While I enjoyed my time with 343 Industries’ entries in the Halo series, neither Halo 4 or Halo 5 impacted me like the original trilogy. I used to play endless hours of multiplayer with friends and would even travel to
The 1980s were rife with crazy cartoon properties that were all about big battles, crazy genre settings, and over-the-top characters. Those properties often arose from the need to sell related toys, but the power fantasies they engendered also happen to be excellent fodder for video games. While I could point to any number of fallow cartoons as fertile ground for revival, none is as ready for the big time as Masters of the Universe.
He-Man and the Masters of the Universe debuted as an animated series in 1983, delighting kids like myself who were excited by the myriad characters, colors, vehicles, and playsets that continually flowed out from Mattel. To this day, few children’s playsets match the style and excitement of the Castle Grayskull set, with its trapdoor, opening “jawbridge,” and other tricks. Without fail, afternoons brought the opportunity to see the castle brought to life in the cartoon, with He-Man, Skeletor, and the rest of the heroes and villains duking it out, often against the backdrop of that familiar structure.
Our kid selves recognized by instinct what our adult selves can now examine and acknowledge; Masters of the Universe is unabashed fun, tying together science-fiction and fantasy tropes in a glorious mix of lasers, swords, spells, tanks, and more. The characters, no doubt fueled by Mattel’s need to discover ever-more cockamamie things to capture childhood attention, were a delight. Ram Man was a literal battering ram, springing across the floor to smash into targets. Two-Bad had – you guessed it – two heads. Moss Man was covered in green fur. Stinkor was a skunk – and the toy actually smelled bad! No idea was too out there.
But for all its silly fun, Masters of the Universe was also potent moralistic mythology, filled with impossibly heroic good guys and laughably maniacal bad guys. Like many of the best comic book characters, it featured a main character with a secret identity, whose heroism was often unheralded by those who knew him best. And no matter how bonkers the character concepts got, there was no denying the way those gimmicks kept things fresh, letting both the cartoon and the toy play sessions it encouraged take off in all kinds of directions.
The first episodes of the new animated series have released on Netflix
Following anticipation from fans, today brought the first episodes of Kevin Smith’s (Clerks, Chasing Amy) revival of Masters of the Universe. Rather than rebooting and starting fresh, the new Revelation animated series picks up where the 80s cartoon left off, telling a more adult story and simultaneously celebrating, poking fun at, and critiquing what came before. Revelation is an effort targeted at adult fans who grew up with these characters but are now eager to see it refreshed.
That same philosophy should guide the possibility of a new video game set within the Masters of the Universe setting. Over the years, several attempts have been made to bring the franchise to life, including everything from a 1987 arcade game to a 2012 mobile release. But the franchise deserves more. Imagine an open world of Eternia, filled with magic and technology to discover and equip. Optional playable characters or allies could expand the potential to reach new locations and sites, from confronting Mer-Man in the oceans to flying with Stratos to visit with the bird people. Melee combat sequences can be rich with potential and with no shortage of colorful and weird enemies against which to fight.
Existing licensed game properties have proven that a consummate love of a franchise, married to technical and design know-how, can lead to awesome video games. The Batman Arkham games leveraged an evocative setting and an impressive rogue’s gallery to modernize and embody the Dark Knight in a new way. The makers of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic recognized the stark moralistic tilt of the Star Wars universe and transformed it into one of video gaming’s most recognized morality systems. The developers behind the South Park games were unafraid to play with humor, brightness, and parody to reinvent what players might expect to find in an RPG. High Moon’s Transformers games reinvented an older 1980s cartoon series as a grittier story of war and loss, but without losing touch with characters and story.
While there are plenty of examples of licensed video games missing the mark, Masters of the Universe is uniquely situated to be a success story. Not only are its larger-than-life characters and setting a perfect fit for big video game action, but other mediums are actively bringing the old series back to public consciousness. Revelation is just the first of two announced Netflix animated series. New toys are back in stores. A tabletop role-playing game is in the works. And long-quiescent fan communities have remained quietly active for decades, ready to see these stories brought back to life.
Kevin Smith’s Masters of the Universe: Revelation proves that you don’t need to abandon the fun and vibrancy of an old franchise to bring it new opportunities and help it step into the modern age. Like that new animated release, a high-end video game adaptation can find success if it updates the themes and characters without abandoning what makes them memorable. More than most of those old 80s cartoons, Masters of the Universe comes ready-made for the type of action and intensity that a big new video game needs. I’m crossing my fingers that some of the other attempts to revitalize the Masters of the Universe find success; perhaps, when they do, the right game maker can come along and bring He-Man, Skeletor, and all the rest to life on the thumbsticks of my controller.
HBO is adapting the Naughty Dog universe of The Last of Us, starring The Mandalorian’s Pedro Pascal as Joel himself. With more casting news on the way, we decided to compile all of the confirmed casting choices so far, and we will update it as more are revealed in the coming months. For those curious, here is every character casting confirmed for The Last of Us TV series from HBO.
