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After Mario Kart 8 Deluxe’s success on the Nintendo Switch, I began to think of what other games might come from Wii U to Switch. There is one game I want more than others and that is Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze.

This might just be the best Donkey Kong game ever made. The Music by David Wise is excellent, and it had some truly amazing visuals that went against the grain for 2D platformers, even HD ones. Tthe enemies are memorable and great, especially unlike the Tikis from Returns, and were a worthy successor to the Kremlings. But most importantly, this has the best gameplay and level design in the series, with every level  being and feeling alive and bursting with energy. Every area, from the beaches to the frozen islands have a truly epic feel to them, which is greatly helped by the awesome David Wise soundtrack.

In addition, the characters are probably the best they have been in the series.feel great as well. Dixie Kong makes her return and truly shows why she was a beloved character. Also, for the first time in the series, you can play as Cranky Kong. Cranky plays like Scrooge McDuck from the Ducktales video game adaptations and is a truly worthy addition to the roster. Plus when you add in the hard modes, you could play as a different character than DK in single player. You could play as Diddy, Dixie or Cranky for the whole game, which opened up entire new play possibilities. This isn’t getting into the Time Trials, with the game encouraging speed running and allowed you to upload your replays for others to see.

The fact is that this is just too good a game to leave on the Wii U. This game deserves a second chance to make an impact and get a new audience and it should come to the Nintendo Switch. It could do very well there, especially with the overall momentum of the platform, and get better sales. the fact is that this is one of the most creative games on the Wii U, and I would even say among the most creative platformer games ever made. It is just that good and should be experienced by more.

 

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The above was the opinion of the author and does not necessarily reflect that of ROG or its staff.

By Nate VanLindt On 28 May, 2017 At 04:24 PM | Categorized As Editorials, Featured, Opinion, PC Games, PlayStation, ROG News, Xbox 360/Xbox One | With 0 Comments

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13,925.  693, no platinum trophies.  5,906 XP – Level 29.  These numbers are meaningless out of context.  The fact is, they’re pretty much meaningless in context as well.  Chances are, you already know what I’m talking about if you’re reading this, but for the few that don’t, the above numbers are gamer scores and achievement statistics.  Specifically my personal gamer statistics.  I had to look them up because I had absolutely no idea what they were and I didn’t really care.  They are from Xbox Live, Playstation Network, and Steam respectively if you’re wondering.  That’s the point, however.   Why have people become obsessed with their personal statistics?

Gamerscores and stats started almost at the same time as gaming with the advent of the high score.  The very first high score was in Sea Wolf, way back in 1976.  Most games of the early gaming era featured scoring systems of one kind or another, whether it be the number of points scored in a Pong game or the points from the number of alien ships shot down in Galaga.  High scores stuck around until the mid to late 80s, when the NES reigned supreme and longer, more complex games at home became the standard.  Even then, many games still had score tabulation functions, whether they were the game scores in R.B.I. Baseball or a run n’ gun like Contra by Konami.   In other words, high scores have always been kicking around, but as gaming advanced, high scores slowly disappeared and became less meaningful, excluding a handful of genres like SHMUPS (SHoot eM UPS such as R-Type, Gradius, and Raiden for those who aren’t familiar with the term). 

But then, something odd happened in 2005.  Microsoft introduced achievements on the Xbox 360.  All of the sudden, every time you completed a specific set task in a game, you got a digital attaboy.  A little notification would pop up on screen and tell you you’d completed a task that you didn’t even know you were working towards and it added to what Microsoft calls your “gamerscore”.  Suddenly people were trying to have the best gamerscore, competing with their friends, doing things they’d never bother to do in a game before and spending lots of extra time in a game to do it.  Companies noticed this.  Nearly every game had achievements in short order.  In 2007, Valve added their version of gamerscores, badges, to Steam.  The next year, Sony added Trophies to the PlayStation Network as well.  Suddenly, everyone had a scoring system to track how much better (or worse) you were than everyone else you knew.  People bought into it.  Companies offered rewards for the highest gamerscore and Microsoft even gave away a lifetime membership to Xbox Live Gold in 2013 to the player with the highest gamerscore.  The entire concept had entered the collective consciousness of gamers and they have accepted it as a standard.

