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From the beautiful mind of Josef Fares and the talented developers of Hazelight Studios comes a game that’s just too darn charming to pass up. It Takes Two is a brand new co-op game featuring some incredible moments of true beauty, companionship, and overwhelming amounts of fun and shenanigans. Grab a friend, party up, and prepare yourself for an experience full of heart and unbridled creativity.
I was lucky enough to see this game pop up in my social media feeds right before it came out. My buddy and I were looking for something to play during this early year lull in gaming. It Takes Two seemed like a perfect break from the slew of uber-serious and violent games we’d been playing for the past year. It was bright, colorful, and just seemed like good old-fashioned fun.
Love, Happiness, and Making Your Only Child Cry
It Takes Two starts off with a familiar scene of two parents, Cody and May, fighting while their daughter, Rose, listens to them from a window. It’s not anything we haven’t seen before and the game kind of beats you over the head with the sadness of the situation. The opening scene closes with Rose taking out two dolls in the likeness of her parents and imagines they “stay friends.” As their daughter mourns her parents’ relationship, she sheds a tear on the dolls and they come to life as she walks away. Here the player selects one of the dolls to play as, and the game begins. The rest of the story is not particularly noteworthy but it’s sad and heartwarming at the right moments. There are some really odd choices in the character-building though. For over half the game your express goal is to make your daughter cry which paints Cody and May in a seriously bad light. They can seem downright cruel to their daughter in this situation. It creates a bad case of emotional whiplash as you weave through depressing cutscenes, strangely brutal boss fights, and extremely charming moments.
Gameplay: Full of Surprises and Fun
I was pleasantly surprised by the controls. Platformers on PC can be pretty dicey with controls if you’re using a mouse and keyboard, but It Takes Two has a great setup. The controls were smooth and responsive. It almost felt like a regular third-person shooter with really slow aiming. No controller required! They made the actual gameplay a ton of fun. The world of It Takes Two is filled with wonder and a plethora of activities to keep you engaged from start to finish. You can glide across a ball pit with a fidget spinner on your back or get into a dogfight with wasps in a plane made from boxer shorts. It’s always fresh and a joy to discover all the new toys the game gives you to play with. It never stopped being fun for me. The gameplay is the star of the show here and is the reason why I’ll be back for another playthrough. The sense of wonder and discovery is on an entirely different level and I can’t get enough of it. My co-op partner and I have never had as many laughs as when we played this game.
Graphics: Surreal Beauty
It Takes Two is filled with imaginative and jaw-dropping beauty that’s incredibly refreshing. Environments pop and make you want to hang back for a second to admire the obvious care that went into designing these levels. The colors are bright and vivid. The characters are delightfully cartoony and animated. One second you’ll be river rafting down a dark sewer fighting luminous wasp larvae and the next you’ll be riding on the back of a translucent fish that floats through softly glowing water flora. You can’t help but stare in awe as the environments envelop you in their raw beauty and sheer creativity. Not everything is perfect though. The “real-life” character models are a little bit off-kilter and break up some of the charm but thankfully most of the game takes place in the “fantasy” world. It hardly detracts from the overall experience but it’s still present and noticeable.
It Takes Two is a great game, but it’s hampered down by some issues with cutscenes and super long loading screens. Over half of the cutscenes in the game were accompanied by stuttering that was both noticeable and annoying. This issue persisted for both my partner and me. He even experienced some audio issues where music would cut out completely and sound would momentarily stop altogether. Loading screens were few and far between, but they would take an entire minute or more, even when installed on a solid-state drive. Using Friend Pass was also a bit of a pain since the Origin client refused to show my partner as online. These issues were minor, but they do detract from the experience a little bit.
Is It Takes Two Worth It?
This game is an easy purchase. If you have a friend to play it with, you’ll have an incredibly fun time. The best part is you only need to buy it once since your buddy can use the Friend’s Pass to hop in your game. It’d be a shame to miss out on it. The lush environments suck you in. The gameplay keeps you involved and entertained and the level design is so wildly creative. It has some technical issues, but just they become unimportant as you lose yourself in the game world. Most importantly, it’s just a big box of fun and laughs.
Kirby, a Brief History
No one can deny that Kirby, with his round little pink self, has captured the hearts of millions and garnered international fame. The franchise has spun out more than thirty games starring the blush blob, earning big bucks for Nintendo and HAL Labs. But before becoming a video game icon, Kirby was actually created rather haphazardly.
How Kirby became an adorable pink circle
The first Kirby game was called Kirby’s Dream Land, released on the Game Boy in 1992. Young designer Masahiro Sakurai was assigned to create a game that was simple enough for anyone to pick up and learn to play. (To this day, Kirby games are easy and accessible.)
While the game was in development, Sakurai created a basic avatar to perform the primary movements of play – a little ball with arms and legs. This was meant as a placeholder, later to be swapped for something more definite. But throughout testing and animation, the team fell in love with this white blob, and they ended up sticking with it. But he was just that – white.
