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The Games That May Never See Sequels (And Need To) July 31, 2012

Posted by Maniac in Editorials.
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With the games that I’ve been replaying this summer, I’ve been reliving a lot of classic memories over the years, and also been forced to play them with the full knowledge that in many cases the development houses that made them no longer exist, and that a chance for seeing any more games in the series is very slim.

I thought it would be a good opporutnity to talk about some games that really need sequels, but for several reasons probably will never get one. This is by no means a complete list, but its a good start, and I’m sure more will follow. These are in chronological order.

Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines (2004)

Welcome to the World of Darkness. Everything you thought you knew about monsters is actually true. Vampires, werewolfs, ghosts, and monsters are all real and they live among you. However, the reason why you don’t know about them is because of the Masquerade, which are the rules they have enacted to ensure their own protection and make sure that normal people don’t know about them. Southern California is practically a haven for the creatures of the night, and as a fledgling vampire recently sired your job is to learn the rules and quickly, and to make a new life for yourself in the real Los Angeles.

The end of the game leaves very little actually resolved, and in some cases it looked like it was going to be the start of horrible days to come for both mortals and immortals alike. However, the World of Darkness in Los Angeles was still ripe for further stories to be told in it. It would be great to check in with all the characters that we had become so attached to and see how they were doing in these dark times. It also opened up the possiblity to play from other clans that were not part of the Camerilla and see the game world from an entirely new perspective, like the Anarchs or the Sabbat, or possibly even the Thin Bloods.

While the game’s finale left open the chance that the player character could have died at the end, I would have had no problem creating a whole new character and going back into the world that Troika had created.

Why We Probably Won’t Get a Sequel:

There are many things working against the chances that we will ever get a sequel for this game. After completing the game the game’s developer, Troika, announced their next project was not going to be a sequel to Bloodlines. In fact the promotional video for their new game looked like it was heavily inspired by Fallout. The other problem is Troika closed a few months after the game’s completion, due to the fact they couldn’t secure funding for their next project.

The other issue is the Vampire: The Masquerade license. It’s over. In fact Bloodlines was supposed to set up the finale of the game’s universe! White Wolf has changed their entire RPG ruleset with a completely different world which has no story ties to the Masquerade. If a new game was going to be developed, it would probably be forced to use the new license, and that would mean cutting story ties to the older game.

However, not all is lost for lovers of the creatures of the night. A MMORPG is in development for the updated World of Darkness by CCP, but it is unlikely that a continuation of Bloodlines will ever see the light of day.

Infected (2005)

My favorite game for the Sony Playstation Portable, Infected is a third person action game where you fight zombies througout New York City in the days leading up to Christmas. You discover after being bitten that your blood is completely immune to the zombie virus, and in fact is so immune that firing it at a zombie causes them to explode in large groups! It was developed by Planet Moon Studios, well known for their hilarious stories in games, and this game was no different.

At the game’s conclusion, the source of the zombie infection is revealed and the news anchor announces that New York City has been saved, but that there was still no word from other major cities in several days. It is possible that future games could take place in these still-infected cities. Could it be possible that the other cities could have people in them that are also immune to the virus like Officer Stevens was?

Why We Won’t See a Sequel:

Well, other than the fact that the Playstation Portable is in the process of being phased out in favor of the new Playstation Vita, there are many reasons why the game may never see a sequel. The game launched very early in the PSP’s lifespan and while it was a fantastic game which took complete advantage of the hardware’s capabilites and control system, it was a new property on a new platform and the game just didn’t have the publicity blitz behind it to sell the platform. I am curious if the game could have sold better if it was released later in the PSP’s lifespan, but as it stands the game never even released as a downloadable title on the Playstation Network, completely cutting out sales on the PSP Go.

There’s also the problem with the game’s publisher, Majesco, deciding to shift all their focus to value software instead of producing full priced retail games. Because of that, they’ve let many of their properties languish, and even lost some of them in the process, most recently the Psychonauts property, as it reverted back to Tim Schaffer and Double Fine last year. It’s just too bad. With its superior hardware and second analog stick, man would it be awesome to see a sequel to the game on the Vita.

