Wednesday, 7 March 2018


There’s a new Dizzy game that’s actually quite old: it was originally supposed to be released in 1993, for NES.
Never heard of Dizzy? That’s OK. It just means you probably didn’t grow up gaming in Europe during the ’80s and ’90s. It was a big series at the time, starting in 1987 with Dizzy — The Ultimate Cartoon Adventure.
That first game was released for the ZX Spectrum, Amstrad PC, and Commodore 64 — remember any of those? It was created by Philip and Andrew Oliver — known as the Oliver Twins — and published by their early collaborator, the U.K.-based Codemasters.
The Dizzy series follows a smiling, egg-shaped creature who leaps around — avoiding hazards and solving puzzles — as he tries to keep his people, the Yolkfolk, safe from an evil wizard called Zaks. Like many popular games from the era, it takes cues from Nintendo platformers like Mario.
The Oliver Twins (and later, Big Red Software) created a string of Dizzy games, spin-offs, and compilations between 1987 and 1994. Some of that stuff never got released at the time, but has trickled out since.
Such is the case with Mystery World Dizzy, a browser-based port of a game that was originally intended for an NES release in 1993. In its original form, Mystery World is technically just a spiffed up remake of Fantasy World Dizzy, the third game in the series and perhaps the best-known of the bunch.
The 2017 port comes from the Oliver Twins, who announced the release on Twitter.

This actually isn’t the first old-made-new-again port from the Oliver Twins. Back in 2015, the sibling game makers delivered a similarly never-before-released port of Wonderland Dizzy, an NES version of the series’ sixth game, Magicland Dizzy.

Several years earlier, the Olivers attempted to revive the series with a proper sequel, called Dizzy Returns. They brought the effort to Kickstarter in 2012, but ultimately fell far short of the £350,000 funding target, with only £25,620 pledged.

Sunday, 25 February 2018

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Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Sunday, 24 December 2017


Whatever happens in Splatoon 2’s story, it’ll be a product of the game’s community.
Nintendo recently added a new section to the upcoming sequel’s website, called “Squid Sisters Stories.” That’s a reference to Marie and Callie, the pop idol duo at the center of Splatoon’s in-game “Splatfest” events.
Before we get to the site update and how the original game will influence the sequel, it’s important to understand what Splatfests are.
Splatoon is a competitive multiplayer game, and Splatfests were limited time events in which players chose between two sides. It was always something simple: Cats vs. Dogs, Art vs. Science, Messy vs. Tidy.
The labels ultimately didn’t matter inside the game, beyond giving the community competing banners to unite under. At the end of each Splatfest, each team earned a score based on a combination of overall popularity (i.e. how many players flocked to each banner) and win percentage, with the higher score nabbing a win.
In every Splatfest, Marie and Callie split up to represent each team. But for the final Splatfest, the Squid Sisters were the banners players flocked to: it was Marie vs. Callie. The event ended on July 22, 2016 and Marie was crowned the winner.
That was the end. Or so it seemed.
Now, the newly updated Splatoon 2 website features an all-text “Prologue” that directly references the result of that final Marie vs. Callie Splatfest. Here’s the relevant bit:

The showdown of Callie versus Marie ended in victory for Marie, but there was no ill will between the two. The girls left the studio arm in arm, smiling and laughing as they always had. The bond between them would continue, unbroken, for years to come.
There’s one more line after that: “Or so it seemed at the time….”
This prologue is obviously setting up the story in Splatoon 2. What’s surprising is the way the final Splatfest, a real-life event, is woven into the fictional story. I can’t think of any other case where a game featuring live elements used the results of an in-game event to influence the continuing story.
To see this coming from Nintendo, a company that has traditionally been slower to embrace industry trends — in this case, live games — is even more surprising. There’s plenty more to be revealed about Splatoon 2, but this very cool twist should go a long way toward keeping fans of the first game invested in the sequel.

Saturday, 16 December 2017


Much-loved indie game Risk of Rain is getting a sequel, developer Hopoo announced today, and the follow-up will make the leap from 2D to 3D.
“Risk of Rain 2 is our first fully 3D project,” the company revealed in a blog post. “We think that 3D allows for much deeper design spaces and more possibilities for cool gameplay. Feelings of scale and atmosphere are also much stronger. We are really happy with the core of Risk of Rain–and we’re finding it plays even better in 3D. It just won’t crash anymore.”
You can take a look at a short clip of the game in action above, though Hopoo did warn that the build shown off is “very, very early in development,” and that “none of the systems, art styles, assets, or game design choices will necessarily translate to the final game.” The company says it’s been working on the sequel “for about 6 months,” and it did not announce pricing, a release window, or what platforms the game might come to.
The original Risk of Rain launched on PC in 2013 following a successful Kickstarter campaign, before later coming to both PlayStation 4 and PS Vita.
“Risk of Rain is highly enjoyable,” said critic Cameron Woolsey in our review. “And with constant rewards of new items and character classes, it’s hard to put down once you start. Even as I watched the last of the end credits roll by, I wiped the sweat from my brow and jumped back into the fray: I have an item log that still needs to be filled.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017


