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


Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty (finally) coming to Xbox tomorrow

Oddworld New 'n' Tasty for Xbox One

Two and a half years after it was first announced for an Xbox platform, Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty will finally release tomorrow, March 27, publisher Oddworld Inhabitants, Inc. has announced. The game, which is a remake of 1997’s Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee, will cost $19.99 upon its release on Xbox One.

New ‘n’ Tasty‘s appearance on Xbox consoles has been a long time coming, as it was originally announced as an Xbox Live Arcade title back in 2012. Now it comes to Xbox One as part of the ID@Xbox program. The remake first released for PlayStation 4 and Vita in July of last year and on PC, Linux and Mac last month. Though New ‘n’ Tasty largely retains its progenitor’s level designs, the remake features reworked gameplay and art in addition to an HD resolution.

It will be the first Xbox release for the Oddworld franchise since 2005’s Stranger’s Wrath, which itself had an HD remake announced for XBLA once upon a time. That remake also never released for the Xbox 360.

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Despite arriving on Sony’s PlayStation Network, the HD remaster of Stranger’s Wrath was denied an XBLA release. At first, this was because it exceeded a 2GB file size limit that Microsoft reportedly at one time had in place for XBLA games. XBLA Fans eventually confirmed that this limit was either done away with or never existed in the first place. Still, despite talks with Microsoft and several other interested parties, the Xbox 360 version of Stranger’s Wrath was never able to find a publisher.

Source: Oddworld Inhabitants, Inc.


Microsoft’s purchase of Minecraft started with a tweet

Minecraft on Xbox One

The $2.5 billion deal that saw Minecraft change hands from creator Markus “Notch” Persson to Microsoft all started with a tweet, reports Forbes.

“Anyone want to buy my share of Mojang so I can move on with my life?” Persson tweeted in June of last year. “Getting hate for trying to do the right thing is not my gig.”

Mojang CEO Carl Manneh read the tweet, and, by his estimation, the phone rang just 30 seconds later. A most interested party was on the line: Microsoft. The console holder and software giant wanted to know if Persson was serious. So did Manneh.

As it turned out, the Minecraft mastermind had written the tweet half-jokingly, but things quickly turned serious when Persson realized this was his chance to divorce himself from Minecraft. He had once sworn he would never sell out, but after years of dealing with caustic communications — sometimes in regards to content changes Persson wasn’t even aware of, let alone responsible for — Persson had a change of heart.

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Rive preview: Triple threat

Rive Xbox One Preview

Rive is the second shooter I played at PAX that gave off a familiar vibe. But Two Tribes’ side-scroller is more SHMUP than twin-stick shooter — the right stick aims but doesn’t fire your primary weapon — and it reminds me of Star Fox 64, of all things. Studio co-founder Collin van Ginkel explained during XBLA Fans’ demo time with his game that it’s not exactly the comparison he had in mind, but that it’s one he may just start making.

The reason for the comparison is that the Rive demo sees the players’ ship transform from a space-faring craft to a land-traversal vehicle to a submersible. Anyone who’s ever played Nintendo’s arcade-y and fur-filled space shooter will remember this trio took the form of the Arwing ship, the Landmaster tank and the Blue Marine submersible in Star Fox 64. In Rive, however, you don’t get three different vehicles. You get one vehicle that performs three different tasks.

The demo starts off with the player piloting a small ship that looks almost like a drill as you blast asteroids and missiles to pieces. After taking down what amounts to a simplistic version of the base from Contra, you head inside and your ship falls to the floor. Suddenly you’re playing an action platformer. Just a few moments later you’re suddenly plunging underwater. Bereft of the ability to shoot, your only choice here is slowly float downwards while steering out of the way of mines.

Around the same time, you pick up the ability to hack enemy computers and robots. This lets you activate switches to open the way forward, force enemy healing bots to switch allegiances and hitch a ride on enemy transporters.

The demo comes to a close after just about 10 minutes or so, concluding with a boss fight in which you’re tasked with blasting a glowing red weak spot as the boss locks on before charging at you.

The final game is expected to hit Xbox One sometime and other platforms simultaneously later this year and will last considerably longer than 10 minutes. Two Tribes is promising a five-hour game with multiple missions, weapons and hacking abilities.


We Are Doomed preview: Playing with fire

We Are Doomed Xbox One Preview

It looks and plays a lot like Geometry Wars. This is the inescapable reality of We Are Doomed, an upcoming twin-stick shooter from one-man studio Vertex Pop. The world is colored with softer, pastel hues, and the enemies are tangible things instead of angular shapes. But anyone who has played Geo Wars will immediately grok what they’re seeing and experiencing in We Are Doomed and will know exactly what to do. Creator Mobeen Fikree isn’t shying away from the comparison.

