Telltale’s The Walking Dead: The Final Season To Get Physical Release March 26th

Skybound Games has announced that the final season of the now defunct Telltale Game’s The Walking Dead will be seeing a physical release starting March 26th, 2019 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.

In a blog post from the publishing arm of Skybound, the company announced that the physical release of the game would accompany the release of the game’s final episode, Take Us Back, to complete not only the season, but the entirety of Telltale’s vision of the story.

“We’re excited to announce that when Episode 4, Take Us Back, launches on March 26th, we’ll be releasing a physical boxed edition that includes the entire Final Season for Xbox One, PS4, and Switch” Sally Jack of Skybound stated. “This version will be available at all major retailers, including right here in the Skybound Shop. So, for fans looking for a great gift to give, or to actually hold the final chapters of Clem’s story in your hands, well, you’ll soon have that chance!”

Skybound Games officially took over development of the final season of Telltale’s The Walking Dead series, in October 2018, after the latter studio announced a major closure less than a month earlier. While it is unclear what the studio’s plans are with The Walking Dead IP once the final episode is released, there seems to be optimism surrounding the future of the series in some capacity within the new developer/publisher.

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Nintendo Adds Three New Titles To It’s Nintendo Selects Line On Nintendo 3DS

Starting February 4th, Nintendo will be adding three new titles to its popular and cost efficient Nintendo Selects line up for the Nintendo 3DS, including Super Mario Maker for Nintendo 3DS, Star Fox 64 3DS, and The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D.

Nintendo Selects, the successor to the company’s Player’s Choice branding, began in 2011 with select titles on the Nintendo Wii, and has been found on both the 3DS and Wii U since then. With the 3DS in particular, a wide variety of best selling games have donned the red labeling such as Super Mario 3D Land, Animal Crossing: New Leaf, Kirby: Triple Deluxe, and The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, to name a few.

Super Mario Maker for 3DS, a port of the popular Wii U title, first built its way onto Nintendo’s vastly popular handheld in December 2016. Fans can build, play and share their own creative and challenging Super Mario Bros. levels right from the palm of your hand. The game also offers the Super Mario Challenge, which pits you against 100 pre-built courses.

Solve puzzles, defeat enemies, and uncover the evil behind the iconic spiked mask in this remastered and enhanced classic entry in The Legend of Zelda series, Majora’s Mask 3D. Join link as he travels across Termina and time, releasing spirits, gaining new abilities through unique masks, and stop the Moon from crashing into the world and ending humanity. First released in February 2015, the 3DS remastered version offers updated visuals, and quality of life changes.

Released in 2011, Star Fox 64 3D offers a remade experience of the 1997 classinc on Nintendo 64, now in the palm of your hand. Take control of Fox McCloud and the classic Arwing as you blast your way through the Lylat system. Fight off hordes of enemies, collect power ups, and defeat bosess on your way to a final confrontation against the notorious Dr. Andross.

Titles within the Nintendo Selects program retail at a suggested price of $19.99.

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New Details On The Wolf Among Us 2 Show Sad State Before Telltale Closure

The recent saga behind Telltale’s majority studio closure is one that is unfortunately on a multitude of layers. While the most unfortunate issue to come out the closure is the 225 employees who were let go from the studio, fans are sad to see many of their favorite series all but disappear into the dark abyss as well. One fan-favorite series that was set to make a second season return was The Wolf Among Us, the critically-acclaimed adaptation of Bill Willingham’s Fables series. The first season, which began it’s wave of episodic releases in October 2013, was praised for its strong narrative focus along with its unique setting and diverse cast of fairy tale characters.

Since its final episodic release in July 2014, fans had been clamoring to return to the town of Fabletown to continue Bigby Wolf’s story, and it looked like their wish might have been granted. In July 2017, the staff at Telltale Games released a announcement trailer stating that a second season to the cult-followed series has entered production, aiming for a 2018 release date, though that date would be bumped into 2019 due to ‘internal studio issue’. These issues then came to light when the studio closer began in September 2018, officially cancelling all projects Telltale currently had in production.