Should we be paying attention to our gamerscore and our trophy list, however?  Perhaps we should not.  In 2006, Gears of War was released for the Xbox 360.  It was one of the first games I played that had achievements.  I’d seen the achievement notifications pop up before, but I generally just tolerated them.   As I played Gears of War, I reached the end of a section and defeated the Berserker the first time, earning the trophy “My Love For You Is Like A Truck”, a reference to a fairly obscure song called Berserker by a band called Love Among Freaks.  Unfortunately, the trophy notification popped up prominently onscreen in the middle of a cinema sequence, blocking me from seeing the cinema fully and destroying my immersion in the game instantly.  On top of that, I couldn’t go back and see the cinema again without replaying that entire section of the game.  From that moment on, I was dead set against gamerscore in all its iterations.

In case you didn’t know, you can actually turn off achievement notifications on both Microsoft and Sony consoles.  On the Xbox One, it’s under Settings,  All Settings, Preferences, Notifications.   For the PS4, the option is under Settings, Notifications.  I did this as soon as the option became available on each network (as far as I know, it still isn’t available on Steam unfortunately) and I never looked back.  As a gamer for over 30 years, I ask you to consider it this way.  Games are designed to have fun.  They’re a form of escapist entertainment.   We generally play games to try and either finish them or get a high score.  But with achievements, we play through tedious grinding activities just to get an ephemeral payout of gamerscore so we can brag to friends and strangers.  That’s not only weird, it borders on pointless.  Take Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End for example.  I played Uncharted 4 right after it came out.  I blew through the game in my spare time (about a week).  The pacing is fantastic, the story moves just the right amount at a go, none of the gameplay holds you up too badly, but you still feel challenged.  It’s one of the most well-crafted games I’ve played in years in terms of pacing and structure.  I finished the game, had a blast, and came away fully satisfied with my experience.  I can’t speak highly enough of the game (keeping in mind that to enjoy it fully you must play the entire series in order).   Now, take a look at my personal trophies on the PS4 for Uncharted 4.

That’s right.  I got a measly 14 bronze trophies playing through a game that I raved about as one of the best games I’ve ever had the pleasure of playing.  A game that I just stated I was ‘fully satisfied’ with.  There are sixty-eight trophies in this game.  Sixty-eight!  Essentially, I didn’t ‘play the game’ according to the current thinking in gaming.  How could I possibly call myself a gamer?  Obviously, I don’t take gaming seriously enough, right?  Wrong.  Gaming is for fun, and I had fun playing Uncharted 4.  A lot of fun actually.  I don’t want to waste my limited free time finding 109 treasures that have no bearing on the story in my well-paced story-based game.  I am not interested in spending hours hanging from ropes to get the trophy for making 20 headshots while hanging from a rope.  And I certainly don’t want to buy an apple just to let the lemur steal it in chapter 11.  Because that’s not fun.  It’s tedious make-work in a game I’m playing for entertainment.  And achievements, trophies, and badges get much more ridiculous than that, up to and including repeating a specific activity or action thousands of times just to get that pop-up payoff.   Let’s call it what it really is, a Pavlovian response pattern that reinforces obsessive-compulsive tendencies in a mostly antisocial social sub-group.   In short, they are a prize with no value.

And yet there is a large and vocal demographic online that openly mocks anyone who dismisses the value of achievements.  Gamers often minimize the impact of these psychological tools, resorting to simplistic responses such as ‘if you don’t like them, just ignore them’, or ‘only people that suck at gaming hate trophies’.  Who is missing the point here?  Obviously, games are designed for both types of gamers now, the trophy hunters and the purists.  There’s no arguing that.  But are game designers themselves compromising their vision to provide a game that appeals to a wider audience due to the frothing demand for achievements?  It seems like they are.  Adding online content, online trophies, and various other extras to games that don’t really need them seem like pandering.  Some games force you to go online to get some of the achievements, necessitating play against others as well as paying for premium network access in the form of Xbox Live or Playstation Plus.  And gamers are falling for it.  In a recent discussion with a colleague, he informed me that he was replaying a game after finishing it so that he could “platinum” it because he loved the game so much.  When I asked him about the achievements though, he related that many of them were tedious and difficult to achieve.  After this discussion, I asked him about his game backlog and he admitted that he has games that he hasn’t even opened yet.  In other words, achievements are artificially inflating the average gameplay and dissuading gamers from moving on to the next title, regardless of the next game’s quality, even after they’ve finished a game and have stopped enjoying it.

