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Stonefly doesn’t look like a typical mech game and I’m all for it

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Stonefly doesn’t look like a typical mech game and I’m all for it

It’s a bug-shoving world of mechs from Flight School Studio, the developer of Creature in the Well

Do I embed the polished announcement trailer for Stonefly or go with the “gameplay first look” video featuring a pet reptile chilling on the technical game designer’s shoulder? As if that’s even a question.

Creature in the Well was an unusual pinball-with-swords romp from Flight School Studio, and the team’s summer 2021 game, Stonefly, is even more conceptually out-there. In a good way, I mean!

It’s an overhead action-adventure title about piloting an insectoid mech – with a painterly natural world you’d never normally associate with mech games. The young pilot has to “shoo” bugs off massive tree branches, collect resources for ability and traversal upgrades, and reclaim her father’s precious rig.

She’ll also “forge relationships with a cast of memorable characters from the Acorn Corps, a band of castaway mech pilots,” which is the icing on top to keep me motivated once the eye-catching art fades.

You can hang out with the Acorn Corps back at camp.

I have to appreciate the creative “we’re really going for it” energy flowing through this project. It stands out in a sea of small- to medium-sized games that either look the same, play the same, or both.

Before watching the narrated walkthrough from designer Mel Ramsden, my gut reaction was that Stonefly looked novel, and beautiful, but I wasn’t necessarily picturing myself having a ton of fun playing it. After letting the pitch sink in, though, I think it’s starting to click. I do love these little-big worlds.

Apart from PC, Stonefly is also coming to Nintendo Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.

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Published at Fri, 26 Feb 2021 17:00:00 +0000

Deep Rock Galactic’s free weekend on Steam makes it easier to round up a crew

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Deep Rock Galactic’s free weekend on Steam makes it easier to round up a crew

Or you can take the space-mining game for a solo spin

Maybe you’ve got enough games to play in your backlog, maybe you don’t – or maybe you do but you’re in too deep, you need a little breather, and you’re looking for a short-lived distraction, the cheaper the better. How about free? Deep Rock Galactic is free-to-play this weekend on Steam. Like right now.

If you already know the drill, download away. The promo lasts until 10:00 am Pacific on Monday, March 1. For anyone feeling out the loop, this 1.0 launch trailer sets up Deep Rock Galactic rather well.

I recently brought up the alien-blasting space-miner game in light of it passing the two-million-sales mark, and there was a lotta love to go around from players. Multiple readers ranked Deep Rock Galactic among the best co-op FPS games since Left 4 Dead (RIP), to put that in perspective. While I can’t speak to it much – I need to take my own advice and go hard with the free trial – I do believe the kind words.

For the third anniversary, players can earn the Scale Brigade Armor and Headwear through a new assignment – you need to have cleared the extended Conquer Hoxxes IV intro. There’s also a party hat.

Everyone can unlock the Scale Brigade Armor until March 14, after which point it's limited to Rank 100 players and up.

What’s on deck? Update 34 – Bits N’ Pieces – will be “smaller than usual,” while Update 35 will be “maybe our biggest update ever.” The former is focusing on mod support on Steam and controller rebinding on all platforms this April; the latter update, planned for Q3 2021, will have a new mission type, new weapons (with ensuing Overclocks), new cosmetics (not just “more hats”), and a UI refresh.

“This lengthy timeframe will allow us to dig deeper into the game and add some new systems for the future,” according to Ghost Ship Games. “Deep Rock Galactic is here to stay for a long time – there are no signs of fading, quite the opposite – so we need to think further ahead. Normally, we don’t even plan that far, but we must also admit that getting a bit of breathing room and time to dream feels and sounds REALLY good. The last 4-5 years have gone by incredibly fast and even though we never crunch (as in never ever), it still feels like we are rushing things faster than we actually have to.”

“As always, we will keep you updated and ‘leak’ out details as we develop the new features and content.”