With the studio having over a year of production under their belt on the project, many fans possibly thought the series could see the same treatment The Walking Dead‘s final season saw with production being picked up by Skybound Games. Unfortunately, the status on season two was much bleaker than many expected it to be. In a recent deep-dive piece on Telltale Game’s final year by EuroGamer, it was discovered that not only had the project barely gotten underway, but the team tackling it was extremely small with a ‘shoe-string budget, even by Telltale standards’.

“Everyone knew Wolf 1 was a critical success, but not a commercial one”, an ex-staff member on the project’s development team told  EuroGamer. “I think people came into it realizing they were making a boutique product. At one point, the season was going to be three episode.” The site also discovered that proper development for the second season of the Fables-inspired series didn’t begin until the summer of 2017, not long before their July announcement trailer released. While many public figures within the company stood by their original 2018 release window and the affirmative attitude on the series’s return, much of the team internally doubted the project’s long-term legitimacy. A source told EuroGamer “Even when the marketing team recorded the Wolf 2 announcement trailer, many people within the studio doubted it would ever see the light of day.”

The deep-dive digs a bit deeper to confirm many beliefs within the industry since the fall of Telltale games: the game had truly never left early development. One artist on the project explained “It was so early on (in development) that we didn’t have much apart from some concept art and a bit of white boxing for gameplay prototyping.” While the dark development of the game left a scar on many who were associated, it does seem that an overview of the season, and the majority of the first episodes scripted were complete; stating the game wasn’t going to be a direct sequel, but it would follow the events of Bigby and Snow White chronologically after the first season’s events.

While it doesn’t look like we will be seeing Bigby Wolf return to our screens in a new entry to the series, it will be interesting to see what happens to many of the intellectual properties that Telltale owned as they begin liquidating many of their assets. If we are lucky, maybe we will see the abrasive Big Bad Wolf make his return one day. In the meantime, the first season of The Wolf Among Us is still available for purchase on all major platforms.

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Obsidian Releases 15 Minutes of ‘The Outer Worlds’ Gameplay

Obsidian Entertainment officially announced their newest project The Outer Worlds last night at the Game Awards 2018. Following the announcement, the newly owned Microsoft studio has released a new 15 minute gameplay video showcasing what fans can expect from the upcoming cosmic RPG.

In the demo released by Game Informer, Obsidian shows off the gameplay style, which gives off major Fallout vibes, which isn’t shocking given the close relationship with the IP from developing the spinoff title, Fallout: New Vegas. One aspect that sticks out is the dialog system. Giving you a multitude of options on how to approach situations, the player can focus on making dialog decisions that affect not only the story, but the world around you. You can also see the emphasis on pulpy humor, similar to that of the Fallout series at time.

While no concrete release date has been announced, The Outer Worlds is scheduled to release on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC (Steam) in 2019.

Confirmed: The Last of Us Part II will not be at the Game Awards 2018

The Game Awards 2018 is shaping up to be quite the spectacle, with live music, performances and world premieres set to sprinkle the show dedicated to celebrating the games of the past year, while also getting a look at what’s to be on the horizon. One game in particular that fans were hoping to see more footage of is the highly anticipated sequel to Naughty Dog’s praised last generation experience, the Last of Us II. While the public was greeted to a lengthy gameplay demo this past June at Sony’s E3 press conference, it seems that will be the only footage fans will be seeing for little while longer.

In a tweet posted by the development studio’s Twitter account, the long-time PlayStation affiliate confirmed that they will not be bringing new footage to this year’s awards ceremony on December 6th. “We’re looking forward to celebrating a year of incredible games at the Game Awards this Thursday, however, we won’t have anything new to share from the Last of Us Part II” the developer stated. “We’re hard at work and looking forward to revealing more when the time is right!”

Just over two years ago, the Last of Us Part II was revealed at PlayStation Experience 2016 in Anaheim, California, after years of rumors and speculation. Since then, two additional trailers have been released: an additional cinematic-only trailer at Paris Games Week 2017, and the gameplay reveal trailer at E3 2018. Since the latter, rumors have been circulating about the game possibly being developed into a cross generational project, coinciding with the release of the heavily rumored PlayStation 5 in 2020, but neither Sony or Naughty Dog have confirmed any information surrounding this. All promotional media has stated the game is being developed for the PlayStation 4 family of systems.

