Panzer Dragoon Orta

Earlier today, Sega and a company named Forever Entertainment announced that they would be co-creating and co-publishing remakes for Sega’s Saturn shooter Panzer Dragoon and its sequel Panzer Dragoon II: Zwei. The first game will be made available before the end of 2019, if all things go according to schedule.

Forever Entertainment is a Polish publisher and developer which is known for a large number of games, but most notably the recent Fear Effect: Sedna. The company obtained the license through a Square Enix program that licenses out old IPs to developers that want to do something with them, which they certainly did as you can tell from our review.

The company describes the games as “refreshes” that conform to modern graphical standards, though it is unclear exactly what they mean by either descriptor. 

“The entire Panzer Dragoon series has been repeatedly remade and released on many platforms,” Forever Entertainment writes in a press release. “The last re-launch took place in April 2018 on Xbox One, where players can play Panzer Dragoon Orta with a backward compatibility. The new version of the game will be characterized by a completely new graphics compatible with today’s standards and several modifications of the game, making it more attractive to modern players, while remaining faithful to the original in terms of story.”

Press inquiries to Sega are redirected back to Forever Entertainment, with the Japanese company stating that they are not involved with the title. Forever did not yet respond to our inquiry of how Sega is co-creating the games in that instance.

The two Panzer Dragoon games being remade are both rail shooters made by Yukio Futatsugi, who later went on to make the Xbox One launch title Crimson Dragon. He is currently working on Swery65’s pet-based mystery game, The Good Life. The Panzer Dragoon series also birthed the rare and lauded Panzer Dragoon Saga, which sells for over $1000 for mint condition western copies.

I was talking with Game Informer creative director and friend Jeff Akervik one day, and somewhere in the conversation NHL 98 came up – specifically its intro. I never played the game back in the day, and I don’t think I could remember hardly any sports game intro off the top of my head – that’s how pedestrian most of them are.

Akervik was not only adamant that I see the intro, but that it was one of his favorites in all of video games. After finding the video on YouTube and chuckling at the thorough ’90s-ness of the production and a bygone era of the NHL, the metal guitar riffs kicked in, sending the intro to another level that concluded – fittingly – with an explosion.

Suitably impressed, I was curious how the whole thing came about. In these days of pervasive licensed music, the NHL 98 intro is striking for its tenor and commendable for simply going for it.

One of the people behind the intro is Jeff van Dyck veteran video game composer and audio director who has won BAFTA awards for Alien: Isolation and Shogun: Total War Warlord Edition. Van Dyck and Saki Kaskas both wrote the music for the game, and I talked to Van Dyck about the game and his time with the NHL series.

The Word of that Game Was ‘Distortion’

“Nobody was really filtering what we were doing,” says Van Dyck of his and Kaskas’ work on NHL 98, “and it seemed like the further we pushed it the more people liked it.”

Despite the relatively harmonious process of working on the game itself, Van Dyck did not get off on the right foot with soon-to-be-employer Electronic Arts when he interviewed for EA Canada in Vancouver in 1992. Van Dyck answered a job posting for an audio programmer even though he wasn’t a programmer at all.

“I was interviewed by all these programmers, and I just failed that interview miserably,” he says. “But two weeks later they phoned me back and said, ‘You’re a crap audio programmer, but you’re obviously really good at producing music. We’d like to offer you a job in our audio department.'”

Despite his proficiency, van Dyck wasn’t trusted with game music straight out of the gate, but was tasked with creating sound effects for the PC version of the NHL series on the then-standard Sound Blaster sound cards. After writing music for inline skating title Skitchin’, Van Dyck earned composer duties for NHL 96 on PC.

Van Dyck says that all the music for the game was streamed so they weren’t limited by the technology at the time, allowing him to record music and put it straight into the game – a process which led him to bring Saki Kaskas to EA, whom Van Dyck met through the Vancouver music scene, and the two were in a jazz/prog-rock band. Kaskas’ guitar work impressed those within EA, and the pair co-wrote music through NHL 98.

“[Producer Ken Sayler] said something like, ‘There should be a voice in here, an announcer, saying some stuff. Can you write some stuff?” remembers Van Dyck of composing music for the intro. “And I said, ‘I’m not really sure what he should say,’ and basically [Sayler] just rattled off what you hear in that intro. It was very flippant, the way he issued it. I think he was expecting me to re-write it, but at the time I just went, ‘Well, it sounds good enough to me.'”

Van Dyck wrote and jammed along to the game, composing mainly on keyboard (mapping bass and drums onto the keys) and trying to go with the flow of the vibe he was getting from the game itself. He gravitated to the en vogue industrial sound of the time, adding synths and a drum machine. Van Dyck says engineer Ken “Hiwatt” Marshall had a lot to do with the overall sound. “The word of that game was ‘distortion’ – there’s distortion on everything in that game. At some point were we going to push the music so hard that the execs would say, ‘Look you guys, you’ve gone too far with this?’ But nobody every said, ‘stop.'” Appropriately, a running gag during recording was ending songs with an explosion, which thankfully made its way into the intro itself.

