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


Playtonic's Yooka and Laylee will have species-specific abilities

Yooka-Laylee for Xbox One

UK developer Playtonic, which is primarily comprised of former Rare developers, is currently sitting on more than $2.5 million of Kickstarter investments to spend developing Yooka-Laylee, a spiritual successor to Rare's Banjo-Kazooie series. A portion of that money will go towards funding the development of Yooka and Laylee's move sets, which Playtonic says will make sense for each of the animals.

"As much as I love Banjo, he never did anything that said 'I'm a bear'," Studio and Game Director Gavin Price recently told Official PlayStation Magazine. "He was basically a man in a bear costume!"

That's one area in which Yooka-Laylee will differ from its progenitor. "We wanted them to stand out on their own," Price continued. "The bat's going to be the crazier, cheekier one, and the chameleon's more sensible."

As an example, he mentioned that Yooka will have some of the changing camouflage abilities that real chameleons have. Playtonic is approaching this by making Yooka's textures change depending on what he eats in the game, so eating a large creature in a mountainous area might allow the character to take on the appearance and properties of a rock.

Source: GamesRadar+


NPD: Xbox One outsold PS4 in April

Xbox One April 2015 Sales

For one month at least, Microsoft got a break from being Sony's punching bag in the console sales race. GamesBeat reports that NPD's April sales numbers show the Xbox One outselling the PlayStation 4 last month for the first time since January.

"As the best-selling console in the U.S. in April, fans set record April sales and engagement for Xbox One last month," Xbox marketing boss Mike Nichols told GamesBeat in response to the April figures. "Xbox One console sales in the U.S. increased 63 percent in April 2015 compared to April 2014, and Xbox Live comparisons showed the number of active global users [Xbox One and Xbox 360] grew 24 percent. We are grateful to our fans for their passion and support and are looking forward to sharing more on the best game lineup in Xbox history at E3."

Last month's sales results mean that Microsoft's next-gen console has outsold Sony's in the United States for half of the first four months of 2015. No doubt as a result of a temporary price cut, the Xbox One also dominated the hardware sales charts during the crucial retail months of November and December in 2014.

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Opinion: Every hard game should have an easier mode


There was once a time we now call the “Good Old Days.” In those days, instant classics spewed forth from every developer’s spicket at such a torrid pace that there was nary an excuse to ever emerge from your parents’ basement and absorb so much as a single UV ray.

Ah yes, they were glorious, those days, weren’t they? Every game was a masterpiece of innovation and craftsmanship, and there wasn’t a single rushed sequel or licensed shovelware release in sight. Replay values were always near infinite, color palettes were consistently varied and vibrant and every single game featured stellar multiplayer and single-player modes.

There’s just one problem with the Good Old Days – they weren’t really that perfect. Certainly it was exciting to grow up during the days of gaming’s so-called Golden Age – sometime between the late ‘70s and mid ‘90s, depending on whom you ask. Everything was new and exciting back then, but not everything was necessarily better. There were good games and bad, just like today. One thing that was almost universally true, though, is that every game was much harder than modern games are. But that doesn’t mean today’s developers should rush to emulate that difficulty – at least not without providing some conceits.

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Microsoft announces E3 media briefing and 'FanFest' details

Microsoft E3 2015 Media Briefing

Microsoft will hold its annual E3 media briefing at 9:00 AM PST on June 15 at Los Angeles' Galen Center, the company announced via email invitations today. In what may or may not prove to be a hyperbolic statement, the console holder promised the briefing would feature "the greatest games lineup in Xbox history."

Perhaps of even more interest to some gamers, Microsoft announced plans to circumvent the media and share the E3 experience directly with 500 lucky gamers. "Fanfest" is a promotion that will grant 500 gamers admission to Microsoft's media briefing and a number of other events throughout E3 week. Major Nelson explained exactly what kind of access Microsoft will award to the promotion's winners:

Entry into the Xbox E3 2015 Briefing on Monday, June 15th, 9:30 am PT, at the Galen Center in downtown Los Angeles.
Invite to the exclusive Xbox FanFest Party, Monday afternoon, June 15th, where fans will get to play the best exclusives and biggest blockbuster games this holiday and beyond.
VIP access to the Xbox esports Celebrity Challenge & Twitch Party sponsored by Xbox.
Meet-and-greet with some of the industry’s top developers, leaders and influencers.
Even more surprise events during the week.

