TIME Video Games

The 8 Most Impressive Video Game Reveals You Missed This Weekend

No Man's Sky
Hello Games

Check out the weekend's most amazing game announcements and trailers, collated and annotated

Whatever you thought of this weekend’s debut Game Awards, it lured a sufficient number of respectable game studios, who brought with them more than a few intriguing announcements and never-before-seen trailers. Multiply by all the new material Sony trotted out at its first ever PlayStation Experience (also this weekend), and the ordinarily news-lethargic first weekend of December turned out to be full of surprises.

Here’s a look at the most impressive announcements and trailers from both shows:

Adr1ft

Everyone’s comparing 505 Games’ Adr1ft to Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity, because both involve someone in orbit floating through the wreckage of who-knows-what. Best case scenario? We’ll get to play a video game that one-ups Cuaron’s Gravity (which needlessly mangled basic scientific principles) by making rigorous physics per the hostile extremes of orbital space the game’s unremitting antagonist.

Drawn to Death

Drawn to Death is a “hand-drawn arena shooter.” That’s how The Bartlet Jones Supernatural Detective Agency studio lead David Jaffe describes it, anyway. It’s impossible to tell how (or whether) the game’s going to set its gameplay off from other arena shooters, but it certainly looks unique.

The Forest

Alpha versions of The Forest have been playable since May on Steam, but the open-world survival game’s surprise confirmation for PlayStation 4 could signal a 2015 final release. In the game, you’ve survived a plane crash only to find yourself stranded in the wilderness who-knows-where, and observed by strange, debatably hostile, behaviorally nuanced (in unprecedented ways) humanoid creatures.

Hazelight

Hazelight–is it the name of the game and the studio?–was a monumental tease that offered no indication whatsoever about the sort of game two guys sitting on a boxcar having a smoke and moon-gazing amounts to. But it’s by one of the lead developers of Brothers — A Tale of Two Sons, and that alone makes the clip worth including here.

No Man’s Sky

No Man’s Sky may turn out to be a gorgeously vast patina of a cosmic exploration game, given its claims of procedurally generated galactic play-space times infinity. No one’s yet come close to grappling with fundamental design paradoxes whereby escalating randomness correlates negatively with player interest (imponderable haphazardness = boundless blah). But we’re still in “imagine what if” mode, and this latest trailer offers new wrinkles for consideration: a planet with purplish protuberances and another with undulating topography, a two-legged Star Wars-ian robot/vehicle and walk-in warp points.

Tacoma

If you watch Tacoma’s trailer and think “Hey, Bioshock!” some of the game’s developers actually worked on BioShock 2. But given what they pulled off with Gone Home last year, I presume we’re in for something mind-bending. A lunar transfer station run/built by “Virgin-Tesla”? As in Richard Branson plus Elon Musk? Could we be in for another futurism-skewering interactive narrative?

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

So Uncharted 4 looks nuts, and I say that as someone who doesn’t give a hoot about graphics in games nowadays. Sony wanted to make an impression, and boy did it: there’s over 15 minutes of “yes, you’re really seeing what you think you’re seeing” impressing going on in this actual-gameplay-rendered-using-a-PS4 video. And check out the creepy prehistoric-looking jungle. All that’s missing: a cameo by King Kong.

Zelda Wii U

If Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros. saved the Wii U from oblivion, Zelda Wii U (we don’t know it’s official name yet) could be the game that clinches its comeback. It’s a shame Nintendo didn’t offer an alternative fullscreen view, but even watching this video of a video, it’s clear the new Zelda’s going to be vast–and judging from that quip about horses not running into trees, it’s aiming to remedy slipshod genre conventions (like heinous equestrian controls).

TIME Video Games

The 5 Best iPhone Games You Should Play This Week

Apple iPhone
George Frey—Getty Images An Apple iPhone 6 Plus gold, is shown here at a Verizon store on September 18, 2014 in Orem, Utah.

Try Noda, a super-addictive puzzle game

Had enough Candy Crush and looking for something new to play on your iPhone? We rounded up some favorites worth a download this week. Have fun!

Game of Thrones

Although perhaps not the gore- and sex-filled video game one might expect of a Game of Thrones iPhone app, this game series is fascinating nonetheless. Take the helm of a posh Westeros family in the throes of war and decide the fate of your clan. Interact with characters from the show as you try to sort our family business. No, it isn’t season 5, but it might just be involved enough to tide you over until next spring.

Game of Thrones is available for $4.99 in the App Store.

