughter (Stubbs the Zombie)
We know, zombie apocalypses are such a snore these days–but Stubbs’ approach to ending the world is a little different than most brain-munchers. Awakening in the retro-futuristic city of Punchbowl, the would-be paradise is quickly torn apart by Stubbs as he spreads a zombie plague throughout the land. Eventually Punchbowl is overrun with the undead and the only hope to save humanity is to nuke the city. Luckily, Stubbs and his newly undead bride escape, no doubt spreading their plague worldwide.
The embarrassing part is how Stubbs became a zombie in the first place. Originally he was Stubbs the Door-to-Door Salesman, who spent the night with a farmer’s daughter, just like in an old timey lewd joke. When the farmer figures out, he kills Stubbs, leaving his corpse to stew in the earth until the fancy chemicals of Punchbowl awaken him. All that death just because of a little action on the side.
4. Gordon Freeman invites the Combine to Earth (Half-Life/HL2)
Black Mesa scientist Gordon Freeman is perpetually the right man in the wrong place, and though this phrase isn’t tied to him until Half-Life 2, it’s really epitomized in the opening moments of the first game. Gordon, after arriving late for work, jumps into his orange Hazardous Environment suit, saunters silently into a laboratory, and unknowingly ushers in an age of horror, oppression, and darkness to all of planet Earth. Mondays, right?
After pushing a strange specimen into an Anti-Mass Spectrometer, a portal to another dimension opens up, inviting in all sorts of terrible alien monsters to wreak havoc on the Black Mesa facility. This incident is mostly contained, and Gordon is eventually able to shut the portal and defeat the alien beasties–but not before another alien race, The Combine, caught wind of this weird interdimensional instability. By the time Gordon arrived back on Earth in Half-Life 2, the entire planet had gone all 1984 on him, just because of a science project gone awry.
3. The Internet causes a new Ice Age in Indigo Prophecy
Spoilers, obviously–though we have a feeling you don’t really care about the ending of Indigo Prophecy, a game that starts out so simple and ends so utterly bizarre. After Lucas Kane is framed for a murder he didn’t commit, he searches for answers that point to an ancient conspiracy. As all this is going on, snow starts falling worldwide at record numbers, and people are talking the end of the world… then things go really bonkers when aliens and Area 51 come into play.
Eventually, after Lucas dies, gets resurrected, and then sleeps with the female detective hunting him down, he attempts to protect the prophesied Indigo Child from the Orange Clan (an Illuminati-type group) and the Purple Clan (who are, no joke, the Internet come to life). In the worst of three possible endings to the game, the living world wide web steals the secret of the child, causing the snow to keep falling until the world is frozen and three fourths of humanity dies. We wonder if “Internet freezes Earth” was the top headline on the news that night.<
2. Link’s sword gives evil all the time it needs (Ocarina of Time)
An absurdly evil sorcerer named Ganondorf has worked his way into the favor of the king (despite being absurdly evil), so Princess Zelda asks ten-year-old Link to defeat him. Sounds reasonable, right? Link’s first got to get stronger, so goes around and kills some monsters. Eventually, he makes his way back to the castle, where he’s summarily smacked away by the absurdly evil Ganondorf. Link then makes a break for the Temple of Time with his newly nicked ocarina and finds The Master Sword–the only blade capable of destroying Ganondorf.
Link plays some sick songs on his ocarina and grabs the sword… only to find out that he was followed into the Temple. Ganondorf grabs the wholly unprotected Triforce (see: magical triangle that makes anyone who has it a god) and laughs an evil laugh as Link is teleported seven years into the future. There, everything has gone to hell because Ganondorf has conquered everything, on account of Link forgetting to close the door behind him. Good going, brat.
1. War starts early (Darksiders)
When you’re a warrior cooped up in Heaven or Hell, you might get a little bit antsy to bring about the end of the Earth. Then again, if our boss sent us a memo telling us to eradicate every last trace of humanity and turn the planet into a hellish wasteland, we’d probably double-check before acting. The entire premise of Darksiders starts with one unfortunate misunderstanding, as the horseman War rides out to kill some fools–only to find that our planet has already been ravaged by the End War, a century of strife between angels and demons. Turns out, the Apocalypse party got its start before the Four Horsemen could even join in on the fun. Uhhhhhm…whoops!
On the path to prove his innocence in the matter, War eventually learns that (spoiler for a four-year-old game) the entire thing was a setup, orchestrated by the misguided Archangel Abaddon in an effort to cripple the forces of Hell. But just because his job title includes “of the Apocalypse,” War wrongly takes the blame from the almighty Charred Council. Thus begins War’s Legend of Zelda-like journey to undo the most embarrassing Apocalypse gaffe of all time.
See you next week! Maybe!
Well, it’s been fun, everyone–but a planet is going to crash into Earth, so we’re going to go ahead and take the rest of the week off to FINALLY play through all of the games we’ve been putting off. …Eh, never mind, we’ll just keep writing articles. That seems like a better use of our last days in the mortal realm, talking about the end of the world as told through the medium of video games. What are your favorite world-ending gaming disasters? Let us know!
And if you’re looking for more end of the world fun, check out an article asking if the end of the world would be fun and the top 7 most badass game characters of the generation–you know, because they’ve all prevented world-ending events and all.
Evolution in pixels
Happy holidays reader! To celebrate the season, we’re gifting you with 12 straight days of some of our best features from the last six years of GamesRadar excellence. Enjoy!
Traditional wisdom suggests that fictional superstars never change. Bugs Bunny, Homer Simpson and Superman, for example, have endured for decades with more or less the same appearance. They never age, never look incredibly dated (save for a few misguided revamps that die off) and consistently appeal to a new generation. The same can’t be said for videogame characters, though.
As a technology-based medium, game heroes and villains cannot remain the same. They must constantly evolve, or risk looking “last gen.” That doesn’t mean the new or old designs take precedence, it just means no developer will ever, ever leave its creation alone. Now, with decades of console history to pull from, let’s take a look at the “old” designs and see how they stack up against their modern equivalents.
Then: A brutish ape who threw barrels down at Jumpman (that’d be Mario, actually) and loved to hold women hostage. Not too bright.
Now: Allegedly, the Kong from the original game is now Cranky Kong, a wrinkled old ape who does little more than sit in a rocking chair and whine about the “old days.” Today’s Donkey Kong (the guy on the right) is said to be the former Donkey Kong Jr, though it’s never specifically stated that way. Other than a red “DK” tie, he’s physically the same, but has taken a page from Mario’s book and gone on to become a platforming star instead of a stubborn antagonist. Diddy Kong is in there because he didn’t come in PSD format and refused to move.
Then: A stumpy carpenter and plumber who first harassed Donkey Kong, then took to the sewers to handle turtle/crab/fireball infestation. A humble everyman with no overt sense of whimsy.
Now: The global figurehead of Nintendo, whose exploits have sent him into the mystical Mushroom Kingdom and beyond. No power-up is too silly, no sport too challenging, no merchandise too sketchy for ol’ Mario. Pictured in his most recent incarnation found in Mario Galaxy–still a bit portly and wearing his ‘80s attire, but infinitely more expressive and adventuresome than that sad plumber could ever have imagined.
