Post Arcade

A video game news site from the friendly folks at the National Post who brought you FP Tech Desk.

May 7

Review – The Wolf Among Us is like Once Upon A Time for grown-ups

By Chad Sapieha

http://bit.ly/1fVvenf

The pitfall of Telltale’s serial-style game delivery is the waiting.

Playing through the first and second seasons of the California studio’s terrific The Walking Dead, getting just a couple of hours of play in every two or three months, was basically torture by deprivation. It was like watching a fantastic five-part TV mini-series that took almost a year to play out.

That’s why I decided to skip a lot of the waiting with The Wolf Among Us, Telltale’s latest episodic series.

Based on Bill Willingham’s multi-award-winning Fables graphic novels, which since 2002 have been telling dark, adult-oriented stories about fairy tale characters like Snow White and the Big Bad Wolf coming to live in our world, the first episode released last October. The second arrived in February, and the third just last month.

Folks who got into the series at the outset have seen just three episodes totaling less than six hours of game in seven months. It seems almost cruel.

But now, with only a couple of installments left, I figured could jump in without suffering too much wait-induced angst while still experiencing the excitement of expectation as the season heads towards its eventual finale…


May 5

Review – Mario Golf: World Tour probably isn’t the game you were expecting


By Chad Sapieha


http://bit.ly/1kDGoc7

The Mario Golf games stand as some of the very best sports games Nintendo has ever commissioned.

The franchise’s fourth entry, 2004′s Mario Golf: Advance Tour for Game Boy Advance, may have been the best of the bunch. It combined authentic golf mechanics with iconic Nintendo themes, layering these elements over an addictive RPG-like progression system, creating deep (if cartoonish) golf simulation that kept players like me returning to their handhelds for weeks, months, and even years, always compelled to play just one more round.

Sadly, if you’ve been waiting patiently the last decade for a follow-up that offers a similarly epic single-player career, the franchise’s fifth outing – Mario Golf: World Tour for 3DS – doesn’t deliver.

It takes only around 90 minutes – the time required to play four rounds on three courses – to earn the three trophies necessary to effectively “beat” the single-player mode.

I began playing shortly after 8 p.m. on a Friday night, expecting to just barely settle into the game before going to bed, and found myself watching the credits scroll across the screen by 9:35 p.m.

The word “disappointed” hardly begins to describe how I felt about this unexpected turn of events in a game I’d been anticipating for 10 years.

However, the golf – what little of it I experienced of it up to that point – was undeniably good.

The series’ precise three tap swing system, augmented by satisfying spin controls on the touch screen and an appealing variety of Nintendo-themed high jinks (shot-altering mushroom and flower power-ups, bouncy platforms in the sky, etc.), made me want to keep hacking away.

And online tournaments and various challenges beyond the too-short career lay beckoning.

So I kept playing. And eventually my bitterness over the game’s criminally short career mode began to subside, if not completely disappear…


Apr 30
Disney Infinity 2.0 will be all about Marvel super heroes
By Chad Sapieha
http://bit.ly/1lzWgAk

In the Marvel film universe, it was Agent Coulson who was largely responsible for bringing together the super hero team known as The Avengers.
So it seems only fitting that Clark Gregg, the actor who plays Agent Coulson in the Marvel movies and on TV’s Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., would be the one to unveil the video game assembling of The Avengers.
Gregg took to a stage in San Francisco Wednesday to help Disney Interactive president Jimmy Pitaro announce the next chapter of his company’s burgeoning toys-to-life series: Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes.
The new game, developed by Avalanche Software and set to launch this fall, will be a completely new edition within the franchise, offering a fresh story penned by renowned Marvel Comics scribe Brian Michael Bendis.
It will feature in excess of 18 collectible Marvel figurines that kids (and their geeky parents) will be able to port into the game as playable characters, additional story play sets that will arrive sometime after the game’s initial launch, and a revamped “Toy Box” mode that will make it easier for players to create and share their own worlds and activities…

Disney Infinity 2.0 will be all about Marvel super heroes


By Chad Sapieha


http://bit.ly/1lzWgAk

In the Marvel film universe, it was Agent Coulson who was largely responsible for bringing together the super hero team known as The Avengers.

