Impressions and Editorials
Janurary 30, 2017
Written by Damien
Back before they were a videogame company, Nintendo was a card and toy company. It was this that has kept Nintendo in the mindset of a toy company and not a manufacturer of electronics. Looking back at this past holiday Nintendo released the NES Classic which was a small Nintendo Entertainment System with pre-loaded games on it. The console was released in such a short supply that it made a lot of people wonder why Nintendo would go this route? Why release something in such a limited supply? Simply put it is to create a demand for the product as well as buzz. The lack of product on store shelves shows us that Nintendo still has the mindset of a toy company.
Toy manufacturers in general usually release their products in such a way that supply never actually meets demand. And it is through this method that many toy manufacturers create buzz and high sales for their toys. On the other hand videogame companies usually meet the supply with demand by matching the output to what consumers generally want. Where Nintendo always seems to drop the ball is with announcing something and not looking properly at what the consumers want. I'm not sure how many NES Classics have been made or released but I do know that at the time of writing this Nintendo has promised to release more and people are still having trouble finding them.
Nintendo claims they won't make the same mistake with their upcoming console hybrid the Nintendo Switch but the system will launch with 2 million units worldwide and currently all of those systems are spoken for. With no real communication as to when consumers can expect it see more Switch's it seems like Nintendo still hasn't quite gotten its grasp on consumer demand.
While other companies for the most part don't seem to have an issue with getting product on the shelves, looking at you Microsoft and Sony. I can't lie that it is somewhat troubling when Nintendo seems to handle their electronics the way that a toy company handles toys when they aren't the same market and shouldn't be treated as such. I hope that with the release of the Nintendo Switch that Nintendo can learn from their competitors on how to appeal their product to the masses as well as making sure their products aren't hard to find in the future.
December 21, 2016
Written by Sam
In the last week we have finally gotten to see the latest piece of Nintendo hardware in action for the very first time after its debut on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. However, with it’s launch around three months away we still know next to nothing about the console and Nintendo are being incredibly tight-lipped about anything to do with the hardware and software. After arguably two console failures in a row, is the third time a charm for Nintendo? All factors weighed in, I don’t believe so. Here is why I am worried.
Nintendo aren’t exactly showing any confidence in their upcoming console whatsoever. With both the Wii and Wii U being relative flops Nintendo should be coming out all guns blazing to show that the old days are over, that they know they screwed up and now they have a new console to be proud of and for the consumer to be excited for. As logical as that may be, they are doing the opposite. Nintendo are being incredibly secretive about what is in store for the Switch, leaving consumers wary about being burned once again. During the demo on the Tonight Show Nintendo were very particular about what can be shown of the device. When Regie Fils-Aime switched the console from the Home Console iteration to the handheld tablet the camera diverted from showing any screen. Regie and Jimmy’s dialogue was also used to cover up the length of time that it took to switch to the tablet. If Nintendo feels the need for misdirection on the debut of the console it only shows their lack of faith in the device.
Apart from “Breath of the Wild”, we are unaware of any other launch titles for the Switch. There are even rumors that Zelda will be delayed into the summer of 2017! The debut trailer of the Switch showcased Bethesda’s “Skyrim: Legendary Edition” on the platform, however they went out to say that fans “shouldn’t assume that the trailer’s gameplay was real” and it has later been confirmed that the footage was superimposed onto the device in post-production. In the past, Nintendo were just as secretive about games for the Wii U’s launch, which was found out to be because developers were reluctant to port games to the platform as it was incredibly difficult. Now that Nintendo are mimicking this I feel that they are doomed to repeat it with yet another likely underpowered console.
Software is not the only part of the Switch that Nintendo remain secretive about, we still do not know about the specs even though we are so close to launch. With an industry dominated by relatively powerful Xbox One S and PlayStation 4 Pro’s Nintendo will have to use some impressive parts to compete. Their reluctance to reveal the specs for their machine can mean one of two things: either they are scrambling to change what is inside the machine to compete with the new iterations of current-gen competition or they know that their machine is underpowered and they don’t want to state that and lose pre-orders. If their console was ready to compete with the PS4 Pro and Xbox One S I am sure that they would have said so already with the utmost confidence to drive sales.
