DC Unchained: Superman's Skills Revealed

     Shortly after being announced at Comic Con Seoul, the highly anticipated upcoming mobile action-RPG game DC Unchained was delayed into early 2018 and disappointing many eager fans.  Since that time we've gotten news of a Closed Beta Test, a new trailer, and some other small teases for the game- including a Batman and Superman character "family" tree, and a look at Metropolis.
     Now, we get a teaser trailer for Superman's skills and a good look at his whole skill tree.

   Looks a bit clunky for flow, and his character model isn't nearly as square-jawed and bulky as most modern incarnations of Superman have been portrayed, but still looking good.  A more fully formed description of the skills, including a plethora of unseen passive skills, is listed below.

     We're finally getting a steady stream of new game info at a decent rate now, so I'm really hoping the game will be released soon, and shortly after to the rest of us in the western markets- unless they do a global launch right off the bat.

     It looks like DC fans will finally have a mobile game good enough to compete with Marvel's truly amazing Future Fight.  I truly hope that publisher 4:33 Creative Labs and developer Thumb Ageis can make this the mobile DC Comics game we've been clamoring for years to get.

     Related Posts [ DC Unchained[ Marvel Future Fight ] [ Justice League Superheroes ]

     DC Unchained Official [ CBT Site ] [ :Plug Community ] [ Facebook ]


DC Unchained: NEW Trailer & Limited Closed Beta Test

     Since Korean publisher FourThirtyThree, Inc (4:33 Creative Lab), along with DC and Warner Bros., announced the upcoming mobile game DC Unchained I've been quite excited to see what looks to be the equivalent of Netmarble's absolutely amazing Marvel Future Fight.  Unfortunately, early last month the company broke the news that they would be undergoing some drastic changes and the game would be delayed into 2018.  Then just a couple days ago 4:33 gave us the first official trailer for the closed beta test.

     DC Unchained is shaping up to be a tremendous 3rd person action-RPG letting players take the roles of an initial 30 heroes and villains across multiple modes including story, PvP, and real-time co-op.
     The closed beta test will run for one week in January (Wed. the 10th through Wed. the 17th), and sadly it is limited not only to Android devices, but also to players located in Japan, Taiwan, and Hong Kong.  Testers have the chance to obtain Batman, Wonder Woman, and Superman, along with numerous other goodies such as gold, gems, and skins to aid them in their quests once the game has its grand launch at a later date.  So if you are lucky enough to live in one of those areas head over to the pre-registration site to get signed up!

     DC Unchained Official [ CBT Site ] [ :Plug Community ] [ Facebook ]

     Related posts [ Marvel Future Fight ] [ Justice League Superheroes ]


Justice League Superheroes: A Chinese Mobile RPG Video Game Similar to DC Unchained

     While many of us have been eagerly awaiting DC Comics' mobile game version of Marvel's Future Fight, DC Unchained, we received the news that its western release would be pushed back into 2018 from the game's Korean developer FourThirtyThree, Inc (4:33 Creative Labs).  Coincidentally, DC Comics has also licensed and soft-launched an extremely similar game to the Chinese market through Longtu games called Justice League: Superheroes in earlier this year in April.

     The game features a current total of 20 heroes obtained through either a "gacha" system or slowly collecting pieces to unlock a hero.  Each individual hero falls into a paper-rock-scissors type set of classification- Assassin, Support, Warrior, or Mage- breaking down into the traditional roles of tank, rogue, healer, and so on.
     As of now, there's roughly 10 different game modes to keep players occupied and grinding away including a traditional story mode, world boss mode, bounty quests, and PvP modes.

     While Justice League Superheroes does not have the promise of a western release, there's always a small possibility that it could happen, though the chances might be slimmer due to DC Unchained coming here and creating the problem of the two games competing between each other.

     Justice League Superheroes [ Google Play ] [ Longtu's Official Game Site ]

     Source [ MMO Culture ]


EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW with Slaughter 2 Developer Ray Spark

     I've been a fan of Slaughter since it first arrived on mobile, and I later raved about it in my review over on Droidgamers.  Then I caught wind of a sequel being planned and my excitement grew.  With each new trailer I got more and more excited- then Slaughter 2: Prison Assault hit the market and I've been absolutely infatuated with it.

     Now I've been lucky enough to snag an interview with the developer Ray Spark, click below to read.


SEGA Forever: Streets of Rage has Arrived!

     Sega has been slowly porting some of their greatest games to the mobile markets as free-to-play titles under the SEGA Forever moniker, and they are getting better with each new addition.  We've already received an entire library of classics such as Altered Beast, Ristar, Sonic the Hedgehog, Kid Chameleon, Beyond Oasis, The Revenge of Shinobi, Golden Axe, and Phantasy Star 2- but today marks the release of the beat 'em up Streets of Rage.

     Following the 1980's tradition of cops taking to the streets to clean up their city:
     Three cops, a city on the edge, and a crime lord known only as Mr. X – welcome to one of the all-time SEGA greats. Arm yourself with knives, bottles, and drainpipes and battle through eight thug-infested urban environments to bring order to the city. Relentless, explosive, and addictive as hell – Streets of Rage is the grand-daddy of beat-‘em-ups!
     As with all the Sega Forever titles the game is a free-to-play with ads and an IAP to make ads disappear.  The game features both HID & MFi compatible controller support, local Wi-Fi multiplayer capability, and the standard competitive leaderboards. 

     In my replay and review of I said:
     I've read that this was supposed to be a Final Fight killer, and while they didn't do that, they created one hell of a game.  All around decent and entertaining.  And after replaying there are two things I never noticed back then- the first is that there is actually a time limit for each level's individual section of enemies, and multiple endings.  There are two different endings depending on if there are 2 players and one or both agree to "join" Mr. X.
     What we've got here is great music, good graphics, and tight controls in a city in turmoil.  When boiled down Streets of Rage's best feature is that it spawned sequels, one of which stands as one of the greatest beat-'em-ups in history.  If you like the series it's a fun play, if not- try Streets of Rage 2- it's a lasting gem that has few rivals.
     Overall the Sega Forever games have been fairly great ports with one glaring issue across the board with their touchscreen input controls being clunky and troublesome.  Other than that they are all just as fun as ever.  In Streets of Rage's case, we can hope they've either remedied the situation, or will be, on the way to bringing us its sequel somewhere down the line- as I've said many times before Streets of Rage 2 is simply one of the greatest games ever created.

     Streets of Rage on [ Google Play ] [ iOS ]

     SEGA's Mobile Games on [ Google Play ] [ iOS ]

     Related posts [ Sega ]

Dark Souls Remastered: Might Actually be Happening (Confirmed by Original Reporter)

[ UPDATE ] Apparently there's been some more confirmations to Original Tweet (& Deleted link), and Sellers also noted that two games were specifically the Dark Souls Remaster and Soul Calibur 6- as well as the fact they are NOT exclusives to the Switch.

     Dark Souls as a series might be over, but many fans (including myself) have been begging for a remastered version of the original (as well as one for Demon's Souls) for a very long time over on Reddit and elsewhere.
     Over the last few months there have been rumors circulating that one indeed may be on the way, and recently we got news of the Demon's Souls servers finally closing down after almost a decade.  Then yesterday Nintendo Switch Network writer Marcus Sellers accidentally revealed some juicy news.