Since Kirby’s Dream Land released on the original Game Boy, its protagonist’s color was indefinite. Adding to the confusion, the game’s North American box art depicted a white Kirby, while the Japanese art showed the pink character we’ve come to recognize. Sakurai always imagined Kirby to be pink, while Shigeru Miyamoto (who created Mario and worked as a producer on Kirby) always imagined our hero to be yellow. Color was an afterthought – literally. They didn’t nail down the official pink hue until after the first game’s release.
Another thing that didn’t come until the second game was Kirby’s ability to copy his enemies’ powers after slurping them up. Kirby’s Adventure dropped on the NES in ‘93, and implemented copy abilities, which are now a characteristic trait of the spherical savior of Dream Land.
How Kirby got his name
Sakurai’s project had a working title of Twinkle Popopo. But Nintendo wanted to go with a name that could create more draw for Western customers. After throwing around several options, the team finally named their character after… a lawyer.
John Kirby was a lawyer who worked long and hard on Nintendo’s behalf in a legal fight with Universal. The movie studio had sued over Donkey Kong, claiming the primate videogame character’s name was too akin to King Kong. (It’s like, totally a different Kong, geez.) Nintendo eventually won the suit, and named a character after Mr. Kirby as a way of saying thank you.
After many platformer adventures, pinball titles, 3D games, and Super Smash cameos, Kirby is now one of the most beloved characters in the video game industry’s history. Whether happily floating above Planet Popstar or bravely dueling with Meta Knight, his innocence and simplicity has captivated kids and grownups alike. And from the looks of it, he’s not stopping anytime soon.
The Best Asymmetric Virtual Reality Games Out Now
Virtual reality is fun, but playing with friends makes it better. The problem is that not everyone can afford a VR headset, so we put together a few games you and your friends can play with only a single VR system.
5. Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes
Better talk fast because the clock is ticking and there’s a bomb in your hands! Available in VR and regular screen, Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes puts one player in charge of manipulated bomb components to keep it from blowing up. Another player is supplied only with a guide. The thing is that every bomb is different and the reader has no idea what your bomb looks like. Speed is vital. Communication is key.
4. Fast and Low
Shoot and move in this SWAT simulator game. Despite its less-than-finished appearance, this game has solid bones with “realistic” gunplay, suspect interactions, damage, and room clearing. One player can hop in on PC while another gets ready to get rowdy in virtual reality. Take your time as you move room to room searching out hostels, but don’t be too trigger-happy because some are going to surrender. Take them alive if you can.
3. Reiko’s Fragments
Do you want to scare the living daylights out of your friends and family? The Reiko’s Fragments might be for you. Virtual reality is already pretty terrifying with even the smallest of scares, but now your friends can take control. One person takes the reins and puts on the headset; the rest can pull up their phones and get to scaring.
2. Takelings House Party
This is a true party game. Grab a few friends with phones to take up the mantle of “Takelings,” thieving humanoids hell-bent on making your home life miserable. The person in VR needs to take these things out by any means necessary. That includes hammers, nailguns, toasters, and waffle makers. It’s still in early access but is worth a buy if you like party games.
1. Smush TV
Have you ever wanted to face your fear of being crushed under tetrominoes while electronic music pumps in the background? Smush TV is just that where a player in VR does their best to climb to the top of a Tetris tower while avoiding getting smushed. The other flatscreen player is on a mission to drop these blocks on the other’s head.
No, Shooting Guns in VR Does Not Translate to Shooting Firearms in Real Life
Guns and virtual reality go together like peanut butter and jelly. The shooter genre is one of the biggest in the VR space right alongside melee hack and slashers. Naturally, some people are bringing up the idea that video games may cause violence once again or rather may teach people how to be violent. There’s a mild connection there with VR being a highly interactive medium where you physically act out an action, but the truth is that there’s just not much you can learn especially with complex things like firearms.
It’s important to note that VR can only teach people to use firearms only as effectively as any other learning medium like books or videos. There are no special movements or techniques taught in VR that aren’t found elsewhere. In fact, I’d wager that most people who consume media on the regular probably already know how to load a magazine into a firearm and pull a trigger. These actions are already intuitive though and would be fairly easy to figure without instruction anyway.
Virtual reality can’t simulate the weight of a firearm nor dealing with concussive force from a gunshot. Virtual makes firearms simple. Reload. Click. Shoot. Easy. It removes all of the individual actions necessary for operating a weapon. It doesn’t teach you how to clear a malfunction or even load rounds into a magazine. Or control recoil and correct trigger pulling technique. The list is long. Although, manipulating firearms isn’t a particularly difficult process in the first place. Virtual reality doesn’t cover any of the things that make for a proficient shooter.
I’d even argue that virtual reality might actually teach terrible habits for people that might get into hobbyist shooting later on. The first is reinforcing poor trigger control. With real firearms, you need to be particular in the way you pull a trigger. Incorrect technique can throw shots off target by a lot. Virtual reality controls have more stability and little trigger resistance. They don’t require a consistent form.
Recoil control is something else that’ll suffer when using VR. With real firearms, recoil is typically controlled by tightly bracing it to your body or locking your wrists. Virtual reality is a different story. Most recoil control is done just by pulling the controllers down, yet another way to throw off your shots in real life.
Virtual reality isn’t effectively teaching anyone to use firearms. In fact it’s probably doing just the opposite. This is just a recycled argument of “video games cause violence.”