Microsoft has not yet revealed how gamers can register for FanFest, instead electing only to say that participants must have an Xbox Live account and be at least 21 years of age. The company has not revealed at this time whether or not FanFest winners will gain entry to the E3 show floor. Gamers can read the FanFest FAQ here, but detailed information will be revealed at a later date.

Source: Major Nelson


Rogue Legacy to carry its lineage onto Xbox One May 27

Rogue Legacy Xbox One Release Date

Masochistic Xbox gamers who want their families to suffer as much as they do won't have to wait much longer to make it happen. Cellar Door Games' Rogue Legacy will arrive on Xbox One on May 27, Cellar Door Co-Founder Teddy Lee has announced.

Lee wrote that his team worked in conjunction with Abstraction Games on the port to ensure that the Xbox version "was as faithful to the original as possible." Rogue Legacy first released on PC in 2013 before arriving on PlayStation platforms last year.

The game, which Cellar Door refers to as a "rogue-lite," challenges players to explore a randomly generated dungeon guarded by four area bosses and one final boss. It sounds easy enough, but Rogue Legacy is anything but. As Lee himself says, players "will die over and over." Death is permanent for each player-character, but his next of kin will inherit the fallen parent's gold to use for upgrades before bravely charging back into the dungeon in an attempt to move incrementally closer to the endgame.

Rogue Legacy was critically hailed upon its initial release and currently enjoys an 85/100 rating on Metacritic.com.

Source: Microsoft


Adventures of Pip delayed into summer

Adventures of Pip 8-bit

Adventures of Pip's release date has slipped into summer, developer Tic Toc Games has announced. Prior to this delay, the pixelized platformer was originally planned for a release later this month.

It's unclear exactly when Pip will arrive on Xbox One, but Tic Toc tweeted on Tuesday that it was targeting a mid-June release for the Steam and Wii U versions of its game. The developer followed that up with tweets stating it does not anticipate the Wii U and Steam delay affecting the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 versions and that there was no information to share regarding Xbox and PlayStation dates.

However, in response to an XBLA Fans email, a Tic Toc representative confirmed that "All platforms are looking at a summer 2015 release at this moment." The representative added that June is the goal for all platforms, but that no official date has been established as of yet.

Source: @TicTocGames


Lifeless Planet discovers Xbox One on May 13

Lifeless Planet Xbox One Release Date

Lifeless Planet will release May 13 on Xbox One, Stage 2 Studio's David Board announced on Twitter yesterday. The puzzle-platformer first released on PC in June of last year before Stage 2 began porting it over to Xbox One, the only console it is currently planned to release for.

Board linked to the game's Xbox Store webpage when tweeting news of Lifeless Planet's imminent release; however, that page has since disappeared. Responding to XBLA Fans on Twitter, Board stated that his game is still on track for a May 13 release and that the page's removal was likely just a temporary glitch. The game can still be found on the Xbox Store by performing a search, but clicking on the search result leads to a dead page.

Lifeless Planet currently has a 59/100 aggregate review score on Metacritic.com.

Source: @LifelessPlanet


The Behemoth's Game 4 preview: Flying circus

Game 4 Ship

Like most worlds The Behemoth has created, that of Game 4 is a little outrageous and more than a little deranged. If you know anything at all about the studio's fourth game, it's probably that a gargantuan, six-limbed, space-faring bear has slammed into the planet and unleashed all manner of chaos. So comically massive is this Goro-like animal that it's a wonder anything on the hapless planet it strikes survives the impact. But survive some inhabitants do; after all, it would be more than a bit tricky to build a turn-based strategy game without a plethora of units to conscript and command.

Though the early section of Game 4 on display at PAX East is brief, we see or hear about units as varied as humans, trolls, robots and some sort of living cupcake creatures. Yeah, cupcakes. Playes are given control of Horatio, a simple blueberry farmer and father of one. The extravagantly mustachioed Horatio is forced to take up arms when a band of "Child Eaters" threatening to — what else? — eat his child show up alongside an unseen narrator hurling threats at him. Before you know it, green bear blood pours down from the sky and destroys Horatio's house, killing his son in the process. It's as dark as it sounds.

