The upcoming Little Nemo game, dreams Mega Ran to its soundtrack

The Little Nemo and the Nightmare Fiends new video game is currently on Kickstarter, based on the very groundbreaking early 1900s Little Nemo in Slumberland comic strips by American cartoonist Windsor McCay, has some new surprises for gaming fans, with an addition to its soundtrack.

But first, a little more about the game:

Little Nemo and the Nightmare Fiends follows the adventures of a 7-year-old boy in the world of his dreams. Little Nemo and the Nightmare Fiends finds Nemo and his friends fighting off the invasion of the Nightmare Fiends, who threaten the existence of Slumberland itself!

Featuring hand-drawn, keyframed artwork and animation, Little Nemo and the Nightmare Fiends combines the exquisite art and wild dreams of the original comic with reimagined characters and new adventures. The game is currently in early prototype form and is tentatively slated to release in 2022.

Pie for Breakfast Studios, an award-winning game studio blending play with the arts, and independent studio PxlPlz recently announced the soundtrack for Little Nemo and the Nightmare Fiends will be composed by Wayne Strange, a video game composer, vocalist, and orchestrator whose previous work includes score prep work on game soundtracks like Star Trek: The Video Game and God of War: Ascension, as well as arrangements for Materia Collective and Video Games Live.

The soundtrack will also include a guest track by the prolific hip-hop nerdcore artist Mega Ran, whose music blends education, hip-hop, and gaming. He has covered and remixed numerous classic game soundtracks, including Capcom’s Little Nemo the Dream Master (which is an awesome and very underrated classic of the NES 8-bit era).

Mega Ran’s recently released a memoir, Dream Master, that details his personal journey and is named after Little Nemo. Current plans for the soundtrack will see it exploring different genres of music, lending the game a lucid dream-like quality. Backers to the game’s Kickstarter can pre-order a copy of the soundtrack in both digital and CD formats.

Here is the Little Nemo track backed by the Little Nemo NES game music.

Further details of the game involve the control of Nemo and his 3 friends: the magic-wielding Princess of Slumberland, the mischievous clown Flip, and the agile royal guard Peony, an original character created for this game. Each character has different abilities that help them navigate the dangers in Slumberland. The game offers a system that lets players switch between characters quickly, allowing them to use different characters’ abilities in tandem for powerful combinations.

The music and animation look promising for Little Nemo and the Nightmare Fiends. Check out the Kickstarter and eventual release details at www.LittleNemoGame.com.

Creator Spotlight Interview: Daniel Coady: indie game developer, creator, artist, dstnce runner

Meet Daniel Coady, a creative design artist and storyteller from Melbourne, Australia, also a pro full stack developer into computing, graphics and games programming, and more. They are continuously working on multiple side projects while seeking new challenges.

Recently, Daniel Coady released their first game dstnce, a indie game for PC’s via Steam and Itch. At a glance, dstnce can easily be judged for something very simple and goggly cute. But throughout, is a deeper surreal experience, and a test of resilience in a seemingly lighthearted world that centers around isolated, limited small environment that is quite familiar to situations many face in our ongoing Covid global pandemic. Here, is a bit more..

Here is a trailer…

After getting to know them through a series of fun game streams, we had asked Daniel Coady about creating and releasing dstnce, the process of game development, and the fine art of creativity. The answers were insightful, as we learned more in our interview below…

Hello Daniel, tell us a little bit about yourself and your game development inspirations…

I’ve always been a bit of a nerd, be it in my early years when I tried to make a crappy little laptop I picked up for $20 run faster, by installing Ubuntu (this was back when it was still using Unity DE, so my fellow Linux users probably understand how well that went down (haha) or right now where in my spare time I like to learn about cool new tech and play around with emulation dev. So, it’s fair to say that I’ve got come inclination towards technology, specifically programming. As well as this though I always found it to be incredibly important to be able to broaden my horizons so that I’m not just always working on computers. This lead to me to pursue hobbies such as photography, 3D modelling/animation, skateboarding, and music.

So, rewind back to high school for me, back when I used to play way more games than I do now. I had a hand-me-down Xbox 360 which was pretty run down but still functioning, and I also had a shared family PC that while pretty not great by even the standards back then did function… mostly. Around this time I also got my first job so I had all this money, and in turn freedom, to explore what games had to offer. This is when I discovered the likes of Telltale’s The Walking Dead, Thomas Was Alone, and Bastion. These games really made me feel things in a way that nothing else did, like it was all genuinely powerful and excellent media. Up until this point I had dabbled in game dev before (started making tiny dungeon crawlers in GameMaker way back when I was like… 8-9 or something) but never thought much of doing it “for real”. This changed everything for me though and I set my sights pretty hardcore on becoming a professional game developer.

