22 Jun 2012

Why the 3DS XL Isn't The Console We Want Or Need

Last night Nintendo had a little get together and announced some new things to the public that they either missed or didn’t want to reveal at E3, if you’re asking yourself “why?” right now, don’t worry you’re not alone. Considering their E3 conference that was broadcast worldwide to millions of people was only 15 days ago you would’ve thought that announcing a new console, even if it’s just another iteration of an already existing model, would have been high on the agenda, but that’s not the Nintendo way, instead they just launch new variations of the DS in new colours whenever they want like it’s no big deal. (as a sidenote  I’d like to know just how many different versions of the DS actually exist)
So we’ll start with the good, the screens have been upped from the current 3.53 & 3.02 inch screens to 4.88 & 4.18 inch screens, that’s an upscale of 90% which is quite a lot really, my main peeve with going from a DSi XL to a 3DS was the drop in screen size so this is fantastic, however there’s been no mention of increased resolution meaning that it’s just going to stretch the orginal images onto a bigger screen, depending on the game this could result in loss of clarity. also I think the buttons under the touch screen look alot better as they're actual buttons, unlike the plastic strip we have now.
There's apparently 3 colours, all will be black when opened but the fronts are either silver, red or blue. However there's clearly a white version as well as you can see from the following photo, but people seem to have missed this.

Then there’s the battery life, Nintendo are promising up to 6.5 hours battery life whilst playing a 3D game whereas the original model comes in at 5 hours max, that extra battery life is great considering there’s a big problem when it comes to power…but we’ll get to that in a moment. Also you get a 4gb SD included as standard in every console.
The final good point of Nintendo’s announcement comes in the shape of price and date, it’s going to be on sale in the UK on 28th July (which is weird considering that’s a Saturday, maybe they meant the 27th) and currently the price is touted at $199 swhich transfers to about £128 which isn’t bad really considering the size of the thing and given the fact that an original 3DS is still around the £130 mark.
[update: The price has now turned into a bad point, of course a straight conversion in price wasn't ever going to be applicable, rather than give it us for the same price as America, instead we're getting ripped off. It seems that Play are currently listing it at £174.99 and Zavvi are going for £209.95 which is apparently a saving! they've got the RRP listed as £249, I smell bullshit.  Protip, don't buy one, wait for them to sell none and drop the price by £60 or so.]

Ok so that all seems pretty good, there’s a bigger screen for us old people whose eyes aren’t what they used to be (expect more of those horrible Nintendo adverts where old people are playing puzzle games) and longer between charges, good stuff, now onto the bad.
Where the hell is the extra slidepad? Why release games that work really well with two thumbsticks (Resident Evil, MGS) and bring out the accessory to add this 2nd pad onto the existing console, make it look terrible but work really well, then prompt everyone to think “well it’s fine isn’t it, the new DS will include an extra thumbstick obviously, which will be good because that’s the way we play games now, the Vita has 2, controllers have 2 so Nintendo must be following suit”…well apparently not, because instead we’re hit with this. Expect an even bigger and uglier circle pad pro XL accessory to go with this because this new DS is bigger all over meaning no cases or circle pad accessories will fit it.

After that monumental failure are you ready for another? Well remember the improved battery life? Well that’s a good thing believe me because after you run down the 6 or so hours of battery you might as well trade in your new DS because there’s no way of you being able to charge it again. This new model doesn’t come with a charge station or even a plug…that’s right, there is no ability to charge the battery included, apparently it’s to keep costs down because plugs or hell even a usb charging cable are obviously well expensive. I maybe understand the cradle not being included, that was a neat little extra but not essential for the device to function, but to not include a plug is just plain stupid, instead we Europeans and our Japanese friends are expected to buy it separately (In Japan they’ll cost 1500 yen, that’s about £12 and a new dock is 1200, about £10) whilst our American cousins get one included in the box. There is good news however, the normal DSi/3DS plug will work, yay! Thanks Nintendo. I cannot overstate the massive amounts of fail involved here, what if you trade in your plugs with your old DS versions like I have?
So to sum it all up, bigger screen and battery life is good, no plug or 2nd circle pad is bad. Also I don’t understand who this is for or why Nintendo have brought it out, it’s literally the same console but bigger and with a better battery, that’s it, is it like the DSi XL where they’ll push it on old people? Can the elderly see 3D anyway? I remember reading something saying that it can cause the elderly, kids and pregnant people to feel sick, so again pointless Nintendo. Clearly this is another attempt to light some fire under the sales figures of the 3DS and maybe push it on those who havn’t yet taken the leap to upgrade, whether this’ll work remains to be seen.
*For those who might be interested I’m up to 86 different versions of the DS over the last 8 years, and that’s just the one’s I know about, I’m sure it’s probably close to 100.

