Jan. 05, 2015 | 8:00 a.m.

‘Mortal Kombat X': Writer Shawn Kittelsen teases DC prequel comic book

'Mortal Kombat X' (featured image)
For those who enjoy the spine-breaking, disemboweling fun of the “Mortal Kombat” franchise, the new “MKX” game from NetherRealm Studios can’t come fast enough (March 15 — 69 days, give or take a few hours). To help mitigate the wait, the first chapter of a new weekly digital comic “Mortal Kombat X” arrives Tuesday from DC Comics, introducing new characters and more fatalities. Shawn Kittelsen will write the series, which will feature Cassie Cage, Kotal Kahn and a cast of other characters; after Tuesday’s premiere installment, subsequent chapters will be released on Sundays and be available for download on the DC Comics App,,, Google Play, Kindle Store, Nook Store, iBooks and iVerse ComicsPLUS. ———— FOR THE RECORD The Mortal Kombat X video game release date of March 15 is incorrect. The game is set to debut worldwide April 15. […]
Jan. 03, 2015 | 4:58 a.m.

‘Lost Constellation’ lets players wander a cat’s world

"Lost Constellation" tackles big subjects with humor. (Infinite Fall / Finji)
THE PLAYER Confession: I like cats more than I like video games. The upcoming “Night in the Woods” combines these two passions, and a recently released mini-game from its developers asks the unanswerable questions every cat herder has pondered at some point: What do cats think of when they daydream? Answer: It’s certainly not mice or canned tuna. Infinite Fall and Finji’s “Lost Constellation” doesn’t shy away from big topics; it tackles religion, the loss of a loved one and tricks of the mind with deft touches of humor and light flourishes of mysticism. Here, domesticated animals grapple with the same existential issues that keep us up at night. These themes just happen to be delivered by wacky characters such as a mouse who serves as a high priest and likes to dance. So, yes, it’s bizarre — there’s a […]
Dec. 27, 2014 | 5:00 a.m.

‘Shovel Knight’ keeps it all old school

'Shovel Knight'
THE PLAYER David D’Angelo and the six-person team at Yacht Club Games are sometimes accused of living in the past. The past, after all, has been very good to Yacht Club Games. “There are people who think we’re using nostalgia as a weapon to make you buy this,” says D’Angelo of “Shovel Knight,” the company’s breakout independent video game. It’s true the game is inspired by the 8-bit titles released for the Nintendo Entertainment System, complete with an absurdist story and easy-to-grasp controls. And at first glance, “Shovel Knight” does look and play like a product of the late 1980s. The titular hero, armed with a shovel, of course, swings, digs and pounces his way through ghostly kingdoms with the occasional exploding rat. “We were playing all these modern games that were so unbelievably complicated,” says D’Angelo, 29. “We just […]
Dec. 26, 2014 | 9:00 a.m.

L.A. studio to restore venerable ‘King’s Quest’ to its gaming throne

King Graham in The Odd Gentlemen's reboot of "King's Quest." (The Odd Gentlemen / Sierra)
THE PLAYER There are sword and sorcery games, and then there are those set in Daventry. Daventry, the fantastical homeland of the “King’s Quest” series, is to the video game universe what Middle Earth is to the world of fantasy literature. But if Daventry isn’t a household name, there is no questioning the landmark status of Sierra’s “King’s Quest.” Home to one King Graham, Queen Valanice, Princess Rosella and more, “King’s Quest” was pioneering for the way it emphasized characters and story in a medium where play has been given precedence. In the mid- to late ’80s, “King’s Quest” and the games of Sierra made the case that the video game medium would evolve into a form of interactive cinema. It wasn’t to be. Action, arcade and gunplay would soon dominate, rendering “King’s Quest” and other so-called adventure games to […]
Dec. 19, 2014 | 4:36 p.m.

New video game ‘Hatred’ takes ugly aim at the industry’s progression

There's nothing to love about the early looks at "Hatred." (Destructive Creations)
THE PLAYER Congratulations, video game community. You have graduated. Like film and television before you, you are now mainstream. In the same way there are those who see lots of films and those who only see a few films, there are those who play lots of games and those who only play a handful. Some play more, some play less, but the video game community now belongs to us — all of us. Resistance is futile, but that isn’t stopping purists from trying, desperately, to fight back. They long for a time when video games were underground and playing itself was an act of rebellion, and no doubt the past year in games has been a tough one for them. LIST: Todd Martens’ best video games of 2014 Changes are not just afoot, but are in fact galloping over long-held […]
Dec. 19, 2014 | 9:00 a.m.

