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Monthly Archives: June 2017

Releases new game for June

Despite the weather getting warmer, there are more than enough excuses to stay inside playing video games in June. From fantastic fighters like Tekken 7 or Nintendo’s delightfully weird ARMS, to addictive time-sink RPGs such as Elder Scrolls Online and Final Fantasy XIV getting massive new expansions, there’s plenty competing for your attention.

June proves a big month for racers, too – Codemasters delivers the latest Dirt rally game and the chaotic fun of Micro Machines, while Sony provides the ultimate WipEout collection. If you prefer two wheels to four though, there are motorcycle thrills to be found in MotoGP 17.

Here’s what you’ll be playing in the weeks ahead.
June 2
Tekken 7 – PS4, Xbox One, PC
Bandai Namco’s premiere fighting series returns, with more than 30 playable characters and new mechanics and moves to master. With nine new fighters, and the appearance of Street Fighter’s Akuma in a crossover role, this is one of the biggest Tekken tournaments ever. It’s also a major chapter for anyone who’s been following the series’ storyline, promising to bring to a close the bitter feud between the Mishima family, with the plot seamlessly woven into the single-player mode. Sure to be one of the biggest brawlers of the year.
Harvest Moon: Skytree Village – 3DS
Natsume’s charming farming RPG also makes a comeback this month, with the latest 3DS entry. As with previous entries, players take over and rejuvenate a small farm in a quiet town, bringing life back to the local community. Skytree Village adds a few new features such as sailing and farm customisation, along with new crops and animals, a deeper story with characters returning from past games, and a brand new art style. A delightful pastoral pastime.
June 6
The Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind – PC
Bethesda’s MMORPG gets a massive update with its new expansion. Fans of the standalone Elder Scrolls entries should get excited as this brings the setting of Vvardenfell, from one of the most beloved standlone instalments, into the online game. Added features include a new playable class, the Warden; 4v4v4 battleground matches; a fresh trial in the Halls of Fabrication; and new style and customisation options.
The Town of Light – PS4, Xbox One
Having already proven a critical darling on PC, this psychological horror makes its way to console. Set in an asylum in 1940s Italy, and inspired by real-life reports and testimonies, this is a disturbing yet plausibly realistic depiction of mental health care in the early 20th century, blended with visions of mind-bending terror.
Victor Vran: Overkill Edition – PS4, Xbox One
A gothic action RPG with strong heavy metal influences – to the point this includes an expansion focused entirely on Motörhead – this sees the eponymous demon hunter battling hordes of undead fiends across three massive stories. It’s not just hack-and-slash though, as Victor’s skills, weapons, and attire are customisable, letting players craft him into their own perfect slayer. Delayed from May.
June 7
WipEout Omega Collection – PS4
Flashback to the halcyon days of the PlayStation with this remastered collection of the futuristic racing series. Omega Collection packs in WipEout HD, Fury, and 2048, all now in eye-popping 4K. With campaign race modes, local split screen racing, and multiplayer battles, all set to some of the best dance music ever to grace a video game, it’s shaping up to be the definitive WipEout experience.
June 9
Dirt 4 – PS4, Xbox One, PC
Codemasters’ rally champion roars back for another world tour, with on- and off-road races in some of the most beautifully realised locations around the world. With official tracks from Australia, Wales, Spain, Sweden, and the US, racing fans will be treated to stunningly realised scenery as they compete for championship glory. More casual players are well catered for too, with the Joyride minigame collection making a return, alongside the buggy races and stadium trucks of Landrush mode.
If Dirt 4 is too serious for your racing tastes, this madcap Japanese alternative may be up your street. Part racing game, part action RPG, you’ll control one of a number of anime girls with hi-tech weapons and super abilities, who can also transform into cars, and use both sets of skills to force back a tide of invading alien bug robots. Makes total sense.
Dark Rose Valkyrie – PS4
More JRPG action, with this brand new title. History has been altered by the collision of the meteor ‘Black Garnet’, which brought a terrifying disease known as Chimera to Earth, mutating the infected into monsters. In this alternate 1929, players guide Special Force Valkyrie, a group of unique operatives who combat the spread of the virus. With character designs by manga and anime legend Kosuke Fujishima, and a story by Takumi Miyajima – a key writer on Bandai Namco’s Tales of series – this merges a fast but complex battle system with investigative visual novel elements as you search for a traitor on your team.
Cladun Returns: This is Sengoku! – PS4, Vita, PC
A pixel-art action RPG set in feudal Japan, this has shades of classic Zelda and PS1 cult favourite Alundra. Waking in the mysterious land of Arcanus Cella, in the world of the dead, you’ll need to help restless spirits settle their affairs on Earth before earning their reincarnation. Despite its retro aesthetic, this packs in multiplayer dungeon raids, a complex battle system, and pixel-precise character customisation.
June 15
MotoGP 2017 – PS4, Xbox One, PC
More racing, but of the two-wheeled variety. This year’s MotoGP features all the bikes, teams and tracks of the official motorcycle championship league, plus a brand new management mode, where you’ll guide a team of six racers to international glory. Highly detailed, this is aiming to be the Gran Turismo of bike racers.
June 16
ARMS – Switch
One of the Nintendo Switch’s great curiosities, this one-on-one brawler offers a no holds barred punch out between some of the strangest fighters ever to grace a beat-’em-up. With spring-loaded super-powered arms affording players an array of outlandish players and a simple but engaging use of the Joy-Con motion controllers, this promises the blend of bizarre ideas and brilliant mechanics Nintendo is best at.
God Wars: Future Past – PS4, PS Vita
Delayed from March, this tactical RPG with anime cutscenes explores Japan’s heritage through folklore and legends. Told from the perspectives of three warring factions, you’ll be able to customise and enhances character classes, equipment, and strategies as you progress through each stage. Based loosely on the Kojiki, Japan’s oldest recorded text, this could be the most engaging history lesson you’ll ever play.
