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    Spider-Man: Hostile Takeover will lead directly into the upcoming game.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Apr 17, 2018

    Marvel, Insomniac Games, and Titan Books are teaming up to publish two books related to Insomniac's upcoming Spider-Man game.

    The first book, Spider-Man: Hostile Takeover, will be written by David Liss and serves as a prequel that will lead directly to the beginning of the game. It seems that this particular story will star a large number of Spider-Man's rogues gallery. Shocker, Echo, the Blood Spider, and Kingpin are all name-dropped in the book's official preview alongside other familiar faces like J. Jonah Jameson and Mary Jane Watson. It focuses on Kingpin's plan to take over NYC, and will supposedly feature certain plot points and character relationships that will play a part in the game. 

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    The other Spider-Man book is not narrative based. It's a collection of art used to create Insomniac's upcoming game. Paul Davies' Marvel’s Spider-Man: The Art of the Gamewill look at "never-before- seen images of Spider-Man, his costume and equipment, the Marvel version of his hometown New York, and the deadly villains he battles." It promises to give fans an exclusive look at the design blueprint of the game. 

    Hostile Takeover will be available on August 21st shortly before the Insomniac game launches on September 7th. Art of the Game will be available starting on September 11th. 

    The lead-in book is of particular interest at the moment as some have wondered just how Insomniac's game fits into the current popular mythos and how it differs. We've seen hints of variations in the trailers released thus far, but nothing that would suggest it's going to be too radical of a departure from the most popular Spider-Man timelines. The villains noted in the book's description are of particular interest as they could hint at some of the baddies we'll be battling in the game itself. The art book, meanwhile, should prove to be a fascinating look at the considerable talent on the Insomniac Games team. 

    Of course, Insomniac's Spider-Man will ultimately answer any and all questions, and we're just as excited as you are to finally get our hands on that title this September. 

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    Radical Heights creator Cliff Bleszinski has accused his former studio, Epic Games, of poaching his staff.

    News John Saavedra
    Apr 18, 2018

    Radical Heights creator Cliff Bleszinski has accused Epic Games, his former studio, of poaching his staff. Bleszinski, who worked on Unreal Tournament and Gears of War while at Epic, sent out a Tweet last Friday asking the studio to "stop trying to hire away my team."

    Bleszinski continued, "We just launched Radical Heights on [Unreal Engine 4] and are really happy with how it’s going."

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    Bleszinski parted ways with Epic Games in 2012, just a few months after the studio announced the battle royale phenomenon Fortnite, and went on to found Boss Key Productions. His new studio's first project was the online multiplayer shooter LawBreakers, which failed to gain an audience - something Bleszinski blamed the success of PUBG for

    Ironically, Boss Key's new project is Radical Heights, a battle royale game in the style of PUBG and Fortnite. The game, which is described as "a passion project" for Boss Key, is now in very early access on Steam.

    Bleszinski explained on Twitter that the studio has some unique ideas for how to make Radical Heights stand out among the competition, but that Epic is trying to stifle that by poaching his staff.

    "There's room at this genre for more than a few games," said Bleszkinski. "We have plenty of ways to make it our own but they may never see the light of day if they keep doing this."

    Boss Key co-founder Arjan Brussee recently left for Epic to work on Fortnitemobile. Just last month, another member of the Boss Key team, William McCarroll, joined Epic. McCarroll replied to Bleszinski's tweets, saying that Epic wasn't necessarily reaching out to the Boss Key staff but that Bleszinski's employees were moving on. 

    "With all due respect, assuming that Epic is the one starting contact/poaching is a bit presumptuous," said McCarroll. "We all had our own reasons for making the choice to leave BKP for Epic, and to act like we are commodities being stolen is a bit hurtful. We are people first and foremost."

    It remains to be seen whether Radical Heights will be able to compete with Fortnite or PUBG in a genre that seems to be ruled by two games with little room for a third. Other battle royale games, such as H1Z1 and The Culling, haven't really made dents in Fortnite or PUBG's audiences.

    There's still a lot of work to be done on Radical Heights, which was released to Steam early access only five months into development. What we've seen so far looks promising but far from finished. We'll just have to wait and see if Bleszinski and his team can pull the upset.

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    Mansions of Madness tasks you with investigating a mystery before you go insane.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Apr 18, 2018

    Popular Lovecraftian board game Mansions of Madness is being turned into a PC game.


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    Mansions of Madness: Mother's Embrace does share certain similarities with the Mansions of Madness board game, but it's far from an exact translation. The year is 1926, and you control a team of investigators sent to discover the mysteries of a supposedly supernatural mansion. As you might imagine, spooky things start happening, and the team begins to question their sanity. 

    What's particularly interesting about this board game adaptation is that the Mansions of Madnessboard game already requires a digital component (you can even download the companion app on Steam). Players use that app as the centerpiece of their cooperative exploration of the board game mansion. It controls the various things that happen during every playthrough and helps keep things appropriately spooky. 

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    While we don't know much about the video game version, the information and screenshots released so far suggest that it might not be a full co-op game, but might actually require players to control several different characters who are all leading their own part of the investigation. That hasn't been confirmed, but it is the impression that we get from the game so far. 

    Thankfully, the game does retain the wonderfully classic haunted mansion trappings that make the board game so compelling. As you explore the mansion, you can expect to encounter a variety of traps, sightings, haunted items, and other such distractions designed to get you to leave the mansion or much worse. The board game is famous for its creative scenarios that require players to truly put on their investigation caps in order to understand what's going on. We fully expect that this digital version of the game will do the same. 

    Mansions of Madness: Mother's Embrace will launch for PC and Mac sometime early in 2019. 

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    It's been years since Halo has officially been playable on PC, but this mod offers an alternative.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Apr 18, 2018

    Modders are working to make Halo Online playable for PC gamers everywhere.

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    Around the time that Halo 5 was released, 343 Industries released a PC version of Halo's multiplayer called Halo Online. Sadly, that version of the game was only available in Russia and was canceled in 2016. The original purpose of the project's limited release is not entirely clear at this time. 

    What is clear is that a version of Halo Online was leaked onto the internet via 4chan and was quickly adopted by modders who wanted to turn it into the global way for PC fans to finally be able to play some Halo multiplayer in the modern age. The project was dubbed "ElDewrito." Work on the mod was coming along nicely, but things hit a snag when some of those involved with the project jumped onto another Halo mod that ultimately failed.

    Recently, though, another group took over ElDewrito and have revealed that they've made tremendous progress. In a post on the ElDewrito blog, the team outlines some of the progress that they've made. There's quite a bit of information to digest, but the long and short of it is that the new version of the project features popular Halo 3maps Valhalla and Guardian, a host of fan-made maps, and is entirely open source (meaning that anyone can contribute to it). Best of all, it's absolutely free to download.

    What's the catch? Well, that depends on how you look at the situation. To be certain, ElDewrito isn't a professionally made PC version of Halo multiplayer for PC. It's a little rough around the edges in spots and might always be qualified as a work in progress. However, the mod makes good on its promise to allow gamers to experience Halo multiplayer on PC for the first time in years.

    There's also the questionable legality of the mod. No, it's not technically illegal to download ElDewrito, but there's always the possibility that Microsoft will shut it down at some point. That possibility grows stronger when you consider that Halo 6 is definitely on its way.

    For now, though, you can download ElDewrito here. However, the 0.6 update mentioned in the blog post won't be available until April 20. 

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    After years in development, this Fallout mod will soon be playable

    News Matthew Byrd
    Apr 18, 2018

    Fallout: New California is not your average mod. Actually, even by ambitious mod standards, it's pretty incredible.  

