Never Alone – A Touching Tale

Tale

This exquisite and truly emotional game follows an Alaskan Native, Nuna who in an attempt to put an end to an eternal blizzard, encounters and forms and unlikely friendship with an Arctic Fox. Upper One Games story of the pair is based around an Alaskan folklore tale and is incredibly orientated around the Inupiat culture.

Gorgeous Gameplay

Never alone is a puzzle-platformer game. The player must swap between the two companions in order to overcome the many obstacles on the pairs journey to discover the source of the almighty blizzard. Each character features differing qualities and abilities. Whilst the Fox can run faster and more nimbly traverse through the icy wilderness, Nuna may push objects and gain access to more areas using her weapon of choice, the Bola. Platformers are renowned for being exceedingly addictive and this game also maintains those expectations, having the player always want just one more attempt to overcome a particular puzzle. It is also worth noting that you are able to play this short but moving story cooperative.

Utterly Beautiful

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There are several factors that make Never Alone such a poignant game. One of which is undoubtedly the games scenery. The game is set in the cold and icy lands of Alaska which is overwhelmed by an eternal blizzard. This setting is raw, unpredictable and ultimately dangerous and really helps generate an important atmosphere of fear. From this a player will initially derive a sense of much needed caution, coaxing them into putting a little bit more thought into the reckless pushing of buttons and to instead take more time on each puzzle. However, this is not it’s only means of significance as it brings so much more. In creating such a fearful atmosphere, the game has added further focus on the friendship between Nuna and Fox. The player will value the companionship as opposed to the alternative of isolation. Sustaining this focus is key to successfully drawing out the emotion within the game and the developers do so brilliantly. The divine visuals really aid in portraying the harshness of the surroundings and really do the game justice in providing a truly haunting feel.

Hunter And The Hunted 

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At the heart of Never Alone is the pairing between the hunter, Nuna and the hunted, Fox. This peculiar friendship is thoroughly heart-warming. The defiance of a renowned prejudice between the two is engrossing and by the end of a playthrough, the player will too be desperate for a companion like Fox. Upper One Games maintain focus throughout the game on the relationship between the two main characters. Throughout they’re always portraying so effectively that although the two differ so much, they excel as a partnership, complimenting each others abilities and ultimately proving that despite the preconception that they are oppositions, they need one another. As puzzles become more difficult, alongside the environment itself, the reliance between the pair grows stronger and the player is guaranteed to be entirely captivated by it.

Inupiat Culture 

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Never Alone embraces the Inupiate culture, enlightening the player of how they live. The whole story of Never Alone is based on Alaskan indigenous folklore. This makes the game incredibly intriguing as learning of this culture as events within the game unfold is actually very interesting. The collectibles within Never Alone are known as insights. These can be identified as tiny owls perched in various places through each chapter. These are brilliant collectibles and self-explanatory, they provide the player with an ‘insight’ into a particular aspect of the Inupiate culture, usually relevant to the specific chapter the player has found the owl within. The player will want to hunt down these owls as to enhance their knowledge and understanding of the games proceedings.

Never Alone Is An Inspiring Must Have

Upper One Games have successfully developed a miraculously moving game that although short in play-time, will remain with players for much longer. With a simple premise and a clear, well-assigned focus on an adorable pair will emotionally intertwine with the player. Addictive for all the right reasons and brimming with such wise morals and messages, you will surely find you yourself alone if you don’t get started on this touching tale right away.

8 Nintendo Characters You Haven’t Considered for Smash DLC

Nintendo

Nintendo recently opened the floodgates on Super Smash Bros for Wii U and 3DS.  Not only are Mewtwo and Lucas set to appear as DLC, but there is also a page on the official Smash website to submit your own requests for characters you want to see added to the game.  There are plenty of obvious fan-favorites that are overdue for an appearance, but there are also obscure characters worth considering.  These characters haven’t appeared in any Smash game save for maybe a few trophies, but they still have plenty of potential as new fighters.  We’ll be focusing on just first-party characters owned by Nintendo with this article rather than opening it up to the entire gaming industry.  They aren’t so obscure as to be entirely ridiculous to consider; they just offer unique additions to the roster that shouldn’t be overlooked.