It’s been a gnarly handful of days for the professional Overwatch scene. Since last Tuesday, four organizations have dropped their Overwatch teams, citing a lack of certainty about Blizzard’s upcoming Overwatch League and potentially prohibitive costs they’ll have to pay in order to join it.
Today, esports organization compLexity bid farewell to their Overwatch team with a statement (via PVP Live):
“Anticipation of Blizzard’s upcoming Overwatch League and an uptick in mainstream esports attention means that now more than ever, we have to be confident we’re making the best investments in each game,” they wrote. “The decision to part ways with long-term members of our organization is never one that we take lightly, but ongoing roster instability has resulted in inconsistent performances in an already narrow field of events.”
They added that their former team will be able to continue using team house facilities for two months, so as to “provide what sense of stability that we can.”
They’re not the first to release an Overwatch team in the past seven days. Team SoloMid, another esports heavy hitter, backed out on May 5. Former player Taylor “b1am” Forrest said they just put the finishing touches on their player roster, but claimed that the cost of entry into Overwatch League is too steep for TSM to go all-in right now.
Red Reserve also bid a resigned farewell to their team on May 5, saying that not all is well on the European front. “Due to Overwatch remaining a relatively small esports title in Europe compared to the North American and Asian esports scene, the decision came to put our focus in different titles such as CS: GO, Call of Duty, and Fifa,” they wrote. “Whether or not we will continue in the Overwatch scene is yet to be decided as the esports scene is ever growing, but for now, this ends our run for Overwatch.”
Denial Esports kicked off the trend last Tuesday, dropping their team with little in the way of an explanation.
This all comes in close proximity to a report alleging that New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross have both purchased Overwatch League spots for, potentially, millions of dollars. If true, that would put a lot of esports organizations in a tight spot, if not an outright untenable one.
For the moment, Blizzard isn’t making any concrete announcements, but they did tell PVP Live that they “are in active discussions with teams and owners from endemic esports as well as traditional sports.” We’ll see where that all goes… eventually. Overwatch League is set to launch sometime later this year, but there’s no exact date yet.

Monday, 6 November 2017


A reader admits to the classic franchises he’s never played a single game from, including The Legend Of Zelda and Mass Effect.
As a gamer, quite often I miss out on the latest hot TV series. As I juggle gaming with other social obligations I make the choice to sacrifice watching TV. So, for example, I haven’t seen a single episode of Breaking Bad, not one. I’ve not finished the first season of Game of Thrones (I hope Sean Bean’s Eddard Stark makes it the whole way through, he’s my favourite character) but apparently a load has happened in that too. When I tell friends this I get a look like I just farted loudly in a lift, but even more egregiously I have not played some games that other people would regard as all-time classics.
This annoys me more, because when you miss a game series you really miss the bus and the commitment to catch up can be even more onerous. Once fandom has been established for a game it can be hard to understand the fuss from the outside. Here are some of the series I’ve missed.

Mass Effect

I’ve not played one game of this classic series, so I wasn’t furious when apparently Mass Effect 3 messed the whole trilogy up. Seeing the build up to Mass Effect: Andromeda I couldn’t join in on the fevered speculation about whether Commander Shepherd will have a dog or if his moustache will be curlier (see my total lack of any appreciable knowledge!). But if it’s any consolation I‘ve played every mainline Assassin’s Creed game, gaming philistine that I am.

The Legend Of Zelda

Nope not a one. Why? Because to my eternal regret I was a massive Sega fanboy back in the day and looked down with barely concealed derision at anything Nintendo and those plumber-loving big kids. By the time I was old enough to appreciate Nintendo (about the N64 era) without my stupid blinkers on I could see what everyone else did but still couldn’t play their games.
Why? Because at this stage I had been turfed out of the nest and had to buy my own consoles at that point in my life. And I couldn’t look past the PlayStation’s early ice cool style and diverse game catalogue, and that’s the pattern that has followed me on. Appreciating Nintendo much the same way Cameron appreciated that Georges Seurat painting in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
So I missed out and the people loving Breath Of The Wild who can see the deeper meanings and history of the series have my envy. I don’t have a Switch and will probably end up with a PlayStation 4, so this trend will continue. #sadface #firstworldproblem

Castlevaina and Metroid

Both games seem so important that they get scrunched together to make the weird compound word of Metroidvania. I haven’t played either iconic series, but of all of the many games in both series the one I regret the most not having played would be Metroid Prime. It’s constantly held up as a masterwork. I’d have to nod, mumble and bluff my way through any conversation around Metroid. Being careful to drop in that it was great to see a woman in a leading role in a video game… See! I know things. Also, isn’t it great when you find a new power that allows you to access another part of the world… Facts! What bit did I like best? … explodes smoke bomb and runs.

Dead Space

I played all the Resident Evils – even the rubbish ones – why do I need to play Resi in space? Like, how cool could it actually be? Turns out it sounds like it was very, very cool. For this one it’s a real case of it just passing me by. I know that the later iterations seemed to be received badly, but the reason I wasn’t grabbed was the terror factor. I had played two parts of the very first game at a friend’s house, and the swarming antagonists freaked me out to the point I didn’t play it for my mental health.
The second part involved blowing up a bunch of asteroids to prevent the station from exploding, I just couldn’t do it. I’d get a good bit through but couldn’t bring it home, the two negative snippets probably ruined the game for me.


Finally, the last entry I’ll admit to with a shame face would be Pokémon. Pokémon are a mystery to me. They seem to have been going since the times when consoles were made from string and magic, and yet once again I’ve missed an entire gaming media juggernaut. They look like good light role-players, certainly more accessible than Final Fantasy – a series I’ve definitely enjoyed.
Don’t get me wrong, it looked lots of fun and playful in ways that only Nintendo can master but I never evolved a single charmander or squirtle. I’ve seen a few of the early cartoons but not enough to get engaged with the world, and 10 years in I accepted I probably won’t be a Pokémon guy.
I often toy with the idea of picking these games up cheap. I wonder which series the denizens of the Underbox would recommend if I could choose just one? And I also wonder at the series that they would admit to missing out on? Perhaps someone has never played a Call Of Duty? Or maybe some lone wanderer has somehow avoided all of the GTAs. This is the opportunity to confess and get the shame off your chest.
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