In the modern day games industry most companies are driven by day one sales and pre-orders to make their money back from development and marketing. With what we have seen so far from Nintendo with the Switch, they are not deviating from this either. However, where Microsoft and Sony market to the hardcore gamer and E3 crowd, Nintendo seem to be aiming their new device to the casual market where their two previous consoles once thrived. Until it was showcased on Jimmy Fallon I am sure the general person was not aware of the Switch’s existence. By appearing on the number one U.S late night show with their two most well known IP’s (Mario and The Legend of Zelda) they are able to appeal to the casual market in the masses. Most of these people would have owned a Wii at some stage and likely had a Mario or Zelda title on their machine. After Recognizing the Nintendo brand and the familiar faces of Mario and Link they can be excited about a new Nintendo console without typically being worried about performance or specs. Naturally, this garners interest and thus pre-orders and day one sales from the mass casual market for Nintendo to make most of their money back quickly. This is not a good sign for Nintendo’s predicted longevity of the console.
In the end, all of my ramblings and assumptions are just that, my opinion. There is quite a chance that I could be far off the mark, and being such a fan of vintage Nintendo and growing up with a Nintendo 64 I truly hope that Nintendo can prove me wrong. However with their secrecy and apparent lack of confidence in themselves and the upcoming system I don’t have a lot of faith that they will. Come January 13th with their hands-on event I may be shocked and surprised or my suspicions may be confirmed, we will have to wait and see.
December 17, 2016
Written by Bryan
Dammerlicht is a Indie medieval fantasy game being made by Royal Tea Time Studios and has recently been successfully funded on Kickstarter. I recently played the short demo provided by the developer on their Kickstarter and was left interested in what the game is trying to do. Upon starting the games first level I died because I wasn't familiar with the controls this opened up a new level which showed me the ramifications of me dying. This was essentially a scene where guards get overrun by these weird blob like creatures but they eventually went off screen and I couldnt follow with my characters ghost. I was then left walking around for about a minute before the game let me exit out to the level selection menu. I then finished the level in which I was previously killed and got to meet the King in the next level. After some light exploration I went back to talk to the king and he asked me to handle the night watch, when I accepted the game then fast forwarded to the night watch and it was my job to help protect this small village. Alas the King died and that was the end of the level and also the demo left with two more branching paths that I couldn't explore.
Overall I like the idea of the game branching off into different paths depending on what happens in your time with it and will be interested in seeing what the full game looks like. The combat is quite simple as your either attacking or parrying and the graphics are the simple pixel graphics you see in may indie titles. We will more information on Dammerlicht as soon as it becomes available.
December 17, 2016
Written by Damien
Final Fantasy XV released on November 29th to slight critical acclaim and impressive sales for the company Square-Enix. After ten years of development hell, one could only hope the game meets every aspect of a fantastic triple A title. After spending 63 plus hours with the game I'm here to answer that one question many people and fans of Final Fantasy are wondering, is Final Fantasy 15 a masterpiece?
In short no it isn't which is rather unfortunate for a game that has taken so long to hit shelves. However, it is by no means a bad game. Final Fantasy XV breaks old conventions set out by its predecessors by being a story solely about Noctis and his three bro's trying to take back the throne and kingdom that is rightfully his. The gameplay is a fast paced romp as opposed to being turn-based and while a lot of people are divided on the change, I find it to be good when it works. I say when it works because you will often have the camera get hung up on something. Hampering what already is what some consider stale combat where all you do is mash the circle button.
The story of Final Fantasy isn't entirely told through the game either which hate it or love it isn't the best way to tell a story in my opinion. To get the full experience you're going to have to watch the movie Kingsglaive which in my opinion was alright but not the best piece of fiction to coincide with a game. It is, however, better than having to read cards to get a story; I'm looking at you Destiny.
I know from reading this far into the article you may think that I don't like FFXV which is hardly the case. I enjoyed most of the time I spent playing this game with the exception of the dreadful Chapter 13. It is just that FFXV does some odd things like not letting you summon at will or forcing you to rest to gain experience. I will say that the characters especially the four guys you will be spending your time with are entertaining and enjoyable. They share quips and genuinely feel like they care about each other which is no small feet.
However (and this is a big however) the fact that the game was delayed so there wouldn't be a day one patch and it still launched with said patch is baffling. The lack of transparency from the company Square=Enix makes it hard to get fully engaged in the title. Especially since said company plans on fleshing out certain chapters of the game and adding more story to make it feel full. Why a game that has been in development for ten years through two console generations and is not finished is beyond me. It makes me very fearful of future games from said company coming out that are quote unquote unfinished.
While this may be a normal tactic in gaming nowadays I still can't condone this type of behavior.