June 20
Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood – PS4, PC
Square-Enix’s MMO takes players back to the world of Eorzea, with another sizeable expansion. Along with character level caps rising to 70, this introduces new dungeons and raids to battle through, the addition of swimming and diving, an updated battle system, and two new playable classes – the magic-mixing Red Mage, and the sword specialist Samurai.
Dungeon Defenders II – PS4, Xbox One, PC
Leaping out of Early Access after two years, developer Trendy’s fantasy-fueled tower defence game finally comes to console, and gets its ‘finished’ release on PC. Featuring multiple heroes with unique skills to master, hundreds of customisation options, and numerous challenges to face, players must prepare their defences against hordes of oncoming enemies. As well as being able to set traps around each map, you’ll be able to get into the thick of the action, in single or multiplayer matches. The console releases support local splitscreen co-op, too. Dungeon Defenders II launches free-to-play on all formats, with microtransactions for in-game items and upgrades.
June 23
Dead by Daylight – PS4, Xbox One
An intriguing asymmetrical survival horror, this sees four players trying to survive the night in a variety of terrifying settings. The survivors play third person, trying to scavenge supplies, shelter, and weapons, while a fifth player takes on the role of a serial killer – with a variety of character options, including psychotic nurses, deranged hillbillies, and supernatural wraiths – controlled first person. Already a success on PC, this console release looks to bring the frights to PS4 and Xbox players.
Ever Oasis – 3DS
Nintendo’s plucky handheld gets an all-new action RPG for the summer. Players control Tethu, a ‘Seedling’ who must build a town in the desert, then use it as a base to embark on a quest to find their missing brother, stolen by the forces of Chaos. With a mix of resource management town-building, crafting, and exploration paired with real-time combat and powerful magic skills, this looks like a promising new property.
RPG Maker Fes – 3DS
Fancy making your own RPG though? Look no further – this portable spinoff of the long-running creation suite for PC brings game design to 3DS. With simple touch-based controls, you can build your own playable SNES-style role-playing game in no time, controlling everything from world and character design to battle systems and story progression. You’ll then be able to share your creation with others, while playing theirs. Practically infinite games await.
Get Even – PS4, Xbox One, PC
Bandai Namco is playing its cards very close to its chest when it comes to this first-person…. shooter? Thriller? Psychological experiment? We’re not quite sure, but this intriguing project looks to combine elements of all of the above into a gritty experience that plays with perceptions of reality. One to watch, for sure.
Micro Machine: World Series – PS4, Xbox One, PC
The world’s tiniest racing game makes a comeback, with high-powered races around tabletops, gardens, and other everyday locations given a fanciful spin. With vehicle customisation options, new and classic tracks, tonnes of weapons, and all the requisite multiplayer options for both racing and battle modes, this packs a big punch.
June 27
Arizona Sunshine – PSVR
After testing the waters for an immersive zombie apocalypse on PC, virtual reality shooter Arizona Sunshine leaps to PlayStation VR. This is no mere port though – developer Vertigo Games has created a new mode to take specific advantage of the PSVR Aim Controller (included with Farpoint). With a story driven campaign challenging players to find survivors, co-op multiplayer, and an endless horde mode testing your survival skills against waves of the undead, this could be the shot in the arm that the zombie genre needs.
June 30
Valkyria Revolution – PS4, Xbox One, Vita
Sega’s JRPG/RTS hybrid returns, making its way back to home consoles for the first time since the original entry in the cult series debuted in 2008. There’s no need to have played the earlier games though, as this is a brand new continuity. When war breaks out in Jutland, the country’s elite Vanargand forces must take up arms against the invading Ruzi Empire and its deadly, supernaturally powered Valkyria warriors. With faster combat, customisable squad behaviour, and a blend of melee, mecha, and magical powers, this really is a revolution for the Valkyria franchise.
AereA – PS4, Xbox One
Music is power in this harmonious action RPG. With unusual character classes such as Cello Knight, Harp Archer, Lute Mage, and Trumpet Gunner, this sees you exploring the fractured world of Aezir in search of the Nine Primordial Instruments. With environmental puzzles and challenging enemies to tackle, this is an intriguing twist on the genre.
Syndrome – PS4 (VR supported), Xbox One, PC (Oculus Rift support)
Awakening on an abandoned spaceship, this sci-fi survival horror has been available in various forms since 2015, but aims to really leave its mark in VR. With weapons scarce and enemies hunting you, this is one space game where people will hear you scream. Having originally been slated for April, hopefully this finally makes it out this month.
Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane Trilogy – PS4
After testing the waters with a cameo in last year’s Skylanders: Imaginators, the madcap marsupial is back in this three game collection. Crash gets the upgrade treatment, with the original PS1 trilogy remastered for 4K video and surround sound. There are a few mechanical improvements too, including auto-saving, better progress checkpointing, and time trial challenges across all three games. A retro classic with a modern twist.
Demon’s Age – PS4, Xbox One, PC
A new property nestled in dark fantasy imagery, this aims to combine elements of Baldur’s Gate and Final Fantasy style RPGs into something new. With a massive top-down world to explore and detailed character customisation options, this blends random encounters with highly precise tactical, turn-based battles. Pen and paper RPG fans take note too – this bases its mechanics on Dungeons and Dragons’ 3.5 rules.
The Golf Club 2 – PS4, Xbox One, PC
It wouldn’t be summer without a golf game in the mix somewhere, and HB Studios’ sports sim looks to fill that gap. An extensive career mode, beautiful courses, and online multiplayer will keep aficionados swinging for hours, while a course creator tool provides even more golfing entertainment.

