About Author: Nick Santangelo

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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

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XBLA Fans’ 25 most anticipated games of 2015

Most Anticipated Xbox Games of 2015

You’ve read our picks for the best XBLA and ID@Xbox games of 2014. Now it’s time to look forward with us at what might be the best games of 2015. While fully acknowledging that some of these games likely won’t up to their billing and others may get pushed into 2016, these are the 2015 games that XBLA Fans is currently most looking forward to. If these releases aren’t on your radar yet, they will be after you’re done reading.


#IDARB

Developers: Other Ocean Interactive and The People of the Internet

#IDARB is a particularly interesting game to say we’re anticipating in 2015, seeing as XBLA Fans got our hands on what we were told was the “final” game in December and published our review already. This zany handball-meets-platformer game from Other Ocean Interactive and the fine folks of the internet — many features crowd sourced — isn’t officially out until February, though, when it will be part of the Games with Gold promotion. It’s difficult to explain just what #IDARB is, but it’s easy to recommend that you go play it when it releases next month.

Nick Santangelo, Managing Editor

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Ori and the Blind Forest to release on March 11

Ori and the Blind Forest Gets a Release Date

Ori and the Blind Forest will release March 11 on Xbox One for $19.99, developer Moon Studios announced today. The side-scroller will also be made available on PC the same day.

Following its announcement at E3 last year, Ori and the Blind Forest was said to be coming in late in 2014. That didn’t happen, however, as Moon Studios in November announced a delay that it said would afford the development team the time it needed to “add a final layer of polish” to what it hopes “will be an unforgettable gaming experience.”

In conjunction with today’s release date reveal, Moon also gave those looking forward to its game more than five minutes of new footage to watch. Set in the game’s Forlorn Ruins section, the video demonstrates what appear to be two of Ori‘s main hooks: defying gravity while platforming and shooting weaponized bursts of light from a floating orb.

Source: Moon Studios

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Rogue Legacy coming to Xbox One this year

Rogue Legacy Is Coming to Xbox One

Rogue Legacy is coming to Xbox One in 2015, developer Cellar Door Games has revealed. In response to a fan question about the rogue-like’s chances of making it to Xbox One, Cellar Door tweeted simply, “It’s coming.”

In case there was any doubt as to the veracity of its tweet, the studio re-confirmed with Polygon and announced that Rogue Legacy would arrive on Microsoft’s console this year. “It’s definitely coming this year,” a representative for the game told the site.

Cellar Door appeared unwilling to further narrow down the release window for the game, stating on Twitter only that it was “coming sometime-ish.”

The game, which Cellar Door refers to as a “genealogical rogue-lite,” originally released on PC in 2013 before making its way to PlayStation 3, 4 and Vita last year. Although players die frequently in the brutally difficult dungeons of Rogue Legacy, they have the chance to take control of deceased characters’ ancestors and set about avenging them.

Sources: Cellar Door Games and Polygon

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XBLA Fans’ 2014 Game of the Year awards

GOTY_Title_2014

It’s January, which means it’s time for XBLA Fans to take a look back at the best and brightest games of the last year.

2014 was a transitional year for the Xbox brand. It was Xbox One’s first full year on the market, and it bore witness to Microsoft going all-in on its complete reversal of the console’s strategy and public image. Redmond distanced its next-gen console from being some sort of multimedia wonderbox as much as possible and did its best to focus on the games. Despite a litany of exciting ID@Xbox game announcements, the program got off to a bit of a slow start, though. Ports and re-releases dominated much of 2014’s ID@Xbox release calendar, and last-gen Xbox Live Arcade releases on Xbox 360 were used to buoy Microsoft’s greater indie library.

If you paid as much attention to ID@Xbox as as XBLA Fans did, though, then you know there were some standout stars even if there was not a terribly high quantity of them. We’ve played the games and cast our votes, and how we present you with our 2014 Game of the Year awards. Don’t like our picks? Fair enough. Head to the comments and make your case for why yours are better.