2014 Games: There was ugliness, but diversity won

Snow White keeps players in check in the game "The Wolf Among Us." (Telltale Games)
THE PLAYER One of the most unforgettable video game characters of 2014 was a princess and one whose name most Americans would recognize: Snow White. Only this version of Snow White isn’t exactly similar to the royal in fairy tales of yore. A star of Telltale Games’ “The Wolf Among Us,” this Snow White is a tough, no-nonsense New Yorker. The Snow of “The Wolf Among Us” is a rarity in video games, in part because she’s a woman and in part because Telltale has crafted a game in which Snow’s every word can send the player into a second-guessing headache. LIST: Todd Martens’ best video games of 2014 Snow also couldn’t have come at a better time. Much of the past year in gaming was marred by a quasi-Internet-driven movement known as “gamergate.” The phrase was almost immediately associated […]
Dec. 19, 2014 | 9:00 a.m.

Todd Martens’ best video games of 2014

Here's a look back at some of the best video games of 2014.
THE PLAYER New faces dominated interactive entertainment in 2014, from a tiny princess adrift in a puzzling kingdom to a Native American lost in the Alaskan arctic. Those looking for something familiar, take heart, an Italian plumber still had a role in one of the best games of the past 12 months. Here’s a look back. “Monument Valley” (Ustwo). Miniature kingdoms — some in the sky, some in meadows, some in black holes — toy with our perception as we guide a princess through forgotten lands. Each tap of the screen reveals an unexpected perspective, all of them suitable for framing. “Framed” (Love Shack). A comic book sprung to life; panels can be slid and rotated to drastically change the action. This is an uniquely mobile experience and one that has the player acting like the director of an animated […]
Dec. 12, 2014 | 4:52 p.m.

‘Super Smash Bros.’ has rich characters and nostalgic appeal

Samus has a tough, skin-tight look in "Super Smash Bros." (Nintendo)
THE PLAYER My relationship with Nintendo is maybe not as healthy as it should be. This realization comes to me as the year draws to a close, when one is pressed to discuss the most innovative or thoughtful interactive experiences of the year. Games such as the haunting “The Vanishing of Ethan Carter” or the whimsically lonely “Broken Age: Act 1” are some that immediately spring to mind. These are titles that made the same sort of lasting impression as a TV season of “Orphan Black” or a movie screening of “Big Hero 6,” which was full of unexpected considerations on loss. Like the getting-by struggles at the heart of hip-hop act Run the Jewels, these are all examples of pop culture with layers, where revisiting is encouraged. Yet there is one Wii U game in heavy rotation that I […]
Dec. 10, 2014 | 4:58 a.m.

PlayStation Experience shows soul-searching among gamer culture

Hayden Panettiere stars in "Until Dawn," an interactive horror drama.  (Supermassive Games)
THE PLAYER The young, college-age man meant to praise Telltale Games’ emotionally wrenching take on “The Walking Dead” during a Q&A session Saturday night at the first-ever PlayStation Experience, a fan convention in Las Vegas largely dedicated to hyping mainstream and indie titles due out for Sony’s game platforms. “I was crying like a little girl,” he said, admiring the game’s effectiveness in one particularly difficult-to-stomach scene. An audible gasp shot through the room and a woman in the audience immediately spoke up.“I didn’t cry,” she yelled. Melissa Hutchison, the voice actress whose character was responsible for the tears, was next to chime in. “I cried like a grown woman,” she said, inspiring cheers from the crowd. If one is going to speak at a video game event in 2014, it’s best to first carefully consider the remark. As the […]
Dec. 06, 2014 | 9:03 a.m.

The Game Awards: Nintendo steals spotlight at lighthearted gala

Nintendo's Wii U take on "The Legend of Zelda" is due in 2015. (Nintendo)
THE PLAYER Compared to galas honoring film, television and music, awards saluting the video game industry are a more casual, T-shirt-and-jeans affair. One should also come prepared to watch plenty of clips full of splattered blood and splintered bodies. Yet even a young and relaxed medium has heritage acts, and it was industry legends Mario and Link (the latter the hero of “The Legend of Zelda”), who were called upon to open and close this year’s Game Awards in Las Vegas. The classic characters anchored a broadcast in which venerable video game studio Nintendo stole the spotlight from more powerful, more violent competitors. That is, if one is judging The Game Awards by the trophies awarded. During the three-hour event, which was shown online and on each major home video game console, previews for upcoming games appeared more celebrated than the games released in the […]
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