So, it was settled, and near the end of high school, I decided to drop out to study game dev. Quite frankly, it didn’t go too well. I didn’t learn much in the way of game dev outside of how to use Blender (which has actually come in handy a fair few times), so most of my time was spent trying to find resources online to teach myself. I soon found a Discord server which at the time was called TairaGames Dev Squad (a server for a YouTuber called TairaGames, also on Discord) and is now called Game Dev 101, and I used it extensively to learn about game dev from others as well as share my knowledge of game dev. Fast forward to now, I’ve spent roughly 3 years in computer science and am about to enter my fourth and final year. I’ve been teaching myself game dev while learning as much as I can from others who are far smarter than me.

That brings us to dstnce, a very different game than what many would expect, which feels abstract in its execution. What were your inspirations in the creation process?

It’s kinda hard to nail down all the inspirations that make up dstnce since it truly is inspired by the various bits of art and experiences I’ve had in my lifetime. There’s a few things of note however which have fairly large, and sometimes glaringly obvious, inspirations upon my game:

Make Yourself At Home – This was a jam game a couple mates of mine, Cat Flynn and Cinder Foster-Smith, made many moons ago now. The entire aesthetic of the game was constructed using vector graphics drawn in Inkscape which I found to be fairly distinct and friendly in tone, matching a part of the vibe I was looking for. Using MYAH! as a reference point, I started off by replicating the art and then tweaking it to get the more clean, almost clinical aesthetic you see in dstnce.

The Rhapsody Tapes – One of my all time favourite albums by my favourite band: Ocean Grove. In general, OG really push a message of being yourself and make it explicit that their music has no right or wrong interpretation. I love this so much, the idea of “the death of the author”, because to me art ceases to be the artist’s meaning and instead is now open to how one perceives it. Everyone comes from different walks of life, experiencing different things which shapes their perspective. Because of this, we as creators should respect that. This is why there is no explicit meaning to dstnce — the game is what you make of it.

The COVID-19 Lockdown – I mean, it’s pretty obvious given the current context. dstnce is heavily inspired by my own experiences during the lockdown and just general feelings I have which have been exacerbated by the whole situation at hand. This said, and only time will tell if this is true, I wanted to create something that is more timeless than just a game based on lockdown. There’s loads of art coming out currently that relates directly to lockdown which is great, but I question how much of it will stand the test of time. Sure it may become an interesting time capsule, some insight for future generations to look upon and understand how lockdown shaped us, but to me dstnce is something more. For me, it also touches upon various topics of abandonment, isolation, and hopelessness that may be found in day-to-day life outside of COVID, and I hope that with the power of retrospect this will continue to be the case for myself and others.

What were the biggest challenges in developing and releasing dstnce for release on Steam?

Oh man, so much. I knew getting a game onto a storefront would be a big ordeal, but it turns out it was even more complicated than I thought. I won’t go into great detail on the process cause it’s pretty boring, but the one thing I will say I wish I did was offer myself more time to sort it out. I had the foresight to fix up the legal stuff at the start when signing up to be a Steamworks Developer, but then I put off actually sorting out the store page and such for dstnce until it was completed. So come the end of development, I found out quickly that setting up the store page and build shenanigans would take a long time. So the game was actually completed roughly 3 weeks before it dropped, with one week spent going back and forth with Valve to get approval for my store page and two weeks being the mandatory waiting period between the storefront going up as “coming soon” and the game actually going live. So yeah, anyone reading this who plans to get their game onto Steam: sort out your store page and do it early. It can be a lot more pain than you may initially think.

Dstnce has parallels with the current lockdowns and quarantines that many of us are feeling. Has developing dstnce affected your dealings with the ongoing pandemic?

Kinda, yeah. It’s actually a recurring theme for me to create things when I am feeling my worst. I find art in general to be a great outlet for me, both to get my feelings “down on paper”, but also so that I can explore where I’m at and get a bit of a better sense of how I’m feeling, and in turn act upon those feelings. In regards to dstnce I think the thing it’s helped me come to terms with most is that these feelings I have aren’t exclusive to me. A lot of folks who have played dstnce and sent me their experiences with it have expressed how they’ve connected with it, and a lot of them relate to the same things that I do. It’s helped me feel less alone in what otherwise might feel like isolating feelings that others don’t understand. Also, it was really nice to see that lots of people decided to interpret things in a positive light 🙂 I hope that positivity spreads.

Are there any plans in new game development beyond dstnce?

Yeah, actually! Almost immediately after completing dstnce I started design work on a new game. I don’t like talking too much on what’s next cause, well, I don’t actually know if this is what truly will be next. What does and doesn’t get completed is totally up in the air so I don’t talk about my projects heaps until they’re well past the pre-prod stage. What I will say though is no matter what I do next, I have zero intention to stagnate. I want to branch out and explore my capabilities to design and create truly wonderful experiences for people to play. This does mean there will not be a dstnce 2, and in fact that I doubt many future games will mirror dstnce all that much. I don’t wanna become a one trick pony, so I’m gonna continue exploring and expanding my horizons.

Thank you for your time, as we encourage all to check out dstnce currently available directly on Steam and Itch.. Also follow Daniel Coady on Twitter @fakemuso, on Itch and their own site at pondo.dev.

