Nintendo is putting a new shine on some titles for the Wii, 3DS and DS systems this fall.
A special edition “The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword” bundle will also contain a gold Wii Remote Plus controller available at launch on November 20. The game will also contain a special music CD featuring orchestral music that will be performed at The Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary Symphony Concert in October.
Nintendo also announced two titles, one for each of their handheld controllers.
“Tetris: Axis” will be available for the 3DS on October 2 and include more than 20 different modes. The game will also allow up to eight people compete in wireless multiplayer competition.
For the DS system, the good Professor is back. “Professor Layton and the Last Specter” kicks off a brand new, puzzle solving trilogy set three years before the events in “Professor Layton and the Curious Village.”
Wait. A new trilogy set before a trilogy that’s already out? This sounds vaguely familiar.
Fans in North America will also get a bonus to “The Last Specter.” A role-playing game entitles “Professor Layton’s London Life” will contain more than 100 hours of additional content and be available at launch on October 17.
It is just about everywhere and on every gaming system. Now, “Tetris” is making its way to Android smartphones.
EA Mobile and Blue Planet Software announced a free version of the classic game is now available to Android users. It is the second free offering on that platform from EA following “Scrabble Free”
“’Tetris’ is one of the most distinctive, well-known and popular video game franchises in the world and it gives EA the opportunity to grow its already-expanding customer base on the Android platform,” said Bernard Kim, vice president of sales and marketing for EA Interactive.
The new version features improved visuals, the famous music and a marathon mode. Touchscreen controls allow players to rotate and slide blocks to clear lines and rack up points.
“Tetris” has been published on more than 50 platforms and is available in 185 countries.
LightBox Interactive and Sony unveiled new gameplay footage at the GamesCom convention in Germany in August. This video showed how the “build and battle” system would work on a space station high above the planet surface.
Players were able to use jet packs to get to high locations and drivers had to make sure they stayed on the platforms or risk premature re-entry.
A comment on the PlayStation blog asked about when a beta game might be available. The response indicated that one was coming soon.
“Starhawk” is expected to launch sometime in 2012 as a PlayStation 3 exclusive.
The “Ratchet & Clank” franchise has always been about two things (no, not Ratchet &
Clank). Really fun, slapstick humor and outlandish, powerful weapons are the
basis for the game series.
In the new “Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One,” the humor will definitely be there as Quark and Dr.
Nefarious team up with our heroic duo in co-op action. PlayStation and Insomniac Games are showing
off the new weaponry with a video that highlights the four elements.
Check out the video for the destructive power of the fire-spewing Pyroblaster, the whip-like
Arc Lasher, the full-team bulldozing Blitzer, and (what I think will be my
favorite) the cool-as-ice Frost Cannon.
While the game is designed for four-player co-op, it can be played by a single player. But what
better excuse to get friends together than this?
“Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One” is exclusive for the PlayStation 3 and will be launching
What do you get when you combine the #1 selling PC game franchise of all time with the #1 social network? A whole lot of people living the “life” they choose and sharing it on Facebook.
“The Sims Social” takes the life simulation game and transforms it into a social experience that allows players to interact in ways they could never do before in “The Sims” franchise. John Buchanan, vice president of marketing at EA Play (Electronic Arts), said PC gamers could always share elements of the game with their friends, but could never actually play with their friends.
“For a community that is as social as ‘The Sims’ is, to be able to now let them play ‘The Sims’ on the number one social platform in Facebook, it’s just a perfect marriage,” Buchanan explains. “Then you realize how popular it is from a community standpoint with over 7 million Facebook fans, it is a perfect opportunity to create an experience for those fans out there.”
Developers at Playfish Games wanted to bring an authentic feel to the social network game. Players start off by creating their Sim, giving them a personality, and build a home for them to live in.
The change in gameplay occurs when your Sim begins exploring the world, building skills and going on quests. Now, friends in the game can be involved in helping (or hindering) the development of your Sim character.
Through Facebook wall posts and feeds, everyone can see what interactions are going on with your character – are they falling in love, are they breaking up, did they put a spider on someone’s toilet seat?
Relationship building is one key element that was made easier by bringing the game to the social platform. Sim characters can become friends, fall in love, get married, and break up, which helps the characters develop and increase in levels.
Buchanan said players can show off quests they complete with their Facebook posts. Characters can work toward personal goals, like building the most beautiful home, and highlight the player’s creativity and expressiveness in whatever way they choose.
“You can also build your skills by becoming an artist, being a musician by playing the piano, or becoming a writer,” Buchanan points out. “These are different skills that let you explore life and level up your Sim as they go about their lives in ways that your friends are going to be able to explore with you.”
However, not all friend experiences may be “friendly.” Buchanan said they expect players to get emotionally attached to their Sim and the events their Sim goes through. So if a game relationship goes sour, the game offers ways to … get even.
“It’s going to offer me an opportunity to have some fun, to have some pranks,” he said. “I might put a spider in the bed. I might turn my relationship into an enemy or into an archenemy and then we turn into frienemies and we might have a boxing match.”
