Fez Archive

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Contrast review (XBLA and Xbox One)

Contrast is developed and published by Compulsion Games. It was released on Xbox One for $14.99 on June 6, 2014. It is also available on Xbox 360 for $14.99. An Xbox One copy was provided for review purposes.

Contrast 1

A shadow is the absence of light behind an object. Shadows know nothing else besides darkness and only exist in attachment to another. Shadows emit fear, mystery, the unknown. A shadow adds another layer to an object, a person. Often over sought, we often only view what’s on the surface, we don’t think twice. What’s on the surface is rather accordingly never as it seems, yet a shadow can show exactly what it seems. The warping of light and spacetime; the peeling back of our layered complexities; and questioning of what is reality are all captured by the beautiful artistry of Contrast.

Set in turn-of-the-century Paris, Contrast tells the story of a young girl, Didi, as she sets out upon the nocturnal Parisian streets to bring her family back together. Her mother works late nights at the gentleman’s club, and her father is deep in debt with the gangs. Didi just want to have one happy family again. Tagging along is her shadowy companion Dawn, who uses her mysterious powers to warp into the shadows and complete complicated platforming puzzles based upon the manipulation of light and shadows cast on the walls. Thus, the game becomes an existential experience that comments on family, science and emotion.

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Top 10 XBLA soundtracks to listen to while reading, studying or writing

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Did you know that video game music helps the brain by providing a stimulating background that doesn’t interfere with concentration? OK, I can’t prove that. I have no scientific evidence to back it up, but for some games, it seems like it just has to be true.

Xbox Live Arcade is home to some amazing games with some equally amazing music. Composers often sink days, months or even years into crafting the best musical experience for players – dedication that likely goes unnoticed, which sometimes is the whole point.

Sometimes, the best game music can serve as a stimulating background while studying, writing, reading or just doing some housework. Sometimes, you don’t want to notice the music or have it break your concentration. With that in mind, here are the top 10 XBLA soundtracks that serve as the best music to read, study, write or work to.

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Xbox 360′s best XBLA games of all time: #15 – 11

Best of XBLA

Xbox Live Arcade began its life on Microsoft’s Xbox 360 simply enough. When eager gamers bought up Xbox 360s on launch day (November 22, 2005), they found a free copy of Hexic HD pre-loaded on their hard drives. Of course, it was another launch title that secured the platform’s success. Bizarre’s Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved both gave birth to the twin-stick shooter craze and demanded gamers take Xbox Live Arcade, which started in disc form back on the original Xbox, seriously as a digital games platform. Bizarre’s side project paved the way for the enormous variety of retro revivals, HD remakes, original indie projects, major studio releases, free-to-play games and more that have come to call XBLA home in the years since.

Today, we’re approximately one month away from the launch of the Xbox One, which will signal the end of XBLA as we have come to know it these past eight years. While Microsoft’s Xbox line will continue to be home to myriad low-cost downloadable video games, the XBLA moniker will not make the transition to Xbox One. It’s going down with the figurative (and literal) Xbox 360 boat. So what better time than now to count down the best XBLA games to ever grace the Xbox 360?

It wasn’t easy, but our staff has sorted through all of the best XBLA releases over the years and picked the ones that we feel are the true standout stars of the platform. Check back with us throughout the week as we run down five of Xbox Live Arcade’s top games every night. And don’t forget to head to the comments to let us know how much you love (or hate) our picks.

(Editor’s Note: Voting was conducted in early September. No games released post-Summer of Arcade 2013 were considered eligible.)


15.) Trials Evolution

Trials Evolution Course

Shawn Saris, ContributorTrials HD is a simple game. You have a bike, and you are tasked with getting from one end of the screen to the other. How hard could that possibly be? In some cases, a good argument could be made for it being impossible, and, as such, the first Trials went on to be known as one of the hardest games to grace XBLA. Years later, Trials Evolution stepped up to the plate with bigger, better levels, more bikes and an amazing track editor, allowing the community to make its own courses for years to come. Trials Evolution is a perfect example of the old mantra “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Instead of changing everything for the sequel, developer RedLynx left the core game the same and instead just added dozens of hours worth of content to challenge players.