Best of May

Last month’s best games are still worth a look too – here’s four of the finest from May.
Prey – PS4, Xbox One, PC
Bearing no resemblance to its 2006 namesake, this is instead a taut psychological thriller, where even your own perceptions can’t be trusted. As Morgan Yu, you find your entire life is an elaborate construct, escaping only to find yourself aboard the space station Talos. You’ll need to uncover the truth, while fighting off an outbreak of the alien Typhon using a mix of exploration, melee combat, innovative weapons and alien-derived super abilities. We may not get another BioShock game for a while, if ever, but Bethesda’s sci-fi horror looks set to fill the space left behind.
Dreamfall Chapters: PS4, Xbox One
The long-awaited next instalment in one of the greatest stories in gaming – and massive Kickstarter success – Dreamfall Chapters continues the saga begun in 1999’s The Longest Journey and continued in 2006’s Dreamfall. The veil between our technological world and the mystical realm of Arcadia is under threat, and only Zoe Castillo, a young woman who walks between worlds via the Dreamscape, and Kian Alvane, a soldier in Arcadia, can protect it. Problems: Zoe’s in a coma, and Kian’s about to be executed for betrayal… While Chapters picks up from the events of the earlier games, newcomers are well catered for in this absorbing and complex adventure game. Owners of the PC version receive an upgrade to the ‘final cut’ of the game.
Injustice 2 – PS4, Xbox One
The superheroes and villains of DC’s pantheon get together to smack each other about again, in this beat-’em-up sequel to 2013’s Injustice: Gods Among Us. While the one-on-one battles remain largely unaltered, a new gear system allowing you to modify and power up characters promises game-changing shifts in performance, along with cosmetic customisations. Throw in a host of new characters – including Blue Beetle, Black Canary, Firestorm, and Supergirl – and this is catnip for comics fans.
Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia – 3DS
Nintendo’s tactical RPG hit returns, with this remastered edition of one of the earliest entries in the fan-favourite series. First released in Japan as Fire Emblem Gaiden in 1992, with more traditional RPG elements such as exploring towns and conversations, the original game has never seen western release. This corrects that oversight, with a visual overhaul bringing the ‘lost’ game in line with the recent Fire Emblem Fates, redesigned characters, and a vastly expanded storyline.