Then: Mario’s brother was nothing more than a palette swap with strangely darker skin. He was functionally identical to Mario, and other than the one-off Super Mario Bros 2, he would continue to be that way until the 16-bit Super Mario All-Stars re-drew him as a different person. Oh, plus Mario Kart made some distinction as well.
Now: Still very much “Mario’s brother,” but now with distinct physical and gameplay characteristics. He’s taller, slimmer and handles like one of those creepy gas station tube toys that you can never hold onto. Luigi’s had some starring roles and even played a large part in the various RPGs, but he’s still no Mario.
Sonic the Hedgehog
Then: Sega’s 16-bit answer to Mario, a speedy hedgehog who exuded personality and attitude instead of Nintendo’s “let’s all play together” mantra. The sprite actually changed completely one year later in Sonic 2, though it was merely a re-drawing–all the same aspects were kept.
Now: Sonic Colors marks Sega’s latest entry in the long-churning series, and this official art looks damn near the same, doesn’t it? Sonic’s seen a lot of games come and go, but other than his green eyes and improved rendering and sprite tech, little has changed. Maybe animal mascots get a free pass?
Then: A pointy assemblage of polygons that looked a bit crap even back in 1997. From the Popeye arms to the rectangle legs, this was an appearance that had no choice but to be drastically re-imagined.
Now: The basic getup is similar, as is the Super Saiyan haircut, but it’s done with such detail now that you can accept the quirks as simple videogame silliness. The version, taken from Advent Children, isn’t even the final word–Cloud is more or less re-thought each time he pops up, from Kingdom Hearts to Crisis Core to Dissidia. All are similar but none are identical.
Then: Oddly considered an attractive representation of a polygonal woman, but is now seen to be an atrocious patchwork of various geometric shapes.
Now: Cleaner, smoother and without a doubt sexier (even if you’re one of those “games can’t be hot” people). This image is from, fittingly, the modern remake of the original Tomb Raider, so that’s why the clothes are dead-on. Normally she’s donned in whatever grab the environment calls for, be it short shorts, skin tight swimsuit or chest-hugging t-shirt. Just like real archeologists!
Then: A camo-covered soldier with no discernible features. He’s a dude in camo on a mission to stop a walking nuclear tank. That’s about it.
Now: OK… other than the fact he’s gray and old, he’s also got a special sneaking suit with high-tech “OctoCamo” that blends in to any given surroundings. Plus he’s got enhanced strength and about 100 hours’ worth of baffling exposition and character development. Not to be confused with Big Boss, who, in Portable Ops and Peace Walker, kinda looks like that ‘80s Snake (with good reason!!!!).
Then: An adept ninja out for revenge. His father was killed by baddies and he wants to make ‘em pay. Even though he looks rather plain in his blue outfit, Ryu ends up battling demons, monsters, robots and everything in between.
Now: Hm, actually not too different, if only because the image of ninjas has survived untouched for hundreds of years. In this case Ryu has gone all black, gained an ornamental headpiece and taken up violently dismembering foes with his weapons. It’s also not even supposed to be the same Ryu. A bit of “same but different” here.
Ryu (the Street Fighter guy)
Then: A red-haired scrapper who could, with great effort, toss a fireball out of his hands. Otherwise pretty bland.
Now: He’s still the yawn-iest of the Street Fighter characters (“I have to be the best!”) but has since beefed up considerably and gone for a dark-haired appearance. Still got the headband and belt, though the hand guards tend change from red to brown.
Then: A small but devoted elf-child who was forever intertwined with the Triforce, Ganon and Zelda.
Now: A sometimes small, sometimes teenage elf-person who is forever intertwined with the Triforce, Ganon and Zelda. As with Cloud, Link’s appearance tends to slightly shift with each new entry, though the green tunic, long hat and silent-hero stature remain intact every time. Comfortingly consistent while consistently refreshing. Kind of like [your soft drink preference here].
Then: A sky-blue pig-thing that teleported around the room. You knew he was the main villain, and that he had captured Zelda, but very little else was made clear. The other art is Ganon’s first human form, Ganondorf, introduced in 1998’s Ocarina of Time. Up to that point, Ganon was some form of beast (not counting Zelda II, where he’s supposedly Link’s shadow).
Now: The beast Ganon last appeared as the final boss in Twilight Princess, and while he was definitely a pig-thing, he was on all fours and seemed far less in control than the wizard-y boss from the first game. He’s also not blue. As for Ganondorf, he’s only slightly changed, but then again, he was already a re-imagining of the NES original.
Then: Humanoid fox pilot with a headset. You actually don’t see much more of him in the first game, which primarily featured polygonal Arwings. Man, those things really look like ass.
Now: Fox has seen drastic redesigns in almost every game, but the general look is the one found in Smash Bros Brawl. Eyepiece, headset and white jacket/ red scarf combo. The details are always the same, but wow, Nintendo really can’t decide what to do with this guy.
Then: The hero of Bionic Commando was known as Ladd, a mistranslation of Rad. He also sported a nifty grappling hook cannon that was so heavy he couldn’t jump (or, there were only two buttons on the NES controller).
Now: Sigh. We accept the new Nathan “Rad” Spencer name just fine, and we even concede that the new, literal bionic arm makes sense–after all, if it’s not part of him, it can’t actually be bionic in the first place. But did we need the stupid hair? The gruff M-rated voicover? And did we honestly, truly need the goddam wife arm? This one’s all kinds of messed up. Don’t expect it to stick around.
Then: A tough as nails bounty hunter who turns out to be a girl… in a bathing suit, with green hair. She fights space pirates and kills Metroids. At the time her gender was something of a secret, and one of the first genuinely surprising reveals in games.
Now: No mistaking Samus’ gender today, what with the skin-tight Zero Suit outlining her every curve. The armor has changed only slightly, with expanded shoulder pads being the one notable difference. Like other Nintendo characters, her outward appearance hasn’t altered significantly.
Then: Tiny units presented in glorious 640×480. You could tell they were orcs because they were green, and that’s about it.
Now: Still green, still an important part of the Warcraft experience, but now fleshed out into more of an actual race with history, architecture and speech. The improved 1024×768 resolution doesn’t hurt either.
Rick from Splatterhouse
Then: A clear homage to slasher films, Splatterhouse’s main star donned a blood red Terror Mask that looked remarkably like Jason Voorhees’ iconic face. Otherwise a beefy dude who punched monsters until they exploded to death.
Now: The hockey mask is more or less gone, replaced with a skull-like visage that started with Splatterhouse 3. Rick’s also become even beefier, looking more like one of the thugs from Arkham Asylum than a dude with a mask on. Not the most inspired redesign, but then again Rick was never the most creative character out there.
Then: A capable member of STARS who looked like a typical police type. Hardly imposing, and dressed like one of the new recruits who doesn’t know the proper kneepad protocol.
Now: A hulking tree trunk of a man who punches monsters in the face. Look at the size of those arms! Not even a falling boulder can withstand such force. Why the 180? Because in RE1 Chris was meant to appear vulnerable. In RE5, he’s part of a tag-teaming duo that ain’t afraid a’ nuthin’.
Then: A yellow circle with a mouth. Arcade cabinet art gave him eyes and a face, and subsequent cartoons turned him into a blue collar workman, but as far as the game was concerned, Pac was a yellow dot.
