Here at Polygon, we take our Pokémon seriously. So consider us impressed that Warner Bros. Pictures’ live-action Detective Pikachu movie may just rank among the most worthy of Poké-film adaptations.
A new TV spot for the film — now titled Pokémon: Detective Pikachu, maximizing all sequel/spin-off potential — premiered during the NFC Championship game, and again, while it’s surreal to hear Deadpool aka Ryan Reynolds’ voice pouring out of little Pikachu’s mouth, the movie looks just as alive and bustling as the games.
The new trailer is our first drip of Detective Pikachu in the new year, and the stakes are high. After years of development, Legendary Pictures, which hopes to translate a number of anime to live-action movies over the next few years, is gambling on Detective Pikachu to stake a claim in ongoing franchisedom. The movie hopes to steal some eyeballs away from Game of Thrones’ final season and Avengers: Endgame — a tall order. But with an influx of merch and early talk of follow-up films, the masterminds behind the movie seem confident that they have a vehicle worthy of Pokémon to show off this summer.
Shazam’s marketers gave up another sneak peek of the flick this afternoon, reinforcing the point that The Big Red Cheese’s big screen debut won’t be as brooding and conflicted as a certain Golden Age colleague’s.
Such goofiness has been the m.o. in the promos so far, featuring Zachary Levi as a Shazam more at home hawking used cars on a UHF channel or greeting kids at a grocery store opening. We’re definitely getting D.C.’s first comedic superhero movie when this thing premieres April 5.
Shazam’s history in getting back to the big screen (he appeared 77 years ago in a serial for Republic Pictures, which ain’t around no more) is about as tortured as the real-life history of the Captain Marvel character. Various creative types have been noodling on this movie for about a decade, but it took formally renaming the character to Shazam to get him out of the way of Marvel’s Captain Marvel copyright — and the reason why it and not DC owns that is a fun trip down intellectual property memory lane.
So, now that both hero and the wizard giving him his powers are named Shazam, we’re clear to proceed. For those old heads (like me) who are wondering what he’s doing in the same room as an adolescent, that isn’t Billy Batson, it’s Jack Dylan Grazer as Freddy Freeman (not the Atlanta Braves first baseman).
There’s a lot to love about BioShock. Released in 2007, the game was praised by critics and seen by many as a spiritual successor to System Shock 2. The city of Rapture, the underwater dystopia where BioShock is set, is filled with fantastic world building and some gorgeous water.
One of the big reasons BioShock is so beloved and praised is the amount of options the game offers players. From which plasmids you will pick, to what weapons you will upgrade or even if you will spare or kill the little sisters, BioShock is always throwing new and interesting choices at the player. My favorite example of a choice in BioShock has also become one of the most iconic elements of the franchise: The Big Daddies.
These slow moving hunks of metal and man can be found throughout most of Rapture. Often they are protecting a Little Sister. Outside of a few moments where the game forces players to confront Big Daddies, BioShock allows the player to decide how or even if they will take on these massive guardians.
At first players will be fearful of the Big Daddies. Hearing their loud, bass heavy whale like moans in the early hours of BioShock will make you freeze with fear and quickly pull out your best weapon. But Irrational Games didn’t make the Big Daddies relentless predators, hunting the player down the moment they get too close. Instead, Irrational Games designed the Big Daddies to be more sympathetic and interesting to fight. You can almost always avoid these underwater giants.
If you do attack them or annoy them, Big Daddies explode into a murderous rage unleashing powerful attacks that can easily kill players in only a few hits. And they are quicker to attack if they are with their Little Sister. Like a mother bear and her cub, you don’t want to get too close to a Big Daddy’s little sister. But even with a little sister, they aren’t mindless killers looking to destroy everything. In fact you can usually walk a few feet next to them and rarely disturb them. As long as you stay calm and don’t start shooting.
And this is the key to the Big Daddies success. They are basically, walking boss fights that are also totally optional. As players spend more time in Rapture and gain better weapons and plasmids, Big Daddies become less scary and begin to feel more like challenging combat puzzles. You can observe these giant metal men without fear that they will attack you. Players can set up ambushes, wait until the Big Daddy is cornered or lure the big boy into a fight with splicers. Irrational Games allows the player to fully control when, where and how the boss fight will happen.
This freedom of choice allows the player to experiment more with new weapons or underused plasmids. Because Big Daddies stay injured, even if you die and respawn in a vita-chamber, players can try out another crazy plan and see how that works. Maybe this time I’ll use bug swarm and my crossbow? Or maybe I’ll hack this turret and lure the big guy into its line of sight?