CaptainSyrup

8) Captain Syrup

The Mario series isn’t exactly hurting for representation (including spin-offs, it’s currently sitting at eleven fighters), but there are still some characters that could use some recognition.  One prime example is Wario’s arch-rival in thievery: Captain Syrup.  First appearing as the antagonist in Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3, Syrup is the leader of the pirate troupe known as the Black Sugar Gang.  Not only is she a rival for Wario, she could also act as an antithesis for Peach.  The idea of a Peach counterpart has been tossed around within Nintendo for years (along with Waluigi, there were plans to introduce a character named Warupichi in Mario Tennis), but they’ve never been able to settle on something.  Syrup could finally fill the void as Smash‘s resident bad girl.  Plus, the ninja-to-pirate ratio in Smash is currently 2-0 and that is unacceptable.

Sothe

7) Sothe

The Fire Emblem series has quite a few fighters on the roster already, but they’re mostly just different spins on the same swordsman type.  Given the wide range of classes that Fire Emblem has to offer, there’s little excuse for the lack of diversity.  One good example is Sothe, one of Ike’s allies in Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance and a major character in Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn, who would be a perfect representative for the thief class.  Being a thief, he could steal items right out his opponent’s hands in similar fashion to the Villager’s pocket ability.  He could also use a knife-based fighting style similar to Street Fighter‘s Cody and Killer Instinct‘s Maya; able to use his knife as a powerful projectile, but having to physically recover it afterward.  I do feel guilty putting Sothe on the list over Micaiah, the actual main character in Radiant Dawn, but I can’t see her light-based magic offering much to the roster.

Vaati

6) Vaati

Despite being one of Nintendo’s biggest franchises, The Legend of Zelda hasn’t had a truly fresh addition to Smash‘s roster since Melee.  Hyrule Warriors recently displayed just how much potential the series has with characters like Impa, Ghirahim, Midna, and Darunia to name a few.  Anyone of those characters would make a fine addition to Smash, but there’s one major character in the Zelda series that was bizarrely absent from Hyrule Warriors (besides Groose).  Vaati is the second most prominent villain in the Zelda series, appearing as the central antagonist in The Minish Cap, Four Swords, and Four Swords Adventures.  A powerful wind mage capable of changing his appearance, there’s no doubt that he could provide a unique playstyle to Smash.  Much like Ganondorf’s ability to take the form of a giant pig demon, Vaati takes the form of a giant bat demon for the final battle and this would obviously be his Final Smash attack.

Sukapon

5) Sukapon

Super Smash Bros isn’t the first fighting game Nintendo developed as there were two 8-bit fighting games they released for the NES and Famicom.  The first was launch title Urban Champion, which is probably too simplistic to offer much that brawlers like Mike Haggar and Axel Stone couldn’t do better.  The other was Joy Mech Fight, which was released exclusively in Japan towards the end of the Famicom’s lifespan and was a full fighter on the level of Street Fighter II despite being an 8-bit game with only two buttons and a D-pad.  The way it got around these these technical limitations was to go the Rayman route (two years before Rayman debuted) and make all of the characters limbless clusters of floating body parts.  To make that concept less creepy, all of the fighters are robots.  The main character, Sukapon, was originally designed to be a comedian, but was converted into a fighter when one of the scientists behind the line of physics-defying machines tries to take over the world (sounds like he would have plenty to discuss with Mega Man).  Sukapon makes the most sense as a legacy character for Nintendo as their one traditional fighting game character.

Rundas

4) Rundas

When it comes to adding a new Metroid character, everyone immediately looks to regular antagonist Ridley, who has been relegated to the role of boss fight due to his massive size.  The issue with Metroid is that Samus has few allies and most of the characters are large bosses that can’t work as fighters in Smash.  The only exceptions are the rivals in Metroid Prime Hunters (who’re all fine characters, but the game itself isn’t fondly remembered) and the bounty hunters introduced in Metroid Prime 3 like Rundas.  An alien with power over ice, Rundas worked alongside Samus in hunting the Phozon threat and he is the closest she has ever had to a love-interest.  With the Ice Climbers showing no sign of making a return, Rundas could offer a new spin on ice-based attacks with a freezing beam and icicle traps.  If we can’t have Ridley, Rundas is the next best choice for a new Metroid fighter.

