Nintendo Labo – DIY with Toy-Cons

Moment of silence for all of my predictions in the last entry as this announcement definitely came out of left field. The trailer for Nintendo Labo was just released and from what I can gather it appears to be separate DIY kits made out of cardboard that you can purchase alongside a game and with the Joy-Cons somehow use these creations as ways to interact with the game. I’m not gonna lie, this looks really cool. I’m not sure if it’s really my thing just yet, but I’m going to keep an eye on it either way. I could really imagine kids would love something like this.

The price point for the kits seemed a little steep as the “Toy-Con 1” kit is listed at $69,99 along with the “Toy-Con 2” kit priced at $79,99, but maybe it’ll take off. Who knows? It appears you can also purchase stickers and other items to further stylize your creations. Either way, I’m interested to see how this will be further implemented and more information would be appreciated so I hope they divulge further details sooner than later.

What do you think about Nintendo Labo? Did the announcement meet your expectations?

 

Nintendo Switch “Interactive Experience” Announcement

So apparently in a few hours from now Nintendo is announcing a “new interactive experience for Nintendo Switch that’s specifically crafted for kids and kids at heart.” which is interesting. Initially I thought of either Animal Crossing or a Pokemon variant like Pokemon GO, but it could easily be a stand-alone peripheral so I’m honestly not sure what to expect. Maybe something that pertains to Amiibo functionality.

The game designer behind Animal Crossing: New Leaf retweeted Nintendo’s announcement, so that could either be foreshadowing or a red herring. However, if it’s an accessory of sorts a game announcement isn’t guaranteed.

I find the “specifically crafted for kids” bit to be intriguing as Nintendo seems to have strayed from that demographic a bit with the Switch, so this could be an effort to seize as many demographics as possible by homing in on as many as possible. It’s also what made me initially think of Pokemon and Animal Crossing, as they both fit that description quite well.

Either way my interest is peaked, though I’m still a bit wary as once the Nintendo hype train goes full force it takes quite a bit to stop it. Once the announcement is out, I’ll update with another entry.

 

 

 

Thoughts On The Nintendo Direct Mini

As it turned out, the hype over a potential Direct was not unfounded as last Thursday we were treated to a surprise Nintendo Direct mini which was just dropped out of nowhere. It wasn’t a live stream this time around, so it took some slick maneuvering on my end to get to the video without having the contents of it spoiled before watching it.

That being said, I was quite pleased with the announcements especially since I wasn’t expecting a whole lot from a Direct mini. The Dark Souls: Remastered reveal was great, even though I was a little peeved we didn’t get to see any gameplay yet. As someone who hasn’t played past the first hour mark of the first entry in the series I’m vastly looking forward to it. In retrospect, all those cryptic tweets from the different publishers alongside Nintendo were likely referring to the bonfires used as checkpoints in the game as a little tease before the Direct. Hopefully this means we’ll get the other two installments later on down the line.

I got the Mario Odysssey DLC prediction right in an older entry, but the contents of it were something I wouldn’t have guessed in a million years. It’s a mini-game of sorts given to you by Luigi where you scatter a balloon around a kingdom of your choice in a set time limit and then another player has to try and find it. I found the concept quite intriguing, although I definitely think a lot of people got let down when they saw Luigi in the beginning just for him to be the NPC that runs the mini-game. I look forward to see how the internet will ruin this one like they did with the jump-rope leaderboards.

The Mario Tennis announcement was highly unexpected, at least for me. I’ve never played any of the Mario Tennis games, but this one looked really nice. The inclusion of a story mode was something I definitely wasn’t prepared for, and it ever so slightly raises my hopes for a proper Paper Mario sequel at some point in the Switch’s lifecycle.

Kirby Star Allies is looking better and better, and even though I’m not that into Kirby this entry may change my mind on that regard a bit.

Regarding Nindies, Fe looked really stunning and I’m anxious to play it. Had a little bit of that Unravel vibe to it. I was little unsure regarding Climb Mountains In Celeste, so I’m going to wait on it and see what the overall reception for it is.

Now on to the ports, and there were quite a few. Hyrule Warriors is getting a definitive edition which I’m sure quite a few people are amped up for. The World Ends With You is getting ported, which originally was a Nintendo DS title. I honestly hadn’t heard of it prior, but surprisingly it seems to have quite a decent following so I might be tempted to try it out once it releases.

