Erollisi Day is almost upon us!

From the EQ Forums:

 

Happy Erollisi Day! Let’s celebrate!

“Good tidings and blessings of love to you! The days of Erollisi are upon us!” – Emissary of Erollisi

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You can’t avoid it. Love is in the air, and Norrathians near and far are honoring and celebrating Erollisi Marr. Join in the festivities with favorite returning holiday-themed items, events, and achievements!

From Wednesday, February 3rd through 11:00PM PST on Wednesday, February 17th, seek out the Emissary of Erollisi and Grimble Grumblemaker in the Plane of Knowledge to embark on these special, time-limited adventures. If you haven’t completed the Erollisi Day Achievement, you can check under the “Special” tab in your in-game Achievement window to see what is needed!

Want more details on the Erollisi Day events? Read up on the holiday on Fanra’s EverQuest Wiki!

Looking to do some lovely holiday shopping? The Erollisi Day-themed Marketplace items will arrive on Friday, February 5th and will be available through Sunday, February 28th.

Go forth with heart, fair citizens of Norrath, and spend some time adventuring with those you love!

What the heck is Agario?

"Have you heard of Agar.io?"

I look up from my dinner menu to see my friend Chez watching me, expectant. Chez (not his real name) is a PhD student working on his dissertation, a film historian, and a freaking College Jeopardy champion, for crying out loud. If a name like "Agar.io" comes across his dash, it's probably because it came up while he was researching stumpers for a pub quiz.

"You are the third person to mention that game to me this month," I sigh, setting my menu down.

Gravity Rush Remastered Review Impressions

I really like Gravity Rush. I only dabbled lightly in its original release on the Vita in 2012, but I played enough to know it was something special - a stylish action-platformer set in a strange open world. This HD Remaster makes all the sense in the world, allowing the Playstation 4 user base to experience one of the Vita's best games.

January Game Soundtrack Round-Up

Greetings, readers! Nate Ewert-Krocker here, to round up the best game soundtracks from the past thirty days. January’s typically a quiet month for game releases, a lull after the flood of holiday titles, but it seems as though there may no longer be a slow season for games. There have been plenty of games released this month with great jams--here’s a sampling!

At the beginning of the month, the enigmatic Pony Island appeared on our collective radar without any forewarning. Our Raphael Bennett seemed to think it was an artifact worth considering, and the soundtrack, by Jonah Senzel, is worth a listen as well. It’s got a lo-fi chiptune sound that fits the game’s glitchy aesthetic; for my money, it seems like Senzel’s taking some cues from Danny Baranowsky’s soundtrack to Super Meat Boy. Here’s one of the game’s early tracks, “The Machine."

The whole album is up on Senzel’s Bandcamp, and it’s generously pay-what-you-want!

Weirdly, the new Amplitude doesn’t yet have a publicly available OST, despite it being one of the (relatively pricey) rewards for its Kickstarter! According to this Reddit AMA that the devs at Harmonix held, it’s… just not a thing that’s happening yet? Maybe it will be in the future? This seems like something of a missed opportunity, as the central conceit of this new Amplitude is a “campaign” that plays like a concept album. Having played through that campaign and enjoyed it, I’m rather disappointed that I can’t buy the album in order to better learn the songs! Watch this space, I guess. 

Probably the most exciting soundtrack released this month is scntfc’s ominous score for Oxenfree, which I reviewed a couple weeks back. Oxenfree’s soundtrack is low-key, ambient electronica with malevolent undercurrents. It’s the perfect accompaniment to the game’s ghost story. This track, “Beacon Beach,” is a good example of scntfc’s chill sound.

If you’re looking for something a little more sinister, head on over to scntfc’s Bandcamp page and listen to the rest of the album. (I’m a big fan of “Against the Waves” and “Argonaut Atalanta.”) The album’s up on Spotify as well! 

I hadn’t heard anything about Punch Club until someone on Twitter pointed me to its bizarre PR strategy: the devs only launched the game on Steam once a collective of Twitch viewers had beaten it (in the manner of “Twitch plays Pokemon”). I guess their unorthodox word-of-mouth promotion worked, given how I heard about it! The game’s soundtrack is only a few tracks long, but it’s worth a listen nonetheless: it channels the NES sound pretty effectively, which works well with the game’s pixelated aesthetic.

Here’s the menu theme:


View on YouTube

Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak came out on the 20th, and its score, by Homeworld series composer Paul Ruskay, is available on Steam! Unfortunately, it’s only available as DLC for the game, so… hooray for Homeworld fans! A little quick Googling will find you rips of the whole soundtrack on YouTube to see if it’s your jam, but again, you won’t be able to purchase it above-board unless you already own the game, in which case you’ve probably sampled it plenty. It’s good! A nice, cinematic score that appropriately conjures the game’s desert environs.  

