The Behemoth has revealed the first trailer for their fourth game, temporarily titled Game 4. The studio’s previous works inclue Castle Crashers and BattleBlock Theater. You can see the trailer for Game 4 embedded below.
The Behemoth’s announcing blog post reads: “Shortly before the release of BattleBlock Theater we started working on something new. We schemed up a bunch of concepts and picked our strongest one. From there we fleshed out the lone survivor prototype!!! As it grew stronger and stronger, we polished it, furnished it with delights, and added (gluten free?) sprinkles. Yes, as the chicken dictates, this game is of a genre we haven’t covered before and seek to breathe a new flavor into. Maybe you can find a hint in the video below about which genre it is??”
According to Xbox Director of Product Planning Albert Penello, backwards compatibility is “absolutely” a possibility at some point in the future for the Xbox One. Speaking to GameSpot at …
The pesky mythological creatures filled the sky, regularly swooping down to wreak havoc on the undead rock band engaged in a fracas with other, less well-intentioned zombies below. Our group of zombie rockers had been punching, grabbing and throwing its way through the streets towards a cemetery for maybe 15 or 20 minutes at this point, with seemingly everyone but the screaming living trying their darnedest to send us back to hell for good. There was enough chaos being caused by the slow, lumbering zombie baddies and occasional “accidental” punching of each other that the airborne aggressors were being largely left to their own devices.
But there is only so much pushing that a bulky undead drummer is willing to take before he grabs an agitator by her throat and repeatedly smashes her face into the ground. It had fallen to me to make the skies a little friendlier, so that’s what exactly what I did at PAX Prime while playing Ska Studios’ Charlie Murder. Another scream escaped from her throat as she bit the dust, and that was that. However, the magical flying creature impeding our progress had friends. Well, two can play at that game. The other members of the group had continued on their merry little way pummeling the crap out of the enemy zombies, causing various pickups to drop, including guns.
A few pulls of the trigger later and the XBLA Fans crew had achieved complete air superiority. The screams of a unicorn ringing through the headset were music to my ears. On-screen, the tormentors actually took the form of witches on broomsticks, but they were voiced by the studio’s very own one-horn. Ska Studios Art Unicorn Michelle Juett-Silva smiled proudly when explaining that she and her husband, Lead Dishwasher James Silva, had performed nearly all of the voice-over work for their game.
Another stretch of the demo showed off the unicorn’s pipes even more. A quick cut-scene showed some NPCs attempting to escape from the zombies with their lives intact by navigating through the clearly haunted cemetery. They ran right smack into a ghostly little ghost that bore a striking resemblance to the girl from The Ring. (Silva would later admit that they are indeed his homage to Japanese horror films.) The girls can’t attack, but operate more as environmental hazards moving in fixed patterns. Coming into contact with them elicited one of Juett-Silva’s recorded screeches and meant death for the player.
The XBLA Fans team is unable to say for certain whether or not stepping on a butterfly in the past can drastically change the future. However, members of the crew that made their way over to Capy Games’ booth at PAX Prime last month did discover that blowing away a gun-toting Tyrannosaurus rex and the asteroid responsible for the Big Bang will, in fact, do just that. The good news is that all political arguments can stop, because playing through the latest build of Super Time Force has revealed next month’s election winner here in the U.S. — a T-rex. Talk about the ultimate second form of a boss.
If you’ve been following Capy’s game at all, and shame on those of you who have not been, then you already know it’s centered around a dysfunctional group of what Capy refers to as “time-traveling ultra-badasses.” Their leader, Colonel Repeatski, had them zipping into the future to fight in outer-space after battling their way through a crumbling city when last XBLA Fans played Super Time Force. This time around, however, the Toronto-based indie dev had a new level on display, one set in prehistoric time. Its final section has players running along the enormous wings of a Pterodactyl while fighting the infamous dinosaur-obliterating asteroid in a desperate attempt to save the ancient reptiles from extinction. The whole experience felt like the SHMUP level the pre-adolescent me would have dreamed up about 20 or so years back. In other words, it was totally radical, dudes.
As much fun as blasting away dinos with a bazooka or a sniper rifle is, though, one had to wonder just what the hell the Force was hoping such an absurd endeavor would accomplish. Apparently they have the noblest of intentions: save the world by altering historical events. Unfortunately, they execute on that plan about as successfully as Marty McFly and Doc Brown did in the film trilogy that all time-traveling works of fiction must ultimately be compared to. “It’s like Back to the Future, right? The best of intentions but you always [expletive] it up. Because the thing is, they can go back and fix it after they’ve tried to fix it but broke it,” Nathan Vella, co-founder and president of Capy, told XBLA Fans.