     In a tweet he posted, he let it slip that at a December 15th Bandai-Namco event that "5 unannounced games would be shown off." In addition Nintendo would be featured heavily.
     What makes this even better is he replied to another person's tweet revealing the news of the Dark Souls Remaster- which has since been deleted, but thanks to the ever vigilant internet dwellers, it was screen-capped and saved.

     The tweet mentioned the fact that the 2011 game re-released in Remastered form would be coming to not only the Playstation 4 and Xbox One, but the Nintendo Switch as well.  If Seller's tweet is true, then all of us Souls fans can once again return to Lordran in all of its glory and splendor with a completely new and beautiful journey into darkness.*

     I'm sure many are hoping to also hear an official announcement of a Bloodborne sequel (personally if they do, I hope it's in a far futuristic setting like a Dead Space game), some Armored Core news, and the like, but for me- a Dark Souls Remaster is exactly the news I've been waiting for.  Improved graphics, a more balanced PvP connectivity, and better controls would be a godsend for the game.  When I say better controls- I do NOT mean the infinite rolling of the 3rd game, just a smoother flow and slightly less clunky as the methodical combat of the first game is still unmatched in its perfection.  This remaster could revitalize the entire Souls community.

     Related posts [ Dark Souls ]

     Source [ Seasoned Gaming ] via [ ComicBook ] & [ Reddit ]

*My Ps3 trophies from when DS1 first arrived. Such great memories.


Marvel Heroes: BLACK FRIDAY Will Be the End, Gazillion Fires Everyone, Shutting Game Down in Two Days

     Only five short days after the announcement that Gazillion was closing its doors and Marvel Heroes would be no more as of December 31st, we've received even worse news.  In a spectacularly awful move, Gazillion has fired all of their hardworking staff the day before Thanksgiving via an internal email to their employees.  What makes this so much more awful is the fact that the firing of the employees leaves them without severance, PTO payouts, and no insurance according to Andrew Hair, who before today was a Gazillion gameplay engineer, and confirmed by one of Gaz's former game designers- Brian "Asros" Waggoner.

     It's been leaked from ex-developer Winterthur (@Zurick on Discord) that the Marvel Heroes (Marvel Heroes Omega) will NOT be playable until December 31st, but will in fact end in a mere 2 days (on November 24th) making it a true Black Friday- and in a feat of villainy Gazillion will be giving us the true Omega Update as the game vanishes from our lives.
     While my long-standing and deep appreciation for Marvel Heroes is extremely disappointed in its far too swift server shutdown, my heart and condolences go out to all the awesome Gazillion employees that kept us happily entertained for the last 4 years both in game and on the official forums- they were the real heroes in this, and they have a tough time ahead after CEO Dave Dohrmann's (he of the inappropriate sexual conduct scandals, harassment, and accusations) email destroyed their Holiday season.  It's sad to say, but it looks like instead of taking responsibility, Dohrmann would rather ruin the lives of everyone around him- and tanking any hope of Gaz reaping the rewards of all the great things that were on the horizon for the game.

     There is a very little hope left for the game to be salvaged, though there IS some hope still, there's a petition for Marvel and Disney to save the game, (and on twitter) perhaps under different leadership it could be bought up and given new life, perhaps it will be forgotten and ignored by The House of Mouse- either way, try to show your support for the devs that worked tirelessly for these last few years in whatever endeavors they choose to pursue in the future.  Thank you for all the great memories.

     Sources [ Massively OP ] via [ Reddit ]


Marvel Strike Force: A NEW Mobile Marvel RPG Coming in 2018

     After the sad news of the epic MMO Marvel Heroes Omega being shut down on December 31st, Marvel Entertainment has announced a new mobile game arriving in 2018.  The new game is a free-to-play (with IAPs of course) mobile role-playing game featuring squad-based action being developed by FoxNext Games's Aftershock Studio (this will be their first game).

     The story follows Earth's mightiest heroes assembling against a long-forgotten Kree Eternal named Ultimus, who has become a general in the Kree Empire.  Being an Eternal he shares the same power source as Thanos, and as a Kree he follows warriors such as the religious Kree zealot Ronan The Accuser, and he has realized that Earth is a threat to the the existence of the Kree empire and he has come up with a plane to deal with it.  With his sights set on Earth, Ultimus' goal is to conquer not just Earth, but by every Earth in every dimension by using his technology to controls the minds of all the heroes.

    Aaron Loeb, FoxNext Games President of Studios, has said they are trying to liken the game to fantasy sports teams, where players can draft from a large cast of famous Marvel characters, ranging from Captain America and Doctor Strange to Guardians of the Galaxy like Drax or Rocket Raccoon, or even some of the Defenders like Daredevil and Luke Cage.

    The Creative Director for FoxNext Games, Jason Bender, has described the game's tactical range and gameplay as:
"There is immense depth of strategy across characters and squads, which typically have 5 characters on the field at a time. Players will build a force of around 70 characters, with even more to be revealed! 
Every character has to collect a variety of gear in order to grow stronger, and they have 3 to 4 unique abilities each. As abilities improve, new mechanics will unlock and reveal new tactical options. For example, Daredevil might start out attacking a single target at a time, but will quickly grow to chain his martial arts maneuvers to multiple enemies in a single attack." 
     The game will also launch with at least one player-to-player mode- being a highly competitive, but friendly arena allowing players to test their mettle against each other and earn rewards as they climb the ladder to the top- as well as the promise of a wide variety of more PvP modes planned.  In addition there will be alliances to aid in strengthening teams and collecting new gear and upgrades.

     It should be noted that Marvel Strike Force clearly resembles Marvel Avengers Alliance 1 & 2, both of which were shut down in September 2016, and definitely appears similar to another current Disney owned property's product- Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes, and by the sounds of it, ` will also rely on the gacha system of gathering characters and building them up, which is something I truly loathe.  I've got to admit, it looks like a better game than Contest of Champions, (Strike Force's art style is actually extremely similar to C.o.C.'s) but nowhere near as fun as the full 3rd person action of Future Fight.

     Marvel Strike Force [ Pre-Register Now ] and it will debut in 2018.

     Related Posts [ Future Fight ]

     Sources [ Marvel News ] [ Variety ]


THQ Nordic Releases Titan Quest: Ragnarok: A Whole NEW Expansion Pack

     In a completely surprising move, THQ Nordic has not just announced, but released a brand new expansion to the action-adventure RPG classic game Titan Quest today called Ragnarok!

     The last new expansion for the game came out just over a decade ago with March 2007's release of Titan Quest: Immortal Throne.  Now, Titan Quest's new fifth act, Ragnarok, brings our heroes into the cold and harsh lands of northern Europe, from the dark forests of Germany all the way to Asgard.  We'll encounter the Celts, Northmen, and even the Asgardian gods themselves in the largest act so far.  The glorious world of antiquity can be explored

     Players will have a plethora of new quests to complete featuring new weapons and gear, new enemies and bosses, a new 10th mastery, and even the most important cold-weather ability- wearing pants!
Become a Runemaster, a magical warrior fighting with both, spells and weapons.
Combine newly learned with existing masteries for a total of 45 combinations.
Reach level 85 and maximize your character’s potential.
Find new and powerful gear, from colorful Celtic shields to famous weapons of Germanic legend.
New relics and charms for crafting, and a new option to improve even legendary items.
New thrown weapons strike the balance between range and speed!