The Game Awards 2018 is set to air this Thursday, December 6th, 2018 at 9 PM EST/6 PM PST. For more information, please visit their website.

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In Defense of (Game of the Year): Marvel’s Spider-Man

With the award season right around the corner, Bonus Accessory will be taking a look at some of the top games of the past year, and examine why each game deserves the title of Game of the Year at the Game Awards 2018. This is part four of our five part series entitled ‘In Defense of’, and in this edition we check on why our Spidey Sense tingles so much for Marvel’s Spider-Man.

Great gaming experiences surrounding super heroes and comic-inspired characters have been popping up over the better part of the last decade. With the flag bearer in this revitalization of the genre being Rocksteady’s Batman: Arkham series, fans have been treated to worlds with deep lore, fluid combat and compelling storytelling that really started to be felt towards the end of last console generation. While those experiences left fans wanting to see more from the sect of pop culture, many of the characters faced uphill battles to find their return to form in the gaming landscape; one of which was the successful Spider-Man IP from Marvel. Marvel’s Spider-Man, from Insomniac Games for the PlayStation 4, rights the ship for the long time popular Marvel hero. Peter Parker and his wall crawling alter-ego have been portrayed in a multitude of media forms, ranging from his creation in 1962’s Amazing Fantasy #15 to his successful run of films including the upcoming animated film Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse; and while the web head has had his fair share of video games, it’s the one form of media he has had the least consistency with. While various sects of his fanbase will argue otherwise for some titles, the overall consensus shows that Spidey has had a few rocky years in terms of his gaming representation.

Enter Insomniac Games. The studio, known for such series as Ratchet & Clank, the original Spyro trilogy and Sunset Overdrive. When first approached by Sony to adapt a Marvel franchise to a game format, the staff made it seem the decision was all but unanimous for what property they wanted to tackle: Spider-Man. Using a modified version of the engine found in 2014’s Sunset Overdrive, Insomniac had a good foundation for how they wanted to handle the game. The fluidity of Sunset Overdrive‘s traversal, combat and acrobatics seem almost isometric at times to what Marvel’s Spider-Man became by release. The buttery smoothness of hitting a perfectly timed reversal while in combat is only rivaled by the ability to capture enemies with a multitude of different gadgets and equipment. But crafting a game around a licensed idea isn’t always as easy as one would think it would be. It’s already established? How hard could it be? And while there may be some truth to that, the team at Insomniac Games, lead by creative director Brian Intihar, didn’t want to retread old ground. The Spider-Man IP is one that’s had is stories told for over 50 years, giving the studio much to play with when dissecting how they wanted to handle the game; but ultimately, what they decided on was something that both ended up complimenting past Spidey stories while also adding new twists to the wall crawler.

What’s the first thing you think of when you think of Spider-Man? A guess would be him swinging through the streets of New York City. For years, this has been one of the toughest nuts to crack when developing a Spider-Man game: traversal. Many fans point to the Spider-Man 2 licensed game of Playstation 2, Xbox, GameCube and PC as being the best example in terms of nailing the way the players moves throughout the city. While for its time, it truly was a revolutionary take on how you would expect the genetically mutated teen to move throughout the city as his alter-ego, using a pendulum based system for momentum. Insomniac, coming hot off the heels of its successful new IP Sunset Overdrive in 2014, saw this as a chance to take the successes they found with traversal throughout their newly crafted world and combined it with the web swing action of Marvel’s friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. To no surprise, it has become my new favorite way to get around in a game this generation. Adopting the same pendulum-based momentum system for swinging, the team focused on how something as crazy as swing from buildings in real life would work. First and foremost, every web has to attach to something. Whether it be a building, ledge, tree branch or pole, every swing has to be attached to something. Doing so gave players the ability to gain momentum to then push themselves forward and in various directions based on the architecture of the buildings around them. Plain and simple, it’s just so fun and rewarding to travel Manhattan by web swinging. Fast travel is available, but why bother (even though you are given a cool cut scene with Spider-Man on the subway)? any game that provides you with a mode of transportation that is greater than the easier option is something that should be held in the highest regard in terms of gam design.

