DeathSpank: Thongs of Virtue Hands-On

The follow-up to Ron Gilbert's DeathSpank has everything, from pirates and robots, to aliens and ninjas.

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Even though DeathSpank hasn't been out that long and summer is about to wind down, Hothead Games recently announced a follow-up game, DeathSpank: Thongs of Virtue, which picks up right where our hero left off in the first game. According to Hamish Millar, the producer of Thongs of Virtue, the game was being developed in parallel with the first DeathSpank and is a much larger game in terms of content. Millar came by our office today to show us some new areas, as well as DeathSpank's arsenal of fancy modern-day weapons.

A new array of modern weaponry should help you take care of those pesky aliens.
A new array of modern weaponry should help you take care of those pesky aliens.

Without revealing too much from the previous game, let's just say that DeathSpank begins this game as a captive, locked in a POW camp. You'll be filled in on what the Thongs of Virtue mean, and it turns out that DeathSpank is the only thong bearer (out of six) who hasn't been corrupted by these magical undies. His goal is now to save the world from evil thong-wearing tyrants, each with a unique set of quirks. Our demo picks up right after he breaks free and is running around a battlefield, helping soldiers take down orque communication towers. We were told that there will be more variety to the quests now, including ones that require you to be quick on your feet. For example, in order to take down the tower, we were handed a pre-lit stick of dynamite, so we had to run toward the tower before it blew up in our face.

What stood out is that instead of wielding an assortment of swords and axes, you now have access to a ton of weapons, ranging from bazookas to ray guns. These new weapons don't come with unlimited ammo, though, and the ray gun overheats, but they're incredibly fun to use. For those who have been playing the Xbox Live Arcade title Shank, the chainsaw that the main character uses is also featured in this game, because Hothead Games is friends with the developers at Klei Entertainment. We were told that this time around there is more of a balance between ranged and melee weapons, which is a nice touch, given how hectic things can get onscreen.

The next area we checked out was a town that looked like the Wild West. Apparently the bacon rush didn't go as well as people had hoped, and now the residents are going a little crazy. We ran into Tina the taco vendor, as well as several new crazy characters that may or may not be very helpful during our quest. Lurking outside town were some ghosts donning cowboy hats. Here is where the new nature grenade--which can destroy multiple ghosts with one explosive--came in handy. There are TNT boxes littered throughout the areas, so use them wisely and carefully to your advantage. Another new weapon that we were shown was the monocle, which allowed DeathSpank to control the minds of the neighboring ghosts and force them to follow along dutifully. Cooperative play is once again included, even though that was not shown in our demo. However, we were told of a new playable character named Steve, a ninja who rides a unicorn while unleashing shurikens and rainbows. He also dual-wields katana blades and sings his own name--a huge step up from Sparkles the wizard, we must say.

For our last stop, we checked out Le Beaux Kuckelle, a town by the sea that gave us access to a pirate ship. This vessel allows you to sail the open seas (and shoot fireworks) and explore new islands to discover the world's secrets. Our demo ended with a cutscene to illustrate the vicious attack on the North Pole. We partnered with General Snugglewugglepants to storm the snowy land crawling with evil elves and to eventually confront Santa, the bearer of the Thong of Generosity.

Santa's little helpers aren't so helpful here.
Santa's little helpers aren't so helpful here.

DeathSpank: Thongs of Virtue looks to be a continuation of DeathSpank's adventure with plenty of new weapons and tons of quests. We were told that the story is longer this time around as well, and the campaign could take upward of 17 hours to complete. The game still looks great, with the same colorful art style that really pops out and plenty of loot to find and hoard. Gameplay-wise, everything is still the same, so those who have played through the original game can easily continue their adventure here.

Join DeathSpank on his quest for mythical undergarments when the game is released on the PlayStation Network on September 21 and on the Xbox Live Arcade on September 22.

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