Hands-on with Aaru's Awakening's 100 percent hand-drawn platforming

When Reykjavik, Iceland-based Lumenox Games revealed Aaru's Awakening last year, its hand-drawn aesthetic was its most defining feature. Aaru's Awakening had graphical creativity on lock from the moment its developers started showing it off. At PAX East 2014, we had the opportunity to see if the gameplay could live up to the high bar its designers set. You play as Aaru, a mythical creature that looks like a hybrid between a human crawling on all four limbs, a long-haired savannah cat and an anteater. In the PC version we played, Aaru moves with standard WASD controls. The mouse serves multiple purposes, the most significant of which is Aaru's teleportation ability. Aaru's Awakening is a side-scrolling platformer with a twist: You're often forced to traverse terrain that you can't...

Sony will sell its shares in Square Enix

As part of the Sony's ongoing effort to streamline its portfolio and operations, the company is planning to sell all of its shares in Square Enix Holdings, the company announced this morning. Sony is looking to sell its 9.52 million common shares in Square Enix to global financial company SMBC Nikko Securities Inc. Through Sony's own video game division Sony Computer Entertainment, the company holds the equity of 8.2 percent of Square's issued shares — making Sony one of the global publisher and developer's largest shareholders. Based on current prevailing market value, Sony's full stake is worth 16 billion yen, while Sony said it is expecting to gain 4.8 billion yen profit from the sale. This one-off profit will be included as "other income" in Sony's financial results for the...

World of Tanks Frontiers update to introduce Historical Battles April 17

World of Tanks will receive a Historical Battles game mode and updated visuals with the game's Frontiers patch on April 17, Wargaming announced today. According to Wargaming, the update is the beginning of the "transformation" for World of Tanks this year. In Historical Battle mode, players engage in "legendary tank encounters" from World War II. Tanks have been historically outfitted for three battles: Operation Spring Awakening, the Battle of Kursk and the Ardennes Breakthrough. Frontiers also introduces high definition remakes of the American M4 Sherman, Soviet T-54 and German Tiger I — the first of 10 planned remakes. "New physics functions including blow-off turrets upon explosion of the ammo rack, and realistic suspension behavior in the HD models, create a more realistic...

Twitch donating to help fund Twitch-powered Choice Chamber

Developer Studio Bean and Twitch are teaming up to fund the Kickstarter campaign for Choice Chamber, a "real-time, crowdsourced, procedurally generated game where your fate is in everyone else's hands." According to a representative from Twitch, at 12 p.m. ET today, the organization will "donate half of the remaining amount needed to reach their goal." Studio Bean launched Choice Chamber's Kickstarter campaign last month. As of this writing, it's received $14,861 in pledges of its $30,000 goal from 475 backers with four days remaining. Choice Chamber, a side-scrolling platformer for Mac and Windows PC that puts players in an endless enemy-filled dungeon, is designed to be played alongside a live Twitch video stream. Viewers can vote to change game elements like the shape of enemies...

Toys for Bob and the story behind Skylanders

Beasts are peeking out of every nook and cranny in the office, a crazy infestation of plastic chaos.The figurines sit on shelves, hang on walls, tumble on desks in states of unpainted nakedness, dismantled and incoherent. They gurn, snarl and claw in an infinity of static poses. This is the place where the little plastic creatures of Activision's breakout monster hit Skylanders are conceived and birthed, the headquarters of Toys for Bob, a tiki-pirate-ship-themed ex-aircraft hanger in Marin County, California. Since its introduction back in 2011, the Skylanders video game and toy series has generated upwards of $2 billion in lifetime sales. It is one of the top 20 game franchises of all time, with 175 million toy sales. The Skylanders monsters have captured the imaginations of...

Atari bringing its classic games to real-money gambling platforms

Atari is partnering with gambling and lottery game developer Pariplay to bring the former's classic video game brands to real-money gambling formats, the companies announced. Atari's game brands — including Asteroids, Centipede, Missile Command, Pong and Tempest — will be brought to Pariplay's iLottery and iGaming platforms as well as its mobile and social online formats. Atari-branded lottery games will also be distributed through Pariplay's network to third-parties who will use these games on their websites. "Atari was a pioneer in the interactive entertainment space, having built tremendous brand equity through their rich suite of beloved brands," Pariplay CEO Gili Lisani said in a press statement. "We are proud to steward their entry into the evolving iGaming category where...
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Phishers get creative with bogus offer for World of Warcraft's new expansion

Phishing scammers are targeting World of Warcraft players with a tempting but bogus pre-order offer tied to the Warlords of Draenor expansion, warns the security firm Malwarebytes. The bait, says Malwarebytes, is in the subject header: "Gift-Boost a character to Level 90 when you pre-purchase Warlords of Draenor!" The email body, purportedly from, tells the recipient they're one of 50,000 selected to receive the expansion for free, and provides a code. Then they're directed to a phishing site that Malwarebytes credits as being very believable in appearance. It's all a big lure to funnel them through to a "redemption page" that asks users to give their security question and answer. The email originates from a Gmail account and the link goes to "an already known...