A wider variety of regional styles and color dyes.
Finally: wear pants!

New shaders and graphical effects.
Improved ragdoll physics.
Improved UI and combat feedback for total information.
Improved control customization.
Improved modding tools.
     This is certainly a wonderful surprise for fans of Titan Quest.

     Note: the Ragnarok expansion requires Titan Quest: Anniversary Edition to be played.

     Play Titan Quest: Ragnarok via [ Steam ]
          It 's 25% with a current price of $14.99 (regularly $19.99) Offer ends Nov. 24th.

Marvel Heroes Omega: My Thoughts on Disney Officially Shutting it Down


     After 4 and a half years of having some serious ups and downs, Marvel Heroes is finally being closed.  Over the last month many of us long time players have been speculating about this possibility on the forums, the first news broke from Kotaku letting them know Disney/Marvel is parting ways with Gazillion.

     As a Marvel representative stated in an email to them:
“We regret to inform our Marvel Heroes fans that we have ended our relationship with Gazillion Entertainment, and that the Marvel Heroes games will be shut down. We would like to sincerely thank the players who joined the Marvel Heroes community, and will provide any further updates as they become available.”
     Later AgentPilot posted an official statement from Gazillion on their forums:
"We’re sad to inform our players and our entire Marvel Heroes family that Marvel Heroes Omega will be shutting down. The Marvel Heroes servers will stay on until Dec 31, 2017, and we’ll be removing real money purchases as soon as possible. Players will be able to play the game entirely for free once this sunset period commences. We will share the exact date things go completely free as soon as we can. 
We’ve had the privilege of entertaining and collaborating with our players for over four years. We’re extremely humbled by that privilege and wanted to get this message out: Thank you. Thank you to our players, our tireless employees, and everyone involved in the life of Marvel Heroes, Marvel Heroes 2015, Marvel Heroes 2016, and Marvel Heroes Omega."

     Gazillion has been in a very turbulent times ever since David Brevik (of Diablo 2 fame) departed the company in January 2016 (check out these threads, the tone of the forums drastically shifted), and having other Gaz employees like Doomsaw and Ryolnir go was another huge hit- resulting in a quick downhill slide of the game.  Former long-time Gaz Community Agent Fenixion posted his own decision to leave on the forums on Halloween definitely gave us more worries, as well as Agent Vapor's departure.
     Really, the only good to come out of this was the surprise return of former Gaz employee Doomsaw to the forums.  He swung through and found he still had moderator privileges, but they were quickly stripped even with no other Gaz members posting anything.  Since no Gaz employees were doing or saying anything, he voluntarily went and tried to raise hope and bring levity to the forums.
     Much more recently is the highly inappropriate sexual misconduct issues concerning Gazillion's CEO Dave Dohrmann, and the fallout it's having on the rest of the staff and company. [ More references: 1, 2, 3, 4 (at about the 1.5hr mark) ]  And then Gazillion going completely silent shortly after this. [ Great video by DisKingdom about companies (Gaz particularly) going silent. ]  The long awaited and promised Omega patch, along with numerous other things like the costume closet, the Halloween event, and Thor Ragnarok tie-in pack, never arrived for the scheduled Oct. 27th date.

     It's extremely disappointing to hear, but honestly the PC player base had been dwindling from being essentially neglected for the console ports after the "Biggest Update Ever" shit all over the game (the BUE essentially prepped and simplified the game to be ported)- while it made a lot of good starts, it completely ruined the way a great many of the characters could be played, eliminating the vast variety of character play styles and shoe-horned them into essentially only one viable build for each character.
     Gaz pretty much ditched the extremely loyal PC player base for the potential for new console players and it was an absolutely terrible choice.

     I'd previously written that, "It's the only game I've made an effort to play at least a half hour a day for the last year.  It's just amazing and it keeps getting better.  Thank you Gazillion.  Marvel Heroes 2016 is a must play for fans of any Marvel properties."  In all reality, I probably put in a thousand plus hours.  The original launch was a mess, but the game progressively made it amazing by the 2016 iteration, and until the Biggest Update Ever, was easily, without-a-doubt the best Marvel game ever made.  Sadly, after the BUE (and the changes in leadership and direction) the game never got back to what it was and what it could've been.

     It'll be very sad to see this game go, but honestly they could still make a few bucks by compressing what they can and makingthe game able to play on disc or download with private servers.  Sell the game as old games were, a whole item, playable without an internet connection.  Hell, just the Danger Room section itself could be sold (obviously we'd need to be able to keep all the crap we've already unlocked/bought) as a game in itself.  It'd also need to have the Hydra damage bugs toned WAY down, which should've been fixed a year ago.
     Though it makes me wonder if Disney and Marvel will still hold all the programming and assets and whatnot, and if they might bring in a new team to possibly relaunch the game somewhere down the line.
     As for me, I'll probably get a good couple weekends of play in on this, and go back to hyping the only other Marvel game I play every day- Marvel Future Fight.

     My own Marvel Heroes account link [ MrJRB ]

     Related-ish posts [ Future Fight ]

     Sources [ Massively OP & 2, 3 ] [ Kotaku ] [ HiMyNameIsLeo ] [ MMORPG ]

Morphite: Finally Arriving on Android Next Week!

     I've been following and reporting on Morphite since the beginning, nearly a year and a half ago.  Posting on it both here, and over at Droidgamers (1 & 2), and when they announced the release date I was overly excited!  But that excitement was quickly quashed when Crescent Moon Games said that it was only hitting the Nintendo Switch, X Box One, PS4, and Steam in September, then in October for iOS users, and is with the curse of Android gaming, we were going to have to wait a while longer after that.

     Considering it was originally hyped as game for the mobile market, it's been a long, long wait for this glorious game.  If the reviews on all the other systems are any indication, Morphite's arrival on Android will be well worth the wait.  We will finally have a decent combination of Metroid Prime and No Man's Sky in the palms of our droid gaming hands for some action-packed space adventures.


Slaughter 2: Prison Assault NEW Trailer

     The first Slaughter game was a genuine surprise for mobile gamers.  It came out of nowhere from creator/developer Ray Spark (aka Venomized Art).  He brought us a truly sublime 3rd person shooter for mobile.  I've said over and over that Slaughter had great controls, tons of action, loads of fun, and even some oddball Borderlands-esque humor all crammed into our pocket.
     Then I found out he announced a sequel and was downright ecstatic, and with each new teaser my excitement grew.  Now, as we inch ever closer towards launch day, we've received yet another great new trailer showcasing some awesome footage featuring new locations, hints of the story, and even a peek at some of the improved combat- and it certainly looks amazing

     Where the first game put players in the shoes of a mercenary named Russel fleeing a town populated with hordes of madmen, the sequel places you on the opposite side of things and into the role of one of the Special Forces soldiers that crossed paths with Russel.  It has also been confirmed that Slaughter 2 will at some point cross-over in terms of story with the first game.

