About Author: Nick Santangelo

Description
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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Xbox One August system update bringing social features, remote downloads

Xbox One’s August system update will bring with it changes inspired by user demand, Microsoft announced today. Several social elements aimed at making it easier for players to share their gaming experiences with their friends headline the list of revealed changes.

Microsoft’s focus for the update is apparently providing users with new ways to interact with friends within each others’ Xbox One activity feeds. Once they receive the update, users will see a single scrolling column that goes on for longer than the current interface. A Facebook-like ability to post comments and “like” items in friends’ feeds will be implemented alongside the ability to share game clips and other content either publicly or with friends only. Much like Mark Zuckerberg’s blue and white brainchild, the system will notify users when others like, share or comment on their content. SmartGlass compatibility is also planned.

The system update will also cater to those gamers looking for more immediate social updates by enlarging the Friends area on the console’s home screen, giving users access to friends’ current activities and most-played games. Users might see their friends engaging in a new activity when they view the larger Friends area: 3D Blu-ray viewing, which will also be included with the update.

Another feature, one that Microsoft says has been frequently requested, won’t require you to directly interact with your Xbox One at all. Users will finally be able to purchase games and add-on content on Xbox.com or via SmartGlass and download them without ever touching their consoles. Xbox One owners will need to have automatic updates set to on in order to take advantage of the feature.

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Fruit Ninja Kinect 2 appears on Australian Classification Board’s website

Fruit Ninja Kinect

Fruit Ninja Kinect 2 is in development at Montreal’s Hibernum Creations, if a new listing on the Australian Classification Board’s website is to be believed. The sequel to XBLA’s Fruit Ninja Kinect, itself a revamp of the 2010 mobile release, received a G rating on July 9, meaning it’s suitable for play by everyone.

Halfbrick Studios developed the first game in the series but is cited as the sequel’s publisher by the Australian government. Alleged new series developer Hibernum has in the past assisted in the development of major game releases such as Splinter Cell: Double Agent and Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood and been responsible for fully developing mobile titles like Disney Infinity: Action.

Fruit Ninja Kinect 2 is listed as a multiplatform title, which could potentially mean that it’s coming to both the Xbox 360 and the Xbox One.

XBLA Fans has reached out to both Halfbrick Studios and Hibernum Creations for comment and will update this story should one or both companies issue a response.

Source: Australian Classification Board

(Thanks, @lifelower)

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Latest Fenix Rage trailer shows off ‘The Moorsky’

Costa Rican developer Green Lava Studios has released a new trailer for its upcoming 2D platformer, Fenix Rage. In the new vid, main character Fenix can be seeing whirring around the screen avoiding enemies and environmental hazards in his quest to get a cookie, which is the prize awaiting him at the end of each stage. The stages in the new trailer are set in the game’s third area, known as “The Moorsky.”

XBLA Fans was able to go hands-on with Fenix Rage at Pax East 2014 prior to it being announced as an ID@Xbox title. The game played not unlike a version of Super Meat Boy starring Sonic the Hedgehog. Green Lava is promising gamers a “frenetically paced 2D action platformer” that forces them to navigate their way through hundreds of levels featuring dangerous mazes.

Fenix Rage is slated to launch on Xbox One this fall.

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Valiant Hearts: The Great War review (Xbox One)

Valiant Hearts: The Great War was developed by Ubisoft Montpellier and published by Ubisoft. It was released on June 25, 2014 on Xbox 360 and Xbox One for $14.99. An Xbox One copy was provided for review purposes.

Valiant Hearts Charge

All Quiet on the Western Front aside, popular media has largely ignored World War I over the years. It’s that other world war that happened before World War II and didn’t get a Steven Spielberg movie inspiring the video game industry to make oodles of games about it. With 2014 being the 100-year anniversary of the war’s start, Ubisoft Montpellier thought it was the perfect time to step in and make a game about the brutality of trench warfare. Well, that’s half-true, at least. Valiant Hearts: The Great War is as much about this incredibly violent and semi-forgotten war as it is about those who fought it and what it took from them.

First-hand stories like those taken from Audio Director Yoan Fanise’s great-grandfather’s letters from the front helped the team add an air of authenticity to Valiant Hearts‘ campaign, which follows the war-time experiences of five characters of differing nationalities. The puzzle-adventure game’s comic book art style can feel incongruous during the game’s more somber moments, and some of the sillier game-y elements further highlight the disparity between the austere story and its lighthearted presentation. Somehow, though, Ubisoft fuses it all together into an experience that will make you feel the horrible pains of those consumed by this “great” war, and the friendships that somehow develop through it.

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Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition coming to Xbox July 1

Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition

Next month, Xbox owners looking for a fun side-scrolling action-platformer will finally be able to experience what their PlayStation brethren did — and then some — more than a year ago. Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition will release on Xbox One and Xbox 360 on July 1 for $14.99, developer DrinkBox Studios has announced.

The embiggened title features an expanded story including both brand new content and all of the DLC released for the original 2013 version of Guacamelee. The campaign is longer thanks to the addition of the new Canal of Flowers and Volcano areas as well as a new boss named the Trio of Death, a three-headed skeleton residing in the new Volcano area where he helps main antagonist Carlos Calaca by constructing his skeleton army. That also means that Calaca will have new baddies “that want to chokeslam luchadores to sleep” at his disposal.

Players will have the new “Intenso” ability to help them in overcoming these new adversaries. Additionally, when playing in co-op, you will be able to swap dimensions independently, a much-requested ability by fans of the original release.

