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State of Play with Brandon Bales: Derek Yu and Andy Hull (Full Interview)

Here's our interview with Derek Yu and Andy Hull of Mossmouth Games, creators of this Summer's fantastic adventure game, Spelunky!

In this interview we learn all about Spelunky's march from freeware lark to Xbox Live Arcade (XBLA) powerhouse. We also hear all about Derek and Andy's history in the indie scene, as well as Derek's award-winning Aquaria!

The missing target

The Last Story Screenshot

Spoiler Alert: This article contains spoilers for The Last Story.

The best-regarded cinematic games of today owe much of their structure to the currently-derided Japanese role-playing game. For all that players heaped scorn on the running-in-tubes gameplay of Final Fantasy XIII, it shared with the Uncharted games the feature that the player's task was to kill his way from one cutscene to the next.

The lampshade

Rogue Warrior Screenshot

When I wrote a post about the Camp aesthetic in games a few years back, I suggested that one of the greatest areas of camp potential in games lay in violence. A commenter suggested I take a look at Rogue Warrior, a universally-panned game inexplicably starring Mickey Rourke as real-life SEAL team commander Richard "Demo Dick" Marcinko. The game did not disappoint: Rogue Warrior is a great example, perhaps the best example, of a game that in its violent excess becomes unintentionally comic.

Interview with Mark of the Ninja's Nels Anderson

Mark of the Ninja Screenshot

Looking back at the various ninjas that have populated the gamescape over the years, the vast majority of them have focused on combos and combat, rather than truly employing stealth to its greatest degree. Klei Entertainment wants to change all that. With its upcoming XBLA release, Mark of the Ninja, they aim to bring sneaky back, and they're doing it in a big way—2D.

The Preacher Loop

Half-Life 2: Episode One Screenshot

In a recent commentary on Valve's Half-Life 2 Episodes, Marsh Davies criticizes much of Episode One for its "failure to make your navigation comprehensible, either spatially or narratively." He goes on to praise Episode Two for remembering to provide the player with an overview of its regions, so that the spaces allow the player to see the places he has been, or is going to. As I was reminded in my own recent replay of the original Half-Life and its companion games, this is not a recent improvement by Valve, but a return to form.

Interview with Shellrazer's Jesse Turner and Nick Waanders

Interview with Shellrazer's Jesse Turner and Nick Waanders

While at the most recent Seattle Indie Expo (SIX), I had the chance to meet Jesse Turner, artist for the recent iOS release, Shellrazer. I was blown away by his energy and enthusiasm, and there's no question he's a very talented artist. Dude can draw the hell out of turtles, yo. Although I didn't have a ton of time at the show, Jesse was quite gracious and willing to follow up with me afterwards, and here's what he (and his teammate Nick Waanders) had to say.

The invisible hands

Spec Ops: The Line Screenshot

In Spec Ops: The Line, the natural forces that oil money has so far kept at bay have struck back against the city, burying the modern towers in the red sands of its desert. In the shattered metropolis, a new society has been built, one that breaks the game's protagonists and shows the foolishness of their heroic pretensions.

Poo Dragon

Blue Dragon Screenshot

Released in 2006-07 as an Xbox 360 exclusive, probably with the goal of helping establish the console in Japan, Blue Dragon has inexplicably spawned sequels and a minor multimedia empire. It's reasonably fun, if you like turn-based role-playing games, but Blue Dragon is clearly a bad game.

Cage Kane Payne

Max Payne 3 Screenshot

In a short period of time I have played three games that may not seem to be similar or related. The co-op shooter Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days, the straight-up cover shooter Max Payne 3, and the thriller Heavy Rain share a third-person perspective, though, one that reflects their central cinematic aspirations. Although their critical reputations vary, each of these games is an interesting failure in the project of creating a playable movie.

Extra Credits: Hard-Boiled

Hiroshi Yamauchi (former President of Nintendo of Japan) once famously said that "gamers like to sit alone at home playing dark, depressing games?" Yamauchi was criticizing the industry and even gamers at the time for embracing dark, gritty, CGI-heavy, and mature-oriented games over the more cheerful, family-oriented titles. He felt that it was making games less inclusive and too much like movies. But his words were largely dismissed as the ravings of an old exec upset that fewer people were buying games on his platform. Extra Credits is taking a similar tack, only it makes a better argument than Yamauchi.

Extra Credits: Hard-Boiled

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