The STEAM Summer Sale Is Here And We Are Hyped

[Featured image courtesy of Steam]

With the turn of the season comes many great things: fireflies, late sunsets, sweaty shirts, bright days. However, for those of us who value our ultra-bright skin, summer also brings a hit to our wallets. The Steam summer sale has hit, and boy is it exciting!

Gaming is as individual as eye color: there are only a few variations. No…wait no, let me try that again. Gaming is as individual as hair style: everybody has their own preferences, and some may strike others as weird. Heck, some days I might opt for a simple ponytail (Pokémon Snap), while others I might want Dutch braids into a braided bun (I don’t know, Overwatch?). The Steam sale gets a little bit of everything.

The staff here at SciFi4Me has shared some chatter about the sale ourselves. Here are some of our thoughts on what Steam has to offer!

Chris Jensen has his eye on Hollow Knight, Absolute Drift, and Space Fleet Gothic Armada. Dave Baker also has some wishlist items hitting the sale, including Steam favorites of Fallout 4, Dishonored 2, and Civ 6.

Dustin Gaito, whom you can catch on our Twitch channel every Wednesday evening and Saturday morning, said an awful lot of things. So much that I think he wrote more than I have here, and certainly more than my bank can handle. However, his single can’t miss opportunity in this Steam sale is Transistor, which is marked down to a near-criminal $2.99.

I face a budget shortage this year, but did pick up Don’t Starve Together, Transistor (on Dustin’s insistence), and Contrast. This, in addition to re-acquiring Heavy Rain for the change in my pocket at a garage sale, assures I’ll have some way to pass the time if the housework ever ends. Maybe this will be the push that gets me out of my Hatoful Boyfriend or Master of Orion II kicks I keep falling into!

The long story short, though, is that we’re hyped. We’re psyched. Pumped, even. Bottom line, this is not the sale to miss. Catch what you can from the Steam store while it lasts – after July 5th, these gems are back to full-price!




E3 2017: Nintendo’s Upcoming Games

This year at E3, Nintendo announced several new games for the Switch and 3DS. Let’s take a look at some of them.

First up, Super Mario Odyssey.

I really like the way this game looks. It looks to have fun game mechanics. I’ve got my copy pre-ordered!

 

Yoshi *working title*

I just love the way this game looks. The diorama look of the stages is adorable. It’s very much a side scroller as Yoshi walks on a defined track, but I will still buy this game.

 

Metroid Prime 4 (Switch) and Metroid: Samus Returns (3DS)

 

 

We didn’t get much for Metroid Prime 4 other then a title. So can’t say anything there. Metroid: Samus Returns looks decent, but I was never a fan of the Metroid series, so I don’t have much of an opinion there.

 

Sonic Forces

I’ve always liked Sonic games. This one has something unique to the franchise, you not only get to play as original and modern versions of Sonic, but you get to make your own Sonic Universe character with their own special abilities. This one might be worth a look.

Kirby

I will admit to never having played a Kirby game. This one looks good, you suck up bad guys or convert them into allies to help you out.

 

Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser’s Minions (3DS)

Mario & Luigi quest to return Peach’s voice. Bowser as also been kidnapped! Team up with Bowser’s minions to save everyone’s day.

 

Fire Emblem Warriors

I’m not really well versed in the Fire Emblem games, but I’m sure this will be a game that people will seek out.

Not only will we be getting these and other new games, but their will be new DLC for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of The Wild, with the first pack due out at the end of June.

 

So if you’re a fan of Nintendo, 2017-2018 may be your years.

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8Bits: Reactions to News from E3

So, the Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, has come and gone for 2017, and we got quite a few tidbits of news about upcoming games and new consoles.

Some of our gang of gamers are gathered around the table to discuss the latest from Bethesda, Microsoft, Atari — is that a new console they’re teasing? — Sony, Ubisoft, and the rest of the usual suspects.

Also: don’t forget to check out SciFi4Me TV.2 — our Twitch channel — where we’re expanding our live game play and inviting you into a new Dungeons & Dragons campaign every Monday night.

 

The panel: Jennifer Wise, Thomas Townley, Daniel Green

 




E3 2017: MICROSOFT Announces the XBOX ONE X Console

(All photos courtesy Microsoft)

At the 2017  Electronics Entertainment Expo, Microsoft announced that the much whispered about “Project Scorpio” next generation console will now be called the Xbox One X and that it will be in stores on November 7th, 2017 for $499.

It’s being billed as “The world’s most powerful console”.  It uses forty percent more power than any other console and will deliver 4K gaming when paired with a 4K display. It will even make your existing Xbox One library look better with better textures, smoother frame rates and faster load times, even when used with a 1080p TV. The Xbox One X also will offer a 4K Blu-Ray player, HDR support for gaming and video and support for Dolby Atmos.

The physical stats for the new machine are pretty impressive. The Xbox One X is smaller then its predecessor, the Xbox One S (30cm x 24cm x 6cm vs 29.5cm x 23cm x 6.5cm). It weighs 2 pounds more then the Xbox One S (8.4 lbs). A 2.3 GHz, 8 core CPU, a 1.172 Ghz GPU, 12 Gb of memory and an internal storage drive of 1TB.

A beautiful exploded view of the Xbox One X.

“Xbox empowers game developers large and small to create different types of games for every type of player,” Head of Xbox Phil Spencer said during the E3 debut. “Not only do we have the biggest cross-platform blockbusters on our platform, we’ve also scoured the world to bring our fans unique content from creative artists that capture the imagination.”
Gamers are certainly waiting in anticipation of this new generation console.




E3 2017: BETHESDA Hits The Ground Running

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E3 of recent years has been a little hit and miss for me, ranging from over-promising and under-performing to just failing to generate the excitement with the reveal. However, as Bethesda is one of the developers that definitely holds my heart tenderly in its great big scary claws, I’m pretty excited to see what they shell out for us at E3.

Now, I’m no rube, but in the interest of full disclosure, the last Bethesda game I think I’ve personally played, in recent months, was probably Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind or Oblivion; I like to stick with the classics. (Am I particularly proud of this fact? Not really. Don’t judge me. I have simulation sickness, come at me. But if you do, do it very steadily and in a linear fashion so I don’t get disoriented…)

I am, as usual, looking forward to anything else they are willing to add to Fallout, if for no other reason than my obsessive love for my friends’ love for that property. If I had a wishlist? RPG! Horror games! Virtual Reality beautiful enough that I regret giving my ex-boyfriend my VR gear! Most of all, though, I want to be as wowed as I was for Bethesda’s 2015 reveals.

10 seconds. Deep breath. Be cool, Jen.

Let’s go to Bethesdaland.

More than anything else on that wishlist up there, I am excited to see them open with virtual reality. This was, of course, pretty predictable – speculation has been rampant the past few days about the possibilities of VR. Especially of note to me was the chance of Doom – “ripping, tearing, and otherwise eviscerating demons from Hell” – getting that fully, horrifyingly immersive update. If you’re going to freak me out, freak me out right, Bethesda.

Note: This video is going to be graphic, because Doom do what Doom want.

 

Doom VFR absolutely looks like it will deliver anything you can imagine – pizza, babies, expectations, Christmas miracles. The footage is frenetic, exciting, definitely something I want to get a chance to check out. I don’t even like first-person shooters – that’s right, I said it, here’s my gamer card – but I can 100% get behind the likely fever dreams and nightmare fuel that game will offer.

And of course, how can we not mention Fallout 4 VR? Bethesda’s quirky future-past-now blend is going to be even more endearing with the virtual reality element. I love the aesthetic the Fallout franchise captures, but in comparison to the footage that Doom VFR offers, Fallout 4 VR already feels like it won’t stack up. This isn’t to say that I probably won’t fall into the trap of giving it a go, and the requisite headache that follows every foray into VR, but initial glimpses don’t suggest a different enough gameplay experience from what I already enjoy in Fallout 4.

Note: This one is also going to be a little graphic. You might see a pattern appearing in these warnings.

 

It wouldn’t be Bethesda without some tittering about fantasy. Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind goes on early record as the exact kind of thing that I’ve been aching for since learning that Myst left so much to be desired. And to return to Morrowind, the first Elder Scrolls game that ever led me to the first light of dawn on a college finals night, is a dream. Following that was the also-enticing news that Skyrim will be getting amiibo support with Nintendo Switch, though personally I would argue that playing Skyrim on a Switch is massively underselling the potential of the game. Still, the Zelda items alone would make it a considerable temptation, if I only owned a Switch.

On the topic of Skyrim, I am incredibly impressed by the creation club concept – the small voice inside me remembers how excited I always was to find a mod for The Sims 2 that rendered appropriately in-game. Seeing actual collaboration between the gaming community and the creative team at Bethesda, thereby ensuring seamless integration into the games, is absolutely heartening. Skyrim – and Fallout 4, which will also be party to the Creation Club – threaten to replace dinosaur chicken nuggets in my top ten list with this news.

From this point forward, I’m so sorry, I just can’t get myself as excited. It’s like the dénouement had to come in the first half – that’s just bad storytelling. However, as the rest of the world doesn’t have to run on my preferences, allow me to share what else we’ve learned.

Despite my personal dislike of the games, the Dishonored preview wraps up two things I love most – assassinations and pirate shanties. Dishonored: Death of the Outsider seemed to get some audience reaction, as did the announcement of the upcoming Dishonored 2 DLC experience.

Stepping momentarily back into the Good Old Days, we were given a promise that the upcoming Quake Champions “elevates E-sports”. Competitive gameplay can be pretty exciting to watch, for someone who can’t play themselves (that’s me), and Quake Champions is really making me hope that I’ve got some time to follow. With a $1 million prize to the ultimate champion, QuakeCon this August may be one to remark upon. Crack your knuckles, gamers, and get to working on those skills at Quake.com.

The Evil Within 2 looks like it’s going to be all the horror that I want and more – maybe too much more. Part of the problem I had with 2014’s The Evil Within was the constant need to stop, take a deep breath, and say “Okay, what?” before focusing back in. As a trailer, it drew me in well and the imagery was well-chosen, but I fear that the narrative problems I had with the original game may not have been well addressed in the sequel.

And finally, it’s time to address the elephant in the room.

Note: The graphic, bloody, foul-mouthed elephant. This is another warning.

 

Oh, Bethesda. Oh, Wolfenstein.

As far as alternate realities go, I honestly thought that I had seen just about all the Nazi counterfactuals that could ever have been counterfactualized. Yet here comes Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus to prove me wrong. Am I particularly jazzed about another FPS when that’s the one kind of game I have the most difficulty getting into? I honestly am not. But this is WOLFENSTEIN. TWO. How could you not be curious, antsy, all kinds of pleased? I don’t want to give it a go, but in some strange way, I feel like I need to give it a go.

Perhaps the best news of all is that, rather than giving a look ahead for the foreseeable future, Bethesda has shown us games that will all be released in 2017 – in fact, many have been offered release dates in their presentations.

But there’s some small part of me that feels like a traitor to the cause, here. Not exactly a wolf in sheep’s clothing, but at the very least a fair-sized rock in sheep’s clothing. I’m not sure if it was the immediate gratification of my greatest desire right out the gates, or the late hour, but I feel like there should have been more of a reaction. Instead I’m just, well…whelmed. Nonetheless, I’ll be keeping my ear to the ground for reactions from my friends at E3!

 

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Nintendo Releases Details on Nintendo Switch Online Service

Nintendo of America has released details about its much-anticipated paid online service for the Nintendo Switch.

The service dubbed “Nintendo Switch Online” will allow Switch owners to engage in online multiplayer gaming as well as an interactive app that will connect with the Switch console itself. According to Nintendo, the app will help players chat with their friends during online play, set play appointments and allow them to invite friends to join them online. A free limited version of the app will be available during the summer of 2017.

In the meantime, once the service launches sometime during the summer of 2017, online play will be free for Nintendo Account holders until the paid service launches sometime in 2018.

There have been some additional services announced including: Classic Game selection (subscribers get to download a compilation of classic titles with added online play. Some examples given were: Super Mario Bros. 3, Balloon Fight, and Dr. Mario.

Nintendo eShop Deals with special offers on select digital games and content.

Pricing for the service has three different payment tiers: 1-month membership for $3.99,a 3-month membership for $7.99, or a 12-month membership for $19.99

For more information, check out Nintendo’s website about it here.

 




Review: THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: BREATH OF THE WILD is Time Well Spent

[All screencaps taken from gameplay]

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of The Wild
Developed by Nintendo EPD
Published By Nintendo
Released March 3, 2017
Available on Nintendo Switch and Nintendo WiiU 

I want to start this review by saying that I was skeptical that Nintendo could win me over with the Nintendo Switch. I had lost most of my interest in console gaming. I never even had much interest in buying the predecessor to the Switch, the Wii U. I lost interest with the Wii, it just bothered my wrists and didn’t hold my interest and attention.

Then Nintendo released trailers and footage for the latest entry in The Legend of Zelda series (the nineteenth in the series), The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and I fell in love.

Link starts the game very bare bones.

This game is gorgeous; the look of the land of Hyrule is worth just sitting and gazing out over the landscape. It even has weather: rain, sun, thunderstorms and snow in the higher elevations. It is also huge! It takes a lot of time to get from one end of the map to the other. Thankfully, they give you a way to warp to shrines and towers that you have activated. You can also travel by glider and horse — and you have to capture your own horse!

Another feature of this game and a first in Zelda franchise history is that weapons and shields break after several uses. Therefore you have to keep picking up or buying new weapons to keep on your quest. This may seem tedious, but it can actually be quite rewarding if you’re battling a tough enemy and manage to pick up their weapon and kill them with it.

I could just watch that water flow by for hours.

The gameplay is open-ended. You are given a quest to take back the Divine Beasts, destroy Calamity Gannon and rescue Princess Zelda, but you are not expected to rush off to Hyrule Castle right away. Instead, it gives you all the time you want to do side quests and explore in search of over 90 shrines that will give you tokens that you can turn in to get more heart containers or more stamina. As of the writing of this review, I have only defeated one of the Divine Beast guardians.  There are also hundreds of hidden beings across the land that will give you Korok Seeds, you can then turn these in to expand your inventory.

I enjoy this game that I almost have no problems with it. My few complaints are small, like accidentally hitting the right joystick too hard and zooming in when I’m trying to make a jump (which causes me to fall).

Another beautiful sunrise. Let’s take the apple.

As of the writing of this review, I have completed one of the Divine Beasts, collected 39 Korok Seeds and completed 55 Shrine Quests and I am so looking forward to the rest of this game.

I have some thoughts about the future of the Zelda franchise. Breath of the Wild is a great game and a good start for the reimagining of the story. Now I think they should add more to it. Fishing, something of a staple in some of the past Zelda games, is absent from this game. I would love it if they added it back. It would also be nice if you could repair broken weapons instead of having to constantly pick up new ones you’re enemies dropped. They already have mining in the game, you could turn this into a basis for weapon repair. Just take your ores to a blacksmith and reforge that sword.

I would also love to have a game where you could play as either Zelda or Link. Maybe Zelda could do actions that Link can’t perform.

Anyway, I look forward to the next game in the franchise!

I highly recommend this game for anyone who is looking for a quest for adventure!

 




GEARS OF WAR Movie Adaptation Finds A Writer

After nearly a decade in the works and an announcement last fall, the Gears of War movie has been assigned a writer. Shane Salerno, who currently has been working on the four upcoming Avatar sequels, will be penning the script for the Universal Pictures project.

Last fall, Universal and Microsoft announced the Gears movie was in development. Rod Fergusson, head of the developer of the Microsoft subsidiary studio, The Coalition, said the film was the next logical step for the Xbox franchise. The film will be produced by Scott Stuber and Dylan Clark of Bluegrass Films.

The film will not be based on the Gears video game, but will instead be set in the same universe, a post-apocalyptic planet called Sera where a squad of commandos battle hordes of aliens known as Locusts. At the fall announcement, Fergusson also stated that their goal was to simply copy over the story from the game, but to make the best Gears movie possible rather than one that was the most faithful to the games.

Gears of War was first launched in 2006 and has led to sequels that has grossed more than $1 billion worldwide. Originally, New Line cinema tried unsuccessfully to bring the franchise to theaters in 2007 with Len Wiseman attached to direct. Microsoft acquired the property in 2014 and now has been able to move forward since they partnered with Universal in 2016.

Not only has Salerno been working on the Avatar projects, he also did the screenplays for Armageddon and Oliver Stone’s Savages. He also co-wrote the story for Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands.

There is no word yet on a release date.




Planet Comicon 2017: Blood, Honor, Board Games

Planet Comicon was this past weekend and while I was there I dropped by their casual board gaming room.  While I was there, I chatted with the guards manning the gates.  I also listened in on a couple of the pen and paper role playing games.  The table top games were listed on the Planet Comicon schedule.

The game room was bigger this time around that from year’s past and situated closer to the convention’s front entrance that ever before.  As a couple of the convention staffers manning the room mentioned, in previous years, the gaming room had a tendency to be located a little bit out of the way, or among other gaming rooms making it a little bit harder to find than this year.  With a more visible location the room received more traffic and they had the board games to spare!

Welcome, to Board Game Mountain!

I sat down with Christopher, T.J., Caleb, Lora, and Bill, Planet Comicon’s Dungeon Masters of Board Game Mountain, and asked a couple of questions to get a better feel for the ambiance the board game room had to offer.  While we were talking, I noticed that some staff responsibilities, like checking board game in and out of the vast library, had “who would do it” decided by games such as “Rock Paper Scissors”.

Amongst the conversation, they told me that the game room had been a part of Planet Comicon for a number of years, but this year they had gotten the largest room so far.  Last year, the previous room had gotten so packed that the area had to be expanded this year to accommodate more guests.  The larger room had a great set-up.  Plenty of tables and chairs for avid gamers, and even spaces for custom set ups which included a custom gaming table that was equipped with a special flat screen embedded into the table’s surface.  There was also a long table set up with a custom 3D printed miniature dungeon.

Pulll up a chair, set up a game, and play a while.

I also questioned the staff about their favorite board games:

Christopher, whose favorite game is Betrayal at House on the Hill, was really impressed with the game’s newest expansion pack.  His favorite thing about it was that the expansion includes the house’s bathroom (the main game apparently didn’t come with one)!  We also talked a little on the game’s mechanics.  Christopher reminisced on the scenario he liked the most where a Roc lifted a house with 6 players while only 5 parachutes, leaving the players to scramble Musical Chairs to escape.

T.J. recalled his favorite game that he played at a different convention.  He had picked up a card game that was launched on Kickstarter.  The person he had bought it from had a booth at the Mid-Americon he attended.  Even though T.J. had trouble recalling the name of the card game he remembered that it was something between a card game and an RPG.  The cards create characters and give room to create custom player driven stories for these new characters. The game is organized with cards for characters and a special “peg based system” that is for combat among “good guy” and “bad guy” pegs.  T.J. commented that it “was a pen and paper RPG without all the entrapments of D&D.  Fast set up and neat.”

~Every country has a monster they’re afraid of, in their nation!~

Caleb had a different approach to his favorite game.  He had fond memories of a game with a more casual party nature.  Caleb said he liked Clue, the “original” game, for its nostalgia.  He liked the mind games that came with like the psychological mind games about it, especially when you are the killer.  Caleb also commented that the game Connect Four conveys an unusual air of despair yet people constantly check it out.

Lora chimed in to state her appreciate for games that require points (like victory points), or racing to build the biggest kingdom, to win.  They pit players against each other; working to get scores higher than each other’s to claim victory, games such as Dominion.  Lora also said that her competitive nature and love of boar games lead her to victory in a charity tournament of Dominion.

Some games take up a lot of space with all their pieces and parts.  But don’t worry, there were more than enough tables for everyone to sit down and play.

Bill likes pen and paper role playing games, especially Pathfinder.  He liked the exhilarating stories and being able to build custom characters however you’d like along with the game’s neat mechanics.   In our conversation we traded stories about characters we’ve both created in this game.  He recanted about mixing and matching abilities of an old Dungeons and Dragons rogue to create a medieval version of D.C.’s Batman.  He played this character in a “Play-by-Mail” game that’s similar to another title, Chess-by-Mail.

I also posed some more general questions to this circle of staff magi.

One of the reasons they were board game henchmen was that it was a cheap way to go to the convention.  They all agreed that working in the game room is a remarkable job.  They enjoy leading people to play new and different games that they may not have played before.  The group enjoyed seeing player’s faces light up while discovering and playing a game.

From casual games like Cranium and Clue to more geeky games like Bones featured above, there’s a board game for everyone.

Sentinels of the Multiverse, was a big hit with new players discovering new games to play.  Together they talked about how there are many games in the massive board game library that people probably would generally pass by, not knowing the magic the boxes contained.  But once players were exposed to them, they would find a new love. Ask players what they are into is really cool as it is all helping to spread the board game culture.

For a brief moment, I also sat down with the two gaggles of players playing the schedule pen and paper games that were notated on the official Planet Comicon schedule.

The first game I sat down with was the Star Wars RPG ran by Sterling Hershey.  The game was of his own design.  Hershey was also a game developer who worked on the Star Wars RPG by Wizards of the Coast.

Dice, check. Droid, check. Snack fries, check.

When I sat down at the game table, a droid announced over the space ship’s intercom “master your steaks are here” putting the table’s players on edge.  The ship they have found themselves on seemed to be of some grand importance.  Maybe it was a flag ship, or held some well-respected, yet malevolent, dignitary (or Sith Lord, same difference).

The rag-tag band was in the middle of fighting brutish aliens called “Gamorreans”. You can think of them as big barbarian space aliens that semi-sort of resemble pigs. “Good thing gamorreans are stupid” remarks a player nervously to the others.  This was just after the team narrowly escaped detection while the group sneaks (albeit narrowly) around the alien occupied ship. The player’s then accessed the ship’s computer to check its schematics. The schematics helped them to scheme against the malevolent actor and maneuver themselves undetected through the ship which they trespass.

This is a small snippet of Sterling Hershey’s “convention campaign” titled Force of Destiny.  For this game, there were a total of five players.  GM Hershey let me know that the player’s goal was to obtain the passenger list, hopefully while remaining undetected.

Next up was the good old fashion Dungeons and Dragons with the sparkling new 5th edition.  I sat around the table and listened to the players fight off a band of highwaymen and goblins.  This was part of something called, Adventure League.  I was informed by the Game Mistress that this adventure was from the previous season.

“We will need to play a round of ‘fist-a-clease’ to decide our next move…”

The troupe was hired by a caravan to help deliver a statue.  They had to go from Vurthyl, a city in the East, to the more mountainous western city of Parnast.  The players had taken a captive and were in the middle of questioning them.  The captive was a goblin who was left on the brink of death after the combat. Given a chance, he tried to make his escape, freeing himself from his rope bonds and runs from the team.  He dodges a harrowing swinging spear from one of the player’s vein attempts to stop him.  After a few moments, the players succeed in stopping the goblin’s escape.  They did this by pinning him to the ground by his cloths with an arrow.

In the excitement of combat, one of the player’s shouts “I’m going to loot the looter”! The highwaymen’s corpses left a pile of loot in the manner of weapons, armor, and gold coins.  While the more meat headed muscle brained characters argued about who gets what swords and, more importantly, who gets to prove their brute and manliness by interrogating the goblin, one of the sneakier women upstages the arguing men and interrogates the goblin quite handily.  All that happened while a more magical inclined player finds a strange “healer’s bag”.  It was filled with valuable magical creature potion ingredients.  The ingredients turned out to be the toenails from a giant!

There were some great things I saw in both of these games.  Interestingly, the character sheets that were laminated.  The maps were drawn on with dry-erase markers for easy clean-up.  Players had name tags in front of them that helped the game masters remember what player was what character.  Also, my favorite moment was the discussion of “fist-a-clease” a player created wrestling contest they used to make decisions.

The board game room was a place of glory, honor, winners, losers, and fun to be had by all.

All images were taken by me, Casey Shreve.

 




Nintendo Switch: Unavailable Near You

This is kind of a rant about Nintendo as a company and how it treats consumers. Under a different banner, it can also be an open ended question about why people still like and defend a company that treats its consumer base so poorly time and again.

A couple of weeks ago, I went to a large gaming industry week long event aptly called the “Game Developers Conference”, or GDC for short. There, I was surprised to see the company Nintendo teaming up with various developer platforms, primarily Unity3D, to demonstrate some of the Indie games running on their new Nintendo Switch console. I had a great time with some of their demonstrations and wished to learn more about the Switch console, but time is limited and they had many other people to demo for.

RELATED ~ 8Bits: Talking About the Nintendo Switch

So this brings us to today. I went all around town here in Kansas City looking for, not the actual console to purchase, but a demo. A small setup with the console and a television to play for fifteen or twenty minutes just to test the waters and feel out the console more thoroughly. Not only did I find out that such demo stations did not exist (as they do for every other major console), but new shipments of Switch consoles for purchasing isn’t expected until mid-April. Which is really awkward since Nintendo’s own website states that the system is “Available now at these retailers” and every single clickable option returns “unavailable. Something odd that I saw in every single store I visited was that retail store’s shelves had tons of extra controllers and accessories in stock, collecting dust on shelves… because nobody will buy an extra controller for a system they can’t even get.

RELATED ~ Nintendo Announces Its New Console and It’s a SWITCH!

On one hand, we should always see this coming every time Nintendo does, well, anything in these modern times. They did this limited supply tactic with their game altering plastic figurines called Amiibos. They did it again with a more recent venture, the super rare NES Classic nostalgia system, and now here we are again with the Nintendo Switch.

This all runs into a theory that I like to call “Nintendo hates their customers and is allergic to money”. The availability crisis Nintendo seems to be refusing to learn from, let alone fix, isn’t a new tactic, but it seems to add to the overall outlook of the company when it comes to consumers. Even with some of the games that come out from Nintendo in the not too distant past seem to be at odds with what players want.

I’m still burned on their ruination of Star Fox, a franchise that I hold dear to my early gaming days. Not because it broke with canon, but because it featured broken and impossible controls for no reason other than a vain attempt to justify the Wii U’s awkward tablet. Or the unnecessary dumbing down of Mario Party 10 for the Wii U because competitive board games are “too spoopy” for younger audiences.  It’s hard to not wonder if the gaming company just holds its player base in contempt or is some how self loathing.

There’s just these little things Nintendo seems to do that add up to the company not actually wanting players to enjoy their games. For example, not making a new Mario Kart for the switch, but re-releasing the same version from the Wii U with an added map and a couple of extra cross-over promotional characters (Birdo is still missing, however). Even the new Zelda game has good chunks of fun buried under a mountain of uniquely non-fun experiences.

I think Jim Sterling from The Jimquisition sums up the whole ordeal quite accurately (caution strong language):

There is a little bit of good news that comes from the time that we are all forced to wait for the next wave of shipments… Maybe in the next few months, Nintendo will acknowledge the controller issues, dead pixel problems, and other problems the early adopters are having… but I know those are tall orders that Nintendo may never feel the need to do anything about.

 




Donnie Yen Joins SLEEPING DOGS

Original Film and DJ2 Entertainment are going to brave the video game adaptation market. They have signed on to producer Neal Moritz’s Sleeping Dogs, based on the top-selling video game by Square Enix. Joining him in the lead role is the original Ip Man, Donnie Yen (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story).

No director has been named, but Moritz’s Original Film has experience with action fare films including the Fast And Furious franchise as well as the XXX franchise. Joining his producing team are Dmitri Johnson and Dan Jevons, with Toby Ascher and Stephan Bugaj executive producing.

The movie is based on the action video game, which is set in Hong Kong and focuses on martial arts fighting, racing, boat chases….and shooting while doing all that. Yen is set to play no-nonsense decorated cop, Wei Shen, on a one-man mission to bring down a dangerous Triad gang on the streets of urban Hong Kong.

Usually turning a video game into a movie can be difficult with complicated story lines. Moreover, they are not given great scripts, which can be hard for the actors. However, the studios do keep making money off them. Sleeping Dogs does not have a complex lore to follow, like Assassin’s Creed. It is the basic tale of good guys versus bad guys and everyone stuck in-between.

The addition of Yen should also seal the deal for the movie.

He has a long background as a fight choreographer and is well known as the star in the Ip Man franchise. It is the biographical martial art story based on the life of Yip Man, a grand master of the marital art Wing Chun and teacher of Bruce Lee. The first film, released in 2008, focuses on Ip’s life that took place in Foshan during the Sino-Japanese War. The second movie, Ip Man2: Legend of the Grandmaster (2010), centers on his life in Hong Kong, which is under British colonial rule as he attempts to promote his discipline of Wing Chun. Ip Man 3 was released in 2015 and introduces the relationship between Ip and a young Bruce Lee. Ip Man 3 brought in $124 million in China last year.

Using the popularity of Yen in the Chinese market, Paramount placed Yen front and center when marketing for xXx: Return of Xander Cage, where he plays Xiang opposite Vin Diesel. The moved paid off when the film had the second biggest IMAX February debut ever in China, behind the 2014 The Monkey King 2 and has pulled $283 million worldwide – more than $121 million from China alone.

