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The End

Thank you to everyone that has ever been a fan of Pixelpine or any of our amazing writers over the years. After starting this in 2013 as an experiment of my own in both webdesign and journalism it is now the official end of Pixelpine.com

I’d like to thank all of our writers:

Chris Ryan, Logan MacGillivray, Samuel Sharpe, Michael Tatar, and Ben Volpe.

And also a thank you to all other contributors including:

Joseph Coluccio, Quint Austin, Chris Har, Imran Haji, Matthew Kiel, and Antonio Guillien.


This website wouldn’t have been so amazing without all of you. Thanks for sharing in this journey with me. I love you all.

For anyone interested in my future endeavors head to brianspagnoli.com and follow me on twitter @zombiexsp

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Old Wolf, New Tricks

Last November, Nintendo announced that the classic Gamecube title, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess,will be receiving an HD remake for the Wii U. Released nearly 10 years ago,Twilight Princess offered a more somber take on the Zelda universe,while also incorporating elements of dark fantasy reminiscent of Majora’s Mask.

Nintendo is improving on the past by tweaking with several elements of the game to offerLegend_Of_Zelda__Twilight_Princess_HD_92487player’s a smoother playing experience. For example, Director Eiji Aonuma has stated that the controls have been improved,which will allow Link to move more comfortably while in water as well as being on horseback. Differing further from the Gamecube title, the Wii U version will allow Link to instantly transform into a wolf simply by using the Gamepad, rather than having to engage in a conversation with Midna.

 

Amiibo functionality has been added to the game to enrich the player’s experience within Hyrule. Several of Zelda Amiibo will add different dimensions to the experience, such as:

Link and Toon Link Amiibo: Replenish Arrows when tapped on the Gamepad.

Zelda and Sheik Amiibo: Replenish depleted Hearts when tapped on the Gamepad.

Gannondorf Amiibo: Link’s Hearts will turn blue, which will cause Link to take twice as much damage from enemies.

 

wolf link

Wolf Link Amiibo: Will unlock the Cave of Shadows Dungeon, a new addition to the game where Link is confined to his Wolf form and must run a gauntlet of enemies. Upon completion, Link will be awarded the Bottomless Wallet, a wallet that can hold 9,999 Rupees.

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD is scheduled for a North American release date of March 4th, 2016. A bundle containing the game, a Wolf Link Amiibo, and a copy of the games soundtrack will be available at launch.

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Bayonetta Dances Into Battle!

Nintendo announced yesterday during a Nintendo Direct broadcast, the company has revealed that will be added to the roster. Nintendo has stated that Bayonetta was the overall top pick in the Smash Bros. fan poll held earlier this year.

bayonetta smash

Bayonetta’s package will also include her Umbra Clock setting as a playable stage, as well as new music tracks and several costumes.

Nintendo has announced that Bayonetta will be priced at $5.99 individually for the Wii U or 3DS. or for $6.99 as a bundle for both systems.

Although no specific release date was revealed, Nintendo is targeting a February 2016 launch. Bayonetta was an exclusive for the Wii U in 2012, as well as Bayonetta 2 which was released last October for the console.

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Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes… Probably

3_KeepTalking_GearVR_Players

Look at how much fun they’re having! It’s all lies! No one maintains this much of a relaxed demeanor with a timer quickly cycling to zero. Today we’re going to take a fresh look at the newly released bomb defusal game, Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes.

So, what exactly is Keep Talking? Well thematically there’s not much going on. You’re in what looks like a military bomb-testing facility with a suitcase-sized explosive device wired with all manner of devilish puzzles to solve. It’s intended to be a multiplayer experience with the bomb technician viewing the device and giving information to assistants who have access to a manual. I’m sure it could be played single player but what are we, psychopaths?

4_KeepTalking_TheRoom

So, like any normal person, I teamed up with two buddies on stream and decided to save the world over and over and over again.

The puzzles are intuitive in their design giving you the classic “which wire should I cut”, symbols and ciphers, enticing buttons, and freaking Morse Code! Yes, if you’re a sailor or were born in the 1800’s, please contact me, we need help with that part.