    Since 2013, modders have been working on what they've referred to as a prequel to Fallout: New Vegas. Now, they've just released what they claim is the final trailer for the game ahead of its soon to be confirmed release date. 

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    New California is, for all intents and purposes, a new Fallout game. It features a brand new story that can end in one of 12 different ways based on the player's choices. It features 14,000 lines of dialogue and a world big enough to house all of the characters that speak them. There are new skills, new missions, and new items, too. While actually a prequel to New Vegas, this is essentially the spiritual follow-up to New Vegas that some fans were hoping that Fallout 4 might be. 

    Granted, you can probably tell from the trailer above that this isn't a complete overhaul of Fallout: New Vegas. It looks better than the original game, but it utilizes many of the same basic elements. That's okay, though, because it so happens to improve the things that needed to be improved about the somewhat wonky technical foundation that supported New Vegas while it evolves the elements that made that title perhaps the best Fallout game ever made.

    Technically, New California is in a beta period. However, you can't actually play it at the moment. It's limited to a select group of testers whose play sessions are responsible for the footage of the game that currently exists. While the New California team isn't ready to disclose when it intends for the mod to be available in open beta, the modders suggest that they'll be able to make the improvements necessary to ensure the beta enters its open period before the end of the month. 

    That's good news for Fallout fans who may have written this project off as a pipe dream. Instead, it sounds like we'll be able to play it before too long. 

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    There's no running away from your choices in Insomnia's unforgiving world.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Apr 18, 2018

    Insomnia: The Arkis an upcoming Action/RPG title that fans of BioShock and other atmospheric adventures might want to keep an eye on. 

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    Developed by Mono Studio, Insomnia takes place in a futuristic metropolis known as Object 6. Players assume the role of an individual who has recently learned that they suffer from a rare psychological disorder. They must explore the darkest reaches of this futuristic planet in order to find a cure. 

    As you might imagine, finding a cure is a bit more complicated than a simple trip to the local pharmacy. The path between the player's start and their goal is filled with various types of enemies and other obstacles designed to prevent them from finding a cure. According to the game's Steam page, those obstacles will be complicated by various "points of no return" in the game's story. What that means is that there are certain choices you'll make in the game's story which cannot be undone. At present, it seems that players will not be notified when they have reached one of these points. You'll just need to commit to your choices.

    The good news is that you'll be able to enjoy the game's rich world no matter what choices you make. Insomnia's future is described as a noir society filled with dieselpunk influences. What civilization remains has been poorly constructed by colonists and survivors. A Jazz soundtrack provides the beat to your steps while neon signs beckon you to visit local diners. The whole thing reminds us of what might happen if you mixed Fallout and Cowboy Bebop. That is to say that it's really cool. 

    Insomnia's action remains a bit more mysterious. It looks like it will utilize a kind of third-person action system, but the complexity of the game's narrative choices leads us to believe that there is probably a lot more to the duck and cover gameplay featured in the trailer that we just haven't seen yet. Nevertheless, we're going to have to wait and see regarding just how deep this game's action is.

    For the moment, though, it's easy to recommend keeping up with this title by virtue of its world design alone. We should know much more about Insomnia as it nears its mysterious 2018 release date. 

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    Monster Hunter World next update is a large-scale raid with a lot of loot.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Apr 18, 2018

    The next Monster Hunter World update will add a large multi-man raid to the game. 

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    Siege of Kulve Taroth will let four groups of four hunters embark on an epic new quest to take down an elder dragon, Kulve Taroth. While it's described as a 16-man adventure, it turns out that the actual raid is much larger than that. 

    "As each hunting party collects more tracks and breaks off more parts from attacking Kulve Taroth, they’ll contribute progress to the same Siege," says Capcom in the update's official description. "The primary goal of this Siege is to repel Kulve Taroth, but its shimmering golden mantle happens to be a collection of shiny weapon relics it has gathered along its journey through the New World." 

    The idea of every player contributing to the overall progress of the raid is a fascinating one. Equally fascinating is the implication that you'll actually be able to complete this raid by yourself. However, Capcom warns potential solo adventurers that this is intended to be a multiplayer raid. As such, you might not get the full intended experience of the quest if you try to beat it by yourself. Actually, they seem to doubt that many will be able to beat it at all by themselves.

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    However you manage to beat the raid, doing so will reward you with some incredibly rare items that seem to rank comfortably amongst the best equipment in the game. In fact, it seems that the gold that this particular elder dragon is hoarding happens to contain the very rewards that you're questing for. As such, we don't imagine that beating him is going to be an easy affair. 

    It's hard not to be impressed by the work that Capcom has done with Monster Hunter World since the game's release. It's already the best-selling Capcom game ever, and the studio seems committed to ensuring its fans remained entertained. We can't wait to check out this latest addition when Siege of Kulve Taroth launches on April 19th. 

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    It's starting to look like Watch Dogs 3 will premiere at E3 2018.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Apr 18, 2018

    Ubisoft seems to be hinting that they're getting ready to announce Watch Dogs 3.

    Some Ubisoft fans have been following a series of clues that seemed to point towards an impending Watch Dogs 3 announcement. It began with an April Fool's joke on the Ubisoft website that allowed users to "hack" into an admin section of the website and hunt down a few pieces of information and Easter eggs. The whole thing reminded Watch Dogsfans of that series trademark hacking gameplay. 

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    That wasn't much in and of itself, but it was followed by an odd tweet from the Watch Dogs Twitter account that read "This is everything." The phrase is relevant to the popular Watch Dogs phrase "Everything is connected." That tweet quickly disappeared, but it seems that it might have marked the start of a quiet viral marketing campaign that some Watch Dogs fans have recently noticed. 

    For instance, there's this YouTube video uploaded by UbiCentral in which the channel states that Sam, Ubisoft's Siri-like app assistance, is capable of saying "Watch Dogs 3 is not finished yet, but from the last early build I tried it's very solid," the app said dutifully when asked about the state of the sequel. "The Dev team works wonders! Can't wait for you to try it!!"

    There is some dispute regarding that last tidbit. PC Gamer tried the app out themselves, and Sam responded that they haven't heard anything about a sequel despite the app's "DedSec contacts." The rest of the information, though, has been confirmed by multiple sources. 

    It's not that surprising to learn that Ubisoft might be gearing up for the next Watch Dogs, but some did express doubt regarding a possible third Watch Dogs title considering that Watch Dogs 2 apparently sold much slower than Ubisoft anticipated. However, it seems that the sequel eventually overcame its slow start and achieved the kind of sales the studio was hoping for. 

    In any case, we expect to hear more about Watch Dogs 3 at E3 2018. 

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    Will Battlefield be the next game to get in on the battle royale trend? It's starting to look that way.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Apr 18, 2018

    This probably won't surprise you, but DICE is reportedly working on a battle royale mode they intend to implement in the next Battlefield game. 

    An unidentified source has sold VentureBeat that the rumored Battlefield battle royale mode will share some similarities with current industry leaders PUBG and Fortnite. Namely, it will see 100 players drop into a location and try to be the last person standing. 

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    What's less certain at this time is how DICE will get the mode to work. That source claims that the studio is currently experimenting with different ways to get the basic concept of a battle royale title to work within the Battlefield systems. As that's the case, it doesn't seem to be a guarantee at this time that Battlefield will actually receive a battle royale mode at all. The plan seems to be to first develop the system and then add it to the game after the fact as a free download. However, the finer points of that plan are up in the air at this time. 