The Last of Us TV series just recently added two new directors with Jasmila Žbanić (Aida) and Ali Abbasi (Border). The pair joins Chernobyl creator Craig Mazin and Naughty Dog’s Neil Druckmann. The casting choices for the most notable characters can be seen in the list below:
Every The Last of Us TV series character casting confirmed so far
This is a much shorter list than what we have for the upcoming Borderlands movie from Eli Roth, however, more casting choices will be revealed in the near future. We still don’t have a trailer at this point, but at least we aren’t totally in the dark about what’s on the horizon. Naughty Dog’s Neil Druckmann previously confirmed that the upcoming adaptation would feature original content alongside the already-known game narrative that made the first title a PlayStation insta-hit.
“We talked at length that season 1 of The Last of Us series is going to be the first game,” Druckmann mentioned in a previous interview. “As far as the superficial things, like should a character wear the same plaid shirt or the same red shirt? They might or might not appear in it; that’s way less important to us than getting the core of who these people are and the core of their journey. Things sometimes stay pretty close. It’s funny to see my dialogue there from the games in HBO scripts. And sometimes they deviate greatly to much better effect because we are dealing with a different medium.”
Hopefully, with more and more progress being made towards getting a full cast and crew, we’ll have something to see this Summer. The E3 window is just around the corner; the perfect time for Sony to showcase some new games and possibly a first look at the upcoming TV series.
With only three names confirmed thus far, it does beg the question: Who else would you like to see cast? Would you recast anyone confirmed up until this point? Sound off with your thoughts in the comment section below!
The faction-based PVP is elaborate and honestly, I hope something this cool makes its way into one of the “core” Diablo games sometime outside of the mobile space. I’ve spoken at length about how I enjoy Diablo Immortal, at least what we’ve seen so far, but I intensely dislike extended play sessions on mobile devices. Here’s hoping that we get some kind of PC version down the line, at least while we wait for Diablo IV. Anyway, when you participate in the Cycle of Strife PVP system, which is 100% optional, you start as an Adventurer. Everyone does! However, there are two main groups involved in PVP that have an asymmetrical war going on. The Immortals are the elite who try to protect their awesome stashes of impending rewards, and the Shadows work together in darkness to try to undermine the Immortals, up to and including raiding their treasure stores and engaging in other tasks to weaken them. A group of powerful Shadows in a Dark House (kind of like a guild) can overthrow the reigning Immortals and take control of the spoils, and then become the ruling class themselves as the new Immortals. And hence, the “Cycle of Strife” continues as rewards are doled out and battle is waged. And yes, there are PVP battlegrounds that consist of 8v8 teamplay alongside the core Cycle of Strife systems. While the experience is, again, completely optional, you’ll probably want to dive in to snag some rewards.
Throughout the 2021 Call of Duty League season, the Minnesota Rokkr hasn’t got a lot of respect. The team got off to a slower start and wasn’t competing at a level that was acceptable to the organization and its fans. But then something happened. Head coach Brian “Saintt” Baroska and V1 director of esports strategy Jake “Reppin” Trobaugh put their faith in a 19-year-old kid to try and bring a spark to the Rokkr roster. The results were instant and exciting.
Ashwalkers is an ambitious new narrative survival game by French developer Nameless XIII, a small studio co-founded by Life Is Strange co-creator Hervé Bonin. Set 200 years after a volcanic disaster transformed Earth into a ravaged wasteland, players must keep a party of characters alive as they fight to survive this hostile, ash-blanketed world.
These four survivors (referred to as “The Squad”) have their own distinct personalities with an ever-evolving relationship between each other. Gameplay involves keeping these four alive by seeking out shelter and harvesting vital resources. You’ll need to carefully manage your rations, however, as there isn’t always enough to go around. Party members can succumb to madness and other mental traumas if they aren’t well taken care of. When the lack of resources isn’t threatening to wipe you out, Ashwalkers’ world presents plenty of other hurdles such as deadly weather (including lightning storms) and clashes with other survivors.
Given Bonin’s history with Dontnod developing Life Is Strange, it’s not surprising to learn that Ashwalkers features choice-driven gameplay, non-linear storytelling, and multiple endings: 34 different conclusions total, in fact. With so many different ways that Ashwalkers’ story can go down, Nameless XIII promises players will discover new paths every time they play, depending on their choices.
“We are huge fans of ‘Choose Your Own Adventure books'” said Bonin in a press release. “Our ambition is to combine that sense of a detailed unfolding world with the interactivity of a video game, a game where every choice matters. The player feedback we have gotten for our public demo in the latest Steam Festival was extremely positive so we are super excited to let players explore the world of Ashwalkers.”
If Ashwalkers sounds right up your alley, you’ll be happy to know the game is just a month away from release. Ashwalkers launches April 15 for PC. There’s currently no word on if the game is coming to consoles. Check out the gallery of screenshots below.
Click image thumbnails to view larger version
What do you make of Ashwalkers? Share your first impressions down in the comments!
Without a doubt, the latest version of the original tabletop RPG, Dungeons & Dragons, remains a driving force for the current success across the industry. The excellent 5th edition has done wonders for