AlexRoivas

3) Alexandra Roivas

If you’re looking for something truly unique for the roster, you can’t get much more bizarre than good, old-fashioned eldritch horror.  Alexandra Roivas is the main protagonist in Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem, a survival-horror game released on the Gamecube and one of the few M-rated games developed by Nintendo. While investing her grandfather’s mysterious death, she discovers the Tome of Eternal Darkness and learns of a group of malevolent elder gods called the Ancients that seek to invade Earth.  While her marksmanship is clearly off the table with Nintendo’s stern refusal to include realistic guns in Smash, Alex still has plenty of magic and sword skills that could easily form a moveset.  The biggest twist she can offer is the addition of the unique insanity effects that Eternal Darkness is famous for.  These range from the level being flipped upside-down and hallucinating death to fourth-wall-breaking effects like muting your television and trying to delete your save files.  These sparks of madness could fit in perfectly with the chaotic gameplay of the Smash series.  On the other hand, they’ll never be quite as scary once Kirby and Pikachu get involved.

captain-rainbow

2) Captain Rainbow

This guy was pretty much made for Smash.  Starring in the Japan-only Wii game of the same name, Captain Rainbow is a down-and-out superhero armed with only a yo-yo who travels to a mythical island in the hopes that he can find a way to restore his former glory.  The part where things get really strange is that he isn’t the first to search the island with this goal as it is already populated with several forgotten Nintendo mascots.  Some of the characters he meets include the samurai Takamaru, minor Mario antagonist Birdo, and, most interestingly, Punch-Out!! star Little Mac who soon after made his return to the spotlight with a new game on the Wii and a playable role in Super Smash Bros for Wii U and 3DS.  If nothing else, I’d say Mac owes the captain a good word after he did his part to get the former champ back into fighting shape.

Pro_Wrestling_Star_Man

1) Star Man

Star Man, a character from Pro Wrestling on the NES, is easily the one Nintendo character with the most to offer Smash that has the least amount of people thinking about him.  Being a luchador, Star Man could bring plenty of high-flying techniques that fit Smash so well.  Think of him like a reverse Little Mac; a close-combat fighter that thrives in the air, but is more vulnerable when close to the ground.  He’d also give the roster some much-needed racial diversity as the first Mexican smasher (assuming he’s not secretly an alien under that mask or something).  If old-school oddities like Duck Hunt and R.O.B. can make it onto the roster, there’s no reason to ignore this master of the ring.

Which characters have earned your vote on the Smash Ballot?  Has anyone listed above caught your interest?  Are there any other obscure characters out there that you think warrant consideration?  Leave a comment below and let us know what you think.

The VGamerZ Monster Files: Darkrai (Pokémon)

Pokémon

Ghost Pokémon, as we know, are already darn creepy enough. Take the likes of Phantump, the cutesy little pumpkin dude. It looks about as malevolent as Casper in a coma, but then you read its Pokédex entry.

“According to old tales, these Pokémon are stumps possessed by the spirits of children who died while lost in the forest.”

That’s dark, right there. And you know what else is dark? Darkrai, the Pitch-Black Pokémon. That’ll be why it’s called that. You don’t mess with this thing. It’s not a Ghost-type, true enough, but it sure looks like a ghost. And reminds me of the Dementors of Harry Potter fame, which is already more than enough to add this bugger to the feared ranks of the Monster Files. But that’s not all.

Dex number 491, this mythical Pokémon (not to be confused with legendary, Poké-nerds) was introduced in a Diamond/Pearl event in 2009. It serves as the counterpart to Cresselia, bizarre pink moon-duck that it is, and is the other member of the lunar duo.

Darkrai

Unlike most ghost ‘mon, this guy doesn’t just look a little creepy, like Gengar and his buddies. Darkrai is a monster in every sense of the world. With great power, speed and a dastardly bag of tricks, this fiendish spectre was banned to ubers by the great God of Pokémon (Arceus, Smogon, y’know, whichever) and will remain there.

Darkrai’s signature move is Dark Void, a status attack to put foes to sleep. In doubles and triples matches, this is particularly horrifying, able to put both or all three opponents to sleep in a single –and very fast– shot. This thing’ll need to be a priority target for sure if it ever crops up in those formats, that’s for sure.

