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The Future of Platformers: Looking Forward To Super Mario 3D, Land, LittleBigPlanet Vita, The Last Guardian, and More!

The hop and bop genre has been through quite a bit since its humble beginnings, when Pitfall Harry and Mario first took their first leaps of faith. We’ve seen the rise and fall and rise again of the mascot platformer, the renaissance of 2D, and the advent of user-generated content.

Platformers have always been incredibly important to Nintendo, being the flagship franchise bearer’s genre of choice, but increasingly, we’re seeing plenty of innovation in Sony’s devices, and on the indie-friendly platforms – including Xbox Live Indie Games, IOS devices, and even in browsers.

Indies have been making waves by kicking it old school with a twist (see VVVVVV and Bit.Trip.Runner for a couple of excellent recent examples), breathing new life into both the aesthetics and the mechanics of the 8-bit platformers that paved the way. Think of it as revisionist history. Meanwhile, 2D has come back into style again, with the runaway success of New Super Mario Bros., and larger studios are mixing and matching genres to give the hop n’ bopper new tricks.

Looking ahead, unique physics, experiments in perspective shift, and genre blending are going to be the strongest trends moving forward. From industry standards like the big N and Sony all the way down to the tiniest indie studios, experimentation is keeping the genre alive and well in 2011 and 2012. Here are a few of the most exciting and likely influential games on the horizon.

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Batman: Arkham City

Batman: Arkham City is finally here, and after two years of waiting you're going to need a guide to help you get around. But the good news is that we're finally returning to Gotham City and taking on the role of the Dark Knight once more. The most obvious difference between Arkham Asylum and Arkham City is the sheer scope of the map. Arkham City is enormous and, as it turns out, way more dangerous than the island ever was. Good thing you have us to keep you company!

This guide will walk you through the ins and outs of Batman: Arkham City, from the combat system, to the upgrades to advice for exploring the city. And yes, we'll even fill you in on what the Riddler has in store. We're good like that.

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Zombie Apocalypse: Never Die Alone combines my two greatest fears, the inevitable zombie apocalypse and the even more inevitable dying alone. I've trained my dog to dial 9-1-1; it's called planning ahead. Adam Sessler met up with Alex Antone from Konami to discuss Zombie Apocalypse: Never Die Alone. After some chit-chat about the game's different characters the interview gets crazy with an exclusive trailer.

Zombie Apocalypse: Never Die Alone Exclusive Trailer and Hands-On »

Check out this zombie-tastic preview of Zombie Apocalypse: Never Die Alone.


SSX is the snowboarding game that lets you snowboard all over the world. In this Epictober exclusive, Massive World Part 1 video, the team behind SSX detail some of the most gnarly courses in the game. Does snowboarding down the Great Wall of China sound fun? How about the Alaskan Pipe Line? Tubular!

X-Play Exclusive: SSX Massive World Part 1 »

Check out our last preview of SSX while you're at it too.

The Best Video Games Based On Movies

A licensed movie game doesn’t have to be a death sentence. That seems to be the case though, doesn’t it? Just like a great video game making the leap to film and failing miserably, it seems the opposite usually produces demon spawn as well. But that’s not always true. In fact, there have been several licensed titles over the years that do more than provide an adequate adventure – they’re just great games overall.

While they may be few and far between, there are still plenty out there to disprove the disparaging theory that any licensed title is doomed to fail. If you count kids’ games, they’re even improving all over the map. Don’t believe us? We’ve got solid proof with five of the better movie to video game adaptations and those titles inspired by movies out there. Grab some popcorn, a seat, and make sure to set all cell phones to vibrate.

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The Future of Action / Adventure Games: BioShock Infinite, Max Payne 3, Tomb Raider And More

With our butts comfortably nestled into the couch and our feet firmly planted on the coffee table, we explored an expertly recreated 1940s Los Angeles in L.A. Noire, became electrified by the morale choices New Marais had in store for us in inFamous 2 and revisited our favorite Lewis Caroll literary escape, Wonderland, in Alice: Madness Returns. But our travels didn’t stop with these three AAA titles. Surprise hits like Catherine, From Dust, and Shadows of the Damned took us to new worlds that were better than anticipated. Heck, even Captain America, a superhero game based on the WWII-set movie, was so good that it had gamers doing a doubletake.

