All posts by Alex Ferri

Daredevil Season 2 Review: Lost in the Dark

In Daredevil, Matt Murdock stretches himself thin trying to be a hero, a lawyer and a friend all at once. He tries to do too much, and as a consequence, things are left unfinished or neglected. Just like its main character, Daredevil’s second season stretches itself across too many subplots, and it leaves the show muddled and shallow.

A big part of season one’s success had to do with the conflict between Daredevil and Wilson Fisk. That might seem obvious, but it’s precisely what season two was lacking. Everything that happened in season one could be boiled down to that battle between Daredevil and Fisk. In season two, the villains come and go, changing allegiances or disappearing in a flash.

Fisk worked so well as a villain because he had a clear goal: taking over Hell’s Kitchen. And that goal permeated the entire season. In season two, our first villain is Frank Castle, A.K.A. The Punisher. He’s one a one-man rampage against organized crime, and he even bests Daredevil right off the bat.

The back-and-forth between the two characters over their similarities and differences makes for some great dialogue. But Punisher is apprehended after just a few episodes, and the show suddenly turns into a legal drama.

Continue reading Daredevil Season 2 Review: Lost in the Dark

I’ve Got A Bad Feeling About ‘The Force Awakens’

“It’s like poetry … they rhyme. Every stanza kind of rhymes with the last one. Hopefully it’ll work.” – George Lucas

When Disney unveiled the third and last trailer for The Force Awakens earlier this week, it was nothing less than a great disturbance in the Force. It’s already been viewed more than 29 million times on YouTube and spawned endless speculation ahead of the movie’s December 18th release date.

The trailer was everything we could have hoped for. It had it all – Han, Chewie, Leia, Rebels, Stormtroopers, X-Wings, TIE Fighters, Jedi, Sith and more. It also left plenty to the imagination, with the plot of the film being largely unknown. Overall, it spoke to the kid in all of us that will always love Star Wars.

But take off the nostalgia goggles for a minute and you might notice a few worrying hints about the Star Wars sequel. If the prequel trilogy taught us anything, it’s to temper our expectations a little.

Remember, the trailer for The Phantom Menace was great, too. What might be cause for concern is just how similar this new film seems to the original trilogy, particularly A New Hope. Familiarity is great, but The Force Awakens needs to forge its own path, creating its own unique moments and characters. Unfortunately, there are some signs this isn’t the case.

Disclaimer: I’m a huge Star Wars fan. I’ll probably be fighting off tears several times during The Force Awakens. Hell, I even liked the prequels as a kid (I’ve since seen the error of my ways). And I think J.J. Abrams was the perfect choice to direct the next Star Wars film. There are just a few things about the new trailer that are giving me a “been there, done that” vibe.

tiefightercrash

The Setting

An opening space battle: This is a bit of an assumption, but based on what we’ve seen I think it’s a safe one. We know that Finn starts the film as a Stormtrooper, and it seems he crash lands at the outset of the film. What would have caused his crash? A space battle between Rebels and Imperials, of course. This by itself isn’t that big of a deal, since other episodes have started with space battles, but when you add in the next fact…

Main character(s) crash landing on a desert planet: Yes, technically the desert planet is named Jakku. But the name is just about the only difference between it and Tatooine. Don’t get me wrong – the imagery of the crashed Star Destroyer is fantastic. But why couldn’t it have crashed on a nice temperate planet instead? Oh, because then there wouldn’t be so many great parallels with…

Continue reading I’ve Got A Bad Feeling About ‘The Force Awakens’

Flub Fighter Heads to Phoenix Comicon

Local multiplayer games hold a special place in the heart of many. Past generations grew up on games like Goldeneye, Mario Party and Super Smash Bros.

But splitscreen and party games have fallen out of favor recently in favor of online multiplayer.

Flub Fighter hopes to recapture the magic of local multiplayer. It’s one of the games that will be featured at the Arizona Video Games Showcase at Phoenix Comicon May 28-30.

Developers Todd Enyeart and Andrew Rabbe have spent eight months working on the game with the rest of their team. They called Flub Fighter a “mash up” of Super Smash Bros. and Gang Beasts.

“We needed some kind of twist,” Enyeart said. “We decided to have it so you can only be injured or killed by the environment.”

That made level design an important and challenging part of the game. Five levels have already been completed, and five more are in the works.

“A lot of it’s about flow,” Rabbe said. “We needed to have something everywhere that you can punch an enemy into.”

That includes a map with a giant disco ball of death that descends midway through the game and shoots lasers in every direction.

Continue reading Flub Fighter Heads to Phoenix Comicon

Wait, why can’t Zelda be a main character?

Why can’t Link be a girl? The better question is, why can’t Zelda be a main character?

