Category Archives: Default

INTERVIEW: SKA STUDIOS – SALT AND SANCTUARY

Hi everyone, while going through my YouTube subscriptions the other week, I found a video by VaatiVidya who is well known around the Souls series community.  He put up a preview video for an upcoming game called Salt and Sanctuary by Ska Studios.  After falling in love with everything I saw in his video, I knew I had to reach out to the developers in hopes of an interview.  Lucky for me, the two person team were more than willing to answer a few questions for us!

-First off, to get formalities out of the way, could you introduce yourself to the readers who may not know who you are?

-We’re James Silva and Michelle Juett Silva, a husband and wife indie game development team. We have two cats named Neko and Gato and we create stylistic, usually violent, 2D interactive entertainment. Our games include The Dishwasher: Vampire SmileCharlie Murder and I MAED A GAM3 W1TH Z0MB1ES 1N IT!!1 We’re currently working on Salt and Sanctuary, a 2D Soulslike headed to PS4, Vita, and PC.

-And could you tell us a little bit about Salt and Sanctuary?

-Salt and Sanctuary has been aptly described as a “2D Soulslike,” meaning it draws heavy inspiration from the Souls series. Likewise, it draws themes from PSOne and DS era Castlevanias, like Symphony of the Night and Order of Ecclesia, and it draws much of its stylistic, visceral combat and brutal difficulty from our own The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile.

The game introduces you as a sailor shipwrecked on a mysterious and dangerous island, attempting to make rhyme or reason of the land’s creeds, sanctuaries and monsters. There’s a heavy emphasis on exploration: you’ll explore a vast interconnected world full of traps, hidden passageways, and monstrous bosses, and you’ll explore an endless variety of loadouts, build strategies, and play styles.

-So, looking at the material available for Salt and Sanctuary, it seems that it holds a lot in common with the Souls series of games by FromSoftware.  Are you two fans of those games? Were they an influence in the design of Salt and Sanctuary, and whether they were or not, what was your influence behind Salt and Sanctuary’s design, in both game play and art?

-We’re obviously pretty huge Souls fans, and the series has been a major influence on us and on Salt and Sanctuary, which you could say was more or less born of really, really wanting to craft and explore our own Soulslike universe.

-Do you have any plans to implement character customization beyond skills/equipment?

-You can currently customize gender, race, hair and eye color.

-How about an online aspect?  Are there any plans to implement direct interaction with other players?

-We’re working on a local co-op mode that we can almost promise, but it definitely has to feel integral and not tacked on. We also plan to include asynchronous online features similar to Souls games.

-And do you have any plans for replay-ability, such as a New Game+ mode? or am I starting to get too into the secret “Yet To Be Announced” details? lol

-Absolutely!

-Well, are there any tips you’d like to pass on to future players for when the game finally gets released?

-Take it easy! Patience is rewarded, button mashing is a bad, bad idea. Take the time to really explore the island; we’ve put a ton of time into filling it with tons of intricate details.

-Moving on from details about the game, Salt and Sanctuary marks the first game you have developed for a SONY system (being exclusive to the PS4 and Vita (and PC!)); All your previous games were on the Xbox or Windows phone.  What’s it been like working with SONY to bring Salt and Sanctuary to life?

-Sony has been amazing. We’re thrilled with their level of enthusiasm and support for getting our game onto their platforms.

-And which company do you prefer working with more? We promise not to rat you out to the big guys upstairs lol

-Working with Microsoft was always great, and we honestly owe our company’s existence—including every game, soundtrack, T-shirt and vinyl we’ve ever produced—to Microsoft, XNA and XBLA.  Unfortunately, two of those three things are no longer active, and that’s just how it is.

-I think we’ve reached the end of our questions, thank you for taking the time to answer them. Are there any parting words you have for the readers and anticipating fans?

-No problem! Thanks for talking with us. If you aren’t already following them, please check out our development Twitch streams that we do three times a week! If you follow us on Twitch.tv/SkaStudios, you can chat with us Monday, Tuesday and Friday at 1pm PST.

Our sincerest thanks to Michelle and James for working with us and answering our question.  If you’d like to learn more about them, Salt and Sanctuary, or their previous titles, you can visit their website here, or follow their twitch.tv account in the link above.  If you’d like to check out VaatiVidya’s preview video on the game, you can click the link here.  We look forward to covering more of Salt and Sanctuary as it develops, until then, stay frosty readers.

