Articles by Heather Alexandra

Raiden Was The Best Thing To Happen To Metal Gear

In 2001, Hideo Kojima pissed off countless fans with a simple twist. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty did not star everyone’s favorite rugged action hero Solid Snake. Instead, players spent most of their time playing as Raiden, a whiny rookie who didn’t know his ass from his head. It was perfect and still is. Raiden is the hero gamers deserved and exactly what the series needed. 1998’s Metal Gear Solid is a formative game for the stealth genre, following professional commando Solid Snake as he foils a terrorist plot on a remote island in Alaska. Anticipation for the sequel was massive, with a bonus disc containing a small portion of the game helping to drive sales of Kojima’s robot combat game Zone of the Enders. Trailers featured pitched battles as Snake fought a fighter jet on the Brooklyn Bridge and snuck around various industrial locations. Advertisement Snake is the star of Metal Gear Solid 2’s first chapter. He infiltrates a tanker to document the existence of a new Metal Gear, a kind of giant robot. And then, the tanker sinks, and he seemingly dies. The replacement protagonist for the rest of the game is Raiden, a fresh-faced agent…

David Cage

Heavy Rain Ended Badly 

This week, we finished streaming David Cage’s crime thriller Heavy Rain on Kotaku’s Twitch channel. It’s a game of astounding highs and disappointing lows, with intense action and awful writing. It’s not as bad as everyone says, but it’s still not very good. Heavy Rain’s core concept of a father trying to save his son from a serial killer is engaging, and the main protagonists’ search for the truth is full of twists and turns. Like a B-grade summer movie, it’s very watchable and stirred a lot of fun discussion in our Twitch chat. But it’s also a game defined by inconsistencies. Let’s start with what works. The Main Cast Is Compelling Heavy Rain follows multiple perspectives: a desperate father, a by-the-book FBI agent, an investigative journalist, and a private detective with a dark secret. Their struggles are surprisingly relatable, whether that means watching Ethan Mars spend a depressing afternoon with his son or Norman Jayden balance his desire for the truth with his need to be a good man. In the best moments, Heavy Rain thrusts these character into propulsive scenes of danger and intrigue. It Focuses On Small Things The world of READ FULL STORY AT KOTAKU!

Edmund McMillen

Staff Writer Heather Alexandra and Video Producer Chris Person recently sat down to leap over pits a

Staff Writer Heather Alexandra and Video Producer Chris Person recently sat down to leap over pits a Staff Writer Heather Alexandra and Video Producer Chris Person recently sat down to leap over pits and get splatted by baddies in the difficult platformer The End Is Nigh. You can watch right here. Staff Writer at Kotaku READ FULL STORY AT KOTAKU!

andi mcclure

New Link To The Past Mod Lets Two Zelda Players Share Items Online

A new modification to The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past brings a difficult multiplayer challenge to the game. With help from an emulator and some special code, two players can coordinate their progress through the game and change each other’s inventory. Andi McClure is an independent game maker who leveraged knowledge of randomizer speedruns, which scramble and change the location of in-game items, to create an altered version of A Link to the Past. Races using a randomizer are sometimes run in two-person teams who communicate item locations through a chat program like Skype. McClure’s script, written in Lua, allows the players’ games to synchronize so that picking up an item in one game will add it to the inventory of the other player. Advertisement “I thought [randomizer teams] somehow rigged an emulator to share items,” McClure told Kotaku. “So I decided I wanted to make the thing I misunderstood 2v2 races to be real.” [embedded content] Above: The run as viewed from McClures’ perspective. Advertisement Advertisement McClure tested her script in a speedrun alongside game READ FULL STORY AT KOTAKU!

One Trick To Getting Better At Battlegrounds: Shrubbery

GIF How do you not see me? I’m in a white shirt, dude! PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds can be rough. Fighting against one hundred other players takes a combination of good gear and precise aiming. But I’ve discovered the game’s most powerful tool: bushes. My initial strategy when I first started Battlegrounds was to leapfrog from house to house. It was an effective process that earned me a victory the first time we livestreamed the game. But over time this strategy became less viable. Players grew most competent over time, and houses proved to be deathtraps packed with shotgun-wielding campers and cheeky grenade spammers. Advertisement This weekend, I adjust my tactics. I started going into houses only to grab loot—otherwise, I spent the majority of my matches hiding in bushes or the shadows of large trees. I became the Poison Ivy of Battlegrounds, living with the green, sniping unsuspecting fools who dare trample upon my forests. I’ve been living on the edge of the circle, becoming one with the grass. By embracing the power of shrubbery, I’ve broken into the top ten of matches with alarming consistency. This weekend, I earned two second place finishes, a fourth place run, a fifth place…