How Persona 5 Royal Rescued My Heart in Lockdown

Artwork by Shigenori Soejima (Atlus).

Andrew Nardi is a freelance journalist from Melbourne, Australia. In 2016, he presented his dissertation, titled ‘Game Over, Gamers: Contesting the Gamer Identity through the Gamergate Controversy’, at the Australia & New Zealand Communication Association Conference. Since then, he has worked as the editor of BMA Magazine and is currently studying game design and production at the Australian Institute of Entertainment.

In a year of unyielding anxiety and concern for our futures, 2020 was nothing short of frightful. But it was also the year that we received Persona 5 Royal, a game that occupied many of my months in isolation. As the city of Melbourne endured an economic downturn and hard lockdown for over three months, I became segregated from my friends, made redundant at work, and started to feel disconnected from the world at large. P5R became something of a comfort for me in my evenings as I explored Tokyo and got to know my super-powered high school friends. To my surprise however, P5R also helped me reclaim pieces of my identity I thought I’d lost to depression.

Let’s back up. When Persona 5 launched in Japan in 2016, it showed players a window into actual issues that grip Japanese society. The role-playing game and social sim hybrid quickly chalked up a reputation as one of the most stylish, finely tuned and well-written JRPGs ever. But its significance in Japan was much more profound than the overseas response it would receive later.

Persona 5 follows a young, unnamed male protagonist moving into a café loft in Tokyo after a legal dispute in which a sexual predator falsely pins their offence on him when he tries to prevent a case of street harassment. Attending the only school that will accept a student on probation, the protagonist’s reputation is instantly soured by his criminal record – his guardian scrutinises his every action, his homeroom teacher complains at the thought of coordinating him, and unfounded rumours spread rampant among his peers. The plot takes a turn for the supernatural when he and Ryuji Sakamoto – another outcast student – accidentally enter a metaphysical castle born from the distorted desires of the school’s Olympic medal-holding P.E. teacher, who has been physically and sexually abusing students behind closed doors.

The concept and direction of Persona 5 took shape following the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, and the events that followed. Before these disasters, Atlus’ P-Studio had planned P5 to be a globe-trotting, backpacking adventure. In their wake, and particularly after observing how the country united in a crisis, the team decided to shift focus back onto Japan to underline the nation’s issues that had worsened or gone too long unaddressed.

Artwork by Shigenori Soejima (Atlus).

From the cyberbullying in its schools, the culture of overworking in its workplaces, to the dishonesty in its politics, and the mistreatment and disregard for its criminals – no topic is too sensitive for developer Atlus to call in its cast of crime fighting high schoolers, the self-proclaimed “Phantom Thieves of Hearts”. So, it’s appropriate that especially in the face of its Japanese audience, Atlus treats these matters with acuteness and empathy. Even in company with Persona 5’s eccentric flair and extravagant art style, it never tries to sensationalise delicate topics.

Persona 5’s brand of social commentary made an impact in its home country because it dared to cast its native audience in a disapproving light. Importantly, the game wrestled with Japan’s widespread apathy which allows for injustices committed by high profile citizens to go unaccounted for, and for some of its most vulnerable citizens to slip through the cracks. Continuing along this thread, P5 sets out to challenge Japan’s collectivist thinking, particularly the stigma of raising one’s voice against the crowd.

In a translated statement from the official Persona website, P5 director Katsura Hashino envisions a harmony of individuality and collectivism. “Individuality isn’t purely good or bad; rather it’s something that has the power to change how people think and act when they’re touched by it.” This speaks to the question at the centre of P5, concerning how a young adult is expected to thrive in a collectivist society where any sense of individuality is under constant threat of suppression. Hashino continues, “we might live in a world that’s less than accommodating to a lot of us and hard to live in. But so long as people don’t give up on reaching out to one another, the individuality that shines both at the [personal] level and from groups as a whole can help us break through that feeling of oppression, and feel free.”

Persona 5’s plot is underscored by such feelings of estrangement, with students exhausted or exiled from their daily networks – home life, extracurricular groups, friendship circles, etc. – and uniting to reform society with their own sense of justice. In an interview with Game Informer, Hashino spoke of this sense of belonging in Japan, explaining that each of the game’s characters feel that they “no longer have a place where they belong in society”. This is the birth of the game’s Phantom Thieves: using a navigational phone app to cross into a psychological “metaverse”, they can enter the minds of wrongdoers (“Palaces”, as the game calls them) and steal their distorted hearts in order to trigger a change in their personalities.

Artwork by Shigenori Soejima (Atlus).

Exploring the minds of evildoers and rehabilitating their dangerous thoughts opens Persona 5 to all manner of discussions on corruption, morality and the psyche. How these scenarios unfold across the course of the game is a thrill to experience, and isn’t worth spoiling here. But while Persona 5 doesn’t shy away from conversations about mental health, especially surrounding the social issues aforementioned, some more focused commentary can be found in Persona 5 Royal.