Top 10 The World’s Game Companies

          1. TELLTALE GAMES
For bringing a television production schedule to the video game industry. Game makers have struggled for years with episodic gaming–the rigors of producing bite-size game chapters in quick succession has proven impossible for most. Telltale, meanwhile, has cracked the code. In 2012, its five-episode The Walking Dead, based on the epic comic book series, sold 17 million copies. Now Telltale is ramping up production, with a second season of The Walking Dead started in December, alongside a new series, The Wolf Among Us, which is based on writer Bill Willingham’s popular comic book series, Fables.
             2. SONY
For making a game console that can be all things to all players. Sony spent 15 years digging its own grave by trying to monopolize media formats–MiniDisc, UMD, Blu-ray–as well as consumer electronics. The PlayStation 4, designed by veteran game maker Mark Cerny, is an apology and a rebirth for Sony’s gaming business. No more bizarre proprietary media. It hosts blockbusters like Bungie’s Destiny and lets independent developers self-publish their wares. It brings Netflix-style game streaming to the living room with the PlayStation Now service. Many consoles have claimed to be an all-in-one living room hub, but the PS4 is the first that stands a chance to deliver it in an affordable package with few of the inconveniences of a PC.
               3. PLAIN VANILLA GAMES
For playing upon the love of trivia to build communities–and one of the year’s hottest games. On QuizUp, players can challenge best friends or total strangers in niche interests–from ancient Greece to Breaking Bad to Beyoncé. The result? An addictive, real-time trivia game that also establishes microcommunities of users who can chat, compare rankings, or discuss ideas on the more than 300 quiz topics available on the app. Within three weeks of its November launch, QuizUp had attracted more than 3 million users, becoming the fastest-growing iPhone game ever. Determined not to let its hit become a fad like other mobile games, Plain Vanilla raised $22 million just after Christmas, and by the end of the year, QuizUp had been downloaded 5 million times. Call it a nod to the power of community.
                4. GUNGHO ONLINE ENTERTAIMENT
For discovering the secret to big revenues in the free-to-play business. Companies like Zynga proved that free-to-play–play for free, drop small amounts of money to advance–was profitable, but F2P titles have never fiscally matched console titans like Call of Duty. GungHo’s game Puzzle & Dragons creates an ingenious stew (part Bejeweled and part Final Fantasy) that is compulsively playable without feeling like a cheap cash grab. GungHo’s secret sauce earned it $763 million over the first half of 2013, with year-over-year growth of 945%.
               5. SUPERCELL
For thinking creatively and strategically to become the next Finnish success story. The success of the Helsinki-based Supercell belies its age: The game-development company began developing titles for phones and tablets in 2011, yet its two flagship games–Clash of Clans and Hay Day–bring in a combined revenue of $2.4 million per day. Supercell excels at the free-to-play model partly by listening to its fans, as it uses its website’s community forums to surface ideas from creative (and frustrated) players. Last fall, the studio sold 51% of its company to Japan’s SoftBank, which pushed its total valuation to more than $3 billion and set it firmly on the path to dominate Asian markets.
                 6. CAPYBARA GAMES
For making video games high fashion. Toronto-based Capybara Games spent the past decade making smart, artful puzzle games like Critter Crunch, but it has stepped up its game in the past two years by working on breakout collaborations. Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP reimagined the point-and-click adventure game as a sexy, playable prog-rock album with tunes by Jim Guthrie. IPad players especially bought into the hipster style, which helped the game sell 1.5 million units. Capy’s 2013 game, Super Time Force, applies the style to the old-school run-and-gun shooters of the ’80s.
                   7. KING
For devising a sweet formula for success. Sure, Stockholm-based game developer King created last year’s biggest mobile game, Candy Crush Saga. But despite the game’s 500 million downloads and the estimated $1 million in daily revenue it generates (from iPhone players, alone), it’s King’s development strategy, not its Bejeweled-like match-three game, that makes it innovative. King publishes games first to its website and analyzes player usage and feedback, then tweaks the mechanics before sending the game to Facebook, and then–if it proves worthy among the social crowd–to mobile. If other successes like Pet Rescue Saga and Farm Heroes Saga are any indication, the company has discovered something other game makers haven’t.
                     8. TENCENT
For developing a one-stop shop for mobile fun. Chinese social-networking giant Tencent’s ubiquitous mobile app WeChat (or “Weixin”) gained a whopping 400 million users by offering everything to everyone: private messaging, chat rooms, shopping, and, of course, gaming. Within WeChat, players can compete in CrossFire (a military shooter) and League of Legends (a fantasy RPG), which reached No. 1 and No. 2 last year, respectively, as the top free-to-play games. In a clear sign that it sees both mobile and console as part of gaming’s future, Tencent also acquired a sizable stake in Activision Blizzard, maker of the massively popular World of Warcraft and Call of Duty games.
                      9. FAILBETTER GAMES
For reinventing the choose-your-own-adventure option. Interactive fiction has always been a niche in the gaming landscape, but Failbetter Games’ StoryNexus platform has helped make playable novels a populist pursuit. Writers use StoryNexus to make their own novels and short stories that place the reader inside, where they make decisions in multiple-choice questions that feel deeper and offer much more nuance than the traditional “open door” and “don’t open door.” Random House leveraged the platform last year to help sell new authors–and to diversify its genre fiction business–with projects like Rob Sherman’s recently launched game-novel Black Crown Project.
                       10. BLUEPOINT GAMES
For turning preservation into a noble and profitable business. It may seem counterintuitive to call a company whose primary business is remaking old games innovative, but the gaming industry is awful at preservation, letting old games languish on dead hardware. Bluepoint Games has thrived in the past two years by pumping out bespoke HD remasters of classics like Metal Gear Solid 2 and Shadow of the Colossus. Like Criterion has done for film, Bluepoint repackages the past in lovingly crafted modern media. (It’s currently hard at work on a secret project for Sony.)