It seems to me like this is an issue that gamers should actually take seriously.  Not because it matters whether you play for score, but because game developers take it seriously and they design games based on the trends of the market and the input they receive online.  The best games, the ones that everyone raves about for years or even decades, are the ones that provide an uncompromised creative vision.  These games are at the top of everyone’s list for a reason.  They were designed to enjoy, not to appeal to every single person, and that makes them rise above.  Too few of those games exist these days, and fewer are released every year.  Maybe if we focus a little less on finding every flag or using every weapon for a thousand headshots or revealing every single tenth of a percentage point of every single map and a little more on just immersing ourselves in the fun a game can provide, we’ll all get a bit more enjoyment out of gaming.   Try turning off your notifications for a game or two and see if you have more fun.  If you don’t know you’re missing out…maybe you aren’t.

 

Source 1  Source 2  Source 3  Source 4

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Castlevania is one of the most beloved series of all time, but has been allowed to lie in neglect for far too long. However, recent events have caused me to wonder if there is a chance to revive the series still. Nintendo worked with Konami to bring back Bomberman for the launch of the Nintendo Switch, which ended up as a major success for the two. This made me wonder if nowthat Bomberman has seen successful opening week numbers, Konami might try to work with Nintendo to revive Castlevania as well. However, there is still the issue that without IGA at Konami, a metroidvania take on the games wouldn’t be the same as before. After all, IGA is now working on Bloodstained, and I doubt he is on good terms with Konami still.

There are some possible good ways to revive the series, such as by licensing it out to Platinum Games.Hideki Kamiya and other developers there are major fans of the series, and a Castlevania game made by them would be an amazing action game, that would finally avert the nature of the 3D games to be lesser games in terms of quality. It could be the next successor to Bayonetta even, much like Bayonetta was the successor to Devil May Cry, which was influenced by Castlevania.

However, there option for who to make the game and it might be an even better choice. From Software’s Souls series is often considered the spiritual successor to the Castlevania games. In fact, it is considered the successor to both the classic and metroidvania games, and for them to get to work on the series itself would be a chance for a fresh new take on the series that would attract a new audience. From could give it a unique feel and identity,  one that merges the  feel of the souls series with the lore and feel of Castlevania. Plus they would be able to create a truly punishing game, similar to the NES games.

I feel this is a way to create a new Castlevania experience that doesn’t just retread past territory, and both of this paths offer a bold direction for the series. Either a strong action series, or a atmospheric and challenging game. This could be what Castlevania needs and I hope Nintendo and Konami agree to do something like this. It is our best hope for the series’ future.

 

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The above was the opinion solely of the author and doesn’t necessarily reflect the views of ROG or its staff.

By Jonathan Balofsky On 26 May, 2017 At 06:48 PM | Categorized As Editorials, Featured, News, NINTENDO, Nintendo Switch, Opinion, ROG News | With 0 Comments

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The Switch has been out for a while now, and two of its biggest games were ports from the Wii U, with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. There has also been a port of Lego City Undercover and there has been speculation on more coming. Some have started complaining and feel they do not want Wii U ports as they would rather have new games and new experiences. as they see the large amount of ports on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One as a bad route for Switch.

This however, somewhat misguided. The Wii U did not sell well, and most of its game have not reached a wide audience. Ports to the Switch would be an opportunity for more to experience games like Pokken Tournament, like Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE, like Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze and so on. Games like Fatal Frame Maiden of Black Water and  Bayonetta 2 would be given a wider audience this way, and we could potentially see new sequels because ports do well. The fact is, the games did low numbers and they can be saved by ports.