Bean Dreams

A game with a title this banal shouldn’t be so much fun to play. Bean Dreams combines the simple ambitions of video games of yesteryear like Super Mario with the graphic component of an iOS game. Bounce your sombrero-wearing bean through almost 50 levels—an excellent way to keep you busy on a long plane ride. As you pounce on enemies to destroy them, it’s easy to realize this game would have quickly become a darling of the Game Boy era.

Bean Dreams is available for $2.99 in the App Store.

Noda

Few games can be as as infuriating and as absorbing as Noda. The rules take about a full hour to understand, but it is perhaps one of the finest puzzle games released for iOS. The goal is to swipe numbered dots to form matching numbers. Your attempt to clear a stage in the fewest moves possible will be completely undercut by the game’s challenging rules, one of which is that two dots cannot be combined if their sum is greater than nine. But for all the hours this timesuck has stolen, it’s sleek enough to make you forget how long you’ve spent playing it. Worth a download for every puzzle aficionado.

Noda is available free in the App Store.

Clarence’s Amazing Day Out

Fans of Cartoon Network’s game packages will enjoy Clarence’s adventure through a series of minigames. Follow Clarence, of the new, eponymous CN game, as he goes about his day, running into all sorts of nonsense adventures, like piñata smashing or watermelon bowling. In the end, it feels a lot more like a cartoon than an iPhone game, and in an excellent way it pulls you out of the 9-5 world and into one of uninhibited childhood inanity.

Clarence’s Amazing Day Out is available free in the App Store.

Ancient Legacy

Back in a time when RPG games were more about strategy than fire-bearing swords and armor dyes, games like Ancient Legacy taught us to prioritize strategy and economy over slashing maneuvers. Ancient Legacy really is a game from a simpler time, or one in which sophisticated games didn’t exist. Develop different players, each with their own abilities. Explore weapon classes, win battles by rolling dice, and beat bosses with good old fashioned nerdy number crunching — and praying the dice will roll in your favor.

Ancient Legacy is available for $1.99 in the App Store.

TIME Video Games

Here’s What the Most Jaw-Dropping Game of 2015 Looks Like Up Close

The procedurally generated space exploration game No Man's Sky looks amazing

UK-based Hello Games released another trailer for its highly-anticipated upcoming PC and PS4 title, No Man’s Sky. The game, slated for a 2015 release, is a procedurally generated space exploration game with stunning visuals. In other words, players will be able to explore planets and solar systems that are randomly generated. The results continue to look promising; here’s a closer look.

No Man's Sky Hello Games No Man's Sky Hello Games No Man's Sky Hello Games No Man's Sky Hello Games No Man's Sky Hello Games

TIME Video Games

The Father of Video Gaming Dies at 92

Ralph Baer Dead Video Games
CM/AP Ralph Baer an engineer for Sanders Associates, Inc., of Nashua, N.H. watches his TV hockey game on Feb. 3, 1977.

Over the course of his career, Ralph Baer accumulated over 150 patents and won many awards and honors

Ralph Baer, the man known for creating the first-ever video-game console, which continues to serve as a blueprint for the Xboxes and PlayStations of today, has reportedly passed away.

The news of the 92-year-old inventor’s death was confirmed to gaming website Gamasutra by sources close to him.

Baer, a German immigrant, built a device he called the Brown Box in the late 1960s, which hit the market in 1972 as the Magnavox Odyssey. It consisted of a main electronic unit that connected to a television screen, two player control units that enabled user interaction, and insertable electronic cards that held different games. Sound familiar?

Over the course of his career, Baer accumulated over 150 patents and won several awards and honors — including the 2006 National Medal of Technology from President George W. Bush, and an induction into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2010.

“I can never thank Ralph enough for what he gave to me and everyone else,” reads a quote from Apple Computers co-founder Steve Wozniak prominently displayed on Baer’s website.

Right until his final days, Baer retained a passion for creating new products. “I still get a big charge out of making something work,” the Verge quoted him as saying in a 2012 interview.

TIME Video Games

Get the First Look at the New Zelda’s Massive World

Zelda series creator Shigeru Miyamoto and current Zelda director Eiji Aonuma showed off several minutes of live footage of the game

Nintendo has been dropping hints all year that the next Legend of Zelda game for the Wii U would have a huge overworld. New footage of the upcoming title shows just how massive that world is.

Zelda series creator Shigeru Miyamoto and current Zelda director Eiji Aonuma showed off several minutes of live footage of the game. In the clip, the developers guide Link to the top of a high overlook, where he can look across a vast landscape. He sees a tower far off in the distance and proceeds to travel to it. They also show off Epona, Link’s famous horse, which he can use to ride across the game world. Aonuma says the journey to the tower would take five minutes, and it only covers a small portion of the world map. All signs point to this being the largest Zelda yet.

