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.
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* TimeSplitters is going to be a thing again, but not the way you might expect. A dedicated group of fans has been working on developing a CryEngine-powered TimeSplitters, something that would tie the classic FPS series together into a single package. Crytek UK, formerly known as TimeSplitters creator Free Radical, stepped up and pledged to support this initiative. Read that again: Crytek will officially support this fan-led development of an “all-in-one” package. The closest analogue that we’ve seen in the industry is the fan-made, Valve-approved Half-Life remake, Black Mesa. This initiative seems to be aiming for something bigger though, and I wish them the best of luck now that Crytek’s blessing has been handed down.
* Dean Hall and his team at Bohemia Interactive have been working long hours to get work done on the standalone DayZ in time for its targeted December 2012 launch. While work continues to go smoothly, even quicker than expected in some cases, Hall urged caution and patience earlier this week. Nothing’s been confirmed yet, but a delay into 2013 seems possible given the “massive departure from the previous [ArmA 2] engine,” the Bohemia game that the DayZ mod was born into. The good news is that it’s not a final, thoroughly polished release that the team is shooting to start with for public play. Hall has said previously that he intends to follow Mojang’s model with Minecraft, incorporating new features into the game as the community plays with it in a live environment. It’ll certainly be sad if DayZ slips into next year, but you can at least take comfort in the fact that the developers are taking care to ensure that your first experience with the unconventional zombie apocalypse game isn’t a broken mess.
* The Binding of Isaac, Edmund McMillen’s wonderful indie roguelike, is headed to consoles. It’s not clear yet which platforms it will be coming to, but Cave Story publisher Nicalis is taking point, the Team Meat developer reveals. McMillen’s requirements for the planned port — dubbed The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth — include adding in the original game’s upcoming DLC expansion, a local co-op mode, and remade 16-bit graphics. He also demanded that he be kept out of all business dealings. Nicalis agreed and Rebirth is incoming. Joy.* Nintendo has been making with a pretty steady supply of DLC so far for the Nintendo 3DS-exclusive, New Super Mario Bros. 2, but there’s more to come. The next offering is meant to appeal specifically to longtime fans of the developer/publisher. The Golden Classic Course Pack is revealed as a free download that re-creates levels from classic Mario games; specifically, the first, second, and fourth levels from Mario Bros., the fifth level from Super Mario Bros. 3, and (awesomely) level 1-1 from Super Mario Bros.
* The classic cyberpunk pen-and-paper RPG-turned-strategy game Shadowrun Returns scored a lot of love from fans during its Kickstarter campaign, more than enough, in fact, to get development going. Developer Harebrained Schemes had set a January 2013 launch for the planned game, but we learned earlier this week that the intended release target will not be hit. The game is still planned to arrive in 2013, but now it likely won’t be until May or June. Harebrained explains that the huge show of support — and the laundry list of added features that the additional funding will bring to the game — has tacked on a considerable amount of work for the dev team to push through.
Top buys for the week…
This light week for Digital Blend-friendly releases is highlighted by Ratchet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault, a game that mixes the third-person action/adventure of the blockbuster series from Insomniac with the simplistic, combat-oriented mission design of tower defense. There are some cool ideas at work in this new offering, available as both a boxed retail package and a downloadable PSN title. Note as well that one purchase gives you access to both the PS3 console game and the feature-complete PS Vita portable version… with one catch. The Vita release isn’t coming until January 2013; you’ll still get your cross-buy joy if you buy FFA now, but you’ll be waiting if all you’re looking for is Ratchet on the go.
Miasmata is a Steam Greenlight success story, the work of brothers Bob and Joe Johnson. It’s an open-world survival game with elements of horror thrown in, sending players off on a journey across a mystery-filled forest island that is home to a fearsome, invincible creature. While it’s sure to be overlooked amidst the end-of-holidays release rush, it remains an effort that is well worth your time. The open island’s gorgeous surroundings alone are worth the entry fee, and the game that unfolds as you explore the island amounts to much more than the $15 price tag would suggest. Pick of the week, right here.
We’ll round out the quiet DB week with yet another version of this fan-favorite Sega classic. Jet Set Radio is already available for PlayStation 3/Vita and Xbox 360; now you can add iOS and Android to that list as well. I haven’t tried this mobile port so I can’t speak to how well it controls on a touch screen, but there’s a reason Jet Set is considered a classic. Definitely worth a look on whatever your platform of choice is.