Another bonus: Big Daddies allow players to make BioShock as challenging as they want. If you avoid all of them the game will be more difficult as you won’t have access to better powers or skills. Kill a few and deal with some Little Sisters and you’ll have more Adam to upgrade and unlock plasmids and skills. But if you fight them too often, while unprepared, you might waste resources, making future fights harder. Players are free to choose how many Big daddies they want to engage or skip.
I even know some folks who stopped killing Big Daddies in the latter half of the game, because they just felt sorry for these bulky guardians.
And that is a huge accomplishment. Making optional bosses, that are exciting to fight, that move around the level and then making players actually feel bad about killing them. While future games and DLC in the BioShock franchise expanded on the idea of big armored bosses that are sympathetic, the franchise never captured the same magic as the original Big Daddies.
Grand Theft Auto modders have taken on an unusual, but still fascinating project: Recreating Grand Theft Auto 3 according to what it showed and looked like in mothballed code and its pre-release marketing, way back at the turn of the century.
The project, in development for more than four years now, is an attempt to “recreate Portland in DMA’s original vision.” Portland being one of the map’s three islands and the first area of the game, and DMA being DMA Design, the original name of Rockstar North. Grand Theft Auto 3D’s current state is called “Public Build 1—Back to the Streets,” and is described as an “unfinished public beta test.” Modders released it Jan. 3. Kotaku stumbled across the project this morning.
But the developers’ commitment here taps the fun what-iffiness that’s woven throughout video game fandom. Usually this wonder is reserved for big canceled games like Star Wars Battlefront 3 but this shows that even released games — and released games that were among the most influential of all time — can still excite that kind of imagination.
Grand Theft Auto 3’s alpha and beta versions had all kinds of details later removed or altered, and fans have spent years combing through code and cataloging the differences. (The video above is a good example). Screenshots, marketing materials and other recollections of the game before its October 2001 launch are also found in abundance in forums and YouTube channels. Grand Theft Auto 3D’s makers acknowledge that a 2008 mod, called GTA3 BETA also served as an inspiration and guide, showing how far back this curiosity really goes.
Grand Theft Auto 3D uses “in-game leftovers, HD texture sources, and handmade assets” to remake Portland. It isn’t just a makeover of certain designs. (Cop cars, among other things, changed their appearance at the last minute, largely because 9/11 had happened less than two months prior to launch.) The 12-member mod team has also re-tuned the cars’ handling, among other gameplay changes that attempts to revert this portion of the game to its pre-release state. The original HUD is a notable inclusion; of course, many buildings fans may remember are gone altogether from the mod, replaced with a vacant lot or a smaller structure.
Here’s a gallery of side-by-side comparisons, the mod is at the left and the 2001 game is on the right. (See Orignal Article)
Claude, the mute Luke Perry lookalike who is the game’s protagonist, also gets a makeover. In pre-release versions he was either paler, had a different hairstyle, a wider head, or all three. Here’s his appearance in the mod:
Rockstar Games, in this post seven years ago, said the final game was only “about 1% different” from the version planned up until the Sept. 11 attacks — “car details, a couple of [pedestrian] comments, lines of radio dialogue, etc.” Only one mission, which referenced terrorists, was removed.
Of course, GTA 3D isn’t limiting itself to just the 9/11-inspired changes. It’s still remarkable that, not only that there are a dozen people dedicated to reconstructing an unreleased work-in-progress based on promotional and other materials, but also that those materials survive from a time when games publicity, and what was publicized about them, was quite a different thing.
Jurassic Park Trespasser isn’t a very good game, but it is a perfect game for a let’s play. Shadefyre’s excellent 10 part series is one of the best let’s play of Trespasser and one of my favorite let’s play on all of YouTube. Shadefyre has a very relaxing and calming voice. All of his Trespasser videos are filled with quiet moments where he lets game take the stage. But the best part of this series is all the information sprinkled throughout the video.
Episode one of Shadefyre’s Trespasser let’s play
A great example can be found in episode 1. After killing a dangerous dino, Shadefyre plays with the body and a nearby tree to show off the game’s advanced sound randomizer technology. It’s just one of many bits of advanced tech that exists in Trespasser. And Shadefyre does a great job in each episode of detailing how these parts of Trespasser work, why they were added and why they so often break.
He recently did a bonus episode about the Trespasser demo and how it differs from the main game.
This is the perfect lets play to watch on a lazy Sunday. Grab something to drink or eat, sit back and let Shadefyre walk your through a strange game. A game that assigns jumping to the Q button on a keyboard.
Final Fantasy VII is big JRPG with classic enemies, a shocking death and powerful gods. But the game also has a surprising amount of beds spread around the world. Dedicated fan Signal over on the ResetEra forums spent some time putting together a large collection of every bed that appears in Final Fantasy VII.
