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This Was the Week in Video Games

Two words: "ToeJam" and "Earl".


Remember the Mega Drive? Great machine, great games, great times. One of the very best titles exclusive to Sega's 16bit beast was the roguelike puzzler ToeJam & Earl, which featured oh-so-90s-styles aliens stuck on Earth, trying to repair their wrecked spaceship. It's what people in the press like to call a sleeper hit – terrific reviews just about convinced the public to part with their cash for one of 1991's most special games. A platformer sequel came out in 1994 (in the UK, anyway), Panic on Funkotron, but we don't talk about that, likewise the Xbox's Mission to Earth that followed eight years later.

But, hooray, because the makers of the original are going back to their roots for a fourth game, which will play in the manner of the first. ToeJam & Earl: Back in the Groove met its Kickstarter target this week, and will be released for Linux, Mac and PC when it's bloody well ready. Four-player co-op is promised, locally and online. Yes. Check out a trailer below.



Anyone doubting the power of today's consoles, stick this in your cynicism pipe and suck it back: dynamic beard growth.

Actually, that's not really showing off anything much. And they're never going to look as good as the facial hair seen in The Order: 1886. But still! It's a neat addition to what's shaping up to be 2015's biggest role-play game – which VICE previewed here. Basically, beards will grow over time in the game.

Says developer CD Projekt RED's communication chief Michael Platkow-Gilewski: "The beard grows as time passes, and when Geralt (the player character) moves between locations. The beard has several 'states', and these determine its length. The Longest is really long, but it's not Gandalf-long."

Free "Beard and Hairstyle" DLC will be made available, should you want to keep your Witcher's stubble fashionable. The game is out on the 19th of May and you can absolutely expect to see more on it on these pages before then.


Ernest Cline's pop-culture-rammed 2012 novel about a near-future society exploring virtual worlds, Ready Player One, is to be made into a movie by Steven Spielberg. You've probably heard of him.

Deadline reports that the big-screen adaptation is currently being written by Zak Penn, who VICE spoke to earlier this year when he was promoting his documentary about digging up long-buried Atari games, Atari: Game Over.


Ready Player One will be the first film Spielberg directs for Warner Bros since 2001's dismal A.I.: Artificial Intelligence. Oh come on, it was awful. Unless you're meeting Steven, in which case, obviously, you got it all wrong the first time and it's actually an "enduring masterpiece".


And now it's taking a little more. The final game in Rocksteady's Dark Knight trilogy, set a year after the events of 2011's City (RIP Joker – or is it?) and first announced as a 2014 title, has moved from a release date of the 2nd of June to later the same month. British gamers can now get their hands on the new-gen-only release on the 23rd. I know people who are buying a new console just for this. Hell, I might buy another PS4 just to be sure.

Game director Sefton Hill's sorry for the delay: "We're a developer that hates to make any compromises, so we are sorry to say this means it's going to be just a little bit longer until you can play the epic conclusion to the Arkham trilogy."

Which you may feel is a little unfair on 2013's Arkham Origins, but that buggy-as-shit affair made beyond the watchful eye of Rocksteady is undeniably best left forgotten. Here's a shiny new wet-look trailer. Cracking cobbles.


Having played a little of Project CARS, I have to say I like it. It has awesome rain. All of its cars handle differently. It's challenging, without being off-puttingly difficult to get into. It's definitely more sim-style than arcade racer, but doesn't erect impenetrable walls of infinite set-up possibilities prior to each and every race. You can just crack on with it, if that's your flavour; or, you can tinker with a myriad of mechanical variations within each set of wheels, personalising the experience to suit your own racing style.

The game's out in the middle of May, and just look at how pretty its puddles are.



Love hitting the slopes but didn't enjoy the streamlined, infinite-runner take on alpine sports that Alto's Adventure offered? Shame on you, because that game's beautiful. But if it's a more realistic interpretation that you're after, SNOW has just launched its closed beta.

The open-world, slide-anywhere game is being made by Swedish studio Poppermost and will feature a great array of real-life brands, as well as delivering "the most authentic winter action sports game to date". Check it out here.


There was this small game called Bloodborne. If you missed it, we sat someone down to play it for 24 hours straight. I think we nearly killed him. Read those words here.

The second episode of Dontnod's indie-movie-styled Life is Strange – a sort of My So Called Life does Twin Peaks affair with added Sparklehorse and alt-J – moves the story of reunited best pals Max and Chloe along a fair way, while still making the most of the former's time-bending abilities. We see that Max isn't able to use her powers without feeling the strain in "Out of Time", though, leading to a tense final few moments where she has to come to the aid of a fellow student without any supernatural assistance. If you want the plot completely spoiled for you, click here.

Life is Strange is proving to be really good, an admirable second project from its Parisian makers after 2013's under-loved Remember Me (I liked it, at least). It comes recommended to fans of what Telltale are up to – but perhaps only after those same gamers have played through said Californian studio's third episode in its six-part Game of Thrones series. "The Sword in the Darkness" is where our story really gets going, after two previous instalments of introducing its playable family, the Stark-loyal Forresters of Ironrath.


Daenerys as she appears in "The Sword in the Darkness"

There's ill-advised trysts and continents-spanning rivalries threatening to boil over; secrets shared through fair means and foul, and plenty of blood spilled – in Essos, where Asher Forrester is still recruiting an army, and at The Wall, where Gared Tuttle has to face up to old enemies. And there's a dragon too, which means that another of the TV series' leading lights is joining the fray: the mother of dragons herself, Daenerys Targaryen, voiced by her regular actress Emilia Clarke.

"The Sword in the Darkness", like most previous Telltale productions, emphasises drama over aesthetic sheen, so you can expect the on-screen action to fall behind the plotline's rapid progress by a few seconds, from time to time. The studio could do with an engine overhaul to really do justice to the vivid world created by author George RR Martin, but there's no doubt that this series – running in parallel to the HBO show's fourth, showing (for example) the Purple Wedding from a very different perspective – is every bit as narratively bracing as its foundational fiction. It's becoming one of Telltale's very best, and that's really saying something after The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us.



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