Regardless of how well it was designed, I was always dubious of Valve's plans for Artifact. Given that it had 595 peak players in the last 24 hours, I'm not sure what the plan is in general going forward.
After reaching a booming 60,740 all-time peak player count following a boisterous launch, Artifact has been steadily bleeding players for the past four months. It wasn't looking too good for the game and based on a recent development involving designer Dr. Richard Garfield (of Magic: The Gathering fame) the future doesn't seem very bright. Following a discussion that layoffs had nebulously happened at Valve, Artifact blog Artibuff reached out to Dr. Garfield directly to see if Artifact had been impacted, which he was able to confirm.
Garfield himself explains everything plainly and eloquently, stating: "We weren't surprised by the layoff considering how rocky the launch was, the team was enthusiastic about the game and were confident that they had a good product but it became clear it wasn't going to be easy to get the game to where we wanted it. The layoff makes sense for a number of reasons. To name a couple; now that the game is out there time is more critical, so more voices within the team that you have to navigate may not be as good as making less considered decisions faster. Another - the expertise that 3 Donkeys [Garfield's company] brought is less critical after listening to us for four plus years."
He follows-up by saying that he and his team "remain optimistic," and even offered to help advise Valve in a free capacity. Given that Garfield operates in various industries in a semi-regular fashion, often helping with design work on all sorts of projects (including Magic, with the semi-recent Dominaria set), he was likely never going to be a permanent fixture at Valve. Still, it's only been several months and Garfield clearly wants to keep working on Artifact, which implies the separation was not mutual. Currently, Artifact is sitting at a "mostly negative" status in terms of recent reviews and "mixed" overall. It launched back in November 28 of last year and failed to pick up Steam after a contentious monetization system on top of a $19.99 premium asking price.
I cover and play a lot of card games and I believe there's a bunch of reasons why this happened: there's the oversaturation of DCGs in general (on top of Hearthstone and Magic: Arena there's also tons of great indie titles at the moment), Valve's aforementioned monetary missteps, and possibly just a general sense of being "over" the way Valve communicates (which is to say, not much, as the Twitter account for this huge project hasn't been updated in three months).
We're in an era where folks request constant communication and direction on where live service games are going long term. If they don't get it, they'll move on. "You can buy hats, we'll mysteriously tell you more later" isn't cutting it in 2019.
Valve laid off 13 Employees and Contractors [Artibuff]
The last time The Caligula Effect was considered a new game release, things didn't exactly go well for it.
But a rather mixed reception didn't stop FuRyu and Aquria from sticking with the brand, and the game is now back, remade for modern platforms and renamed to The Caligula Effect: Overdose.
The only question that remains now is whether or not a do-over will be any good for what was originally an ambitious, profoundly flawed experience.
Break those bricks, sister! Enter our contest for a chance to win Strikey Sisters for Switch!
I'll admit it: I love brick-breaking games. I have no idea why, I just always have. So when I saw one come in through the tipline that featured boss battles, I immediately jumped on it. I want you all to play this game.
So, here we are! Win a copy of Strikey Sisters for Switch!
One of the hardest things I had to accept growing up was watching my local arcades go out of business. I wasn't a social kid, but there was something fascinating and magical about seeing so many fellow hobbyists gather together, take turns on machines, and boast about their high scores. I always fantasized about sitting at the top of a local leaderboard, and while I never hit that goal, the opportunity to write my initials into the 50th place always inspired me to go further.
Now the only leaderboards I can access are online, where the competition is so fierce I've long considered any leaderboard spot worth reaching distant and out of reach (that or it's already hacked). Even though the original magic is gone, my passion for hitting new high scores remains. For years, I've mostly sated this thirst through traditional arcade genres like shmups. But one genre I've dived into more recently excels at the score attack experience despite packing modern gaming elements that wouldn't fly in an arcade game, such as cutscene-dense narratives and permanent character upgrades.
The recently acclaimed Devil May Cry 5 is an excellent example of how score attack design philosophies remain relevant in modern games, even without leaderboards. Every character action game I've ever played, from The Wonderful 101 to Bayonetta 2 to Devil May Cry 4 Special Edition, constantly encourages players to one-up their own records. That's because character action games iterate upon and refine everything that made the traditional arcade score attack so thrilling.