2015 IN PREVIEW – BRAD’S MOST ANTICIPATED TITLES OF 2015

With 2014 behind us, it’s time to look towards the future.  While there are numerous titles already scheduled to be released in 2015, and even more that are not, let’s look at the 15 titles I’m looking forward to the most.

  • Evolve – While originally slipping under my radar, watching people play the beta has gotten me pretty hyped for this team based first person shooter, especially with the ability to play as the giant monster being hunted.
  • Final Fantasy Type-0 HD – I’ve been wanting to play Final Fantasy Type-0 since it was coming to the PSP and title Final Fantasy Agito.  After a name change and years of silence about a western release, we’re finally getting an HD remake of the game for next gen systems, and I couldn’t be happier.
  • Bloodborne – Bloodborne is just about the game that I’m most anticipated for in 2015, an easy but close second.  With a more aggressive stance on the Dark Souls combat, and being made by the quintessential “A” team responsible for Dark Souls and Demons Souls, there’s no reason a Souls fan shouldn’t be excited (unless they don’t own a PS4, sorry Xbone owners).
  • Dark Souls 2: Scholar of the First Sin – It’s no secret that I love the Dark Souls series, heck, Dark Souls 2 made it to my GOTY list.  But it’s also no secret that the original release of Dark Souls 2 was lacking in comparison to the first and even the prerelease footage we saw of the game.  Promising enhanced visuals, better balance, tweaked enemy placement, and more story elements to bring some of the more confusing parts to light, I’m excited to dive into Drangleic again in this definitive edition.
  • Mighty No. 9 – One of the few Kickstarter projects I’ve backed, Keiji Inafune’s love child Mighty No. 9 finally makes it to release this year.  Hopefully after this he’ll finish up that Animal Pirate Dynasty Warriors 3DS game he announced oh so long ago.
  • Batman: Arkham Knight – I’ve always been a fan of the Batman: Arkham games, even Origins was a decent entry despite not being developed by the original team.  Boasting a bigger city and the ability to drive the Batmobile around, I’m looking forward to dawning the cape and cowl once again.
  • J-Stars Victory VS+ – Probably the only time you’ll see a fighting game on a list of games I’m hyped for (with the exception of portable Smash bros, but we’ve already got that).  I’m a big fan of the Jump All Stars game series, and seeing this PS3 entry being ported to the west makes me one happy gamer.
  • Kings Quest – Only recently have I acquired respect and interest for the old school point and click adventure games, from Monkey Island to Sam and Max, from Day of the Tentacle to Kings Quest.  Seeing how wonderful the game looks at the VGA a few months back has got me all aboard the Kings Quest Hype Train.
  • No Man’s Sky – This game holds a lot of promise, with it’s procedurally generated worlds and boasts about how it will never run out of content.  In all honesty it may not even be a game I play for long, but just based on what it’s promising I can’t help but be excited.
  • Soul Saga: Episode 1 – Another Kickstarter game I backed, Soul Saga is shaping up to be a mighty fine turn based RPG.  With the promise of Airship Combat, numerous playable characters, and voice acting from known voice actors Todd Haberkorn and Kira Buckland, Soul Saga is shaping up to be one fantastic product of Kickstarter.
  • Star Fox – I’ve been wanting a new Star Fox game for years now, something more in the vein of 64 instead of Adventures or Assault.  While no substantial information is known so far, the fact that one is in development has got me excited.
  • The Legend of Zelda Wii U – I’m just going to say this: Skyrim Sized, Open World, HD, Non-Linear Zelda.  Who wouldn’t be excited?
  • The Legend of Zelda Majora’s Mask 3D – Ocarina of Time 3D was the reason I got a 3DS, and since I’ve been waiting for them to announce Majora’s Mask 3D.  Now that they have, and the possibility that it could be bundled with the New 3DS, I’m actually going to have a reason to pick up the new handheld.

