A Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Direct dropped today out of nowhere, showing off Joker and the Super Smash Bros 3.0 Update.

Joker arrives tomorrow on April 17 and includes Persona 3/4/5 music and themes for the Mementos stage. In his basic form, Joker has a gun, a grappling hook, and uses his knife for most of his attacks. As he takes damage, however, Joker builds up the ability to summon Arsene, the Persona he summoned in Kamoshida’s castle in Persona 5. Arsene either powers up or completely changes Joker’s moves.

Joker’s Final Smash is the All Out Attack, which mimics Persona 5 completely. He also has the Shujin Academy uniform as his alternate costume. The pack of Joker, Mementos, and the 11 music tracks are part of the fighters pass, but can be bought for $5.99.

You can watch the Smash Direct below.

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The Direct also detailed some new content for the 3.0 update like the Stage Builder, which has been in previous Smash Bros. games. The Stage Builder supports both a controller and the touchscreen. Players can add different layers to stages when creating them, as well. The update adds video editing, which can be shared in the game. The Smash World, the social service announced last November, also supports video sharing and level sharing.

In addition, the 3.0 update includes new Mii costumes like Morgana, Persona 4’s protagonist, Persona 3’s protagonist, Tails, and Knuckles.

Sega had a brief stint where they went crazy with external partnerships and in a few instances that really seemed to burn them. After signing deals for a number of games, and getting some pretty major flops in return, the company went on a tear of cancellations like Bayonetta 2, which was eventually brought back to life, and an Aliens RPG they planned to make with Obsidian. Now we finally get some more details about what that RPG, titled Aliens: Crucible might have been.

Talking with VG247, former Obsidian developer and industry-at-large writer Chris Avellone explained a little of what Obsidian wanted to do with the game when the ink was drying on the contract.

“Aliens: Crucible was really sad to see cancelled, but I don’t blame Sega for it,” Avellone told VG247 . “It would be like – this is going to be really rough comparison – basically Mass Effect but more terrifying.”

In the game, the player was going to an alien planet and would find an installation left behind by the Engineers. This is pretty similar to the plot of the 2012 film Prometheus, which itself is tied into the Alien mythos. The similarities don’t really end there.

“But as you’re entering the atmosphere, [you realize] that this planet is incredibly unstable, so your entire crew gets blasted all over the planet,” Avellone explained. “And you land and the player, and some marines, and your squads, and scientists – and the weird thing is that when Prometheus came out, I saw some of the similarities, [and thought] ‘oh, we had a character like that’. But the entire world was more violent and there were a lot more Aliens running around. It was more a question of survival, and ‘how do we recover all the supplies, and desperately try to make a base?’ It was fun to set up.”

The game would also make it so the the xenomorphs could appear anywhere and anytime, even when you were having a conversation with another person.

A few years ago, we spoke with Aliens: Crucible writer Eric Fenstermaker and got a number of details about the cancelled game.

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[Source: VG247]

During Microsoft’s Inside Xbox stream today, the company announced that Ninja Gaiden II will be Xbox One X enhanced as it arrives on the backwards compatibility list for Xbox One games. This means that the game will run at a higher resolution than its original 360 release.

The second 3D action Ninja Gaiden game is also famously Tomonobu Itagaki’s final game with Tecmo, having quit just before the game’s release. Itagaki sued Tecmo for withheld bonuses and thus tends not to respond to talk about the game. It also got a Sigma re-release on PlayStation 3 later, but replaced a lot of the game’s gore and bloodspray with a purple mist.

In addition to Ninja Gaiden, Microsoft also revealed that several previously backwards compatible games will be Xbox One X enhanced as well. This includes Splinter Cell Blacklist, Splinter Cell Conviction, Splinter Cell Double Agent, and Fable 2 and 3.

You don’t always need to reinvent the wheel, you just need four really good wheels. How existing mechanics could give form to the Avengers game.

With over 10 years and 21 movies behind it, Avengers: Endgame will finally wrap up an epic, connected film arc for Marvel Studios. Now with Insomniac’s Spider-Man setting up a larger Marvel “gameverse,” questions are bubbling over for what we can expect from Crystal Dynamics’ upcoming Avengers game. Since its announcement in 2017, news has been pretty sparse about the project.

