Dead Island: Riptide Special Edition Includes Zombie Bust

Dead Island Torso

Despite apologizing about the controversial decision to include a severed torso statue as part of the special edition for Dead Island: Riptide, publisher Deep Silver appears to have gone ahead and shipped it with UK and Australian versions of the game, as reported by Kotaku.

The bust was first revealed this past January, where it drew massive criticisms for being sexist and generally distasteful. Deep Silver issued the following apology:

A statement on the Zombie Bait Edition:

We deeply apologize for any offense caused by the Dead Island Riptide “Zombie Bait Edition”, the collector’s edition announced for Europe and Australia. Like many gaming companies, Deep Silver has many offices in different countries, which is why sometimes different versions of Collector’s Editions come into being for North America, Europe, Australia, and Asia.

For the limited run of the Zombie Bait Edition for Europe and Australia, a decision was made to include a gruesome statue of a zombie torso, which was cut up like many of our fans had done to the undead enemies in the original Dead Island.

We sincerely regret this choice. We are collecting feedback continuously from the Dead Island community, as well as the international gaming community at large, for ongoing internal meetings with Deep Silver’s entire international team today. For now, we want to reiterate to the community, fans and industry how deeply sorry we are, and that we are committed to making sure this will never happen again.

Sincere, yes, but if you look closely, Deep Silver never stated that they wouldn’t be including the torso, just that they were very, very sorry about it. It’s implied by being apologetic about it, but never proclaimed outright. I went to communications school for four years to learn how to avoid writing somewhat deceptive copy like this, so I’m a little miffed at myself for not picking up on it sooner. It’s a clever little writing trick, drawing attention away from whether or not you’ll follow through with something by apologizing about it, even if you plan on doing it anyway.

It’s a bad move for a game that’s already getting poor reviews, especially since Deep Silver is working on the highly-anticipated Saint’s Row IV. I know my confidence in the publisher is a little shaken at this point, and I would imagine other gamers who are sensitive to sexism may feel the same way.

New Xbox 360 App Lets Users Directly Order Pizza Hut

Pizza Hut

Fans who remember the /pizza command from Everquest II will appreciate this. A new Xbox Live app launching on April 23rd, 2013 will allow users to order Pizza Hut pizza directly from their Xbox 360 dashboard.

The app, revealed by Polygon, will allow users to access Pizza Hut’s entire menu to build custom pizzas and take advantage of local specials. Linking Pizza Hut and Xbox Live accounts to streamline future ordering will also be an option.

Xbox Live’s Larry Hryb, aka Major Nelson, had this to say about the partnership:

“We’re always looking at ways to give our audience more of what they’re interested in,” he said. “If you look at our audience, they love pizza. I mean, who doesn’t? It has international appeal, and Pizza Hut is a recognized brand that matches up well with the Xbox brand.”

While I personally wouldn’t make much use of an app like this, it’s interesting to see a console manufacturer adopt a system like this. We’re getting closer to the world of Ready Player One every day.

iDOLM@STER For iOS Costs $55

iDOLM@STER

App pricing is still a fairly new practice. The $0.99 mark seems to be the best way to encourage impulse buys and get some money back for your development team, while experiments in $14.99 apps tend to not go so well.

Why, then, is NamcoBandai releasing three different versions of their Japanese hit iDOLM@STER on the iOS, each with a slightly different song list and further DLC available, for $54.99 each?

The series has players coaching a rising star to the top of the charts through rhythm-based gameplay, and is quite popular overseas. There may be a market for it here, but I’m struggling to figure out who thought somebody would pay $165 for a broken up port of a PSP game. This is some of the most bizarre game pricing I’ve ever seen outside of Railworks 3: Train Simulator 2012, which offers $1800 worth of DLC.

Monster Hunter Online Announced

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-_2yGexcNM4]

I post a lot about Monster Hunter here on the bulletin, largely because it’s a fairly unique series and serves as a really interesting study. Look at the community behind Monster Hunter, as well as the development choices made with each game, and you’ll find experiences and trends that defy pretty much everything we expect from games designed in the last 10 years. It’s almost like looking at how an alien would design and enjoy his/her/its games. Fascinating stuff.