Another old-school title is out for download this week, courtesy of the fine folk at Hamster, who have re-released a genuine arcade favourite in the form of Ikari Warriors, available now on PS4 and Nintendo Switch.
Originally released in arcades in 1986, before being ported to almost every home computer under the sun, SNK's Ikari Warriors is a vertically-scrolling shoot-em-up which sees one or two players lead a duo of armed-to-the-teeth mercenaries through the non-descript jungles of Ikari.
A slightly more nihilistic variant on Capcom's Commando, Ikari Warriors sees Ralf and Clark battle their way through hordes of enemy soldiers, utilising automatic weapons, hand grenades and even hijacked tanks to blast their way to victory. Of course, our heroes would later go on to feature in SNK's King of Fighters and Metal Slug titles, joined by fellow unit members, Heidern, Whip and Greatest Video Game Girl of All-Time, Leona.
Though it's undeniable that Ikari Warriors' gameplay is a little dated today, it remains an arcade classic, still worth a co-op run on a rainy Saturday afternoon. Ikari Warriors is available to download now on PS4 in Japan and on Nintendo Switch worldwide.
Devolver Digital has released a free new update for Nomada Studios' esoteric adventure title Gris. The free update, Gris Undone, adds a gallery of design artwork and unused music, displaying further beautiful works intended for the slight, but bewitching game.
Coincidentally, Devolver is also celebrating Gris hitting its 300,000 sales milestone, with the game currently available at a 15% discount on both PC and Nintendo Switch. So if you were a little too buried in last year's winter titles to get around to playing it, now is a great opportunity.
Gris is available now on PC and Nintendo Switch.
The Kirby franchise has always been something of a petri dish for Nintendo. While its other franchises remain more-or-less the same with each new entry, the company hasn't been afraid to experiment with the pink puff. Games like Kirby's Tilt 'n' Tumble and Kirby's Canvas Curse gave players new ways to control him, while Kirby's Dream Course and Kirby's Air Ride introduced the character to new and unfamiliar genres.
Perhaps the most successful of these experimentations was Kirby's Epic Yarn, the fanciful platformer for the Wii, that eschewed the norms of the franchise in favor of something fresh and unique. The game was built around Kirby being a transforming piece of string. It was certainly different and deceptively easy, but ask anyone who wasn't a writer for Entertainment Weekly and they'd probably gush about how wonderful it was.
Kirby's Extra Epic Yarn brings all the magic of that Wii original to the Nintendo 3DS. But this isn't a straight port. The game includes new modes and features that sound good on paper, but don't always work in practice.
Although I enjoyed my time with the Iron Man simulator that is Anthem, it's clear that there was work to be done in terms of RPG tweaking and bugs.
BioWare has been working on addressing a lot of this issues both at and after the launch of the game, and version 1.0.3, which seeks to do a lot of the same, is now live for all platforms. The big thing is that respawn timers are now more lenient and the most prevalent bugs, crashing and audio issues, are being addressed in the patch. It also aims to mop up some PC-centric bugs and add Stronghold (dungeon) quickplay options back in.
Some users are reporting that they're still encountering bugs and that the loot frequency was changed again to provide less unique drops (just open the flood gates already). Given that loot has been changed multiple times now we've reached out to BioWare for clarification on the matter.
Patch 1.0.3 [Reddit]
Here at Destructoid, we routinely host contests for various gaming prizes. Things like free copies of upcoming games to plush penises from Devolver Digital: Dtoid has given back to the community in small ways over the years. Those giveaways have brought some of you closer to us, for which I will always be grateful, but I was completely blown away by the story of one of our contest winners.
In November of last year, Mark Barnes Jr. entered our contest for some Pokémon-themed gear. After becoming the lucky winner, he got in touch with Wes about where to send the goodies and Wes noticed something quite peculiar. In the e-mail signature, Mark's job description curiously read "Minecraft Consultant, UN-Habitat." What in the world was that about?