Smeargle, of all things, is feared in doubles matches purely because it also has access to the move. And if you know how craptacular Smeargle is, you’ll also know what a big deal that is. Darkrai is, and has created, a monster.

This vile shade is very frail, the type you’ll often find hiding behind a focus sash so it can survive a hit. By so doing, it gets even more opportunity to buff its power yet further with Nasty Plot and wreak some havoc. You can take it down quickly, sure, but you’re going to need to.

Exclusive Interview with Konami on Kojima’s Departure [April Fools]

Konami

[UPDATE:] I am sure that everybody understood that, but just to make sure: this was, of course, an April Fools Day article and no information that you can read below is real.

There has been untold amounts of speculation as industry legend Hideo Kojima is apparantly departing from Konami once Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is completed.  Statements on the matter have been vague as to what kind of fallout is going on between them and what the anticipated futures for Konami and Kojima Productions are.  Fortunately, Konami has decided to open up on the entire situation and one of their public relations managers, April Fawlz, agreed to hold an interview with VgamerZ to set the record straight.

What is going to become of the relationship between Konami and Hideo Kojima once The Phantom Pain is released?

Hideo Kojima, along with the entirety of Kojima Productions, will no longer be affiliated with Konami in any manner following the release of Metal Gear Solid V.  Kojima will continue to head development of the game, but this will be his final project published with Konami or using the Metal Gear license.  Konami will retain the rights to the Metal Gear franchise and all other properties that Kojima has developed under our company and we still plan to develop titles in these franchises in the future.

Why is Kojima Productions breaking away from Konami?

Kojima has made it abundantly clear that he is uncooperative with the new direction that Konami is moving in and has decided to strike out on his own.  Honestly, none of us expect him to go very far.  He may have his team and his creative vision, but we retain the brand recognition.

What does Konami have planned for the future?

We’re going to be down-sizing significantly in order to remain competitive in the evolving industry.  Making games on the level of Call of Duty hasn’t been showing the expected profit margins and the only alternative is, of course, the level of Candy Crush Saga.  As such, Konami’s internal development will be focused strictly on mobile apps and pachinko machines using our iconic brands.  Console games will still be developed with these franchises, but that development will be outsourced to other studios that we trust to perform optimally.

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What does this all mean for Silent Hills?

Ah, yes, Kojima was heading development on that too, wasn’t he?  Well, he’s already been taken off the development staff as The Phantom Pain will be the last game he works on in association with Konami.  We’ve also had to drop Guillermo del Toro and Norman Reedus from the project as they simply weren’t lining up with the product we wanted to produce.  However, the game isn’t cancelled in any way and we think that the new direction its development is going in will have gamers far more excited than ever before.  We’ve passed development onto Big Red Button Entertainment, one of the studios we hope to work with a great deal in the future, and they’re already making great strides with the new build.  They’re currently working on bringing online multiplayer, cover-based shooting, and much more to the game to help it fit in more with the modern gaming environment.  We certainly expect it to turn out better than that so-called ‘playable teaser’ that Kojima came up with would suggest.

What makes you say that about PT

Well, it’s pretty clear that the whole fiasco with PT and Ground Zeroes was the final straw for Kojima.  He insisted that PT be released for free after some supposed backlash against the price-point for Ground Zeroes.  We’re still not convinced that there was ever much of an issue to begin with.  The problem with PT is that it was downloaded over a million times within the first month of release, received massive acclaim to the point of being a Game of the Year contender for several media outlets, but didn’t result in any profits for all of the development that went into it.  Imagine how well it would have done if we had charged as little as $20 for it.  If we charged $30 or $40, that could fund the entire development of Silent Hills right there.  Instead, it was given out like candy.  What’s most bizarre is that the developers all seemed to take pride in all this.  Rest assured, there won’t be any mistakes like that in Konami’s future.

What other titles can we expect to see come out of Konami in the future?

I actually have a list of some of the big new games we’ll be demonstrating at E3 this year.  Our full list should be released to the public by the time this interview is published, so there’s no harm in sharing a few with you.  Along with The Phantom Pain and the new build for Silent Hills, we’ll showing off a match-three puzzle game called Bomberman: Triple Threat with an art style based on Bomberman: Act Zero, Castlevania: All the Bravest, and Neverdead 2.

