Mario Kart 8

One of Nintendo's big surprises at last week's E3 was the first playable demo of the next game in the "Mario Kart" franchise, "Mario Kart 8." The first (and likely only) entry on the Wii U has Mario and his friends defying gravity, as their karts can now travel anywhere the course takes them - even upside down. This new gameplay proves that there are still some new things left for a series that has been around for a couple decades.

Late last week, we had a chance to catch up with the man that has been working on the series since the first game, Hideki Konno, who is now serving as this game's Producer, as well as Kosuke Yabuki, "Mario Kart 8"'s Director, to ask them some questions about where the franchise has been, what it's like to work on such a cherished title, and where we can expect things to go from here.
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Animal Crossing New Leaf

I have a bit of a confession to make: I have a little gaming addiction problem. I recently got over a long dependency on the horrible wonderful Nimble Bits' game "Tiny Tower" - something that was spurred on by Multiplayer's former Editor. Everyday I would open up "Tiny Tower" multiple times, and build another floor, try and get everyone their dream jobs, and then build another floor, until I ran out of things to do. That's right, I effectively beat "Tiny Tower" - that is, until they updated it.

A few days later I had "beaten" it again - until the next update. This happened more than a few times. I would keep going back every day to collect coins and Tower Bux to build more floors, until I topped out at 179 floors, and that's when I had to stop. Even as more floors became available, I had to give up - I kept going back, but had nothing to do.

So, what does this have to do with "Animal Crossing: New Leaf"? Nothing? Try everything.
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Animal Crossing: New Leaf

One of the signature features of the Animal Crossing series, since its original release back on the N64 in Japan in 2001, has been its cast of colorful characters. Over the franchise's handful of releases there have been hundreds of friendly villagers for players to get to know. With each animal having its own unique look and personality players are bound to have their favorites. Whether it’s the talented musician, K.K. Slider, the humorous Kapp'n, or the polarizing Resetti, there's always someone that appears in your town that's refreshing to see. We recently had a chance to ask some of the developers of the latest "Animal Crossing" game, "New Leaf," who their favorites were, both from the franchise and from the latest game, some of their answers may surprise you.
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By Kevin Kelly

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Movies about geeks have never been particularly flattering. Even in films like Revenge of the Nerds where the nerds win the day, there is plenty of dramatic license taken to make them badass so they can win the girl. But stories that cut to the heart of geekdom and reveal what true nerdery is all about? Those are extremely rare. It's even rarer when you find yourself pulling for the geek at the heart of those stories, despite everything else.

Luckily this year at SXSW we stumbled across Zero Charisma, a film about a gamemaster struggling to keep his RPG campaign alive after losing one of the main players. But problems arise when he has to battle with the replacement for popularity, and his world begins to unravel. The entire movie hinges on the fantastic performance of Sam Eidson as Scott Weidemeyer, and while he might seem a bit over the top, the honest truth is that we all know someone exactly like him. And we can see facets of ourselves in his personality.

Filmmaker Katie Graham served as director of photography on the cult hit documentary Best Worst Movie about the making of Troll 2, which she also co-edited with fellow filmmaker Andrew Matthews. Together, they co-directed Zero Charisma, based on Matthews' script. We caught up with them long after the frenzy of SXSW to talk about the making of the movie, and how they stayed true to nerdom. Read on for the full interview, and try to catch Zero Charisma if you can. With any luck, a distribution deal will get it close to you. There's a scene where Scott blasts some World of Warcraft players that you really need to see.
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One feature of Dontnod's upcoming action title "Remember Me" that's not often discussed is the way the game's music is heavily influenced by the fractured state of courier heroine Nilin's memories.

To create this dynamic score, Dontnod enlisted veteran composer Olivier Derivere ("Alone in the Dark," "Of Orcs and Men"), who describes his score as "a reconstruction around Nilin’s memory." We spoke with Derivere recently about his work on "Remember Me," composing for action, and making the organic digital. Plus, enjoy samples of his upcoming soundtrack.