Brütal Legend (2009)

Mic check, one, two. A roadie is mysteriously transported to a land far, far away during a rock concert. With his ability to build things on the fly and his knowledge of heavy metal music he takes the materials in the land the inhabitants could never understand and is able to take a rock concert and turn it into a weapon. His goal is to free the land from those who oppress it, and if that means taking on the gods, then so be it.

At the end of the game all appears to be well, but the roadie never returns home. There could still be plenty of stories told in the universe that Double Fine created. Perhaps a new threat could emerge to conquer the land, and it will be up to the characters that we grew to love to save it.

Why We Won’t See a Sequel:

Double Fine was ready and willing to go at making a sequel to Brütal Legend. In fact, development started on the game’s sequel almost immediatly after the game’s release, but that was stopped by the game’s publisher. Since Brütal Legend‘s release (and slightly disappointing commercial results) Double Fine shifted focus to producing downloadable games like Costume Quest and Stacking.

While the new downloadable games are a lot of fun I would have loved to see what Double Fine’s plans were for the sequel.

Splatterhouse (2010)

Thirty years after the first Splatterhouse hit the arcades the game that die hard Splatterhouse fans had been asking to play for years was released. A 3D action game where you play a frail man attacked and left for dead in a haunted mansion. During his last breaths an old mask in the mansion speaks to him and offers him a deal. If he puts on the mask he will have his wounds healed and give him the strength to save his girlfriend, who had been taken by the master of the house. He does, and with his newfound strength he fights his way through the mansion all in an effort to get back the woman he wants to ask to marry him.

The game’s ending was a heavy cliffhanger. At the end of the game Rick saves his girlfriend, but we have no idea what has happened to her during the time Rick took to save her. Is she herself or has she been possessed by whatever Dr. West was trying to bring into this world? The mask knew that something was indeed wrong with Jen because it wouldn’t let Rick remove it when she was saved. All the pieces were set for a whole new story.

Why We Won’t Get a Sequel:

It was pretty obvious in the time leading up to the release of this game that Namco was preparing for Splatterhouse to be a disappointment. There have been plenty of articles written about this so I really don’t want to retread them but comments from everyone ranging from the former webmaster of the biggest Splatterhouse fan site on the internet to the Happy Video Game Nerd have made that case.

The biggest rumor I’ve read was that Namco was planning to shift their development focus from creating brand new retail games to focus instead on their nostaglic back catalog and get to porting them on modern platforms like the iPhone and Android. In fact, the original arcade version of Splatterhouse was released to the iPhone around the same time, and you can find plenty of other classic Namco games on sale for the mobile platforms as well.

With the development teams shut down and the project leads now on other projects its unlikely we’ll ever find out if Rick really did save his girl or not.

Catherine (2011)

The sleeper hit of Summer 2011, Catherine came out after a media blitz and suprised everyone. Here was a game that was completely unlike anything we had seen in a long time and completely unlike any other game that was currently on the market. In it, you followed an everyman as he tried to balance two relationships with two very different women, all the while making all the hard decisions we all have to face in life. Am I ready to settle down? Gamers and critics alike loved it, and let me tell you I have put plenty of hours this summer into replaying this game and getting the last achievements in it.

Wouldn’t it be awesome to catch up again on Vincent and see what he’s up to now? Or to shift the game’s focus to a new character that is having the same nightmares that Vincent and the other people at the Stray Sheep were having for that week? Or possibly to go to a new venue, like Kappa Heaven, and interact with people there?

Why We Won’t See a Sequel:

Here’s the spot where I normally will mention the development team was shut down or the publisher wasn’t interested in any further use of the license, but actually in this game’s case we have seen no evidence of that. Atlus is best known for it’s Persona series, and it looks like their attention got shifted back to that after completing Catherine, as Persona 4 Arena just got released. In fact, I couldn’t find any announcements saying anything along the lines of Catherine being a financial disappointment or anything bad happening to the development house following the release of the game.

The only thing that is working against it is that Catherine is a complete package. The entire story is told in one game. No loose ends were left dangling, and by the end of the game all your questions are answered. There was also a wide array of endings for the game, with everything from Vincent ending up single and going into space to Vincent getting married and settling down. I know, that’s not much of a reason to completely rule out a sequel may be coming. In fact, this is probably the most likely game out of this entire list to actually get a sequel.

