We'll be honest, this week's podcast goes a little off of the rails. What we originally envisaged as a discussion centred around artificial intelligence programming in terms of companion characters in games became a hearty chinwag about some of our favourite companions.
We even manage to make a case for Slippy Toad being the Best Video Game Companion Ever!
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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Nintendo's recent announcement that Namco Bandai will be co-developing the next Super Smash Bros set our minds racing. With such an exciting precedent, backed up by the likes of Ni No Kuni from Level-5 and Studio Ghibli, Metroid: Other M from Team Ninja and XCOM: Enemy Unknown from Firaxis, what else could the best designers in our industry come up with if they were let loose on someone else's IP?
So, here we go. Blue sky thinking. No holds barred. So far outside the box that the box is a dot to us. Here are the ten (probably impossible) developer/franchise crossovers we want to happen, and why we feel that they're a match made in heaven.
Crystal Dynamics' Tomb Raider reboot is certainly looking good, but it's also looking a lot like Uncharted. So why not let Naughty Dog loose on the IP? They've got the experience at creating visceral climbing and shooting rollercoasters in historical settings, not to mention populating their games with relatable action heroes and memorable villains. Go for it, I say.
I've come to realise that I need more from Pokemon in terms of storytelling and scope, and as far as I'm concerned, the collect 'em all framework could definitely support a stronger plot. Who better to take on the task than Mistwalker's Hironobu Sakaguchi, who co-designed Chrono Trigger and the original Final Fantasy? Time-travelling and dimension hopping would be a fantastic diversion, not to mention a great place to find new Pokemon.
If Mistwalker are unavailable, I'd also be happy to give the license to Grasshopper Manufacture. Suda51 would defnitely come up with some worrying Pokemon designs...Click here to read more...
Armed police were called to an Auckland pub after a Ubisoft PR actor brandished a fake gun at the terrified clientele. Designed to be a publicity stunt for Splinter Cell Conviction, the promotions worker actually caused his audience to dive for cover and call for armed police backup due to his threatening behavior.
"This guy with bandages on his hands pointed a gun at customers sitting outside. They were pretty terrified." - Steph Kurtovich, Manager and Eyewitness
Two men were cautioned at the scene when the police arrived- frankly, the PR worker was lucky to get off with a warning as opposed to jail time or a bad case of death. Monaco Corporation, the publicity office behind the stunt, apologised for the misunderstanding and denied that it was a cynical cry for attention. Naturally, they also blamed it on a subcontractor. There's nothing better than plausible deniability.
"This was by no means an attempt to get cops down there and get this sort of exposure. We do apologise, we shouldn't have had guns down there."
No shift, Sherlock. Having said that, all publicity is good publicity- and getting the police involved is a sure-fire way to get noticed. [NZ Herald]
We recently featured a throwaway comment from Shigeru Miyamoto stating that he'd love to see a new Starwing/Star Fox title on the Wii... but we haven't seen a true sequel since the surprisingly capable DS strategy remake a few years back. Luckily Hideki Kamiya, the legendary developer behind Okami, Bayonetta and the DMC series has actually volunteered his services to create a new Star Fox game!
"I want someone from Nintendo to come to Platinum, point a gun and say, "You people make the the new Star Fox game."
Activision could do with some good publicity right about now, so naturally they're keen to reassure us that they've got some quality games in the pipeline. They've got no less than three studios currently working on CoD titles at the moment: the gutted Infinity Ward, Treyarch and Sledgehammer. We already know that IW are working on another map pack for MW2 and Treyarch are bringing us some gritty Vietnam horrors of war... but Sledgehammer have been keeping fairly quiet about their current project.
We've previously surmised that Sledgehammer's working on an Action-Adventure title rather than an FPS- and the latest info seems to back that up. In an interview with the LA Times, Activision COO Thomas Tippi has stated that Sledgehammer's project will provide an "innovative take that will further broaden the audience for Call of Duty.”
Exciting stuff. We'll keep you posted. [VG247]
Could you give a damn about the constant Activision coverage? Want Kamiya to develop a new StarFox title? Noticed a spelling mistake? Drop us a line in the comments!
A couple of months back, Felix penned a curious article listing the top ten gaming allies: those staunch supporters, wondrous wingmen and brilliant bros who never failed to watch your back, and you can find said article here. It got me thinking, however; how many times have TV screens found themselves with a controller shaped hole through their centres as the result of some serious NPC irritation? There were a couple of Felix's fondly loved sidekicks that I couldn't help but disagree with, and suddenly a Top Ten started forming in my mind.