Now: He’s gained and lost limbs, family members and no small amount of videogame clout. His most recent incarnation is from Pac-Man Party, a Wii festival of minigames sure to detonate the hearts of anyone who grew up suffering from Pac-Man Fever.
Then: A fairly normal-looking warrior type with a shield.
Now: Christ, what a mess. Rygar was brought back in 2002 with a look that basically mirrored his NES and arcade counterpart, but for whatever reason, Tecmo trotted out that game again in 2008 for Wii. Along with waggle came that… thing up there, Goku’d to high hell and devoid of any rugged sense of god-slaying machismo.
Keep reading for a few characters that began life outside of games, but have virtual evolutions all of their own…
Then: Logan’s starring role on the NES is easily one of the worst he’s ever endured. In addition to looking kinda puny, he crawls like a baby and can’t use his claws without losing health. Just awful.
Now: Like it or not, today Hugh Jackman’s face is synonymous with Wolverine. We’re honestly not too bothered by this, as at the very least he’s got the look down. The only other difference would the loss of Wolverine’s brown costume, which he ditched in the early ‘90s for his classic yellow suit. You can see him wearing it in Ultimate Alliance and Marvel vs Capcom 2.
Then: A crude representation of Disney’s world famous rodent. But, as we explained in the intro, his overall look is the same as it ever was.
Now: After years of living in animation limbo, Mickey’s back this fall in the same red shorts that made him a star. He’s perhaps a bit more emotive and mischievous than his prior games, but as far as looks go, it’s classic as ever.
Then: Developers were so eager to get Bats into a game that they didn’t even bother waiting for color! This stern-looking Batman could also stand to lose a few pounds. And maybe chill out.
Now: Perhaps the perfect representation we could ever hope for, game or otherwise. He’s tall, ripped and certainly intimidating, all while sticking closely to the established comic book designs. Can’t even imagine someone else doing it better.
And then there’s the most seamless past-to-present transition you ever could wish for…
Then: Simple. Perfect. He’s a blue robot dude who fights other robots. Maybe even robot elephants that shoot balls at you.
Now: Wonderfully the same. He’s seen changes through Mega Man X, Battle Network and all the rest, but the core Mega Man games, right up to this year’s Street Fighter X Mega Man, keep him just as he should be. The welcome exception to the rule.
Look how they've grown
Which characters have evolved the best in your eyes? Who’s due for a reboot, and who needs to get back to basics? Let us know.
Or join us for a more indepth look at The evolution of Ken and Ryu or The ever-changing sizes of Mario and Bowser.
[Changes / Updates: ]
11/22/12 – Added Fry’s Electronics
11/21/12 – Update 2: Added GameFly PC deals
11/21/12 – Added Microsoft Store sales & Updated Amazon deals
11/15/12 – Added leaked GameStop sales
baaaaaack. Black Friday makes its price-slashing, consumer-frenzied return to US stores
on November 23, giving Americans a reason to smash their piggy banks and everyone else a good excuse to skip work for a
cross-country shopping trip. Want to make the most of the year’s biggest
gaming deals? Stick with us, kid. Within our directory below, you’ll
find links to all the major gaming retailers and their individual
Black Friday deals.
Keep checking back for updates as we inch closer to the year’s largest
sales day. We’re going to add new sales every day leading up to the exciting day of sales and happiness and hopefully not being trampled by angry customers trying to grab the year’s biggest toys. Happy hunting!
- Table of Contents
- Best Buy
- Fry’s Electronics
- Microsoft Store
- Radio Shack
- Sam’s Club
- Toys ‘R Us
- Next »
Liar, liar, tank's on fire
With Black Ops II firmly in our clutches, we got to thinking this week about all the different ways in which war is presented in video games. It’s been the central preoccupation of the video gaming medium ever since we had graphics decent enough to simulate it, but we’ve made some missteps along the way.
Game developers are not historians, and they’ll always try to stretch the truth in order to make a product more entertaining. Here are 10 of the ways they’ve been fibbing to enhance gameplay over the years.
Lone wolves win wars
Gamers love feeling important–nobody wants to be a cog in the machine (unless they’re a COG in Gears of War but that’s different). They want to be Duke Nukem, blowing up aliens with one hand and wooing the women of Earth with the other. They want to be Master Chief, saving the world from aliens. They want to be the one that wins the war, so it comes as little surprise that military games tend to cast the player as a solitary war machine who manages to single-handedly defeat the Nazi menace.
It’s not that individual soldiers don’t exhibit extraordinary bravery. It’s that 100% of the time they’re backed up by a team of highly skilled experts who allow them to do what they do. It doesn’t matter who you are. Even if you’re a highly skilled Navy SEAL, if you go behind enemy lines without the aid of the rest of the US military then you are going to die. Fast.
Secret agents are the answer to everything
We’re not sure why US generals ever feel stressed about anything. After all, as video games have explained to us over the years, if anything goes wrong you can just send in Sam Fisher to kill everyone. Like, literally everyone, without any repercussions.
We’re not entirely sure how often the United States employs secret spies behind enemy lines, because otherwise it wouldn’t be secret, but we’re pretty sure it isn’t how Splinter Cell or Metal Gear Solid portray it. Either way, the better strategy for getting what we want is to sail a battlecruiser into someone’s port and say, “what’s it gonna be?”
Getting behind enemy lines is easy
In any World War 2 game you’ll inevitably be put into the shoes of a paratrooper and asked to jump behind enemy lines. These games pay lipservice to the danger by showing the anti-aircraft guns firing in the background, but rarely do they pose any actual danger. In reality, the life expectancy of a paratrooper was about twenty seconds back then, and had about a 50% casualty rate.
Not to mention the fact that there’s really no guarantee that where you land is going to be somewhere significant. To our knowledge there’s never been a game in which the main character landed in a wheat field, and spent three days hiking through no-man’s-land to get to the mission only to die immediately or be taken hostage and held in a cell for four years.
The enemy sucks at everything
If video games are a solid representation of the struggle our grandfathers and great grandfathers endured during World War 2 then we have no idea what took them so long to bring down Hitler. In video games, enemy soldiers tend to be pushovers, and you can kill 6-7 of them every time you raise your gun sights. How the German soldiers in video games even make it out of bed without dying is a mystery to us.
Whatever their evils, German soldiers were just as capable and well-equipped as the allied soldiers were–and the same goes for other enemy armies in games. Yet in video games, the player is able to out-shoot, out-drive, and out-strategize them at every turn.
Above: The difference between video game Nazis and Zombie Nazis is purely semantic.
Wars are really exciting
Perhaps the largest problem that modern video games face in their depictions of war is the simple fact that they make war seem entertaining. Without even mentioning the horrible mental scars that are inflicted on many US service members, there’s also the problem of crushing boredom. Most of World War I was spent with opposing armies dying of diseases as they sat in trenches for months on end–where’s that game?
Hopefully, one day the video game industry will come around and make a video game that’s entirely about going out on uneventful patrols, wondering what loved ones are up to, and whiling away the hours by playing video games on the base. It’ll be super meta, you’ll all love it.