Don’t even get me started on the alarms that blare, the gas ventilation, and the lights that turn off at every opportunity. Granted, it’s only for higher difficulties, but the challenge is graciously accepted. I couldn’t help but feel that the room was trying to kill me, and in some cases perhaps my own team was trying to kill me. It was funny, to me at least, when you hear a string of numbers and out of nowhere the deafening cry of an alarm clock shocks you into a state of disarray. It was like calling the ISS inside a herd of elephants, something I would totally do over and over again.

The fantastic heart-pounding action track from the blast end of the timer was even more invigorating as it gave you a solid minute to relinquish fear through your steadily evacuating sweat glands.

1_KeepTalking_Gameplay
Modules on top of your modules

It’s all in good fun though. On several occasions we had never dealt with a particular module and decided to wing it. We found, through trial and error, that the instructions are articulated in a way that makes them fair but punishing to those who don’t pay close attention. It can get confusing at times, but perfect play with practice and the ideal adage “Keep talking” both ring true for anyone who plays this several times.

After awhile the initiated quickly develop a shorthand and the vocabulary becomes secondary. At least that was our experience. We love puzzles and couldn’t help but fall victim to KTaNE‘s enticing throes. Perhaps the biggest draw is getting multiple people together and developing a multi-tiered operation. We traded information at everything less than lightning speed all to one source who had to process and execute each order with impunity or else, you know, we all die. It was the people who made the bomb interesting, who added the element of imperfection to a very by-the-numbers experience.

2_KeepTalking_ManualSpread

For being a mechanically technical game KTaNE utilizes abstraction and the necessity of interpersonality to do what party games do best: create an atmosphere of raw enjoyment. Time is the enemy, the bomb is the obstacle, and together the engagement of friends or family steps KTaNE above other couch co-ops. One screw up might lead to death, but everyone is responsible. The resets are easy and the time it takes to disarm a bomb is nearly microscopic, so if you fail then there’s no hard feelings. You just move to the next challenge and keep on trucking.

ktane_vr
The immersion grows

Denying this game any modesty, I can say without a doubt that I’m seriously excited for the next step in Steel Crate Games’ IP. And given that I have yet to master all the puzzles and permutations, I can’t even imagine how many hours I’m going to kill(pun intended) inside that cold and dark concrete-padded room, but at least I know I won’t be alone.


Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is developed and produced by Steel Crate Games and can be purchased on Steam for $14.99, additional platforms pending.

 

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Nintendo announces release date for Super Mario Maker!

Nintendo has confirmed earlier today that Super Mario Maker will have a North American release date of September 11th of this year.

1UP
1UP

2015 marks the 30th anniversary of Super Mario, and Nintendo is celebrating this milestone by giving the players the power to create their own custom Super Mario levels.

Creators will also have the ability to upload their creations onto a Nintendo server where other creators can play each others levels. To coincide with Mario’s anniversary, Nintendo will be releasing an 8-bit, classic Mario that can be used with Super Mario Maker.

Pure Nostalgia
Pure Nostalgia

Creators will also have the ability to build fun filled 8-bit levels, but also have the ability to convert it instantly to the graphics of NES Super Mario Bros. 3, SNES Super Mario World as well as New Super Mario Bros. Wii U.

This is a true fan service from Nintendo, taking their most revered mascot and giving him over directly to the fans. The possibilities for level creation of this game are endless, and the Gamepad will show it’s true potential for the Wii U.

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Trine 3: First Look

Trine 3 released for early access on Steam on April 21st, reporting three times the sales as Trine 2, and overwhelmingly positive reception from the community.

Trine 3 is developed by Frozenbyte and features an appealing blend of a 3-D world space with conventionally isometric platforming and a tripartite character/puzzle layout that continues to expand upon the classic dungeon crawler party system. It’s multiplayer enabled and allows any player to assume a different class at any given moment.