However, if you're wondering if Final Fantasy XV is better than Final Fantasy 13 and it's two sequels I am here to assure you that it is. It is different and fresh enough to contend with the other triple A titles that have been released this year, although in my heart I can't recommend an unfinished game to anyone. If you're willing to shell out the $64 bucks (If you live in the US) for Final Fantasy XV it depends on what kind of game you like whether or not it is worth your hard earned cash. As it stands now, we have no idea when any of these new updates including New Game Plus will hit Final Fantasy XV. So based on all of that I can say Final Fantasy XV is a great game it just isn't a masterpiece.
December 13, 2016
Written by John
When the original Dead Rising was released in 2006, it was not without its faults. The controls were a nightmare, the boss fights were unbalanced, and the survivor AI was, at best, almost functional. Nevertheless, the game had personality. Frank West was a ridiculous character that you couldn’t help but root for. The humor felt blissfully unaware. Clunky game mechanics and kookiness aside, however, the in-game time limit was perhaps the most divisive feature among fans.
For the record, I do like the time limits. Bringing them up to other people, though, most of them have nothing but negative things to say. A friend once told me he dislikes the time limits because he cannot fully explore the world and do everything the developers put into the game. Most of the other complaints I’ve heard seem to stem from that initial idea - the idea of people wanting to see and do everything without the pressure of a deadline.
I’d argue, however, that the point of Dead Rising was never to get everything done on your first playthrough, nor was it about running around like a dipshit killing zombies with a battle axe (though you could absolutely still do that). The point was to finish the game multiple times. The game ranks you at the end of your playthrough. Your character’s level carries over across multiple runs. I think that’s because the developers always had moved optimization in mind when making the game. They weren’t looking to make an open world zombie game; people just wanted them to.
The player is even rewarded on subsequent runs because they now know where everything is going to be. They know where the secrets are; where to find the best weapons. They know what to expect from the boss fights; what they should be taking with them. They’ve leveled up to the point where they can more readily handle the missions they’re going to be given.
It should also go without saying that nothing is stopping you from ignoring those calls from Otis completely. The game isn’t going to kick you back to the main menu the second you decide to explore the mall for fun and run out of time. I once hit a point in the game where I didn’t think I’d be able to beat a boss and make it back in time, so I let the timer expire and took to killing zombies to achieve a higher level before restarting.
Beating the game, though, requires you to play it the way the developers intended and, even then, you don’t have to save the survivors scattered throughout the mall. One might even argue that ignoring optional rescues and boss fights is somewhat in line with who Frank West is a character. Frank’s there for the big scoop; he’s there to document these events. It seems fair to say that he [LITERALLY] just might not have time to escort someone he doesn’t know back to the safe house so they can ride his chopper out of there.
People also talk about missing out on content like it’s a bad thing. I once stopped playing The Witcher 3 just because of how intimidating the dozens and dozens of markers littering the map were. Nothing was forcing me to do them, but nothing was stopping me either. For better or worse, I felt compelled to get them done before progressing in the main story, which eventually caused me to loathe the thought of loading up the game at all. As fun as the world was to explore, the multiple side quests and points of interest ultimately felt like they were getting in the way of what I cared about: the story. In that respect, I like the fact that Dead Rising puts me in a situation where I likely won’t get everything done in one playthrough.
It’s important to note, too, that Dead Rising is not a particularly long game. One has to wonder what someone is picturing when you tell them they’ll likely be playing this game a few times. Are they picturing Metal Gear Solid 2, or Metal Gear Solid 5? Do they think Resident Evil 4, or Resident Evil 6? The former games are obviously games balanced for multiple playthroughs, while the latter games offer a much longer, grander experience that you likely won’t want to play again anytime soon. Neither is better (unless we’re talking about Resident Evil 6), they’re just different.
To close this out, I’ll say this: I recently started up Dead Rising 4, and I’m not enjoying it. I feel this way for a lot of reasons, but this isn’t a review, so I’ll just stick to the fact that the game has no time limit whatsoever. Even as early as my first few hours into the game, I already started doing something I never do in Dead Rising games: I aimlessly explored the world killing zombies. I quickly realized, though, that the world only felt so significant and interesting in the earlier games because I could only catch brief glimpses of it as I ran to my next objective. Killing zombies was only so fun in the past because I was only able to pause and enjoy it for so long. The original Dead Rising was by no means a perfect game. I don’t think the time limit was part of the problem, though, and it seems unfair to objectively state that the game would be better without it when, maybe, the game just wasn’t for you in the first place.
Follow @John_Seminario_ on Twitter to hear him talk about video games and how much he hates self-promotion!