Wes got a quick explanation about the project and passed the info onto us. Here was a guy using video games in a way that was actively helping the world out. This was an incredible story that needed to be told to a larger audience. Finding Mark's tale fascinating, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to speak with him about the work he’s done with Mojang’s monster of a title.
Puzzle me this with today's contest for Golf Peaks for Switch.
Golf itself is stupid, but I've always enjoyed golf video games. Weird, right? It's like, I can drink as much at home playing virtual golf as I would on a real golf course, for like 1/20 of the cost. And no one asks me to leave!
Except my ex wife.
Uh, anyway, win a Switch copy of Golf Peaks!
I'll never forget a conversation one of our readers had with someone who was down on Devil May Cry 5 after the reveal. Their response to another community member who felt burned by DmC: "Mate, there's a giant monster eating cars with his chest in the trailer, the game is going to be fine."
How right they were.
Physical media fans Limited Run Games has announced that they will be selling a physical release of Inti Creates' retro-infused title Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon, the precursor to the highly anticipated Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night.
Limited Run will be opening pre-orders on the 8-bit-style platformer, produced by Castlevania helmer Koji Igarashi, at 10:00 ET on March 15, for PS4, PS Vita and Nintendo Switch. As previous Limited Run customers will tell you, these titles have a habit of selling out in minutes, even seconds, so be sure to leap on it as soon as the site updates if you want in on the skeleton-smashing action.
Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is expected to launch later in 2019.
Assassin's Creed Odyssey will never die. Despite the fact that it came out over five months ago it's still in the conversation thanks to frequent updates from Ubisoft, free quests and a decent paid DLC storyline (with one more to go).
It's not a bad legacy, even if the first episodic DLC series has been a bit uneven.
Messers Pearl and Marina have clued us in on the details of the next splatfest, to take place on Nintendo Switch multiplayer shooter Splatoon 2. The new splatfest, which takes place in all territories next weekend, concerns the mystic tales of yore.
Players will be asked to battle it out to ascertain which fantasy character they would rather be; a Knight or a Wizard. Pearl, ever the psychopath, wants to decapitate folk left and right with heavy weaponry, while her dopey hippie friend Marina is all about the arcane arts. As usual, a three-point system will decide the winner, utilising a Public Vote, plus points won in Normal and Pro battles.
As a fun added bonus, players who own the Enchanted Gear or Steel Gear skins (unlocked through the Octoling Boy and Octoling Girl amiibo) will find that donning said gear will give them a full Knight/Wizard outfit for battle. As usual, the splatfest will take place over a single 24-hour period, starting Friday evening in North America and early Saturday in Japan and Europe.
I think Wizards have got this one in the bag, to be honest, but what say you? Also, check out what is possibly the greatest Pearl quote of all time
Avo! is a bizarre, interactive cinematic experience. It's kind of like watching television, but you control where the main character moves and what objects they interact with. Almost every aspect of its presentation is live action with the exception of one adorable fruit named Avo.
Avo is an avocado that's been brought to life by a young scientist with a propensity for science-based puns. For the record, her jokes are amazing, and I love them. However, your mileage may vary. The plot revolves around the machine that she created Avo with, which brings fruits to life, and the sneaky, corporate jerk who wants to steal her invention to claim it as his own. It's an incredibly basic premise that's reminiscent of a Saturday morning cartoon, but it's an absolute joy to watch events unfold over the course of the roughly one to two-hour playtime.
Nintendo will be releasing a special edition of Fire Emblem: Three Houses in Japan. Called the "Fódlan Collection," it will contain special packaging (designed by Kazuyuki Koda), an artbook, a soundtrack selection disc, and a steelbook. It will be available the same day as Three Houses' standard edition on July 26, 2019.
Alongside the announcement, Nintendo showed off a few shots from the artbook and uploaded some of the soundtrack to YouTube. It looks exactly like the stuff that mega fans will eat up. I may not be the biggest fan of Fire Emblem, but I'm all about steelbook cases. I may just have to import this version of the game for myself.
