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    Capcom will release a new Mega Man X collection in July!

    News John Saavedra
    Apr 11, 2018

    Mega Man, which first arrived as Rockmanon Dec. 17, 1987 in Japan, turns 30 this year, and Capcom is pulling out all the stops to celebrate the game's legacy. The publisher has announced that it will release a Mega Man X Legacy Collection on July 24. 

    The new release will compile all eight Mega Man X games for Switch, PS4, Xbox One, and PC. The collection will be split into two volumes. Mega Man X, X2, X3, and X4 will make up Mega Man X Legacy Collection 1, while X5, X6, X7, and X8 will be collected in Mega Man X Legacy Collection 2. Each volume costs $19.99, although consoles will receive a physical release that includes both volumes for $39.99.

    This is the third Legacy Collection released by Capcom, which has already compiled all ten of the original Mega Man games for current-gen consoles. 

    If you've never had the pleasure of playing this spinoff series, the Mega Man X games take place 100 years after the events of the main series and star the titular hero as a member of the Maverick Hunters, an elite group who hunt down rogue Reploids - robots capable of human emotion and thought. These "Maverick" Reploids are led by the villainous Sigma, who will stop at nothing until all humans are destroyed. Luckily, humanity has Mega Man X and his partner, Zero, fighting on their side. 

    The first Mega Man Xgame was released in Japan in 1993 and came to North America in 1994 for the SNES. The final installment, Mega Man X8, arrived for the PS2 in 2004. 

    Along with the Mega Man X Legacy Collection announcement, Capcom also revealed that it will release a brand new installment in the main series, Mega Man 11, in late 2018 for the Switch, PS4, XBO, and PC. It's going to be a big year for the Blue Bomber!


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    A new report suggests that the next PlayStation isn't coming for quite some time.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Apr 11, 2018

    Kotaku is reporting that the PlayStation 5 will not be released in 2018 as some rumors have suggested. In fact, it's reportedly quite a ways off. 

    Jason Schreier states that he's spoken to "dozens" of developers and industry insiders who would have some idea of what Sony might have planned. Some of those insiders - who are not identified by name - state that they have firsthand knowledge of Sony's console plans and don't believe that the PlayStation 5 will be released in 2018 or 2019. However, one of these insiders did note that Sony's plans are always subject to change. 

    “At some point, Sony’s probably looked at every possible date," said the insider. "It’s all about what they think is the best sweet spot in terms of hardware.” As such, they're willing to change their plans based on what the competition does and other industry factors. 

    What's even more telling is the fact that many people in the industry aren't talking about the PlayStation 5 at all or are otherwise seemingly unaware of it. If the next PlayStation was set to be released sometime in the next couple of years then there would likely be a lot more talk about it amongst developers and other industry figures. As it stands, the earliest release date for the PlayStation 5 at this moment seems to be sometime in the year 2020. 

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    This particular discussion seems to have started when a website ran an article that claimed that PlayStation 5 development kits have already been sent out to developers. Kotaku states that it's entirely possible that some kind of kit capable of developing console games that can't be run on the PlayStation 4 have been sent out, but that is not a great metric of how close we are to the release of the PlayStation 5. After all, those early kits are often generic pieces of hardware that aren't specifically tied to the final design of a next-gen console. 

    Of course, Kotaku's report also points out the most important takeaway from this information: anything can change. At the moment, you shouldn't expect the PlayStation 5 to be released in the immediate future. However, the current state of the console industry - especially as it concerns releases like the PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One X - means that you can't really take anything for granted concerning the likely release date of an upcoming console. 


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    The Xbox's impressive backward compatible lineup will soon be even better.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Apr 11, 2018

    The Xbox One's considerable backward compatible library continues to grow as the Microsoft has revealed the next wave of Xbox games that will be playable via Xbox One before the end of the month.

    It all starts on April 17th when Blinx: The Time Sweeper, Breakdown, Conker: Live & Reloaded, The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, Hunter: The Reckoning, Jade Empire, Panzer Dragoon Orta, and SSX 3join the console's backward compatible roster. On April 26th, those games will be joined by Destroy All Humans!, Full Spectrum Warrior, Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction, MX Unleashed, Panzer Elite Action: Fields of Glory, Star Wars Battlefront, Star Wars Battlefront II, Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy, Star Wars Jedi Starfighter, Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic II, and Star Wars Republic Commando.

    As always, these games will be enhanced slightly by modern-day consoles. Each of these titles will feature 4x as many pixels on the Xbox One and Xbox One S and up to 16x as many pixels on the Xbox One X. Each of these games will be available via the Xbox store on the dates mentioned above, and you'll also be able to just insert the original discs into your Xbox console if you so happen to still have them lying around.

    Furthermore, Microsoft announced that Red Dead Redemption is getting a 4K upgrade. Fans have already released some footage of the 4K upgrade and the effect is quite striking even if it doesn't completely alter the visuals of the original game.

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    Speaking of striking...just look at that list of classic games coming to the Xbox One. In our minds, the star of that lineup is undoubtedly Knights of the Old Republic II. In case you haven't read our retrospective look at that title - shameless plug - KOTOR II is perhaps the most mature Star Wars story told through a popular medium despite the fact that the game's story wasn't completed when it was initially released. 

    On top of that, you have Morrowind (maybe the best Elder Scrolls world ever), Panzer Dragoon Orta (a true Xbox cult classic), Jade Empire (BioWare's most underrated RPG), and Hunter: The Reckoning (a brilliant 4-player co-op horror shooter). In other words, you're going to want to check out quite a few of these games when they start releasing on the 17th.  


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    This collection of Myst games features a couple of currently unavailable classics.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Apr 11, 2018

    In celebration of the 25th anniversary of Myst, developer Cyan Inc. has revealed their plans to release a special collection of every Myst game. 

    To help fund the development of those remasters, Cyan has started a Kickstarter campaign which has already achieved its $247,500 funding goal (it's currently sitting at over $550,000). According to the Kickstarter notes, the goal of this campaign is to compile funding for a 25th Anniversary Collection of the Myst titles. This collection will include all seven Myst games (Myst, Riven, Exile, Revelation, End of Ages, Uru, and RealMyst: Masterpiece Edition). All of these games will be updated to run on Windows 10, but there's a chance that none of them will be remastered beyond any enhancements featured in the chosen version of each title. 

    "Changes in the products are first and foremost compatibility with Windows 10. Beyond that, we are hoping to fix little bugs here and there," said a Cyan rep to PC Gamer. "Lastly, we are hoping (but definitely not certain) that we will be improving the look a bit here and there on certain products, but original Myst is a long-shot because of the logistics. As we get a feeling for how much funding the Kickstarter provides we'll be able to provide more specifics in updates." 

    Currently, backers who pledge $49 will receive a digital version of every Myst title. From there, the goals grow to include various boxed versions of the collection. The top goal - which required a $1,000 donation - featured a digital copy of every game, DVD version of every game, a Myst book, an animated LCD book panel, digital Myst book extras, Gehn's pen and inkwell, and the original Riven concept sketch art. That tier has already sold out and is no longer available to backers. 

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    Fans of the Myst series may have already realized that there are a couple of games included in this collection that not like the others. At present, Exile and Revelation are not available via Steam and GOG whereas the rest of the games are. According to the Kickstarter page, Cyan has managed to acquire the rights to both of those games and are now finally able to re-release them. There's no word on whether or not they will re-release those titles individually via digital platforms or whether they will just be released as part of the collection. 

    For the time being, though, we highly recommend this collection to hardcore Myst fans. Everyone else may want to try some of the individual games before diving into this collection. 


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    Shadow Archery doesn't look like much, but it might just be the last exclusive Wii U game.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Apr 11, 2018

    Beleive it or not, a Wii U game is being released in 2018. 

    Shadow Archery, a new title from fan developer Ultra Dolphin Rev, doesn't look like much on the surface. It's a 2D title that looks like it was made sometime during the rough days of the NES. So far as we can tell, it doesn't require you to do much more than walk around, shoot some creatures, and beat your own high score. It can be played either via the Wii U gamepad or with some of the console's lightgun peripherals. To be honest, we wouldn't even be talking about this game if it was being released for the Switch, the PlayStation 4, or the Xbox One.

    As a new Wii U title in 2018, though, Shadow Archery is fascinating. As we noted above, Ultra Dolphin Rev is just a team of Nintendo fans who are just about the polar opposite of a company like Bethesda. They primarily release NES throwback games and make no effort to hide their Nintendo fandom. Actually, Shadow Archery is a sequel to Shadow Archer; an even simpler take on Shadow Archery's basic concept. 

    While the fact that this game is releasing on the Wii U will no doubt help Shadow Archery garner more attention than it would have otherwise, we get the feeling that Ultra Dolphin Rev probably didn't have the desire or the resources to develop this title for another platform. They seem to harbor an old-school mentality and probably enjoy the fact that their game may be one of the last new titles the Wii U will ever see. 

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    In fact, this might go down as the very last exclusive Wii U game. What a sobering thought that is. Granted, the Wii U had its fair share of issues, but the one thing that nobody ever took away from the system's legacy is its incredible collection of individual games. In fact, we've already seen Nintendo port several Wii U titles over to the Nintendo Switch with great success. The Wii U really was the home of some of its generation greatest games. 

    We don't think that Shadow Archery will join the hallowed halls that the Wii U's greatest titles roam, but considering that it will be free-to-download for the first week of its release - the game is set to launch before the end of the week - and will only cost $1 after that, then it might just be worth giving it a shot for historical purposes alone.


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  • 04/12/18--07:10: EVE Fanfest 2018 Live Stream
  • Want to check out everything CCP has planned for EVE Online in 2018 and beyond? Watch all of the EVE Fanfest announcements live right here!

    News Den of Geek Staff
    Apr 12, 2018

    CCP hosts the 14th EVE Fanfest in Reykjavik, Iceland. The action kicks off at 7:15 am ET with an Opening Ceremony that's poised to bring quite a few surprise announcements about the future of EVE Online - perhaps even some tweaks to the game that fans have been begging for.

    EVE Fanfest 2018 is an especially important gathering of EVE players, as the game celebrates its 15th anniversary. That's 15 years of adventures, corporate takeovers, political intrigue, and connecting with players around the world. (Speaking of which, there's even a wedding being held at Fanfest this year!)

    If you couldn't make it to Fanfest this year, Den of Geek has you covered. You'll be able to watch all of the action from the Opening Ceremony and all of the other presentations LIVE in the stream below:

    The stream goes live at 6:45 am ET and kicks off in earnest with the Opening Ceremony at 7:15 am ET. Don't miss EVEprov - A Space Satirical at 9:00 am ET where a group of professional actors will perform some of the biggest moments in EVE Online history. For newbies, check out the EVE History panel with the great Andrew Groen at 10 am ET.

    Finally, make sure to tune in for the EVE Online keynote at 1 pm ET.

    Den of Geek is on the floor at EVE Fanfest this year and will be bringing you all the news and much more in the next few days. Follow us for updates from the show floor. 


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    EVE Online is coming to mobile as a new title called War of Ascension!

    NewsJohn Saavedra
    Apr 12, 2018

    CCP took the stage at EVE Fanfest 2018 to announce EVE: War of Ascension, a new mobile game set in the EVE Online universe. Originally teased as "Project Aurora," the mobile title will be published by Kongregate for iOS and Android. The game, which is being co-developed by PlayRaven, will release later this year.

    Like the popular PC MMORPG, War of Ascension also tasks players with working together to form alliances and partnerships to dominate the galaxy and become the most powerful corporation in the universe. 

    Designed to appeal to both the franchise’s fans as well as more casual players, EVE: War of Ascension features an open world, where players can engage in ways that interest them. True to the EVE universe, the game will allow players to create their own stories, choosing to work cooperatively with other players or to fight them for resources.

    As players progress further in the game, they’ll hunt for mysterious relics that unlock new unexplored areas of space. The game will feature weekly events as well as limited-time promotions.

    "EVE: War of Ascension is our first mobile game at CCP and we’re so excited to bring the EVE universe to a new and massive audience," said CCP CEO Hilmar Veigar Pétursson. "Our goal is to bring our CCP DNA to the mobile market: player-driven content, social interaction, and massive scale collaboration. With great partners like PlayRaven and Kongregate, we’re seeing our vision become a reality."

    To check out all of the big EVE Online announcements from Fanfest 2018, make sure to tune into the live stream!


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    Phantom Doctrine is tinker, tailor, soldier, spy, and much more.

    Preview Matthew Byrd
    Apr 12, 2018

    At first glance, it’s easy to scoff at CreativeForge Games' Phantom Doctrine with the dismissive certainty of a man who knows his monocle size. After all, the game looks more like a mod to Firaxis Games’ reboot of the XCOM series than it does a fully-fledged title. It’s foolish to deny Phantom Doctrine’s similarities to that modern classic strategy series, but it is an even worse sin to overlook this game just because a first glance reveals familiarity.

    Phantom Doctrine takes place in an alternate version of the ‘80s in which the Cold War shows no signs of stopping. You play as either a KGB or CIA operative who gradually comes to learn that there is a secret society of power brokers who have been engineering the conflict between East and West for their own purposes. It is up to you and a small - but growing - secret resistance to bring down the society before the end of the world.