December 7, 2016
Written by Ben
When I went to the PlayStation Experience in Anaheim this past weekend, I had pretty high expectations. With rumors of a Last of Us sequel, more Death Stranding, and new IPs, I couldn’t help but be incredibly hyped for this year’s conference - The Last Guardian releasing that Tuesday didn’t help either. The main event showcased a plethora of notable announcements where new games were revealed and titles were shown off. Hit after hit, Sony didn't slow down and were pulling serious punches left and right which made this PSX one of the best in yet. Just to name a few, Sony showed off The Last of Us: Part 2, Knack 2, more Horizon: Zero Dawn, Uncharted: Lost Legacy, and games such as Let It Die. After playing some of Let It Die, the RE7: Biohazard VR demo, and the new MLB The Show at PSX, I can safely say that I’m going full VR on RE7 and that MLB will be a must-buy for fans, just from what I’ve seen of it.
However there were some things I was left disappointed by during the reveals. I can’t really explain why I feel this way, but I was left wanting more. I realize PSX isn’t E3, but Last of Us was the only major, distinctive thing I remember from it. I was also left a bit underwhelmed overall by what we saw of Horizon. I’m looking forward to it, definitely, but what was shown just didn’t do much for me. Also, there were some things I personally wanted to see there that we didn’t end up getting, such as a game from From Software, potentially Bloodborne 2. I realize that FromSoft is likely working on the final Dark Souls 3 DLC, so I tempered my expectations, realizing that it will likely be at E3, but I still had my hopes up. Another game I was hopeful for was more Red Dead Redemption 2 footage, but I ran into a similar thought process like when I wanted Bloodborne 2. For a game that is so highly anticipated, E3 would be the most likely place to show off gameplay. Besides those things that I didn’t see at PSX, but may see at GamesCom or E3, I still feel that this year’s conference is one of the best in a while.
The early bits of PSX, where hardware is talked about and more technological aspects are discussed, were and will always be somewhat boring to me, but they left my intrigued as to the capabilities of PlayStation in the future, with HDR and 4K integration, along with further hardware improvements. In my opinion PS4 has consistently had the better hardware compared to the Xbox One, and it will be even more interesting to see how PlayStation will compete with Microsoft’s upcoming Project Scorpio.
Eventually I attended panels, got some questions answered, and learned a lot more about some of my most anticipated games from PlayStation.
December 5, 2016
Written by Damien
Pokemon Sun and Moon are finally out and with it comes the updated adventure I've been waiting for. Gone are the little chibi characters of X, Y and Omega and Sapphire. We now have characters that resemble that of the anime most of us continue to watch. I am pleased to say that after spending somewhere between 4 and 6 hours with Pokemon Sun that this title is indeed the jolt in the arm Pokemon has needed for years.
This won't be a review of Pokemon Sun more like a rambling on why this title is great. And why if you're a Pokemon fan you should run, don't walk to purchase this awesome game.
Pokémon Sun (and Moon I would assume) ditch the whole gym idea for something new, trials and no two trials are exactly similar to making every one unique in its way. Now I'm not saying you won't be battling people, but for once that won't be the primary focus. They have also tried to streamline the experience by making it easy to switch out Pokémon on the fly and also using the Y button as a means to throw Poke balls instead of having to go into your bag every time which makes battles just a little bit fresher. And as for battles the trainer can be seen while the Pokémon's fight is adding just the right amount of immersion that was missing from previous titles. Another sweet new addition is the fact that you have specific Pokémon for things like fly, surf and moving boulders, making it so that you no longer have to keep that one Pokémon with said move on your team when you no longer want them to be there. If only that were the case for false swipe maybe in the rumored Stars version coming to Switch?
Pokémon Sun also without spoiling too much has one of the best stories since Black and White. The cast of characters are great, and they shine through with some excellent writing as well as actual character growth. The new Alola region Pokémon are also interesting enough to warrant a playthrough as these are easily some of the best pocket monster designs since Gen 1.
Pokémon Sun and Moon released for the 3DS November 18th and grew to be the fastest selling title in the series, and I have been having a blast with the title since. It is safe to say that this is easily the most fun I have had playing Pokémon since the titles first came out with Red and Blue.
December 3, 2016
Written by Sam
An exhausted grunt passes through my headphones as my screen fades from black to a courtyard set ablaze. A thirty-something year old man is hunched over, seeming to have hit his limit and almost lost all hope. The camera pans around to reveal a demon sitting upon a giant throne, the culprit guilty of the raging fire. A wide shot is then established, revealing that the man is not alone. Three friends come to his aid to tackle him down to the ground to avert incineration from the demon’s fireball. Hell has broken loose.