Persona 5 Royal is an expansion of the original game that includes two new characters and an extra chapter before the curtain call. It also elevates the original plot by offering deeper insight into the tribulations shared by its cast. With the introduction of Dr. Takuto Maruki, a school counsellor, the Phantom Thieves gain a confidant with whom to share their anxieties. The result is that P5R manages to deliver some unapologetic and well-informed comments about mental health, with special attention given to the afflictions one suffers in the high school ecosystem.

“If our game can give people a little courage to keep going in their day to day lives, to face things head on and do something with themselves, then we’ll have done our jobs here.”

—Persona 5 director Katsura Hashino, Famitsu

The Japanese high school experience has always been the centrepiece of the Persona series. In Atlus’ original Sony PlayStation game Revelations: Persona (and before that, the Japan-only title Shin Megami Tensei If… for the Super Famicom), the high school setting was chosen as a point to which players could easily relate and approach the series’ themes. Talking to Kill Screen, Hashino commented, “For both good and bad reasons, the school life experience deeply affects many Japanese people in their daily lives. [Everyone has experienced needing] to compare themselves with others, and, at times, had to suppress their own identity, learning to take hints so they don’t stand out or [become] ostracised from the crowd.”

Without spoiling the events that unfold in Persona 5 Royal’s new chapter, its approach to mental health is at once gentle and intense; it completely grasps the importance of easing oneself into counselling, in creating a safe space where therapy can take place, but also the difficulties involved in confronting and overcoming one’s trauma. P5R, and particularly Dr. Maruki, teach us that it’s normal, even encouraged, to wish for a life without suffering – we should never apologise for that – but when we find ourselves in tough circumstances, we must try to look for strength and growth on the other side.

Artwork by Shigenori Soejima (Atlus).

It’s perhaps for these reasons that so many of us find comfort in Persona 5. It welcomes players into friendships that develop naturally over time, with peers who come to depend on the player’s guidance: a rebellious boy facing up to his anger, an honour student and the high expectations forced on her, a girl staying strong for her hospitalised friend, a recluse re-entering society after losing her mother. As fantastical as the Phantom Thieves are, their individual battle scars are born from real world problems; they represent the developmental roadblocks many teenagers face in their most crucial years. Like in all young adult fiction, it’s a privilege to be able to join these young men and women on their personal journeys while also reflecting on our own.

Labels such as “young adult” are perhaps too broad to define everything Persona 5 strives to achieve, however. Taken as a whole, the Persona series’ central motifs combine magical realism (or urban fantasy) and Jungian theories on human psychology. “The vibrant, everyday life becomes the Persona series’ persona, beckoning players to escape into a fun-filled experience of adolescence,” Hashino told Kill Screen. “But sooner or later, they’ll experience the dark shadow aspect of the game hiding beneath that persona, which they’ll feel a strange connection to.”

At several points across the game every member of the Phantom Thieves will awaken to their Persona (a cognitive being used to fight demons), instigating a reconstruction of that character’s identity. These transformative scenes are loosely informed by elements of Jungian psychology, with respect to how a person houses within their unconscious different façades for different situations, known as personas. As each teenager decides to reject the status quo and unlock their powerful Persona, a turning point is marked in that character’s arc from which they can continue to grow and conquer the challenges in their everyday lives. Witnessing this literal manifestation of a teenager’s identity formation is what makes the Persona series so engrossing. But it’s also why it comes as a disappointment that Persona 5 misses the mark in certain areas of representation.

Across its hundreds of hours of dialogue, Persona 5 is notably lacking any gay romance options or LGBTQ stories. Additional to that, there is an intentionally comedic scene in which the game’s only outwardly gay characters – two unnamed, older men residing in Shinjuku – prey on Ryuji, a teenager, and take him away despite his lack of consent and his calling out to the protagonist for help. For Persona 5 Royal the English localisation team altered this scene, first by naming the two men, and secondly by removing any sexual undertones so that Ryuji is being led away (albeit still against his will) to try on drag.

Artwork by Shigenori Soejima (Atlus).

Persona 5’s decision to make a predatory joke out of its only visibly gay characters will disappoint many who have come to appreciate almost everything else about the game. The resolve to rewrite this scene while maintaining the depiction of a minor being forced into a situation that he feels is unsafe, doesn’t do enough to make amends. For a game that claims to stand up for society’s most oppressed, this scene still feels like a bit of a slap in the face.

Unfortunately, this is only one example of Persona 5 holding on to the dehumanising tropes we’ve come to expect from manga and anime. There are numerous scenes that objectify Ann Takamaki (another teenager), including one in which the player has no choice but to ask her to remove her clothes for a figure drawing session, despite her adamant lack of consent. While that never goes ahead, it’s still an uncomfortable sequence in which a young girl is pressured into exposing herself. The inclusion of these scenes, despite the fact that they take place directly after a separate storyline in which a teacher’s sexual abuse crimes are brought to justice, comes across as selectively tone deaf.

