The Bulletin is a roundup of a few game-related news stories from the previous week.
Team behind The Incredible Machine reunites to build a machine that is incredible
When I was in seventh grade, I took a class that involved working at different stations to solve weird technology-related problems. Like, one day you’d be following specific instructions to make a dumb toy robot pick up a box, or you’d be repositioning wires to make a tiny lamp light up. Actually, writing that out now, it sounds like it might have been a weird dream, but the point of the story is that one of these stations involved playing The Incredible Machine, and it was the most fun I’ve ever had “learning.” For anyone unfamiliar with the series (or who didn’t go to a made-up middle school like I might have), it involves you solving puzzles by arranging a predetermined selection of objects into an OK Go video to complete some minor task, like popping a balloon. It might not sound like it, but it was a lot of fun.
Now, the original team behind The Incredible Machine is back with a spiritual successor called Contraption Maker, which updates the original with new parts, HD graphics, and a modern physics engine. Plus, unlike certain other spiritual successors, Contraption Maker isn’t being funded by some kind of possible crowdfunding scam. It’s like a real game! That’s rare these days!
Pac-Man grows up and gets serious
I’m not up on the Pac-Man lore, so maybe this is a well-covered concept in all of the Extended Universe Pac-Novels, but it never occurred to me that he would be a good fit for an antihero role. He’s just a yellow hockey puck that eats ghosts. I wouldn’t think you can do much with that. And yet Namco is at it again, trying to reboot the series into something that the players of today can relate to, with Pac-Man And The Ghostly Adventures. This time, Namco’s developers went the “dark and gritty” route. Don’t be fooled by all of the bright colors and cheeriness. There’s totally some heavy stuff going on in that trailer. Take a look at the backgrounds. That city is full of ghosts, and they’re not doing anything wrong. They’re just flying around and going about their lives. But here comes Pac-Man, the great “hero,” zipping through their Futurama tubes and eating them. I assume this is a Spec-Ops: The Line sort of message about the horrors of war, only this time the soldiers and napalm have been replaced by colorful ghosts and cherries.
Warner Bros. and DC Comics unleash a crisis on infinite Scribblenauts
Scribblenauts has always been a game about using your imagination to solve puzzles. When it asks you to rescue a cat from a tree, you could summon a ladder to climb up and grab it, or you could use a flamethrower to burn the tree to the ground and then create a rainstorm to put out the fire before the cat is roasted. In fact, as the series went on, the only limiting factor became your inability to use copyrighted properties—other than internet meme cats, of course. Warner Bros., the series’ publisher, finally realized that it owns the rights to a lot of shit—like, specifically, the entire DC Comics universe.
That’s how we get Scribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure, an upcoming release that will combine the existing “type in a noun and watch it appear on screen” design with the Super Friends. We’re not just talking Batman and Wonder Woman, because (as reported by Polygon), the developers claim that Unmasked includes “every character who has ever appeared in a DC comic book.” First: Yeah, right. Second: Holy shit, what if they really mean it? Just looking at that trailer, I see all of the obvious heroes and villains, but also weirder picks like Mogo, the Green Lantern planet, and the purple-gloved “Bat-Man” from his first appearance in Detective Comics 27. How wide did the developers cast their net? Can I create Morpheus from Sandman? Can The A.V. Club’s Todd VanDerWerff make his beloved Detective Chimp? Oh, and if you’re thinking that this game marks the death of imagination, note that Scribblenauts Unmasked will let you create your own superheroes and supervillains. I’m thinking a monkey detective who is the personification of all dreams and also has Commissioner Gordon’s mustache.
Nintendo makes some non-E3 announcements
Recently, Nintendo announced that it would be skipping the traditional E3 press conference in favor of smaller Nintendo Direct videos that let it speak directly to fans without having to waste their time on stuff nobody cares about. Last week, the company made good on the change and held a Nintendo Direct video conference in which it announced a handful of things that probably wouldn’t have brought the house down at E3 but are still cool. First up is New Super Luigi U, an updated version of New Super Mario Bros. U that puts everyone’s second-favorite Mario brother in the starring role. According to Joystiq, if you already own NSMBU, you can purchase New Super Luigi U as a $20 download, but it will also be available on its own in stores for $40. Surely it’s worth 40 bucks for the younger siblings of the world to see a kindred spirit as the hero, right?
Next, Nintendo announced Sonic: Lost World, which will be a Wii U and 3DS exclusive. The only other thing we know about it, as seen in this Polygon post, is that it will be an “action-adventure platformer.” In other words, hold onto your sneakers, it’s another Sonic game. But don’t take my lack of excitement as a dig against the series. I know Sonic fans can be loyal to the point of insanity, and I don’t want them to think I’m disparaging their favorite hedgehog, so I’m just going to stop talking about it before I say something about how terrible the series has been since its Sega Genesis heyday.
Finally, as one last middle finger to the old way of doing things, Nintendo will be setting up playable demos of unreleased games at Best Buy stores during the week of E3, starting on June 9. Joystiq predicts that these will be the same games it shows at the actual conference, so if Nintendo keeps this up, you won’t need traditional video game news reporters for anything. Other than me, of course. You’ll still need me.
Oppressively weird show to get another oppressively weird game
At the risk of having to hand in my nerd card, I don’t get Cartoon Network’s Adventure Time cartoon. The show seems to delight in being weird for the sake of weird, which is fine, but Adventure Time has created such a bizarre universe of magic dogs and candy princesses and bacon pancakes that, to me, it’s impenetrable. I think I’m in the minority, however, since the show now getting a second video game adaptation with Adventure Time: Explore The Dungeon Because I Don’t Know!, which is certainly one way to title something. According to IGN, the game whose name I refuse to write out again will be coming to Wii U, 3DS, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC later this fall, which suggests that it will be a smaller downloadable title. Also, you will be able to play as Finn and Jake (who I recognize as the main characters), as well as something called Cinnamon Bun, because that’s just the sort of thing this is. Is this how it feels to be old?