Most of all I’m really psyched for the Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze port as I never played it on the Wii U. I always thought it looked really neat, and I’d hear people sing its praises a lot so I’m definitely looking forward to its release. The inclusion of Funky Kong as a character initially confused me as I thought he was very broken until I realized later on that he’s pretty much an “Easy Mode” setting for people that aren’t very used to playing games. So that’s a thoughtful addition for players that need it.

All in all, for a Nintendo Direct Mini this was quite jam-packed with some exciting announcements. This might even indicate a full-fledged Direct in the near future as they tend to follow the Minis. I could see a lot of people being a tad disappointed after seeing the rumors that amassed during the days that led up to it, but personally I expected less so I guess that helps.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Why Would You Watch Someone Play A Game?”

Today I’d like to discuss a common opinion I’ve noticed that has been expressed a fair bit that I’d like to take the time to provide an adequate response to. There’s a notion that watching other people play games is deemed somewhat pointless when one could simply play the game themselves. I’d like to explain the logic behind why I enjoy watching other people play certain games as opposed to playing it myself.

When you watch people like PewDiePie or GameGrumps, you tend to watch it due to the fact that you enjoy the vibrant personalities of the individuals playing the game. It’s fun to see their reactions to in-game events or make jokes bouncing off the dialogue. I especially find this to be the case when someone plays something that you’ve already played through before.

Then there are speedrunners that train and work to perfect their craft in order to get the best times possible and often convey to the viewer how they pull off their exploits in a fashion that is quite mesmerizing. There’s something truly fascinating when watching a speedrun take place considering all of the variables involved and it makes for quality entertainment as you root for the person playing.

eSports are getting increasingly popular with time as well, and I feel like people get just as invested in match-ups from professional eSports teams as they would for general sporting events like World Cups and whatnot. I don’t see it being much different from watching a Soccer game instead of playing it yourself.

Interactivity is a big part of it too, I believe. Live streams especially are very efficient when it comes to this as viewers can chat with the person playing and it feels as though you’re directly involved in the course of events in some way just by being present and socializing. Donating can get a message of your choice displayed for everyone to see and you can be responsible for clipping certain moments during the stream.

Going back to the general Let’s Play topic at hand, I feel like watching a playthrough is somewhat reminiscent of playing a game with a friend. You both sit there and crack jokes and have a great time, and you don’t always have your friends around so I feel as though LP’s make a good substitute for that in a way. Especially with the varying dynamics of the people playing. Sometimes different personalities have crossovers and it makes for diverse content and can set a completely different mood for a playthrough, and that variation makes for some interesting moments when watching people play games.

Overall, I’d answer the following question with “Why does it matter?”. How you decide to dedicate your time is up to you entirely and watching someone play a game isn’t any different from “reading” an audiobook or “playing” a sports simulation. What you get from the experience is what’s important, so as long as you’re enjoying yourself it shouldn’t really make a difference.

 

 

Petscop: The Game From 1997 That Doesn’t Exist

Petscop 1.1.png

Apparently I’m pretty late on this one as it initially started in March 2017, but when I discovered Petscop yesterday I knew I had to write about it.

If you’ve sat up at 3 AM reading creepypastas about obscure games being found at yard sales that may or may not be haunted Petscop might be right up your ally as that’s pretty much what this is in video form. There are subtle elements shared between these mediums, albeit without reaching the “hyper realism” level of absurdity that creepypastas tend to end up on by turning everything up to eleven in an attempt to scare the reader.

Petscop is an ongoing webseries revolving around a teenager named Paul who is playing a fictional PS1 game he received as a Christmas present in a blind Let’s Play format. His playthrough starts off innocently enough as footage he made for a friend in order to document the game, but for reasons still largely unknown as of yet he’s pretty much forced against his will to keep playing and recording footage of it for an audience to see. Clues are scattered all throughout this series in the form of single frame occurrences, odd sound cues and cryptic dialogue intended for the viewers to pick apart and attempt to piece together the full story with.  I won’t give away a lot of plot details, but let me tell you it gets pretty intense later on. The storyline delves into very dark themes, and is certainly intended for a mature audience so keep that in mind.

