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

Good and bad news for Saints fans

Posted by Matthew Hewson On Tuesday 2 September 2014No Comments

Those that have been reading the Black Panel for a while will undoubtedly know of my love for the Saints Row series. Something about the insanity of the last two entries has struck a chord with me, so when I heard that Volition were announcing something new at PAX I had my fingers crossed for a fifth full entry in the open world chaos simulator. Well Volition managed to both crush me and excite me all within a five minute period. The crushing news was that Saints Row 4 was getting the HD remake treatment for the PS4 and XBO. Great news for people that never played the last iteration, but for people like me who are on the third play through, it is a little disappointing.

But then after my Saints loving soul was left wounded and weeping Volition managed to make me smile once again. A new standalone expansion for Saints Row 4 was coming and for the first time in the history of the franchise I would be able to play as the “most dangerous man in the universe”, none other than Mr Johnny Gat. The title of the expansion is Gat out of Hell and it sees the President being kidnapped by Satan. Of course the solution to this problem is Johnny heading to hell and putting a bullet in the prince of darkness’s face. Volition has said that the expansion features an all new map and a plethora of new powers. The story will reportedly take about six hours to complete and there will be plenty of Saints style side missions that should pad it out to about 12 hours playtime. Not bad for the US $20 asking price.

So while it isn’t SR5, it is certainly enough for me to get my get my Saint’s Flow back on. Now I just need to make sure my purple gangster suit is cleaned, pressed and ready for an upcoming trip to Hell.

Guitar Hero creators working on new rhythm shooter

Posted by Stephen Foote On Monday 1 September 2014No Comments

After diving off the sinking ship that was the Guitar Hero franchise, upping the plastic instrument count in cupboards the world over with its Rock Band follow up and inspiring more awkward dancing than a Mick Jagger/Peter Garrett stage show with its Dance Central series, developer Harmonix is returning to its controller-gimmick free roots with A City Sleeps.

A genre mash-up of (deep breath) rhythm game meets dual stick bullet hell shooter, A City Sleeps is mechanically reminiscent of cult classic Rez, albeit with a heavy dose of neon visuals if they were rendered via the UbiArt engine. It tells the story of Poe, a dream exorcist tasked with cleansing the demons infesting the nightmares of the citizens of SanLo, the titular city.

Rather than using a procedural generation method based upon the dynamics of whatever music is fed to the game, Harmonix is bent on delivering a handcrafted experience which provides an unparalleled level of synergy between gameplay mechanics, level design and music.  As they themselves put it, the soundtrack will “drive player projectiles, enemy spawning, movement, and bullet patterns.”

In order to ramp up its replayability, A City Sleeps features a number of customisable options. Alongside a trio of difficulty levels, Poe is also able to equip a range of ‘relics’, as well as call on ‘ghost familiars’. By instructing her ghosts to possess objects found throughout the level, Poe will gain access to a range of defensive and offensive capabilities depending on the combination used.

It would seem that a degree of hard earned financial stability coupled with the evolution of the PC market over the past decade has allowed Harmonix to take a chance on this off-beat downloadable title.

A City Sleeps is currently available for preorder on Steam, with a scheduled release in October.

Nintendo to launch revised 3DS hardware

Posted by Erin Marcon On Sunday 31 August 2014No Comments

The XL version of Nintendo’s latest 3DS model.

Nintendo has a long history of iterating on its handheld hardware. The GBA, for example, evolved into the clamshell style GBA SP and the more compact the GBA Micro. Neither of those revisions significantly altered the core functionality of the system though, and that’s what makes Nintendo’s announcement of the ‘New Nintendo 3DS’ (in both standard and XL varieties) something of an eye opener.

As reported by Kotaku, the revised handheld features a second thumb stick, two additional shoulder buttons, as well as NFC tech to take advantage of Nintendo’s forthcoming line of Amiibo figurines.  The platform holder is also promising that the unit’s slightly larger screen will allow the 3D effect to be more clearly perceived from a wider range of angles.

The New Nintendo 3DS will also offer a little more processing power. The freshly announced Xenoblade Chronicles port will be the first title to take advantage of this, and indeed, the game won’t be compatible with existing 3DS and 2DS hardware.

The New Nintendo 3DS is set to launch in Japan in October. A western release is yet to be confirmed.

The Black List 260

Posted by Black Panel Staff On Saturday 30 August 2014No Comments

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

SUNDAY NEWS Assassin’s Creed hopes dashed for Wii U owners > Though some previous chapters of Assassin’s Creed have bobbed up on the Wii U, Ubisoft’s latest public utterances suggest that future instalments won’t be making an appearance. This is certainly of true both of current gen showcase Assassin’s Creed Unity and past gen offering Assassin’s Creed Rogue. READ MORE

MONDAY JUST ANNOUNCED Gaming networks under attack > In a development that has revived memories of the great PlayStation Network calamity of 2011, Sony’s online infrastructure has again come under attack. Sony has issued a statement advising that “the PlayStation Network and Sony Entertainment Network have been impacted by an attempt to overwhelm our network with artificially high traffic.” This is commonly referred to as a distributed denial of service attack. READ MORE

TUESDAY NEWS Amazon buys Twitch > Earlier this year, streamers everywhere suddenly became worried that Twitch was getting bought out by Google. Rumours abounded on the net that the massive internet company was buying out everyone’s favourite streaming service and when Twitch recently introduced a new music copyright system, many thought that this was a sure sign Google was poised to take over. READ MORE

WEDNESDAY JUST ANNOUNCED Pokkén Tournament > Thanks largely to the success of Donkey Kong, Nintendo will always have a place in arcade gaming history. However, its contributions to the arcade scene have been few and far between in recent years, with its Mario Kart GP series among the notable exceptions. Now, another of its most storied franchises is making its way to Japanese arcades. As revealed by Famitsu, via a very helpful Siliconera translation, a fresh Pokémon game is in the works. READ MORE

THURSDAY JUST ANNOUNCED Ancient Space > If a regular earth-bound RTS just isn’t enough for you, then you may want to fire up your warp drive for Paradox Interactive and CreativeForge Games’ recently announced RTS Ancient Space. Voiced by a cast of science fiction staples such as Dwight Schultz of Star Trek (and A-Team!) fame, Dina Meyers from Starship Troopers, and Richard Gun from Angel, Ancient Space promises a single player focused experience with a strong narrative, varying mission structure and the chance to build and develop a space fleet that will see you through “an explosive space opera”. READ MORE

FRIDAY NEWS Morpheus may revive Move > The Oculus Rift has certainly whet appetites with the promise of new gaming experiences, particularly as 3D TVs have not been enough to give players that extra immersion into their favourite titles. Sony, of course, has been working on its own headset, known as ‘Project Morpheus’. Now it seems that the Move concept could be revived for use in conjunction with the Morpheus and the PlayStation Camera to provide accurate 3D immersion for the PS4. READ MORE