    The game's unabashed love of Cold War-era spy thrillers soon becomes its calling card. The story itself seems interesting, but in lieu of any major plot details, it’s the little things that stand out about the game’s spy thriller atmosphere.

    For instance, missions are planned on a corkboard using rubber bands and pins to connect key pieces of information. Changing an operative’s appearance requires you to forge a new identity for them as to not compromise their cover. Documents featuring redacted phrases must be scanned for clues regarding where you should go next. Granted, none of those elements are significant on their own, but at a time when spy thriller video games aren’t exactly abundant, Phantom Doctrine’s little touches end up wielding quite a bit of atmosphere.

    That theme carries over to the game’s strategy combat. While Phantom Doctrine’s core combat is indeed very reminiscent of XCOM’s own mechanics - percentage shots, sending characters into cover, overwatch guarding, grid-based battlefields - it’s once again the game’s focus on espionage that separates it from the pack.

    Much like XCOM 2, Phantom Doctrine emphasizes the stealthy approach. You are drastically outnumbered in just about every combat scenario. If you go in guns blazing, you will trigger a nearly infinite supply of guards determined to form a human wall between you and your objective. The better play is to sneak through each area, utilize the game’s enhanced silent takedowns, and only pull out your gun when necessary. 

    Better yet, you could just use an operative to disrupt the area from the inside. Yes, most missions let you send in someone to go undercover and either wipe out security or possibly even complete the mission without putting boots on the ground. You can also direct an operative to scope the area out from afar and relay information (or just wield a sniper rifle). Of course, you can always just have them invade the area on foot if you're into that.

    All of these ideas are great, but my brief hands-on time with the game at PAX East left me with questions regarding just how well all of these concepts will be strung together across the length of a full game. Phantom Doctrine feels slightly more narratively dependent than XCOM in terms of the weight of each mission. That could be great, but it could also lead to some missions feeling less significant than others. The same is true of the pre-mission espionage options, which might be dependant on the flow of the story and the quality of every mission.

    Nevertheless, Phantom Doctrine gets it right where it matters most. Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle proved that the XCOM style is worthy of being a genre unto itself, and Phantom Doctrine might just prove to be the gold standard of that genre.


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    Hearthstone' The Witchwood is a scary new expansion featuring a card that truly terrifies the game's design team...

    FeatureMatthew Byrd
    Apr 12, 2018

    Here's a secret from a longtime Hearthstone fan: the best time to be a Hearthstone player is when the first expansion of a new rotation is released. 

    In case you missed our previous coverage, Hearthstone's Year of the Mammoth has ended and the Year of the Raven has begun. What that means is that the cards featured in the Whispers of the Old Gods, One Night in Kharazan, and Mean Streets of Gadgetzan expansions will no longer be available in Standard play. Instead, only classic/basic cards alongside the cards introduced last year and those featured in upcoming The Witchwood expansion will be available to Standard mode players. 

    Don't quite follow? Well, the key point is that this is the time of year when even top Hearthstone pros don't quite know what's going to happen next. Over the next several weeks, we're going to see a lot of experimentation within the game. New cards will certainly see play but so will overlooked and overshadowed cards that now have room to shine since so many powerful cards are rotating out. This is the glorious time of year when Hearthstone is at its most unpredictable and when players are at their most creative. 

    Despite the trend of experimentation that accompanies the release of the first expansion of the rotation, Hearthstone game director Ben Brode insists that the incredible number of new mechanics and keywords introduced in The Witchwood weren't implemented solely to cater to Hearthstone's most creative deck builders. In fact, they actually helped the team complete the creation of the full set. 

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    "I actually think mechanics, keywords, in some ways can make sets simpler than the other way around, 'cause otherwise you have to have unique different 135 cards," said Brode during our recent interview with him. "I think it's more interesting to see it play out in a bunch of cards in a bunch of different ways, but the biggest goal was just to make a set that has an identity, it's super fun, and has a lot of opportunity for players to experiment and I don't know that mechanics are more or less playing into that opportunity."

    Nevertheless, Hearthstone's most dedicated deck builders have already begun designing their dream decks for the new expansion. Among them is the ever-mythical idea of a "control hunter." Since the beginning of Hearthstone, players have tried to build a viable slower deck for the traditionally aggressive Hunter class. At one point, the Hearthstone team even mentioned that they intended for Hunter to be a slower class that used its aggressive hero power to chip away at an opponents health over the long game. Now that some new cards theoretically make that hero power stronger and cheaper, Brode thinks that idea might actually come to fruition. 

    "Once upon a time, we had a Hunter combo deck that would charge in for some damage right at the end of the game," said Brode. "I think ... there is room for that, I think that you're right that a one-mana Hero Power makes that dream a little more viable."

    Speaking of hero powers, I asked Brode whether or not the fact that the Shaman class now has two cards that replace its starting hero power (Thrall, Deathseer and Hagatha the Witch) is Blizzard's attempt to address fan complaints regarding the randomness and general ineffectiveness of the class's starting ability. However, he says that's not really the case. 

    "The new Shaman hero power, that's eight mana, so that's....if we were (addressing the Shaman hero power) we'd do something at the start of the game replaces your Hero Power or costs much less," said Brode. "In Goblins Vs. Gnomes we had a minion, Thermaplugg, who was the last boss of [World of Warcraft's] Gnomeregan, he's probably the baddest ass guy, so we wanted to put him in the set, he was kind of our big bad Goblins Vs. Gnomes, but as it turned out, he was forgettable. He's not very powerful...for Witchwood we wanted to make sure people understood that Hagatha is the main villain. She's the bad guy, she's the witch in the Witchwood, and we wanted a way to kind of elevate her in people's minds as clearly the main character and so we made her a Hero Card just for that reason."

    As for the other new Shaman legendary card, Shudderwock - a card designed to cause absolute chaos whenever it is played - Brode admits that it's the card he's "most afraid of" and says that it was the most difficult card for the team to implement. However, some Hearthstone fans on the internet have identified a different card, the cheap enemy removal option known as Voodoo Doll, as one of the game's potentially most powerful new tools. So far as that goes, Brode feels...mostly confident that card isn't too powerful. 

    "Yeah, that card is super, super fun," said Brode of Voodoo Doll. "We have a fantastic team of balance designers, and we tried very hard to make cards that are going to change the meta and be exciting so that we have the experiences to have online and hopefully to not break it if we do like we had before, we don't mind stepping in and changing cards and rebalancing them. I feel pretty good about Voodoo Doll."

    Despite the possible power of cards like Voodoo Doll and Shudderwock, Brode's biggest worry regarding the expansion isn't a card at all. Instead, he and the rest of the Hearthstone team have been looking at ways to bring some Hearthstone fans who may have walked away from the game back into the fold. 

    "The biggest challenge, I think, is getting people to take a second and look at a game that's now actually one of the older games on the market," said Brode. "I think it's even better than when we launched but it's hard to compete against people who are looking for the new, sexy, hotness...Players, once they do make the decision to pick up Hearthstone, have a ton of fun with it."

    While The Witchwood figures to be a lot of fun for Hearthstone players old and new, Brode admits that the development team also had a great time designing the expansion's horror theme. 

    "It's interesting because, when we started working on the setting it didn't start in that (horror) direction," said Brode. "We knew we wanted to do Worgen, they have a Victorian kind of feel to them...at first we were pitching around the name Murder on Gilding Express and thought maybe it's like a Clue kind of vibe and it's all about a murder mystery, Jack the Ripper kind of thing, and then got more into the spooky fairy tales, ghost-stories, there's a woods surrounding this place, it's full of twisted trees and monsters and that's the vibe."

    The Witchwood launches on April 12th for PC and compatible mobile devices. 


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    Evil Luke, rebel Vader, Jedi Darth Maul, and more in this wild - but cancelled - game.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Apr 12, 2018

    We've heard quite a bit before about the canceled Star Wars Battlefront 3 (a game that was almost finished when it was canceled), but it turns out that developer Free Radical Design had already begun the preliminary work on Battlefront 4 before the series was effectively shut down. 

    An absolutely massive Google Doc that seemingly complies nearly every piece of known design info for Battlefront 4 has recently appeared online. This nearly 600-page document contains just about everything you wanted to ever know about Battlefront 4. That means details on the game's multiplayer mode, concept art, preliminary footage, and much, much more. 

    However, the section of this document that is currently catching everyone's attention is the information relating to the game's scrapped campaign mode. Simply put, Battlefront 4's campaign was going to be an absolutely nutty twist on the Star Wars universe that would have turned the series' establish mythos on its head. 

    The basic idea fuelling the game's tragically canceled campaign is that players would have had the ability to explore alternate versions of popular Star Wars characters. For instance, Obi-Wan could have been the Jedi that betrayed the order and Luke could have ended up becoming the Emperor's apprentice. That last scenario is particularly interesting as it seemingly would have concluded with a redeemed Anakin Skywalker doing battle against Sith Lord Luke Skywalker. That battle would have occurred on Tatooine where Anakin ran to hide from his former Empire friends. 

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    It's not entirely clear how all of these story elements would have come together to form a cohesive narrative - or even several cohesive narratives - but it's clear that the team at Free Radical intended for Battlefront 4 felt no obligation to work within the established mythos of the Star Wars universe. They even show what appears to be a Jedi version of Darth Maul and some alternate versions of famous Star Wars locales. 

    What makes all this information so tragic is the fact that it's highly unlikely we'll ever see a major Star Wars game quite like this again. Since EA gained exclusive control over the Star Wars license, Star Wars games have been noticeably...drab. Battlefront 2 tried to show us the face of the dark side, but it ultimately lacked the conviction needed to truly make that idea work. 

    A game like Battlefront 4 that was basically a glorified Star Wars fanfic on a big budget...well, don't hold your breath for a new game like that anytime soon. 


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    EVE Online is getting a new FPS spin-off codenamed Project Nova. Here's everything we've learned about it at EVE Fanfest 2018...

    News John Saavedra
    Apr 12, 2018

    EVE Online is getting a new first-person shooter spinoff codenamed Project Nova and CCP Games shared a few new details about the game at Fanfest 2018. The spinoff, which was originally announced in 2016, is CCP's second attempt at an FPS set in the EVE universe after Dust 514, which ran from 2013 to 2016. 

    Unlike its predecessor, which was so connected with the main MMORPG that each could directly affect the other, Project Nova will begin as a separate experience set within the same universe of New Eden. CCP explains that it first wants to focus on creating a great FPS experience before connecting the games.

    The action in Project Nova will take place within ships and space stations as opposed to planets, although CCP plans to implement planet-based maps after launch. Dust 514 set its battles on several planets in the EVE universe. 

    While CCP didn't go into too much more detail about Project Nova - there isn't even a proper title for the game yet - the studio did tease that it will have more to share about it in the next few months. 

    Project Nova is being co-developed with Sumo Digital. It's coming to PC. No news on whether it'll also be available on consoles. 


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    Bungie hopes the Warmind expansion will kick off a new era for Destiny 2.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Apr 12, 2018

    Bungie has announced that Destiny 2's second DLC expansion, Warmind, will release on May 8th. 

    Officially, Bungie has stated that Warmind will "send you to new places to meet new heroes and battle new enemies." Early unofficial information - alongside the one piece of concept art that Bungie has released for Warmind - suggests that the expansion will take place somewhere in the frozen tundras of Mars. As for the name Warmind, Destiny players will remember that it refers to a network of planetary defense AIs that were referenced in the original game. 

    What we can tell you with certainty is that we should learn much more about Warmind when Bungie hosts a special live stream devoted to Destiny 2's next expansion on April 24th. 

    The release of Warmind will also kick off Destiny 2's third season which Bungie seems to be using as an excuse to address some of the game's lingering issues. 

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    To start, Bungie will make all Crucible DLC maps free when Destiny 2's third season begins. That includes all maps released as part of Destiny 2's first DLC release, Curse of Osiris. Why are they doing this? The official answer is that it will help improve matchmaking. Some have taken that to mean that there might currently be an extreme discrepancy between the Destiny 2 fans who have paid for the extra maps and those who have not. It's also been suggested that Bungie is still just trying to get in the good graces of Destiny 2's most irritated fans. 

    One thing to note, though, is that DLC Crucible maps will not be available within Destiny 2's new private matches. For those, all invited players will need to own the necessary maps in order to join matches that use them. 

    Season three will also see the release of a multi-emote system, Nightfall challenge cards, larger vault spaces, heroic strike modifiers, and more. Destiny 2 game director Christopher Barrett noted that the team's overall goal with these - and all subsequent - updates is to "make sure we deliver on our promise to restore Destiny 2 to the hobby we all love." While the current state of Destiny 2 makes it unlikely that any relatively minor updates will pacify the game's rabid fanbase, Bungie does seem to be aware of the game's issues and are interested in turning things around. 


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    Sam Fisher's Ghost Recon cameo features a heartfelt tribute to a fellow legend.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Apr 12, 2018

    It turns out that it's not just Metal Gear Solid fans who mourn the - relative - death of the classic stealth franchise. In fact, even some of Solid Snake's industry rivals bemoan the unfortunate circumstances of his retirement. 

