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.

Xbox Entertainment Range Boosted (Xbox 360) [E3 2012]

Microsoft announced a number of new content partners and new features which will be coming to the Xbox dashboard over the next year, yet again though if you're not in the US then you're getting next to nothing interesting. In fact getting nothing would probably have been preferable as now my dahboard is going to be full of even more adverts and content I really coulcn;t care less about. Internet Explorer is finally bring web browsing to the console and as usual Microsoft are doing things differently to the other console manufacturers by taking the approach that "keyboards don't belong in the living room." Through the use of Kinect voice functions and the new SmartGlass approach, you don't need to have a keyboard or be tied to the console with a wire, instead you can browse the web on your television using your tablet or phone to be able to scroll, select and type using on screen keyboards.

Bing search is gettign a boost with a feature that nobody asked for, you can now browse by genre, search "sports" for example and all sport content will appear.

Lastly some new partners providing content on the dashboard have been announce, but if you live in the UK like me then you're pretty much getting shafted yet again. Whilst the US get some new content from the likes of Nickelodeon, Paramount Movies, Comedy Central, live NHL and NBA and not to mention a slew of ESPN updates, including 24 hour streaming, we in the UK have to be contended with Absolute Radio, Napster and the AOL network. Seriously, who the hell uses Napster and AOL anymore? I feel like i've gone back in time to the late 90's.

Here's the full List of Partners;

  • Absolute Radio -U.K.
  • Ameba TV - Canada, U.S.
  • BreakMedia - Australia, Canada, India, Ireland, Singapore, South Africa, U.K., U.S.
  • Comedy Central Stand Up - U.S.
  • Comoyo - Denmark, Norway, Sweden
  • Corus Entertainment's Franklin the Turtle - Canada
  • GameSpot TV - Australia, Canada, U.K., U.S.
  • Headweb - Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden
  • Indie Flix - U.S.
  • Machinima - All Xbox LIVE markets
  • Napster - Germany, U.K.
  • Nickelodeon - U.S.
  • Paramount Movies - U.S.
  • Picturebox - U.K.
  • Quickflix - Australia, New Zealand
  • Rakuten ShowTime - Japan
  • Revision3 - Canada, U.K., U.S.
  • Rhapsody - U.S.
  • RTL XL - Netherlands
  • Slacker Radio - Canada, U.S.
  • SnagFilms - U.S.
  • Terra (Sunday TV) - Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico
  • The AOL On Network - Australia, Canada, Netherlands, U.K., U.S.
  • The Weather Channel - U.S.
  • The Whistle - U.S.
  • TOU.TV - Canada
  • TV3 - Spain
  • Twitch TV - U.S.
  • Univision - U.S.
  • Wuaki - Spain
  • Youzee - Spain

Power A's MOGA Mobile Controller (Android) [E3 2012]

Whilst the Nyko controller i've already posted about looks quite professional and pretty much the dog's bollocks for playing games on a phone or tablet, this solution from Moga is equally impressive. It holds your phone for a start, which makes for a better gaming position overall than having to have you tablet/phone supported serperatley or on a table whilst you have two hands on a controller.
It comes bundled with a free Android app that takes you through syncing the controller via Bluetooth and presents a list of the games it currently supports, the controller itself has the standard buttons you'd expect from a modern day device.

Forza Horizon (Xbox 360) [E3 2012]

Forza's new outing seems to be going for a more 'Need for Speed' vibe than the usual 'Gran Tourismo' style that we're used to. This new approach has been shown off  in videos teasing street racing and drift competitions which look to replicate the best of previous Forza games. The title aims to include the attention to detail on the cars and tracks that players have come to expect from a title in the series but give the gameplay an update by adding a narrative, this further helps to differentiate between this and the usual simulation style.

Gears of War: Judgement (Xbox 360) [E3 2012]

A new Gears of War game is on the way touted for release in Q1 2013 and is being made by BulletStorm developer People Can Fly, the rumour before the big reveal was that the new game would follow the series main protagonist Marcis Fenix on his journey through the pendulum wars and we'd see the events leading up to his incarceration where we find him at the beginning of the fist Gears game. Instead Epic Games have thrown a curveball and delivered a game focusing on Baird and his 'Kilo Squad' which thankfully includes the one and only Cole-train. We see from the trailer that the squad is on trial for various crimes including treason and theft of military tech. This is a great move in my opinion as these two were clearly some of the best characters in the series and filling in the back story for them can only make for a good tale in the long run and serves to refresh the series.

Here's the announcement trailer which looks great as usual for most GOW games;

The gameplay in Gears is expected to follow on from the last three titles, however multiplayer is getting an overhaul with the introduction of a class system, meaning now there's a greater variety of gameplay and hopefully will add to the longevity of the gameplay with multiple ways to play wit the COG armies choosing between soldier, scout, medic and engineer while the Locusts have wretch, ticker, kantus, grenadier, bloodmount, mauler, serapede and corpse. all of these have unique abilities which will help set them apart from other titles which have a similar system.