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Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons

Leave it to a film director to try to come up with some new ideas for video games. Josef Fares, best known for his work "Zozo" and other award-winning Swedish films, has teamed up with Starbreeze Studios, best known for their work on "The Darkness" and "The Chronicles of Riddick" (both of them) to collaborate on an all new title, "Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons," an experiential, single-player story. Fares' cinematic background gives him a unique perspective on the craft of telling stories, making his first foray into gaming a bit unconventional.
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Guacamelee

Last week, the release of "Guacamelee!" helped to reinforce what kind of quality work can come out of Canadian, indie developer DrinkBox Studios. "Guacamelee!" marked the third major console release for the studio, and the first to not star a mutant blob. Deeply influenced by classic games from the 8 and 16-bit eras, "Guacamelee!" was clearly a labor of love for the small studio, which is headed up by Co-Founder Chris Harvey. To celebrate the launch of such an epic game, Mr. Harvey gave us some insight into the development of the game, as well as what it means to be an indie developer in today's gaming world.
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Miguel Concepcion

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The only thing better than a great April Fools' joke is a great reverse April Fools' joke. When many first saw the logo of "Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon", they immediately recognized the many 80's-inspired stylistic flourishes, raising questions on how this related to the actual "Far Cry 3" game. Well, it's real, it has Michael Biehn as Rex Power Colt, and it's coming in fast, out May 1st on XBLA, PSN and PC. I got considerable hands-on time with "Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon", and while it is a reskin of "Far Cry 3", it's a brilliantly executed one. It's an homage to 80's action films not just in references but also in attitude, a time when it felt like there was an R-rated release every week. For those of us who still have "Far Cry 3" controls in our muscle memory, there's practically zero reorientation time needed. That includes the knife kills, climbing vines, and even aerial takedowns.
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Miguel Concepcion

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The more I learn about "Killer Is Dead", the more I think Suda 51 is making his "Mission Impossible 2". In other words, I'm not yet convinced it will present anything new that I haven't seen in his other games, not that's automatically a bad thing. Like John Woo's 2000 film, "Killer Is Dead" feels like a greatest hits collection of  themes, characterizations, and visual stylings of Suda 51's previous works. It calls to mind the assassins of "No More Heroes" and "Killer 7" and the love story of "Shadows of the Damned". More than anything, it feel like the darker sibling of "Lollipop Chainsaw", both in tone and gameplay. This is something I can go for, though I hope the emphasis on thoughtful swordplay implies that "Killer Is Dead" is an improvement over the unremarkable combat of "Lollipop Chainsaw".
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Eidos Montreal's 2014 release of "Thief" has the misfortune (arguably) to arrive after the well-received "Dishonored," a game whose look and feel was inspired by the Eidos franchise and is fresher in gamers' minds. And look, conceptually, I've admired the stealth game more than I've actually wanted to play it. Give me a game like Ubisoft's first few "Splinter Cell" games, and I'll politely acknowledge the intricacies of the level design which are driven by deliberate, cautious encounters (or non-encounters) with trigger-happy, heavily-scripted enemies. Looking at something like "Tenchu" it was about limited input for an over-matched player character in tightly-controlled game worlds of trial-and-error survival and typically, I've hated every minute of them.

But 2012 saw the release of four titles that took the lessons of their predecessors and evolved the genre in smart ways. Consider the exquisite art and sound design of Klei's "Mark of the Ninja" which made its world one of the deliberate, clever audio/visual feedback, which the game's Lead Designer Nels Anderson described to me as "player-centric."

Anderson joined IO Interactive Game Director Tore Blystad ("Hitman Absolution), along with "Hotline Miami" co-creators Jonatan Soderstrom and Dennis Wedin, and Arkane Studios' ("Dishonored") Creative Co-directors Raphael Colantonio and Harvey Smith to talk about keeping the tension, empowering the player, and building a better stealth game--concepts I hope the next "Thief" takes to heart.

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