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.
* Many years from now, we will look back on 2012 as the year of the adventure game. Kickstarter continues to prove there’s still a market for video games that don’t involve shooting or blowing things up. The latest crowdfunding effort that’s worth your attention is Project Fedora, which sees the return of Chris Jones’ classic Tex Murphy series. The last of the five games was released in 1998, but it’s looking now like the new Kickstarter will successfully bring back the down on his luck San Francisco-based PI. Project Fedora has more than $270,000 of its $450,000 funding goal already in the bank, with 21 days remaining before the process concludes.
* A rumor is kicking around that Sony’s Xperia Play, the so-called “PlayStation Phone,” won’t be seeing an update to the Ice Cream Sandwich version of Google’s Android OS. The rumor is based on a Sony Mobile Blog update that runs through the list of devices that will soon be getting boosted up to Android 4.0, the official version number for ICS. The Play is notably absent from this list, though whether that’s intentional or an oversight remains to be seen. It’s certainly surprising, what with Sony having previously released a beta version of ICS for the Play, though reports indicate that certain games haven’t been playing well with the beta. Perhaps the Play’s absence from the update list suggests that more development time is required for that specific device.
* Subatomic Studios is finally making with a sequel to Fieldrunners, one of the most popular tower defense titles from the early days of the iPhone’s life. Fieldrunners 2 will be coming to iOS platforms in June, a press release confirms. Fans can look forward to 20+ hand-painted levels spread out over four zones and 20+ upgradeable towers to fill those maps with. New structures include the “limbo of death” Link tower and the fairly self-explanatory Nuke tower. You’ll need those tools to survive the onslaught of more than 30 different types of enemies. Subatomic hasn’t set a final date for the sequel yet, but with June being less than a week away, the wait won’t be much longer.
* GameFly is getting into the mobile publishing game. The company confirmed this week that it will begin publishing titles under the GameFly label for iOS and Android platforms. The expectation right now is that the first title will be published sometime this summer. Mobile devs who would like to submit their work for publishing consideration can go ahead and reach out to GameDev@gamefly.com. Also part of this coming expansion is the launch of the GameFly GameStore for Android in fall 2012. The company’s publishing game should fully be up and running by then, so you can probably expect to see some consumer-friendly deals on GameFly-published content when the storefront launches.
* Brian Provinciano’s awesomely retro-styled open-world mash-up game Retro City Rampage should be available on your platform of choice pretty much any minute now. The game was previously pegged for a May 2012 release, and while the fact that we’re quickly running out of days in the month isn’t encouraging, it leaves plenty of hope for a nice treat next week. Provinciano confirmed this week in a PlayStation Blog post that the Sony platform version of the game will feature cross-platform saves between your PlayStation 3 and PS Vita. The Vita version will also include a couple of different viewing modes. One emulates the 16:9 widescreen that you get from the console versions, another scales up the action so everything is easier to see on the Vita’s little screen, and a third that offers a monochrome Game Boy-style look.
* Remember what I said up top about 2012 being the year of the adventure game? Well Double Fine’s Ron Gilbert, Mr. Monkey Island himself, is cooking up The Cave right now for release on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC platforms in 2013. While you can expect the story and Gilbert’s trademark humor to be a big focus, The Cave is actually a side-scrolling puzzle/platformer in which players guide three spelunkers — chosen from a larger group — through the titular cave, which apparently possesses the ability to speak. The people you pick to venture forth all have different abilities that make them useful in one way or another. Sounds like another inventive effort from the talented team at Double Fine.
Top buys for the week…
Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock :: PlayStation Network :: $19.99
We’ll have a review coming for Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock next week, but do you really need to read it if you’re a Whovian? The trailers featuring Matt Smith’s latest Doctor fighting various interstellar baddies alongside River Song in a side-scrolling adventure do the job of selling this game if you’re a fan. No matter how the gameplay shapes up, it’s clear that we’re looking at a very franchise faithful interactive Who adventure.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Content Collection #2 :: Xbox 360 :: 1,200 MS Points
Activision launched the second content collection package for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 this week, adding a number of new elements to the game. There are three new multiplayer maps — Foundation, Sanctuary, and Oasis — that can be played in both the competitive MP mode and the co-op Survival mode. There are also a pair of new Spec Ops missions: Kill Switch has one player fighting in the streets toward an EMP bomb while another player provides sniper support while Iron Clad sees you guiding a tank through the streets of Hamburg, Germany, issuing fire orders when necessary. There’s also a brand-new multiplayer mode called Face Off which amounts to 1v1 and 2v2 matches on small maps. The mode relies on special pint-sized maps, and there are four of these in all: Getaway, Lookout, Aground, and Erosion.
From Dust :: Chrome :: $9.99
Sure, Eric Chahi’s Ubisoft-published God game From Dust is old news. But it’s new this week in the Chrome Store! Now you can play From Dust right inside your browser. It’s free to download, install, and demo, but you’ll need to pay $9.99 if you want to unlock the full game. That’s $5 less than the $14.99 asking price on Steam, in case you were wondering. In either case, it’s a small price to pay for the ability to shape a world like it’s your own, personal sandbox.
Sega Vintage Collections :: Xbox Live Arcade / PlayStation Network :: price varies
Sega kicked off a big effort this week to bring back some legacy titles from its library. On the Xbox 360 side, this comes in the form of two 800 MS Point collections, one containing Alex Kidd in Miracle World, Super Hang-on, and The Revenge of Shinobi and the other offering Wonder Boy in Monster Land, Wonder Boy in Monster World, and Monster World IV (the first time that game has been available outside of Japan). The same titles are available a la carte on the PlayStation Network for $4.99 apiece. They’re straight ports, but at least they’re straight ports of awesome classic games!
Mass Effect Infiltrator :: Android :: $4.99
Yet another older recent release hitting a new platform for the first time. The reasonably great mobile Mass Effect 3 tie-in, Mass Effect Infiltrator, is now up and running on Android devices. It’s a third-person shooter with some light RPG elements and built-in features that allow fans to transfer their progress in the mobile game into actual rewards in the console/PC game. It’s good fun even if you’re not playing ME3 anymore, so definitely check it out.
Gauge :: iOS :: $0.99
Game Atelier’s new iOS release Gauge is difficult to describe. No, scratch that. It’s easy to describe, it’s just hard to bring across in that description why it’s actually a compelling game to play. Gauge is essentially a game in which you hold your finger down on the touch screen while a meter fills up, letting go before it fills too much. And… that’s it. Yes, it sounds ridiculously dull. It’s really rather exciting though, and filled with lots of flashing lights no less. For the price of NOTHING, there’s really no reason not to at least check it out, right?