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Lizard Squad members apprehended by authorities

Lizard Squad Xbox Live DDoS Attack

Like millions of other Xbox gamers, you may have had trouble logging onto Xbox Live during Christmas. That’s because both Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network were victimized by DDoS attacks that took them offline, but authorities may be closing in on the parties responsible.

YLE reported last week that a supposed member of Lizard Squad, the group claiming responsibility for the attacks, had been apprehended by Finnish authorities. A 17-year old identified only as “Ryan” was brought in for questioning, but Chief Inspector Tero Muurman of Finland’s National Bureau of Investigation has since stated that Ryan was not detained, only questioned about his possible involvement.

During his questioning, Ryan denied direct involvement in the attack, claiming to only be a spokesperson for Lizard Squad. He played the part during an interview with Sky News in which he said the actual team of attackers consisted of only one or two individuals.

Although Ryan said the group may contain members younger than the age of 20, one of them may be 22-year old Vinnie Omari, who The Daily Dot reports was arrested by UK authorities on December 29 in connection to the DDoS attacks. Omari was later released on bail, with no formal charges having yet been filed. Omari told the Dot that a forensics team was pouring over his “Xbox one, phones, laptops, computer USBs, etc.”

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The Banner Saga 2 coming to Xbox One in 2015 *updated*

The Banner Saga 2 for Xbox One

Update: Versus Evil has confirmed to XBLA Fans that the first Banner Saga game will be arriving for Xbox One sometime in Q1 or Q2 of 2015.

Original Story: Created by a trio of former BioWare employees and backed by over $700,000 in Kickstarter funding, Stoic’s The Banner Saga hasn’t released on Xbox 360 or Xbox One. The game, which enjoys an aggregate rating of 82 on Metacritic, instead released on PC and has a PS4 and Vita ports planned for next year.

It was understandable, then, if Xbox-only gamers uttered a collective “meh” when the sequel was announced last week — but it was also premature. Publisher Versus Evil has announced that it will bring Stoic’s The Banner Saga 2 to Xbox One in 2015 as part of the ID@Xbox program.

“The critical reception and widespread fan appreciation for The Banner Saga is overwhelming and humbling, and has the team at Stoic dedicated to delivering a fantastic sequel with The Banner Saga 2,” Stoic Co-owner and Art Director Arnie Jorgensen wrote in a press release.

Set in a Norse-inspired fantasy world, the series features turn-based combat and focuses on the story of the player’s entire caravan rather than honing in on individual characters. Stoic plans to eventually release a third game to tie up that story.

XBLA Fans has reached out to Versus Evil to inquire whether or not the first game will ever make its way to the Xbox One and will update this story should a response be issued. For now, take a look at the sequel’s announcement trailer below to get an idea of what Stoic has in store for you next year.

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Holiday price drop pushing Xbox One sales to new heights

Xbox One

In the eight months immediately following the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One launches in November of 2013, Sony, riding high on major public relations victories over Microsoft, led next-gen console sales by a supposed margin of nearly two to one. Despite selling at a pace much quicker than the last-gen-market-leading Xbox 360 did during the same point in its life cycle, the Xbox One was lagging far behind the PlayStation 4 in market share.

So Microsoft made some changes.

Executives Don Mattrick and Marc Whitten left the company. Phil Spencer took over as the head of the Xbox team. Kinect was unbundled from the console. Larger multimedia initiatives were cut entirely or made ancillary in favor of a focus on gaming first and foremost. Finally, the Xbox One’s price was temporarily (for the holidays) dropped to $350 with a $60 retail game bundled in.

Those maneuvers seem to be paying off, as data reporting firm InfoScout found that the Xbox One enjoyed a Black Friday sales lead of 22 percent over the PlayStation 4, according to data compiled from more than 180,000 sales receipts. InfoScout followed up by conducting a survey of 350 consumers who purchased a console on Black Friday, and found that 71 percent of Xbox One buyers cited cost as a major influence on their purchase. Comparatively, just 48 percent of PlayStation 4 buyers surveyed indicated that price played a major role in their purchase decision.