It’s a fair assessment that Atlus makes a much better representation out of Lala Escargot, the crossdressing proprietor of the Crossroads Bar in Shinjuku. Lala welcomes the protagonist into her bar, invites him to try crossdressing without pressuring him, offers him part-time work and even shows concern for his safety when walking alone at night. As a standalone character, Lala possesses her own unique humanity, sass and warmth, and while it’s a shame she isn’t granted her own Confidant quest line as other minor characters are, her honest portrayal in Persona 5 is a step in the right direction.

For a game inspired by some of Japan’s worst disasters in history, it’s no wonder Persona 5 makes a supportive companion during a global pandemic.

Speaking to Japanese magazine Famitsu about the authorial intent behind Persona 5, Hashino explained, “[you’ve] got these high school punks who are trying to bite back at a world that’s trying to pin them down. If our game can give people a little courage to keep going in their day to day lives, to face things head on and do something with themselves, then we’ll have done our jobs here.”

Persona 5 has taught me more than I expected a video game ever could. Its emphasis on time management and life balance showed me the importance of setting aside time for exercise as well as my hobbies. Seeing Ryuji open up about his quarrels on the track team reminded me to pay more attention to my friendships with men. Watching Futaba overcome her agoraphobia helped me to sympathise with my housemate. Even simply directing the protagonist to borrow library books has taught me the healthy habit of always carrying a book around. And if it weren’t for Persona 5 egging me to pen this article, I wouldn’t have tried to reignite my passion for writing. That’s why any player is likely to pick up a life lesson from Persona 5 – the game encourages self-improvement at almost every turn.

Artwork by Shigenori Soejima (Atlus).

For a game inspired by some of Japan’s worst disasters in history, it’s no wonder Persona 5 makes a supportive companion during a global pandemic. This is a game that sympathises with the feeling of being removed from society. It only takes a quick glance at the Persona 5 subreddit to witness the immense emotional weight this game carries, as plenty have spelled out how their life changed for the better as a consequence of playing P5. While that may not be true for everyone, there’s no denying that P5 and P5R, though at their core developed with a Japanese audience in mind, weave coming-of-age stories that resonate powerfully across our generation.

If you’re currently living in lockdown and craving an escape, do what I and so many others have done and pick up Persona 5 Royal. It’s a temporary stay in a foreign country, full of life-affirming experiences and new friends you won’t soon forget.

Thank you for reading my piece on Persona 5 Royal. I hope it encouraged you to take a look at this very special game. If you would like to check out more of my work on games, you can follow my blog at bigxp.net and my Twitch stream at twitch.tv/Hoffy. If this piece resonated with you, you could donate to Give2Asia to help support the COVID-19 response in Japan.

Captain Orion’s bestest video games picks of 2020!

BESTEST

VIDEO GAMES

OF 2020!

2020 was a great year, for video games releases!

A lot of great games were released for this year. Many of them, I wish I got around to or had the consoles including Ghosts of Tsushima, Microsoft Flight Simulator, Doom: Eternal, Ori and the Will of the Wisps, and more. We deserved fresh entertainment for this ongoing global pandemic crisis with the quarantines and social distancing shadowing much of 2020. Meanwhile, the interactive industry thrived with consistent sales, new consoles selling out, and plenty of new content for every player of all types.

Many of these fresh screen games set out to be enjoyed alone and/or socially online. We have more advanced gaming technology and means for online downloading, connecting, streaming, social discussing, cheering, and complaining. They all provide great distractions from the current time stresses as we may build upon new and renewed friendships with our shared love of gaming. Or, just pass the time and our best modern remedy for boredom with some single player escapism!

But for me, I’m a little bit of both types. I enjoy gaming alone, and with friends. Such depends on my mood and state of mind. Though, I steered more toward budgeting with big sales in games and freebies. There was plenty out there for those with the thinnest of wallets. I meanwhile, stayed mostly on my PC and Xbox One, no new consoles for me yet. I do want a Nintendo Switch, with time to play the many past games I missed for it.

Anyway, here are the games I personally present as the most important game awards to for 2020!

BEST NEW GAME OF 2020

HADES

Developer and published by Supergiant Games
System: PC, Nintendo Switch

This is the BEST game of 2020, for many reasons that go back decades in what I ask for in a a best-tier video game. Make it challenging, story-deep, visually awesome, sensible controls, gratifying, constant surprises, great music, unique style, and heart. Hades has all of this and more, with aspects reminiscent of other personal favorites – Disgaea, Diablo, Dark Souls, Smash TV. But with Hades, the more you die, the more the game is revealed with more story and gameplay elements. There is so much more I would like to say, but just go play it if you’re into something that feels both old-school but also super modern in its approach and complexity.

BEST COOPERATIVE?! GAME OF 2020

AMONG US

Developed and published by Innersloth
System: PC, Mobile, Nintendo Switch

A surprise that was released in 2018, but earned a huge boost in popularity thanks to its fans, developers, its very affordable price, online streams, and all around fun this game holds; all perfect for this time of mass quarantines and social distancing. Among Us is that connects us, as each game has its own story creating tension on just who Among Us is sus.

