Things randomly come across my abundant amount of gaming and news feeds during any given day but few ever really capture my imagination like the game I’m about to tell you about. Ballpoint Universe (formerly a Kickstarter called “College-Ruled Universe”) from from Arachnid Games is strikingly beautiful. The game is a mix of both a platformer and shump that was all created by using ballpoint pens. Yes I just said the whole world is brought to life by the drawings made with ballpoint pens. I know it sounds weird but once you see these illustrations come to life you will absolutely become a believer.
Gorgeous intricately woven foregrounds and backgrounds are here for your eyes to delight in. Whimsical otherworldly creatures greet and instruct you on how the world works. They give you missions & equipment within the platforming sections and bring life into the space. Then the game ramps up again when you get to the shooter parts, interchangeable ship parts not only add artistic flair to your ship but give you the ability to make you more formidable while fighting the waves of two-dimensional baddies.
All this along with a pretty dope original soundtrack from Doc Prop makes this a game I want right now. It looks like from their website we’ll have to wait 22 more days to get the full experience but for now check out the demo here
*To play the game you’ll have to install the Unity Web Player
I follow many folks in the gaming community on social media. I appreciate what they bring not only to our favorite medium, but also what they do to help grow and expand the communities that we all inhabit.
What I don’t appreciate is the misogyny, sexism, and racism that has permeated online gaming within the past ten years. It is a cancer that is ruining gaming for everyone involved but shows no sign of slowing down. I bring this all up because during my usual nightly Instagram crawl I came across this photo from fighting game community member Sherry “SherryJenix” Nhan.
I had to double take for a moment because besides being a great player, Jenix is pretty well-known in the fighting game scene for breaking down some of the barriers that have befallen many of the women combatants in a super male-dominated field. She has gone to all the tournaments, performed extremely well, and has gotten enough exposure that she was even asked to help debut Street Fighter Cross Tekken in Capcom’s Cross Assault “reality show” earlier this year.
It has become more and more difficult for gamers of color, women, and members of the LGBT community to game without the need to cordon themselves off in muted match limbo or party chats because the rest of the world hasn’t grown up. We’ve gotten to the point that even the good guys are being attacked by other members of the community for speaking out against bigotry. A couple of recent examples include Anita Sarkeesian getting trolled while trying to address some of the video game stereotypes that involve women, and the Gamers Against Bigotry pledge site getting hacked and all petition signatures erased.
What I wonder is, why did she feel like this was ok? It’s not funny for many reasons and does nothing to further the push to make the FGC more inclusive or help remove the societal stereotypes that come along with being part of a specific group.
Knowing how hard I and others root for women like her is what makes this incident so upsetting. We all know where the word that she used derives from, and at this point no one needs to use it or any remixed version of it. The Hip-Hop’s community’s co-opting of this word has enabled people to use a historical epithet like it’s an ok thing. I don’t agree with its use in either case; I would like to start the process of removing it from everyone’s lexicon.
I’m sure Sherry thought this was supposed to be a joke, one that you can just flippantly post on the web and think that people don’t care. Maybe next time she will use her stature and platform to promote something we can all get behind and not this kind of ignorance.
Tell us what you think in the comments below.
So after some initial blowback in the comments section of the above photo Nhan issued a Twitter post that initially defends her “joke” by stating that people need to “get a sense of humor”
Which lead some folks in the community to jump on the “well a black dude started it” bandwagon:
“To those who got offended, I apologize”.
Not that she actually felt any remorse for what she said or repeated, not that she took responsibility for posting racially insensitive things but she is sorry that you didn’t get the joke.
The thing that I find most problematic is the co-signing to things that really shouldn’t be co-signed. We as gamers need to use our words in ways that aren’t destructive. We need to tell our fellow gamers when they step out of line and need to educate them on why.
Although she took the photo down, blocked folks who were offended and made her Instagram account private it doesn’t change the fact that she and other people still feel like this is an ok thing to do, you can see some of this even in the comments below.
People need to understand that great power carries great responsibility. Let her know what you think @sherryjenix
While many of us were sleeping here stateside Capcom announced a new and interesting IP at Gamescom called Remember Me. Formerly known as Adrift, this game has you take the role of a “Memory Hunter” named Nilin. With part of your memory erased you find the tables turned in which you were once the hunter and now you are the hunted.
The game mixes third person traversal with some stylized hand-to-hand combat and looks to be set in a futuristic Paris. So far I really like what I’ve seen of the gameplay.
Here is a look:
After the dust has settled on E3 2012, there are still more goodies emerging from the rubble. Check out Creative Director Alex Hutchinson’s narration on this trailer for one of the generation’s most anticipated games.
The new mechanics and systems seem to show just how different this Assassin’s game will be from anything else in the series. The wildlife might be just as dangerous as the foes you’ll meet throughout the game. Ubisoft’s focus on making this new protagonist the most fluid and environmentally aware in any game might be just what the game and genre needed.
I read an awesome article from a friend on his new site nxistence.net (stop by and check it out) that pertained to his dislike of how gaming music has evolved from a well thought-out meaningful struggle, both through hardware constraints and composition, to a semi-homogeneous hodgepodge of like-sounding tunes. I understand exactly where he is coming from with his stance. There are very few beats or tracks that, when I think back on the game they were in, will evoke specific emotions like they did back in the day. So I sat down and thought to myself, “What games did I play last year that had great or memorable music?”
Here is my list:
This song lets you know from the moment you hit “Start” that you are ready to get yourself into something epic and massively badass. Orchestral and big, it gives the you the feeling that you are about to do battle even before you pick up your first weapon. I loved it and understand why they used it in most of the advertising that preceded its launch.