More often than not, the hapless characters alongside you are just well crafted bullseyes for enemy fire, or instructors with less appeal than a sat-nav voiced by Hitler. For every Aeris there's a Natalya; for every Dante and Nero there's a Jak and Daxter; for every Army of Two there's a compelling character witness to make the case for saving the world on your own. These are those most insidious of nemeses: these are the cretins who try their hardest to ruin everything....and they're supposed to be on our side!
10. Kaidan Alenko (Mass Effect)
Remember at school whenever teams were getting picked there was always one kid who was consistently left until last? Well RPGs are no different really, and Kaidan is Mass Effect's own dependable Gareth Southgate. If you gave him a penalty to take he'd get shot and killed before he could balloon it over the bar. A jack of all trades and a master of none, Kaidan's abilities were laughable, his personality as bland as a cardboard-flavoured bran flake and you jumped at the chance to send him off merrily on his suicide mission.
9. Augustus Cole (Gears of War)
The Cole Train is actually fairly useful, and he's probably the only member of this list to have his own song. In fact he's probably the only one on the list who could feasibly grace a polarised top ten, but by god is he irritating. Why the hell do black sidekicks have to have their brains and personalities siphoned from their ears and replaced by Captain Stereotype? I know games are trying to be more cinematic, but there are better examples to follow than Michael Bay. Spike Lee is gnawing on his fist as we speak.....although having said that, I don't expect White Men Can't Jump would make for a terribly exciting game.
8. Tails (Sonic series)
So you happen to have a massively-popular game where a fleet-footed hedgehog overcomes pesky robots and collects shiny things while navigating landscapes with loops that Alton Towers can only dream of. Why the hell would you jeopardise all of that with Tails? Not only is the hovering tosspot significantly slower than his spiky pal - thereby defeating the point of the game - but you could conveniently skip the entire level by just flying over everything. He's so irrelevant that Sonic resolutely fails to bat an eyelid if he dies!
7. Wakka (Final Fantasy X)
Final Fantasy has always been about massive swords, awesome jackets, summoning apocalypse demons and ripping off Storm from the X-Men. It's about having a massive dragon open up the earth and swallow your enemies. You want powerful mages and hardy warriors, street-smart ninjas and mysterious gunsmiths who sleep in coffins...these are the sort of people you want in your corner. Who the hell thought it would be a good idea to invite a braindead surfer along for the ride? His only ability revolves around chucking a beach ball at people. A beach ball?! Why not go the whole hog and send a tiddly-winks champion to save the world?
6. Minnie Mouse (Mickey Mousecapade)
We've all been there...faced with a particularly tricky jump in a platformer, in spite of all the effort it just hasn't quite been enough and the inevitable plummeting death has swiftly followed. But that's ok, it was a timing issue, or it needed a longer run-up; all good eventually. What isn't good is when your hapless female buddy decides that in spite of your perfect long jump technique, she's just going to topple over and kick the bucket, which subsequently kills you too. On top of that, she couldn't climb a ladder without getting stuck and managed to get herself kidnapped every time you turned your back for five seconds, although who'd want her is beyond me.
5. Roman (GTA IV) / Otis (Dead Rising)
Whether you're stealthily taking out a gangland hideout, mowing down the odd pedestrian for fun or carving your way through a horde of the undead with a teddy bear, the last thing you want is some prat dropping you a phone call. The two tied at number five are notorious for busting your cellular chops right at brown-trousers time. Ignoring them is even worse: Roman turns into a teenage girl and gets all huffy and Otis becomes a needy jilted date - calling you incessantly until you pick up, and then ripping you a new one if you hang up for being 'rude'.
4. Baby Mario (Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island)
Yoshi is awesome. He can eat people, poo them out as eggs or vomit them back as projectiles, he can kinda doggie-paddle through the air and cause mini-earthquakes with his ground pounds. He's a hero, not a babysitter. Unfortunately, Mario the Egotist thinks otherwise and harasses poor Yoshi to distraction whilst in his baby incarnation. Everytime you get hit Baby Mario cries and falls off his green and spiny perch; and don't think you can just run off and leave him. He'll keep pouring 16-bit scorn into your speakers until he gets reseated, or you viciously murder your SNES, the bastard.
