About Author: Nick Santangelo

Nick has been a gamer since the 8-bit days and has been reporting on the games industry since 2011. He is not to be interrupted while questing his way through an RPG or desperately clinging to hope against all reason that his Philly sports teams will win any given game he may be watching. Find Nick Santangelo on Google+ and Twitter.

Posts by Nick Santangelo


Limbo for Xbox One appears on Korean Ratings Board

Limbo possibly coming to Xbox One

Xbox 360 puzzle-platformer Limbo could be headed to the Xbox One, a Korean Ratings Board listing suggests.

Microsoft Korea submitted “Limbo Xbox One” to the board for classification on October 17. While the submission is something short of a confirmation of the existence of an Xbox One port, but many games have first been discovered through various countries’ ratings board listings. XBLA Fans has reached out to developer Playdead about the listing and will update this story in the (unlikely) event that the studio issues a response.

Playdead first released Limbo on Xbox Live Arcade in 2010 before porting it to PC, iOS and PlayStation 3 and Vita. Last year, XBLA Fans ranked the game as one of Xbox Live Arcade’s top 10 releases, noting that its dark atmosphere made players fearful of every boss encounter.

This year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo saw Playdead unveil the existence of its next game, Inside, through a trailer showing a boy hiding among rows of seemingly lifeless people. The ID@Xbox title will release on Xbox One first in 2015 before being brought to other platforms.

Source: Korean Ratings Board via Eurogamer


Get a sneak peek at The Behemoth’s Game 4 next week

The Behemoth Game 4 stream for Extra Life

The Behemoth has been careful to only reveal information about its next game at a slow trickle. The developer elected not to show or tell the press or public anything relating to Game 4 when it was first announced earlier this year at PAX East. Later, an initial teaser asked gamers if they could deduce what type of game it was rather than telling them.

Unless you had the chance to attend PAX Prime and play the game for yourself, you’re probably still not terribly familiar with how Game 4 plays. Next week, though, The Behemoth will give everyone a chance to see its latest in action when it streams the game as part of the Extra Life Charity event. The studio will be streaming the game on Raptr’s Twitch channel from 3:00 – 4:00 pm PST on October 24. The Behemoth has confirmed that aside from introductions and some info about the charity, the entire hour will be dedicated to the streaming of Game 4.

The Behemoth is hoping to raise at least $1,000 to donate towards Rady Children’s Hospital in the developer’s hometown of San Diego. Players who donate at least $10 will be entered into a raffle to win a mystery plushy. Those wishing to donate can do so here.

Extra Life is a charity 24-hour gaming event founded in 2008 in honor of Victoria Enmon, who lost her life to acute lymphoblastic leukemia. This year, for the first time, the charity will support the Children’s Miracle Network Hospital of each streamer’s choice.


Telltale teases House of Forrester’s involvement in Game of Thrones

Telltale's Game of Thrones Ironwood Sigil

This story contains some spoilers for the end of the fourth season of HBO’s Game of Thrones as well as for parts of the book A Dance with Dragons.

When Telltale first announced that it was working with the Game of Thrones property, gamers began wondering what part of the universe the studio would explore. Would it follow the books? The shows? Something entirely different from the world of Westeros?

Telltale has previously said that it would stick to the HBO show rather than George R. R. Martin’s novels, but the studio recently tweeted out a teaser image implying it may be doing a bit of both. As Mashable points out, the image Telltale released contains a quote from Martin’s most recent book, A Dance with Dragons.

The quote mentions ironwoods, which are a type of tree indigenous to Northern Westeros, including the haunted forests beyond the Wall. Fans of the show will remember that its latest season ended with Stannis Baratheon, the Lord of Dragonstone, arriving beyond the Wall with an army at his back just in time to put a stop to the Wildlings’ siege of it. This could mean that the game will show some of the events before Stannis’ arrival or delve into those immediately after to lead into the show’s fifth season.

