- Ben Silverman at Plugged In18 hrs ago
Notice a few empty seats in the office today? Bizarre flu suddenly strike your co-workers? Don’t start mainlining vitamin C -- blame it instead on the biggest video game day of 2014 so far.
Two monstrous games hit stores Tuesday: giant mech shooter Titanfall and crushingly challenging RPG Dark Souls II. And that’s not all. Wildly addictive card game Hearthstone exits beta, ridiculously fun multiplayer hit Towerfall arrives on the PS4, and Mario’s old pal Yoshi returns to action in his own 3DS game. Can you really blame gamers for taking the day off?
Here’s how the busiest week of the year is stacking up.
Titanfall (Xbox One, PC, Xbox 360 coming soon)
What more can we say about this addictive man-meets-mech online shooter that we didn’t say in our review? Plenty, actually. But it's probably easier if you just go read it.
- Chris Morris at Plugged In21 hrs ago
Flappy Bird may fly again.
Roughly one month after deleting the game from the Apple and Android app stores, Dong Nguyen says he’s having second thoughts. But if the game comes back, it’ll be a bit different.
Flappy Bird, of course, became a breakout hit earlier this year, frustrating players to no end as they attempted to guide a ridiculous 8-bit bird through a series of pipes that looked a lot like something out of Super Mario Bros. But at the height of its popularity, Nguyen yanked the game, later saying he was concerned that people were playing the game too much and becoming obsessed with it to the point of ignoring other parts of their lives.
Now, in a talk with Rolling Stone, he says he’s “considering” bringing the game back to the app stores. The new version, though, would come with a warning asking players -- heck, pleading with them -- to take a break occasionally.
- Ben Silverman at Plugged In1 day ago
There’s a lot riding on the sturdy legs of Titanfall, the man-vs-mech online shooter hitting stores this week.
Published by EA and developed by former Call of Duty vets at Respawn Entertainment, it’s the biggest release thus far for the Xbox One, and while it’s not technically an exclusive -- it’s also coming to the Xbox 360 and PC -- it won’t be appearing at all on the rival PlayStation 4 or Wii U. Without a Halo or Gears of War game out yet for their fledgling next-gen system and with sales lagging behind Sony’s flagship console, Microsoft is searching for a system-seller.
Well, they’ve found it. Like any self-respecting giant robot, Titanfall saves the day, reinvigorating the stale first-person shooter genre with a potent combination of finely-tuned gameplay and riotous wish fulfillment.
Titanfall drops players into the futuristic Frontier, a collection of deep space planets that serves as the battleground for two warring political factions. To make their point, each side employs Titans, giant mechs pulled straight out of an anime fantasy. And you get to control them.
- Chris Morris at Plugged In1 day ago
The game might be named after him, but there was no way I was going to let Mario win this race. After all, this is apparently still the year of Luigi.
That sort of competitive thinking generally goes through my mind whenever I play Mario Kart on a couch, but when you’re sitting in a real Kart with real speed boosts and obstacles, it’s only amplified.
To cross-promote Mario Kart 8 and a new Platinum line of natural gas-based motor oils, Nintendo and Penzoil partnered up to turn Mario Kart into a real-world racer at South by Southwest this year. And while it was a bit different than what you see onscreen -- safety precautions sadly nixed any hope of actually shooting a turtle shell at opponents or zapping them with lightning -- it was closer than you might think.
Races were run in heats of four, with players standing in for Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach and Bowser. Competitors, over the course of four laps, tried to outrun each other by using power-ups scattered around the track.
- Ben Silverman at Plugged In5 days ago
It took a while, but Lara Croft’s rebirth is finally paying off.
Publisher Square Enix has announced that cumulative sales of last year’s acclaimed reboot of the iconic series are closing in on 6 million units. The company says that puts the game on track to become the best-selling Lara Croft game of all time.
That’s quite a change from last May, when Square Enix said it was “disappointed” by sales of the game despite it selling 3.4 million copies in its first month. The company had hoped to hit 6 million out of the gate -- an absurdly high goal for a series that had not had a critical hit for several installments.
Sales of the game, in fact, were a factor in the ouster of Square Enix president and CEO Yoichi Wada.