cake

Marina Might Ruin Splatoon 2's Splatfests, Bless Her 

Splatoon 2 just had its first Splatfest, asking players to fight and see which dessert is better: ice cream or cake. The competition was rigged from the start thanks to the popularity of Marina, the Octoling pop singer. This is my confession: I love cake. Cake is fluffy, delicious, and pretty much perfect. Cupcakes are little bundle of joy and I hope to die as large cakes, slathered in frosting, fall on my from a great height. But I didn’t fight for Team Cake in this Splatfest; I fought for Team Ice Cream because Marina loves ice cream. I betrayed my beloved cake because Marina is basically Splatoon Beyoncé, with eyeliner so on point that it could stab a man to death with a stray wink. They’re both great but Marina is a god tier squid kid. In Splatfests, the winner is determined by popularity and how many games their side wins. I suspect Marina had many more fans than Pearl given how many times I was dropped into ice cream v. ice cream battles instead of fights against teams championing cake. It must have been nine out of every ten matches. The Ice Cream READ FULL STORY AT KOTAKU!

Glitch Creates Unintentional Extra Ending In Sci-Fi Steam Game

Event 0 is a science fiction game that came out last year. Since release, players have discovered four different endings to the game—which is strange, because according to the designer, it only has three. SPOILERS AHEAD The emotional core of Event 0 rest between the player and an AI called Kaizen-85. Throughout the game, players get to know Kaizen by interacting at terminals and typing out questions, learning more and more about the game’s story. At the end of the game, players must decide whether or not to upload their consciousness to a computer. There’s only supposed to be three endings: The player uploads their consciousness and destroys the engine. The player doesn’t upload their consciousness and has a poor relationship with Kaizen, who then deletes himself and leaves the player alone. The player doesn’t upload their consciousness but has a good relationship with Kaizen, who directs their spaceship towards Earth. However, players found that if you treat Kaizen nice, don’t upload your consciousness but also save an experimental engine that he wanted to destroy, Kaizen will begrudgingly turn the ship to Earth. Game designer Emmanuel Corno learned about this ending only after looking at the game’s Wikipedia page and…

a critical look

Battlegrounds Is Addictive Because There's No Wrong Way To Play

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is amazingly fun and offers an exciting experience every time you play. But how is it so good? One little sentences from PlayerUnknown himself makes it clear. We take a look in this critical video. Transcript: PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is a giant battle royale game that’s simple in concept and exciting in execution, asking one hundred players to fight until there is only one remaining. Trying to figure out exactly why I love Battlegrounds isn’t easy. Do I love it for the punchy rifles and sudden gunfights? Do I love it for the strangely quiet countrysides and ruins? I couldn’t put my finger on it until I met the man behind the game, Brendan “PlayerUnknown” Greene, at this year’s E3. Talking about Battlegrounds and swapping stories, he told me a simple truth about the game that I’d never realized: there is no wrong way to win. We often talk about how you ‘win’ a game. In Mario Kart, you win the race. In Civilization, you build the world’s most powerful nation. In Final Fantasy, you defeat the last boss. All of these games have well-defined rules that dictate how their goals are achieved. You can’t go backwards on READ…

Edmund McMillen

Super Meat Boy Creator's New Game Is Fun But Familiar

GIF The End is Nigh is a new puzzle platformer by former Newgrounds creator Tyler Glaiel and Super Meat Boy’s Edmund McMillen out now on PC. It brings back Meat Boy’s precise controls and movement for a second round of dangerous jumps and spike pits. It’s a bit too familiar, but it’s still a lot of fun. The story follows Ash, a loveable lump living during the end times. After his favorite video game cartridge breaks down, he sets off on an journey to literally make a friend and retain his sanity. What follows is a series of platforming challenges that will test the limits of a player’s coordination. The excellent controls make navigation feel as natural as walking down the street. Ash feels less like a player-guided character and more like an additional limb, responding perfectly to every input. Advertisement While the moment to moment gameplay is fun, The End Is Nigh follows the same core design philosophy of Super Meat Boy. This is a game about punishment and failure, gladly tracking how many times players die. Walls crumble, poison gas makes speedy navigation essential, and dangerous enemies lurk READ FULL STORY AT KOTAKU!