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Thomas Was Alone review (Xbox One)

Thomas Was Alone was developed by Mike Bithell and published on Xbox One by Curve Studios. It was released on November 21, 2014 for $10.99. A copy was provided by Curve for review purposes.

Thomas Was Alone Cover Art

Thomas Was Alone is a game that released at precisely the right time in history. Originally debuting on PC in 2012 before finding its way to Xbox One, Thomas Was Alone perfectly captures today’s zeitgeist. Using nothing more than colored squares and rectangles that are seen and heard about but rarely heard from, developer Mike Bithell has assembled one of gaming’s most interesting and diverse casts of playable characters.

In Thomas Was Alone you play as artificial intelligences that have, as the result of a glitch in an experimental lab, become self-aware. Yes, this is a setup similar to ones we’ve seen countless times in popular media, but Bithell has breathed new life into it. AI Thomas, represented on screen by a red rectangle, is companionless and confused upon achieving self-awareness. He starts moving “up and to the right,” as the game’s delightful narrator makes a point of frequently noting, in a desperate bid to find friends and answers. It’s not long before Thomas begins encountering both, and he and his new friends endeavor to reach the awe-inspiring “fountain of wisdom” (internet connection). The staggering amount of information Thomas sees there convinces him that the AIs must work in sync towards the goal of escaping the system and entering the greater world beyond. Each AI is different in appearance and ability, and the way they learn to accept this diversity and use it to their advantage is nothing short of inspiring.

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Remastered Resident Evil coming to Xbox January 20

Resident Evil for Xbox One

Capcom has announced that its second remastered Resident Evil endeavor will release on Xbox 360 and Xbox One on January 20 for $19.99. Its retouched version of the game that essentially invented the survival-horror genre will simultaneously release on PC and PlayStation platforms.

Fans of the series, which Capcom says has sold over 62 million units to date, will recall that Resident Evil first released in 1996 for the original PlayStation, and that a remake arrived for the GameCube six years later. The 2015 release will feature resolutions and textures that have been “significantly upgraded” from the GameCube release. The next-gen version will run in 1080p and all versions will feature 5.1 surround sound. Capcom is also giving players the ability to switch back and forth between 4:3 and 16:9 aspect ratios.

That’s not the only new toggling option, either; Capcom is including a couple toggles that affect gameplay. The first offers the ability to swap between the original game’s infamous “tank” controls and a more contemporary control scheme. To further cater to modern-day gamers who may be approaching Resident Evil for the first time, Capcom is creating a new “Very Easy” gameplay mode. This difficulty level will be available in addition to all of the original ones.

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Microsoft went through 200 Xbox One controller prototypes

Xbox One Controller

On the surface, the Xbox One controller isn’t too different from its Xbox 360 predecessor: four face buttons, two triggers, a pair of bumpers, a couple of analog sticks, a d-pad, the Xbox Guide button and start and back button facsimiles. So designing it was probably a fairly simple task for Microsoft, right? Not exactly.

Carl Ledbetter is the man who led the team of 35 responsible for designing the Xbox One and its controller over a three-year period. In an interview with MCV, Ledbetter revealed that the console’s gamepad went through 200 prototypes that were tested by 1,100 people over a period of 500 hours.

“Nobody says anything about the little things on the hardware,” Ledbetter said. “If somebody is using the controller and after 30 minutes is saying ‘my hands are starting to hurt,’ then that’s a fail. But if after 30 minutes all they’re thinking about is the game, then we’re doing okay.”

Though most gamers and reporters have named rival Sony’s DualShock 4 as the new gold standard for gamepads, Microsoft’s Xbox One controller has been warmly received as well. Small but important changes from the 360 pad have resulted in an already comfortable design feeling even more satisfying in gamers’ hands. Complaints about aches and pains after 30 minutes of playing time have been virtually non-existent, making the design a success by Ledbetter’s standards.

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