Daily updates on video games and popular culture, along with Australia’s grooviest gaming podcast.

Vlambeer comments on Luftrausers controversy

Posted by Black Panel Staff On Tuesday 8 April 2014No Comments

Some of the controversial imagery.

Having spend two weeks riding a wave of critical and commercial success, the team responsible for indie action game Luftrausers has taken time out to clarify one of the controversies surrounding its release.

Vlambeer this week acknowledged that some players have felt uncomfortable with what they perceive to be Nazi-inspired imagery in the game. Some of the art design certainly appears to be reminiscent of pulp depictions of German forces.

While Vlambeer’s Rami Ismail has apologised for any “discomfort” experienced by players, he emphasised that neither side in the depicted conflict were intended to represent real world nations or regimes.

“You’re not playing any existing enemy force, not the Nazi’s, not the Japanese, not the Soviets, not any force that existed,” he wrote.

According to Ismail, Luftrausers “takes place somewhere between the Second World War and the Cold War, or in an alternative reality in the ten to fifteen years after the Second World War.”

It will be interesting to see how this explanation sits with critics.

Naughty Dog’s loss is Visceral’s gain

Posted by Black Panel Staff On Monday 7 April 2014No Comments


The dust had barely settled on Amy Hennig’s departure from Naughty Dog when speculation began as to her likely destination. The former Uncharted Creative Director this week popped up at Visceral Games, the EA subsidiary best known for its work on Dead Space. It appears that Hennig won’t be contributing to that particular property, though, or at least it won’t be her focus.

As revealed by Visceral General Manager Steve Papoutsis, Hennig will instead be overseeing a high profile licensed offering. “I couldn’t be more excited to welcome Amy Hennig to our team at Visceral Games and EA as Creative Director on our Star Wars project,” Papoutsis wrote. At this stage little to nothing is known about the game in question.

For Hennig, Visceral’s forthcoming release seems to be something of a passion project. “Two amazing things entered my life in 1977 – Star Wars and the Atari 2600,” Hennig told her Twitter followers. “This opportunity is the confluence of the 2 most influential experiences of my youth, and I couldn’t be more excited to go on this journey.”

This will be Hennig’s second stint at EA, having contributed to Desert Strike: Return to the Gulf and Michael Jordan: Chaos on the Windy City during the 90s.

Image credit: MobyGames

Backtrack Review: Pokémon Y

Posted by Jamie Dalzell On Sunday 6 April 2014No Comments

What’s this ‘Backtrack’ business all about? Well, every so often we elect not to review a game, only to realise that we have made a TERRIBLE MISTAKE. That’s where Backtrack Reviews come in. With Pokémon enjoying renewed popularity thanks to a certain Twitch stream, Jamie decided to dust off last year’s 3DS release and give it its due.

Available on 3DS l Published by Nintendo and The Pokémon Company l Developed by Game Freak l Classified PG l Supports 1 player

REVIEW IN BRIEF > Pokémon’s 3DS debut is a ‘best of’, ‘greatest hits’ and reunion tour all in one. A calling card for former champions to dust off their Pokédex, if for no other reason than to look upon Pokémon past and present in all their newfound detail. Read the rest of this entry »

The Black List 239

Posted by Black Panel Staff On Saturday 5 April 2014No Comments

Welcome to The Black List, your one stop shop for the stories published on the site this week.

SUNDAY INTERVIEW Blizzard on Diablo III: Reaper of Souls > When Diablo III was released in 2012, it quickly became the best selling PC game of the year, following in the footsteps of its two predecessors. However, it was not without its criticisms: fans were quick to voice their disapproval of the emphasis given to the auction houses, the manner in which loot dropped, and the lack of PvP, among other more individual gripes with the storyline. READ MORE

MONDAY REVIEW Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare > PopCap’s tower defence game has been transformed into a fun and accessible online multiplayer shooter. Players can choose from a handful of basic unit types and customise their characters with functional and cosmetic upgrades. The question is: who is this audience for this game? The solid mechanics are lifted by the goofy tone of the setting, but they may prove too basic for some shooter fans. READ MORE

TUESDAY NEWS Uncharted 3 director departs Naughty Dog > The Uncharted franchise is experiencing arguably its greatest period of upheaval and uncertainty. Naughty Dog (along with its parent company Sony) is preparing to bring the celebrated action adventure series over to the PS4, but it must now do so without the guidance of two of the saga’s chief architects. Having already lost creative director Amy Hennig, Sony has confirmed to Game Informer that Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception game director Justin Richmond has also departed the studio. READ MORE

WEDNESDAY REVIEW Strider > Less a remake than a re-imagining, Strider shows that old arcade games can live again. Double Helix manages to get the fast paced gameplay right, but the strange mix of easy and difficult sections does create some severe frustration along the way. Unfortunately, the repetitive gameplay runs out of steam before the final tricky foe. READ MORE

THURSDAY NEWS Amazon enters console race > Apparently unperturbed by the limited market penetration of the Ouya, online sales giant Amazon is preparing to launch its own Android based machine. The Amazon Fire TV set top box will support a range of popular entertainment services such as Netflix and Pandora, as well as a selection of Android-powered video games. The system will retail for US $99. READ MORE

FRIDAY REVIEW Infamous: Second Son > If you’re looking for a game to show off the power of the next gen then Infamous: Second Son is it. The graphics are simply breathtaking. Don’t fret about the gameplay, either. Beneath the beautiful exterior is the best Infamous gameplay yet. Despite being a little on the short side, this is a must buy for PS4 owners. READ MORE