7 Nintendo DS – grey, red, blue, red/silver, titanium, Mario Kart Edition, Zelda Edition.

43 Nintendo DS Lite – Crystal White, Ice Blue, Enamel Navy, Nobel Pink, Jet Black, Metallic Rose, Metallic Silver, Polar White, Blue/Black, Red/Black, Smart Black, Platinum, Red, Green, Turquoise, Final Fantasy III Edition, Pokémon DAISUKI Club edition, Pokemon Diamond & Pearl edition, Giratina Origin Forme Edition, Jump ultimate Stars Edition, Love and Berry Edition, Mario vs. Donkey Kong edition, Final Fantasy XII Revenant Wings Sky Pirates edition, Pirates of the Caribbean edition, Seattle Mariners edition, Pokémon Center Pikachu edition, RX-93 ν Gundam edition, Wonderful World edition, Kirby: Squeak Squad edition, Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates Gemini edition, Nintendo Connection Tour '07 edition, Wario: Master of Disguise edition, Super Mario 64 DS iQue DS edition, The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass edition, Nintendogs edition, Warhammer 40,000: Squad Command edition, Crimson/Black Dragon iQue DS edition, Bape Milo edition, Honeyee x Fragment Design, Guitar Hero: On Tour edition, Pink Ribbon DS Lite, Mario Red.

12 Nintendo DSi – white, black, pink, red, light blue, metallic blue, Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days edition, Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time edition, Gyakuten Kenji edition, Pokemon Black & White Edition.

10 Nintendo DSi XL - LovePlus+ edition, Super Mario Bros. 25th Anniversary Edition, Dark Brown, Yellow, Blue, Wine Red, Green, Pink, White, Red

11 Nintendo 3DS – Purple, Pink, Blue, White, Red, Black, Zelda Edition, Kingdom Hearts Edition, Mario Edition, Toad Edition, Peach Edition.

3 Nintendo 3DS XL – Blue, Silver, Red.

12 Jun 2012

Nyko Circle Pad Better Than Nintendo's (3DS)

Nyko have done what Nintendo couldn't, they've made the circle pad pro into something that actually looks good. The circle pad pro launched by Nintendo this year with Resident Evil was not well received, it has pretty much disappeared off the shelves so arguably must be selling well despite only working with a handful of games. What can't be argued however is that it does work well, game like Resident Evil and Metal Gear solid cry out for an extra thumbstick if you play then without.
What Nyko have done however is create a Circle Pad that not only looks good, but also is multi-functional unlike the Nintendo offering. This doubles up as a protector for the console, extends the battery life by up to 3 times and obviously adds a secondary slide pad.
Set to launch this October for around $30, i for one will definitely be picking one up.

Wreck-It-Ralph gets an 8-Bit Game Tie-In (Play This!)

Wreck-It-Ralph is a new Disney animation due out around Christmas this year and it's looking to be a great video game inspired movie. If you havn't seen the trailer yet I've included it below for you, make sure to look out for famous faces. The film follows Ralph who's been doing the same job for decades, he's the bad guy in 8-bit game Fix-It-Felix, but he's sick of it, hates being the person that everyone dislikes and hates the fact he's always overshadowed by the star of the game Felix, he's been attending bad guy support groups with Bowser, Robotnik and Zangief but it's not helping him, he wants more, so he abandons the game and looks for a new adventure.
Whilst the film is looking pretty good it is a while off yet, but you can tide yourself over by playing the game from the film on the official website in all it's 8-bit glory, if anything it's a nice waste of 10 minutes or so.

10 Jun 2012

Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon (3DS) [E3 2012]

Luigi doesn't seem to have much luck with his trips to mansions, I imagine he just wants some time away from Mario, relax, see a nice country house, look at some art maybe. If that's the case then he should have probably seen a travel agent instead of that professor who instead straps him to a hoover and sends into these huge houses full of bloody ghosts.
Gameplay of this sequel is similar to it's Gamecube predecessor, except this time there's more puzzles to solve, not just capturing ghosts. When it comes to capturing these pesky poltergeists Luigi must first weaken them with his flashlight and then "vacuum wrestle" them, think ghostbusters, but with a vacuum instead of a proton pack. When Ghosts are captured and puzzle's solved Luigi gets keys which then allow him further into the mansion. As there's no second stick on the 3DS then the motion controls can also be used to help control Luigi whilst he wrestles them down.

Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion (3DS) [E3 2012]

Mickey's first Epic outing on the 3DS is not a spin-off or port of the direct sequel "Epic Mckey: Power of Two' that's coming to home consoles this year, instead it's a completely different game set in the same universe.
Taking place in the same Wasteland from the Original Epic Mickey game on the Wii, 'Power of Illusion' promises to explore the "lost history" of Disney video games. (For anyone who hasn't played the original; Wasteland is a world set-up for the forgotten Disney characters to live in.) It's stylings hark back to Castle of Illusion on the Master System and Mega Drive, with the Castle itself being central to the plot once more. A wizard has transported the Castle to Wasteland and the evil witch Mizrabel has trapped Minnie Mouse and a number of other Disney Characters inside in a plot to escape the world herself. Mickey must travel into Wasteland once more and free his friends.

