Features Archive


Trampled under foot: Ascend: New Gods preview

Ascend: New Gods is an action game. The fact that players take control of gigantic warriors known as Caos that mow through hordes of beasts with magic and melee weapons while trampling the tiny, feeble humans under their feet as a man might a rodent, informs those who pick up the controller of as much. The fact that these towering, stout champions appear before the seemingly indomitable Titans of the game as not but rodents themselves, betrays that there may just be something more to Signal Studios’ game than the repeated mashing of a face button that could effectively get one through the title’s E3 demo.

Although Signal promises that more challenging enemies will turn up later in the game, the demo, while enjoyable, left one wanting to see what other tricks the studio has up its sleeve. Most of the encounters could be won by relying on basic attacks, the repeated swinging of a sword or war hammer until the foe(s) before the Caos were felled. Getting beyond the basic “press X to kill stuff” approach to battles is something that all developers of action games must work to overcome if they are to differentiate their work from that of the competition.

Signal has plans for that. A unique form of multiplayer (more on that shortly) and a slew of challenging beasts that may require a bit more cunning to overcome. “We have tons of different monsters in the game,” Signal Studios Lead Game Designer Ian Scott explained to XBLA Fans at E3. “As you saw, the humans are really small in our game; they’re kind of like rats. You can pick them up and eat them for health, but there’s obviously things that are a lot bigger than you and more badass. Well, I don’t know about necessarily more badass than you.” Scott isn’t sure whether or not the team wants individual non-Titan enemies to be tougher than a Caos, but he asserted that there are definitely enemies that can dole out a walloping.

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Straw Poll Wednesday: Multiplayer needs

When games have multiplayer, what do you require? (mark the highest)

  • Online + local, integrated (I.E. splitscreen while online) (40%, 43 Votes)
  • Online + local, but separated (I.E. online *OR* splitscreen) (23%, 25 Votes)
  • Online (22%, 24 Votes)
  • Local (typically this is splitscreen) (15%, 16 Votes)

Total Voters: 108

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The staff is split on this one. Many prefer online over local, but Todd, Perry and I love that one of a kind feeling you get with living room party gaming. But how much multiplayer does a game need before you consider it awesome? Speaking only for myself I want the whole shebang. Local and online at the same time. Every game I play avidly has both. I have friends and family over, we play on my machine, then hook up with online friends.


Spelunky Guide – Tips, Tricks and Secrets



Spelunky, Mossmouth‘s gift to the platforming and roguelike world, is not easy. In no capacity is it easy, and in fact as of writing I have died ~600 times. Sure, a lot of that was just to find information, but we assure you the death counts for this game will be in the thousands for most players. While every adventure through Spelunky results in a score, and surely that is important, the real goal here is to make it to the end and get the treasure spoken of only in whispers in back alleys and on forums. This guide has a deluge of tips and tricks for you to employ in your journey through Spelunky, as well as an ever growing account of all the secrets and unlockables in this game. Here’s the disclaimer:

Spelunky is first and foremost about adventure. It’s about failure, about dying, about losing, about learning from each and everything you see that inevitably kills you. Part of the glory of Spelunky’s design is finding out how things work, the nature of the AI and of the ever-changing environments. You should experience that, and you should do so without this guide. We recommend you not look at this guide until you’ve died at least 100 times. That said, if you’re frustrated, or if you have to find the secrets right-just-now, we welcome you to enjoy our wealth of information.

We have no intention of spoiling the whole game for you, so the secrets and unlockables are on their own page, away from the tips and tricks. That said, there are plenty of spoilers in here as well, but we have separated each and every collection of tips by section of the game to which they pertain. Everything you’ll experience for the majority of your “newbie” experience is just below and none of it is entirely shocking, though there’s much useful information there. At the very bottom of this guide is our tips to completion, and they include information from every single thing, including the secrets, but they’re also our most comprehensive (and tested) tips for success. We wish you luck, adventurer. Read the rest of this entry »


XBLAFancast Episode 68 – Successfully trolled

It’s the return of the regular four-man crew this week, and that brings with it a ton of discussion. First up Perry and Todd tell us about Spelunky (out tomorrow) which they’ve both been playing through the week. After that we hit last weeks releases, including of course Episode 2 of The Walking Dead.

Perry brings the news as always, Todd gives us a preview of a Todd Talk to come and Andrew rounds things out with the Community Corner.

Please subscribe, rate and review the podcast on iTunes. We appreciate it! Check us out on twitter (@XBLAFans) where you can win codes for games, give us feedback or just ask a question. We are also now on Stitcher, so you can stream the show on your smartphone, give it a go!

Big thanks to Chris Green for the awesome theme music, be sure to check out his site BlurredEdge and why not follow him on twitter too @BlurredEdge.


RSS | MP3 | iTunes Read the rest of this entry »


Trials Tuesday: Week of July 3

Take a ride on the surface of Mars. Fall from great heights. Ride a Ferris wheel. Seven tracks are featured today–mostly Trials tracks, but we’ve thrown in a Supercross and Skill Game for good measure. To download these tracks by entering Track Central, selecting Get Tracks, then pressing X to search. Enter the gamertag below to find the track. Be aware that the search is case sensitive. A big thanks to the Trials Evolution community for the borrowed videos. Hit the jump to see this week’s picks.

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Minecraft Mondays – Porkchop Fridge Edition

Props to XMaloX for recreating our logo in-game

Each Monday for the foreseeable future, we will be showcasing a community member’s Minecraft world. If you are interested in being featured, please email Shawn@xblafans.com. If you’re new to the world of Minecraft, check our our introductory guide here and find out what over 2 Million Xbox Live players are going on about.

