Videos

Jose Otero, IGN: ‘Attaching and detaching [Joy-Con] from the [Switch] is satisfying to the point that it’s almost addictive’

Jose Otero, IGN, timestamp 3:11:

Outside of the tiny face buttons, the analog sticks, digital triggers, and shoulder buttons feel solid and well made.

The Joy-Con are surprisingly comfortable and versatile in the hand too. And attaching and detaching them from the console is satisfying to the point that it’s almost addictive.

I remember feeling satisfaction attaching and detaching Controller and Rumble Paks from the Nintendo 64 controller’s expansion port.

I can’t wait to get my hands on this thing.

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Warcraft and Toontown

News of a Warcraft movie with the involvement of Duncan Jones and Legendary Pictures has had me excited for years now. Unfortunately, this trailer does not.

I’ve eagerly awaited every Blizzard in-house cinematic since Starcraft’s in 1998. (If I recall correctly, it shipped on the Warcraft II: Beyond the Dark Portal disc.) I don’t believe Blizzard’s in-house cinematic team had much to do with this film. And if true, that is a sad fact.

In the games, the orcs’ robust physique is met with nearly as robust human physique. Blizzard’s own in-house cinematics reflect this as well:

Physique aside, the use of real actors against what appears to be a solely computer-generated backdrop and animated rivals is jarring. (See also the Star Wars prequel trilogy and The Hobbit) I thought we were working passed this. I thought the gag of cartoons working in Hollywood was in the process of being shuddered. Confused about how real actors would look in either the orc or human role, I figured they’d both be bolstered by CGI. I figured wrong. On the upside, the close-ups of the orcs look great.

I’m not a World of Warcraft player, but within an hour or so of the Warcraft Movie trailer premier, a cinematic trailer for World of Warcraft: Legion, the upcoming WoW expansion was released. This is the kind of visual consistency I was hoping for:

All I’m saying is the unbelievable visual inconsistency of animated characters and backdrops alongside real actors is tired. Give me real or fake. If both, let’s stick to the Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Space Jam gags.

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Thoughts on Star Wars Teaser #2

  1. I could have sworn they were pulling audio from Return of the Jedi. (Mark Hamill still sounds youthful.) Until Luke’s line: “You have that power, too.”
  2. And if this is truly new dialogue, Luke state’s that his ‘father has it.” Has. Not had.
  3. It’s fun to imagine Vader is still around, but whether it’s clever audio splicing or Luke referring to the omnipresent (Force ghost*) Anakin, I say Vader is dead and gone.
  4. Finn is a trepidatious Stormtrooper recruit. The chaotic stormtrooper battle scene affirms his worries and he chooses to leave the Empire (or equivalent faction). This is the first time we witness the weight of war and death on soldiers in the post-prequel films.**
  5. I need to figure out a way to be a part of this upcoming series of Disney Star Wars films.
  6. I hate zoom. (1:28)

—– 

* Thanks for the heads up to @AlexandreSitbon. The term was slipping my mind.

** Correction: Sad Ewok.

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The Super Mario Timeline

Speaking of silly dreamers, how about this gem. I like the idea of Donkey Kong leading to Mario Bros. I especially love the part where Bowser throws in the towel and Mario becomes a sports tycoon.

[Via Polygon]

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The Making of Lumino City

Brave. Daring. Ambitious. Inspired. Inspiring. Beautiful.

Not twenty minutes before watching this video was I listening to Howard Shore’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey soundtrack, ruminating on what it must have felt like to be involved in such a massive, all-consuming project as The Lord of the Rings film franchise. I often fantasize about working as a builder or set designer on those projects, bringing Tolkien’s Middle-earth to life. Imagining the construction of Lumino City brings about the same thoughts and is far more compelling than the game itself, and boy what an amazing game it looks to be.

State of Play’s Lumino City will be available tomorrow, December 3rd, via Steam for Mac and PC. Official trailer below.

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‘I think Smash Bros. is how all video games look to grandparents.’

Polygon video producer Griffin McElroy showcasing the new features of Super Smash Bros. Wii U to Polygon managing editor Justin McElroy on Polygon’s Overview, time stamp 14:06:

JM: Griffin… do you ever look at Smash Bros., when you’re me, and think, “I bet this is how all video games look to my nani?”

GM: Ya, I think so. Ya, probably. Are you saying that because it’s just like really crazy and hectic and inscrutable? Or because it’s like, “Ahh! You gotta use the Pac-Man to eat the Marios!”

JM: Like both, I guess. I think Smash Bros. is how all video games look to grandparents.

GM: Probably. Maybe.

It’s not just grandparents:

I’ve put in a few hours and I’m still not sure I know what I’m doing.

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What is a game? And why it matters!

Yours truly, June 23, 2014:

There have been many arguments about the term “video game” and what it actually means in today’s world. Many “games” no longer incorporate elements of games (e.g. Journey), causing critics to coin terms like “interactive experiences.” I think Siracusa’s talk shines light on a better word for modern games (especially first-person design) that has been right under our noses: Simulations.

There are games (e.g. Super Mario Bros., Uncharted), there are simulations (e.g. Journey, Dear Esther, Gran Turismo), and there are those that incorporate both (e.g. Halo, Mario Kart). The problem is that no one wants to hear the term “simulation.” For most, simulations have been boring since Flight Simulator 2000. On the other hand, games have been fun for centuries.