    To be fair, there's also no official word that Battlefield V is coming out this year. However, recent reports have suggested that the next Battlefield title is called Battlefield V, that it will release this year, and that the game will take place sometime during World War II.

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    That last bit is what makes this battle royale rumor particularly interesting. A modern-day Battlefield title with a battle royale mode might suffer somewhat from the presence of advanced weaponry. However, a WWII-era battle royale title featuring era-appropriate weapons might offer a more balanced playing field that would require players to get a little closer to each other and utilize greater mechanical accuracy. 

    Of course, this is all speculative. We wouldn't be surprised at all to learn that Battlefield will get a battle royale mode, but if this source is to be believed, then DICE still has quite a bit of work to do in terms of figuring out exactly how such a mode will work in the final game. 

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    World of Demons is beautiful, intense, and...a free-to-play mobile title?

    News Matthew Byrd
    Apr 18, 2018

    Brace yourself, because we're about to put you on an emotional rollercoaster.

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    Platinum Games, makers of classic action titles like Bayonetta and Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, are working on a heavily-stylized samurai action game called World of Demons. It's designed to resemble the cult classic Capcom title, Okami (a game that the founders of Platinum Games worked on), and features a variety of mythical demons for players to slash their way through. It's also a free-to-play mobile title. 

    See...we got you there at the end. Before you dismiss World of Demons over its format and price point, though, consider that Platinum Games were also hesitant to make a mobile game. However, they ultimately found decided that it was up to them to avoid the taint that people associate with mobile titles. 

    "Nothing's behind a paywall - that's something that was very important for us,"said Andrew Szymanski of DeNA, publisher of World of Demons. "We also wanted to give people different ways to interact with the game - not only in playing it, but also in terms of the payment model. We have the summons - those are done using in-game currency, and that can be earned."

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    However, it's worth noting that there are microtransactions in the game. Fortunately, they are only there for those players who don't want to play the entire game to see some of the high-level content. Some people will view this as paying for cheats, but given that this is a single-player game, you could argue it's really just a "Time vs. Money" argument. 

    The very good news is that the rest of the game seems to be up to Platinum's usual standards for more traditional action games. That means it features a ton of intense action that Platinum has supposedly done a brilliant job of translating to a touchscreen. Granted, this isn't the format we wished for when we dreamed of the old Okami team making a spiritual successor to that title, but it sounds like this might just be one mobile game that is worth a look from even hardcore gamers. We'll know more when it launches for iOS this summer. 

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    Before Tomb Raider and even Metroid, these videogaming characters blazed a small trail in the 1980s...

    FeatureRyan Lambie
    Apr 19, 2018

    It’s one of the great surprise endings in '80s gaming. Having battled all the way to the end of Metroid and defeated the Mother Brain in five hours or less, the player’s treated to one of several cut-scenes, which reveal that the armoured character they’ve been controlling is - gasp - a woman.

    When Metroid was released by Nintendo in 1986, this was a bold new concept. Characters like Street Fighter IIs Chun-Li and Tomb Raider’s Lara Croft were still years away, and if females were in games at all in the 1980s, they were usually hapless figures in need of rescue - the closest anyone had previously come to a proper female lead was Ms. Pac-Man, the hungry yellow sphere with a little red bow on her head, or maybe the protagonist of Girl's Garden, a Japanese-only Sega game about collecting flowers to attract a boyfriend.

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    Metroid’s Samus Aran, on the other hand, was a tough bounty hunter in a high-tech battle suit - quite a contrast to, say, Super Mario Bros Princess Peach.

    Reportedly taking inspiration from Ridley Scott’s 1979 film Alien, the developers of Metroid decided to give their game a female protagonist midway through development. “Hey, wouldn’t it be kind of cool if it turned out that this person inside the suit was a woman?” a member of the team asked. And thus, what is commonly thought of as the first video game heroine was born.

    But this isn’t strictly true.

    In July 1985, a full year before the release of Metroid, Namco released a largely forgotten arcade machine called Baraduke. A free-scrolling shooter, it actually has quite a few elements in common with Metroid: it’s set in a network of caverns overrun by floating, globular aliens, which look quite a bit like the energy-sucking Metroids in Nintendo’s game. The central character’s an armoured space warrior bristling with weaponry. And in a congratulatory screen at the end of the game, the protagonist, named Kissy, is revealed to be an auburn-haired woman.

    If Baraduke was a success for Namco at all, it seemed to be restricted to Japan; a sequel appeared in Japanese arcades in 1988, and the original game was ported to one solitary home computer - the Japan-only Sharp X68000. 

    Baradukes protagonist, however, lived on in other games Namco games, where she was given a charmingly convoluted backstory. Kissy’s full name is actually Toby “Kissy” Masuyo. She married the main character out of arcade hit Dig Dug, had a child who would become the central character in Mr. Driller, and then got a divorce. Kissy’s cameos have included Namco X Capcom, an RPG, as well as her son’s Mr. Drillerseries.

    Curiously, that very same month - July 1985 - another Japanese arcade company came up with a video game heroine of their own. City Connection was a quirky yet endearing mix of platformer and driving game, in which the player, strapped into a tiny Honda City car, hurtles around each level painting the roads white. In practice, City Connection is a little bit like Q*Bert, in that it involves coloring platforms the same colour to complete a stage, but with its constantly-scrolling screen and relentless turn of speed, its pace is more akin to Namco's cat-and-mouse cult item, Mappy.

    What separated City Connection from all the other simplistic, quick-fix arcade games of the era was its presentation and backstory; behind the wheel of the player's car is a blue-haired heroine named Clarice, a speed-obsessed thrill-seeker who's relentlessly pursued by the cops as she travels from one capital city to another.

    The game was popular enough to get some decent home ports, including the NES and ZX Spectrum, though some of western versions rather unfairly chopped all trace of Clarice and made the driver male instead. The Japanese version on the NES (or Famicom) gave Clarice a prominent showing in its TV commercials, though. Just look at the '80s anime in evidence here:

    City Connection doesn't show up all that often on modern consoles in the 21st century, but vestiges of it still linger; an updated version of Jaleco's cartoon shooter Game Tengoku, released in 2017, featured Clarice as a downloadable player character.

    Between them, Clarice and Toby “Kissy” Masuyo seems poised, to steal Samus Aran’s crown as the first fearless heroines of gaming. But there’s a problem: Sega got there a few months earlier.

    In March 1985 - around four months before the launch of Baraduke - Sega released an arcade machine called Ninja Princess. An effervescent and very tough up-the-screen shooter, it featured a princess who swapped royal robes for a warrior’s garb and went off on a run-and-gun adventure across the Japanese countryside. Princess Kurumi was handy in a fight, too, thanks to her powers of invisibility and ninja star-throwing abilities - though she did have the disarming tendency to burst into tears when struck by the enemies crowding onto the screen.

    Ninja Princess was designed by Rieko Kodama, one of a small number of female figures working in the Japanese games industry in the 1980s. She later found wider fame as the creative force behind dozens of classic Sega games, such as Altered Beast, Phantasy Star, andSonic The Hedgehog. She was still a new, 21-year-old employee when she designed the characters for Ninja Princess, and it’s likely that she created Princess Kurumi as a protagonist other female gamers could identify with.

    The notion of a game led by a heroine seemed to make some sectors of Sega nervous. Outside Japan, Ninja Princess was renamed Sega Ninja - seemingly because Sega thought that the original title might put off a male-dominated arcade scene. 

