“Huh, now that you mention it maybe Monica’s board game nights *have* gotten a bit extreme…”
There’s plenty of well-established horror fodder to gorge on for Halloween in film, television, and games, and just as many pieces of advice floating around about the definitive cultural touchstones that everyone needs to see this time of year. For my money, as someone raised on the old AMC Monsterfest (given an excellent breakdown here, by Jim Vorel writing for Paste), you’re not doing the holiday justice unless you catch something that’s as obscure as it is schlocky. Less Halloween, more Halloween III: Season of the Witch.
To further that end, publisher Aksys Games Localization are putting two iOS thriller/horror titles on sale for 99 cents apiece this Weenmas time, a discount of a couple dollars for each. 999: The Novel is the iOS version of Nintendo DS title 999, and concerns the “Nonary Game,” one of those “kidnap a bunch of individuals who constitute a perfect cross-section of society and lock them in a spooky place” schemes that cults and evil corporations are so fond of. The spooky place is a ship, and the motivation comes from these fly wristwatches linked to bombs planted in every person’s stomach.
Banshee’s Last Cry, meanwhile, is a port which hearkens back all the way to 1994 and the Super Famicon, the when and where for the original “sound novel” (literally just a novel with sound effects) of the same name. It’d be fair to call this one an Agatha Christie-style murder mystery, if Agatha Christie wrote her stories down in Japanese first, then had someone else translate them. Oh, and then sold them with a phonograph and recording of her going “ooooOOOOHHHHHHooooooo.”
Both titles promise interactivity and branching story paths, though it seems that 999: The Novel has none of the puzzles from the DS version. Still, a buck or two for some undoubtedly cheesy Halloween fun is fair enough. You used to have to shell out for expanded basic cable to get Monsterfest. Scary.
It’s not uncommon for an established developer to put their digital catalog on sale, in fact it happens all the time. What I can’t remember happening, however, is what Rubicon Development is doing this weekend: free. You heard me right, everything they have on the App Store is completely and unequivocally free.
If you’re unfamiliar with Rubicon, you might be thinking that this isn’t a big deal. Let me tell you just how badly you’re embarrassing yourself. Rubicon is the developer of some of the best turn-based, strategy war games ever made for the iDevice: Great Little War Game, Great Big War Game, and Great Little War Game 2. Okay, so they can’t name games worth a damn, but I guarantee that if you are remotely interested in turn-based strategy, any of these will fit the bill and keep you happy for a long, long time. Getting them for free is, cliché be damned, a steal.
Much of their other content, like the excellent card battler Combat Monsters, has always been free.
The sale will only last through the weekend, so if you haven’t picked up the Rubicon apps, now your chance to do it on Rubicon’s dime.
Need to see what you’re missing? Little War Game 2 trailer after the break.
If this were real, I would totally be one of those dads who wouldn’t let their kids play with it.
It’s not often that a game will make me pause with just a screenshot. Personally, graphics aren’t everything. In the case of Hitman GO, however, it’s not that it has realistic or cutting edge graphics, it’s just that the screenshots look so damn cool. Seriously, every picture of the game looks like a toy, and not just any toy, but one that you want to get in there and explore every nook and cranny. It’s the Castle Grayskull of apps.
Since its release in April, Hitman GO has already spawned one expansion, dropping you into an immaculately rendered airport, and now they’ve released another. This time it’s frosty St. Petersburg with 8 new levels based on some chapters from Hitman 2. In a cool twist, you can access the new levels via two methods: pay for the damn thing ($1) or unlock the new levels by completing mission objectives.
If that’s not enough, Square Enix has also put the game on sale for a limited time. You can grab it for iOS or Android now for only $2.
Wow, an analog watch? This must be the end of the world.
Owen first mentioned doomsday gamebook This Is Not a Test just over a year ago, making special note of its zombie-free end of the world, Sorcery!-like blend of RPG elements with branching story paths, and its trailer’s, hmmm, questionable music. The thing looks–and plays, possibly–like it was pulled straight out of an old EC Comics horror title, enough that I’m close to breaking a self-imposed ban on Crypt Keeper puns.
Now, in the harsh light of the new world’s brutal economy of blood–wait, sorry, it’s just the App Store–developer Robot Monster Productions are changing This Is Not a Test’s pricing from upfront payments to free, with an in-app purchase to unlock the “premium” upgrade.
