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This Was the Week in Video Games

Peter Molyneux has as good as retired from gaming amid the continuing Godus fallout, plus: Just Cause 3, Kim Jong-un and more.

by Mike Diver
13 February 2015, 2:50pm

PETER MOLYNEUX PRETTY MUCH RETIRED FROM GAMING

It's been a hell of a week for Peter "I designed Populous" Molyneux, OBE (pictured above). We all knew that Godus, the still-in-development-hell-despite-being-"out" god simulator from Pete's 22Cans studio, was in trouble. A Kickstarter-funded project, it's been attracting criticism like freshly laid dog dirt does out-the-box trainers when you're just nipping out for some milk (come on, people, pick up your mutt's shit already) for bloody ages. Vague promises had been made regards meeting multiplayer functionality outlined at the funding stage, not to mention several other undelivered Kickstarter pledges, but all anyone can play of the game right now, outside of a Steam early access beta, is a freemium mobile version stuffed full of what every gamer loves so dearly: microtransactions.

This week has seen the state of Godus transition from rocking to wrecked, with Molyneux both culpable for the mess the game's become and distancing himself from seeing out the project. As several sites have documented, but we'll lean on this interview in The Guardian, Molyneux is deeply apologetic that backers of Godus haven't seen the return they expected on their investment. He's also upfront about how 22Cans have let down Bryan Henderson, the Scotsman who was to "play god" in the game's multiplayer mode having "won" the previous "game" (keeping up with these quotation marks?) from Molyneux and company, Curiosity – What's In the Cube?.

Henderson's been left in the dark for ages on his role in Godus, as covered in this tremendous but depressing Eurogamer feature. He expected, well, not riches exactly, but a damn site more than the nothing he's received. Says Molyneux of the situation: "We had someone looking after Bryan, and that person left, and nobody took the reins. That was terrible, it was atrocious and I can understand him feeling offended." Regards the disgruntled backers – like Kotaku UK editor (and VICE contributor) Keza MacDonald, who put her displeasure down in writing – Molyneux told The Guardian: "My hope is that in six to nine months, people start to see the game they really did pledge for."

Peter himself won't be on the game to see it reach that point, though. He's moved onto something new, The Trail, leaving Godus in the hands of Konrad Naszynski, who has already said it's unlikely that all promised features will be implemented. It feels like a case of the buck being passed, but Molyneux isn't wriggling clean of this shit show.

Everyone can appreciate how Kickstarter targets might not always be met, and how games can take longer than expected to reach a finished state. But everything about Godus (screenshot, above) has been shambolically mishandled, from the cash-grabbing iOS and Android iterations apparently taking precedence over a proper PC release, to the studio's blanking of the stranger they intended to make a superstar. Whatever Molyneux does next, expect goodwill for his work to be at an unsalvageable low.

Rock, Paper, Shotgun's headline for their recent interview with Molyneux says it all: "I haven't got a reputation in this industry any more." And with that, it's surely all over for a man who's done so much for both the British and global games business, whose CV stretches way beyond Populous, taking in Fable and its sequels, the original Syndicate and Theme Park, and Dungeon Keeper. Godus was always ambitious, but if Peter Molyneux can't make a god game work properly, what chance does anyone else have of repairing the damage that's been done.

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BUT ENOUGH MISERY: HERE'S THE NEW "FIRESTARTER" TRAILER FOR 'JUST CAUSE 3'

Just Cause 3 will be out just in time for Christmas, and if it's half as much fun as the game that came before it, you're going to want to park that break someplace in the sunny Southern Hemisphere for a fortnight in the surrounds of your own frozen home with this, Dominos on speed dial and a friend who's willing to feed thin-crust deliciousness into your face as you (rightly so) refuse to divert your eyes from the screen. Open-world-staged emergent hilarity is almost certainly assured, and if that sounds like a canned sales pitch to you, clearly you never played Just Cause 2.

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KIM JONG-UN IS NOW YOURS TO CONTROL

The Third Supreme Leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un, has his own video game. Kind of.

Little Dictator is fresh to the App Store after Apple belatedly approved the Flappy Bird-alike, which has you tapping the screen to keep the missile-riding Jong-un flying right to left through explosive gates for as long as you possibly can. Apple had previously dismissed the game, although it had no such trouble finding a place on Android devices. They've seen the light now, probably because it's far from the first game to reach the App Store that's sought to parody North Korea.

Is Built Games' free-to-download effort any good, though? I deleted it from my phone about ten minutes after downloading it, but it won't cost you anything to try for yourself should the trailer below appeal.