 

  • Yakuza 5 – I picked up Yakuza 4 around November of 2013, and while it still sits uncompleted on my shelf (as do most games), I absolutely love it.  The characters were great and the combat brutally fun, and if Yakuza 5 is even just more of the same I’ll be happy to pick it up.  Maybe I’ll even beat 4 before it comes out…

And my most anticipated title of 2015…

  • Rumored Virtue’s Last Reward Sequel – While nothing official has been said, rumors of the final installment in the Virtue’s Last Reward series coming to 2015 have been buzzing around.  In an article that interviewed a bunch of Japanese developers about what is coming in 2015, series director Kotaro Uchikoshi stated “It’s looking like 2015 will be the year where everything I’ve built up over the years will come together and be let out into the world in one fell swoop”.  It’s been stated in the past that the Virtue’s Last Reward series will be a trilogy, taking place between 9 Persons 9 Hours 9 Doors and Zero’s Escape, so with a statement like that I’m highly anticipating news of this final installment coming to our doorsteps soon.

That’s my list, how about you? What are you looking forward to in 2015?

If you haven’t already checked out Steve and My 2014 GOTY Lists, go ahead and click the respective names to check them out.

STEVE’S TOP 5 GAMES OF THE YEAR (2014)

I have had an extremely busy time this year. Unfortunately, most of that times was dedicated to academics and other life stuff…and Peggle Blast for Android OS. Don’t worry, no way I’m letting a mobile game get on this list. I did manage to get to a good number of games I’ve been eying for a while, but unfortunately, time (and funds) didn’t let me get to other games I been putting off (Bayonetta 2, Hyrule Warriors, South Park: Stick of Truth, etc). It’s actually why I had to do a Top 5, rather than a top 10. I guess those are left to my eternal backlog. Oh well, anyways, to the list.


Honorable Mentions:

Mario Golf: World Tour

I’m not the biggest sports guy. I would only watch big events like the Super Bowl or World Cup( dat 7-1, eh?). That also applies to sport games, so don’t expect to see me talk about the latest Madden or MLB game. However, there are exceptions. Games like NBA Jam or NFL Blitz, mostly those zany, arcade styled games, are more my speed, since they’re a bit more hectic and allow for more creativity. The Mario sport series certainly falls under this category. Mario Golf: World Tour is a great portable game. You can play the game for a few holes, take a break, and then resume later with no hassle at all. Even the online mode is pretty fun and helpful for picking up some swing techniques. My major gripe with the game is that despite having a decent chunk of content, there’s little to no replay value. The lack of a single player RPG mode, which were featured in previous portable versions of Mario Golf, left me desiring more out of the game. But still, the mechanics and courses were solid enough for me to recommend this game to any casual golf fan…but perhaps when it’s discounted though.

The Jackbox Party Pack:
If there’s one thing I love, it’s playing party games with my friends. At $25, this can’t be passed up…unless you are not the type of person who likes this sort of thing. Anyways, this game contains a bunch of great games, like You Don’t Know Jack 2015, which has a bunch of new episodes with everyone’s favorite virtual game show host, Cookie Masterson,  and Fibbage XL and Drawful, where you have to create deceitful answers believable enough for others to choose in order to win points. What’s great is that everyone can play using their cell phones, iPad, or computer, so no need for extra controllers. Brad actually did a livestream a few weeks ago where viewers can actually play too. If we get enough of a response, we’ll try to do something like this again.

And now to the list!


#5- Telltale’s The Walking Dead: Season Two

Season One of Telltale’s The Walking Dead is one hell of an emotionally impactful game. Although there were not many, the decisions you had to make drastically affects the sort of experience you were going to have. And, of course, as Lee, you had to decide what kind of role model you were going to be for Clementine, which made decisions so much tougher. This element allowed players to become more involved with the relationship between Lee and Clementine, which made the ending so effective.

In Season Two, the primary dilemma for Clementine is what she values more: survival or loyalty? This question creates a number of dire situations in Season Two, which resulted in me asking “Well there is no way this is going to end well” on many occasions. However, I felt that the writing may have been weaker in this season. A number of the hard choices were virtually pointless, since all decisions end with similar results (Season One had this problem as well[i.e. illusion of choice ]). I also wasn’t as emotionally involved with this season, since I wasn’t as fond of the majority of characters in this season, which lessen the impact of their potential deaths. All of the endings except one, which was the one I received during my first playthrough, felt disappointing. Even though the ending I got left me tearing up, I had the feeling Telltales won’t be able to continue the story in Season Three successfully. They have to somehow tie in the multiple endings of Season Two into a one cohesive plot for Three, which could mean that the choice the play made at the end of Season Two meaningless.