“I don’t mind,” he told XBLA Fans earlier this month at PAX East. “I think Geometry Wars is a great game, and following in that lineage of Robotron, Smash TV, Geometry Wars and then, you know, this. I’m happy to be a part of that lineage. When people go, ‘Oh, it’s like Geometry Wars!’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, it’s like Geometry Wars.'”

Until it’s not.

The moment you use the right stick to open fire on the waves of space baddies swarming the screen it becomes clear how We Are Doomed diverges from the formula. Instead of blasting enemies with a never-ending stream of long-range laser fire, players instead must rely on a medium-range “overpowered laserbeam,” as Vertex Pop’s website describes it. In actuality, it doesn’t come off like a laser at all. Instead, it looks and feels more like you’re wielding a flamethrower with an infinite fuel supply. Nudging the stick farther in any direction will elongate the beam/flame, but it will never cause it to reach clear across the screen.

If you want to defeat the baddies — and you’ll of course need to do so if you want to make any progress in the game — then you’ll need to get a bit closer than you may be used to getting in other twin-stick shooters. “You have to dive into the action,” explained Fikree. “You have to be close range if you want to zap baddies — you can’t sit in one corner of the map and shoot things all the way in the other corner.”

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State of Decay contractors hid ‘a ridiculous amount of genitalia’ in game’s background

State of Decay Year One Survival Edition for Xbox One

Announced all the way back in August of 2014, Undead Labs’ State of Decay: Year One Edition is an up-ressed version of the 2013 zombie-survival game along with its Breakdown and Lifeline DLC. Undead has redone all of the game’s textures and bumped up its resolution to 1080p for this remastered edition. And although parts of the environment still draw in as the player gets closer to them, that now occurs much farther into the distance than before.

While performing all of this work the studio discovered something that was as unexpected as it was crude. “Some of our contractors worked a ridiculous amount of genitalia into the background,” Undead Labs Senior Designer Geoffrey Card told XBLA Fans at PAX East this past weekend.

Since Seattle-based Undead was a small indie studio with a vision for an open-world game, it needed to turn to outside help in order to complete development of the original State of Decay. Apparently, unbeknownst to Undead until recently, some of those hired guns secretly and liberally drew penises into the game’s backgrounds. The phalluses were not visible in the original release due to its lower resolution and lower-quality textures, so they slipped through testing unnoticed and made their way into the final game.

When the enhanced resolution and texture quality brought the penises to Undead’s attention the studio began working them out of the game. The genitalia is not visible in any publicly available version of the game.

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Microsoft says it’s not afraid to experiment with ID@Xbox

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ID@Xbox's Chris Charla Talks About Helping Indies

In a recently published feature, XBLA Fans explored multiplayer sports/platformer game #IDARB‘s path to release — for free. As part of our reporting for that piece we spoke with ID@Xbox Director Chris Charla about Microsoft’s newfound willingness to give independent Xbox developers as many game codes as they want.

According to some Xbox Live Arcade developers XBLA Fans has interviewed over the years, the console holder wasn’t always so forthcoming with game codes. It wasn’t the only complaint developers had, either. While there was nothing quite like Xbox Live Arcade when the Xbox 360 first launched in November of 2005, the competition quickly caught on and, in some cases, surpassed the OG of indie game stores with arguably more developer-friendly offerings. Droves of high-profile XBLA developers spoke out against the platform and turned their affection toward Steam, mobile and/or the PlayStation Network in XBLA’s twilight years.

Despite a growing public perception that Microsoft was sitting back and letting this happen while the PlayStation Network became the new place for indies to be on consoles, Charla told us that wasn’t case. Redmond was listening for suggestions as to how it might iterate on XBLA and create a new indie environment with more modern solutions.

“When we started ID@Xbox, well, actually way before we started it, we went [on] a huge listening tour and talked (and listened) to more than fifty studios about what we were doing right and wrong in terms of how we were working with independent developers,” recalled Charla. “ID@Xbox really grew directly out of those conversations. I think XBLA was rad, it was revolutionary, but I also think there was a period where the market changed and we needed to change with it. That’s really where ID@Xbox came from.”

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#IDARB: It gives away a red box

#IDARB Released for Free on Xbox One

Mike Mika has a problem. Gamers who’ve secured free copies of #IDARB, his multiplayer hybrid basketball/platformer game, likely don’t consider it to be a problem, but for Mika and his team at developer Other Ocean Interactive, it absolutely is. And it’s one that the head of development at Other Ocean can’t help but exacerbate.