Gameplay across the two screens is split with the familiar 'paint and erase' element of the series occurring on the touch screen whilst the side scrolling element akin to 'Castle of Illusion' is on the top screen. The painting element of the game has a direct impact on how well the player will do, drawing a perfect cannon for example will mean it only harms enemies but if drawn imperfectly then it has the potential to harm mickey as well.

9 Jun 2012

Dead Island: Riptide [E3 2012]

Announced this week is a follow-up, but not sequel, to the well received 2011 title. The game will be a standalone tale in the series and will be for consoles and PC.

That's lliterally everything that's know about it for the minute, we can expect a full reveal this summer.

Unreal 4 Engine Next-Gen Tech Demo

Do yourself a favour and make sure you're watching this in a good resolution.

It's pretty impressive isn't it? Remember this isn't meant to be a cut-scene, just like the Square Enix one, this is an engine that runs games... this is what your games will look like whilst you're playing them.
In all honesty it's amazing and I love these tech demo videos. It's like i'm being bitch slapped with graphical quality, it's like Epic are shoving my face into the screen saying "look! look! This is what we're doing with your games! They're so realistic you could lick that lava demon and it would burn your tongue with it's graphical majesty."

8 Jun 2012

Halo 4 (Xbox 360) [E3 2012]

The gameplay demo/trailer we were treated to in the microsoft conference opened E3 this year and shows Master Chief back in his first game since Halo 3, which means it's actually been 5 years since we last saw the Chief, if you don't count the brief Easter Egg at the end of Halo Reach.
Set 5 years after Halo 3, Master chief and Cortana appear to be on an alien world teaming with coveneant and forerunner enimies alike and a UNSC ship has crash landed, closley followed by a massive Forerunner object, with mankind's future in the balance this new force must be stopped.

There's plenty of new weapons and tech to get your hands on. we get to see a taste of it with new transformer-like laser weapons and master chief's thermal vision shown off. The trailer itself looks excellent and shows that 343 are pushing the ageing console to it's limits for the Chief's last hurrah on this system. It's said that this this is the first part of a new trilogy known as the 'Reclaimer Saga' which probably means we can expect Halo 5 and 6 to be on the next-gen Xbox.

Halo 4's action packed story is partnered with a multiplayer that promises new and exciting gameplay through what is being dubbed as "Halo Infinity." From the start you'll 'birth' your own Spartan soldier, it's not nearly as painful as it sounds i promise. You start on the UNSC Infinity, the largest ship in the fleet, this serves as a hub for all multiplayer activities in the game. As the official press release puts it;

"Here, you’ll build your custom Spartan-IV supersoldier and progress your multiplayer career across all “Halo 4” competitive and cooperative game modes. As you advance your Spartan career aboard the largest starship in the UNSC fleet, your multiplayer experience will be embedded in the fiction of “Halo” like never before, where your progress and game choices affect your appearance, your arsenal and your role on the battlefield."

Spartan Ops' mode which intersects with the main story of the game and continues in weekley episodic content, these weekley cut scenes set the backdrop for the weekly mission sets whch can be completed in Single player or in a group. these focus on the story of the Infinity and essentially means you get 2 camplaign modes in one game with the main storyline following Master chief and the secondary story following you on the Infinity.
War Games is the new name for the collection of normal multiplayer modes like slayer and capture the flag. this time instead of randomly taking place across worlds with no reason for spartans to be killing each other, Halo 4 gives the fights new meaning by making them out as simulations in the Combat Deck on board the Infinity. here the deck changes into different maps and scenarios for players to face off against each other.

Overall this new iteration of Halo is shaping up well and the secondary campaign promises to extend the life of the game well beyond the usual point where people usually move on.

Watch Dogs (Ubisoft) [E3 2012]

Without doubt being hailed as one of the best things to come out of E3, Ubisoft's new IP has been 2 years in development and looks set to debut on current gen consoles despite it's amazing look. The trailer itself is visually stunning and it's hard to believe that something like this could run on current machines, there's just too much going on. For me this game symbolises everything that is good about a show like E3, it came out of nowhere at the end of a conference, looks incredible and is looks to offer something different to the games we're currently playing, in truth it's something to be genuinely excited about.

From the start of the video we see it's very much about electronics and security systems, set in Chicago sometime this decade, security systems have gone to a new level, gone are interspersed networks of CCTV cameras, this is all run by one system, cameras, phone tracing and satellites, everything is monitored, the central system controls every piece of technology. You play as Aiden Pierce who seems to be able to hack pretty much anything. The video centres on Aiden's attempts to assassinate a media mogul. to do this the game seems to employ a line-of-sight technique to hacking, if you can see it then you can use it, turn off electronics, lights, hack phones and listen to conversations, control traffic lights and jam signals, all of these can be used to aid you throughout the game. Combat utilises a mixture of stealth and cover-based shooting.