Shootin’ the Shit: 2013 is going to be nuts.

6a00d83451b74a69e2017d3e40bf35970c-800wi

2012 is just about over. The holidays are wrapping up, the new year draws nearer by the minute, and we can start getting excited about the coming year. I’ve got plenty to say about everything from games to music to movies, so let’s take this one at a time. First off, games!

Games in 2013

ws_Monster_Hunter__Freedom_1680x1050-1024x640

2012 had some awesome games, but 2013 is going to be a big year. We’re all anticipating announcements from both Sony and Microsoft regarding new consoles; Valve is hard at work on a mysterious “Steam box”; The Ouya promises to give independent creators a new open source platform; and Nintendo begins their first year of the Wii U’s life cycle. But none of that matters if the games aren’t good. We’ve got a year left with our 360s and PS3s, and my oh my, what a year it will be.

Obviously, the first quarter of 2012 is going to be insane and I could list a ton of great looking games here that will be dropping between now and March (Bioshock Infinite, Deadspace 3, Tomb Raider, Crysis 3) The rest of the year is shaping up quite nicely as well. However, I’d be lying if I said those were the games I’m most looking forward to. My interests lie in the slightly-less-than-mainstream sector of the videogame market, and these five in particular have me literally jumping for 2013.

Castlevania: Mirror of Fate – My love of Castlevania has been well documented on Power Cords. I love Symphony of the Night and its sequels, and the entire series is filled with great, memorable games. Even though I have some reservations about Castlevania: Mirror of Fate, I’m optimistic. A new 2D Castlevania is almost as exciting as a new 2D Metroid, and beggars can’t be choosers.  Definitely on my radar.

Sir, You are Being Hunted – It’s really hard to describe this Kickstarter-funded indie game. So instead, I’ll show you the video that got me excited for the game in the first place. Keep in mind this is an extremely early build, but it still shows what the game is going for.

Double Fine’s Projects – I’m gonna cheat — instead of talking about just one game, I’m going to talk about THREE! Ever since Psychonauts and Brutal Legend, Double Fine Productions have remained a favorite studio of mine. Thanks to an extremely successful Kickstarter campaign, the studio is now hard at work on a brand-new adventure game. But that’s not all! In just a few days, they will be releasing their 2D adventure The Cave on Steam. BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE! The company recently lifted the veil on their internal design contest, Amnesia Fortnight. Aside from being an amazing community- and charity-building event, Amnesia Fornight gave birth to new projects. One in particular from a previous internal event, Brazen, is a Monster Hunter-esque action game where Greek-inspired heroes battle mythic beasts. All these games look great, and further cement Double Fine as an important and special studio. Actually, speaking of Monster Hunter…

Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate – While a lot of people (many Power Cords contributors especially) get into capturing and training pocket-sized monsters, I spend my time hunting and trapping giant ones. Monster Hunter is my Pokemon — or at least it used to be. I haven’t played Monster Hunter since the gen 1 games (Monster Hunter Freedom, specifically) but I cannot wait to get back into the series with Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate. And with Monster Hunter 4 hitting in Japan this year and hopefully North America soon after, there are plenty of epic hunts in my future.

Dark Souls II – The announcement of Dark Souls II took me by surprise; I wasn’t expecting a sequel to one of my all-time favorite games so soon. In fact, I wasn’t really expecting one at all. While some fans reacted harshly to early details about the game, this article put many of the concerns I had about Dark Souls II to rest. I don’t want an easy mode as much as the next guy (I sincerely doubt there will be one, just for the record) and I wish Miyazaki had a stronger presence in the design, but I haven’t been this stoked for a game in years. By far my most anticipated game of 2013.

One man's despair is another man's joy.
One man’s despair is another man’s excitement.

While those five may be the big ones for me, there’s more out there to be excited about. Phantasy Star returns with Phantasy Star Online 2. Retro Studios is working on a still-unknown project, and there are rumors of new Zelda, Donkey Kong Land, and Yoshi’s Island all on 3DS. And, if the promise Everquest Next pans out, it could be a truly revolutionary MMORPG. 2013 is going to be absolutely nuts. Oh, and there’s going to be another Castlevania game next year, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2So, yeah. Nuts.