Amazon JP currently has pre-orders up for ï¿¥10,778 (roughly $96). They do ship internationally, so there shouldn't be any problem getting one sent to the US.
Well, not quite nothing, but this week saw me spend little time playing video games than I have in months. Oh, of course I was still inundated with them; news, watching trailers, editing stories, and diving into videos of Cassie Cage and Kano throwing down in Mortal Kombat 11, but in terms of sitting, controller in hand, it just didn't happen this week.
It's rare that this is this case for me, video games being my job and all, but those breaks are welcome, giving me the chance to rest my aging knuckle joints and catch up with some reading, YouTube, or rad movies, like Arrow Video's recent Sister Street Fighter Blu-ray release, starring '70s pint-sized ass-kicker Etsuko Shihomi. But, aside from that action, most of my breaks in-between play sessions are still filled with gaming jive, and that's fine.
But how about all of you? What is your video gaming pleasure this week/weekend? No doubt a bunch of you are already elbows-deep in the insanity that is Devil May Cry 5, while others are wading through the great releases that have blessed the first quarter of 2019. Then again, perhaps you're just chilling with some old favourites, or working through your backlog. As always, be sure to fill us in on your current gaming kick.
Have a wonderful weekend, from all of us at Destructoid.
Developer Void Entertainment has unveiled the first gameplay video of its tactical shooter Ready or Not. Announced nearly two years ago, this game is a return to the style of gameplay found in the popular SWAT series of games that last saw an entry in 2006 (excluding the mobile spin-offs). It looks brutal, violent, and fast paced.
The title will feature solo, co-op, and PvP play with a wide range of options to deal with any given situation. Referring back to SWAT, non-lethal firearms will be available so that you can subdue perpetrators instead of murdering them. Void Entertainment has stated it consulted with real-world police forces to accurately depict the accessible weapons in Ready or Not. This extends to bullet damage, armor strength, bullet penetration, and ricochet.
You can watch the new extended trailer below to see if the game is for you. The official website is currently taking pre-orders for a $40 standard edition or the $120 supporter edition. Ready or Not is aiming for a Q4 2020 release, though your pre-order will give you access to a July 2020 beta period. The supporter edition also contains access to an alpha test this August.
Get ready for some survival horror in today's contest for Skyhill for Nintendo Switch!
I remember going into a hotel late at night, after a night of partying. It was so haunted. I asked the desk person if the joint was haunted. He did his best Vincent Price cackle and assure me the place wasn't haunted.
It was definitely haunted.
Relive my trauma with a copy of Skyhill for Nintendo Switch.
Last week, with no warning, Tetris 99 was unleashed upon the world, and puzzle games will never be the same. Infusing the "me against the world" psychology of the battle royale genre and applying it to the highly accessible, generally non-violent action of the most successful game of all time may seem like a no-brainer in theory, but in practice, it's a work of genius. People who had never considered puzzlers as viable spectator sports are now marveling at high-level Tetris play in record numbers. The game's success could mark a tipping point for the genre, taking it from a leisurely, time-killing diversion to a cutthroat, prime-time main event.
Justin Wong knows all about those kinds of tipping points. He was the co-star of "EVO Moment 37," an event many cite as the exact point in time when watching high-level fighting gameplay went from something that was only for the FGC to a sport with much broader appeal. Since then he's gone on to rank #1 in countless tournaments, taking the top spot in a diverse range of games including Street Fighter V, Pokkén Tournament, Skullgirls, Mortal Kombat X, Marvel vs. Capcom 2, Vampire Savior, and many others.
Justin also consults with game devs on roster balance and other areas that appeal to his particular expertise. Crystal Crisis, the massive crossover puzzle/fighting game, is the latest project he's pitched in on. It's set to launch this May, and given the popularity of Tetris 99, it could be poised for a huge success, but only if it's able to appeal to the FGC and puzzle fans in equal measure.
We talked to Justin about all that, what he thinks it will take to make the FGC take puzzle games more seriously, and maybe most important of all, which game he would add Smash Bros. Brawl-style tripping to if he had his druthers. His answer shocked and surprised me.
