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Date: Saturday, 06 Apr 2013 21:59

As you know, 1UP.com has breathed its last. Such are the vicissitudes of business. Happily, Jose Otero managed to pull together a startling number of former 1UP staff during Game Developers Conference this year for one final podcast. Not everyone was there due to the last-minute nature of this show (or because they had other duties that kept them away), but if you paid any attention at all to the site for the 10 years it lived you're bound to hear some voices you recognize in this three-hour tag-team adventure. Rather than spoil the surprise, though, we'd rather just let you hear the show for yourself.

Thanks for all the years of support. Your enthusiasm for our work fueled these shows, and we very literally couldn't have done it without you. Please enjoy this final gift to you all.


Author: "1UP Staff" Tags: "NEWS"
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Date: Thursday, 14 Feb 2013 19:48

Feature

Header

Five Great Aliens Alternatives to Colonial Marines

Bummed by how uneven Gearbox's new shooter turned out to be? Soothe your pain with its best predecessors.

By: Jeremy Parish February 13, 2013

Despite a few misgivings about Aliens: Colonial Marines, we had high hopes that it would finally give us the faithful first-person shooter adaptation of the films we've been pining after for so many years. Needless to say, the end result really disappointed us. Our own Jose Otero says "ACM isn't the tense, atmospheric shooter everyone initially hoped for, and this awful game offers little beyond surface-level fan service," and reviews across the Internet almost universally range from "mediocre at best" to "absolutely dreadful." All the perfectly recreated sound effects and acidic blood in the galaxy don't mean a thing when the underlying game feels so slapped together.

On the plus side, at least it works better as an Alien tie-in than Prometheus.

Author: "Jeremy Parish" Tags: "FEATURE"
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Date: Monday, 11 Feb 2013 23:05

Durango

Much of the recent talk about Durango, the code name for the next-generation Xbox, has been about its rumored always-online requirement. Aside from the fact that you'd need an Internet connection in order to use the system, this would also supposedly block the use of secondhand games, potentially eliminating used game sales, game rentals, and maybe even something as simple as borrowing a game from a friend. It's difficult to imagine for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the disadvantage it would put Microsoft in if Sony doesn't do the same with the PlayStation 4. As with everything we're hearing, even if that is the plan right now, Microsoft could end up changing its mind before the system hits, though these reports do still make for interesting points of discussion. The latest report brings yet another detail fans will likely rage over, but it also promises a feature I find myself immensely interested in.

Undoubtedly the most noteworthy bit of information reported by Kotaku today involves the role Kinect will play in the next Xbox. A new iteration of the motion-sensing device will be included with every sold system, something that doesn't come as a major surprise considering the prominence of Xbox 360 bundles that pack in a Kinect sensor. What is unexpected is the fact that Kinect will have to be connected and set up for the console to be used.

Author: "Chris Pereira" Tags: "NEWS"
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Date: Friday, 08 Feb 2013 19:45

Rayman Legends

Rayman Legends was, for myself and many others, a major reason to pick up a Wii U early on. Although it was known more than a month in advance of the system's launch that Legends would be coming in the first quarter of 2013, rather than in November as originally planned, it had been a game touted as a Wii U exclusive for some time. It seemed inevitable that it would eventually come to other platforms, but it would still be a game that could only be had on Wii U for a period of time, and it would only be on Wii U that you could take advantage of the GamePad-specific features.

With the beginning of 2013 being so barren for Wii U releases that Nintendo president Satoru Iwata recently apologized for the drought, Legends would have been an even more welcome sight on store shelves. Much to the chagrin of Wii U owners everywhere, Ubisoft yesterday announced the game would not be coming out on February 26, as it was said to be even in recent weeks, but would instead be coming in September -- alongside Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions.

Author: "Chris Pereira" Tags: "NEWS"
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Date: Thursday, 31 Jan 2013 18:00

Feature

Header

The Odyssey of Skulls of the Shogun

Developer 17-bit gives us a look behind the scenes at their darling turn-based strategy game.