Here's a look at some gameplay with developer commentary;

Square Enix: Next-Gen Demo [E3 2012]

Called' Agni’s Philosophy' the tech demo was shown off at E3 from Square Enix and shows off their next-gen engine called 'Luminous Studio'. It will power new games across consoles, tablets, phones and PC's enabling greater ease in development. The video is said to be likened to in-game content and easily matches anything we're used to seeing currently in cutscenes.

7 Jun 2012

Star Wars 1313 [E3 2012]

The new Star Wars game is the franchise's first foray into the world of the mature rated game,  you play as a bounty hunter exploring the criminal underworld on Coruscant's infamous level 1313. This is a cover based action game which looks amazing it has to be said,  so amazing that it must be for next generation consoles,  especially as this is a pre-alpha demo running on a high end pc at the minute and it's not out until around November 2013 which is coincidentally around the time the next xbox and ps4 are due. 

Feast your eyes on the below gameplay videos and remember that all of this is the in game engine,  not cut scenes.

Nyko Bring Gamepads to Android [E3 2012]

Sometimes (read as: always) the touch screen controls on mobile games are awful, I own GTA III, Minecraft and Sonic CD on my Galaxy S2 and I don't play any of them like I should because the controls get on my nerves. This new device from Nyko in partnership with Nvidia would solve all of my mobile gaming woes, and i'm sure i'm not alone.

The PlayPad and PlayPad Pro connect to your phone through bluetooth and the Nyko app, the only requirement seems to be that you have Android 3.0 or above. The Pro seems to be a bigger, housebound device whereas the standard PlayPad is smaller and more portable with slider thumbsticks instead of the usual analogue ones..

6 Jun 2012

Game & Wario (Wii U) [E3 2012]

Usually the prospect of Wario being in a game would excite me, but as Nintendo generally does nothing but rehash old products they have seen fit to disappoint me again by not letting Wario live up to his full potential, seriously, just let Waluigi take over the minigame fest and give Wario a platformer again, having just watched the Wreck-it-Ralph trailer I feel like Wario should be the star of that film, constantly having to put up with the same old crap, whilst Mario gets like 60 hundred million games every year...what a dick.

Anyway this crapfest looks all shiny, but evidently its just another title full of minigames and you'll be bored after an hour, thanks Nintendo.

There's no official video as yet, but here's some show floor footage...enjoy.

Mass Effect 3 (Wii U) [E3 2012]

So the reveal for Mass Effect 3 on the Wii-U is pretty lacklustre and was just part of a sizzle reel of third party software, no details about how they'll get new players to the series up to speed, something along the lines of the PS3's interactive comic will surely do the job also there was nothing in particular about what makes the third in the series stand out on this console.

The only thing Nintendo and Bioware are giving us at the minute is the old ME3 trailer, which while being very pretty (apart from the lack of the true Shepard..where's the FemShep love?)isn't exactly a new thing.

Pikmin 3 (Wii U) [E3 2012]

I have to say Pikmin is lost on me, i'm sure if I had played the originals then i'd know all about it's weird little flower creatures and the astronauts who seem to control them to twat bugs and collect fruit...that's the point of the game yeah?
also is there a reason it feels like i'm on LSD whilst watching the trailer?

The interesting thing about this launch title for the Wii U is that you don't actually have to use the Gamepad for it, in fact at the demo booths at E3 it seems that the Nintendo representatives are encouraging people to play with the age old wiimote and nunchuck combo while the touchscreen functions as a simple map.

Anyway watch the video and see if it appeals to you.

Lego City: Undercover (Wii U) [E3 2012]

The latest Lego game comes from Nintendo in the form of an open world adventure which looks alot like a Lego version of GTA, just with less violence, swearing, stealing and general 18+ action, really it's not like GTA at all, it's more just a 3rd person action game in a city.
Flying helicopters, rooftop chases and undercover disguises are aplenty in the announcement trailer below:

This does look quite fun and if I was to purchase a Wii U then I'd be sure to buy it.

Batman: Arkham City Armoured Edition (Wii U) [E3 2012]

Batman: Arkham City Armoured Edition (or "Armored Edition" if you're American) is amongst some of the bigger gaming franchises not usually seen on Nintendo's consoles that are coming out for the Wii U this year.

The game is said to include details not found in other editions of the game. The 'Armoured Edition' of the title seems to be in direct reference to an ability in which Batman's new armoured suit collects energy from downed opponents to make him stronger, faster and gain new abilities in combat. If you're asking yourself if that's the only difference from the previously released versions then here's your answer; the Wii U gamepad lends itself to Batman's gadgets, for example in allowing for remote controlled Batarangs to be separately controlled and using detective mode to scan the in game environments. so there you have it, lots of important details that totally re-invent the game and make you want to buy it all over again on a new console yes?
What do you mean no?