After a lengthy decade since the game’s initial announcement, Final Fantasy XV has finally arrived on the shelves of stores to eager fans. Despite appearing to be in some sort of development abyss for some 7 years between 2006 and 2013 the opening two hours of the game deliver a product of excellent quality and polish, however that isn’t to say that it does not have it’s issues either. While the game can hold it’s own against any other graphically pleasing title this generation, the gameplay has some issues that bog down the otherwise captivating journey.
Keep in mind that I am only a mere few hours into Final Fantasy XV and there is much left for me to see and try in the game. This is in no way a final review, only my thoughts on the opening moments of the title.
Final Fantasy XV’s opening two cutscenes can be described adequately with only two words: simply beautiful. The CGI cutscenes are second to none and blend perfectly with the ones that are rendered in-game. Having watched them in both Japanese and English, the voice acting in both are top of the line, however the same cannot be said with some of the in-game dialogue in the English version, which is what I am spending the majority of my time with. Complimented with an impeccable soundtrack headed by Florence and the Machine’s beautiful rendition of “Stand By Me”, no cutscene has fallen short for me yet and all have felt necessary and well placed, which can be a common issue in some Japanese titles. The in-game environment matches the beauty of the custscenes too. I found myself slow panning around to soak in the captivating environment more than I have in almost any other game on the PlayStation 4. The game doesn’t keep you in one environment for long either, it often changes scenery to keep things fresh and interesting to show you all that Eos has to offer.
Right from the word “go” the world has much to do to keep you busy in terms of side quests and activities. Although much of the map is locked at the beginning there is never a dull moment in the opening hours. There are plenty of locations for collectibles, training grounds, monster fights, fishing and more. As commendable as that is though, travelling around the map to get to these side quests is one of the games biggest drawbacks. The primary mode of transport, the grandiose “Regalia” automobile, is in the middle of an on-rails driving experience and standard driving mechanics. You have some degree of control over speed and movement although much of it is controlled or corrected by the computer. You can merely choose to turn off to another road or swerve to the side a little bit only to be brought back to your side of the road immediately by whichever character is driving. For a game that has a large focus on the road trip aspect of the story it is unfortunate not to have full control of the vehicle. The Regalia cannot go off-road either, so when you are approaching a destination that is not along the road you must go on foot, this is where my biggest gripe with the game comes in. Much of the game is spent on foot during or between missions, and during this time you must cover some lengthy distances. The logical move would be to implement unlimited sprint for these treks, right? Well, Square Enix would tell you that you are wrong. Noctis has a stamina bar that is relatively short, making on foot journeys much longer and more tedious than they need to be.
The combat gameplay, mostly, is full of fast paced and fun action. I have had a blast figuring out various combinations of weapons and warping when attacking enemies. This is the first Final Fantasy installment to include real-time combat and Square has nailed it. The four face buttons will have you either dodge, jump, attack or warp around your enemies. It is very similar to the Kingdom Hearts combat system with the basics of locking on and striking your enemies, however the warping and party actions bring another dimension into the mix. The combat system is very easy to grasp but will be tough to master with a seemingly endless combination of magic, warping , attacking and party abilities at your arsenal. It all feels incredibly fluid. The only issue in some combat situations is the camera, which I have found to sometimes face away from the action or not keep up with warping, however this has only happened a handful of times in my few hours with the game.
The story and characters in the opening hours of Final Fantasy XV can sometimes be a little disjointed. Somber moments may sometimes be followed up by the group of friends joking around as if nothing had happened. Some of the plot and character exposition is left up in the air too, as if Square had assumed that everyone playing has seen the Brotherhood anime or Kingsglaive film. Although sometimes things may be confusing the game does hit it’s early major story points in good fashion and the pacing so far is top notch. The four main characters’ interactions are often charming and entertaining. The writing and performances do well to convey the fact that these guys have been best friends for a while. Witty puns and slandering are thrown around much like real, close friends would and it often feels very genuine. It is still early days in my playthrough however, so my opinion on story progression and character development is minimal and something that I will expand on as my time with the game grows.
All in all my few hours of Final Fantasy XV have been mostly positive in spite of the few poor traversal issues. The beauty of the open world, freedom of choice and the plethora of side missions along with the lovely soundtrack and cutscenes have really resonated with me. I cannot wait to see what lies ahead of Noctis and company on their journey through Eos.