     Spark has said the game will have better graphics, animations, and a bunch of new weapons and enemies.  Slaughter 2: Prison Assault is set to be about twice the length of its predecessor in terms of gameplay, along with a bunch of additional trivia, texts, and in game secrets to uncover! 

     Slaughter 2: Prison Assault will be available "SOOOOOOOON!"*

     The first Slaughter is currently available for $.99 on [ Google Play ] [ iOS ]

*This new trailer was listed as being for a Google Play technical preview.


DC Unchained: Delayed to 2018

     After it was revealed at Comic Con Seoul, the upcoming mobile action-RPG game DC Unchained has been oddly missing from the news.  In late October however, the developers released some potential bad news for the title.

     Due to some financial woes, DC Unchained developer FourThirtyThree, Inc (4:33 Creative Labs), a one time top South Korean developer, has reported massive net losses since 2014 with  great competition from mobile game giants like Nexon and NetMarble (who make the Marvel comics equivalent game called Marvel Future Fight).  Since the announcement 4:33 has had to make huge alterations to their business model after having no break out titles in years.  They had an emergency board meeting to discuss and plan a new business strategy, which includes a move away from creating 3rd party and move towards more self-developed IPs and titles, as well as reductions in manpower in marketing and publishing roles.  While 4:33 have said there's been no restructuring, they have offered employees the opportunity to retire from the company.

     The company has stated that any games that already have 3rd party deals will remain unaffected.  With that, they've got Blade 2, Boxing Star, and DC Unchained on the way to hopefully alleviated the financial troubles.  Part of the announcement mentioned the fact that DC Unchained will not hit the expected release of late 2017 in time for the release of the Justice League film, but rather the game will be released in 2018- and it has been confirmed to be coming to western markets for certain.

     Sources [ MMO Culture ] [ NewsNews ]


Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Voice Cast Announced & Worrisome Changes


     Yesterday, Nickelodeon announced the voice cast for their upcoming 26 episode 2D re-imagining of the TMNT series, Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

     The cast all sounds pretty good so far.  We'll be getting Omar Miller as Raphael, Ben Schwartz as Leonardo, Josh Brener as Donatello, Brandon Mychal Smith as Michelangelo, Kat Graham as April O’Neil, and lastly TMNT vet Eric Bauza as Splinter.  I'm particularly pumped for Brandon Mychal Smith's Michelangelo, and curious to hear Bauza as Splinter after he voiced Nickelodeon's current Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' Tiger Claw.

     And with the cast comes the official plot summary:
     Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles follows Raphael, Leonardo, Donatello and Michelangelo on all-new adventures as they seek to unlock the mystical secrets of New York City. From the tallest skyscraper to the dankest sewer drain, the Turtles will encounter absurd new mutants and battle bizarre creatures all while enjoying their favorite slice of pizza. 
     Tapping into mystic, ninja powers they never knew existed, the four brothers must learn to work together and navigate the perils of the modern age and hidden realms in order to fulfill their destiny to become a team of heroes.

     Now comes the parts that worry me.  With the re-imagining of the Turtles, comes the changes.  With all iterations some changes can be great, and there shouldn't really be problems with those, but there are always some that don't really quite make sense.  Such is the case with the fact they are seemingly altering a piece of the brothers' foundation of their relationships. That part is a little irksome to say the least.
     While Michelangelo, Donatello, Splinter, and April all remain in their archetypal roles, Leonardo and Raphael are apparently being swapped which makes little sense. 
     From Nickelodeon's source article, they say, "Raphael, as the oldest and physically biggest brother, he is now the leader and his enthusiasm and bravado puts him front and center for most of their bizarre adventures; Leonardo, the self-professed ‘coolest’ brother possesses irreverent charm and a rebel heart." 
     What bothers me is the fact that Nickelodeon is completely changing the foundation of these two.  Since the beginning, I've always seen all four brothers as representing very distinct archetypes, and with the alteration of two, that changes the team's entire dynamic.  Raph has been the fire of passionate emotion, Leo was the more level-headed water, constantly flowing and seeking a true balance, Don was the stable Earthly, logical mind, Mikey is the airy heart, wild and free- and Splinter connected them all as the spiritual core. 
     Think of how these fundamental character principles effect the group's relationships- and for a great reference, look at how Avatar: The Last Airbender uses the same core ideas with their own characters as elemental Benders.  This shift will put the emotion in the role of leader instead of the less turbulent flowing of water and that goes against, not just the TMNT's own history and precedent, but flies in the face of mythological/archetypal basis- Raph's pure emotion shouldn't rule, in the same way that Mikey's heart or Donatello's pure logic shouldn't lead the team.  It'd be the equivalent of having an instinctually Id driven person, without the guidance of the Super Ego (Leo), balancing the pure unconscious (Mike), Id (Raph), and rational Ego (Don).  This is something that will eat at the back of my mind for a while, and is definitely something more for me to ruminate on to possibly flesh out more and explain better.

     As a lifelong Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fan, I'll give it the benefit of the doubt, but I'm going to be very, VERY skeptical going in to the show.

     Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is set to premiere in 2018 on Nickelodeon.

     For related posts [ TMNT ]

     Source [ Nickelodeon ]


Disney TOYBOX Action Figures: Lineup, Price, and Packaging Revealed!

     About a week ago Disney Infinity fans received a small bit of good news.  The Disney Store teased the release of new action figures featuring the extremely distinct Infinity art design style.

     Now, it must be stated for clarity- these are NOT Disney Infinity extensions and don't have anything to do with the game- they are only action figures based on the art style.  The designs were taken from Infinity and re-engineered into a completely new toyline, with added articulation, and will be launched under the "Toybox" as an homage to the game, as was confirmed by former Disney Infinity VP of Production John Vignocchi on twitter.

     The launch lineup will include figures from Marvel, Star Wars, and Pixar franchises.  There will be Buzz Lightyear, Woody, and Jessie from the Toy Story films as the Pixar Toybox figures, Spider-Man, Hulk, Thor, and Iron Man from the Marvel Toybox, and lastly, Rey, Kylo Ren, and a First Order Stormtrooper from The Force Awakens in the Star Wars Toybox.
     They all look amazing and have great packaging, and I really hope they continue the Toybox line with many more to come.

     The figures will be available EXCLUSIVELY on ShopDisney for $12.95 each on Nov. 3rd.

     Source [ Jason Inquires ]


Disney INfinity Returns via TOYBOX Action Figures


     Last year was a bad year for Disney INfinity.  Small problems began began to emerge with the announcement that the Marvel Battlegrounds play set would ship with a single figure, then there was news that there would not be a 4.0 release, but rather 3.0 would be getting updates to continue the Infinity line.  In March Disney Interactive said they'd be dropping out of E3 without a reason giving, and then they officially announced in May of 2016 the video game series would be cancelled.


