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Girls Make Games’ BlubBlub: Quest Of The Blob Kickstarter Going After Final Push

Girls Make Games is an organization that sets up programs and camps for young women to develop video games. One of the results of the organization's initiative is BlubBlub: Quest Of The Blob, which is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter and is almost to its goal.

You can find out more about BlubBlub: Quest Of The Blob here, and Girls Make Games, the program that lead to the game's creation, here. We also spoke with founder Laila Shabir in the June 2016 issue of Game Informer magazine. The program gives girls, from ages 8-16 in 35 different cities, the necessary tools to learn about and create games. The program takes place in a summer camp setting and is fostered by supporters like Xbox, PopCap, MIT Game Lab, and more.

Among 32 teams working on games, five made it to the finals to pitch their game to judges like David Brevik (Diablo), Anna Kipnis (DoubleFine), and Katie Stone Perez ([email protected]). BlubBlub was the winner.

To check out the game's Kickstarter, head here.

[Source: Kickstarter]

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Square Enix Releases A New Trailer For Final Fantasy XII Remaster

Final Fantasy XII may not have set the world on fire when it first launched in 2006, but a remastered version of the game could be just what it needed. Square Enix has released a new trailer for Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age, which shows off its enhanced visuals and gameplay.

In addition to looking much better than it did the first time around, one of The Zodiac Age's biggest hooks is the inclusion of the Zodiac Job System. This feature wasn't in the original release, but it was added to Final Fantasy XII International Zodiac Job System. That version of the game, which released in 2007, included the 12-job progression system. You'll be able to check it out yourself in 2017, when The Zodiac Age comes to PS4.

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For a deeper look at Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age, take a look at our extensive preview. It also includes an interview with game director Takashi Katano and producer Hiroaki Kato.

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Latest World Of Final Fantasy TGS Trailer Shows Off Its Adorable References

You won't get much in terms of story from World of Final Fantasy's trailer, but you will get a chance to see its charming visuals.

Apparently, people are very upset about something, and they don't want to fight – but they have to fight. Also, chibi versions of familiar Final Fantasy characters show up sometimes. It looks cute and it is coming to PlayStation 4 and Vita on October 25.

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For more on World of Final Fantasy, head here.

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Tempers Flare In Final Fantasy XV’s TGS Trailer

The Tokyo Game Show trailer for Final Fantasy XV has a whole lot of people yelling at each other.

The trailer works as a small prologue for the game as most of it appears to take place after the events of Kingsglaive, but before the larger events of the game (presumably). Final Fantasy XV is coming to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on November 29.

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To learn much more about Final Fantasy XV, click the banner for all the features from when the game was on our cover.

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Japan Gets Final Fantasy XV Limited Edition PS4

Today at Sony's pre-TGS press conference, Final Fantasy XV director Hajime Tabata took the stage to unveil a sleek Final Fantasy XV PS4 called The Luna Edition.

The limited edition PS4 launches in Japan the day of Final Fantasy XV's release, November 29. It costs 39, 980 yen. 

Right now, the console has only been confirmed for Japan.

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Kingdom Hearts 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue Gets Release Date & Trailer

Square Enix has announced that its PS4 compilation, Kingdom Hearts 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue, is coming out in January – a slight delay from the anticipated December release date.

The remaster comes out on January 24, and features Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance, Kingdom Hearts 0.2 Birth by Sleep – A Fragmentary Passage –, Kingdom Hearts X Back Cover, and more.

Until then, enjoy the new trailer featuring some never-before-seen footage.

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Someone Remade Final Fantasy X’s Soundtrack With Tidus’ Laugh

Because sure, yeah, that's a thing the people have requested for years. And now, now my friends, they have it. What a glorious day for humanity.

You can make your eardrums bleed, give the thing a listen here:

I am so sorry.

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Our Impressions Of The Final Fantasy XV Anime So Far

Finding it hard to endure the wait until Final Fantasy XV? We hear you. Thankfully, Square Enix has been releasing free 15-minute anime episodes to help you get to know the party members better. The anime, called Brotherhood, was announced back at the March event, and so far four of the five episode arc have hit. You watch on them on Square Enix's YouTube channel). If you purchase the Ultimate Collector's edition, you get a bonus episode on Luna. As someone who loves learning about the cast, I've enjoyed watching these, but I bet you're wondering if they're worth your time. Here are my impressions so far. 

