The Player

May 09, 2015 | 8:47 a.m.

‘Royals,’ from ‘Threes’ creator Asher Vollmer, challenges lowly peasants

"Royals" has players trying to be king of queen. (Asher Vollmer)
THE PLAYER Asher Vollmer helped make one of the most popular games of 2014. “Threes” has been downloaded more than 1 million times and was blessed by Apple as the mobile game of the year. It’s the puzzle game at its most elegant, owning an invitingly crisp design and requiring little more than basic mathematics and casual swipes of the finger. Now the Westside-bred 25-year-old has a new game. But “Royals” is nothing like “Threes.” To start, it is designed to be difficult. Vollmer, in fact, tells people it’s impossible. It’s not, but if you try it your character will perish in minutes. Chances are, you will never be a royal — in life, or in Vollmer’s game. But at least it won’t cost you much. It’s essentially free. Vollmer is asking players to pay what they wish. Why free? […]
April 26, 2015 | 10:00 a.m.

Robots and women share the battlefield in ‘Call of Duty: Black Ops 3′

"Call of Duty: Black Ops 3" boasts cybernetic-enhanced soldiers. (Treyarch / Activision)
This post has been updated. Please see below for details. The future-set “Call of Duty: Black Ops 3″ makes some bold predictions about combat in the decades to come. Soldiers, for instance, will be outfitted with robotic arms, giving them super-human strength. Additionally, women will be just as prevalent on the front lines as their male counterparts. The Treyarch-developed “Call of Duty: Black Ops 3,” due Nov. 6 for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC, is the first in the blockbuster franchise to allow fans to play as a female character for the entirety of the campaign. Or even play as a whole mini-squadron of women, as “Black Ops 3″ will blur the lines between single and multiplayer games and allow up to four people to play the campaign cooperatively via an online connection (or play split-screen with a friend). It’s a […]
April 17, 2015 | 11:11 a.m.

Star Wars Celebration: ‘Battlefront’ gets franchise back in the game

"Star Wars: Battlefront" is the first major video game release since Disney dismantled LucasArts. (Dice / Electronic Arts)
THE PLAYER On Thursday morning “Star Wars” fans received a glimpse of the next cinematic episode in the fantasy saga. On Friday it was time to learn how to play in it. “Star Wars: Battlefront” took center stage as Day 2 of the four-day Star Wars Celebration fan expo opened in Anaheim. The game, the first under a 10-year pact between Lucasfilm and Electronic Arts, is due Nov. 17, about a month in advance of the J.J. Abrams-directed “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” Early glimpses of the game reveal it to be a sort of blaster-heavy “Star Wars” greatest hits collection. Want to play with lightsabers? Those are here. Want to shoot a blaster like Han Solo? You can do that. Want to pilot an X-Wing? Of course that’s a possibility. Want to play as Darth Vader on Endor, the planet […]
April 02, 2015 | 6:00 a.m.

It’s hip to be a square in Nintendo’s ‘Boxboy!’

Nintendo's "Boxboy" is a minimalist puzzle adventure. (HAL Laboratories)
THE PLAYER Maybe it’s as simple as putting eyelashes on a box. Or maybe it’s the way the box scrunches up and holds its eyes shut when it’s in a tight spot. Or maybe it’s the box’s tiny little stick figure legs. But Boxboy – his real name is actually Qbby  – has charisma. There are puzzles, too, yes, but it’s the small details that propel a player through “Boxboy!,” Nintendo’s charmer of a little game for its handheld 3DS device. Boxboy has a friend, a box pal with a bow, and Boxboy has superpowers, namely the ability to create more boxes, and it’s somewhat of a surprise that “Boxboy!” works at all. After all, Boxboy is just a box. On the surface, it’s the digital equivalent of giving a kitten a piece of cardboard. The feel is hand-me-down homemade. […]
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 30, 2015 | 4:45 p.m.

Google’s ‘Ingress’ and ‘Endgame': What’s next?

The view of downtown Pasadena, as seen via "Ingress." (Niantic Labs)
Lord Ogre — that’s not his real name — wanted to lose weight, so he started playing “Ingress.” Silussa — not her real name — wanted to better know Chicago after relocating from Portland, so she started playing “Ingress.” They were just two of the approximately 2,000 attendees who descended upon downtown Pasadena on Saturday for an “Ingress” meet-up. “Ingress” is a game-meets-social-experiment from Google, one in which players battle for the virtual control of real-world spaces such as a church, a mural or a Metro stop. A mobile phone becomes a sort of interactive game board, pinpointing a players’ real-world location and overlaying it with a game of alien warfare. “It’s like Risk,” said Andrew Krug, who flew in for the gathering from the Washington, D.C., area. “Except in real life.” For Google, “Ingress,” born in the technology giant’s Niantic Labs, […]
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 […]
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