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Aside from the bleak teaser, Marvel says, “The Avengers project, featuring a completely new and original story, will introduce a universe gamers can play in for years to come. The project will be jammed pack with characters, environments, and iconic moments that will thrill Marvelites.”

This allows a few different possibilities. Taken at face value, this could mean that the Avengers project is literally a game that can be played for years, implying Crystal Dynamics is making some sort of online, live-service game akin to Destiny or The Division 2. While the popularity of those games is certainly not something to ignore, this could also be Marvel’s way of saying that the world that the game takes place in will be shared between a number of other game worlds. Meaning, hypothetically, Spider-Man’s world, the Avengers, and any upcoming Marvel games could, like the films, be part of a shared universe.

It could also be both of those things, but this has our minds reeling thinking of the potential for a wide-open, single-player Avengers game. If this game could include not only the characters hinted at in the trailer – Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, and Captain America – but other Marvel superheroes, then how would we assemble our own Avengers game? We look to games past and present for inspiration to find how we hope The Avengers game will come together.

Iron Man

Say what you will about Anthem and some of its various design choices, but one thing the Avengers could swipe from BioWare’s latest game is the way you are able to seamlessly launch into the air and fly the game’s already very Iron Man-like Javelins. With a sufficiently open space to work with, flying around with the fluidity of the javelins – but perhaps less restricted by overheating – would be a great start to making Iron Man feel comparable to the gods and hulking beasts on his team.

Many of the heroes’ abilities are well suited for more open environments. The game could have more focused, linear levels as well, but an open world for Iron Man or Thor to play around in. Ideally all the characters would be able to traverse the open world at some point as well, just with their own unique skills. It could function like the Marvel Lego games in that regard, so getting around is different depending on who you control. We wouldn’t want them to waste a perfectly good open-world on only some of the characters.

Thor

With so many characters to control, it could be a tall order for the developers to flesh out each one, but for a large-scale production like this seems to be, we’d be interested in seeing the characters take center stage at different parts of the story. They could work alone before finally reuniting. When Thor takes center stage, then, he should look to another prominent video game god for inspiration.

God of War, which itself seemed to crib from Thor’s playbook, would be an excellent place to start. Thor’s primary super power, aside from being a powerful god that can summon lightning, lies with his impossibly heavy hammer, Mjölnir. In the comics and films, Thor hurls Mjölnir into his enemies and stoically summons it back to his hand.

Throwing and recalling Kratos’ axe feels powerful, and shamelessly copying the same feature for Thor’s hammer would make playing as the thunder god exhilarating. Obviously, the game could give Thor devastating lighting attacks, but being able to sling the hammer into a group of enemies and recall it without breaking stride would make us feel suitably heroic. 

But much like Iron Man – and unlike Kratos – Thor can fly, so being able to cast lighting at a nearby rooftop before lodging Mjölnir in the alien equivalent of a skull would be perfect. Infamous showed that having lightning function similarly to a gun in a third-person shooter is immensely satisfying, and we would like to see it alongside Thor’s entire suite of abilities.

Hulk

2005’s The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction captured the raw and unrestricted power of the Hulk, and we’d like to see Crystal Dynamics look to it to it for ideas. That game saw the angry, green scientist running up buildings and tearing apart cars to use as souped-up boxing gloves; an idea that still sounds cool 14 years later.

Obviously he should hit hard, but the freedom of movement and his particular brand of rage-induced mayhem are of the utmost importance. Since Ultimate Destruction, we’ve seen plenty of games handle traversal in an open-world well, but Crackdown 3 is a recent standout. We want Hulk to launch himself around the map with grace and precision – hopefully while throwing cars across the city.

And while the Hulk should be able to swiftly navigate the rooftops, we’d also like to see the World-Breaker really earn his nickname. It would be great for him to shred through entire buildings like it’s Red Faction. If that’s not practical, he should at least be leaving buildings in a worse state than he found them. We want to see Hulk smash.

Captain America

Captain America is the de facto leader of The Avengers, but his abilities don’t lend themselves to the high-flying heroics of his comrades. While he might not run up buildings and summon lightning strikes, he is a scrappy fighter and uncompromising leader. We’d like to see Cap take on that leadership role in the game as well. Games like Mass Effect show a good way to issue orders while still remaining present in the fight.

