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Just another day in the pixel mines.

Queasy Games

Music games can generally be divided into two broad categories: games that ask you to take part in making the music, and games where the music drives the gameplay. Sound Shapes straddles the line between those two types of games while layering an incredibly satisfying, abstract take on 2D platform games on top as well.

As you know if you've read our previous coverage, Sound Shapes turns you into nothing more than a small, sticky circle, caught in a world full of simple, abstract shapes rendered primarily in stark, solid colors. The goal is to roll and hop around to collect floating coins dotted around the game's rooms while avoiding enemies and their attacks, which are helpfully highlighted in a deadly red.

It sounds simple, and it is, as far as the gameplay is concerned (though the designers do a good job of stretching the simple concept as far as it can go, with levels that force you to make smart use of the jumping and sticking mechanics). But what makes the game really stand out is the way that each coin you collect activates a note that gets layered into a constantly evolving, mesmerizing backbeat that follows you from room to room.

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Much personal rage was felt last week after the announcement of the makeover in store for Lara Croft, Tomb Raider’s DD-cup heroine. Gone are the comically oversized, anatomically impossible breasts. She now gets to wear an actual outfit comprised of garments one would reasonably wear while engaged in a bloody crime fighting mission: a shirt that covers her midriff and a pair of pants that covers her ass. So far, this is (sadly) exciting progress in the realm of women’s representation in video games. Game makers have apparently moved beyond the “fuckable vixen/hero” trope. Great. But what terrible trope have they replaced her with?

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[In this article, Cloudberry Kingdom developer Jordan Fisher explains precisely how he created the algorithmic level design system for the procedurally generated platformer -- and how you can design your own AI. You can back Cloudberry Kingdom on Kickstarter right now.] So you want to make a procedural platformer. You want it to spit out levels on demand, and you want the levels to be awesome, challenging, and fun. You want the algorithm to be ...

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Fez

After nearly five years of development, Polytron’s Fez has been released on Xbox Live Arcade for 800 MSP. The winner of this year’s IGF Grand Prize Award, Fez is a non-linear puzzle platformer where you can rotate the camera to reveal the world’s third dimension. The game features a soundtrack by Rich “Disasterpeace” Vreeland, which will be released on April 20th but is available for pre-order.

TIGdb: Entry for Fez

Fez, by Polytron
Screenshot taken from playXBLA.

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The BAFTA award-winning Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet is now open for pre-order on Steam for 25% off. Those who want to take advantage of the deal have before April 17, when the game becomes available. The spaceship-flying metroidvania title comes with all the DLC content that trickled out for XBLA.

Michel Gagne's blog shares some details about the upcoming PC release and existing XBLA title. Along with the PC release, the Xbox LIVE Arcade version will be discounted to 800 MS points. The Shadow Hunters Game Add-On will continue to be available for 400 MS points. This puts the complete experience at 1200 MS points, or $14.99, as it will be priced on Steam.

While waiting for your PC pre-order to be filled, check out this interview, where the developers talk about the differences between the movie and games industries.

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Super Meat Boy The Game.pngTommy Refenes and Edmund McMillen took to their Super Meat Boy blog to share more details about their upcoming mobile version of Super Meat Boy. The team admits on its blog there's no good way to port Super Meat Boy as it exists as a twitchy platformer to mobile devices "without the game becoming a pile of garbage." So, they decided to remake the whole game from the ground up.

The blog states this will be a "touch-controlled platformer specifically designed for Touch devices," while avoiding cluttering the screen with virtual controls. On Refenes' Twitter account, he states the team is considering iOS and Android builds for touch phones and pads.

Sure, all this news posted on April 1. But this is not the first time the team shared news on this hallowed day. On April Fools' Day in 2010, Team Meat legitimately announced including Ogmo from Matt Thornson's Jumper series in Super Meat Boy.

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mikejuk writes "You may have have thought games like Super Mario Bros., Donkey Kong, and so on were hard at the time you were playing them, but you probably didn't guess they were NP-hard. Now we have some results from computer scientists at Universite Libre de Bruxelles and MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory that many classic games contain within them an NP-hard problem. It has been proven that the following game franchises are NP-hard (PDF): Mario, Donkey Kong, Legend of Zelda, Metroid and Pokemon. At least you now have an excuse for your low scores."


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