Take, for example, the announcement of Monster Hunter Online, via EP Daily. While not the first Monster Hunter game for the PC, Online is noteworthy for a number of reasons. First, it’s using Crytek’s CryENGINE3, seen most recently in Far Cry 3 and Crysis 3. This marks the first time Capcom has licensed the engine for one of its titles. Secondly, it’s being developed in China by Tencent Games. This is the first time a Monster Hunter game has been developed outside of Japan, which is a huge deal if you consider how distinctly Japanese the games look and feel. Finally, the trailer features a solid mix of old, familiar Monster Hunter tropes, alongside some new hinted play mechanics, such as jet ski battles and destructible arena floors. While each game adds a new gimmick to keep things fresh, these proposed changes look to really mess with some of the series’ conventions.

No release date has been announced, and there’s no word on whether or not Monster Hunter Online will be available worldwide. Hopefully, the relative success of Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate in North America will prompt Capcom to consider other regions for release.

David Jaffe on How to Fix Games Criticism and Journalism

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_Jku5slDTM]

Ever the outspoken critic of critics, David Jaffe, most notable for his work on the Twisted Metal and God of War franchises, came out yesterday with a treatise on how he feels game journalism and criticism can be “fixed.” His plan, outlined on his blog, proposes a Kickstarter program that would see one journalist initially chosen and funded with a $125k/year salary plus $50k in expenses to write about games freely. No publishers or marketing departments or worries about paying the rent to get in the way.

The post, while apparently well-meaning, drew a lot of fire for calling out game journalist Leigh Alexander, though Jaffe was attempting to be fair and appear non-sexist by doing so. Criticisms also stemmed from Jaffe’s insistence that he actually has no idea what a journalist makes, and that his pitch seems to aim for a world where only one person is allowed to talk about games.

He attempts to clear up his stance in the above video, which contains enough f-bombs to make a sailor vomit. While he makes some good points about democratizing games writing and that writers and designers should not have a sense of entitlement about what they’re worth, he further exacerbates the issues he set out to contain. First, he makes some more borderline sexist remarks about female game writers. Then he tells us that people who don’t make more than $5k a year writing about games cannot to be considered professional game writers.

Usually, I would write a detailed analysis of the issues Jaffe has outlined, with some commentary and insight from my own personal experiences. However, I’m just about speechless. There are so many things I’d love to correct and expand upon that my nose is bleeding just trying to figure out what to address first.

Nintendo Announces Sequel to Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

Though today’s installment of the monthly Nintendo Direct news feed showed us a lot of the usual Super Mario Bros. sequels we’ve grown accustomed to hearing about from these announcements, the folks at Nintendo saved the most exciting announcement for last. This Winter, a sequel to Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is coming to the Nintendo 3DS.

Though it takes place in the same world, this new Zelda game will feature new dungeons with varying levels of height in order to take advantage of the 3D capabilities of the system. A new mechanic that allows Link to turn into a painting of himself to travel along walls and access other parts of rooms was also shown, and even through the limited footage, the puzzle implications and deviousness of the level design is perfectly clear.

A sequel to one of the most beloved games of all time is a tricky proposition. How do you capture the magic of the original while providing a new experience for gamers who know the original by heart, and will pick it apart down to the most minute detail? It’s not a design task I would wish on anybody. Regardless of how it plays in the end, I’m just happy to have a new overhead-view Zelda game that doesn’t rely on touch-screen gimmicks to get gamers interested.

Platinum Games’ Tatsuya Minami on Company’s Future

Matt Leone posted a pretty interesting feature today over at Polygon that delves into the history of Platinum Games president Tatsuya Minami, as well as his expectations for the company’s future.

Originally a driving force behind many of Capcom’s biggest brands, Minami left the company to join with other former Capcom employees in what would eventually become Platinum Games. To date, they’ve released some of the most over the top, daring, and downright weird games of this console generation.

