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Found 70 results

  1. Earlier this week, I wrapped up my review of Divinity: Original Sin and one of the minor problems that I briefly mentioned was the lack of narrative direction. I understand why it isn’t there; Larian studios didn’t want to funnel their players into any one predetermined path. Doing so would undermine the entire appeal of their game and diminish the sense of freedom Original Sin allows its players. As I thought about my experience with Larian’s modern take on old-school RPGs, I couldn’t help but feel like this was something of a missed opportunity. Original Sin was certainly entertaining, but will I ever feel compelled to replay it? Will I remember the details of its well-worn plot or the characters in a month or two? The somewhat somber conclusion that I came to was a flat no. I’ve always been a proponent of games as both a vehicle for both narrative and enjoyment. However, it seems that when one sacrifices narrative for enjoyment the entire package suffers as a whole. I still get the itch to play the first Mass Effect and experience the adventure again, despite the fact that the gameplay is clunky at best. On the opposite end of the spectrum, I rarely feel the need to go back and revisit Guitar Hero, though it was amazing amounts of fun when it initially released. And that isn’t saying that all games should have narratives; it is merely an observation that fun seems to be this ethereal and transient thing while well told stories last. I have a running bet with a friend of mine on which game people will still talk about in twenty years: BioShock Infinite or The Last of Us. It is a silly bet with $50 on the line, but if I am completely honest, people will probably still talk about both titles. The dialogue will continue, not because they were both fun (though they are both quite enjoyable to play), but because of the stories they tell and how they go about telling them. I wouldn’t be willing to place a similar bet on there being ongoing discourse about the narratives in Divinity: Original Sin, Crackdown, The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, Dark Souls, or Grand Theft Auto 4. The greatest strength that these games provide, player agency, seems to diminish the effect their stories might have otherwise exerted. This brings me to what I feel is a valid question: Why? Why is it that open world games seem to have fewer stories that connect with players? The first conclusion that I find myself drawn toward is that open world game design clashes with traditional narrative structure. There is a concept in Joseph Campbell’s ‘The Hero With A Thousand Faces’ that stipulates many stories have a ‘call to adventure’ wherein the narrative beckons the protagonist to begin their quest. There is also an addition to that idea referred to as a ‘refusal of the call’ where the protagonist for various reasons declines the initial appeal. Though ‘The Hero With A Thousand Faces’ was written with traditional, linear narratives in mind, these two ideas are useful when talking about open world structure. An open world completely destroys almost any attempt to create a similar type of story, and yet many of the narratives we find in open worlds cling to a linear structure. Since the players in most video games are the protagonist, this means that the hooks meant to invest them into the story must be effective or else most players will find various reasons to ‘refuse the call’ while going from initial plot point A to important plot point B. This was exactly my problem while playing Skyrim. I sank over one hundred hours into Bethesda’s open world and never made much progress on the main storyline. There was always a new cave to explore, a new sidequest, a new dragon shout clue. Any dramatic tension that might have been built up disappeared the instant an unexplored map marker appeared. I’d guess that many of you have similar experiences with open world games. The opportunities and incentives to refuse the call simply win out through sheer numbers over the singular call to adventure. You might argue that this is a problem that could be solved through design by including more motivations to follow the core storyline. I’ve heard ideas thrown around ranging from providing a timer to create tension like those found in The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask or Dead Rising. Another idea would be to incentivize the main quest with better loot or various other digital rewards. That sounds all fine and dandy, but when you bring the idea of curbing or influencing player behavior in an open world game to the players themselves, you are met with a resounding, “LOL, NOPE.” Creating effective drama in a narrative is like shooting a bow and arrow. The string of the bow tenses as it is pulled further and further. If you hold the arrow back for too long your arm begins to get tired and there is the possibility that the string or bow will break. Releasing the arrow after it has been fully drawn causes it to shoot far and fast, but if you let the string go slowly slack, the arrow will just clatter to the ground harmlessly. Drama demands a certain amount of tension; tension which most players in open world games dislike because it makes them feel like they are ‘on the clock’ so to speak. This gives people a sense of being rushed or forced down certain paths, which they then resent. On the opposite end of the spectrum are the people who don’t care and do what they want anyway, which has the effect of deflating tension until it is non-existent, killing the drama. At this point, it might be fair to question the point of having a narrative in an open world experience at all. Perhaps it is best to look at how narrative in the genre has evolved to its current state for additional insight. Open world games began as text adventures in the 70s, but the first graphical attempt at an open world came in the form of 1979’s Adventure on the Atari 2600. While the game itself gave few clues as to what story, if any, was being told, the instruction manual provided players with the tools to contextualize the collections of shapes on-screen. In 1986, The Legend of Zelda refined the idea of an open world by adding engaging combat and puzzles, though the narrative was still largely contained within the game’s manual. Then, in 1998, Ocarina of Time released and became the go-to example of how to pull off an open world. To this day Ocarina is considered one of the greatest games of all time, lauded for its tight gameplay, exploration, and narrative. For the first time, an open world game had a narrative that was not only successful in a functional sense, but also in a way which seemed like it captured the essence of adventure. That part of the game might seem tired and less revelatory over a over a decade and a half later, but when it released people were amazed by the cheeky Princess Ruto, the odd society of the Gerudo, and the journey of a young boy to save the world. Ocarina of Time managed to tread a very thin line; one that encouraged and rewarded exploration while also minimizing distractions from the player’s pursuit of the narrative. Have you ever noticed how a lot of the areas you initially pass by in Ocarina of Time have paths and secrets you can only access with gear later on; gear that you only acquire by progressing through the story? Ocarina manages to gate various areas in this manner, but it never feels distracting or irritating. I’d guess that’s because it provides incentives to proceed, both in terms of new gadgets, but also by using what has become one of the most iconic gaming annoyances: “HEY, LISTEN!” Players who get overly sidetracked are reminded that they’re supposed to be saving the world and not wasting quite so much time competing in fishing challenges or fighting chickens. These gates and mechanics result in a tightly controlled story which funnels the player from dungeon to dungeon. While players might have accepted this in ’98 and have come to accept it as a staple of The Legend of Zelda series, they certainly wouldn’t appreciate such tactics in a game like Far Cry 4. Ocarina balances the openness of its world against its narrative needs very well, but it isn’t perfect, something that has become more apparent to me over time. It is a classic hero-saves-the-kidnapped-princess story, a tale we have all heard more than a few times. Sure, it has a few unique twists, but that isn’t enough to make the narrative feel completely new. It is an old story told very competently, which is high praise for a video game, but it isn’t Shakespeare, Dickens, or Dumas. Unfortunately, it seems that a lot of developers at the turn of the century took the success of Ocarina of Time to mean that bigger open worlds with more things to do was what players truly wanted, not recognizing the need for a change in storytelling tactics. That leads us to the current day. Rapidly advancing technology has given developers more tools with greater power than ever before, ballooning the costs of development for open world games and causing more developers to play it safe by sticking with providing larger and larger worlds. Many gamers and developers seem to be stuck in the idea that bigger is better when it comes to open world video games, while forgetting the lessons of Ocarina of Time. With a smaller game world than most open world games since, Ocarina of Time is more successful on a narrative level than Skyrim’s massive realm. I feel the need to clarify that I don’t mean to talk smack about Skyrim. There are many, many things that it does much better than Ocarina of Time and its scale is utterly gorgeous, but on a narrative level it calls flat for me. The problem is that when a game touts its massive game world and sells millions of copies, many other developers attribute the success, at least in part, to how large the game world was. That’s the reason we see CD Projeckt hyping The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt as having a game world larger than Skyrim and 30 times as large as The Witcher 2. As a side note, it seems a bit backward to me to tout how large a title’s in-game world is before players have gotten their hands on it. What if the general reception of the game is terrible? Doesn’t that just mean there is more of it to find unenjoyable? A great parallel of this mindset can be seen in the film industry. On the one hand we have Transformers, a series of films that trots around the world with giant robots beating the crap (oil?) out of each other that succeeds in being huge, loud, and flashy, with each film trying to be bigger than the last; and it is all so incredibly boring. On the other hand, we have 12 Angry Men a classic film from 1957 about a jury arguing over the guilt of a young man on trial for murder. Almost the entire film takes place in a small