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Messages - SurfingPikachu

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TalkBack / Songbird Symphony Review
« on: September 06, 2019, 10:00:18 AM »

An incredibly well-made rhythm platformer.

Songbird Symphony has taken the time to turn a standard rhythm game into an utterly charming and comedic take on an adopted bird’s quest to find his family. Balanced with standard platformer exploration and problem-solving fare, Joysteak Studios has created an adorable masterpiece that is entirely more fun to play than it has any right to be.

Starting out in a bird-filled forest, players meet the creatively-named Birb, an orphaned baby bird who is taken under the rather large wing of an eccentric peacock, Uncle Pea. After learning some sweet dance moves from his adoptive uncle, Birb realizes he might not be a peacock afterall and sets out to find his real family through the help of the wise Owl.

With medieval chicken fortresses and maze-like pipes built by dancing mountain penguins, the worlds are an utter delight to explore, offering new challenges and secrets to find in each area. Birb is given a fair number of tasks by the local wildlife, and this ever-optimistic protagonist is happy to pause his own quest to help.

The cheery aesthetics combined with simple gameplay make Songbird Symphony easy to pick up and play, but mastering the songs will take some work. It was sometimes a little difficult to not mix up the buttons during quick combos. Since Birb learns a lot of notes, the game utilizes all face buttons as well as the directionals. This can make it hard for inexperienced players to quickly switch from X to B while prepping your other hand for more fast-approaching notes. However, all songs can be repeated to improve your score once you get more practice.

Thankfully, if you’re not big on perfect scores, the game is quite forgiving during those segments. Songs are broken up by lyrical interludes to give you time to stretch your fingers and prepare for the next onslaught of notes, and no matter your score, you’ll be able to progress in the story. Over the course of the game, new song types are introduced and new playing styles. For example, notes may be tossed above the characters or even disappear entirely before they hit the beat. Mixed with colorful backgrounds and cute animations, players can easily get distracted given all the activity.

Other than designated songs, song notes are occasionally used to get around the world. For example, a platform may only be raised when the right notes are played and timed right as you jump to a new platform. For players who aren’t fond of rhythm games, this doesn’t happen often, and song notes are usually reserved for designated musical portions of the game. Birb also learns only one new note with each area he explores, giving players time to work their way up to more complex songs.

Character design takes center stage in Songbird Symphony, creating distinct characters with surprisingly comedic dialogue. Different species have their own style, from hip hop to salsa, and if you leave Birb alone too long, he’ll launch into his own adorable dance. Even the magpies, who resemble a rowdy street gang, are each uniquely designed and feature their own song style for musical beat downs against Birb. For their debut, Joysteak Studios has put a lot of heart into this game, mixing bright, energetic tones with sad, somber ones. As Birb learns more about his feathered world, he’ll uncover a dark mystery behind the lore of the songbirds.

The game is on the shorter side, I finished it in about five hours, but it was the perfect amount of time to deliver the full story Songbird Symphony set out to tell. Extra tasks are kept short, simple, and to the point, eliminating long, tedious errands or lengthy trips back and forth between worlds. From beginning to end, the game is set up like a story, with fun characters to meet along the way, an intriguing mystery, entertaining dialogue, and the heartfelt determination of Birb.

TalkBack / Exception (Switch) Review
« on: August 13, 2019, 05:37:00 AM »

A fast-paced and brightly designed game reminiscent of Tron.

Exception heavily draws to mind the world of Tron, which fits quite well on the Switch. The glowing, bright colors makes the simplistic level design perfectly clear and the short, speed run type play is great for squeezing in a couple rounds on the go.

As a small, very existentially-minded software program tasked with fixing simple problems in an old lady’s computer, players are thrust into battle when she inevitably downloads a huge virus. The story is told in comic book style, after you complete each world.

The goal is to race to the end of each level, focusing on simple jumps and sword slashes at first, but gradually this builds out as more attacks and move sets are unlocked and upgraded. One byte is hidden in each world, which acts as upgrade currency. It’s a little tricky to get used to, the game teaches you special moves as you progress and the buttons (B to jump, Y to hit) felt too close together at first. However, while the controls are adjustable, it’s best to keep them as is, so you can combo moves quickly.

The main draw of Exception is how the world changes as players progress. Every level has multiple touch points that move around the three-dimensional world to create a new route. The game is platform-style, so to access all areas of a level, it is necessary to hit these points and re-explore the altered area. At the end of a level players are awarded stars based on overall performance, and while they can gain bonuses for certain actions, the bulk of the score depends on how quickly players raced through the level.

It is possible to zip through areas and never touch an enemy (in fact, there’s a bonus for that), but if you do get injured, the game’s graphics will actually deteriorate. It’s a fantastic visual, and it can be fun to purposefully smack into things to play with the downgraded graphics, but it’s not always clear how much health is left as there are no other indicators.

Exception is perfect to pick up when you have a couple minutes or to marathon through. Thankfully the synthwave soundtrack flows seamlessly between levels and doesn’t cut off between the short levels, which would get pretty annoying when some levels take only ten seconds to complete. The movement and animation are all very smooth, and the twisting, bright levels are fun to explore.

While it can be frustrating to just barely overjump something or miss hitting an enemy while you’re racing through, this only encourages players to retry for a better score. The game’s difficulty is perfectly balanced for either jumping from level to level to progress through the story, or to step it up a notch and go for a perfect score on every world. At the time of writing, we were not able to use the online leaderboards, but once the game is released it should step up the competitiveness and require players to think strategically about their moves to rack up level bonus on top of their time score.

TalkBack / Flood of Light (Switch) Review
« on: August 30, 2018, 10:35:49 AM »

A beautiful and challenging puzzler.

Flood of Light is a beautifully made 2D platform puzzler by indienova that strikes the perfect balance of being a relaxing experience mixed with challenging trials. The game takes a simple concept and runs with it in a variety of ways, increasing in difficulty the farther you go, while slowly revealing the story behind the mysterious protagonist.

The first thing that immediately hits you about Flood of Light is its serene aesthetic. The game takes place in the flooded Hope City. Once a high-tech metropolis, the city was entirely consumed by water and abandoned. Throughout, you travel through the grey and melancholy cityscape, with artistic pops of color to break up the background. The main character, a small girl known as The Guide, is tiny compared to the large areas she explores.

This dark ambiance is actually perfect for highlighting the purpose: to solve light-based puzzles. There are no environmental distractions and the light itself creates soft glows that add to the overall visuals.