No one knows who they were or what they were doing…
When Owen asked us what our Game of the Month for September was, I was too busy to add my two cents. It’s a shame, too, because my pick of Talisman would have probably caused Owen permanent damage from all the eye rolling. It’s not that Owen thinks Talisman is a bad game, it’s just that it was released back in April, and talking up a 6 month old game isn’t really what Game of the Month is all about. That said, in September, Talisman received an update which made it a Universal app, and playing it on the phone has proven to be my favorite way to enjoy the chase for the Crown of Command.
If you’ve been wondering if Talisman is for you, Nomad just put it and all of its extensive IAP on sale. There’s no better time to pick it up for iOS, Android, or PC. The sale only lasts until Monday, however, so you don’t have much time to think about it.
In other Talisman news, Nomad is set to unleash the Dungeon expansion within the next 2 weeks. It will bring 5 new characters, over 100 new cards, and a whole new board to play on. We should have a more in-depth look at the Dungeon next week.
It’s been a good long while since I had a reason to write about God of Blades, which is a real pity because I love God of Blades. Our 2012 Action Game of the Year channels the late 70’s so hard it smells vaguely of leather and hair spray. It comes from a time when fantasy genre fiction was so tightly wrapped around psychedelia that you couldn’t pull them apart. God of Blades is Heavy Metal: The Game, basically.
You’re the Nameless King (or the Whispering Lady) called back from the dead to confront an evil that only you can defeat — and you defeat it by running around thwapping monsters in the puss with a giant sword longer than you are tall. There’s unlockable swords, subtly tactical duelling, and a soundtrack that gives me chills. Don’t you dare play this with the sound off or you’re missing the half of the appeal.
I’ve written before of my affection for Square Enix’s beautifully realised Hitman GO, and now (lucky me) I have the opportunity to do so again: it’s the “Free Game of the Month” courtesy of IGN.
Some PT readers have reported that the slightly Byzantine process required to redeem your free copy — which I’m told entails a loyalty oath, a geography quiz, and a small (mostly painless) hot-iron brand of the IGN logo on a forearm — can be a bit tricky, but it’s probably worth it. Hitman GO is one of the year’s best puzzle games and is reassuring proof that AAA studios can make mobile games that aren’t icky free-to-play garbage.
To get your free iOS Universal copy of Hitman GO, roll up one sleeve and visit this URL. Supplies are apparently limited so don’t dawdle.
What is a mobile video game worth? Quite a lot, say Square Enix, who are stubbornly sticking to their gunblades on mobile game pricing strategy. Their iOS port of PS2 JRPG Dragon Quest VIII launched back in May at the price of $20 — it’s on sale this weekend for the very first time at $15, still a vertigo-inducing price tag by App Store standards. It’s tempting to look at Squeenix and see a doddery old man complaining that kids these days listen to their music too loud and expect their games to cost a dollar.
Cas Prince of PC game developers Puppygames recently wrote that game prices are dropping so precipitously that the rich and diverse ecosystem of game creators we’ve come to enjoy is in danger. That long post includes apparently self-immolating statements like “[customers] are worthless to us[.]” But hear him out.
“Once upon a time, back in the early 2000s or so, games would sell for about $20 or so. Some developers did really well at that price point -– I mean really well. Most of us didn’t do that well, and made beer money, but we carried on making games anyway because that’s what we liked to do, even if nobody wanted them. When we got a customer we were able to treat them like royalty.”
“Then came the Humble Bundle and all its little imitators. It was another cataclysmically disruptive event… You’ve sold 40,000 games! But you’ve only made enough money to survive full-time for two weeks because you’re selling them for 10 cents each.”
Obviously, Prince is talking about one- and two-man indie studios here, not publishing behemoths like Squeenix. And casting Squeenix as the defender of the “premium”-priced game is problematic when the other fork of their mobile games strategy is pushing free-to-play bilge. But at least Square Enix have resisted the temptation to rip out Dragon Quest’s spine and turn it into a freemium cyborg like Namco did with Tales of Phantasia.
I wonder sometimes about publishing this (mostly) weekly price drops post. Am I aiding the forces pushing game prices down? I love getting a game for a dollar as much as the next guy, but many of the games I love can’t be sold profitably at a price point that low. I don’t know. I’ll keep doing it out of inertia for now, but I’m open to the notion that there’s something better to be doing on Saturdays.