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ANITA SARKEESIAN IS IN A GAME, TOO

A considerably lesser threat to our Western values than Jong-un – not that some lurkers of the internet's slimiest corners won't try to tell you otherwise – Feminist Frequency founder and Gamergate hate-magnet Anita Sarkeesian is to have a TowerFall Ascension character based on her.

Reports Polygon, the game's upcoming expansion Dark World introduces ten new characters, with one archer bearing no little similarity to Sarkeesian.

Says the game's developer, Matt Thornton: "Anita's work has been an inspiration to the team. Her 'Tropes Vs. Women In Games' video series gave us a valuable new lens through which to assess our character designs. TowerFall is about bringing people together, so it's vitally important that the cast of playable characters makes everyone feel invited to join in."

Can you guess which of the characters above is based on Anita? Here's a clue: it's the one that looks like Anita Sarkeesian.

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Image via Wikipedia

IF YOU OWN A PLAYSTATION, YOU'RE PROBABLY INTO BDSM

Porn-streaming service SugarDVD has released figures that show that PlayStation 4 owners watch more BSDM porn than users of other devices. Naturally there are some facts to consider here: the PS4 is the market-leading current-gen console, and there's some film or other out right now that's doing a fine job of popularising a little bondage amongst the masses. But all the same: if you pick up your boyfriend's DualShock 4 tonight and its sticks are stickier than usual, there's a moderate chance he's been spanking himself to the sight of some saucy submission.

SugarDVD's vitals state that BDSM is streamed 1.8 times more on PlayStations than it is Xboxes. "Couples" is a popular search term, too, because face facts here: whipping yourself solo just isn't as rewarding as having a friend wield the crop.

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NETFLIX DOING 'THE LEGEND OF ZELDA' IS A BAD MOVE

The word in the Wall Street Journal earlier this week was that Netflix is going to create an original, live-action series based on Nintendo's The Legend of Zelda franchise. The games press has reacted almost universally negatively to the news.

Dorkly offers "five real problems Netflix will have with the Zelda TV series", their points being: the games don't have much of a consistent, central plot; Link (pictured above) isn't leading-character material; the last time someone made a Zelda TV series it was utterly dreadful; Nintendo and live-action just don't mix, as this awful movie proves so effortlessly; and while Netflix is having a great run on its own commissions, its lucky streak is perhaps overdue a slip.

At The Guardian, Keith Stuart highlights that same lack of a narrative backbone to the Zelda series, adding that the multiple aesthetic approaches of the games give them a variety that a live-action adaptation just wouldn't achieve. Also: what do we really know of Link? When we play as him, he is us – beyond that, he once had an annoying catchphrase and, um, he likes horses?

Says Stuart: "( Zelda) is a series so utterly interconnected with player experience and agency, so dreamlike and aloof in its sense of space and time." How would "a family friendly take on Game of Thrones" replicate that? Chances are, it really won't.

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SOME NEW GAMES CAME OUT

Both Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate (3DS) and Evolve (multi-format, read about it here) offer multiplayer monster-tracking hijinks, with the former currently distracting me from the stinking humans sharing my commutes. That said, I'm not "attached" to it just yet – five or six hours in, and I'm enjoying it without wanting to play more once I'm home. But then, I'm more than likely doing it wrong. Capcom's series is a tough one to break into, practically impenetrable on previous iterations, and friends tell me that newcomers – i.e., me – often need an "enabler" to help them on their way, even on this easier-going instalment.

The Monster Hunter experience, as I see it: forage for things that can make your character's gear better, and then put that gear to good use against the game's biggest beasts. Sounds like a lot of dull grinding, but I'm reliably informed that 4 Ultimate is one to stick with. So, I will be. It's either that or listening to the same few albums, over and over, that my paltry iPod can store.

Sticking to the 3DS, the new-and-improved port of 2000's The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask is out right now, and to return to the words of Keza MacDonald, it's really worth revisiting. You should read her review for Kotaku, because if nothing else it really illustrates how this series, its world and its inhabitants, can mean so much to people. No pressure then, Netflix.

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ATARI HAS CONFIRMED THAT THERE IS GOING TO BE A NEW 'ASTEROIDS'

But this really isn't Asteroids, at all. You had one job, Atari.

@MikeDiver

Previously:

What Video Games Teach Us About Romance, Relationships and Rutting

Video Game Genre Names are Bullshit, So Let's Change Them

'Sunless Sea' Is the First Essential Video Game of 2015