In October 1992, arcade powerhouse Midway unleashed its answer to Capcom’s Street Fighter 2 upon American arcades. Called Mortal Kombat, Midway’s fighter didn’t do much that was particularly new, but it managed to pull together several existing threads of game design in a way that felt fresh, contemporary and unique. Mortal Kombat presented arcadegoers with an alchemical blend of Street Fighter’s one-on-one combat, Pit Fighter’s digitized character artwork and the over-the-top gore of exploitative works like Exidy’s Chiller. The game’s heady blend of skill-based competitive play and ’90s attitude (“Kombat” comes from the same angry school of linguistics as “Xtreme”) inspired nearly as many imitators as Street Fighter itself. From the gross-out stop-motion brawling of ClayFighter and Primal Rage to the digitized brutality of Kasumi Ninja to the combo-driven mechanics of Killer Instinct, Kombat klones — er, … [Read more...] about 25 years ago, Mortal Kombat redefined American video games
Back in 2006, I attended a conference in Scotland where the subject of games as emotional experiences was a theme. Respected journalist (now developer) Margaret Robertson gave an excellent talk about the games that had moved her. Robertson's speech asked whether or not games could make you cry. At that time, the idea that video games could inspire tears was still a novelty, one which was not entirely accepted by the broader arts world. "I'm here to try and put paid to a pervasive myth, that games aren't art because games can't make you cry," she said. "It's so patently untrue." A decade on, we live in a world where emotive games are no longer a rarity. This year has been especially bountiful. If you're looking for something to play this Christmas, something with depth, story and character, I'd like to point to some of my favorites from the last 12 months. I won't include spoilers. Generally speaking, the big emotional punches come at the end of these games, though that is not always … [Read more...] about We played some wonderful tearjerkers in 2017
Patreon is changing the way pledges to creators are handled, with many in the creative community concerned this will lead to smaller incomes and fewer subscribers. Launched in 2013, Patreon is a crowd-supported service that allows people — patrons — to financially support artists, writers, podcasters, musicians, journalists, game developers, models and other entrepreneurs. Patrons are encouraged to pledge either a monthly or per-post subscription that allows them access to new, often times exclusive pieces from the creator they’re supporting. The shift in the way Patreon’s servicing fees are processed can get complicated, but here’s the gist of the updated model. As it stands right now, before the changes happen, creators cover Patreon’s five percent fee and all of the service processing fees. Simply put, if a patron wanted to pledge $1 to a creator, they would pay exactly $1 and not have to worry about an additional processing cost. According to the … [Read more...] about Patreon changes have creators concerned they’ll lose income, supporters
Baseball fans know about Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson, two Hall of Famers who played in segregated leagues before Jackie Robinson's debut. Suffice to say, they never made a video game appearance. During their careers that is.But there they are, matched up in the roster of “R.B.I. Baseball Negro League '43,” one of dozens of mods keeping 8-bit sports video games alive and their sports' histories relevant today.There’s also “R.B.I. Baseball 1871: Year One” for those who want to play with the first-ever professional baseball players. There's another R.B.I. mod using present-day rosters. If baseball’s not your thing, there are Tecmo Super Bowl mods with rosters from past seasons like 1968, 1984, 1992 and 2011. There’s a 2014 version of Nintendo World Cup. There’s a “Carmelo Anthony vs. LeBron James One On One” mod based on Jordan vs. Bird: One on One from 1988.For fans who long for both their sport's history and the 8-bit days of … [Read more...] about ROMs away: Modding keeps 8-bit games and sports history alive today
A tiny women’s college in Columbia, Missouri, made headlines last week as the first of its kind to have an esports team. But its president is quick to brush off any applause. “Stephens just happens to be the institution among women’s colleges that stepped up first,” President Diane Lynch told Polygon of the buzz that came after she announced that Stephens College would be the first historically women’s institution to give scholarships to collegiate esports players. Stephens College has joined the National Association of College esports, and the school will have its first team begin competing this fall. In addition to offering scholarships to particularly qualified students, Stephens College will also hold a round of tryouts this summer. The esports space, collegiate and otherwise, is and has been predominantly male. To Lynch, getting the Stephens student body into the competition was only a matter of time. “Stephens, like hundreds of other colleges … [Read more...] about Overwatch helped pave the way for the first women’s college in esports