I can’t tell you how excited I was to hear the soundtrack to Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam, because it’s composed by none other than Yoko Shimomura, one of the true greats (she’s responsible for the scores to Kingdom Hearts, Legend of Mana, and bloody Street Fighter II, just to name a handful). Shimomura’s music can be pulse-pounding and epic (see her scores for Parasite Eve or the aforementioned Legend of Mana), but she has a special talent for bouncy, festive tunes that are unapologetically joyful, and she’s always brought that skill to the table when composing for the Mushroom Kingdom. Here, take a listen to “Papercraft Battle” from the new Mario & Luigi and you’ll see what I mean:


View on YouTube

This sort of sound has always fit Mario to a T, especially with the springy, kinetic battle systems of the Mario & Luigi games. Frustratingly, there’s no official release for this soundtrack, and the other games in the series haven’t had official releases either (there was a compilation CD offered a couple years ago as a Club Nintendo prize… in Japan, of course). Here’s a YouTube playlist, at least, so you can sample the other excellent battle tunes and grow your appreciation of Shimomura’s work in anticipation of Kingdom Hearts III and Final Fantasy XV, which she’s composing.

Speaking of Square Enix, Final Fantasy Explorers hit just a few days ago, and I wrote up my early impressions here--though I didn’t mention anything about the music, which is pretty neat! It’s arranged (and mostly composed) by Tsuyoshi Sekito, who’s best known to me as the composer for the most excellent Brave Fencer Musashi. The best thing about the FFEX soundtrack is the preponderance of boss themes--this one, “Magical Beast of the Wind,” might be my favorite of the bunch:


View on YouTube

Unfortunately, there’s no Western release for the OST yet. You can import it, if you’re dedicated, but it might be worth it to wait a while--Square Enix is better than most at releasing their soundtracks Stateside, and the FFEX OST is out on the Japanese iTunes store. While you’re waiting, you could hit up this YouTube playlist to sample some tracks!

Lastly, and probably leastly, I see that 3D Realms’ Bombshell is slated for release at the end of this month. Everything about the game screams “Duke Nukem: But With Girl,” and so I’m inclined not to pay it any further attention, but 3D Realms put this “Official Soundtrack Theme” on YouTube, and every time I watch it, it gets better:


View on YouTube

Yes, that’s a note popping up over the video exhorting you to give it a “Thumbs-Up for Epic Guitar Solo!” If this video and those shredding guitars are any indication, then Bombshell is certainly--100%--going to be a videogame. “Thumbs-Up” indeed.

And that’s it for this month! There have been a handful of other games released in January whose soundtracks either haven’t manifested yet or aren’t going to (That Dragon, Cancer; Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: India; The Deadly Tower of Monsters), so I’ll keep an eye out for those in the months to come and keep you updated. There’s plenty to look forward to in February (Firewatch! Street Fighter V! Fire Emblem Fates!), so gear up--it’s going to be a great year for game music. Happy listening!

Another Double Experience Weekend!

In a move to make up for the on again, off again double experience weekend at  the beginning of the year, DBGs announced this morning that they'll end the month with a Double Experience Weekend. 

From the Everquest Forums:

"Well, Norrathians, it has been quite a month, both in and out of game, and we honor your steadfast commitment to your adventures. To end the month strong, this weekend will be a Double Experience Weekend for all players!

From 12:00PM PST (Noon) on Friday, January 29, 2016 through 12:00PM PST (Noon) on Monday, February 1, 2016, all servers (yes, including Ragefire, Lockjaw, and Phinigel) will have double experience!

Take some time and end January stronger than ever! We’ll see you in Norrath."

Top 5 Best Introductions in Gaming

The beginning of a game can make or break a player’s interest. A successful introduction can familiarize the player with the game’s key mechanics, as well as set the tone for the rest to come. Should they manage this, these intros can become ingrained in the collective consciousness of gamers, setting traditions that inform developers for years after release.

With that in mind, here are some of the best game intros:

Exanima Preview

At first glance, Exanima looks like virtually any other Diablo clone on the market. The dimly-lit dungeons and isometric perspective do little to combat that perception. You’ll spend a lot of your time poking through hallways and hidden rooms, slaying foul creatures, and looting the limp corpses of your adversaries -- all trademarks of the dungeon crawling experience. 

But Exanima, unlike Diablo and its many contemporaries, features a fully-utilized physics engine. The result is a game where ragdoll bodies go flying, improvised tactics are the norm, and combat is never fully predictable.

 

Final Fantasy Explorers review impressions

I’ve always tried to steer away from the cliche of “Game X = Game Y + Game Z,” but with Final Fantasy Explorers, Square Enix is making that exceptionally difficult, because there’s really no clearer way to get to the heart of the game than to call it “Final Fantasy’s take on Monster Hunter.” In it, you’ll team up with other players online (or raise an elite team of monster companions) to venture through a series of small dungeons in order to kill enemies, gather a mountain of materials, and take on enormous bosses (which, in this case, happen to be the Final Fantasy series’ perennial summon monsters, here called “Eidolons,” as they sometimes are). 

The Witness Review

The Witness is an amazing game that I hope I never have to play again in my life. It is a title of true mystery, an experience of genuine curiosity, a game of demanding intellect.

Klaus Review Impressions

Imagine slowly drifting back into consciousness, faint red light flooding your closed eyelids. As you come to, you gradually realize you have no recollection of how you ended up in this place. In fact, now that you think of it, you can’t even recall your name. A glance down at your arm reveals a tattoo - “Klaus”. Unsure of what else to do, you set off further into the basement, still glowing in ominous, scarlet hues.