jury room and it is riveting. The film makes good use of the small space, shooting from interesting angles while dramatic tension is created between the various members of the jury. The size of the set isn’t what makes a film interesting, and neither is the size of a game world. It seems kind of like we are stuck when it comes to storytelling in open world games. Developers can attempt to tell a story that our players can completely ignore, which leads to lazy, uninspiring narratives; they could lightly sprinkle the narrative into the game in such a way that it is both unimportant to the player and the game itself; or we can tightly control the gameplay options to restrict the open world and tell our story appropriately. All of these options seem to come up a bit short if a developer wants to tell a meaty, interesting narrative in an open world. It might seem odd to look for a solution in linear titles, but that seems to be the only recourse to find a moderately comparable solution, since there are nothing quite like open world games in any other form of media. Observing some of the most interesting narrative titles from the last decade or so reveals what could be an interesting answer and possibly the future of video games: Game mechanics as storytelling tools. There is a tendency to view mechanics in games as simply a means to an end; that they are just how games work. It is a shame that we look at the basic means by which this medium functions and just shrug them off. But those underlying mechanisms are one of the characteristics that set video games apart from other mediums. Perhaps that is why some of the best games of our time have made use of mechanics to aid in storytelling. Look at Jonathan Blow’s Braid which uses its core time reversing mechanic to devastating effect. It completely turns the tables on the accepted theme of princess rescuing that many games have adopted as a shorthand for adventure. It reveals a troubled protagonist who has created his own version of events while ignoring the truth of what happened; someone who desperately desires to rewind the clock and take back what they did, but ultimately finds that this is one thing that can’t be fixed. For a more blatant example, look at this year’s Transistor from Supergiant Games. The mechanics of the combat contain several layers of meaning. On a surface level, they build the world of Transistor and reflect the digital nature of Cloudbank. Each combat ability stems from a person who has been absorbed into the Transistor and must be combined in different ways to unlock each individual’s history. Using these abilities, these souls, naturally brings up questions about humanity and the moral questions of what you, and by extension the characters around you, are doing. These mechanics are both core to how the game is played and compose the heart of their respective games. This is what open worlds need to strive to do. Developers can escape the confines of linear storytelling if they ingrain the mechanics with weight and meaning. *spoilers for Shadow of the Colossus ahead* The melding of mechanics and story was a concept that Shadow of the Colossus (one of my favorite games of all time) understood very well. In fact, I’d be willing to argue that it is the only open world game that has succeeded in doing so in a nearly flawless manner. Every single mechanic in Shadow of the Colossus tells us something important. What’s that? Wander swings the sword clumsily? That makes sense since it is revealed later that he stole the sword. He rides his horse Agro very competently and it comes when whistled for? They probably have a deep bond that will be exploited later for dramatic effect. He shoots arrows very well? He was probably hunter or an archer of some kind. Within the space of several minutes with no dialogue the player can make some accurate assessments of Wander’s character. As the player progresses through Shadow of the Colossus, they slay enormous magical beasts for a mysteriously imprisoned entity in exchange for the soul of a deceased loved one. For every colossus that Wander kills, the game makes it clear that this is a sinister task with grave consequences via inescapable dark energy which pierce Wander’s body. At first the change is so subtle many players don’t notice, but after several of the creatures are dead, Wander begins to change, both on the outside and the inside. Small horns begin sprouting from his head, his hair turns black, and his skin goes white, eventually taking on the look of someone near death. But as these changes occur, he also gains more stamina and health, tangible things in the game that help the player overcome the remaining colossi. Wander’s willingness to give up his humanity over the course of Shadow of the Colossus speaks to the lengths to which he will go for the sake of his love, a sacrifice that becomes all too clear in the final moments of the game. Though the world is open, the minimal design ensures that there aren’t many distractions beyond the beautiful views encountered en route to the next colossus’ location, thus naturally overcoming the player’s urge to wander and break dramatic tension. It seems to me that in order to tell a completely successful narrative in a video game, developers need to embrace the things that make video games different and use them to tell their story. For too long, open world games have relied entirely on player agency while neglecting to consider the importance of what their mechanics are saying. And this isn’t just a problem for open world games, but something that a lot of linearly designed games also get wrong. Integrating mechanics meaningfully into the narrative will be what brings video games into their own. The industry is on the cusp of a change in design philosophy and I can’t wait to see what comes next.
  2. Earlier this week, I wrapped up my review of Divinity: Original Sin and one of the minor problems that I briefly mentioned was the lack of narrative direction. I understand why it isn’t there; Larian studios didn’t want to funnel their players into any one predetermined path. Doing so would undermine the entire appeal of their game and diminish the sense of freedom Original Sin allows its players. As I thought about my experience with Larian’s modern take on old-school RPGs, I couldn’t help but feel like this was something of a missed opportunity. Original Sin was certainly entertaining, but will I ever feel compelled to replay it? Will I remember the details of its well-worn plot or the characters in a month or two? The somewhat somber conclusion that I came to was a flat no. I’ve always been a proponent of games as both a vehicle for both narrative and enjoyment. However, it seems that when one sacrifices narrative for enjoyment the entire package suffers as a whole. I still get the itch to play the first Mass Effect and experience the adventure again, despite the fact that the gameplay is clunky at best. On the opposite end of the spectrum, I rarely feel the need to go back and revisit Guitar Hero, though it was amazing amounts of fun when it initially released. And that isn’t saying that all games should have narratives; it is merely an observation that fun seems to be this ethereal and transient thing while well told stories last. I have a running bet with a friend of mine on which game people will still talk about in twenty years: BioShock Infinite or The Last of Us. It is a silly bet with $50 on the line, but if I am completely honest, people will probably still talk about both titles. The dialogue will continue, not because they were both fun (though they are both quite enjoyable to play), but because of the stories they tell and how they go about telling them. I wouldn’t be willing to place a similar bet on there being ongoing discourse about the narratives in Divinity: Original Sin, Crackdown, The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, Dark Souls, or Grand Theft Auto 4. The greatest strength that these games provide, player agency, seems to diminish the effect their stories might have otherwise exerted. This brings me to what I feel is a valid question: Why? Why is it that open world games seem to have fewer stories that connect with players? The first conclusion that I find myself drawn toward is that open world game design clashes with traditional narrative structure. There is a concept in Joseph Campbell’s ‘The Hero With A Thousand Faces’ that stipulates many stories have a ‘call to adventure’ wherein the narrative beckons the protagonist to begin their quest. There is also an addition to that idea referred to as a ‘refusal of the call’ where the protagonist for various reasons declines the initial appeal. Though ‘The Hero With A Thousand Faces’ was written with traditional, linear narratives in mind, these two ideas are useful when talking about open world structure. An open world completely destroys almost any attempt to create a similar type of story, and yet many of the narratives we find in open worlds cling to a linear structure. Since the players in most video games are the protagonist, this means that the hooks meant to invest them into the story must be effective or else most players will find various reasons to ‘refuse the call’ while going from initial plot point A to important plot point B. This was exactly my problem while playing Skyrim. I sank over one hundred hours into Bethesda’s open world and never made much progress on the main storyline. There was always a new cave to explore, a new sidequest, a new dragon shout clue. Any dramatic tension that might have been built up disappeared the instant an unexplored map marker appeared. I’d guess that many of you have similar experiences with open world games. The opportunities and incentives to refuse the call simply win out through sheer numbers over the singular call to adventure. You might argue that this is a problem that could be solved through design by including more motivations to follow the core storyline. I’ve heard ideas thrown around ranging from providing a timer to create tension like those found in The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask or Dead Rising. Another idea would be to incentivize the main quest with better loot or various other digital rewards. That sounds all fine and dandy, but when you bring the idea of curbing or influencing player behavior in an open world game to the players themselves, you are met with a resounding, “LOL, NOPE.” Creating effective drama in a narrative is like shooting a bow and arrow. The string of the bow tenses as it is pulled further and further. If you hold the arrow back for too long your arm begins to get tired and there is the possibility that the string or bow will break. Releasing the arrow after it has been fully drawn causes it to shoot far and fast, but if you let the string go slowly slack, the arrow