Nevertheless, I still recommend this series, both Season One and Two, to people who desire decent stories in a zombie infected world. Even now, I prefer this game over the TV Show and the comic series. This series has the compelling human drama that I desire in zombie stories, and fortunately for me, it shows up in the entertainment medium I enjoy most: video games.

#4 – Mario Kart 8

I’m not sure how much more I can say about Mario Kart 8 that hasn’t been already said by others. This game is the best Mario Kart game yet. It built upon the superb foundation of Mario Kart Wii & 7, bringing back key features like gliding, underwater driving, motorcycles, and a great online system. It’s also the best looking MK game to date as well.  Even the DLC is great, drawing inspiration for new characters and track from other Nintendo franchises like F-Zero and Excite Bike. Despite some gripes with the roster, this is a must have game for the Wii U. ‘Nuff said.

#3 Super Smash Bros for 3DS

I’ve said this once, when I managed to get Smash Bros 64 working on a Nintendo 64 emulator app for my phone, but I’ll say it again: if I were to show my younger self that I was able to play Smash Bros just about anywhere in the world, without the need of a home console, kid Steve’s mind would explode. That’s how much I love Smash Bros, and I can firmly say that I love this version of Smash Bros.

Smash Bros for the 3DS doesn’t compromise much on content, despite being on a portable console. Anyone familiar with Super Smash Bros’ director, Masahiro Sakurai, knows that his game philosophy includes having an insane amount of content in each of his games. This game features many returning modes from previous iterations of the game, like Classic mode, Stadium mode, All-Star, and, of course, Smash. But this game adds a few good modes as well, such as a completely playable online mode that puts Brawl’s to shame(which sadly, isn’t a difficult task to do). Smash Run is a mode that has the player run through a giant maze fighting enemies from various gaming franchises and collecting stat boosts in order to strengthen the player’s character before playing a final round of Smash after five minutes.

Some people would argue that this version of Smash was merely a glorified demo for the Wii U version. But I’ve spent an extraordinary amount of time with this game (partially because I’m not home often enough to play the console version). This game, along with Wii U, has the largest roster of any Smash Bros yet. The stages, although smaller in scale to compensate for the size of the 3DS’s screen, were quite creative, like the F-Zero and Earthbound stage (although I’m sure no one likes the ‘birdmin’). The controls work well for the 3DS, although some may free lost since the 3DS control scheme is rather different from the Gamecube controller, which many Smash players have become more than fond of. Once again, this is one of those “must own” games for the system.

#2 – Dark Souls II

The Souls series is infamous for its difficulty. I’m sure just about every modern-day game enthusiast knows this. But I argue that the game series is manageable, as long as you always display caution around every corner, along with having a firm grasp on the combat system. If you still run into trouble, there’s one piece of advice I have for you: “Git gud.”

Any souls veteran should be able to pick up this game with ease. But Dark Souls II is even accessible for newcomers as well, thanks for the optional tutorial at the beginning of the game. Of course, there’s new bosses, new weapons, armor and spells, new enemies, and a whole new land to explore. The game also allows for online co-op and “invasions”, when you can warp into another player’s game, uninvited, in order to fight and vanquish them. Dark Souls II allows for many ways to go through the game, whether you wish to create a character who is a tank, a nimble ninja, a sage, or somewhere in between.

One of the issues I personally have with Dark Souls II is that the game didn’t have as many memorable moments as DaS1. The different areas in the game are all branched off of Majula, the hub area. But in Dark Souls I, there was more of a connection between different areas, such as seeing older areas in the far distances, or shortcuts that can take you to areas on the complete opposite site of the map. The bosses, although plentiful, were quite forgettable, some even being recycled from DS1. Finally, the atmosphere felt a bit duller, due to some of the blandness of the areas found in the game.