     It was a shock to fans, and there were a slew of problems that could've easily put off the toys-to-life game's closure- such as adding far more actual game content, more replayability, and even the simple feature of resetting a figure's data more than twice could've gone a long ways to it selling better.
     What the series did right, however, was in the art design.  The Disney INfinity design style was absolutely superb, and now fans of it are in for a treat.  Disney INfinity focused Youtube channel Infiniteer Adventures spotted an intriguing ad on the Disney Shop- showing that on November 3rd, Disney is releasing action figures that look exactly like they are ripped straight from the game's gorgeous designs.  Making the case even stronger, is the fact this toy series appears to be named directly after the specific Disney INfinity game feature called the TOYBOX as can be seen from the image above, featuring Rey and a Stormtrooper from the Star Wars: The Force Awakens playset.

     It's great to see that such wonderful toy designs are being salvaged for an even better use, bringing us articulated versions of the INfinity toys from Star Wars, Marvel, and Pixar properties.  This also offers the opportunity for fans to potentially obtain some of the previously cancelled figures such as Spider-Gwen, or the truly stunning looking Doctor Strange toy.  This is some truly exciting news coming a year and a half after the closing of the game and someone was smart enough to have held on to the game's slogan and put it to great use- "Infinite Possibilities, Endless Fun-" and we can all be thankful for it.

     Related posts [ Disney INfinity ]   

     Source [ Infiniteer Adventures ]


TMNT: The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Return to Arcades with a WHOLE NEW GAME!!!

     The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have had a long history in video games, loaded with many ups and downs, with occasional oddball gems that really stands out.  In recent years there's been some decent attempts to regain that special something that the old arcade quarter-munchers had and the home ones did not.  It's been nearly 30 years since Konami's original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game first hit arcades and Raw Thrills, Inc is looking to bring back those beat 'em up glory days with an all new adventure featuring our favorite heroes in a half shell.

     Modern arcade game developer Raw Thrills has been hard at work on reviving an old fan-favorite arcade genre staple in the form of a brand new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles brawler beat 'em up, and hopefully proving to us that there are still turtles games to look forward to.  This completely original TMNT game is based on the look of the extremely popular Nickelodeon cartoon, which will be finishing up season 5 in November.
     "This new version of TMNT is a completely new re-imagining of the brawler concept. There are more moves, more environmental interaction, cool Turtle Power special attacks, voiceover from the entire cast (including Seth Green and others)… it’s really amazing."
     Many fans will be quite excited to have this TMNT nostalgia returning to the coin-operated gaming for the first time in decades, and Raw Thrills, Inc plans to have a demo at this year’s International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions expo in November.

     This could possibly be the game I've been asking for for years, in my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows game review I wrote:
"I think a bigger and better studio may have been able to truly pull off an open-world 4 player co-op beat-em-up much better than this- a game to match the ambition this one so desperately strove for.  We just haven't found the right company to do it justice yet.  Maybe Activision can find a group to do it with the Nickelodeon series on a larger scale. 
     As a lifelong fan since I was about 5 years old, that is what I would want.  A huge action RPG brawler, maybe even a hack-n-slash, in a fully open world of Manhattan, complete with sewer system.  The world should be as large as any of the GTA games by Rockstar, and it should be filled with plenty of baddies and mini-missions.  Take note Activision- Traveller's Tales' Lego Marvel Superheroes did it right with the large cityscape full of fun mayhem to be had with a couple hundred characters to swap around.  Copy that and improve on it."
     Now, I know Raw Thrills' game won't be expansive enough to encompass a huge open world for a beat 'em up, but the mere fact they are returning to the roots of TMNT gaming is a wonderful thing.  I'd even consider the fact that they may steal the crown for best turtles game which I personally believe to be 2007's TMNT for the Nintendo GBA.  This could be the start fans of the franchise have been waiting for to point the following games towards what we've been wanting for years.

     I can't wait to play this at an arcade cabinet soon. And pray to the reptilian gods that this game may find a port to home consoles or mobile devices.

     For related posts [ TMNT ]

     Source [ Arcade Heroes ]


EA Delays Star Wars Project & Shutters Visceral Games


     Everyone's least favorite company EA has brought us a double dose of great news today- not only is Visceral Games being closed, but their current Star Wars project is being "revamped and moved to a different studio."

     EA's Executive VP Patrick Söderlund released this news in a game update post, including the unfortunate shuttering of the developers behind the tremendous Dead Space series, which declined in popularity after EA started implementing its own monetizations and the like- and thus diluting the sci fi horror roots that made the first game so damned good. 


     Through game test concepts and feedback through development, and after hearing "what and how they want to play, and closely tracking fundamental shifts in the marketplace," EA's decided to make these changes.  EA claims to be "reimagining central elements of the game to give players a Star Wars adventure of greater depth and breadth to explore."
     They say they wanted to pivot the way the game plays in a broader, more varied experience, allegedly offering players "more agency" in a way that will give us a greater depth and breadth to the exploration of the Star Wars universe.  Though that might sound great, it also sounds like it really means the core of Visceral's initial plot and design will be plucked from its dying body and replaced with an emotionless, dead loot box heart- presumably to be filled with vast and shitty Midichlorian-filled load of microtransactions and a multiplayer focus.


     This doesn't bode well for the Star Wars game as it sounded like the game was "shaping up to be a story-based, linear adventure game," under Visceral's good hands, but now it may be becoming something much closer in alignment with EA's push towards a "games as service model."  Meaning it might wind up like Battlefront, being all hype and no substance, and completely riddled with preposterous microtransactions for every little thing, of which we can only expect more of this same old shit from with the release of Battlefront 2 soon.  It's the same thing for Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes, Star Wars: Force Collection, and Star Wars: Force Arena, they are cheap games designed to siphon money off of players instead of creating a unique and memorable story in a beloved franchise.  All the really good Star Wars games have been cancelled or shut down- Star Wars: 1313,  the mobile game Star Wars: Uprising, the Untitled Darth Maul Project, and the amazing potential of Disney Infinity.
     So when EA says, "We want to take the time to get each game right, to make it unique, to make it amazing," I don't believe it.  When the game arrives we'll see if they really want a good story and experience, or if it follows the path of the Dead Space games, getting worse with each new installment, getting worse with each step away from a great single player experience, and closer to the large multiplayer messes.  We even know that Dead Space 3's original plan was great, and EA flubbed that up in the name of the almighty dollar, proving that they've become the money-hungry monsters worshiping a Marker with a big green S spray-painted on its front.

     A team from EA Vancouver will lead devs from EA Worldwide in picking up and working where Visceral left off.  The Star Wars game was expected to release in the late fiscal year end of 2019, but has been delayed and awaits a new anticipated release date to be announced at another time.

     On a lighter note, here's a fun, old Star Wars: Tiny Death Star post.

     Source [ EA ]


Beyond Oasis has Come to Mobile from SEGA Forever

     Thanks to the SEGA Forever program, the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive classic, action-adventure RPG Beyond Oasis, known as The Story of Thor: A Successor of the Light in Europe, is now available on mobile devices.