    We mentioned earlier that the next Ghost Recon WildlandsDLC release will feature an appearance by none other than Splinter Cell's Sam Fisher. Well, there's a small cutscene in that release that seems to pay pretty obvious homage to Solid Snake and the Metal Gear Solid series. You can check it out below if you're not afraid of minor spoilers:

    The clip above features Sam Fisher suggesting to an associate that they don't make them like him anymore. He then casually mentions some "Army infiltration" operative who wore a bandanna that he seems to consider to be one of the best. When the associate informs Fisher that the operative in question has supposedly retired, Fisher verbalizes his sudden realization that "It's only me..."

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    That moment is poignant for a few reasons. The most obvious being that the Splinter Cell and Metal Gear Solid franchises were once rival stealth series engaged in a duel to the retail death. There were a few times in the past when both games would reference the other in a joking fashion. While the Splinter Cell series has always been pretty great, it didn't attract quite the same level of fan devotion and critical acclaim that the Metal Gear Solid franchise did. As such, it's a bit shocking to us - and Fisher - to realize that Splinter Cell has technically outlasted MGS

    What makes that realization all the more emotional is the fact that it's the original Sam Fisher voice actor, Michael Ironside, delivering this surprisingly emotional line. We don't know if Ironside is even aware that a series called Metal Gear Solid exists, but he delivers the line with the appropriate amount of emotion nonetheless. 

    Finally, there's the tragic subtext of Fisher's statement. Some are saying that his comment isn't just relegated to his and Solid Snake's relative active status, but that it's a comment on the state of the stealth genre as a whole. There really aren't that many high-profile stealth games on the market, meaning that Fisher really is among the last true stealth heroes left in gaming.

    Of course, Fisher still needs to appear in a game of his own in order to retain that status. Hopefully, we'll learn more about that at Ubisoft's E3 2018 presentation. 


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    There's a new king of Donkey Kong now that Mitchell's career high scores have been wiped.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Apr 12, 2018

    Aracde gamer Billy Mitchell, co-star of the King of Kong documentary, has just lost all of his arcade high score records due to allegations of cheating. 

    Twin Galaxies, the American governing body that keeps track of arcade high scores, has finished an investigation into allegations that Michell achieved some of his famous high scores through unofficial means. Specifically, they determined that his famous Donkey Kong scores were simply not possible on an unmodified Donkey Kong machine. As the organization demands that all high scores be earned on unmodified machines, they don't consider his Donkey Kong records to be valid. 

    Where things get really interesting, though, is when you consider that Twin Galaxies also now considers all of Mitchell's arcade records across all games to be invalid as well. Their belief seems to be that they simply can't trust that his remaining scores are valid if his most famous score was rigged. 

    What that means is that the all-time global leaderboards for certain arcade games have been drastically altered. The most famous change is undoubtedly the top spot on the Donkey Kong leaderboards. Because of Mitchell's invalidated score, fellow King of Kong star Steve Wiebe is now recognized as the first player to achieve a one million point score in Donkey Kong (legitimately). 

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    If you've never seen King of Kong before...well, do so right now. That brilliant documentary followed average guy Steve Wiebe on his quest to set the all-time Donkey Kong high score. Opposing him on the top of the Donkey Kongleaderboards was Billy Mitchell; an old-school arcade gamer who basically built his entire life around his high scores. That documentary heavily implied that Mitchell used his influence in the world of arcade gaming - as well as old-fashioned cheating - to set his famous high scores. As a result, Wiebe's considerable efforts weren't officially recognized as the best of all-time. 

    Twin Galaxies has stated that this investigation officially began when one of their members recognized some anomalies in Mitchell's high score performance. Their investigation - and two independent investigations - concluded that Mitchell likely used an unofficial Donkey Kong machine. The extent of his cheating wasn't verified, but the fact that he broke that key rule means that the organization couldn't consider his score to be valid. 


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    EVE Online is getting a new, free expansion called Into the Abyss. Here are all the details you need to know about the expansion...

    News John Saavedra
    Apr 12, 2018

    EVE Online kicked off the first day of Fanfest 2018 with a big announcement about the MMORPG's next expansion, Into the Abyss, which will be delivered as a free update to all players, both for those with subscriptions and those playing for free. The expansion launches on May 29.

    Into the Abyss presents a new adventure for players, inviting them to explore dangerous uncharted territory with strange new inhabitants and rewards. The expansion also adds exploration and survival gameplay in the form of Abyssal Deadspace, a brand new hostile environment filled with hazardous environmental effects and mysterious adversaries, the Triglavian Collective.

    Players can enter pockets of Abyssal Deadspace from almost anywhere in New Eden. On entry, players fight and explore their way through a series of unpredictable encounters, using their skills to take on growing risks in the hope of coming out the other side with high-value cargo.

    Players will also be searching for the new mutaplasmids, only found in Abyssal Deadspace. Mutaplasmids can be combined with existing modules to transform them into Abyssal modules, potentially increasing their power vastly or breaking them beyond repair. However, the challenges that players confront become more difficult the deeper they venture into Abyssal Deadspace… and failure means death. Faced with increasing danger from perilous encounters, do you continue and risk your spaceship in the hope of finding greater riches or return home to exploit your rewards?

    Here's a breakdown of the updates coming to the game:

    1) Into the Abyss free expansion

    2) New Abyssal Deadspace territory

    - New hostile environment with new NPCs, environmental effects, and rare loot

    - Open to everyone

    3) Introducing Faction Citadels (Coming June 5)

    - Conquerable stations can now be turned into faction citadels

    - Existing owners will get the citadels automatically

    - Landmarks will be created based on the history of the base created by the players

    4) Character Progression Activity Tracker

    - Multiple progression paths

    - Each path includes a milestone

    5) A new race called the Triglavians

    EVE Onlineis celebrating its 15th anniversary this year. Fanfest 2018, the biggest gathering of EVE players from around the world, is running through Saturday. You can watch a live stream of all of the events here

    Stay tuned for more on EVE Online from Fanfest 2018!


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  • 04/13/18--04:16: Just Cause Movie Update
  • Jason Momoa is set to headline the movie take on the Just Cause videogame series. Here's the latest on the project...

    News Simon Brew
    Apr 13, 2018

    If they can make a movie out of a plot-free game such as Rampage, then an open world title such as Just Cause surely offers a few more narrative paths. Brad Peyton, who directed the former, is also attached to and developing a blockbuster movie take on the latter.

    Development is taking its time though, but on the interview trail for Rampage, Peyton has been talking about the state of the project, that’s set to star Jason Momoa in the lead role.

    “We’re working on the script. Jason, myself, and my producing partner, Jeff [Fierson], have a show on Netflix, called Frontier, so we have a good working relationship with him, and he’s a really easy, good guy to work with. At this point, we’re just working on his character and we’re working on the script," Peyton told Collider.

    Peyton revealed that Momoa wanted to “do a bad-ass Bond. I want to do a guy that just sits on the beach and drinks." That fits Just Cause well, and Peyton said “that is tonally what [it] should be, and the title represents that idea. From there, we have to make our own thing. It has to pay respect and give the fans what they need, but also be a unique thing."

    Given that the strong videogame movie remains an enigma in Hollywood, a bit of extra development time is unlikely to be a bad thing. With Momoa working onAquaman and The Crowat the moment, time is on its side.

     


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    Video game music has spawned a huge VGM remixing scene - and here's a guide to get you going...

    FeatureGuy Buckland
    Apr 13, 2018

    This article comes from Den of Geek UK.

    The phrase ‘soundtrack of your youth’ provokes such unique and rich responses that a childhood and adolescence can be perfectly encapsulated. It reveals clues about your age, your social status, the sort of people you hung out with, and the kinds of things you were in to.

    Growing up I wasn’t really ‘into music’ in the traditional sense. I didn’t want to be in a band, I didn’t worship musicians and rock stars, I didn’t go to concerts, and I didn’t tend to buy singles or albums. I syphoned all my pocket money into funding my passion for video games. While my peers invested in hi-fis and ghetto blasters, my most treasured possession was a Nintendo Entertainment System (latterly a Megadrive, then a SNES, then a Dreamcast, then a PlayStation…etc.).

    Thus the soundtrack of my youth consisted of the melodious beeps and tones pushed out of the rudimentary sound chips that accompanied my adventures in a pixelated virtual world: video game music (or VGM).

    Given the prehistoric hardware through which the chip tunes of yesteryear were presented, it’s easy to overlook just how well composed and iconic some of the earliest VGM has proven to be. The original themes to Super Mario Bros or Tetris or The Legend Of Zelda remain recognisable to this day: indelible sonic branding that is synonymous with such titles – even for those with only a vague knowledge of videogame history.

    Look past the primitive tools of their expression and you can’t help but admire the skill that went into producing such memorable and evocative melodies despite the limitations of technology. It makes you wonder how such compositions would sound if expressed through modern music production techniques, or even live instrumentation…

    Well wonder no longer, because a community of insanely talented musicians have been doing exactly that for the best part of 20 years.

    The VGM remixing scene consists of a vast, eclectic group of enthusiastic amateurs and music industry professionals who have taken a love and respect for video and computer game soundtracks, and reinterpreted their favourites in a variety of surprising ways. The result is an expansive and constantly growing library of tracks and albums that pay homage to an otherwise underappreciated art form.

    A good starting point from which to explore this hidden world is OverClocked ReMix: a rich online repository of VGM arrangements, curated by a firm-but-fair community that encourages creativity whilst setting high musical standards. OC ReMix places strict criteria on submitted compositions – both technical and artistic – meaning the judging panel only allows 10–15% of submissions through. The result is a high-quality playlist that exceeds 3,500 tracks – all of them available to download for free.

    But who are the individuals pouring their hearts, souls and, presumably, a huge amount of time into these endeavours? The site’s founder and principal administrator, David ‘djpretzel’ Lloyd, reveals that it’s a surprisingly varied bunch:

    “We've got a pretty good mix of hobbyists, folks doing music part-time or just starting their careers, and some who've ‘made it’ and scored several games. We want to be a community where all three groups can feel comfortable and work together – and where the needs of one group are not favoured over another – which works well with a non-profit model.”

    OC ReMix may be a long-standing source of VGM remixing, but it is by no means the only one. In recent years, artists have crowd-funded their own tribute albums, and various specialist music labels have even appeared – such as the Materia Collective– to help them deal with the financial, legal and production aspects of publishing their VGM-related offerings. Scratch the surface, and the sheer volume of musical output paying homage to old computer game soundtracks is mind-boggling.

    All this might beg the simple question: why? Why does music that already pre-exists – albeit in a primitive electronic form – inspire such passionate re-interpretation? Why is that same level of experimentation not associated with cherished tunes from film, TV and a hundred-odd years of popular music?

    “Well those other scenes exist; they just aren't as organised for the most part,” says Sam Dillard, a long-standing member of the VGM remix community. “I think the medium itself encourages creativity. Unlike movies, video games are interactive – you actively drive the experience, including the music – and I think this establishes a stronger connection with the soundtrack.”

    It’s probably no coincidence that the more popular arrangements are from classic role-playing games (RPGs): titles designed to immerse and engross, and that demand dozens of hours of playtime to be invested. They’re certainly the most popular source tracks at OverClocked ReMix:

    “The top spot has changed and cycled over the years,” says Lloyd, but at the moment it’s Terra from Final Fantasy VI, with two favourites from Chrono Trigger close behind. The popularity of these games is definitely a factor, but I think RPGs in general tend to conjure more emotions, which in turn inspire arrangements.”

    There’s also the undeniable thrill of hearing a beloved chip tune – a melody imprinted on your brain through weeks of adventuring – interpreted and expanded upon with modern instrumentation. Such potent nostalgia is certainly a factor to which Daniel ‘Rozen’ Jimenez attributes much of his output’s popularity:

    “Music has this special ability to store memories and feelings into a timeless sphere that you can keep adding to as time goes by. It’s like looking at an old photo. And that’s why I think familiarity plays the biggest part in VGM remixes. You can appreciate remixed music from games you’ve never played, but it doesn’t have the same powerful effect of reminding you of a different time.”

    Another reason for VGM remixing’s popularity is, of course, the original compositions themselves. Despite the restrictions placed on the composers and sound designers who created them, some of the tunes that accompanied old 8-bit and 16-bit titles were – and remain – beautifully crafted.

    “The ultimate draw is probably the strength of these melodies,” says Lloyd. “These are timeless pieces with themes you instantly identify with and love, and their elegance facilitates transformation into many genres & styles. We've been around for eighteen years, and we're still seeing new ideas and interpretations of these themes, and still being surprised.”

    The “interpretation” is an important element; very few remixes are straight-up, note-for-note translations of video game themes. Remixing and arranging VGM requires a personal touch, resulting in a creative expression that uses the original melody as a basis but adds the artist’s own unique spin. Even the most faithful translations need to extrapolate and diverge in order to break free of the monotonous loops that are common to older chip tunes.

