By: Andrew Lister
Welcome to the next installment of a new article series, Tuesday Top Five! From time to time I'll be coming up with a Top 5 spanning a number of geeky topics. This week I'm passing the time isolated inside during this bleak Midwestern winter with a final Final Fantasy article counting down my favorite Final Fantasy villains.
What's a story without good antagonists? Final Fantasy is known for its epic storytelling. It's a world of magic and monsters, of epic heroes and vile evil-doers. This tried and true formula has always made for some memorable moments in gaming.
For this article, I want to focus on the key villains from the series' history. I'm not picking smaller bosses or monsters and instead focusing on key antagonists. Those on this list may not always be the end baddie, but they stand in the way of the party in some substantial way throughout the story.
As always, I want to know your own favorite villains, so be sure to leave yours in the comments section below!
Check out this week's Top Five by clicking below!
By: Andrew Lister
A massive blow has been struck to Nintendo fans around the world as this morning we have learned that Nintendo has gone back to the drawing board and scrapped their development work on the much anticipated Metroid Prime 4 for the Nintendo Switch.
At 7 am CST, Shinya Takahashi, the General Manager for Entertainment Planning & Development at Nintendo, released a three minute message via Nintendo's YouTube Channel concerning the future of Metroid Prime 4 on Nintendo Switch. During the video, Takahashi had the following to say:
[W]e must let you know that the current development progress has not reached the standards we seek in a sequel to the Metroid Prime series. Nintendo always strives for the highest quality in our games; and in the development phase, we challenge ourselves and confront whether the game is living up to that quality on a daily basis. If we're not satisfied with the quality, we aren't able to deliver it to our customers with confidence, and the game will not live up to our fans' expectations.
Takahashi goes on to state that they have removed the game from the hands of the original development team at Bandai Namco and will instead be completely scrapped and rebuilt from the ground up under the watch of Retro Studios. As many Nintendo fans may know, Retro is best known for their work on the original Metroid Prime games as well their development of impressive entries in the Donkey Kong series.
The last time we heard anything about Metroid Prime 4 was a brief teaser trailer at Nintendo's E3 presentation. Things have been radio silent since then, and today's reveal finally offers us some answers to why that might have been the case.
While this will certainly be a major disappointment to many Nintendo fans, we now at least have some idea as to why we haven't heard much in the past year and a half on this widely anticipated title. Even though this means we may not see the game until 2020 or beyond, it does mean that we will be assured a game worthy of following in the shoes of the previous games in the series and not receive a game akin to Metroid Other M, the last console release for the series that was panned for its subpar gameplay and questionable narrative choices.
What are your thoughts on this bombshell announcement concerning Metroid Prime 4? Do you think this was the right decision, or are you disappointed at the inevitable delay of one of the most anticipated games of this generation? Let us know in the comments below or on our Discord!
By: Andrew Lister
Welcome to the latest installment of Tuesday Top Five! From time to time I'll be coming up with a Top 5 spanning a number of geeky topics. This week I'm tackling the upcoming Nintendo Direct presentation and what I'd most like to see revealed!
Last September, Nintendo released a Direct presentation that outlined key releases for 2017, including more information regarding games like Super Mario Odyssey and Xenoblade Chronicles 2. To accompany the big event, I provided my own predictions. I was correct about some of them (minus the inclusion of media apps), but last year I focused on safe bets. This time around, I'm going to go out on a limb and predict the top five things that I would like more than anything from this month's upcoming Nintendo Direct.
Nintendo fans know that the Direct was delayed due to the unfortunate earthquake that took place in Hokkaido, Japan. Because of the delay, many announcements that were meant to be revealed in the Direct have already come to light. I'll not address any of those in my own predictions.
Check out this week's Tuesday Top 5 by clicking the link below!
By: Andrew Lister
Anyone who knows me understands that I'm not an XBox fanboy. I was raised in the age of Nintendo, and I spent much of my later years playing on PC and Playstation consoles. That said, I do pay attention to what Microsoft puts together for their E3 presentation each year, and there are normally a number of positive things that come out of it.
Last year Microsoft unveiled the XBox One X, the most powerful non-PC gaming machine out there. Even though it had a confusing name and was marketed with buzzwords like teraflops (I'm still not sure what that means), it was clearly a console that was capable of producing the best graphics and game play of The Big Three.
This year Microsoft had a lot to prove. Despite having the most powerful gaming console on the market, the games just weren't there to support spending $500 on a suped up version of the original XBox One. Microsoft exclusive titles have been few and far between, and the ones they did recently release, such as Sea of Thieves, have been met with harsh criticisms.
In short, their rivals Sony and Nintendo came into this conference already touting a large number of exclusive games, and Microsoft desperately needed to catch up.