This week, avid XBLAFans reader LinkDay ER shows Shawn his very elaborate and very well designed world.


Sunday Night Streaming: Spelunking in Spelunky

Watch live video from xblafans on TwitchTV

UPDATE: And the video is all saved and ready to be viewed! Hoped you enjoyed the stream for those of you that made it.

This Sunday night Microsoft Studios has given us leave to stream Spelunky! Believe that though this will be the first time Spelunky for XBLA is streamed, it will not be our last. Get your adventurer hats and whips and jetpacks ready for the stream happening at 10PM EST/7PM PST on our Twitch.TV Channel. Watch our Guide Coordinator die his way through the perils of Spelunky because… well why would you not?

Spelunky is a combination of platformer and roguelike, arguably the only of its kind, which goads adventuers to play the game over and over until they die of deep vein thrombosis. Descend through multiple levels of this mysterious cave, weaving your way from a mine to an incredibly dangerous Mayan temple. On the way down the adventurer can acquire all manner of loot either by paying for it with money he collects, finding it or stealing it from shotgun-wielding shopkeepers. If (read: when) you die, you go all the way back to the start and the entire level is re-randomized. Spelunky is a very tense game that has something new to find every single time you play. Usually a new way to die. It’s a ton of fun since usually a run will last anywhere from 5-20 minutes before you either win or die.

Spelunky will release on Wednesday, July 4 for 1200 points.

When: Sunday July 1 from 10PM-11:59PM (EST)

Where: XBLA Fans on Twitch.TV

What: Streaming Spelunky and having all kinds of fun!


Weekly Roundup: Canada Day Edition

Weekly Roundup compiles all the biggest news stories, reviews, and releases from the week into one handy post on the weekends.

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What we are playing: July 1

What we are playing is a weekly column published on Sunday. Select members of the team talk about the games they’ve been playing over the past week and which they’re most looking forward to. 

Christine Mitchell - I got a new kitten this week so I took some time off work to settle her in so I also got loads of time to play games. Her name is Tali and she’s been helping me play Kingdoms of Amalur and Tropico 4. She’s not too impressed by my Dance Central 2 skills though.

Perry Jackson - Finished up Walking Dead Episode 2 which completely shattered the first episode in terms of moral choice and compelling narrative. At points, I legitimately felt bad for the things I had done and who witnessed it. Also started up Spelunky which Todd and I can’t stop gushing about. You’ll hear more on the podcast and I’m about to start up Quantum Conundrum. So much XBLA going on here.

Ross Adams - I reviewed Episode 2 of The Walking Dead, really impressed by what Telltale are doing, you can read my review for more thoughts. Also picked up a cheap copy of Syndicate and played through the co-op, some really cool systems for upgrading and stuff, a lot of fun.

James Heiger Busy gaming week for me. Played a bunch of the Epic Quest table on Pinball FX2. Then I played through the second episode of the Walking Dead. The game truly forces you to make tough choices. I finished out the week playing Penny Arcade Episode 3. So far so fun.

Nathan Bowring - I picked up and finished The Walking Dead Episode 2 this week, and while it had an amazing narrative it freaked me out. Also continued building my world in Minecraft and played a few rounds of Halo Reach.

Matt Liparota - I started the week out by buying Link’s Awakening on the 3DS eShop and literally spent my Sunday doing nothing but playing that – so that’s been happening a lot this week (it’s also got me considering going back and finishing all the titles in the franchise I’ve never beaten, so that should be fun if I actually do it). I also spent a good deal of gaming time this week back inSkyrim (though I didn’t pick up the new DLC yet) taking back the land from the Empire (sorry, guys, but if you’re going to start the game by trying to chop my head off, I’m going to play for the other team).

Mark Seymour  - Combination of Dawnguard, Space Marine and The Walking: Dead Episode 2 this week. Dawnguard was disenchanting, eschewing Skyrim’s greatest features (exploration) while shining light on its many foibles (story and endless loading screens, chiefly). Space Marine is even dumber than I anticipated while The Walking Dead left me fuming. Trouble is, I can’t explain why without giving everything away (although Telltale do a stand up job of that that anyway).

Some of us have been whispering about this year’s Summer of Arcade over on The Twitter. We think many of the games outside of the annual soiree are more exciting than those in it. What is your view, good reader? And, as always, what have you been playing this week?


XBLA’s Most Wanted: Shenmue

One can’t skim the internet without running into a forum thread about the potential release of Shenmue 3–the next installment in a saga that began on Sega’s Dreamcast in November of 2000. Fans of the series sip on every drip of information on its development, though nothing of the sort truly exists. Shenmue’s creator, Yu Suzuki, even left Sega last year though some reports suggest he still has a consultant role within the company. Despite these gloomy prospects, die hard fans are still hopeful that the third of the series will finally breach the coffin it had been placed in so long ago.

William Shakespeare once said: “Love me or hate me, both are in my favor…If you love me, I’ll always be in your heart…If you hate me, I’ll always be in your mind.

Had William Shakespeare been around in the 21st Century, we believe he’d be referring to Shenmue. Never will you discover a title so adored by critics and gamers and abhorred by others in the same demographic. You play as Ryo Hazuki, an unassuming young man on a quest to avenge his father’s death. In order to achieve this, Ryo must emphatically harass the locals of a small Japanese town by asking questions like the infamous, “Are you guys sailors?” Ryo finds himself in a lot of trouble during his exploration of leads, but he can always stop by the arcade and play an emulated, in-game version of a few arcade hits. Read the rest of this entry »

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