‘Cuphead’ Revives the Magic of 1930s Cartoons

Cuphead

The dazzling new game ‘Cuphead’ showcases what makes the earliest animations so timeless. From the very moment you boot up the independent game Cuphead it’s readily apparent that you have stepped into a time machine and traveled to a different era. Right there on the home screen, a black-and-red-clad character with a teacup for a head stands opposite a blue-and-black-clad character with a matching teacup head. Both have bent straws coming from the surface of their cups. Cuphead and Mugman, respectively, arrive on-screen as the protagonists of a 1930s cartoons–inspired run-and-gun video game. And the game retains that wondrous, classic look from start to finish in what is not only an incredibly well-made video game but a reminder of the timelessness of cartoons from the dawn of the Golden Age of animation. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KAriv93tzI0 Cuphead opens with a picture book filled with wonderfully expressive drawings telling the tale of Cuphead and        …read more

Speedrunners Take Gaming to the Next Level

speedrunner

Speedrunners defy logic to complete your favorite games in staggering times. Some people are good at a video game, and then some people are speedrunners. Speedrunning — the act of completing a video game as fast as possible — would seem somewhat like a natural progression for improving at a game. The more you play, the better you get and the less time it takes to make progress. But speedrunning entails much more than simply getting extremely good at a particular game. Successful speedrunners shorten play-through times through unnatural mechanisms. Sure, they’re better at their game of choice than 99% of players, but they’ve also found and learned to play in ways even a game’s developers never thought of. Essentially, speedrunners push a game to its limits and then some, all in the pursuit of shaving off minutes and seconds from their runs. Speedrunning has been a subculture in gaming        …read more

Why ‘PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds’ Is Topping the Charts

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds

‘PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds’ brings in up to 2.5 million players per day. Here’s why the multiplayer battle royale simulation is such a hit. Bluehole Studio found moderate success with a massively multiplayer online title called TERA, released in 2012. When TERA switched to a free-to-play model in 2013, the game boasted more than one million users. As of March of this year, TERA eclipsed 25 million users worldwide. But there was a much more significant event for the independent studio that same month. Bluehole wouldn’t know it at the time, but the early-access release of their sophomore title — a very different type of game — would turn Bluehole into the hottest independent studio in the business. You probably haven’t heard of TERA, but ask anyone who even casually pays attention to video games, and they will probably nod if you mention PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ODWCbu_cuqk Development started on PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds in        …read more

‘Super Mario Odyssey’ Perfects the Mario Formula

Mario’s latest adventure, ‘Super Mario Odyssey,’ is part greatest hits, part unearthing of endless potential. For more than 30 years, Nintendo has captivated the world with the platforming genius that is Super Mario. If one game franchise were universally considered the flag holder for all video games, it would undoubtedly be the lovable, pint-sized, mustached man. What Super Mario has achieved so consistently across more than a dozen mainline games is to capture the art of the “aha!” moment, that smile-inducing lightbulb that makes one thing clear — Nintendo thought of everything. Super Mario games are ceaselessly clever, utterly charming and fun for all ages, and Super Mario Odyssey adds so much to the legacy. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6oPBIVjf8E Even with Mario’s expected brilliance, it would’ve been hard to predict the sheer excellence of our determined hero’s latest adventure. Super Mario Odyssey, the series’ Nintendo Switch debut, accomplishes two very different feats in        …read more

Horizon Zero Dawn Enters the Frozen Wilds

Horizon Zero Dawn game

We’re in a land like no other... Horizon Zero Dawn developed by Guerrilla Games and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment available exclusively for the PS4, is an open-world RPG with a variety of geographical locations and ecotopes from frozen mountain ranges to hot, dense jungles and all teeming with life and automatons in this postapocalyptic future. The game’s hero, Aloy, is a young hunter on a journey to find her destiny. Aloy develops her skill set and savage aim to hunt the huge variety of Machines and to defend against rival tribes. She’s also quite the badass. Her fighting dynamics vary from a bow to hand-to-Machine combat with her spear, and even gaining the ability to override certain Machines, upon which she can also ride, making it easier to traverse the vast landscape. As in other RPGs, like the new Assassin’s Creed, our hero also has the ability to upgrade her skills        …read more

