The Player

April 01, 2015 | 6:03 p.m.

Nintendo Direct showcases new ‘Fire Emblem,’ ‘Splatoon’

A new 'Fire Emblem' is coming in 2016
A release is still a ways away, but Nintendo on Wednesday afternoon showcased some footage from the the latest release in its fantasy role-playing series “Fire Emblem.” It helps if you can speak and read Japanese to fully appreciate the trailer, but here’s the gist: The game is coming in 2016 for the handheld 3DS, and players will be asked to pick one of two differing sides. The trailer was unveiled during Wednesday’s Nintendo Direct, a semi-regular promotional vehicle in which company executives detail upcoming games for the its Wii U and 3DS  platforms. Among the games showcased were Nintendo’s wacky squid-like shooter for the Wii U, “Splatoon”;  Wii U creation title “Mario Maker”; and new 3DS game “Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer.” Hero Complex has its eyes on “Splatoon,” which Nintendo premiered at last year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in […]
April 01, 2015 | 8:10 a.m.

‘Dog Ace Attorney’? The April Fool’s joke we wish were true

'Dog Ace Attorney'
Advice: Stay off the Internet on April 1. It’s going to lead to disappointment. Example: “Dog Ace Attorney.” We want that video game. Overnight, Capcom unleashed a full Website and trailer for a mock game in its “Ace Attorney” series, this one starring canines. It’s cute, but also looks amazing. A dog in Sherlock Holmes gear? A ninja dog with a feline accessory? A courtroom full of dog bones? Forget “Ace Attorney” star Phoenix Wright — we want all of the above. And, with the help of Google Translate, we learned players will also get to play as a mouse. This game gets better and better. Listed under the genre “dog court battle” and available for the “Wantendo 1DOGS,” the fake game will sadly not be available today. Lesson? More games with dogs … in court. – Todd Martens | @Toddmartens | @LATherocomplex RECENT […]
March 31, 2015 | 2:21 p.m.

Turn famous movie locations into ‘Pac-Man’ maps

A new function on Google Maps allows you to turn city streets -- like those of Chicago, above -- into "Pac-Man" maps. (Google Maps)
THE PLAYER Here’s one negative about Google’s adorable “Pac-Man” overlay of its maps function: It’s not always easy to find locations for famous James Bond races. Sure, it’s cute to navigate the parking lot of Dodger Stadium with Pac-Man and his not-so-friendly pals, but we at Hero Complex wanted to relive the scenic chase of “The Spy Who Loved Me,” the one off the coasts of  Sardinia, Italy. It took a couple of tries for it to work, but we finally got the roads surrounding the Hotel Cala Di Volpe to be remade as a “Pac-Man” game (the first few times we were told there weren’t enough roads for a game). Whew. An important job, but someone has to do it. Earlier Tuesday, in what many believe is an April Fool’s joke 24 hours early (although there’s no joking around when it comes to a […]
March 27, 2015 | 4:26 p.m.

Nintendo delays the release of the Wii U’s ‘Zelda’ game

Legend of Zelda
Early footage of the Wii U’s take on “The Legend of Zelda” franchise has wowed fans, showing the game’s hero, Link, riding off into the wilderness on a horse and then soaring into the air to fire a magical bow. Fans, however, are going to have to wait a while to go adventuring with Link. Nintendo of America late Friday revealed that the game is no longer on target for a 2015 release. After stating in December that the game was to be available this year, Nintendo reversed course and said the title needs more development time. “I must apologize to you all that were expecting the game by year’s end, but we are no longer making a 2015 release our number one priority,” said the project’s leader, Eiji Aonuma, in a video posted to Nintendo’s social networks. “Instead, our priority is to […]
March 27, 2015 | 5:00 a.m.

‘Bloodborne,’ where death becomes a comfort

Death lurks at every step in "Bloodborne." (From Software/SCEA)
THE PLAYER There are some games I simply cannot play. That sentence is one that is unique to the interactive medium. There are certain genres of movies and TV shows I like less than the other – scary things and I don’t always get along – but I can watch them. I was never a fan of the Faulkner books forced upon me in school, but I can read them. But the work of Japanese game design master Hidetaka Miyazaki? I’m pretty sure I can’t play it. I’ve spent better parts of the last four days with “Bloodborne,” a Gothic fantasy epic with lots of human-like ghouls getting slashed to bits by a blade. I thought, at first, I would review it, but reviewing it has turned out to be impossible. I simply cannot advance far enough in “Bloodborne” to […]
March 23, 2015 | 5:30 a.m.

