CO-OP 0308 -- Go Outside and Play -- Tony Hawk: Ride, Assassin's Creed: Bloodlines

You punk skater kids! No respect for private property or authority! Who do you think you are? I swear, back in my day we knew how to treat other people with politeness and respect! That’s it, I’ve had it! I’m callin’ the cops! More after the show:

So is it time to add another plastic simulacrum of a real-world object in order to enhance your interactive entertainment experience? Tony Hawk: Ride seems to think so. Our resident skaters Jason and Cesar, however, disagree. If you’re someone like Ryan who didn’t grow up on a board with wheels, you may find more here to enjoy. As the skating video game continues to evolve thanks to there finally being some competition in the space, it’s clear that the latest Tony Hawk is at least doing something interesting if not exactly an unmitigated success.

It’s no seret to anyone that Ryan and I love Assassin’s Creed. We adored the first game in spite of its flaws and Ryan has called the second incarnation of the series one of his “favorite games of all time.” So, big shocker, we had to give Assassin’s Creed: Bloodlines a try. Far more akin to the original AC it’s nonetheless a worthy addition to the series for fans or if a PSP is your only opportunity to experience the free-climbing glory and little-input-big-output combat that are hallmarks of the series.


Area 5 Joins Bitmob in Joining EGM!

Some of you may have already heard via our Twitters, but the announcement just went out last night that we'll be joining our friends over at Bitmob in providing content for the newly rebuilt Electronic Gaming Monthly! Check out both press releases in full at EGMNow.com.

For those of you that don't know the history of EGM, there's a bit of it in the press release, but the salient point is that Steve Harris, original founder of EGM some 20-odd years back has regained the rights to the EGM name and is launching a product both familiar and revolutionary. We're not allowed to reveal many of the details, but Steve and EGM are looking to make a big splash and I'm sure you'll hear more shortly. For those who are curious about what we CAN reveal, both Area 5 and Bitmob staff will be on hand for next week's RebelFM (iTunes link) podcast to talk details.

I've received a few twitter messages and emails from people wondering where that leaves CO-OP, Revision3, and Area 5 as a whole. To clear things up a bit, Area 5 is its own video production company and therefore we simply look to produce content for people who wish to hire us for our services; which means status quo for CO-OP and that we'll be producing new video content for EGM. A good example is the work we're currently doing with 1UP via LiveUpdate. They hired us to shoot and edit the weekly show but that hasn't precluded our other production commitments.


CO-OP SPECIAL -- THE JASON SHOW 2 -- New Super Mario Bros. WII

We’re still on holiday for one more week but that doesn’t mean we didn’t cook up something nice for you ahead of time. I actually just got back and this is my first look at what the rest of the team (and by team, I mean Jason) cooked up for our break-week show. And boy am I ever furious! FURIOUS I tell you! Or, at least I will be after I stop laughing. Jason stole Ryan’s camera and all of AREA 5’s backup drives to construct an all-new episode of the Jason Show. Despite our wishes, behind our backs, Jason has filled his episode with outtakes and behind-the-scenes moments that the rest of the crew wishes the world didn’t have access to. More after the show:

But out-takes aren’t all we’ve got in store this week! Thanks to Dan Hsu from BitMob for chattin’ with Cesar and our friend Paul about the incredibly-new, incredibly old-school, thankfully-hard-core New Super Mario Bros. Wii! Nostalgia is in abundance here, as is Nintendo’s M.O., but this offering is the most literal re-creation of a classic yet. With the addition of 4-player multiplayer! It’s a surprising twist that may seem too chaotic at first but creates an atmosphere of laughter and fun for anyone who’s fortunate enough to sit down in a room with three friends and give it a go.


CO-OP 0306 -- Assassin's Creed 2 Review Special

We’re going to be on our Thanksgiving break next week, so keep your eyes out for a special episode of CO-OP on December 1st that’ll be a departure from the norm. We’ll be back on December 8th with our regular programming. More after the show:

Better than its predecessor in every conceivable way, one of the best games Ryan has played, ever, and nearly-equal high praise from our guests Will Tuttle of GameSpy and Arthur Gies from Team XBox, the RebelFM podcast, and Eat. Sleep. Game. One unfortunate, though important, point raised in the chat this week is that the PS3 version is clearly the inferior product. To be clear, we hate the console wars and find it inane to decry one console in favor of another, but the difference in AC2 is apparent enough to merit at least some quick discussion in this week’s extra-long chat. And extra time is exactly the kind of favor that this game warrants. JayFresh and I are the final two members on the AC2 Love-Fest board of directors.