And boy did they play catch up this year. During Microsoft's press conference on Sunday, June 10th, they not only revealed a whole slew of games exclusive to the XBox and PC brand, but they also showed off world premiere trailers for a number of multi-platform games.
You see, going into the show, Sony stated they would focus on a much smaller number of games, including the new Spiderman, Death Stranding, and The Last of Us 2. This means that other major gaming companies had to find a place to announce new information about their upcoming games.
This is where Microsoft came in used their nearly two hours to show the world game after game after game, and they did more than just show us the expected new Halo and Gears of War titles. We received a wide variety of information on new games, from smaller publishers to major ones, from first person shooters to JRPGs.
Below are a number of games debuted or expanded upon at Microsoft's press conference that really made this the best year for Microsoft at E3 yet. Keep in mind that my list can't cover everything shown, so if you want to a full rundown of what was shown, go watch the conference for yourself.
Halo Infinite & Gears 5
I don't have a lot to say about either of these two franchises, but I feel that I'd get a ton of hate if I didn't at least mention them right off the bat. I've never been one for first person shooters in general, and I've only played a small amount of the original Halo a long, long time ago. Despite this, I understand how monumentally popular the Halo franchise is for its fan base and for the XBox.
I won't even begin to understand what was going on in the actual trailer for Halo Infinite, but I'm sure it will be something the fans will enjoy. Microsoft puts a lot of effort into those games, knowing that it's one of their core franchises.
Speaking of core franchises, we saw not one, not two, but three new games in the Gears of War series. Among them, strangely enough, was a weird mobile game that blends the world of Gears and the marketing Juggernaut of Funko Pop. Yeah, there's going to be a new Gears of War with Funko Pop characters, soulless black eyes and all.
What elicited the biggest pop (pun intended) of the entire show was a lengthy trailer for the brand new Gears 5 game, which seems to take the game in a much different direction. This time around you'll play as Kait Diaz, who breaks from her companions to take on a journey of her own. The graphics, as expected, looked amazing with gorgeous renderings of much more lively natural environments. I won't be playing it, but judging from the trailer and the reactions of the crowd, Microsoft is going all in on the Gears series going forward.
Hours before Bethesda took the stage in their own conference, Todd Howard showed up on Microsoft's stage to give Fallout fans like myself more information on their upcoming game Fallout 76. This game was recently revealed on a unique Twitch stream that spanned more than a day of fans watching a Vauly Boy statue and waiting for whatever announcement was to come.
So in a bold move, Bethesda showed off yet another trailer at Microsoft rather than wait until their own E3 conference. When you think about it, it's actually pretty smart as Howard was able to playfully remind the crowd that they had their own show across the street later that day, and I'm sure we'll get even more information about Fallout 76 there as well.
During the introduction and the trailer, we found out that the new Fallout game is indeed the earliest setting for the entire series and will take place in West Virginia. We also were told that the world of Fallout 76 was going to be four times larger than that of Fallout 4. Let that sink in for a moment. Four. Times. Larger.
The central idea of the story is to colonize and give the world a fresh start. Aside from that, there are still a lot of unanswered questions at this time. Is the game going to be cooperative as it rumored? Will it be influenced by survival games like Rust? I guess we'll have to wait and see.
Kingdom Hearts 3
Not only did Microsoft get to show another brand new trailer for the much awaited Kingdom Hearts, but they got to gloat that the game would be making its way for the first time onto the XBox.
I've only played the first game, and the amount of lore makes my head spin when I try to wrap my brain around what's actually going on. However, this trailer did show off a number of new Disney properties that are now going to be part of the main story. Among those worlds that Sora and company will visit are the winter wonderland of Frozen, Andy's bedroom in Toy Story, and outside of the tower in Tangled.
Things have come a long way for Square Enix, who once only published their biggest works on the Sony Playstation. Getting Kingdom Hearts on XBox and seeing the game with the highest possible graphics could be a selling point for more One Xs.
The Division 2, Devil May Cry 5, and Cyberpunk 2077
I could fill this article up with every single game that Microsoft debuted tonight, but then I'd be trying far into Bethesda's conference. Three more games I wanted to touch quickly upon are the brand new Tom Clancy game, the newest Devil May Cry title, and one of the coolest looking games ever, Cyberpunk 2077.
Again, I'm not a fan of shooters, and I've never played a single game with the Tom Clancy branding. However, after watching the trailer talking about the world being driven into another World War followed by really engrossing cooperative gameplay, I actually wanted to pick up an XBox controller and give this game a shot.
My buddy Josh from Tooning Japanese probably still has a massive hardon after seeing the video on the brand new Devil May Cry game. I don't know much about the series, but this looks like another blood-pumping action game that will feel right at home alongside the other games in the series.