Assassin’s Creed: Origins — Millennia in the Making

Assassin’s Creed: Origins

Assassin’s Creed: Origins is ancient history. Like many fans of the series, I’ve played the Assassin games for a long time and have looked forward to each new edition, including Assassin’s Creed: Origins. Until now, we’ve known relatively little about the characters’ true origins, and now it looks like we’ll be given much more of the story. What makes the series truly unique is its ability to constantly surprise. With every game, players learn more about the Brotherhood and the Templars. For example, when I played as Haytham Kenway in AC3, the reveal at the start of the game gave me one of the biggest surprises ever. Using real-world events from a historical fiction perspective, the Assassin’s Creed game focuses on a centuries-old struggle between the Assassins, who fight for peace, and the Templars, who desire peace only through complete control. And now it would seem it’s not just centuries        …read more

Should Combat Video Games Show Psychological Realities of War?

combat video games

‘Call of Duty’ is heading back to World War II, but we need psychologically multidimensional combat video games. With modern computing technology, video games can come close to photorealism. For many genres, this is an advantage. In sports, adventure and action games, more realistic graphics are enticing and increasingly immersive. Shooters, the most lucrative genre — particularly first-person shooters — have also benefited from the uptick of graphical power. While more lively graphics immerse gamers in the scene, for some they raise questions about the ethical nature of shooters when simulating historic wars. As games become more aesthetically realistic, shouldn’t the horrors of war be depicted accurately thematically, along with offering additional, more diverse layers? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a9ITIaKzG3A Call of Duty: WW2 will take the series back to World War II for the first time in a decade and the eighth time in the series. Games centered on World War II launched        …read more

2 Decades of Breaking All the Rules: Grand Theft Auto Turns 20

Grand Theft Auto

Grand Theft Auto, one of the most successful and controversial video game franchises ever, hits 20-year mark. Even though video games are the most popular form of entertainment in the world, there’s perhaps only a handful of video game franchises that have become household names. Super Mario Bros., Pokémon, The Legend of Zelda, perhaps Sonic the Hedgehog — and the outlier of the bunch — Grand Theft Auto. Whether you know Grand Theft Auto — commonly known as GTA — as one of the most critically acclaimed series of all time, or merely as the ultraviolent, anything-goes simulator that has spent much of its existence engulfed in controversy, you’ve heard of it. Like the more wholesome games listed above, Grand Theft Auto has had a profound effect on entertainment and culture. This October Grand Theft Auto turns 20. Let’s take a look back at how and why the franchise everyone seems to        …read more

'Breath of the Wild' Reinvents Zelda

Zelda

Simply put, 'Breath of the Wild' is the best entry in Zelda, the greatest video game franchise of all time. Once more, the newest entry in the Zelda series plays vastly different than every game that came before it. Breath of the Wild reinvents the series, bringing the classic formula into the modern era of video games. That’s not to say there needed to be a shake-up, but that’s what Nintendo has given us, breathing life into its most recognizable intellectual property besides Super Mario. Breath of the Wild is a master class of what an open-world video game can be. That’s impressive in and of itself, because Nintendo hasn’t dabbled in the genre up until this point. The risk of taking the plunge with Zelda has paid off, and then some. On Metacritic, the review aggregator that in some ways defines a game’s legacy, Breath of the Wild has a resounding        …read more

Nintendo Switch: The Video Game Revolution

Nintendo Switch

On March 3, Nintendo Switch will usher in a new era of possibilities for video games by switching up the way we play. When Nintendo first revealed its latest video game system in October, many were dismayed by its bland name: the Nintendo Switch. Sure, the trailer showed off that the system would act as both a home console and a portable unit — hence the “Switch” — but the name seemed too benign, too literal for a company that has prided itself on bucking industry conventions. Nintendo went beyond a mere teaser trailer three months later, offering an in-depth look at the Nintendo Switch. Right then it became clear the system was fittingly named not only for its variety of different modes of play but for its potential to change the way we see and interact with video games. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3c6MWsEE884 Let’s switch up our perceptions on what a piece        …read more