Ten months into 2011, the action adventure genre feels as if it’s a journey halfway complete. At the top of next month, Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception dares us to explore a lost city in the Arabian desert. Two weeks later, we get a pair of very different long-awaited action adventure games: The Legend of Zelda: The Skyward Sword and Batman: Arkham City. Then there’s Saints Row: The Third, Assassin’s Creed: Revelations and Rayman: Origins, all dropping on November 15, aka “call out of GameStop sick day.”

You’re pretty much out of cash by December. That shouldn’t stop you from looking forward to the equally stellar action adventure lineup of 2012 and beyond. Once again, the genre includes a little bit of everything that can’t be pegged into a round hole: shooting, beat-’em-up, RPG, open-world, puzzle and stealth. As we learned in 2011, these unique combinations sometimes make the catch-all action adventure category an easy source of GotY-worthy titles.

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Epic Games 20th Anniversary Part I - Origins »

Epic Games, the developer behind the Gears of War and Unreal franchises turns 20 this year. Join X-Play's Morgan Webb as she talks with Tim Sweeney, Mark Rein and Cliff Bleszinski about their origins as Epic MegaGames and the journey from shareware developer to industry giant. To see how Epic turned what they thought was going to be a flop into one of the Xbox 360's biggest games, check out part two after the jump. And be sure to check out our Epic 20th Anniversary Photo Gallery too.

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G4’s Epictober 2011 continues today with X-Play's exclusive look at the newly revealed Dreadnaught Battleframe from Red 5 Studios’ Action-MMO-RPG Firefall.

This heavy weapon tank class packs some serious firepower, and is the perfect option for players who like hunkering down and mowing fools down from a cozy little spot on the battlefield. Don’t believe me? Check out this exclusive Dreadnaught trailer to see it in action:

Firefall "The Dreadnaught" Trailer Exclusive »

Hit the jump to find out more about the Dreadnaught’s unique skill set.

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The team at Volition is pulling out all the stops with its upcoming absurd-fest that is Saints Row: The Third, as we’ve seen over the past couple weeks thanks to a series of vignettes highlighting some random piece of craziness that perfectly demonstrate the level of ridiculousness the game promises to offer. Nowhere is this more clearly on display than in the newest gameplay trailer, which debuted tonight on X-Play, that parodies two of 2011’s biggest releases, Modern Warfare 3 and Battlefield 3. And, as you’d expect, it includes a gimp-rickshaw chase. Because why wouldn't it?

Saints Row: The Third "Modern Warfare 3" Parody Trailer »

If exclusive trailer reveals are your thing, then definitely be sure to tune into X-Play tomorrow for new looks at SSX, Zombie Apocalypse: Never Die Alone, and more!

The Future of MMOs: Looking Ahead At Star Wars, Titan, Firefall, The Secret World, and Beyond!

This week of Epictober is dedicated to PC gaming, and MMOs are the perennial PC-only genre. In the article below, we whip out our crystal balls and look into the future of the genre.

What's coming in the future of MMOs? Ding. Grind. Ding. Grind. Every MMO is the same old repetitive time drain. Except they're not, not even close, and it only takes a look to the future big names of the online scene to see how MMOs are changing. From shooters pitting thousands of players against each other in what can only be described as a territorial war to players working together to unpiece the mystery of the lost city of Atlantis, not one of the MMOs on this list fits neatly into the mould. Developers now have the hardware and bandwith power to set their ambitions sky-high and attempt incredible things, and that's exactly what they're doing in the name of bringing people all over the world together to play and have fun.

Some of the MMOs don't even have levelling, while others are shunning subscriptions. Three of the 10 games aren't even close to role-playing games, while seven are brand spanking new IPs. Some are set deep in the realms of futuristic space, be they with lightsabers or bunny girls, while others throw into lush fantasy worlds full of splendour to be explored. Some are set more modern-day, with players travelling all over the world to investigate the unknown or to simply take it from the enemy with big old tanks. And bless 'em, some just give you a gun and send you on your way.

And that's just the games on the list. Even outside of the 10 picks, the honourable-mentions section is so star-studded with the kind of names that get any player, be they a long-term MMO fan or no, salivating with anticipation. This may just part of a series of articles looking at the future of games, but let's face it, the future is here and it is spelt with three letters.

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This is PC gaming week of Epictober, and one thing you can count on among PC games is the occasional freaky import release, like the dating games listed below.