But I went into Dark Souls II for primarily one reason: to put up a good fight and eventually kick its ass. And that I did. I found the challenge I was looking for. If you are brave enough to test your skill as a ‘gamer’, absolutely give this game a whirl. There’s a new edition coming out soon for the XB1 and PS4, along with an updated PC version. I recommend checking those out when you get the chance. And if you struggle…”git gud”.

#1 – Super Smash Bros for Wii U

Reasons why this is my GOTY
1.) 8 Player Smash

2.) Glorious HD

3.) Solid Online Mode

4.) Dat Roster

I really can go for a long time, singing praises about this game, but I want to grab some food, so I’ll try to keep this brief. This is the game Brawl should have been. The gameplay is solid enough for competitive and casual players to enjoy. The roster has someone for everyone. Who would have imagined that Wii Fit Trainer would be so fun to use? A lot of the single player modes now have co-op options, giving this game more options when with friends. Smash Tour is a fun mode that brings some of the zaniness found in Mario Party and Fortune Street to Smash Bros.

BUT 8 PLAYER SMASH! It’s a fantastic way to make the already chaotic local multiplayer mode even crazier. The fact that you have a lot of controller options (Wii U GamePad, Pro Controller, Wiimote, Wiimote and Nunchuk, Wiimote and Classic Controller, and , shockingly, the GameCube controller). If you are a Nintendo fan, you should have no problem gathering enough controllers for some 8 player fights.

The Amiibo functionality is also worth noting as well, since it allows for extremely weird virtual Smash Bros Cock Fights. You can personally train your Amiibo to level 50, who will pick up your technique and fight style along the way. Eventually, you’ll be able to buy an Amiibo for every character in the game, and you’ll be able to use these Amiibos in other games as well. Just a warning though, it may be difficult to find some of the Amiibos since they are actually rather popular, and Nintendo underestimated how popular some of them would be.

Nevertheless, Smash Bros for the Wii U is a great reason to get a Wii U. As mentioned before, Sakurai’s games always have loads of content that’ll last you a good, long time. Now that it finally has a decent online mode (and a tournament mode coming soon), you’ll be able to play people from all around the world with little to no lag. Who would have thought that ‘smashing’ would bring people together?


Now that I have some time, I should finally be able to catch up on some games that I missed during 2014. But overall, it was a solid year, especially for the Wii U. I’m glad to see that Nintendo’s console is finally getting the games it’s been yearning for a while now. I’ll be doing a list for ‘Most Anticipated Games of 2015’ soon, because uh…wowzers, it looks like my wallet is going to going into overtime.

A Happy New Year to all of our followers. Let’s hope that 2015 and all following years has games for all of us to enjoy.

NUREVIEWS SUPER SMASH BROS DIRECT DISCUSSION

Join NUReviews as we discuss the latest Super Smash Bros news from the Super Smash Bros Direct!

Music:
Super Smash Bros for Wii U/3DS, Dr. Wily’s Theme, and Jogging Theme are creations of Guardian Soul.
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC750pQqYn2A34pWVocYY5wg

All other music is from the Super Smash Bros. Brawl Soundtrack.

A NUREVIEWS PHOTO TOUR OF NEW YORK COMIC CON 2013

Thursday, October 10th to Sunday the 14th was perhaps the most exhausting and longest weekend I have experienced so far in my life. Navigating through the crowds of the con and streets of New York was not for the agoraphobic. At least finding a way to the convention in NYC wasn’t a complete labyrinth, just follow the closest cosplayer you see, and you should be at the con in no time. Everywhere you turned your head on the con floor, you’d see a vendors with so much merch of all sorts of media. A nerd/geek’s shopping spree can get as nasty as a Black Friday shopper. It’s almost like an addiction. “I can stop buying swag whenever I want…or run out of money”. Finally, the patience of Buddha is required for the waiting lines for panels. Some people waited for 9 hours in the panel hall just to get into the Walking Dead panel. At least you could kill time reading comics, right?

Nevertheless, New York Comic Con is one of the few times of the year I actually get hype about. Hanging around like-minded friends, engulfed in all things geek is just a swell feeling. Down below you can see the pictures we snapped from the convention. We’ll be releasing a video of interviews and footage we captured later this week. Enjoy.

Click Here if you want to see the Facebook version of the album for tagging!

Some of these pictures might be blurry. We apologize for this. We promise to be mindful of the quality next time we release a photo set.