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Learn The Star Wars: The Force Awakens Characters’ Names With Trading Card Mock-Ups

Star Wars fans have pored over the first Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens trailer for every bit of information possible. Thanks to some retro card mock-ups issued by director J.J. Abrams and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, we now know the names of the characters featured in that trailer.

In an exclusive reveal to Entertainment Weekly, Abrams and Lucasfilm showed off the art, which unmasks just a little bit more of the Star Wars mystery. The cards reveal the names of Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega), Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), and Kylo Ren (unknown actor), and are made to emulate a series of Topps brand cards that ran in promotion of the 1977 original film. Oh, and the ball droid seen in the trailer is formally known as "BB-8." Told you it was adorable.

Image source: Entertainment Weekly

It's interesting to note that, despite speculation over the gender of Kylo Ren, the card (above) explicitly refers to the character by a masculine pronoun. We still don't know exactly who portrays Kylo Ren in the film.

For the whole host of cards, visit Entertainment Weekly's exclusive story. If you're looking for more ways to embed yourself in the Star Wars universe, take a peek at Kyle's piece about games that'll help you fully experience the new trailer.

[Source: Entertainment Weekly] – The Feed

Sony’s Shuhei Yoshida playable in Super Time Force Ultra

Shuhei Yoshida will be playable in the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita versions of Super Time Force Ultra, Sony announced this weekend as part of their PlayStation Experience event.

The President of Worldwide Studios for Sony Computer Entertainme…
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The Force is strong with Weekly Webcomic Wrapup

Forget Black Friday, the real showstopper for me this week was the teaser for the upcoming Star Wars: Episode 7 – The Force Awakens. I love the Star Wars universe and routinely remind people that my favorite game of all time is, to this day, Star War…
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Five Games You Can Use To Experience The Star Wars: The Force Awakens Teaser

The Star Wars: The Force Awakens teaser has taken over the Internet – but why keep watching it when you could (sort of) relive it?

The teaser is basically made up of seven distinct scenes, many of which will be familiar to gamers if you really stretch your imagination. The obvious answer to recreating these scenes in video game form would be to play Star Wars video games, but that's too easy. Here are five games you can play to experience these scenes in non-Star Wars video games. Hopefully this will hold you over for the year leading up to Star Wars: The Force Awakens' release.

The first scene shown in the teaser features John Boyega in a desert by himself, presumably unsure why he's there. That sounds a lot like the plot of Journey.

Journey – Exploring a desert without any tangible clue why you're there? The only thing missing is a Storm Trooper outfit.

Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception – Alternatively, you could also play the last third or so of Uncharted 3 where Drake finds himself in the desert, alone, and probably sweating just as much as Boyega is in the image above.

Next up we meet Daisy Ridley riding some kind of land rocket with a seat through the dessert.

Jak 3 – If you want to ride some vehicles around the desert, the third entry in the Jak & Daxter series is your best bet. And if you really want to get fancy, there is a mission where the player, as Daxter, rides an actual rocket around at high speeds.

There isn't much to to be gathered form the scene above, other than there's a new lightsaber, and dark forests are much more intimidating when cloaked mystery magicians walk through them.

Baldur's Gate II – Baldur's Gate II has some great great dark and scary woods and are fully open to all magicians and sorcerers interested in taking a stroll.

You know that fancy somersault move the Millennium Falcon does at the end of the teaser right before the title appears?

Starfox 64 – That move looks remarkably similar to the Arwing maneuver when you go out of bounds while in all-range-mode in Starfox 64. Or it could be the somersault move used to get behind enemies who are on your tail. Something tells me Han Solo has been playing Starfox in order to train for his renewed battle with the Empire.

To see the Star Wars teaser, head here. – The Feed

Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Brief But Exciting Teaser Trailer Is Online

You won't see any Luke, Leia, or Han, but there is plenty of other footage to see in the first glimpse at Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

New robots and landscapes, familiar spaceships, good guys, bad guys, the Millennium Falcon fighting TIE fighters, and one new lightsaber all appear in the brief, but exciting few seconds of footage below.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is coming to theaters December of next year.

[Source: Apple Trailers] – The Feed

Top 50 Challenge 2014 – Earth Defense Force 2025

I’ve never played an Earth Defense Force game, but I’ve heard players sing their praises well before I met some of their fans here at Game Informer (check out Joe Juba’s review here). In many ways, it’s the Dynasty Warriors of third-person shooters. Lots of enemies on screen, lots of over-the-top action, but not a whole lot of input coming from the player.

Learn more about Game Informer's Fight for the Top 50 Challenge 2014

I totally understand the appeal of the game, and I was quickly charmed by its aesthetic without much expectation going in. The purposefully clichéd banter from the soldiers and civilians consistently cracked me up. I loved hearing the scientist come over the radio to remind me giant bugs are attacking, as if the giant bugs attacking weren’t enough to keep me up to date on the situation.