Anyway here's the trailer, The main thing i get from this is that i need an 80 foot screen to be able to appreciate the full high definition that the Wii U can offer, obviously i'll head out and pick one up now in anticipation of the release.

New Super Mario Bros U (Wii U) [E3 2012]

So it turns out Nintendo's tech demo from last years E3 announcement which they said "wasn't a retail product" is in fact a retail product and also a launch title for the new console. In fact this surprises me.

Why Nintendo havn't used Mario to show off the new HD functions of the system by making another full blown adventure game is beyond me, in fact a port of Galaxy would suit just as well, instead they seem to have just taken the tried and tested 2D platforming experience of the DS games and made an HD version (which in all honesty looks weird). This also puzzles me because it means there's now 2 almost identical Mario platform games being released close to each other with New Super Mario Bros 2 coming to 3DS in August. Also they need to pick a new name otherwise I'm just calling them NSMBU and NSMB2 from now on.

Anyway this new Mario title does't do much new really, its the usual stuff, except not just content in living in the body of raccoon Mario is now taking to stuffing himself in flying squirrels as well now, also it appears that you can use different yoshi's for different purposes, like floaty ones, glow in the dark ones and bubble shooting ones. Handy. You also have the ability to use Nintendo's new Miiverse, meaning that you get annoying pop-ups on the tablet screen from other people playing or who have played. Then there's a new 'Boost mode' whereby four people use normal controls and play the game and a fifth person providing you have that many friends) can use the tablet controller to place block in the screen to help 'boost' the players...see what they've done there. clever huh? Also the tablet player does have the opportunity to become an outcast amongst his/her own friends by dropping blocks on Mario and co. and actually killing them, queue more Wii based injuries in the living room, this time it's controllers being smashed into heads on purpose.

ZombiU (Wii U) [E3 2012]

ZombiU is Ubisoft's exclusive mature rated game for the Wii U and honestly is the only thing about the console so far that does anything for me. It's probably the first instance of using the tablet in an innovative way and genuinely works to immerse you in the gameplay.

The first thing to know about ZombiU is that death is permanent. Like really permanent. When you start a game you get a randomly generated person, you name them but that's it, could be anyone, male, female, any race. the point is, this is you and your actions are remembered by the game. Say your mission is to retrieve medical supplies, you get to the building with them in, open the door and a zombie eats your face, you're dead. Now the game restarts, but you're a new randomly generated person, you start out on the same mission and get to the point where you last died, the door will still be open and lo and behold your previous character is now part of the zombie horde trying to kill you, after you kill 'old you' then you can loot the body and recover all your lost items.

The game is an open world but revolves around starting from a central hub and there will only ever be one previous version of yourself in the game as a zombie at any time but if you're online then your friends zombies will also appear in your name with their names hovering above their heads.
The touch screen itself serves as an inventory, lock picking and hacking utility meaning that whilst you're pickpocketing or managing your inventory you need to keep looking back up at the tv as this is real time and a zombie might just walk up behind you while you're rifling through a copse's pockets. The touchscreen goes into a first person view at this point and the tv screen is third person allowing you to look around you, when you go back to playing the screen switches again and the TV is first person whilst the touchscreen is a map and guide of you're current area. This first person view also allows for some big scares whilst playing.
This is the first time I've been excited for a Wii U game..despite it's stupid name, (I really hope they stop putting the U bit in game titles, it's not needed, I can tell if a game is for that console or not, i don't need help, also where is the E in zombie?) hopefully this is one title that lives up to it's potential.

Here's the gameplay trailer detailing the Gamepad mechanics;

Nintendo Land (Wii U) [E3 2012]

If someone put the words Nintendo and Land together before now it would've instantly put an image in my head, it would be a theme park, a Nintendo based theme park, a Nintendo Land if you will, with rides and zones based on loveable game characters, there would be a Hyrule zone where you go on a Zelda themed rollercoaster, buy a shield and sword whilst drinking potions, a Mushroom Kingdom zone where there's a water ride involving going down pipes and rescuing a princess, a jungle zone that had a runaway mine cart ride with Donkey Kong. What I wouldn't picture however is exactly what Nintendo announced, something that infact isn't a land but is more of virtual hub to play some mini games that have had loveable characters mercilessly tacked on to make them appealing whilst you learn how to use the Wii U.

There are 12 games in all including;

Takamaru's Ninja Castle
This seems to be a game designed to get you used to touch and motion controls where you flick stars into little paper ninjas whilst the tablet is in portrait mode.