We envision a game where the strong centenarian can deftly move between flashy third-person action combat and tactical decisions for the team. When Captain America is at the helm, we want to be able to sic the Hulk on larger enemies or Iron Man on distant foes. Then we could call Thor to hammer Cap’s shield for an area-of-effect attack. We want to be able to pause and make snap decisions for the Avengers that could create fun, dynamic team-up abilities. Captain America is the leader, but he also gets into the action, so like Commander Shepard, he should be able to easily juggle giving commands and putting bad guys in the dirt.

Spider-Man

Insomniac’s Spider-Man should obviously be left mostly untouched, as swinging through New York and taking out thugs felt sensational. But for The Avengers we’d like to see his repertoire expand to be more focused on team combat. If he could swing in and give an assist to Iron Man or pin an enemy to a car so Captain America can finish the job, it would make Spidey really feel like part of the team.

Hawkeye

There are other characters fighting alongside the big names as well. As an example, what about Hawkeye? It’s the guy with the arrows. He could be like the protagonist from Crysis 3: completely forgettable.

What do you want to see in the Avengers game when it finally gets revealed? Are there mechanics from other games that you think would lend themselves well to Earth’s mightiest heroes? Let us know in the comments and check out the Avengers: Endgame trailer and read the latest rumblings about the game’s release.

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Publisher: Hörberg Productions
Developer: Hörberg Productions
Release: April 3, 2019
Rating: Everyone 10+
Reviewed on: Switch

I already know what I need to do to beat the massive mech towering over me. First, I must destroy its vulnerable plate armor while dodging the lasers, energy balls, and rockets it throws my way. Then, when it hurls a punch at me, I need to jump on its fist and run up its arm to bash in the power core. I know its pattern, so I just need to survive until I can put my plan into action. The platforming is loose, but after several attempts, I finally destroy the power core on its head. However, my celebration soon turns to dismay; that was only its first form, and now the real test of my mettle begins.

Encounters like these are common in Mechstermination Force, an intense 2D shooter that harkens back to classics like Contra and Metal Slug. However, instead of blowing through waves of enemies, each stage is a drawn-out boss fight against a giant mechanical monster. While the controls are sometimes annoying, the loop is satisfying: You chip away at your foe’s armor from a distance, then get up close to whack an exposed power core. These battles are grueling, with the robots often taking multiple forms and adopting various patterns for you to learn over the course of repeated tries. You’re going to die several times on each boss, but Mechstermination Force makes sure that you learn from your mistakes, and pushing through challenges that initially seem insurmountable makes your eventual victory even sweeter.

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The bosses are enormous, requiring you to climb on top of and, sometimes, through their bodies. My favorite battle was against a towering two-headed beast, which had me blasting through its insides, section by section, on the way to its two long, climbable necks. Once there, I dodged lasers and electric waves to reach the power cores. Fighting all the way to the top and taking out the two heads to kill the mech felt like a true triumph, and sticks out as the most memorable sequence of the campaign.

These encounters are fun, but much like the mechs, the action has some weak points. The shooting is smooth and exact, but the platforming is another story. Jumping can feel slippery, and once you unlock the ability to climb, latching onto surfaces is inconsistent. Watching your character fall all the way to the bottom of a building-tall mech because of a missed wall-grab is infuriating. Some bosses intentionally send you flying when you attack their power cores, resetting your position to scale them once more. Unfortunately, you’re sometimes thrown directly into harm’s way or down a pit, which is maddening. This experience is hard enough without extra layers of difficulty due to poor controls and random chance.

This becomes an even bigger barrier during the final battle, as the skills and strategies you’ve learned are nullified. The patient 2D platforming and careful planning give way to a frantic bullet-hell space level. While I don’t mind that style, this final mech fight felt like I was playing a completely different game. This is further accentuated by the fact that the new controls (used only for this battle) are imprecise, making the most difficult encounter feel downright unfair.