Now here's a game that can convincingly sell itself to fans of run-and-guns. Mechstermination Force is an "action-packed platforming boss rush" in which players scale giant robots, target their weak points, and bring the scrapheads crashing down. It's a bit like Shadow of the Colossus by way of Contra.
There are multiple playable characters and, crucially, it has two-player local co-op. That's the real icing.
Mechstermination Force is the work of Gunman Clive creator Bertil Hörberg and a small team. The designer says it's "the longest I've actively worked on a single game. So I really hope people will enjoy it."
We'll have 14 bosses to dismantle when the game hits Nintendo Switch this spring.
Sega Forever, the ever-growing collection of free mobile games, has gotten some new additions today. Classic RPGs Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom and Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millennium have joined Phantasy Star II under the "Phantasy Star Classics" label on iOS and Android. Now you can grab all three titles with a single download (similar to Golden Axe) and get to relive your childhood with ease.
As with the other Sega Forever titles, these games will be ad-supported with the option to remove ads with a single purchase. You can pay $1.99/ €2.29 / £1.99 for individual games or $4.99/ €5.49 / £4.99 to remove ads from all three. Additions like cloud saves, graphical filters, and Bluetooth controller support round out the bonus features.
Having recently tried the Golden Axe collection on my phone, I can say these Sega Forever releases are pretty good. I am not a fan of on-screen gamepads, but being able to whip out classic games on a whim from literally anywhere is neat. If you don't mind lugging around a controller, this is also a solid option for revisiting these games without spending a dime. Now we just need Sonic 3 & Knuckles on mobile and we'll be set.
The timing couldn't be much better here. Just as many of us are feeling renewed affection for the Resident Evil series thanks to last month's brilliant RE2 remake, Capcom and Microsoft have made Resident Evil Code: Veronica X backward compatible on Xbox One. If you own the Xbox 360 version of that game, a replay might be in order soon (after you burn through Nemesis first, of course).
Code: Veronica recently came up in a staff conversation about how some of the game's more, uh, off-the-rails scenes might translate to a modern-day remake. Cheesy food for thought.
A few other Capcom titles are also rounding out the Xbox One backward compatibility list: Lost Planet: Extreme Condition (and Colonies), Lost Planet 2, and Lost Planet 3. You strap into a mech, shoot at big alien beast limbs until they crumble, and try to stay topped up on life-sustaining thermal energy.
Lost Planet is one of those series that I know I played and enjoyed at the time but couldn't tell you anything substantial about nowadays. It's like my memories have been erased. There's a real "Yeah I could replay that on a whim!" factor that makes these ideal candidates for backward compatibility.
While we're seemingly on a Capcom kick, I'm hoping for Asura's Wrath to show up next on Xbox One so that former Destructoid editor Kyle MacGregor can stop haunting me online. He'll never let me forget.
Xbox One Backward Compatibility [Major Nelson]
Every time I hear about Voez, it's always about some new feature coming to the title. I know the game is a rhythm title released for Switch at launch, but I'm surprised it's still receiving updates to this day. The latest patch, Version 1.6, adds a whopping 16 more tracks to the game and pushes the track selection to over 200 songs. That's awesome.
You can check the new tracklist below:
Nippon Ichi Software has released screenshots, details and a teaser trailer for the recently-announced To All of Mankind, a new adventure title that sees a group of teenage girls making the best of their lives in post-apocalyptic Tokyo.
The five girls, who traveled to Akihabara on a sight-seeing trip, awaken in their hotel one morning to find the city decimated and themselves seemingly entirely alone. Fortunately, the hotel's kitchen is fully stocked with cup ramen, so the friends decide to cheer up and make the best of it. Jesus.
Players guide the gals on a journey of survival; scavenging for food and clothing, learning basic skills, growing crops, fishing, and just trying to live their best life. There are few details regarding narrative arc, so who knows who or what turns up as the game progresses, but its certainly a bemusing prospect, at any rate.
You can check out the trailer and some screenshots below. To All of Mankind is in development for PS4 and Nintendo Switch.