However, as Mashable points out, the ironwood is also the sigil for House Forrester, whose involvement in the game was teased in August. In A Dance with Dragons, House Forrester provides Stannis with scouts to aid in his march to Winterfell, but the noble house has otherwise gone largely unmentioned in both the show and the books.

Telltale has confirmed that Game of Thrones‘ first episode will release this year.

Source: @telltalegames via Mashable


Phil Spencer defends ID@Xbox’s parity clause, but wants to rethink it

Phil Spencer talks Xbox One Parity Clause

There isn’t much love in the developer world for the ID@Xbox parity clause, which requires independent game developers to release their games on Xbox One at the same time as on other platforms. Some developers have lodged public complaints about it, and rival Sony has lambasted it.

It’s not that Xbox head Phil Spencer hasn’t heard these complaints, it’s that he believes that despite these objections and ridicule, the parity clause takes care of his most important audience: Xbox One owners.

“The thing I worry about is — because I look at all the people who buy an Xbox, and they invest their time and their money in Xbox One, and, as millions of people obviously own Xbox Ones, I want them to feel like they’re first-class, because they are,” Spencer said on The Inner Circle podcast. “When a third-party game comes out, it comes out on all platforms at the same time, and when indie games come out, I want them to come out and I want Xbox to feel like it’s a first-class citizen when an indie game launches.

“So, for me, the parity thing is, if you own an Xbox One, I want to work for you to make sure that when great content launches, if it’s coming to Xbox and another platform, that you kind of get it at the same time everybody else does.”

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Skullgirls’ Eliza DLC releasing on Xbox 360 (again) on October 14

Skullgirls Eliza DLC for XBLA

It didn’t work out the first time, but Lab Zero Games is trying again, this time with what should be a different result. The studio announced today that its Skullgirls‘ Eliza DLC, will once again be available to Xbox 360 gamers to download starting October 14.

In what Lab Zero described as a “bureaucratic mix-up,” the DLC first released on Xbox late last month before it should have. A two-and-a-half-year-old bug that had previously gone undiscovered was found by Microsoft during the certification process for the title update and compatibility pack tied to Eliza. Meanwhile, the DLC passed certification and was mistakenly made available to Xbox gamers by its lonesome, which resulted in it not working and causing problems for some players with older downloadable content. Now Lab Zero says it’s fixed the bug, and it’s done it well within the two-week timeframe it originally offered last Sunday.

CEO Peter Bartholow is confident that the bug was never much of a real problem anyways. He told XBLA Fans that it was “a compliance bug that would almost never happen in the real world. We had to make the game react gracefully if a DLC was corrupted, instead of just crashing.”

A September 29 forum post by Lab Zero said that the DLC’s XBLA woes were “part of time-honored tradition,” in reference to previous difficulties getting new Skullgirls content available on Xbox 360.

Source: @LabZeroGames


Skullgirls’ Eliza DLC pulled from Xbox after two-year-old bug discovered

Skullgirls' Eliza Character DLC

Following its accidental release on Xbox 360, the Eliza character DLC for 2D fighting game Skullgirls was removed from the Xbox Marketplace when a bug that had been present for over two years was discovered, developer Lab Zero Games has informed XBLA Fans.

Eliza, whom Lab Zero has previously referred to as “a diva with a dark secret, and our most ambitious character to date,” was briefly made available to download late last month before unceremoniously getting the hook.

“Launching a new Skullgirls character is a complicated process: we have a title update, compatibility pack, and the DLC itself. To actually get Eliza out, all three need to pass certification,” said Bartholow. He was referring to the intricate process of successfully getting new content for the game through Microsoft certification so that it can be digitally distributed to Xbox 360 gamers. Prior to the title update and compatibility pack completing that process, a “bureaucratic mix-up” caused the Eliza DLC to be immediately released on the Xbox Marketplace after it passed certification.

Lab Zero requested that Microsoft pull the DLC since the process for getting new Skullgirls content released on Xbox “is already confusing enough without presently non-functioning DLC on the [Marketplace],” explained Bartholow. Gamers were reportedly confused by the accidental release, with some even experiencing issues with the new, non-working content causing older DLC to be re-locked.