Trials Fusion review: back to the future

The first words you hear in Trials Fusion are "Welcome to the future! Man! Machine! The future!" You hear these words in the game's main menu, within a theme song on constantly loop. They're "sung" over a sci-fi, synthy backing track as a way to introduce you to this new, futuristic setting. It's hammy and over the top, but it also feels equally lazy, like it's the easiest way to convey this setting in the fewest amount of words. This is fitting, since in so many words, this is Trials Fusion. It cruises on the legacy of its impressive predecessor, offering up mostly the same motorcycle platforming gameplay in a dull package. Fusion cruises on the legacy of its impressive predecessor Despite appearances, Trials Fusion is a platforming game. If you've never played a Trials game...

Richard Garriott wants you to port this proto-RPG teletype game

Richard Garriott kicked off a contest today to challenge gamers to port his first game, a 1977 role playing title built for a teletype machine, into something that can be played inside his upcoming latest game: Shroud of the Avatar.Two winners and two runners-up will receive backer pledges for Shroud of the Avatar. All entries, though, will remain the property of Garriott. In 1977, Garriott's father told his son that if he could create a working role-playing game, he would split the cost of an Apple 2 computer with him. "That's what motivated me to make sure D&D #1 worked so well," Garriott said. The game was created to run on the teletype machine at Clear Creek High School, in Houston, Texas, he said. "No teacher in the school knew how to use it," he said. "So I had the classroom...

World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor updates won't slow down the game, says Blizzard

Those planning on playing the upcoming World of Warcraft expansion, Warlords of Draenor, shouldn't expect a drop in performance with the release of new upgraded character models to the game, Blizzard community manager Taepsilum said in a recent forum post. The new expansion will apply additional polygons and textures to character models and armor, as well as to the surrounding geometry of raids and bosses — all of which mean more processing power will be required; however, Blizzard plans to implement performance improvements for add-ons that process combat data and other stats. The development team will also reduce the amount of visual clutter that is visible during fights where groups of players are involved. "Client performance is something we care about a lot," reads the post....

League of Legends bots will start playing like people in new update

Riot Games aims to bring some complexity to League of Legends bot games by introducing a new system that will see bot characters make decisions more in line with a human player, according to the latest blog post. The new system is being called Threat Evaluation and will see bots determine how strong they are compared to their enemies. In the previous system, bots based their reactions on how much damage was recently received to determine future threat. While this style of gaming may work in first-person shooters, it works less well in League of Legends. "Our previous systems used a method that is very common in games, especially first-person shooters," reads the post. "The bot looks at how much damage has recently been received and uses that to determine future threat. In an FPS,...

Bungie fires Halo composer Martin O'Donnell  (update)

Halo series and Destiny composer Marty O'Donnell was fired by Bungie's board of directors last week, the composer revealed via his personal Twitter account tonight. I'm saddened to say that Bungie's board of directors terminated me without cause on April 11, 2014. — Marty O'Donnell (@MartyTheElder) April 16, 2014 O'Donnell composed music for Oni, as well as the Myth and Halo series. He joined Bungie in 2000 as audio director after working on Myth 2, Oni and Halo: Combat Evolved's scores on a contract basis with his company TotalAudio. During his time at Bungie, O'Donnell directed voice talent and sound design for the Halo trilogy, Halo: Reach and Halo 3: ODST. He often collaborated with TotalAudio partner and now in-house audio design lead at Bungie, Mike Salvatori. ...

Half-Life record breaking speedrun clocks in under 21 minutes

Quadrazoid, a speedrunner group, has set a record Half-Life run time with 20 minutes and 41 seconds, shaving minutes off the previous record of 29 minutes and 41 seconds. The run was completed on the hard setting with seven team members doing runs: quadrazid, CRASH FORT, coolkid, pineapple, YaLTeR, Spider-Waffle and FELip. The run is composed of 317, 249 segments and 107 saves/segments were made "only to cause and abuse save glitches." "Starting back in the summer of 2010, the estimated time for this run was thought to be roughly 27 minutes," quadrazoid wrote on the YouTube video. "However, after almost four years of painstaking planning, theory crafting and execution, we have arrived at our final time, smashing all of our wildest expectations. Not only do we owe this new...

Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn registrations exceed 2 million worldwide

The total number of registered accounts for Square Enix's revamped massively multiplayer online game, Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn, now exceeds 2 million worldwide, the company announced today. Famitsu reported last October that the game reached more than 1.5 million registered users worldwide. However, Siliconera pointed out at the time it was not transparent how many of the figure were active users of the relaunched version. Final Fantasy 14 was originally released in September 2010 and was revamped to address its crippling issues. It relaunched with server congestion problems as A Realm Reborn last August on Windows PC and PS3. A Realm Reborn was released to PlayStation 4 on April 14 following a beta test phase and then a brief in Early Access period on the console. Users...

Jane Jensen's Moebius: Empire Rising now available for Windows PC and Mac

The latest story trailer for Moebius: Empire Rising, third-person mystery adventure game from Gabriel Knight series designer Jane Jensen and her Pinkerton Road Studio, is available now for Windows PC and Mac for $29.99. The title can be purchased from online distributors such as Steam, GoG and GamersGate. Those who purchase the game through the Phoenix Online Studios Store are eligible for 20 percent off using a discount code. iPad and Android versions are due for release shortly. The game centers on protagonist Malachi Rector, an antiques specialist, genius and sleuth with a photographic memory. He gets caught up in a worldwide government conspiracy when he is sent to Venice to investigate the murder of a young woman. Running at 15-20 hours, gameplay in the puzzle-centric Moebius c...

Swedish politicians compete in StarCraft 2 tournament ahead of election

A group of politicians in Sweden took part on a StarCraft 2 tournament this past weekend to "raise awareness about eSports in politics, and politics among gamers," The Daily Dot reports. The tournament, called Politikerstarcraft, was created by Jonathan Rider Lundkvist in 2010. Lundkvist was a member of the Swedish Pirate Party, which formed in 2006 to focus on issues like net neutrality, censorship, copyright and patent reform. Politikerstarcraft is held just for fun, but the 2010 winner Mathias Sundin coincidentally won the tournament for his party, which ended up winning the election that year. This year's tournament was the second Politikerstarcraft held, and featured commentary from Swedish StarCraft 2 casting duo Living on the Ladder. Participants included candidates for local...

Titanfall getting namable loadouts, filterable challenges and more

Titanfall developer Respawn Entertainment categorizes free game updates into three categories, and game director Steve Fukuda took to the game's official website to tell players what features to expect in each — including loadouts you can name and filters to search through Challenges. The first-person shooter's first type of update is designed to "tend the garden and keep the weeds out," Fukuda wrote, and they take the form of "minor tweaks and fixes" like weapon balance and matchmaking changes. He refers to the second group as "convenience features," like the recent Party Colors feature that lets players identify others in the game and its lobby. "The next update will bring more convenience features such as: the ability to rename your custom loadouts and to make custom...

Snoop Dogg voice pack coming to Call of Duty: Ghosts April 22

A Call of Duty: Ghosts Snoop Dogg Voice Pack will be available on Xbox Live on April 22, according to a video developer Infinity Ward released. The video shows snippets of voice-over work the rapper provided, including lines like "Rack up points by reaching the enemy portal, you dig," "Squad member active — my brother from another mother," and "Homies out the joint, it's party time." "What interested me most about the project is my voice can be connected with a game that's so hip and so hood," Snoop Dogg said. "It says a lot. It's associated with greatness." The voice pack will be released for other platforms at a later date.

Upsilon Circuit is a game you can play only once, and when it ends, it's gone forever

The husband and wife development team at RobotLovesKitty that once lived in a treehouse has a wild idea for its next project.Imagine a game you can only play once, where, when you die, you can never play again. Imagine an eight-player game that exists on a single server for several months and then, by design, disappears forever. Imagine a role-playing game where you can't upgrade your character, where you can't customize your character, but the people watching you can. This is Upsilon Circuit. RobotLovesKitty told us all about their ideas for the new game and showed us an early version at PAX East 2014. Alix Stolzer and Calvin Goble were thinking about permadeath. The everlasting death mechanic is nothing new. You can find it transcending genres in Firaxis Games' turn-based strategy...
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Spring Fighter tournament returning to NYU Game Center June 7-8

The New York University Game Center will host its fifth annual Spring Fighter fighting games tournament June 7-8, organizers announced today. This year's tournament will feature free matches in BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma, Marvel vs. Capcom, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Super Smash Bros Melee, Super Street Fighter 4 and Project M, the fan-made Brawl mod that aims to make its combat more like Melee. Last year's tournament featured 64 slots each in three games, Super Street Fighter 4 Arcade Edition, Tekken X Street Fighter and Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom. Street Fighter and Sony Santa Monica veteran Seth Killian will attend the tournament again this year. Last year Killian interviewed 2D arcade fighting games champion Daigo Umehara, and this year he will return to profile popular Street...
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