The enemies themselves, the gigantic bugs, are surprisingly scary. There’s something about seeing giant, realistic ants and spiders crawling over skyscrapers that is genuinely unsettling, and it’s made even better (or worse?) by how the rest of the game is basically comic relief.

The combat is simple and amounts to pointing your gun and shooting and trying to keep moving. Different types of enemies (I got far enough to see some flying alien ships) keeps things interesting, but I could feel it getting stale as I fired off my hundredth rocket at my millionth ant. The fun of the game seems to come from playing at higher difficulties for a higher score with friends recalling the abandoned arcade structure of video games past, but it just wasn’t doing it for me. And the slow trickle of new equipment unlocks didn’t encourage me to eagerly jump to the next level.

My Vote
I get why Earth Defense Force 2025 has a dedicated following and I enjoyed my time with it, but it’s hard for me to join the campaign for its inclusion in our top 50 of 2014. It’s shallow, empty-calorie fun, and while I love that this game exists and perfectly executes on it’s B-movie caliber intentions, I don’t think it’s enough to earn a spot on our list of the top 50 games of 2014. I will however, quickly jump into a local co-op game for a few hours the next time the opportunity pops up, even if I don’t plan on playing more by myself outside of work.

(Please visit the site to view this media) – The Feed

Fight For The Top 50 2014 – Earth Defense Force 2025

I love the way that developers have been exploring more sophisticated themes in games in recent years, but not everything can be heavy and poignant all of the time. Yes, sometimes I want to play complex games with intense narratives. On the other hand, sometimes I just want to shoot a bunch of aliens. That’s when Earth Defense Force 2025 becomes the perfect game.

Learn more about the Game Informer Fight For The Top 50 Challenge 2014.

A hostile alien force called the Ravagers is invading Earth, after apparently being defeated in the previous entry, Earth Defense Force 2017. To combat the resurgent threat, you control members of a military squad who try to send the enemy army (consisting of giant ants, giant spiders, giant wasps, and giant robots) back home to space. In a series of quick missions (usually 10 minutes or less), you drop in and blast a swarm of bad guys with rockets, missiles, lasers, and other entertaining weapons. You hear the over-eager chants of your fellow EDF soldiers, then usually watch them die as they stumble over each other trying to fight the overwhelming alien forces.

Earth Defense Force 2025 harnesses an undiluted kind of arcade action that is increasingly rare (my review). The focus is 100 percent, B-movie, sci-fi carnage. It doesn’t care about world-building. It doesn’t care about character development. Here’s all you need to know, from beginning to end: Aliens are invading, and you need to kill them.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

The way you kill the aliens is at the core of what makes this game so fun and addictive. The third-person action is easy to grasp, and the controls are intuitive. You run around and fire your weapons at just about anything that moves. The explosions, acid, insect blood, and lasers constantly flooding the screen make every moment feel like barely controlled chaos. However, your winning strategy is somewhere between twitch precision and indiscriminate destruction.

You start with a meager arsenal of weapons, but the more you play, the more you pick up. You don’t have any sort of traditional progression system; new weapons and extra health drop randomly. That may seem frustrating, but the satisfaction of finally collecting that improved assault rifle or energy beam is immense – more so than just opening a predetermined chest or waiting for the odds to work in your favor on a boss drop.

You even have the choice of four classes (I recommend the Wing Diver, with a jetpack and penchant for energy weapons), and you can team up in co-op either online or locally. While I definitely love cutting down the Ravagers in single-player, the best moments in EDF 2025 are the ones where you and a friend survive a harrowing mission by the skin of your teeth, then try it again on a higher difficulty in hopes of reaping even better rewards.

When it comes to deciding Game Informer’s Top 50 Games for 2014, this gem is perilously easy to overlook. In a world where people want an excuse to play their new-gen consoles, EDF 2025 is a last-gen entry in an already niche franchise. The Earth Defense Force series is not known for its careful balancing or impactful story, so it might get overshadowed by more ambitious titles with bigger budgets. That would be a shame; when it comes to pure popcorn action, EDF 2025 can’t be beat.

The Top 50 Challenge

You need an open mind to fully enjoy Earth Defense Force 2025. That’s why I’m glad Kyle has taken up my challenge; he isn’t fiercely loyal to one particular genre over another, and is able to find things to appreciate in just about every game he plays. Yes, there are flaws in EDF 2025, and I wouldn’t ask anyone to ignore them or pretend they don’t exist – but if you can see past them, you’ve got one of the most shamelessly fun experiences of the year at your fingertips.

Kyle Hilliard was given one day to play EDF 2025. Come back tomorrow at 8:00 PM CT to read his impressions and see if he'll support the game's inclusion on our Top 50 Games of the Year list. – The Feed

Barely Related: Star Wars wakes up the Force

This week was full of little geeky goodies. Om nom nom.