Buchanan quickly points out that the pranks are never permanent and are just to have some fun and an opportunity for competition between real friends. This, in turn, will create interaction off Facebook with the chance to talk about what is happening in-game and compare Sims characters between friends, leading to, what Buchanan hopes, a richer experience with “The Sims Social.”
Technically, the interface for the Facebook game will be different than the PC version, but Buchanan said it should be familiar for PC players with similar status areas that they are used to. The game interface had to be changed to fit within the Facebook platform, but they still wanted it to be easy to use and think they’ve achieved that goal.
With more than 140 million copies of the PC game sold in the past 10 years, it would seem there is a ready-made fan base for “The Sims Social.” Buchanan said the attention, even before the game launched, was amazing.
“We already have over 1.3 million fans of the game (on Facebook), one would say, yes, they’ve been clamoring for the game and are incredibly excited.”
Buchanan said they are also developing an app that will allow players to take “The Sims Social” experience on the go.
“The Sims Social” is free to play on Facebook and there is an opportunity to advance your skills faster by using micro-transactions to pay for skill points. Sim Cash enables players to accelerate their gameplay, but it isn’t necessary to play or advance.
In case you were wondering, yes, your Facebook Sim will have access to a computer in the game, but no, your Facebook Sim will not be able to play “The Sims Social” in the Facebook game. Although Buchanan said that was a pretty good idea.
“The Sims Social” is only available through the Facebook social network. There is no ESRB rating for this game. It will be released on August 18 to the general public.
Many video games will use gods as characters or base the game’s story on the mythology of gods.
“El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron” (Ignition Entertainment) is adapted from Christian Old Testament writings about Enoch, a man originally written about in the Book of Genesis and later gets his own stories called the Books of Enoch. In his Books, Enoch is taken up to Heaven and becomes chief of the archangels.
In “El Shaddai,” Enoch is a priest who attempts to stop seven fallen angles from destroying the world. Ignition’s director of business development Shane Bettenhausen said there have been plenty of games set in other kinds of mythologies and developers wanted to tell a different story.
“The mythologies of the Western world are kind of off limits in neo-modern, popular culture. Everything biblical is off limits unless you are trying to make something didactical,” Bettenhausen said. “We felt most Christians in the Western world don’t know this story.”
“We felt there was some value in presenting this story (of Enoch), modernizing it, and basing a game on it because it does have a good template of hunting down these fallen angles, bringing them back to face justice in Heaven.”
Bettenhausen said they changed the story enough so it is a new retelling of the Books of Enoch, while being very careful not to step on any toes. The game is not being released in Ethiopia, the only place where the Books of Enoch are considered canon.
“There is nothing in there that will offend anybody, but there is a lot of content that will make traditional Western Christians wonder about this version of Genesis and where these (game) characters relate to the characters they know.”
Developers hope they challenge players to look beyond the game itself and find out more about the Biblical story after playing “El Shaddai.”
“It is a slippery slope, but one we aren’t afraid of,” Bettenhausen said. “We aren’t doing any faith-based marketing. A lot of the religious groups have actually said they are encouraged that a game is pushing religion and not just using it as a selling point.”
Released in Japan in April, the game became an instant hit with the anime fans who appreciated the art style and movements. Early release trailers were shared, fan groups were formed, and gaming conventions in Japan saw groups of cosplayers dressing up as characters from “El Shaddai.”
“We were blown away because rarely, in Japan, do you get a hardcore fans contingent even before the product is available,” Bettenhausen said. “In Comic Con in San Diego (in July), we did have cosplayers. It was really cool to see it happening (in the US).”
Anime fans have been drawn to the game by the development work of Takeyasu Sawaki, who was also a character designer for “Okami” and “Devil May Cry.” Bettenhausen said the anime style lends itself to be more colorful, creative and expressive, which was perfect for the “El Shaddai” style of surreal and wacky.
Female players have also been drawn to the game. In Japan, nearly half of the fan base are girl gamers – a surprising development since most girl gamers don’t normally go for the action-adventure type games.
“Because of the characters, the story, and the art, girls and women really gravitate towards (the game),” Bettenhausen said. “Here in America at the conventions, hardcore female gamers and casual female gamers were coming up and playing a game they normally wouldn’t play.”
He acknowledged that they were concerned about producing an original title in the “year of the sequels” in gaming. But because the story was original and it appeals to male and female gamers, developers think they can make their own mark and stand out from the crowd.
“What’s really going to surprise you about ‘El Shaddai’ beyond the graphics, which are weird, and the story, which is unlike anything you’ve ever seen, is the moment to moment experience,” Bettenhausen said. “Enoch doesn’t know what to expect, and the player definitely doesn’t know what to expect. By the end of the game, you’ve experienced multiple, different game play styles.”
“El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron” is rated T for Teen due to animated blood, fantasy violence, and mild suggestive themes. It is available now in Japan, on August 16 in North America, and on September 9 in Europe for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.
The roster of villains continues to grow for “Batman: Arkham City.”
Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and DC Entertainment released a new video revealing Mr. Freeze as the latest foe to face off against Batman in the upcoming video game.
