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The Sarge

Outland - Live Arcade & PSN

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Trailers/demos

Preview

Outland can best be described as a cross between retro platformers like Prince of Persia or Out of This World and the color-switching of shoot 'em up Ikaruga. You control an acrobatic fellow as he explores a lush, dense jungle. It's a 2D game but there is a great sense of depth in the background with swaying branches and colorful wildlife. The animation for all the characters is really terrific.

Our hero can switch between light and dark forms, an ability he'll need to exploit in order to murder the local monsters and avoid sprays of bullets. Just like in Ikaruga, he'll take damage from opposite-colored bullets but will be impervious to those of the same polarity. So if there is a platform you want to get to but it's being blocked by a stream of white bullets, just change to white and you can pass through unharmed. There are instances where you must rapidly switch back and forth to move through multi-colored sprays of bullets, much like Ikaruga.

When it comes to battling enemies, you can only harm those of the opposite color. So you'll need to be white in order to defeat a black spider. You'll begin with an energy sword but eventually learn other abilities like a slide attack and an uppercut.

Certain objects in the environment will respond to your polarity, too. Elevators will go up when you are dark and down when you are light. A hovering platform may only hold your weight when you are a certain color.

Levels are large, sprawling areas with branching paths and secrets like extra health hearts to find. Each area is guarded by a boss and we got to see an early behemoth called Golem that stood the entire height of the screen. Golem is "dark," so you can only inflict damage when you are light. He carries a giant club and will periodically pound the ground, sending a wave of energy towards you. His club will become stuck, though, allowing you to hop up to his head and whack him a few times. When you've dealt enough damage he'll start causing light and dark comets to rain down upon you, which you'll have to dodge.

The story will be revealed to the player as they proceed through the jungle. All you know at the beginning is the protagonist has been having visions of some sort of battle taking place here. He is drawn to the jungle with the feeling that he is the only one who can resolve the conflict.

Outland won't be ready until next year but it's already looking great. I haven't gotten to play it, yet, but the idea of throwing a little Ikaruga into Out of This World definitely has me intrigued.

Looks and sounds great. :)

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One for the radar. I'm interested in anything Housemarque does thanks to Super Stardust, and Dead Nation when it eventually shows up.

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Preview.

Your character has been led into a mysterious, deadly jungle by an unusual series of visions and ... well, developer Housemarque (Super Stardust HD) isn't saying much beyond that. All we know is that your character (represented only by silhouette on screen) is collecting powers of different colors that manifest (at least in the bit I saw) as an energy blade. Your ability to damage certain enemies is entirely dependent on if they are a different color than the power you're currently using. Starting to see the Ikaruga connection?

Though it's different from that shmup classic in the most substantial way (it's not a shmup), the two do bear other similarities. For one, there are sections that Housemarque describes as "bullet hells," bits where the screen is positively littered with cannons blasting a rainbow of different projectiles that our hero has to wildly switch between colors to avoid. It didn't look like anything I'd seen before, but it absolutely looked like a blast.

The boss at the end of my demo revealed yet another influence, as the mammoth statue monster looked like he could have been pulled straight from Shadow of the Colossus. Or at least it would have seemed that way had he not been two-dimensional and bathed in Outland's unique color-on-silhouette aesthetic.

Again, this was pre-alpha, so I wasn't getting a great sense of how Outland's mechanics would all interlock in the finished product. But when you see such a big, creative idea being executed so well this early, it's hard not to walk away optimistic.

http://www.joystiq.com/2010/09/04/outland-preview-when-shmups-grow-legs/

Sounds good but it also sounds like we won't getting any footage for some time. :(

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Seeing this reminded me of a post made from 2008 in a thread where people were coming up with game designs.

While not exactly the same in concept, the basic idea of an Ikaruga platformer is there:

I don't know how this could possibly relate to a real world scenario, but imagine an action game where your character has two forms and switches between them every ten seconds or whatever. Each one has unique abilities and neither is really stronger than the other all-round, but e.g. there are enemies that can only be killed by one form, unkillable enemies that can see you in one form but not another, platforms that only hold you in one form... if the level design was really strong you could build up momentum, anticipating the changes, timing jumps so you change in midair and land on the right platform, that sort of thing. It would almost be more of a dynamic puzzle game than an action game. Kind of like Ikaruga gone mental.

It was a great idea so I'm glad that the basic idea is actually being incorporated into a real game.

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Looks good although the previous Ikaruga comparisons might well have to start being replaced with accusations of theft. Also it's a fucking hideous logo.

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Its out!!

his sounds like the perfect compliment to Portal 2.

http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2011-04-26-outland-review

Outland is pure design craftsmanship.

Housemarque's latest isn't particularly original. It's better at cleverly combining old ideas than minting fresh ones and, despite a luminous, bloomy shadow-play art style, it's actually not that huge on personality, either. Instead, what marks it out is the grace with which it spins out its mechanics, twisting and turning each new concept in order to get everything possible out of it, then introducing something complementary – or contradictory – and twisting and turning again. It's more fun than it sounds.