Published at Fri, 26 Feb 2021 17:30:00 +0000

Why yes, I *would* like to stream the Final Fantasy VII Remake soundtrack on Spotify

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Why yes, I *would* like to stream the Final Fantasy VII Remake soundtrack on Spotify

Eight and a half hours sounds like a lot until it all flies by

It’s a rainy Friday afternoon, it’s somehow almost March, and the weekend feels just out of reach. I want to shut off my brain and zone out to the wonderful Final Fantasy VII Remake soundtrack without bouncing around YouTube – doubly so in the aftermath of Intergrade. Anyone else in the mood?

Yesterday was overflowing with FFVII news and here’s one more nugget: the Remake soundtrack is streaming on Spotify today. It’s also on Amazon Music Unlimited and Apple Music if you prefer.

The tracks aren’t the easiest to follow out of order – their titles are currently listed in Japanese by Square Enix – but you can use your intuition if you’re pretty familiar with the flow of Remake.

Take us away, Uematsu. We’re in your hands now.

Sad, funny story: I recently dropped my Spotify Premium because “I don’t use it that much anymore.” Less than 24 hours later, after trying out the free version once in my car, I was back. They got me. It had been many years since I used non-Premium and I didn’t realize what I was in for; good timing, I guess.

Published at Fri, 26 Feb 2021 18:00:00 +0000

Trim your waistline in Konami’s Yume Penguin Monogatari

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Trim your waistline in Konami’s Yume Penguin Monogatari

Or maybe just try and find your lost self-respect this Famicom Friday

Konami’s output on the Famicom was simply amazing. While we certainly got some good games on this side of the pond, such as Castlevania and Contra, there were a plethora of great titles that stayed in their homeland.

They were once a playful company with a cohesive catalog. Many games in their early days made reference to their other releases, and they even pioneered the idea of crossover titles with Konami Wai Wai World. I really, badly miss those days that I was too young and also in the wrong country to really experience. Creativity was rampant among those titles, and it wound up giving us some really memorable concepts.

Yume Penguin Monogatari
Published by: Konami
Developed by: Konami
Released: January 1991
Also on: Nothing

One of these games was a loosely connected series that revolved around a penguin named Penta, sometimes known as Pentarou (though whether the characters are indeed the same is a little murky). Penta was a weird entity that starred in a bleak anime where he suffered from PTSD caused by a stint in the Vietnam War. He also advertised for Suntory Beer, so add alcoholism to the list of his personal demons. Perhaps the lowest part of his career, however, was when he dealt with body image issues and an abusive relationship in 1991’s Yume Penguin Monogatari.

Translated to Dream Penguin Story, Yume Penguin Monogatari has Penta overeating, assumedly to deal with the crushing emotional issues he has. His girlfriend, Penko, who, as it turns out, was dating him for his looks and not his personality, gets fed up with his massive weight gain and leaves him for another penguin. Penta, having no self-respect, then sets off to trim his waist and win back his love.

Food has often been used as a way of healing or powering up gaming protagonists, but in Yume Penguin Monogatari, you must avoid it at all costs. Prominently displayed on the HUD is Penta’s current weight, and your goal is to finish each level with your waistline slimmed down past a given threshold. Food adds more junk to the trunk, but instead of exercising, you become lean by collecting as many bottles of diet drink as you can.

Gameplay alternates between sidescroller platforming sections and horizontal shoot-’em-ups. Neither mode is particularly deep, but they are colorful and offer simple tastes of the genre. Most levels are capped off with a boss battle, which is usually pretty formulaic, but having to work off the last bit of weight while fighting a big baddy is kind of entertaining.

Yume Penguin Monogatari may be the sort of game that is more fun to discuss than to actually play. It only lasts around 6 levels, and it’s not too taxing to make it through them. Aside from the core weight-loss mechanic, the gameplay isn’t anything special as far as platformers go. Colorful, yes. Memorable, yes. Inventive, not really.

Even with that said, it’s a fun little snack of a game. Something bright and lighthearted to chew on for a moment before moving onto something new. Its premise makes it stand out because, after all, you’d be hard-pressed to find another game in which you help a penguin lose weight. Really, though, Penta should probably consider working on his self-esteem rather than just hurrying to get back with his terrible girlfriend.