BEST KICKASS GAME OF 2020

STREETS OF RAGE 4

Developer: Dotemu, Guard Crush, Lizardcube  Published by Dotemu
System: All the current consoles and PC

HELL YES!!!! I freakin love the old Streets of Rage games for the Sega Genesis (and later mods, fan-made remakes). Streets of Rage 4 is THE damn great, official successor to all of that, including all that made the game great – action, complexity and variance to the button mashing, awesome musical tracks that your fists can dance to. The graphics are perfect with expressive visual style, vibrant colors, detailed backgrounds, and hella fun for co-op action too.

BEST PLAY AND CHILL GAME OF 2020

TOWNSCAPER

Developed and published by Oskar Stålberg
System: PC

It’s not really a game, but it should be someday. It’s hard to explain. Just watch the trailer, and from there, explore the crazy insane possibilities and let your imagination figure out the direction. The more you tinker and discover new aspects of the game, the more more awesome your wierd little world. I love the animation, sound effects, every little detail no matter how small; making Townscaper worth checking out.

BEST VISUAL NOVEL GAME OF 2020

QUANTUM SUICIDE

Developer and published by Cotton Candy Cyanide
System: PC

This particular Japanese anime style visual novel sets itself off apart with a very unique story, and choosy situations that center around mechanics that are very science fictiony, flirty. with deadly sub-games that take a bit more thinking than I would expect. I much enjoyed this all as I watched and chimed in for some very entertaining Twitch streams from a gamer friend that you should follow (twitch.tv/aechonex).

BEST PUZZLING PUZZLE GAME OF 2020

HELLTAKER

Developer and published by vanripper
System: PC

A fun puzzle-adventure with dating and cooking themes game? Helltaker is that and so much more. It’s very unique, with catchy beats, and a whole lot of fun. It’s also free!

BEST FINALLY GOT AROUND TO IT GAME OF 2020

FINAL FANTASY XV

Developed and published by Square Enix
System: All the current consoles and PC

Final Fantasy XV came out a little over 4 years ago and has been in constant development all the way until 2019 with tis final DLC. This open-world game is freakin massive, giving its players much homework into other media for a wider complete experience. I found the 19.99 price for the Royal Edition (main game plus mostly all the DLC) the best I can get for my single-player RPG Final Fantasy loving needs. I enjoyed this far more than expected, delve deep into worldbuilding, and will forever treasure what it brought in this tough pandemic time.

BEST DEMO GAME OF 2020

THE LIFE AND SUFFERING OF SIR BRANTE

Developer by Sever published by 101XP
System: PC for the demo

A surprise treat among I discovered among the PAX Online demos. It’s a visual novel that reads like a lifetime biography, but with choices that do indeed tell a story of about the life and suffering of (you can choose his name). It’s a series of very unfortunate events, where you do your best to make the best out of it, and find deeper meanings though it all. It’s different and worth checking out for visual novel fans, and something to watch out for when it’s fully released.

BEST GAME OF 2021, MAYBE..

CYBERPUNK 2077

Developer: Playstation, Xbox, and PC

The game I was most excited for its delayed release. And, I still am. But after seeing (and laughing) the glitches, problems, frustrations that seem to be a trend for these big, crazy games where play-testing continues with the player after its release…not playing or judging this until the final product is done with enough updates, patches, DLC, whatever it takes to experience as intended. Maybe it will be awesome as its hype. I will remain excited, and wait till the finished product.

That’s all the game awards for 2020 I got. If there was something else I should have played, please share in the comments below!

Gamers rally in Animal Crossing to support Black Lives

On Saturday 20th, the fight for racial equality will take place on an Animal Crossing island called Isle of Buns, owned by Adelle Lin.

“I was inspired to “say their names” and wanted to create a memorial space with the time I was spending in Animal Crossing. Coupled with not being able to be out to protest because of Covid, it made sense to try to protest from home,” explained rally organizer Adelle Lin. “There are many others who feel the same and this is an avenue for us to connect with the movement.”

At Adelle’s rally, players can donate directly to organizations and show receipts for unique artwork. For those unable to donate money, her rally uses a unique donation matching system using in-game Bells currency. “Bells are the animal crossing in game currency that you earn by doing a variety of things – picking fruit, making items, planting money trees, popping balloons and most lucratively selling turnips on the “stalk” market,” Adelle explained. “Players spend loads of time gathering these bells and are valuable to building your island. I’d like to offer a way for friends with variable income like artists to also participate in donating, which is rewarding in itself. By donating in game currency, I’ll personally exchange that at a rate of 99,000 bells to $100 cash donations.”

Within the game, an area for donations is split between different charities. The player walks over to the donation area for the charity they want, drop bells, and tells Adelle which charity and how much, they want donated on their behalf.

Anyone can come visit via an Animal Crossing turnip code link or tune in via twitch. Visit the livestream Saturday at 6P EST.