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Over the course of the adventure, you earn thousands of coins, which can be used to purchase additional health and weapons. While the spread shot and grenade launcher are powerful in the right situations, I leaned toward the versatile laser, since it ricochets off surfaces and clears some enemy projectiles away like a windshield wiper. Unfortunately, experimentation is rarely satisfying, as the weapons all pack similar punch, and it really comes down to the firing patterns you prefer. The close-range flamethrower seems useless, and the final unlock isn’t nearly worth the price. Once I had all the weapons, I regretted buying anything beyond the laser; I should have just poured those coins into my character’s health.

If a section is too difficult, you can bring a friend along through local cooperative play. Having an extra gun is awesome, and co-op partners inherit all your unlocked weapons and health upgrades. However, once a character dies, they can’t rejoin the fight. Less experienced players who die fast are left putting their controller on the table and watching the remaining player beat the boss alone. However, since the game doesn’t scale difficulty for an extra player, it is undoubtedly the easiest path to victory, providing a good way to mitigate the challenge if you get stuck.

Even through my multiple gritted-teeth attempts at the battles, I loved figuring out the puzzle of how to take down each monstrous foe. Finally executing on your plan to defeat a boss you’ve been stuck on is beyond rewarding. Mechstermination Force is action packed and exciting, but hit-or-miss controls and a disappointing final boss prevent it from reaching its best form.

Score: 7.5

Summary: Mechstermination Force is an intense 2D boss-rush shooter that delivers excitement, triumph, and frustration.

Concept: Blast and bash massive mechs in a challenging 2D boss-rush shooter

Graphics: Bright colors and inventive mech designs don’t make up for the otherwise bland design

Sound: An upbeat score matches the intense action, but generic sound effects annoy after the first few bosses

Playability: Smooth shooting mechanics and useful upgrades help compensate for slippery platforming and inconsistent climbing, but falling during your ascent of a boss is still frustrating

Entertainment: Climbing and destroying a massive robot is exciting, but the basic gameplay falters too often for a game that requires such precision

Replay: Moderate

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Since its inception in 2017, Game Pass has been a focal point for Xbox. The subscription service that grants players access to over 100 games at no additional charge has continually grown its library and shows no signs of slowing down. Today, Xbox announced Xbox Game Pass Ultimate.

This new membership bundles the platform’s two subscriptions into one monthly price. Game Pass Ultimate includes Game Pass as well as Xbox Live Gold. With your subscription to Game Pass Ultimate, you get access to every game in the Game Pass library, multiplayer over Xbox Live, and all the other benefits included with Xbox Live Gold like Deals with Gold and Games with Gold.

The subscription will cost $15 a month when it launches later this year.

As was previously reported, Microsoft has announced an Xbox One model that features no disc drive. The Xbox One S All-Digital Edition retails for a slightly lower price than a standard Xbox One S, and includes three digital games.

The Xbox One S All-Digital Edition is designed for people who know they want to get their games digitally or rely heavily on the platform holder’s Game Pass subscription. In addition to a special offer for a Game Pass subscription, the Xbox One S All-Digital Edition also includes digital copies of Forza Horizon 3, Minecraft, and Sea of Thieves.

The Xbox One S All-Digital Edition launches on May 7 and retails for $250, $50 less than a standard Xbox One S.

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We’ve been dying to unpack everything in From Software’s Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice ever since we started getting glimpses of what the full game offered during our cover story trip last year.  On this episode of Spoiled, Suriel Vazquez, Javy Gwaltney, and Dan Tack (who wrote the review) gather around the table and talk about the game’s high highs and ever-frustrating lows. Watch the video discussion above to learn what the office’s biggest From Software fans thought was the best boss and how the game ranks compared to Dark Souls and Bloodborne.

Blizzard’s newest Overwatch Archives event is now live. You can now grab some friends or matchmake into Overwatch’s Storm Rising mission, a PvE mission to take down a rough enemy from the Overwatch team’s past.

Like other Overwatch Archives event, the Brawl this time is meant to give you a little bit of a look into the game’s lore before everything went south. While this one features a team of Tracer, Genji, Mercy, and Winston, you can go back to previous years’ Brawls while the event is going on to play those, as well.

Of course, there’s also the new cosmetics for you to try to get, too.

The Storm Rising event lasts until May 6 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

Resident Evil 2 and Devil May Cry 5 released earlier this year to high praise. We got a chance to sit down and talk with two prolific composers – Jeff Rona and Cody Matthew Johnson – that contributed to both games’ assorted soundtracks. Their musical work has also been featured in games like God of War III and Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite.