Ports to the Switch would help by giving more games that can fill out the release scheduled and avoid droughts. Ports will likely be handled by outside parties and not Nintendo themselves, and there is nothing stopping Nintendo from releasing both new games and remasters on the Switch. I would even say that it comes off as rather selfish to not want ports and remasters, because while you may have played these games on Wii U, others may not have because of the Wii U’s sales numbers. The Switch is bringing a large new audience to Nintendo, these new players  may want to play games they may have missed on the Wii U. It just makes sense to have ports, and not doing it would be leaving money on the table. I hope you can understand where I am coming from with this. It feels elitist and reeks of snobbery to hate ports this way.

 

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The above was the opinion of the author and does not necessarily reflect ROG or its staff

By Ural Garrett On 26 May, 2017 At 12:21 AM | Categorized As Editorials, Featured, Reviews, ROG News, Xbox 360/Xbox One | With 0 Comments

No GravatarPlayground Games could have simply felt continent with having the premiere open world racer with Forza Horizon 3. The Australian Outback was a perfect location featuring loads of varied geography, the level of customization from vehicles to online play were insane and the Xbox One exclusive just played sublime regardless of the arcade/sim lean a player wanted.

Makes sense as to why the game till this day retains a 91 percent Metacritic score while selling over 2.5 million units. Instead, developers of the series continue to put the same amount of attention into Forza Horizon 3’s expansions starting with the Blizzard Mountain in late 2016. Despite being a blast drifting through the snow in the latest All-Wheel-Drive vehicles, more conventional vehicles or high priced exotics were pushed to the side (even with the added snow tire option.) Now, Playground has upped the ante and much more through their Hot Wheels expansion.

First, the track design does an amazing job blending the cherished childhood moments of miniature cars racing on plastic winding and twisting orange tracks with the grounded feel that’s made the Forza series so palatable to racing fans.

And, the map is fairly large.

A giant Hot Wheels track on an isolated island also feature hallmarks of the brand. Loops, sharp bends, boost sections, extremely ludicrous jumps specialized cars and even random T-Rex’s make its way into damn near every corner of the map. Also, the track design transitions from dirt road to the pavement in a way similar to the Australian Outback making it feel more entertaining than Blizzard Mountain. This means that there’s enough variety for those who want to drive a suped up Acura Integra, Ferrari 458 or Ford 150 Raptor without feeling out of place. Keeping with the Hot Wheels theme, some races even feature cross sections which only adds to the tension. The track design at times literally seems to rival the over-the-top feel of Mario Kart 8.  

The Forza Horizon series has evolved into the best open world racer one can get this generation and always serve as something for those who don’t appreciate the more technical driving nature of Forza Motorsports. With the Hot Wheels expansion, an already fantastic racing experience gets even better.

By Jonathan Balofsky On 21 May, 2017 At 09:53 PM | Categorized As Editorials, Featured, News, NINTENDO, Opinion, Reviews, Reviews, ROG News | With 0 Comments

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LJN is one of the most reviled names in retro gaming. The publisher put out some of the worst games on the NES, SNES and other systems, but not all their games were bad. One game that tends to get a lot of hate is Back to the Future on NES but I feel this hate is unwarranted, and the game is actually nowhere near as bad as is claimed.

Back To The Future admittedly does have a bizarre way of adapting the game, and it seems to have nothing to do with the movie at first. I was one of many people who thought this until it was made apparent what I was missing. Back to the Future on NES plays much like an arcade game more than anything else, and its various levels and styles all play like something out of an 80’s arcade game. While we may remember the big names like Street Fighter, Final Fight and Smash TV, the truth is that there were many arcade games that were just like Back to the Future. When looked at in that context it becomes a lot easier to see what the developers were going for and I can appreciate it. Indeed, the levels on the streets are the most reminiscent of this style, especially with getting power-ups like skateboards and weapons. It is clear what the developers were going for, even if they didn’t hit the mark.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying this is an amazing hidden gem for the NES ( though I would argue another LJN licensed game, Nightmare on Elm Street, actually is a hidden gem), and there is a difference between “not a bad game” and “a great game”. I view Back to The Future on NES as more middle of the road, nothing too bad but not anything great. I actually managed to have fun wasting time with it, and even the side levels like catching hearts or catching notes were fun. Arcade games would often have hard segments like this to guzzle more quarters, so again, I get what they were going for.