So that is my first list of games that I feel really need sequels but unfortunatly will probably never get one. I’m sure there are more games that can be added to this list, and I would love to read your comments on what games should be added!

Rest assured, more articles about this will be coming, and more games will be added to the list!

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Top Ten Games You Should NOT Play With Your Girlfriend July 30, 2012

Posted by Princess Angel in Site Videos.
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Hi gamers, Princess Angel here with a new video.  At Maniac’s request, I created a top ten list of games you should NEVER play with your girlfriend.  Play at your own risk, you have been warned.

The Greatest Video Game Songs of All Time July 30, 2012

Posted by Maniac in Editorials.
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A video game is more than just a collection of action and story sequences, it’s a complete package that includes everything down to the sound effect of the footsteps. Music is an important part of that experience. The right music can take a moment and make it all the more powerful, and heard on its own, it can trigger the memory of the exact moment you heard it when you played the game.

With all that in mind I’m going to list what I think are the greatest video game songs of all time. But here’s the catch. I’m not counting any orchestral scores. Yes, I know that in plenty of cases orchestral scores are absolutely fantastic, but I’m going to save that for a different time. So that means that this list will only count original songs that were licensed specifically for individual games.

For the first one, I’m going to pick what is probably going to be the most obvious. It is at the top of pretty much everyone’s list for many reasons. It was the perfect melding of a video game song with an original artist, which both served to entertain at the completion of the game, as well as continue the story of the game after it’s completion.

I’m talking about what was probably the greatest song of 2007, from Portal, this is “Still Alive” by Jonathan Coulton.

Next I’m going to bring up (in as chronological an order as I can make it) the song that probably was the inspiration for this list.

You hear characters singing and performing parts of this song throughout the entire game. It’s almost as if during the course of the game’s timeframe the song is an extremely popular radio hit inside the game’s world. Everyone, from the janitor cleaning the walls to highly trained assassins have the song stuck in their heads. Finally, as the game’s conclusion rolls, the song starts to play in its entirety during the credits and we’ve come full circle.

From Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne, this is “The Late Goodbye” by Poets of the Fall.

However this would not be the last time that a 3D Realms produced game would have a rocking licensed track to close their game. In 2006, they were producing a game in development by an outside studio that would revive a franchise that they had long since cancelled. In the end of the game, he was able to save his home planet but not his girl. I can’t think of a better song to wrap up the game’s story of and heritage, heartbreak and finally triumph.

From Prey, this is After Midnight Project with “Take Me Home”.

Backtracking a bit (hey, I only said I was going to TRY to be chronological) I want to talk a bit about a classic PC game that still holds up even today, and the main theme that was made specifically for it. I first became aware of it when I saw it performed on the Video Games Live Tour Level 2 Blu-Ray Disc as the song has long been a staple of the tour. Six years later the song actually won a Grammy. Why did it take that long? Because the awards organization does not consider a song produced for a video game, it only became eligible for consideration when the artist released it to CD.

From Civilization IV, here is the Grammy Award Winning song “Baba Yetu” by Christopher Tin.

In 2008 a new kind of game hit the PC and consoles by EA. It changed up the formula in a way that we hadn’t seen in gameplay before. You were playing as a freerunning courier with the ability to race across rooftops. With the game’s unique art style and gameplay, the tune was quite unique to the video game space, but it worked wonderfully as a main theme, and they did a pretty interesting music video for it as well.

From Mirror’s Edge, here’s “Still Alive” by Lisa Mikovsky.

And now we’re going to come full circle. In 2010 a video game came out that made probably some of the best use of licensed tracks that year. While they did have a lot of classic tracks like “Space Oddity” and “Coconut”, those were songs that have been around a long time. No, there were several unique tracks made by a band we have long been familiar with. This particular song would quickly become part of the band’s next album, so it is possible that the song may not have been made uniquely for the game, but seriously, you just can’t watch the song’s official music video and not see the game’s impact.

From Alan Wake, this is Poets of the Fall (again) with “War”.

Inside the Playstation Bin With Princess Angel July 27, 2012

Posted by Maniac in Site Videos.
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Princess Angel has started up her new regular series and she’s firing on all cylinders!