The former is the question asked by the PBS Game/Show in its latest video. The host argues that Link of The Legend of Zelda series is simply a title given to the protagonist chosen by the game universe’s gods. He goes on to say that if that’s true, then having a female Link would work within the lore while encouraging more women to play the games.

But where does this idea come from that all women want from a game is to play as a female character? Every game protagonist doesn’t have to be a stand-in for the player. It’s childish, and a discredit to its audience.

I think I stopped “making myself” in video games when I was like, 12. When I can choose, I usually make female characters in games now. Why? Because it’s different, and it’s fun to do after playing so many male characters in games.

But saying you have to have a “player insert” in a game is ridiculous, and it’s equally ridiculous to think that just because Link is suddenly female that more women will want to play the game. It’s pandering. Men and women enjoy different genres of games, as this infographic shows.

That’s not to say that women aren’t “welcome” playing League of Legends, or that a man is somehow less masculine if he plays Candy Crush. But it does suggest that making Link a girl won’t make thousands of women everywhere play the next installment.

Continue reading Wait, why can’t Zelda be a main character?

Sketchcross aims to fill void in PS Vita market

When Sudoku and crosswords collide, the result is Sketchcross.

The logic puzzle game for the PlayStation Vita from Tempe-based Spiky Fish Games, led by Kendal Cormany. He’s hoping to fill a void in the Vita market for a nonogram-based puzzle game with multiple game modes and a wide array of puzzles.

He said he was encouraged to make the game in part due to the success of a similar title, Picross 3D, for the Nintendo 3DS. That game sold more than 140,000 units in 2010, its first year of release, according to VGChartz.

“There’s a market for this type of game, and there wasn’t a type of game like this for the Vita,” he said.

Sketchcross uses nonogram puzzles, which feature cells in a grid that must be colored or left blank according to numbers at the side of the grid. When complete, it reveals a hidden picture.

ingame

The numbers are ordered to correspond with number of unbroken lines of filled-in squares in any given row or column. So a clue of “3 5 2” would mean there are sets of three, five and two filled squares, in that order, with at least one black square between each group.

Continue reading Sketchcross aims to fill void in PS Vita market

Reflections: Bringing choice to story adventure games

Update: Reflections has been Greenlit!

In Reflections, story mirrors your decisions.

The real-world adventure game from Broken Window Studios is rocketing to the top of Steam Greenlight, having already cracked the top 100 after going live last week. It’s targeting an April release on PC, with a PS4 and Xbox One version confirmed to be in the works.

Reflections‘ similarity to titles like Gone Home and Dear Esther is clear, which developer Tristan Moore acknowledges.

However, Reflections separates itself by giving you more impact on the story, a dimension past titles have lacked, Moore said.

“It’s almost like a personality quiz,” he said. “Your choices say something about where your priorities are.”

The game puts you in the shoes of a young adult getting ready to leave home and start life as an adult. You have until the end of the day to pack your things, say your goodbyes or simply go exploring. The choices you make on how to spend your time will shape the rest of the game through Reflections‘ unique Storyteller engine.

Reflections3“We’re focusing on actual interactions with the space rather than a dialogue tree or something like that,” Moore said. “It’s an abstract game because it’s not about traditional gameplay mechanics.”

The game allows you a set time to interact with the environment, meaning you can’t do everything in one playthrough. Much like life, you’ll have to make sacrifices, and those choices will define you.

“It’s not the kind of game that waits for you to finish,” Moore said. “There’s a timetable for each act… and the game moves on whether you’re ready for it to or not.”

Reflections uses color to highlight interactions you make with the environment. A black and white scene will fill with life as the story progresses, with a basketball turning orange after being shot through a hoop or a family photo gaining vibrancy once it’s placed back on the shelf.

Continue reading Reflections: Bringing choice to story adventure games

In Deathly, you can’t escape mortality

The main character of Deathly,  AbstrAKT Games‘s work-in-progress, thinks he can escape death by living in a remote mountain cottage with his loved one.

Alex Uithoven, who runs AbstrAKT with his brother Kyle, says he’s wrong.

“He’s just so scared of all the things that he can’t control in the world, so he puts himself in a situation where he thinks he can control everything in the world.”

Deathly is a 2D platformer with an emphasis on exploration. Although visually similar to Terraria, Uithoven said it’s inspired by a game from his childhood.

“It’s not Terraria in the sense that you can dig up the ground and build,” he said. “It’s more along the lines of classic Metroid.”

DeathlyHouse

He’s designing the game to focus on exploration because that kind of depth something other platformers struggle with.  He thinks too many 2D games follow the prototype of Super Mario Bros., only traveling “from point A to point B.”

Continue reading In Deathly, you can’t escape mortality