will just clatter to the ground harmlessly. Drama demands a certain amount of tension; tension which most players in open world games dislike because it makes them feel like they are ‘on the clock’ so to speak. This gives people a sense of being rushed or forced down certain paths, which they then resent. On the opposite end of the spectrum are the people who don’t care and do what they want anyway, which has the effect of deflating tension until it is non-existent, killing the drama. At this point, it might be fair to question the point of having a narrative in an open world experience at all. Perhaps it is best to look at how narrative in the genre has evolved to its current state for additional insight. Open world games began as text adventures in the 70s, but the first graphical attempt at an open world came in the form of 1979’s Adventure on the Atari 2600. While the game itself gave few clues as to what story, if any, was being told, the instruction manual provided players with the tools to contextualize the collections of shapes on-screen. In 1986, The Legend of Zelda refined the idea of an open world by adding engaging combat and puzzles, though the narrative was still largely contained within the game’s manual. Then, in 1998, Ocarina of Time released and became the go-to example of how to pull off an open world. To this day Ocarina is considered one of the greatest games of all time, lauded for its tight gameplay, exploration, and narrative. For the first time, an open world game had a narrative that was not only successful in a functional sense, but also in a way which seemed like it captured the essence of adventure. That part of the game might seem tired and less revelatory over a over a decade and a half later, but when it released people were amazed by the cheeky Princess Ruto, the odd society of the Gerudo, and the journey of a young boy to save the world. Ocarina of Time managed to tread a very thin line; one that encouraged and rewarded exploration while also minimizing distractions from the player’s pursuit of the narrative. Have you ever noticed how a lot of the areas you initially pass by in Ocarina of Time have paths and secrets you can only access with gear later on; gear that you only acquire by progressing through the story? Ocarina manages to gate various areas in this manner, but it never feels distracting or irritating. I’d guess that’s because it provides incentives to proceed, both in terms of new gadgets, but also by using what has become one of the most iconic gaming annoyances: “HEY, LISTEN!” Players who get overly sidetracked are reminded that they’re supposed to be saving the world and not wasting quite so much time competing in fishing challenges or fighting chickens. These gates and mechanics result in a tightly controlled story which funnels the player from dungeon to dungeon. While players might have accepted this in ’98 and have come to accept it as a staple of The Legend of Zelda series, they certainly wouldn’t appreciate such tactics in a game like Far Cry 4. Ocarina balances the openness of its world against its narrative needs very well, but it isn’t perfect, something that has become more apparent to me over time. It is a classic hero-saves-the-kidnapped-princess story, a tale we have all heard more than a few times. Sure, it has a few unique twists, but that isn’t enough to make the narrative feel completely new. It is an old story told very competently, which is high praise for a video game, but it isn’t Shakespeare, Dickens, or Dumas. Unfortunately, it seems that a lot of developers at the turn of the century took the success of Ocarina of Time to mean that bigger open worlds with more things to do was what players truly wanted, not recognizing the need for a change in storytelling tactics. That leads us to the current day. Rapidly advancing technology has given developers more tools with greater power than ever before, ballooning the costs of development for open world games and causing more developers to play it safe by sticking with providing larger and larger worlds. Many gamers and developers seem to be stuck in the idea that bigger is better when it comes to open world video games, while forgetting the lessons of Ocarina of Time. With a smaller game world than most open world games since, Ocarina of Time is more successful on a narrative level than Skyrim’s massive realm. I feel the need to clarify that I don’t mean to talk smack about Skyrim. There are many, many things that it does much better than Ocarina of Time and its scale is utterly gorgeous, but on a narrative level it calls flat for me. The problem is that when a game touts its massive game world and sells millions of copies, many other developers attribute the success, at least in part, to how large the game world was. That’s the reason we see CD Projeckt hyping The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt as having a game world larger than Skyrim and 30 times as large as The Witcher 2. As a side note, it seems a bit backward to me to tout how large a title’s in-game world is before players have gotten their hands on it. What if the general reception of the game is terrible? Doesn’t that just mean there is more of it to find unenjoyable? A great parallel of this mindset can be seen in the film industry. On the one hand we have Transformers, a series of films that trots around the world with giant robots beating the crap (oil?) out of each other that succeeds in being huge, loud, and flashy, with each film trying to be bigger than the last; and it is all so incredibly boring. On the other hand, we have 12 Angry Men a classic film from 1957 about a jury arguing over the guilt of a young man on trial for murder. Almost the entire film takes place in a small jury room and it is riveting. The film makes good use of the small space, shooting from interesting angles while dramatic tension is created between the various members of the jury. The size of the set isn’t what makes a film interesting, and neither is the size of a game world. It seems kind of like we are stuck when it comes to storytelling in open world games. Developers can attempt to tell a story that our players can completely ignore, which leads to lazy, uninspiring narratives; they could lightly sprinkle the narrative into the game in such a way that it is both unimportant to the player and the game itself; or we can tightly control the gameplay options to restrict the open world and tell our story appropriately. All of these options seem to come up a bit short if a developer wants to tell a meaty, interesting narrative in an open world. It might seem odd to look for a solution in linear titles, but that seems to be the only recourse to find a moderately comparable solution, since there are nothing quite like open world games in any other form of media. Observing some of the most interesting narrative titles from the last decade or so reveals what could be an interesting answer and possibly the future of video games: Game mechanics as storytelling tools. There is a tendency to view mechanics in games as simply a means to an end; that they are just how games work. It is a shame that we look at the basic means by which this medium functions and just shrug them off. But those underlying mechanisms are one of the characteristics that set video games apart from other mediums. Perhaps that is why some of the best games of our time have made use of mechanics to aid in storytelling. Look at Jonathan Blow’s Braid which uses its core time reversing mechanic to devastating effect. It completely turns the tables on the accepted theme of princess rescuing that many games have adopted as a shorthand for adventure. It reveals a troubled protagonist who has created his own version of events while ignoring the truth of what happened; someone who desperately desires to rewind the clock and take back what they did, but ultimately finds that this is one thing that can’t be fixed. For a more blatant example, look at this year’s Transistor from Supergiant Games. The mechanics of the combat contain several layers of meaning. On a surface level, they build the world of Transistor and reflect the digital nature of Cloudbank. Each combat ability stems from a person who has been absorbed into the Transistor and must be combined in different ways to unlock each individual’s history. Using these abilities, these souls, naturally brings up questions about humanity and the moral questions of what you, and by extension the characters around you, are doing. These mechanics are both core to how the game is played and compose the heart of their respective games. This is what open worlds need to strive to do. Developers can escape the confines of linear storytelling if they ingrain the mechanics with weight and meaning. *spoilers for Shadow of the Colossus ahead* The melding of mechanics and story was a concept that Shadow of the Colossus (one of my favorite games of all time) understood very well. In fact, I’d be willing to argue that it is the only open world game that has succeeded in doing so in a nearly flawless manner. Every single mechanic in Shadow of the Colossus tells us something important. What’s that? Wander swings the sword clumsily? That makes sense since it is revealed later that he stole the sword. He rides his horse Agro very competently and it comes when whistled for? They probably have a deep bond that will be exploited later for dramatic effect. He shoots arrows very well? He was probably hunter or an archer of some kind. Within the space of several minutes with no dialogue the player can make some accurate assessments of Wander’s character. As the player progresses through Shadow of the Colossus, they slay enormous magical beasts for a mysteriously imprisoned entity in exchange for the soul of a deceased loved one. For every colossus that Wander kills, the game makes it clear that this is a sinister task with grave consequences via inescapable dark energy which pierce Wander’s body. At first the change is so subtle many players don’t notice, but after several of the creatures are dead, Wander begins to change, both on the outside and the inside. Small horns begin sprouting from his head, his hair turns black, and his skin goes white, eventually taking on the look of someone near death. But as these changes occur, he also gains more stamina and health, tangible things in the game that help the player overcome the remaining colossi. Wander’s willingness to give up his humanity over the course of Shadow of the Colossus speaks to the lengths to which he will go for the sake of his love, a sacrifice that becomes all too clear in the final moments of the game. Though the world is open, the minimal design ensures that there aren’t many distractions beyond the beautiful views encountered en route to the next colossus’ location, thus naturally overcoming the player’s urge to wander and break dramatic tension. It seems to me that in order to tell a completely successful narrative in a video game, developers need to embrace the things that make video games different and use them to tell their story. For too long, open world games have relied entirely on player agency while neglecting to consider the importance of what their mechanics are saying. And this isn’t just a problem for open world games, but something that a lot of linearly designed games also get wrong. Integrating mechanics meaningfully into the narrative will be what brings video games into their own. The industry is on the cusp of a change in design philosophy and I can’t wait to see what comes next. View full article