The dating sim/visual novel genre is a widely overlooked one in the United States. Sure, there are plenty of eroge titles to pore over if you look in the right places (Saya no Uta being one a personal favorite), but on the flip side, otome games are an even bigger rarity. Otome, or maiden games, are typically aimed at a female audience, plotting a heroine against a harem of bishoujo (handsome, “pretty” men), whom she will eventually end up in a relationship with.

This is the reverse of most typical visual novels, where the player steps into the shoes of a male protagonist and through decisions made/actions performed will end up with one (or more, if applicable) of the female cast members. When Aksys Games revealed they would be bringing otome game Hakuoki: Demon of the Fleeting Blossom to Western shores, it was big news – it's one of the first strictly otome games we've seen since Natsume's release of Princess Debut, and that was pushing it.

Personally I'm a fan of the genre as a whole, and I'm not bothered whether or not I'm pursuing a bunch of pretty boys or beautiful stereotypical women who may or may not love me so much they want to kill me, but there is an audience out there who will gladly devour these maiden games. No matter if you're male or female there's an otome game out there for every taste. Hopefully with the arrival of the original Hakuoki title an influx of otome titles are coming to balance the shelves with male and female protagonists. Until then, here are some of the better ones out there to satiate your appetite.

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L.A. Noire: Rockstar Tells Us The Story Behind The Game

L.A. Noire is about unraveling a mystery, but if you want to learn about the mystery behind the development of the game, read on. Rockstar Games has been delivering sandbox-style gameplay with compelling characters and stories, but L.A. Noire sought to model the specific style of film noir and stick it squarely in 1940s Los Angeles. They succeeded, and now they're bringing that experience to the PC for the first time on November 8. 

We spoke with Jeronimo Barrera, VP of Product Development at Rockstar Games about L.A. Noire, and he pulled back the curtain on what it was like to create the game in this world. He also spoke about what the PC experience will bring to the game, and why they broke out a lot of the content from the game and turned it into DLC. Read on for some tidbits behind the creation of L.A. Noire, and start thinking about what you'd like to see when Rockstar heads back into the world of gumshoes and nostalgia.

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G4 Extra Life Charity Drive - We Need You!

UPDATE: The 24-hour gaming marathon has ended, but you can still donate to those who participated. Please consider a donation, anything you can afford helps. Thanks to everyone who participated, sponsored and played. You all are amazing!

It has begun. Our 24-hour video game marathon in support of Extra Life and Children's Miracle Network hospitals around nations began at 8am Pacific, October 15th and won't end until 8am October 16th. We recruited hundreds of participants and raised thousands of dollars, but we can do better and NEED YOUR HELP!

Please take the time to visit Extra Life (click here!), pick someone to donate to and make a difference. Every $1 raised goes directly to sick kids in need. Thank you everyone for doing your part. We love you!

Below are some of the warriors who have donated their time to raise awareness for this charity. Visit their pages to encourage them, some are giving away prizes to those that tune-in, others just need your support. Find the list below!

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The Thing: From Movie To Video Game And Back Again

The Thing opens in theaters this weekend, but it's also been around for a long time in one form or another. It's been a book, a movie, a remake, a video game, and another remake that's more prequel that anything else, although it hits the same notes as the other two movies. So if you're into ice-cold terror in the Antarctic, one of these forms of entertainment is definintely for you.

Although the name has been co-opted by Volkswagen, a roadside attraction, and Marvel Comics, just keep in mind that only one of the original adaptations of the book has Kurt Russell in it, and by default that's usually the best one. But does that hold true here? You'll have to check and see. Check out the many different forms of The Thing.

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10 Best Games For Your iPhone 4S

Want some great games for your iPhone 4S? That A5 microprocessor of the iPhone 4S is the same chip that’s used to power the iPad 2. At twice the speed and with seven times the graphics power compared to the iPhone 4’s A4, there’s a lot of resource room. Developers can now make games - real games - to compete with the likes of the Nintendo 3DS and Sony’s upcoming PlayStation Vita.

The A5’s horsepower and the iOS’ increasingly always-in-your-pocket presence compared to these rival portable game devices is only going to give developers more incentive to create lifelike environments for you to get lost in. In time, expect to see more than Angry Birds, Cut the Rope and Fruit Ninja populating best-selling lists in the App Store Here's our list of the ten best games for your iPhone 4S.

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