Donkey Kong's Crash Course
this is a maze based game entirely on the touchscreen controller, you guide a mine cart down to a fruit at the bottom of the screen, you tilt the controller to again momentum and tilt the opposite way to slow down.

Animal Crossing: Sweet Day
A similar layout to the Luigi game, players pick enough fruit to win form trees around the town whilst the touchpad player controls guards to capture them.
The Legend of Zelda: Battle Quest
Taking place in a patchwork Zelda world with enemies made of cloth and cardboard this is an on-the-rails battling system with two players slashing swords with wiimotes and a third shooting a bow and arrow with the touchscreen.

Luigi's Ghost Mansion
This is a top down maze that teaches you how the multiplayer system works on the Wii U. One player uses the touchpad to play as the ghost and can see the other player on the television screen and thus go after them. the other players who all use standard wiimotes have a torch and have to sense where the ghost is base don rumbles and seeing it with the torch.

These games are joined by an F-zero based racing game amongst others.

Overall as you can tell from the video it's not that exciting, think WiiSports for a new console, fun the first time you play it but after that you'll never touch it again and the tacking on of nintendo mascots is simply unneeded, there's no benefit for it other than hoping you'll play it.

Overall i give it a resounding "Meh!"
(sidenote: Nintendo, don't have a translator speaking over a Japanese man at the same volume that the Japanese man is talking, I have no clue what either of them saying, it's like they're arguing across two different languages)

Nintendo Wii U Detailed [E3 2012]

Nintendo's press conference was, as expected, dominated by the Wii U and whilst their Conferences generally fall behind Microsoft and Sony in terms of consumer response, this conference in general was poorly recieved, Nintendo Land for example received little to no applause which is a strange thing for these type of events, usually everything is cheered in some way. The strangest part of the presentation seems to be that after knowing about the device for a year now there's still no price and still no release date for the Wii U, though it's still being touted as arriving this year. What we can take away however is a spec list, a list of launch games and also a few other details to go along with it, like the fact that it now comes in two flavours, black & white.

We'll start with the specifications for the tech geeks amongst you:
Resolutions: 1080p, 1080i, 720p, 480p and 480i
Connections: HDMI, D-Terminal, Component Video, RGB, S-Video Stereo AV and AV
Tablet Controller has a 6.2 inch, 16:9 ratio Wii U Gamepad screen, IBM Power-Based multi-core CPU, AMD Radeon HD GPU and wireless IEEE 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi support. LAN adapters will be supported via either of the machine’s two USB ports
Nintendo have revealed as well that they are working on a way to transfer save games and settings and downloads from the Wii to the Wii U, much like the one in place for the 3DS.

To sell it way better than i ever could here's the official Nintendo Tour Video complete with smooth American male voice over;

The main negative responses following Nintendo's announcement revolve around the tablet controller, whilst it's been redesigned slightly from the prototype we saw last year and there's now the ability to use two of them at once there are downsides; Firstly the controller itself can only be used for 3-5 hours on a full charge, and then when it does run out it takes a further two hours to fully charge again, however it seems you can use it whilst plugged into an AC adapter, which means that if you do all your Wii U gaming in a long session then you'll be spending most of it tethered to your nearest plug socket.The second issue is a pretty big one, the fact that you can use two of the tablet controllers now is excellent, it means that one of you doesn't to be demoted to the Pad Pro controller (see below), however if you are using two of these then be prepared for some system issues, namely the fact that the frame rate will drop and not just drop a little, it'll be halved. Which means that your potentially lag free HD gaming experience form Nintendo is no longer lag free and will not be running as smoothly anymore, this seems like a pretty big deal in all honesty, most people might not notice it whilst playing Mario or Nintendo land or anything similar that's not that taxing on the hardware, but as soon as you go for a more 'hardcore' multiplayer experience which requires alot of graphical power and processing you will most certainly notice a difference.

Pad Pro:
The 'new' alternative controller for the Wii U, I saw new but I really mean old, borrowed stolen design...lets face it, it's an xbox controller but a thumbstick has been moved to the top. This is Nintendo's offering to those who don't like the idea of playing games like mass effect with a tablet controller and in all honesty it's a pretty good one, for example now i could play the game with a real controller and instead have the tablet controller as a second screen next to me, detailing maps, squad details etc..the only downside for Nintendo when it comes to capturing the 'hardcore market' that they're appealing to is that the same thing can be done on the xbox without the need to buy any new devices. I will be able to play mass effect 3 on my current Xbox 360 console, with my controller without funny thumbsticks and use my already existing Android, iOS or Windows phone or tablet to connect with Smart Glass and have the same experience.