SXSW 2015: The gaming world tries to get inside our heads

"1979" (ink stories)
THE PLAYER AUSTIN, Texas — Discovery at South by Southwest isn’t what it used to be. More than 2,000 bands make it hard to cut through the din here, and it doesn’t help when cellphone providers and beer companies are making some of the loudest noise. Having attended SXSW now for 12 years, I can safely say that excitement happens on the fringes, far from whatever brand is hoping for a slight edge in attracting the attention of more than 30,000 attendees. The gaming portion of SXSW is entirely on the fringes. Though the industry is a powerhouse that’s estimated to bring in more worldwide revenue than the film business, a brief Miley Cyrus appearance at SXSW showcase sponsored by Converse shoes appeared to generate more attention than anything the gaming portion of the fest offered. FULL COVERAGE: South by […]
March 18, 2015 | 6:00 a.m.

SXSW: ‘Flame in the Flood,’ ‘Jotun’ draw inspiration from history

Early renderings for Scout from river-set game "The Flame in the Flood." (The Molasses Flood)
THE PLAYER Quotes from T.S Eliot and Theodore Roosevelt aren’t the texts one expects to see in the middle of a video game, but “The Flame in the Flood” has literary ambitions. Set in the American South, “The Flame in the Flood” is a journey of survival on a river. It takes place in the future – probably. The look is a bit timeless, with an art style that appears crafted from construction paper. The colors are muted, the world is rural and boney wolves are lurking in the darkness, their red eyes flashing in the shadows. The game, the first from six-person indie studio the Molasses Flood, was shown at the South by Southwest games festival in Austin, Texas. It wasn’t the only game at the conference to boast a backdrop of cultural exploration. Whereas “The Flame in the […]
March 17, 2015 | 10:26 a.m.

SXSW: Game Oven has a touching swan song in ‘Jelly Reef’

"Jelly Reef" is a mobile game in which players must guide jellyfish to safety. (Game Oven)
THE PLAYER “Jelly Reef” looks adorable. At the start, players will have a school of jellyfish — all of them wide-eyed and smiling. Then, in a matter of moments, they will all be dead. This wouldn’t be so harrowing if they didn’t start to frown first, a simple touch that turns this accessible mobile game into one of pure dread. Ultimately, it’s as much about nurturing tiny gelatinous reddish and orangeish critters as it is about reaching a goal. “Jelly Reef” is also the swan song from the three-person Netherlands-based studio Game Oven, a company that in its brief existence specialized in pushing the boundaries of the mobile experience. The studio’s previous game, “Bounden,” sought to teach two players how to dance as they were connected via one phone. Following on-screen prompts, participants would twirl around each other, and those averse […]
March 17, 2015 | 6:00 a.m.

SXSW: Meet ‘Smooth Operator,’ a kissing simulator

Get cozy with another person in "Smooth Operator," coming soon for mobile devices. (Beardo Games)
THE PLAYER Even at a progressive game conference such as South by Southwest, there’s a lot of death. “Everything is killing, dismemberment and sniping and blowing things up,” said Kate Thomas of Portland’s Beardo Games. It was a bit of an exaggeration, as at SXSW there were also games about avoiding zombies, but it’s no secret the game industry loves to digitize disaster. Beardo, however, has a game about making out. It was easy to spot “Smooth Operator” on the show floor, as brightly animated tongues twisted and turned and slid around the screen like reptiles protruding from human mouths. It’s a slightly silly, somewhat tricky game of hand-eye coordination, but don’t worry if things go bad. There’s no messy saliva to stress over. The game, in development for about a year, is pegged for a spring release on iOS […]
March 16, 2015 | 4:46 p.m.

SXSW: Is the game industry scaring away new players?

Activision's investment in "King's Quest" is a sign that big publishers are playing attention to the indie market. (The Odd Gentlemen/Sierra)
THE PLAYER Women and minorities are ignored. Prices are too high. Games are too long and too difficult.  These aren’t the complaints of disgruntled consumers but observations from top gaming executives at the South by Southwest games festival in Austin, Texas. On Sunday in front of an audience at the Hyatt Regency, the panel of experts explored why the industry has been failing at converting non-players into players. The main culprits: An over-reliance on $100 million-plus blockbusters, a difficult learning curve and a lack of diverse narratives. FULL COVERAGE: South by Southwest While Wall Street analysts and industry boosters like to cite financial figures that show the game business as one that’s bigger than the film industry, such numbers mask an uncomfortable reality: the number of dedicated gamers is not growing. “The actual universe of gamers isn’t expanding that much,” […]
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