Marshall used digital plug-ins to produce effects, and liked to include some “trickery,” says Van Dyck, into the songs, including producing and recording feedback from a radio and distilling a song of Kaskas’ down into what ended up sounding like a drill solo. Van Dyck says that they weren’t really limited by technology or budget, and at one point they flew a drummer in from Toronto to record although they sampled him and used some loops in the game rather than his actual playing.

At the end of NHL 98, Van Dyck didn’t take much notice to how fans reacted to the game or his work – in the pre-heyday of the internet, his attitude was to just move on to the next project. “EA appreciated it,” he says. “They knew we were stepping out of the box to do something that stood out.”

Moving Into a New Era

For NHL 99, Van Dyck knew he was going to once again work on the intro, but foreshadowing the future, the intro and its music was built around a licensed song – David Bowie’s classic “Heroes.” Van Dyck thought the use of Bowie’s song was very cool, even though it wasn’t his choice and he didn’t know how everything went together with the music he composed until he saw the final product.

NHL 99 was written after Van Dyck moved to Australia, and as fate would have it, Van Dyck lived blocks away from EA Australia. This enabled him to do some work for their titles like Rugby, Cricket, and Australian Rules Football, as well as EA’s Sled Storm, among others. EA Australia was also the distributor of Sega’s Shogun Total War, and this lose connection enabled him to be hired onto that project, which led to another successful phase in his career.

Today Van Dyck composes music and audio for indie titles, including PC RTS Forts. He is also working on a project to honor Kaskas, who unfortunately passed away in 2016. Van Dyck is finishing off the solo album Kaskas’ was recording at the time, including getting some of Kaskas’ friends to play on it. Van Dyck hopes to have the project finished in the summer of 2019.

EA’s shift toward using EA Trax and its licensed music was part of what led to Van Dyck moving on from the NHL series and the company, but his and Kaskas’ work is remembered fondly. Van Dyck says he gets messages from fans who love the music during his run, saying it brings them back to a better time of their youth, even if the artist in Van Dyck is always critical. “I listen to some of my older stuff and I cringe a little bit because I feel like I’m better at it now than I was back then,” he says. “Why did I mix it like that? Why are those notes there?”

I disagree. Watching and listening to NHL 98 today, it seems almost perfect.

It was kind of a surprise last year when Doom was abruptly announced and then quickly released for the Nintendo Switch. The game had to make some concessions to fit on Nintendo’s lower-powered console compared to its PS4 and Xbox One releases, but porting studio Panic Button did a noticeably good job with a tough task. Now, a year after release, the developer is issuing an anniversary patch to, among other things, help the game run better.

As explained in the tweet, Doom now allows you to add friends to your friends list based on recent player data, meaning you can befriend or make a friendly rival out of someone you played against in multiplayer. Video capture was also added, which speaks to further optimizations, as video capture apparently uses up a degree of system resources so several games don’t support it.

Panic Button is also behind the Switch port of Doom Eternal, the still in-development Doom sequel, meaning that the performance optimizations are likely because of work getting on Doom Eternal being able to transfer backwards.

Doom Eternal is scheduled for release on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC in 2019.

Warner Bros. Studios

Godzilla, the newest kaiju movie from Warner Bros and the latest film in their self-dubbed MonsterVerse, has finally gotten a second trailer elucidating a little on the odds stacked up against Godzilla. Of course humans are at risk, too, but that seems less important.

Check out the trailer below.

The trailer openly pontificates on the idea of weaponizing Godzilla, which is an idea that seems great with basically no flaws in it. Mothra, Rodan, and Ghidorah eventually make the decision way easier by wrecking things up in, well, a war of the monsters.

Godzilla releases in theaters on May 31. 

Back in July, Stardew Valley developer ConcernedApe and former/sporadic publisher Chucklefish announced that multiplayer would be coming to the Harvest Moon-like game eventually. While it has been out on PC since August, the Switch version hasn’t had any updates beyond a brief mention last week that it is in submission. Now it looks like we’ll be seeing the multiplayer update in just a matter of days.

The update letting the game access multiplayer is coming Wednesday, December 12. The new multiplayer will let you build a farm with friends, get married, attend events together, and basically live the dream farm life with someone else. 

There’s also a number of single-player improvements, such as a traveling night market, new characters, and your horse can wear hats. You can find the full list of changes and improvements here. Updates for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One are also on their way, while the Vita version was confirmed not to be getting the multiplayer update due to technological reasons.

Developer ConcernedApe recently transitioned the PS4, Xbox One, and PC versions to self-publishing Stardew Valley under his own label, while Chucklefish retained the rights to publish the Switch and mobile versions.