Game Line-Up:
Strangely for a console launch there's only a few showing of Nintendo's own brands, Mario and Pikmin, no sign of a full Zelda, Donkey Kong or much rumoured Smash Bros. game that's in development, any of these would be potential system sellers, instead we were treated to a Mario game that doesn't look as fun as it's 3DS counterpart and then Nintendo land getting minigames featuring Zelda, DK , Animal Crossing and F-Zero but this received a general 'Meh' response from the audience and internet alike. Maybe after this Nintendo will push for that Smash Bros game to become a release title.
Anyway here's the confirmed game list with suspected release dates;
2K Sports
NBA 2K13 - Holiday

Ben 10: Omniverse - Holiday
Family Party: 30 Great Games (working title) -Holiday
Rise of the Guardians: The Video Game - Holiday

Electronic Arts
Mass Effect 3 - Holiday

Maximum Games
Jett Tailfin - Holiday

TANK! TANK! TANK! - Holiday
TEKKEN TAG TOURNAMENT 2 (working title) - Holiday

LEGO City: Undercover - Holiday
New Super Mario Bros. U - Holiday
NINJA GAIDEN 3: Razor’s Edge - Holiday
Nintendo Land - Holiday
SiNG (working title) - Holiday
Wii U Panorama View (working title) - Holiday
Game & Wario (working title) - Launch Window
Pikmin 3 -Launch Window
Project P-100 (working title) - Launch Window
Wii Fit U - Launch Window

Aliens: Colonial Marines - TBA
Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed - Holiday

Darksiders II - Holiday

Assassin’s Creed III - Holiday
Just Dance 4 - Holiday
Marvel Avengers: Battle for Earth - Holiday
Rabbids Land - Holiday
Sports Connection - Holiday
Your Shape: Fitness Evolved 2013 - Holiday
ZombiU - Holiday
Rayman Legends - TBA

Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Scribblenauts Unlimited - Holiday
Batman: Arkham City Armored Edition - Holiday

Chasing Aurora - Holiday
Trine 2: Director’s Cut - Holiday
Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien - Holiday
Aban Hawkins & the 1,001 Spikes - Holiday
Cloudberry Kingdom - Holiday

Without a firm price point or release date there's not much going for Nintendo at the minute and consumer interest is nowhere near the levels they had when the Wii first launched. All in all it seems like a bunch of great ideas thrown together without ever really developing the hardware properly, then the software on top of that is mediocre at best. There's lots of mini games, sports and dancing and the usual Nintendo launch content from the mario camp but most third party games are one's that have been previously available for other consoles and unless the upcoming titles do something outstandingly different on the Wii U then most gamers will stick with buying them on their current consoles. How many people will really buy Mass Effect or Batman again, just because they have a tablet accessory? Maybe it's a smart move by Nintendo to not give us a price yet, means they can go away after E3 and take on board what other people are doing, improve slightly then price to sell. If they can get it under £200 then they probably stand a chance of selling well.

23 Mar 2012

Adventure Time DS Game Incoming

YESSSS, exciting news! Adventure Time is getting the DS game it greatly deserves.

Creator Pendleton Ward tweeted the announcement last night and provided some DS based drawings to go along with it.

Ideally this will be a fully 8-bit game or follow closely the style of the show, anything else will not be acceptable.
It was firstly announced as a 3DS game but since then further tweets have clarified that it’s actually a standard DS game, which I think is a shame, not because of a lack of 3D, but because the 3DS is more powerful so could mean a better looking game overall.

Wayforward Technologies are handling the development and however it turns out this will be a day one purchase for me. 

21 Mar 2012

US bill to put cigarette-style warnings on video games

Obviously this has come about because it works so well with smokers and now since these warnings about cancer and tar and harming unborn babies are on the pack nobody at all smokes because they're worried about the percentage of benzene, formaldehyde and hydrogen cyanide that is going into their bodies.
What? ...you mean that's not true? ...you're telling me that nobody actually reads those warnings and takes them to heart? Instead they simply smoke the sticks of smokey cancer death without a worry because they have been doing it for ages and a label on a packet will no way influence anything...hmmm..weird that.

Democratic Congressman Joe Boca has already tried this multiple times (essentially he seems like the American version of Kieth Vaz in British politics), he put forward similar bills in 2009 and 2011, but this time he's proposing any game with a rating of T and up (i'm guessing that's the equivalent of a 15 rating here) receive a label on the packet stating: "WARNING: Exposure to violent video games has been linked to aggressive behavior." for the full breakdown of the bill see the article on Kotaku.

Now I can't speak for everyone, some people are inherently mental, but I like to think i'm a well grounded intelligent individual with a fairly standard set of morals that would mean I can realistically play a violent game and not think "you know what, this shooting people in the face thing seems like a lot of fun" or "hmmm randomly attacking strangers on the street and stealing their money is a fantastic way to make a living". I'm not saying that this is what he's necessarily referring to when he cites "aggressive behavior" but you get my point, I think I can probably come off as aggressive when i'm particularly frustrated with a level and I have been known to throw a controller or two, but that's frustration at the game itself, not the game indoctrinating me to be a more aggressive person, i'm quite calm otherwise. Also it's not just violent games that do this, i'd guarantee that any study that proves a link to a change in brain pattern and games will also provide the same result with a less violent game, for example a racing game, or a platformer. In fact I think I’ve been annoyed with and therefore more aggressive when playing Mario more times than I have when playing something like Gears of War.