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Fez creator cancels sequel, exits game industry

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If you haven’t heard by now, Fez II was officially put to pasture. The news came via Fez‘s polarizing creator Phil Fish, who took to Twitter over the weekend, responding to the latest round of harsh criticisms by saying he was done with the industry. In a subsequent post from the indie developer’s studio, the official statement confirmed that the surprise sequel would never see the light of day.

When the news broke, we were hesitant to pick it up for a few reasons. Firstly due to the nature of the announcement, which was delivered swiftly in the midst of an obviously emotional moment for Fish, and over Twitter no less. We’ll spare you the details of who said what, that information is out there if you’re interested, but in an effort to avoid perpetuating the he-said-she-said circus it’s not relevant to this story.

Secondly, it’s no secret that Fish and Microsoft (and by extension, Xbox Live Arcade) aren’t on the best of terms. Following turbulent post-release support, Fish has gone on record regularly to condemn Microsoft and their indie-facing practices. It’s unlikely that Fez II would have ended up on the platform, but a small ember of hope remained with the confirmation title patches would no longer carry fees, and the long-sought move for independent self-publishing on the Xbox One.

Unfortunately the future of Fez is all but a pipe dream now, not only for Xbox Live Arcade, but every platform. It’s a shame, but Phil Fish knows what’s best for Phil Fish and regardless of his contentious online persona, if his decision to exit the game industry means an obviously talented creator gets to keep on keepin’ on, that’s a decision everyone should respect.

Source: Polytron

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Much-needed Fez patch on the way

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After a year on the market with game-breaking glitches, Fez developer Phil Fish of Polytron announced on Twitter that he is hard at work getting a proper patch on the way for last year’s mind-twisting platformer. It should be ready in a few months.

This comes hot on the heels of the now-confirmed rumor that Microsoft would forgo patching fees. Fish kicked up quite a storm when he publicly berated Microsoft for allegedly charging exorbitant fees for patches, ultimately forcing him to leave Fez broken and incomplete. Microsoft sternly reminded him that they didn’t make the broken patch.

The first patch (which is free for developers) fixed most gameplay problems that got players stuck throughout the game. However, a small but significant 1% of players began losing their save files to corruption. The patch was quickly pulled, but Polytron had missed its chance to make the game right without ponying up thousands of dollars. Finally, that can all be water under the bridge.

Source: Twitter via Joystiq

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Newsbits: A new Fez soundtrack, Transistor multiplayer and poor sales

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  • Fez had an outstanding soundtrack, and we were all spoiled last month with the release of the remix album. Well, it looks like we’ve been given another gift, as a second remix album for Fez has popped up seemingly out of nowhere. It has already been released, and you can give it a listen or download here.
  • For any fan of Bastion, you’ll be well aware of Supergiant Games new title, Transistor (re-watch the awesome reveal trailer here!). While it will be taking a lot of influence from Bastion, it looks like Transistor will enjoy quite a different approach with the inclusion of multiplayer. Before you get angry, let us clarify that it won’t be a traditional multiplayer mode, but something more subtle. You can read more about it over at Rock Paper Shotgun.
  • Have you been following Ascend: New Gods? Well, if you’d like to continue to do so, you’ll have to search for it by its new name Ascend: Hand of Kul.
  • Darkstalkers Resurrection hasn’t exactly been lighting up the sales charts, and Capcom U.S. senior vice president Christian Svensson took to the Capcom Unity forums to express his disappointment. He also brought up the possibility that the lack of success could potentially mean an end of Capcom bringing out new digital releases of their fighting franchises.
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Newsbits: Apps, Music and The Walking Dead

