The fine folks at Nicalis are bringing the definitive edition of indie darling Cave Story to the Nintendo Switch on June 20th in both physical and digital formats. In a PR e-mail received earlier today, the official price is set at $29.99 for either version. Continue reading
Twin-stick roguelike The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+ is one of the few physically released Nintendo Switch titles currently available at retail, and it’s the one I recommend picking up alongside The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Continue reading
Yesterday I joined Chuck Zodl from Counterattack Games to discuss our current gaming plans, the latest Nintendo Switch news, new games that make us feel nostalgic, and the labor of love that comes with self-running a small video game site in 2017.
This podcast is something we’re trying to make a regular weekly thing, schedules permitting, so if there are questions you’d like us to answer on the next recording, leave it down in the comments and we’ll give you and your gaming outlet a shout out. They can be civil or bizarre, game related or not, it doesn’t matter. We’re not shy. Ask away!
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Now that I’ve had a few days to digest the recent Nintendo Switch presentation, I’d like to discuss its ups and downs as a core console gamer. One that grew up playing NES and SNES, felt a little burned by the Wii U, and wants nothing more than The Big N to return to form with the Switch.
What we saw was Nintendo continuing to display their innovation, crafting a hybrid home- and handheld console with detachable controllers, offering an accessible co-op experience straight out of the box. Their desire to push boundaries and create fun new experiences remains their core focus, and they were intent on selling the Switch as a brand new console, a new way to play games, to avoid a repeat of the Wii U’s disastrous reveal in 2011.
However, my main takeaway from the presentation is that Nintendo still remains out of touch with the rest of the console market. There are a lot of exciting games in the pipeline, but a weak launch line-up, overpriced accessories, a rather questionable social interface, a lackluster paid online service requirement, and utterly laughable third-party support out of the gate, has me worried that the Switch may be just as successful (or unsuccessful) as the Wii U.
First, let’s go over what we know about the Switch so far.
The 3DS Metroid that nobody asked for, Federation Force, received a free demo today for its 3-on-3 Rocket League mode, Blast Ball. And it’s not good.
Similar to Rocket League, two teams of three compete to sink a large glowing ball in to the opposing team’s goal. There’s also the option to play with 5 AI-controlled opponents offline. Unlike Rocket League, however, it’s not very fun. At all.
Blast Ball has a few things working against it, starting with the control scheme. In order to stay locked on to the ball, you have to keep your finger on the L trigger — this, combined with manual aiming via the R trigger (due to the original 3DS’s lack of a 2nd analog stick), makes moving the ball quite the nuisance. The controls became uncomfortable for me well before the end of my first match, so I can’t imagine playing it for any extended period of time.
The rest of the face buttons are used to dodge, activate power-ups (like faster movement speed), and fire your arm cannon in both rapid fire and charged shot flavors. You can use the bottom screen to shout a selection of generic quips to your teammates, like “nice shot!”, or view your current power-up, but that’s really all there is to it.
Although Blast Ball is just an optional side-mode, it’s safe to assume the given control scheme will reflect how uncomfortable it’s going to be playing the campaign.
The gameplay itself is also quite unfortunate. My main complaint is that shooting is your only form of offense AND defense, since getting hit by the ball can kill you. Your arm cannon is limited by an overheat meter, meaning you either use your shots to move the ball toward the opposing goal, or save them in order to sway its momentum away from your own. That sounds fine in theory, but the motion of the ball is unpredictable. In the few matches I played, playing defense boiled down to an uninteresting game of spray-and-pray bullet firing or sacrificing myself to the ball gods in order to prevent a goal.
Imagine if soccer (or futbol, depending on your region) replaced its traditional ball with a cannonball instead. Now also imagine that goalies explode whenever they block a shot, and their only defense against the cannonball is a straw and a handful of spitballs. Sounds entertaining, as long as you yourself aren’t the one playing it. And therein lies the problem.
Metroid Prime: Federation Force’s Blast Ball mode just isn’t fun.
It borrows heavily from Rocket League, but removes everything that made it enjoyable: the chaos, the adrenaline rush of zooming downfield and launching yourself in an attempt to score a goal, the communication between teammates, and just about every other reason it received numerous Game of the Year awards.