Now, I will address the major complain people have. The music is atrocious and cannot be defended as it is. The thing is, the music was not supposed to be like that. The music as composed, was a faithful 8 Bit rendition of the music from the movie. Now I have heard two explanations for what happened with the music to make it what it was. One explanation was that the music had to be licensed separately and when this was found out, it was sped up to hide it. The other explanation is that it was programed into the game wrong and it was sped up and not fixed due to the game being rushed out.

If you do not believe me about the music then listen to this

 

 

 

All in all, Back to the Future on NES cant really be called a terrible game. Its just kind of there. It can be enjoyed and for all the complaints about Marty looking weird, even faithful licensed games like Batman made strange choices in character appearances. I don’t understand the hate and I thank people like 8-Bit Eric for helping make me aware of the game’s good qualities . I encourage you to try the game again and consider it from this perspective. Just avoid Back to the Future II and III on NES, as that game is truly horrible.

 

(Thank you to Larry Bundy Jr for sharing the video above. You can check out his youtube channel here , I highly recommend it)

(Check out 8-Bit Eric’s channel here.)

The article was inspired by Cygnus destroyer ( Check him out here)

The above was the opinion solely of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views of Real Otaku Gamer and its staff

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The Nintendo GameCube era was a time of experimentation for Nintendo. It was during this time that we got games like F-Zero GX via a collaboration with Sega, Metroid Prime and Eternal Darkness. All of these are classic games still loved by players, but there is one game that Nintendo published for the GameCube that sticks out like a sore thumb.

Geist was developed by n-Space, who were under contract with Nintendo at the time. The game went through a period of development hell and was delayed numerous times, as well as undergoing numerous revisions. What started out as a horror themed sci-fi FPS eventually became a first person horror adventure that was a bit of a disjointed mess. The game had some great ideas, such as possessing characters in order to interact with the world, but it was badly handled and was a deeply unsatisfactory experience. The thing is, some of the great ideas the game had, have been used by other games since in some form or another, including Prey to an extent, and these were handled extremely well.

Geist’s problems can be attributed to the horrible development cycle it had, and if given a new developer with a proven track record for success, the game could be rebooted and given a fresh start. There is new tech available today for game design, people are thinking outside the box, and the game’s ideas can be made into a truly epic sci-fi horror game.

But what developer/studio could revive the IP in a successful way, and that Nintendo could trust? The answer is for Nintendo to look inward, as they have the perfect studio to work on it. Retro Studios works best on games that have a western focus/appeal more to the west, and if they are not working on Metroid or Donley Kong, this would be a perfect new project for them to handle. They have the pedigree for amazing sci-fi games and are masters of intricate game design. Moreover, they have the Nintendo design philosophy down pat and can be trusted to deliver a true polished game. People were skeptical about Metroid Prime at first but it is regarded as one of the best games ever made. Their Donkey Kong games are some of the best platformers ever made and have great attention to detail to the extent that they won people over, when they were upset at the idea of Retro working on that series.

Retro could make Geist their big epic project for the Switch and create a new experience for fans. It could be what the original was supposed to be, but on a bigger scale. Moreover, Nintendo is now more open to these kind of games and given the reception many of these games have, it would be amazing for Nintendo to have one of their own, designed in-house, with a top tier developer behind it. Geist had some amazing ideas that weren’t used properly and Retro Studios is the ideal studio to take this IP and turn it into a success.

 

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The Elder Scrolls is a beloved series that has been ongoing sine the 90’s. Each game since the first one has been set in one province of Tamriel, with the second game taking place in the kingdom of Daggerfall in High Rock, the third game in Morrowind, the fourth in Cyrodil and Oblivion and the fifth in Skyrim. There has been heavy speculation that the upcoming sixth game will be set in Valenwood and this wood be excellent, but I have a different idea. To me, it makes much more sense for the sixth game to be set in Hammerfell, the home of the Redguard people.

