XBLArcade.com, now with more of me!

April 30, 2007 at 5:49 pm (Gaming, Housekeeping, XBLA)

XBLArcade Logo

We interrupt the NinjaBee Extravaganza to bring you this breaking news: 

I was recently invited by the folks over at XBLArcade.com to become a regular contributor.  So, if you just can’t get enough of me, then head on over there and check it out.  It’s a great site and I hope my contributions help make it even better.  Here’s to celebrating everything XBLA has to offer!  (Which recently means a ton of new games.)

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Band of Bugs Preview: Graphics [Update]

April 30, 2007 at 3:12 pm (Gaming, NinjaBee, XBLA, Xbox 360)

Band of Bugs Old Screen No NoLet me make something clear right off the bat. If you have seen the Band of Bugs screenshots from January avoid judging this game too quickly. Of course, the game looks similar to those shots, but the look and feel of the visuals come alive when everything is animated.  Even the units’ idle animations have much more visual impact than those flat and still screenshots, trust me.  So, if you have written this game off just because of those old screens, wait for the release, download the trial, play it, and then make your visual assessment. 

Well, you could wait, but you might as well check out the new screens below which I think give a much better impression of the game’s style and feel. Check ‘em out.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Band of Bugs Preview: Gameplay (Addendum) [Update]

April 30, 2007 at 2:10 pm (Gaming, NinjaBee, XBLA, Xbox 360)

nblogo.jpgI just remembered another very strategic part of the game that should have been included: Weapon Switching.  Many characters have more than one weapon at their disposal and that can lead to some interesting battle variations.  Some units can even change between a melee weapon and a ranged weapon.

Of course, each weapon has its strengths and weaknesses so you will be force to weigh your options carefully.  Do you choose a weapon with a lower chance to hit but a chance for Knock Back?  Obviously choosing the best weapon for the situation becomes hugely important. 

The only drawback to changing to the perfect weapon for a given situation: Changing your weapon uses your unit’s turn.  So, you must anticipate the weapon your unit will need a whole round in advance.  Not any easy task.

I swear, the more I talk about this game the more depth I find.

[Update] To prove my point further, I remembered something else: Dice Rolls.  When you move to attack an opponent, a bar will show your chance to do a double damage critical hit (Red), an average hit (Orange), or a dreaded Weak Hit (Yellow).  A lot of the strategy in the game hinges on bonuses that tip those percentages in your favor. 

Many of these bonuses are based on where you attack your opponent (e.g., You attack from behind which raises your chance to hit with full power) or the location of your friendly units (e.g., one of your units is standing next to the attacking unit, so the attacking unit has a higher chance to hit).  But sometimes the unthinkable can still happen and you can get a weak hit just when you needed a run-of-the-mill average hit.  Thus, luck can indeed play a role in your successes and failures and helps to keep the levels fresh even after playing them a second or third time (gotta get those Gold Rankings, right?).

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Band of Bugs Preview: Gameplay

April 29, 2007 at 5:57 am (Gaming, NinjaBee, XBLA, Xbox 360)

Formula for BoB

Band of Bugs has a pretty simple formula.  Take one part inspiration from tactics games (e.g., Final Fantasy Tactics Advance), add one huge mess of bug parts, sprinkle an addictive dash of speed (say “no” to drugs but “yes” to Band of Bugs…wait…did I just rhyme?), bake at 4770 feet above sea level for a year or so and hopefully you come out with a game like BoB

The speed part of the formula not only describes the importance of the BoB‘s genre divergent pacing (i.e., this game moves quickly) but also the game’s addictiveness.  To explain my predicament after really digging into BoB here is a slightly adapted version of Wikipedia’s description for speed (the drug, not this): “Tolerance is developed rapidly in [Band of Bugs use], therefore increasing the amount of [time for playing the game] that is needed to satisfy the addiction.”  Enough about me.  Follow me down the rabbit hole and I will break down the gameplay more so you can see just what has me so hooked.
Read the rest of this entry »