Updated: 9/5

What To Expect

The Brotherhood anime is meant to get your acquainted with the main characters, and its focus is on how they meet and become friends. Surprisingly enough, I've found a lot to like in these early episodes, especially seeing more of the party dynamic, such as Gladiolus telling Ignis to stop babying Noctis. Another takeaway is Noctis always seems so subdued, like the weight of being the prince is constantly on his shoulders. The interactions, while small, say a lot about the people you're about to encounter in the game. Every episode will focus on a different party member; so far we've seen stories devoted to Noctis and Prompto. It looks like this is all leading up to the beginning of the game when Noctis must deal with threats on his kingdom. Of course, it's more than he expects as it's not just a warring nations at play, but also something stranger causing the nights to grow longer and bringing with it the fear that perpetual darkness will envelope the land. 

Episode 1: Before The Storm

I wish this was a stronger opener. It focuses on a past monster encounter that almost killed Noctis. You see him as a child struggling against this foe, and then we're set to present day with the gang hanging out in the car and at a burger shop. This episode is meant to show Noctis' growth as a man; he's come a long way from being just a small, scared kid. The episode ends by showing the start of a battle with a vicious monster. I won't spoil anything, but I have a feeling the anime will end showing its conclusion. It's like the not-so-great episode that's required viewing just so you can see the payoff or understand what's going on if it comes into play later. 

Episode 2: Dogged Runner

I could take or leave the anime after the first episode, but this second one sold me on it. This episode digs into Prompto's childhood and how he met the prince. Prompto is interesting in that he's the only member of the party without royal ties. Dogged Runner does such a good job at showcasing what Prompto really is about and where his heart is. More importantly, how he becomes friends with the prince is really heartwarming, as we also see Luna in this episode and the part she plays in the two becoming friends. Prompto was an overweight kid and his parents aren't really around, forcing him to fend for himself, so you get to see the klutzy character in a different light. In addition, the episode depicts how Noctis was treated at school, allowing you to understand some of the difficulties he's had as prince. After watching Dogged Runner, I can't wait to see what other revelations Brotherhood makes about the cast. 

Episode 3: Sword & Shield

This episode centers on Gladiolus and the tough time he had accepting Noctis, whose laid-back attitude is frustrating. He calls him a “punk” and “stuck-up prince,” based on his interactions with him as his instructor in combat training. Sword & Shield features Gladiolus’ little sister, Iris, who he adores. This allows us to see his protective older brother side come out. I won’t spoil anything, but this episode shows that while Noctis can act indifferent to his duty as future prince, he has a good heart. More importantly, we see that even after Gladiolus becomes friends with Noctis, he still never gives him anything easy, as that would be a disservice to him. I enjoyed how this episode shows a little rivalry between the two, but also illustrates that they a good understanding of one another after all these years. Unfortunately, while it’s great to see Gladiolus care so much about his sister, this episode does little to make him that interesting of a character. Without his sister or Noctis around, he just seems like a hard-headed gladiator. I’m hoping there’s more to him than that. 

Episode 4: Bittersweet Memories

Bittersweet Memories is my second-favorite episode. It doesn’t surpass Dogged Runner, but this one makes more of an effort to give all the party members a spot, which I enjoyed. It’s focused on Ignis and his role in the prince’s life. Ignis works as a staff officer for King Regis, but acts more as butler to Noctis. In Bittersweet Memories, we see Noctis being more a slacker about his responsibilities. He’s moved away from the kingdom and lives on his own, attending school, but he’s hardly acting independent or responsible. His apartment is a mess, and he’s happy to blow off studying to hit the arcade with Prompto. Ignis comes and checks in on him every day, cleaning up and cooking for him. Ignis is trying to set an example for Noctis on what he needs to do to take care of himself and be mature, although Noctis takes this for granted. The episode takes an interesting turn when it explains more about Noctis’ fears about the kingdom and the life chosen for him. I like that it also sheds some light on King Regis and the sacrifices he’s been making to keep the kingdom safe. As this episode shows, tensions are rising over the potential of a war. Bittersweet Memories does a great job not only with Ignis’ arc, but also with showing Noctis’ growth as a man and future king. 

Will you like it?

This all comes down to how interested you are in the party members, or if you're looking for more to them than you've seen in the demos. The anime does a good job at setting up their personalities and providing some intriguing backstories. Watching it has also made me more excited for the game. It's like a preview to the people you'll be hanging out with, and this anime makes them more exciting than anything else Square has showcased at this point. The episodes are short, but that's not a bad thing, as they don't have any fluff and every scene has its own importance in establishing what these men are all about. If you're even remotely curious, it's worth watching. 

If you're still on the fence and would like to know more about the cast, check out my deep dive on the characters

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Taking A Trip Through The First Hours Of Final Fantasy XV

At PAX West 2016, I hopped in my sweet ride with Noctis and the gang from Final Fantasy XV and played for almost two hours, from the start of the adventure to some off-road exploration. While I won’t get into story aspects here as there are some that could spoil your upcoming adventure, I’ll talk about combat, collecting, and some of the other systems that come into play. I will say one thing, though. If you’re interested in the story of Final Fantasy XV, do yourself a favor and make sure you check out Kingsglaive before you dive in – it will help things make a lot more sense and provide invaluable perspective on the events of the first few hours of gameplay.