    Ninja Princess was later ported to the SG-1000, Sega’s first foray into the console market, which remained a faithful port of the original. But by the time Ninja Princess had made its way to the Sega Master System console in the west, Ninja Princess had undergone a major series of changes. Now simply called The Ninja, the game had lost all traces of Princess Kurumi.

    The vivacious cover art of the Japanese version, with its leaping, crimson-clad heroine, was gone, and an image of an anonymous (and distinctly masculine) shuriken-throwing ninja was put in its place.
    Within the game itself, Princess Kurumi was transformed into a male character, named in its lengthy opening story as Kazamaru. Just to rub salt in the wound, Kazamaru’s objective was - you’ve probably guessed it - to rescue a princess from an evil warlord.

    Princess Kurumi is, therefore, one of videogame history’s great lost heroines. She was tough, but unlike the armoured warriors of Baraduke and Metroid, she was also relatably human. And at a time when most games were about defeating alien armadas or rescuing damsels in distress, Ninja Princess had a beguilingly forward-thinking, girl-power plot: the princess’s castle was seized by the evil Gyokuro Zaemon, so Kurumi set off to claim it back by herself.

    Nintendo may have created the first truly celebrated heroine in gaming with Samus Aran, but Rieko Kodama, and her plucky Ninja Princess, made videogame history a full year earlier.

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    Serious Sam returns in this action-packed teaser trailer.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Apr 19, 2018

    Croteam and Devolver Digital have formally announced the development of Serious Sam 4: Planet Badass

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    We've heard rumors of a Serious Sam sequel in development for quite some time, but now, there is proof that one of the great pure action shooters in recent memory is set for a return. Unfortunately, Serious Sam 4 is following the grand tradition of pre-E3 game reveals. That is to say that Devolver Digital and Croteam aren't saying a word about the game at the moment. The only thing that we really have to go off of is the above teaser. 

    While that teaser doesn't reveal much, its wide-open fields and the name "Planet Badass" do lead us to believe that the next Serious Sam game could adopt a large world or open-world setting. That would be a departure from the series' classic traditional levels, but not too radical of one. After all, the Serious Samlevels did encourage a degree of exploration in terms of allowing players to explore various corners of the area for secrets. 

    Whatever direction that the series is taking, we should be seeing much more of it at E3 2018. Hopefully, it will be featured in another awesome Devolver Digital press conference. 

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    It hasn't been that long since we last saw Serious Sam (a Serious Sam VR title was recently released) but it has been about seven years since we last received an entry into the mainline Serious Sam games. That being the case, it's possible you're not familiar with the series' greatness. The Serious Sam series made a name for itself as a high-octane shooter that throws waves of enemies at players. Fortunately, you have access to an array of high-powered weapons capable of decimating enemies in spectacular fashion. 

    Truth be told, there aren't a lot of games out there these days that do what Serious Sam does. As such, we're quite excited to see Serious Sam return to the fold and look forward to bringing you more information on this game. 

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    SNK's classic array of fighting games and action titles might be coming to a mini console near you.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Apr 19, 2018

    SNK decided to hang on to the mini-console gravy train as it leaves the station. As the remains of their bloody corpse are dragged along the tracks, we bring you news of a new SNK console filled with classic games. 

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    A teaser tweet from SNK has the internet...gamers...several people buzzing about the possibility of a new SNK console. The tweet references a "new game machine" (loosely translated) and includes an image of what we assume is the new console hidden under a sheet. Additional reports indicate that the company has confirmed that this machine will house a variety of classic SNK games. Beyond that, it's exact functionality remains unknown. 

    Joining the unknown are the console's price, release date, and full list of upcoming games. What we can tell you is that this console seems to have been manufactured as part of the celebration of SNK's 40th anniversary. Assuming that this ends up being a console, it will be the first that the company has released since the Neo-Geo console was discontinued in the '90s. If it's a handheld, it will be the first since SNK released a failed Neo-Geo handheld a few years ago. 

    You might be getting the impression that SNK has had a bit of a rough go of it the last few decades. They have, but that has nothing to do with the quality of their classic games.

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    Actually, many fans still consider SNK to be the premier name in the world of fighting games. Their King of Fighters series is a cultural mainstay on the fighting scene, and games like Samurai Showdown remain in a class of their own. If this console is loaded with retro games, you can be sure that there will be more than a few fighting titles amongst them.

    Beyond that, it feels safe to assume that there will be a couple of Metal Slug games on there along with some of the company's other classic arcade action titles. Our real hope is that the company digs deep into its vaults and brings back some of their more obscure - but noteworthy - '90s titles. However, we'll just have to wait and see. 

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    TimeSplitters is a true cult classic FPS series. So why didn't we get a fourth entry into the franchise?

    News Matthew Byrd
    Apr 19, 2018

    Recently revealed concept art showcases what the canceled TimeSplitters 4 would have looked like. Spoilers: it was going to be a very, very weird game. 

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    The concept art first appeared over on Reddit where an individual with an unidentified association with Free Radical and TimeSplitters 4 shared them with the site's community. While there were early sketches, they seem to indicate that this game was going to feature a bizarre array of characters that wouldn't have looked out of place on a Garbage Pails Kid card. It's not entirely clear why everyone in the game seems to be a mutated freak, but it's clear that the series' trademark time-traveling elements were in full effect. 

    Eurogamer seems to have learned that most of these images were drawn between 2007 and 2009 when the game was still in its pre-production period. It's clear that the artists decided that it was time to ratchet up the series' underlying weirdness, though we sadly don't know exactly how all of the art's bizarre personality would have fit into the overall vision for the title. 

    What we do know is why TimeSplitters 4 never saw the light of day despite the quality of this awesome art and the relative popularity of the series up until that point. 

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    Various interviews conducted with the Free Radical crew in the years following TimeSplitters 4 cancellation have revealed that the project just never found a publisher. The team actually built a playable demo for the title and sent it out to several publishers, but nobody bit on it. However, it seems that their hesitation to pick up the game had little to do with TimeSplitters and had much more to do with the failed FPS title, Haze. 

    "Publishers would ask what happened with Haze," said Free Radical Design boss Karl Hilton. "We were the company that made a series of high-rated shooters and then we had released Haze, which wasn't as well received. This worried them."

    However, Hilton does admit that TimeSplitters 4 might have been too weird for its own good. He said that publishers just didn't know how to sell the game that the team wanted to make and that TimeSplitters ultimately didn't have a clear "marketing message" to deliver. Hilton admits that they might have been right, but that doesn't make the game's cancellation any easier to swallow. 

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  • 04/19/18--12:21: God of War Review
  • This isn't the God of War you know, but it might just be the PlayStation 4's best game. Here is our review...

    Release Date: April 20, 2018
    Platform: PS4 
    Developer: SIE Santa Monica Studio
    Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
    Genre: Action/Adventure

    The thing that has always separated masterpieces from great games is the feeling they inspire. Granted, that’s not a fair metric, but when you play a game that is truly special, you just know it. It goes beyond logic, classification, and even reason.

    Well, God of War is a masterpiece, even if it’s a game that sometimes feels like its sacrificing tangible greatness for the chance to inspire a feeling.

    The game opens with Kratos chopping down a tree that he intends to use for his recently deceased wife’s funeral pyre. He is joined by his son, Atreus, a precocious young boy whose grief is tempered by the blunt, sometimes cruel life lessons of his father. Not long after, a truly incredible occurrence kickstarts Kratos and Atreus' journey, which is quite unlike any the God of War franchise has seen.