The Guide possesses the supernatural ability to control light. She can both pull light from a lamp and store it by her side as a floating orb, or move light across different points around her. Players can hold onto an infinite amount of light orbs, but when transferring it to a lamp, all orbs move at once, so it’s important to plan your movements carefully. Light can be daisy chained to multiple lamps in one move, leaving one orb in each lamp the group passes through until there are none left. This is a great way to reach a switch or trigger that is well out of The Guide’s reach. However, light can’t pass back through a lamp that’s already lit, or be pulled back to The Guide if she’s not in range.

It’s a bit tricky to visualize without playing the game, but it creates an interesting challenge that holds up throughout the levels as new elements like elevators, switches, and a different type of light are introduced. To progress, players usually need to activate special monoliths that can lower the water level. You need to work your way down to locate eight pillars of light that will save the city.

The story is slowly revealed through emails on various computers and by the optimistic robots that were left behind. For having such an apocalyptic past, these robots are a cheerful bunch that sees The Guide as their prophesized savior. Unfortunately the game hits a problem here as the text and dialogue is rife with grammatical and spelling errors. It’s easy enough to piece together what’s going on, but it’s a strange problem for a game that is otherwise so clean and well thought out.

The ambling pace makes for a relaxing experience. Each level is just the right length to give you a challenge without become boring, and it’s easy to pick up and play from where you left off. Each section of a level has a save point that you can restart from at any time. This is especially important as it’s possible to use up your light in the wrong way and get stuck. There are also extra challenges for completionists. Lighting special “wick” lamps throughout the game unlocks the true ending, but it will use up precious light that would make other areas a little easier, so there’s no room for error. It’s also possible to earn a coveted S rank for each level by restricting the amount of moves you use to only those that are absolutely necessary.

Flood of Light is a solid puzzler that brings a sense of calm and beauty to the genre. Its ambient piano music, accompanied by the constant rainfall surrounding the city, creates a relaxing atmosphere. While touchscreen use is possible, this game is best enjoyed as a handheld game as it’s easy to switch between controls and feel the light use of the Switch’s HD rumble. The mechanics are explained and demonstrated very clearly to get players started, but it’s important to think outside the box as the puzzles increase in difficulty. It’s easy to feel frustrated for a while on a certain area, but once you strike on the solution, the game feels wonderfully satisfying.

TalkBack / Iro Hero (Switch) Review
« on: August 20, 2018, 10:48:59 AM »

A punishing game that misses the mark.

Iro Hero is based on classic shoot-‘em-ups with color polarity systems that add a little puzzling element to an otherwise straightforward genre. While the old school graphics and fast-paced shooting is fun, the unrelenting hellfire of enemies unbalance an otherwise promising game.

Players take control of Iro, a rebel in the year 2306. After an alien race taught earthlings how to harness their own bodies as energy sources, humankind inevitably messed it up and got greedy. Energy farms popped up where people were reduced to batteries, leading to the death of Iro’s mom and setting up his life mission.

The basic gameplay is straightforward: simply shoot everyone in sight, changing polarity to hit enemies of the opposite color. If you stay the same color as an enemy, you can absorb its ammo to unleash powered up attacks. This simplicity is great and helps keep the focus on quickly figuring out the curveballs the enemies and environment will throw at you… constantly. Did I mention this game was hard?

As you fly through levels you’ll need to time your polarity change carefully, avoiding enemy ships and their barrage of fire. Additionally, color sensitive barriers and reflectors, color changing areas, and more force you to think ahead instead of just charging forward.

Difficult games aren’t inherently bad. A good challenge is a fun way to put your skills to the test most of the time. However, Iro Hero is ruthlessly punishing right from the get go with little training or instruction. Iro’s ship can only shoot straight ahead (unless you find a power up), while many enemies can shoot directly at your ship, no matter where you are. Some enemy’s only goal is to fly directly at your ship. If you let them get behind you while you dodge, you’re basically waiting for death since you can’t shoot backwards.

True, every part of the level has some way out of the complex bombardment, but it can be frustrating to get through two-thirds of a level only to die and have to start all over. There are no respawn points throughout the game, or health and lives for that matter. Players must study everything quickly, essentially memorizing later levels to even have a chance at hitting every point correctly and sail through unscathed. You have three lives, each one allowing three hits, unless an enemy ship or opposing color area touches you, in which case you instantly explode. When you combine this with how certain levels (like the very first one) are extra-long, it feels almost impossible to move forward while you’re still learning the ropes of each new element.

With the exception of a few short cut scenes (with an aesthetic that feels out of place), the story and gameplay tips are displayed on either side of the main action. It’s small and difficult to read, especially when you’re trying to focus on staying alive. This could have been easily rectified with simple voiceover moments.

All and all, the main problem boils down to balance. The game tosses you right into the thick of things and doesn’t care whether you sink or swim. It can be absolutely frustrating to get all the way to a boss only to immediately die and be sent right back to the beginning of a long level. By the time you’re back at that boss fight, you probably have the same low health as before because you didn’t have every death trap memorized and fell for some again. There’s barely an opportunity to study your foes or conceive of a plan before you’re hit and it doesn’t matter anymore. Sending you back to the beginning feels like a punishment and lowers any motivation to push through the level again. It’s lacking that spark that other ruthless games have, where you want to play a level over and over, getting a little farther each time and feeling that sense of accomplishment because you had the tools to succeed.

If Iro Hero was updated to create a better balance, I would definitely want to play it again. The game has a lot of potential. There are great bosses with different fighting styles, the graphics are fun and non-distracting from the gameplay, and the music and sound effects all add to the overall action. However, throwing endless enemies and obstacles at a player all in the name of creating a difficult game does not inherently produce a rewarding challenge. Unfortunately this title sorely missed that mark.

TalkBack / Lanota (Switch) Review
« on: July 20, 2018, 08:53:00 AM »

Not your ordinary rhythm game.

If you’re looking for a new way to play with your Nintendo Switch, Lanota brings something interesting to the table. While still a basic rhythm game at its core, it stands out with unique gameplay and a curious storyline.