CO-OP 0305 -- Oscar Mike -- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (Part 1), Dragon Age Origins, DJ Hero

Living in a large, metropolitan area can be great for midnight launch-lines. Particularly in San Francisco you run the risk—or, shall I say, opportunity—of bringing out the crazies, gamer and non-gamer alike, into one location and being able to observe the menagerie up close and personal. More after the show:

We were there for a San Francisco midnight launch of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 so that we could cover the single-player, at least, on this week’s show. It’s the first of a MW2 two-parter. We believe it takes longer than a few days to evaluate multiplayer so we’re going to give it a good shakedown before talking about that part of the game. David Ellis from 1UP joined Ryan and JayFresh to talk about the sometimes controversial, usually awesome, sometimes played-out trek through the single-player experience.

Jason Wilson and Demian Linn of BitMob seemed to get as much out of Dragon Age Origins as I did and we all agree that it’s one of the best PC RPGs of all time. While Ryan had tons of other games to play over the last few weeks, he did make a significant dent in the PS3 version. There are some nagging problems to be sure, but it’s hard to go wrong with this latest BioWare epic. If you’re even a sort-of, on-again-off-again RPG fan this game is an experience you simply must add to your memory bank.

DJ Hero definitely seems to be worthy of having yet another plastic peripheral in your living room. Richard Li of 1UP drops by to share his thoughts as an expert with the game with Cesar and Jason.


CO-OP 0304 -- 3D or not 3D -- Grand Theft Auto IV: The Ballad of Gay Tony, James Cameron's Avatar, Torchlight

The words “movie” and “license” area anathema to gamers when paired and the exception is rare. Fortunately, this week’s coverage of James Cameron’s Avatar may show us a way to one of said exceptions. We were invited to an event at the Dolby Labs in San Francisco to experience the game hands-on (in 3D no less). That begs the question: is 3D gaming a gimmick? Does anyone expect to actually own a “3D Ready” television soon enough to give a care as to whether Avatar is in 3D or not? We’re divided on the issue on this one, but that didn’t stop us from accepting an invitation to put on some goofy looking glasses and try it out for ourselves. More after the show:

Liberty City is an endless playground for ideas and implementation of said ideas and as long as Rock Star continues to deliver quality on the order of The Ballad of Gay Tony it’s likely we’ll keep buying each episode. Ryan, Cesar, and our friend from RebelFM and Eat. Sleep. Game., Tyler Barber get behind the wheel again for some insane, action-movie-esque times in the seedy underbelly of Liberty City’s club scene..

Diablo-likes abound. Excellent ones are few and Torchlight is the best of them yet. Granted, it lacks multiplayer but given the pedigree of the developers (many of which are the same people that brought you the first two Diablo games) it should be small wonder that Torchlight feels like an evolution of the gameplay type rather than an also-ran. Arthur Gies from the RebelFM podcast and Eat. Sleep. Game. came over to talk with Matt about why any Diablo fan not caught up exclusively on multiplayer should give this one a go.

We were invited (and accepted, of ourse) to go see Jame’s Cameron’s Avatar at the Dolby Labs here in San Francisco. 3D in the best audio environment imaginable? Yes please! We got to put the controllers in our hot little hands and give both the Human and Nav’vi characters a go. Check out our preview within!


CO-OP 0303 -- Halloweenies -- iPhone Rhythm Games, R&C Future: A Crack in Time, Borderlands

Yes, Area 5 threw a Halloween party! It was awesome! We had the best costumes ever! There’s no way your party was better than ours! Is there any way exclamation points can denote sarcasm as opposed to genuine enthusiasm? Honestly, we’re better gamers than we are party-planners. And, it would seem, better party-planners than we are costume-makers. Oh the inhumanity! More after the show:

Halloween is very special time of year—for everyone but Ryan. Still, he was convinced to dress up for this special occasion. However, he may have been better off avoiding the specialized Area 5 event altogether.

Rock Band iPhone just got released. The Tap Tap games have graced the platform since the beginning and there’s even a Guitar Hero clone: Guitar Rock 2, now in its second iteration. Jason and I are really into all of these games and this genre in general, so it we figured it would be fun to talk about them all in one go and let you all in on the finer points of each.

JayFresh is the biggest R&C fan at Area 5 and Ryan can always be convinced to give them a go even if he’s not the biggest fan of the series. Still, Ratchet and Clank Future: A Crack in Time grew on him enough to make sure it made it into this week’s show and it has plenty of charms to worm its way into even the most jaded gamer’s heart.