I’ll admit that when Nintendo announced a new Metroid and Federation Force is what they came up with, I was furious. Metroid has been given the shaft since Metroid Prime 3: Corruption and it deserved better than a seemingly half-assed multi-player game in which four players who aren’t Samus revisit planets from the series’ history. But as a long time fan of the series, I wanted to see it for myself in order to give it a fair chance. Blast Ball has done nothing to sway my opinion.
I know that Blast Ball isn’t the only mode available in Federation Force, as the core game is a four-player co-op campaign with nearly 60 missions, but it was enough for me to stay clear when it releases the day before my birthday on August 19th. And if my Twitter feed is anything to go by, I’m not the only person put off.
If you’re interested in experiencing it for yourself, the demo will remain free for everyone to play until “early September,” according to the PR e-mail I received from Nintendo this morning.
Have you checked it out yet? If so, what are your thoughts? How do you see it faring when it releases next month?
Street Fighter V crowned its first ever EVO tournament winner last night in Korea’s Infiltration, which just so happened to be shown live on ESPN 2. On top of that historic feat, the crowd witnessed one of the most emotional moments in the fighting tournament’s history with Long Island Joe being America’s sole representative in the top 8.
If anything, Capcom gained a ton of momentum and fanfare for Street Fighter V last night, but for whatever reason, they’ve decided to toss a stick in their own spokes by releasing the Capcom Pro Tour DLC today for the ridiculous price of $24.99. Yes, roughly half of the game’s price tag for a minimal amount of additional content.
This DLC nets you three costumes, two titles, 1 new color for each fighters, and the Ring of Destiny stage used throughout last night’s EVO 2016 Top 8 brackets. Granted, the stage is pretty entertaining with its dancing bear, fireworks, and rad music, but no. Just no.
Last night it was revealed that sales of the DLC will increase the prize winnings of the Capcom Pro Tour, but spending more money for others to make more money isn’t exactly an incentive I can get behind.
It’s not that I don’t want to support the fighters on the pro-circuit (LI Joe is my new hero), but I wish there was a better way than overpaying for what seems like content that would otherwise be free.
When Oculus Rift was priced at $599.99, followed by HTC Vive’s $799.99 announcement, we knew one thing was certain: virtual reality is going to be expensive. And that doesn’t even take in to account the cost of a PC rig worthy of running either one.
At Sony’s GDC presentation today, Playstation confirmed that their foray in to the realm of VR would release later this fall in October. Not only will Playstation VR reach the masses later than their competition (Oculus Rift releases in March, HTC Vive in April), but will be significantly cheaper as well, priced at $399.99.
According to Sony, more than 50 games will be available this year for PS VR and 230 development studios are currently working on games for the headset, ranging from “smaller independent teams to larger studios at the industry’s top publishers.” A Playstation VR-exclusive Star Wars Battlefront game was confirmed during the conference.
So with PS VR’s release window and pricing confirmed, let’s talk about a few pros and cons. Feel free to weigh in down in the comment section.
The cost of entry: It’s been stated by numerous sources that the average cost of a PC to run Oculus Rift is around $1,500.00. Playstation VR’s entry point is only $399.99, and as a gaming console it will never require hardware upgrades throughout the course of its entire lifespan.
Right now Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are only catering to the VR enthusiast crowd with money to burn, not the everyday consumer. Sure, PS VR is the weakest of the three, but it’s also trying to reach the largest market possible.
“The biggest advantage for Sony is our headset works with PS4. It’s more for everyday use, so it has to be easy to use and it has to be affordable. This is not for the person who uses a high-end PC. It’s for the mass market.” -Playstation VP Masayasu, Polygon interview
The install base: As of the latest sales report, Sony is sitting on 36 million Playstation 4 console sales with no sign of slowing down. According to a Gamespot post from February 26th, 2016, Playstation 4 is projected to reach over 100 million worldwide sales during its lifespan.
This would place the PS4 in to an elite club, as only six game consoles have ever reached that milestone–two of which are Playstations (1 & 2).
With such a massive (and affordable) install base, Playstation VR may be the place to experience VR for those of us primarily interested in the games side of the booming technology. It could also be the best place to start for casual consumers, since the average person isn’t going to meet the minimum requirements on their PC or a $400 laptop from Best Buy.
