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Consoleation: The not so noble intentions of abandoning instruction manuals

Fight Night Champion Screenshot

I came out pretty strong on Twitter recently, decrying the loss of instruction manuals as publishers such as Ubisoft and EA Sports have made moves to abolish print manuals in exchange for digital manuals that can be found as extra content on the game disc. While publishers are reasoning that eliminating such manuals is better for the environment, it seems evident to me that there are more significant factors at work here.

Video: Microsoft Research shows off "smart interactive displays"

Was Kinect just the tip of the iceberg? I sure hope so. Microsoft Research's Applied Sciences group looks to be creating some truly impressive solutions to interacting with displays without the need of a traditional input device like a mouse or pointer.

Video: Microsoft Research shows off "smart interactive displays"

999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, but I digress...

999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors Screenshot

It seems like most of the people who wrote reviews of 999 thought very highly of it. I'm not sure why that was; I found the game to be a fairly tedious exercise in the repetition of insufficiently interesting puzzles. 999 creates this problem for itself because of its structure. The enforced replays that are central to 999's design and fiction ask for more from the puzzles and dialogue than they are able to contribute as art or entertainment.

Disney Epic Mickey: Silence is leaden

Disney Epic Mickey Screenshot

A few days after the Christmas snowfall in Alabama, while we waited for the lasagna to finish cooking, we popped a copy of Disney Epic Mickey into the Wii and I played a bit of it. I got past the first, easy battle and entered the hallway, where a cutscene began. My mother, who mostly plays Snood, wanted to know why Mickey wasn't speaking. "He's always talked," she noted, and for almost anyone alive that's true. Mickey started talking in 1929, just a year after his famous appearance in the sound-synched Steamboat Willie. Sound has been a famous part of Mickey's history, so it's alienating, especially to non-gamers, to run into an essentially silent version of the Mouse in Epic Mickey.

A matter of pacing: Red Dead Redemption

Red Dead Redemption Screenshot

Spoiler Alert!

I liked Red Dead Redemption. I want to throw that out there first, since a lot of what I'm about to say will probably make it seem as if I didn't like it. This is the first game in the Rockstar open-world family that I've been motivated to finish, mainly because of both the engrossing recreation of the (admittedly fictional) Old West and the character of John Marston.

Organization XIII: How bosses should be made

Kingdom Hearts II is a really messed up game. It's got awful pacing, the grievous re-usage of almost all the content from the first game, and a narrative so incomprehensible it makes the Star Wars prequels look logical. Still, I'll be damned if I've ever seen a better JRPG combat system. It's like my good friend Tim Spaeth's irrational love of Too Human's combat, except mine is totally rational and sensible. The one area where Kingdom Hearts II really succeeded for me was with it's bosses, which I've mentioned before. It's got all shapes and sizes of boss, and it does them all extremely well.

The Bossness of Sonic's Bosses

Due to a slight tug of nostalgia that the recently released Sonic the Hedgehog 4 was unable to satisfy, I went back and played through all of the games that comprised Sonic's glory days. You know how it feels when you watch 10-year-old highlight reels of some sports team you care about? How you're reminded of how good they used to be? It was kind of like that. Between Sonic 1-3/Knuckles and Sonic CD I truly felt like they held up after all this time.

Interview with Eyehook Games' Mike Muir, creator of Epic Dungeon

Epic Dungeon Screenshot

In case you weren't aware, the developers on Microsoft's Indie Games channel are in the middle of an Uprising. Sick and tired of being drowned out by a flood of cash-in crapware, the people who take game-making seriously have banded together to release a slew of high-quality titles. One of the initial games available was the superb Epic Dungeon from Eyehook Games. Mike Muir, the man behind the magic, was gracious enough to take time out of his schedule to answer a few questions about his project.

Interview with Frictional Games' Jens Nilsson, developer of Amnesia: The Dark Descent

Amnesia: The Dark Descent Screenshot

Amnesia: The Dark Descent is highly likely to be my 2010 game of the year, and is the proud recipient of only the second perfect 10 that I have given out. Jens Nilsson, one of the developers at Frictional Games, was kind enough to answer a few of my questions about Amnesia and the future of Frictional.

Interview with Uber Entertainment's Chandana Ekanayake on Monday Night Combat: Spunky Cola Special

Monday Night Combat: Spunky Cola Special Screenshot

I had the pleasure of interviewing Uber Entertainment, the creators of Monday Night Combat, back in August before the game released. Now that some time has passed and the team has just released a major title update and some DLC, it seemed like the time was right to check back in and get the lowdown.

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