If you have any further questions regarding the future of Konami, feel free to contact April Fawlz here.  Also, be sure to share your thoughts on this totally legitimate interview.  Have a nice day.

The Witcher Character Profile: Emhyr var Emreis

Emhyr var Emreis

Emhyr var Emreis is the Emperor of Nilfgaard. He is seen as a very good ruler for the Nilfgaardian people, but he is also an extremely aggressive one, much like all of the Nilfgaardian Emperor’s before him. It is also extremely intelligent and determined, he will always strive to achieve what he wants with 100% conviction. He is also very ruthless, he once broke a treaty with Termeria for peace after only sixteen days.

Due to his high intelligence, he has been able to quell any plots against him and he also chooses his allies very well. Emhyr var Emreis allied Nilfgaard with the Elder Races (elves, dwarves, and gnomes), which is the complete opposite of the kings in the Northern Kingdoms, as they rule societies which treat non-humans as second class citizens and most, if not all, of the rulers hate the Elder Races purely because they are not human. It used the Elder Races as a distraction for his opponents, and they also supported his main army. Most of those fighting for the emperor were elves. In return for their allegiance the Nilfgaardian emperor gave the elves Dol Blathanna (the Valley of the Flowers in Elder Speech) as an independent state, which was once owned by the elves for a long time until the humans conquered it. Enid an Gleanna, also known as Francesca Findabair, was decreed the queen of the elven state by Emhyr var Emreis.

The Elder Races named Emhyr var Emreis as Deithwen Addan yn Carn aep Morvudd, which means the White Flame Dancing on the Barrows of his Enemies in Elder Speech.

Once again like previous Nilfgaardian rulers, it has huge expansionist policies, which means he wants to increase the territorial expansion of Nilfgaard, making it as large as possible and by conquering all other countries in the known world. Due to this, Nilfgaard has been at war three times with the Northern Kingdoms, twice in the books and the third time right at the end of The Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings. Nilfgaard has so far been repelled by the Northern Kingdoms over many bloody battles. The fate of the last war is still unknown, however we do know that Nilfgaard has crossed the Yaruga and is marching north. The first two wars are known as the Northern Wars in the Nilfgaardian Empire and the Nilfgaard Wars in the Northern Kingdoms.

In the upcoming Witcher game, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Emhyr var Emreis will be voiced by none other than Charles Dance.

*Spoilers for The Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings*

Emhyr var Emreis has yet to physically be in a Witcher game, however he has been referred to before. It was revealed that it was the true mastermind behind the assassination of the Northern Kingdom’s Kings, as he offered Letho land where Witchers would be able to live without persecution and from others. Letho agreed to do this, and Emhyr var Emreis knew that this would cause chaos and unrest in the Northern Kingdoms, thus taking his first step towards conquering the Northern Kingdoms.

*Massive spoilers from the books about Emhyr var Emreis! Only read if you must know*

Emhyr var Emreis was cursed at the age of thirteen by a wizard who was hired by a usurper of the Nilfgaardian throne, once Emhyr’s father refused to co-operate with them they decided to curse his son instead. The cursed had turned Emhyr into a beastly looking figure with a humanoid shaped body figure and a face which was spiky and resembled a hedgehog. Geralt of Rivia managed to lift the curse off of him.  Sound familiar yet? Yes, that’s right, Emhyr var Emreis is actually Duny. That also means that Emhyr var Emreis is Ciri’s father. We had been under the impression that Ciri’s parents had died while crossing the Sedna Abyss on a boat, what actually happened was that Pavetta (Ciri’s mother) found out that Emhyr was taking them both to Nilfgaard so she left Ciri behind. Emhyr possible threw Pavetta overboard himself due to his anger. He then left to claim his birthright of Nilfgaard. He has tried to kidnap Ciri multiple times.

Retro Corner: A Gamer’z First Game

First Game

Ah, to be truly young again, you remember it, don’t you? Total lack of responsibilities, not a care in the world, trading Pokémon cards with friends and chasing girls with sticks… But before or during all that, if you were lucky enough to have a console in the house, probably owned by a parent or older sibling that would play to their heart’s content, then you probably have a distinct memory of your first game.