Trine is one of those series that knows how to stick to a formula, and in the case of Frozenbyte, diverging from the rails might not be in their best interest yet; here’s why:

header

It stands the test of time that fantastical adventuring, party abstraction, and iteratively epochal storytelling are going to transcend the wide array of media available for many decades to come. Within the last century, Tolkien’s influence spawned a very unique subculture that promotes the hero’s journey, but with strength in numbers being the crutch of choice. It’s the path from point A to B, the adventure between, that tells a story, and the prize at the end of the rope is either a neatly tied knot or a nexus to the grand and enigmatic future awaiting these select heroes.

I’m probably sounding like a looney, but I have a few points to discuss and the aforementioned is my most salient of them all, so please keep that in the back of your head.

In the Trine series you play as three separate characters trying to accomplish various goals, and although I never got to play the first one, I can tell you each installment will stand alone or can equally compound experiences with minimal impact either way.ss_b0f7de6ba6ac2df3b5171a97294f0c668837b1e1.600x338

You platform, solve puzzles, collect treasure, and of course, beat up enemies. It’s fun, to say the least, but I fear the throes of early access have wrenched back the diadem of design, revealing a bleached skeleton.

The game looks fantastically beautiful graphically, a valiant leap ahead of its predecessors and a phenomenal adjustment to the quality bar, but this is an uncooked cake with mesmeric frosting. I had a lot of fun at certain points, but every time I ran into an unpolished area I could feel the variable infatuation with everything else becoming much less impactful. Such is the crux of early access.

In Trine 3 multiple puzzles must be tackled, some more difficult, dextrous, or downright buggy than others, but from what I saw, the prospects of Trine 3‘s layout is a vacuous dungeon-crawler that promotes the erection of futile roadblocks above the smooth weaves of event chains.

For example; you can play as a knight who exercises strength and gliding, a mage who uses telekinesis and summons objects, and a ranger who can swing across various gaps or fire arrows at switches to get the job done. All of the characters are able to wall jump, and given Trine’s particular use of an isometric layout that extends 3-dimensionally down the X and Y axis at various points, there sprouts two options for the player.

One: break the immersion and try to find the sensitive button prompt or try and mill about the screen until something reacts.

Two: power through the puzzle, possibly taking damage or simply wall jumping over it.

ss_9eb183e32d2cdbda30577b44639cef50531b1259.600x338Every time I was faced with a simple contraption it was far more arduous to sit there and meticulously dodge the joysticks like I’m adjusting a stripper’s tassels, and after awhile the mind-numbingly insincere prompts began to wear at my disjointed inputs, such to the point that I would switch to the mage, summon a legion of boxes, and run past whatever obstruction happened to be in my way.

I was incredibly flighty, and perhaps a bit too impatient, but the certainty of the game developers in their “puzzle” to adventure/combat ratio was a bit stilted towards the former, lending no credence to the exceedingly enjoyable aspects of my first look. I loved fighting the very first boss who was intrinsically a pseudo-Colossus-esque boss fight, one which I definitely did not take for granted.

I passed through a sufficient arc in the story and I wasn’t necessarily engrossed, but I wasn’t turned off either. I make it a point to not envelop myself in early access games which are more story-oriented as I don’t want to ruin the full experience which ultimately brings me to my next point.

Alway be frugal, especially in the video game market. This is an industry which is spoken ill of by many and generally does not perceive video games as an art form, and being in its infancy, digital entertainment such as this comes with malleable rules.

I generally don’t approve of early access as they portend a future of empty promises, but when you have a game like Trine 3 that shows incredible potential and rests under the wing of amicable developers, it goes without mentioning that one should invest in a veritably enjoyable experience. And I would wholeheartedly support this notion.ss_0494186641a743e6ef16c5d6a6260b6b47aead95.600x338

However, there is a clause.

Trine 3 is story driven, but also happens to have its fair share of bugs and incongruencies. Personally I would not recommend buying the game until it reaches completion. It’s a great multiplayer experience in itself, but with average mechanics, the only resolve is within the world they have constructed.

