This week on the PWNCAST, we chat about Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon and the difficulties that come with creating parodies in this industry, before moving onto the topic of comedy in games, and the gaming experiences that have had us in stitches.
Parental Advisory: We've tried to keep it as conversational and informal as possible, and you should be warned that there may be a few instances of strong language.
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On the face of it, so-called parody games shouldn't be too difficult to pull off. Or, perhaps more accurately, they shouldn't honk quite as badly as they usually do. Decades of gaming foibles and memes ought to give us a fertile stock of stupid genre clichés to mock, characters to lampoon and all manner of little grievances to rip to pieces. Surely it should be easy for a developer to trawl some forums, find out what we both love and hate about games and then extract the urine with reckless abandon.
Yet most parody games tend to stink, especially those that actively seek to riff on other games. Even the few successful examples, such as the recently-released Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, tend to fall short in one key area; committing one of the seven deadly sins in the process. Sloth.
See, the vast majority of parody games (even the good ones) fall prey to the laziest and least amusing form of satire. Mocking something... but then doing it anyway. Like cutting off your nose to spite your face, nothing kills a joke faster than a bit of good old fashioned hypocrisy, and it's holding the genre back.Click here to read more...
EA have launched a massive Xbox Live sale that slashes the prices of several XBLA games, download games and DLC packs. 50% savings for Burnout Crash, Shank and Gatling Gears are all worthy of your immediate attention. Plus, if you haven't yet sampled the orgiastic local multiplayer bliss of Heavy Weapon, now's the time to do so.
Check out the full list below, painstakingly edited to take you to the European marketplace instead of the US listings.Click here to read more...
We all have our pet hates: little things that make us uncontrollably and unreasonably angry every time they rear their ugly heads. And now, dear readers, it's high time I shared mine with you. I hate launch day DLC. I don't understand avatar outfits. I'm not a huge fan of auto-levelled enemies in RPGs. And I'm utterly, completely bored of Zombies. But there's one thing a game can do, above all else, that makes my blood boil.
Making fun of genre conventions... and then gleefully falling prey to them at every opportunity.
It's hypocrisy, pure and simple - and to illustrate my point, I'd like to shed some light on a few games that managed to put my back up over these last few months. We'll also make the case for Bulletstorm being the most hypocritical game to have ever hit store shelves.
Ron Gilbert's Deathspank was designed to be an anarchic, humorous and quirky adventure that promised to crush traditional RPG tropes under its weighty purple thong. To this end, the dialogue frequently references the absurdity of engaging in fetch quests for people you barely know, and even goes as far as calling one of the characters an "Arbitrary NPC."
This would have been fine if it had happened just once. Doing a single arbitrary fetch quest for an arbitrary stock character would have been a great way to provide contrast for an imaginative new structure... but Deathspank then proceeded to rely on this key concept for the rest of the game. Fetch quest after fetch quest after fetch quest. There are other major contradictions as well, from the clunky inventory system being just as irritating as every other action RPG and the action itself being as shallow and button-mashy as it's possible to get... despite promising us the exact opposite!
Click here for more examples of hypocrisy and pretentiousness of the highest order >>
Over on LIVE, EA has discounted a selection of games and add ons to just 50% of their original price. We're talking Dragon Age: Origins and its numerous DLC packs, like Awakening and The Darkspawn Chronicles, indie cult classic Deathspank, the family friendly Hasbro roster and more. It's a smashing offer, and I myself intending on finally picking up a few Dragon Age add ons. It's January, so don't expect these type of offers to last forever or appear again any time soon.
Monty Python’s ‘Ministry of Silly Games’ Coming To Facebook
A few weeks ago we reported that casual games outfit Zattikka had acquired the license to make games based on the British comedic troupe. Well it appears more details have emerged online with the project being titled Monty Python’s Ministry of Silly Games and will consist of varying mini-games in an RPG-style environment. You’ll be able to relive some of the iconic moments in the Python back catalogue and it will even feature Terry Gilliam’s artistic styling for added authenticity.
While the return of Ron Gilbert’s gaming-making ways with DeathSpank was an enjoyable enough affair, Mr Gilbert recently told Wired that he wishes that the combat had been more of a puzzle-solving experience than the hack & slash that it was, citing Dragon Age: Origins as an example of what he wished it could have been like.
It shouldn’t be about beating your head against it. It should be about assessing the situation — asking, ‘what tools do I have?’ You might say, ‘Hey, I can crowd-control people or maybe for this particular thing I need to get some ice-resistant armor.’