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    Play God of War from its incredible opening to its emotional conclusion and you’ll soon find that it’s incredibly difficult to talk about the things that make this game’s story so special without potentially ruining it for others. Perhaps the same can be said of many other games, but God of War is special in the way that it slowly unfolds the layers of its story through moments that are large in the grand tradition of epic God of War adventures and small in ways that we’ve never seen from this series.

    The former largely consist of the things that we can’t really talk about - this game goes places you are not prepared for - but it's the latter that will ultimately define the legacy of this title. The relationship between Kratos and Atreus has been billed as one of God of War’s standout features. For the most part, that aspect of the game works as well as advertised.

    The relationship between Kratos and Atreus is a...complicated one. The God of War games up until this point have established Kratos as more of a force of nature than a man. Going into this sequel (although perhaps we should call it a revival), then, it was difficult to imagine how he would ever manage to be a father. Well, the game deals with that as Kratos initially treats Atreus more as a tool or weapon that has to be honed in order to survive in this world.

    On the other hand, Atreus is pretty much like every young boy you’ve ever known. He’s energetic, prone to get into trouble, and is capable of reading ancient runes. Ok, that last part isn’t very typical, but the point still stands that Atreus serves as the emotional counterpoint to his father’s stoic nature.

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    Actually, for as much as people like to take Kratos to task for being a generic character notable only for his bloodlust and the spectacle of his rage, many of God of War’s best moments are the result of Kratos launching into the most epic form of dad mode that we’ve ever seen in a video game. Granted, that has something to do with the fact that we genuinely come to care for Atreus as someone whom we cannot lose (even if he cannot actually die during combat). 

    Truth be told, though, there are times when Atreus’ dialogue and actions seem a bit out of place. While his perky personality helps bring out a more human side of Kratos, there are moments when he exhibits a “Gee-whiz” attitude that doesn’t really match the circumstances of his situation and what we believe to be his upbringing.

    What ultimately makes the Kratos/Atreus dynamic work as well as it does is the way the game weaves their relationship into nearly every aspect of the experience. When Atreus is put in any kind of danger, Kratos launches into an old-school God of War rage. When Kratos teaches his son a harsh - but often necessary - lesson about life and the world, we feel Atreus’ silent disappointment because many of those lessons are ones that we’ve learned, too. We even get to watch Atreus evolve as a warrior as his skills grow greater in combat.

    That last bit is especially well-done. At first, Atreus is only able to shoot arrows at enemies at your command. The arrows don’t do much damage and largely serve as an extra parry. However, as the game goes on, Atreus becomes bolder and begins to enter the fray directly. He maintains his arrows - which you can upgrade - but watching his character growth manifest itself in the form of his direct combat is a true joy.

    Actually, God of War’s combat is generally a true joy. Early previews compared the game’s combat to Dark Souls, but that comparison doesn’t quite hold in the final version of the title. Everything is much more deliberate and “meatier” than in previous God of War games and you’re rarely left with the feeling that you are not the true powerhouse. It’s just that you now have to consider things like blocks, counters, enemy positioning, and the various attack types it takes to take down the game’s various foes. You feel like a god, but the game does make you work for it.

    The star of God of War’s combat spectacular is undoubtedly Kratos’ ax. Time will tell if it will become as iconic as the Blades of Chaos, but it feels great to use. The “gimmick” of the ax is that you’re able to throw and recall it at will. It's similar to Thor's hammer in that respect. That mechanic works great during combat - nothing is more satisfying than killing one enemy with a throw and taking out another with the rebound - and is one of the many ways that God of War’s combat keeps you on your toes and inspires you to come up with creative solutions to increasingly complicated conflicts.

    The ax is also used to solve many of the game’s puzzles. God of War has always featured a few brain teasers, but this new collection of puzzles features some truly challenging scenarios. You’d think that they might slow down the game’s pacing, but they’re actually cleverly integrated in ways that ultimately leave you feeling just as satisfied as at the end of any major battle.

    It’s a bit more difficult to praise the game’s upgrade system. Upgrades are nothing new to the series, but this is by far the deepest example of that system ever featured in a God of War game. Everything from Kratos ax to Atreus’ clothes can be customized and upgraded. You can even fit special runes into weapons and items to grant yourself additional abilities and buffs.

    The system itself is fine in a vacuum, but it feels out of place in the context of this world. Early on, the game establishes that Kratos doesn’t really need more than his fists to take down literal gods - fighting bare-handed is perfectly acceptable - and doesn’t need a better wolf pelt to soak up the damage of getting thrown through a mountain. Why, then, does it matter how sharp my ax is or what level of shoulder pelt I have on? 

    There’s also the issue of the game’s menus. See, there are no camera cuts in God of War. The idea of a one-shot sequence is incredibly difficult to accomplish, and a game without a single camera cut that can easily last 30-50 hours is practically a minor design miracle. However, every time that you have to enter a menu to manage some upgrade or skill boost, it does feel like you’re being taken out of that experience somewhat. Menus don’t kill the immersion, but they do feel at odds with it.

    Thankfully, that annoyance pales in comparison to the world that God of War’s focused sweeping shots gradually reveals. No matter what you might read or what you might hear, you are not prepared for the scope of God of War’s world. I’d stop just short of calling it an open-world game, but it is a large world that is loaded with various sidequests for those who desire to seek them. That’s what makes the whole thing work. God of War’s side missions are there to be found by those who want to find them and are in no way shoved down your throat and added to a to-do list log of missions that you’ll never get to.

    It’s not just the missions, though, but the side characters and area design that makes God of War’s world so special. You’ve probably seen quite a few screenshots of God of War’s snowy landscapes and thought. “Is that what the whole game looks like?” It most certainly does not. In fact, there are areas of God of War that I would rank among the most visually creative and exciting in any video game I’ve ever played. What’s more is that they all somehow feel appropriate to this world, even if they are, on paper, radically different. There's even a Metroidvania aspect to some of the areas that allows you to travel between them and unlock shortcuts. 

    Of course, it doesn't hurt that God of War is one of the most beautiful games ever made. The level of detail on every character is simply stunning - Kratos, in particular, looks incredible - but when one of those well-designed areas meets the game's daunting graphical engine, it produces a moment that will cause you to stare in disbelief at your screen. The game's soundtrack is equally impressive, even if it does sometimes take a backseat to some of the visual spectacles on display. 

    God of War's peripheral characters are somehow even more memorable than its levels. The game doesn't boast a particularly large ensemble, but there are many characters you’ll meet along the way, and every single one of them feels like they’re playing an indispensable role in the story. There are grouchy weaponsmiths with the sense of humor of a drunken uncle, a mysterious magic wielder who sets the grander events of the game in motion, a disembodied head with tons of gossip to share, and many more notable personas who aid - and hinder - your quest. Kratos and Atreus remain the stars, but there are certainly a few people you meet along the way who truly steal the show.

    And what a show it is. My biggest complaints about God of War are all related to things that were implemented in an attempt to give gamers more. More options, more gameplay, more mechanics, and more world. In a weird way, Sony's enthusiasm reminds me of Atreus. The developers are eager to show the world what they can do and, in their enthusiasm, they sometimes overstep into dangerous waters that require the player to step in and reach out an understanding open hand.

    While improvements to the game’s menus and upgrade system may have made God of War a technically better game, technical merit has always bowed to the power of a feeling. By the end of God of War, you’ll have the feeling that your emotional connection to the game has led you on a journey that represents something fairly close to the best that gaming has to offer. Any game that has the power to do that must be some kind of masterpiece.