My ultimate advice for anyone who wants to act right now is to show interest, and if you have the money, this is a safe buy, but don’t complain about the optimization, bugs, or lack of gameplay options if you buy early access because what the hell are you doing playing through Trine 3 before you can fully embrace the completed game?

I truly wish the developers hadn’t planted their fruits so early as this could have been a much more momentous conjuncture which is why I’m incredibly glad I stopped when I did. I’m expecting a great game, just not until release, and if the developers are as spasmodic in their updates as Trine 3 is in its gameplay, then I call dibs on “Frozenbyt the dust” for their epitaph.

 

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Killing Floor 2: First Look

I got my hands on a Killing Floor 2 press kit the other day, prying it open with my shaking little fingers and an eight inch hunting knife. I was beyond excited considering my previous experience with Tripwire Interactive, following them since the inaugural release of Rising Storm.

Granted, I was a little late to the party, but the drinks had not yet run out, and the multiplayer communities surrounding TwI’s gun-god power trips are only going to grow from moon-sized to constellation.

For a little bit of history, I’d invested plenty of time into goring out enemies with all manner of weaponry and in all manner of cosplay. Rising Storm offered me solace as a battlefield

69 Hours it will stay

commander, ordering artillery strikes on faceless opponents and taking bets on how high a body could fly and how many pieces it would break into. Their realistic gunplay served as reminder that Starbucks shooters are not the only recipe to pit 32 strangers up against 32 other strangers and have the audacity to try and unite them under a flag.

Killing Floor was a pleasant surprise in the vein of zombie arcade, and when I picked up a Winchester for the first time, I suddenly realized an absolute potential that I had not previously known. The kickback and relative bounce of the zeds as I gave a nearby barn a JFK paintjob was on par with my executional orgasm. It was an arena that rivaled Left for Dead with simplicity, and Call of Duty for actually being fun.

So here I was, adjusting the settings for an absolute graphical overhaul to the first game. I could feel my blood boiling as I anticipated the hardcore, visceral action that awaited me.

Killing Floor
Killing Floor 2

There were four classes to choose from, three of which you can throw to the wolves for all I care. Berserker is the way to go, and if anyone tells you otherwise, hit them with your military-grade shovel and dig their grave, because if you’re not getting the mileage out of these new weapons, you’re not playing this game properly.

All things considered, the inter-class weapon-blending completely dissolves abstraction in the playing field. As a hammer-wielding extra from Mad Max, I found that using the entire array of shotguns and a puny medic pistol was more enjoyable than simply hacking around like a butcher trapped in a pig farm. The assault rifles were a little bit lackluster, but then again I wasn’t so much trying to aim as I was trying to express my freedom and liberty.

They gave us a pretty narrow selection to choose from in regards to characters, weapons, and maps, but the fun was just beginning. I customized a big, bruiser type character with a rippin’ hangover. He wielded mighty meat-mashing weapons that brought flashbacks to the elevator scene from The Shining. I felt like a disgruntled farmer at one point, shakily staring down the sights of my double-barrelled boomstick with one good eye, only to feel several pounds of recoil, missing the target entirely and having to painfully reload while mysterious spider bastards gave me hugs on all sides.

Speaking of hugs, the Clots still like to hold you in place, and if you didn’t bring your pepper spray, it’s going to be a hard time getting their shiny asses off your back. In KF2, however, they suddenly feel the need to capture your attention like a horny teenager at a club. I can’t count the number of times I was wetting my pants, saving thirteen shotgun rounds and a breakup letter for a charging Scrake, only to automatically turn and dump them into the poor, innocent skull of a nearby fleshling.

Let’s talk Fleshpounds. For those of you who played the first KF, you know the crushing horror that accompanies a red-tinged Fleshpound. For those of you who are new to the series, don’t be the one jerkwad who either has his back turned, or is the guy to not turn tits over toss when a blade-spinning giant comes to fist you into next week.

You see, red usually means good when you’re playing a game about brutally separating body parts with amatuer gunplay, but when a Fleshpound give you the “stop” signal, you should really reevaluate your life and buy the next plane ticket to Nope City.