I really like the intellectual component to the combat in Dragon Age… The RPG stuff fits a little more with the adventure game, puzzle-solving pieces of the game. Not in its turn-based nature. More of the intellectual element.
You see a little bit of that intellectual component come out in the game, but not a lot. I would probably have spent a lot more time making that stuff come out a little better.
While Matt’s review did suggest the combat was repetitive after a while, whether it would have been a more enjoyable experience mixing up the combat is up for debate. Do you agree with Ron’s assessment of his own work and feel it could have done with a bit more thought in the combat system? Perhaps you think it was just fine and dandy as it was hacking away at your foes? Share your thoughts in the comments below! [VG247]
Hot on the heels of the success of Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood it appears Ubisoft are already cooking up ideas for the next instalment. Users over at NeoGAF have discovered an online survey asking participants what features they would like in the next entry in the series. The suggestions range from an enhanced Eagle Vision, the ability to craft items, the option of keeping the story with Ezio or moving it along to a new timeframe, and upgraded multiplayer features including a deeper online experience.
Of course, there’s a chance none of these will end up in the next game, and it’s not even stated if it will be Assassin’s Creed 3 or another ‘spin-off’, but it’s an interesting look at what we might be getting the next time we’re leaping across rooftops. [1UP]
Steam is offering a pre-order on two titles that have taken the XBLA and PSN stores by storm and placed them in one tidy little bundle. Shank, a beat-em-up with classic gameplay and wonderful art direction, has fluid combat and local co-op so you can share the brutality with a friend in an enjoyable throwback to the gaming of yesteryear. DeathSpank, the newest creation from industry legend Ron Gilbert, is an enjoyable hack-n-slash adventure filled with Gilbert’s humour and plays like Diablo crossed with Monkey Island, yet not reaching the heights of enjoyment that both names would suggest. Both are available for pre-order as a bundle or, if you only like the looks of one of the titles, you can pre-order them individually for £8.99 each.
Platform: PS3 | X360 (reviewed)
Developer: Hothead Games
There aren't many games out there that have a villain hell-bent on stealing your purple thong. There are few titles that will press a special hammer into your hands and have you go round beating up demons thereby forcing them to crap themselves so you can collect up the fiery faeces for a special kind of manure. On top of that, you'll be hard pressed to find a game whose eponymous protagonist shares a name with what one could feasibly imagine might be a kinky finishing move in the next Mortal Kombat.
But then again, most games aren't made by Ron Gilbert.
Gilbert, along with partner in crime Tim Schafer, is largely responsible for proving that games don't just have to be deadly serious, they can be funny. As you might expect from the man behind Monkey Island, this latest venture is certainly not your average game, every line of dialogue punctuated by a witticism or offbeat one liner. The puns range from the sublime to the cringeworthy, the voice acting straight out of a Saturday morning cartoon. The presentation fits into all of this perfectly too, a wonderful combination of MediEvil's animated japery and all of the squishy fart noises and gross-out giggling of Rik Mayall reading the assorted works of The Brothers Grimm.
The plot itself is hardly your standard affair either. You won't find any simpering maidens. kidnapped princesses or surprisingly punctual evil hordes led by dragons here...not in the main plot anyway. Our eponymous hero, defender of weak, most heroic of champions and general dogsbody for Lady Justice, is after a super-important artefact aptly named...The Artefact. He finds this about three hours or so into the game at which point you're promptly mugged and have to run around preparing the ultimate taco before you can get all of your stuff back. It's around this time that you discover the disturbing news that infamous tyrant Lord Von Prong didn't even really want the Artefact in the first place but has set his sights firmly on eliminating DeathSpank and stealing his fashionable purple thong.DeathSpank: Hero or Zero? Jump the break to find out....
Ubisoft's E3 Press Event brought us the grim exciting news that a Michael Jackson dancing game is on the way- and they've finally decided to give it a name. Entitled Michael Jackson: The Experience (no jokes, I beg you), this multiplatform title is set to utilise each platform's peripherals in a unique way.
The Kinect version is slated to project a 3D image of the player onto the screen (in order that you can see what you're doing... and to make sure that you don't moonwalk into anything breakable), whereas the Wii version is said to function as a traditional rhythm game along the lines of Elite Beat Agents. There's no word yet as to how the PS3 version will function, but it's been confirmed to utilise the Move controller and a microphone for a dedicated singing feature. Personally I hope that it's a next-gen Moonwalker revival... but that's just me.