    “Rather than playing something verbatim and swapping out the instruments – which is more like a rendering – we emphasise arrangement, creativity, and some degree of interpretation, because we feel it's more interesting,” Lloyd explains. “One of the best ways you can honour someone's work is to create something new, using that work as inspiration.”

    But it’s a delicate balancing act, as Dillard explains:

    “Sometimes I love a game tune so much that I don't want to change it at all, and sometimes I'm not personally attached to a particular song but I know that a majority of the fans are – which means if I change it up a lot, those fans will be disappointed. Generally my goal is to dig into a song and get a feel for what the pure essence of that particular piece is. Occasionally that direction is clear to me from the start, but often it's more or less just a gut feeling.”

    Sometimes remixing offers the opportunity to recreate a chip tune in a style that the original artist was perhaps striving to emulate. Remixer Beverly ‘Rexy’ Wooff sees clues in the original compositions:

    “Having a depth of non-VG musical knowledge helps because you get to see what's going on despite the limitations. With Super Mario Bros, it's obvious the main theme was going for a Dixieland feel with its writing. With Mega Man, the tunes feel more like melodic rock. And even in 8-bit form, you can sense Legend Of Zelda going for some bold orchestral influences. You don't need to be an arranger yourself to comprehend it, but it can help you with figuring out the general direction for your work.”

    Often, though, artists are inspired to take surprising turns into genres and styles that you might not necessarily associate with video game melodies. The most striking thing when browsing through the OC ReMix archives is the sheer variety on offer. So sure, you have your lavish orchestral arrangements of the Zelda theme, but there is also a Brian Eno-inspired ambient take on Super Mario World, some reggae-jazz from Chrono Trigger, and even a Latin flamenco rendition from Final Fantasy VI. The opera sequence from that latter fan-favourite has been arranged and performed several times using grand orchestras and real life opera singers, but who knew what we really needed was a Queen-inspired take that combined the influences of West Side Story and Bohemian Rhapsody?

    “Interpretive arrangement explores the boundaries of what's possible and avoids stepping on the market for the original composition,” adds Lloyd. “It’s also more in-keeping with ‘fair use’ arguments protecting fan works.”

    Ah yes… the sticky issue of copyright and royalties. Non-profit fan sites that offer their output for free might escape such concerns, but when you crowd-fund an album or sell your work though a label, it becomes a little more complicated.

    “This is a bit of a deep topic, as it involves copyright law, music publishing and royalties,” says Jimenez. “But basically, the process involves acquiring mechanical licenses for the works you wish to use, which allows you to legally sell your arrangements of another person’s copyrighted song. It also ensures the original songwriters and publishers get paid royalties for their compositions.”

    “A few years ago this was a very complicated and scary process,” says Dillard. “But these days there are quite a few music publishing sites that have built-in licensing services. Often there are fees you must pay, and you usually have to provide some information about the music, which means doing a bit of research.”

    But what of the composers whose work serves as the inspiration for these remixes and arrangements?

    Grant Kirkhope is a BAFTA-nominated composer who worked on the soundtracks to some seminal video games from Rare’s golden period on the N64, including Goldeneye 007, Banjo-Kazooie, and Donkey Kong 64. His themes are therefore popular among the remix community for reinterpretation. How does he feel about his work being appropriated in this way?

    “I love it,” he says with characteristic graciousness. “The time these people put into their remixes is really unbelievable and when they do my stuff it’s often way better than my original. It’s always really great to hear what people do with it; they can often come up with something that never crossed my mind and make it really fantastic. There have been tons of occasions where I’ve been genuinely amazed at how creative people can be.”

    In fact, Kirkhope recently got a small taste of what it’s like to be a remixer himself when he was hired to produce the soundtrack for Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle on the Nintendo Switch.

    “I really enjoyed re-arranging a couple of Nintendo’s cues. Because neither the Donkey Kong theme nor Mario’s Castle from Mario 64 had been orchestrated at the time, I felt like I had a clean canvas to start with. I’d definitely say it’s easier than writing from scratch as the main theme ideas are already there; all I have to do is try to arrange them in a respectful and interesting way. The hardest part about composing is the composing!”

    That final sentiment, however, shouldn’t take away from the skill and effort that goes into producing a popular remix. While a pre-existing melody can provide a good starting point, there’s much more to an arrangement than simply updating the instrumentation, as Dillard explains:

    “If you take a pre-made MIDI file from some game and change a few notes around or something simple, then sure: that's like taking a famous painting and tweaking around with it in Photoshop. But the skills you learn from that are mostly technical and related to working with that particular application. However, if you’re going to paint your own alternate rendition of that scene from scratch, then that’s an entirely different experience.”

    Indeed, fan expectations and deep-rooted nostalgia for certain tracks can often make remixing a challenging task.

    “I actually find it extremely difficult working on remixes as opposed to original music,” Dillard continues. “There are clearly defined audio benchmarks, musical details, and you are burdened with listener expectations. And there's no ‘right’ answer for any of it – no matter what you do, there will always be those who are disappointed by your take on music they already had an attachment to.”

    Sam needn’t worry; it’s hard to imagine any fan of the Metroid series or Chrono Triggerbeing disappointed by his aptly named Cinematica albums, which give these classic soundtracks the full ‘Hollywood blockbuster’ treatment (his Zelda effort releases later this year).

    Given the level of polish that many of these remixes possess, you would be forgiven for assuming that such endeavors are prohibitively cost-intensive. In fact, budding composers can get up and running with minimal investment.

    “My music-making setup is just my PC, a copy of the Reaper DAW (digital audio workstation), a 10-year-old MIDI keyboard and the samples I’ve acquired over the years,” says Wooff.

    “The combination of components you need usually adds up to the cost of a game system, give or take,” says Lloyd. “But the amount of music production power that buys you in 2018 would have cost thousands ten years ago, and tens of thousands 20–30 years ago. I've been following music technology for most of my life, and the entry cost for making music electronically has dropped dramatically, democratising music production in an amazing way. It certainly CAN be cost-intensive, but it also doesn't HAVE to be, regardless of whatever genre you're arranging in. There are starter/trial versions of most of the major software packages out there, and they cost less than many games.”

    The real cost – common to all passion projects – is time.

    “It really depends on the style, instrumentation and whether you’re recording live instruments or sequencing everything,” says Jimenez. “A track can take me a couple of days of work or whole months to produce from start to finish. An entire album will take me about 3–6 months to complete.”

    “Often there seems this widespread notion of it being easier and faster to produce music digitally rather than with real life performances,” explains Dillard. “But this is quite contrary to reality. In a live orchestra, the workload is distributed between the composer and dozens of skilled players, orchestrators, audio engineers and so on. But, as a digital orchestral musician, I take on all these roles myself, and that is very challenging and time consuming. So it can take weeks to produce a single track and months to produce an album. And then my cat jumps on the computer keyboard and deletes a song and I have to start over...”

    Cats notwithstanding, the care, quality and attention to detail that these artists manage to squeeze into three minutes of nostalgia-tinged aural pleasure is something to be mightily impressed by and grateful for. If you have even a passing interest in the videogame soundscapes of yesteryear, then you owe it to yourself to seek out their efforts.

    My parting advice, if you’re interested in learning more, would be to download one of 120 free albums the OC ReMix community has collaborated on over the years, based on a game that you have an affection for – whether it’sSuper Mario 64, Final Fantasy VII or Secret Of Mana. The diversity of styles means not every track will hit your sweet spot, but you may discover an upcoming artist or two that end up becoming regular fixtures on your playlist…

    www.ocremix.orgwww.materiacollective.comwww.samostudios.comhttps://rozen.audio


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    Before the days of DLC and expansion packs, secret unlockable characters were a big part of Mortal Kombat.

    FeatureGavin Jasper
    Apr 13, 2018

    Secrets were a weird thing in the old days because of the lack of internet. We only had two real sources of information when it came to video game news: magazines or hearsay from kids at school. The latter was problematic due to the strange phenomenon of, “My father/uncle works at Nintendo and...” Virtually everyone who grew up in the NES era knew one kid who insisted that he had a relative working at Nintendo, which meant he was going to be spouting off so much bullshit, like how there’s a way to play as Bowser in Super Mario Bros. 2 or a list of the various boss characters we’d see in the next Mega Man game.

    Unfortunately, it was easier to be gullible because not only was there no fact-checking readily available, but video games were so ridiculous at times that these lies were sometimes completely believable.

    Sure, magazines were more believable than your average attention whore 8-year-old, but even they once gave us one of the most legendary hoaxes in video game history when Electric Gaming Monthly did an April Fool’s joke about fighting hidden boss Sheng Long in Street Fighter II. The path to fighting him (getting a perfect in every match until fighting M. Bison and going ten rounds without ever getting hit) was impossible, yet strangely believable because there had to be someone out there good enough to do it, right? Many were fooled, including foreign publications and people doing legwork for Capcom. Not only did Sheng Long get a mention in the SNES Street Fighter II manual as being Ryu and Ken’s master, but he even showed up in various comics back in the day.

    I can’t help but feel like an old man, telling the kids about how we had to walk ten miles to school each day. One of the things Mortal Kombat prided itself on back in the day was secrets.

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    It was all a big lie, of course, but the idea of a secret opponent in a fighting game was a novel one. Midway was the first to make such a concept a reality.

    Mortal Kombat came out in late 1992, and the third version of the game featured the mysterious Reptile. Before random fights, the green ninja would pop in-between the kombatants and deliver some kind of clue. Stuff like, “FATALITY IS THE KEY,” “BLOCKING WILL GET YOU NOWHERE,” “ALONE IS HOW TO FIND ME,” “TIP EHT FO MOTTOB,” and so on. All together, the various messages gave you just enough direction to figure out how to find and fight him. You had to play a match against the computer on the Pit stage with some kind of silhouette flying across the moon. You need to never use block, not get hit in either round, and finish your opponent off with a Fatality. Upon completing that, you would be transported to the bottom of the Pit to fight Reptile.

    Reptile was just a palette swap of Scorpion and Sub-Zero and even kept Scorpion’s name on his health bar. He featured the moves of both ninjas and was far faster and harder to beat than any of the game’s other opponents. Killing him would net you ten million points. Such a thing mattered once upon a time.

    It was a perfect way to get more quarters into the machines. When taking on other players and trying to beat Shang Tsung wasn’t enough, fighting and defeating Reptile was the ultimate Holy Grail for arcade-goers.

    Between the hidden character of Reptile and the game’s Fatalities (which were basically codes themselves), that just opened the floodgates and asked for players to make up rumors because how could you question them? If I told you that there was a way for Scorpion to impale someone with his spear and tear their head off, is it that much more unbelievable than how you can fight a green Scorpion under the Pit if you do a bunch of nigh-impossible stuff?

    To be fair, the big urban legend of the first Mortal Kombat game had enough merit. During the diagnostics check of the arcade game, you would see a list of things like times Shang Tsung’s been defeated, times Reptile’s been discovered, etc. The bottom of the list said, “ERMACS.” It was shorthand for “error macros,” but speculation ran rampant. We’ve already had yellow, blue, and green ninjas. I guess Ermac was a secret red ninja. There were even claims that the ninjas would briefly turn red with “ERMAC” appearing in their health bar. Those rumors were unfounded.

    While the so-called Ermac glitch was made-up, there was in fact a glitch-based opponent out there. In the Genesis and Sega CD versions of Mortal Kombat, there was a way to give Reptile a green companion of sorts. If you played through and unlocked the Reptile fight after doing an endurance round (where you fight two opponents consecutively), you would end up taking on Reptile and a glitchy, green version of whoever your initial second opponent was. For instance, if you defeated Liu Kang and Sonya Blade on top of the Pit, you would then have to fight Reptile and “Reptilian Sonya,” whose ring attack would freeze you. The extra character would have Reptile’s palette, but it wouldn’t match up right, making them look like some kind of St. Patrick’s Day version of Predator-vision.

    Another hoax from that time was Nimbus Terrafaux, a character who got some play thanks again to EGM. This black kickboxer character was showcased in their magazine with photos supposedly sent in by a fan who unlocked him. The two images showed him doing his Fatality (a flipping kick that decapitates his opponent) and a look at him doing a “Test Your Might” mini-game. While believed to be an April Fool’s gag from EGM, this actually came out in the March issue.

    1993 brought us Mortal Kombat II, which was bigger in just about every way. More characters, better graphics, more Fatalities, and a lot more secrets. Reptile became a regular part of the roster, so rather than go back to that well, they introduced three more palette-swapped ninja characters. Actually, that's pretty much just going back to the well after all.

    Much like Reptile in the first game, the gray male ninja Smoke and the green female ninja Jade would pop in to say some cryptic clues before matches. Smoke said things like “TOASTY,” “YOU CAN START FINDING ME,” and, “PORTAL.” To face him, you’d have to be in the Portal stage and uppercut your opponent. If Dan Forden (the game’s sound designer) pops his head in to yell, “Toasty!” then you press start and it’ll interrupt the fight and go directly to your battle with Smoke. He’s basically just a harder Scorpion, only gray and with smoke constantly coming off him.