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  • Microsoft recently sold its Mediaroom and the IPTV service to Ericsson. According the the press release the sale “allows Microsoft to commit 100 percent of its focus on consumer TV strategy with Xbox.” Sounds like the Xbox will be even more of a multimedia platform in the future.
  • Flixster and Virgin Gaming apps have launched for Xbox LIVE Gold users. The former allows for rental of movies while the latter serves as an opportunity for players to not only view live professional tournaments, but also register and compete in smaller scale tourneys.
  • The first annual Xbox LIVE Video Awards are underway. Voting takes place via the Xbox LIVE dashboard and Facebook. See Major Nelson’s blog post for more details.
  • A retail version of The Walking Dead will be released May 10 in Europe, Australia and New Zealand. It is currently available for purchase in North America.
  • More XBLA games have been delisted in the past few months: Nexuiz (for real this time), MLB Bobblehead Pros and its DLC, Pirates vs. Ninjas Dodgeball and 3D Ultra Minigolf Adventures 2 (incidentally, 3D Ultra Minigolf is still available)
  • IGN recorded a full nine full minutes of Super T.I.M.E. Force during PAX East. You can view a mirror of the footage over at PlayXBLA right now.
  • A remixed version of the Fez soundtrack will be available April 20. You can preorder a copy  here.

 

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Fez sells 200,000 in its first year on XBLA

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Polytron Corporation updated their blog over the weekend, detailing the adventure that the critically acclaimed Fez took over its first year on XBLA. While it had its fair share of ups and downs, the positives prevailed and Fez sold over 200,000 copies. Phil Fish, the creator of Fez, hasn’t exactly made himself the most likable of figures in the game industry, but it is hard to deny the effort and energy he put into the project. A viewing of Indie Game: The Movie showcases that fact, and highlights how great of an accomplishment this really is.

Source: Polytron via IGN

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Jon Blow and Team Meat done with Xbox

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In recent interviews with Edge and Eurogamer, the makers of Braid and Super Meat Boy expressed their frustration with developing for Xbox Live Arcade. As independent developers, taking on the heated business of console development on top of development costs is more stress than its worth, say the developers.

“The overhead cost of just developing for those consoles is insane,” explained Tommy Refenes from Team Meat. “It costs zero dollars to develop on Steam if you already have a computer. When you look at PlayStation and Xbox and Nintendo, you have to buy thousand dollar dev kits and pay for certification and pay for testing and pay for localisation – you have to do all these things and at the end of the day it’s like, ‘I could have developed for other platforms and it would’ve been easier.’”

On top of development costs, there are lawyers, fees and ambiguity to sort through that cause an equally overwhelming headache. Ed McMillen from Team Meat said that to bring his studio’s games to consoles, his team would need “some magical middleman who would just appear and do all of our business for us… We went in and found out what it was like to develop for a console and the reality is there’s no loyalty on either side and it’s a business. And when you step in to that business arena it goes from us making art and it turns into business.”

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The Walking Dead walks away with Best Story at BAFTA Games Awards

The Walking Dead Ep 3 Screen 2

This past Tuesday saw the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) spotlight the third pillar of the moving image medium at its annual Games Awards ceremony in London. Though noticeably absent from the academy’s already lengthy title, video games held a role in the organization as early as 1998, flirting with varying levels of legitimacy before BAFTA announced in 2006 that it was giving video games equal status with the established arts of film and television.

Though this year marked an unprecedented level of independent nominees across the many categories BAFTA honored, the notable favorites were quick to stand out, having already performed handsomely throughout the awards season. Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead, was nominated for Best Story in a category comprised of Mass Effect 3, Far Cry 3, DishonoredThomas Was Alone and thatgamecompany’s award-magnet, Journey. Despite the stiff competition, The Walking Dead ultimately took home the prize no doubt thanks to its emotive and powerful storytelling, which we celebrated with our own Game of the Year Award.

While The Walking Dead was nominated for a slew of awards and ended up taking home at least one piece of hardware, Telltale’s entry didn’t solely represent the Xbox Live Arcade banner. Honorable mentions go to Polytron’s Fez and its nomination for Game Innovation. Also receiving a nod was Tequila Works’ Deadlight, nominated for Debut Game. Though neither title walked away with an award, in what was arguably the best year of gaming to date, there might be some truth to the saying that it’s an honor just to be nominated.

You can find all of the categories, nominees and winners by visiting the official British Academy Games Awards recap.

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