     SEGA Forever has been expanding their library of classic games, ported as free-to-play mobile titles, and Beyond Oasis is another tremendous installment being brought to the modern gaming market.  Beyond Oasis is the story of Prince Ali stumbling upon a sentient gold amulet attempting to save Oasis from a villainous enemy in possession of the silver amulet.  It's kind of like a wonderful combination of Prince of Persia and the Legend of Zelda- a huge open world filled with a variety of weapons, magic, secrets to uncover, and a wealth of enemies to slay.

     One neat new feature of this version is the "Rewind" button, which was recently added to Golden Axe, which helps alleviate some of the problems I had in my Golden Axe Sega Forever review.  It's a small clock in the upper left corner, that rewinds the game 15 seconds- oddly fitting for Beyond Oasis making it feel a bit more like a Prince of Persia game by coincidence.  It should be noted that there is an abuse-prevention measure in the form of a cooldown timer (or at the cost of watching an ad, if you didn't purchase the single IAP to remove ads), so you can't just rewind time over and over.
     In addition, like all the rest of the SEGA Forever lineup, the game comes with cloud saving, leaderboards, and controller support. I'm hoping they've cleaned up the controller support as it's been relatively loose and has been unresponsive on previous titles.  Beyond Oasis is a game with a 6 button set up, doubling the usual 3 button standard of the last bunch of games, meaning it'll need a much better handling of the control scheme.

     I'm looking forward to giving this title a go, as it was a an amazing title- ranking up there with games like Chrono Trigger, Secret of Mana, Alundra, and Landstalker- all around great action-adventure RPG games.

     Beyond Oasis on [ Google Play ] and iOS
          To eliminate ads, there's a one-time IAP of $1.99/ €2.29 / £1.99.


Undergrave: An Open Alpha Review

     Three Dudes Make Indie Games, creators of the indie title Tel and Aitch, have an awesome Castlevania inspired rogue-like action-platformer game called Undergrave that's been in the Open Alpha stage since October 2016, and has not been updated since November 2016.

     In Undergrave players take the role of an aged, nameless alchemist fallen into darkness.  In the gothic underworld you must rely on your chain-whip, platforming skills, and knowledge of alchemy to make your way through this dangerous journey.  You must slay strange monsters and harvest their viscera.

     What immediately caught my eye was the alchemy crafting mechanic.  As you kill enemies and find items, you collect bits and pieces of things such as bones or mushrooms with which to make potions.  It's a very interesting set up with a plethora of options in what can be created.  When you find a laboratory, you can bring up the list of craftable potions and by adding ingredients, crushing, and heating to the instruction's specifications you are able to make all manner of things.  Looking for a draught of flame?  Done.  Elixir of health?  Here you go.  An "osseous" potion that explodes a pile of bones through the air?  Just made 10.
     On the down side of this is sometimes the instructions aren't clear.  Following the instructions exactly often resulted in "unknown" potions.  After repeated tries, I found that I had to adjust the recipes just slightly, like heating half a second longer than was stated, to achieve the correct results.  It's a little frustrating, but still mostly works.  To not sound too harsh, I'd like to add the scrolling scroll of potions in the upper right corner is one of the smoothest, and coolest, animations in the game.

     What Undergrave does well lies in its concept.  It's basically just another rogue-like, but the Castlevania-esque visuals take it to a memorable level.  Then it pushes the game further with clean, gorgeous animations, in a heavily Gothic and atmospheric environment.  It also features brilliant and fitting music, adding to the tension of the environments quite wonderfully.
     Sadly, this open alpha is plagued by one awful problem- the controls.  As they are right now, the controls are very, very clunky and unresponsive.  In a rogue-like, unresponsive controls can lead directly to death, which is unbelievably frustrating.  A great many of my deaths were due to the jump not responding and subsequently falling to my death or taking fatal damage.  Jumping while moving often stops the character and instead of jumping in an arc, he just jumps straight upwards, and in turn often meaning incurring damage that could've been avoided had the momentum carried him forwards as it should.
     It should also be noted that the "interact" button is inexplicably in the center of the screen instead of one side by all the other controls.  That way players aren't forced to stretch a finger across to the center of their devices, some of which are large enough they may need to pull a hand away to reach.

     All in all, Undergrave is a tremendous in its alpha state- it's off to an amazing start with excellent graphics and distinctly moody music.  It's got an amazing base concept of creating your alchemical weapons, but could definitely expand on that, perhaps to making more than just potions- maybe other weapons or things to enhance his whip, such as adding an elemental attack to it.  They could add a wider variety of locations, a bit of story lore for us, and some permanent unlockables to aid us in our quest.
     Regardless of whether it's still in development or not, if you are a fan of Castlevania or rogue-likes, you should definitely check Undergrave out.  Despite my complaints, it's still a beautiful little game you can pick up and play in short installments.

     For updates follow 3DMG on [ Twitter ]

     To play [ Undergrave ]


Red Dead Redemption 2: Trailer 2 is Here

     Rockstar Games' highly anticipated sequel to Red Dead Redemption has released a glorious new trailer to remind us that 2018 can't come fast enough.

     In this new trailer we get a little bit of the story- it follows the trail of outlaw Arthur Morgan and the Van der Linde gang as they're pursued across the American heartland.  It looks like there'll be plenty of fighting and stealing along the way.  Red Dead Redemption 2 seems to improve upon the last installment in every possible facet.  Better graphics, a bigger world, and presumably another epic western tale of blood and glory.

     We'll need to ready our rifles and revolvers in preparation for this wonderful prequel.

     Red Dead Redemption is set to arrive in spring 2018 on PS4 and XBox One.


Slaughter 2: Prison Assault: 3rd Person Shooter's Sequel: Teaser Trailer has Arrived

     I was a huge fan of Slaughter, it's a tremendous 3rd person shooter game with a ton of action, humor, and fun all crammed onto Android devices.  Then I found out there was a sequel on the way and hyped it over on Droidgamers.

     I've been eagerly awaiting more news of how far along the game has been and what the status might currently be.  Recently creator/developer Ray "Venomized Art" Spark has mentioned the game's release is "just around the corner," with no specific date given.  Though it should be noted that it was sitting at around 60% complete as of a month ago, and as of 20 minutes ago, he released a teaser video with the comment that it is, "Almost finished."

     I can only tell readers to watch the videos and go check out the first game to get a feel for it- this is one that I highly recommend, as I said before, "Slaughter is a genuine treat for anyone that likes short and sweet 3rd person shooter games.  It's has good controls, lots of shooting, humor, and a lot of replayability."  Though I should note that there ARE sound effects, but they aren't in the trailer- here's a trailer/gameplay of the first showing them, so please don't be offput by not hearing anything in these teasers.

     Slaughter 2 puts players in the shoes of a Special Forces soldier (some of whom shot at Russel, the protagonist of the first game), and will cross over with the first game at some point.  This game should reveal the secrets of the first's captured city, and the developer has said he hopes this one will be about twice the length in terms of gameplay.
     In previous contact with the developer he's stated the game contains better graphics, animations, new weapons and enemies, as well as including a lot more trivia, texts, and secrets.