25 Fun Facts About Video Games

You may have an encyclopedic knowledge of a game, but you likely don’t know all of the stories behind it – even if you complete every side quest in an RPG or prestige a dozen times in a multiplayer shooter. Some of these tales stretch into the realm of the weird, draw inspiration from the strangest of places, or can be oddly touching. Other stories don’t make a lick of sense. We rounded up 25 little tidbits that should give you a greater appreciation of some of video games’ biggest hits.


1.  The Nintendo Comboy
South Korea put a ban on Japanese cultural imports following World War II, and it wasn’t lifted until 2004. That didn’t mean South Korean gamers didn’t get to know Mario. Hyundai Electronics distributed Nintendo’s product in South Korea. The NES was called the Hyundai Comboy, which was superseded by the Super Comboy and Comboy 64.
2.  Batman: Arkham Asylum was almost rhythmic
During the early stages of development, Batman: Arkham Asylum was prototyped as a rhythmic action game. The second prototype focused on 2D fighting, which would pop up whenever enemies were engaged, and involved colored circles bashing into each other. Both of these failed attempts fueled the basis of the final combat system.

3.  Super Mario and Nine Inch Nails

Many of the Koopalings from the Super Mario games are named after famous musicians. Most people can see the pattern in Ludwig, Iggy, and Lemmy’s names. What you may not know is Super Mario World’s fire-breathing triceratops is named Reznor, named after Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, who also created the soundtrack for Quake.

4.  The lion that would eat itself

Scribblenauts almost launched with a strange bug, in which a lion would eat itself if bacon was glued to its back. The odd occurrence was found in the late stages of A.I. finalization.
5.  The lunch bell nuke
The satisfying “ding” that rings out when a Fat Man nuke is launched in Fallout 3 is the lunch bell from Bethesda Softworks’ cafeteria. The Fat Man itself is modeled after an actual nuke launcher called the M-388 Davy Crockett Tactical Nuclear Recoilless Rifle, which was developed in the 1950s.
6.  Master Chief is a radio DJ
The voice actor who has played Master Chief in every Halo game to date is more famously known as Steve Downes, a radio DJ dating back to the late 1970s. Downes was most recently on Chicago’s WDRV “The Drive.”

7.  Lara Croft was originally Laura Cruz
Core Design animator Toby Gard wanted to make an interactive movie starring a male character looking for treasure in Egyptian pyramids. The character was deemed too close to Indiana Jones, and was quickly switched to a South American woman named Laura Cruz. Core ended up wanting a U.K. friendly name, so Core employees dove into a phone book and settled on the name “Croft.”

8.  A famous game developer is named after Final Fantasy VII

Chinese video game creator Xinghan Chen’s name may not ring any bells, but you are likely familiar with his design work on the games Journey and Flower. Xinghan works under the name Jenova Chen. He was inspired by Final Fantasy VII, and took the name of the character Jenova when he started working in games.

9.  The first video game in space
The Game Boy version of Tetris was the first game played in space. 
In 1993, Tetris traveled aboard a Soyuz TM-17 rocket to the MIR Space Station, where it was played by Russian cosmonaut Aleksandr A. Serebrov. The game was later sold at an auction for $1,220.

10.  Prince of Persia: Assassin’s Creed

Ubisoft’s long-running and highly successful Assassin’s Creed series was originally going to be a Prince of Persia spinoff. The game was called Prince of Persia: Assassins, and it told the story of a female assassin tasked with protecting a prince in Jerusalem. After roughly a year of development, Ubisoft rejected the idea as it didn’t focus on the prince enough. The game was reworked to the Assassin’s Creed we know today.

11.  Barack Obama campaigned in 18 games

During the 2008 presidential election, Barack Obama purchased ad space in 18 games that ran in 10 states. The “Vote for Change” billboards were in Burnout Paradise, Skate, Madden, and more that targeted the demographic of ages 18 to 34.

12.  Left 4 Dead in The Cabin in the Woods

Toward the end of the movie The Cabin in the Woods, a gallery of monsters is shown for a few seconds. Along with other iconic film monsters, two of those creatures are from the video game series 
Left 4 Dead. Eagle-eyed gamers can clearly see a Boomer and Witch.

13.  Rigged against the Bulls
NBA Jam creator Mark Turmell is such a huge Detroit Pistons fan that he rigged his game so the Pistons would have a better shot at beating the then-rival Chicago Bulls. “If there was a close game and anyone on the Bulls took a last-second shot, we wrote special code in the game so they would average out to be bricks,” Turmell told ESPN the Magazine.
14.  Nintendo’s drug is the banana
In the Game Boy title Final Fantasy Legend II, the player encountered a group of opium smugglers, but Nintendo’s censorship guidelines wouldn’t allow that to fly in the U.S. version. Instead of selling opium, the drug dealers were forced to peddle bananas in the back alleys of this world.