There are many reasons that this is the case. For one, Hammerfell is a unique setting and while parts of it are desert, it also has cities, plenty of ruins both Dwemer and Ayleid and areas like mountains, and areas similar to Skyrim, and a coastal region as well. In fact, the island of Stros M’kai would be the perfect setting for DLC with a pirate theme, as it is a base of pirates according to the series lore, much like Solstheim was for Skyrim and Morrowind. As well, the Alik’r Desert itself is described in ways that make it almost a living character in its own right, much like the terrains of Skyrim. It could have some survival elements that would make things tougher than in Skyrim which should satisfy those who felt the games have become too easy.

There are enemies that would be truly unique that are established in the lore for Hammerfell like Assassin Beetles and others. These would help establish the setting and its unique nature much like Skyrim and Morrowind did. But what would the plot be? Well, following on from Skyrim, we know that the Hammerfell is in conflict with the Aldmeri Dominion and is not on good terms with the empire. Hammerfell also borders Skyrim and there has been speculation that should the next game establish that the Stormcloaks won the civil war, the Alik’r warriors might see a connection in their struggles and seek to ally with the stormcloaks. Even if the next game establishes that the imperials won, the story could also have the Empire trying to get Hammerfell to rejoin again.

The conflict with the Thalmor would be a major plot point like before, but it doesn’t need to be the only one. Hammerfell is one of the three provinces of Tamriel where the Dwemer once lived, along with Morrowind and Skyrim. Fans have been wanting a resolution to the mystery of the Dwemer for a long time, and Skyrim confirmed the Dwemer are still out there somewhere. Interestingly, the character who reveals he has seen the Dwemer, is a Redgaurd himself. This could be the game that establishes the return of the Dwemer, and positions them as a major threat much like Skyrim was about the return of the dragons.

Morrowind had the protagonist be the Nerevarine (possibly), the reincarnation of Indoril Nerevar, and the following games also had the player character have a connection to older forces ( becoming a Sheogorath, and being the dragonborn respectively). So what would this game have for its protagonist? This is actually the easiest to answer as its established that the Redgaurd have among their gods, HoonDing, the make way god, who appears when the people need him. Instead of the Thu’um as in the previous game, this game could use Sword Singing techniques that the player can learn as you progress.

As mentioned, there is a lot of potential for DLC such as island of Stros M’kai, but DLC could also be set directly in Skyrim  or at least the parts of Hammerfell controlled by Skyrim and maybe even let you fight a dragon or two.  There is a lot of potential for the game if it is set in Hammerfell. We could get a full backstory for the Redgaurd’s beliefs ( unlike in Skyrim where they used the worship of the divines) and we could see the next step of the war with the Thalmor. It would let us directly see the fallout from Skyrim, and we could see the next step of the Elder Scrolls evolution.

I hope I have made my case for it to some of you at least.

 

Let me know what you think of this idea. I would love to find out what other fans think.

 

By Nate VanLindt On 10 May, 2017 At 12:35 PM | Categorized As Editorials, Featured, News, NINTENDO, Opinion, ROG News | With 1 Comment

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If you’ve made it past the title of this article, you’ve probably already formed an opinion on this issue.  However, let’s set the record straight.  I love Nintendo’s games.  They make fantastic first party software and many of their games are quite fun.  They also make some durable hardware and their handhelds have excellent battery life.  I’m not a fanboy for any system, I’m just a gamer who likes to play a variety of games.  Unfortunately, Nintendo is making it harder and harder to do just that.  I simply want to buy a system, buy a game, play the game.  It should be a simple recipe, but things have somehow gone wrong.

First up is the hardware.  Forget about all the older systems as we already know how great those are.  Let’s only look at the newer systems.  The WiiU has a painfully paltry 32 GB of storage space without buying a hard drive for your system.  Essentially there is no storage for modern games, especially with the trend towards digital distribution that Nintendo is trying to push.  The same goes for the Switch: a brand new console that has 32 GB of storage space (expandable with MicroSD).   Add the fact that Nintendo’s systems rely on gimmicks like the WiiU tablet and the Switch’s portability instead of raw power for higher-end software like the Xbox and the PS4 and you have an underwhelming experience.