“Inside the Playstation Bin” is a brand-new video series hosted by Princess Angel where she takes a look at some classic games for the original Playstation platform and gives her own unique perspective on them.

This week she’s taking a look at Thrill Kill a game that was so controversial it never saw release.  So check out what her thoughts are on it, and if you’re interested in seeing more videos, check out her website!

The Games That Define Summer July 25, 2012

Posted by Maniac in Editorials.
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As a kid I lived for my summers. During summer, since I wouldn’t have to get up at insanely early hours to go to school every summer I would stay up late, eventually becoming practically nocturnal. Without school I could enjoy my time and not worry about things like homework or projects being due, giving me three months of a stress free environment.

However, the downside of being up late hours and being asleep during daylight is that there’s really not much you can do during that time. If you don’t live in a big city most venues, except for maybe fast food restaurants or diners, will be closed. So, you have to find alternate ways to spend your time, and I would spend it playing video games.

During each summer, I would always find myself going back and replaying the same games that would reflect my own nocturnal lifestyle. The late hours were some of my favorite times in my life.

Since we’re right in the middle of the summer once again I thought I would share with you all some the games that I would find myself playing each summer. Regardless of when they were released they all have a special place in my memories.

The original Max Payne came out in summer 2001 for the PC and immediately I was drawn to playing it. It cost me a day’s pay from my summer job to buy it (and three more days to afford a decent graphics card to play it with) but it was worth every penny. While the game took place in the winter, the game embodied what I was doing that summer. With the exception of the prologue, all of the levels in Max Payne took place late at night in the city that never sleeps. What better way to spend my time then, as the game developers put it, continuing Max’s journey through the night? The game was groundbreaking in so many levels. Sure, the graphics were a huge leap over the games that had come before it, but it was the story that had me up all those late hours. It didn’t matter how hard that last level was, or how long it was going to take me to finish it, I just had to see how it ended. I owe the game a lot, I got my early start writing for a site dedicated to that game back in 2003.

Before I talk about this next game I’m going to give a quick bit of backstory about me. I spent a year living in Southern California. During that year I spent time at all the popular places you’d imagine, Hollywood, Santa Monica Beach, and Downtown Los Angeles. After the year ended and I returned home I was quite happy with the time I spent out there and ended up writing a play.

When Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines released a year later for the PC it felt like a homecoming to a place I had been very familiar with. Yes, I know the game came out in Winter 2004, but I don’t think I ended up playing it until at least Summer 2005. And furthermore, compared to where I’m from, pretty much every time of the year is Summer in Southern California. Since I could make my own schedule that year, I had spent the year sleeping late hours, being up when the sun had long set and doing things late at night. A year later here I was playing a video game where I was practically reliving that year…only now I was an actual vampire. I wasn’t much of an action/rpg player at that time, but for that game I made an exception. The game’s atmosphere of night, mixing the real locations with the supernatural themes perfectly is what kept me playing it each and every summer.

I think Psychonauts also deserves a special mention as well. Taking place at the Whispering Rock Summer Camp, the game practically defined a summer experience. While it starts off bright and cheerful I can’t imagine a game that drew me in and kept me playing until the sun came up better. The second half of the game takes place late at night in the camp, when all the other campers have gone to sleep, so when you are backtracking through all the spooky wilderness as your own clock says 3AM I could really relate to the character. With all of the game’s different secret hidden item types, you can imagine how many late hours I would spend going from mind to mind in the collective unconscious making sure that I found EVERY single figment, brain vault and mental cobweb, all so I could finish the game at Rank 100 and get the secret cinematic.

Alan Wake is one of those games that perfectly fit the summer game mold for me. I had been anticipating it ever since Remedy announced it in 2005, it released in summer 2010. While the game didn’t take place during the summer (the game establishes that it takes place in the days leading up to Deerfest and that Deerfest started September 15th), the theme of a vacation was prevalent throughout. The main character came to Bright Falls in order to go on vacation with his wife just as the town is hosting their huge yearly celebration.