Every soldier is John Wayne: President of the United States of Honor
All forms of entertainment love to distill war down to simple binary conflicts. In gaming we usually see evil war villains named Voldemort Bin Laden facing off against John Country, bastion of American Liberty and Freedom. The game usually ends with Sgt. Country firing a shot through the head of V.B.L. in slow motion, as an eagle soars by with the Declaration of Independence in its talons, the Blue Angels flying overhead, and Springsteen piped through the PA system.
Reality isn’t quite that simple. People who are fighting on any side of a conflict are rarely motivated by a desire to do evil (even if they end up doing evil things), unlike the many game characters that are trying to build nukes to rule the world just because. And as we’ve seen in the past, not everybody who is fighting on our side is an authority on morality either. The reality is that no nation has a monopoly on goodness.
Pictured Above: Voldemort Bin MechaHitler, Tsar of Kicking Children
International law is for greenhorns
It’s usually only about five minutes into a video game before some general tells his super soldier right-hand-man that he should do “what needs to be done” to complete the mission. After all, international regulations are for nancy politicians who don’t understand the realities of the battlefield. “You don’t exist, you’re a ghost,” right?
Maybe that’s true, but it’s also true that if you’re abandoning the rule of law then your cause is no better than the people you’re fighting against. In fact, you might just be more evil than they are. Laws exist for a reason, folks, and you don’t want to go down in history as a vicious war criminal even if your cause was just.
Above: Torture was outlawed in the Geneva Conventions, Snake.
Shooting humans with guns is easy
Video games probably wouldn’t be all that fun if every gun shot slightly differently, or if the wind could alter your shots, or if they included no auto-aim. Most games these days include subtle auto-aim features to help your targeting reticule stick to the thing you’re aiming at. Fortunately, that’s not how things work in the real world.
In reality, it’s quite difficult to shoot humans. We’re shaped kind of funny, and we can run pretty fast. In fact, a study of police officers (re: people trained with firearms and told to shoot people that do bad things) showed that accuracy decreases by a huge amount when the target is running. Since there’s no snap-to on real guns, most of the bullets spent would be flying around your enemies’ feet.
Battles win wars
This lie may have been true way back in the old days when giant sword-and-shield armies would mash themselves together then see who had the most people left alive after a few hours of bloodshed. However, in the modern age, even the largest battles are mostly skirmishes for position, spilling buckets of blood so that one army can have control of a bridge or a hill.
The real–incredibly boring–key to victory in 20th and 21st century warfare is your supply chain. As previously discussed, in large wars most soldiers are identical. What matters most is how well equipped they are. It doesn’t matter much if you have the larger force if your army is starving, has no winter clothes, and is low on ammunition.
War is right around the corner
There’s never a war when you need one, is there? And when there is a war it’s considered too taboo to base a game on. The solution for many military shooter devs is to set their games in the near future, when the world is, yet again, all about war.
Inevitably, the near future holds some awful event that will push us into war. In Ghost Recon Island Thunder Fidel Castro dies and upsets the balance of power. In Black Ops 2 China is pushed into an escalating trade war with the US. These games love to pick one small event and imagine that it will snowball into World War 9. The truth is that most of these types of matters get ironed out with diplomacy before blood is ever shed, at least in the modern day.
War… war never changes
We’re not saying that you shouldn’t enjoy war games. We’ll be blasting fools in Black Ops 2 every night this week. We’re just asking that you keep in mind that while our games are fun, they’re generally a completely inaccurate representation of what soldiers go through to bring victory to their people.
And if you’re interested in seeing what other lies video games have been perpetuating over the years then check out our feature on the lies that racing games and outer space.
By Andrew Groen
The indie boom has begun
With the current console generation starting its swan song and major industry players gearing up for next-gen hardware, it’s easy to be excited for gaming’s bright future. But aside from the usual triple-A projects and the promise of impending console reveals, we’d be remiss in forgetting the countless indie games in the works.
If 2012 was any indication, indie games are only going to have a bigger presence in the coming years. Here’s GamesRadar’s list of independent games to keep an eye out for in 2013–and the best part is, they won’t make your wallet weep for mercy. Without the risk-taking, novel concepts, and unpredictability of these games, the road ahead might look a lot more ordinary.
Developer: Blendo Games
If you’ve ever thought William Gibson’s prophetic masterpiece Neuromancer would make a great game, wait ’til you try Quadrilateral Cowboy. Inspired by a desire to move away from the more arcade-style “hacking” minigames that are all the rage in triple-A titles (connecting pipes in BioShock, for instance), creator Brendon Chung throws you into a more authentic 1980s cyberpunk universe. Portable hacking “deck” and 56k Telnet-powered laptop in hand, you’re able to manipulate the world around you by typing in lines of streamlined code. But even information thieves can get caught, so every job you pull is timed or tied to alarm systems, creating a trippy, evolving logic puzzle that’ll require a sharp mind and skilled reflexes. Sounds like the indie version of Watch Dogs, one of our 10 most anticipated games of 2013.
Just bought a Wii U and looking for something a little less mainstream? Two Brothers is a Zelda-inspired old-school RPG that looks like something you could play on an original Game Boy (if it supported 16-bit sprites, anyway). Aside from looking sharp, the limited color palette actually serves a narrative purpose: The game follows two brothers on a quest to discover and bring color into their Link’s Awakening-esque world. If you’re not into Nintendo’s new console, not to worry; the game’s release on PC and Xbox 360 should assure eager roleplayers that they won’t be left out in the cold.
Super Time Force
Developer: Capy Games
Super Time Force is modeled on one insane, interesting idea: playing co-op with yourself. Now, we’re not talking about, say, playing Portal with two controllers–the idea here is that each time your guy takes a hit, you respawn alongside the ghost of your last life, which handily is still just as good at taking out baddies until the moment of their death. If you can run ahead and save your old self from dying, then you create a checkpoint. The kicker is that the more times you die, the more lives you have helping you survive the current round, with a selection of character classes further adding to the strategic chaos. Sounds like some dimensional rip-riffic fun.
Developer: Facepalm Games
Metroidvania design gets a lot of love from the indie community, but The Swapper takes it one brainy step further by introducing existential and philosophical themes into its proceedings. While exploring an abandoned space station, you come across the titular Swapper, a gun that creates simultaneously controlled clones which prove useful for solving puzzles. Where it gets a little morally gray is that every puzzle requires sacrificing at least one clone, and, even more ominously, you can beam your consciousness from one to the next. It brings up the classic philosophical argument over cloning: Do you lose your true self in the process? Unsurprisingly, Duncan Jones’ Moon is cited as a prominent inspiration for this sci-fi adventure–and we can’t wait to find out more.
Developer: Chris Hecker
SpyParty may have been a blip on the indie radar for some time now, but with its new Pixar-esque art style, it may finally see the light of day soon. For the uninitiated, SpyParty is a two-player game of cat and mouse, between a sniper and the spy who has infiltrated a posh high-society cocktail party. The game’s psychic warfare comes from the anonymity of the spy: While attempting to accomplish a series of covert objectives, the undercover agent must keep from exposing themselves to the sniper by convincingly interacting with a number of AI party guests. Meanwhile, the sniper has only one shot to guess the spy’s identity, by recognizing the moves that only a human player would make. We’re definitely on the guest list for this one.
Developer: Thekla, Inc.