    Jade’s quotes were stuff like, “RESTRICT YOURSELF,” “BEFORE THE ?,” and a lot of stuff that had nothing to do with anything. To take her on, you had to wait for the match prior to Shang Tsung (where a giant question mark appeared between your current opponent and Tsung) and win a round using only the low kick button for attacks. Jade was a much faster Kitana, only wearing green, and was completely immune to all projectiles.

    The two could also be seen lurking in the Living Forest stage. The game really wanted to make it apparent that they were around. Thing is, Midway included virtually no clues about the third hidden character. The most they had was Jade and Smoke each saying, “I AM ONE OF THREE,” during their random appearances. Luckily, the path to the third guy wasn’t the most complicated, albeit it was hard to stumble upon. By getting 50 wins in a row, you would be whisked away to challenge Noob Saibot (named after co-creators Ed Boon and John Tobias), another Scorpion knockoff, this time dressed completely in black, like a living shadow.

    With the three characters identified, there were still rampant rumors about other hidden characters. Game Informer claimed early on that there was a second green female ninja named Emerald, but their word was less than solid when in the same paragraph they explained Smoke as a Raiden lookalike. The Mortal Kombat II Official Player’s Guide featured a couple images of a red ninja named Robin (Red Robin. Get it?), but they were pretty blatantly doctored photos. Much like with Ermac, there were rumors of a glitchy red Kitana, referred to as Skarlet, but it amounted to nothing.

    Then there was Hornbuckle and Torch/Blaze, which is when things went too far. When Jade would show up to hint at how to find her, sometimes she’d say stuff like, “ERMAC WHO?” and, “CHUN WHO?” which I’m pretty certain is the only knock at Street Fighter that Midway’s officially made. On SNES and Genesis, Jade would also occasionally say, “HORNBUCKLE WHO?” which was in fact a reference to Leanne Hornbuckle, a person who shows up in the special thanks credits. That was misconstrued as a reference to yet another hidden character, which is understandable.

    Once again, EGMgot involved. Someone asked about Hornbuckle and they reprinted a “reader letter” about Hornbuckle being a Liu Kang palette swap where the directions on fighting him are over-the-top complicated. At some point, it was decided by fandom that Hornbuckle was the Liu Kang lookalike standing in the background of Pit II, fighting another Liu Kang lookalike who was covered in fire. That guy got the nicknames of Torch and Blaze, as of course there were some people who figured that they had to be actual characters for you to fight.

    Midway got in on the fun, in their own shady way. Sometimes special messages would appear after beating the game: “Who is Smoke?” and “Friendship?” One message flat out stated that Ermac does not exist. But then you had questions like “Where is Sonya?” and “Where is Goro?” which only existed for the sake of getting people to speculate that they were somewhere hidden in the game. Even worse was the diagnostics check screen which had “KANO TRANSFORMATIONS” on the list, telling you that Shang Tsung could turn into Kano when he really couldn’t. But shove in those quarters anyway!

    Mortal Kombat 3 came out in 1994, and Midway went a different direction with the codes. They created a system featuring Kombat Kodes, where a password screen would appear before each match on the versus screen. For the most part, these messed with the players in less-than-interesting ways (removing sweeps, making the health bar invisible) and weren’t worth using. It was through the Kombat Kodes that you could play as Mortal Kombat’s very first unlockable character, Smoke. This time, he was a cyborg and they made it apparent he was playable from the beginning as his image would regularly pop up on the select screen.

    The other hidden character, while not playable, was also rather interesting. You could once again fight Noob Saibot thanks to a Kombat Kode. Except this game didn’t have any meat-and-potatoes male ninja characters to palette swap. Sub-Zero was unmasked, Smoke was a robot, and Scorpion and Reptile were missing. Instead, they used a blackened version of Kano without any of his special moves. Not that it made much difference, since his stage would make him nearly impossible to see anyway. When the upgraded version Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 came out in 1995, Noob Saibot returned to his ninja form. Strangely, the Saturn port of the game kept him as being based on Kano sprites despite it no longer being necessary.

    For a Mortal Kombat game, Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 was taken relatively seriously by the tournament crowd, but in terms of adding cast, it was hilariously lazy. Eight characters were tossed into the game and they were all either male ninjas or female ninjas. Amazing. With the exception of playing as Human Smoke, all the secret characters were again available via Kombat Kodes. Most notable was the introduction of Ermac, finally turned into a real character. Even his ending was about him hiding in the shadows since the first Mortal Kombat. He only entered Shao Kahn’s Mortal Kombat 3tournament to prove his existence and that he would be back in Mortal Kombat 4. He was not in Mortal Kombat 4.

    Midway once again went really sketchy by introducing Rain. A purple ninja (for the sake of a clever Prince reference), Rain appeared in the arcade’s attract mode sequence. He would run forward at Shao Kahn and unleash a combo, meaning that not only was he a character that existed, but you could play as him. This was completely bogus. There was no Rain. It was false advertising. He was there to keep people playing the game in hopes of figuring out how to find something that simply couldn’t be found. I always thought that was a dick move of Boon and the rest. He was finally playable in the console version.

    Meanwhile, the diagnostics included a line for “JOHNNY CAGE TRANSFORMATIONS.” No, he was not in the game either.

    The next update to the series came in Mortal Kombat Trilogy for Nintendo 64 and PlayStation. Each game had a hidden character, though with very similar names and gimmicks. PlayStation had Chameleon, a male ninja who would constantly cycle through the colors and attacks of his ninja brethren. He was usable by selecting a male ninja and holding back and all the other buttons before a round. The Nintendo 64 version had Khamelon, a semi-transparent female ninja in gray, who would constantly cycle through the other female ninjas’ move sets. You can play as her by pressing a combination of buttons during the opening story screen.

    While all the boss characters were immediately playable on PlayStation, only Shao Kahn and Motaro were playable on Nintendo 64, and you had to unlock them on a round-by-round basis. Between Kahn, Motaro, Khameleon, and Human Smoke, the game brought back the old gimmick of having secret characters pop in before rounds to say something cryptic.

    You would think that by this point, with the internet being in full swing, we would be done with the whole fake characters thing. Not so much. Supposedly, a later PAL version of Mortal Kombat Trilogy for PlayStation had a character named Aquilluxborg Hydroxybot (or Aqua) in it. Official UK PlayStation Magazine featured several images of Aqua as a recolored ninja with a duck bill on his face. An ending image also popped up, which looked just a little too clown shoes to be believable. The biggest piece of evidence towards his intended existence was the claim that there’s an audio file on the game’s disc of Shao Kahn saying, “Aqua wins.” I’m a little too skeptic on the matter. To me, it sounds like somebody just took, “Baraka wins,” cut out the first part and distorted it a little. Either way, it's off.

    1997’s Mortal Kombat 4 had one of the stranger and more pointless secret characters in Meat, a bloody skeleton. Well, “character” is a stretch. He was actually, ironically enough, a skin. By winning 15 versus mode matches using each character once, you would get to play the next game as Meat with the moves of whoever you chose. Not really worth the trouble, but little of Mortal Kombat 4 was.

    The home versions had unlockable characters in Goro and Noob Saibot. To unlock them, you had to beat the game with a specific character (Shinnok for Goro and Reiki for Noob) and then press a series of buttons at the select screen. For Noob, you also had to do a Kombat Kode at one point, because I guess it wasn’t complicated enough.

    If you had access to the GameShark, the Nintendo 64 version allowed you to play as Kitana. Kitana was originally intended to be in the arcade game, but with the lack of original characters, Midway decided to just change Kitana’s coloring, alter her moves, and create Tanya instead. Kitana’s code remained in the game, as did her character model, considering she shows up in Liu Kang’s ending. She was complete enough that she had Fatalities and her metal fan as a weapon, but her lack of character portrait made the game crash at times.

    Dreamcast got an upgraded version in 1999 called Mortal Kombat Gold, which included more characters. The hidden characters were easier to unlock, which included the return of Sektor. The only real curiosity of the game was Belokk, a demon character shown in magazine previews, who was later removed due to lack of time. Still, some figured that he had to be hidden in the game and tried to find him regardless.

    In 2002, Mortal Kombat finally returned from a hiatus to give us Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance. Having no arcade edition to base it off of, they went with a different route for unlockables: an almost endless map of mysterious treasure chests (or “koffins”) called the Krypt. From there, you could stumble upon finding nine different hidden characters. Only after completing the game with everyone could you unlock the final two characters, Mokap (a man covered in motion capture balls) and Blaze. Blaze was in fact the “Liu Kang on fire guy” from Mortal Kombat II, finally turned into a real deal thing. Apparently, he and also-not-Liu-Kang standing on a bridge were in actuality Blaze being ambushed by a group of evil cultists.

    The 2004 follow-up, Mortal Kombat: Deception, was a bit of a turning point in how the programmers dealt with hidden characters. A bunch of them were once again available through Krypt koffins, but the secret to unlocking Liu Kang was kind of bonkers. The game had a quest mode called Konquest where you played as gullible jackass Shujinko as he wanders around the various realms and unknowingly causes the game’s threat. Though minutes moved as fast as seconds, you could actually see the time of day as well as the day of the week. So with that in mind, you had to go to a very specific spot in the realm of Edenia, right behind a tent. It had to be Friday between 12 and 12:30am. Then and only then would a treasure chest appear with a key to unlock a special koffin in the Krypt that would let you play as Liu Kang. Goddamn.

    The fanbase figured this out in about a day. I remember speaking with Midway employee and story-writing guy John Vogel about it years ago and he seemed just a little frustrated that such an elaborate task was unraveled so easily thanks to the internet.

    Meanwhile, Shujinko was unlockable by finishing Konquest. That would become the usual way to unlock characters from there on out. In both Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe and the 2011 Mortal Kombatreboot, characters were simply unlocked by completing story mode. Simple as that.

    Mortal Kombat’s classic arcade legacy would not be forgotten, though. The 2011 Mortal Kombat featured the ability to fight Reptile, Smoke, Jade, and Noob Saibot as special hidden opponents. Through tasks that were very similar to the old school early 90s (ie. wait for Smoke to show up in the Living Forest, then press select and down), you would not only fight harder versions of these characters, but they would look like their classic early 90s selves. Despite having his design changed to a lizard monster over the years, Reptile went back to looking like a human being in a green ninja suit and had Scorpion’s spear and Sub-Zero’s ice ball back in his repertoire. Jade even had Kitana’s fan!

    Keeping the nostalgia alive, the DLC included none other than Skarlet, the red female ninja who joined Ermac and Blaze as a fake hidden character come to life. 

    Maybe when the next Mortal Kombat hits, we’ll finally be able to play as Nimbus Terrafaux. All you have to do is win thirty matches in a row using only kicks, press pause, go make a sandwich that includes at least a half pound of baloney, hold block for exactly fifteen and a half seconds, use a stage Fatality, eat that sandwich, throw five projectiles, get a little bit louder now, shout, get a little bit louder now, shout, get a little bit louder now...

    Anyway, do you remember any weird BS rumors from the early Mortal Kombat games that some jerkass from school insisted were real? Fatalities or hidden characters? Sound off in the comments.


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    Rampage is full of video game references, but there's one that director Brad Peyton wants you to keep an eye out for.

    News Matthew ByrdCatrina Dennis
    Apr 13, 2018

    When you stop and think about it, it's really not that absurd that the video game Rampage is now a major motion picture. 

    After all, the 1986 Rampage arcade game walked in the considerable footsteps of the greatest movie monsters. George (the gorilla) and Lizzie (the dinosaur) were clearly influenced by King Kong and Godzilla, and even Ralph (the werewolf) owes at least a nod to the Universal Wolfman movies. The game's large-scale destruction also seemed like exactly the kind of thing you'd see in the best monster movies, while the coin-op's road trip across the US storyline felt oddly epic for an arcade title of that era. 

    Considering how much films influenced the original Rampage arcade game, it only makes sense that the Rampage movie would, in turn, be influenced in some ways by the video game. Yet there's one very specific way that the original Rampage game influenced the Rampage film that director Brad Peyton wants everyone who sees the movie to keep an eye out for. 

    "The woman in the red dress was, to me, the ultimate Easter egg," said Peyton during a recent interview. "When you go and you look at the game and you're like 'What do you really want or need in the movie?' it's obviously the three monsters, that's a no-brainer...but for me it was getting the woman in the red dress and having George eat her. That was the ultimate one."

    What's the deal with the woman in the red dress? Well, in the original version of Rampage, monsters were only able to hold certain types of characters for extra points. Lizzie could only hold men in yellow shirts (referred to as middle-aged men), Ralph could only hold businessmen in suits, and George was the only one who could hold the woman in a red dress. 

    The image of George holding a woman in a red dress owes some its iconic status to King Kong-- it was clearly a nod to the visual of Kong holding Fay Wray in the 1933 original film--but the reason that many Rampage fans remember it is because the woman in red was front and center on the game's title screen. The title screen version of the woman in the red dress was unusually well...uh...rendered, which may have had something to do with some young Rampage fans thinking of her when they hear the name "Rampage" so many years after its release.

    And being able to eat her, as opposed being a beast who died "for beauty," was just nerd culture-baiting enough that it had to make it to the big screen.