  3. Nintendo came out swinging this E3. It turns out when you develop most of the games for your own video game system you can hoard information about your first party games and then reveal them all at once. Nintendo seems to have learned a bit from its first digital press conference in 2013. This year, viewers were treated to amusing Robot Chicken claymation skits breaking up the gaming new (but not for overly long). After introductions, Nintendo introduced something called Amiibo; small figures which appear to be similar to the toys of Disney Infinity or Skylanders figures. These figures will be used first with Super Smash Bros. Wii U. Amiibo figures can be read with the Wii U gamepad and scanned into the game. There is two-way data sharing between the Wii U and Amiibo figures. In Super Smash Bros. Wii U, data in the figure becomes personalized over time, which means that the figures learn and get stronger the more they are used in-game. They can also learn new moves and level up. Next year a peripheral will be released that allows Amiibo figures to be read into the 3DS. Following the push to sell Amiibo figures, the digital event switched over to a yarn shop. Yes. You read that right. Yoshi’s Woolly World is a soft, friendly platformer starring everyone’s favorite Mario Bros. dinosaur. As the name suggests, the art style is fully committed to wool yarn and a handmade feel. According to Woolly World’s creative director, they want the game to constantly surprise and bring a smile to the face of their players. Yoshi’s Woolly World is coming in 2015. Who do audiences recognize from the Super Mario Bros. series that isn’t Yoshi, Bowser, Peach, Luigi, or Mario? Toad! Nintendo knows that Toad has never been front and center in his very own game… until now. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is a puzzle platformer that makes use of the Wii U gamepad. Players will be tasked with guiding Captain Toad through various stages to retrieve a star at the end of each. Then, Nintendo dropped its bombs. There is a new Legend of Zelda game coming to Wii U. That news itself isn’t entirely unexpected, but perhaps we all need to readjust our expectations a bit. I know that I wasn’t expecting to get blown away by the reveal, but I just about pooped my pants when I saw how gorgeous the game was. The brief glimpse of the game in action showed a figure on a horse who many assumed was Link (though later there was a comment by the series’ producer that cast some doubt on that assumption). Though we don’t know much about it, what tidbits we saw were really exciting. Initially we were shown a beautiful vista; then we were told that the vista was an entirely explorable. Yep, the next Legend of Zelda is going to be an open world. That has laser arrows. And weird magic robots. It will be released next year. Knowing that they couldn’t possibly top their previous announcement, Nintendo let everyone cool off with a friendly reminder that Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire will release on November 21. Bayonetta 2 was next on Nintendo’s announcement list. Releasing this October, Bayonetta 2 will come packaged with the first Bayonetta and different outfits based on various Nintendo characters. Speaking of characters, Nintendo announced that Hyrule Warriors will release September 26 and will feature a huge roster of playable characters that includes Link, Zelda, Impa, Midna, and the promise that “you’ll be able to play as your favorite Legend of Zelda character.” Also announced was Kirby and the Rainbow Curse, which looks like a cross between Kirby’s Epic Yarn and Kirby Canvas Curse. Players use the Wii U gamepad to draw a pathway for the ball-ified Kirby to make his way through various levels and defeat any enemies. The Monolithsoft’s logo came up on-screen. Afterward, gorgeous, sweeping CGI sequences heralded a new big budget JRPG. Xenoblade Chronicles X looks like another stab at the next great sweeping space opera and I am totally on board to see where this craziness leads. Next up was Mario Maker, which is possibly one of the most self-explanatory games in history. Mario Maker gives players the ability to create their own Mario levels and share them with friends. Level creators will have the ability to switch between original Super Mario Bros. and New Super Mario Bros. graphic styles. Expect to see this title sometime in 2015. Leave it to Nintendo to ask the one question no one has ever asked themselves: “What if you could shoot ink and turn into a squid?” That was the driving idea behind Splatoon, a third-person paintball shooter that allows players to transform into squids and traverse arenas by flowing through their own ink. Splatoon releases in 2015. The digital press conference concluded with the reveal of the goddess Lady Palutena from Kid Icarus as a playable character in the new Super Smash Bros. The disclosure came in the form of an animated sequence courtesy of the Shaft animation studio; perhaps that means we will be seeing a Super Smash Bros. anime? Make it so, Nintendo. Overall, this was a fantastic press conference from Nintendo. They unveiled games that I’m excited for and want to play. Unfortunately, many of the most interesting games shown were still a year or more out. That’s a long wait no matter how you slice it. Hopefully Super Smash Bros. and the possibility of some third-party titles can tide Wii U owners over until the promises of this E3 come to pass. What did you think of the conference? Good? Adequate? Meh?
  4. Nintendo came out swinging this E3. It turns out when you develop most of the games for your own video game system you can hoard information about your first party games and then reveal them all at once. Nintendo seems to have learned a bit from its first digital press conference in 2013. This year, viewers were treated to amusing Robot Chicken claymation skits breaking up the gaming new (but not for overly long). After introductions, Nintendo introduced something called Amiibo; small figures which appear to be similar to the toys of Disney Infinity or Skylanders figures. These figures will be used first with Super Smash Bros. Wii U. Amiibo figures can be read with the Wii U gamepad and scanned into the game. There is two-way data sharing between the Wii U and Amiibo figures. In Super Smash Bros. Wii U, data in the figure becomes personalized over time, which means that the figures learn and get stronger the more they are used in-game. They can also learn new moves and level up. Next year a peripheral will be released that allows Amiibo figures to be read into the 3DS. Following the push to sell Amiibo figures, the digital event switched over to a yarn shop. Yes. You read that right. Yoshi’s Woolly World is a soft, friendly platformer starring everyone’s favorite Mario Bros. dinosaur. As the name suggests, the art style is fully committed to wool yarn and a handmade feel. According to Woolly World’s creative director, they want the game to constantly surprise and bring a smile to the face of their players. Yoshi’s Woolly World is coming in 2015. Who do audiences recognize from the Super Mario Bros. series that isn’t Yoshi, Bowser, Peach, Luigi, or Mario? Toad! Nintendo knows that Toad has never been front and center in his very own game… until now. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is a puzzle platformer that makes use of the Wii U gamepad. Players will be tasked with guiding Captain Toad through various stages to retrieve a star at the end of each. Then, Nintendo dropped its bombs. There is a new Legend of Zelda game coming to Wii U. That news itself isn’t entirely unexpected, but perhaps we all need to readjust our expectations a bit. I know that I wasn’t expecting to get blown away by the reveal, but I just about pooped my pants when I saw how gorgeous the game was. The brief glimpse of the game in action showed a figure on a horse who many assumed was Link (though later there was a comment by the series’ producer that cast some doubt on that assumption). Though we don’t know much about it, what tidbits we saw were really exciting. Initially we were shown a beautiful vista; then we were told that the vista was an entirely explorable. Yep, the next Legend of Zelda is going to be an open world. That has laser arrows. And weird magic robots. It will be released next year. Knowing that they couldn’t possibly top their previous announcement, Nintendo let everyone cool off with a friendly reminder that Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire will release on November 21. Bayonetta 2 was next on Nintendo’s announcement list. Releasing this October, Bayonetta 2 will come packaged with the first Bayonetta and different outfits based on various Nintendo characters. Speaking of characters, Nintendo announced that Hyrule Warriors will release September 26 and will feature a huge roster of playable characters that includes Link, Zelda, Impa, Midna, and the promise that “you’ll be able to play as your favorite Legend of Zelda character.” Also announced was Kirby and the Rainbow Curse, which looks like a cross between Kirby’s Epic Yarn and Kirby Canvas Curse. Players use the Wii U gamepad to draw a pathway for the ball-ified Kirby to make his way through various levels and defeat any enemies. The Monolithsoft’s logo came up on-screen. Afterward, gorgeous, sweeping CGI sequences heralded a new big budget JRPG. Xenoblade Chronicles X looks like another stab at the next great sweeping space opera and I am totally on board to see where this craziness leads. Next up was Mario Maker, which is possibly one of the most self-explanatory games in history. Mario Maker gives players the ability to create their own Mario levels and share them with friends. Level creators will have the ability to switch between original Super Mario Bros. and New Super Mario Bros. graphic styles. Expect to see this title sometime in 2015. Leave it to Nintendo to ask the one question no one has ever asked themselves: “What if you could shoot ink and turn into a squid?” That was the driving idea behind Splatoon, a third-person paintball shooter that allows players to transform into squids and traverse arenas by flowing through their own ink. Splatoon releases in 2015. The digital press conference concluded with the reveal of the goddess Lady Palutena from Kid Icarus as a playable character in the new Super Smash Bros. The disclosure came in the form of an animated sequence courtesy of the Shaft animation studio; perhaps that means we will be seeing a Super Smash Bros. anime? Make it so, Nintendo. Overall, this was a fantastic press conference from Nintendo. They unveiled games that I’m excited for and want to play. Unfortunately, many of the most interesting games shown were still a year or more out. That’s a long wait no matter how you slice it. Hopefully Super Smash Bros. and the possibility of some third-party titles can tide Wii U owners over until the promises of this E3 come to pass. What did you think of the conference? Good? Adequate? Meh? View full article