Launched in 2008, The Behemoth’s Castle Crashers went on to become one of the most popular co-op experiences on XBLA, with it just recently having crossed over the 3 million player threshold on its leaderboards. More than just inspiring gamers to fight with and against each other for the right to make out with princesses, though, the title also put the development community in a scramble to get their own take on the genre onto the platform. While none have enjoyed the same runaway success that Crashers has, certainly their collective presence has made the platform a modern haven for games of its ilk.
If PAX Prime was any indication, the rush isn’t going to be slowing down any time soon. The show floor was full of promising (and not-so-promising) 2D side-scrolling action games, and our team played just about every single one of them. On the second day of the show, XBLA Fans caught up with one of the men responsible for kicking off the craze, The Behemoth co-founder and Art Director Dan Paladin. He was open to talking about everything from the state of the beat-em-up to the studio’s past projects to its current one, BattleBlock Theater, to developing for XBLA. In fact, about the whole thing Paladin declined to discuss was BattleBlock‘s release date. It’s a subject he says the studio hasn’t talked about since it announced a 2010 release that it was unable to meet, a strategy that he claims hasn’t stopped the press or the public from announcing dates on their own. Read on for the full details.
“This is by far the largest and most ambitious XBLA game ever made. No question,” Undead Labs CEO Jeff Strain said matter-of-factly of State of Decay when we spoke at PAX Prime. Though XBLA Fans has been unable to verify that claim, my brief time with the sandbox zombie game proved this much, at least: it’s huge. To put a measurement on it, Undead claims the overworld is 16 square kilometers.
In the demo, the player arms himself with a pistol and walks outside into deserted Anytown, USA. It is quickly apparent that not all living(ish) creatures have actually vacated the municipality. A few zombies shamble towards the player, as zombies are wont to do. Years of zombie games have prepared gamers for this situation; unloading a few shots into their noggins should eliminate the threat with little drama. Indeed it does, but they’ve got friends, and my, what big ears they have. There are small clusters of the undead doing their shambling thing on every block in sight. The unmistakable sound of gunfire alerts a couple of groupings of the town’s 99 percent, and, not the least bit concerned over the prospect of parting with the rotting lumps atop their necks, they quickly converge on the player’s location.
The first ones on the scene go down easily enough, but they just don’t make pistol clips big enough for this sort of job. Thankfully, Detroit was kind enough to make bumpers for just such an occasion. Jumping in an abandoned car, I stomp on the throttle and attempt, unsuccessfully, to make a controlled turn around the block. True to real life, the ’70s-looking muscle car is uncontrollable in anything other than a straight line.
Attempts to regain traction don’t go so well — not for me or for the zombies who thought it was a good idea to hang around in the middle of the road just past the intersection where irresponsible drivers are wont to swerve through, not the least bit concerned about braking for pedestrians. Zombies fly like bowling pins, inspiring another go at the group a bit farther down the road. The Undead Labs representative recommends motoring right on by to the side of them and hitting B. The car’s door is kicked open, and more zombies meet their end. At this point, it wouldn’t have been surprising if State of Decay‘s zombies began chanting “Braaaaaakes!” instead of “Braaaaains!”
It didn’t rain in Seattle during PAX Prime earlier this month. It’s a little odd that the city didn’t get any of the precipitation for which it is so well-known. Stranger still, however, are the weather patterns in The Walking Dead that Telltale Designer Harrison Pink told Perry Jackson and I about when we caught up with him on the second day of the show. Zombie storm fronts, you see, are an accepted, regular occurrence in the game world. Unusual weather phenomena aside, Pink had plenty to share about the first Walking Dead season. So break out your shotgun umbrella and prepare to weather the storm.
You guys just recently released The Walking Dead: Episode 3. What has the reception of it been like? Are you happy with it?
Harrison Pink: Oh yeah, it’s been awesome. It’s blown me away. You know, you get so head-down on finishing an episode, after a while you get really myopic on it, and it just gets like all you can see are the flaws, like ‘Aww, we left that on the table. Awww, we really didn’t have time to fix that.’ So, I’m really glad that releasing to the world has been such an awesome reception. I’m really glad that everyone has been loving it slash hating it.
I felt like Episode 1 set up the story, Episode 2 kind of wanted to go for that shock value and Episode 3 really just wanted to hit it home to your heart. It felt like a nice middle moment to the whole series so far.
Pink: Yeah, that was kind of the idea. I mean, you know, Sean [Vanaman] and Jake [Rodkin], the leads on The Walking Dead had the story sort of planned out way in advance. Even before the first line of dialogue for The Walking Dead was written, they already knew how the story was going to end and sort of where the middle is and all the events that are going to happen.
So, these sort of events are the kind of thing you have in The Walking Dead. Right? Like these things happen in The Walking Dead, so people kind of knew going in what we could push it to, and so this is exactly where the halfway point makes sense in the story.