On the portable front, Nintendo is also shooting themselves in the foot.  Since the original Game Boy Advance, they’ve made multiple hardware revisions to every single system they’ve released without offering any rebates to the consumer.  Being an early adopter with Nintendo is a punishing experience.  The 3DS is on its third revision since its release currently (the New 3DS XL) and the announcement just came that  they’re putting out a 2DS XL system and are likely to retire the 3DS line altogether.  As an early adopter to the 3DS line, I lost money replacing the 3DS with the 3DS XL when it came out due to the vastly superior screen and system design.  I did the same on the New 3DS XL which could play some games that the previous iterations couldn’t in addition to a more stable 3D experience and better battery life and screen quality.  In looking at the 2DS XL reviews, it also appears that the build quality has cheapened on the new units with thinner, flimsier top screens and a messy and easily fingerprinted matte color scheme to save fifty dollars on the price.

At this point you may be wondering why anyone even bothers, with 5 versions of the hardware out there.  Nintendo really needs to take the time to determine a solid design and stick with it.  Every version of hardware I have to buy means less games that I buy for that system.  And software makes more money than hardware.  Simple, right?   Don’t even get me started on the NES Classic, one of the most high demand Nintendo products in recent memory, which was under-manufactured, poorly distributed, and then shut down before demand was ever filled.  It was essentially a console that was one big ad to remind people that Nintendo was still around and it was purposely made scarce to fuel demand for Nintendo products.

Now we come to software.  Nintendo, like all game companies, is putting out software that’s unfinished, requiring internet connections and updates for optimization.  In addition, they’ve begun catching up on the DLC market that other consoles and computers have been exploiting for over a decade.  But Nintendo has terrible internet connectivity in their devices, a poorly optimized digital storefront, and worst of all, their digital content is extremely expensive.  If they run sales on DLC, the sales are 10-20% off, not the deep discounts everyone else does.  And now they are leaving out large chunks of their games and charging full price for the remainder of the games too.

Look at the forthcoming Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia.  It’s a $40 game which you can buy the season pass for, providing all five DLC packs for the low discount price of $45, five dollars more than the game itself!   And that $45 is a 30% savings off of the retail price of the downloadable content!  On top of that, the game has a pair of Amiibos that can only be bought in a set for $24.99 which unlock additional content.  In the end, to get the complete game with all content works out to $110 plus tax!  This is becoming a standardized marketing tactic and a large number of consumers are falling for it.  I’ve purchased every North American Fire Emblem game since the original release on the Game Boy Advance  and due to this style of predatory sales, Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia will be the first Fire Emblem I will not buy.  I feel confident in saying that it won’t be the last one I skip either.

This isn’t an isolated incident either.  Many of Nintendo’s larger first party titles have expensive Amiibos that had very little to actual gameplay.  The much-lauded Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (WiiU, Switch) which only came out a month ago suffers from Amiibo diarrhea.  Eighteen (yes, you read that right) Amiibos add content to this $60 title, five of which were released just for the game totalling an MSRP of $84 plus tax excluding the other 13 figures.   It also already has an Expansion Pass available at a whopping $20.  It’s a large pack, to be fair, but it brings the grand total for the official Breath of the Wild content and main game to a ridiculous $164.   And don’t forget that if you don’t rush to get these short-printed Amiibos, the price goes up quickly on the secondary market and you may end up paying as much as $60 on eBay for an ‘out-of-print’ figure that was just released.  Not all consumers will buy all the extras, but the point is that they shouldn’t have to in the first place.  A game should be overall self-contained when it is released and this is certainly going overboard.

Finally, Nintendo also has a unique view on digital rights management which only allows the transfer of your digital content to another console a total of eight times.  With my upgrades to various iterations of Nintendo systems, I’m personally up to five transfers on some items and that’s without ever having broken a system or had one stolen.  A few more upgrades and I won’t even own the content I paid for anymore, whether I’ve had a chance to play it or not.  No other company does this.  Not Sony, not Microsoft, not Steam.  For everyone else, once you buy it, it’s yours as long as it’s on your system or still available on the server.  What makes Nintendo so different about this?  As far as I can tell, simple greed.  There’s absolutely no excuse for this system of DRM.