Much to my shock and dismay, it would appear that Yume Penguin Monogatari was never re-released on another platform. Unless you count the I-Revo online platform in 2006, but why would you? I feel the likelihood of it finding a new home at this point is pretty dim. The subject matter has gotten a little touchy, and Konami hates its fans and wants to bury its history. At this point, I’d be happy if we just got to see Parodius again.

Unfortunately, all the cutscenes are fully in Japanese. You can bypass them and just enjoy the gameplay, but you will miss out on Penta’s ex-girlfriend sassing him about his weight problems. Luckily, there are fan translations out there that lets you listen in on this toxic relationship.

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Published at Fri, 26 Feb 2021 16:00:00 +0000

EA Play is adding the full versions of Madden NFL 21, Star Wars: Squadrons, and NHL 21 soon

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EA Play is adding the full versions of Madden NFL 21, Star Wars: Squadrons, and NHL 21 soon

Reminder: If you have Xbox Game Pass Ultimate on console, you also have EA Play

EA Play has become my preferred way of checking out EA-published games in most cases. Rather than paying to buy a digital copy of a game I don’t need to own – or subscribing for a full year of EA Play – I spend the five bucks needed for one month of access, and make extra sure auto-renewal is turned off.

The service has three more games on the horizon: Madden NFL 21 (March 2), Star Wars: Squadrons (March), and NHL 21 (April). If you’re subscribed to EA Play, you’ll be able to play the full versions.

Worth noting: EA Play is baked directly into Xbox Game Pass Ultimate on Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S, so if you already have that big-boy membership, you’re covered here. (What about PC players? EA reiterated today that EA Play will be rolled into Xbox Game Pass Ultimate on PC “later this year.”)

Did any of you rack up multiple years’ worth of Game Pass Ultimate in a conversion deal? Jealous.

Also worth noting if it’s been a while: EA Play used to be called “EA Access” on consoles and “Origin Access” on PC, and these three games are joining The Play List, which used to go by the “Vault.”

I’m probably going to pass on these titles, but if you need your Madden or NHL fix (particularly the latter) or you wouldn’t mind dipping into Star Wars: Squadrons‘ single-player campaign, there you go.

I’m more focused on It Takes Two, a co-op adventure from the makers of the bonkers A Way Out. I’m weighing whether to buy the game outright (it’ll be $40), or spend $15 for a month of EA Play Pro. I know this every-so-often “rental”-style strategy isn’t for everyone, but for EA games, I’m fine with it.

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Published at Fri, 26 Feb 2021 14:30:00 +0000

Wind Peaks is Where’s Waldo meets Gravity Falls, and it’s coming to Switch

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Wind Peaks is Where’s Waldo meets Gravity Falls, and it’s coming to Switch

It’s out on March 3

“Where’s Wally?” I don’t know, who cares! It’s “Where’s Waldo,” folks. I don’t care if the former is the “original” British name, the US publisher got it right.

Anyway, there’s a decent chunk of seek and find/hidden object games out there, but every single new release catches my eye in some way. Take Wind Peaks for example. It has a lot of that puzzly Where’s Waldo charm, but with a dash of Gravity Falls-esque aesthetics. It even has a mystery involved!

This one actually came out in mid-2020 on PC, but has been laying a bit low on Steam since then. When it arrives on Switch on March 3, it’ll probably get a higher profile. Keep a lookout for it! It features 10 levels, “relaxing forest sounds,” and a light story told through the actual puzzle stuff.

Wind Peaks [Steam]

Published at Fri, 26 Feb 2021 11:30:00 +0000

Destiny 2’s next expansion is delayed into 2022, so we’ll have to subside on Beyond Light

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Destiny 2’s next expansion is delayed into 2022, so we’ll have to subside on Beyond Light

At least sunsetting has been sunset

In this post-Activision Destiny 2 world, Bungie has made several big missteps.