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Band of Bugs Preview: Story [Update]

April 26, 2007 at 6:38 pm (Gaming, NinjaBee, XBLA, Xbox 360)

maal.jpgThe single player campaign in Band of Bugs called Maal’s Story follows (appropriately enough) Maal, (pictured) a bug unlike others around him.  And no, it is not because he is anthropomorphic and his buddies are all just normal bugs.  Maal, along with his comrades, has been thrust into a battle against “The Dark One.”  The story is effectively told through simple text panels with 2D animated character art in what is becoming a trademark NinjaBee look and feel.  (Just imagine Maal here but with a talking mouth, Terry Gilliam style, and you get the idea.)  Of course, the typical NinjaBee humor is also present in the story alongside the more serious tones of Maal’s journey from new recruit to hero.  
Read the rest of this entry »

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Hands-on Preview of NinjaBee’s Band of Bugs: Intro

April 26, 2007 at 6:34 pm (Gaming, NinjaBee, XBLA, Xbox 360)

NBStalkingWhile visiting the Wahoo Studios/NinjaBee offices I got an extensive look at Band of Bugs.  The ultimate result: I am hooked.  Band of Bugs, at its core, is a turn-based tactics game, but do not let that scare you away.  If you are intimidated by all the numbers, calculations, and long deliberations of turn-based games, fear not.  You can easily play this game (and be quite successful) without running numbers in your head.  And to eliminate the painfully long turn cycles in most turn-based multiplayer games, NinjaBee has concocted an innovative and fast-paced turn structure that will force you to trade slow and deliberate for quick and decisive. 

I will be posting each section of this hands-on over the coming week or so.  Stay tuned for targeted coverage of Story, Gameplay, Graphics (including some brand-spankin’ new screenshots!), Sound, Multiplayer, the Level Editor, and Live Integration.

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Editor’s Note on the upcoming NinjaBee extravaganza!

April 26, 2007 at 3:06 pm (Gaming, Housekeeping, NinjaBee, Xbox 360)

nblogo.jpgHere is a long story made short: I have been an active NinjaBee community member for some time now (just crossed my 1 year anniversary actually).  As a result of my activity in the community I have had the opportunity to connect directly with people that work at NinjaBee including Steve Taylor, the President of Wahoo Studios/NinjaBee (he does hang out in the forums, after all).  Recently, after batting some ideas around during GDC, we came up with an experimental idea that was (and is) an extraordinary opportunity for me.  NinjaBee would fly me out to Utah (as living in NYC has turned me into a poor wayfaring stranger) in exchange for writing a little bit about NinjaBee and their upcoming games.  And so, the access I was granted will now result in an explosion of content for my blog (which I hope you enjoy!) and may also appear other places as well.  They emphasized that they were not interested in censoring my work and rest assured, they haven’t (save obvious topics under my NDA).  So, take my perspective with however much salt you desire.  Now, on with the show!

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Guitar Hero DLC Priced, Everyone Complains

April 15, 2007 at 2:13 am (Gaming, Microsoft, Rhythm, Xbox 360)

ghii.jpg So the dust has settled (a bit) after the big price announcement for the downloadable “Track Packs” for Guitar Hero II for the Xbox 360.  (If you missed this completely, check here or here.)

Since then Major Nelson (aka Larry Hyrb) has come out and had his quotes abused on Joystiq, Kotaku, and even on Next-Generation.  The gist from him was that these songs had to be relicensed for the new platform (360) and Co-op tracks were added to each of them…thus, it’s not merely old content used to gouge the customer.

I appreciate the impossible situation the Major is in here (a position I am sure he is used to by now, right?) — being stuck between a publisher that wants to make some serious money on a highly demanded product and consumers that want as much content for as little money as possible.  Unfortunately, I have to side with the whiny and annoying irate consumers on this one.

 It’s simply a question of math: Read the rest of this entry »

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