Welcome to Barely Related, a conversational Friday column that presents the non-gaming news stories that we, the Joystiq staff, have been talking about over the past week. And no, we’re not…
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Swery And Capy Team Up For Super Time Force D4 DLC

The team at Capybara Games are big fans of the enigmatic developer Swery65, and have made some DLC based on their games Super Time Force and Sworcery for his oddball murder mystery D4.

In tribute to the truly kooky works of Swery, Capybara made a selection of downloadable clothing featuring design elements from Sworcery and Super Time Force for D4. These DLC packs are available now for free at the Xbox Live store.

[Source: Twitter]


Our Take:
It's so cute when two independent game studios fall in love. – The Feed

Super Time Force Ultra

It’s easy to be wary of high-concept indie titles based around some quirky concept like time travel, gravity, teleportation, guns that shoot science instead of bullets, etc. When they work, of course, they work marvelously, like Portal, Braid, Antichamber, The Swapper, Fez, or any of the best puzzle platformers. But there’s no denying that there is a glut of gimmicky imitators in the genre, and more often than not the concepts, no matter how interesting they sound on paper, are stretched thin across never-ending tutorial levels. So despite Capybara’s strong record it was with some trepidation that I embarked on Super Time Force Ultra, the updated PC version of their time-traveling run n’ gun Super Time Force (which won Microsoft’s first-ever IGF “XBLA Award” for a publishing deal on Xbox 360 and Xbox One).

Thankfully, STFU shrugs off the stereotypes quickly and easily, and while the game is certainly unique and innovative, it has the frantic pacing of a good run n’ gun that is not found in most puzzle platformers. On top of that, there is an element of light tactics that strangely enough reminds me of Sega’s 1988 cult classic arcade game Gain Ground. It’s a mad idea that I would not have been brave enough to work on, but I’m happy that Capy was.

At the start of each level, you select a character from your team to play as and begin running and gunning in typical fashion. At any point in the level, however, you can Time Out and rewind time to a previous point and select another character (including the same character, if you like). When you start up again, your previous characters will still be there as ghosts, fighting and dying alongside you.

In essence, the game allows you to play co-op with yourself, with up to over 30 characters playing together in each level. Your team grows slowly as you complete missions and is diverse in movement and weaponry. One of your starting members, for example, is a fast-walking sniper whose charged shot goes through walls, and another has a shield that can be used to block enemy fire and create force fields. With a single character it’s impossible to beat a level within the 60-second time limit – the bosses alone have too much health to take down in such a short amount of time. Destroying barriers, exploring side paths, collecting items, and rescuing new members also drain a lot of time, providing ample reason to rewind and bring in new teammates (or copies of the same teammate).

Time Outs are also activated automatically when you die, and it is possible to then save that dead character by killing the enemy earlier or throwing up a shield. Since there’s no input for the revived character after his or her point of death, Capy came up with another way to bring them back into the action – as collectable “power-ups” that give your current character an extra hit point and also the revived character’s abilities.

It’s certainly a strange game that defies conventional wisdom. For one thing, it’s very hard to actually lose in STFU, given the generous amounts of Time Outs per level (30), but somehow it doesn’t feel problematic. In Klei’s Mark of the Ninja I felt the liberal use of checkpoints hurt the game’s pacing and went against the game’s ninja assassin theme, but was told that it let the player focus more on “creativity” rather than playing perfectly. The “creativity” argument makes much more sense within the context of STFU’s light-hearted time traveling story and mechanics, in my opinion. In the same way that a painting emerges out of overlapping brushstrokes, it feels like a complex group assault emerges out of your individual playthroughs, a feeling that’s highlighted at the end of each level with a looping replay that lets you see it all unfold from beginning to end (a la Super Meat Boy).

There’s still plenty of incentive to play levels more than once and the true challenge lies not in simply surviving and beating the game, but in collecting “shards” (slow-mo power-ups) and “glorbs” (extra Time Outs), and beating each level under the time limit. These tasks require serious planning and completing them will earn badges and, more importantly, unlock new teammates, which, to carry the painting analogy further, feels like getting a new color added to your palette. You’ll also unlock short levels in the “Helladeck” that are more about puzzle-solving than running n’ gunning.

Capy’s presentation has always shined in its games and Super Time Force is no exception. The art/design team of Vic and Mike Nguyen has developed a striking, boxy pixel art style that is very colorful fun to look at. The characters, who run the gamut from wizards and robots to skateboarding dinosaurs, are well-animated and reminiscent of early LucasArts adventure games like The Secret of Monkey Island. One thing that really impressed me was the amount of unique content that was created for the game – even within a single area levels are distinct and detailed, with very little reuse of setpieces.

It would have been easy to make the entire game the Helladeck levels and call it a day. That the Helladeck is merely an optional challenge attached to something so much bigger and vibrant is a testament to Capy’s dedication to taking the initial concept to its limit. There’s really not much more to say other than that it’s great – if it sounds like something you might like, you’ll probably like it.

(Note: Capybara Games has an awesome tumblr.)