It’s not a remake; it’s a reimagining, Majesco Entertainment Assistant Product Manager Pete Rosky told XBLA Fans at PAX Prime a moment before handing over the controller. Having taken a trip down memory lane with the original Double Dragon at Philadelphia’s Barcade only a month prior, I was in prime position to discover the truth behind that statement. As it turned out, Double Dragon: Neon plays remarkably like the game that launched the franchise a quarter of a century ago, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Wayforward Technology’s take on the series might have trouble impressing younger gamers, but the PAX demo was an enjoyable romp down memory lane.
Players take control of Billy and Jimmy, with their simultaneously awful and amazing hair and begin whomping on every street tough in site. There’s a fantastic new coat of paint on this aging ’80s muscle car, thus the subtitle, but every curve has that old familiar look and feel. The combat system has a couple of new tricks up its sleeve in the form of throws and special moves, but the kicks, punches and melee weapons are essentially ripped right out of the original. What is presumably either Billy or Jimmy’s girlfriend gets mercilessly slugged and kidnapped in the beginning and the duo brawl through those same old streets on a collision course with the original’s first boss, Abobo, who looks as if he’s sampled more than his fair share of steroids since his last showdown with the boys. And then you walk into a pagoda that turns out to be a spaceship that rockets Billy and Jimmy into space. That, as Rosky explained, is where Neon departs from the original. No kidding.
Bigger hair, bigger bosses, brighter colors and longer distance travel may or may not be enough to justify the reimagining label — you’ll have to wait for our forthcoming review of the full game for that ruling — but they certainly establish a new theme. It’s a completely silly and ridiculous theme, and that feels completely appropriate for an homage to an ’80s brawler that was a lot of things in its day, but never serious. That doesn’t mean the approach was an obvious one for the team to take, though.
Alien Spidy is hard. I watched helplessly during PAX East as the game’s public relations representative repeatedly subjected himself to the rigors of a particularly nasty stretch of platforming in a cave level. He died. A lot. The level required the game’s space spider protagonist to fire off strands of webbing, which he can swing from to progress through the game world, at a series of stalactites with pinpoint accuracy. Missing the dripstones meant his webbing would uselessly hit a section of the cave ceiling that it wouldn’t stick to, sending the spider to his doom. Certainly this could be overcome by the simple act of slowing down and carefully lining up shots, no? No. The stalagmites begin to crumble and fall under the strain of Spidy’s weight.
It didn’t get any easier from there. Another portion of the same level required a deft hand to guide Spidy carefully through a narrow space flanked by rows of pink crystals that were as sharp as they were shiny. More dying ensued. There is no life bar in Alien Spidy; one careless brush with an environmental hazard or enemy results in death. The development team at Enigma Software have offset the high degree of difficulty by liberally sprinkling checkpoints throughout the game’s stages. As a result, death is less likely to inspire a controller throw than it is another go…and another one, and another one, and so on and so forth.
When Konami’s legendary game designer Hideo Kojima shows up to discuss what he’s been up to and then proceeds to show it to the world for the first time, it tends to expose the fact that the event he’s showing it at has become a bit of a big deal. There was no need for Kojima’s traditionally obligatory exclamation points to suddenly appear over the heads of the PAX Prime enforcers to make that much clear. The Big Stealth Game, Metal Ground Solid: Ground Zeroes, was revealed on the big stage to the delight of seemingly everyone watching.
Not all eyes were glued on Kojima, however; back on the show floor PAX’s little stealth game was leaving everyone who found their way to Klei Entertainment’s little corner in the not-so-little Indie Megabooth equally impressed. The XBLA Fans team had previously gotten our hands on Mark of the Ninja back at PAX East, but that didn’t make us any less eager to take it for another spin or to speak with its lead designer, Nels Anderson.
On Friday the game will release on XBLA. Long before getting to that point, however, the studio had to commit to setting out in a completely different direction than it did with its previous work on the Shank franchise. Doing so meant forging a mostly new path, since very few 2D stealth-oriented games had come along over the years to lay down the groundwork. I asked Anderson if that meant Klei had some unique challenges to overcome while developing the game. Laughing, he rhetorically replied, “Um, all of them?”
“All of them, in fact!” the designer exclaimed, now seemingly convinced that it was in fact all of the systems that presented challenges. “Because no one’s ever really done one, right? Like there were a couple very, very small ones, but certainly nothing to this scope or magnitude — at all. So then it’s like, we just sort of had to like really look at 3D stealth games and sort of reconstruct them design-wise. Like, ‘Why did they make the kinds of decisions they made?’ And then take that up a level and translate it back down to 2D.
“I mean, there aren’t templates or schemes to drop in in this context — at all. Which is good, it just means we had to try a whole lot of stuff that didn’t work before we got to stuff that actually did work.”