Petscop 2.png

Dispite only discovering it, I’ve binged watched the entire thing (12 episodes as of writing this piece) and it’s quite unbelievable how well all these elements mesh together in order to make a compelling, but very disturbing narrative.

First off, there’s the fact that the game looks so authentic. It really taps into the whole bizzarro world factor many old PS1 games share with their low resolution graphics and limited draw distance that ups the creepy factor on its own. Dispite likely not being a complete playable game they intend to release once the series is over, someone has actually programmed this to function properly for the scenes required and gone to some lengths to make it as true to our childhood as they possibly could.

Secondly, the horror element is done just right in my opinion. Besides intentional cheesiness meant to replicate that of an actual Let’s Play, nothing is really over the top. At times it even comes off of as slightly mundane, but it’s the feeling of uncertainty and not knowing what to expect that keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout. While I’m on the topic, the sound design is phenomenal. There are in-game noises for footsteps, dialogue prompts and picking up collectibles that really adds to the immersion and builds the atmosphere of the in-game world in a way that is very unique to this series.

Lastly, there’s Paul himself. As a protagonist he’s definitely charismatic enough to lead the series and his performance throughout is highly believable. His jump cuts and occasional stutters lend well to the idea that he’s recording himself playing a game. There’s even certain points where he leaves the footage on when he’s not present in order to experiment with game progression. His reactions are quite subdued, which  compliments the games subtle nature nicely and makes him very complex and well-rounded as you ponder what role he plays in the bigger picture and how he ties into the main narrative.

Overall, I’d definitely recommend Petscope to anyone who is a fan of video game creepypastas but doesn’t mind a series that gradually builds up the horror aspects. It’s a slow burner for sure, but one that I think will be remembered quite fondly with time. Especially among those who have a form of attachment to the PS1 era of games and are familiar with the presentation of Let’s Plays from its origin point and beyond. If this series was available for purchase, I’d buy it in a heartbeat.

 

 

5 Things The Switch Might See In 2018

nintendo-direct-logo

I can feel it in the air. I can almost sense a January Nintendo Direct announcement being tweeted out by Nintendo in the next few days. Of course, I could be wrong but it’s just the feeling I’ve gotten as of late.

As you may have heard by now, the Nintendo Switch just became the worlds fastest selling video game console ever and considering the sales of the Wii that is truly something else. Nintendo has just been knocking it out of the park with the Switch throughout 2017 with game release after game release, giving consumers little to no excuse to not own one. Especially after the flop of the Wii U, the first year line-up for the Switch was a breath of (the wild) fresh air for Nintendo fans all around. However, I’ll spare you the nitty gritty details of the first year as that’s something I plan to tackle in a separate entry.

What I intend to do for this piece is compile a list of things I expect from Nintendo in 2018. I’m going to do my best to keep my expectations as realistic as possible.

 

5. More Wii U ports to the Switch

 

smash-switch-1056856

I know a lot of people might deem this option to be the lazy route for Nintendo to take, but I think it would be very smart as well. The downfall of the Wii U can be deemed a blessing and a curse in that they’re still sitting on quite a few finished Wii U games that could be highly successful on the Switch.

The titles I’m mainly referring to are Super Smash Bros U, Super Mario Maker and Wind Waker HD. I think all three of these titles could heavily benefit from being on the Switch. Don’t get me wrong, I’m evidentally not expecting all three of them to just be announced during the course of 2018 but I am expecting at least one of them to be ported over this year. I feel as though that’s a realistic expectation.

I feel like porting any of these titles would pad out the development time for the creators hard at work on the new Switch titles.

4. Introduction of the paid online service alongside Virtual Console implementation

Nintendo-Switch-Online-Cost.png

I mean, you could argue this is hardly speculation worthy since Nintendo has officially confirmed that the launch of the paid online service is slated for 2018. That being said, I think this will mark the point in which Virtual Console titles will be integrated with the eShop as well.

However you put it, Nintendo intentionally withheld Virtual Console titles for some reason. In my opinion, this is either because they want to re-work them to function differently from their 3DS, Wii and Wii U counter-parts or because they didn’t want them to outshine indie and third-party titles in the eShop and instead opted to introduce them at a later date in order to coincide with the paid online service. How they plan to implement VC with the service remains to be seen, as they could either go the PS+ route or something akin to a Netflix subscription and both are equally enticing.