It's always sad to see a beloved, personable member of a well-liked company move out of the public eye. Today, Nintendo confirmed that Reggie Fils-Aime, the longstanding president of Nintendo of America, will retire. His last day is set for April 15, 2019 and his replacement will be Doug Bowser.
That's not a bit, by the way! Doug Bowser is the current senior VP of sales and marketing.
"Nintendo owns a part of my heart forever," Fils-Aime said in a statement. "It's a part that is filled with gratitude – for the incredibly talented people I've worked with, for the opportunity to represent such a wonderful brand, and most of all, to feel like a member of the world's most positive and enduring gamer community. As I look forward to departing in both good health and good humor, this is not 'game over' for me, but instead 'leveling up' to more time with my wife, family and friends."
It's the most Reggie response ever and a reminder of why we hold him so dear, as is this heartfelt video message to Nintendo fans. "From the bottom of my heart, thanks again for everything."
Nintendo fans, Reggie has a message for all of you. Please take a look. pic.twitter.com/EAhaEl5oEJ— Nintendo of America (@NintendoAmerica) February 21, 2019
I vastly underestimated how hard this goodbye would hit me.
"Inside and outside our company, Reggie is known as an exceptional leader," said Nintendo president Shuntaro Furukawa. "We are grateful that he is leaving the business in good shape with strong momentum. While we will miss him and we wish him the very best in his retirement, we are also pleased to have such an able successor ready to step into that role. Doug Bowser and the rest of the team will ensure a seamless transition and continued momentum for Nintendo."
How about one final Nintendo Direct appearance for old times' sake?
After being declared a "dead meme" by Mortal Kombat's NetherRealm Studios, Scooby-Doo's Shaggy is making a glorious entrance into the fighting game arena compliments of a Jump Force mod.
Shown below going toe to toe with Frieza, the sandwich-eating fiend is fully voiced, has his own custom character model and even goes Super Saiyan (Blue). Thankfully there's a super easy place for all things Jump Force mods: ahem, Jump Force Mods, so you can grab him for yourself.
I actually wasn't even aware that Shaggy was a meme, as I've been watching the various Scooby-Doo shows since childhood. One of the more recent series, Mystery Incorporated, even had a lengthy Twin Peaks tribute. Yeah, I wouldn't mind seeing Shaggy in things.
Arika continues to update their niche release Fighting EX Layer. Update 1.1.4 adds a few minor aesthetic changes, as well as bringing balance changes to the game's kooky roster.
Nine new tunes have been added to the game's soundtrack, whilst intense all-gold/silver numbers are now available to purchase for the roster's DLC characters, Vulcano Rosso and Pullum Purna. These costumes can be unlocked once your total match count exceeds 1000, so better get punchin'.
Blair, Shadowgeist, Skullomania and Garuda have received some buffs/nerfs, whilst the air game has been tweaked across the board, with adjustments made to airborne hitboxes. Arika has also stamped out various bugs that were affecting Fighting EX Layer's HUD, statistics, visuals and more. You can check out the full list of patch notes right here.
Fighting EX Layer is available now on PS4 and PC
It's a chill week for Nintendo after releasing a ton of big-name titles over the past month or so and a surprising Direct, and naturally most of the eShop titles are Switch-bound.
We have Trials Rising, Lego Movie 2 The Videogame, Alchemic Dungeons DX, Almost There: The Platformer, Aragami: Shadow Edition, Arcade Archives Front Line, Car Mechanic Simulator, Caterpillar Royale, Daggerhood, Devil Engine, Dungeon Stars, Gigantic ARmy, Hell Warders, I wanna fly, Mindball Play, My Arctic Farm 2018, Pizza Parking, QUBE 2, Quest for the Golden Duck, Rad Rodgers Radical Edition, Raining Coins, RemiLore, Rotating Brave, Skyhill, Surfingers, The Golf, The Journey Down Trilogy, The Lost Light of Sisu, Tyr: Chains of Valhalla, Warplanes: WW2 Dogfight, X-Morph: Defense and Yumenikki Dream Diary.
No 3DS or Wii U drops this week. Yep, that still happens, as recently as this month!