    ReviewMatthew Byrd
    Apr 19, 2018

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    One of Dark Souls 3's best boss fights almost closed the game.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Apr 19, 2018

    In lieu of a new Dark Soulstitles, fans of the series have taken to combing Dark Souls 3 for every secret it contains. Some fans have even begun to comb some of the game's pre-release information to see what was planned for the game that didn't make it in. 

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    Those fans have uncovered a treasure trove of information. The initiative seems to be spearheaded by super fan Lance McDonald who is known for combing through game codes for various secrets. The breadth of his discoveries is jaw-dropping. In fact, it's highly doubtful that you'll really care about many of them unless you're a hardcore - and we mean every waking moment of your life is Dark Souls hardcore - kind of fan. 

    However, there are a few tidbits which might be of interest to everyone who played the game. 

    The biggest piece of info that McDonald uncovered relates to the game's original final boss. It seems that notorious Dark Souls 3 boss Pontiff Sulyvahn was originally going to be the game's final foe. His name was different (whose original name might have been Black Old King) but the design of the character seemed to be largely the same. That kind of makes sense from a purely mechanical standpoint when you consider that Pontiff Sulyvahn is a very challenging boss whose design feels similar to some of the other climatic enemies in the Dark Souls series. 

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    Furthermore, it seems that the final boss battle was originally intended to take place in the Untended Graves area rather than the Kiln of the First Flame. What's particularly interesting about that piece of information is that Untended Graves is actually just an optional area in the final release of Dark Souls. McDonald noted that it seems the version of Untended Graves that would have been the game's final setting is different than the one that is currently in the game. For one thing, it would have been set in the daytime and not at night.

    McDonald admits that some of this information is a bit speculative as it's all pieced together from spare bits of code that may or may not mean exactly what he thinks it does. However, he feels confident that the original end of Dark Souls 3was very different. 

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    Fortnite players are wondering whether a blue comet will deliver them from the game's most hated area.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Apr 19, 2018

    Fortnite players have spotted a mysterious blue comet in the sky, and there is no shortage of theories regarding what it might mean.

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    The mysterious blue comet first appeared in Fortnite's skies a few weeks ago. At the time, the popular theory is that it signaled the start of an upcoming in-game event. However, as things have developed, it seems that the comet instead relates to something more specific. 

    The popular theory at the moment is that the comet is going to destroy some area on the Fortnite map when it lands. Many fans suspect that it will hit the Tilted Towers area. The very simple reason that is the case has something to do with the fact that a large chunk of Fortnite's fanbase adamantly dislikes the Tilted Towers area. in fact, a recent player initiative asked everyone to band together in order to destroy the Tilted Towers area themselves. Naturally, trolls appeared and started to kill everyone to ruin the other player's fun, but the incident still showcased just how despised the area is. 

    Recent events have some fans convinced that the idea the comet might be heading for Tilted Towers is more than just wishful thinking. Fans have spotted some new telescopes that have appeared in the Tilted Towers area since the appearance of the comet. It also seems that Epic has added much more loot to the area in recent weeks. If this comet isn't set to destroy the town, Epic is doing a fine job of convincing players that it will. 

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    If nothing else, this comet is a great indication of just how popular Fortnite really is. In any other game, a visual feature like that may have gone overlooked or otherwise wouldn't have inspired more than a curious glance. However, since Fortnite is the most popular game in the world, the comet has become the centerpiece for a mass investigation despite the fact that it's done nothing but exist so far. 

    Here's hoping that the comet makes an appropriate impact if and when it lands on the map. 

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    PUBG's long-awaited map selection should be available by the time that the Savage map arrives.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Apr 19, 2018

    PlayerUknown's Battlegrounds is finally going to allow players to choose which map they play on before the match. 

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    The PUBG team are working to add a map selection function to the game's test servers soon. The developers have stated that the feature is "almost complete" and that it should be available on the game's servers shortly after the fine-tuning is done. If you're wondering why such a seemingly obvious feature was missing from the game in the first place, it's because the PUBG team felt that it could drastically impact matchmaking. If a particular map is popular - or just new - it could eat up the majority of player interest and leave others in the cold. 

    However, PUBG's developers believe that they've finally figured out a way to mitigate the potential impact of a map selection option. 

    “We analyzed tens of millions of matches and sorted the data by server, mode, and time to make sure map selection wouldn’t break the game for anyone,” said the developer via a recent Steam post. "We wanted to make sure that we could create a solution that worked for every region’s players, even the ones with a naturally low server population.”

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    The selection process itself is very simple. Prior to queuing into a match, you can select which maps you'd like to play on. If you'd rather just play one specific map, you have that option, but you can also select multiple maps and the game will choose which one you actually queue into at random. It sounds pretty elegant, which makes it a shame that the option will only be available on PC in the near future. Of course, considering that the Xbox version of the game still only has one map, it's not really an issue at the moment. 

    Speaking of new maps, PUBG's latest map - Codename: Savage - will reportedly feature a new underground cave system when the final version of the area is available on live servers. You'll actually be able to parachute directly into the tunnels when you enter the map, and the tunnels themselves will feature multiple exists that span the entire area of the map. This tunnel system should help expand the scope of Savage somewhat as it currently stands as the smallest map in the game. 

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    This mod turns the realistic military shooter Ghost Recon into an even more realistic military shooter.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Apr 19, 2018

    After 16 years in development, Heroes Unleashed, a realism mod for Ghost Recon, is finally - mostly - finished. 

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    In what has to be one of the most impressive cases of insanity...err...dedication that we've ever heard of, Apex Mods have been working on a mod for the original Ghost Recon since the game launched in 2002. The purpose of this mod was to Ghost Recon into one of the most "hardcore military shooter simulators" that the gaming industry has ever seen.

    If you're suddenly thinking "Wait a minute, wasn't the original Ghost Recon a pretty hardcore military simulator in its own right?" then you'll be happy to know you aren't going crazy. The original Ghost Recon was indeed a pretty hardcore game. However, it seems that Apex Mods felt it wasn't hardcore enough. That's why they built a mod that adds everything from real-world physics to advanced A.I. to the game. The extent of the additions features in this mod is pretty crazy. We're well beyond the realms of reason when talking about what this mod adds and the work that went into it. 

    Interestingly, even the mods own creators admit that this version of the game can be frustrating and is most certainly not intended for everyone. They also have some very choice words about the direction the Ghost Recon series eventually went in. 

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    "What had started out as the epitome of a deeply engrossing gaming experience in realistic squad-based infantry combat, has turned into a shallow slugfest of superficial Hollywood action and eye candy, all for the sake of mass market appeal, all to satisfy casual gamers with the attention span of a fruit fly," said one of the mod's creators in an interview with Mod DB.

    As for why this mod took 16 years to make (which is a ridiculously long time even for a mod of this size) it apparently has something to do with the amount of research required to get all of the game's physics and other realistic components just right. Remarkably, the mod's creators have indicated that there is still quite a bit of work to do before the mod reaches a state of completion that they are satisfied with. 

    Shine on you crazy diamonds. 

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    You've heard of Super Mario Bros, The Legend of Zelda, and Metroid, but have you played these underrated NES classics?

    The Lists Chris Freiberg
    Apr 19, 2018

    More than three decades after its release, the NES is still considered by many to be the greatest console of all time, even without modern bells and whistles like online play or 4K resolution. And with good reason: it’s home to tons of timeless classics like Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, and Metroid.

    But the greatness of the NES goes far beyond those classics. Nearly 700 licensed games were released for the console in North America, and even today some of those greats are easily forgotten.