  5. Indie developer Heart Machine's foray into a world of pixels and adventure is aiming to be more than the sum of its parts. At fist glance, Hyper Light Drifter appears to be a pixelated, stylish take on the classic Zelda formula that's been a go-to template for game designers for decades. However, Heart Machine hopes to differentiate itself by implementing some of its own concepts, like a narrative expressed through visual design and an atmosphere conveyed by a canny soundtrack. From what we've seen of the development so far, Heart Machine seems to be on the right track. The approach to combat centers on the idea that the player should feel empowered when stepping onto the battlefield. Fighting should feel like it has weight with strong visual and audio cues resonating throughout a combat scenario. While conflicts should be fast, brutal affairs, Hyper Light Drifter is also attempting to satisfy its audience on a tactical level. There are many different enemy types that behave differently on the battlefield. Some adversaries will dodge or deflect attacks, others will attack en masse, and others will command legions of weaker creatures. In one of my favorite developer statements, Heart Machine had this to say regarding their game's emphasis on visual narrative, "We chose to recognize that gamers are smart." Hyper Light Drifter eschews text blocks, heavy handed exposition, and confusing UI in favor of a sleek, less-is-more approach. The idea is that the player should be immersed in the world and not be continually called out of it to consult maps and decipher their stats screen. Quests and dialogue will be conveyed in storyboard-like sequences that use color and music to effectively convey their meaning across language barriers. The soundtrack of Hyper Light Drifter is being handled by Disasterpeace, the artist behind the soundscapes of Fez and Runner2. The sound will work together with the visuals to create a mounting aura of anxiety as players venture deeper into the ravaged world of ancient technology better left forgotten. Hyper Light Drifter has come a long way from its hugely successful Kickstarter campaign last year. We can barely wait to get out hands on Heart Machine's creation and delve into the secrets of the future-past. Hyper Light Drifter is slated to release later this year on PC, Mac, Linux, PlayStation 4, Vita, and Wii U. View full article
  6. Indie developer Heart Machine's foray into a world of pixels and adventure is aiming to be more than the sum of its parts. At fist glance, Hyper Light Drifter appears to be a pixelated, stylish take on the classic Zelda formula that's been a go-to template for game designers for decades. However, Heart Machine hopes to differentiate itself by implementing some of its own concepts, like a narrative expressed through visual design and an atmosphere conveyed by a canny soundtrack. From what we've seen of the development so far, Heart Machine seems to be on the right track. The approach to combat centers on the idea that the player should feel empowered when stepping onto the battlefield. Fighting should feel like it has weight with strong visual and audio cues resonating throughout a combat scenario. While conflicts should be fast, brutal affairs, Hyper Light Drifter is also attempting to satisfy its audience on a tactical level. There are many different enemy types that behave differently on the battlefield. Some adversaries will dodge or deflect attacks, others will attack en masse, and others will command legions of weaker creatures. In one of my favorite developer statements, Heart Machine had this to say regarding their game's emphasis on visual narrative, "We chose to recognize that gamers are smart." Hyper Light Drifter eschews text blocks, heavy handed exposition, and confusing UI in favor of a sleek, less-is-more approach. The idea is that the player should be immersed in the world and not be continually called out of it to consult maps and decipher their stats screen. Quests and dialogue will be conveyed in storyboard-like sequences that use color and music to effectively convey their meaning across language barriers. The soundtrack of Hyper Light Drifter is being handled by Disasterpeace, the artist behind the soundscapes of Fez and Runner2. The sound will work together with the visuals to create a mounting aura of anxiety as players venture deeper into the ravaged world of ancient technology better left forgotten. Hyper Light Drifter has come a long way from its hugely successful Kickstarter campaign last year. We can barely wait to get out hands on Heart Machine's creation and delve into the secrets of the future-past. Hyper Light Drifter is slated to release later this year on PC, Mac, Linux, PlayStation 4, Vita, and Wii U.
  7. Between now and February 2nd, 3DS and 2DS owners can visit the Nintendo eShop and download the classic adventure (with a few new features) for free. The original 2003 Game Boy Advanced version of Four Swords came packaged with A Link to the Past, but could only be played with other people who also had the game and with the appropriate connection cables. In the 3DS/2DS update, the multiplayer options are still intact, each player will need a copy of the game and their own handheld, but gamers now have the option to play solo, switching between two different Links in order to solve puzzles. Additionally, a new area called the Realm of Memories has been added after players conquer Four Swords. The Realm of Memories will give gamers the opportunity to revisit parts of older titles. Now watch this trailer from Four Swords Anniversary's 2011 release with Robin Williams and his daughter, Zelda. View full article
  8. Between now and February 2nd, 3DS and 2DS owners can visit the Nintendo eShop and download the classic adventure (with a few new features) for free. The original 2003 Game Boy Advanced version of Four Swords came packaged with A Link to the Past, but could only be played with other people who also had the game and with the appropriate connection cables. In the 3DS/2DS update, the multiplayer options are still intact, each player will need a copy of the game and their own handheld, but gamers now have the option to play solo, switching between two different Links in order to solve puzzles. Additionally, a new area called the Realm of Memories has been added after players conquer Four Swords. The Realm of Memories will give gamers the opportunity to revisit parts of older titles. Now watch this trailer from Four Swords Anniversary's 2011 release with Robin Williams and his daughter, Zelda.
  9. Nintendo announced today that they would be working with the Dynasty Warriors developer to create what has been tentatively titled Hyrule Warriors. We don't know many details about Hyrule Warriors, but from the announcement trailer it appears that the title will have mechanics that will feel familiar to Dynasty Warriors players, such as a combo meter, super moves, and a variety of weapons with which to decimate foes. The locations, enemies, and tools of combat will be familiar to Zelda fans. Hyrule Warriors is expected to release on the Wii U sometime in 2014. This is a pretty great mash-up of two franchises that could actually result in something pretty amazing. It actually makes sense that a Link armed with a sword that shoots magic, infinite bombs, and all sorts of magical gear would be able to take on armies of enemies.Dynasty Warriors isn't know for innovation or intriguing gameplay, but if Nintendo lends a hand with some of the design elements this could be pretty good. What do you think? View full article
  10. Nintendo announced today that they would be working with the Dynasty Warriors developer to create what has been tentatively titled Hyrule Warriors. We don't know many details about Hyrule Warriors, but from the announcement trailer it appears that the title will have mechanics that will feel familiar to Dynasty Warriors players, such as a combo meter, super moves, and a variety of weapons with which to decimate foes. The locations, enemies, and tools of combat will be familiar to Zelda fans. Hyrule Warriors is expected to release on the Wii U sometime in 2014. This is a pretty great mash-up of two franchises that could actually result in something pretty amazing. It actually makes sense that a Link armed with a sword that shoots magic, infinite bombs, and all sorts of magical gear would be able to take on armies of enemies.Dynasty Warriors isn't know for innovation or intriguing gameplay, but if Nintendo lends a hand with some of the design elements this could be pretty good. What do you think?
  11. If you want to get excited about the new top-down Legend of Zelda title, now would be a great time. You may recall that during E3 this year, we had some hands-on time with A Link Between Worlds and that it was, essentially, amazing. A new gameplay trailer has surfaced giving an extended look at the new vertical elements, item upgrades, and powers. The trailer also features a few of the musical tracks that will be present in the title, completely new melodies as well as new twists on old favorites abound. Take a couple minutes and watch, listen, and enjoy! The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds releases on November 22 on 3DS platforms. View full article
  12. If you want to get excited about the new top-down Legend of Zelda title, now would be a great time. You may recall that during E3 this year, we had some hands-on time with A Link Between Worlds and that it was, essentially, amazing. A new gameplay trailer has surfaced giving an extended look at the new vertical elements, item upgrades, and powers. The trailer also features a few of the musical tracks that will be present in the title, completely new melodies as well as new twists on old favorites abound. Take a couple minutes and watch, listen, and enjoy! The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds releases on November 22 on 3DS platforms.
