The Best Rash I’ve Ever Had

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When I was a kid, my friend would come over with a copy of Road Rash for Sega Genesis.  We’d race for hours while beating each other over the head with any number of clubbed and bladed implements.  Ah, the joys of youth!  It has been many years since and I hadn’t even heard the name of this spoken, and I had begun to wonder if it was ever real at all.  I played Twisted Metal on the Playstation and any number of other games that tried to emulate it, but none that tried to recreate the balls-to-the-wall motorcycle racing gauntlet that was Road Rash.  Then yesterday, it happened.  I heard of a projecton Kickstarter that was to emulate this game, and it had already reached its funding goal.  Its name was Road Redemption.

In this title, you will be playing a Katana-clad member of a mid-western America motorcycle gang.  You have to move your way up in the ranks and take control of drug trading routes.  It’s a visceral title that will actually hit harder than its spiritual predecessor.  Thing is, it won’t be made by the same people that made Road Rash.  In fact, a lot of these developers grew up playing games on the same systems I did, so they remember the good old days of games that make you earn their respect rather than the spoon-fed titles of today.

Who says real badasses never look back at an explosion?

Who says real badasses never look back at an explosion?

This looks like a title that will take esports to an awesome new level and bring people away from their Xboxes and Call of Duty.  You’ll earn money by racing, sure, but if I can wield a shotgun on a motorcycle, why would I just want to race all the time?  Luckily there will also be assassinations, robberies and other challenges.  Getting the goods will allow you to level your character, buy better hardware and upgrade your bike so you can really take on the tough guys.

The storyline is a sort of made-in-America Mad Max routine.  You are part of stated motorcycle gang in post-apocalyptic mid-west America, and the country is run by a ruthless dictator.  You gang-leader decides that it would be a great idea to ride into the capital with the intent of killing the dictator.  I guess it doesn’t go too well, since the game description implies heavily that shit hits the fan for you and everyone you know.  You then have to track this guy down and, pending his judgment at the gang’s hands, decide what to do about the whole dictator situation.

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Flying blurry men never did know how to ride bikes well…

One of the more vague features of this game comes with the life-system.  There will be no extra lives, but the experience, gear and upgrades you earn should stick with you.  What does this mean? Fuck if I know, but I guess you have a lot of family members who are willing to step up and take over your cause.  You’re probably from one of those massive Irish-Catholic families you see all over television.  What’s more is that multi-player mode will be all about you building your gang and then taking to the internet where you will join up with or against your friends.  Hey, competition is just as much fun as working together, sometimes.  Personally, I cannot wait to throw someone under a bus.. fucking literally!

The best part about all of this?  Road Redemption comes out tomorrow on Steam as Early Access.  So get those bike helmets ready.  We’re info for one hell of a ride.  Get ready for the best rash you’ve ever seen!

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Double-Up Discussion: Taekwondo Global Tournament, Bucketman

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It is starting to happen.  Games are coming out on mobile platforms that aspire to be more than just quick little solo challenges.  Mobile gaming is starting to earn its stripes as a “real gaming” platform.  Don’t believe me?  Check this game out.  It’s based on the ancient Korean martial art, and it utilizes the fighter concept to pit players against one another.  It is still deep in development, if you go to the game’s website, you can sign up to receive updates about its release!

So right now you get to choose between four character, two male and two female.  There are also two different arenas to battle in, but the “space” in the arenas are pretty small.  Really the goal is to get up on your enemy and deliver blows to their helmet or to their waistband.  This scores you a hit and lowers their health.  There is also a stamina bar that lowers depending on how many moves you do, and attacking and blocking will lower it briefly before it refills.

You stepped in a poop...

I can see you stepped in a poop…

Controls are simple, back and forth arrows allow you to scootch in close to your enemy.  Above those there is the block button, which makes your character drop their shoulder.  There are two attack buttons, a low and high attack.  Low attacks are aimed at the waistband while the high attack is aimed at the head.  Experimenting with the attacks in combination with the move buttons causes your character to perform a variety of different style attacks.  It is a lot of fun.  It is pretty fast-paced and a lot of fun, even though there were only two different arenas that I could choose from: Dojang and Iran.