Actually, it's a lot more fun. Suggesting once more that it's Treasure's back catalogue and the Metroid template that really get downloadable developers excited, Outland combines the ability gates and intricate mapping of a Samus Aran adventure with the polarity-shifting bullet hell of Ikaruga. To fuse it all together, Prince of Persia's nimble wall-springs, ledge grabs and sword fights are employed as you navigate delicate silhouette environments taking on some distinctly non-delicate silhouette menaces. It's shooter flesh on a 2D platforming body, and it's an excellent graft job.

There's a narrative, but we're in a good mood, so why spoil things? It's about gods and goddesses and nature and harmony, and the game's few moments of narration come across as the kind of lumpen poetry nice old ladies like to have stitched onto bookmarks. Instead, Outland's real plotting lies with the elegant curving line that marks your expanding skills – and this story is absolutely enthralling.

The unlock list holds few surprises. The most entertaining addition is probably a move that sucks in all nearby projectiles before blasting them outwards again. But all are well-explored and crafted with the same precision that has defined Housemarque's twin-stick back catalogue (Dead Nation, Super Stardust HD). There's a ground pound that would make Yoshi proud, a wall charge that's just as satisfying as it was in Shadow Complex, and a brief but sizzling laser-beam blast to compete with anything from Gunstar Heroes.

Showier skills have to be recharged by collecting orbs from dead enemies, introducing a nice rationing element. Only Launch Pad, one of the very last moves to be unlocked, offers even the faintest degree of input fuzziness, becoming occasionally irritating as you boost between one floating anchor point and the next, or miss and land on the business end of a passing spider.

Taken as a whole, your abilities make for one of those rare games in which you end up feeling almost as graceful with the control pad as your on-screen double is with his arms and legs. If Outland was just a simple action platformer, then, it would be pretty entertaining stuff by itself. It's not just a simple action platformer, though, and it's only after you're already on your feet and moving that the game layers on its most exciting element: the ability to shift your character between light and dark (or rather, blue and red) alignments.

As with Ikaruga, each shift in polarity pushes you between different threats and different rewards. When you're red, you can absorb red projectiles harmlessly, but cannot attack red enemies, and the situation is reversed when you're blue.

On top of that, the game throws in panels – or spike pits – that can only be activated in certain polarities, and ledges and walls that won't be available if you're not aligned to their particular hue. Having traversal tied into a mechanic that's often reserved for combat throws up some truly ingenious gauntlets to run, and it's here that the heart of Outland's challenge lies.

So there are staircases that will only exist if you're in red mode, and that are filled with enemies you'll need to be in blue mode to attack. There are spiralling waves of bullets you'll need to be in blue mode to absorb, surrounded by spikes that won't slide back into the floor unless you're red. There are sections where fountains fire beams of alternating colours, criss-crossed by patrolling guards of alternating colours, all perfectly synced to a devious rhythm. Finally, there are bosses – smart, stylish, multi-pattern bosses – that have you switching back and forth so quickly that you'll briefly appear purple.

Outland is an adventure of a decent size, too: well signposted, nicely mapped and filled with plenty of handy teleports and hidden areas to seek out on subsequent replays. The challenge gets fairly steep towards the end, but – aside from the odd prolonged boss – the checkpointing is not too sadistic. On top of that, there are good online options, with co-op play available across story and arcade modes, and a handful of unlockable challenges to power through, too. (We've been unable to get games to connect so far, so we haven't been able to try these modes out. We'll update this article accordingly when we've been successful, however – and in the meantime, we apologise.)

There's something a little frosty about Outland's particular brand of mechanical brilliance at times, and it would be nice to find a genuine surprise amongst the skills you unlock. But brilliance is still brilliance, however it's dressed up.

In place of character, Outland is never less than pretty; instead of originality, you get cold, hard intelligence. As with Super Stardust and Dead Nation, Housemarque has once again proved it's a fearsomely talented quick-change artist of a studio, able to take any genre and get to the guts of it quickly and with a chilly efficiency.

Don't play Outland because you expect it to be charming and filled with personality, then: play it because of the swooping, speeding cleverness of its design. Play it because of the craft.

Already downloaded...

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Nothing wrong with ripping of a mechanic if you can implement it into a genre you actually like, rather then being forced to play one you don't.

Perosnally i prefer to see this in a shmup but i can see why the platform guys will go ape. And rightly so.

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I had no idea this existed until about 20 minutes ago when Kayin Amoh tweeted gushing praise for it and I come in here and see Ikaruga, Metroid, Flashback and Limbo all mentioned. I can't see any of the videos at work, can't really work out what this game is from the text and can't wait to find out.

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I had no idea this existed until about 20 minutes ago when Kayin Amoh tweeted gushing praise for it and I come in here and see Ikaruga, Metroid, Flashback and Limbo all mentioned. I can't see any of the videos at work, can't really work out what this game is from the text and can't wait to find out.

That guys got all sorts of taste. Good man Kayin. This game seems to have No marketing whatsoever, so let's spread the word people.