Your first game, in my opinion, is one that stays with you throughout your nostalgic memories of gaming culture. I think it’s also important as it can hold a strong influence not only on your opinion of video games as a whole, but can determine the type of games that you enjoy and play today.

I reMega Games 2member my first game, well, it was technically three games in one. It was some time in the late nineties, my dad owned a Sega Mega Drive II and although he didn’t get a lot of time to play because of work, I loved to watch the times he could play. Then one day he pulled out a second controller from out of nowhere and hooked it up before handing me this croissant shaped device. He blew into the cartridge (Did that actually fix games or was it always just a myth? I’m sure it worked) with three titles written in bright yellow on it. I glanced over at the box labelled Mega Games 2 (Okay, at the time I was still very young and probably couldn’t read, but the pictures looked cool!). On this cartridge you had Golden Axe, Streets of Rage and The Revenge of Shinobi.

I don’t know why I remember all these minor details, it’s not like they are of any importance, or are they? I mean, technically speaking, gaming does take up a considerably large portion of my life in some form or another so I guess you could say that particular memory is so vivid as it was the birthplace and my introduction to this culture and industry.

golden axeAlthough these three games all shared that side-scrolling beat em’ up style genre, which was highly popular at the time, Streets of Rage was my first and favourite of the three. The combination of the vibrant colour palette and iconic score by Yuzo Koshiro all complimented each other into delivering this downright cool and kick-ass classic. There were little things you probably remember, swinging a pipe, the unusually larger bosses, throwing a guy off the Stage 7 elevator. I mean yes there were other fantastic games of the time that I thoroughly enjoyed, Ecco the Dolphin, Comix Zone, Lemmings and Sonic the Hedgehog to name a few, but when anyone even mentions Sega, Streets of Rage instantly comes to mind as my all time favourite retro game.

From there the introduction to Metal Gear Solid on the PlayStation 1 system occurred and it all went on from there, but that’s a story for another time and one I don’t need to tell because you’ll probably all have a similar story in common from your own past gaming experiences.

Do you remember you first game? Did it have any particular influence on your gaming taste? Leave a comment below and share your gaming story, because no matter how vague it is, I’m sure there are those little details of memory that other people can relate to.

Retro Corner: SkiFree

SkiFree

I remember the first PC I ever owned. It was a vast, white monstrosity about the size of your average studio apartment. The brand was Siemens Nixdorf, which isn’t even a damn thing any more and hasn’t been for a decade and a half. There was none of this newfangled ‘internet’ thing at this time (not for me, at any rate), and my computing time with the big ol’ Nixdorf mostly consisted of making pictures with Paint and clipart.

There is a point to all of this prattle. Hold on to your underpants, because here it comes now: one of my earliest memories of the brave new IT (not ICT, I’m much too old for that) world was SkiFree. I get powerful nostalgia-pangs just from hearing the name, so here’s my little ode to it.

If you’re not as decrepit as I am, SkiFree was released in 1991. It’s a simple arcade affair for Windows (later ported to Mac, and Game Boy Color of all things), which sees you slalom down and endless slope and try to reach the furthest point you can.

SkiFree 2

There are various play options. The slalom course is a straight up time attack run, while on the freestyle course you instead aim for the highest score by accumulating ‘style points’ (by performing jumps and such). More able players can opt to take the tree slalom course, which is longer and more difficult. You can also opt to eschew all of these and just ski about. Y’know, freely, hence the name.

The controls are just as spartan as the presentation. You use the arrow keys to move, and the space bar to jump. Like most arcade games, it’s one you can pick up almost instantly, but it’ll take some time to uncover all the little tricks and techniques to get the best out of your scores and times. SkiFree is a game that demands quick reflexes, as the perspective means that you can careen at obstacles (poles, trees, other skiers, abominable snowmen) with little warning.

It’s a simple little thing, but the game had that one-more-try factor that all the best quickfire ones do. It also has a unique charm and quirky humour that’s difficult to convey with such limited resources. Startled dogs you speed past or barrel into on the course will pee in the snow in fright, and the stickman abominable snowman will eat you at the bottom on the mountain to herald the end of your run.