Movies and Television in 2013

Movies and television are kinda Marshal’s bag, but I dabble. A while ago, I made the conscious decisions that film would take a back seat to my preferred entertainment medium, videogames. However, there are still some big movies and tv series I look forward to seeing. First off, Game of Thrones returns in April, and season 3 officially marks me not knowing what happens next in the series. Then, of course, the final season of Breaking Bad. I’d go so far as to say it’s the best crime drama series I’ve ever seen, and I’m eager to see the end. For films, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is my big one. It’s a year away, sure, but An Unexpected Journey was really good, and I’m excited for part 2. Finally, Guillermo del Toro’s next big-screen hit, Pacific Rim hits next summer. It may look like just another summer tent-pole blockbuster, but the Kaiju Monster fan in me sees something more…

Oh, and maybe show off more of the new Godzilla? Please?

Music in 2013

2012 was a pretty good year for music, but not amazeballs like 2011. In fact, it was kind of a lukewarm year, and I spent a lot of time with bands that weren’t the uber-extreme-disgustingly-filthy metal I’ve been blasting into my skull the past few years (check out my top 21 albums of 2012 here). I rediscovered my love for prog rock, stoner metal, and electronic music. In the past couple years, I’ve become a much more casual listener of music overall. Still, a bunch of great bands will be releasing new music next year, and I plan on reviewing and talking about these releases more actively.

New Year’s Resolutions

I want to read more. I was given a large stack of new books for Christmas, including a few new graphic novels. I enjoy reading quite a bit, and could really stand to spend a few more hours each weekend with a book. So that’s my new year’s resolution. I’m also making an effort to write consistently, but with so much excitement and what is sure to be a news-packed year, I doubt that’ll be much of an issue.

Power Cords in 2013

We’ve mentioned it before, but we’ve got big changes coming up soon. In fact, we’re just a few days away from finally making our announcement. What will it be? You’ll have to wait and find out, but I can assure you we’ll have plenty of new things to talk about next year. There will be more features, more reviews, more videos, more podcasts, new topics, new voices, but the same passion and identity we do our best to create. I’m really excited.

And with that, thus concludes regular posting on Power Cords for this year. Marshal’s got a list or two saved up for you guys, so stick around for those. But don’t take our silence for laziness — we’re hard at work on our next venture, and can’t wait to finally unveil it!

Happy New Year, and best wishes,

-Brendan, and the Power Cords crew.

Advertisements

The return of the old-school RPG

Oh hey look — Brendan’s talking about RPG’s again. I can’t help it, there’s just too much to be excited about these day. Thanks to things like free 2 play, indie development, and Kickstarter, the gaming industry has seen an influx of fresh, creative minds as well as the return of legendary game creators, able to finally create the worlds they’ve been wanting to for years, but that have been pushed aside in favor of the cash-cow, AAA first person shooters and action games we’ve been buried under for the past couple console generations.

Look I know: RPG’s have been around for ages and have evolved with the times to remain relevant while still providing the types of experiences people have come to expect from the genre…

…err, sort of. I’m a huge fan of the Mass Effect series — arguably the biggest RPG franchise of the current console generation — but it’s not really an RPG. It’s a great, great series — truly — but compared to even some of its contemporaries it’s not much of an RPG. It’s also not the only series shifting away from role playing game’s origins.

While I’m not a big fan of JRPG’s, I can’t deny that the Final Fantasy XIII series (that sounds weird) has been a major departure not only from the roots of past FF games, but from JRPGs in general. And I recently vented my frustration with Blizzard, but it’s worth noting that Diablo III, despite remaining true to much of what’s great about the Diablo series, is missing that “RPG” quality. When I say “RPG’s are coming back,” I mean the old-school, hardcore RPG’s of yore.

Ishar 3

To be fair, there’s still a fair amount of Old-School RPG DNA in some of the biggest games today. Besides the few games still adhering to the old school formulas (Dungeons of Dredmor, The Dark Spire, Etrian Odyssey series), there are several titles that appeal to those who were gaming in the 80’s/90’s, or appreciate their legacy. The Witcher 2 is a great example of a game that balances the cinematic, character-based story of games like Mass Effect, with deep combat, skill systems, and character building of true old-school RPGs; Bethesda’s games offer massive worlds filled with quests, dungeons, and NPCs to create your own story — not to mention games like Fallout 3 and Skyrim prove you can evolve character building without sacrificing depth. And, of course, it wouldn’t be an article about RPGs if I didn’t mention Dark Souls, and it’s predecessor Demon’s Souls: truly hardcore RPGs of the modern era.

But when it comes to real old-school RPGs utilizing the same design of classic titles like Wizardry and Ultima, the industry has been in a bit of a drought. There’s always been a small, cult following around a few underground niche titles, but now there are a few projects brewing that will hopefully usher in a new surge of old-school RPGs.