In the article, Minami outines the issues that his studio faces, including problems with overall sales and finding new opportunities for his team:

Minami says the biggest challenge running Platinum is finding new work for the team.

Asked to rate Platinum’s progress over the past five years, he gives the developers at the studio an A. “The team has been working really hard,” he says. “They’ve held up their end of the bargain and done a really good job of putting out really high-quality games.”

On the business side, he’s less enthusiastic. “Whether we’ve sold as well as we would have liked, or whether the company has the amount of money that everybody would love to have in the company, I think I’d probably rate it as a C or even a D.

What strikes me as amazing here is that what Minami wants to do isn’t anything we haven’t heard before. From EA to Activision, big publishers are always talking about their multiplatform strategies and global market plans. Maybe it’s the candidness and honesty behind his words, but his approach to his company’s problems seems a bit more genuine than we’re used to. Other studios say that their games underperformed; Minami praises his team for putting out high-quality games, regardless of sales.

It’s hard not to like the guy, and even harder not to root for him and his team.

Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is Hilarious, Covered With Neon

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jZUueizrR0A]

Did you play and love Far Cry 3? Well, there’s more coming, but it’s not exactly what you might expect.

Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is a standalone download-only expansion to Far Cry 3 that takes place in a warped 80s version of the future. As Sergeant Rex Power, players will experience a brand new game filled with neon, robots, and dinosaurs that is about as tied to the Far Cry universe as velociraptors are tied to apples. Even in the first 15 minutes of the game shown in the video above, it’s clear that this is kind of a joke product, but a very awesome one filled with movie references and gags that pop culture aficionados should have a field day with.

THIS is how you do an expansion to your game, developers. People want to play more of your great game, but give them something different. Something like Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare and the spoofy DLC for Sleeping Dogs. Something that keeps the same comfortable feel of the base experience while turning it on its head in a new way. It’s great for them, and they have less reason to feel like it was just content trimmed from the original game.

Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is available April 30th on PC and Playstation Network, and May 1st on Xbox Live Arcade

Capcom Opens Monster Hunter Community College

Monster Hunter Community College

Monster Hunter is hard to get into. Capcom is excellent at managing its community. Put these two things together and you get the Monster Hunter Community College, a way for San Fransisco Bay Area hunters to learn how to play the game and meet up with each other.

Details come from the Capcom Unity blog. On April 20th, at the home office in San Mateo, Capcom U.S.A. will welcome hunters for raffles, giveaways, early DLC downloads, and classes designed for beginner and intermediate players. Though signing up is free to anyone with a Capcom Unity account, spots are limited, so hopeful hunters are encouraged to sign up early.

Though the company has pushed Monster Hunter before, creating a community event at the U.S.A. home office is a great move to get people interested in the game and help players who aren’t accustomed to hardcore MonHun battles a leg up. Other developers could learn a thing or two about directly interacting with their fanbases by following Capcom’s example.

Fox Bans Unlicensed Firefly Hats

jayne

Have you been to a comic convention in the last five years? If so, you’ve probably seen a few dozen people wearing the above hat, worn by Adam Baldwin as Jayne Cobb in the cult-hit Firefly. Many Firefly fans either commission these hats, or provide them to other fans at a modest price through sites like Etsy.

Leave it to Fox, owner of the rights to Firefly, to upset fans by sending out cease-and-desist orders or outright bans to Etsy users who sell the hats. As reported on i09, Fox has licensed the popular hat to Ripple Junction, and while it’s not technically against the law to make and wear non-licensed hats, selling them online is no longer an option, lest you provoke the ire of the media conglomerate.

In response, Thinkgeek, one of the sites who carries the official hats, has come out saying that they had nothing to do with the bans. The popular geek-centric site has also announced, via The Mary Sue, that all proceeds from Jayne Cobb hat sales will go to Can’t Stop The Serenity, a group that organized Firefly screenings and events and donates the proceeds to Equality Now to help promote women’s rights worldwide.

This is probably the best backpedal I’ve ever seen.