By: Jose Otero January 31, 2012

It's a sunny and brisk winter morning in Seattle on January 14, 2013 as Jake Kazdal arrives at his independent game studio, 17-bit. I find a few of his employees huddled around a small TV as they start their workday with an impromptu session of Steel Battalion for the original Xbox. Another person sits at his desk designing an invite for their game's launch party at the end of the month.

To most bystanders, the lack of activity in the office might signal an uneventful day for these developers -- a work environment known for its mix of deadlines and play time, as the team slowly churns their concept into a video game. But today's an exciting day for everyone in the company: After a grueling three and a half years of development, their game, Skulls of the Shogun, is almost ready for download on Xbox Live Arcade -- one of three Microsoft-exclusive digital storefronts where people can purchase it at launch.

Author: "Jose Otero" Tags: "FEATURE"
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Date: Thursday, 31 Jan 2013 01:16

Prince of Persia The Forgotten Sands

It is something we see far more often than many of us would like: A game hits it big and the publisher responsible for it proceeds to annualize it or, at the very least, provide each subsequent release with little breathing room before yet another follow-up is released. The short-term rewards for doing so promote a temptation to exploit series in a way that can be harmful to the quality of the games in question and the series as a whole. Not only that, the interest in backing games with this sort of potential can make it more difficult for certain games to be released -- just look at the way Activision dumped games like Brutal Legend and Ghostbusters because they didn't "have the potential to be exploited every year on every platform with clear sequel potential and have the potential to become $100 million dollar franchises."

Ignoring sports games, the franchises that likely come to mind first when thinking of this sort of thing include Call of Duty and Assassin's Creed. The last time we went a year without a Call of Duty game was 2004, and the last year we didn't see a new Assassin's Creed game on consoles was 2008. (It's no coincidence that, in both cases, that year was the gap in between the first and second entries of the series.) Although it probably doesn't jump to the top of your list, Prince of Persia is another series to fall victim to this sort of treatment. Though not as extreme an example as CoD or AC, the Sands of Time reboot for Prince of Persia began a six-and-a-half-year stretch that saw five games released, not counting those released for handhelds or the remake of the original. No matter how you slice it, that's a lot of games for one series to see in a relatively short span of time.

Author: "Chris Pereira" Tags: "NEWS"
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Date: Tuesday, 29 Jan 2013 21:05

Epic Mickey Junction Point closure

Following rumors that began to circulate yesterday, the news was made official today: Junction Point Studios is the latest game development studio to be shut down. While far from outright shocking, considering the moves its parent company had made in recent years, this does call attention to how quickly things can go south for a developer, even one with a name like Warren Spector at the helm.

Spector, who is best known for his earlier work on games like System Shock and Deus Ex, founded the studio in 2005. It was acquired in 2007, joining the likes of Propaganda Games under the Disney Interactive Studios label. It was responsible for the release of two games: Epic Mickey in 2010 and Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two just last year. The former was a fairly well-received game that sold 1.3 million units in the U.S. during its first month of availability, according to NPD Group numbers reported by the L.A. Times. That was a solid figure for a third-party Wii game released at that point in time. Its flawed sequel, despite being available on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Wii U, in addition to Wii, sold a small fraction of that, moving only 270,000 units in a similar window. Update: Joystiq reports the game ended up selling 529,000 units in the U.S. during November and December, though keep in mind the game was heavily discounted during and after Black Friday.

Author: "Chris Pereira" Tags: "NEWS"
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Date: Friday, 25 Jan 2013 19:04

Respawn game

This spring will mark three years since Respawn Entertainment was established by Jason West and Vince Zampella, the founders of Call of Duty developer Infinity Ward. While you wouldn't expect development to have begun immediately at a brand-new studio, enough time has now passed that it seems reasonable to assume Respawn is fairly deep in development on -- well, whatever it is they're making. Over the past few years, we've gotten almost zero indication of what the studio is at work on. Besides some teaser images, early indications that the game would be on the scale of a "huge, summer blockbuster," and EA's statements that it will be a sci-fi-oriented shooter, there has been nothing of substance to go on. Knowing it's a sci-fi shooter limits the scope of possibilities to a degree, but let's be honest -- neither of those details is specific enough to tell us much beyond the fact that it won't be a historically accurate World War II RPG.