Whereas most rhythm games focus on notes streaming down your screen (à la Guitar Hero), Lanota’s notes emanate from the Tuner: a circular playing field that moves during the song. Growing and shrinking, partially drifting off the screen, and even twitching around, the whole orb moves in sync with the feel of each particular song and adds an extra level of challenge to the game. Each song can have three different types of notes: touch with the beat, “catch” notes where you can leave you finger in place until it hits the edge, or swipe notes (either up or down depending on color). Inputn is strictly through touchscreen, which can be a bit tricky if you don’t have a solid surface to put your Switch on as two hands are required to hit all the notes, especially when a note requires you to hold it for a while as others continue to stream outward.

Lanota contains over 70 songs to choose from, with many available right away once you’ve completed the intro. It was originally a mobile game, with most songs only available as paid DLC, so it’s nice to have everything in this version. The playlist contains the usual J-Pop fair, but also a good selection from other genres such as rock and trance. The songs are fully fleshed out numbers that are all distinct and professionally produced. They’ve done an excellent job syncing the gameplay to the songs, especially as the difficulty increases it really feels like you’re part of the music.

A lot of customization options are available to help gamers play at their ideal level. Beyond the initial difficulty choices available on each song, you can make it more forgiving by overriding the fail option if you miss too many notes. You can also increase the speed of notes traveling to the edge of the circle if you’ve somehow defeated Master mode and want more. Just keep in mind that Lanota is very strict with the beats, which for experienced rhythm gamers should be no problem, but those starting out might wish for a little leniency as they get used to the beat. An easy solution for this would’ve been to use the Switch’s highly praised HD rumble feature, but this is oddly absent from the game.

However, beyond the main gameplay, Lanota falls short. Players are introduced to a unique story as they learn the ropes, but continuing the story is a confusing process. With each song, players unlock another page, however, there isn’t a specific order to go in which means you’re left with partially complete chapters while you keep playing in hopes of getting the next sequential page by chance. Items also seem to drop sporadically and have no bearing on any part of the game. Some other small sections are included like an image gallery that, again, doesn’t really add much to the game and seem to randomly unlock. This is a glaring distraction from the main game since it takes up most of the menu and becomes basically meaningless rather quickly. The beautiful artistry and intriguing world they’ve created for the two main characters just become a frustrating weight that seems to only pay off if you’ve completed every song and go back to read the story in order.

Lanota is the perfect rhythm game for the Switch platform. It utilizes the touchscreen well and mixes up a genre that can get stale from game to game. Each song brought clever ways of utilizing their Tuner setup that kept things interesting as you played through the extensive list of songs. While anything beyond that was a letdown, if you’re looking for a solid game with fantastic tracks, Lanota doesn’t disappoint.

TalkBack / One Eyed Kutkh Review
« on: March 09, 2018, 01:05:24 PM »

A beautiful concept, but lacking in execution.

One Eyed Kutkh is definitely a game that leaves an impression. With it’s bold, abstract design and mesmerizing soundtrack, my interest was piqued from the very start. Unfortunately, that’s all it can offer as slow gameplay combined with simplistic actions diminished my hype for this game rather quickly.

The inspiration and plot for One Eyed Kutkh is intriguing. Based on traditional fairy tales of Northern Europe, players must find a way to repair the namesake’s spaceship so he can return home. There are magical creatures abound, including the gods of the sun and moon. The world revolves around the World Tree and is beautiful to explore, but limited in its size.

To move your character or to interact with anything, you have to click prompted buttons. This quickly gets old as you character slowly walks, stops, the buttons fade up, and you click what option you want. If you want to interact with an item, you first need tell your character to look around and wait for a new option to appear once your character “discovers” something. The most exciting part comes when you can assemble an object, which involves dragging pieces to their outlined shape in a thought bubble.

There is absolutely no thinking involved in this game. And in some ways, that can be a good thing. If you’re looking for a calm, meditative story to unfold before you, then this will be enough. It’s billed as a simple puzzle game, but even that is too forgiving. One Eyed Kutkh is a story for players to watch and appreciate, but actual action is minimal.

The story is extremely short, even with exploring every nook and cranny I finished in about 40 minutes. There are no extras, but you can jump to different spots in the story if you’d like to re-experience something.

One Eyed Kutkh is an interesting idea. Gorgeous and imaginative in its design but severely lacking in its execution. It leaves gamers wishing there was more to this game so more time can be spent in its world. Unfortunately, unless you’re looking for something simple to keep you occupied for a couple minutes, One Eyed Kutkh falls short.

TalkBack / Vesta Review
« on: February 15, 2018, 09:49:13 AM »

I guess robots haven't heard of child labor laws...

As the Switch matures, we’re seeing a welcome addition of more creative titles hitting the system in 2018. One of these, the quirky puzzler Vesta, is at home on the Switch with a bright aesthetic, enchanting soundtrack, and upbeat protagonist. While the game can be slow-paced, it’s a good addition for meditative puzzle-solving mixed in with a mysterious storyline that gradually unravels as you progress.

Vesta is a young girl living alone in a facility maintained by robots. She knows nothing of the outside world and is tasked by the lead computer, MUM, with gathering valuable energy and progressing though the maze-like environment. Through scattered cut scenes, character dialogue, and messages found throughout the levels, Vesta learns more about the facility, its history, and the fate of the employees who built it. Important cut scenes are animated in a bold comic book style, which does a perfect job of building the characters and story while tying into the blocky look of the 3D gameplay.

Early in the game, players are introduced to DROID, a large weaponized robot with super strength. Gamers must switch between Vesta and DROID to progress through levels, obtain the required amount of energy, and get both characters to the exit. Vesta uses a special backpack to suck energy from devices (movable platforms, conveyor belts, etc.), damaged robots, and enemies. Transferring that energy elsewhere powers up other devices in the facility. DROID can move objects, throw Vesta across small chasms, and stun enemies with his rocket cannon while Vesta collects their energy to fully defeat them. Players must use their abilities together, sometimes rather quickly, to solve each level. It’s usually easy to control each character, but in situations where timing is key it can be a little difficult to aim DROID’s weapon with the control stick since his cannon only moves to certain angles.

Characters and devices, like platforms, often don’t move very quickly, which can become frustrating if you’re sent back to a checkpoint or if you’ve come up short on your energy count at the end of a stage and have to backtrack. The puzzles themselves gradually increase in difficulty at a steady pace. On a whole, each level is entertaining, but don’t expect to speed through the game. There are 36 levels spread out over four worlds and it can take about 15 hours to get through depending on how thorough you are. Completionists will appreciate a series of collectibles scattered around the levels that will push your play time further as you search obscure spots. While it can feel monotonous sometimes as the environment doesn’t change often (lots of metal, acid, and pipes), boss battles break this up nicely by creating a new way to play.