One is “vaulting,” which takes away chunks of content of the game with the aim of making the base download more manageable. The other, far more contentious aspect, is “sunsetting.” In short, this system created a constant grind by making gear untenable to use for long periods of time; which pissed off pretty much everyone. That latter bit is going away, but it won’t apply retroactively.

The big news that brought about all this is the delay of The Witch Queen, Destiny 2‘s next big expansion. It’s been moved into 2022, and Bungie needs to placate the playerbase until that date arrives. As such, “rewards will matter” now (very clever to sell old features back as a new one), as Bungie admits the execution of the late 2020-2021 system was “off the mark.”

Here’s a quick breakdown: “We’ve made the decision that any weapon or armor that can currently be infused to max Power will continue to be able to reach max Power permanently. Starting in Season 14 we won’t be capping the infusion on any weapons or armor that have not already reached the cap as of the start of Season 13. This means you’ll be able to take your Trustee, your Falling Guillotine, and all the high-stat armor you’ve earned this year to take on the raid in The Witch Queen.”

As a concession, gear will be tweaked as needed (like the old days) to prevent things from getting out of hand, balance-wise. The Power Cap will also only be raised by 10 for each “non-expansion season,” to avoid excessive grinding even further. It’s a set of good changes! But the game didn’t need to enter this territory in the first place.

My main concern for the rest of 2021 is whether or not Beyond Light is going to last me through the year just on seasonal updates.

The Road to the Witch Queen [Bungie.net]

Published at Fri, 26 Feb 2021 10:30:00 +0000

Final Fantasy VII Remake coming with March PlayStation Plus, will not receive free PS5 upgrade

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Final Fantasy VII Remake coming with March PlayStation Plus, will not receive free PS5 upgrade

Living in a Materia world

It appears that the cat has been let out of the bag regarding March’s PlayStation Plus offerings, thanks to a premature leak on the PlayStation Netherlands Facebook. As spotted by Nibellion, Next month will allegedly see PS Plus subscribers bag Sony’s Farpoint VR,  Annapurna’s Maquette, Gunfire Games’ Remnant: From the Ashes and, as previously rumored, Square Enix’ Final Fantasy VII Remake.

In a notable disclaimer, however, it appears that players bagging the PS Plus version of FFVII Remake, will not receive the free upgrade to Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade, as premiered during last night’s State of Play presentation. The upgrade will only be for players who purchased a full retail or digital copy of the award-winning adventure.

Regardless, it’s still a very hefty premier release for PS Plus subscribers, and will give many people yet to revisit the world of Midgar in all of its revisioned splendor the perfect opportunity to get reacquainted with one of the finest adventures in video game history.

Published at Fri, 26 Feb 2021 06:45:00 +0000

Report: PS5 storage upgrade not available until summer

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Report: PS5 storage upgrade not available until summer

The Heat is On

While Sony’s new PlayStation 5 hardware packs a serious punch when it comes to gameplay, one area that it is still sorely lacking in is storage space. With many modern AAA game releases heading into the wrong side of three figures when it comes to file size, PS5 owners are quickly discovering that their shiny new SSDs are struggling from room less than six months into the console’s lifespan.

And it looks like players still have a bit of a wait ahead before they can start freely swinging their elbows around like they own the place. According to a new report from Bloomberg, the PS5 is unlikely to see any kind of internal storage upgrade option until this summer, which sources say is when Sony will unlock the PS5’s internal upgrade ability.

It’s a question of temperature, the unnamed sources told Bloomberg. The PlayStation 5 needs ample cooling power to prevent the powerful technology from overheating, and as such new internal components cannot be installed until Sony allows the PS5’s fans to spin up at a faster rate , as and when needed by any specific game. Once a firmware update unlocks this ability, then PS5 owners should be able to replace the internal SSD with a larger one of their own choosing.

It should be reiterated that this is an “unnamed sources” affair, and as such there has been no official word from Sony. But regardless, the PlayStation 5 is desperately in need of a storage upgrade option, and if it currently cannot have one simply because the fans aren’t working fast enough, that feels like a bit of an oversight on the next-gen platform’s overall design.