All that jazz aside, let’s get into the more interesting stuff, shall we? Killing Floor wouldn’t be an apt name without tremendous amount of killing, now would it? “Friendly Knife” is what happens when you run behind a person in Battlefield and try to set the world land speed record for appendix removal. It would be a great game, don’t get me wrong, but KF2 has moved the bar up another rung for any game that promises to have death and mayhem.

Goddamn it’s satisfying to chop through an enemy, and I really mean that. You cut through them with the ease of a construction worker, grave digger, or weeaboo, and the only thing stopping you is reveling in the raining fountains of blood that shower down upon you. The nice thing about the new level design is showing back up to an area you previously fought in and recollecting the bloodbath that occurred because you are literally standing in a bath of blood.

I started playing in a winter arena, fighting in a courtyard with a saw gun reminiscent of Half-Life 2, and began to write down marketing solutions for selling red snow because there too damn much of the stuff! There were zed parts sliding off buildings and the only thing I could think to do was get out of Dodge before the EPA hit me with a fine for toxifying the North Pole.

Either way, the arenas in KF2 are much cleaner and much more nuanced than their predecessors. I didn’t get much of a chance to explore though because half the time I was still trying to pull my pants up and get my gun loaded before all hell broke loose. I remember the sky boxes and backgrounds for the winter brawl and the Parisian death battle were very elaborate and three-dimensional, adding character and depth, but I’m pretty sure they mostly serve to distract you while a Husk cooks eggs on your flaming skull.

The gun animations are great, feeding into a dastardly bullet time in which zombie shootout becomes the wild west, but my goodness do you need coordination. In the previous game you didn’t really have to worry about special zeds until later levels, and even then, by that time you had guns big enough to commit war crimes. It was hilarious when a lone Fleshpound would open a door and try to walk into a room with six survivors. No one wanted his aggro, so they steadied their trigger fingers for all of two seconds. Then, without any word, a hail of bullets from a makeshift firing squad would poke holes in that flesh-sacked blood bank until he tripped and fell over to where the Berserker could beat his lifeless body into several pieces, all before the rest of the zed army showed up.

Speaking of army, the final point in this First Look, I would just like to point out that mecha-Hitler is a go-to source of an evil villain with more vileness to spare than Care Bears gone rogue. Yes, if you haven’t seen TB fighting him, then I’ll just go ahead and point out that the final boss is a modified ex-Nazi because Horzine is THE MOST responsible company in the world, especially when making super weapons.

I will give them the benefit of the doubt though in saying they were halfway decent in making a gun-toting nerve gas machine that curses raw German in your ear until the cows come home, and just like cows, he’s great at herding you all into a small room where he can release poisonous chemicals that probably melt your skin off and turn your lungs inside out.

My advice on beating him?

 

 


 

 

Killing Floor 2 is developed by Tripwire Interactive and will be available April 21st, 2015 for early access, RP$29.99 on Steam for PC and Steam OS

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Titan Souls: First Look

If you haven’t checked out the Titan Souls demo from Devolver Digital, please do so before descending into the harrowing dungeon that is this first-look. Adventurers beware.

Titan Souls is veritable souls-like RPG, influenced heavily by elements of both genres. It’s an isometric, pixelated wonderland filled to the brim with… well… nothing, really. This is completely fine, contrary to how it sounds. Direction is implicit at this point in my gaming career, and piecing together a three-part puzzle is comparable to pointing and shooting.

I loaded up the game with no context as to where I was headed, what I was supposed to be doing, and within the first five minutes of playing, the challenges I had yet to mount were laid before me next to a simple and concise control scheme. The game recommends you use a gamepad, but the arbitrary mapping – which allows you to press three or so buttons for the same effect – makes me wonder if there is going to be any more features imbedded in what appears to be a glorified stress test.