3. Navi (Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time)
There's high-maintenance, there are Valley Girls with rats for dogs, and then there's Navi. Sure, she can be useful at times, but she can also be phenomenally ditsy, preferring to investigate a ledge or stone rather than the reanimated pile of bones that's sticking a sword in your face. And then, of course, there's the impatient nagging: You're a pointy-eared mute having a laugh with a horse you can summon with a musical instrument, you're just trotting round Hyrule, thinking up ways to flirt with the hot girl at the farm when all of a sudden, 'HEY LISTEN!!' You ignore her for a bit but then HEY! she just starts bouncing around in front of you repeating her LISTEN! incessant ruminations on Saria's activity. If only Link had a fly swatter.....or some Raid.
2. Natalya (GoldenEye)
I don't think I've riddled a single virtual person with more bullets than the Severnaya hacker 007 is sworn to protect, and I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one. Sure, as sidekicks that you have to protect go, Natalya is a lot less talkative than Resi 4's mind-numbingly irritating Ashley Graham; but no-one steps as eagerly into your rifle's stream of bullets as the Russian. She's like a lead magnet, a suicidal magpie with absolutely no regard for mission objectives. You set her free without cleansing the building first and you can expect to see that 'Mission Failed' screen pop-up each and every time as she burst from her shackles and tries to dry-hump the first AK-47 she can find.
1. Slippy Toad (Star Fox series)
There couldn't really be anyone else up here at the top. Slippy, the worst wingman to ever take to the skies, is the most cretinous, the most useless and the most pathetic of all of the sidekicks on this list. He doesn't even have an excuse: he has a badass ship that can do flips and barrel-rolls. His dad invented most of the stuff Team Fox use so theoretically he should have a head start, but no. You'll be gunning down baddies with a vengeance when suddenly your ears will be filled with a horrifically high-pitched cry: 'Foooooxxxxx!!! Help meeeeeeeeeeeee!!!' as a burning wreck falls out of the sky, and you laugh ever so slightly before weeping tears of rage and cursing amphibious pilots. Had Slippy made it into Top Gun he would have killed Maverick, Iceman and Jester too as well as Goose through his sheer incompetence. If you were ever to find yourself under siege from the inevitable zombie apocalypse with Slippy as your only fighting companion, my advice would be to kill and eat him. He'd be much more use that way.
And that's that! Honourable mentions go to the condescending mutt from Duck Hunt who's supposedly Man's Best Friend, but laughs his ass off every time you fail and never lets you shoot him instead; Tingle from Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask who is most definitely the Jar-Jar Binks of the Zelda series; and Daxter, by far the worst back-seat gamer out there at the moment and about as funny as genital herpes.
Got a sidekick driving you round the bend that we've missed? Sound off in the comments box below!
Today’s news roundup sees Nintendo main man Shigeru Miyamoto reveal his admiration for the Star Fox series, Castlevania’s Koji Igarashi return to the series in a producing role, and Sony announce a God of War 3 demo to be included with District 9’s Blu-ray release.
Fox McCloud of Star Fox fame may have being lying low for the past few years (save for his Super Smash Bros. appearance), but this hasn’t stopped Nintendo God Shigeru Miyamoto from declaring his love for the space exploring fox, and his adventures in the Star Fox series. “I'm a big fan of the Star Fox games,” said Shigsy. “Every time we make a Star Fox game I'm hoping people will enjoy it as much as I do. Of course the goal every time is to try and make it more and more fun but, at least in Japan, the people that purchase the Star Fox games has decreased over the years.”
He hopes people will eventually see the appeal of these games in the future. The most recent Star Fox title Star Fox Command appeared on the Nintendo DS back in 2006, receiving a rather mediocre reception. Dylan Cuthbert of Q-games, who has previously worked on both the SNES classic and the Nintendo DS game, claims there are no plans for a new Star Fox game anytime soon. Although Miyamoto’s comments still keep the hope alive of a Wii appearance for the Fox and pals hopefully in the near future. [MTVGames]
Fans of Castlevania have been a little concerned recently about where long-time producer Koji Igarashi currently is, and why he isn’t involved in the upcoming Castlevania: Lords of Shadow game. Igarashi has spent the last decade of his life working closely with the Castlevania series, and is responsible for the more Metroid-oriented action style the series adopted.
With Castlevania: Lords of Shadow being handled by a European development studio and overseen by Hideo Kojima and his team, the absence of Igarashi has been a worry for many long-time fans. Although they may be relieved to know Igarashi is still investing his time and love into Castlevania, with the man appearing as a producer on new WiiWare title Castlevania the Adventure ReBirth. The role may not be as prominent as in previous games, but it’s good to know he hasn’t abandoned the series altogether. [1UP]
Sony has recently revealed their intention to merge their success in the movie market with that of their games. According to Sony the Blu-ray release of District 9 will also come complete with a playable demo of God of War 3. Customers are also offered an incentive to complete the demo, as upon doing so an exclusive making-of video about the game will be unlocked.