I counted 123 beds, which is a lot. If someone had asked me to estimate the number of beds in FF7 before seeing this collection I honestly have no idea what I would have guessed. Like 30 beds?
Impressively, nearly every bed is unique and highly detailed. Some seem really comfy and warm. Others look like they would be miserable to sleep on.
My favorite out of the whole collection is probably this cool looking bed.
Look at that room and those sheets.
This strange collection also has me wondering what other games have huge collections of beds hidden in them. Maybe there’s like 200+ beds just everywhere on some random planet in No Man’s Sky.
Let’s hope the FF7 remake includes all 123 beds and maybe even adds some new sleeping areas. Who doesn’t want to sleep more?
Starbreeze Studios, which owns Overkill Software, made the announcement on Friday in a two-sentence news release for investors. “Starbreeze AB is currently evaluating and reviewing the performance of the game Overkill’s The Walking Dead on consoles,” it said. No other reasons or details were given.
We panned it for the difficulty spikes, lack of checkpoints, lack of voice chat and dependence on cooperation that combined to make it feel “like wasted effort,” “too frustrating to play right now,” and “just not any fun.” The game has 753 concurrent players on Steam right now.
In December, Stockholm-based Starbreeze Studios filed for the Swedish equivalent of bankruptcy protection and fired its chief executive, following a November in which it reported “disappointing” sales for Overkill’s The Walking Dead. Starbreeze is said to have paid a $10 million licensing fee for the console versions.
Grand Theft Auto 3D is mod for GTA IIIthat aims to recreate what the game looked like before it was released. Using early screenshots, alpha content, and pre-release gameplay the team of modders spent over four years creating this early version of GTA III. After this long development cycle the mod was finally released in early January. The mod works with the PC version of GTA III.
This version of GTA III was originally planned to be released on PS2 and Dreamcast. The team of modders wanted to incorporate as much of the early development assets as possible, even adding in the original HUD. The layout of Liberty City is also very different. Many buildings are missing, replaced with smaller structures or grass.
The overall art style is more colorful and similar to older top-down GTA titles.
Claude, the silent protagonist of GTA III, looks very different. As pointed out by GTA forums user 3li0507, Rockstar went through a lot of different looks for Claude, at one point making him look really pale.
The team of modders isn’t just visually altering GTA III for this throwback mod, but also editing the way cars handle, changing the way the game feels and tinkering with other bits of GTA III. The end result is a game that feels like it fell out of a alternate universe.
Zombies! This week the long awaited Resident Evil 2 remake is finally released on consoles and PC. Plus a bunch of games are getting ported to Switch and other platforms after appearing elsewhere. Which is nice! Who doesn’t want more games for their favorite platforms?!
Actually, I already have a huge back catalog and feel guilty about buying more games before finishing the ones I bought last year. Maybe a quiet January isn’t a bad thing.
Also in the year 2019 we are still getting Vita games. What a scrappy little console. Keep going little Vita! We are all rooting for you. For those looking for a little demonic pinball action, maybe check out Demon’s Tilt. And the next episode in Life Is Strange 2 is out this week.
Plus other stuff! Check out the list below:
Monday, January 21
A Fisherman’s Tale | PSVR, SteamVR, Oculus, Windows Mixed Reality
Strange Telephone | PC
Excive A-1000 | PC
Tuesday, January 22
AT SUNDOWN: Shots in the Dark | PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC, Mac
FutureGrind | PS4, Switch, PC
Senran Kagura Burst Re:Newal | PS4, PC
The Hong Kong Massacre | PS4, PC
Demon’s Tilt | PC, Mac
The Raven Remastered | Switch
The Walking Vegetables: Radical Edition | Xbox One
Heroes Trials | PS4, PS Vita, Xbox One
Thursday, January 24
JackQuest: Tale of The Sword | PS4, Xbox One, Switch
Fortnite’s newest event, the Ice Storm, has arrived. It kicked off this afternoon when the frozen blue orb hovering high above the island broke open, revealing the Ice King, who covered the map in a blizzard.
Deal (5000) damage with Explosive Weapons to the Ice Legion (500 XP)
Ice Fiends appear to be the soldiers of the Ice Legion, and they spawn from glowing blue stones now strewn all over the map. Ten more challenges will be revealed in the comping days. Complete them all and get the Winter’s Thorn Glider.
The Ice King isn’t the only secret to be revealed. Players are also finding a bunker underneath the (since destroyed) iceberg by Happy Hamlet, and several eggs inside the prison underneath the castle on Polar Peak. What that all means, only time will tell.