  13. Sonic, Rayman, Luigi, Pokémon, Professor Layton, and Zelda, for your quick stop on what was covered during yesterday’s Nintendo Direct, look no further! We’ve got you covered. Satoru Iwata, global president of Nintendo, began the proceedings by digging into the upcoming Sonic Lost World. The Wii U title will feature three speeds, accommodating players of all skill levels and adding a greater degree of control over the blue hedgehog. Iwata also revealed that Sonic will be able to use “color powers” giving sonic different abilities like tunneling through dirt or transforming into a bird-creature. A 3DS version of the title will also be available. Players will be able to link a 3DS copy of Lost World with a Wii U version, importing player-created radio-controlled vehicles, which they can control on the Wii U using their 3DS. This effectively means that two friends who own the 3DS and Wii U versions can play co-operatively on the Wii U version. Sonic Lost World will release October 22. Iwata moved on to discuss Rayman Legends, which was supposed to release at the beginning of this summer, but was pushed back to the beginning of fall to release across all platforms besides the Wii U. Basically, this section of the Direct was to say, “Hey, remember how cool this game looked several months ago? It is still coming out and it still has unique Wii U GamePad functionality!” So, to reiterate, up to five players can cooperate to beat the various levels, four players on controllers and one on the GamePad. The GamePad player will have access to unique ways to influence the game world unavailable to other players. The only bit of real information was that there will be downloadable Mario and Luigi costumes for the Wii U version. Rayman Legends releases September 3 The Direct then spent some time on Ark Academy SketchPad, a downloadable software program from the eShop that will allow users to use the Wii U GamePad to create artwork. Users will be able to take screenshots of their art and share it with other users via Nintendo’s online services. Though Ark Academy launches August 9, community support will be available a few days later. Iwata also mentioned briefly that Nintendo is working on another Ark Academy title that will include detailed drawing lessons. Following the announcement regarding Ark Academy, Erik Peterson from the Treehouse division of Nintendo of America came on to discuss North American releases of Nintendo titles. Peterson kicked things off with a reminder that Pikmin 3 released and has a way of taking in-game screenshots with the GamePad controller. Players can then caption and share these pictures. If this doesn’t sound like a recipe for the kind of mischief that Nintendo has notoriously cracked down upon, I don’t know what does. Peterson also made sure to remind everyone that the Mario and Luigi Dream Team will be released on August 11 for the 3DS. Pokémon Rumble U was revealed and discussed shortly after Peterson gave an overview of Dream Team. The Wii U eShop title features frantic toy Pokémon vs. toy Pokémon action over the course of 70 levels. Following each level players will have a chance of befriending the Pokémon defeated in battle. All 649 Pokémon that have appeared through Black version 2 and White version 2 will be present and playable. Players will be able to buy figurines at participating retailers and transport them into the game via a scanner on the Wii U GamePad, similar to the popular Skylanders series. Peterson assured everyone that these figurines are completely optional and will not be necessary to see everything. Pokémon Rumble U hits the digital shelves August 29. Other downloadable titles are heading to the 3DS eShop. Retro classics like the original Donkey Kong (August 15), Tecmo Bowl (sometime before football season starts), Wario Land 3 (August 29), and Super Mario Bros. 3 (later this year) will be making their way to the eShop over the course of this year. While Peterson wasn’t able to reveal much information, he did confirm that Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy will be coming next year as well as the long awaited Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney. Satoru Iwata took over the briefing once again. This time, he was dropping some interesting new tidbits regarding The Legend of Zelda series. He began by pointing out that the logo for The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds had not one, but two triforces, one that we are familiar with and another that appears as a shadow. He hinted that this shadow triforce might play a large role in A Link Between Worlds. Iwata also went into a bit more detail about how The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and A Link Between Worlds are related. A Link Between Worlds takes place far in the future, many years after A Link to the Past. The main character is not the same Link, but an entirely new Link. While the normal world of A Link Between Worlds is the same as A Link to the Past, the “other” world seen in the trailers and gameplay from A Link Between Worlds, might not be the Dark World from A Link to the Past. A bit confusing, I know, but whatever the Zelda continuity, A Link Between Worlds is coming to 3DS this November. Iwata also discussed a few of the changes Nintendo has included in the HD version of The Legend of Zelda: The Windwaker. The team has fine-tuned the collection in the last half of the game, presumably making it a bit easier and including less backtracking. They’ve also adjusted wind control actions, which can now be adjusted in any direction instead of fumbling repeatedly with that dang wind baton when you get the direction wrong. Finally, they added a high-speed sailing mode to alleviate some of the tedium players experienced sailing the long stretches of empty ocean. Windwaker HD will be available this October. Luigi was also confirmed for the Wii U and 3DS Super Smash Bros. titles, which doesn’t come as much of a surprise, but I suppose it is nice to know nonetheless. Following the success of Animal Crossing: New Leaf, Iwata announced a new Animal Crossing community on Wii U and a downloadable Animal Crossing Plaza for the Wii U. Animal Crossing Plaza allows players to share screenshots with other players, send messages, see residents from other towns, share clothing designs, post about specific animals, and see updates from your 3DS town. You can download the Plaza now on Wii U. Finally, Iwata concluded yesterday’s Nintendo Direct by announcing that the Platinum Games title Wonderful 101 will be receiving its own Nintendo Direct this Friday August 9, 7 AM PT. As always, you can view the latest Nintendo Direct for yourself. What do you guys think? Interested in a Wii U or 3DS? Is Nintendo doing what it needs to in order to succeed? Let us know in the comments!