    Peyton noted that there are other references in the Rampage film, but that many of them are hidden throughout the movie on the peripherals. For instance, in a bit fourth-wall breaking self-awareness, villains Claire and Brett Wyden (Malik Akerman and Jake Lacy) have a copy of the original Rampage arcade game co-op in their office, which is visible in only one scene. We didn't spot any others beyond that, but the question is are you going to be looking for them, or are you just going to be looking at the woman in the red dress?


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    We have seen the pop culture glory that is Steven Spielberg's Ready Player One. Repeatedly. So we're ready to dissect every geeky gem in it!

    News David CrowMike Cecchini
    Apr 13, 2018

    This article contains more Ready Player One spoilers than a Nintendo Player’s Guide walkthrough.

    Ready Player One is out in theaters, and fans are basking in all of its easter egg glory just in time for the aptly timed three-day weekend. While Steven Spielberg was able to infuse a creative spark into the film that allowed it to stand on more than only pure nostalgia, there is no denying that the immediate hook of Ernest Cline’s novel and the subsequent Spielberg blockbuster is its cornucopia of movie references, video game easter eggs, and pop culture homages to all things ‘80s (and in the film’s case, ‘90s too). The film might be set in 2045, but it’s good to know that the future is just as obsessed with Gen-X and Millennial culture as we are today!

    In that vein, we here at Den of Geek will attempt the fool’s errand of compiling every single nod, shoutout, and joyful wink to nerd culture that has been stuffed into the very seams of this unapologetically geeky movie (*NOTE: Movie and not the book). Granted it will be almost impossible to get them all in the first pass, so if you notice that we missed anything, let us know in the comments section below, or yell at me on Twitter, and we’ll course correct.

     Without further ado, onto the reference guide! Also, just a head’s up, given the sprawling nature of the film, we are compiling the easter eggs by mediums, characters, and other arbitrary separations that will lead to some overlap, but will hopefully make this easier for you to digest (especially if you’re looking for something in particular). Now get out your chocolate bunnies, because we’re about to have an easter egg hunt!

    Ready Player One Movie References

    - In the opening montage of what you can do in the OASIS, the first actual homage appears to be Batman climbing Mount Everest. But not just any Batman… it’s Michael Keaton’s Batman from the Tim Burton classic of 1989! (For more superhero movie references after this point, please scroll down to the superhero movie reference's subsection. Your eyes will thank us later.)

    - During the opening montage, among the avatars filling up the OASIS portal terminals Z traverses is the original RoboCop from 1987.

    - Also during this sequence, commenter David Thiel spotted the Cyclops from Ray Harryhausen's The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958).

    - When we meet Aech on Planet Doom, he* is seen blasting Freedy Krueger into space buck coins. To be specific the Freddy Krueger first played by Robert Englund in A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984).

    *(We shall henceforth refer to Aech in the OASIS as “he,” and in the real world as “she,” as the character seems to want to be approached in both realities.)

    - Also seen getting gutted on Planet Doom is a cameoing avatar as Jason Voorhees from the Friday the 13th movies.

    - When James Halliday and Ogden Morrow are introduced via flashback in a press conference, the film’s soundtrack plays Tears for Fear’s “Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” which was memorably used in the TV movie Pirates of Silicon Valley (1999), which for Apple cultists and computer lore junkies is the preferred biopic on Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Bill Gates. This is unlikely to be a coincidence as a newspaper clipping in Wade’s van asks if Halliday is “Bigger Than Jobs?”

    - More appropriately for the era this movie evokes, it was used prominently in 1985's Real Genius starring Val Kilmer.

    - Not only is Halliday’s virtual vision of his funeral in a Star Trek themed church, but his coffin is actually the exact same one (complete with torpedo markings) that Spock is jettisoned into oblivion in from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982). Although personally, we were sad the film did not recreate the novel’s version of this scene, in which Halliday presides over his own funeral (both as corpse and parishioner) from a digital recreation of the set of Heathers (1988). A young Winona Ryder and Christian Slater were also in attendance.

    - Halliday’s OASIS alter-ego Anorak looks vaguely wizard-y, like Merlin or Gandalf. However, the way the film animates his flowing black robes in the film seems intentionally evocative of how Don Bluth drew such robes on Nicodemus in The Secret of NIMH (1982). It should be noted Bluth and Spielberg later partnered for An American Tail (1986) and The Land Before Time (1988).

    - Parzival’s vehicle of choice is obviously Marty McFly’s DeLorean from Back to the Future, albeit it has been retrofitted to include the red-light grill scanner from Knight Rider (1982). In the book, it also has the Ghostbusters (1984) symbol spray-painted on the door, but alas Sony must not have wanted to contribute. This is also the sole BTTF reference in this section (just so you know we aren't crazy!). For the rest, please scroll down to the Back to the Future subsection.

    - Also spotted during this section is a jack-knifing truck, which eagle eyed Twitter user @Azrael2073 recognized as the one Kurt Russell drove in Big Trouble in Little China (1986). 

    - As if you needed to be told, that is the queen Tyrannosaurus Rex from Spielberg’s very own Jurassic Park tearing up the track.

    - King Kong is also doing massive damage to the track, but while we appreciate this Spielbergian addition to one of his heroes, Merian C. Cooper (the half-crazed adventurer who produced the 1933 masterpiece), the Kong design walks on his knuckles and most resembles Peter Jackson’s Kong from the 2005 remake. Spielberg teamed with Jackson for 2011’s The Adventures of Tintin.

    - Also on the race track is a neon, digitized silver cup, which is a replica of the silvercup used at the end of the original Highlander film from 1986. This was brought to our attention by commenter Chris Procter. Also fun fact, in the book, Art3mis' favorite film is Highlander.

    - Also during the race, we glean that the OASIS’ New York movie theater is screening Jack Slater III, which is the action movie franchise-within-an-action-movie found inside Arnold Schwarzenegger’s The Last Action Hero (1993). Think of it like a misunderstood The Purple Rose of Cairo for teen boys and meatheads alike.

    - When we are introduced to Aech’s workshop, we are given a geeky overload of references. And the movie stuff, alone, includes the Iron Giant (obviously); the U.S.S. Sulaco drop ship from James Cameron's Aliens; the Eagle 5 space RV from Spaceballs (1987); an ED-209 from RoboCop; the 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986); the Extravehicular Activity Pod from 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968); and the Valley Forge from Silent Running (1972).*

    - Thanks to @Ritaseer for spotting this one.

    - The XI suit commercials haunting Wade Watts in the Stacks feels like a subtler echo of the oppressive commercialization of Coke and Eastern marketing in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner (1982).

    - Not really a reference, but Ralph Ineson is his very own easter egg for anyone who saw 2016’s masterful The Witch. Seriously, Hollywood hire this man more, and if you’ve seen The Witch, see it again!

    - In Halliday’s digital recreation of a memory about himself and Og, he leaves a massive hint about going “backward as fast as you can, really put the pedal to the medal like Bill and Ted.” This is obviously a most gnarly reference to the timey-wimey Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989).

    - Upon discovering the Copper Key, Anorak/Halliday refers to Z as “padawan.” This is a nod to how Jedi refer to apprentices in the Star Wars prequel trilogy. See George, at least Steven isn’t ignoring them!

    - Shoto's car, which he totals on his way to getting the Copper Key, is Burt Reynolds' sweet ride from Smokey and the Bandit (1977). Thanks again to @Number_6 for spotting this one for us!

    - The Holy Hand Grenade is first seeded for its amazing third act return when Z and Aech go shopping. This is obviously the weapon of choice for the most pious (and rabbit-infested) of knights from Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975).

    - The first avatar to fawn over “rock star” Parzival is someone dressed as Michael Keaton’s Beetlejuice circa 1988. Check out the video game section to discover some of the others.

    - Art3mis* became the geek crush of everyone (of every gender) when she terrifies Z by having a chestburster from Alien (1979) destroy her Goro suit. She also must be a fan of that franchise, given her weapon of choice that is revealed later…

    *(From this point on we’ll mostly refer to “Art3mis” as “Artemis,” because that number is ridiculous. And to be fair, Arty agrees in the Ready Player One novel.)

    - The love of Halliday and Og’s lives, Karen Underwood, goes by Kira when she meets Halliday. This is her homage to a character in The Dark Crystal (1982).

    - Z refers to Kira as Halliday’s “rosebud.” This is a reference a little outside the wheelhouse of Ernest Cline’s bowling alley arcade novel, but right in keeping with Spielberg who is calling back to Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane (1941).

    - When Nolan Sorrento first approaches I-R0k, he steps out of a crashed martian ship from the classic War of the Worlds circa 1953. Thanks be to commenter Jon Sleeper for being eagle-eyed, there.

    - Aech also has a poster from the original Mel Gibson-starring Mad Max (1979) in his garage as Z gets ready for his big date.

    - Aech also has a sign that says “Cocktail & Dreams” in neon, just like the one in the horrible Tom Cruise movie, Cocktail (1988).

    - Parzival's outfit of choice is that of Peter Weller's title character from The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension, a totally bonkers 1984 film that also starred Jeff Goldblum, Ellen Barkin, John Lithgow, and Christopher Lloyd. If you haven't seen it, do so. Depending on who you ask, it's part of a shared universe with John Carpenter's Big Trouble in Little China.

    *Also a fun fact our contributor Delia Harrington pointed out is that Ernest Cline's first spec script (before he went on to write Fanboys) was an intended sequel to Buckaroo Banzai. It was read by Harry Knowles who helped champion Cline as a writer. (Knowles also is credited as someone who helped read early drafts of teh novel Ready Player One in the book.)

    - During Z and Arty’s sweet (and visually stunning) dance, Wade goes the full movie geek and selects the song “Stayin’ Alive” from Saturday Night Fever (1977). And he completes the beautiful lameness of it with the rainbow disco dance floor that John Travolta once huffed across.

    - Once IOI crashes the party, Arty reveals her weapon of choice that she uses throughout the film, an M41A Pulse Rifle that Sigourney Weaver made so badass in James Cameron’s Aliens (1986).

    - Nolan Sorrento’s first pot-sweetener to bring Wade Watts to IOI is the promise he’d get to fly Han Solo’s Millennium Falcon.

    - Nolan next pledges to turn all the schools on Ludus (the OASIS’ educational planet that plays a major role in the book) into replicas of the high schools from John Hughes’ The Breakfast Club (1985) and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. However, Z tries to slip Nolan up by naming the high school from Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982) and the college in Animal House (1978).

    - When looking at the films James Halliday might’ve put on to “seduce” Kira, wrong choices include The Fly (1986) and Say Anything (1989). So presumably these were VHS tapes in the ‘90s given the differing years?

    - The right choice is of course, amazingly, Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (1980). See Ready Player One and The Shining subsection below for a complete deconstruction of this sequence in the film.

    - Also among the movie posters of other films Halliday watched that week is Firestarter (1984), which starred Spielberg darling Drew Barrymore. It also must've meant Halliday was on a Stephen King kick that week. Thanks to @thegeekflux for spotting this one!

    - The Overlook Theater inside the OASIS also has a Return of the Jedi (1983) poster, so it’s not all Kubrickian down there…

    - The magic spell cast on the orb controlled by Sorrento and I-R0k is actually the exact same spell Merlin used to transform Uther into the visage of his enemy in John Boorman's Excalibur (1981). It was called "Charm of Making" in that movie, and it allowed Uther to take his foe's wife and in the process father the child who would become King Arthur. Given that Z's name is a giant love letter to that film (chech out the Parzival section for more), that makes this extra cool. Also, thanks to commenters Wil Dalphin and Tom Stephens for bringing this to our attention.

    - During the final third of the film, we discover the fate of the OASIS depends on your dexterity with an Atari 2600. If you pick the wrong game, into the ice you go, which feels like it could be a nod to the “banishment” seen in The Dark Knight Rises (2012), as Spielberg is a vocal admirer of Christopher Nolan and those Batman movies. In that vein…

    - While IOI fools are taking repeated chilly splashes, Parzival and Daito hold Nolan hostage in a simulation-within-a-simulation. And Daito’s all-black suit and silencer-adorned gun seems intentionally reminiscent of the dream-within-a-dream iconography of Christopher Nolan’s Inception (2010).

    - Similarly, when Wade leaves Sorrento’s faux-office, he rips off his face to reveal he’s really Parzival in a visual intentionally evocative of Mission: Impossible (1996) and its many sequels.

    - Faux-Daito also seems to give a clue he is not really, well real, given a glowing amber sheen in his eyes, which seems like a sly nod to the telltale sign of replicants in the original Blade Runner.

    - Upon the entire OASIS turning on Sorrento, the scene-stealing I-R0k quotes It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) at the exact wrong time to someone who is clearly a Mr. Potter type: “No man is a failure who has friends.”

    - When Z leads his avatars into actual battle, he goes the full John Cusack and holds a boombox above his head, although with a much more metal song than the sweetly annoying "In Your Eyes" that Cusack plays to win his ex back at the end of Say Anything. (The movie that Halliday maybe also should have put on for Kira, instead of The Shining.)