Jonathan Blow’s The Witness is not an easy game to describe. It’s a first-person exploratory puzzle game of sorts; there are the obvious comparisons to Myst, and there’s more than a hint of the grandiose intellectualism seen in Blow’s own Braid. At its most basic, The Witness seems to be a game about exploring a deserted island, by way of solving panels of line-based puzzles that change based on various environmental factors. The sense of discovery comes from having to adapt to new brain-teasing complications, but what Blow says is the heart of the game–something Blow has staked all of his Braid earnings on, in fact–has yet to be revealed. Hopefully we’ll know more sometime next year.
Developer: Lunar Games
While first-person dread exploration seems all the rage among independent developers, we’ll continue having no problems with it if Routine plays anything like it looks, . Set in an ‘80s vision of the future, Routine’s base of investigation is a lunar space station, where you have to find out what’s happened to everyone. This is a horror game that wears its atmosphere on its sleeve: Combat will be a last resort only, trading intensity for the anxiety of randomized environmental hazards, a lack of HUD, and–our personal favorite–permadeath. The fear of real mortality alone should be enough to make this one of 2013’s scariest survival games.
Developer: Alexander Bruce
If M.C. Escher had been a game designer, he might have made a game like Antichamber. This is a puzzle game that plays with your perceptions and spatial awareness; it’s so surreal that to describe it is a challenge. Maybe it’s easiest by example: Picture walking down a stark, white hallway, having just moved on from a previous puzzle. At the end of the hall are two colored staircases leading up and down, respectively; take either one and it illogically loops you around a corridor and back to the hallway where you started. What do you do? After experimenting a bit with no luck, you try backtracking down the hallway. Then voila–you’re in the next area. And that’s one of the game’s easier puzzles.
State of Decay
Developer: Undead Labs
State of Decay may be one of the most ambitious open-world games ever. Set in an undead post-apocalypse, you can choose to play from any number of random survivors (who become autonomous NPCs when you’re not playing them). Each wayward soul comes with its own set of skills, ranging from fixing cars and boosting survival morale to more traditional forms of combat or scavenging abilities. On top of that, your entire tribe can be lost forever to permadeath, meaning the backstories of its members might remain a mystery should their faces get chewed off ten minutes into the game. The concept driving the game is facing the long-term factors that would be needed to rebuild civilization. Put simply, Decay’s depth looks astounding.
Developer: Introversion Software
Possibly one of the most bizarre ideas for a simulation design ever, Prison Architect lets you design, run, and maintain a prison. At first, the process of keeping your inmates content is relatively easy: Can they eat and sleep? But it can gradually become more and more complex as you choose whether or not you want to run the yard with a warden’s iron fist or a more correctional alternative. And if your skills with scheduling and resource management (two key components, given the prisoners’ inability to leave their cells) aren’t up to snuff, you may just find yourself with a riot on your hands. This darkly funny sim is currently in alpha, but the full release should hit sometime next year.
Sir, You Are Being Hunted
Developer: Big Robot
A goofy “tweedpunk” twist on The Most Dangerous Game, this survival title pits you against stiff-upper-lip aristocratic robots who are hunting you for sport. Your objective is simple: Sneak around and scavenge for supplies to escape your arcane archipelago prison. In the meantime, whatever materials you find will be used as weapons to battle your metallic predators. Given its non-linear design, complex AI, and peculiar subject matter, this should make for one worthwhile hunting party next year.
Developer: Red Barrels
Outlast, a new survival horror title from a group of former Ubisoft developers, seems to blend Mirror’s Edge and Condemned into one terrifying and thrilling experience. Though little is known about the game’s plot for the moment, it hardly matters. Outlast is designed to scare the crap out of you, and the idea of being chased by inhuman monsters in a dark, allegedly abandoned asylum–with the emphasis on fleeing for your life rather than combat–certainly seems to fit the bill. Check out the trailer here and try your best to maintain bladder control. Hopefully you’ll succeed where we failed.
Republique is something that feels old-school and modern at the same time. This stealth-survival adventure uses slanted camera angles and pre-rendered backgrounds, tasking you as an indirect guide for the heroine, Hope. The premise is that Hope has smuggled a contraband mobile phone with her and calls you–on the side of the totalitarian governmental forces–for help. Republique is as much about censorship and voyeurism as it is keeping Hope alive. With no killing and a minimal inventory, former Kojima Productions developer Ryan Payton seems to be taking an entirely different approach to stealth than Metal Gear.
Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
Having already created what’s arguably one of the scariest games ever in Amnesia: The Dark Descent, Frictional Games is letting Dear Esther alums thechineseroom take over the reigns for this terrifying-looking (and sounding) sequel. We don’t really know that much about the plot details, but from the trailer we can surmise that this psychological first-person horror game probably takes place in Victorian London. It also features some of the most unsettling sound design we’ve encountered in some time, and a fetish for rust-colored machinery. But just what is a machine for pigs? We’re not sure we want to know.
What if Game Dev Story developer Kairosoft made a Star Trek-esque space simulation? That’s more or less what the long awaited Star Command does, placing you in control of your own starship in a Federation-style universe. Like Game Dev Story, you can customize your crew based on various skills (science, tactical, and engineering), which will help you earn currency to spend on various ship-related upgrades and exploration. Of course, seeking out new life and new civilizations sometimes means getting into intergalactic scuffles with the locals, so ship-to-ship and crew-based combat may also occur, depending on how you choose to handle yourself. Faster Than Light has us chomping at the bit for more space quests, so you better believe that we’ll boldly go on iOS and PC early next year.
Developer: Toasty Games
Parallax looks like a cross between Antichamber and Portal: It’s a visually unique, monochromatic first-person puzzler that toys with spatial relationships through two dimensions. Essentially, you need to bounce back and forth between black and white dimensional doors to bypass timed-switch puzzles of increasing complexity. But the real reason you’ll want to play this one is the stunning aesthetic. The rich, thick lines of the visuals will make your monitor pop, especially when changing in real time. Artsy types are guaranteed to love this one.
For all the stabs (pun somewhat intended) taken at adapting Greek mythology into gaming, Apotheon is the first to take advantage of the striking art style seen on the ancient Greeks’ black-figure pottery. It’s quite a sight to see: In motion, the visuals for this 2D platformer/RPG look like the Corinthian urn decorations brought to life. Alientrap hasn’t said too much about the gameplay yet, but if the idea of an open-world Mount Olympus sounds like your cup of tea (or you’re a fan of Housemarque’s Outland), then this is probably one title you’ll want to watch for. We certainly will be.
Developer: Tribute Games
If you liked Scott Pilgrim and you’ve got a spot spot for Contra and Metal Slug-style shooters, it’s time to get excited for Mercenary Kings. As if pixel artist Paul Robertson teaming again with a number of former Scott Pilgrim developers wasn’t enough, Mercenary Kings also has an interesting scavenging system, letting you create virtually limitless combinations of weaponry with which to enact mayhem. With a successfully funded Kickstarter and tongue firmly in cheek, this bizarre-looking arcade blastfest can’t get here fast enough. But don’t take our word for it–watch the trailer.