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Fenix Rage preview: Don’t think, know

Fenix Rage was previewed on Steam using an Xbox 360 controller. A preview code was provided by Reverb Triple XP. The Xbox One version of the game is currently scheduled to release sometime in early 2015.

Fenix Rage Crystal Caves

“Can it really be that easy?” is the question you’ll ask after completing Fenix Rage‘s first stage. It’s a stage with that most simplest of video game objectives: move the player-character from left to right and reach the end goal. Accomplishing as much takes only a few seconds, since there are no enemies present and the distance between start and finish could practically be measured between your thumb and forefinger. Still, developer Green Lava Studios managed to insert an optional side objective into the stage. It’s possible but not necessary to collect a cookie during this almost literal hop, skip and jump from beginning to end. You would have to go out of your way not to obtain the optional cookie in this first level, but it is optional all the same.

Collecting each level’s cookie and successfully reaching the end goal naturally becomes more challenging the deeper you get into the game. In fact, it was only a handful of stages later before I was dying multiple times in the pursuit of another tempting cookie. So it’s somewhere in the game’s opening Red Forest zone that you’ll get your answer to your question: no, Fenix Rage is most certainly not that easy.

Much has been said about the game’s meeting at the intersection of Sonic the Hedgehog and Super Meat Boy. And yes, Fenix is a diminutive blue creature that is not unlike Sega’s depiction of a hedgehog. He has a dash ability that gives him some of the speed for which Sonic is known, and successful navigation of the game’s 200+ levels — a few dozen of which I’ve completed — requires liberal use of it. That really doesn’t even come close to doing justice to the frequency at which you’ll be pulling the right trigger while simultaneously pressing the B button to perform a dash. As long as there is room to do so, it’s possible to dash (and jump) endlessly.

Some levels require you to abuse the maneuver in order to take linear horizontal routes to avoid certain death by touching electrical beams above and below you. Others have blocks of ice that can be melted due to the heat generated from the friction of moving at such rapid speeds. Others still send a giant, unstoppable enemy chasing after Fenix the moment you nudge him forward from the start point. At first you might think you’re dashing enough times to win this deadly race, but you’re not. Oh, you’re so not. If you’re not dashing seemingly as many times as is physically possible, you’re going to die.

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Thomas Was Alone will look for friends on Xbox One in November

Thomas Was Alone Red Rectangle

Almost two and a half years after its original PC release, puzzle-platformer Thomas Was Alone will make its way to Xbox One this November. Developer Mike Bithell made the announcement on Twitter today and later confirmed to Polygon that his game will release on PlayStation 4 and Wii U in addition to Xbox One during the same yet-to-be-revealed week next month.

Bithell wrote that he was “Rather excited to announce that Thomas Was Alone will be coming to PS4, WiiU and XB1 this November,” before noting his affinity for a certain geometric shape. “Rectangles are cool.”

His rectangles call-out was a nod to the Thomas‘ protagonist and a group of companions he meets over the course of the game. The titular Thomas is a self-aware artificial intelligence that sees the world around himself as a 2D space in which he is represented by a red rectangle. Each of Thomas’ friends has a unique shape and ability set of his or her own, and players must rely on all of their skills in order to overcome the game’s puzzles.

Developer Curve Studios will handle Thomas Was Alone‘s next-gen console port. Curve previously worked on the game’s PlayStation 3 and Vita ports, which released in April of 2013.

“One day a home console will come out and I won’t port my silly little game to it,” continued Bithell on Twitter. “But today is not that day.”

For more details on how the deal to bring Thomas to next-gen systems came about, check out the satirical video documenting the partnership between Bithell and Curve after the jump. The “#Mike Trailer” jokingly finds a correlation between next-gen polygon counts and Metacritic review scores, shows the team’s faux stresses and displays fake plans for an expensive outdoor banner advertisement bearing Bithell’s face near the site of the games industry’s annual Electronic Entertainment Expo.