I’ll say it again: ah, SkiFree.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt’s Races – Elves

Wild Hunt

Elves are one of the three major races in Andrzej Sapkowski’s Witcher novels, and CD Projekt RED’s games. They are also one of the three Elder Races, along with dwarves and gnomes. Elves first came to the continent on their white ships after dwarves and gnomes wild hunt, but about one thousand years before the humans.

The elves ultimately found themselves at war with the humans, after failing to realise the growing threat of the humans for several hundred years. The elder races lost the war with the humans, and they now live amongst humans as second class citizens. The elder races have to pay a levy to live in a town just because they are not human. One of the main reasons that they lost the war with the humans is that elves live a lot longer than humans, but they are much less fertile, while the humans don’t live anywhere near long as elves, but they reproduce much more, so ultimately humans outnumbered the elves.

Due to being treat poorly by the humans in the Northern Kingdoms, the elves and other non humans formed a guerilla group known as the Scoia’tael. The Scoia’tael are also known as ‘the Squirrels’ because they live like squirrels in the woods. The Scoia’tael  hate humans just as much as humans hate non-humans, and they attempt to kill as many of them as they can. They allied with Nilfgaard against the Northern Kingdoms, and were chiefly used by the Nilgaardian Emperor,  Emhyr var Emreis, as a diversion but also to support his army. In return for siding with Nilfgaard, the elves received  Dol Blathanna (the Valley of the Flowers) as an independent state. Enid an Gleanna, also known as Francesca Findabair, is the queen of their state. Dol Blathanna used to belong to the elves for many years until the humans conquered it and the elves then fled to the mountains. They hoped to wait out the humans, as they thought they were nothing more than a plague which would one day end.

Elves differ from humans in looks slightly, but are generally considered attractive. They have pointed ears and they have small, identical teeth without canines.

Elves are also known as Aen Seidhe, but other groups of elves such as the Aen Elle. The Aen Elle are from a completely different world than the Aen Seidhe, and the capital of their world is  Tir ná Lia and they are ruled by Auberon Muircetach.*Spoilers about the Wild Hunt*  It is revealed that the Wild Hunt is actually the Aen Elle and Auberon Muircetach is the King of the Wild Hunt.

Gaming’s Greatest Gadgets: The “Vampire Killer”

Vampire Killer

Gaming is literally chocked full of awesome weapons, sweet gadgets and general bits and bobs designed to streamline your killing experience. But only the greatest weapons become iconic; synonymous with the game itself; two peas in a disk/cartridge/downloadable-doodad shaped pod.

In this series, we look at these legendary gizmos from across gaming’s glorious past, and with the recent re-release of Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow on the Nintendo E-Shop it is only fitting that we take a look at:

The Vampire Killer

proxyCastlevania is one of the oldest series’ in gaming, and stands tall next to Metal Gear as one of Konami’s greatest achievements. In 1986 Castlevania bursted onto the scene, giving the world one of its first glimpses into the survival horror genre. Utilizing monsters from both myth and classic horror films, fused with clunky controls in a dark-fantasy setting, Konami pushed the NES to its breaking point. What made Castlevania so iconic however (soul crushing difficulty notwithstanding), was its weapon of choice: The Vampire Killer.

Unlike most weapons in gaming, then and now, the Vampire Killer is not a sword or a gun, it’s a whip. Being a whip gave the player surprising range when engaging enemies, although the trade was a whip that was heavy, cumbersome and hard to control. You could not move whilst attacking, so every swing had to mean something, as you rarely got a second chance. Nothing in gaming was, or has been, as satisfying to use. You cannot beat the sound of the Vampire Killers deadly crack as it connects with its enemies.

The Vampire Killer is typically depicted as a leather whip crafted by the alchemist Rinaldo Gandolfi, reaching 5-10ft in length, however seeing as it was made by alchemy, it has also taken on the form of a metal chain, as well as a morning star. Though bound to the Belmont family (a bond that can literally kill those not from the clan), each Belmont has been able to utilize the Vampire Killer in different ways. Richter could literally ignite the whip creating an inferno of extendable metal  death, whilst John was able to imbue it with lightning. Other Belmont’s have been able to channel magic energies through the whip, unleashing fireballs and earthquakes. Some have used it in conjunction with their incredible upper-body strength to pull off unimaginable acrobatics.