The background and art of the game is rather stunning for a mobile game.  Taekwondo Global Tournament really took me by surprise!  Right now there is no sound, but with the attention being paid to the rest of the game, I don’t doubt that it will be spectacular when it’s released!  You can watch the teaser on you tube!

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Bucketman is a bizarre game that takes the location information about your neighborhood and turns it into a game.  Just the introductory levels, which all take place in Palo Alto, California, are frustrating and difficult, but the game has its charms.

The story is that there are Artificially Intelligent Vehicles, or AIVs , roaming the streets and you have to take on the form of a sentient bucket to stop them.  Probably related to the Kool Aide Man.  In this battle for chromatic dominance, you control your bucketman with a concentric joystick pad.  You can also jump over the AIVs and there is another button, but I was having some trouble getting to the use of that thing.  It is a fun game, though a bit trying on the patience.

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The game gets more and more complex as you play, and the goal is to battle it out with the AIVs.  You collect different color paints to raise your stats, such as walking speed and air-time for your jumps.  An easier way to put is you can get more ups so jumps last longer.  There is also water that you have to collect throughout a level, which comprises the main goal and gets you more time.  So run around collecting more paints and waters.  You can also buy more paints and such with in-app purchases, but they are pretty well hidden in the menu, almost as if the developer is ashamed to ask.  But no worries, it isn’t in your face or forced, so it makes me feel really good about these guys.  You can get this app free on Google Play!

Bucketman is a great location-based game that deserves some credit, even if the concept is bizarre and the story is goofy.  I mean who would believe that Google cars could take over the world..? wait a minute…

Skara, Shiney Pre-Alpha Preview

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Skara: The Blade Remains is a game given the go ahead by the community on Steam Greenlight.  One of many worthy candidates for support, Skara attmepts to step in where many mainstream companies leave off.  Arena deathmatch games typically come with guns and grenades, but this title threatens to drop you into an ancient desert or a volcanic nightmare and wishes you well against the hordes of your foes.  The game looks great and the developer’s site gives a lot more regarding the story and world.

Among alpha-previews that I have played, this title has to be the most difficult to discuss in my fashion.  Primarily, I would ask readers to keep in mind that this game is not even up for sale yet.  It is not even close to finished.  The developers are working hard daily to ensure this game gets to a complete phase as soon as possible.  Having recently played the pre-alpha build, I am certainly excited, but not overly impressed.  If this game were to pre-release today, I would laugh loudly and call shenanigans.  But it is not, so I look forward to the game that the developers are working on, as detailed on their Greenlight page.

First, let me generally name some of the areas that the developers have to improve.  In a game with sword fighting gameplay, you want the character to attack well.  A third-person perspective is granted to the player, and this gives you a much better perception of the presence of your character than other games of a similar genre with their first-person views.  Now, being in pre-alpha, Skara’s animations are a little slow right now and this definitely comes out in the gameplay, making it difficult to maneuver, but it was funny as hell to watch my character swinging a longsword like it was made of white-dwarf matter.  I had to actually start my attacks at a distance in order to “spool up” the animation like it was some kind of minigun with one fucking shot.  Another problem with the animations is the ragdoll effect, but in this it should be called the invertebrate effect.  Upon death all the bones in a corpse seem to magically disappear.  Instant man-jelly style.   Now, one thing that I did notice about the animations while playing was fatalities.  Let’s fucking face it, a game like this is boring without a little extra in the awesome category.  I was able to perform two fatalities that really got me amped up.  I favored the civilized look of the Durno fighters.  They just felt better than the insane, cultist look of the Kharn savages.  I was able to get a few guys to a state of “finish him” dazed-ness.  Once there I ran one guy through and flipped him over my shoulder.  The second one I put a guy on his knees like a priest at a pulpit then proceeded to hack wildly at his muscular neck.  I imagine the head will fly off at the end once the game releases, but the chopping action just finishes the animation with the victim sliding to the ground.

Just wait right there, Shraka!  I gonna keel you!

I’m not waiting here all night, Shraka.  Just get the attack over with already!

 

Arena fighters always need someoneto duke it out or there is nothing to play.  This game currently features the Durno (above left) and the Kharn (above right).  Looking at the models and textures for the races I can see why there are only two at the moment.  And why they turn into man-jelly on death.  The models and textures are detailed as fuck.  Light reflects from their clothes and skin differently and their armor and weapons gleam. It is really exciting to see.

