Archive for March 2016
It’s that time again and you know the drill. Fred and Jam enter with a total of 40 games and fight their way down to a meager 10 that are then ranked and put on display for you all to criticize. It’s fun, come join us for the top 10 games on the Nintendo Gamecube.
One of the oldest and most popular genres in gaming is the “shoot-em-up” or “shmup” for short. Whether you’re a space ship, a young girl, or even a winged pod the basic goal is to navigate the screen, rack up points, and don’t die. Fred and Jam dive into the origins of the shmup, the sub-genres that exist, and some of their personal favorites.
Last week Sony finally came forth with the announcement of the release date and price of the Playstation VR (formerly Morpheus). Most of the important details are in place to make the “which VR option should you choose” article and predictably that’s just what most sites did. I did that six months ago after getting all that info at PAX Prime 2015, it’s right here. Here’s the problem: almost nothing I read is realistic. All of the articles break down the experience, technical specs, and personal opinion of the writer, but not the reality of the consumer – that’s us – actually buying anything. Why? Because if you work for a media outlet it will be in your office, you will be able to play it, and frankly most of games press staff will not be personally purchasing these devices. To be fair, my experience has proven that many of these staffers live in big cities with high cost of living and relatively low income. As a result, I figured I would break down the actual decision-making process of the upcoming VR, what you can expect, and why this decision is less in your control and more locked into your current hardware setup. If you’re not interested in VR, and many aren’t, that’s fine too. Skip this article and aside from specific games coverage and impressions once hardware releases on whatever some of us buy, there will be no further VR articles.
If you are still asking yourself, do I need VR? The answer is most likely “no.” This first run will be early adopters, which as we’ve seen in the past are the ones to get the hardware first at a much higher price. Also early adopters tend to not get the best hardware and a revision surfaces at a cheaper price within 24 months. In addition the games aren’t nearly as impressive – most of us refer to the games initially released as “launch titles” and it implies that these are the rough early stages of developing for new hardware. You only need VR if you want the new shiny first and to show it off to your friends. In the case of VR you may also be wondering what the experience I and others have described from firsthand accounts are referring to, well you’ll need to try it for yourself. A good basic way to do this is via Google Cardboard and chances are you’ll pay next to nothing for it and your phone is already prepared to support it. It’s an extremely passive experience but it’s a great sneak peek at what VR has to offer. The next step is Gear VR by Oculus, which is a $100 headset that only supports a handful of Samsung phones currently, but it gives you a bigger hint at what games and interactive experiences can be. It should be noted that neither is really the true VR experience, most of the things you’ll do are quite gimmicky, and you can expect to see all they have to offer in a few short days. This is why the following information pushes the additional things you’ll need to run proper VR, because otherwise you’re really just buying a super expensive version of the Gear VR. You will also want to buy where there’s a good return policy because VR brings up all kinds of things about your physical head you may have never been aware of like fogging the inside of the glasses, how big your cranial circumference is, and even how far apart your eyes are from one another. These all affect VR and your enjoyment of it.
This week Lost Treasures of Gaming had Lorne Lanning of Oddworld Inhabitants on to discuss the series of Oddworld games. Fred goes into a little background of each before delving right into the first couple of levels in Oddworld Munch’s Oddysey HD on the Playstation 3.
You can find the Lost Treasures of Gaming podcast at http://omgnexus.com.
One of the most innovative hybrids between a stealth game, a puzzle game, and a shooter are the Hitman titles. Born on PC from a group of Danish developers with an interesting past, IO Interactive introduced a polarizing title that both intrigued and frustrated before moving to consoles. This week Fred and Jam look into the origins of developer IO Interactive and the thought-provoking Hitman series it created.
This is an article that is going live simultaneously on Gaming History 101 and The B-Team Podcast as the topic is applicable to both. This was based on a conversation started on B-Team Episode 354 and continued without me on Episode 355 with Chip and Ryan. It regards the news from Microsoft’s Spring Event regarding Xbox One and Windows 10 gaming (this link provides a VR 360 video of the whole 30 minute announcement and was the only video I could still find of the actual Phil Spencer speech). Once the event ended, everyone wanted to chime in on what this means for Xbox One (the “updated hardware” announcement), Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps instead of Win32 (.exe) programs, and just what the heck Microsoft is planning. This also led to a series of articles rightfully criticizing many of Microsoft’s claims about PC gaming. Professional acquaintance Jason Evangelho did a great piece dissecting it on Forbes, Tim Sweeny (co-founder of Epic Games) flat out wants us to fight UWP, and Peter “Durante” Thoman (the modder responsible for the DSfix on Dark Souls PC and overall fixer of broken PC ports) explains how UWP renders many of the tweaks/mods PC gamers go to the platform for completely impossible. With all the discussion, I figured I would break it down for you and explain why I think that the future can exist with consoles, UWP, and PC games, but they all need each other.
What Was at the Microsoft Spring Showcase
Phil Spencer, head of Xbox at Microsoft, took to the stage to make the content-filled half hour presentation. For the record, I like Spencer and feel he is not only good for Microsoft but also the industry as a whole. That doesn’t mean he can avoid the corporate overlords above him or that he can spill the beans to the public outright, but that he probably knows what the masses are going to say. He also has legacy on his side. In the last 2-3 years we’ve seen the public scorn digital content, attack Microsoft’s disc-less future to the point that it reversed its decision only to read countless opinion pieces asking for it back, and even recently Microsoft announced it would add cross-platform play with PC/PS4 as well as look into “loaning” digital games. This isn’t new, kids, it’s something Microsoft led this console generation with, but the public wasn’t ready…until now?