Puzzle fans will find a lot to love in Vesta. The game goes beyond simple tasks to a fully fleshed-out experience with beautiful graphics and an intriguing storyline. While the pacing can be slow and certain puzzles frustrating if you don’t follow the correct sequence on the first try, this is a perfect title to pick up and chill out with. The levels can vary in length, but overall aren’t that long, lending itself well to short play sessions while on the go.

TalkBack / Star Ghost (Switch eShop) Review
« on: January 04, 2018, 10:09:00 AM »

A stunning shoot-'em-up that's the perfect addition for the Switch.

Released last year for the Wii U, Star Ghost is making a strong debut on the Switch. This deceivingly simple side-scrolling shoot-’em-up is poised to be for a great addition to anyone’s library. A perfect balance between simple mechanics that make it easy to pick up and play and variety and challenge that will keep you coming back for more makes Star Ghost a quality shooter on the young system.

The controls are minimal: the spacecraft perpetually flies forward and shoots automatically. Players thrust their ship up by pressing A, and release it to fall back down. For most, this is all you need to get started. Angling the left joystick will somewhat aim where the ship fires, but this can be a little distracting at first as a clear learning curve is present. The addition of a traction tool, activated by holding the left joystick backward, allows you to draw in items within a certain radius. Your ship will stop firing while activated however, so don’t go crazy with it.

Like with all shoot-’em-ups, a selection of power-ups are available. Players’ rate of fire, spread, and traction radius can be increased up to four times by grabbing items dropped by enemies or purchased with credits at the end of levels. Health is also dropped and sometimes, if you’re lucky, you’ll come across bigger bonuses like a repulsion field or turbo score multiplier. Maxing out on your rate of fire and spread as enemies are destroyed in waves, leaving piles of boosts and credits is very satisfying. However, every power-up has a timer that downgrades the boost if another is not picked up in time and viruses will temporarily freeze your weapons if you accidentally touch them.

The game is broken in to 12 regions, each with a couple stages to complete within and scattered boss battles. The difficulty builds up quickly; this is definitely a game that will take a long time to complete. Each stage is mostly randomized. The geography and enemies will vary so you can’t memorize levels. A good variety of enemies with different movement patterns and abilities make it so it is hard to even get past the second region if you’re dealt an unlucky hand and are low on power ups.

The stark neon-on-black aesthetic makes enemies and obstacles pop, an important feature as the environment changes quickly throughout stages and your spacecraft has no brake. Some levels may feature wide open expanses so all you have to worry about are enemies, while others may have so many rocky outcroppings that you have to expertly squeeze your craft between tiny spaces. When you do hit something, the spacecraft will bounce backward, which gets grating fast. This can cause a repetitive effect where, for example, if you’re in a tight spot, your craft may bounce into an outcropping above, which in turn will bounce it back down to the lower outcropping, depleting your shield level exponentially. However, there is no ramifications for touching the top or bottom of the screen if you’re in an open space. Instead, it will drag the ship like a car with no tires, vibrating the Switch, but causing no damage.

Overall a genuinely fun nature pervades through this game. The bright colors and fast-paced play combined with an upbeat soundtrack by David Wise keep it moving. The concept might be one-note, but enough variety is present in the levels for consistently fresh gameplay with an old school arcade feel perfect for handheld play on the Switch.

In true arcade fashion, the game is unforgiving: deplete your shields and your craft will blow up as a giant Game Over page appears. If you’ve saved up enough credits (quarters, anyone?) you can buy a new life, otherwise it’s all the way back to the first region. The only thing this game is seriously lacking is an online leaderboard so you can compare scores with your friends. Currently there is only the option to rank yourself against other users on the same Switch. Otherwise this is a gem of a game, perfect to play for a few minutes, but easy to play for longer as you try to get through as many levels as you possibly can.

TalkBack / Redbox Now Offering Nintendo Switch Games
« on: October 17, 2017, 07:37:24 AM »

Want to try a game without the monetary commitment?

Redbox will now offer Nintendo Switch games for daily rental at select locations. Switch cartridges will match the current $3 rate of other console games.

The kiosks will stock Splatoon 2, Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, Pokkén Tournament DX, Lego Ninjago, NBA 2K18, Just Dance 2018 and more.

Currently gamers in Seattle WA, San Antonio TX and Portland OR will have a chance to check out these options. No announcement has been made about expanding to more cities at this time. However, given the abundance of other games in Redbox kiosks throughout the nation, these cities are probably being used as a temporary test market for Switch games.

Redbox offers rentals through automated kiosks located inside and outside buildings, such as grocery stores. The company currently operates about 40,000 kiosks across America.

TalkBack / Frito-Lay Launches Nintendo Switch Giveaway
« on: June 02, 2017, 12:05:08 PM »

Feeling lucky?

Can't get your hands on the elusive new console? The next time you grab a bag of chips, you might get a new Nintendo Switch to go along with it. Starting today, specially marked Frito-Lay Variety Packs will contain an entry code to get a system and game.

The company promises a Switch will be given away every hour until the contest ends July 8. Gamers can enter codes found on their snack pack on the official contest page. Each code counts as one entry, but dedicated fans can write in to recieve a free game code. Each letter counts for one game code, and you can request three per day. Send a 3x5" card with your full name, address, city, state, zip code, date of birth, and email address to:

Frito-Lay Variety Packs Game Sweepstakes Code Request
PO Box 760010
Dept. 865-794
El Paso, TX 88576-0010

All Frito-Lay Variety packs will be participating, which includes pre-portioned bags of snacks like Cheetos, Lay's potato chips, Doritos, Fritos, Rold Gold Pretzels, SunChips, and more. They are carried at most retails stores for a suggested price of $3.60-$8.99. The contest is for US residents only.

TalkBack / Video Games and Anime Expo 2016
« on: June 01, 2017, 09:30:42 AM »

Couldn't get in to E3? AX has you covered.

Anime Expo focused heavily on video games this year, featuring panels and booths that brought anime and Japanese characters to the world of gaming. From hands-on demos to amazing costumed recreations of favorite characters, players in attendance had a lot to see.