Animal Crossing Event Info

Nintendo beats to chill by and Quarantinendo to

Through life, there is a constant of in video games with the style of music that Nintendo brings. So many games, beautiful soothing, mood setting tones that can be both epic yet peacefully soothing.

Anyone that’s ever played a Nintendo hit game from the original Super Mario Brothers to the new Animal Crossing, will probably have some tunes stuck in their head from time to time. The most frequent in mine is the Overworld Theme from Super Mario World for the SNES. I probably just put it in your head just now, if you played it as much as I have (a lot!).

There are so many great game track tunes, and variations of such remixed in later editions and by fans worldwide. Thanks to many internet resources, most are easily found. Some are waiting to be discovered. No game needed, just perfect for long moments of solitude, studying, organizing, creative development, and quarantine during a long pandemic.

Here is that time where all the above is relevant, and we could use some Nintendo tunes to sooth our minds. Below is some selections for you. Some you know, some you maybe forgot, some fans know and redid, some with additive flavor. Dig in, and enjoy this curated mix of long mixes!

Super Smash Bros Ultimate – Best Of Music Mix

Chosen because the Smash Brothers brand in its purity, has the best orchestral mix celebrating all that is majestic about the familiar tunes many will never forget.

Zelda and Chill

Lofi hip-hop beats produced by German beat-maker Mikel and mastered by Philadelphia based Dj CUTMAN. It’s a nice mixture, and something different for the series most dedicated fans to enjoy!

Relaxing and Calming Music From Super Mario Series

The Super Mario Brothers is the pinnacle of Nintendo musical poetry, always help setting the mood and giving the mushroom a surreal beautiful tone.

Poke and Chill

Got to catch them all! These are various compositions from past Pokemon games, remixed German beat-maker Mikel and mastered by Philadelphia based Dj CUTMAN (same who did Zelda and Chill). Amazing freakin stuff!

Relaxing Earthbound/Mother 2 Music

Earthbound (aka Mother 2) is one of those games that every video game fanatic should eventually play in life. Its beautiful and wondrous with a little bit of 90s experimental electronic beat thrown in. Some of those tracks have special secrets, giving a little extra dimension for deep listeners.

Ambient Relaxing Music From Metroid Series

Nintendo shows us that even a dark, dangerous world of aliens and space weaponry can be a place for haunting, yet soothing music pulling us deeper into other, stranger worlds.

Donkey Kong and LOFI

Whaaat?! Listen and add it to your favorites. That’s what! A masterful remix from a variety of artists. It’s a real treat for any Kong….bananas for your soul!

1 Hour of Relaxing Animal Crossing New Horizons Music + Rain Sounds

Personally, I never played any of the Animal Crossing crossing. But the music, I hear from gaming radio stations and curated playlists gives a calm, setting tone to which I think adds to the series success. Here’s some relaxing Animal Crossing New Horizons game tracks, but with some soothing rain added.

Enjoy, stay well, and be chill out there!

New Gaming Preview Trailer: Streets of Rage 4 Retro Reveal Trailer

Games publisher Dotemu revealed a new trailer for Streets of Rage 4, promised soon for all the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. This latest video reveals retro elements the original Sega Genesis trilogy.

This glorious tribute to the original to the original trilogy includes unlockable pixel art characters with move sets and abilities unique to their respective games, including Axel, Blaze, Dr. Zan, Skate, Max, Shiva, and maybe more. They all appear to have their original sound effects, attacks, and fighting styles. Also present in the game will some original retro tunes from the Streets of Rage 1 and 2, well appreciated by fans.

This trailer is the latest reveal for the long-awaited successor to the original series; for 25 years, the last official 3rd hit the release shelves. The new one looks to carry on its hard-hitting beat-em-up dance-track powered tradition, with some fresh new graphics from hand-drawn art, crisp beats, and co-op challenge well-loved by fans.

These retro characters combine with Streets of Rage 4’s five hand-animated leading fighters to bring the total playable roster’s count to 17. For a full nostalgic trip, players can also switch to the series iconic original soundtrack, handing out beatdowns backed by tracks from Streets of Rage 1 and Streets of Rage 2. Taking down thugs with these timeless songs cranked up makes for an incredibly satisfying retro experience.

Streets of Rage 4 will be released this spring for PC, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox One for $24.99, with the release date still unconfirmed.

Captain’s note: I personally am super excited for this. I love and still play the original Streets of Rage Sega games, sometimes with different mods, and the unofficial Streets of Rage Remake. Seeing the inclusion of these retro elements show a real love by the new developers, and look forward to other surprises that I feel will be included. I am super pumped to see the Streets of Rage franchise fresh again!

New Gaming Preview Trailer: Lost Words

Publisher Modus Games and developer Sketchbook Games, recently unveiled at the New York Game Awards, Lost Words: Beyond the Page, “an inventive and touching tale of a young girl’s personal growth.” Also, a puzzle platformer, mixed with fluid, dreamy animation.