Whilst it bears the name Vampire Killer and designed to kill Count Dracula, the whip is blessed with the power to destroy all darkness, whether that be undead, demon or alchemical. In fact, such is the Vampire Killers power, it has slain Death himself on numerous occasions and  even banished Satan. Finally, the Vampire Killer, despite being a whip, can crush brick and mortar, enchanted or not, with ease. Its most interesting ability is that it can literally conjure food out of rubble to rejuvenate its bearer.

Modernization

combat-cross-and-whipWith the 3D overhaul Castlevania got with the Lords of Shadow series, the Vampire Killer took on a new lease of life. No longer a whip, the Vampire Killer became a Combat Cross, and although it was still designed by Rinaldo Gandolfi, it was also replicated meaning countless lesser Crosses exist. What is even more surprising is that it was not designed to slay Dracula, and was actually given its name by the village of Wygol after a vampire attack was thwarted.

This iteration of the Vampire Killer is a crucifix. The base of the cross is sharpened into a stake to allow for the quick disposal of vampires, whilst the main weapon is a blessed chain covered in spikes that ends with a hooked tip. Whilst not actually a whip, it is used much like a one, and similar to the old Vampire Killer, it can slay anything from lycanthropes to alchemical colossus. Additionally, the Combat Cross can also be infused with magic, allowing the bearer to drain the life from his enemies and, similar to the original, burst into flames. Finally, the Combat Cross’s greatest strength is its ability to permanently kill an immortal.

Unlike the Vampire Killer of old however, it is not passed down through the generations, and is in fact destroyed, reforged, and wielded by Dracula, making it the least effective Dracula killing Vampire Killer of all time.

The Hunter Whip

Whilst the Vampire Killer is the premiere tool when it comes to the slaying of dark minions, there are other, lesser whips in the series that have been used to banish Dracula and his minions. One such whip is aptly named the Hunter Whip. Unlike the Vampire Killer, the Hunter Whip is made entirely of leather, although this does not seem to hinder the bearer too much. What makes the Hunter Whip so interesting however is its ability to be infused with power of gods and mythical creatures, allowing the bearer to change the properties of the weapon, and even morph it into other weapons such as a sword or gun.

Whilst many people view whips as a tool used primarily within the realm of rugged, fedora wearing, temple delving explorers like Indiana Jones, we gamers see it as one of the coolest weapons ever conceived. Now if you excuse me, I have some more Dracula killing to do. WHOOPAH!

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt’s Races – Humans

Races

Humans are one of the three major races in the world of Andrzej Sapkowski’s Witcher novels, and CD Projekt Red’s games. Humans are prominent throughout the Nilfgaardian Empire and also throughout the Northern Kingdoms, which were already previously inhabited elves, dwarves, gnomes and halflings. Humans most likely arrived onshore at the mouth of the Yaruga and Pontar Delta. Jan Bekker, the first human mage who mastered the magic of the elder races, then set up the first human settlement.

Once the humans first arrived on the continent more than one thousand years after the elves arrived, they set about conquering the lands. It took several hundred years for the elder races to realise the growing and impending threat posed by humans, but however they were too late by then and then there was war. The humans emerged victorious and all of the elder races were relegated to second class citizens. They are all now simply known as non-humans to the humans.

The humans and non-humans still wage war throughout the Northern Kingdoms, although on a much smaller scale. The non-humans formed the Scoia’tael which is an extremist group with the aim of killing humans. Not all non-humans are against the humans though, and most live alongside them in the cities throughout the Northern Kingdoms, however non-humans are forced to pay a levy simply because they’re not human and they are generally treated much, much worse. Many of the larger human cities are built on the ruins of elven cities which were burned down by the humans. An example of this would be Vizima.

Several riots have taken place in the cities started by the humans about living with non-humans, which has cost the lives of many non-humans. *Spoiler for the end of the books* One of these riots also caused the ‘death’ of Geralt of Rivia, the main protagonist, at the end of the books. However as the games are canon and happen after the books it emerged that Geralt did not die.

Only humans can become witchers.

Humans are similar in appearance to elves and they can interbreed. It is generally considered that most humans now have some elven heritage from when humans first arrived and interbred with elves.