Basically i'd be amazed if this gets anywhere, not only is it unconstitutional but sticking a label on a game isn’t going to stop kids playing violent games, ultimately it’s up to a parent to make that decision, and im sure this label also won’t in anyway stop them buying it for a nagging child. If anything I would argue it needs a label saying “This game is only available to well rounded individuals who will not be influenced by the content, but instead enjoy the game for what it is meant to be, please present a valid IQ test score at the till”

If something like this is passed for games then there's no reason not to follow suit on films, books or music because at the end of the day there is nothing represented in a game that isn’t also represented in every other form of media or entertainment and is no more influential than anything else, it’s all down to how an individual interprets something.

*updated with header image from PocketLint's article on the same thing because it amuses me.

14 Mar 2012

10 Days to save Game. Walmart has offered a buyout.

According to a few sources, the troubled GAME Group UK has 10 days to sort itself out otherwise administration looms. That makes March 24th deadline day.

It's already been noted that Game are failing to stock major new releases over the coming weeks from Capcom, Nintendo and EA and that their current firesale might not be going too well as customers are using up reward card points to buy rather than cash.

Game have many a prospective buyer with Comet owner Hilco looking to get it's nose in as well as the believed current front runner in US giant Gamestop who don't currently have any UK high street presence, though their online store seems to be doing quite well. Coming out this afternoon however is news that the US supermarket giant Walmart have contacted game to enquire about buying the business. Walmart currently own Asda in the UK and it makes sense for them to try and expand their foothold outside of the US and lets face it, they're not lacking the funds to do it.

Whether this move by Walmart will force Gamestop into making an offer remains to be seen but wither way lets just hope Game is saved before the March 24th deadline as it will mean their many stores will stay open and staff keep their jobs rather than the bleak alternative.

source: MCV

Jet Set Radio HD detailed

The original Dreamcast version of Jet Set Radio (Jet Grind Radio if you're American) was released nearly 12 years ago and it is still probably one of my favourite games, it was so beautiful and infuriating at the same time, it paved the way for cell shaded games and boasted an amazingly varied soundtrack full of very listenable tracks. I’ve been hoping for a port of the game every since Sega announced that they were releasing the Dreamcast versions of Crazy Taxi and sonic Adventure on XBLA and PSN.

For anyone who didn’t have the chance to play the original or the 2002 sequel on the original Xbox, the premise of the game is a fairly simple one, you ride around on your super powered up skates tagging various areas of cities with graffiti to gain control of them, often covering up the work of rival gangs whilst trying to avoid the unwanted attention of the swat teams who seemingly want to pull you down and hug you to death in a large a group as possible, later the threat of hugging swat teams is seemingly blown out of all proportion by their unrelenting use of tanks, but as a futuristic skater your armed with the means to speed away from them, when it’s not the Swat teams getting you down there’s the threat of the Rival gangs themselves who will do everything they can to stop you from marking your territory.  (I swear it’s more appealing than I make it sound, watch the trailer at the bottom)

As the very open “summer 2012” release date approaches Sega are revealing bits about the game along with some new screenshots. The HD remake means that the game can be played in a full widescreen mode rather than the 4:3 format that the Sonic Adventure port mustered up.  Also as modern controllers have two thumbsticks as opposed to the Dreamcast’s solitary one Sega has added the ability to control the camera with the right analogue stick which means no more annoying follow cams which get stuck at corners meaning you can’t see what’s ahead of you. Also unlike some other Dreamcast ports the soundtrack is very much intact, it currently stands that 70% of the original music will be in the game with Sega working on getting the rights for the remaining songs before release time rolls around.

One of the notable features of the original game was for users to share their custom graffiti tags across Sega’s network, sadly this feature has bitten the dust but we are being treated to 18 new pieces of custom artwork thanks to a contest currently being held in the UK and US.

Expect arrival anytime between May and August on Xbox Live Arcade, Playstation network and PC

BBC iPlayer to Land on Xbox Next Week

The BBC's catch-up TV service is to land on the Xbox dashboard in the next week and will join the existing offerings from Channel 4 and Channel 5.

Microsoft have been trying to sort a deal out with the BBC for some time but stumbled on the beeb's refusal to go along with the Xbox's plan to only offer premium apps to gold subscribers. This was apparently in violation of the BBC's TV license agreements which is something along the lines of them not being able to charge for these services whilst being funded by public money. No word yet on who caved and if the app will be available to Silver subscribers as well.