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Get to know the ID@Xbox games of E3 2014: Part IV

ID@Xbox E3 2014

At Microsoft’s E3 press conference on Monday morning, there was a video montage of a lot of games that are coming to Xbox One through the ID@Xbox program. Over the next few days, XBLA Fans is bringing you a slightly longer glimpse of those titles than what the montage trailer allowed for. Our coverage of these titles will be in alphabetical order. Following is a look at the fourth set of those games.


Ori and the Blind Forest

Ori and the Blind Forest

Microsoft describes Moon Studios’ Ori and the Blind Forest as “one of the most stylistically gorgeous games we’ve seen on Xbox One so far. Even though the young console doesn’t have much competition in that realm yet, it’s a fair statement to make. The Metroidvania title looked absolutely gorgeous racking up a lot of time in the limelight during Microsoft’s E3 media briefing. Moon Studios was busy quietly working away on the side-scroller for four years prior to its public debut last week. The playable E3 demo received mostly favorable reports from the show floor, but we’ll have to wait until the fall to find out how things come together in the final release.

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Get to know the ID@Xbox games of E3 2014: Part III

ID@Xbox E3 2014

At Microsoft’s E3 press conference on Monday morning, there was a video montage of a lot of games that are coming to Xbox One through the ID@Xbox program. Over the next few days, XBLA Fans is bringing you a slightly longer glimpse of those titles than what the montage trailer allowed for. Our coverage of these titles will be in alphabetical order. Following is a look at the third set of seven of those games.


Hellraid

Hellraid spellcasting

Known best for the Dead Island and Call of Juarez series, Techland is currently working on the Chrome Engine 6-powered dark fantasy action title Hellraid for Xbox One as well as PC and PlayStation 4. Hellraid, which is set in a world that has been invaded by the forces of — wait for it — hell, was first announced in 2013 and originally envisioned as a Dead Island mode. It will have both single-player and two, three and four-player co-op options that give players melee, magic and ranged combat abilities for use in dispatching invading demon scum. Techland is promising diverse fighting styles for the game’s various weapons, which naturally includes the ability to crush skulls with hammers. If you’re not the skull-crushing type, then perhaps the game’s various crossbows or spells will be more your style.

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1001 Spikes makes the jump to Xbox One June 10

8bits Fanatics’ deathtrap of a platformer, 1001 Spikes, will be releasing for Xbox One on June 10, publisher Nicalis has announced.

The intentionally brutally challenging sidescroller is named for the 1001 lives it allocates to players on their quest to survive the multitude of spikes, pits, enemies and other hazards. The game’s quest sends players after the lost treasures of Ukampa in South America and main character Aban Hawkins’ estranged father Jim Hawkins.

The game originally debuted as Aban Hawkins & the 100 Spikes on the Xbox Live Indie Games store in 2011. 1001 Spikes now features a complete campaign with a story, a world map, multiple playable characters — including some borrowed from other games like Bit.Trip Runner‘s Commander Video — and several multiplayer modes. As the launch trailer above shows, the game’s sights and sounds recall the glory days of 1980s platformers.

1001 Spikes released this past Tuesday for PlayStation 4, PS Vita, Mac, PC, 3DS and Wii U.

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Phil Harrison: Kinect-free Xbox will lead to a ‘virtuous cycle’

Xbox One Kinect

In the wake of the recent announcement that Microsoft will soon begin selling Xbox One consoles sans packed-in Kinect sensors for $399, gamers and the media have wondered aloud what this means for the both Xbox One and Kinect. Speaking with Total Xbox last week, Microsoft Corporate Vice President Phil Harrison attempted to paint a rosy picture for both console and peripheral.

Harrison recapped his company’s “very significant” decision to offer gamers two choices for acquiring an Xbox One and stated that “fundamentally that is good for opening up the Xbox One ecosystem – the more consumers who buy Xbox One, it’s a virtuous cycle for more developers to make and more consumers to play games, and that is what we’re committed to achieving and continuing.

“But we remain committed to Kinect as the premium way to experience the Xbox One vision,” he insisted. “Over 80 percent of Kinect Xbox Ones are active, over 120 voice commands are issued per day on average by all users of the console, so when you have this premium experience that is where the Xbox One comes alive.”

Harrison also took the opportunity to boast about Xbox One simultaneously being home to ID@Xbox titles like Strike Suit Zero and major retail releases Titanfall, calling the convergence “exactly our vision.”

Source: Total Xbox

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State of Decay: Lifeline DLC gets release date, pricing and launch trailer

The Lifeline DLC pack for State of Decay will release for XBLA on Friday, May 30 for $6.99, Undead Labs announced in a Memorial Day blog post. The DLC is currently undergoing final Microsoft certification and will release alongside the free Title Update 5 “if all goes well.”

Undead Community Director Sanya Weathers believes that May 30 may mark the first time ever that a game released ahead of a publicly announced target date, noting that the developer worked overtime alongside Microsoft Studios staffers to accomplish the feat. While that claim might be slightly dubious, such an occurrence is certainly outside of the norm.

The above launch trailer promises a new mission with a new story that requires a new strategy. Lifeline abandons the more rural settings of the original game in favor of the city of Danforth. The DLC puts players in control of the leader of a military unit called Greyhound One. Stationed at the Black Friday Mall, players will be tasked with protecting civilians from zombie aggressors. Black Friday must be protected from zombie attacks while Greyhound does its best to save and evacuate as many survivors as possible.

Title Update 5, meanwhile, will bring with it a feature called “Rucks in Trucks” that Weathers says has been one of the most-requested additions from the game’s fanbase. Rucks in Trucks is an option that allows players to stow bags “full of stuff” into their vehicles before making their getaway.

Source: Undead Labs

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