“The problem we have, everything is so…we’re just so fixed in our ways,” the design director tells XBLA Fans, “it’s like, ‘Well, this should just be free. It should just be free.’ And we’re probably part of the problem when you hear people complain about free-to-play games, and how that’s been a race to the bottom on being able to make money. I can see how that happens, because while we’re putting this game together it feels like the right thing to do by all the gamers is to give [#IDARB] to them. I’m sure it’s dangerous. We can’t afford to keep giving it to them.”

But he wishes that they could. While acknowledging that giving too much away is “dangerous,” Mika says that his studio is “definitely erring on the side of being as extremely fair as possible.” No one who’s followed #IDARB (It Draws a Red Box) would dispute that that’s exactly what Other Ocean has done with its game. Mika solicited the help of every gamer with an opinion when designing #IDARB. Then he gave his game away for free before it released. Then he again gave it away for free when it released. Now he wants to give some additional #IDARB content away for free — all of its additional content, actually. But he can’t do that; he’s got a family to feed, and a studio to make profitable. So how does Mika do that? Where does he draw the line between what’s free and what’s for sale? He’s not really sure.

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Sources: retail Xbox Ones will gain ability to become dev kits this year

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Retail Xbox Ones to Become Dev Kits

One of Microsoft’s earliest-announced Xbox One features might finally be added to the console later this year. Citing nebulous “sources familiar with Microsoft’s plans,” The Verge reports that Microsoft will reveal at its April Build developer conference details about its plan to allow developers to turn retail Xbox Ones into studio developer kits (SDKs).

In another developer-friendly (and customer-friendly) move, Microsoft will allow developers to bring cross-platform applications to the Xbox One beginning this summer, the sources claim. Currently restricted to a small group of developers, Xbox app creation would be open to everyone at that time. App developers would also gain the ability to run beta tests before launching.

Existing apps would reportedly continue to run until November, but Microsoft would then begin requiring all apps to be built using the new app SDK. The report also states that Windows 10 will support these apps and bring their approval and store policies more in line with those of the current Windows Store.

If the report is to be believed, then Microsoft will make an SDK preview program and the retail-to-dev-kit switch available in May. The latter is an Xbox One feature that Microsoft first promised all the way back in July of 2013. Last September, however, the console holder said it was reneging on that promise, but it then issued a correction stating that talk of the retail SDK plan’s demise was untrue.

Source: The Verge

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Lizard Squad claims responsbility for yesterday’s Xbox Live attack *updated*

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Lizard Squad Hits Xbox Live with DDoS Attack

Update: After our story went live, a Twitter user claiming to be a member of Lizard Squad informed XBLA Fans that the cyber attack on Xbox Live took place between 9:00 and 11:00 pm UTC on Sunday. In a follow-up tweet, he stated that the alleged perpetrators “did manage to fix the lower restrictive server that allowed local play to be revived in a couple of hours.” Our original story is below.

Many gamers, including some XBLA Fans staffers, experienced difficulty playing multiplayer games over Xbox Live last night. If you were one of them, you now know who to blame for your woes.

Lizard Squad, the same collective of nefarious internet users behind attacks that brought Xbox Live to its knees this past holiday, has claimed responsibility for the network problems. In conjunction with the group Like No Other, Lizard Squad apparently hit Xbox Live with another shot from its weapon of choice: a DDoS attack.

Though XBL appears to have since fully recovered from the attack, this may have just been the opening salvo of Lizard Squad’s latest offensive. “More to come, it’s about time to re-ignite lizardsquad,” the group tweeted last night. Gamers may recall that the biggest holiday DDoS attack was preceded by a smaller one.

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Game of Thrones choice data not transferring between episodes for some players

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Game of Thrones Xbox One choice data error

Choice is everything in episodic titles from Telltale Games like Game of Thrones. Players make decisions in conversation trees and during action sequences that affect how the remainder of a season will play out. At least, that’s how it’s supposed to work.

But for some players of Game of Thrones Episode 2: The Lost Lords, in-game choices aren’t amounting to much. Some copies of The Lost Lords for Xbox One are plagued by an issue preventing players’ choice data from migrating across episodes.

“We are aware of an issue with the Xbox One version of Game of Thrones – Episode 2: The Lost Lords, where customers’ choice data may not carry over correctly from Episode 1,” Telltale wrote on its forums. “We are working to determine the cause and will update here as soon as we have more information to share. We appreciate your patience and want to get you playing with your choices intact as soon as possible.”

That forum post was made on February 4 when the game was released. Today, Telltale posted an update explaining that it had submitted a patch it believes will resolve the issue to Microsoft for certification. The studio estimates this patch will be available within the next seven to 10 days.

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