With BBC, Channel4 , Channel 5 and Sky player now available through the Dashboard, we await the arrival of the ITV player later this year for the Xbox to be able to offer all major UK televisual content through it's service, something no other console can currently do.

9 Mar 2012

The Next Xbox Won't Use Discs: Why that's both Good and Bad

This is coming from MCV and if true it means that the daddy of all non disclosure agreements has been broken and I’m betting Microsoft will be pretty pissed off. Last month they held a developers meeting in London which is rumoured to have been the first time they’ve shown off their upcoming hardware to those that need to know about these types of things before the public do.
The rumour coming away from this leak is that the next xbox will not use a physical media format to play games, instead users will be able to stream or download the content directly onto the new device which has the current code name of Durango* (see the bottom for more on this). There will be some form of SD card to allow for game transfers or whatever it is you need those things for, I currently use a usb stick to move my profile between xbox’s so I presume it’s a similar thing. Also with this info comes the confirmation of a 2013 release date, which would then back up the previous rumour of an E3 2012 reveal.
In my opinion the rumour of having no physical media format is both good and bad for various reasons;

The price will be set by Microsoft – Much like the current slew of xbox games on demand, you’ll see titles holding their value for much longer, and currently they seem to expect everyone to pay over £20 for poorly rated titles which are 4 years old. The only way I can see this becoming a good point is if they allow for a pricing structure similar to Valve with their Steam Store, having daily deals and various periods of time where they heavily discount a certain publisher’s games. However this will be good for publishers and Microsoft as they can set the price they want and we have no choice but to pay.

No pre-owned games or rentals – People will tend to be pickier with what they buy. There’s no doubt that half of the games I’ve played, I never would have if there was no rental or pre-owned system. There’s no way in hell I would’ve paid full price for titles like Iron Man 2. Again this is good for Microsoft and Publishers as they no longer lose money with people buying preowned, but may lose more with a lack of sales in the first place.

No special editions – say goodbye to statues, maps and artbooks

The end of the high street game store – The only thing you’ll need a store for is to buy the hardware and accessories. No boxed product to shift means no need for a store to sell it. This lack of stores also means a lack of competitive pricing, no longer will you go to one shop because it’s £1.50 cheaper.

Smaller console – A lack a disc drive will significantly reduce the size of any hardware.

Bigger variety of titles – Indie companies have a better platform to get their games into the public, the cost for a studio to develop for a digital only release is significantly less and would decrease the need for large publishers to advertise and to ship your game around the world.

Availability - You no longer have to worry about pre-ordering and deliveries arriving in time for release day, you no longer even have to leave the house, everything is available instantly. The only thing which may be an issue is your own connection speed, in that case streaming the game would be out and downloads may take a while.

No Piracy - Microsoft will handle the DRM on every title, much like Steam do for everything bought through their store.

Price drop on new releases – Let’s face it DVD’s are not the format for next gen games, often triple A titles are currently too large for one disc and require two or three, whereas the same release on PS3 all fits snugly on one blu-ray disc. Often this lack of space could mean a potential loss of sales for an Xbox title as well, the PS3 version is sometimes more desirable. For example on PS3 the latest Assassin’s Creed game also shipped with the first in the series on the disc as well, similarly the Bioshock Infinite will ship with a copy of the first on the same disc. But xbox users don’t have this privilege as there simply isn’t the room for it. Blu-ray is the only current disc related format that would be suitable for a high def next gen game, but then it costs to license the disc format, particularly when you think that Microsoft’s main competitor are part of the Blu-Ray Alliance and so would receive a cut of each license fee, then on top of that you have to print, store and ship the software. So bypassing this altogether saves money on development and publishing and may mean we see prices more in line with the current brand new PC release prices.

Overall the bad seems to be all about the potential price structure whereas the good would be availability and diversity. Personally I’m all for this, whilst I like having a physical product on my shelf and like going into a gaming store to maybe have a title you’ve never heard of catch your eye, or to find a bargain in the pre-owned section at the same time the lazy person in me sees this as a great opportunity to never get off the sofa because it’s there in front of me. But I’d like to hear if anyone else has any thoughts on this?

*Durango is the name of a town in Brazil. Microsoft currently have a trend of using Brazilian towns as codenames for upcoming hardware another example of this is the last offering, Kinect was previously known as Natal when it was under development.

*The console in the header is just a concept I found online, but it is quite nice.

[source: MCV]

8 Mar 2012

First Video of Tony Hawks Pro Skater HD

Watch Tony and his friend Chris Cole skate in real life while giving you one of the first looks at this summer's Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD. The game features a  remake of some of the best parts of the first two games whilst receiving a glossy make over for 2012.
The gameplay is much the same as 12 years ago with 2 minute runs on each level to complete various challenges, some previous skaters from the series return along with some new faces, no word yet if a mixture of songs from the amazing soundtracks will accompany.
The game will be out this summer on XBLA and PSN and with this and Jet Set Radio receiving an HD upgrade it's going to be an excellent season for downloadable games.