Within the fiction of Id Software’s universe, it’s been nearly three decades since the ending of the original Rage, and the various groups that Nicholas Raine squared off against have shifted radically with the landscape and times, their philosophies and the roles they play becoming more developed. Here are the five factions of bandits, outlaws, monsters, and outcasts you can expect to fight during your furious travels and what drives them.

Goon Squad
Originally the group of British punk-looking bandits known as Wasteland, the Goon Squad has become even more nihilistic and depraved since the conclusion of the first game. “Their aesthetic has evolved from that British punk look to something rooted in any wild junk culture you might find,” says Narrative Director Odd Ahlgren. “They’re all about completely unfiltered violence.” The Goon Squad is one of the few agendaless factions in the Wasteland, causing havoc for the sake of it, and even cheering when their allies are killed in battle. “For them, death is probably the ultimately sensation,” narrative gameplay director Loke Wallmo.

Until recently they haven’t been too troublesome, sticking to harassing passersby. However, someone is giving them destructive weapons that they’re unleashing on anyone in sight. “Who is giving them these weapons and why is a mystery that will unravel throughout the game,” Ahlgren teases.

The Authority
The foes of the first game return, as does their leader Martin Cross. A vicious, fascist regime that seeks to impose Cross’ vision on the world, they will stop at nothing to squash the bandits and force the inhabitants of the world to get in line. As the times have changed, so has the tech and soldiers the Authority uses. “The Authority has replaced the free-thinking mutants with more cybernetic implants to have more control over them,” Ahlgren says, with much of the Authority’s troops being pathetic fodder soldiers that look pitiful and grotesque. Even Cross, who’s been using a faulty method of cloning to keep himself alive throughout the years, is little more than a torso and head screwed into a giant exosuit, but that doesn’t stop this faction from being incredibly deadly thanks to their numbers and advanced tech.

Immortal Shrouded
During the war that raged between Rage 1 and 2, the hyper-militaristic group known as The Shrouded sided with the villainous authority. The alliance was short-lived. “They realized that the Authority was taking advantage of them,” says Ahlgren, “but because they had a warrior’s Bushido type code they couldn’t back down. They decided to symbolically kill themselves by decimating a tenth of their own people.” Since the culling, the soldiers have started wearing masks, vowing to never let anyone take advantage of them again. The Immortal Shrouded have advanced technology to go along with their military training, making them one of the deadliest factions in the land. We often saw them using electric swords and cloaking technology in battles against the Goon Squad and Walker.

River Hogs
This faction sticks to the swampy wetlands of Rage 2, which is fitting because these folks are nasty. Essentially a “very trashy” biker gang, the River Hogs enjoy all sorts of excess: drugs, drinking, sex, and being obscene. Don’t let their indulgences fool you though: The River Hogs are very competent mechanics (building and maintaining all their vehicles and equipment) and quite dangerous. We watched Walker square off against a giant mech in one of the swamp’s trashyards and come away with more than a few scrapes.

The Abadon
One of the big twists of the last game was that the dangerous mutants that roamed the Wasteland were in fact the result of horrific experiments put on by the Authority. When the Authority withdrew from battle, they left their mutant military leaders (called Warheads) behind like discarded munitions. The Warheads gathered the other less intelligent mutants and formed a new society called The Abadon. We won’t spoil the reason behind the name because it’s something you should find out for yourself but, rest assured, it’s amusing. The Abadon form one of the most interesting groups in Rage 2, with a simplistic religion that mandates sacrificing humans to a god to keep death at bay, thanks to their sympathetic plight to find salvation in a dangerous world.

For more on Rage 2 be sure to check out our cover story hub by clicking on the banner below.

The Sonic the Hedgehog movie has been a point of curiosity for a number of months ever since Sega confirmed its existence. A lot has been especially made of the film’s choice to blend CG and live action, starring James Marsden and Jim Carrey in key roles along with an animated Sonic. No footage has been released of the movie outside of set shots, meaning there hasn’t been a good look at Sonic himself, until a new teaser appeared today.

Courtesy of IGN, the animated movie poster shows a Sonic with decidedly more human-like proportions. The poster shows Sonic kneeling in a preparing-to-run pose and lightning bolts lighting up his silhouette. 

It’s…a lot to take in.

Sonic the Hedgehog isn’t the only video game-related movie to eschew the cartoonish art of its source material for a more realistic look, as Detective Pikachu did something similar with its first trailer. Sonic is taking it a step further going by this poster, but it remains to be seen how it actually works in the film. Sonic the Hedgehog is still a year away and could look perfectly natural by the time it releases. But for right now, yikes.

Capcom has made a few announcements about the future of Monster Hunter: World, including a new expansion, Iceborne, which comes out next fall.

