Category Archives: announced

Witness that I am intrigued over Jonathan Blow’s The Witness

Great, truly unique puzzles are hard to come by these days. We’ve seemingly done everything across a myriad of videogames spanning the past, present, and future: move blocks, match colored gems, flip switches, use portals to our advantage, bend time,  and so on. I thought the cloning and time-heavy puzzles in The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom were fantastic, excruciatingly tricky and humbling. Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge had a few brain-twisters, too. But other than that, it’s all been pretty ho-hum, and yes, I’ve not yet played Braid, but do plan to soon.

And so with that said, I’m pretty excited about The Witness, Jonathan Blow’s next game after Braid, and I’ve barely seen much of it in action, just read several lengthy, praising articles over the last couple of days about the stuck-on-an-island puzzler. Which is all about discovery, and listening, and looking–and seeing. Seeing is solving.

The Witness has a Myst feel to it, playing from a first-person perspective and exploring a lush, but isolated and empty island. Why is it people-less? Who are you, anyways? What’s with all the tech? Questions, quizzical uncertainties, a pristine and thriving locale void of human life…only one way to figure it all out, and that’s to go exploring, picking up recordings for deeper insight. There are blue computer screens littered across the island, and they all seem to be connected to a door; to open the door, a player must draw a line from point A to point B, and that sounds simple, but it seems like the kind of thing that can grow dangerously difficult over time. Some of the answers for the line are actually found by looking around at the island; that group of trees, perhaps, with their weird-looking branches; that bird chirping overhead, chirping high then low then high again; these are not just bits of nature, they are answers. Seeing is solving.

It sounds fantastic. However, if I’m truly going to love The Witness, I’m going to have to stop reading about it, as I don’t want to know all the puzzle solutions long and before it even comes out. The lesser known, the better.

And here’s some lo-fi video footage of the game in motion:

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Steve Jackson Games unsheathes Munchkin Conan the Barbarian

Strangely and surprisingly, over the Memorial Day weekend, Steve Jackson Games announced yet another new Munchkin title, this time going almost back to their fantasy origin roots with Munchkin Conan the Barbarian. This is a 15-card supplement for original Munchkin–y’know, the core set that already has 74 supplements as is–and while I will always be excited for new Munchkin art, cards, and game mechanics, I am growing a little weary of how bulky original Munchkin is getting. I think I only have like three big expansions (Munchkin 4 – The Need for Speed, Munchkin 5 – De-ranged, Munchkin 7 – Cheat With Both Hands) and one little one (Munchkin Waiting for Santa), and it’s already way too many cards to deal with. When my wife and sisters and I play, we have to actually create two Door piles and two Treasure piles because stacking them all at once would suddenly turn a round of Munchkin into a round of Jenga.

But yeah, Conan the Cimmerian…I mean, Barbarian. He’s definitely a great character, surviving in a world with inventive monsters and barrels full of fun–yet deadly–weapons. There’s actually so much to Conan’s rich history to pluck from that I’m sad to see this as just a supplement and not its very own set. Again, give me more big sets before little additions.

Munchkin Conan the Barbarian comes out this fall. Naturally, a better title would’ve been Conan the Muncharian. I’m dying to see what the Barbarian Booties do. No sample cards available yet, but you can check out a few pieces of early art over at the set’s homepage.

Chop their heads off with Munchkin Axe Cop

Don’t worry, I just double-checked, too: it’s March 11, not April 1.

Anyways, big announcement time from Steve Jackson Games as they have just thrown into the limelight their very first licensed Munchkin game. It’s Munchkin Axe Cop, based on that hilarious webcomic series that exploded on the Internet last year. Written by Malachai Nicolle (age 5) and drawn by his older brother Ethan Nicolle (age 29), Axe Cop has all the workings for a Munchkin game: it’s random, it’s erratic, it’s funny, it’s beyond belief, and it’s all about fighting enemies with whatever one can. I’m still a littled bewildered over this, but also curious to see it pan out. Munchkin Axe Cop will be a third quarter release.