The MMO genre has generated far more than cash-cows and spectacular flops over the past few decades. It’s good to see some of the better ideas concerning game design take root in other genres. Borderlands happens to be both fun and and interesting take on design choices that most would consider the exclusive domain of its massive cousins. Arthur Gies of Eat. Sleep. Game. and RebelFM comes by to share his thoughts with JayFresh, myself, and Cesar.

Also, big special thanks to our friend Michael James and his new venture 8-Bit Vinters. He sent us some bottles of his classic-game-labeled wine and we plopped them into this episode. Go to the site and buy a bottle or three! They’re really quite good!


CO-OP 0302 -- The Animated Series -- Demon's Souls, Eufloria, Canabalt, Geared, Mr. Bounce

Yes, this is the premiere of CO-OP: The Animated Series! Except it isn’t. Well, it sort of is … you’ll see. More after the show:

Ray Barnholt from 1UP.com reviewed Demon’s Souls for that site and gave it an “A.” Kat Bailey, an industry freelance writer also thinks of the game as one of her “best purchases this year.” Ryan and I hate it. We attempt to clear up some of the mystery as to why this game appeals greatly to some and causes others to toss it aside after repeated fits of rage. Which side are you on? Does the antiquated game design frustrate the hell out of you? Enough to rage-quit like me? Or are you a masochist who enjoys floundering through bad game design out of some misguided sense of “accomplishment?” Yeah, okay, I’m totally biased and that last sentence is completely unfair, but that’s why we made sure to bring in people that are as much in love with this game as I am bothered by it. Demon’s Souls is the game most-requested by our fans in the history of CO-OP so we had to deliver!

Formerly known as Dyson, the indie darling Eufloria was given some quality play-time by me and it definitely lives up to the hype. The simplified RTS mechanics go a long way to making the graphical gem a playable wonder and were it not for the lack of multiplayer could easily be a must-have for any fan of the genre, even in such a crowded holiday season.

It’s been a while since we got a chance to cover gaming on the iPhone and we figured it would serve you better if we could offer up more than just a single title for your consideration. Within: the simplistic but addictive Canabalt, the groovy and though-provoking puzzler Geared, and a new take on a classic gaming form with Mr. Bounce. Bon appetit!

If you like what we do and have a little spare change, click that donate button over to the right. If you don’t have any spare change, donate a comment! We love hearing from y’all :)


CO-OP 0301 -- An Age of Wonder -- Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, New Super Mario Bros. Wii, Bit.Trip Void

Arcades still exist, particularly if you’re willing to expand your definition a bit. The Musée Mécanique is a remnant of a San Francisco past steeped in amusements for the emergent middle class of the late 19th and early 20th century. Within are some of the oldest coin-op amusements to be found anywhere. We take a trip down memory lane (not our own memories, mind you, I’m not that old) with some true cultural predecessors to our favorite form of media. More after the show:

What do you do when Nintendo invites you out to get a quick look-see at New Super Mario Bros. Wii? You say YES! Cesar, Matt, and JayFresh give a quick look at some of the new hotness coming to classic franchise.

Gigantic thanks to the cool guys over at Gaijin Games for letting us come down to Santa Cruz and invade their palatial studios! A pool, a conference room, a kitchen, even a classic game room! Who knew indie developers had it so good? The developers of the deliciously retro Bit.Trip series for WiiWare give us a quick look at their next game in the series: Void. The off-screen footage does a poor result of conveying the scintillating colors inherent in this game, so just take our word for it that it looks awesome!

The superlatives used to describe Uncharted 2: Among Thieves are largely correct. We use many of them in this segment. This should surprise no one. The game has been almost unanimously received positively and we are no exception. This is also the longest segment in CO-OP’s short history, but the game gives so much to discuss that Matt, Ryan, and GameSpy’s and Eat. Sleep. Game.’s Anthony Gallegos can’t help but go on at length about it.

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Subscribe to CO-OP on your PSP!

A big thanks to Sean Parsons for maintaining a new script that you can subscribe to on your PSP in order to get a version of CO-OP that is formatted for that device. Thanks Sean! The link is here: If you're on a PSP you need to use http://www.futurenotfound.com/area5psprss.xml If you're on a random web broswer, you can see what you'll be getting by using feed://www.futurenotfound.com/area5psprss.xml It comes from the same servers that our show does normally, so if you get it on your PSP it's the same (and gets counted the same) as downloading it from the links below our video or when you get it through iTunes. Sean, thanks man! You rock! If you want to follow Sean on Twitter you can find him at http://www.twitter.com/seanparsons
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