Developer: Pocketwatch Games
Fans of classic crime capers like Jean-Pierre Melville’s Le Cercle Rouge (or, for a less European flavor, Ocean’s 11) would do well to watch for the long-gestating Monaco. This is a retro top-down multiplayer heist game, that has you working together with your teammates in various class-based roles. Each co-op job is visualized as an eagle-eye architectural plan, marked with doors, environmental details, and plenty of short-sighted guards. Based on the class you pick, your task will be different–just like in the movies. Got a thing against locked doors? Play as a Locksmith. Security bugging you? Take over the system as a Hacker. Rather keep an eye on your friends? The Lookout’s your man. Your move, ace.
Developer: The Fullbright Company
Gone Home is a rarity even in an indie gamespace: It has no combat, no open world, no “traditional” game mechanics whatsoever. Instead, it tells the story of a girl who has come home from a year in Amsterdam to discover her manor home empty. Where you come in is trying to figure out exactly what happened. The year is 1995, and Gone Home is frozen in the era. As you explore the estate filled with an impressive degree of environmental details (such as notes written by your sister), the technological limitations of the time period are apparent. With cellphones and the internet still not a reality for most people, you have no choice but to figure out the missing pieces of narrative on your own.
Surely we couldn’t have an must-watch indie game list without including Notch, right? Now that Minecraft has become an autonomous entity, Markus Persson is focusing his efforts on his next big project, the oddly titled sci-fi project 0x10c. Like Minecraft, the gameplay is emergent, this time revolving around the issues that might occur in the middle of navigating uncharted space. While you can pilot your own ship and fight with other players, Notch has gone on record saying that 0x10c is more about disasters. The universe is on the brink of oblivion, thanks to black holes, and once again it appears that crafting and maintain will play a big role in keeping your ship intact. Hopefully we’ll get a chance to try it ourselves in 2013.
Those are the indie titles that we’re most excited for in 2013, but lord knows that many more are out there that we couldn’t fit on this list. You can best believe we’ll jump on screens for Hotline Miami 2 like rabid animals, and the returns on the many Kickstarters we helped fund is sure to bear fruit. Which upcoming indie games have you the most excited?
For more old-fashioned indie goodness, check out Steam Greenlight – 20 games that need your votes and What is indie? Some top independent devs tell us.
By Steve Haske
Fighting games are rife with fashion faux-pas, be they the work of eccentric developers, experimental players, or oddball DLC additions. And while studios have been planting alternate costumes in their fighting games for decades, the recent release of Wii U’s Tekken Tag Tournament 2 reminded us just how ‘out-there’ those secondary choices can be.
In the mood for something weird? Suit up as we enter the arena of odd in search of the most ridiculous alternate costumes.
Alex the Peachosaurus (and others)
As seen in: Tekken Tag Tournament 2: Wii U Edition
Where better to start our exposé of fighting costume tomfoolery than with Wii U’s version of Tekken Tag Tournament 2–the inspiration for this feature and one of the more extreme examples of Nintendo branding gone wind. Like other franchises that wash ashore on a Big N console, Tekken Tag Tournament 2′s roster was Nintendo-fied for its Wii U appearance; only instead of including the odd Nintendo character or reference, the game has a number of Nintendo themed costumes and objects for its already ridiculous cast. If you ever wanted to see a panda dressed as Toad or what Mario would look like on steroids, this is your chance. It’s tough choosing just one alternative costume that demonstrates this cross-branding madness, but in the end it’s Alex the dinosaur/lizard dressed as Princess Peach that makes us wonder what Namco Bandai was smoking.
As seen in: Dead or Alive 5
We could have easily populated this entire slideshow with mind-boggling costumes from Dead or Alive 5. From the umpteen million swimsuits, bunny outfits, safari shirts, and clown costumes, it’s one of the easiest targets in the genre. So why zero in on Zack’s metallic jumpsuit? Just look at that thing–it’s crazy even by DoA standards (which is a feat onto itself). Besides looking like the offspring of a three-way between Iron Man, the Silver Surfer, and a Telletubby, it’s as if Team Ninja had an internal bet on who could haunt players’ dreams the most. Zack has sported some “out-there” looks before, but we’re sure even he wouldn’t want to be caught dead and/or alive in this outfit outside the arena.
Sexy Panda Chun-Li
As seen in: Street Fighter X Tekken
Street Fighter X Tekken became a cosplaying bonanza when DLC made it possible to dress up characters as their opponents and allies. One of the strangest combinations to come out of this wardrobe swap was Chun-Li’s busty Panda suit. Furry connections aside, seeing Street Fighter’s iconic leading lady reduced to a skanky WWE mascot had us wondering if Chun-Li’s agent read her full contract before booking her in this fighting crossover. The DLC pack describes this alternative costume as “adorable”, but we think “creepy” and “sexually confusing” are more appropriate descriptors.
Leopard Skin Snake
As seen in: Super Smash Bros. Brawl
We were hoping for a way to sneak a Super Smash Bros. reference in here, and thankfully Solid Snake’s alternate wardrobe for Wii’s Super Smash Bros. Brawl gave us more than a few ideas. Thing is, while we’re willing to buy that Snake may have to sneak through the grass, snow, some digital matrix world, and maybe even a marble statue exhibit, we’re not sure why he’d need his Leopard Skin camo. It’s certainly not a flattering look, for one; and last we checked it was a generally horrible idea to blend in with leopards in the first place. Granted, we could be confusing leopard prints for cheetah prints, but our doubts still apply.
Flesh Pits Mileena
As seen in: Mortal Kombat (2011)
There’s no shortage of near-naked costumes in fighting games, but there’s something about Mileena’s Flesh Pits outfit from Mortal Kombat that overclocks our absurb-o-meter. Never mind that it makes her look like the offspring of the Crypt Keeper and a Barbie doll, but this clone-gone-wild’s alternate look is one Teleport Kick away from a universe-shattering wardrobe malfunction. We can only imagine that the players who went through the trouble of scaling Mortal Kombat’s Challenge Tower to unlock this costume must have wondered what happened to the rest of it when Mileena stepped into the arena.
Cowboy Ken Masters
As seen in: Super Street Fighter IV
Meet Ken Masters: Martial arts enthusiast, loving husband, doting father and… hold up… low rent male dancer? Judging by Mr. Master’s alternate garb in Super Street Fighter IV, we’re guessing the extent of Capcom’s research into cowboys started and ended at the nearest airport strip club. Whatever the inspiration behind Ken’s dollar-shop cowboy costume was, with that tight fitting t-shirt, trendy vest, and frilly tassels, we wouldn’t be surprised to see some dollars bills sticking out of that leather groin… thing… or whatever it is. We know there’s a ton of strange costumes for Super Street Fighter IV, but the fact Stetson actually made a real-life hat based on this design gives Ken Masters’ cowboy alternate the ridiculous edge.
As seen in: Marvel Vs. Capcom 3
Proof that being ridiculous isn’t necessarily a bad thing comes this alternate costume for Deadpool in Marvel Vs. Capcom 3. Based on Deadpool’s tongue-in-cheek homage to his superhero frenemy Cable, its over-the-top design fits right in with the assassin’s deranged M.O. Our only complaint is it could use a few more pouches.
Cable-Pool is just one of the many Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 DLC costumes that bring a little humor to the mashup’s roster. Runners-up include Frank West’s Mega Man Armor, She Hulk’s courtroom robe, and Sir Arthur’s zombie makeover. See more in Marvel vs Capcom 3′s Alternate Costume Showcase.