    - During the third act uber-video game battle the entire movie is stolen by “IT’S FUCKING CHUCKY!” And if you need me to explain that evil, ginger-haired bastard doll is from Child’s Play (1988), like what are you even doing here?

    - Movie shoutouts during that battle include the return of Arty’s pulse rifle; Aech going the full Iron Giant (who has a much bigger role in the movie than the book); the Caterpillar P-5000 Work Loader from Aliens; some ED-209s; and the movie designs from the recent Michael Bay-produced Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. (Alas 1990’s TMNT live-action designs would have been way cooler and more fitting). We’ve also heard Spielberg lament a Gremlin got into a frame courtesy of ILM, so we imagine they’re in here somewhere. Check out the Games and Misc. section for more cameos.

    - Someone also at the end here is rocking a Glaive from Krull (1983), a five-sided star that also acts like a boomarang upon occasion.

    - Nolan Sorrento pulls the ultimate dick move and turns into Mechagodzilla from Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974). Even cooler, it features Akira Ifukube’s “Godzilla March” theme from Godzilla (1954).

    - Daito answers by going Gundam in return (see Misc. for more), but his arrival is heralded by the amazing cameo of Mal Reynolds’ Serenity, a Firefly-class vessel from Joss Whedon’s all-too brief Firefly (2002) TV series and later 2005 film, Serenity.

    - When Iron Giant goes down, he dies like a champ, a la Arnie’s T-800 in Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991).

    - Monty Python’s Holy Hand Grenade does its God-given duty!

    - Halliday’s contractual fake-out with Parzival feels, unintentionally or not, like Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), Spielberg’s third Indy adventure where you had to choose wisely between real grails and fake ones.

    - The treasure and faux-egg atop its pedestal in this fakeout room is also reminiscent of the treasure trove in the Cave of Wonders in Aladdin (1992), complete with a ruby-shaped egg that beckons the monkey Abu to his almost-doom. But as Disney didn’t seem to play ball with WB on this, it is vague.

    - Among baby Halliday’s decorations are statues of Godzilla and Robby the Robot, the latter being from the influential Forbidden Planet (1956), which is a film that had a profound effect on Spielberg.

    - Robby the Robot shows up again as a life-sized statue in Wade and Samantha's flat at the end of the movie.

    - I believe young Halliday’s computer is an IMSAI 8080, which is the computer Matthew Broderick and Ally Sheedy use to almost start a thermonuclear war in the underrated WarGames (1983), a movie which played a much larger role in the book.

    Ready Player One and The Shining References

    Yes, this gets its own subsection. And if you want more detail about the importance of The Shining and Kubrick to Spielberg (as well as why King hates the movie), you can click over here to read it for yourself.

    -Before they even enter the Overlook Hotel, our dear High Five is made to dread the horrors to come thanks to Wendy Carlos and Rachel Elkind’s unforgettably eerie score.

    - Spielberg meticulously recreates the set of the Overlook Hotel’s grand lobby, complete with a typewriter that repeats verbatim, “All Work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” However, it takes on the shape of a key, a Jade Key to be specific, as opposed to the odd shapes in the film.

    - Aech is lured to his seeming doom by a bouncing ball, which belongs to the Grady twins, ghostly girls that beckon foolish children to come play with them.

    - This also leads Aech to almost be enveloped in the river of blood that pours from the elevator, as Shelly Duvall also discovered the hard way in The Shining’s climax.

    - The portrait that Aech tears of the Overlook Hotel with Halliday and Kira at the center is the ghostly photo that is the final shot of The Shining, which despite its inexplicable then-modern setting of 1980, it still features Jack Nicholson’s protagonist partying with the dead in 1921 (where Halliday and Kira are standing).

    - Room 237 features a ghost that attacked young Danny Torrance, and like with Aech, it also seduces his father as a comely young woman before turning into a haggard old woman (although she does not try to kill him with an axe). Also credit for the film noting that Aech likes women, as most mass-marketed blockbusters shy away from LGBTQ characters.

    - Aech is attacked by an axe to the door, but before he gets a “Here’s Johnny” (or Jack Nicholson), he is then dropped inside the snowy maze that Jack Torrance dies chasing Danny in. He escapes through the freezer that is also where Danny and Wendy tie up a deranged Jack earlier in the film.

    - When Aech comes out of the freezer, you can also see Danny’s iconic tricycle in the background.

    Ready Player One and Back to the Future References

    As previously mentioned, there is so much love for this Robert Zemeckis film, which was executive produced by Steven Spielberg, that we felt it worthy of its own subsection.

    - Again Parzival's vehicle of choice is the DeLorean from Back to the Future with a KITT upgrade. It also comes complete with a non-functioning flux capacitor.

    - As Parzival and Aech are discussing Halliday, I believe I spotted an avatar dressed as futuristic Doc Brown from the final scene of Back to the Future (1985).

    - Before Wade Watts first enters the OASIS onscreen, we witness some questionable product placement of a drone delivering Pizza Hut to a Stacks neighbor. As shameless as this is, we also suspect it could be a sly nod to similar sci-fi commercialism in Back to the Future Part II (1989), in which Marty McFly’s family in the far-flung future of 2015 dines on small packets of grow-able Pizza Hut pies.

    - Before Artemis signs out of Aech's garage during her first meeting with Z, she calls our hero “McFly” in reference to his sweet, timey-wimey ride. It's an adorable sign of affection and deserved condescension all at once.

    - In the same shopping scene, the “Zemeckis Cube” captures Parzival’s eye, which is a nod to Spielberg’s buddy, Robert Zemeckis, the director of Back to the Future (Spielberg produced it). Combined with the Rubik’s Cube this artifact has an awesome feature Doc Brown would approve of.

    - When Parzival uses the Zemeckis Cube to reverse OASIS time by 60 seconds, composer Alan Silvestri is able to break out some of his timeless Back to the Future theme.

    - When Z puts down the pen, Halliday takes him to his past in a recreation of his childhood bedroom, which is given a musical stinger by Silvestri, who uses his synthesizer echo from Back to the Future.

    - When Samantha interupts her near-kiss with Wade to shout, "Oh shit!," as well as when F-Nara punches Nolan in the face, Silvesteri uses the same musical stinger to denote a moment of shock or bewilderment that he uses in all the Back to the Future films.

    - As Parzival is getting ready for his date with Artemis, he’s chilling in Aech’s digital den, which comes with an awesome poster of “Re-elect Mayor ‘Goldie’ Wilson” from Back to the Future. Hell yeah, we smiled at this one!

    Ready Player One Video Game References

    Still with us? Good. Because we’re just getting to the meat and potatoes of a movie about a giant interactive video game world…

    - The first branded IP we see in the film, beyond Pizza Hut, we believe is an entire OASIS world dedicated to recreating Minecraft the game that has taken Generation Z by storm.

    - On the racetrack for the first key, the Street Fighter character Ryu makes the first of several cameos.

    - When Artemis quizzes Z about what Halliday’s favorite shooter was, he is quick to name-check GoldenEye, the 1997 Nintendo 64 video game that is the staple of many a Millennial’s childhood. Also special points to both avatars for knowing his favorite multiplayer character was Oddjob while playing in “Slaps Only” mode (no weapons).

    - Parzival also reveals that Halliday’s favorite racing game was Turbo, a 1981 arcade entry by Sega.

    - Also in Aech's garage, via @thegeekflux, is the cocktail cabinet version of Pac-Man.

    - Rick (douchey boyfriend of the aunt played by Ralph Ineson) has modeled his avatar after Jim Raynor from StarCraft (1998), as per Twitter user @FeanorToro.

    - In the first digital flashback to Halliday and Og, Halliday is wearing his patented Space Invaders t-shirt, a nod to the legendary 1978 arcade game.

    - Halliday also tells Og in this scene that one thing that is perfect is Asteroids, a 1981 arcade game.

    - There is a poster of arcade game Galaga (1979) in Halliday and Og’s breakroom.

    - Among the “accessories” at the OASIS shop that Z and Aech peruse is a Street Fighter store where Ryu turns up again.

    - There is also a Halo add-on that lets you become Master Chief from the classic 2001 video game.

    - After the “Beetlejuice” avatar spots Parzival in his rock star moment, Jill Valentine in her ridiculous tube top outfit from 1999’s Resident Evil 3: Nemesis (perfect for fighting virus-carrying zombies) shows up to also gawk.

    - As Arty and Z are meeting at the archives, the original video game Lara Croft of Tomb Raider glory walks by, as per Paulo Bastos.

    - Luckily, Z is saved by Arty, albeit in that exact moment she appears to be Goro, the four-armed warrior from Mortal Kombat (1992). And Goro seems to be having a case of indigestion.

    - Among Z's costume changes before his big date with Artemis, there is a sbutle nod to Donkey Kong as the punk outfit he tries on has a "DK" logo on the back.

    - When Nolan is trying to seduce Wade, among other things he claims he likes to play Robotron, a multidirectional-shooter for Atari 2600 from 1982.

    - Among the Atari 2600 games name-dropped by IOI as incompatible with Halliday’s final challenge are Centipede, Pitfall, and “all three” Swordquests. Other key ones include Berzerk, notable for its innovative maze design and the home of gaming's most notorious sentient smiley face, Evil Otto, and Defender, which had one of the coolest spaceship designs in early gaming.

    - In real-life, Daito’s OASIS rig comes with a Mortal Kombat pin.

    - Among the cameoing avatars in the final battle, we also spotted iconic game characters like Big Daddy from BioShock (2007), Chun-Li from Street Fighter II (1991), characters from the new popular next-gen first-person shooter, Overwatch (2016), and a squadron of Halo ass-kickers.

    - Also commenter Niko Sama picked up Chocobo from Final Fantasy II (1991) and StarCraft marines from StarCraft (1998).

    - At one point it looks like not the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but the Battletoads are leading a charge. Battletoads sure may seem like a TMNT ripoff, but they were mainly known as the protagonists of an extraordinarily difficult 1991 NES game. We wrote more about them here.

    - Also among all this craziness, Twitter user @therealmcKay22 noticed that Artemis uses a lancer from Gears of War (2006).

    - Similarly, @HikariDesTIny spotted Battleborn from 2K games in this battle royale.

    - Similarly, @misterredpants spotted that Parzival used the rail gun from Quake (1996) in this scene. 

    - During Parzival and Nolan Sorrento’s epic throwdown, Z totally drops a “hadouken” on him. Ryu would be proud.

    - Before Sorrento blasts I-R0k’s ten years of upgrades to hell, he calls using the cataclyst “a camper move.” Which in gamer terminology is akin to saying, “bad sport,” since it refers to newbies who play online shooters and just camp out in a hard-to-reach spot near respawning ammo or weapons.

    - During the final chase, Aech jokes she is “practicing my Mario Kart” when IOI scum begin trying to run her van off the road. This is a reference, to well, the true greatest racer franchise of all-time, no?

    - As the movie highlights to a sentimental degree, the first video game easter egg was in Adventure (1979), an Atari 2600 entry designed by Warren Robinett, who included a literal egg far away from the game’s central quest. If you discovered it though, you’d be greeted by Warren Robinett’s actual name, (which the Atari publisher refused to credit in the game at the time).

    - Young James Halliday appears to be playing a Colecovision system in his room. Anyone know what game he's playing, though? Well according to commenter Paul Imboden, we now know it is a game called Gorf (1981).

    - Inside Halliday's bedroom is also an old school poster for the original Pac-Man game.

    - Halliday’s final words to Wade of “thank you for playing my game” are a valued tradition among game-makers. It was most popularized by Super Mario 64 (1996) when Mario himself says, “Thank you a-so much for playing my game” at the end of the closing credits. Too bad Halliday didn’t offer Z some cake!

    - In the final scene with a rich and happy Wade and Samantha, you can see a Revenge from Mars (1999) pinball game behind them. Why they would include Revenge from Mars and not its infinitely superior 1995 predecessor, Attack From Mars, will have to remain a mystery.

    Ready Player One Superhero and Comic Book References

    - As aforementioned the first avatar we see as a pre-existing IP is Batman… Michael Keaton’s Batman from 1989 to be specific.

    - That is also Adam West’s classic Lincoln Futura (1955) as the Batmobile convertible during the film’s opening race. He drove it in the late 1960s camp classic TV series and 1966's Batman: The Movie.

    - Twitter user @Number_6 has pointed out that Artemis' bike has the logo for The Greatest American Hero, a short-lived superhero television series, which ran on ABC from 1981 to 1983.

    - When Artemis and Parzival are testing each other on geeky Halliday trivia knowledge, Z drops that the late Halliday’s favorite quote was from Superman: The Movie (1978). And to be fair, it is an amazing nugget of comic wisdom, compliments of Gene Hackman’s Lex Luthor: “Some people can read War and Peace and come away thinking it’s a simple adventure story; others can read the ingredients on a chewing gum wrapper and unlock the secrets of the universe.”

    - Wade Watts reveals his father gave him an alliterative name to mimic superheroes like Peter Parker (Spider-Man) and Bruce Banner (the Hulk). Fun fact: actor Tye Sheridan also plays Scott Summers, aka the mutant superhero Cyclops, in the current X-Men movies.