15.  Deleting James Bond

In the Nintendo 64 game GoldenEye 007, Rare originally intended to include Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, and Sean Connery as playable characters in multiplayer. That plan was scrapped prior to release, but the character models for these famed actors were still on the cartridge. In 2005, a group called The Rare Witch Project cracked the game’s code and found them.

16.  The U.S. Air Force loves PlayStation 3

In 2010, the U.S. Air Force created the Condor Cluster, a heterogeneous supercomputer built using off-the-shelf commercial components, including over 1,700 PlayStation 3s. This particular system is about half a petaflop, or capable of about 500 trillion calculations per second,” said Mark Barnell, the director of high-performance computing at the Air Force Research Laboratory. “In the current time that we can measure it, it’s about the 35th- or 36th-fastest computer in the world. The Condor Cluster cost $2 million to build.
17.  Sonic the Hedgehog is inside all of us
A gene and protein that separates your right brain from the left, and determines you have two eyes is called sonic hedgehog. The gene’s symbol is SHH. The name wasn’t inspired directly by the game, but a comic-book series. A British post-doc named Robert Riddle drew inspiration from a Sonic comic his 6-year-old daughter was reading. The gene appropriately has a spikey appearance.

18.  Lengthy Smash Bros. fan fiction
With 4,061,129 words spread across 220 chapters, a Smash Bros. fan-fiction story called The Subspace Emissary’s Worlds Conquest is one of the longest works of literature in the English language. The book is written by someone named Christian, who writes under the name AuraChannlerChris. The longest published novel is Jules Romains’ Men of Goodwill at 2,070,000 words and 8,000 pages.

19.  Xbox was almost the DirectX Box

In 1999, Microsoft’s Ed Fries met with the DirectX team to discuss a new idea called the DirectX Box, a PC with a hidden Windows OS that would be marketed like a console machine. The first mockup of the DirectX Box was a silver X with a PC board inside. As the project moved through development, Windows was dropped, the console look changed, and it was eventually renamed Xbox.

20.  Final Fantasy VII was a Nintendo exclusive
Numbered Final Fantasy games were Nintendo exclusives until Square Soft realized the Nintendo 64 wasn’t capable of achieving its vision for the next installment in the series. That game was Final Fantasy VII. Due to the storage limitations of cartridges, Square created Final Fantasy VII exclusively for PlayStation. An ad for the game mocked Nintendo’s medium, saying “Someone get the guys who make cartridge games a cigarette and a blindfold. Possibly the greatest game ever made is available only on PlayStation. Good thing, if it were available on cartridge, it’d retail for around $1,200.”
21.  Gandhi, the aggressor
In the first Civilization game, Gandhi’s aggression rating was the lowest score of one, meaning he didn’t want to make war. However, if a player chose democracy, his aggression dropped two points. Instead of falling to negative one, the number looped around to 255, the highest aggression rating possible. Democracy turned Gandhi into a nuke-firing titan.

22.  People are blocks
Ever wonder where all of the people in the Mushroom Kingdom are? In the manual for Super Mario Bros. on NES, a short story summary says the Koopas turned all of the land’s people into blocks, stones, and field horse-hair plants. Think of that the next time you make Mario jump into a block.

23.  The smells of soccer and racing

The U.K. versions of FIFA 2001 and Gran Turismo 2 shipped with the peculiar idea of “scratch and sniff” discs. If you scratched FIFA’s disc, you would “smell the pitch.” Rubbing Gran Turismo 2’s disc would deliver an “authentic pit-stop smell.”

24.  The many names of Soda Popinski

The wonderfully named Soda Popinski from Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out originally boxed under the guise Vodka Drunkenski in the arcade game Super Punch-Out. In an unlicensed port to Commodore 64 called Frank Bruno’s Boxing, his name was changed to Andra Puncharedov.

25. 
A little-known Halo 4 cameo
Comedians Conan O’Brien and Andy Richter visited 343 Industries for a spoof skit in an episode of Conan, in which they recorded audio for dockworkers aboard a spaceship. This audio made it into Halo 4 in a level called Shutdown. You’ll need to stand next to two specific dockworkers for a couple of minutes to trigger their dialogue.

The 12 Best Games For the PlayStation 3

ount yourself fortunate if you have a PlayStation 3. You’re in for a good time.

If you want a solid PS3 game library, start with play the games below.