Check out all the footage in the video above.

TIME Video Games

There’s a Secret Game Hidden in Nintendo’s New 3DS

The New 3DS isn't due out in the U.S. until next year

Nintendo’s upgraded New 3DS isn’t due out in the United States until next year, but Japanese gamers have already discovered some interesting secrets on the new handheld.

After opening the device’s Internet browser, if a user taps the touch screen to the tune of the Super Mario Bros. theme song, a Breakout-style game will emerge. The blocks that have to be crushed will be in the shape of the URL currently in the browser.

Here’s a video of the game in action, via The Verge:

what happens if you tap out the mario theme in the new 3DS browser?

A video posted by sam byford (@345triangle) on

It may be a while before American gamers can see what other secrets the New 3DS may have — Nintendo hasn’t offered a specific stateside release window for the device.

TIME Video Games

More Game of Thrones Cast Set to Join Video Game Adaptation

Helen Sloan—HBO Game of Thrones

A few more of the show’s most beloved characters and their actors have been revealed as upcoming additions

Telltale Games has already enlisted a number of the big players from HBO’s Game of Thrones, like Peter Dinklage and Natalie Dormer, to join the voice cast of the video game set in the world of the TV series.

Thanks to the game’s newly released first episode, a few more of the show’s most beloved characters and their actors have been revealed as upcoming additions to the virtual version of Westeros.

(Spoilers for the first episode of Telltale’s Game of Thrones follow.)

On the menu screens of Game of Thrones, players may have noticed the faces of Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen popping up among new characters like Gared Tuttle and Mira Forrester.

EW has confirmed that Kit Harrington and Emilia Clarke will be joining the ranks of their fellow cast members and appearing as Jon and Dany in future episodes of the video game series. Telltale hasn’t revealed exactly when these characters will show up, but expect Harington and Clarke to lend their voices sometime during the game’s next five episodes.

Telltale’s Game of Thrones is doing plenty to cement itself in the world of HBO’s adaptation. Opening up adjacent to the Red Wedding, the first season of Telltale’s game will span season four of HBO’s show and lead right up to the beginning of season five. To find out if the first episode lives up to its television counterpart, be sure to read EW‘s review of the first episode.

This article originally appeared on Entertainment Weekly

TIME Video Games

Look At This Gorgeous Anniversary Edition PlayStation 4

The Sony PlayStation turns twenty on Wednesday, and Sony has given it a beautiful birthday present.

Sony has announced it’s releasing a PlayStation 4 Anniversary Edition console painted in the first console’s “Original Gray.” Only 12,300 units will ship worldwide, costing $499 in the U.S.

If you pick one up, you’re paying a bit of a premium for the paint job: The same amount of money got you a PlayStation 4 with a couple games in some Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals this holiday shopping season. Still, the new PlayStation 4 Anniversary Edition is definitely gorgeous, in a retro throwback sort of way. You can pre-order one in the U.S. through Sony starting Saturday.

TIME Video Games

The First Sony PlayStation Changed Everything About Gaming

Sony's original PlayStation launched in Japan on December 3, 1994, 20 years ago today

My first experience with Sony’s original PlayStation occurred almost a year before yours: in the display window of a Babbages in an out-of-the-way shopping mall in western Iowa.

Babbages, many have probably forgotten, was a franchise named after Charles Babbage, the guy credited with inventing the mechanical computer, that sold computer software and console games back when you could still buy stuff like Peachtree Accounting in biblical boxes from brick-and-mortar outfits. I worked there during my last year of undergrad part-time, less for the money than to be closer to my hobby.

My store manager was a connoisseur of the improbable, popping up with this or that strange gizmo months before it registered on the public radar. (this was the early 1990s, the Internet embryonic and everyone still looked to magazines for breaking info.) And so when Sony released the PlayStation in Japan on December 3, 1994, he imported one, told none of us, and dropped it in one of the store windows for fun.

I remember reporting for duty and noticing a racing game running demo laps in that window (I had no idea what Ridge Racer was at that point) and doing the equivalent of one of those cartoon double-takes. It’s doesn’t look like much now–you can see what I saw in the video below, complete with the world’s first Redbook Audio-caliber soundtrack–but pretend it’s still 1994, Babylon 5‘s just getting started, the original Jurassic Park only hit theaters last year, and the best-looking game you can play at home is Doom–a first-person shooter that’s technically only 2D with a bit of clever height fakery.