And finally, there was Cyberpunk 2077, which closed the show. I don't want to even waste any words. Just watch the video below. Seriously. Do it.
That's it for now! What did you think of Microsoft's press conference? Leave your comments below or join our Discord, head to the Video Games channel, and strike up a conversation! I'll be back with more E3 coverage throughout the next week, so thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more coverage.
By: Andrew Lister
It's that time again: E3 is upon us once more! I'm going to try and throw out some of my biggest take-aways from this year's event, which spans the next six days.
Just like last year, EA kicked things off early with their press conference on Saturday, June 9th. I'll be completely up front before I delve into my thoughts on their conference. I'm not a fan of sports games, and a lot of what they have to offer falls under the categories of FIFA, Madden, and NBA Live. On top of that, their conference has some well known cringe-worthy moments, and this year was really not all that different.
As easy as it would be to bash on EA (Who isn't these days?), I want to instead focus on my favorite aspects of EA's conference each year: their independent developer partnerships. In 2016, EA revealed their EA Originals program, which is a partnership between their company with smaller independent game developers. The great thing is that EA doesn't take any money from these developers, but they do work alongside of these companies to provide them a much larger stage and resources to help develop their dream works.
My first experience with these EA Originals was a charming game titled Unravel. It was a 2D platformer staring an adorable little protagonist (Yarny) made entirely of yarn. I've played the game, and it's really a charming and surprisingly emotional experience.
This was followed up last year by a look at the cooperative game A Way Out. It's focus was on couch co-op, split-screen gameplay, where you and a friend needed to find a way out of prison and get back to your real life that was taken away from you. I haven't yet played this one, but the game has gotten a pretty positive response.
This year we were given a look at two different EA Originals games, one of which was a surprising sequel to an earlier Originals game, and the other an interesting look at social isolation and depression.
Unravel Two: Finding Your Spark With the Help of a Fiend
First, let's talk about Unravel 2. Yes, we are getting a sequel to the creative EA Original from just a few years back. The trailer they revealed shows our red and fuzzy protagonist Yarny lost at sea, where his thread snaps, and he loses his glowing spark. From there he washes up on shore, seemingly lost and depressed. Things look dark, but then out of a satchel comes yet another Yarny! This blue yarn dude with bigger, horn-like ears becomes your companion, and they combine the ends of their yarn before starting off on a brand new adventure.
Now that you and your new friend are attached to one another, you have a wide range of new abilities at your disposal, including pulling one another up onto ledges, tying your string to two different spots to create a trampoline, and helping one another swing over obstacles. This addition of a second player adds quite a bit of creativity to what might otherwise feel like yet another side-scrolling action game.
Now that we have two sentient yarn balls running around, you have two options for gameplay. Obviously, this opens up cooperative gaming with a friend, but you can also play the game on your own, utilizing both characters to navigate the many puzzles you'll come across. When playing on your own, you either combine the two into a Frankenstein-esque amalgamation to get from Point A to Point B. When you need to get through a specific area, you can take turns switching between both of the connected players.
This game looks like it will explore the themes of friendship and/or love and finding true happiness, and the much more visually-appealing and playful style will make for an intriguing way to explore these core ideas.
Sea of Solitude: Fighting Against the Darkness Within
A second EA Originals game was debuted that focuses on a very different tone and theme. Sea of Solitude (also known as SOS) is being developed by a small German gaming studio, Jo-Mei Games.
In this game, you play as a young woman that lives in a completely isolated, flooded world. The trailer shows you navigating an eerie environment in a small motorboat, but we also get the idea that the main character is actually some sort of monster herself, which is a manifestation of her depression and loneliness.
Personally, I've wanted to delve into games that personify parts of what it means to be human and things that people struggle with on a daily basis. Games like Night in the Woods and Celeste take heavy subject matter and explore it in very unique ways. This looks like a game that will follow in their footsteps and deliver a scary, enlightening experience.
What do you think of these two games? What stood out to you from the EA press conference? What are you most looking forward to during E3 2018? Leave your comments below or join our Discord, head to the Video Games channel, and strike up a conversation! I'll be back with more E3 coverage throughout the next week, so thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more coverage.
By: Andrew Lister
With E3 less than a month away, video game companies are ramping up the excitement before the show floor even opens. While Bethesda spent all day yesterday hyping up the brand new Fallout 76 on their bizarre and hilarious Twitch stream, the Pokemon Company and Nintendo have dropped a ton of new information overnight regarding the future of Pokemon. That future looks pretty awesome if you ask me.