     The first Slaughter is available for .99 on Google Play

     Source [ Venomized Art on Facebook ]


Borderlands 3 Update: PAX West 2017 Teaser Announcement

     Fans have been clamoring for news of the beloved Gearbox franchise Borderlands for another installment since the Pre-Sequel hit systems in late 2014.  There was the cancelled mobile MMORPG Borderlands Online that looked great, and then we got a tidbit of hope when Gearbox Software CEO Randy Pitchford said at PAX East 2016 that, "Obviously, there is going to be another Borderlands."

     Now, after the lackluster Battleborn, Pitchford came out and stated that Gearbox has 90% of their studio's productivity focused on, "Working on the thing I think most of you guys want us to be working on," heavily insinuating the singular game fans are looking forward to- Borderlands 3, or more likely Borderworlds- a more fitting title after the finale of Borderlands 2.  Many of us are extremely hyped as Gearbox's last game hasn't been nearly as captivating, and they could really use a blockbuster to get fans back.
     While he didn't expressly state the name of the game, as Gearbox is now a publisher and can't officially announce a game until they are formally announced, it was a definite teaser- as some of the tech demo they showed at GDC 2017 featured a very distinct art style (see video above).

     All else that is known is that Battleborn's Art Director Scott Kester is serving in the same role on Borderlands 3, and the original Borderlands' writer Mikey Neumann, will be writing it again.

     Source [ Dual Shockers ]

     For related posts [ Borderlands ]


Golden Axe (Sega Forever): Short Review

     As a long time fan of Sega, from their great system Genesis to their amazing game series' like Streets of Rage, I was truly excited to see they were doing what I complained Nintendo should've done years ago- port their games to the mobile market via iOS and Android.  So far, Sega's ports have brought us classic games such as Altered Beast, Ristar, Kid Chameleon, and Phantasy Star 2, and now, they've brought the fantasy arcade turned Genesis beat 'em up Golden Axe to the Sega Forever lineup.
     Players can once again take on the role of a Dwarf, Barbarian, or Amazon Warrior to battle the dreaded Death Adder for the legendary Golden Axe to restore peace to the land of Yuria.  Slay enemies, ride beasts, and cast spells all along the journey to take back the ravaged kingdom!

     Starting with the good, the Sega Forever titles get some upgrades from the old version.  There's a choice in graphics, either the original or new smooth versions, there's also a slightly easier mode, leaderboards, and a new duel mode where players can face off wave after wave of enemies.  They've also stated that there is a, "Multiplayer experience coming soon."

     Now, sadly, the bad part.  As with all the other Sega Forever games (the exception being Phantasy Star 2- it doesn't require the quick responses of the other games), Golden Axe is another great old school gaming experience once again marred by awful controls.  I noticed numerous times where my character wouldn't respond to inputs, or the controls were off just enough to be frustrating- like trying to make a jump across a gap and instead falling to your death, and I'm not fully positive on this, but I believe some enemy hit boxes were altered, because there's a bunch of times where I'd swing directly through enemies and they'd remain untouched.
     It's also unbelievably irritating to get caught in stun-locked to death sandwiched between enemies because the controls lag or unresponsive d-pad inputs leave you standing still.  The game was originally designed as a quarter-muncher arcade meant to siphon peoples' pockets of coins to make money, and the irksome unfairness of the arcade difficulty is greatly exacerbated by the d-pad input problems.
      In reality, a small patch could easily fix this.  It's the biggest issue with the wonderful games they've been putting out, and if Sega wants to start making money off of these they need to specifically fix the controls.  They've begun a trend that retro gamers want, and have started down the right path, they just need to hone it in and really make these games shine.

     Despite its flaws, Golden Axe is still a good addition to the growing Sega Forever library with its extras and the promise of an online co-op on the way we can hopefully look forward to fixes yet to come.  I honestly hope they do fix the consistent control problems, because Sega has a monstrous library of tremendous games worth replaying, or bringing to a completely new audience, and this is the singular stumbling block in the way.

     Golden Axe via the App Store and Google Play.  It's free to play with adds, but has a $1.99 IAP that removes adds and allows for an


Mega Bloks (Construx): Masters of the Universe Skeletor: Micro Review

     It's been quite a while since I've found some cool toys since Wave 2 of the Mega Bloks (now Mega Construx) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles mini figures, and today I came across an awesome new one- a tiny Masters of the Universe Skeletor.

     When I first came across the initial bunch of TMNT Mega Bloks figures I was immediately taken with how well done they were, wave 2 pushed that impressiveness even further.  Then the toys were set back a little with the TMNT: Out of the Shadows film tie-ins, then they knocked it out of the park with the black and white Mirage Comics figures- they were downright spectacular!

     Once again, Mega Construx has done a fantastic job in making an absurdly tiny and somehow still manage to have a ton of articulation.  This is a tremendous new mini figure that is great for collectors and fans.  It's well painted, well sculpted, and articulated- these things are just plain amazing little figures.  I only hope they will produce more than only He-Man and Skeletor, currently the only 2 available for the Masters of the Universe line.  I'd really like to see Tri-Klops, Stinkor, Man-at-Arms, or any of the vast array of characters from the comics or show.
     I'll definitely pick up more as they come, but right now, this Skeletor is a perfect introduction to the set, and I can only hope for more to come.

     I've also seen they've released 2 figures from Star Trek: The Next Generation and 2 from Aliens.  In reality, they could make a plethora of great figures for those series' as well- paving more paths for cool new figures now that the TMNT lines are becoming stale.  I'm not kidding, there's a wealth of characters to choose from but they go with ones nobody wants, or more simple repaints/variants of the core turtles for each new wave comprising a full 50% of each new wave.  Mix it up a little Mega Construx!  People will buy the awesome figures when they aren't making the same mistake the old Playmates line made, no one wants the football Leonardo, or an Army fatigues Donatello, we'd rather have a cool Metalhead or Chrome Dome than the infinite number of variants.


Jurassic World Evolution: Trailer & Thoughts

     I heard there was a new Jurassic Park game on the way and I got immediately excited, unfortunately that excitement was swiftly quashed when I found out it was just another world builder game.

     According to the developer's official press release:
     "Jurassic World Evolution evolves players’ relationship with the Jurassic World film franchise, placing them in control of operations on the legendary island of Isla Nublar and the surrounding islands of the Muertes Archipelago. 
     Players will build their own Jurassic World as they bioengineer new dinosaur breeds and construct attractions, containment and research facilities. Every choice leads to a different path and spectacular challenges arise when ‘life finds a way.’"
     I'm not going to lie, though the developer has over a decade of world/city building, management, and simulation games experience, I just feel they could've done better for the Jurassic Park legacy than this genre of game.  The old Sega Genesis game was a great platformer, the Sega CD version was a point-and-click mystery (as was the far superior, and much more recent Telltale version), and this honestly feels like an upscaled version of Ludia's mobile tie-in Jurassic World: The Game.  The mobile game was a good time-waster, overloaded with IAPs and the like with an interesting dinosaur evolving and battling sub-game- but it was also a mobile game, and not a full console game.  While I don't like this type of game, I'm sure it'll have a bunch of people hyped.