For those who've been following the World of Warcraft scene this past week, Blizzard recently came up with the controversial plan of forcing the use of real names on the Battle.net forums... and was met by a massive (and well-deserved) surge of opposition. Predictably, Blizzard has now U-turned on the decision after the potential dangers of identity theft and online crime was brought to their attention in a big way.
The violent and intense backlash from Blizzard forum dwellers culminated in Bobby Kotick's personal information being plastered all over the site in order to demonstrate how easy it is to research addresses, phone numbers and family details. On a slightly more malicious note, a forum mod who signed up to the real ID scheme has had his school history, employment history and even information about his family splashed all over the place. I personally don't entirely approve of the means by which the aggrieved fans made their point... but it has effectively demonstrated the weakness in the Real ID scheme. The end justifies the means, I suppose. [Blizzard]
A mysterious piece of PopCap artwork has been doing the rounds today, depicting a decaying zombie hand clutching an enigmatic sign. Using a blend of guile, experience and good old fashioned detective work (and... you know ... the picture of the golden gate bridge and S.F. initials right there in the corner) we've deduced that something involving zombies will be occurring on August 2nd in San Francisco. Naturally, this has got to be an announcement of Plants vs Zombies 2 (the sequel to their wildly successful tower defence phenomenon) or a release of the original for home consoles.
We love PopCap here at Dealspwn, and we'll be keeping a close eye on San Fran early next month. And yes, we'll be wearing ribbons in our hair. Or our brainless bleeding scalps if our plant defences are breached. [Thanks, PC Gamer]
DeathSpank, the action RPG from legendary games developer Ron Gilbert, will be hitting XBLA and PSN next week... and frankly we can't wait. To get you in the mood and introduce you to Ron's trademark humour (that fueled the likes of the Monkey Island series), the latest trailer details the epic weapons that you;'ll be wielding on you quest.
I won't spoil it for you. Enjoy.
"I’d usually have a go at predicting what this big surprise might be… but when Kojima’s involved it could be literally anything."
These were the exact words I used to describe Kojima's latest Peace Walker announcement this Monday... but the legendary developer's "big surprise" has surpassed anything we could've ever predicted. According to Famitsu magazine, MGS Peace Walker will contain a bonus mode in which Snake goes Monster Hunting.
You read that correctly- and it's not April Fools Day. With his faithful Felyne companion in tow, Snake will face off against the legendary bosses from the Capcom's hugely-successful Monster Hunter franchise. Considering his predilection for chowing down on reptiles in MGS3: Snake Eater, this isn't entirely out of character. It's likely that camouflage and CQC will be as important as oversized swords and guns- and teamwork will play a solid role thanks to this section being multiplayer compatible.
This is a very canny decision by Kojima, as Massive Japanese PSP sales demonstrate Monster Hunter's monstrous brand power. [Famitsu via 1UP]
No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle, the acclaimed sequel to Suda51's schizophrenic and undeniably brilliant cell-shaded masterpiece, has been providing American Wii owners with a much-needed breath of blood and carnage for the last couple of months. Rejoice, Wii owners, since it's finally been dated for a May 28th release.
More swords, more assassins and more menial moneymaking chores await in this latest iteration, and frankly I can't wait. The UK will be receiving the unedited gory edition rather than the weaker family friendly version. [Eurogamer]
A fairly weak ARG has led intrepid adventurers to this perplexing site. Since several Call of Duty community members were invited to take part, it's likely to be heralding an Activision shooter- or possibly the mysterious "action adventure" they've been promising. See what you make of it.
However, the Nuclear imagery is more reminiscent of Fallout than CoD in my opinion. What is Nova Six? [Joystiq]
Best known for his work on Monkey Island franchise, veteran game designer Ron Gilbert has resigned from Hothead Games (the company responsible for releasing the hilarious yet financially unsuccessful Penny Arcade episodes). We're not sure exactly why he's decided to leave, but we assume that he's looking for another change of scenery.
"I wanted to let all [my readers] know that I left Hothead. When I started working there two years ago, my goal was to make DeathSpank the most awesome game ever made and have it win a Nobel Prize and the early word out of Stockholm is that DeathSpank is neck-in-neck with some string theory dweeb (eleven dimensions my ass)."
Gilbert's latest creation, DeathSpank, is nearly complete- and he'll reportedly stick around until its released. Featuring a stunning art style and Gilbert's trademark sense of humour, this action-RPG is set to explode onto XBLA and PSN soon. [Grumpy Gamer]