  14. Sonic, Rayman, Luigi, Pokémon, Professor Layton, and Zelda, for your quick stop on what was covered during yesterday’s Nintendo Direct, look no further! We’ve got you covered. Satoru Iwata, global president of Nintendo, began the proceedings by digging into the upcoming Sonic Lost World. The Wii U title will feature three speeds, accommodating players of all skill levels and adding a greater degree of control over the blue hedgehog. Iwata also revealed that Sonic will be able to use “color powers” giving sonic different abilities like tunneling through dirt or transforming into a bird-creature. A 3DS version of the title will also be available. Players will be able to link a 3DS copy of Lost World with a Wii U version, importing player-created radio-controlled vehicles, which they can control on the Wii U using their 3DS. This effectively means that two friends who own the 3DS and Wii U versions can play co-operatively on the Wii U version. Sonic Lost World will release October 22. Iwata moved on to discuss Rayman Legends, which was supposed to release at the beginning of this summer, but was pushed back to the beginning of fall to release across all platforms besides the Wii U. Basically, this section of the Direct was to say, “Hey, remember how cool this game looked several months ago? It is still coming out and it still has unique Wii U GamePad functionality!” So, to reiterate, up to five players can cooperate to beat the various levels, four players on controllers and one on the GamePad. The GamePad player will have access to unique ways to influence the game world unavailable to other players. The only bit of real information was that there will be downloadable Mario and Luigi costumes for the Wii U version. Rayman Legends releases September 3 The Direct then spent some time on Ark Academy SketchPad, a downloadable software program from the eShop that will allow users to use the Wii U GamePad to create artwork. Users will be able to take screenshots of their art and share it with other users via Nintendo’s online services. Though Ark Academy launches August 9, community support will be available a few days later. Iwata also mentioned briefly that Nintendo is working on another Ark Academy title that will include detailed drawing lessons. Following the announcement regarding Ark Academy, Erik Peterson from the Treehouse division of Nintendo of America came on to discuss North American releases of Nintendo titles. Peterson kicked things off with a reminder that Pikmin 3 released and has a way of taking in-game screenshots with the GamePad controller. Players can then caption and share these pictures. If this doesn’t sound like a recipe for the kind of mischief that Nintendo has notoriously cracked down upon, I don’t know what does. Peterson also made sure to remind everyone that the Mario and Luigi Dream Team will be released on August 11 for the 3DS. Pokémon Rumble U was revealed and discussed shortly after Peterson gave an overview of Dream Team. The Wii U eShop title features frantic toy Pokémon vs. toy Pokémon action over the course of 70 levels. Following each level players will have a chance of befriending the Pokémon defeated in battle. All 649 Pokémon that have appeared through Black version 2 and White version 2 will be present and playable. Players will be able to buy figurines at participating retailers and transport them into the game via a scanner on the Wii U GamePad, similar to the popular Skylanders series. Peterson assured everyone that these figurines are completely optional and will not be necessary to see everything. Pokémon Rumble U hits the digital shelves August 29. Other downloadable titles are heading to the 3DS eShop. Retro classics like the original Donkey Kong (August 15), Tecmo Bowl (sometime before football season starts), Wario Land 3 (August 29), and Super Mario Bros. 3 (later this year) will be making their way to the eShop over the course of this year. While Peterson wasn’t able to reveal much information, he did confirm that Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy will be coming next year as well as the long awaited Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney. Satoru Iwata took over the briefing once again. This time, he was dropping some interesting new tidbits regarding The Legend of Zelda series. He began by pointing out that the logo for The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds had not one, but two triforces, one that we are familiar with and another that appears as a shadow. He hinted that this shadow triforce might play a large role in A Link Between Worlds. Iwata also went into a bit more detail about how The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and A Link Between Worlds are related. A Link Between Worlds takes place far in the future, many years after A Link to the Past. The main character is not the same Link, but an entirely new Link. While the normal world of A Link Between Worlds is the same as A Link to the Past, the “other” world seen in the trailers and gameplay from A Link Between Worlds, might not be the Dark World from A Link to the Past. A bit confusing, I know, but whatever the Zelda continuity, A Link Between Worlds is coming to 3DS this November. Iwata also discussed a few of the changes Nintendo has included in the HD version of The Legend of Zelda: The Windwaker. The team has fine-tuned the collection in the last half of the game, presumably making it a bit easier and including less backtracking. They’ve also adjusted wind control actions, which can now be adjusted in any direction instead of fumbling repeatedly with that dang wind baton when you get the direction wrong. Finally, they added a high-speed sailing mode to alleviate some of the tedium players experienced sailing the long stretches of empty ocean. Windwaker HD will be available this October. Luigi was also confirmed for the Wii U and 3DS Super Smash Bros. titles, which doesn’t come as much of a surprise, but I suppose it is nice to know nonetheless. Following the success of Animal Crossing: New Leaf, Iwata announced a new Animal Crossing community on Wii U and a downloadable Animal Crossing Plaza for the Wii U. Animal Crossing Plaza allows players to share screenshots with other players, send messages, see residents from other towns, share clothing designs, post about specific animals, and see updates from your 3DS town. You can download the Plaza now on Wii U. Finally, Iwata concluded yesterday’s Nintendo Direct by announcing that the Platinum Games title Wonderful 101 will be receiving its own Nintendo Direct this Friday August 9, 7 AM PT. As always, you can view the latest Nintendo Direct for yourself. What do you guys think? Interested in a Wii U or 3DS? Is Nintendo doing what it needs to in order to succeed? Let us know in the comments! View full article
  15. During the Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD portion of Nintendo's pre-E3 conference, the company revealed some key aspects of the upcoming revamp to the classic GameCube title. Changes include some light integration of motion controls, like aiming bows or grappling hooks with the GamePad, some improved pacing changes, and fast travel has been added to the sea-faring portions of Wind Waker. After playing around with the game shortly after the pre-E3 show, I can confirm that the changes are in place and blend very well with the rest of the game. One of the three items available in the demo was the bow and arrow, which are now aimed with the GamePad. Admittedly, it takes some time to acclimate to lining up shots using motion controls. To make the game seem more smooth and natural, almost all pausing was worked out of the game. Inventory and equipment management has all been moved to the GamePad. Finally, it is still unclear how faster traveling will be implemented in Wind Waker HD. You might need a special item or have it from the first time you step aboard Link's magical, talking vessel. One feature from the original game, the Tingle Tuner, won't be reappearing in Wind Waker HD. Instead, Tingle Bottles replace the Game Boy Advance attachment item and provide all the same functionality. Players will also be able to send each other messages through the Miiverse. The feature to receive messages can block spoilers, block non-friend messages, or block all messages entirely. The most obvious way in which the title has been improved is in the graphical department. Brighter lighting, smoother lines, and bolder outlines all contribute to an update to a classic that many thought had aged well. Let me put it this way, the old Wind Waker looked great when it came out over a decade ago and many maintained that the cell-shaded art style would render it timeless. While it certainly has shown some slight signs of aging, the GameCube title still looks fantastic. With the Wind Waker HD looking noticeably better in many respects, it is incredibly hard to imagine a future version of the title looking any better than it does on the Wii U. For those worried that any significant changes might have been made to the story, characters, or world, I was assured by multiple Nintendo reps that, other than the Tingle Tuner, everything is the same as the GameCube version. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD will be available sometime in October 2013. View full article
  16. During the Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD portion of Nintendo's pre-E3 conference, the company revealed some key aspects of the upcoming revamp to the classic GameCube title. Changes include some light integration of motion controls, like aiming bows or grappling hooks with the GamePad, some improved pacing changes, and fast travel has been added to the sea-faring portions of Wind Waker. After playing around with the game shortly after the pre-E3 show, I can confirm that the changes are in place and blend very well with the rest of the game. One of the three items available in the demo was the bow and arrow, which are now aimed with the GamePad. Admittedly, it takes some time to acclimate to lining up shots using motion controls. To make the game seem more smooth and natural, almost all pausing was worked out of the game. Inventory and equipment management has all been moved to the GamePad. Finally, it is still unclear how faster traveling will be implemented in Wind Waker HD. You might need a special item or have it from the first time you step aboard Link's magical, talking vessel. One feature from the original game, the Tingle Tuner, won't be reappearing in Wind Waker HD. Instead, Tingle Bottles replace the Game Boy Advance attachment item and provide all the same functionality. Players will also be able to send each other messages through the Miiverse. The feature to receive messages can block spoilers, block non-friend messages, or block all messages entirely. The most obvious way in which the title has been improved is in the graphical department. Brighter lighting, smoother lines, and bolder outlines all contribute to an update to a classic that many thought had aged well. Let me put it this way, the old Wind Waker looked great when it came out over a decade ago and many maintained that the cell-shaded art style would render it timeless. While it certainly has shown some slight signs of aging, the GameCube title still looks fantastic. With the Wind Waker HD looking noticeably better in many respects, it is incredibly hard to imagine a future version of the title looking any better than it does on the Wii U. For those worried that any significant changes might have been made to the story, characters, or world, I was assured by multiple Nintendo reps that, other than the Tingle Tuner, everything is the same as the GameCube version. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD will be available sometime in October 2013.