As seen in: Rumble Roses XX
The Rumble Roses series is ground zero for impractical costumes. Developers Yuki Future Media Creators and Konami even made the chore of collecting titillating outfits a core element of each game, awarding each victory or accomplishment with another barely-there outfit. In our extensive research (we do it all for you), we poured through hundreds of Rumble Roses images to select the one that best exemplifies Rumble Roses’ levels of lunacy. In the end, Dixie Clemets’ Sgt. Clemets attire won out for its ability to make such a “wtf?” impression with so little. The studded suspenders, the hat, the leather braces… it’s almost like Rumble Roses is a parody of porn parodies.
Frilly Gold Ivy
As seen in: SoulCalibur V
On the topic of impractical costumes for female fighters, here’s Ivy’s racy number for SoulCalibur V. We’ve made peace with Namco’s obsession with Ivy’s “assets” some time ago, but the sexy Christmas tree look leaves us more confused than arous—er, intrigued. This alternative get-up was virtually stitched by Bayonetta designer Mari Shimazaki as part of a development crossover, and version of this gold and frilly get-up even appeared Namco’s teaser ad, but you’d be forgiven for being distracted by the image’s massive… release date. We could have picked a handful of other Ivy costumes to list in a feature on ridiculous outfits, but in the spirit of the holidays we thought this would do the trick. Happy holidays… we guess?
Safari Guide Blanka
As seen in: Street Fighter IV
Alas, poor Blanka. As if being separated from his mother at birth, crash landing in the jungle, and transforming into a B-grade Hulk wasn’t enough to drive this brute to therapy, Capcom had to go and cram him into an ill-fitting safari guide costume to boot. Aside from looking downright silly, the whole concept of dressing Blanka in a constant reminder of his tortured upbringing seems a bit cruel. After all, we’re sure the last thing poor Jimmy wants to think about in a fight is how he ate mutated eels and took mud baths as a kid. All in all, we may dig the “tour-guide-gone-postal” look, but it’s still worthy of an eye-roll.
Big Daddie Plushy
As seen in: PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale
Big Daddy’s Plushy look for PlayStation All-Stars is as ridiculous as dressing a pitbull in a princess dress (that one’s free, Tekken). It just messes with our heads. After all, BioShock’s lumbering bodyguards are meant to be feared, not invited to tea parties. In a game with manly men, gods of war, and satanic clowns, Big Daddy’s squishy appearance stands out like a sore thumb. But then, there’s also a fat princess, a cartoon rapper, and that kid from Ape Escape, so it’s not like he’s the only one that looks like he’d want a group hug after the match.
To be clear, while we may find the treatment of Big Daddy ludicrous, the look is fairly cool–especially when you consider SuperBot Entertainment drew its inspiration from the Big Daddy doll in the haunting BioShock 2: Sea of Dreams teaser trailer.
Everyone in Bloody Roar
As seen in: Bloody Roar Extreme
When you think about it, the Bloody Roar series is a game designed solely around the concept of alternate costumes. Each character has the ability to transform into their half-man half-animal Zoanthrope, adding new strengths and abilities to their smackdown repertoires. These optional costumes are more than just show, but are an integral element to success. From chameleons to chimeras, tigers to moles, and bats to elephants, 2002′s Bloody Roar Extreme sports a culmination of the series imaginative roster—some of which are unintentionally silly to watch.
We know what you’re thinking. Did we just shoehorn in Bloody Rage so we could post an image of a wolf beating on an insect? Yes, yes we did. You’re welcome.
As seen in: Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown Version D
It took Sega four versions of its Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown entry to perfect the art of costume absurdity. It came close with a slew of costume DLC for its not-so-final original version and the ton of character customization options which followed, but it wasn’t until Japanese version D that the devs rolled out these fine examples of odd. Seriously, Sega, what’s your beef with Kage? We know the anorexic stormtrooper outfit on the right was intended to make this ninja even more badass, but all it really does is makes us want to force-feed him a sandwich. As for the busty cyborg on the left, that just looks uncomfortable.
Deku's Formal Wear
As seen in: Fighters Megamix
Long before Nintendo popularized the “kitchen sink” approach to mascot fighting games in Super Smash Bros., Sega experimented with its own all-star title in Fighters Megamix for the Sega Saturn. In it, players could unlock Deku, a scrappy Mexican green bean who fought with a bird underneath his sombrero. His (it is a he, right?) alternate costume included a logo’d hat which vibrated upon defeat. Granted, this alternative costume isn’t crazy by itself, but the fact there existed multiple versions of a killer Mexican legume in any game makes Mr. Deku worthy of an entry. Mind you, other secret characters included developer AM2′s Palm Tree, the Hornet Car from Daytona USA, a polar bear, and a dude named Mr. Meat… so you can understand why we had a hard time deciding which of the Fighters Megamix cast to pick on.
Sexy Squid Anna
As seen in: Tekken Tag Tournament 2
Thanks to this sexy squid design for Tekken’s Anna Williams, we’re never going to be able to look at seafood the same way. And you know what? We’re ok with that. This alluring calamari-themed outfit was created by manga illustrator Ito Oogure (aka Oh! great of Air Gear and Tenjho Tenge fame) as part of collaboration between the Project Tekken team and its manga industry friends to dream up stylish bonus costumes for the original Tekken Tag Tournament 2. As far as hyper-sexualized squid costumes go, Ito’s design is actual quite striking and one of the most unique extra costumes in the entire game. That said, we shudder to think of all the tentacle-themed fan art and fiction it’s inspired since its release. NSFW possibilities notwithstanding, Anna’s sexy squid outfit is one of the most bizarrely intriguing looks we’ve encountered yet. Meaning: We’re baffled, but we’re not about to throw it back.
Someone call wardrobe!
Not ridiculous enough for you? Think you can top our list? We narrowed our selections to one character per game, leaving the ring open for you to climb in and add your suggestions to the comments below. Go on, give us your best shot…
Need to know more about odd extras in gaming? Read our list of the strangest Nintendo cameos of all time and the weirdest spin-offs in gaming history.
These days, nailing down what, exactly, “indie” means is an increasingly difficult question. Is it team size issue? What if it has a major publisher? Or maybe its a ineffable mentality? We’ll have more to say on that topic next week, but for now, we’re not going to let semantics get in the way. Check out the video below for GamesRadar’s 2012 Indie of the Year nominations.
Want to know which indie takes this year’s title? The winner will be revealed on December 12!
The difference a year can make
It can’t much be said for the Wii, but the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 underwent radical changes in the years following their respective launches. Motion controls and hardware redesigns were chief among these, obviously, but there were also a number of under-the-hood tweaks that transformed the consoles from mere gaming platforms to holistic entertainment hubs.
Our money’s on Nintendo following a similar course with the Wii U. Now that we’ve had the system for a couple of weeks, here’s a rundown of what we feel Nintendo should get into its latest box by next November.
Tom: Bring on on-demand game streaming
In my eyes, what’s going to make next-gen Next Gen is on-demand game streaming. Yes, the space has been problematic thus far, what with the flame-out of industry champion OnLive. But the fact remains that once the country’s infrastructure catches up with technology (hello Google Fiber!), game streaming will be the most economical and efficient way to get new games into gamers’ households. Good business = thing that will happen.