From the trailer, Mr. Freeze is still trying to revive his wife, Nora, and demanding that the Dark Knight help him. Batman shows costume damage from a previous battle with an unknown opponent and clearly is not in the mood.
Mr. Freeze joins the Joker, Penguin, Two-Face and other classic Batman villains in the new video game, which promises to be five times larger than the game world in “Batman: Arkham Asylum.”
“Batman: Arkham City” will be available October 18 in North America for the Xbox 360, PC, and PlayStation 3.
What once was old is new again. And it is buggy.
Atari is getting ready to release a new version of their arcade classic, “Centipede,” with an updated version called “Centipede: Infestation.”
The game is a run and gun shooter in a post-apocalypic world overrun by creepy crawlers of all shapes and sizes. A new trailer shows how the player battles centipedes, spiders, beetles, and yellow jackets.
Twelve years after a nuclear war, the world has turned into an uninhabitable wasteland with mutant insects thriving in a toxic world and humanity holding onto survival in outposts hidden from the poisonous air and the killer centipedes hunting their natural resources.
There are more than 20 different breeds of insects featured in seven different environments and 40 stages. The game is expected to be released later in 2011 for the Wii and Nintendo 3DS.
Electronic Arts and BioWare, a division of EA, are making their popular fantasy role-playing game “Dragon Age” available on Google+ as “Dragon Age Legends.” This title got its start on Facebook about nine months ago, but the Google+ version will utilize features only available on the new social network.
The announcement follows a blog post from Google revealing a wider gaming effort across Google+. A Games page is slowly being rolled out and isn’t available for everyone right now, but they hope to garner feedback from users to create games that are “there when you want them and gone when you don’t.”
“We’re very excited to be among the first games launching on Google’s new social project,” said Dr. Ray Muzyka, Co-founder of BioWare, and General Manager of the BioWare Label at EA. “By bringing the franchise to Google+, we’re able to connect and entertain millions of existing and new fans within the rich, immersive Dragon Age universe.”
“Dragon Age Legends” will put players back into the Free Marches, the primary setting of Dragon Age II. Alongside their Google+ friends, players will take on challenging quests, earning loot, sharing rewards and growing their kingdom.
Angry Birds, Bejeweled Blitz, Sudoku, and many other games are among the initial offerings of games for Google+.
The Games button, when available, will be situated at the top of a user’s stream. Not only will it show your own progress, but it will reveal game updates from people in your Circles, provide invitations to other games and share high scores among your friends.
The blog also points out that it doesn’t want to take over your Stream with game updates (a veiled shot at Facebook?).
“If you’re not interested in games, it’s easy to ignore them. Your stream will remain focused on conversations with the people you care about.”
Google is also looking for developers to build more games for Google+ and expand their offerings. They don’t indicate how long it will take for the Games page to rollout to everyone.
A new game mode called “NBA’s Greatest” will let gamers choose from 15 historic NBA teams and their greatest players for rivalry games from history. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Julius “Dr. J” Erving and other superstars will face off against each other in recreations of some of the NBA’s most storied games.
Jason Argent, vice president of marketing at 2K Sports, said those games in the challenge mode have meticulously been recreated to be historically accurate – right down to the short shorts of the 1970s.
“It will be in black and white if (the real game) was in the 60s,” Argent said. “We focus so hard, in the current day game play, on polish and broadcast style presentation. That will play through to the historic day games as well.”
“These are actual games that took a lot of effort and a lot of internal debate. Deciding the biggest Kareem Abdul-Jabbar game, it is a pretty big list. But a couple floated to the top and we had to make some hard decisions about which of those historical games it would be.”
Each challenge game will have a series of goals to achieve to unlock the historic athlete and teams. Once unlocked, those teams from the past can battle against teams from today, letting gamers pit Kobe Bryant’s Lakers against Michael Jordan’s Bulls.
Argent said the idea behind the new mode was to let basketball fans debate about who was the greatest player or greatest team ever, then actually allow them to duke it out on the consoles.
2K Sports recently announced that the game would be released in the US with three different covers featuring Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. All three superstars will be among the 15 featured in the “NBA’s Greatest” challenge mode.
With the looming threat of no real basketball this year, “NBA 2K12” is prepared to be the only game in town. Argent said some adjustments will be made in case the NBA season is delayed or does not play this year.
“Certain free agents that aren’t on a team may not be represented, but for the most part, we are going to be completely fine.”
In last year version of “NBA 2K11,” the “NBA Today” mode used real time stats to alter characteristics and abilities of players in the game. Argent said the mode has been upgraded this year, but they are ready in case real stats aren’t available.
“If the lockout ends and as the season goes live, the real players will be updated in real time in the game,” he said. But if no real season is played, Argent said the players in the game will keep their initial abilities throughout the virtual season.
“We’ve got some fun other things up our sleeve that will greatly enhance that experience despite what’s happening in the real world. We’ve anticipated every option and the final result, regardless of what happens in the real world, will be great in game.”
“NBA 2K12” will be released October 4 on the PlayStation 3 with optional Move support, Xbox 360, Wii, PlayStation 2, PSP, and PC.