Legend of Grimrock
Developer: Almost Human
Released: April 11, 2012
Website

We reviewed this game back when it was released earlier this year. It remains one of my favorite indie games of the year. Despite middling reviews from some critics, for many gamers like myself Legend of Grimrock was a great throwback to the dungeon crawlers of the 19980’s/90’s, tweaked and modernized for more accessibility. More importantly, it set the ground work for future sequels, and opened the door for new games in the genre to flourish.

Shaker
Developer: Loot Drop
Estimated Release: January 2014
Kickstarter Page

Being developed by Tom Hall (co-founder of id Software), and Brendan Brathwaite (Wizardry, Train, Dungeons & Dragons), Shaker is currently being funded on Kickstarter. The duo started the studio Loot Drop Games, and together with a highly qualified team, are looking to create a game in the same vein as the classic CRPGs of yore a la Wizardry, Lands of Lore, Ishar, etc.. Personally speaking, this is probably one of the few currently funding Kickstarter projects I’m really, really excited about. Check out their Kickstarter page and please back it! We need more games like this.

Project Eternity
Developer: Obsidian Entertainment
Estimated Release Date: April 2014
Website

Obsidian games are a studio well known to any RPG fan. Recently, the company was able to fully fund a brand new party-based RPG in the vein of Icewind Dale and Baldur’s Gate. This is another project I’m super excited for, and I’m really happy to see that they exceeded their goal and will be making this game. There is quite an impressive pedigree here, and some of the ideas being talked about remind me a lot of Planescape: Torment, one of my personal favorite games of all time. The success of this project gives me high hopes for the future of the genre.

Wasteland 2
Developer: InXile Entertainment

Estimated Release Date: Oct. 2013
Website

Before there was Fallout, there was Wasteland. In the wake of the massive success of Tim Schafer’s Double Fine Adventure Kickstarter, Brian Fargo decided to reboot his post-apocalyptic RPG Wasteland, and launched the Wasteland 2 Kickstarter. The project has been fully funded, and work is underway. Check out the video above for a small glimpse of what we can expect from this project. I never got a chance to play the original Wasteland, but as a huge fan of Fallout and Fallout 2 (games directly inspired by Wasteland) the footage has me jonesin for some top-down, post-apocalyptic roleplaying insanity.

Ultima Forever
Developer: Bioware,
Estimated Release Date: Winter 2012
Website

Speaking of well known developers, Bioware is resurrecting one of the oldest and most influencial Role Playing series with Ultima Forever. Essentially a remake of Ultima IV, this new title is going to be entirely free to play (or, as Bioware calls it “Play4Free”) and will be playable on PC, as well as iPad. According to Bioware, the game will feature many of the old mechanics of the Ultima series, while combat will be positional and action-oriented, comparing it to The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. Definitely on my list of need-to-play games —  I mean c’mon, free Ultima!

That list almost sounds too good to be true. So many great names and developers are behind these projects, and my hopes are high. And these are just classic RPG’s; we’re also seeing the return of point and click adventure games (thanks to Tim Schaefer and Double Fine’s highly successful Kickstarter campaign), mech games (MechWarrior Online, Hawken), turn-based strategy (The Banner Saga, XCOM: Enemy Unknown), and of course Chris Robert’s return to gaming and the long-forgotten space-combat sim with Squardron 42. It’s almost too much to handle! With such bright prospects like these, it’s hard to argue we’re not in a new golden-age of videogames. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a basement to return to.

Hey-o! Double Fine concept video leaked online.

Have the first images of Double Fine’s newest project been leaked online?

The Verge’s gaming site, Polygon.com, has reported that a new video appeared on Vimeo today under Double Fine game studio’s account, then mysteriously vanished. It showed.. well not much at all. A lumberjack-like character walks through the woods, then enters a cabin. That’s about it. There have been images dismissing it as nothing more than a test, but I’d like to hope the character will appear in the game.

David Ellis of 343 Industries, who are currently working on Halo 4, Tweeted about the curious video, and Tim Schafer of Double Fine suspiciously Tweeted back “You imagined it!”

Is that so, Mr. Schafer? Then what is THIS!?

This news of course begs one simple questions: is this the first of Double Fine’s new Kickstarter-Funded adventure game? Only time will tell. I could most certainly get behind a lumberjack-themed game. I have an affinity for beards and flannel — it’s in my blood.

Be sure to let us know what you think of these happenings in the comments!