There are a limited number of conclusions we can safely jump to. Given this is an EA-published game and multiplayer is what made Call of Duty into the phenomenon it has become, it's OK to assume Respawn's mystery project will not be a single-player-only affair. Presuming it will be a first-person shooter, considering West and Zampella's past with Call of Duty, and Medal of Honor before it, might be a stretch, though. For all we know, they, along with the many former Infinity Ward employees that followed them to Respawn, are interested in getting away from what they're used to and, as a result, would prefer to make a third-person game. Gears of War might not be as big as Call of Duty or Halo, but it's done very well for itself with that perspective.

Author: "Chris Pereira" Tags: "NEWS"
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Date: Wednesday, 23 Jan 2013 23:19

South Park The Stick of Truth

Four years ago, Ubisoft was heavily advertising its games around episodes of South Park. In the next few months, it'll likely be doing that once again, only this time it will be doing this as the publishers of the newest South Park game, The Stick of Truth. Ubisoft was among the companies today to acquire assets that formerly belonged to THQ, a company that is now all but dead following an auction that kicked off yesterday and concluded today.

THQ has been in a very poor position for some time now. Even with Jason Rubin being named president, its eventual collapse was, in many people's eyes, an inevitability following the uDraw disaster, Homefront's failure, and a number of other factors. Yet it's difficult not to be reeling today when accounting for the human factor; many former THQ employees are finding themselves out of work today, and those numbers may continue to grow as the new owners of the companies acquired through the auction evaluate their needs.

Author: "Chris Pereira" Tags: "NEWS"
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Date: Tuesday, 04 Dec 2012 14:04

After spending some time with a huge demo of the upcoming Tomb Raider reboot, I had an equally massive conversation with the game's producer, Crystal Dynamics' Karl Stewart. Beside discussing the studio's inspirations for Lara Croft's latest adventure, we also explored some of the more advanced game mechanics -- things that the first few hours of the game only hint at. Below is the entirety of our conversation... just be aware that it includes some minor spoilers for the game's first few hours, if you're sensitive to that sort of thing. Be sure to check out our new impressions of the game as well!

Author: "Jeremy Parish" Tags: "NEWS"
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Date: Tuesday, 04 Dec 2012 01:55

Call of Duty

The videogame industry lacks any single, reliable sales tracker, particularly when accounting for digital sales, which is absolutely crucial for getting a full picture of the industry. Despite this, Call of Duty is widely accepted as the dominant franchise, at least as far as traditional videogame releases go. Year after year, the series tops sales charts and sets various records that publisher Activision is happy to tout in press releases and in front of investors. This year after year growth can't continue forever, and so it becomes a matter of when that sales peak is reached. Some indications suggest we may have finally hit that point, though even if that is the case, those who can't wait for the series' demise likely still have a long wait ahead before seeing what it is that they want.

It's important to make clear the sort of drop we're potentially talking about here. It's likewise important to realize we're talking about potential here -- Black Ops II has not even been out for a full month, and so plenty of time remains for it to blow past lifetime sales figures for previous Call of Duty iterations. But, videogame sales are more highly concentrated in the period immediately following launch. And with Black Ops II's launch coming just as the holiday shopping season kicked off, this game's biggest days are without a doubt behind it.

Author: "Chris Pereira" Tags: "NEWS"
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Date: Monday, 03 Dec 2012 17:20

Coffee, butter, The Avengers -- why is it that Japan has grown to love so many other western commodities while video games struggle to establish a foothold? Sure, you can chalk it up to cultural differences. But which ones exactly? Looking at successful products can help answer this question, and perhaps even inform the industry how to move forward.