At least, it would be if not for the fact that Game 4 is also utterly goofy. In a repeat performance from his turn in The Behemoth's BattleBlock Theater, narrator Will Stamper uses his absurd, tangent-filled rants to bring the funnies while also making you question whether or not it's appropriate to chuckle after witnessing a child being disintegrated by caustic alien bear blood. Of course, this sort of irreverence is nothing new for The Behemoth. Castle Crashers had poop-propelled deer mounts, a literal catfish that coughed up hairball projectiles and princess make-out sessions. Then there was BattleBlock Theater, for which the setup was a group of anthropomorphic cat overlords forcing shipwrecked sailors to perform in a deadly game show. Game 4 is clearly being made from the same mold.

My only means of conveyance

Game 4 Giraffe Guy

Dan Paladin has served as the main art director for all of The Behemoth's games, and it shows. But you get the sense that even were Game 4 bereft of Paladin's bright and charming visuals, you'd still pick up on the connection to the studio's other games, despite the fact that they are all set in different genres. Production Coordinator Ian Moreno agrees that The Behemoth's titles all carry a similar tone, but he's not entirely sure how that happens. Or even whether or not it's on purpose.

"It's very much…" he says before pausing a few seconds to search for the answer, "there's an overall feel and vibe. It's not just a platformer or a shooter or a turn-based strategy [game]. There's always more to it, and, yeah, that's a really tough question. I think it's just in our DNA, whether it's the humor and the way we present things, we like to present things very differently.

"When you look at say, how we design our HUD or something, it has to have a little more nuance to it, whether the nuance is just humor or is just offbeat or different."

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Adam Orth wants to know what Adr1ft is worth

Adr1ft Video Game Preview for Xbox One

"This is Adam Orth, creator of Adr1ft," a PR man states matter-of-factly.

Orth is the game developer best known for causing a 2013 internet riot with his infamous #dealwithit tweet. Here at an AMC Loews theater in Boston the weekend of PAX East, he stands up in front of a handful of media members to talk briefly about his game. The whole scene feels pleasantly at odds with the commotion and excitement (real and feigned) back at the convention center I've just left. Orth is soft-spoken and unassuming, and aside from just showing the game, there is scarcely any attempt made to hype up the audience. None is needed, because when I pull on an Oculus Rift moments later, I am immediately impressed by Adr1ft.

The added immersion of the VR headset helps, to be sure. But Orth insists that his game was designed to captivate players with or without another reality strapped to their faces. Certainly some of the enveloping feeling of space's vastness is lost when the headset comes off. After it does, however, watching XBLA Fans' John Laster and Jill Randolph play on a regular old TV screen is still a treat. Spectating their non-VR play sessions makes me want to get back into this game that is somehow being built by the small team at Three One Zero.

Adr1ft doesn't seem like something that a diminutive indie developer could create in short order — but that's exactly what it is. After less than a year in development at Three One Zero, the game's Gravity-like take on space exploration mission turned disaster is moving. Floating aimlessly through the wreckage of a space station, I take in the little things, like a single leaf escaping from the station's garden as it collides softly with my helmet. Turning to watch this green speck drift away, I'm dumbstruck and a little frightened by the vast emptiness of space engulfing it. Turning again, I find myself confronted with a familiar, comforting image that I have to assume has left many real-world astronauts breathing a little easier: Earth.

Later, Orth will ask what we think this sort of experience is worth and what games we think it's in the same class with; he seems sincerely interested in knowing what value others place on his project. It's a degree of humbleness his many detractors from two years ago might not expect from him.

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Microsoft considered giving the original Xbox away for free

The Original Xbox

The original Xbox cost $299.99 when it went on sale in the United States in 2001. However, GamesIndustry.biz reports that if some at Microsoft had had their way, the console would have been significantly cheaper — as in $299.99 cheaper.

Oddworld Inhabitants' Lorne Lanning recently told GamesIndustry.biz that during the early days of the Xbox's development, some Microsoft employees suggested that the company give its inaugural games console away for free. "At the time, [Microsoft] thought that the core market was going to be casual," he said. "They were going to be the casual gamers' machine. Now, that's why they approached us because they said, 'We think you've got something that competes in that Mario space, and we think Mario's the thing to kill… We see that space. We want that audience. We love Oddworld, so why don't you get on this bandwagon? And we might give the box away.'"

His story was corroborated by Seamus Blackley, the console's co-creator. "In the early days of Xbox, especially before we had figured out how to get greenlit for the project as a pure game console, everybody and their brother who saw the new project starting tried to come in and say it should be free, say it should be forced to run Windows after some period of time," said Blackley.

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