While there’s always been a heavy connection between the gaming industry and anime, companies seemed to make up a bigger presence this year. Bandai Namco set up a version of their large booth from E3 and provided game demos for attendees. Fans could play Dragon Ball Z Xenoverse 2, Tekken 7, God Eater 2: Rage Burst, Tales of Berseria, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Eyes of Heaven and Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization. Capcom also brought a rehash of June’s E3 booth with a large Monster Hunter Generations airship and a courtroom for Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney- Spirit of Justice. Both games were also available for demo. The third demo presence was Inti Creates, who was making their first appearance at AX. While most buzz has been about the upcoming Mighty No. 9, Inti chose to demo Azure Striker Gunvolt 2 and Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night.

While booth demos were definitely the most visible presence at the event, gamers were also treated to a multitude of panels hosted by large and small companies. Highlights included Aksys Games’ State of Anime Gaming discussion that dived deep into past games, their challenges when tying in to beloved franchises, and a look at future titles. Square Enix hosted a launch party for Star Ocean’s 20th anniversary and brought together famed developers, voice actors, and cosplayers for a fully immersive meet and greet and panel experience for fans of the series.

AX’s Entertainment hall was gamer central for the duration of the expo. This large space was almost a maze of televisions and consoles as gamers participated in official tournaments and casual play sessions as crowds gathered. Not only were brand new games being put through the gauntlet by players, but old favorites like Mario Party 3 and Super Smash brothers could be seen on screens.

Of course no expo could be complete without amazing cosplay costumes. AX is one of the largest conventions for anime fans in the world, which meant causal and famous cosplayers put their best foot forward for the show. Almost every popular game was represented, but the most fun was finding little known characters like a pixelated duck from Duck Hunt or Lumine from Megaman X8. The most popular franchise this year? Splatoon cosplayers came in full force, which was no surprise. The extreme popularity of the game aside, this is a world that encourages customization and brings mass amounts of clothing options that rivals The Sims. costumes ranged from small touches to blown out costumes with larger than life weapons.

Anime Expo 2016 took place from July 1-4 at the Los Angeles Convention Center.


Johto Legends promises to be an epic journey for fans.

Pokémon and classical music come together once again with the upcoming release of Johto Legends, a one-hour orchestral album celebrating Pokémon Gold and Silver. Composed and arranged by Braxton Burks, the project is already nearly fully funded on Kickstarter and pre-orders for a deluxe vinyl set are slated to start tomorrow, May 31, at 8am PST on

Based on the original score by Junichi Masuda, Go Ichinose and Morikazu Aoki, the album will feature a orchestral arrangements of nostalgic music Pokémon fans are sure to remember, performed by seven talented musicians with video game performance backgrounds. The Kickstarter offers several reward tiers, including artwork, a digital album, and a backer-exclusive vinyl edition. Pre-orders for the vinyl set outside the crowdfunding campaign will cost $40 and include a foil stamped jacket with gold and silver inner sleeves, 2xLP pokeball vinyl discs, and an “Epic Gatefold Illustration” that will be unveiled closer to release. A digital download will also be included.

Burks has previously funded two other Pokémon-themed orchestral albums that he composed and arranged. His first, Kanto Symphony, built on the original music from Pokémon Red and Blue, while his second, Double Team!, took a different approach and pulled together classic melodies from across the Pokémon series. Both albums appeared on Billboard charts and were released internationally.

The album is slated to release this December.

You can listen to synthesized preview mockups below:

TalkBack / Pokemon Day Brings New Events and Promotions
« on: February 27, 2017, 08:12:48 AM »

Gotta catch 'em all... especially the party hat Pikachu!

The Pokémon Company is commemorating their 21st anniversary this week with special promotions and events for Pokémon Day. While not as flashy as last year's milestone event, fans will have plenty to do to celebrate their favorite series.

Pokémon Go has released special party hat Pikachu into the wild. From now until March 6, any caught Pikachu will keep its festive hat forever, similar to December's Santa hat Pikachu.

Participating GameStop locations will give players a Bottle Cap item for Pokémon Sun and Moon until March 5, which will boost the individual strength of a single stat via Hyper Training.

The Pokémon store has released the first set in their new Gallery Figures collection in celebration of another year. The set features fan-favorite Pokémon Eevee, Mew, Pikachu and Magikarp in attack poses.

For a limited time, fans can also watch Pokémon: The First Movie, Pokémon 4Ever and Pokémon—Zoroark: Master of Illusions on Pokémon TV either through the website or mobile app. Or, you can head on over to if you need a break from the anime. The channel will feature an all-day marathon of memorable TCG, video game and Pokkén Tournament matches from the past several years.

The Pokémon Trading Card Game Online will be giving players extra Trainer Tokens on the Bonus wheel, plus a special Daily Bonus today only. Pokémon Shuffle is also celebrating with special promotions. Check out in-game notifications for more information.

In addition to all these events, players are encouraged to post their favorite memories using #PokemonDay. Photos will be shared on the Pokémon Day social hub gallery.

TalkBack / Nintendo Adds User IDs Ahead of Switch Release
« on: February 21, 2017, 06:49:00 AM »

Grab yours now before ZeldaFan1986 is gone.

Nintendo quietly added User IDs to their account system over the weekend. Users can now log on to their Nintendo Accounts at any time to claim one.

IDs must be a minimum of six characters and can be edited after you've locked in your initial choice. Better hurry and choose yours now since, as with most online systems, duplicates will not be accepted.

The Nintendo Account system is already confusing as account logins are different from Nintendo Network IDs, and now User IDs have been added to the mix. Currently, IDs can be used as an alternative login for your Nintendo Account, and they have been added below your name and profile picture. This update is presumably tied to the Switch's imminent release on March 3 and could be closely linked to Nintendo's new online service.

TalkBack / Pokemon Go Valentine's Event Announced
« on: February 08, 2017, 10:42:53 AM »

Love is in the air... if you love pink Pokemon.

Pokémon Go's latest event was announced this morning, and they're going all out for Valentine's Day. From a pink palette to sweet candies, Niantic is diving headfirst into seasonal love clichés.

Starting today, trainers can earn double the amount of candy for every Pokémon they catch, hatch and transfer in the game while Buddy Pokémon will earn candy twice as fast. Lure modules will also last for a whopping six hours instead of the usual 30 minutes.

However, the most noticeable difference will be the sudden increase in pink Pokémon trainers will encounter. Chansey, Clefable and more will appear more frequently while Cleffa, Igglybuff and Smoochum will hatch more often from eggs.