    These are the 25 most underrated NES games that are still worth checking out:

    25. Wario’s Woods

    1994 | Nintendo

    Wario’s Woods is an anomaly for plenty of reasons. It was the first Nintendo console game to star Mario’s nemesis and it’s also completely unlike any of the other games in what loosely constitutes the Wario series. The match-3 gameplay bears more than a passing familiarity to Dr. Mario, but instead of controlling pills dropped from the top of the screen, players control a Toad at the bottom that moves monsters and bombs. It was also the last NES game officially released in North America, so with almost a decade of experience programming games for the console at this point, it’s easily one of the best looking titles on the system.

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    Despite some odd design choices and complex controls, those that dive into Wario’s Woods often find a tough but satisfying puzzler. And while Nintendo has made the game available through the Virtual Console, the Big N left Wario’s Woods off of the NES Classic and seems to have zero interest in revisiting this type of gameplay.

    24. Déjà Vu

    1990 | ICOM Simulations, Inc.

    The NES isn’t the first platform that comes to mind when thinking about point-and-click games, but it actually did have a few solid adventure titles. Even with the system’s limitations, Déjà Vu nailed the 1940s film noir vibe well. It’s enthralling figuring out the mystery of PI/retired boxer Ace Harding, as he explores the deep underbelly of Chicago.

    As great as the game’s atmosphere is, its puzzles can be quite confusing. This was long before the days of Telltale when scenes could be completed by just checking everything in a room. Expect to use a walkthrough if you dive into Déjà Vu now.

    23. Captain America and the Avengers

    1991 | Data East

    There were a lot of very bad Marvel games released for the NES. Anything with a Spider-Man or a member of the X-Men on it is best avoided. There's one exception, though. Captain America and the Avengers may not be the best side-scroller on the console, but it’s better than any other Marvel tile from the era. The developers even kind of nailed down the feel of Cap’s shield, which you can throw or use to deflect bullets and defend yourself from hazards. You can also play as Hawkeye, but he’s not nearly as much fun.

    Sadly, while this is based off a beloved arcade game, some cuts had to be made. You can’t play as the Vision or Iron Man like in the arcade game, even though the title still references “The Avengers.” That means four-player co-op is out of the question, too. Still, this was a solid port for the times.

    22. Gremlins 2: The New Batch

    1990 | Sunsoft

    The ‘90s were an era where pretty much every movie and TV show received a video game adaptation. Usually, these games were nonsensical and not very good, but every now and then, a great team of developers put something together that was surprisingly good. Gremlins 2 is one of those hidden gems from the era.

    You play as Gizmo from a top-down perspective as he travels through a vast building to eliminate the gremlins using a variety of weapons, including a crossbow. This is a game that looks, sounds, and plays far better than it has any right to.

    21. Krusty’s Fun House

    1992 | Fox Williams 

    Acclaim released a whopping four Simpsons games during the lifespan of the NES. This is the only one not to star Bart and it’s also the best of the bunch. By a lot. Rather than focusing on traditional side-scrolling gameplay like the other games, you play as Krusty the Klown. His titular funhouse has become infested with mice and only he can get rid of them.

    Gameplay is a lot like Lemmings, with Krusty moving around blocks and other objects to guide the mice to their extermination. And while other characters from the franchise are sparse, they do show up as bosses at the end of each level.

    20. Ring King

    1987 | Data East 

    Punch-Out!! may be the undisputed champion of NES boxing games, but Ring King is a solid contender. Rather than focus the camera behind your boxer, the fighters square off in third-person, like a wrestling game. Even though all of the boxers are palette swaps, there’s a lot of depth here and the graphics are surprisingly good for an early NES game.

    While the gameplay is fun, Ring Kinghas also become somewhat infamous online in recent years for another reason. Between rounds, your trainer comes to the ring, gets on his knees, and well… it can only be described as “servicing” the boxer.

    19. Batman

    1990 | Sunsoft

    There was a time, long ago, when Batman movies got video game adaptations - even great video game adaptations. Based on the 1989 Tim Burton movie, Batman actually does a decent job of following the film’s basic plot and spicing in gameplay liberally borrowed from Ninja Gaiden, like the wall jump and Batarangs. It also boasts a killer soundtrack and some primitive, but entertaining cutscenes.

    Just be warned that this is one difficult game to complete. You might not even make it through the first level, let alone live to see the final showdown with the Joker, but it sure is fun to try.

    18. Street Fighter 2010: The Final Fight

    1990 | Capcom

    Despite the title, Street Fighter 2010 is only sort of related to the legendary fighting game franchise. Capcom had a solid side-scrolling shooter on its hands but didn’t think anyone would pay attention to it in the U.S. So the main character was renamed from Kevin Striker in the Japanese version to Ken, a martial arts master, implying he was the same character from Street Fighter.

    The game actually came out a few months before Street Fighter II hit arcades, so the series wasn’t nearly the phenomenon that it would be later in the ‘90s, making the localization decision even more bizarre. Still, there’s fun to be had here, with tight controls and a strong soundtrack if you just ignore all the unnecessary Street Fighter silliness.

    17. Willow

    1989 | Capcom

    Based on an idea by George Lucas, Willow was one of those movies that was a big deal when it was released, but that has fallen into obscurity over the years. It seems rather unavoidable then that the game based on the movie would suffer the same fate. But Willow is actually good!

    The game obviously takes a lot of inspiration from The Legend of Zelda, but with Capcom (which would later go on to make some Zelda games) at the helm, that’s not such a bad thing. Some might even prefer the required grinding.

    16. Zoda’s Revenge: StarTropics 2

    1994 | Nintendo

    The first StarTropics was a top-down adventure game that showed a lot of promise, but had some control issues. For the sequel, Nintendo fixed that issue with a much smoother system that allowed movement in eight different directions, then added in some of the best graphics on the console and an awesome story that saw main character Mike Jones travel through time.

    Like Wario’s Woods, this is one of those games that was pretty good but still seemingly sent out to die long after most gamers had moved on to the SNES. And for whatever reasons, Nintendo has completely ignored the series ever since.

    15. The Bugs Bunny Birthday Blowout

    1990 | Kemco

    It’s Bugs Bunny’s 50th birthday, so of course, he has to fight a bunch of his friends to get to his party. I guess? Is that something anyone has ever had to do for a birthday party? It doesn’t really matter as that’s mostly just an excuse to give Bugs a hammer to take down enemies in a variety of side-scrolling levels, each culminating in a boss fight with a fellow Looney Toon.

    It’s an odd game, but still one of the better ones to feature the Looney Tunes. And unlike a lot of NES games, the sprites actually look like the characters they’re meant to portray.

    14. Adventure Island

    1988 | Hudson Soft

    Far too many NES side-scrollers ripped off Super Mario Bros. and Mega Man, usually with awful results. Adventure Island was one of the few platformers on the console that oozed originality. It took real skill to learn how control to Master Higgins and his stone ax, fireballs, and of course, skateboard. This side-scroller is the rare 8-bit game that’s tough because it’s meant to be, not because of poor design choices or the limitations of the hardware.

    Adventure Island actually started off as a port of Sega’s Wonder Boy arcade game, but the decision was made to create an original character during development. Meanwhile, the Wonder Boy sequels would add more RPG features and go in an entirely different direction. Unfortunately, while Wonder Boy has seen a bit of a resurgence in recent years, the Adventure Island series hasn’t appeared since an obscure 2009 WiiWare game.