Digital Extremes director Steve Sinclair likes to tell a story about the early years of Warframe. He was exhibiting at PAX East in early 2013, when a small group of guys from Bungie dropped by the booth. Warframe had just gone into open beta. Bungie's Destiny had recently been announced, though details were scant. "They told me that they loved playing Warframe," recalls Sinclair. "I'm a big Bungie fan, so that meant a lot to me."Warframe is not unlike Destiny. Both games are commercially successful and popular with large numbers of players. Both are sci-fi shooters that take place on planets in the Solar System. (Destiny is first-person while Warframe uses an over-the-shoulder camera.) In both games players upgrade themselves, their clothes and their weapons through experience. Both games rely heavily on cooperative play against squads of enemies with factions playing a prominent role. They both carry role-playing and MMO elements, but with an emphasis on player-vs-environment … [Read more...] about Free-to-play Warframe follows its own Destiny
Zack Snyder’s influence on Warner Bros.’ DC Cinematic Universe (DCU) can be seen in almost every corner of the studio’s superhero movies. Whatever camp people fall into, whether they hate Snyder’s work or love it, there’s no question that Snyder has irrevocably contributed to the movies that have come out of the DCU so far: Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad, Wonder Woman and Justice League. Whether he sat in the director’s chair calling the shots or watched from the sidelines as an executive producer, ensuring each movie fit within the mold of the DCU, Snyder has been present. He’s not going anywhere anytime soon. Snyder will continue to be involved with the DCU, but after a new report from The Wrap suggests ongoing internal debate over what Snyder’s future looks like, one question looms: Will Snyder direct another DC movie for Warner Bros.? Signs point to “no.” After Batman v Superman’s … [Read more...] about Will Zack Snyder direct another DC movie for Warner Bros?
H1Z1: King of the Kill and its sibling, Just Survive, are a curious pair. Both games were launched into Steam’s Early Access program more than two and a half years ago as H1Z1, a zombie-themed online multiplayer survival game. But the most interesting part of that product didn’t have anything to do with the undead. It was a tertiary game mode called Battle Royale, where more than 100 players would parachute onto the map, scavenge for weapons and armor and then fight to the death. It was so popular that for months after it launched getting into a match was nearly impossible.A year after it came out, developer Daybreak Game Company split H1Z1 into two different games. The first was called H1Z1: Just Survive and was later renamed Just Survive. It retained the original’s focus on surviving in a post-apocalyptic, zombie-filled world. The other game was called H1Z1: King of the Kill. It leaned into the fast-paced, last-man-standing style of gameplay found in the original … [Read more...] about The future of H1Z1: King of the Kill in a post-PUBG world
Gearbox Publishing recently announced that it would sever its relationship with game key marketplace G2A. The decision came after a revolt by fans, urged on in no small part by celebrity YouTuber John “TotalBiscuit” Bain. It was only after meeting with Bain that Gearbox issued the ultimatums that eventually led to the breakup — a divorce which, judging from the silence on the matter from both parties, is still ongoing.But Bain and Gearbox seem to concede the point that G2A has the right to provide a marketplace for reselling game keys. Instead, their list of ultimatums began with a demand about the G2A Shield product, a subscription-based add-on product that the company has been selling for some time. Within 30 days, G2A Shield (aka, customer fraud protection) is made free instead of a separate paid subscription service within terms offered by other major marketplaces. All customers who spend money deserve fraud protection from a storefront.So what is G2A Shield? How … [Read more...] about Why isn’t G2A’s ‘fraud protection’ free?
In five years, the Nintendo 3DS has been redesigned six times. Unlike the Nintendo DS, or the Game Boy Advance before it, the original 3DS didn’t beg for a do-over. But if Nintendo saw enough imperfections in that initial form factor to bring us to this point, I can live with that — because the handheld’s latest iteration is its best one yet.The New Nintendo 2DS XL, a console with an unwieldy name, seemed redundant when Nintendo revealed it last week. It’s got the same screens and power under the hood as the New Nintendo 3DS XL; like the Nintendo 2DS, it lacks the handheld’s 3D feature that Nintendo has quietly de-prioritized over the years. But when I went hands-on with the system during a press event this week, I was taken aback by just how much better the New 2DS XL feels to use than any version to come out before it. These differences are subtle. The New 2DS XL borrows the 3DS XL’s dimensions — both have the same size screens — but … [Read more...] about New Nintendo 2DS XL makes a great system even better