Blizzard Really Want You To Play Warcraft Again

The 'scroll of resurrection' is an offer that Blizzard have where an existing subscriber can grant account time to a  non-subscriber, usually it's just 7 days of free play but for the next 90 days Blizzard have buffed the scroll and instead now both parties get a few rewards. The subscriber gets one of the shiny in-game mounts that you'd usually have to pay for on the Blizzard store, the target party gets themselves one character instantly boosted to Level 80, a free upgrade to Cataclysm and a  free realm and faction transfer to the subscribers current realm.
All in all it's not a bad deal, especially if you havn't bought Cataclysm yet. But i just can't help feeling that it's a bit desperate on Blizzard's part, trying to scrape subscribers back from Star Wars and not to mention all of the current free-to-play offerings.

6 Mar 2012

SW:TOR Patch 1.2 starts your Legacy

April sees the next  major game update for Star Wars: The Old Republic.  Arguably it adds alot of features which should have been present from day one, guild banks anyone. There's new flashpoints and operations and more intriguing is the legacy system in which you build a family tree from your existing characters and unlock rewards including a mailbox on your ship and the unlocking of new species (whatever that means). Add to it a (finally) customisable UI,  colour change options on armour, mini pets, new gear, new crystals, new dailies, new vehicles, legacy items and a few other bits and you get yourself a pretty meaty update.

ROCCAT aim to bring together your smartphone and PC for gaming.

ROCCAT, manufacturers of various peripherals for the PC have released pictures of what is to be their upcoming Powergrid range. Normally a list of upcoming keyboards and mice doesn’t interest me unless it’s the game tie-in sets from Razer or the infamous Art. Lebedev keyboard, but this has really hooked me in.

Firstly we have the ROCCAT Phobo gaming keyboard, you’ll notice something straight away that’s different form your standard gaming keyboard…there’s no numpad, instead there’s a great big hole. This hole is infact the key to what differentiates this from your average keyboard. It’s a smartphone dock and for once it’s not just for your shiny apple products, Android and Windows Phone users will get to play as well with the connection being either the standard apple affair or a micro USB or if the dock doesn't work for you then there's always bluetooth.

This combining of your phone and keyboard allows for some pretty cool stuff, all powered through the powergrid app on your PC and on your phone, more about the app in a second. For those who don’t want a new keyboard or would potentially need a numpad there’s ROCCAT’s second offering, the Apuri Dock 2.0, from what I can gather this seems to let you connect your Phone to your PC in much the same way as the keyboard dock.

Whilst the keyboard and dock are pretty nice the main draw here is the app, the idea is that you have a number of tabs to show you plenty of info and allow control over the PC and game, if you also need to use your phone there’s no need to undock it, you can use the keyboard to write out any texts you need to send and receive calls with your gaming headset, all this whilst keeping the gadget charged. The app seems to have as standard four separate pages or tabs, but this could possibly be increased by having a few different custom docks. 
The first is an ‘incoming center’ and houses your social messages and any alerts you set-up such as your CPU maxing out, this also allows you reply directly using the keyboard.
The second is a ‘system stats’ tab which will give you your CPU usage, RAM usage, internet stats and HDD info. Fairly self explanatory.
The third gives you ‘Sound Control’ and as the name suggests allows you to easily control the levels of your sound, particularly the microphone, master and music volumes as well as giving you a music control system with display for the currently playing song.
The last tab is the most interesting; it’s a custom one which allows you to build up blocks into usable buttons to achieve pretty much anything you want. This is obviously very similar to current macro keys on various gaming keyboard, but I think the draw here lies in being a more user friendly layout and also that you can map an image or text to a button meaning you don’t have to remember what each one does, this reminds me very much of the Optimus keyboard, but way cheaper. As you can see from the example image your custom buttons could include game specific macros, setting an alarm for your pizza being ready or giving you a heads up on the current ram use.
The system reminds me a lot of how you set widgets on an android homescreen, so building yourself a page should be fairly straight forward.

The Powergrid app system is to enter Beta very soon but you can only sign up if you’ve lined Mr. Jobs’ pockets. For those of us dedicated to the Android or Windows Phones we have to wait for it to be fully released which could be anytime between now and the latter part of the year, the best part of all this is that the app and PC companion are FREE!!! The keyboard and dock are expected in Q4 2012. No word on price yet for them, but if that dock holds my Galaxy SII properly then I’ll be seriously looking into buying it as despite the obvious gaming and control implications it’s the first time I’ve seen a proper PC dock for my phone that isn’t a flimsy, over expensive, glorified charger.

[Source: PCG]