Penny Arcade Adventures Returns In Hands Of Zeboyd

By John Walker on April 4th, 2012 at 1:00 pm.

Not shown: someone saying a swear.

The Penny Arcade games were, perhaps, not all of the good in the world in one place. But there’s some rather splendid news afoot. What had clearly been abandoned is to return, but now in the hands of the rather brilliant Zeboyd Games. They who made the utterly fab Cthulhu Saves The World. They’ve been put in charge of the ever-hideously named Penny Arcade Adventures: On The Rain-Slick Precipice Of Darkness, episodes 3 and 4.

Pastiching RPGs is always a risky business, mostly because you’ve got to be at least as good as the RPGs you’re mocking. Hothead frankly didn’t manage this. (Their oddly high Metacritic rankings come from a combination of very few reviews mostly from niche sites, and reviews that say, “The game isn’t very good. But I love Penny Arcade! 80%.” [Looks around proudly at his industry].) Mediocre at best, they were something for fans of the web comic who can’t get enough of those crazy guys saying “fuck” and looking to camera.

But today’s news bodes well, timed to coincide with this weekend’s Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) East. Zeboyd have already demonstrated a calibre for sending up RPG tropes, while generating a very playable RPG, and they intend to do similar here. So characters Tycho and Jonathan continue attempting to save the land of New Arcadia, this time from an “unspeakable evil”. And it looks like it’s leaning more toward Zeboyd’s style, which should mean greater emphasis on the RPG. The art style will still match Mike Krahulik’s designs, but be in Zeboyd’s retro pixel happy place, and Holkins is working with the two developers on the script.

It’s coming out on PC, Mac and phones in “the coming months”, which is a touch vague, but more details are promised soon. There are a ton of screenshots over at the series’ new official site, and a trailer is promised soon.

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40 Comments »

  1. sebmojo says:

    I think you’re too hard on the games – I liked them. Not enough to wish they’d had a third in the series in the same style, though, so this is splendid news.

  2. InternetBatman says:

    I enjoyed the games. They’re not great, but they were fairly funny and had a cool atmosphere.

  3. trjp says:

    There’s more to the whole “it’s Penny Arcade so it’s good” thing really – there are as many people who say “it’s Penny Arcade so it’s shit”…

    PA are massive polarisers of opinion at the best of times – few people are on-the-fence about them. They’re either loved or hated in equal (considerable) measure (see also EDGE magazine, Peter Molyneux, Lord British and so on).

    As 2 guys who drew some cartoons about games – got into more than 1 argument as a result of that built a gaming empire of considerable depth – they inspire a mixture of respect and jealousy which really depends on 2 rather odd things

    1 – where you stand on the various ‘controversies’ they’ve triggered
    2 – whether you share their sense-of-humour (never a guarantee for anyone, anywhere!!)

    Mixing the “never trivial” opinions of video game players with their sense of humour is like throwing sodium into a pond – the reaction will never be a damp squib!!

    The HotHead games weren’t brilliant but they were early examples of direct download games (which initially cost as much as a boxed one) and a genre (sarcastic/ironic RPGs) which has developed a bit in the meanwhile – and everything starts somewhere.

    Zeboyd are a great choice to take this forward IMO – whether you care is really down to which side of the fence you’re on.

    Final “opinions” on the games, when they finally arrive, will be similarly tainted to the last ones I’m sure.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      I probably wasn’t paying attention much, but the only things I saw around the release of the other games, even on their own site, was basically “they’re released” and then any mention of them rapidly fell off the internet.

    • Steven Hutton says:

      No one hates Peter Molyneux. He’s universally beloved, flaws and all.

      As for the games they were mechanically dull and uninspired but I found the writing to be snappy and enjoyable and that was enough for me.

      • trjp says:

        I’d have to disagree – there are plenty of people who think he’s all talk and no walk – that almost everything me promises is not going to happen and so on.

        As with PA it’s just a perception thing – people think that because they don’t laugh at PA that no-one would – just like thinking no-one liked Black and White :)

        • Urthman says:

          I think Molyneux often overpromises and underdelivers and has some ideas that are silly. But that doesn’t mean I don’t love him. The Molendeux twitter account is hilarious, but it’s a pretty gentle form of ridicule, one that Molyneux himself seems to enjoy.

          Some people roll their eyes at him or complain about his games not being fun, but I hardly every see anyone who seems actually mad at the guy.

    • Smashbox says:

      Meh. I don’t really feel too strongly either way.

  4. Xerophyte says:

    Is that a Grandia-style command-action bar I see? I believe I speak for a very small subset of PC gamers when I say “Fuck, yes” to more stealing from that particular series.

    • apocraphyn says:

      Oh. Oh my. I’ve never played any of the PA games, but I loved Grandia 1 and 2. The combat system they featured was the shee-it! “Fuck, yes” indeed!

    • Drayk says:

      Grandia action bar is a good system, But it would been so cool to have an hybrid of Grandia action time bar coupled with Xenogears action point system (actions point you can save and stack for longer combos).

  5. Rinox says:

    I liked the first two PA games, so I’m looking forward to this. The writing and humor were spot on. The combat system was a little less interesting, but eh, it wasn’t horrible either.

    • DrGonzo says:

      The first two Penny Arcade games were much better than Zeboyd’s to actually play, but Zeboyd’s were much funnier. But I got so incredibly bored in Zeboyds because it’s just walking forward and pressing A. There is absolutely no skill and all interaction is superficial. If you lose a fight, go back and press A over and over again in an easier area until you can press A on the harder guy and beat him.

