Super Replay – Vampire Hunter D

Our playthrough of Sonic the Hedgehog 2006 is the most successful Super Replay to date. One thing became abundantly clear: You love watching us suffer while playing broken games. From the comments I read, a good number of you expected we would play another Sonic game for the annual 12.31 Super Replay. As tempting as that idea was, we decided to flip the script again, and do something completely different. Playing a survival horror game without Tim Turi still feels wrong. Playing another Sonic game just feels wrong, period. So we decided to turn our sights on the anime crowd, a pocket of loyal fans Replay hasn’t mocked enough.

The one game that bubbled to the surface was Vampire Hunter D, a little-known PlayStation relic that launched on September 25, 2000. Developed by Victor Interactive Software and published by Jaleco, Vampire Hunter D is a game about a powerful talking hand that is attached to a vampire. I don’t want to give away much more than that. The only other thing I will say is, we’re having a terrible good time playing it. As always, we hope you enjoy this year’s pick. It’s unexpected, I know, but that’s how these 12.31 Super Replays should be.

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The 10 Best Arcade Bars In America

Few things pair better than video games and beer. Restauranteurs have taken notice, and over the past decade several impressive arcade/bar hybrids have emerged throughout the country looking to lure thirsty gamers. The Game Informer staff travels a lot over the course of the year, and when we’re in new towns we often try to make time to check out these venues. We haven’t crossed every barcade throughout the United States off our list of places to visit, but of the many we’ve visited to burn through a hefty stack of quarters, these are our favorites.

The 1Up
Location: Denver
The barcade of choice for most Denverites like our own Ben Reeves, The 1Up is so popular it spawned a second location. Both the Colfax and LoDo spots feature dozens of classic arcade cabinets and pinball machines. Hardcore players can engage in monthly tournaments or league play. To match the lo-fi vibe, the bar offers many different 40-ounce malt liquor offerings in addition to tap beer.

Location: New York, Newark, Jersey City, Philadelphia, New Haven
Upon opening in 2004, Barcade’s Williamsburg location combination of craft beer and classic arcade cabinets proved immensely popular, with Esquire naming it one of the best bars in America in 2008. Since then, the owners have extended the brand to seven locations across four eastern states. World record holders for games like Donkey Kong, Q*bertz, and Timber call the Brooklyn location home. 

Button Mash
Location: Los Angeles
Los Angeles is home to many good arcade bars, but Button Mash is our favorite thanks to its great Asian fusion food menu. The lineup of arcade cabinets boasts a murderer’s row of greatest hits spanning most game genres. While you’re waiting to challenge the person holding court in NBA Jam, you can munch on must-haves like the double-fried tamarind chicken wings and spicy Korean pork belly sandwich. 

Cobra Arcade Bar
Location: Phoenix 
Cobra Arcade Bar owner Ariel Bracamonte has put together what he considers to be the Holy Grail lineup of arcade machines at this popular Phoenix bar. The list includes most of the arcade classics you’d expect, as well as the holy trinity of early ’90s brawlers – The Simpsons, X-Men, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles In Time. The cocktails have names that pay homage to arcade classics like Pac-Man and Street Fighter, and constant drink specials make this an afforable hang out spot.

Coin-Op Game Room
Location: San Francisco, San Diego, Sacramento
The San Francisco location was already a must-visit thanks to its eclectic game-themed craft cocktails, Neapolitan pizza, and lineup of 50 arcade machines from the ‘80s and ‘90s. But that didn’t stop Coin-Op from leveling up with a sleek speakeasy themed after Tron. Known as the Grid, this bar-within-a-bar is a great place to wind down after a tense round of Killer Queen – provided you remembered to make a reservation for this SF hotspot.

Ground Kontrol
Location: Portland
A Portland mainstay since 1999, Ground Kontrol is home to the annual Portland Pinbrawl tournament. The location boasts 90 arcade cabinets spanning back to the ‘70s, and also hosts game-centric events year-round. Our favorites include the monthly Rock Band karaoke night, occasional Hearthstone gatherings, and indie game showcases. Right now, the arcade is in the middle of a massive expansion and remodel, and it also has merch available for purchase

Headquarters Beercade
Location: Chicago, Nashville
This well-stocked arcade haven boasts more than 60 arcade and pinball games, including some lesser seen greats like Narc and Primal Rage. Living up to its name, HQ features a fantastic selection of rotating craft beers, plus creative craft cocktails that take bold risks like combining Cinnamon Toast Crunch with bourbon. The interior design of the Chicago location in the River North neighborhood is also a must-see, with cool flourishes like a wall of cassette tapes behind the DJ booth.