Japan is the boss of them all when it comes canned coffee technology, but those miraculous beans had a tough time taking root in foreign soil. When Dutch Traders first introduced coffee in the 1800s, it was received as a foreign curiosity that could barely supplement (let alone replace) the indigenous tea culture.

Author: "1UP Staff" Tags: "NEWS"
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Date: Thursday, 29 Nov 2012 22:06

Dishonored

Listen to what many industry executives have to say, and you'd be led to believe original intellectual property doesn't sell well late in a console cycle. The time to introduce a new IP supposedly comes when new consoles are launched; once those systems have been around for years, that's when the focus shifts to existing properties. This is something that has never made a lot of sense to many people, and the performance of Dishonored isn't about to do anything to convince those people that executives have it right.

Despite being an original IP -- just the sort of game that supposedly shouldn't be excelling at this point in time -- Dishonored is doing very well. After receiving a strong critical reception prior to its release in early October, the game has gone on to sell better than publisher Bethesda anticipated.


Author: "Chris Pereira" Tags: "NEWS"
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Date: Thursday, 29 Nov 2012 22:06

Dishonored

Listen to what many industry executives have to say, and you'd be led to believe original intellectual property doesn't sell well late in a console cycle. The time to introduce a new IP supposedly comes when new consoles are launched; once those systems have been around for years, that's when the focus shifts to existing properties. This is something that has never made a lot of sense to many people, and the performance of Dishonored isn't about to do anything to convince those people that executives have it right.

Despite being an original IP -- just the sort of game that supposedly shouldn't be excelling at this point in time -- Dishonored is doing very well. After receiving a strong critical reception prior to its release in early October, the game has gone on to sell better than publisher Bethesda anticipated.

Author: "Chris Pereira" Tags: "NEWS"
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Date: Wednesday, 21 Nov 2012 18:57

Black Friday deals

Thanksgiving is now just a day away here in the United States, but what many people are looking forward to is the crazy shopping day that ensues the following day. Videogames are, as always, a hot Black Friday item, and there is no shortage of deals on our favorite hobby at a variety of retailers, both of the brick-and-mortar and online variety. As is becoming a more and more common occurrence, many of these deals will actually kick off on Thanksgiving day, if they haven't already.

Below is a look at many of the deals you'll find at some of the nation's biggest retailers. It's by no means a comprehensive list, but it does consist of the vast majority of the advertised deals from the retailers we've covered. GameStop, annoyingly enough, hasn't released its Black Friday ad yet; fortunately, an anonymous employee has done us the service of sharing the deals with Cheap Ass Gamer anyway so we can plan ahead.

Author: "Chris Pereira" Tags: "NEWS"
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Date: Wednesday, 21 Nov 2012 18:57

Black Friday deals

Thanksgiving is now just a day away here in the United States, but what many people are looking forward to is the crazy shopping day that ensues the following day. Videogames are, as always, a hot Black Friday item, and there is no shortage of deals on our favorite hobby at a variety of retailers, both of the brick-and-mortar and online variety. As is becoming a more and more common occurrence, many of these deals will actually kick off on Thanksgiving day, if they haven't already.

Below is a look at many of the deals you'll find at some of the nation's biggest retailers. It's by no means a comprehensive list, but it does consist of the vast majority of the advertised deals from the retailers we've covered. GameStop, annoyingly enough, hasn't released its Black Friday ad yet; fortunately, an anonymous employee has done us the service of sharing the deals with Cheap Ass Gamer anyway so we can plan ahead.


Author: "Chris Pereira" Tags: "NEWS"
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Date: Tuesday, 13 Nov 2012 00:34

NPD Group

The NPD Group's monthly games industry reports continue to be widely covered in the media, and it's easy to understand why. With game publishers hesitant to make a habit of sharing sales figures, the NPDs, as they're often called, supposedly give us somewhat of a glimpse as to which games are succeeding and which are failing. Criticisms of the NPD Group's numbers have becoming increasingly common over time, to the point where the question is now being asked whether the media ought to ignore the numbers outright.