So it seems only fitting that Clark Gregg, the actor who plays Agent Coulson in the Marvel movies and on TV’s Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., would be the one to unveil the video game assembling of The Avengers.

Gregg took to a stage in San Francisco Wednesday to help Disney Interactive president Jimmy Pitaro announce the next chapter of his company’s burgeoning toys-to-life series: Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes.

The new game, developed by Avalanche Software and set to launch this fall, will be a completely new edition within the franchise, offering a fresh story penned by renowned Marvel Comics scribe Brian Michael Bendis.

It will feature in excess of 18 collectible Marvel figurines that kids (and their geeky parents) will be able to port into the game as playable characters, additional story play sets that will arrive sometime after the game’s initial launch, and a revamped “Toy Box” mode that will make it easier for players to create and share their own worlds and activities…


Apr 28

Review – Child of Light may be the best turn-based RPG you play all year

By Chad Sapieha


http://bit.ly/1nzq4iF

Ubisoft Montreal’s downloadable Child of Light appeals on so many levels to so many demographics that I’m having a hard time imagining any gamers who wouldn’t enjoy it on some level.

It nails the old-school turn-based RPG vibe for which it’s striving almost perfectly, recalling some of the best elements of series like Final Fantasy and Chrono.

Gorgeous hand drawn presentation makes its fantastical world and characters feel like paintings come to life, and will likely leave fans of dynamic game art drooling. Ditto for music lovers, who will go ga-ga for the game’s gentle, moving theme and rousing orchestral battle melodies.

And with a cast filled with smart, non-sexualized female characters – both good and evil – it ought to prove a satisfyingly refreshing change of pace for gamers of the fairer sex.

And there’s no reason guys can’t enjoy it just as much as their girlfriends.

Plus, it manages the tricky task of appealing to players both young and old, thanks to a smartly designed two-tiered difficulty system and the ability for a second, less-experienced player to act as a helper in the role of a little firefly flittering about the world and in battles.

I’m tempted to go on about all the ways in which all sorts of people will dig it, but I suppose it might be easier to simply explain what makes this delightful little diversion so much fun…


First cartridges found at dig site looking to unearth millions of supposedly buried E.T. Atari games


http://bit.ly/1rFiwdX

ALAMOGORDO, N.M. — A construction crew is digging through several feet of dirt and trash in a New Mexico landfill to reach what they believe is a giant cache of cartridges from what some call the worst video game ever made.

About 200 of residents and game enthusiasts gathered early Saturday in southeastern New Mexico to watch backhoes and bulldozers dig through the concrete-covered landfill in search of up to a million discarded copies of “E.T. The Extraterrestrial” that the game’s maker wanted to hide forever.

But strong winds that kicked up massive clouds of dust mingled with garbage led some to leave the Alamogordo site.

Among the watchers was Armando Ortega, a city official who back in 1983 got a tip from a landfill employee about the massive dump of games…


Apr 24

Our senior writer, Chad Sapieha asks: Can The Elder Scrolls Online be played like a single-player RPG?


http://bit.ly/1fuPA10

I have little interest in online role-playing games, but my passion for The Elder Scrolls series is profound.

Long considered a bastion of single-player role-playing games, a stalwart of fantasy epics in which just one person becomes the hero of an entire realm, Bethesda Softworks’ legendary series of open-world RPGs has cultivated a following of millions of fans who love few things more than sequestering themselves in a room for hours on end and diving into a world made just for them.

As one of these people, I was dismayed when Bethesda announced plans to go the massively multiplayer route with its latest effort, The Elder Scrolls Online. It saddened me that the Elder Scrolls universe was about to grow in ways that would leave me – and I assumed lots of other long-time Elder Scrolls fans – disinterested and disinclined to play.

But then I had a thought: What would happen if I simply refused the game’s MMORPG premise? What if I approached it in much the same way I would any other Elder Scrolls game, ignoring to as great an extent as possible all of the other human-controlled champions gallivanting about?