Kung Fu Saloon
Location: Austin, Dallas, Houston, Nashville
The concept for this Austin staple proved so popular the owners have expanded into three other cities as well. Though the number of arcade cabinets doesn’t match those of other bar arcades, the lineup of fighting game classics like Street Fighter II, Mortal Kombat, and Kung Fu Master that let you show off your combat style. The new West Sixth location is more spacious than its predecessor, and it’s one of the few gaming-centric venues we know about that serves brunch. 

Location: Seattle
This undead clown lounge was almost sacrificed to the real estate gods to make room for yet another high-rise condo – the fate of too many great bars across the nation. This caused pinball and dive bar aficionados to reach out to the Landmark Preservation Board, which successfully stayed the real estate project back in 2015. The beloved Belltown bar still isn’t 100-percent clear of the wrecking ball, but for now, it’s still serving hot dogs and offering a great slate of pinball machines to its dedicated patrons. Come to drink a Rainier at the old-school dive bar, and stay to try and get that Addams Family pinball table high score.

Location: Minneapolis, Kansas City, Des Moines
Given our headquarters is in Minneapolis, chances are you could run into a Game Informer editor dropping quarters into one of the 50 arcade cabinets at this Uptown hotspot. Up-Down’s strong lineup of arcade and pinball favorites includes many favorites, but extends to deep cuts like Mr. Do! and Crystal Castles and modern games like Killer Queen and Black Emperor as well. Pizza slices satiate you between rounds, and the Skee-ball leagues don’t mess around. The impressive tap list includes 60 beers, with a large focus on regional breweries. Dedicating 30 taps to your neighbors is never a bad thing when the city boasts great options like Bent Paddle, Fulton, and Surly. 

Voice actor Jim French, who’s voiced several popular characters in Valve games, has passed away this week at the age of 89.

French’s most notable was Bill, one of the playable characters in Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2. Other notable roles include Father Grigori in Half-Life 2, Elder Titan in Dota 2, and The Fisherman in Half-Life 2: Lost Coast.

French was also a noted radio producer and host for several years, creating the show Imagination Theatre for Seattle’s KIRO station and later its KIXI station. He also created a production company, also called Imagination Theatre, which created several other radio programs. 

Game Informer offers its condolences to French’s family and friends.

[Source: Gamasutra]

If you’re new to the world of PlayStation VR as a result of the holiday,
here is some free software worth checking out, and some that isn’t. In looking at these free PlayStation VR games, I avoided demos for larger games and the couple of video platforms that are available as those are just avenues to paid content.

The games (or in some cases, experiences) you will find below are standalone, ideally in place by Sony to show off what your PlayStation VR can do, but some are barely worth the time it takes to download. Of course, with that being said, all of these come with the caveat that they are free, so you certainly don’t have to take my word for it.

The Last Guardian VR Demo
I love the universe Fumito Ueda created between Ico, Shadow of the Colossus, and The Last Guardian, and the opportunity to be quite literally inside of it and interact with Trico up close was an offer I was eager to take Sony up on. In the demo you see through the eyes of the boy as you get a sense of Trico’s scale and what it might be like to ride on his back. You also get to play through the collapsing bridge sequence that was used to re-introduce The Last Guardian to the world at E3 from the first-person perspective.

Is it worth downloading? Unfortunately, The Last Guardian VR Demo is incredibly shallow and short. About the most interesting thing is getting a chance to be face-to-face with Trico, but it just feels goofy to see the boy’s floating arms in front of you and zip around to pre-determined locations in the environment. I was excited for new Last Guardian content, but I left the demo underwhelmed, oddly both thankful and disappointed by its length.

Cyber Danganronpa VR The Class Trial Demo
This demo gives you the chance to take part in a Danganronpa trial from the first-person perspective as you try to solve to a quick mystery and get to experience one of the game’s imnpressive death sequences from a new perspective.

Is it worth downloading? A longtime fan of Danganronpa will undoubtedly get more out of this experience than me. I am familiar with the themes and concept of the series, but I didn’t know any of the characters (outside of the game’s mascot, Monokuma) and as a result, I felt like I was just witness to an intense argument that I had no familiarity with. And then I died.

Spider-Man: Homecoming – Virtual Reality Experience
As a means to help promote the Blu-ray release of Spider-Man: Homecoming, this quick VR demo gives you the chance to briefly be Spider-Man. You get to put on the Spider-Man mask, admire yourself in a mirror, shoot some webs, and then look at Vulture from a distance before you are treated to a reminder that Spider-Man: Homecoming is out on Blu-ray, you do have the ability to buy it, and everyone involved would very much appreciate it if you did.

Is it worth downloading? This feels like a quick promotional thing made for a Blu-ray release of a popular film, which, to be fair, is exactly what this is. You only web-swing twice, which seems like the main draw of VR Spider-Man, and shooting webs just feels kind of lame.

Joshua Bell VR Experience
Everyone knows Joshua Bell, right? The violinist? Or maybe pianist? Well in any case, imagine if you could be in the same room as him while he played violin and/or piano.

Is it worth downloading? This is not a video game. It’s a VR video where you get to witness first-hand a recording with a talented violinist and pianist, one of whom is Joshua Bell (I assume). I enjoy watching talented musicians play, but the Joshua Bell VR Experience is very limited. You can only rotate your head, and when you look behind you, it turns into a creepy men in a darkened room behind glass simulator.

Gary the Gull
In Gary the Gull you get to interact (sort of) with a talkative seagull who is super into whatever you have in your cooler.

Is it worth downloading? This falls into the short film category of VR experiences and while I was amused when Gary tried to distract me so I would look the other way, I was left with a profound sense of, “Okay, what was the point of that?” after the experience was over. I guess you could play again if you wanted and not look away when Gary tries to distract you?

If you ever wanted to sit on a beach without all that being outside nonsense getting in your way, then you should check out AnywhereVR.

Is it worth downloading? I was fully prepared to write-off AnywhereVR when I started playing it. You’re just sitting on a beach after all, but I actually ended up liking it a surprising amount after setting it all up and spending some time with it. It comes with two beaches for free and then you can add more beaches and locations thanks to the myriad overpriced add-ons, but even without those, this is one I would recommend checking out.

VR works really well when you can just sit and admire, and that is what AnywhereVR is all about. It is developed by Dimps, a studio known predominantly for anime games like Dragon Ball Xenoverse. Along with the beach atmosphere, you can also play a collection of puzzle games that are super-imposed on the environment and log in to twitter to see the occasional tweet fly through the air. It’s simple, weird, and relaxing, and something you should definitely add to your PlayStation VR library.

Call Of Duty: Infinite Warfare Jackal Assault VR Experience
I know it feels like a lifetime ago, but there was a time when the Call of Duty series actually took place in the future. Jackal Assault is free to download even without owning Infinite Warfare, and it briefly puts you in the cockpit of a ship during an intense space battle.

Is it worth downloading? Jackal Assault is a scaled-back version of Call of Duty with its typically sky-high production values taking a hit either as a result of the technical limitations of VR, or because it is just meant to be a free, short experience. The flying feels good (I especially liked locking onto enemies with head-tracking), but the explosions look cheap and with so many NPCs shooting and yelling, I didn’t feel like I was having much of an impact on the battle. It was just sort of happening and I was looking at it.

Air Force Special Ops: Nightfall
Air Force Special Ops: Nightfall was made with the help of the United States Air Force. It is undeniably meant to be a recruitment tool and even has text like, “We need people who can do this! Let’s see if you’ve got what it takes,” on its PlayStation Store description. In the game, you go through a series of high altitude jumps, doing your best to land in the correct locations.

Is it worth downloading? The surprising thing about Nightfall is it feels like a fully-featured game. Unlike most of the other experiences here, which are short one-offs that are done before they even feel like they’ve started, Nightfall has an assortment of levels and challenges. Plus, skydiving in VR is a cool experience! It reminded me of skydiving in Pilotwings 64, which is meant to be a compliment. I haven’t played Pilotwings 64 in years, and I am sure it is awful by today’s standards, but back in 1996, jumping out of a plane in 3D was a revelation, and I got some of those same feelings here. It is definitely a game worth checking out.

For a ninth, bonus impression of a sort-of free VR experience, head here for more on Star Wars Battlefront Rogue One: VR Mission. It’s not entirely free because it does require a PlayStation 4 copy of the original Star Wars Battlefront.

In order to work the way they do, video games employ hundreds of little tricks and sleights of hand while you’re not looking. Sometimes, though, they pull tricks right in front of you in ways you hopefully won’t notice.