Portal 2′s ending was awesome–I think the fact that I thought I was going to die by turret helped make this song so memorable. The whimsical notes along with the visuals added so much to the ending that it had to be one my favorites of the year. Who knew that being serenaded by hundreds of faceless killing machines would wind up being so endearing. Although I don’t think this or the ending credits song was as good as “Still Alive“, it left me both wanting more of the game and happy to see its creators put such nice finishing touches on what was a wonderful ride.
The Infamous series is about being a reluctant superhero, a real person put into extraordinary circumstances who has to make tough decisions about right and wrong. I think this song has elements of all these themes in it. I appreciate songs that you would want to be your “walking music” on the commute to work. Songs that would be your entrance music if you were a wrestler, or in my case an IT guy. I want this song to play when I fix your broken shortcuts or printers; I don’t want this just to play in my head, but in small speakers that I’ve strategically placed on my belt so that you know I’m awesome when I leave your cubicle. It just makes you feel like you made it through something tough and came out better on the other side. Plus violins are AWESOME!
I heard about this game from Shane Bettenhausen, a former 1up writer who then went on the work for the company who put this game out. I have massive respect for Shane and his gaming views so I rented a copy from Gamefly. I was blown away by the whole package it provided. A breathtaking graphic style, simple but engaging gameplay and really cool music. The theme above is reminiscent of the old school gaming music I loved when I grew up: airy and powerful with pulsating drums that push you on your adventure. I have to say this and the next game I list would go under my “Most slept on games of 2011.”
As an older gamer, my music tastes have changed substantially during this part of my life. Shadow’s soundtrack was pretty eye-opening. The game is brash and sexy, spooky and eclectic. It mixes small tinges of mariachi and throws downbeat atmospheric licks just for shits and giggles. It had to be my favorite gaming soundtrack just for those reasons. The tracks fit so well with the game, and that’s because Akira Yamaoaka just knows how to do gaming music. If you’ve played a Silent Hill game you know what I’m talking about. There is also an amazing song titled “Justine For All” that plays during the side-scrolling stages; it reminds me of something that would play in a demented carnival. You must check it out.
All in all I would say 2011 had some very interesting and exciting music additions, and I am really excited to see what can be done in the next-gen music wise. The ability to not be constrained to small midi files, bleeps and crackles will only help to make our memories and gaming experiences fuller and more meaningful. It will give composers and artists the ability match the standards they want their music to reach and will hopefully give us something to tap our feet and bang our heads to while we rescue our newest prince or princess.
Thank you to all the folks that took the time to find and post such great music on Youtube. When clicking on the links give them a shout as well and say thanks.
With the basketball season now underway after the proposed lockout, NBA fans find themselves in the throes of the season. I love basketball and also love playing its digital counterpart. 2K Sports have held the championship belt in the b-ball gaming space for the past couple of years and have now embarked on a really ambitious endeavor: the mobile gaming market.
After playing with the game for a couple of weeks now I can say a couple of things. I appreciate the attention to detail that 2K places in all of its sports games. They pay attention to a painstaking amount of “little things” that many gaming companies leave on the cutting room floor. You can see it in their graphics, sound and gameplay, but when porting from a PC/Console version to a handheld device you also expect some degradation in all those things. This is the case with NBA 2k12 for mobile.
I wondered how their award winning game would translate to both a smaller screen and to the touch controls that iOS devices employ. I would say that for as much game as they put into this version it is hampered by the usual touch-control schemes that plague most action-based, touch-based games. There are two versions of control that you can use, “Classic” and “One Touch” controls.
The classic controls use a virtual stick and virtual buttons for both movement, passing and shooting. Using this option gives you the most control over your players but on a smaller device takes up way too much screen real estate to let you see what you are doing half the time. I would assume that this is lessened on the iPad or any compatible tablets, but unless you have one of those devices you are going to have a rough time playing the game with these controls. They just aren’t responsive and make you feel like the game isn’t able to keep up with what you want to do. Player movement seemed sluggish, the offenses didn’t move realistically and the ability to play on ball defense seemed to be lacking in many areas.
Your other option is actually a lot better but you then lose manual control of your players all together. The “one-touch” controls basically let the AI control all movement but lets you pass and shoot. Although this sounds terrible it actually makes the game more playable, but also takes a bunch of the fun out of the game. The ability to switch on defense goes away and the AI doesn’t move the offense intelligently, so although you can now see your players better you now have a team full of NBA zombies who can’t figure out how to move when they have the ball and don’t know how to get open for a shot. Nor can they defend in any way that makes sense or is helpful.
With all that said, I think that they do put a lot of things into the game that I didn’t expect. The presentation is still very good with very cool camera cuts and replays. Player faces are pretty true to life and they do have several play modes that include full season, playoffs (with playoff-specific commentary) and auto-updated rosters. I also think that this is a great stepping stone for what could be an amazing handheld experience but they have lots of work to do. There are overlapping audio glitches, graphical glitches and their roster updates could be more timely. I think if they get these things handled it could be awesome for next year.
What I would really love 2K to work on would be a PS Vita version. I think that could seriously be great — you would have the fidelity, processing power and dedicated buttons to really have the control you want from a sports game.
For those who are wondering if they should pick this up, I would say to pass on it, or at least download the lite version of the game on the iTunes store. Although there is potential there, I would suggest you keep your wallet in your pocket.
If you have any comments on the game or the article please leave comments or feedback in the section below and if you liked it, please share.