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About Ryan Thompson

Ryan is a ludomusicology graduate student at the University of Minnesota currently researching interactive audio and how it is changing modern gaming.
Latest Posts | By Ryan Thompson
Star Wars Pinball: Balance of the Force review (XBLA DLC)
7 years ago

Star Wars Pinball: Balance of the Force review (XBLA DLC)

By  •  Reviews

Star Wars is in many ways the ideal environment for pinball. The space battles of the movies invite gameplay focused on delivering armaments (torpedoes, pinballs) to a target (a …
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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows review
7 years ago

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows review

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows was developed by Red Fly Studio and published by Activision. It was released on August 28, 2013 for $14.99. A copy was provided for review purposes.

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows is a third person beat ‘em up game utilizing Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 3. After a brief introduction starring newscaster April O’Neal (in which she is playable, unlike the majority of the Turtles games), players take on the role of the four famous turtles, hacking, slashing and kicking their way towards a final confrontation with Shredder himself.

The game features more diverse terrain than in previous Ninja Turtle games, forcing the turtles to traverse rooftops, leap over buses, and wind through sewer tunnels while fighting the Foot clan and scientist Baxter Stockman’s endless supply of mouser robots.  In between each stage, the group returns to their lair in the New York sewers to train, learn new moves, upgrade their weapons and play arcade games.

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New trailer for Contrast released
7 years ago

New trailer for Contrast released

By  •  Media, Videos

Contrast, the upcoming XBLA game by Compulsion Games, just received a new trailer, and it looks phenomenal. The film noir aesthetic and jazz music tie in very well to …
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Trailer for The Wolf Among Us
7 years ago

Trailer for The Wolf Among Us

By  •  News

Telltale Games recently released the first trailer for The Wolf Among Us, a new adventure game based on the comic book series Fables, originally written by Bill Willingham. Given …
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Microsoft Points being phased out in favor of local currency
7 years ago

Microsoft Points being phased out in favor of local currency

By  •  News

Microsoft has announced that the current system of Microsoft Points will be transitioning to local currency sometime in “late 2013.” It’s not a stretch to imagine that this switch …
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Sega’s Castle of Illusion looks to change the game for remakes
7 years ago

Sega’s Castle of Illusion looks to change the game for remakes

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XBLAFans stopped to chat with Sega Studios Australia’s Omar Woodley, producer on Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse during E3. We discovered that calling the new version of Castle of Illusion a “remake” or “rerelease” doesn’t do it justice. Unlike other modern ports of classic games, such as Ubisoft’s Prince of Persia Classic or Capcom’s soon-to-be-released Ducktales Remastered, Castle of Illusion was described to us by Woodley as “a full reimagining of the game.”

The biggest, most immediately noticeable change beyond updated graphics and sound (which includes a charming voiceover for Mickey during gameplay) is the addition of a hub world. In the original game, Mickey wandered the Castle of Illusion to introduce each new level. Here, the castle is envisioned along the lines of Super Mario 64, as a three-dimensional hub world by which all of the levels are accessed. It’s a fun change that makes the castle feel like an actual place, instead of merely a setpiece for the plot.

According to Woodley, Sega Studios Australia had lots of “creative freedom to redesign the levels… When we played the original and we tried translating that to the new 3D world, some of those levels weren’t as challenging as they were back in the day. They actually played out to be quite long in length to this contemporary feel so we had to compensate for that, and we also just wanted to challenge the player and keep that difficultly setting pretty high to what the classic was. So we added these various components and a few different puzzles and tricks here and there to keep the challenge intact.”

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Alien Rage attempts to pair modern conventions with old-school speed
7 years ago

Alien Rage attempts to pair modern conventions with old-school speed

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Standing in front of a PC demo station at E3, City Interactive Creative Director Steve Skelton describes Alien Rage to XBLAFans as a shooter that takes “the modern sensibilities of shooters — you know, control setup, mechanics, and applying the old-school fun and games, run and gun, frenetic action to it.” Unfortunately for fans of that style game, that pairing has considerably slowed down the raw speed of Unreal Tournament and Quake III (the “old-school” games mentioned by the developers as inspiration) to create space for those modern sensibilities.

Alien Rage takes place on a space station in which something has gone horribly wrong – the premise is not unlike that of the first episode of the classic Doom. There are no hellspawn here, however. The playable level pitted us against aliens that might remind older players of the first Predator film, complete with invisibility on a select few of them (these cause distortion to the surrounding air and environment, a particularly nice effect).

Since so much of City Interactive’s efforts were spent attempting to channel the magic that makes Unreal Tournament such a fondly remembered classic, it’s worth exploring some of those elements more specifically. Part of what made the late-90s/early-2000s generation of PC shooters what they were was that there were no limitations on the number of weapons a player could carry, which allowed players to be extremely creative in finding solutions to problems. Taking out an enemy around a corner in Unreal Tournament could be accomplished by setting a series of traps down with the bio-rifle, by bouncing a grenade off of the far wall or by detonating a shock rifle combo that would reach around the corner with its massive explosion.

Alien Rage limits the number of available guns to two, following the conventions of more modern shooters such as the Halo series. This means that while the player may have up to two or three different strategies for any given encounter, the full range of options will never be simultaneously available.

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Killer Instinct poised to be a killer exclusive for Xbox One
7 years ago

Killer Instinct poised to be a killer exclusive for Xbox One

The first punch of the next generation of fighters has been thrown, by a classic franchise returning in top form.
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Minecraft toys coming this holiday season
8 years ago

Minecraft toys coming this holiday season

By  •  News

Dave Tach at Polygon summarized a press release by toy manufacturer Jazwares that they will be producing a variety of Minecraft toys, including “action figures, plush, and paper craft …
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Telltale explores why players preferred Carley to Doug
8 years ago

Telltale explores why players preferred Carley to Doug

By  •  News

Note: Spoilers for the first episode of The Walking Dead follow — read on at your own risk if you haven’t played through the game’s demo episode (available for …
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