Youtuber Shesez profiles one of the most common tricks of this kind: Model swaps. Because games have a limited processing budget to work with, they often have to swap out the detailed character models we may see up close for lower-resolution models when the camera pulls away, in order to make larger spaces easier to render in real time. To learn more about how developers do it and see a few instances of it in classic games, check out the latest episode of Shesez’s series, Boundary Break.

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Kotobukiya’s latest Resident Evil statue is based on the CG animated film, Resident Evil: Vendetta. This version of Leon S. Kennedy makes him look like a Gap model trying to pull off a Han Solo fsahion, but he’s actually dressed as a Division of Security Operations agent. Kennedy is equipped with his custom Sentinel Nine firearm, and the pose comes from one of the film’s bigger battles against a horde of zombies. The stand features a cartridge, shells, and a spray of blood.

No price has been given yet, but Kotobukiya plans to release this statue in July 2018. Vendetta takes place in New York, and partners Kennedy with Chris Redfield and Rebecca Chambers. Here’s hoping we get statues of these characters at a future date.

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, the battle royale game that has taken the world by storm, hits a new milestone with three million concurrent players on PC alone.

Now that the game has officially exited Early Access on Steam, it makes sense that its numbers would jump up. In September, the numbers exceeded Dota 2’s at one million. In October, they exceeded two million. Now, with a new map and vaulting, the game number of players tops three million.

These numbers has been floating around for a while, but were proven fake before today. SteamDB confirmed the actual milestone on twitter.

A more concerning milestone, however, comes from anti-cheat service BattlEye, which announced that 1.5 million accounts have been banned from Battlegrounds. Of the approximately 26,370,071 owners, that means 5.688266823399907% of the player base has been banned from the game for cheating or abusive behavior.


Our Take
As PUBG’s popularity raises, presumably the ban number will also raise proportionally. It will be interesting to see if it can break that dynamic at any point.

Capcom producer Motohiro Eshiro has promised that Ace Attorney will have some presence in 2018 in an interview with Japanese site 4Gamer.

“I believe we’ll continue working on something that will make Ace Attorney series fans happy,” Eshiro told the website. “We’re also currently coming up with a new title, so personally speaking I think it’ll be a challenging year.”

It is another hint that Capcom has not been subtle about dropping in the last few months. Last month, Capcom chief operating officer Haruhiro Tsujimoto outright said to expect a sequel to Ace Attorney on the Switch in financial year 2019, which runs from March calendar year 2018 to April calendar year 2019.

With both Ace Attorney Investigations games hitting mobile phones, it is likely whatever title is coming is being made for both.

Replay – BioShock

Beneath the surface of the ocean, at a depth where not even the
faintest trace of the sun’s mighty light can be seen, the cold, obdurate
blackness holds the future of mankind. It’s here that the underwater
metropolis known as Rapture was built with the dream of the top brass of
science congregating to build a better tomorrow. As the experiments and
theories began to take shape, science defeated common sense, and
something went wrong. Something went terribly wrong. As your bathysphere
descends toward this revered paradise, you are hit with the sinking
fear that mankind may have gone too far. It’s not until you step foot in
the ruins of this city that you realize just how real this fear is.

This is the intro paragraph to my BioShock review. I was blown away by this game, giving it a rating of 10 out of 10, and showering it with hyperbole along the lines of calling it “ingenious, enthralling, and a masterpiece of the most epic proportions.” BioShock originally released on August 21, 2007, and has recently come back for its 10th anniversary on Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Would you kindly click the play button below to see why I call it one of video games’ most important titles? Seriously, click the damn button.

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A Danish retailer called Coolshop briefly put up a date for Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption 2, which is notable as the shop has correctly leaked the Grand Theft Auto V release date 

Coolshop lists Red Dead Redemption 2, the follow up to 2010’s Red Dead Redemption, for June 8 of next year. What makes this shop listing notable is that the same online store leaked GTAV’s release ahead of the official release date announcement by Rockstar. While the last Red Dead Redemption had a variance of a few days in its release dates, Grand Theft Auto V came out worldwide the same day for every version.

In the last Red Dead Redemption 2 trailer, which you can find below, Rockstar listed the date as spring 2018, which early June would just barely fall into.

We won’t know for sure until Rockstar gives the official date, but it’s hard to wait for Red Dead Redemption 2, which will release on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

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