      Then, that’s how I feel about all JRPGs I’ve ever played outside of Eternal Sonata.

  6. Hoaxfish says:

    Bit meh either way… so they’re basically persisting on a “not very good” thing

  7. lhzr says:

    “Mediocre at best, they were something for fans of the web comic who can’t get enough of those crazy guys saying “fuck” and looking to camera.”

    Oh, wow. For a moment, I thought I was somewhere else. Kinda sad, really.

    • Meat Circus says:

      Penny Arcade made a startling revelation: swearing is both big *and* clever.

      Yes, it is.

      Cuntflaps.

      See?

      • lhzr says:

        I don’t feel they swear that often, but whatevs.

        I’m a bit disappointed that Hothead’s games weren’t better or worse than Costume Quest or Zeboyd’s Cthulhu, but were much worse received by pretty much everyone because fuck penny arcade. I’m not a fan of PA, but I’m much less of a fan of this sort of attitude. They can’t do shit except swear and now they have their own videogame expo and they’re stinkin’ rich. MOTHERFUCKERS.

        Unpleasant, that’s what it is.

      • Steven Hutton says:

        I actually laughed out loud when I read that. I feel shame as a minor action.

  8. jalf says:

    The two first PA games (well, mostly the first one) were really lovely. Not instant classics, but certainly not something I felt ashamed to play. I thought they were pretty fun and charming, and the gameplay wasn’t bad at all, I thought. A few fun twists on (simplified) JRPG mechanics

  9. Meat Circus says:

    They weren’t great games, but they had a certain thematic charm which made me happy enough to have experienced them. But there’s no way I’d have wanted another two games in the same vein, so this is happy news.

  10. Urthman says:

    “Mediocre at best, they were something for fans … who can’t get enough of those crazy guys saying “fuck” and looking to camera.”

    What does Bulletstorm have to do with the clever and witty Penny Arcade games? The gameplay was mediocre, but the writing was better, funnier, and more inventive than most RPGs.

    • Drayk says:

      Don’t bash Bullestorm, it’s a crude game but it’s a good game in it’s own league !

    • DrGonzo says:

      Yeah, I felt something similar. You want completely unfunny jokes full of fucks, Bulletstorm is for you. Penny Arcade is actually quite funny.

      Plus, swearing can be clever and swearing can be funny.

      Is it just me or can you see RPS’ head slowly disappearing up it’s own arse?

  11. Keymonk says:

    I wish they’d stuck to the same artstyle, at least. The gameplay wasn’t fantastic, but I adored that they stuck to the artstyle, and the fact that I could make my own characters in the same artstyle. Not perfect, but quite nice.

    Seeing my own character as if drawn in the cutscenes was fantastic. More games should do this.

  12. MikoSquiz says:

    C’mon, that title is funny. Next you’ll be saying you didn’t think there was anything amusing about the violently purple prose in Max Payne.

  13. JohnArr says:

    Hmm, the first two were well written and fun, but bloated with dull combat. Cthulu was well written and fun, but bloated with dull combat. Hopefully they are aware of that.

    • dehumanized says:

      It looks like they’re stealing the combat from Grandia, which is pretty high up there on the spectrum of RPG battle systems. If you don’t like any JRPGs it probably still won’t be your thing, but it should move at a decent pace and have a bit of a timing component (when enemies are in the “Act” part of the bar, you can interrupt them to send them back over to “Wait”).

  14. Teronfel says:

    Zeboyd?I liked CSTW so i’m totally buying this.

  15. Morph says:

    I thought the first two were decent games, as it seems a lot of people did.

  16. LintMan says:

    Good news. I enjoyed the story and setting of the first two games, but wasn’t so keen on the combat focused on the timing-based specials. CSTW was funny, a better RPG, and I liked the combat better, so this is a good match. A did really like the art style of the first two games, though, and am not a big fan of retro-pixel art, so that is a loss.

  17. smokemeansfire says:

    I’m joining the chorus: the PA games were respectable. The tone of this article is rather acidic, too. I normally expect RPS to be above this sort of thing.

  18. Javier-de-Ass says:

    bleh. this is a waste of time for zeboyd, it will probably make them some money at least. hopefully the next thing they do is something I’ll have any interest in what so ever

  19. Matindo says:

    I don’t know but is this a sort of snotty British “Hur hur Americans can’t do well written humour like us” thing? Because PA is a bit more than just looking at a camera and saying fuck.

    On the point of the games, neither of the first two were fun to play nor was CSTW. They were funny but I’d rather just read a book if that’s the case so I’ll probably just pass as well.

    • wu wei says:

      Yeah, it seemed really out of place, it’s not like RPS is exactly a bastion of non-juvenile humour…

  20. devlocke says:

    Just thought I’d throw a bit of support towards the Penny Arcade games as well; I enjoyed the first one. It didn’t change my life or anything, but it was a good time. I’d like to play the second one, but I can’t get Steam working right on Wine, and the only Windows machine in my house at the moment is a laptop I don’t want to kill the spacebar on.

    I kind of thought the first one was a well-written game with actiony/annoying combat shoehorned in to shut up people who bitch and moan about JRPGs not being interactive enough. So this seems like it may solve my one gripe (which wasn’t that big a deal, since I enjoyed playing it through to completion anyway), and I say ‘huzzah!’ to that.

  21. povu says:

    That first image reminds me of Golden Sun’s Sol Sanctum.