For these promising adaptations

South Park: The Stick of Truth

South Park: The Stick of Truth

Above: In The Stick of Truth, the children imagine themselves as wizards, rogues, and other classes.

Image Credit: Ubisoft

Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC
Release date: March 4

What is it?

The 16-year old TV show has a spotty history when it comes to video games based on its foul-mouthed cast of fourth graders. That’s why The Stick of Truth looks so exciting. It has a proven developer (Obsidian Entertainment), riffs on well-known role-playing game tropes, and, at least from the trailers we’ve seen, maintains the show’s abrasive humor.

Can’t wait?

Then watch “Black Friday,” “A Song of Ass and Fire,” and “Titties and Dragons” for a preview of The Stick of Truth. Together, these three episodes tell a hilarious story that combines the madness of Black Friday, the PS4 and Xbox One launches, and elements from Game of Thrones. In addition to the shared fantasy setting, they also feature many of the same outfits that the characters wear in the game.


The Walking Dead: Season Two and The Wolf Among Us

Clementine from The Walking Dead is now the star in Season Two.

Above: Clementine from The Walking Dead is now the star in Season Two.

Image Credit: Telltale Games

Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC
Release dates: Future episodes TBA

What are they?

Developer Telltale Games keeps doing what it does best: episodic games. The Walking Dead: Season Two, based on the wildly popular zombie comic books by Robert Kirkman, continues the story of Clementine, the young girl players took care of in Season One. And The Wolf Among Us serves as a prequel to Bill Willingham’s Fables, a comic book series about the adventures of fairy tale characters living in New York City. Right now, each game only has one episode; both will eventually have five.

Stick with your save files

Telltale hasn’t said yet if The Walking Dead or The Wolf Among Us will make the jump to PS4 and Xbox One. So in the meantime, it’s best to stick with the old consoles, especially if you already started playing these games. They use save data from previous episodes and seasons to determine what outcomes or scenes you see in future updates. For instance, in the first season of The Walking Dead, the decisions you made affected both small details (like who you became friends with) and big ones (like deciding which characters lived or died).

If you’re looking for something new …

Harold

Harold turbo boost

Above: You have to lower the bridge for Harold before he crosses it.

Image Credit: Moonspider Studio

Platforms: Xbox 360, PC
Release date: First quarter of 2014

What is it?

Even though Harold missed its Spring 2013 release window by a long shot, that doesn’t change the fact how much I loved it back when I saw it in 2012. In this 2D running game, you play as a guardian angel who must help Harold via special powers — like thunderbolts and a pair of magical scissors — to win races against other angels and their runners. Winning is not just a matter of who can run the fastest. The version I saw had tons of moving platforms, switches, and deadly animals to watch for as well as places where you can slow down the competition by using those obstacles against them.

The developer has a top-notch animation team 

The reason Harold looks and moves so well is because of the animators behind it. Some of them once worked for big movie studios like Disney, Studio Ghibli, and Dreamworks.


Murdered: Soul Suspect

Murdered Soul Suspect

Above: Ronan O’ Connor examines his own crime scene.

Image Credit: Square-Enix

Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC
Release date: TBA 2014

What is it?

“Murdered” isn’t in the name just because it sounds cool: The main character, detective Ronan O’ Connor, actually dies in the opening scene. But before he can move on in the afterlife, he has to figure out who killed him and why. As a ghost, O’Connor can walk through walls and doors, possess people, fight demons, and talk to other ghosts who might help him.

O’Connor is a blend of John McClane and Han Solo

The premise of Murdered came from publisher Square Enix’s creative director Yosuke Shiokawa, who wondered what would happen if John McClane, the action hero that actor Bruce Willis played in Die Hard, died before he could save his wife. He thought that, even as a ghost, McClane would still find a way to stop the bad guys and save the day. Shiokawa wanted O’Connor to have the sort of “bad boy” personality found in characters like McClane or Han Solo from Star Wars.

To save some money

Games with Gold and PlayStation Plus

PlayStation Plus in Jan. 2014

Above: For now, the PS3’s Instant Game Collection is bigger than the PS4’s.

Image Credit: Sony

Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Release dates: Free games come out every month

What are they?

You have to pay for these premium services on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Xbox 360 — $50 a year for PS Plus, $60 a year for Xbox Live Gold — if you want to play multiplayer games. It’s not required for multiplayer on PS3, but it does give you neat features like cloud saves. More important, both Plus and Gold offer free games every month.

What’s the difference?

For PlayStation users, that means a digital library flush with old and recent hits for PS3 (and the PlayStation Vita handheld) that is larger than its collection on PS4. The catch is that you can only download and play these while you’re a member. If you decide to cancel PS Plus, you’ll lose access to the free games.

For Xbox 360 players, the Games with Gold program offers two free games each month. So far, they’ve been older than the games you get with PS Plus: Past freebies were Assassin’s Creed II and the first Gears of War. But unlike PS Plus, you can keep these games forever, even if you stop paying for Xbox Live Gold.

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