By 1994, I thought console gaming was in my rearview mirror. I’d graduated from a Super Nintendo to a Pentium computer a few months earlier, and so 1994 for me was System Shock and Tie Fighter, X-COM: UFO Defense and Master of Orion, Master of Magic and Warcraft and Wing Commander III. Many would argue gaming still hasn’t surpassed some of those titles.

But none of that stuff (including 1993’s Doom) looked half as sharp and smooth and visually grounded as Ridge Racer on that crazy little from-the-future import PlayStation. 3dfx’s Voodoo Graphics passthrough card for computers was still years away, and seeing smooth, lifelike full 3D actually working in a game felt like watching a moon landing. I’d played Sega’s Daytona USA at arcades and recognized the processing chasm that still existed between high-end arcade experiences and home computing ones: with Ridge Racer, the PlayStation all but eliminated that gulf, and it was torture waiting those subsequent nine months to lay hands on a U.S. system. (The PlayStation didn’t debut in the U.S. until September 9, 1995.)

Nowadays I take 3D in games for granted. Figuring out how to represent plausible reality spaces (or various forms of unreality spaces that take their cues from three-dimensional ones) has always been a stopgap process, a technology-facilitated march toward a kind of retinal verisimilitude that’s still underway. The medium’s only part of the message, and my interests shifted long ago from workaday graphic whiz-bangery to design facets like simulated intelligence and interactive rhetoric and the sort of compositional visual artistry so wonderfully expressed in games like Inkle Studios’ 80 Days or Ustwo’s Monument Valley.

But in 1994, we were still dreaming of the world to come, one flush with sleek roadsters and smooth-framed race tracks and arcade ports that didn’t feel like downgrades from their souped-up, quarter-chewing equivalents. In late 1994, home computers were still ridiculously expensive, Nintendo’s Project Reality was just a rumor and Sega’s Saturn was a hypothetical that had pundits twisting over its advanced but at that point developmentally esoteric architecture.

Into that space Sony poured the PlayStation, a system born of a failed add-on deal with Nintendo (the original “PlayStation” concept was to be a Sony-developed optical drive for the SNES), and the first game console to eventually sell over 100 million units worldwide–surpassed only by the PlayStation 2. Companies like Atari and Nintendo and Sega played crucial roles in gaming’s formative decades, but when it came to capturing the public’s hearts and wallets, the original PlayStation completely recalibrated our expectations.

TIME Video Games

There’s an Amazing New Way to Enjoy Game of Thrones

Most Pirated Shows
HBO

The first episode of Telltale Games' new Game of Thrones-inspired series just dropped

I admit I’m behind on my Game of Thrones watching. Has anyone else of note met an artery-opened, throat-gurgling end since the close of season one? (Wait, don’t tell me!) But I’m all caught up on appreciating studios doing solid translations of TV shows to games, and it sounds like The Walking Dead darling Telltale just added another arrow to its growing quiver.

“​Phew, the new Game of Thrones game is actually good,” reads Kotaku’s review, proceeding to state what you’d imagine would be the case in any event: “Fans of the books and, in particular, fans of the show, will almost certainly enjoy the hell out of it.”

Entertainment Weekly seems equally upbeat about the game, writing that it “evokes its source material while staking its own claim on the franchise.”

Game of Thrones the game (out now for PCs and consoles), in case you’re a Thrones-the-TV-series fan but unfamiliar with Telltale’s oeuvre, involves a bunch of artfully presented backdrops and characters and narrative themes inspired by the HBO series’ interpretation of George R.R. Martin’s vaunted fantasy series. Imagine yourself moving a screen pointer around medieval backdrops and clicking on stuff, interacting with objects, playing as various characters at different points and selecting responses in dialogue with others. That’s about as complex as the gameplay gets in what’s traditionally described as an “adventure” game.

What makes it interesting for Thrones-series fans is twofold: Telltale’s been granted license to create new characters and tell their own stories, so essentially new sideline material further detailing and re-angling Martin’s world, and along the way you’ll bump into big leaguers like Cersei and Tyrion Lannister, Margaery Tyrell and Ramsay Snow, each voiced by the corresponding series actor. The game takes place between seasons three and four of the TV show.

What it’s not: a game of jumping, leaping, shooting, fighting and so forth. That’s not how adventure games work. Instead, the emphasis is on exploration, puzzle-solving and making ethical choices that can lead to divergent outcomes that’ll ripple through future episodes (this being the first of six, dubbed “Iron from Ice”).

If you’re not averse to spoilers, Wired has a terrific, satisfyingly longish dialogue about how those choices shaped its two writers’ unique experiences working through the first episode.

 

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser