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A lookback at E3 games: Super Mario 3D World

We may have seen Mario a lot lately but boy, am I excited for Super Mario 3D World for Wii U. The 3DS version, Super Mario 3D Land, was an excellent new entry into Nintendo's platforming series and I'm happy to see the next one on their home console in delicious, crisp High Def. My first impression is that four player co-op (with Peach!) is a great addition and the fact that all the characters play differently is icing on the cake. The cat suit seems a little strange but looks like a fun ability all the same. New Super Mario Bros U is great but I'm glad to see a more 3D Mario. I can imagine that this is more of an "in-between" game, meaning we're still waiting for a proper entry in the vein of Mario 64, Sunshine and Galaxy, but I think this is a good way to please those fans who are eager to see what Nintendo has in store for us.


by Alistair Baxter on Jun 19, 2013


Microsoft reveals the Xbox One

Microsoft finally showed us its new next gen console today in the form of the Xbox One. The system sports some new features like multitasking between apps like movies and Skype, and live TV integration (including deals with Comcast and the NFL). The box has an 8 core processor and 8 GB of ram with a 500 GB non-removable hard drive. Though the video card was not mentioned, we know it supports BluRay and video output up to 4k.

The console will require an Internet connection, but not "always online" capability. Used games can be played, but there's a fee associated with playing these games (similar to EA's now retired online pass program). Like the PS4, the system will not be backwards compatible. Microsoft claims 15 exclusive games, including 8 new franchises will be available within a year of its launch later this year.


by Alistair Baxter on May 22, 2013


There's no David Hayter in Metal Gear Solid V and that's really bizarre!

I love Metal Gear Solid. I have since I discovered the first MGS over a decade ago. In America, Metal Gear Solid's gruff heroes Solid Snake and Big Boss have been voiced by David Hayter since the original game came out in 1998 on Sony's Playstation, the first Metal Gear to be in full 3D and have voice acting.

Since then, Hayter has voiced the character in nearly every iteration of the the stealthy soldier, even Super Smash Bros Brawl. David Hayter's signature voice has become synonymous with the quirky franchise. Whether his performance is seen as good or bad, fans expect him, and his presence complements the often insane series perfectly. It's only fair to assume he'd be playing him in any future entries into the series. Wrong. It looks like he won't be returning to the next part of the Metal Gear saga. Hayter's absence is like if Charles Martinet didn't voice Mario and Luigi.


Sony's Vita might be Back on Track

At Gamescom in Cologne today, Sony started its presentation by doting on its new and still unsuccessful portable, the Playstation Vita. We saw many of the same games at E3 earlier in the year, but a couple new and promising IPs were thrown into the mix.

Tearaway, Media Molecule's newest creation, is a brand new action adventure title which has a crisp "paper" theme that takes advantage of the Vita's touch screen and back touch pad for new gameplay elements. It looks like a unique, fun take on the platforming genre reminiscent of early 3D classics like Banjo-Kazooie or Mario 64.

A new Killzone is in the works for the handheld, too, for more "hardcore" fans. There's also still the handheld Assassin's Creed Liberation, featuring a female lead character for the first time in that series. LittleBigPlanet Vita is still shooting for Holiday release, alongside the new AC game.

Sony also announced a new feature called "Cross-buy" which will allow users to buy PS3 games and receive the same game free on the PS Vita if the game is available on both platforms. This is known to apply first to the Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale, followed by Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time and Ratchet & Clank: Q-Force.

Meanwhile, PSOne classics are expected to become available on the Vita August 28.

With this kind of support for Vita, it looks like Sony may be capable of pulling ahead with their new handheld. A price drop would help a great deal, but these upcoming additions to the library need to prove themselves first.

On the PS3 side Sony showed off its upcoming holiday release titles, and announced 3 new games that will appear down the line (most likely next year): Rain, Until Dawn, and Puppeteer. Rain is about a boy who is invisible unless he walks through the rain, and it looks like a solid action game. Until Dawn is meant to mimic teenage horror movies and is playable with Playstation Move. Puppeteer is a quirky platformer that shows some promise with gameplay that might remind some of Kirby.


The indie console: Ouya sets Kickstarter records and doesn't afraid of anything

Game “biz” veteran Julie Uhrman (formerly at GameFly and IGN) has assembled a team to create a $99 Android-based home console. The project, now seeking $950,000 through Kickstarter, would allow indie game developers broader access to their audiences’ living rooms with fewer barriers to entry. As of this writing, it’s raised over $3.5 million in less than two days.