And so I began playing with this peculiar aim: To purposely become a multiplayer misfit. A dedicated introvert in a game intended for interaction. An outcast playing on the fringes of an online community.

I’m 30 hours into this little experiment. Here are my findings so far…


Skylanders Trap Team will let kids pull villains out of the game and into the real world


By Chad Sapieha


http://bit.ly/1tHd6ko

Few video game franchises have drained parents’ pocketbooks faster than Activision’s blockbuster Skylanders series, which has generated more than US$2-billion in sales via just three games (and associated plastic figurines) released in the space of 24 months.

And the countdown to game No. four has officially commenced.

Post Arcade was on hand for the announcement of Skylanders Trap Team in New York Wednesday evening, and this third sequel – set to release on October 5 – looks like it may well re-invent our idea of how toys and video games can converge.

“This year we’re letting kids pull characters from the game into the real world,” said a clearly jazzed Eric Hirshberg, CEO of Activision, at the game’s unveiling.

He wasn’t kidding…


Apr 22

Five of the most anticipated female-led games of 2014


By Sam Maggs


http://bit.ly/QCLZrv

There may be a lack of female protagonists in mainstream video games, but there are several studios and indie developers taking steps in the right direction to be more inclusive.

While I wanted to shine a light on some lady-led games set to be released this year, it wasn’t an easy task. Unfortunately, the list of upcoming games with female protagonists — while strong on content — is pretty short.

Sure, there’s the Bayonetta 2-sized elephant in the room, but I’m not entirely convinced that her in-your-face assets are more empowering than exploitative. You can’t actually play as Lady Igraine in the steampunk third-person shooter The Order: 1886. And Volume, Mike Bithell’s Myst-like follow-up to the BAFTA-winning, heart-wrenching Thomas Was Alone, was supposed to feature a female protagonist until his recent change-of-heart.

That being said, there are still a few highly anticipated games set to be released this year featuring well-represented female protagonists, and here are the ones I think you should be on the lookout for…


Apr 21

One sassy eight-year-old offers her thoughts on Disney Magical World

By Chad Sapieha

http://bit.ly/QAfFVW

Disney Magical World – a game perhaps best described as Animal Crossing done up in hues of Mickey, Donald, and Goofy – isn’t really made for curmudgeonly 30-somethings like me.

Its simple simulations of everyday activities and colourful, cartoonish vibe make it suited for a less cynical demographic; specifically, kids around eight years old.

Luckily, I happen to have just such a creature lurking around my house.

So I dropped it into my daughter’s hands and let her have at it for about a week (I stole it away from her in the evenings and played for a few hours myself). Then I sat her down and had a conversation about what she thought of it.

The transcription of that chat shall serve as Post Arcade’s review…


Apr 16

Review – Trials Fusion solidifies the franchise’s status as the Excitebike of our time

By Chad Sapieha
http://bit.ly/1tanmS6

RedLynx Ltd.’s popular series of Trials motorcycle racing games just feel right.

It’s in the way you can shift riders’ weight to pre-load the suspension of your bike, pop-wheelies on flat surfaces, stay glued to the track on inclines, and perform forward bunny-hops to get a bit of extra distance clearing gaps.

It also has to do with the authentic recreation of motorcycles’ distinctive one-wheel drive systems. You can sense the power flowing to your rear wheel as you hit the throttle and feel the free spinning action of your front wheel whenever it’s the only tire touching the ground. Taking advantage of these contradictory properties properly is essential to overcoming more challenging obstacles.

But the cleverest bit of all is the game’s side-scrolling presentation. By framing the racing in two dimensions rather than three, taking away the unnecessary and distracting variable that is steering, players are better able to appreciate the game’s deftly designed physics engine in all its realistic glory.

I’m happy to report that the driving action in Trials Fusion – the franchise’s twelfth (or so) iteration on various platforms in 15 years – is as addictive as it’s ever been. The chief difference lies simply in how RedLynx has grown and expanded the rest of the game around it…


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