Sony to open PlayStation 5 for storage upgrades in summer [Bloomberg]

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Published at Fri, 26 Feb 2021 05:00:00 +0000

We talked to the Monster Hunter Rise producer about the Switch, new player tips, amiibo, and the best weapons

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We talked to the Monster Hunter Rise producer about the Switch, new player tips, amiibo, and the best weapons

‘I’m a veteran hammer player’

Monster Hunter Rise is poised to make a huge splash on the Switch in March, and the core development team is a big reason why it’s firing on all cylinders so far.

We got a chance to talk to producer Ryozo Tsujimoto about all things Rise, and learned a few things in the process.

Destructoid: Have you learned any lessons from past Monster Hunter development that you can use to make Rise better?

Ryozo Tsujimoto: Director Yasunori Ichinose and I have been friends for a long time. Actually we worked together on the Monster Hunter series at the same department at Capcom. But we’ve worked mostly on portable Monster Hunter games. The first game  Ichinose directed was Freedom Unite on the PSP. Since then, the most important feature set we’ve focused on is the action element and communication for multiplayer.

That’s always been one of the most important things. We’re looking to build on the foundation we’ve created in the past. Another major aspect is community creation. It’s a social aspect. It’s been going on for 16 years now, and we’re happy to see the fans respond very excitedly to Rise.

What was the biggest challenge when developing for the Switch, as well as the most rewarding aspect?

First off we’re using RE Engine for this game. But this is the first time we’re using it for Switch. One of the biggest challenges since this is obviously a series that you can play with your friends in multiplayer; normally you’d do this online, but with the Switch you can also have local multiplayer.

So developing it specifically for portable mode was another big interesting challenge.

Who was responsible for incorporating amiibo into the game? You don’t see amiibo functionality that much in the past few years, but Capcom has been a champion of it.

That’s something that you have to start thinking about in the early stages of development. We were talking about it right from the start. It’s not solely decided from the dev side. Obviously the sales department gets involved too. It wasn’t one single person, but it was decided by multiple people talking between departments.

Since the Monster Hunter series has a lot of popular characters, the monsters included, there’s lots of action figures in the series. So we decided the amiibo would be the logical next step.

What are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned from Monster Hunter: World that you’ve brought over to Rise?

Development on Rise started around four years ago, so part of it overlapped with Monster Hunter: World. So we were creating both games simultaneously. So there wasn’t a lot that we were borrowing from each other.

But there were a lot of quality of life improvements that we brought over, even so.

What is the number one tip that each of you would recommend to new players, to make it easier to acclimate to Rise?

The wire bug is one of the major new elements. That’s what we want players to play around with, because it introduces so many new gameplay mechanics and styles. Since this is a completely new element to the series, it might be hard to get used to in the beginning, so we’d like to encourage players to get used to it. It really feels good to move around these environments with the wire bug. We’d recommend them to mess around as much as possible.

Also the Palamute is another major element. It’s a speedy movement we’re providing, so it’s something we want players to experiment with.

Recently you revealed some interesting weapon statistics for the Monster Hunter Rise demo. What is the kit you’d recommend the most to new players?

One of the most often recommended to players from us is the sword and shield. The switch axe has turned out to be surprisingly popular, but it’s also very technical so it requires a bit of skill. The great sword is also popular because it’s easy to understand, and the hammer is popular for the same reason: you swing it and do a ton of damage. The number one most popular weapon is the long sword.

One of the things we were surprised to see is the hunting horn is the most popular in the demo. It’s always been reasonably popular but gained a popularity boost with Rise.

What is your favorite weapons?

Well, I’m a veteran hammer player (laughs). That’s my weapon of choice, even if it’s not the most popular.

How has it been developing during the pandemic? Are there any tips you can provide for other studios to perform more efficiently during this time? Any wisdom you can impart?

Basically, one of the major changes…all of the meetings are done online, digitally through Zoom or Teams. We hardly ever meet in person anymore. That’s helped a lot for us. We’ve been successful with that, and I hope to see more studios use that method.

Published at Fri, 26 Feb 2021 02:01:00 +0000