Catch 'em while you can, as this event will end 11:00am PST on February 15.

TalkBack / Pokemon Go Ditto Confirmed, Thanksgiving Event and More!
« on: November 23, 2016, 11:09:00 AM »

It's been a busy week down at Niantic.

Pokémon Go received a slew of announcements this week in anticipation of the holiday season. In just a couple days, a Thanksgiving event was announced, Ditto appeared, CP levels were adjusted and the Nearby feature was expanded.

Last night, players were finally able to catch Ditto, an addition that was confirmed this morning by Niantic. This shapeshifter will disguise itself on the map as another Pokémon, only revealing its true identity after a successful capture. Then, when used in gyms, it will copy the appearance, type and moveset of the first Pokémon it encounters.

Niantic has also adjusted the CP for all Pokémon currently in the game to create a more balanced experience in gyms. Support for the reworked Nearby feature, which shows steps as well as a picture of its nearest landmark, has been expanded as well:

  • USA: All states west of the Mississippi River (except Hawaii and Alaska)
  • Canada: BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and the western half of Ontario
  • Australia: All states and territories

Finally, trainers can experience an unofficial Thanksgiving event starting today and ending November 30. Touted as a thank you to users around the world, players will earn double XP and double Stardust for every in-game action.

TalkBack / Trading, Expanded Gyms Coming to Pokemon Go
« on: July 12, 2016, 08:21:00 AM »

Niantic's founder reveals his plans for the future of the game.

Trading has been confirmed as a planned feature of Pokémon Go, coming "fairly soon in the future" according to Niantic founder, John Hanke. In interviews with Game Informer and Business Insider, Hanke elaborated on the future improvements coming to the game.

He agreed that trading has always been seen as a "core element" of the series and is excited to bring it to the mobile platform. Trading will encourage players to interact more with other trainers in the virtual and real world, something Hanke believes is important to the experience.

The game will be also be seeing constant updates, possibly biweekly, to keep up with small and large improvements.

PokéStops and gyms will be expanded in the future similar to how lures currently modify PokéStops. While no specifics were given, the new functionality should "shape them and add functionality to them by [trainers] working collaboratively together".

Other future improvements may include a global leadership board, further AR improvements for current devices, and possibly support for gadgets like Google Glass and Microsoft's HoloLens.

The first of many updates arrived today, for iOS devices, and promised to reduce crashes and more.

TalkBack / Pokemon Go Receives iOS Update
« on: July 13, 2016, 09:00:00 AM »

Update: Trainer account issue FIXED.

Pokémon Go can be updated to version 1.0.1 for iOS users today, hopefully solving the frequent crashes players have experienced.

The update focuses on stability improvements for trainers using an Apple device:

  • Trainers do not have to enter their username and password repeatedly after a force log out
  • Added stability to Pokémon Trainer Club account log-in process
  • Resolved issues causing crashes
  • Fixed Google account scopes

This update addresses the recent accusation that Pokémon Go can access a Google user's full account, which implied it could see and modify all account information. Niantic Labs and The Pokémon Company have since issued a statement confirming this was a request error and the app was not accessing accounts beyond viewing a player's User ID and email address.

Update #1: Players using Pokémon Trainer Club accounts should NOT update. Those using Trainer accounts have been receiving an "unable to authenticate" error and cannot log on. Niantic has yet to comment, so until this is addressed players should hold off on the latest update. Google account players are not experiencing this issue.

Update #2: A second iOS update (version 1.0.2) was released this morning with the simple description "fixes for Pokemon Trainer Club login". Players using Trainer accounts have confirmed that this fix solved yesterday's lock out issue.

TalkBack / Corpse Party
« on: June 27, 2016, 07:21:40 AM »

It's like a mystery game, but with more death.

The release for Corpse Party on the 3DS promises to be every bit as creepy as the 2011 PSP version (a remake of the 1996 original), with even more added extras.  Don’t be fooled by the old school 16-bit graphics, this is a game masterfully crafted to show just enough restraint that each element sends players’ imaginations into overdrive, upping the creep factor.

The story follows a group of students and their teacher who perform a friendship charm for a transferring classmate. Things take a turn when a massive earthquake drags them into a dilapidated elementary school, which they recognize as a local school that was demolished years ago. Separated, the students try to find one another but instead realize all doors and windows to the outside are painted on the walls, and they are surrounded by decaying corpses, malevolent spirits, and deadly traps.

The obvious goal of the game is to find a way to escape the school, but with over 50 ways to die, it’s going to be a challenge. The game is divided into chapters, each with only one correct way to move on to the next. However, you can save at any point in the chapter, and if you’ve saved at a no-turning-back point, chapters can be reset from the beginning.

I played Chapter 2 with Yoshiki Kishinuma and Ayumi Shinozaki, who were near the entrance of the school. Shinozaki is sensitive to the evil spirits and repeatedly broke down as we came closer to questionable areas, effectively warning us as players to keep our guard up.

It was easy to explore as your party is represented by one person on the screen from an overhead perspective. It’s important to inspect everything and talk to everyone you encounter in order to find clues and solve environmental puzzles. To make the game even more gruesome, every time we inspected a dead body, we collected their student ID card in a sort of “catch ‘em all” type quest. Every ID card unlocked information about the student, accessed from the menu, revealing where they’re from and how they died.

A huge part of this game revolves around sound, so get out your best headphones. Small creaks, strange noises, and of course full voice acting (from the original Japanese track) all come into play to build the game's atmosphere. The sound was recorded binaurally to give you the effect of distant dangers and things coming closer as you progress. The whole mood is unsettling as sounds drift in and out, thunder suddenly hits, and death scenarios play out in full.

To prepare for the new 3DS release, XSEED updated sprites, added touches of 3D elements, and improved the UI. Newly translated dialogue felt more natural as well. The 3DS version also features four bonus chapters that should last around 30 minutes each.

If you’re interested in buying a physical copy of the game, XSEED will be releasing a special Back to School edition that comes with a figurine of both Naomi Nakashima and Seiko Shinohara (with interchangeable faces) and an 80 minute music CD. The game won’t be censored and will keep in all the gruesome endings from the previous versions, proudly holding on to their M rating for the western release.

TalkBack / Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns
« on: June 23, 2016, 07:17:19 PM »

Grab your watering can and fishing pole, we have three new towns to explore!

Depending on how you look at it, Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns is either a sequel or the latest in a long line of farming sims. It’s cute, has a lot of personality, and is basically everything you’d expect from the series, with a few notable changes.

