Archive for June, 2011

26
Jun

Mario Marathon 4

   Posted by: Cornelius    in Uncategorized

The people at Mario Marathon are currently hosting Mario Marathon 4 on their website www.mariomarathon.com. All donations benefit Child’s Play, a charity that works with 70 hospitals worldwide to donate toys, games, books and more to sick kids in children’s hospitals.

The MM team will be playing through as many levels as possible of the main console Mario games. The number of levels played depends entirely on how many donations they get. So far they’ve been playing since 11 a.m. EST Friday. So if you want to support the MM crew, see them play some cool games and be entertained by random music, skits, and sound effects, visit their website, donate, and spread the word.

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16
Jun

Review: Avatar Legends

   Posted by: Cornelius    in Reviews

Avatar Legends Cover ArtRecently I bought the Xbox Live indie game Avatar Legends, from Barker’s Crest Studio, who also made the hit games Avatar Golf, Home Run Challenge, and Easy Golf Course Architect.

Avatar Legends is an action-rpg, in which your main character is your Xbox Live avatar. The game starts simple enough, with your avatar being mysteriously dropped into a world with other avatars, which make up the NPCs (non-playable characters) in the game. These avatar NPCs will give you quests and sell you healing items, weapons, and shields.

Most quests are pretty basic, and consist of eliminating x number of monsters in x area, then reporting back to the NPC for your reward. Usually it’s gold or a healing item such as bread or an herb, but sometimes if it’s a big quest you will get a weapon or shield.

You use the X button to attack with your weapon (usually a sword, but sometimes an axe), and the Y button to use your magic attack (the type of magic you use can be changed in the game’s menu). As you advance in the game you will also gain the ability to charge up either a physical or magic attack by holding down the left trigger and pressing the corresponding button. This comes in especially handy against hordes of monsters.

And you will fight hordes of them. Depending on where you are at in any given area, and the time of day, goblins, skeletons and more will randomly spawn near you. Showing up as red blips on your mini-map radar, they’ll swarm towards you.

Leveling up in the game is pretty simple: once you reach 100 experience points you gain a level. Unfortunately it can take some time to get there. You often may find yourself killing a horde of monsters and only receiving 3 xp.

I played through it on the normal difficulty, but there are also easy, hard, and insane difficulty levels to choose from as well. On the normal mode you may find yourself dying occasionally, but you simply respawn at your last saved game’s location (which unless you save manually will be when you entered a new map area). Other than your time there’s not much to lose.

Graphically the game looks as good as any indie Xbox avatar game. That is to say it’s a far cry from the newest multi-million dollar shooter, but you can at least see everything clearly and recognize what everything is supposed to be. In addition, map areas are pretty large and varied, consisting of houses, windmills, farms, rivers, forests and more.

Avatar Legends TownAvatar Legends Desert

Sound consists of the usually light pop/rock music that Barkers Crest is known for. Nothing too outstanding, but it does change from one location to the next.

According to the developer it boasts 10 hours of gameplay-but that’s just in the single player adventure mode.

Also included is an online mode where up to 6 people can play co-cooperatively and fight off hordes of monsters. Think something similar to Gauntlet. These rounds can be a few minutes long or mere seconds, depending on how long everyone survives and the difficulty level you selected. In this mode your character profile is completely separate from the Adventure mode, so you will start at level 1 even if you have been playing the single player for hours. This of course means you will start out with weak weapons, weak shields and no magic. These are actually bought from a lobby menu with gold that is earned after each round, based on the number of monsters killed. It’s a simple but long online mode, and the addition of a powerful map creator to create your own custom maps for you and others is a terrific bonus.

While the gameplay can get repetitive if you’re playing for hours, Avatar Legends is still a very well made indie game. The story has some clean humor in it, and even parodies games such as Call of Duty and Halo. Given it’s length, excellent use of avatars, and the fact that good indie games are hard to come by (let alone good indie games that use avatars and are RPGs) it’s impossible to not recommend Avatar Legends.

Avatar Legends was released May 26, 2011 on the Xbox Live Indie Marketplace. Currently it is available for only 240 MSP, or $3 U.S.

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13
Jun

E3 2011 Wrapup

   Posted by: Cornelius    in Uncategorized

Now that E3 2011 is finally over, let’s take a look at some of the biggest announcements from Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft.

