I’ve always had a soft spot for ambition; for the people out there who take risks, when the big money says play it safe. I’d rather watch and cheer for the Phil Mickelson’s of the world who would rather shoot over or through obstacles than lay up and take two shots; the Boise States who are willing to go for two on a trick play in overtime; the indie developer who spends their entire life savings on a dream. In a world dominated by discussion of monetization models and social metrics, I even have a soft spot for an established three hundred and fifty person studio that creates an IP department for prototyping and creating new ideas on the console space, while many companies are running the other direction. I had the opportunity to speak with Frima Games about their upcoming project, Lives and Death, at GDC this year, and what I saw, while still in the prototyping phase, is definitely ambitious.
Phil Fish began Fez years ago and went through countless cycles of development. Some of this was documented in Indie Game: The Movie and after a showing at GDC, a Japanese developer asked his opinion on Japanese games to which he replied “your games suck”. Since then, the whirlwind of hate he’s receiving is pretty crazy, people saying he has zero games out and doesn’t deserve to say things like that. Others even saying he doesn’t deserve the grand prize at the IGF awards, purely for either winning one already or for his comments. I offer one request about all of this hub-bub though.
Can’t we just give him a break?
While the world cries in pain over the “varied” endings in Mass Effect 3 we were given yet another little jab to the heart. During development of ME3 Bioware Montreal was working on a competitive first person shooter in the Mass Effect universe. The idea was eventually transformed into the multiplayer mode found in Mass Effect 3, but we think the idea of a multiplayer-based game in the universe is utterly brilliant.
For the curious with an iPad you can download the app The Final Hours of Mass Effect 3, which chronicles Team Assault and several other goodies. You’ll even find test footage of the game. We think it’d work amazingly well as an Xbox Live Arcade game. Think about it, as Battlefield 1943 is to the Battlefield series, so could Team Assault be to Mass Effect.
With a few changes, anyway. . .
It’s back to the regular crew this week. We kick things off by talking about last weeks release of I Am Alive, we have some mixed thoughts on the ambitious survival game. Then Todd tells us all about Shoot Many Robots, check out his review to find out more.
Perry drops the usual news bombs, of which there are a lot this week. Andrew grabs a twitter question about the worst XBLA games and challenges us to play Aces of the Galaxy, send your thoughts to @XBLAFans on twitter.
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We totally missed January, but the Monthly Recap is back for February! Yaaay. There’s an immense amount of news this month because for some reason February is XBLA month. There’s roughly a million game announcements and DLC as well. I suggest hitting CTRL + F and searching for the copious news about your favorite game. Or games. Or just read all the news, because that’s a good idea.
Beyond the “things that happened”, there’s also several Friday Top Fives and Most Wanted’s this month as we continue to beef up our feature repertoire. Our chief feature, A Year In Review (2011) is definitely worth checking out for some insight into the fluctuations in XBLA cost versus review scores. Lastly, amongst the five podcasts is our Music Special which showcases some of the best XBLA soundtrack tunes since its inception.
Without further ado, welcome to February all over again!
I told myself I would never play Minecraft as I have this incredibly easy ability to become quickly addicted to something. To put it in perspective, I’m the guy who watches entire series of TV shows straight through in a day, not just seasons. I’ll try and fail for hours at a game like Super Meat Boy or Trials HD until I can get through sections perfectly. When I started Skyrim, I had eighty hours put into the game before I even remembered to start the main quest. When I fell in love with XBLA games, I helped start this website. So it was no surprise when I finally picked up a controller to play Minecraft an hour passed by like nothing had even happened.
Almost every game does something right; whether it’s a fantastic new engine or physics, creative and quirky design, or interesting and challenging levels in which to experience it all, but to truly leave a mark a game needs to do everything right. After playing The Splatters a few dozen times and watching those colorful blobs explode and stain the screen, this could easily be one of those games. It’s launching on April 11 and it needs to be on your radar. Coming into GDC, I wasn’t too familiar with The Splatters or its developer Spiky Snail, an Israeli company founded in 2010 by two childhood friends. Yet throughout the week I keep finding myself wanting to come back and play more.
Players take control of these blob-like creatures and attempt to destroy bombs by exploding their splatter, releasing a paint like substance and coating the bombs in the paint. The basic controls are incredibly simple, as the left analog stick points the direction and the A button launches the splatter. Holding A will result in the splatter launching with enough force to cause it to explode should it come into contact with a wall or spikes, while lightly tapping the button will allow it to move locations. Players can change direction in midair both before exploding and after exploding through this same mechanic. The beginning levels have a few stages and slowly introduce basic mechanics. Every splatter that is still alive after completing a stage will continue to the next one until the end of the level where they will add points to a players score.