While playing as Spider-Man is the main pull to the game for many, what you find is a multifold story that not only sees you become heavily invested in the narrative of Spidey himself, but of the man behind the mask: Peter Parker. Now, I’ll be quite honest, like most games found in the super hero genre, I was expecting the moments that players control Peter Parker to become pacing issues for the overarching narrative; going from 100 to 0, as the kids say these days. Yet, I didn’t expect myself to find a bond with Parker the way I did. A big part of that goes to the superb voice acting of Yuri Lowenthal. The delivery of expression through his voice is so spot on, it leaves you baffled at how Insomniac could’ve at one point chose to go another route with voice acting for Peter’s character. Lowenthal’s performance helps the player connect with the everyday Peter Parker that is behind the mask. Like him, I am a early to mid 20s young adult, just blossoming into the fully grown person I eventually will become. He faces everyday issues; from finding balance between his family of Aunt May, to his job as a research assistant with Dr. Otto Octavius, to trying to fight to restore his loving relationship with ex-girlfriend Mary Jane Watson, it gives the players a way to relate with and care for the man behind the mask. As someone who has grown through the “cell phone and dating” revolution, there is a particular scene that almost any 15 to 30 year old male can relate to when pursuing a love interest via text messaging. I vividly remember reassuring Peter out loud when playing, saying “Ah, I know that feel.” Presenting Peter as a sort of an “every man’s man”, gives the player a deeper connection to him, that when playing through the story beats while at the F.E.A.S.T. homeless shelter or in Dr. Octavius’s lab are still engaging and fun.

In a large open world narrative game such as Marvel’s Spider-Man, support characters need to be given a greater emphasis during the crafting phase of the game, and I think Insomniac Games’s writing staff has done that better than any game this year and even in quite some time. The craftsmanship writers Jon Paquette, Benjamin Arfmann, Kelsey Beachum, Christos Gage, and Dan Slott penned during the development of the characters surrounding Peter is something most development teams should take notes on. Every character that plays a role in the story is engaging and has a level of depth to them, from their expressions, to the approach they take to interacting with the player; especially with the dynamic they have with Peter. Many a time have I found myself chuckling at a witty, smart aleck remark Spider-Man/Peter would make towards his police contact, Yuri Watanabe, including the now famous ‘Spider-Cop’ persona (don’t worry, the cringe is on purpose and it’s played up just the perfect amount). You would find remorse and compassion from Peter’s loving Aunt May, even as she struggles to support herself at times, putting your needs first. You meet a young man by the name of Miles Morales, who is struggling to find his way in life in some of his most impressionable years and turns to the heroic Spider-Man for guidance. Yet, what might be the best example of the care put into the character dynamics, is the one between Peter and Mary Jane. The way they interact with each other is so authentic and grounded that you feel you’re experiencing the emotional rollercoaster between them through their own eyes. Instantly you can feel the chemistry the two have, gaining the sense that you’ve known each other for years and that there’s an extra layer of care and love for each other. Chemistry like this is a perfect example of how close the gaming world is becoming almost completely intertwined to the level of theatrical quality.

While the supporting cast may be the lights that sprinkle the metaphoric Christmas tree, the star that shines brightest on top of the tree is the breathing metropolis of Manhattan. When comparing the two comic publishing titans, DC’s characters were set in fictitious environment (Gotham City, Metropolis, etc), whereas Marvel’s characters have always been rooted in realism, living in the world around us for the most part; so when crafting the project, Insomniac had the issue of crafting a world that is already established, but also finding ways to make it unique. While the city isn’t completely to scale, it sure as hell feels to be the case. As someone who has been to New York City once in his 25 years of life, swinging through what looked almost never ending streets of Manhattan felt surreal at times. The level of detail taken into account when exploring the world is a marvel in itself. Little touches, like being able to looking various windows of the thousands of buildings that lined the street and having each of them have a unique look and style to them, adds a level of photo-realism to the concrete jungle surrounding the player. Plus, all of the small easter egg touches made me love digging through each brick and beam to find any Marvel reference I could possibly screenshot. The best part is, they don’t stick out. Everything feels connected, and purposeful, as if it naturally meant to be there. I don’t want to ruin any of the fun surprises hidden throughout the city, but trust me when I say as a long time fan of Marvel’s IPs, the smile on my face when I found some of the bigger nods was astronomical.