Naughty Dog’s violent, heartfelt, emotionally exhausting epic The Last of Us is the studio’s crowning achievement, and easily one of the most impressive games on the PlayStation 3. Its story of survival in a post-apocalyptic world may be built on a foundation of zombie-movie clichés, but the tale of the embittered smuggler Joel and his relationship with a young girl named Ellie is so full of heart and wrought with such subtlety that any concerns about overfamiliarity quickly fade away. Better still, in addition to its beautiful art, gorgeous soundtrack and eye-popping cutscenes, the game itself is quite well-made. It’s an often terrifying, exhilarating mixture of stealth, action and horror that plays out over sprawling levels and is unafraid to make the player feel disoriented and disempowered.
A Good Match For: People who like their games intense—The Last of Us is relentless, and the intensity of its narrative is matched by its discombobulating, often panic-inducing combat. This game is also great for those who like cinematic, movie-like games, and it’s a good game to show off to your friends, roommates, or significant others. It’s the rare game that looks so good (and is written so well) that it’s fun to watch as well as play.
Not a Good Match For: Anyone looking for something fun or lighthearted. The Last of Us is a ceaselessly grim, often emotionally wrenching experience. Very bad things happen to good people, and it never gets easier to watch. Its closest literary analogue is Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, and in terms of grimness, The Last of Us matches and sometimes exceeds McCarthy’s often horrifying novel. The often difficult combat is exceptionally violent, so this game is not for the squeamish.
2. Assasin’s Creed IV : Black Flag
After years of changes both minor and major, the Assassin’s Creed series had begun to feel in a rut. (For example: We’d had Assassin’s Creed II on this list since its inception.) Finally this year, with the pirate-themed Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, the series has taken a major and unequivocal step forward. It doesn’t lose all of the series’ bad habits—hello follow missions—but it improves many longstanding problems with better stealth, easier-to-navigate cities, and sidequests that actually feel like they help make your character more powerful. Best of all, it adds naval combat and a vast Caribbean overworld that make the game feel like, in the words of Luke Plunkett, “Wind Waker for grown-ups.”
A Good Match For: Pirate fans; history buffs; anyone who’s ever wanted to pull up alongside a British frigate, grab a rope and swing from one deck to the other before fighting your way up the deck to take on the captain. So basically, anyone who’s ever wanted to be a pirate.
Not a Good Match For: Those who demand precision controls. The on-foot controls in Black Flag are probably the best of the series, but they’re still a far cry from where a third-person stealth/platformer should be. It’s time for a crouch button, Ubisoft.

3. Persona 5

What if you could do relive high school but do it way, way better? That’s the promise of Persona 5, and Atlus’s killer social sim + dungeon crawler more than delivers. You’re a high school student spending a year at a new school in Tokyo, but you’re anything but ordinary. You and your motley crew of friends have the ability to infiltrate the subconscious “palaces” of the various villains and tormentors who challenge you in the real world, changing their hearts and bringing them to justice. As the days tick by, you’ll spend your afternoons deciding whether to go shopping, hang out with your friends, or head into a dungeon to slay some demons. The more you play, the more the cast expands, the story unfolds, and the mystery deepens. What’s really going on? Where do these mystical powers come from? How’s it all gonna end? And will you finally be able to get Makoto to go out with you?
A Good Match For: Fans of previous Persona games, along with anyone who likes stylish art and killer music. Persona 5 is overflowing with both.
Not A Good Match For: People who hate turn-based JRPG combat, people who don’t like games with a lot of text to read, anyone looking for a game they can finish in a single weekend.

 4. Grand Theft Auto V

Grand Theft Auto V is an impressive crime game. Not perfect, but impressive. The game gives players one of the richest, most beautiful open worlds we’ve ever been able to play in. In this case, the landscape is a fictionalized version of Los Angeles and the California desert. Go anywhere in this vast game. Grab a car, plane, truck, bicycle, boat or tank. Head off in any direction. You’re bound to see extraordinary sights and stumble into some sort of good and probably violent time. The game looks amazing even on the old Xbox 360 hardware. It also plays better than any GTA before it. GTA V’s innovative, swappable three-protagonist system creates the feel of a true ensemble adventure, though crazy man Trevor steals the show.
A Good Match For: Players who like to go into a game to break the rules. GTA is still at its best when it’s a playground for virtual misbehavior.
Not a Good Match For: Anyone who can’t stomach the game’s mockery of, well, pretty much everyone.

 5. Journey

How do you top the beautiful, poetic experience that was ThatGameCompany’s Flower? Easy, just make a game that strips away everything annoying of maddening modern online gameplay and set it inside a lush gameworld that looks like a living painting. The travels that you undertake in Journey culminate in an incredibly touching moment. It’s not just one of the best PS3 games. It’s one of the best games ever, period.
A Good Match for: Shy people. Just like Flower before it, Journey is a wordless experience. The limited set of gestures you use to communicate means you won’t have to worry about embarrassing yourself by saying something awkward.
Not a Good Match For: People looking for conversation. If you spent a big chunk of time sand-surfing with another person, you’ll probably want to learn a bit more about him or her. Journey never lets you do that, though, and that enforced silence makes up much of its impact.