The focal point of the presentation were the goals of Windows 10 as a PC gaming platform, the bright future for Xbox One hardware/software, and how the two may work in tandem. I already know that last sentence is enough to get some people heated and opinionated so just let that soak for a minute. Of the efforts we heard about plenty of games that were previous Xbox One exclusives hitting Windows 10, Windows 10 getting some proprietary ports as the process of Xbox One/Windows 10 games is streamlined, and a potential upgraded hardware future for Xbox One. If this doesn’t fill you with more questions then this is for you because it not only dissects what this could mean (Microsoft has been its typical vague self since the Showcase) but what I think about it.
Capcom really has been trying to do a make good with its long term fans even if that make good is them just re-releasing all their old games. With the recently released Devil May Cry 4 HD Remaster, Mega Man Legacy collection, and heck there is even talk the Onimusha series might make a comeback (yes please), Capcom has now pulled a Final Fantasy 7 announcement and revealed that it’s remaking Resident Evil 2. Arguably one of my favourite games of all time, this is the title that got me hooked to the series back on the original Playstation. I’m certainly excited for the project and this article covers what I’d like to see from the release. Keep in mind a lot of this “wish list” is completely barmy and probably won’t happen but hey one can dream.
The story is basically finished, the seemingly adaptable Coleco Chameleon, known formerly as the Retro VGS, is no more. We’ve already covered the topic quite a bit here, so I’ll just briefly mention that you can read about the history and my opinions of the console here, Jam and I took the concepts of the console and historically dissected them in a podcast here, and as of a press release yesterday on Engadget Coleco has pulled its name from the console. The reason this is the end of the road for the console has really little to do with Coleco pulling its name and rather why the company chose to do so.
As allegations were being thrown out left and right that the 2016 Toy Fair console showed off was nothing more than an SNES Jr. in an Atari Jaguar shell and the later revealed prototype model was proven to be a PCI capture card in a Jaguar shell, Coleco rightfully wanted proof that this device prototype actually existed. Not only did Coleco want to know, but Kickstarter flat out requires that you have a working prototype before you can post on the fundraising site these days. Coleco was fair in asking Retro VGS, the company behind the hardware, to present it a working prototype – as the company had previously contested they had – in order to keep the Coleco name. Yesterday marked the one week deadline and Coleco pulled the name because it still had yet to see a working prototype. That is the smoking gun. Not that it matters, but Atari has also followed-up to announce that they never had an agreement with Kennedy, Retro VGS, or the Chameleon to ever put any Atari games on the console either (source is in the same Engadget article above).
Overnight there was apparently a craze regarding 3DNes, a project capable of re-living your favorite NES games in a browser and now in 3D. This isn’t those 3D games that appear on the 3DS either, it’s a seemingly re-rendered version of the game to support depth (or volume). Originally this is what I imagined voxels (volumetric pixels) to look like and it’s somewhat like the aesthetic of 3D Dot Game Heroes but in your favorite NES games. In order to play you need to be on the 64-bit version of Mozilla’s Firefox web browser, have the NES rom you want to play uploaded to a linked location online (they recommend cloud storage), and you can only play online. A downloadable version will be available soon.
It’s super cool to see these classics with new life in 3DNes and while I messed around with it a little, I have to admit I would probably prefer a downloadable version. You are welcome to head on over to the developer, Geod Studio’s site and play around with it yourself or merely watch the video at the top of the page. Now you’re playing with 3D power.
This is probably my most anticipated game of 2016. A new game for the Wonder Boy, well its spiritual successor. The latest trailer for Monster Boy looks like a love letter to Wonder Boy III: The Dragons Trap by featuring animal transformations in the game. Inspiration and love from both Wonder Boy in Monster Land and Wonder Boy in Monster World by featuring the infamous merchant sections from Land. It was interesting to see the trailer features animated cutscenes which look kinda cute. The developers have been allowed to practically mimic the formula made famous by the Wonder Boy series, Sega just didn’t want to give up the name for some reason. I guess Sega’s just going to sit on that IP and do nothing with it while other developers work around them, thanks Sega stay classy.
Interesting to note the game is going to be released to PS4, Xbox One, and PC but it has been rumoured the game will come to Wii U and PS Vita if the game does well. Not only would I love for this game to come to a portable device but I want Sega to release a complete Wonder Boy Collection. We were fortunate enough to get a Wonder Boy Collection of three games on PC, Xbox 360 and PS3 but there are still several games on the series that very much need a re release. Wonder Boy III: The Dragons Trap one of the best Sega Master System (and Game Gear) games for the system can only be found on the original Wiis virtual console which is quite disappointing. The only glimmer of hope is Monster Boy sells 40 billion copies and Sega at least considers releasing the old games. But I guess I’ll keep dreaming.
At the end of the day I’m hugely excited for Monster Boy. Hopefully the game will do well and we will see ports to other consoles but more importantly I want to see sequels. I want more games like this and hopefully it will encourage more developers to attempt to bring back for forgotten gems from the past, even if they can’t use the name. If you can’t call it Kid Chameleon call it Power Helmets ….. anyone buy that?