By the time PC hardware is affordable enough to equal the cost of a PS4, we’ll be well on to the next console generation. And with that in mind, you’re looking at a good 4 or 5 years of PS VR experiences.
Supports all of your PS4 games in some way: Whether it’s a simple cinematic view, similar to playing your games on a huge virtual flatscreen, or full-on VR support, all PS4 games will be supported by PS VR.
If you’re a fan of Kinda Funny Games you’re probably familiar with Greg and Colin’s selling point of using VR as way to leave the real world behind and fully immerse yourself in the experience. A new way to play, so to speak.
Even without full VR support, you’ll be able to strap on the headset, put on a pair of headphones, and block out the distractions of the outside world (like loud neighbors, barking dogs, or, heaven forbid, a fire breaking out in your kitchen).
I live in a studio with my girlfriend and our three cats. It’s hard to fully immerse myself in to a game, since the cats are always chasing each other around, knocking shit over, hissing, or snoring. Although she’s an avid gamer, my girlfriend and I don’t always play games together.
PS VR could be a way to take myself out of the room without actually leaving, and that’s a potential selling point for a lot of people living in busy households.
You’ll need more than just the PS VR headset: While Playstation VR is launching by itself at $399.99, it does require (yes, require) a Playstation Camera to function, which is sold separately.
EDIT: Earlier today (3/16/2016) Sony confirmed that a bundle will be offered as well, which includes the PS VR headset, a Playstation Camera, and one Playstation Move wand.
The MSRP for the PS Camera is $59.99, but they’ve gone on sale as low as $25 at numerous retailers. It’s a cheap add-on, but it’s worth noting that it’s not included in the price tag.
Playstation Move controllers are not included in the price tag either, although Giant Bomb’s Jeff Gerstmann reported from the GDC conference on Twitter, stating “most of the games at this event are using Dual Shocks, not Move wands.” His opinion of the included earphones weren’t promising, calling them “pretty weak“, but we’ll have to wait and see how they’re received by consumers this October.
But hey, at least you get a free download of The Playroom, which includes 6 mini-games, right?
It’s the cost of a PS4, but with significantly less games: Having 50 games to play by the end of the year for any new console isn’t something to scoff at, but without a confirmed line-up of must-play titles, it’s going to be a hard sell to casual consumers (even at a more affordable price than their VR competitors).
My general rule of thumb is not to buy a console unless it’s worth its price in games, and right now I don’t know if these 50 games are actual games or just glorified VR tech demos. I can’t not compare it to the Playstation Move or the Xbox Kinect, where the ideas were cool but they were little more than novel party games with little staying power.
Sony has a knack for abandoning things that aren’t Playstation home consoles: Playstation Move, Playstation Vita, as soon as they showed no signs of advancing, Sony quietly swept them under the rug. If PS VR doesn’t pan out quickly enough, or isn’t received well by its consumers, who’s to say Playstation won’t follow suit and brush aside the peripheral to refocus on the wildly successful PS4?
On the flip side, if this proves to be a victory for Playstation it’ll only improve the sales figures of PS4. Sony has invested a ton of resources in to PS VR, so I don’t think they’ll give up that quickly. But I can’t help but look over their track record for failing peripherals and wonder if consumers should wait this one out.
I’m only interested in the games side of virtual reality right now, but the more I hear about virtual tourism and other non-game functionality, the more I kind of want that. Being able to pop on a VR headset and watch the Baltimore Orioles play inside of Camden Yards from the comfort of my own home in South Carolina would be awesome. We’re a ways off from that, so right now I’m content just focusing on games.
That being said, my PC won’t run Oculus Rift or HTC Vive headsets, so I’m looking at PS VR to fit my virtual reality wants (rather than needs–because, let’s be honest, I don’t need VR in my life). I already own a PS4. I know that I’ll never have to buy any hardware upgrades. I’m okay with it being a weaker unit, as long as it’s comfortable and functional.
But am I going to buy one at launch? Absolutely not. I’m interested. I’m curious. But I’m not sold yet. I want to see how it’s received first, and (more importantly) I want to make sure there’s games I actually want to play.
What about you? Interested in PS VR? What’s your take on the price, release date, and hardware?