     All I'd like to see, and have wanted to see for decades, is a 3rd person action-adventure game like Uncharted 4 or Rise of the Tomb Raider that takes place in the Jurassic Park universe.  If they could get a company like Naughty Dog or Crystal Dynamics/Eidos Montreal to make it, the game would top the charts instantly.  The closest we got to it is the LEGO Jurassic World game, it wasn't the best, but it was still pretty damned fun despite the flaws (that plague all the LEGO games).

     Jurassic World Evolution will arrive on PC, PS4, and XBox One in Summer 2018, in time for the theatrical release of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom on June 22, 2018.

     SOURCE [ Frontier ]


Easy-Mode Players Are The Real Gamers (GUEST POST by @Nintendo_Legend)

“Everything ain’t hardcore, you know.” -- Jay-Z.

At the time I am writing this, the current water-cooler topics of discussion include Harry Potter now being 20 years old and the SNES Classic releasing in the fall. Pop culture is a merry-go-round, an exercise in tempting bystanders through a cyclical display of the same bright lights, colorful motifs, and enchanting musical ditties.

Among the spokes on the spinning wheel of gaming topics is the intractable morass of difficulty levels. When Nintendo included an invincible Tanooki suit in Super Mario 3D World as an option for players who die five times in a row on the same stage, some people found this to be quite an objectionable thing, positing that including this item “destroys everything that playing video games is all about,” because the whole point of video games is “challenging yourself, improving your skills, and finally applying those skills you’ve learned to defeat the stage. Failing is an essential part of any video game. You have to fail to get any sense of accomplishment when you finally do win.”

One could wonder if having fun could be a worthy purpose for gaming.

I recommend reading Nadia Oxford’s piece at USGamer on the topic. Also, this Jimquisition video on Zero Difficulty, concerning reaction to an Easy Mode in StarFox Zero. While we’re recommending items on the subject, here’s a Kotaku article by Jason Schreier on the idea that maybe all games should have a ‘very easy’ mode. Here is a meaty piece on Dark Souls and how its identity is closely tied to its difficulty, among other sentiments. Finally, here is a long Twitter thread on (among other things) how even the meaning of the term ‘hardcore’ has shifted over time as the demographics of the hobby have changed.

Honestly, I do not want to rehash the entire discussion. It should be fairly clear, to anyone with common sense, that it is unreasonable to object to a feature being included in a video game that does no harm yet enhances enjoyment for others. Concerning yourself with how others conduct themselves in their gameplay to the extent of whining about it online is asinine, especially when it has zero affect on your own experiences.

Yet, even in recent days, we see the same old behavior dug back up for a new target, the SNES Classic. “Why don’t you just get a Raspberry Pi?” they cry, ignoring the fact that countless thousands within the target audience of the novelty have no clue nor interest in how emulation works, while also ignoring… the simple fact that it is perfectly fine for others to enjoy something you have no interest in. Again, it is a troll viewpoint, not worth covering in too much detail.

Simply: It is silly, at the very least, to care what difficulty level other people play at, or to scoff at how casual they are. Any half-decent human being with four brain cells can recognize that ‘hardcore’ and ‘casual’ players have equal value, and that worrying how someone else plays a video game is a waste of energy. To be a member of the gaming community yet hate on features that would only serve to include more people is a slimeperson position to take. Yet, I want to go a step further.

I want to say: Easy-Mode Players are the real gamers.

Yes, Easy-Mode Players are the ones who should have the cred, be looked up to, and have their opinions sought after. Why did it take me several paragraphs to reach my premise? … I don’t have an answer for that, ha. Instead, let’s take a not-too-serious look at why Easy-Mode Players are the real gamers.

They Are Different

On a simple, literal level, Easy-Mode Players are different. They take the path less traveled, they march to the beat of a different drummer. They take the scenic route, and do not concern their pride on such matters as violence and speed and competition. They are mold-breakers, and their type is still not thought of as The Default by developers or fellow fans.

Which is fine, mostly. But there is value in recognizing the ideas that a different sort of mind can contribute, and how these voices can help constructively craft the scene. Let them be taken seriously, and be appreciated for their distinct perspective. At times, it may even seem refreshing.

They Appreciate The Craft

Consider motivation: Why would anyone bother playing a game at its hardest difficulty, anyway? Sure they may enjoy the heightened challenge, but why? Does it not always come back to a personal point of pride? Having to conquer the game, having to beat someone else, having to prove something.

Now, consider the Easy-Mode Player, the player who is taking their sweet time to truly soak in the journey, to dive full-bodied into the story and lore that has been crafted for them, to let themselves be immersed and invested in the setting and characterizations. Just as there are connoisseurs in other fields, is there not room for gamers who really take measure of the artform we are so fond of?

Would Easy-Mode Players not more readily support games as an artform, since they are removing their ego from the equation and more readily embracing the total venue of experiences that the hobby can offer?

I am not saying that speedrunning is somehow bad, or there cannot be a healthy place in this world for esports tournaments. However, consider the artistic merit of these pursuits applied to other subjects of study. What would we think of a reader who speed-read a book? Of a viewer who watched a film in fast-forward? What if a listener made music more difficult, trying to listen to a track while punching their own ears underwater?

Should we not treasure the keen insights of those who truly involve themselves with the games in a real way? Those who really do regard gaming as an interactive art form, and see more clearly their narrative capabilities?

All I’m saying is that I bet people who play Easy have a sight for the craft of games that many others lack, and this is probably pretty cool.

They’re Nicer People

Look, um, I admit, this is a gross generalization, and totally unscientific, but -- if you put the hardest-core FPS player next to someone who likes visual novels, I’m just saying, I would wager on the visual-novelist being the kinder person if I had to pick. Kinder human beings are, generally, human beings I would rather associate and communicate with.

Okay, I am beginning to drift away from any legitimate point I could have had. At the end of the day, all I am trying to say is -- let’s celebrate and champion the easy-mode players, because they add a distinctive wrinkle to the community that should be appreciated. Let’s support and affirm one another, rather than… get bent out of shape because now even a baby can play a Super Mario game (I mean seriously, why the hell do you care wh-- never mind, sorry, sorry).

I do want to include a word about accessibility. The idea of having more play options for more people includes the benefit of opening possibilities for those with cognitive differences or bodily challenges. If including these players means a form of play that could be seen as an Easy Mode, can you really feel good about taking issue with that? Or feel malice for letting these players play at all?

I know some people find children annoying, as another example, but what objection can you truly have to a setting that finally lets a child enjoy a game? Feel free to tackle the issues of appropriate choices on a title-by-title basis, but the overall idea remains: Gaming inclusion beats gaming exclusion, and it is not a difficult debate.

Communities work better when people act more like friends and less like enemies. This seems like a simple-enough idea to me, but we have a bit of work to do yet. So, let’s do the work. Let’s stop turning our noses at folks for playing walking simulators, stop trying to push people into playing in ways they don’t really want to play, and conduct ourselves upliftingly toward those who slide the difficulty scale all the way down.

Here’s to you, Easy-Mode Players. I think you’re the real gamers.

     Guest post written by Eric Bailey [ @Nintendo_Legend
          Admin of [ skirmishfrogs.com ] [ @SkirmishFrogs ]

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