For those not up on their agricultural gossip, Natsume has the rights to the Harvest Moon title in America, so when Bokujō Monogatari (Harvest Moon in Japan) started being localized by XSEED, they lost the name. Rebranded as Story of Seasons, but still the same game from the Japanese series, it went against the new, internally developed, Natsume-version of Harvest Moon last year. Confusing? Definitely, but just to keep it clear, Story of Seasons is the “real” Harvest Moon from the original developers.

For the series’ 20th anniversary, Trio of Towns has shaken things up a bit by adding—you guessed it—a trio of towns. While the concept of multiple towns has been explored before in The Tale of Two Towns, those towns were rivals. Trio instead treats each new place like neighborhoods of one large city. Players have to keep track of all three, including their unique cultures, traditions, and residents, and make sure they all flourish by raising their Town Rank. Westown is an American Old West-themed area, Tsuyukusa resembles traditional Japanese villages, and Lulukoko is based off of the South Pacific. Each have their own shops, crops, and hours that players can take advantage of, so there’s always something to do. Lulukoko takes siestas in the middle of the day, for example, so it’s important to be mindful of these little quirks as you plan your day.

While the series has always had a very loose plot, the structure has remained the same: a family member has died, leaving their land to you alone. Take care of that land, find a spouse, and flourish in your new town. However, this is where another, smaller, shift can be found. For the first time, the protagonist’s family is alive and well, cheering you on and celebrating your accomplishments.

The world design is absolutely beautiful and makes great use of the new themes in every aspect of the game. There are over 40 NPCs to interact with, bringing life to everywhere you go. The changing scenery is refreshing, and the expansion of outdoor activities like fishing encourages exploration to see it all. Then, when players get bored of nature, they can relax with other game staples like part-time jobs, shipping produce through a shipping box, attending festivals, and meeting all the eligible bachelors and bachelorettes. There is even a new Post Office which allows players to send and receive letters from the townsfolk.

To add to the adorableness, pets have been expanded in this title. There are almost 30 types you can have, from cute little foxes to a fun capybara. Animals can now follow you for walks, which opens up new events and conversations with villagers and other animals. Players can also assign a favorite pet as their Furmiliar to unlock more potential surprises and gifts from StreetPass visitors.

Other, smaller changes were noticeable as well, and they made the experience that much better. Interactions with preoccupied NPCs were more natural, shortcuts made seeing friend/romance levels easier, and transitions during exploration were smoother and quicker. The only bad news so far is that the jury is still out on whether the Japanese version's bonus Super Mario outfits will make the jump across the ocean for the western release.

Overall, this was a bright and colorful addition to the long line of games in this series. Trio of Towns adds enough new features to build something fresh off of a successful formula while also keeping the elements that have hooked players for the past 20 years.

TalkBack / Conveni Dream Review
« on: June 22, 2016, 08:45:58 AM »

Convenience stores: the answer to all your financial troubles.

Conveni Dream is perfect for anyone who’s ever walked into their local convenience store and thought, yes, this is the dream. See that garbage bin? I can’t wait to empty that, but only after I check the expiration date on these hot dogs. Admittedly, convenience stores in Japan are a whole different ballgame. They’re practically a one-stop shop for everything, including video games, so it’s not too strange to see a game like this.

Conveni Dream works like a typical game where you run a business: you get to hire employees, expand the store, choose what to sell based on the return margins, etc. The game goes from day to night as people run in, buy things, and leave, and every week your supervisor checks in and lets you know if a special holiday is happening. The controls are simple, and all the information is laid out to help your decisions.

However, here’s the pitfall: Conveni Dream is a little too convenient. I honestly couldn’t figure out how to lose, and in fact am now the proud owner of a ten billion dollar single convenience store operation. No matter what I sell, how I lay it out, who I hire, the people just keep coming back. I must have bought a very good location, probably next to a commuter train station where everyone just wants to grab something quick with no time to be choosey. Easy or not though, it is pretty fun. There’s a certain sense of relaxation that comes from watching people scurry about, as you occasionally direct your employees to empty the trash or switch out appliances and food items at your leisure.

Don’t get me wrong, there is a difference between slowly succeeding, and cornering the convenience store market. If you so choose, you can analyze the expected weekly customer demographic, compare different tastes and trends to what you’re selling, and find the balance between popular products and lucrative ones. You can even mix around your employees to balance special abilities like “attracts older women” (wink!) to other more practical skills like stamina. There is the potential to turn your game into a real challenge, but only if you decide that for yourself.

The game itself is adorable. Bright colors, cute characters, and fun items are everywhere. People are cheerful, special events are cute (Valentine’s Day chocolates anyone?), and the music is uplifting. I particularly enjoyed how many drunken old people I had to shoo out of my store in the middle of the night. I guess life gets crazy after retirement. There is also the occasional shoplifter your employees will catch, and complainers are dealt with swiftly (there will be no negativity in my store!).

Throughout the game, there is a constant reminder that this is a small title originally developed for Japan. It was common to see sentences such as “don’t cost much for maintenance” and some strange instructions from my supervisor during the tutorial. However, it’s always pretty easy to figure out the intention, but it’s obvious English localization for this game wasn’t a priority.

Overall I had fun, it’s a nice title to pick up and chill out with for a couple minutes every once in a while. I’m disappointed they didn’t create a more challenging algorithm that could match similar mobile games though, it just seems like they put in an abundance of data just to let it fall to the sidelines.

TalkBack / Monster Hunter Generations E3 Interview
« on: June 16, 2016, 09:07:00 AM »

In which we pick the minds of Series Executive Producer Ryozo Tsujimoto and Monster Hunter Generations Producer Shintaro Kojima for the joys, felynes, monsters, and music of the upcoming 3DS game!

NWR Associate Editor Kimberly Keller  (along with friend of the site Jason) had a chance to sit down at E3 with Monster Hunter Series Executive Producer Ryozo Tsujimoto and Monster Hunter Generations Producer Shintaro Kojima. Their talk ranged from the joys of playing as a Felyne in the upcoming game instead of a human hunter, what went into the design (and even music) of some of the new iconic monsters, and what keeps the Monster Hunter devs excited about making new entries in the hit game series.

Kimberly Keller:
With the new Monster Hunter I know there's a lot that's changed with combat. I just want to know what was the thought process behind that, what you wanted to see different from the previous titles?

