Welcome back to Digital Blend, our weekly look at the world of downloadable video gaming that exists at the fringes of the mainstream. That means we look at the hottest new mobile game releases, downloadable content drops on consoles and PCs, indie darlings that deserve your love and attention, and the best gaming values under $20.
Keep your comments and feedback coming. We want to hear from you! Did you try something you read about here and enjoy it? Is there a particular game you think we’ve overlooked or news you want to share? Any questions you are dying to ask? Let us know! Your thoughts, feedback, suggestions and (constructive!) criticism are welcome, either in the comments section below or directed at yours truly on Twitter, @geminibros.
* InXile Entertainment is building itself up as a studio that can get things done on Kickstarter. Studio founder Brian Fargo enjoyed great crowdfunding success with his pitch in 2012 to bring back the Wasteland series, and now he’s done it again with a sequel to the beloved classic RPG, Planescape: Torment. The Kickstarter launched this past Wednesday with a $900,000 goal, and roughly 24 hours later backers had already stepped up with close to $2 million.
* Rovio Entertainment’s Angry Birds is now officially a free game download in Apple’s iOS App Store. There’s no word on whether or not this is a limited time deal and in-game microtransactions are still very much a part of the action, but those of you who were too cheap to get anything other than the Lite version… now’s your chance.
* Electronic Arts has officially shut down its BioWare San Francisco studio, the mobile/social-focused team formerly known as EA2D that was responsible for games such as Dragon Age: Legends on Facebook and the mobile take on Mirror’s Edge. EA Labels president Frank Gibeau blamed the “complex and challenging experience” that is the coming console transition. Our best wishes go to the former BioWare SF team; may they find new and better work quickly.
* Ouya is coming at the end of this month, with the micro-console shipping to Kickstarter backers on March 28. The $99 Android-powered box promises to be a disruptive force as major hardware makers roll out their shiny, new, and — most importantly — expensive next-gen consoles this year. We consider the myriad reasons why Ouya is a hardware contender to watch out for and what the crack team that Julie Uhrman assembled has been doing to attract high-level development talents to the platform.
* These days, Electronic Arts games and microtransactions are as inseparable as peanut butter and jelly. Look for a recent EA title that doesn’t offer players the chance to spend small amounts of money on in-game items and you won’t find much. This is very much part of the company’s big picture plan, though the microtransactions won’t be as all-consuming in the future as they seem to be right now, at least according to CFO Blake Jorgensen. He had indicated previously that microtransactions were a fact of all future EA games, but he backpedaled somewhat in a talk at the Wedbush 2013 Transformational Technology Conference. All mobile EA games will have microtransactions and all EA games will support them, but they won’t necessarily be included all the time, always. You say tomato….
Top buys of the week…
BioWare gives the crew of the Normandy — and their many, many, MANY friends — the send-off they deserve in this final DLC shot of campaign for Mass Effect 3, our clear-cut pick of the week. This is probably not ME3 DLC you were expecting. It’s very light and funny, built around a ship theft and an epic, blowout party. Every key character in the series returns to take a bow at one point or another, and the whole thing comes together very, very well. Check out Ryan’s review for more.
Capcom’s Arcade Cabinet grows by three more this week, and three good ones to boot. The latest three-pack, culled from 1985 games, adds Ghosts ‘n Goblins, Section Z, and (a personal favorite right here) Gun.Smoke to the set. The price is a little on the steeper side for three retro games, but you also have the option of waiting until May 21, at which point you’ll be able to buy what will eventually be a collection of 17 games for $29.99.
This is a really nifty game, and may well have been a contender for the week’s top pick if I’d had an opportunity to play it. The Showdown Effect is a multiplayer-focused 2.5D shooter that takes its cues from the action films of the ’80s and ’90s. The graphics are slick, the customization is deep, and the action is… action-y! Seriously: this one looks like good fun. I’ll definitely be giving it a whirl.
The delightfully demented Suda51’s contribution to the 3DS collection Guild01 has now been broken out into a standalone iOS release. Here’s what you need to know: you play as a high school girl who becomes president of Japan after her father is assassinated. So naturally she hops into a giant mech and starts shooting the crap out of everyone she can find who was connected to her dad’s death. Also, the bad guys are stealing Japan’s energy. Because intrigue.
Not only is Kersploosh! fun to play, it’s also fun to say. The game sees you guiding a stone down a well. There’s a bit of a Super Hexagon vibe here, but really, Kersploosh! is best described as a clone of AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! – A Reckless Disregard for Gravity. A very well-made and fun clone that looks great on the 3DS to be sure, but that’s the sort of gameplay you should expect.
Much like Kersploosh!, Sonic Dash is a clone. Also like Kersploosh!, it’s a very solid, capable clone that offers some twists of its own. Sonic Dash is basically a hedgehog-infused take on Temple Run, which is totally meta because any fan will tell you that Sonic was doing the over-the-shoulder running thing well before the world knew what Temple Run was. It might not be the Sonic game that you were hoping for, but it’s not at all a bad Sonic game.