But then of course there is the most obvious parallel, and that is that Alan Wake would fight his battles at night. The Dark Presence could not function in light, and anyone it controlled could be protected by darkness against any damage, but only as long as anyone it controlled was not exposed to light. The game’s atmosphere alone drew me in as we were exposed to a whole town, which seemed so normal on the surface during the daytime, but at night our whole perspective was shifted from a small town square to a dark forbidding, untamed environment, where light is our only ally. Only when the sun came back up were we safe. In fact, when Remedy made the next game in the series, Alan Wake’s American Nightmare, they made the sunrise a major component of the game’s arcade levels.

Catherine was a game I first became familiar with at E3 2011, the first E3 I had attended in many years. It released in Summer 2011 and got a lot of exposure by the gaming press across the board. What really got my attention was its demo, which released on both the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. The game was unlike anything I had seen before, detailing the story of an everyman who was trying to find his place in the world, while his long-term girlfriend tried to get him to settle down. He would spend his late nights hard-drinking with his friends in a really cool bar, talking about their lives and trying to see who could get the highest score in the bar’s arcade game, Rapunzel.

Oh and, did I tell you that he was having nightmares where he was being chased by all of his fears while climbing up high towers into the sky and if he died in them he would die in real life? Yeah, kind of missed that part. This summer, I’ve been spending some of my nights up late trying to beat all 128 (yes, 128) levels of the bar’s Rapunzel arcade game.

So those are the games that defined my summers. I can’t tell you how great its been writing about all the good memories I’ve had while playing them. I will usually find myself playing or replaying one or more of these games, because to me replaying a game is more than just reliving the experiences I had playing the game itself, it also reminded me of all the good times I had in my summers as I was playing these games.

Hope you’re enjoying your Summer too!

Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance Release Details July 25, 2012

Posted by Maniac in Game News.
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The first game in the Kingdom Hearts series for the Nintendo 3DS, Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance, is getting closer and closer to release.  In fact, they’ve already started airing the game’s release trailer on tv!

For those of you who just can’t wait for the game to come out there’s going to be a launch event hosted by Nintendo World in New York City on Saturday July 28th, from 9am-1pm.

Also, if you’re interested in the contents of the game’s special edition, check out this developer unboxing of the game’s special edition, called the Mark of Mastery Edition, which is coming out with the game.

Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance is coming July 31st, 2012 exclusive to the Nintendo 3DS.

Next Generation Final Fantasy Engine E3 2012 Demo July 24, 2012

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At E3 this past year, Square-Enix, the company behind such games as Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts, demoed their next generation graphics engine to the press.  It is without a doubt one of the most beautiful and technologically advanced graphical engines I have seen to date.  So check it out, and make sure to bump it up to High-Definition!

The demo is solely a technical display and is not a teaser for any game they have currently in development.  However, any future games they have in development, including any future, currently unannounced, Final Fantasy games, may make use of this technology.  It is currently designed to support game consoles, PCs, and mobile platforms.

You can check out more about the tech demo and engine on their official website.

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance VR Gameplay July 23, 2012

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VR Training has always been a staple of the Metal Gear Solid series.  It was first seen in the original Metal Gear Solid game with three sets of 10 missions and a single “survival” mission.  When the game was re-released in Japan, 300 new VR missions were included, and they were the only component of the re-release that came over to the United States on the Playstation.  VR Missions returned in the re-release of Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance, which added 300 more VR Missions, all of which were brought over to the Metal Gear Solid: HD Collection for Xbox 360 and PS3.

So it’s quite fitting that Konami and Platinum Games decided to show off the VR Training Missions for the new Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance game.  In this gameplay video, we get to see how the game’s controls are going to work, and just what possibilities open up for the player to have a sword that can cut EVERYTHING.

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is coming to PC, Xbox 360 and PS3 in 2013.

Death Rally PC Trailer July 21, 2012

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Death Rally, the first game made by Remedy, creators of Alan Wake and Max Payne, is coming back to PC with all the new features and enhancements made for the iOS and Android versions of the game.  Take a look!

Death Rally is coming (back) to PC August 3rd, 2012.

San Diego Comic Con 2012 – Halo 4 Panel July 21, 2012

Posted by Maniac in Game News.
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Posted up by the Halo Waypoint guys, here is the complete Halo 4 Panel from this year’s San Diego Comic Con.  If you prefer to watch it on your TV, you can also check this video out on the Halo Waypoint program for the Xbox 360.

Halo 4 is coming November 6th, 2012 exclusive to the Xbox 360.