Your main crew consists of Noctis, Ignis, Gladiolus, and Prompto. While I appreciated the banter between members of the gang as we took on the first few challenges and quests, Prompto’s character is likely to make me cringe over and over when the title fully releases. Prompto is a true product of Instagram and Snapchat insanity, featuring obsessive photo-taking and mind-shattering quips like “totes adorbs” that hurt me inside. With that notable exception, the rest of the characters offer reasonable input as you drive around or set up camp.

Setting up camp is actually pretty fun. Learning new cooking recipes and then using food to give your team significant buffs before a boss encounter is a nice diversion from zipping from battle to battle. You have to go around the map collecting berries and other essential foodstuffs if you want to keep your larder flush with available food options, but you can weave those collecting nodes in seamlessly to standard exploration around the map.

The world is mostly open, with quests guiding you to important areas, but with enough freedom to roam off the beaten path in search of resources, enemies, or hidden caches of treasure. In some ways they remind me of the structure of zones in Final Fantasy XII.

Combat itself takes some getting used to. The standard attacks are easy enough and intuitive, but calling upon your other team members to execute powerful attacks and exploit vulnerability windows feels a little unwieldy in the thick of combat, as you are already concentrating on dodging, blocking, hot-swapping conjured weapons, and using Noctis’s warp to fly around the field, setting up lethal blows. The first hour using the call-in system felt unintuitive, but after that it became second nature. So if you find yourself slightly intimidated by all the inputs and command-weaving at first, don’t fret too much as it does come together rather quickly.

Your characters acquire experience points which are obvious enough to understand, and also AP. AP all flows into a single pool from which points can be spent on any of the characters to give them new abilities or strengthen new ones, sort of an unlockable web grid. While obviously you may wish to focus throwing your AP points on Noctis as he’s the main character, there are some invaluable support skills and assists available on your other characters that shouldn’t be ignored.

One interesting thing I noticed as I hacked through the various denizens of the starting areas was that in addition to standard loot and goods from killing enemies there are also “break offs” that you can shoot for to get additional and sometimes valuable monster pieces to be used in recipes or crafting. So if you see a monster with a horn, try and focus on it in the hopes that you can get some extra bonus loot.

Let’s talk about the car! The Regalia is available early in the game and can be piloted in manual mode for custom travel and transportation, or autopilot via Ignis to take you to essential quest locations. You probably want to use manual mode at least a few times to collect treasures on the map. During travel, you can select from a huge variety of Final Fantasy tunes to listen to, including a bunch of amazing tracks from the original Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy VII. I tried repeatedly to crash into other cars on the road, but sadly the game wouldn’t let me. As you travel, your ride consumes gas, so you have to stop at gas stations or rest stops to fill up for longer voyages.

Almost 2 hours of gameplay left me hungry for more, and I’m looking forward to a more extensive look at all there is to offer in Final Fantasy XV when it arrives in November. Totes looking forward to it, as Prompto would say. Check out more on Final Fantasy XV at our cover story hub!

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Science-Fiction Weekly – The Turing Test, Livelock, The Final Station

If you love Portal, you need to play The Turing Test. I don't often like to compare games to others, but the similarities between Portal and The Turing Test are too much to deny. Almost every Game Informer staffer that entered my office as I was playing The Turing Test, said something along the lines of "this looks like Portal."

At its core, The Turing Test is a first-person experience that follows a female protagonist through testing chambers in which she solves puzzles by either using an energy weapon or moving power cubes, as an A.I. voice provides insight into the world. Yes, that sounds like Portal, but the gameplay is different, and the game's overall message is, well, wow. I was blown away by its twists, turns, and ending. And no, it has nothing to do with cake.

Most of the puzzles revolve around energy redistribution to open doors and make contraptions work. The gun you carry never once causes harm, but is instead used to store energy that can be shot into inactive power supplies. As the game unfolds, different energy colors (which hold different properties) are sewn into the puzzles. A few gameplay twists are tied to the narrative that I won't go into for the sake of spoilers, but they add another satisfying layer of difficulty to the puzzles. Of the 70-plus puzzle rooms in the game, I enjoyed most of them. A few of the solutions are clearly telegraphed, almost acting as tutorials, but most rooms bring a serious challenge, and those moments where you stand still in place just to think through how the energy should be distributed.