Iceborne brings with it new quest ranks, monsters, and more – all within its own story that takes place after the base game.

Early next year, however, hunters will be able to play as Geralt of Rivia from The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, featuring his own quests and gameplay.

In other Monster Hunter news, to celebrate the game’s one-year anniversary, in January there is an Appreciation Fest, including a newly decorated gathering hub and special quests.

Before then, starting tomorrow (4 p.m. PST), a free trial (PS4, Xbox One) of the base game is available to those who haven’t played it through December 17 (3:59 p.m. PST), and if you decide to buy the game outright, your progress transfers to the main title.

Finally, the Kulve Taroth Siege special event quest returns on December 20, featuring an Arch Tempered version of the monster as well as more powerful rewards.

Developer Team Meat recently announced that Super Meat Boy Forever, the hotly anticipated sequel to 2010’s Super Meat Boy, is arriving this April. 

Super Meat Boy Forever will launch on Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC. For its PC version, it will be launching exclusively on the Epic Games Store, meaning it won’t be on Steam like its predecessor. 

You can watch the newest trailer for the auto runner below.  

Outside of its release launch window, no concrete release date has been given just yet. Be sure to read about our 14 reasons why Super Meat Boy Forever looks like a promising sequel.

Earlier today, CBS aired its first ever video game-centric award show, titled the Gamers’ Choice Awards. With 50 different categories, fans voted for their favorite genres, streamers, games, esports players, and more.

Fortnite received five GCA awards and streamer Ninja was awarded three. Ninja was also in attendance at the show today, along with other celebrity and esport stars.

Here are the full list of winners:

Fan Favorite Game: Fortnite

Fan Favorite Male Gamer/Streamer presented by Overpowered: TimTheTatman 

Fan Favorite Female Gamer/Streamer:  Pokimane

Most Anticipated Game: The Last of Us II  

Fan Favorite Action Game: Marvel’s Spider-Man

Fan Favorite Single Player Gaming Experience: Marvel’s Spider-Man

Fan Favorite Multiplayer Game: Fortnite 

Fan Favorite Shooter Game: Call of Duty: Black Ops4

Fan Favorite Celebrity Gamer (Actor): Terry Crews

Fan Favorite Celebrity Gamer (Athlete): Juju Smith-Schuster

Fan Favorite Celebrity Gamer (Musician): Snoop Dogg

Fan Favorite Esports Team: FaZe Clan

Fan Favorite Esports Game: Fortnite

Fan Favorite Esports Player (League of Legends): Faker

Fan Favorite Battle Royale Game: Fortnite

Fan Favorite Fighting Game: DragonBall FighterZ

Fan Favorite Sports/Racing Game: Rocket League

Fan Favorite Family-Friendly Multiplayer Game: Super Mario Party

Fan Favorite Role-Playing Game: Monster Hunter: World

Fan Favorite MMORPG: World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth

Fan Favorite VR Game: Beat Saber

Fan Favorite Mobile Game: Pokémon GO

Most Desired Franchise Resurrection: Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

Fan Favorite Indie Game: Subnautica

Fan Favorite Gaming Device: PC

Fan Favorite Gaming Convention: TwitchCon 

Favorite Streaming Service: Twitch 

Fan Favorite Gaming Moment presented by HyperX: Drake plays with Ninja

Fan Favorite Female Voice Actor: Camilla Luddington as Lara Croft (Shadow of the Tomb Raider

Fan Favorite Character of the Year: Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Marvel’s Spider-Man

Fan Favorite Retro Game: Super Mario Brothers

Fan Favorite Retro Character: Mario (Super Mario Bros.)

Fan Favorite Esports Player (Dota 2): Miracle 

Fan Favorite Esports Player (Super Smash Bros Melee): Magn0

Fan Favorite Esports Player (Dragon Ball FighterZ): SonicFox

Fan Favorite Esports Player (CS:GO): s1mple

Fan Favorite Esports Player (Overwatch): Profit

Fan Favorite Esports Player (Rocket League): Squishy 

Fan Favorite Esports Player (PUBG): Fuzzface

Fan Favorite Esports Player (Fortnite): Ninja

Fan Favorite Overall Esports Player: Ninja

Fan Favorite Esports Caster Duo: Monte and Doa

Fan Favorite Esports Caster: CouRage

Fan Favorite Esports Event of the Year: Call of Duty: World League Grand Finals

Fan Favorite Esports Moment: Cloud9 Wins Boston Major

Fan Favorite Esports League Format: Fortnite– Community Skirmishes

Fan Favorite Male Voice Actor: Christopher Judgeas Kratos (God of War) 

Fan Favorite Collegiate Esports Team Presented by iBuyPower: Ohio State

Fan Favorite Esports Host: Alex ‘Goldenboy’ Mendez                   

Fan Favorite Fall Release: Red Dead Redemption 2