With many open world games using similar formulas for the way they are presented, Marvel’s Spider-Man find a way  to completely stand head and shoulders above the crowd. Not many games drive me to completely tear apart every nook and cranny of its package, but the world that Insomniac Games developed is one that I can’t get enough of. Its the first game that made me want to go out of my way to get the platinum trophy. The best part? There’s more content available after launch, and it’s not just short filler DLC that you will find in most big budget games, it’s intriguing and narrative driven in a way I wasn’t expecting. Players will get to experience story beats that were presented at the end of the game that you may not have expected to see until the game’s inevitable sequel, which isn’t the norm for games of this budget and caliber; but everything about Marvel’s Spider-Man is felt as if it was made holding itself to a higher standard. The tagline for the project is ‘Be Greater’, and I’ll be quite honest, I don’t know how much greater you can get in terms of gaming experience this year. When it comes to the possibility of being names Game of the Year for 2018, there is no need to aim to ‘be greater’, when there is no greater experience available this year than the one Insomniac Games has crafted.

For more coverage on the Game Awards 2018, including who takes home the title of ‘Game of the Year’, follow us on Twitter and Facebook, and keep it locked in at Bonus Accessory.

In Defense of (Game of the Year) – Celeste

With the award season right around the corner, Bonus Accessory will be taking a look at some of the top games of the past year, and examine why each game deserves the title of Game of the Year at the Game Awards 2018. This is part three of our five part series entitled ‘In Defense of’, and this time we are jumping and climbing to Matt Makes Games’s Celeste.

Approaching metal health in any light can be a touchy subject, let alone in video games. Few games have successfully pulled off appropriately touching on the subject while still having great gameplay and a compelling story. Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice from Ninja Theory, which released in August 2017, comes to mind on how approaching metal health issues appropriately through gaming can lead to some of the best experiences in the medium, and I would honestly say that game would be the flag-bearer for expressing that message; that is, until the release of Celeste.

Celeste, which released on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC in January this year from independent developer Matt Makes Games, is both simple and yet quite complex, in terms of how to describe the game. Let me explain.The Canadian developer brings one of the tightest and polished platforming experiences in years, with players jumping, climbing and using mystical powers to scale the perilous mountain. Levels are sprinkled with obstacles that require the player to make pinpoint movements to successfully navigate from checkpoint to checkpoint. While the difficulty is high, its presented in a way to players that isn’t a scare tactic, but one that is motivational. Director Matt Thorson and his staff designed the game to be approachable. Sure, there’s an ‘assist mode’ for players who truly don’t feel comfortable facing the uphill battle the fictional mountain provides, but Thorson clearly states when choosing the option that it is not the intend way to experience the game. Celeste is designed to push players, to make them feel uncomfortable and having them face frustration head on.

Plain and simple, you will die, and I mean a lot. By the time I rolled credits on my initial playthrough of Celeste‘s main story, I I tallied over 2,000 deaths. Yes, you read that correctly, there are three zeros in that number. Am I the best at platformers? Obviously not considering I perished over 2,000 times; but each time I died, I got a bit better. I began seeing the errors I was making. Mentally, I would find myself breaking down my game plan on how I would approach each portion of the level; remembering the mistakes I would make along the way and adjust said plan. The pacing of the game plays well into its difficulty/fun mixture, with respawns being almost instantaneously. Specifically with the Nintendo Switch version of the game, the style compliments the pickup and play mentality of the system. I’d find myself being able to pop through portions of the current level I was on my lunch break, or waiting in the waiting room at the doctor’s office, and easily being able to get that full experience on a strict time schedule. Like many of the games nominated this year, no time is wasted in the game, which makes it an especially rewarding experience to those on a tight schedule.