The Turing Test's story is also good. It gets a little heavy-handed (and long) in its setup, but once its concept is fully established, it rolls along beautifully and is something that makes you think about the advancements of technology and the dangers they possess. For those not in the know, the Turing Test is a test developed by Alan Turing in 1950 to see if a machine's logic could be believed as human. The game dives deeply into this idea, and applies a nice science-fiction spin to it. Play this game, mostly because it's good, but also because we should have a conversation about its story and conclusion. The video below is the first 30-minutes of The Turing Test.

If you enjoy punching things in video games, you may want to give Livelock a look as well. I've vested a couple of hours into this cooperative top-down action game from Tuque Games, and I'm having a good time punching the scrap out of robots. My character, Vanguard, doesn't have hands. He instead has two giant rounded gauntlets, much like Rumble from Transformers. Waves of enemy robots approach, and they are all smashed to bits. The environment also takes a beating; cars go flying and walls crumble.

Up to three people can play together online, and yes, there are three different classes to create a nice team dynamic. Hex handles long range duties, Catalyst unleashes drone minions, and Vanguard is of course the tank. The action is fast and chaotic, and the levels have a nice flow to them, focusing more on linear pathing than exploring maze-like dungeons. I also like that you don't have to pause the game for upgrades or loot analysis. All of that is handled post level. Livelock is out now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Just go into it knowing it constantly bangs the drum of a ridiculous story about the end of days, and mankind loading their minds into robots to survive extinction.

All sci-fi video games that released last week are apparently good, and they couldn't be much different from one another. Next up is The Final Station by tinyBuild. This side-scrolling action game gives us a fascinating look at mankind's first contact with aliens…or in this game's case, the second. Seen through the eyes of a train engineer, we learn of a "second visitation," but we're intentionally left in the dark as to who is visiting or why. We learn these things as the train moves from town to town. The pacing in this reveal is deliberately slow, but excellent for world-building and atmosphere. Nothing really happens for over the span of the first half hour, but the intrigue is boiling over, and ends up being a great driving force.

I won't go into what happens (and you should avoid the trailer below if you want to go in with the mystery intact, as I did), but The Final Station is divided into two gameplay experiences: on train and on foot. The train you are driving is in rough shape and needs to be maintained. The passengers are sometimes equally as banged up and need your help. These needs are handled through simple gameplay actions. Keeping the train's engine cool, requires a few knobs to be turned. A hungry passenger simply needs food be brought to him. There isn't a lot of gameplay in this section, but it is still a cool part of the game that is used as a vehicle for storytelling. It also strengthens the on-foot sections, as you'll need to secure the supplies needed to take care of your passengers.

When you're in town, the game takes on a survival quality. Bullets are often in short supply, but things need to be killed in order for you to proceed. You can try to punch your way through the threats, but again, you are best off scouring the environment for supplies and ammo. The towns are also loaded with people to interact with. Some of them become your passengers. Most simply offer more interesting context for the state of the world.

It's a fascinating little game. I'm not in love with the combat so far, but it gets the job done against the threats I'm facing thus far. I mostly want to see where this mystery goes, and if my little train will make it to the end of the track. If you want to check out all three of these titles (and I recommend you do), start with The Turing Test, move to The Final Station next, and end with Livelock (which is the only multiplayer title in the bunch).

Outside of games, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story marketing and merchandise will soon be everywhere you look. I'm hearing stores should start carrying product on September 30 (Force Friday). Hasbro has slowly been revealing its action figure assortments over the last month or two, but Pyramid International just decided to throw all of it stuff into one giant catalog. I highly recommend you flip through it to see a bevy of new art from the film – most of it is awesome. I've included a couple of images below for your viewing pleasure. Gotta love that classic trilogy look!

Update!
I should also point out that The Tomorrow Children launched on PlayStation 4 today. I've logged about 45 minutes into this free-to-play town-building title, and couldn't be more confused at this point. After a simplistic tutorial, in which I was asked to use a pick axe to create a passageway leading to gold, I was thrown into a bustling town, and found myself doing various tasks to raise its economy. The cool thing, I wasn't the only player doing this. Other players helped out. I found myself running on a treadmill to produce energy, mounting a cannon to shoot a Godzilla-like beast that was getting too close for comfort, and spent far too long ringing a bell for whatever reason. I like the look of the game, and would love a great town-building experience on console, but again, I have no idea how to get my own town going at this point. I love the vision of the future this game projects (which takes place after a failed experiment in 1960s Russia), but the gameplay I've engaged is making me feel like a drone, and perhaps that's part of the point of The Tomorrow Children.

Regardless, I'll hopefully have more on this bizarre title next Tuesday in another edition of Science-Fiction Weekly. Hope you're all having a fun day!

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