This gives me hope that maybe one day, my very own webcomic (Supertown–please go read it!) could be turned into a Munchkin core set. I just need to fill it in more with crazy adorable characters…

Nintendo 3DS launch lineup launches itself into facepalmery

Launch lineups are pretty important. They are the weapons console systems wield to club consumers into submission. They are limelight dancers. They are reasons for being. And alas, for the Nintendo 3DS, the launch day titles are weak beyond belief, and all that hype over the Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time remake, Starfox 64 3D, Kid Icarus: Uprising, Metal Gear Solid something or other, and a new Animal Crossing game were just that, hype. Sure, they’ll be released eventually, but so will every other great game being created. What matters currently is what is available at the time of purchase, and brace yourself, dear Grinding Down readers, it’s not looking good.

First, let me say that I’m 90% sure I’m going to pick up a Nintendo 3DS. I have a Christmas bonus burning a hole in my sock drawer, and I think that the updated hardware is gonna be great. There’s built-in minigames, a camera, a music thingy, a Street Pass function, Mii maker, and plenty more. I’ve been wanting to upgrade to a DSi for some time, but this is a much better jump. As a glasses-wearer, I’m also downright curious to see this 3D in action and love the fact that it can be turned off completely. Most likely…it will. As for the games I want to play on it come Day One, well…

Here’s the three from Nintendo itself, and yes, you’ll notice none of the titles contain the name Mario:

  • Pilotwings Resort – Set on the same tropical Wuhu Island from Wii Sports Resort, players go on an aerial adventure by using airplanes, hang gliders, and rocket belts.
  • Steel Diver – This is…a submarine game. Players will control the sub’s speed, depth, and pitch, as well as fire torpedoes at enemies.
  • Nintendogs + Cats – Pet sim. Now with bonus kitty action!

The rest of the launch titles for the Nintendo 3DS are third-party titles. See ’em here:

  • Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition from Capcom
  • The Sims 3 from EA
  • Madden NFL Football from EA Sports
  • Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 3D from Konami Digital
  • LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars from LucasArts
  • Ridge Racer 3D from Namco Bandai Games
  • Super Monkey Ball 3D from SEGA
  • Bust-A-Move Universe from Square-Enix
  • Samurai Warriors: Chronicles from Tecmo Koei America
  • Asphalt 3D from Ubisoft
  • Combat of Giants: Dinosaurs 3D from Ubisoft
  • Rayman 3D from Ubisoft
  • Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars from Ubisoft

A lot of remakes and ported games. A lot of titles with 3D tacked on the end. Combat of Giants: Dinosaurs 3D sounds like perfect shovelware, and I can already see a hundred copies floating in those Best Buy “hey, whatever, man” bins they got from time to time. Yeah, it’s all a bit underwhelming. Go ahead and sit there for a bit, I won’t mind. I wonder who at Nintendo dropped the (Super Monkey) ball (3D) on this one? Tsk tsk. I mean, all we, as gamers interested in gaming, needed was one strong title, whether it be a new Mario sidescroller or maybe a different take on Metroid or Kirby or, y’know, one of those mascots Nintendo has in its vaults. But no, we’re reduced to slim picking.

So, which game am I gonna get to make my Nintendo 3DS even more enjoyable?

YOU WANT BREAD? NO GAME FOR YOU! NEXT!

I’ll just wait it out until the newest Animal Crossing drops.

Nintendo 3DS is now priced, dated, and overconfident

Long have we all wanted to know, and now that the day has come, I wish I could un-know all the details about the forthcoming Nintendo 3DS. See, before I learned that Nintendo’s newest piece of future tech was releasing on March 27, 2011 for a disgustingly gross $249.99, I was curious about the system. Genuinely interested in seeing how the glasses-free 3D worked, and whether any of the games were worth pursuing, in 3D, in 2D, in 1D. And now…not so much.

Alas, it comes down to price. No surprise there, as I’m always conscious about spending money and getting what money is worth. Two hundred and fifty bucks is about seventy-five to fifty bucks too much. I was very shocked to see a portable handheld gaming device priced higher than home-based consoles. The new wireless Xbox 360 is, I think, only $199.99 right now. I guess the 3D gimmick was enough to rack on some more dollar signs than needed. Also, analysts are suggesting that 3DS games could retail for $40 to $50. That’s sickening. Heart-breaking. I already feel grumbly enough buying a new Nintendo DS game for $35, believing that to actually be too much.