I do expect there could be more delays in the horizon for this monthly service, but I don’t think Nintendo will drag it out past 2018.

 

3. Fleshing out the bare-bones aspects of the Switch

nintendo-switch-3061237_960_720

I’m hoping Nintendo will introduce Cloud Saves sooner than later, and I’m banking on that this will be the year. Other additions such as themes and a functional internet browser aren’t as expected in my opinion, but would be appreciated regardless.

Hulu was recently added (come to Sweden, you’re past due) which opens up hope for future streaming services like Netflix or HBO.

I think the Switch will receive various UI overhauls during the year, and hopefully that’ll apply to the eShop as well.

2. Super Mario Odyssey DLC

DNKFNYHV4AEqAev.jpg

I definitely find this plausible, seeing as Breath Of The Wild had two DLC expansions released in the span of the same year. They could provide us with new worlds to explore, maybe even a throwback to Delfino Plaza from Sunshine. Either way, I think this is more than just a pipe-dream, so unless they plan to save all the goodies for the inevitable Super Mario Odyssey 2 then I could easily see some more worlds being added in for DLC in the later part of the year.

1. A lot of third-party announcements

IMG_4215[1]

Now that the initial third party games such as Skyrim, DOOM, Rocket League, LA Noire etc have been introduced I think now is the time that the floodgates will open in terms of third party developers announcing content for the Switch. Bethesda was faithful from the very beginning and it paid back in spades. I could easily see them porting other previously released games like one of the Fallout titles in the future, but not necessarily this year.

That being said, I think there’s enough trust in the Switch now for developers to hold off any longer from producing titles for it and I could easily see 2018 filled with quality ports and new releases from third party developers all across the board.

Recently a Brazilian retailer listed a remaster of Burnout Paradise for the PS4, which was also slated for the Switch. I think that announcement will come forth in due time as well.

I can’t tell you what titles as of yet, but I can say with reasonable confidence that I think this year will be a doozy for third party releases.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LSD Revamped [Fangame]

While on the topic of LSD: Dream Emulator, I feel like highlighting a work in progress fangame that in my opinion is deserving of its own entry.

46475-wc8t2jtt-v3.jpg

LSD Revamped is a love-letter to LSD: Dream Emulator that has been an ongoing project for a while now. Serving as his introduction to game design and the Unity engine, a user going by the alias of Figglewatts has been working on LSD Revamped since 2011 and is still actively developing it to this day in hopes of recreating the original as faithfully as possible (minus the soundtrack) which alone is already an ambitious feat. However, Figglewatts intends to take it even further by implementing Oculus support, mod support, texture packs, and a complete SDK for players to mess around with. Imagine making your very own dreamscapes.

tumblr_nqcz58cTTg1r4c0opo1_1280

A playable alpha for this game was released three years ago and is pretty bare-bones, but very impressive on its own regardless. It even features modern FPS mouse controls as an option. It’s still available for download if you want to see it in action for yourself, just don’t go expecting a fully featured game.

You might already be aware of the existence of this game if you read the full interview by the programmer of LSD Osamu Sato which I linked to in the previous entry as he acknowledges it with the following statement.

“Now there’s even some guy who has taken it upon himself to revamp LSD and make it run on the PC. All on his own, of course. Without anyone’s permission. He shouldn’t be doing it, but I sympathize with his efforts.

So you’ve got guys like him, and then there are others taking images [from LSD] and putting them on hoodies and selling them. Or guys putting the soundtrack on cassette and making their own designs for it and selling them, tons of guys like that. And these guys will come and try to post the stuff made on my Facebook. Pretty crazy, huh? They aren’t considering the copyrights or anything at all.”

 

2014-10-30_002

There are legality concerns that arise with this project, and I truly hope it doesn’t end up getting taken down in the end as I feel like this guy has really been putting his heart and soul into making this game as true to the original as possible. I’ve been following his blog updates, and he has as of late even managed to reverse engineer bits of the original game in order to add authenticity to the final product. Now that’s true dedication. If you’re interested in seeing his updates for yourself, I’d advise checking out his development blog for updates. You can even send in questions. He takes hiatuses every now and again, but always comes back with really insightful updates. They make for really good reads. Either way I’m eagerly looking forward to the next release of this project, and will likely make another write-up dedicated to it once it’s released.