Nintendo released a surprise announcement of not one, not two, but three brand new Pokemon games. The first, Pokemon Quest, is a fun pixel game that is free to download right now on your Nintendo Switch and on your phone next month. It's filled with micro-transactions, but if you play it in moderation, it's actually a pretty fun game you can enjoy for free! Thankfully, the other two games are things with a little more substance.
The most robust of the announcements came with a trailer for Pokemon: Let's Go, Pikachu/Eevee! Be sure to watch the trailer above before continuing as we're about to dive into my first impressions of what's been released thus far. Oh, and for fans freaking out about the seemingly less-deep experience of Let's Go, just know that Gen 8 is slated for release during the second half of 2019!
By: Andrew Lister
Nintendo has done it again. Just when you think they couldn't come up with yet another outside-the-box concept (pun totally intended), they release a very strange, yet really impressive idea upon the world.
That idea is Labo. Stupid name aside, Labo turns toward engineering and the world of edutainment to create a brand new experience that pairs elaborate cardboard creations with the Nintendo Switch.
Yeah, you read that correctly. Nintendo is producing a series of cardboard diagrams that you put together to play video games in completely different and creative ways.
How creative, you ask? Well, during the trailer we saw the creation of a working cardboard piano, fishing rod, motorbike handlebars, camera, and remote-controlled robots. And that's not even mentioning the super cool VR-esque robot get-up that allows a child to literally play a game as a Transformer.
At first, you might ask yourself, "Is Nintendo really trying to sell us cardboard?" Yes, they certainly are. However, Labo is far more than just cardboard. It's an opportunity for kids to use their imaginations and do something different and more active both with their bodies and their minds. Video games are often looked down upon for their sedentary nature; they are blamed as negative influences. This flips the script completely and will fuel young minds toward engineering and figuring out how things work and are made.
And let's make an aspect of that perfectly clear: Nintendo said ahead of the announcement that this was something "crafted for kids and those who are kids at heart." This wasn't something meant for adults or hardcore gamers, and that's completely fine! Also, I totally see what you did there, Nintendo. "Crafted" for kids, eh?
So how exactly does all this work? Well, Nintendo's Joy-Con controllers not only have built in HD rumble, but the bottom of the right Joy-Con includes an IR sensor. Put simply, it is advanced technology that can determine distance and detect the shapes of objects. It's a feature that has been underutilized up until this point, but now it can be used in a number of really unique ways.
For example, the Labo piano works by inserting the Joy-Con with the sensor facing inside the box. When you press a key, the reflective tape on the keys are picked up by the controller and then transferred directly to the system, which plays the note. You can even add in filters that change the sounds made on your Switch, providing different ways to play music.
Nintendo Labo launches on April 20th, and you can pick up two different Toy-Con packs (a genius name, by the way). The first pack is a collection of five different creations: RC cars, fishing rod, house, motorbike, and piano; the second one is the complete and complex robot kit. The set of five will sell for $69.99, and the robot kit will be $79.99. Not only do you get the cardboard kits, but you get a physical copy of the gaming software.
While this may not be something for everyone, I commend whoever at Nintendo cooked up this crazy idea. This project screams Nintendo and showcases the company's continued innovation beyond its competition. Instead of chasing Sony and Microsoft to 4K and VR, they consistently change the definition of what it means to be a gamer and what their hardware can do. I hope these sell well, and I'm looking forward to what else might come out of their secret Lab...o.
By: Andrew Lister
It's hard to deny that 2017 was easily Nintendo's greatest year ever. The launch of the fastest-selling console in US history, the Nintendo Switch, brought the company that Mario built back from the brink of collapse after the Wii U years. It's not just the dual nature of the console, but the release of games like Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey sent sales to the moon and back (pun intended). On top of that, they released a number of other amazing games and even managed to make the SNES Classic easier to find.
So where does Nintendo go from here? How could they follow up such a landmark year? What games will drop throughout 2018?
Fans wouldn't have to wait long because on January 11th, Nintendo dropped a surprise Nintendo Direct Mini, a 14 1/2 minute barrage of previews leading into the start of the new year.
Before we dig into my impressions, I do have to note how strange the days leading up to this Direct really were. A ridiculous number of leaks and rumors flooded the internet weeks before this Direct, and instead of confirming that a new Direct was indeed on its way, Nintendo decided to troll their fan base a bit. Rather than tweet out a date, they sent out cryptic images, such as Chibi Robo engulfed in flames and other bizarre retweets. Other companies got on board, too, sending their own fire-based images, and the internet was left puzzled and amused.
So with the Direct Mini out, let's talk about some of my overall impressions. As always, feel free to leave your own thoughts in the comments below or discuss all things Nintendo on our Discord channel! Click the link below to get started!
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