  17. After the last minute pre-E3 presentation by Nintendo yesterday morning, the company allowed the gathered journalists to play every game that they had talked about (with the exception of Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS). I was lucky enough to be one of the first people to sit down and play A Link Between Worlds without distractions for 10 minutes. The goal of the demo was to make your way through a dungeon to the boss at the top of the tower. The first thing that I noticed is that the familiar control scheme of previous handheld Legend of Zelda entries has been altered slightly. The most notable change is that movement now occurs with the 3DS joystick rather than the D-pad. This small alteration actually changes the game quite a bit. You can now face in any number of angles as opposed to only facing up, down, left, right, and diagonal variations on those directions. On first loading up the game, you can immediately discern the unique graphical style that sets A Link Between Worlds apart from other top-down Zelda titles. The visuals draw from older depictions of Link found in early game manuals and combine that look with some light cell-shading elements from Zelda titles like Wind Waker and Phantom Hourglass. The 3D was on in full effect for the entire duration of my play, even though I normally leave it off or only slightly active. I found that the 3D added significantly to the experience, especially within the multi-floor dungeon that I played through. Starting out in the dungeon, I was equipped with a magic hammer capable of squashing springs for a certain amount of time and Link can use the squashed spring to propel himself to higher floors. The 3D capabilities of the system allowed me to see higher areas to which I could be sprung. However, within the first room I learned that the emphasis of the demo would be on Link’s new ability to meld into walls as a 2D drawing. At first, I thought that the wall melding trick would just be a gimmick used once to highlight its potential in the demo and then never be touched on again, but I was wrong. Many of the most creative puzzles revolved entirely around being able to read Link's environment and knowing when to become 2D and when to stay a normal shape. A great example of how this ability promotes outside-the-box kinds of thinking was at the point where I had reached the top of how far I could go within the tower. With no way out, I flailed around for a few seconds before noticing a grated window. Having exhausted all other options, I decided to try and go through the grate as 2D Link, and low and behold I went through the bars to discover that the second half of the dungeon was using the wall meld ability to navigate the outside of the dungeon. Being several floors up above the ground, stuck in a wall (which drains mana), and desperate to find a platform to emerge upon was a tense, fun experience. In my time with the demo dungeon, I managed to reach floor 9, which I was told was right before the dungeon boss. I found it to be a classic Zelda-style game with little improvements and tweaks that add depth to the game and create new and exciting puzzles to be solved. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds will be coming sometime soon to 3DS. View full article
  18. After the last minute pre-E3 presentation by Nintendo yesterday morning, the company allowed the gathered journalists to play every game that they had talked about (with the exception of Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS). I was lucky enough to be one of the first people to sit down and play A Link Between Worlds without distractions for 10 minutes. The goal of the demo was to make your way through a dungeon to the boss at the top of the tower. The first thing that I noticed is that the familiar control scheme of previous handheld Legend of Zelda entries has been altered slightly. The most notable change is that movement now occurs with the 3DS joystick rather than the D-pad. This small alteration actually changes the game quite a bit. You can now face in any number of angles as opposed to only facing up, down, left, right, and diagonal variations on those directions. On first loading up the game, you can immediately discern the unique graphical style that sets A Link Between Worlds apart from other top-down Zelda titles. The visuals draw from older depictions of Link found in early game manuals and combine that look with some light cell-shading elements from Zelda titles like Wind Waker and Phantom Hourglass. The 3D was on in full effect for the entire duration of my play, even though I normally leave it off or only slightly active. I found that the 3D added significantly to the experience, especially within the multi-floor dungeon that I played through. Starting out in the dungeon, I was equipped with a magic hammer capable of squashing springs for a certain amount of time and Link can use the squashed spring to propel himself to higher floors. The 3D capabilities of the system allowed me to see higher areas to which I could be sprung. However, within the first room I learned that the emphasis of the demo would be on Link’s new ability to meld into walls as a 2D drawing. At first, I thought that the wall melding trick would just be a gimmick used once to highlight its potential in the demo and then never be touched on again, but I was wrong. Many of the most creative puzzles revolved entirely around being able to read Link's environment and knowing when to become 2D and when to stay a normal shape. A great example of how this ability promotes outside-the-box kinds of thinking was at the point where I had reached the top of how far I could go within the tower. With no way out, I flailed around for a few seconds before noticing a grated window. Having exhausted all other options, I decided to try and go through the grate as 2D Link, and low and behold I went through the bars to discover that the second half of the dungeon was using the wall meld ability to navigate the outside of the dungeon. Being several floors up above the ground, stuck in a wall (which drains mana), and desperate to find a platform to emerge upon was a tense, fun experience. In my time with the demo dungeon, I managed to reach floor 9, which I was told was right before the dungeon boss. I found it to be a classic Zelda-style game with little improvements and tweaks that add depth to the game and create new and exciting puzzles to be solved. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds will be coming sometime soon to 3DS.
  19. In a Nintendo Direct video, which can be viewed here, Reggie Fils-Aime, the president and COO of Nintendo of America, shared that a direct sequel to the classic top-down Legend of Zelda adventure is coming to the 3DS. The new title will make use of the 3D features on the handheld to incorporate vertical levels and the ability to transform into a 2D wall drawing into its puzzle solving mechanics. We are incredibly excited to see more details on the title which are likely to be revealed during E3 in June. The press announcement also included a slew of information regarding previously announced titles. Satoru Iwata touched on the story details of Mario & Luigi: Dream Team (3DS), the wireless features of Mario Golf World Tour (3DS), the changes New Super Luigi U brings to the New Super Mario Bros. U (DLC for New Super Mario Bros. U on the WiiU), the differences between the Wii version of Donkey Kong Country Returns and the remake coming to 3DS, and a new flying pikmin type in Pikmin 3. Other new game announcements were made as well. A new Mario Party title, a downloadable Mario vs. Donkey Kong game called Minis on the Move, and a third installment in the Yoshi’s Island series (which is well worth being excited about as well) were announced for 3DS. Mr. Iwata discussed the console update for the WiiU. The update will improve load times, allow users to transfer data between two hard drives, automatically install software, and allow gamers to download and install updates even when the system is turned off. The WiiU Virtual Console will launch the day after the update goes live next week. When the service launches, classic titles like Balloon Fight, Mario Bros., Punch Out, Super Mario Bros. 2, F-Zero, Super Metroid, Excite Bike, Kirby Super Star, Super Mario World, all of which can be played on the WiiU gamepad. Iwata added that Nintendo is working on bringing Game Boy Advance and N64 titles to the WiiU virtual console. Most importantly for Virtual Console fans, Iwata announced that Earthbound will finally be making its way to Europe and North America in response to fan outcry at the Japanese only release of the title in March. Bill Trinen from the Treehouse branch of Nintendo then came on to demonstrate gameplay from the upcoming Game & Wario, discuss features in the newest Monster Hunter, and showcase a 3DS sequel to Lego City Undercover. Trinen also announced that numerous Japanese releases are being brought overseas for 3DS. Among these titles are Square Enix’s Bravely Default Flying Fairy (see image below), a wide variety of Level 5 titles such as Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy, The Starship Damrey, Bugs vs. Tanks, and Attack of the Friday Monsters! A Tokyo Tale. Atlus also announced an incredibly lavish Shin Megami Tensei IV release for the 3DS this summer. For more information, you can watch the Nintendo Direct press release here (if you are only interested in the Legend of Zelda announcement, skip to 35:10).
  20. In a Nintendo Direct video, which can be viewed here, Reggie Fils-Aime, the president and COO of Nintendo of America, shared that a direct sequel to the classic top-down Legend of Zelda adventure is coming to the 3DS. The new title will make use of the 3D features on the handheld to incorporate vertical levels and the ability to transform into a 2D wall drawing into its puzzle solving mechanics. We are incredibly excited to see more details on the title which are likely to be revealed during E3 in June. The press announcement also included a slew of information regarding previously announced titles. Satoru Iwata touched on the story details of Mario & Luigi: Dream Team (3DS), the wireless features of Mario Golf World Tour (3DS), the changes New Super Luigi U brings to the New Super Mario Bros. U (DLC for New Super Mario Bros. U on the WiiU), the differences between the Wii version of Donkey Kong Country Returns and the remake coming to 3DS, and a new flying pikmin type in Pikmin 3. Other new game announcements were made as well. A new Mario Party title, a downloadable Mario vs. Donkey Kong game called Minis on the Move, and a third installment in the Yoshi’s Island series (which is well worth being excited about as well) were announced for 3DS. Mr. Iwata discussed the console update for the WiiU. The update will improve load times, allow users to transfer data between two hard drives, automatically install software, and allow gamers to download and install updates even when the system is turned off. The WiiU Virtual Console will launch the day after the update goes live next week. When the service launches, classic titles like Balloon Fight, Mario Bros., Punch Out, Super Mario Bros. 2, F-Zero, Super Metroid, Excite Bike, Kirby Super Star, Super Mario World, all of which can be played on the WiiU gamepad. Iwata added that Nintendo is working on bringing Game Boy Advance and N64 titles to the WiiU virtual console. Most importantly for Virtual Console fans, Iwata announced that Earthbound will finally be making its way to Europe and North America in response to fan outcry at the Japanese only release of the title in March. Bill Trinen from the Treehouse branch of Nintendo then came on to demonstrate gameplay from the upcoming Game & Wario, discuss features in the newest Monster Hunter, and showcase a 3DS sequel to Lego City Undercover. Trinen also announced that numerous Japanese releases are being brought overseas for 3DS. Among these titles are Square Enix’s Bravely Default Flying Fairy (see image below), a wide variety of Level 5 titles such as Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy, The Starship Damrey, Bugs vs. Tanks, and Attack of the Friday Monsters! A Tokyo Tale. Atlus also announced an incredibly lavish Shin Megami Tensei IV release for the 3DS this summer. For more information, you can watch the Nintendo Direct press release here (if you are only interested in the Legend of Zelda announcement, skip to 35:10). View full article
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