Sleeping Dogs released in 2012 for PlayStation 3, Windows PC, and Xbox 360. Two years later a “Definitive Edition” re-releases hit PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The developer, United Front, and Square Enix attempted a spin off called Triad Wars, a free-to-play multiplayer PC game which takes place in the Sleeping Dogs universe. However, lacking the charm of the original game, the receptions was lukewarm and the game was shut down in early 2016. United Front did attempt a pitch of an official sequel to Sleeping Dogs however, Square Enix passed. Now that United Front closed down in October 2016, unless a third party comes in, a game sequel may not see the light of day.

Currently there is no mention of a release date for the film.

 




8Bits: Talking About Micro-Transactions

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This month, we’re talking about micro-transactions.

Are they good for the industry? Are they bad for the industry? Did they start off with the best of intentions and then slowly drift off to the Dark Side? Our crew discusses the impact micro-transactions have on game play, extensions, DLCs, collections, upgrades, and what it all means for the wallet. Is it better to play through achievements to get the new weapon or skill? Or do you bypass that effort (and fun) and just buy that war hammer for $6?

Games we’re playing:

  • Master of Orion 2: Battle of Antares
  • Star Trek Online
  • LEGO Star Wars, X-Wing, Star Wars: The Old Republic
  • Mass Effect
  • Battlefield
  • ReCore
  • Assassin’s Creed
  • Destiny
  • Grand Theft Auto

The panel: Jennifer Wise, Lauren Garrison, Jared Hawkins, Thomas Townley, Chris Jensen

 




ECHO CHAMBER: The RESIDENT EVIL Franchise

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This month, the Gang of Meddling Kids gathers ’round the table to discuss the Resident Evil franchise. From its first days as an early Playstation game to its current status as the top-grossing horror film franchise of all time, Resident Evil has delivered several iterations. Some good, some not. And with the movie franchise winding down (maybe), is it time for the video game series to do the same? Or is there still room for more games pitting Alice against the Umbrella Corporation?

 

The panel: Ann Laabs, Thomas Townley, Jared Hawkins, David Baker, Sam Sentman

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PAX South: Come For the Atmosphere, Stay For the Atmosphere


[Guest article by Chris Grucza]

If you’re a gamer and you’ve never had the pleasure of attending any of the Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) events, you should probably look to rectify that as soon as possible.

This year’s PAX South in San Antonio, Texas builds on the tradition in a very real way, delivering a gaming focused convention that doesn’t care what genre tickles your fancy – they’re all here with amazing representation.

Want to see some of the latest hardware from various computer vendors? Or find out what’s new in tabletop games? Maybe you just want to find out what Nintendo has up their sleeve next. PAX South 2017 answers all of those questions and more (Dell’s Alienware line actually looks like it might not suck any longer, it’s ridiculous how many new table top games there are, and the Nintendo Switch had a 4+ hour wait to demo it.)

But the real focus of the event isn’t the event itself. It’s the people and the community. One of the biggest issues I’ve seen at comic-con type conventions is the ridiculous amount of assumptions of consent due to cosplay. This has gotten so pervasive that Dallas Comic Con last year literally had signs up saying “Cosplay is not consent.” It can make for a wearisome day when that’s the vibe you’re trying to defeat.

PAX does not have that vibe. The PAX vibe is “Hey, we’re in line together and we don’t know each other but let’s play this card/dice game to kill time.” It’s “everyone’s a gamer and that’s awesome.” It’s “you’re new to the community so let’s welcome you.” It’s inclusive, loving and welcoming. All things that every convention should be.

Is there a point to this? Maybe, maybe not. But point yourself over to www.paxsite.com to keep informed as to when the upcoming PAX events are. If you’re a gamer, they’re required attending.”

 

Chris Grucza is a gamer, nerd, musician. Not always in that order.




8Bits: Talking About the Nintendo Switch

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The Nintendo Switch comes out March 3! Who’s ready? Our staff takes a look at the new game console. Price? Portability? Will there be enough games to make it worth having? What about the controller size? Battery life? Speculations and expectations abound in our discussion about the console that’s not always a console.

END-GAME CONTENT: discussion about the new Super Mario Run app released for iOS (Android hits in March). There are some things you should know before you download this app.

Games we’re playing:

  • Assassin’s Creed 2
  • Destiny
  • Final Fantasy 9
  • Final Fantasy XV
  • Injustice: Gods Among Us
  • Star Trek Online
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic
  • Uncharted 4
  • Yoshi’s Wooly World

The panel: Lauren Garrison, Jared Hawkins, Thomas Townley, Erik Inlow, Jeff Hackworth