That's the position taken in a new piece by the Penny Arcade Report, and it's one I find myself agreeing with. Regular readers of 1UP's news section may have noticed a distinct lack of coverage of the NPDs as of late, dating back to before the change in how news was handled. I personally don't give a second thought to the numbers anymore -- a far cry from the days when I would be highly anticipating them every month. Rather than having multiple pieces per month analyzing and dissecting whatever could be deduced from the numbers, the NPDs are something that rarely cross my mind at this point. And there are a variety of reasons for that.

Author: "Chris Pereira" Tags: "NEWS"
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Date: Tuesday, 13 Nov 2012 00:34

NPD Group

The NPD Group's monthly games industry reports continue to be widely covered in the media, and it's easy to understand why. With game publishers hesitant to make a habit of sharing sales figures, the NPDs, as they're often called, supposedly give us somewhat of a glimpse as to which games are succeeding and which are failing. Criticisms of the NPD Group's numbers have becoming increasingly common over time, to the point where the question is now being asked whether the media ought to ignore the numbers outright.

That's the position taken in a new piece by the Penny Arcade Report, and it's one I find myself agreeing with. Regular readers of 1UP's news section may have noticed a distinct lack of coverage of the NPDs as of late, dating back to before the change in how news was handled. I personally don't give a second thought to the numbers anymore -- a far cry from the days when I would be highly anticipating them every month. Rather than having multiple pieces per month analyzing and dissecting whatever could be deduced from the numbers, the NPDs are something that rarely cross my mind at this point. And there are a variety of reasons for that.


Author: "Chris Pereira" Tags: "NEWS"
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Date: Thursday, 08 Nov 2012 22:22

SmartGlass

After looking like it would only support Windows Phone 8 for the foreseeable future, Microsoft has released SmartGlass apps for iOS and (select) Android devices. Setting aside the issue of why it refused to alleviate fears that it would wait until next year to provide support -- something that could have been a major detriment to its potential success -- I've been able to spend some time with SmartGlass on my iPad. It proves to be useful, but, at least at this point, those without a supported device are not missing out on a whole lot.

My initial reaction was very positive. After discovering SmartGlass needs to be specifically enabled in the console's settings, I was surprised by just how responsive navigating the dashboard with my iPad was. I never spent a great deal of time making use of this functionality in the My Xbox Live app that SmartGlass replaces, and while I'm still not sure I'll use it much going forward, it's there and it works well. It's worth noting that the dashboard itself doesn't show up on the device's screen; you merely use gestures to navigate the dashboard displayed on the TV. Although there is some content that can be seen on the screen -- primarily the stuff from the My Xbox Live app, like messages, your friends list, and a list of your games -- what this means is you can't wander away from the TV with your SmartGlass device and still be looking at the dashboard.


Author: "Chris Pereira" Tags: "NEWS"
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Date: Thursday, 08 Nov 2012 22:22

SmartGlass

After looking like it would only support Windows Phone 8 for the foreseeable future, Microsoft has released SmartGlass apps for iOS and (select) Android devices. Setting aside the issue of why it refused to alleviate fears that it would wait until next year to provide support -- something that could have been a major detriment to its potential success -- I've been able to spend some time with SmartGlass on my iPad. It proves to be useful, but, at least at this point, those without a supported device are not missing out on a whole lot.

My initial reaction was very positive. After discovering SmartGlass needs to be specifically enabled in the console's settings, I was surprised by just how responsive navigating the dashboard with my iPad was. I never spent a great deal of time making use of this functionality in the My Xbox Live app that SmartGlass replaces, and while I'm still not sure I'll use it much going forward, it's there and it works well. It's worth noting that the dashboard itself doesn't show up on the device's screen; you merely use gestures to navigate the dashboard displayed on the TV. Although there is some content that can be seen on the screen -- primarily the stuff from the My Xbox Live app, like messages, your friends list, and a list of your games -- what this means is you can't wander away from the TV with your SmartGlass device and still be looking at the dashboard.

Author: "Chris Pereira" Tags: "NEWS"
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