 6. Papo & Yo

Does a great game have to be fun? Does it have to make you happy? The beautifully sad Papo & Yo is one of the most personal games you’ll ever play. On the surface it’s about a boy and a monster who can be helpful but who can also fly into harmful rages. It’s all a metaphor for the lead game creator’s own experiences with his alcoholic father. This brief third-person game will put your brain to the test from time to time, but it’s mostly a game that will touch your heart.
A Good Match For: People looking for something personal and moving and for those who will enjoy the distinct visuals of a game with a South American look.
Not a Good Match For: Gamers looking for something they can play for dozens of hours. Papo & Yo will linger in your mind, but there’s not a lot to play and not much reason to play it again.

  7. Dark Souls

Sure, yes, Dark Souls is hard. For better or for worse, its difficulty is its defining characteristic. But Dark Souls is also so much more than hard—it’s an expertly crafted, fiendishly smart game that refuses to hold the player’s hand and as a result, forces a level of engagement almost unheard of in modern games. There’s a reason that so many modern games are described as “It’s like Dark Souls, with…” One of the most influential and flat-out great games of the last several years, Dark Souls is like no other game ever made.
A Good Match For: People who want their games to ask a lot of them, and expect a lot in return. Dark Souls is one of the most rewarding games ever made, provided you’re willing to put in the time and really, really pay attention.
Not a Good Match For: The easily frustrated. If you like your games to be fun, breezy ways to blow off steam after work, Dark Souls probably isn’t the game for you. You’ll die, you’ll lose progress, and the only way you’ll continue forward will be by the skin of your own teeth. Which is the designers’ intent, but it’s not for everyone.

 8. Metal Gear Solid 4

Part stealth-action game and part crazy sci-fi film, Metal Gear Solid 4 is the type of nutty experience that can’t be neatly categorized into a genre. The premise: you’re Solid Snake, a super-spy-soldier who can either shoot or sneak his way through missions en route to saving the world before he’s killed by the cells in his body, which are aging at an accelerated rate. (Don’t ask.) Check out the Metal Gear Solid Legacy Collection, which gets you MGS4, the HD versions of MGS2 and MGS3, the original MGS, and a few others.
A Good Match For: Anyone who likes stealth games, shooters, and crazy stories involving guns and nanomachines.
Not a Good Match For: People who hate cutscenes. The Metal Gear Solid games are full of elaborate cinematics and long monologues, and if you’re just.

  9. Pixeljunk Shooter

The latest in Q-Games’ wonderfully stylish offerings pays homage to memorize-the-sequence shoot-em-ups of the 80s and 90s, and add modern twists that provide even more challenge. Check out PixelJunk Eden, PixelJunk Shooter and PixelJunk Monsters for more Q-takes on tried-and-true genres. They’re all brilliant. Really.
A Good Match for: Galaga fans. Defender fans. Sinistar fans. If you ever stuck a quarter into an arcade stand-up machine to fly a spaceship, this game will bring back old joys and introduce you to new ones like co-operative blasting.
Not a Good Match For: Retro-haters. The games feel like modern-day versions of old-school games. You’re not getting a complicated 3D adventure here.

 10. Portal 2

Call it the Superman 2 or Empire Strikes Back of video games. Valve’s follow-up to a classic improves on the humor, characterization and puzzle-solving of its predecessor to deliver a tight, focused experience full of poignancy and humor.
A Good Match for: Comedy lovers. The voicework alone—performed in stellar fashion by Stephen Merchant and Ellen McLain—will make you laugh out loud but the brain-teasing puzzles and embedded gags keep the chuckles coming even when everything else in the game goes quiet.
Not a Good Match For: Mediocrity fans. People who argue with Portal 2‘s greatness are like folks complaining that diamonds came from dirt. Their argument is invalid.

  11. Ratchet & Clank : A Crack in Time

Arguably the best outing in Insomniac’s buddy adventure franchise, A Crack in Time still offers the prankish cool of the dev studio’s witty weapons but also throws in mind-bending time-manipulation platforming to blaze all paths in an all-new way.
A Good Match for: Star Trek fans. Sure, the Lombax-and-robot duo violate the Prime Directive all over the place but A Crack in Time’s action should satisfy anyone who liked watching Kirk get into a scuffle as well as pleasing those who prefer Spock’s cool Vulcan logic. This one is also probably the best game on our list for kids.
Not a Good Match For: Fans of busywork. Some of the interstitial space stuff—battles with enemy fleets, blasting asteroids into smithereens—just feels like filler, no matter how good it looks.

   12. Ni No Kuni

When you ask game developer Level-5 (Dragon Quest VIII) and animation house Studio Ghibli (My Neighbor Totoro) to make a game together, good things happen. Ni no Kuni, the product of that partnership, is charming, satisfying, and one of the prettiest games on the planet. It’s an old-school JRPG with a very modern coat of paint, and although the combat can occasionally be a bit too challenging for inexperienced players, it’s a blast to watch and play.
A Good Match For: JRPG fans, Ghibli fans, cartoon fans, fans of fun and charm and things that are good.
Not a Good Match For: Anyone who doesn’t have the patience for semi-turn-based combat and JRPGish questing. Inexperienced gamers who might find the combat too difficult.