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Just played the trial and bought it immediately. A very nice surprise this. Gets quite challenging quite quickly - at a tough 'bullet hell platforming' section already.

Though I now notice that my 'recently played games' game library option the dashboard is awash with orange and teal since it displays the covers for this, MK and Portal 2.

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Just played the trial and bought it immediately. A very nice surprise this. Gets quite challenging quite quickly - at a tough 'bullet hell platforming' section already.

Though I now notice that my 'recently played games' game library option the dashboard is awash with orange and teal since it displays the covers for this, MK and Portal 2.

You're a bombcast listener aren't you...

All that Orange and teal

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Really enjoying this so far, managed to unlock the blue suit before I had to finish up. No difficulty spikes just yet, but I did spy what looked like a hellish section before I was forced to turn it off.

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You're a bombcast listener aren't you...

All that Orange and teal

I am indeed, but I was aware of the phenomenon of people noticing that previously.

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for people who have started the game already, Are the single player and multiplayer campaigns different?

id like to go thru it first in coop.

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That guys got all sorts of taste. Good man Kayin. This game seems to have No marketing whatsoever, so let's spread the word people.

Well it's worked on me.. My account is now 800 points lighter!

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Will & Grace

This admission is better read than said: I'm hopelessly addicted to will and grace. A video game provides the ideal arrangement for someone -- like me -- whose extreme athleticism remains dormant in reality, but seeks expression just a few feet away from the couch. It's the basis for the accord I once made with the Prince of Persia. "With my will and your grace, your grace," I said, "we'll get through this elaborate death chicane in under an hour. And if you end up squirming with a spike through your chest, we'll just put that on me. Deal?"

In the low fidelity of Jordan Mechner's classic, the prince's form of movement became a mesmerizing, superhuman display of perfect movement ... and when it didn't you reverted to an older save. Outland, a visually arresting 2D platformer from Finland's Housemarque studio, is just as reverent to grace, personified by a tall, inexhaustible silhouette in search of the meaning behind his dreams. He runs and leaps with such intense confidence, some of it starts filtering through the controller and into you.

But as any acrobat will tell you, balance is what keeps you alive, and it's what makes things interesting. In Outland, the ancient world is always out to curb your wonderful locomotion, slow you down when you want to go fast-fast-fast. It'll take you a second to stop and think about the chasms and spikes and the jumps and the slides, but you'll only want to spend half a second. This internal impatience to move when the light says RED acts like a personal countdown timer, and injects tension into what might have otherwise been a very brisk jog through a scenic jungle.

And man, are there a lot of red lights out there. Outland can't avoid comparison with Treasure's ultimate test of polarity clarity, Ikaruga, even though it's different in a crucial way. As with the ship in Ikaruga, you can switch between two colors (or spirits, in Outland's parlance) and absorb projectiles of the same color, but your movement is much more restricted. You're not a spaceship, remember? You're a dude bound by gravity (as all dudes are).

Pushing through spirals of light and dark, flitting between colors and just barely missing your spiritual antithesis is even more challenging when you're also hurtling between moving platforms and smashing giant spiders. A trick that Outland often resorts to is placing you in a situation where you have to be blue to survive -- except you need to be red to kill a monster of the opposite color. The sword combat is simple, embellished with a slide attack, some juggling and some honest-to-god smiting, but winning a fight is more about positioning yourself safely before slashing away. And when you're safe enough to revert to the right color, that's only half the battle won against bullet-spewing dragons and that most irritating of video game enemies, the occasionally electrified jellyfish.

In your most difficult tests of elegance (careful, Outland is quite tricky in general), you'll defeat pests, barrel through alternating waves of red and blue death, and then launch yourself between walls and platforms that appear and disappear with the rhythm of your color swings. The handful of spectacular bosses offer the most ambitious sequences -- run, jump, blue, slide, red, jump, blue, red, land! -- though they represent the one time where the thrill of success can be overridden by the irksome repetition before failure. Developers! If a battle has several clear stages of pattern recognition, there had better be checkpoints between them. THIS IS GOING IN THE REVIEW.

Things are easier in the game's online co-op mode (a disappointment, since it doesn't change your approach to Outland's rapid platforming in any meaningful way), but I'm more interested in the five "co-op challenges" you'll unlock during the course of playing. They make things much harder, and show potent bursts of what could have been another game entirely -- there's a hilariously disastrous bomb transportation mission, and another that puts one player in charge of color control for everyone. These intense tests are worth the price of admission, but it's a pity that in absorbing Castlevania and Super Metroid's style of level design, Outland didn't leave room for true co-op opportunities in the campaign.

Still, the game succeeds where it counts, in what I now dub the Will and Grace Factor. If my will can be married to someone else's grace, tightly enough to make me leap through a barrage of deadly bullets in a desperate bid to maintain momentum, you've won. Just one thing, though -- don't mistake my love for running and jumping as signs of being a closeted urban jogger. The most athletic thing I did today was to walk over to my computer and tell you to play Outland.

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