Nintendo needs to get on-demand game streaming into the Wii U within the first year largely as a matter of appearances. Already, the common conception of the Wii U is that it will be underpowered compared to the Next Xbox and PlayStation 4. And since we know that Sony for one will be pursuing game streaming (it bought OnLive competitor Gaikai), and we think both the Wii U’s competitors will be announced sometime next year, we’re pretty sure it’s vitally important Nintendo get out in front of the impending game-streaming revolution, lest it appear even further behind on the tech front.
Ryan: More unique local multiplayer offerings
I was pretty indifferent about the Wii U for the longest time–and then I played Nintendo Land. No, that game didn’t suddenly convince me that Nintendo’s new console is “the future,” and no, I didn’t go drop $300 just so I could play Animal Crossing: Sweet Day for 400 hours straight (because that game is GOTY). But I was impressed that the GamePad allowed for such a wildly different multiplayer experience, in that whoever held the pad had a wholly unique screen that no one else could see.
The Wii U will probably be my go-to machine for local multiplayer, and I’m ecstatic about what the GamePad will allow multiplayer games to do. The most obvious use is allowing two players to play local co-op without having to share a screen a la Call of Duty: Black Ops II. But I’m excited about getting more games like Nintendo Land that allow for tense scenarios without either player being aware of what the other is doing. In the meantime, I’ll head back to Sweet Day for another 400 hours of panic-inducing fun.
Cooper: Fix up the dashboard
I’m sure my colleagues will talk about the Wii U’s lack of games–and rightfully so, this thing is in dire need of more Nintendo titles–but after spending hours playing with the system, my hopes are for something less tangible. The Wii U’s UI and dashboard are beautiful, perfecting the minimalist design that makes Apple products so alluring, but they fall down when it comes to basic usability. I really want Nintendo to update the home screen in order to make it more user-friendly, instead of letting it rot as the beautiful mess it is right now.
Basic acts, like finding your friend list, is needlessly complicated, there seem to be strange, arbitrary limitations that simply shouldn’t exist (why limit us to 100 friends? Why does the Miiverse limit images to black and white, and a weird, narrow size?). Oh, and hurry up and release TVii already. That’s going to be the thing that keeps my Wii U on almost indefinitely, and I can’t believe it missed launch.
Matt: Games, games, games
Completely selfish and thinking about no one but myself again, but what I want from Wii U in the next year is, simply, a selection of games I actually want to play. It’s a little thing, but it is fairly fundamental to my enjoyment of any games console.
Right now, I’m looking through Nintendo’s launch window and the only confirmed games I’m seeing which appeal to my personal tastes are Pikmin 3 and Platinum Games’ The Wonderful 101. Besides that, there’s… nothing. I don’t want to seem ungrateful, but a few more attractive games in the Wii U release schedule would be lovely thanks very much Nintendo.
Henry: Hurry up, 3D Super Mario
Look Nintendo, I really appreciate that–for the first time since Super Mario 64–you launched a system with a brand new Mario game. And I truly believe that New Super Mario Bros. U is the best 2D Mario game since the SNES days. All that being said, that’s not the Mario game the Wii U needs at this time. No, what will really prove to the hardcore crowd that Nintendo still has it is a true successor to Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario 3D Land. And that game has got to be out before the Wii U turns a year old.
The dedicated team of developers behind Galaxy and 3D Land have consistently proven to be among the most creative and able people working for Nintendo. And when they’re given a system with as much potential as the Wii U, I don’t doubt that they’ll have amazing results. I trust they’ll find dozens of inventive uses for the GamePad in Mario’s next adventure, but they can’t keep players waiting too long. If Microsoft or Sony launch a new system next year, Nintendo will have to have a killer app like a new 3D Mario to stay competitive, or they should just give up now.
Lucas: Smash Bros. or bust
Super Smash Bros. Brawl was the sole reason I bought a Wii, so the next installment in Nintendo’s smash-up is likely the only thing that can make me take the plunge on a Wii U. It’s funny–no single Nintendo franchise can get me out-and-out stoked these days, but when playable characters get revealed piecemeal leading up to the release of the new fighter, I get insanely hyped. The existing Smash Bros. games were always cornerstones in my old college dorms, and their unrivaled fun factor is a near-endless source of entertainment. Something about seeing those frantic four-player bouts, and waiting impatiently for my turn to play, is enough to make me put money down for an entire console.
Super Smash Bros. Melee saw a North American release a mere month after the GameCube hit retailers, so I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect the still-unnamed Wii U entry sooner rather than later. The involvement of Namco Bandai won’t mean much until we’ve seen some actual gameplay–but once we get some in-game footage and character teases to pore over, I’m sure I’ll be excited all over again.
Lorenzo: Update Virtual Console with upscaled Gamecube titles
I know that the Wii’s Virtual Console basically fell flat in the twilight years of the system (mostly due to lack of updates), but to me the ability to play the old Nintendo games would be a huge draw to Nintendo’s Wii U. Imagine playing classic 8-bit games like Super Mario Bros. 3 and Punch-Out!! from the GamePad screen, sitting down with Mario RPG once again, or playing GameCube titles in high definition.
The Wii’s online platform accommodated games from the Nintendo 64, so why not move to the next classic console in line and shove in some of the ol’ purple cube’s games on the Wii U. All Nintendo has to do is guarantee that next year I will be playing The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker in crystal clear HD, and I would be completely sold on the system. The Virtual Console could be great this time. Come on, Nintendo. Let’s see it.
Sophia: Redesign the eShop
It’s great to see the Wii U launch with a healthy bundle of games on the eShop and over the course of the next year I’d love to see more. I am starting to spend a lot more time browsing through Xbox Live Arcade games and PlayStation Network games–more so than any other online portal–so I’m sure I’d likely do the same as long as Nintendo gives me some incentive to do so.
However, right now, the eShop is a bit of a mess (why, for instance, is Nintendo showing me games that aren’t even out?), and I’d like to see a total redesign to make the process of buying games more intuitive. It did take a few tries for the competition to get their virtual shops sorted and while I’d still rather see excellent games than no games, I also want to be able to find these games easily.
Dave: Resolve its identity crisis
The main thing I want from the Wii U is a real sense of identity. While I wouldn’t say the Wii U is exactly in crisis right now, I do feel like it’s sitting in a weird commercial limbo. There’s the shambolic initial reveal at E3 2011; the weak, unclear marketing (in the UK at least); the unconvincing tonal mish-mash of its launch line-up; and the various mixed messages over target audience. I’m still not entirely sure who Nintendo is aiming this machine at or where it wants it to end up.
There’s immense potential in the Wii U. But right now it seems to confuse the casual audience while lacking any must-have appeal for the loyalist fanbase Nintendo claims to be catering to. Nintendo needs to decide what the Wii U stands for, and it needs to cultivate a few stellar titles (both in-house and with third-parties) that make that clear. That’s its job for the next year.
What do you want?
All of that seems totally reasonable to us. Granted, we aren’t the ones responsible for making it happen, but the brain-work is the hard part, right? So what about you all? What features would you like to see added to the Wii U, posthaste? Let us know in the comments.
And if you’re looking for more Wii U-related musings to help justify your $300 purchase, check out our Wii U review or The Wii U launch awards.