What makes composing video games different from other industries?

Cody Matthew Johnson: Movies and TV are linear; they go in one direction from A to B. But in video games you’re composing not only linearly (because there’s a point at which the game starts and ends) but you’re composing vertically as well. You have to think about the interactivity of the music. I guarantee you that people are much more passionate about video game scores than film scores simply because you can tap your foot to it; you can sing along to a noticeable melody. With video games, you have the opportunity to be a bit more creative and challenge yourself sonically, but, most importantly, get a player completely immersed and stuck in the fantasy.

What does Capcom bring to the table that other developers don’t? What makes working with them so special?

Jeff Rona: I wouldn’t say that Capcom is a monolithic, single-celled entity. In fact, the Marvel vs. Capcom team was a different team than the Devil May Cry team which was in a different city in Japan than the Resident Evil team. In each case, Cody and I got emails from the director saying ‘this is my vision for the game’ and it would often come down to one word like industrial, metal, grunge, etc. I give Capcom a lot of credit; they really like to have a lot of contrast. They came to us with a very specific request but each director has the freedom to say ‘this is how I see this game sounding. This is how I see this character sounding.’ They understand that every game and every character has a style and ask themselves ‘how can we push this a little harder and what can we do that we haven’t done?’ So they challenge themselves, first and foremost. Then they invite us to help them figure out how to honor the franchise with completely fresh ears.

Cody, what inspired Dante’s theme (“Subhuman”) in Devil May Cry 5?

Devil May Cry is this weird balance. You have these heavy concepts like blood, demons, angels, and hundreds of thousands of people dying for no reason. But the characters are cocky and have raunchy dialogue, so we needed to think about that. Capcom started describing how they wanted the music to sound and within three or four sentences they included words like aggressive, metal, guitar, and synth about seven times. After everything, I just wrote down a quick sentence that was the synopsis I was thinking about: aggressive, metal-hybrid with brain-shaking synths and requiem choirs. It’s kind of a nasty beast to imagine.

Jeff, what did you bring to V’s theme (“Crimson Cloud”) as opposed to Kratos in God of War III?

God of War is one of Sony’s most popular game franchises. The words that kept coming up again and again with [game director] Stig Asmussen was: ancient, epic, and dark. So God of War III was a big orchestra and huge drums, with Middle Eastern and Asian influences.

But with “Crimson Cloud”? Forget all of that. V is new, in terms of playable characters. So, Capcom said forget anything that’s ever been in Devil May Cry, but, specifically, stay away from guitars. So “Crimson Cloud” is a very aggressive piece of music and probably the loudest thing I’ve ever written. Capcom knew the tempo they wanted. They wanted a female vocalist and they wanted it to be very electronic with distortion. The main thing is that they wanted to make sure that what I did was in fairly stark contrast to the game’s other battle themes.

Lastly, you both worked together on Resident Evil 2. Could you talk a bit about its true-ending theme “Saudade?”

Jeff: Well, “saudade” is a Portuguese word that the director was very fond of, but it doesn’t have an equivalent translation in English. It means something to the effect of: the love that is left when something or someone is gone. Where nostalgia is the pain of remembering, saudade is less about loss and more about the acknowledgement of everything in life eventually going away.

Cody: We were writing a song solely focused on nailing the emotional aspect of Resident Evil 2, to wrap it up in three minutes. We got sent a story that was a few paragraphs long with one word at the top that said: reunion. Kazunori Kadoi wanted the story to be reflected in the song and in its lyrics. The narrative follows a man who moves to a city to fulfill his aspirations. 20 years pass, and he realizes that the city is a facade; he’s looking back at what it’s like to be young and to have hope. That story resonated with Kadoi, looking back on creating the original Resident Evil 2 and defining the survival horror genre. Now, 20 years later, he’s remaking it. Not only is the story of the game about reunion – Claire and Leon branching off and then eventually coming back at the end – but now there’s this added element that Kadoi wanted us to understand: of reunion to self, of revisiting what you and your life used to be.


For more on video game music, read our interview with the composer of Captain Marvel and Fortnite, or check out exclusive footage detailing The Creation of Sekiro’s Soundtrack.