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Chariot coming to Xbox One October 1; will be free for XBLG members

Chariot co-op play on Xbox One

Canadian studio Frima’s couch co-op platformer Chariot will release on Xbox One October 1, and it won’t cost Xbox Live Gold members anything to download it, Frima and Microsoft have announced. While the ID@Xbox game won’t cost XBLG members anything, it will set non-Gold subscribers back $14.99.

Chariot is October’s Xbox One Games with Gold title and will replace Capy Games’ Super Time Force, which remains free for the next two days as September’s title. Meanwhile, Xbox 360 owners with Gold subscriptions will be able to get Battlefield: Bad Company 2 for free from October 1 through the 15th and Darksiders II from the 16th through the 31st.

A launch trailer for Chariot depicts the game’s hook: a princess and her fiancè guide the titular chariot through the game’s environments, all of which are set in “the royal catacombs.” Players will need to push, pull, ride and swing with the carriage, which is actually more of a coffin on wheels. Inside the chariot resides the ghost of the deceased king, and the goal is to locate a suitable burial location for the deceased. Click inside to catch the launch trailer.

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Passing it on: The Behemoth’s Gold Egg Project

The Behemoth's Gold Egg Project

John Baez doesn’t want Asteroid Base’s money. It’s as if the three men who make up the studio are old friends of Baez’s, and on this day they just happen to be patrons of his business. Their money is no good here.

They are not old friends, though. Baez, president and co-founder of indie game studio The Behemoth, only first met the members of Asteroid Base during PAX Prime of 2013. He noticed their still-in-production game Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime had picked up a few awards and had a certain individuality to it. Lovers has a way of causing onlookers to gravitate towards it that’s not entirely unlike the way the game’s pink Death Star has a penchant for attracting the attention of enemy spaceships.

In the game, a pair of benevolent astronauts pilot a neon spacecraft around the universe, wishing only to survive. But then something catches their eyes, something they can’t ignore. A group of evil robots known as “The Haters” have ensnared innocent bunnies and locked them away in jail. The astronauts refuse to stand idly by while innocent creatures suffer, so they show some initiative, scrambling around the bowels of their craft and tinkering away at control stations that unleash firepower of a magnitude that they can only hope The Haters are unable to repel. Despite the protagonists’ violent response, Asteroid Base sees the titular lovers as good Samaritans. The pair have somehow survived this long on their own out in the frightening yet awe-inspiring unsurety that is space, even managing to thrive in it without any support from large, external entities. Now they want to help others like them do the same.

The Behemoth knows the feeling. Founded in 2003, the San Diego studio responsible for hits such as Alien Hominid and Castle Crashers chose to go it alone in another dangerous environment. The developer released its games sans publisher in the competitive console gaming space. The Behemoth found success, but it wasn’t easy doing it through self-funding — Baez mortgaged his house, and co-founder Tom Fulp kicked in some of his personal savings to help finance development in the early days. But they did it, and they were successful enough that they’re now in a position of strength.

A few years ago, Baez and Company used that strength to quietly start something called The Gold Egg Project. Gold Egg is a funding initiative meant to help other indies bring their games to market, but unlike a traditional publisher, The Behemoth doesn’t take any of its beneficiaries’ profits — it only wants to help them. Now The Behemoth is helping Asteroid Base, and Baez hopes the studio will one day pass it on.

Being indie

The Behemoth Castle Crashers Knights

For almost as long as there has been game design there have been independent game designers. The term “indie,” while well-established today, is newer. It means something; it’s just that no one seems to be able to agree upon exactly what that something is. So it was for The Behemoth back in 2005 when the tenderfoot studio’s Alien Hominid was winning Independent Game Festival Awards for Innovation in Art, Technical Excellence and Audience Choice.

Baez recalls of that time that “there was a lot of controversy [as to] whether we were indie or not, solely because we were on a console. Other developers said, ‘You can’t be indie because you’re on a console.’ And it’s like, ‘Well, we’re indie because we funded it.’ Now that’s our definition of indie.”

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