Another element that is important to arena fighters like this is easy navigation, especially as far as the menus are concerned.  There shouldn’t be a learning curve for the usage of the basic elements of a game.  When there is a menu to interact with, Skara makes sure it is easy to use.  The only two menus I saw, however, were the escape menu and the match menu.  When loading the level right now, there is nothing.  The screen is just a dead view on the map your anticipated match will be held. Once the game starts, though you have access to the match menu. The match menu is what displays when you hit the tab button in-game.  This is pretty simple and shows you how many kills you (in a deathmatch) or your team (in team deathmatch) have scored.  The scoring system is the Kills – Deaths equation, which I can get behind.  I played enough Unreal Tournament and grew accustomed to the simple systems of games past.

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Best not ask the barbarians why they all have the same first name. Might insult their savage and unforgiving culture.

 

Now, everything that is wrong with the game can be attributed to the fact that the game is not ready for release, so it is missing a variety of important features, such as a tutorial area.  Tutorials on the operation of the battle combos would definitely be very helpful.  Looking at the explanation of the combos in the PDF that came with the game is a little on the confusing side.  Not because of the manual, that is simple.  Click this button, or press this series of keys.  Whatever, no sweats, man!  Then you get in-game and the ham-handed speed of the animations makes timing combos impossible for anyone.  Unless you are Miss Cleo or a Jedi..  then you can clairvoyantly intuit precisely when you need to hit the next key.  Otherwise it is a frenzy full of confused manipulation, like watching my childhood dog hump a pillow.

Of all things this game does and does fucking well are the sights.  Now, yes, I am very critical of graphics-heavy games with no other matter, but this is a game that is still in fucking development!  Cut me a goddamn break!  At one point the AI had a freakout session as I swung at it, and I think opted for self-preservation.  Either that or the guy was like, “fuck this!  If I die now, I want it to be a badass fight sequence!”  So he turns and runs up this tower, and I immediately give chase.  Bones of fallen warriors crunching beneath my iron-clad feet, I charge after my foe.  Bloodlust is coursing through my mind and bringing that coppery flavor thick into my mouth.  Each step takes me upward and he intermittently flags in stamina, coming into view only to catch a string wind and charge further.  I arrive at the top, only to lose my bearings.  Around me the winds howl and the glare of orange light as the sun reflects off the clay-shot fields of the moors.  Behind me my ambuscade foe howls and comes a hair’s breadth from burying the sharp end of his axe into my skull.  I dodge narrowly and heft my sword up, bringing my slice through his torso.  Dazed and reeling, the Kharn warrior blinks against the dazzling flash of my steel.  Only a blink passes and he opens his eyes to see the sharp tip of my sword pierce his chest.  Back my sword plunges until the hilt nearly touches his bulging muscles.  Kharnish men are brutal, and the warrior sneers and tries to grab my sword with his last breath, but I ram my shoulder into his sternum and twist my blade, flipping him into the air.  He lands with a sickening crunch on the stone behind me.

This is what is looked like in game, and the graphics supported every second of it.  You see a far-flung waste, venomous water gnawing at its shores and warriors struggling against death borne by other men.  I can only image that this game will get better, especially since it has been successfully Greenlit.  My biggest issue here is that the game isn’t fucking done, yet.  I played an unfinished game and honestly cannot wait until it is done, because a fantasy arena fighter would be so much fun to me.  The graphics and textures are gorgeous and the ambient sound is nice.  Perhaps the grunts and groans of the characters sound like they came out of a can, but the wind tearing at the dirt and slobbering waves on the shore sound magnificent.  Add in the ambient wildlife and you have a very graphically enticing world that utilizes the Unreal engine to stunning effect.  Now let’s get the rest of the game done, guys.  This one is set up to be really good.

Here the Kharnish warriors allow a Durnovan man how to perform the Kharnish Hot Foot ritual, performed with axes and clubs by boys at age 4.

Here the Kharnish warriors allow a Durnovan man how to perform the Kharnish Hot Foot ritual, performed with axes and clubs by boys at age 4.