As we move closer to an Oculus future, we move further away from “video games.” If anything, I’d argue that the term “video game” does more harm than good for the industry’s larger appeal, carrying the baggage of a childish activity regardless of what studies show. “Simulation” may not be perfect the perfect term but it’s a word that should be incorporated more often.

In any case, a very enjoyable argument from Jamin Warren and PBS.

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Captain Toad is Genius

In June 2014, during Nintendo’s E3 Digital Event, a short, minute long trailer for Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker was tucked between two larger developer interviews for Yoshi’s Woolly World and the much talked about Legend of Zelda for Wii U. Not only was the trailer a bit hidden, it was never verbally acknowledged throughout the course of the 45-minute event. It was a curious trailer, but was the one that stuck with me long after E3. A splinter in my mind.

For those unfamiliar, the origin of Captain Toad is rooted in bonus stages strewn throughout the Super Mario 3D World world map. As players collect stars and progress through the game, Captain Toad stages are unlocked. More from the Super Mario 3D World Wikipedia entry:

Additional Green Stars can be earned in Captain Toad levels, where players control the slow Captain Toad as he navigates puzzle-like stages using the GamePad’s functionality, and Mystery Houses, where players must clear a series of challenges with short time limits.

Not only is Captain Toad slow, he does not have the ability to jump; a staple in the Mushroom Kingdom. The player is forced to keep their wits about them, outsmarting the level design by means of the camera, shifting their perspective over the tiny cube-shaped levels. This imposition of limits is integral to great game design. It makes for gameplay that almost feels foreign amongst the landscape of current shooters and platformers. Strategy becomes the emphasis.

In late August, in an interview with EDGE Magazine, Shigeru Miyamoto made comments about the state of “core” vs. “casual”. The interpretation from Rob Fahey at GamesIndustry.biz hit the nail on the head:

At the same time, though, Nintendo itself has a conception of “casual” and “core” that probably isn’t shared by the majority of sites reporting Miyamoto’s comments. Miyamoto talks not about themes but about enjoyment of challenge as the distinction between the two groups. To him, a supposedly “adult” game full of blood and ripe language could be utterly casual if it spoon-feeds players with dull, linear gameplay. Meanwhile, a brightly coloured Mushroom Kingdom epic could qualify as “core” if it challenges players in the right way. Consequently, Nintendo’s family-friendly IP and the broad appeal of its themes is entirely compatible with a focus on “core games”, to Miyamoto’s mind. What he’s talking about changing is something at the root of design, not the thematic wallpaper of the company’s games; he wants to challenge people, not to force Nintendo’s artists to remove all the primary colours from their Photoshop palettes.

I think this is exactly what we can expect from Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker.

On top of great level design, the aesthetic design preserves the same gorgeous caliber we’ve seen in Mario Kart 8 and Super Mario 3D World. The levels are lush and appear to be brimming with tiny details, animations, humor, and secrets. I will echo my Hail Mario piece and say that “Nintendo is unabashedly gunning for Disney-level aesthetics; a tactic to win over most demographics.”

To add, filling out a Toad with unique characteristics rather than the ambiguous, multi-colored placeholders they have traditionally been known as (see New Super Mario Bros. Wii) brings more definition to the Mushroom Kingdom. And with this new, unique character comes new, unique gameplay. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker shows that Nintendo is looking to explore the depths of the Mushroom Kingdom, and proves that there is more there than just simple platformers. We haven’t seen much of dynamic since the Luigi’s Mansion series; a stand-alone IP centered on a familiar character with unique gameplay and design.

When playing Super Mario 3D World, I race for every  Captain Toad level the instant they are unlocked. They are clever, challenging departures from the platforming world Mario inhabits. Something tells me I am not the only one of the few million Super Mario 3D World players to do so. For those unfamiliar with Captain Toad, they will be pleasantly surprised with the over 70 gorgeous, challenging, classic Nintendo designed levels to explore. For those few million that have already had a taste of Captain Toad, you can bet they are itching for more of the playful puzzle mini-game. And assuredly, with Nintendo’s move to DLC (Mario Kart 8) , there will be plenty more to come.

Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker debuts in Japan on November 13, 2014. Subsequent release dates as follows:

NA: December 5, 2014
EU: January 2, 2015
AUS: January 3, 2015

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One Hell of a Talk from Anita Sarkeesian at the 2014 XOXO Festival

Anita Sarkeesian, XOXO Festival:

For these detractors, it is easier to believe that I’m a skin-bleaching, mind-controlling, video-game-hating, scam artist involved in a masterful long-con than it is to believe that the tide is turning in gaming. That larger numbers of developers and fans are challenging the sexist status-quo and embracing the ideas and critiques expressed in my work and the work of many other women doing the same cultural criticism.

That about sums up #gamergate. We are extremely fortunate to brave folks like Sarkeesian facing this head-on.

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IGN’s Top 125 Nintendo Games of All Time

To round out their 125th Nintendo Anniversary celebration, Nintendo has released their Top 125 Nintendo Games of All Time, complete with a Let’s Play video for each game (the same Let’s Plays I’ve been thoroughly enjoying for over a month).

IGN:

Nintendo merely publishing a game that was developed by a third party does not make it eligible – for a game to be considered a “Nintendo game” in our eyes, Nintendo has to have had a hand in the development process itself. This excludes games like Golden Sun (developed by Camelot and published by Nintendo) and Meteos (developed by Q Entertainment and published by Nintendo).

The lack of third-party games published by Nintendo never crossed my mind. A truly impressive catalog from a truly revolutionary company. Again, a story I can believe in.

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