“We are thrilled to give consumers not only an incredible high definition presentation of District 9 and the wealth of bonus material about the movie, but also a taste of what is destined to be the biggest video game of 2010," said Lexine Wong, Sony's executive vice president of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. This will likely be the same demo that will also see release with the God of War Collection, having the obvious benefit of being out a lot earlier. [1UP]
Enjoy aerial combat and online dogfights in Star Fox Command on the Nintendo DS, available from Play for only £6.99, with their customary offer of free delivery!
Zipped into a price-comparison, Play’s offer for Star Fox Command evaded the competition to emerge as the cheapest available, a five-pound reduction from Play’s original deal! A welcome return to Star Fox’s roots, following the disappointing hack-and-slash affairs, Command earned 76/100 on MetaCritic, with Yahoo claiming “this is better action than we deserve in a portable”.
Star Fox Command has you commanding both your Star Fox vessel on the top screen, and Battleships-esque radar on the bottom, with the stylus organizing between four other ships and ordering their method of approach and attack. Unlike the original Star Fox games, which had minimal control of the vessel itself, Command has you controlling the vessel’s entire range of motion. In Star Fox Command, between the aerial dogfights and tactical strategizing, you must destroy enemy strongholds, remove their aerial presence and collect vital resources. Upon completing levels, you’re given the choice of various routes, each offering different character dialogue and banter to listen to.
The series’ online virginity is lost with Star Fox Command’s online and local multiplayer, with up to six players supported. However, the objective is to collect Stars left over from destroyed enemies, instead of actually destroying them. Although this still means combat is vital, cunning players can opt to scavenge for Stars and avoid combat altogether!
Thanks to Jake1983 on Hotukdeals.
Rock Band allows bands to upload their own tracks in this week’s news roundup. Also, Braid creator is revealed to be working on a new project, Star Fox Fans take the series into their own hands, and Microsoft and Obama bicker over the Xbox.
Jonathan Blow, creator of the excellent puzzler/platformer Braid, is confirmed to be working on a new game. Job ads placed in the news section of the Braid website has revealed his next project is “a puzzle-exploration game that is philosophical, and quiet, and is being made for reasons other than crass profit motive”.
When questioned he went on to further explain the concept of this game is based on an idea he came up with long before the release of Braid. But as it will be “a more-expensive, harder-to-make 3D game”, he has only decided to pursue the idea recently. As work on the game only began a few weeks ago, the project is roughly two years away from completion, and whether or not it will arrive as a downloadable title like Braid remains to be seen. [Joystiq]
A group of Star Fox mega-fans have decided since Nintendo don’t seem to be interested in a new game, they may as well make one themselves. Using the Freespace Open engine, the team is creating a brand-new PC exclusive, tentatively titled Shadows of Lylat. Nintendo haven’t given their permission to do so, and are unlikely to, questioning the likelihood of Shadows of Lylat ever seeing the light of day.
So far the game features space and ground battles, new and classic enemies, three different Arwings to pilot, and even multiplayer modes. The gameplay won’t be an exact recreation of the original Star Fox games, Freespace being more of a simulation shooter, while Star Fox is more of an arcade shooter. As long as they can avoid as much copyright infringement as possible Shadows of Lylat will be released “when it’s done”. [Kotaku]
Established and rising artists have previously been the only ones taking part in rhythm game Rock Band. Harmonix have changed this, allowing anyone that can make music to join the party. Rock Band Network is a program letting bands prepare and release their own songs as a download in the game.
To do this the Reaper Digital Audio Workstation is also needed to add the note charts for each instrument, after which the songs can be uploaded through the Rock Band Network Web. If the song is approved by the Creators Community, it will be made available for download, priced between $.50 and $3 (UK price to be revealed) at the choice of the musicians, receiving a 30% cut. [Gamespot]
Earlier in the week American President Obama argued parents can’t demand achievement in school and then “fail to support them when they get home. For our kids to excel, we must accept our own responsibilities. That means putting away the Xbox and putting our kids to bed at a reasonable hour”. Microsoft responded to this, agreeing with President Obama that it's a “time for families to work together so that kids use media in ways that are safe, healthy and balanced. Xbox 360 is the only console gaming system that has a timer feature allowing parents to set time limits for their kids, as well as parent controls to enable parents to set limits on what their kids are playing and watching”. President Obama -0, Microsoft -1. [Gamepolitics]