Beyond Two Souls

Heavy Rain's Most Gruesome Scene Is Still Gut-Wrenching

In preparation for the upcoming narrative game Detroit, I’ve been streaming David Cage’s 2010 crime thriller Heavy Rain over the last two weeks on Kotaku’s Twitch channel. Last night, we reached the game’s most iconic and brutal scene. Heavy Rain revolves around the Origami Killer, a serial murderer who kidnaps children, drowns them in rainwater, and leaves origami figures behind on their corpses. The story follows four protagonists as they try to stop him from killing again. One of these characters, arguably the main character of the story, is Ethan Mars, a father whose son Shaun has been kidnapped by the killer. To get Shaun back, Ethan must complete various challenges including driving down a highway the wrong way and crawling through a tunnel lined with broken glass. Advertisement David Cage’s games often promise grand narratives while failing to deliver. They want to send a message but if you ask Cage what the message is, he shrinks away from answering. His previous title Indigo Prophecy started off strong but slowly devolved into super powered kung fu fights and casual racism. The game following Heavy Rain, Beyond: Two Souls, is a high READ FULL STORY AT KOTAKU!

kotaku core

New Trick Has Ocarina of Time Speedrunners Debating What A Glitch Actually Is

GIF Ocarina of Time’s Glitchless speedrun category seeks to complete the game as quick as possible without using game-breaking cheats and glitches, but a newly discovered trick is forcing runners to consider what is or isn’t a glitch to begin with. Is something a glitch if it lets you explore somewhere early? Or is it only a glitch if you’re breaking the game? The trick in question is called ‘Gate Skip’ and it was discovered by Ocarina of Time speedrunner and glitch hunter Rosewater. The technique allows runners to skip a very large gate in the Gerudo Fortress as Child Link. Normally, Link cannot be in this area as a child but it is possible to reach with other creative tricks. The Gate Skip involves using a bomb to launch Link off a high platform before slashing his sword to leap over a gate that leads towards the desert, where one of the game’s dungeons is located and saved around four to five minutes. When it was initially discovered, the trick was thought to be “TAS only,” achievable exclusively using special programming tools that allow players to control Link’s actions perfectly in an emulator. READ FULL STORY AT KOTAKU!

New Switch Port Is Pulpy Trash, But I Dig It Anyway 

Originally released in 2015 as a mobile game, Implosion: Never Lose Hope is a futuristic hack and slash title now available on the Switch. It’s awkward to play, but it’s full of old school charm. Implosion follows the story of a mech pilot named Jake as he battles virus ridden zombies after an apocalyptic event on Earth. It merges Diablo’s dungeon crawling with Zone of the Ender’s flashy mech combat, but together these elements feel at odds with each other. The beat ‘em up action always feels a bit too stiff coming from a sleek robotic warframe. Understated sound design and meager controller vibration during attacks makes your giant robot feel more like a child fending off bullies than deft maneuvers from an ace pilot. For a game focused on providing the kinetic experience of slashing through hordes of enemies, Implosion falters when it comes to actually delivering. Despite its weak sound, Implosion is visually strong, marrying an array of looks from the past. Large mutant bosses and waves of fleshy zombie enemies feel like they stepped right out of a canceled Playstation 2 Contra titles. The UI emulates the presentation of Vanquish, giving the sense of being in a…

kotaku core

Touring Super Mario Odyssey's New Donk City

We recently played more Super Mario Odyssey and enjoyed the sights and sounds of New Donk City. If you want to learn about the city that never leaps, sit down to watch this informative travelogue before making a trip there when Odyssey releases on October 27th.  Transcript: If you’re looking to get away for a while, look no further than New Donk City. The crown jewel of the Metro Kingdom, New Donk brims with exciting activities and people to meet. It’s not just fun; it’s ri-DONK-ulously fun! The first thing you’ll notice about this place is the people. The absurdly normal, not video game looking people. Say goodbye to krazy koopas and hello to a few friendly New Donkers. They might seem strange, but you’ll get use to it. They’re just working class guys and gals trying to survive. Don’t let the drab, vaguely 1940s inspired attire fool you: New Donkers love to play. The city’s spacious streets are dotted with parks, though the parks aren’t exactly dotted with kids. No big deal. Adults can jump rope, too. Swing by the park and see if you can beat the Jump Rope Challenge or walk along the streets to s join READ…

Castlevania

What We Loved (And Didn't Love) About The Castlevania Anime

Netflix’s Castlevania animated series released over the weekend and has plenty of demon killing, testicle jokes, magic and blood. But how does it hold up as a complete package? I sat down with my coworker Mike Fahey to talk about all the good and all the bad. SPOILERS AHEAD Heather Alexandra, Kotaku: Netflix’s Castlevania series arrived much sooner than I thought and I’ll admit that I was very excited going into this. It’s basically an anime version of Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse with Warren Ellis as the writer, which should have been pretty awesome but I walked away a bit disappointed. I get the sense that you liked it quite a bit though. Advertisement Mike Fahey, Kotaku: Kind of snuck up on us, didn’t it? Advertisement I did not have high hopes going into the series, and I was definitely not in an anime mood when it started. It didn’t really grab me until the beginning of the second episode, but after that I was hooked hard. I’m sorry you were disappointed. I thought it was some of the finest Netflix of the year. Alexandra: I READ FULL STORY AT KOTAKU!