Ouya is meant to be an open console where games and game development are cheap and easy for everyone, without costly or prohibitive distribution channels (each Ouya console is also a developer kit). Although indie games have become more popular and accessible in recent years, entering the living room has been a challenge. At a low price point ($99), and with the requirement that all games be at least free to try, Ouya hopes to allow such games to penetrate a market where Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo have traditionally dominated.

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E3 - Two weeks later, what was memorable?

E3 was underwhelming this year. There were few real surprises, besides Ubisoft's Watch_Dogs, and maybe The Last of Us and Pikmin 3. Now, two weeks later, there’s very little of the typical post-E3 energy left.

By or at next year's convention, Sony's Orbis, and Microsoft's Durango will be unveiled. New consoles mean new dev kits, new engines, new assets, and new opportunities for old franchises to shine once more, plus a chance for new IP to establish itself. As such, this year was laid back, with developers and publishers afraid to get too ahead of themselves. They focused on the retailer, stockholder, and investor angle of the show. As a core gamer, I feel like I’ve nothing to be excited about.

I've provided some light commentary from the perspective of a gamer who wants real games — not pandering, not investment advice. Let us hear about the games that struck you most.


What could Retro Studios' upcoming Wii U game be?

Retro Studios is making a game for Wii U that is "a project everyone wants (them) to do," according to Eurogamer. How terribly vague! With E3 around the corner, and Wii U hype ramping up, we're almost certain to find out next Tuesday at Nintendo's press conference.

Retro is known for its Metroid Prime trilogy, a series that brought a Western edge to one of Nintendo's signature franchises. Following their work on their last Prime game, they compiled a trilogy collection, made Donkey Kong Country Returns, and collaborated on Mario Kart 7 with Nintendo EAD. As an integrated Nintendo developer based in the West, Retro is one of the few anchors Nintendo has to Western-style game development.

Though Nintendo has a wealth of properties that Retro could be working on for them, considering their profile and history, it seems like they'd be working on one of Nintendo's bigger franchises like Metroid or Zelda, moreso than anything else. If they're working on a game "everyone wants", we'll have to listen to what people have been asking for, or guess what they might expect.


Miyamoto expresses a desire to see a Link to the Past follow-up rather than a remake

Shigeru Miyamoto, creator of most things Nintendo, told Edge recently that he'd like to make a new Zelda "based on, or starting from" 1991's A Link to the Past (LttP). Rumors of a remake to the twenty year old classic have been circling since Miyamoto mentioned a port or remake as a likely 3DS candidate last year, but these new statements are big news for the future of the franchise.

"I think the answer would be the same if we're talking about just porting," he said, "but I think I'd be even more interested in creating something new maybe based on, or starting from, A Link To The Past. I think it's important to bring some really new software." - Miyamoto to Edge

Although his comments do not preclude the idea of an LttP port, it seems clear that he'd much rather focus on new material than put effort into a remake. Although the 3DS is in desperate need of new software, Miyamoto's wishes could also apply to the upcoming WiiU.

The last Zelda with the gameplay of LttP was the Capcom-developed Minish Cap on the Game Boy Advance, which came out over seven years ago. In fact, the last solely Nintendo-developed Zelda with that traditional gameplay was LttP's direct sequel, Link's Awakening in 1993. We've had tastes of Nintendo's (Miyamoto's) vision for this style of game with handheld outings and Four Swords Adventure, but an intentional return to LttP's style could be something special.


Kickstarter gives life to withering game genres, but will it last?

Kickstarter has recently proven itself as a grounds for niche game genres to find new life with their classic developers. Can it continue? Is it only a viable option for the tried and true developers who've already been successful with it?

Hilarious bearded guy Tim Schafer and his company Double Fine received large sums of money from fans after promising a revisit to the Point-and-Click Adventure game genre, a title uninhibited by the schedules of a publishing company.

Adventure games lately have been referred to as "dead" because they are less profitable to developers in today's market, therefore getting no funding from publishers like EA or Activision. Double Fine made "bite-sized" low-budget, quick-to-develop games like Stacking and Costume Quest so they could get unique game ideas out there without their publisher having to take a huge risk.

With the help of crowdfunding site Kickstarter, Double Fine has been able to ask their fans for help. Their project had an original goal of $400,000 but was quickly topped all the way to $3,336,371 in just a few weeks with 87,142 backers. Donators to the fund can reap exclusive rewards dependent on the amount they give, which range from a DRM-less copy of the game to "lunch with Tim Schafer and Ron Gilbert, a tour of the Double Fine offices, and all previous reward tiers" at the highest level.