I’m tired of paying for inferior processing power on my hardware, multiple hardware upgrades, add-ons that don’t add-on and content that should by all rights be free downloadable additions or already in the game.  As consumers, why are we tolerating this ridiculous amount of nickel and dime-ing for a sub-standard payoff?  I find that for the amount of money I have to spend on Nintendo’s products, I’m simply not getting enough enjoyment out of them anymore.  As gamers, we need to speak with our wallets if we ever want this to stop and Nintendo is the place to start that conversation.   We need to ask ourselves if we are buying for the love of gaming anymore or just simply buying because we can’t stop ourselves.  And we need to be aware that the money we spend, even if it’s just a couple of bucks on a random DLC that interests us, equates to millions of dollars worldwide for companies that don’t put out a better product with that money.  I’ve loved your products for a long time, Nintendo, but I just don’t think I can support your company any longer.

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Prey was a 2006 game by Human Head Studios that brought in some truly innovating gameplay to the FPS genre. It was like little else before it.  Now fast forward to 2017 and Prey has been revived, mostly in name only as this is more of a spiritual sequel to System Shock, by Arkane Studios and Bethesda Softworks, but fans of the original should be aware there are elements of the original present here.

Prey plays as a hybrid between survival horror and first-person shooter and does so admirably. Bethesda games are well known for having some glitches and shaky models, it’s expected by now and there is a charm to them. Prey takes these shaky models and glitches and makes them into gameplay elements. Everywhere you go there are enemies of some kind, and the game gets really creative with them. I have to give it to Arkane Studios, the enemies in the game are well thought out and well designed. The enemies can be anything and this creates a great degree of paranoia that is perfect for the game. You will never know where the enemy is, because of the nature of the enemy. This game is billed as the spiritual successor to System Shock, and I truly feel it surpasses its inspiration. It successfully pushes horror to the next level, while mixing in a perfect amount of action.

The game offers unique abilities as part of the story, and these offer so much variety in the gameplay. Prey is a unique type of game, given its story and the way the game lets you go about it. Using the abilities is a big part of the game, but the game makes it personal when you use the powers. It messes with you and forces you to question everything.  It’s a great twist on the usual Survival Horror and FPS gameplay and a welcome innovation.  The game’s abilities, while new and not those of the original game ( again, this is an in name only reboot), still does have a feeling of a connection to the original. This might be surprising but the original Prey’s abilities had a psychological impact that is present in many ways in this game. There are humorous aspects as well, such as becoming different objects which are amusing and great for getting ahead in the game. It is really well done and when used right, creates a rewarding experience, There are also the game mechanics that stand out, such as recycling, and the various weapons and upgrades. Prey is a game you will want to play through more than once ( more on that in just a bit), and it will definitely continue to be fun and exciting,

The story is interesting, if a bit flawed, and has some very neat twists. That said, the way the storytelling is done through the gameplay is good and the visual style of the game adds to its enjoyability a great deal. The big thing for me with the immersion was the music. The soundtrack was absolutely amazing and some of Mick Gordon’s best work, and helps to both set the mood and draw the player in, in the right way and at the right time. It switches from intense action to creepy scares in just the correct amount and keeps things fresh for the player. The story of the game takes a while to appreciate, and there are pacing issues and some things that still don’t work well ( the flaws mentioned), but once it is complete, you will want to play the game again to see how it all fits together. Admittedly, the story isn’t the draw of the game for me, but it plays its part well in the game. That said, the characters are developed well and the setting and scenario and very well thought out and developed. Arkane said they wanted Talos I to be a character itself and they accomplished that.

Prey’s biggest flaw is that the pacing in general, not just in the story, seems off at times, but that can be easily overlooked. All in all, I think Prey is another knockout title from Arkane and Bethesda, and I cannot imagine not recommending it. It just feels great to play and I want more of this experience. It was really well done.

 

Disclaimer: A code was provided by Bethesda for the purposes of this review.