This new trailer above is narrated by the game’s female protagonist, Izzy, provides a glimpse of the fantasy world of Estoria and the moving emotional journey of a young writer using creativity and her journal to deal with life’s adventures. Izzy’s recollections and imagination inspire breathtaking scenes of a vibrant, evocative world, unfolding new moments within an emotional story brimming with joyous, childlike zeal and mounting poignancy as that innocence adapts to life’s realities.

Lost Words: Beyond the Page featured a narrative script from writer Rhianna Pratchett (daughter of fantasy writer Terry Pratchett). Her writing credits span through two decades, and includes such notable story-driven hits hits as Bioshock Infinite, Tomb Raider (2013), Rise of the Tomb Raider, the Overlord series, Mirror’s Edge, and more.

Lost Words is set for a Spring 2020 launch on Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. To read more about Lost Words: Beyond the Page, visit the official site, www.lostwordsgame.com.

Treasures of the Portland Retro Gaming Expos, Part 2 (Nintendo Power!)

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(Continued from Part 1 of my adventures through the annual Portland Retro Gaming Expo, 2019)

This next part is dedicated to an awesome featured part of the PRGE, its video game history room. This mini-museum is presented by the Video Game History Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to preserving interactive entertainment’s past. Their focus for this show was the 30th anniversary year of Nintendo’s Game Boy handheld, and Nintendo’s pre-Internet game counselor service. 

So, many amazing treasures on display here, I took some pictures, of which I am proud to share below…

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A display of company jackets worn by the Nintendo Game counselors…

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Just who were these Game Counselors? Well, back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, players could call via their telephone, and speak to a human being on getting through the hardest part of their video games.

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The game counselors had a variety of aids, handbooks, demo copies, whatever it took to deliver that awesome service with a smile.

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And more interesting Nintendo treasures from within

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An example of a game counselor station, which in its prime had over 400 ready to take calls.

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One of many subtle touches to build company pride, among the service.

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Many counselors had their own maps, some hand-drawn and their own notes to help callers

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And there is the Game Boy portion of the PRGE history museum. Lots of ads and posters, showcasing its past aesthetic.

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More past relics, and merch tie-ins

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And of course Tetris, which helped make the Game Boy a smashing success.  it’s main launch title which initially came with the Game Boy.

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But before the Game Boy, Nintendo had other handheld products which helped paved the way for company success.

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The Nintendo Game Boy had more than just games!

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Including a sewing machine peripheral.

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Overall, this was an awesome experience for fans of Nintendo and game history. Check out www.gamehistory.org for more on the Video Game History Foundation.

Treasures of the Portland Retro Gaming Expo, Part 1

Last weekend, I attended the 2019 Portland Retro Gaming Expo. I had an awesome time there.

The Portland Retro Gaming Expo. remains a show, taking heart in the Pacific Northwest US for its 14th year now. The cultural event grows a little more every year, celebrating older video and electronic games for their history, aesthetic, social aspects, and cultural impact. Vintage games include pinball, arcade machines, console setups, handheld devices, and other related oddities, Throughout many treasures to be appreciated, purchased, played, and discovered.

Here are some pictures and notes to share of my PRGE experience, showing small parts of this grand show…

Many merchants here, with the best colors of our classy consoles on the table!

On one table, a small sampling of rare imports at this PRGE

Some cool rare oddities, including TOPO, the programmable robot from the early 1980s

Playable Atari games at one booth, with old school TVs to match

Another interesting find, an extra violent edition of the original Resident Evil for the PC!

A few cheap treasures from dealers I purchased, with my guide

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Also at PRGE, many creative artists and developers. Some with their own homebrew games, which I sadly overlooked in pictures. But also many just selling print or promoting webcomics and other creative work influenced by retro games. Here’s Spicy (Twitter @SpicySpaceDragn), one of many artists here.

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More merch!

James Rolfe, AKA the Angry Video Game Nerd was a special guest this year. Sorry for the bad picture.

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Also here…console gaming playable for every generation

Arcade gaming all day,, free to play!

Nights into Dreams, an underrated Sega Saturn classic. This beautiful lenticular poster brings back precious memories.

Many, many pinball machines here, both vintage and the newest available for free play/

The music in the free play area was off the hook, and set the mood there to an awesome 80’s arcade glory that made the show more worthwhile

The best panel I went to, a reunion of Nintendo Game Counselors who worked the glory days of Nintendo HQ’s call center. Lots of fun stories, insider tidbits, and history told. Enjoyed every minute.

At that same panel, a surprise guest in the audience… Alexey Pajitnov, the creator of Tetris!

Briefly meeting Alexey Pajitnov was a big joy for me. He also signed my show pass.

Another awesome guest at PRGE at a panel, Howard Phillips, a main spokesman and producer of Nintendo of America throughout the 8-bit era. You may remember him in cartoon form from the Howard and Nester comic strips in the early Nintendo Power magazines.

Among the best of the show, this gaming history exhibit showcasing Nintendo history focused on the anniversary of the Game Boy and Nintendo Game Counselor service. I will share more pictures on that experience, in part 2 of my PRGE adventure (posting soon!).

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