Now, says head of product development Darrell Gallagher, Tomb Raider has “exceeded profit expectations and continues to make significant contributions to our overall financial performance.”
- Chris Morris at Plugged In5 days ago
Disney’s oft-troubled video game and internet division is laying off approximately 25% of its workforce.
Disney Interactive announced plans to cut 700 jobs on Thursday. The move comes as part of yet another restructuring, which will (once again) shift its focus to mobile games.
Game output at the division will be cut in half as a result of the moves.
"Disney Interactive has consolidated several lines of business as part of an effort to focus the division on a streamlined suite of high quality digital products," a Disney spokesperson said in a statement. "As a result of this restructuring, we have undergone a reduction in workforce. These actions were difficult but necessary given our long-term strategy focused on sustainable profitability and innovation."
- Chris Morris at Plugged In6 days ago
Roughly three months after the Xbox One hit stores, its price was cut.
On February 24, Microsoft lowered the retail price of its next generation console in the UK from £429.99 to £399.99, the equivalent of a $50 price cut in the U.S. At the same time, the company unveiled an upcoming Titanfall bundle in both regions, which includes a copy of the system's most anticipated game at no additional charge.
The bundling of such a big game raised some eyebrows, but the UK cut really set gaming forums ablaze. Was Microsoft acknowledging weakness in Xbox One sales? Was it "pulling a Nintendo" to remain competitive? Was the company throwing in the towel?
Not at all, but it’s clear the company -- and its flagship console -- have their work cut out for them.
- Ben Silverman at Plugged In6 days ago
Flappy Bird may have officially flown the coop, but it left plenty of eggs behind. And they’re hatching like crazy.
According to Pocket Gamer, a new Flappy Bird clone appears on the App Store every 24 minutes. That’s 2.5 clones per hour, or about 60 per day.
Dong Nguyen, the developer of the original touchscreen-tapping wunderkind, took his immensely popular game offline last month because he thought the game was proving to be “too addictive,” a problem countless game designers would love to experience.
And indeed, they’re trying to do just that by shamelessly ripping off his one-trick flying pony. Between February 28 and March 3, notes Pocket Gamer, a stunning 241 new Flappy Bird clones were made available for download.
- Wired: Game|Life at Plugged In6 days ago
By Ryan Rigney, Wired: Game|Life
You don’t need to be a programmer to break into the App Store’s top charts. All you need is 100 bucks and a free afternoon.
You’ll need a halfway decent idea, of course, but once you’ve got that nailed down, you can easily buy the source code, get an online tutorial on how to use it and within hours have a game ready to play. That explains why 95 of the 300 or so new apps released on Apple’s iTunes store one day last week were riffs on at the height of its popularity. There’s Flappy Wings , Splashy Fish , even Crappy Bird.
For some reason, a surprising number of these apps, like Flying Cyrus , Cyrus Flyer and Jumping Miley , feature the disembodied head of pop star Miley Cyrus. One of the most downloaded of this unlikely sub-genre is Flappy Miley Wrecking Ball Pro , created by Gregory Storm. He uploaded the game on February 12, just two days after Flappy Bird flew the coop. Never mind that he’d only heard of Flappy Bird the week before. “I had no idea what a Flappy Bird was,” Storm said. “Never played it. Hadn’t seen it.”
- Chris Morris at Plugged In7 days ago
If you ever meet technical designer Kevin Bates and he offers you his business card, take it!
While the business card most of us carry is an outdated remnant of the pre-smartphone era (seriously, who still keeps a Rolodex on their desk?), Bates has made it relevant again -- or at least a lot more fun -- by including a playable game of Tetris on the back of his.
The card, dubbed the Arduboy, comes with a small OLED screen and tiny piezo speakers. Buttons on the back let the user control the dropping shapes. Since the power requirements on the game are low, card owners will enjoy about 10 hours of entertainment on a single cell battery.
The card's a bit thicker than the one you carry in your wallet, but not as big as you'd expect, coming in at roughly the width of a penny. And while Tetris is the only playable title at present, Bates is already coding other well-known properties, including one that bears a striking resemblance to Pokemon.