For the curious, here’s a list of confirmed launch titles:

  • Pilotwings Resort
  • Nintendogs + Cats
  • Steel Driver
  • Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor Overclocked
  • Super Street Fighter 4 3D Edition
  • Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D
  • Madden NFL Football
  • The Sims 3
  • Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 3D
  • Lego Star Wars 3: The Clone Wars
  • Ridge Racer 3D
  • Dual Pen Sports
  • Super Monkey Ball 3D
  • Thor: God of Thunder
  • Crush 3D
  • Bust-a-Move Universe
  • Samurai Warriors: Chronicles
  • Dead or Alive Dimensions
  • Asphalt 3D
  • Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Shadow Wars
  • Combat of Giants: Dinosaurs 3D
  • Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell 3D
  • Rayman 3D
  • Rabbids Travel in Time

Yowza. A lot of pre-existing games with the 3D tacked on the end. Where’s Kid Icarus or that Zelda remake? Nothing there really shouts “launch title” or “killer first-party game,” demanding that this hardware being a must purchase. Least not for me. Maybe the world is full of closet Nintendogs & Cats fanatics, and all of them will buy out every Nintendo 3DS in every store in every state, starting riots and chaos and the end of the world sooner than predicted. We’ll find out in only a matter of weeks, and I’ll be watching very cautiously. I do hope to eat my own words.

Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim to arrive with a new engine

Will a lot of people be getting married on November 11, 2011 (11/11/11) or buying Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim? Well, I think I know my answer…

But yeah. This new entry in the Elder Scrolls series was just announced over the weekend at some videogame award thingy that I didn’t watch. However, many already speculated that a fifth game was in the works. I mean, Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion was a huge hit; how does one not follow up on it? I personally think it’s a good thing that it’s taken five years (Oblivion came out in 2006 for the Xbox 360) to come into the public view. A lot has changed in terms of gaming prowess, and a lot is seemingly going to change as Bethesda is reporting that Skyrim is not going to be running on its infamous Gamebyro engine. Instead, it’s using a brand new one, and let’s quote a dude here:

“We can now confirm that the TES V: Skyrim engine is all-new. And it looks fantastic.” – Nick Breckon, community manager at Bethesda

This is good. Very good. The Gamebyro engine, which fueled Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Fallout 3, and Fallout: New Vegas, is definitely showing its age. It’s been showing its faults and glitches for many years, and the time for change is upon us. I can naturally only hope that this new engine is in the same vision of Gamebyro, but more beautiful, more capable, more durable. First-person RPGs are all about seeing the world all at once, and when that world is a fantasy world, a place lush with flowers and trees and rocky hills and blazing sunsets, it’s vital that the system can handle everything. I have to also wonder if the fighting/magic system will get an overhaul–I hope it does.

Nonetheless, we have a bit of a wait. So while we all consider how the skill system will work or how X will do Y to Z, we can check out the teaser trailer below:

Dragons! Take that, Dragon Age!

Lara Croft is the new Lara Croft

It seems that nowadays one can’t sneeze without getting a little snot on a videogame series reboot. And strangely, Tomb Raider has had…um, multiple reboots, all within a relatively close timeframe. Tomb Raider: Underworld, available on most current gen consoles, gave the game a new polish and set of tools. And then there’s the recent release of Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, which was a download-only game that focused on co-op play and did not look like a traditional 3rd person action adventure. Each one tried to better the previous version, and yet none seemed to really capture that awe and wonder of exploration and isolation that the original PlayStation title did so effortlessly.

And so the world is trying again with…Tomb Raider!

Yup, that’s the name of the new, forthcoming game from Crystal Dynamics. Don’t get it confused with Tomb Raider. That‘s the original one. So, there’s Tomb Raider and Tomb Raider. Easy enough to set apart, right? Good, good. Oh, and Lara gets a makeover, or rather a dirtyover:

More details about this new rebirth will be revealed in the next issue of Game Informer. I’m interested to see what changes are made to rewrite Lara’s origins, and whether it’ll be faithful to the original aim of the series and not an Uncharted clone, which, funnily enough, is in itself a Tomb Raider wannabe. Time will tell. Bonus points: bow and arrows are badass.