The land of Titan Souls is a beautiful place with an astounding soundtrack to boot. I sat on the main menu for some time, rigging the settings, encapsulated by the transcendental aura provided by the OST,

and without a doubt I knew this would be an “enjoyable” experience. It’s an amalgam of my childhood and teenage years, sporting the layout and dungeon experience of A Link to the Past, the rolling and running from Dark Souls along with Skate‘s jedi-summoning tricks, and finally the boss-fest escapades provided by Shadow of the Colossus. That last part gets me though. I understand it’s a challenge to overcome, but trying to dodge a train without leaving the tracks is just making it easier for the coroners.

The thing about hard games is the learning curve. I loved Dark Souls’ “tutorial” in which several methods of attack could test your mettle, and in the end you reap the gains of knowledge. Rogue-lites galore teach you upon each death the methods of survival, and all hell breaks loose if you don’t save seventeen times before entering a cave or dungeon in party-based RPGs. Titan Souls keeps it nice and tidy with a direct route to whatever boss bent you over, and thirty seconds to remind yourself where the exit menu is. The desire to win is great, and even now I’m mulling over strategies, deciding whether or not this masochism simulator is going to get the best of me.

But it’s striking how inconsequential each attempt felt. Granted, you can’t chain dodge-rolls, you can’t rapid fire, and you feel like a little pipsqueak of a child taking down giant cubes of death, but regardless, my power is a product of repetition, of training and grinding. The first time you fight a boss it’s going to kill you,

“Kill” being a blanket term for the various ways you can be pounded into red mist.

no questions asked. There is an element of timing, meta-strategy, and a head-space which requires thirteen Redbulls and a pack of cigarettes to live inside. I looked around the map, taking a total of several minutes to explore every nook and cranny, disheartened when I realized the only plan of attack was throwing myself at the proverbial wall of spears until one day I broke through. There was only one character with their given strengths, and no one for miles to grind upon. It was death before rebirth, a purgatory in which this small girl (I assume) must fight titanic beings to obtain freedom.

I killed all three bosses, perhaps the easiest, considering they’re demo material, but spiritually these bosses seemed to have the same difficulty. It didn’t feel impactful, weighted, or even well-deserved to shoot the Death-Star cosplayer in his big, stupid eyeball, or liberate the brain from a glacier, and I was eerily surprised when I actually John-Wayned them without even holding my breath. It was a kill-or-be-killed mentality in that moment, but when both you and the boss have 1hp to spare, the game minimalizes my beast-slayer attitude and relegates it to a 3-D shooting gallery. I want to fight the long fight, devs.

Here’s my final consensus:

Gamers: Keep your eye on this. It’s games like this that bring nostalgia and life back to the cluttered table of triple-A and indie titles alike. It’s clean, well designed, and offers potentially infinite hours of gameplay. The producers have given us some wonderful titles, I hope this is no different.

Developers: If you’re reading this, understand these are qualms from an endeared heart. Narrow customization, world variation, and event states to prepare the character for each fight are detrimental to maintaining a prospective attitude, and if not that, give the boss fights a dimension akin to swordplay or dancing for that matter. Nothing feels better than trading blows with an enemy that outmatches you, only to fell them with a resolution of pure skill. On top of that, either more characters to choose from, or a local multiplayer option gives TS a greater chance for replayability and caters different play styles as well as built-in networking. In regards to the input graveyard, taking full advantage of the gamepad is much more than giving outs to a dead man, it’s giving diversified strategy rather than waiting for your opening and blindly firing. Buffs, boons, booze, and more can be attached to those infinitely pressable buttons; I know my hands could use the workout.

The game might change upon release, and if it does, then consider these words melted cheese. I’ll be getting it on release and offering a full-fledged review, but until then, I just hope I can piece my controller and dignity back together.

 


 

Titan Souls is developed by Acid Nerve and produced by Devolver Digital and will be releasing mid-April for PC(Apr 14th), PS4, PS Vita, Mac & Linux. RP$13.49 on Steam

 

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New to Pixelpine: Game Previews!

After a long run of a standard set of three sections — news, opinions, and reviews — Pixelpine will be adding a new section encompassing detailed previews of soon-to-release games.

Game trailers, initial thoughts, and expectations for the game will be discussed and examined.

Follow Pixelpine on twitter to get the latest game previews right away.