Nintendo

  • The Wii U, the successor to the Wii console is due out sometime in 2012. This new console will be HD capable. The controller will include a 6.2 inch touchscreen, accelerometer, gyroscope, rumble feature, and 2 analog circle pads. During certain multiplayer or even single player games different information may be displayed on the controller screen, separate from whatever is happening on the t.v. It will be backwards compatible with the Wii and it’s controllers, but not the Gamecube
  • No price for the Wii U has been announced yet
  • The June 6th 3DS update allows the eShop to be open, with select 3d games, Gameboy and Gameboy colors games for download
  • Big games announced were Luigi’s Mansion 2, Super Mario 3D, Starfox 3D, and Super Smash Bros. 3DS

Wii U, due out in 2012

Sony

  • The NGP (next gen portable) has been re-named the Vita. It has a 5 inch multi-touch screen. Wifi price is $249, or $299 for the 3G version (AT&T will be the sole U.S. provider for 3G). It will have internal memory for downloadable games and will run games on flash based memory (not UMD discs). No word yet on whether programs and apps such as Skype, Youtube, and .pdf files will be supported yet. The Vita was easily Sony’s biggest announcement.
  • The Vita’s release date is not set in stone yet, but may be as ealry as late 2011 or early 2012
  • Big games mentioned for the Vita include Uncharted: Golden Abyss, wipEout 2048, Little Big Planet and ModNation Racers

Sony Vita

Microsoft

  • Bing, Microsoft’s search engine will be coming to the 360, and will take advantage of Kintect’s voice recognition for searches
  • Youtube will also be coming to the 360 during the Fall 2011 update
  • Halo 4 has been announced, and will be the “dawn of a new trilogy”
  • Live television streaming will be coming to the U.S. This includes streaming UFC fights as well.
  • 360 dashboard updates and hit sequels were what the Microsoft conference emphasized
  • Big games mentioned for the 360 include Modern Warfare 3, Forza 4, Minecraft, Fable: The Journey, Gears of War, Halo 4, Halo Combat Evolved Anniversary, Kinect Star Wars, Mass Effect 3,

Needless to say it was a pretty big E3, with plenty of announcements for late this year and 2012.

Sources:

Nintendo Press Release (6/8/11)

Sony Vita FAQ

Microsoft E3 Press Kits Page

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The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) recently released a new report called “2011 Essential Facts About the Computer and Video Game Industry.”

The annual report discloses demographics about the video game industry. For example:

  • the average video gamer is now 37 years old, and has been playing video games for 12 years
  • 55% of gamers play games on their phones or handheld devices
  • $25.1 billion was spent on video games in 2010
  • 86% of parents are aware of the ESRB. 98% of them trust the ratings as accurate
  • The two biggest categories of ESRB games being sold are either rated E for Everyone or M for Mature (44% and 24% respectively)
  • 45% of parents play video games with their kids weekly. In 2007 this number was only 36%.

According to their website, “The Entertainment Software Association is the U.S. association dedicated to serving the business and public affairs needs of companies publishing interactive games for video game consoles, handheld devices, personal computers, and the Internet. The ESA offers services to interactive entertainment software publishers including a global anti-piracy program, hosting the E3 Expo, conducting business and consumer research, representing the video game industry in federal and state government relations, First Amendment and intellectual property protection efforts. For more information, please visit www.theESA.com.”

Current members of the ESA include Sony Computer Entertainment of America and Sony Online Entertainment Inc, Nintendo of America Inc., Microsoft Corporation, Capcom, Natsume, Electronic Arts, Eidos Interactive, SEGA of America, THQ Inc., Ubisoft Entertainment Inc., and many more.

You can download the full report in .pdf format here, or visit www.theesa.com for more information.

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7
Jun

The Retro League

   Posted by: Cornelius    in Uncategorized

The hosts of The Retro League podcast mentioned an email of mine in episode 82, “Flynn’s Arcade,” the episode for the week of May 18th.

I simply asked them what games they would have in their dream arcade if they could have any games. They talk a lot about video games in this episode as the focus on the year 1982 in gaming.

You can check out the link to the show here, or visit them at http://theretroleague.com.

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