Celeste‘s narrative is where the complexity begins to set in, in one of the most rewarding ways possible. Players take control of a young girl named Madeline who intends to scale the mystical Celeste Mountain, located in the snowcapped Canadian wilderness. Along her way, she meets a cast of characters who range from support systems, such as Theo, to the wise cracking Granny, who simply doesn’t feel as though Madeline has the wherewithal to complete her journey to the mountain’s peak; yet, the biggest critic Madeline faces is herself. During the trek to Celeste‘s summit, Madeline experiences what is best described as an ‘out of body’ event, where she encounters an embodiment of her anxiety and self-doubts. While she continues to run from the self-doubt she keeps stowed away, she begins to face more and more instances that force her to confront the fears she keeps within her mind. For what appears to be a pretty cut and dry platformer on the surface, Celeste uses the its gameplay to translate a bigger message on facing our fears and anxiety. The mountain is truly a metaphor in its simplest form; an obstacle that one must learn to adapt to and eventually overcome. As I stated before, messaging on mental health is often something that is difficult to properly contextualize through media. Many forms of entertainment will encourage those who are struggling with aspects of their mental health to speak up, and that is absolutely a great message and starting point; but many don’t offer ways to combat these emotions due to its complexity. Celeste, on the other hand, finds a way to encourage those suffering to find the will and remove the self-doubt in a way that doesn’t take away from the excellent gameplay.

One of the most underrated aspects of Celeste is its artwork. With a blend of pixelated in-game assets along with hand-drawn ‘cinematic’ pieces, artists Amora Bettany, Pedro Medeiros, and Gabby DaRienzo craft a world of sheer wonder and beauty while basing the game in simplicity. Vibrant colors pop off the screen, while the sharp pixel-based environmental objects fit perfectly, as if they were apart of an elaborate puzzle. Growing up, I never found myself overly attracted to the 16 bit generation of gaming. My first main console was the Nintendo 64, which I got in 1998 at five years old, and while I did also have an NES in my home at that time, I was neck deep in the 64-bit CPU generation of gaming with the likes of the Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Super Mario 64. It wasn’t until I got a bit older that I began to bolster my artistic palette and truly start to appreciate the beauty of the 8 and 16 bit generations of game. Moving to the era of high definition, and now 4K, no art style has seen more of a revitalization as the retro-style that games such as Celeste dons, and I truly see Celeste as the new standard for how games of this style should aim to be. Even the animation is so fluent and smooth, with the way the sharpness and definition remain with the excessive amount of movement going on during the more intricate platforming portions of the experience.

At the end of the day, no matter who takes home the title of ‘Game of the Year’, what Celeste has done for independent game development is something that will be felt for years to come. While independent games have continued to receive more and more attention, including with the likes of Playdead’s Inside receiving a Game of the Year nomination at the 2016 show and Studio MDHR’s Cuphead winning Best Art Direction last year, you get the sense that the scale may finally be tipping this year. Seeing what the team at Matt Makes Games accomplished with the staff size they have is the true embodiment of the phrase “quality over quantity”. Game development as a skill has become so easily accessible over the past decade that anyone with an interest in gaming can easily have the information readily available to learn at almost any point, and having a game with the budget and size of Celeste win ‘Game of the Year’ could be a jumping point for many small development studios in the future. While many independent experiences only last a few hours, Celeste‘s package oozes with replay-ability depth, not to mention a plethora of post-game content with the B-Side variations of levels, giving players the feeling to that similar of a AAA developed experience in a sense. For the first time since Geoff Keighley’s inception of the event, I truly feel this is the year a true independent project can potentially claim the crown of ‘Game of the Year’, and deservedly so. From a touching and moving narrative, to the master-class polish of platforming gameplay, Celeste may easily reach the top of the mountain to be crowned at 2018’s ‘Game of the Year’.

For updates surrounding the Game Awards 2018, including who takes home the prized Game of the Year award, be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, and keep it locked in at Bonus Accessory.