    - When Arty gives Z Clark Kent glasses, they’re not just any generic Superman reference, but one specifically taken from Christopher Reeve’s frames in Superman: The Movie. As are the questionable plaid, ‘70s suit clothes options she offers for him to peruse, and that particular slicked down hairstyle.

    - At the Distracted Globe dance party, a couple’s avatars are cloyingly modeled after the Joker and Harley Quinn.

    - In the real world, 11-year-old Shoto is sporting a varsity jacket that looks a lot like the ones found in Smallville in Superman III (1983).

    - Somewhere in the Stacks, there is a tagger who is a big fan of Teen Titans since one of the urban artworks is of the DC character Raven.

    - During Parzial's call to action, we totally see the back profiles of avatars dressed as Catwoman and a capeless Batman. However, @dickson_edwards suggests the capeless Batman is in fact the Arkham Knight from the PS4/Xbox One video game, Batman: Arkham Knight. We aren't sure, but it seems very plausible.

    - During the epic final act throwdown, Spawn is definitely present for the fireworks.

    - Someone came ready for the war by dressing as Batgirl too, albeit we only see her briefly before the flash of the cataclyst incinerates everyone in sight.

    -The IOI researcher offices include back issues of DC Comics Presents.

    Ready Player One Misc. References

    - The film defiantly begins to the sounds of Van Halen's “Jump” before the cold open even fades onto an image.

    - At the beginning of the film, near the time we see RoboCop, another avatar runs by dressed as Marvin the Martian from Looney Tunes.

    - Also in this sequence is an avatar dressed as Hello Kitty! (Thanks to commenter Erin Grady Brown for pointing this one out!)

    - Aech is introduced getting points by being a badass on Planet Doom, which is a reference to a dead rock in the Drule Empire on the Voltron cartoon series (1984-1985).

    - It feels like much of James Halliday is also somewhat based on Dana Carvey's Garth from iconic early '90s SNL sketch and unlikely blockbuster, Wayne's World. You know, by way of Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak (with a sprinkling of Willy Wonka).

    - Halliday is often seen wearing a Simon pin. Simon was a Milton Bradley electronic memory game, a multi-colored, lights-and-sounds "Simon says" that was a surprising amount of fun, and as much an icon of the 1980s as the Rubik's Cube.

    - The blue Bigfoot truck that Aech drives is the original monster truck, and one that was replicated on countless pieces of 1980s merchandise at the height of that bizarre craze.

    - Among the race cars is again the Mach Five from the Japanese anime Speed Racer (1966-1968).

    - Parzival’s DeLorean has KITT’s red-eyed grill scanner from the David Hasselhoff cheese-classic, Knight Rider(1982-1986).

    - Commenters Erin Grady Brown also caught Stephen King's Christine in this scene. Also Erin and Twitter user @Number_6 caught the van from The A-Team is also in this scene. 

    - And of course Artemis' bike is the one from Akira (1988), a reference we should have remembered but forgot about until commenter Liam Crewe helpfully reminded us.

    - In the lead-up to the race Joan Jett's “I Hate Myself for Loving You” rocks on.

    - While listing a few of James Halliday's favorite things, Z reveals his favorite snack food is Hot Pockets, and his favorite restaurant is Chuck E. Cheese. Which considering he was a grown man is... interesting.

    - Also here is a bonus about Chuck E. Cheese, compliments of @HBEaker. The restaurant franchise was founded by Nolan Bushnell in 1977 after he co-founded Atari in 1972.

    - When Z and Arty are testing each other on geeky Halliday knowledge, Parzival says Halliday's favorite song was the Buggles' “Video Killed the Radio Star” (there's no accounting for taste, eh?) and his favorite music video was aha's “Take On Me.” And in the latter's case, he has a point...

    - Aech’s garage includes laser guns and spaceships from Battlestar: Galactica (1978-1979). There is more of that in Aech’s own subsection.

    - It appears that all of the Doritos bags in the movie use the vintage 1980s logo and bag design.

    - Also a really nice touch is the casting of Hannah John-Kamen as F'Nale in the film. Introduced early as the IOI executive in charge of the "loyalty centers," F'Nale's job is to round up poor souls and welcome them into glorified slavery as corporations' new take on indentured servitude, which honestly doesn't feel that far off from our world. While that is grim, John-Kamen's casting feels like a subtle nod to Black Mirror, in which she appeared in the second episode ever in "Fifteen Million Merits." That is the episode where a future dystopia keeps people trapped as glorified slaves in little glass and plastic cubes while they watch reality television. Sound familiar?

    - I-R0k attempts to “compliment” Nolan Sorrento by saying “you never lick;” he just bites down to the center of a Tootsie Pop. Like that commercial. You know THAT commercial…

    - As Aech taunts Z for daydreaming about Arty, the Temptation's “Just My Imagination” softly plays in the background. 

    - I-R0k is introduced doing a “Poor Yorick” routine with a Steam Punk Pirate’s skull, which is a slightly more high-brow reference to Act V of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

    - Speaking of Hamlet, the nightclub that Arty invites Z to is called “the Distracted Globe,” a subtler nod to the first act of the Bard’s masterwork. This is the term the eponymous Danish prince uses to sneer at his court and surroundings, implying they are distracted with crass entertainment while matters of importance, like justice for his father’s murdered ghost, go ignored.

    - While getting ready to party at the Distracted Globe, Parzival tries on a series of costumes that he and Aech rightly reject, like Michael Jackson’s red “Thriller” outfit, Prince's "Purple Rain" get-up*, a generic-looking punk Mohawk, and a white Duran Duran get-up that someone else will have to precisely identify.

    * Thanks to commenter Janne Nyyssonen for pointing out this one!

    - As Z enters the Distracted Globe New Order's “Blue Monday” adds some disaffected style. Later, when we meet Arty in the real world, she's wearing a Joy Division shirt. Joy Division is the band that eventually morphed into New Order.

    - At the Distracted Globe, all the robotic bartenders are wearing the ridiculous hats from Devo's awful "Whip It" music video.

    - Nolan’s deal with the Devil offer includes the claim he enjoys drinking Tab. Just right there, Z should’ve known Nolan wasn’t on the level, because Tab is disgusting.

    - When Aech has his/her fancy tickled by a ghostly girl, she asks “am I being punked?” This reference the awful Ashton Kutcher/MTV series, Punk’d (2003-2007).

    - Among IOI’s research materials is a copy of the book Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (1978).

    - Nolan Sorrento’s private rig includes the complete Nancy Drew mystery book series. Don’t judge.

    - Inside Sorrento and I-R0k's orb of power is a D-20 dice. Dungeons & Dragons fans know what's up with that, including our dear commenter Tom Stephens who brought it to our attention.

    - During Parzival's big speech across the OASIS, his drone-camera is what appears to be a literally magical Magic 8-Ball. You know those silly toys that "could tell the future" and kids used to love before smartphones?

    - Z's final call to arms is Twisted Sister's “We're Not Gonna Take It.” Hell yeah!

    - During the final battle, commenter Erin Grady Brown helpfully spotted He-Man! Now the struggle on Planet Doom can truly be legendary!

    - To battle Mechagodzilla, Daito assumes the mobile suited body of an RX-78-2 Gundam from the iconic Japanese anime Mobile Suit Gundam (1979). However, I personally would have recommended he’d selected Heero Yuy’s Wing Zero from Gundam Wing (1996) if he wanted to truly wreck Mechagodzilla.

    - When Artemis puts down Nolan Sorrento (for a minute) and Mechagodzilla (for the count), she does so with a Madball. These were briefly popular grossout toys for young boys in the mid-'80s, which like all fads of that decade spawned a video game and shortly lived Saturday morning cartoon series. I believe the Madball used was "Dust Brain," but please correct me if I'm wrong.

    - Both Aech in real-life and a poster in Halliday’s digital childhood bedroom includes Rush’s 2112 album cover. 2112 side one is a bizarre, futuristic/dystopian sci-fi rock epic. You can see why these characters are fans.

    - Clearly visible in young James' room is a vintage Dungeons & Dragons poster. That, along with the Rush 2112 poster, were standard issue for edgy '80s nerds.

    - Also visible on the back wall of Halliday's bedroom is the album cover of Devo's Freedom of Choice. Thanks be to Peter J. Daley Jr. for bringing that to our attention!

    - We hear of "the gold mines of Gygax." Gary Gygax was the inventor of Dungeons & Dragons.

    - At one point, Ghost Halliday also briefly holds a toy (don't ask us the year or model) of the Robot from Lost in Space (1965-1968). He was kind of like Robby's knockoff, but much more cuddily, cousin. (Thanks to commenter Eric Sharpe for reminding us of this!)

    - There's a killer Masters of the Universe tin lunchbox in Wade's hideout, too.

    - Also Twitter user @Yeedi_Dinsuar makes an interesting point that Halliday's egg is a nod to the golden seed (or egg) in the anime Sword Art Online. While I'm not sure myself, judge for yourself by looking at the egg here.

    - Also during the very end, commenter Erin Grady Brown spotted the Star Trek weapon Bat'leth near the aforementioned Robby the Robot in Wade and Samantha's nerd nirvana home.

    - While we're on the subject of toys, Aech keeps lots of them in his lair. There are models of the original Battlestar Galactica, the Nostromo from Alien, Cygnus (from Disney’s The Black Hole) and they mention (but we do not see) the Harkonnen Drop Ship a toy that was advertised by LJN as part of their bizarre Dune line, but which never actually came out.

    Art3mis References

    We also thought it might be worthy deconstructing each character and what they bring to the table, in case the above references can seem dizzying or daunting.

    - Again, “Art3mis” should be called “Artemis” because, at least per the book where Samantha only conceded putting the numeral “3” in her avatar's name, because “Artemis” was already taken when she created her avatar.

    - Artemis as a name is in reference to Greek mythology where Artemis is Goddess of the Hunt. Further, fans of Wonder Woman might like to know that Artemis was conflated with “Diana” as one goddess in Roman mythology.

    - Arty’s weapon of choice throughout the film is an M41A Pulse Rifle from James Cameron’s Aliens (1986).

    - In the real world, Samantha’s visor has a Batman sticker on it.

    - There's some graffiti in Samantha's HQ that looks like a nod to seminal 1980s graffiti artist, Keith Haring.

    Parzival References

    - A perfectly good place is to start with Parzival himself. As we’ll detail more later, his name is obviously a play on Percival, the member of King Arthur’s round tabled knights who, according to some versions of the myth, is the one who found the Holy Grail. However, this version is most popularized in nerd culture by John Boorman’s 1981, heavy metal cult classic, Excalibur. Which for the record has a design for its titular sword that looks identical to the blade embroidered into the back of Z’s clothes in the OASIS.

    -His empty gun holster also looks suspiciously like what Han Solo wore in the original Star Wars trilogy.

    - Z’s entire aesthetic is typical mid-‘80s, heavy metal fan.

    - There is a Thundercats symbol on Z’s belt buckle, while his gun holster/belt combo are reminiscent of Han Solo.

    - Parzival's final visor at the end has a sticker for The Greatest American Hero TV show. But we're not sure if this is really Z's style or Aech, since it is her van... (Thanks to Twitter user @Number_6 for finding this!)

    Aech References

    - In the real world, she’s Helen, but she prefers to be just a “he” and Aech while logged into the OASIS.

    - In the real-world, Aech has a lot of different vintage pins on her jacket. We could not catch them all, but among the ones we spotted were a classic Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) pin and a vintage '70s Wonder Woman badge of honor. Also thanks to commenter Peter J. Daley Jr., we also now know that one more of the pins for the band Dead Kennedys.

    - Aech totally also has a Batman poster in the back of her truck.

    - Also thanks to commenter Erin Grady Brown, we also know the graffiti on the back of Aech's truck is actually from the Dungeons & Dragons module, "Tomb of Horrors," which was a pivotal plot point in the book.

    - And now, all in one place, everything we spotted in Aech’s garage and den:

    The Iron Giant; laser blaster from the original Battlestar: Galactica; the U.S.S. Sulaco drop ship from Aliens*; the Eagle 5 space RV from Spaceballs; the Colonial Viper spaceship from Battlestar: Galactica; an ED-209 from RoboCop; the 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off; the Extravehicular Activity Pod from 2001: A Space Odyssey; the Valley Forge from Silent Running; an exo-skeleton robot from the animated series Exosquad; a Thunderfighter from the TV series Buck Rogers in the 25th Century; and a Swordfish II spaceship from the anime Cowboy Beebop (1998-1999); the Cocktails & Dreams sign from Cocktail; a Mad Max poster; and an awesome “Re-Elect Mayor ‘Goldie’ Wilson” poster from Back to the Future.

    - Also some more we missed, but commenter Erin Grady Brown picked up: Pee-wee Herman's bike from Pee-wee's Big Adventure (1985); the TARDIS from Doctor Who; a stuffed Kermit the Frog; and a political poster for Wil Wheaton.

    *Thank you to commenter Raul Martinez-Orozco for pointing this out.

    Numb from your sugar overload yet? Yeah, we didn’t think so. Let us know what we missed or chew me out on Twitter here.


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