Joystiq Weekly: Irrational Games, co-op Pokemon and a Doom beta

Welcome to Joystiq Weekly, a "too long; didn't read" of each week's biggest stories, reviews and original content. Each category's top story is introduced with a reactionary gif, because moving pictures aren't just for The Daily Prophet.

Between the new Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, Tony Hawk's involvement in a new game and talk of a Doom beta, this week feels like a list of lost events from the '90s. Not that we're complaining, of course - the days of platforming in mine carts, feeding arcade machines quarters and hogging family computers from siblings were pretty wonderful times. They were simpler, too - just 151 Pokemon to keep track of, with full games and expansions instead of publishers scattering in-game content to retailers and adding season passes to everything or--

Well, it didn't take us long to trip into the "back in my day" style of reminiscing. We'll excuse ourselves for a stint of warning kids passing by to stay off our lawns, but we've left you a recap of the biggest events from this week after the break. Er ... this week being in 2014, not the '90s.


  • Bioshock Infinite developer Irrational Games housed around 200 developers in October of 2012, but this week co-founder Ken Levine announced plans to reduce the team to 15 people. It's a radical adjustment from Irrational's AAA structure, one that built the four million-selling Infinite. Levine noted that Irrational's condensed team will focus on "narrative-driven games for the core gamer that are highly replayable."
  • The PS4's "Greatness awaits" slogan must have felt kind of odd for PlayStation's Japanese fanbase; after a three-month headstart for other parts of the world, the PS4 finally reached stores in its home country this week. A decent game selection joined the console's launch, with base consoles including pack-in download codes for Knack.
  • Other than revisiting his glory days in Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD, The Birdman hasn't taken flight in a video game since 2010's regrettable, plastic-skateboard-controlled Tony Hawk: Shred. Thankfully, it sounds like Hawk's hiatus is finite - an interview and statement from this week confirm that Hawk and THPS series publisher Activision are collaborating on a new game. Everyone plead with me: Please use a normal controller, please use a normal controller ...
  • Buying Wolfenstein: The New Order will result in a double feature of '90s first-person-shooter flashback: publisher Bethesda has revealed that keys included in copies of The New Order will grant access to the beta for "the next Doom game by iD Software." The beta's FAQ reminds us that even though players will receive codes in The New Order on May 20 (May 23 in the UK), the Doom beta won't begin until a "later, yet-to-be determined date."

  • If there's one genre the Wii U has a good lineup for, it's platformers. The Kong family adds to that selection this week in Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, which Editor-in-Chief Ludwig Kietzmann's review points out falls victim to tedious boss fights and vague tells on the overworld for secret stages. In general, Ludwig found little to differentiate Tropical Freeze from series revival Donkey Kong Country: Returns, which he notes is "both the problem and the recommendation."
  • Contributing Editor Earnest Cavalli took on Double Helix's reboot of Strider, which takes some liberties in its adaption of the series. Earnest found Strider's platforming to be unthreatening and ran into a few graphical issues, but overall he felt its lack of challenge was made up for with a "rewarding focus on exploration."
  • Toukiden: Age of Demons has a monster problem, one that Contributing Editor Mike Suszek opted to solve with blades rather than civility. Mike found quite a few similarities in Toukiden to the Monster Hunter series, which combine with repetitive objectives and light difficulty to make Toukiden a "solid hunting adventure, but hardly a departure from the monster hunting genre."
Original Content

  • Have you heard people talking about "Bird Jesus," debating the ledge efficiency of anarchy versus democracy, or grieving the fresh loss of "Dux" and "Cabbage?" Yeah, that political and sort-of religious war all stems from Twitch Plays Pokemon, a livestream of Pokemon Red that's played by viewers inputting commands via the stream's chat. Feature Content Director Xav De Matos interviewed the programmer behind the communal quest to become a Pokemon Master.
  • A lot has happened in Twitch Plays Pokemon since the group collectively took their first step out of Pallet Town, enough to fill a subreddit and spawn memes. Weekend Editor Sam Prell explores the greater moments and themes of the ongoing playthrough after its first week of activity.
  • To the delight and agony of Final Fantasy fans, Lightning is back in the spotlight for the finale of her story, Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy 13. Contributing Editor Sinan Kubba spoke with series producer Yoshinori Kitase about how Lightning's trilogy has reacted to feedback since its 2010 debut. Kitase also discussed Square-Enix's thoughts on the Final Fantasy 10/10-2 remaster and that infamous, Final Fantasy 7-themed tech demo.
  • The Oculus Rift is generating a lot of buzz concerning its potential uses for games, but Ludwig recently previewed startup Condition One's implementation of the headset for cinematic entertainment. In his piece, Ludwig shares his thoughts on Zero Point, Condition One's first film for the technology, as well as his surreal return to E3's crowded showfloor.
  • Ludwig and Earnest joined Community Manager Anthony Agnello and Xav De Matos on this week's episode of the Super Joystiq Podcast. The group begrudgingly admit to their lack of Four in February progress, except for Earnest, who seems happy to make the rest of the Joystiq team look inept. The crew also discuss Strider, Tropical Freeze and Capcom's modern day efforts.
[Image: Nintendo]

This article was originally published on Joystiq.