    13. Magic of Scheherazade

    1989 | Culture Brain

    Scheherazade was a game ahead of its time in many ways. While at first glance it's a Zelda clone, the ability to travel between five different time periods actually preceded A Link to the Past by two years. The innovative combat system also mixed real-time and turn-based combat, a feature PC RPGs wouldn’t adopt until years later. It’s also one of the few NES games with a Middle Eastern theme, which helps it stand out from the pack.

    At one point, a sequel was planned for the SNES, which could have really been something special given the groundwork laid by the NES game, but it was canceled with no further information announced.

    12. River City Ransom

    1989 | Technos Japan

    Initially ignored in North America, River City Ransom’s reputation has improved over the years. While the NES had no shortage of beat ‘em ups, River City Ransom was the first to let you explore an open world. Your character could further customize his stats with food items or by reading magazines, something that was unheard of in the genre at the time.

    Unlike many of the third-party games from the era, the River City Ransom franchise is still alive and kicking with the most recent game in the series, River City: Rival Showdown, hitting the 3DS last year. For better or worse, aside from sharper looking graphics, the games haven’t changed much over the last three decades.

    11. Tiny Toon Adventures

    1991 | Konami

    Tiny Toon Adventures was an early ‘90s cartoon featuring younger characters based on the classic Looney Toons. For example, there was Buster Bunny, a blue rabbit similar in personality to Bugs, and Plucky Duck, a green duck not unlike Daffy. It was a pretty good show that was ultimately overshadowed by the even better Animaniacs, which debuted around the same time.

    The Animaniacs never starred in a game this good, though. The graphics are bright and colorful, among some of the best NES could produce, and you can switch between four different characters, including Buster, Plucky, Furrball the cat, and Dizzy Devil, a Tasmanian devil. It’s a short game with some surprisingly difficult sections, but still worth a play today.

    10. Gun-Nac

    1991 | Compile

    On the surface, Gun-Nac appears to be a by the numbers vertical shooter. There’s a galactic federation doing typical galactic stuff (as federations do) when suddenly… the toys take over? That’s when the giant rabbits and space octopi attack. Then there’s the cat boss that throws coins at you. Gun-Nac’s atmosphere is completely bonkers.

    Thankfully, that’s not the only reason to check this title out. The shooting is solid, and you can upgrade your ship in-between levels. You’ll likely find yourself humming its catchy soundtrack long after you’ve finished the game.

    9. Clash at Demonhead

    1990 | Vic Tokai

    Clash at Demonhead was a Metroidvania game before that term existed. Featuring a character who could collect numerous different abilities, like teleportation, shrinking, and a boomerang gun, the game featured more than 40 different routes to the end, with stages that you could go back and visit at any time.

    Like the original Mega Man, Clash at Demonhead featured painful budget sci-fi cover art that had little relation to the actual gameplay. Unlike Mega Man though, Clash at Demonhead didn’t go on to inspire dozens of sequels, which is kind of a shame.

    8. Ikari Warriors

    1987 | Micronics

    Contrais fondly remembered for its tough as nails co-op shoot ‘em up gameplay, but it hardly had a monopoly on the genre on the NES. Released around the same time as Contra, Ikari Warriors also featured two shirtless commandos shooting infinite waves of enemies, but from an overhead angle. While that means you can see more of the screen, it didn’t make the game any easier.

    Another difference from Contra was the addition of vehicles, tanks, and helicopters. Ikari Warriorsdoes admittedly look primitive given that it came out early in the lifespan of the NES, but it’s still an absolute blast with a co-op partner.

    7. Little Samson

    1992 | Takeru 

    Little Samsonwas Taito’s attempt at crafting a quality platformer that rivaled the sales and popularity of Mega Man. In terms of gameplay, Taito arguably succeeded. Little Samson is an absolute joy to play, with four characters you can switch between at any time. The graphics stand out among the best on the console.

    Unfortunately, while the quality was there, the sales weren’t. Gamers had mostly moved on to the SNES by 1992 and weren’t going back to its 8-bit predecessor no matter how good the games were. If you can find a legitimate copy of Little Samsonnow, expect to pay somewhere around $1,000 for just the cartridge.

    6. DuckTales 2

    1993 | Capcom

    While the first DuckTales game is fondly remembered, for a long time many NES gamers didn’t even know this sequel existed. It came out late in the console’s lifecycle and its print run was incredibly small. In terms of gameplay, it’s a lot like the first DuckTales game, which isn’t a bad thing at all. Like its predecessor, it’s a little on the short and easy side, though.

    The title finally got its due with an appearance in Capcom’s The Disney Afternoon Collection in 2017, but it seems unlikely that it will ever see a complete remake like the first game.

    5. StarTropics

    1990 | Nintendo

    Take The Legend of Zelda, move it to a modern setting with a bunch of aliens, and tweak the gameplay to focus on a yo-yo. In a lot of ways, the original StarTropics feels even more like a proper Zelda sequel than The Adventures of Link, the weird, side-scrolling sequel we got on the NES. It’s certainly aged much better than that game.

    Oddly enough, while StarTropics was made by a group of Japanese developers living in the U.S., Nintendo has never released the game in Japan. Maybe that’s why the Big N has shown so little interest in resurrecting the series over the years.

    4. Adventures of Lolo

    1989 | Nintendo

    HAL Laboratory took the typical story of a hero saving the princess and turned it into something truly special with Lolo’s sliding puzzle block gameplay. It takes some real strategy to get through all 50 of Lolo’s stages, knowing just where to move blocks and when to shoot enemies.

    Two more sequels followed on the NES, and all three of the games are worth playing, though they don’t differ much in terms of gameplay. While Nintendo hasn’t revisited the franchise in years (which is a real shame), Lolo and Princess Lala do regularly show up in Kirby’s adventures.

    3. Little Nemo: The Dream Master

    1990 | Capcom

    One of the cool things about the NES era was how developers were willing to find inspiration from all sorts of odd places. Though Little Nemowas based on an animated Japanese film, that film was based on an early 1900s comic strip about a young boy’s adventures in dreams. The result is a fantastical platformer wherein Nemo collects keys to open the next level while occasionally feeding candy to a frog, gorilla, or mole for rides.

    The game was developed by Capcom during a period when the company just didn’t make bad games. Unfortunately, the title was a one-off, and since the Little Nemo movie didn’t exactly set the world on fire, it forever remains trapped in time as an example of the more unique games that came out of the era.

    2. The Guardian Legend

    1989 | Compile 

    Picture a game that’s part Zelda and part 1942, with an awesome chip tune soundtrack. Sounds amazing, right? It was. It still is. But the initial reception for The Guardian Legend was somewhere between ambivalence and straight up hostility. Maybe the world just wasn’t ready for something so different at the time.

    As the titular Guardian, your mission is to destroy the alien planet Naju. Half the time, you're on foot in top-down Zelda-style areas. The other part of the game, set inside Naju, is a straight shoot ‘em up.

    A lot of the game’s early criticism was directed at the complicated password system, but since that’s not really an issue with modern emulation, the game has found a much more favorable reception in the twenty-first century.

    1. Crystalis

    1990 | SNK 

    It’s been 100 years since a nuclear war destroyed civilization. An evil new empire reigns. As an amnesiac warrior just out of cryogenic sleep, it’s now your duty to save the world. The story of Crystalis was surprisingly dark, which was a rarity for the era.

    While the top-down action RPG gameplay wasn’t unique for the period, it just felt better than pretty much anything else around, and the story made sure the quest to obtain four elemental swords never got boring.

    Unlike the other games on this list, the positive reception Crystalis received years after release did motivate Nintendo to release a remake for the Game Boy Color in 2000, but with poorer graphics and sound, the NES is still the best place to check out this underrated gem.

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