Monster Hunter Series Executive Producer Ryozo Tsujimoto:
So the series has been going for like over ten years now since the first game came out in 2004, and it's not an exact ten year anniversary title, but you know the series has been around for a decade we kind of wanted to celebrate its history, have a look back over the series, and have a kind of special event feeling, kind of festival, to look back at old and new things in monster hunter. And the game play itself you know we've included many old monsters and stages that might be familiar to series veterans, we also included brand new ones. But we also wanted to reflect in the gameplay the fact that we've seen over the years that players all bring their own unique styles in the game, even amongst players who choose the same weapon they might have a different way of going out there and hunting the monster. So with the new hunting styles we wanted to make that concrete in the gameplay and make it so you could be more of a specialist. So you could find your own unique style and reflect that in the gameplay.

Actually The game was known by the codename "Festa" internally which is the Japanese word for festival, and that goes to show how much we were trying to celebrate the series' legacy and bring it forward at the same time.

Monster Hunter Generations Producer Shintaro Kojima:
In addition to the hunting styles we wanted to really make the action more involving, more visceral, more exciting. So we added the Monster Arts special moves, took a lot of time creating those for each weapon, and finetuning and balancing them so that they bring a new level of excitement to the gameplay and make you feel even more cool than before.

That was actually my next question (laughs).

In generations there's no new weapons, what was the thought behind maybe changing the way you play instead of adding new weapons?

The game's kind of catchphrase in Japan and the west has been "find your own hunting style". There's still the same 14 weapons that there were in Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate but by introudcing four styles we really wanted to broaden the gameplay even within the same weapons. There's the Guild Style that's more traditional gameplay, it'll be very familiar and comfortable for new players, or Aerial Style that lets you use a jumping action at anytime with any weapon. Striker Style gives you the maximum of three hunter arts, that is the most of any of the styles, it gives you a huge degree of flexibility in what kind of special moves you'll use. Or finally the Adept Style which is really fine-tuned to people who are able to get exact timing to dodge out of the way and lets you perform powerful counterattacks. This is available for every weapon so you don't have to choose a new weapon in order to get a new gameplay experience. You can stay with your same weapon you've liked before and figure out which of these styles suits you perfectly. The combinations of fourteen weapons times four styles just tells you how much variation there is. You can go around to every combination and find the one that suits you.

So for example Ryozo has been using the Hammer all the way through the Monster Hunter series. Every single game, he always uses the hammer. We literally saw his gameplay record and there's not a single quest [where he uses a different weapon], for hours and hours... for someone like him he's able to now broaden his gmaeplay within the same weapon he loves by choosing his favorite style which is aerial style by the way. Whereas [I am] a bit more eclectic and kind of go around the houses a bit and try every style out and can change it up by quest or by monster. So you've got a chance to either find one style and you stick with it and you love it or you can maybe be a bit more flexible and choose the one you want depending on the situation. Both gameplay styles are possible depending on what suits you personally.

This whole thing was basically our concept for the game. You'd always have a choice when you make a new Monster Hunter game, should we add a new weapon? And of course we added two new weapons with the Monster Hunter 4 series. This time around we thought let's keep the weapon stable the same and broaden each one out into having more options. That was a specific choice we made into how to bring the gameplay to the next level.

We noticed there's a mix of the old and new. How many monsters are in this installment?

I can't even think how many there are off the top of my head but it's a lot!

There's plenty!

We noticed the four signature monsters, is there anything you wanted to share about them that makes them unique?

So as you know previous games have tended to have one main monster, the package art monster, the one that reflects what's going on in the new game. With so many new features and hunting styles we really wanted to broaden out this time so for the first time we have four main monsters and it's really let us focus on one aspect of the game for each monster where as in the past we've had to design one main monster that covers it all. So we've got Glavenous here, he's the star of the game's package art. He's kind of a dinosaur style monster who's got strength as his motif, so that's why his tail is like a great huge swordblade. He's just very strong and fearsome.

We've also got Gammoth, this king of huge woolly mammoth type creature and it's just massive, you know we've never had a monster that just so huge like this before. There's also Astalos, you wouldn't be monster hunter without a flying wyvern type sort of dragon style monster. Astalos takes some design cues from insects: it's got these brilliant translucent wings with a kind of rainbow ffect on them. Finally we've got Mizutsune, this is kind of a very unique almost japanese-influenced monster, it's got sort of a combination of a fox face with a snake-serpent type body. It has a brand new status effect called "bubbles" and it can create a new status in players. That one's been really popular in Japan, actually I think it's the most popular in Japan of the four main monsters.

Mizutsune is a very technical hunt when you go against him, Glavenous has got this sheer srength, Gammoth has got huge size that it brings to bear against you, so there's really a wide variety of gameplay involved in hunting all four main monsters.

One thing to point out for Mizutsune with the japanese theme of its design: it's theme music is really great. We got in touch with some friends of ours who are a japanese music unit and they're playing traditional japanese instruments in it: the shamisen which is kind of a japanese lute and the shakuhachi which is a japanese tradiional flute. These guys play really great japanese style music so listen out for the theme music for Mizutsune, it's really one of the best pieces of music we've done so far in Monster Hunter.

I believe this is the first time players are able to play as Felynes, in Prowler Mode. What really pushed that decision? I know it's always been a very  popular thing for players to want to do, but what brought it now?

So actually Prowler Mode wasn't really in our plans when we first started developing the game. We thought we had plenty on our plate with four main monsters, four hunting styles, brand new hunter arts, we had a lot to be getting on with! But as the game developement progressed we thought maybe some new players might be overwhelemed by this even greater level of depth that we're adding to the game. So wouldn't it be great if there was an entry point into the gameplay that they might appreciate as being a little more friendly from the get-go and let them get to grips with the game at their own pace? So we added Prowler Mode. Veterans will get a kick out of it as well because as you said there's always been a lot of requests in it. Who doesn't love cute cats? It's really for everyone. Calling it out specifically as one that suits newcomers, it doesn't mean it's a dumbed-down beginner mode, it's just been retuned compared to human hunter gameplay. Prowlers can deal with any temperature environment, they don't need to use hot and cold drinks, they can just run around in the hot and cold stages as is. They don't need items to gather resources, they can just mine and gather bugs with their own paws. Their stamina never runs down so they can run around as much as they want, they don't that stamina gauge like human hunters do, and they also have the ability to burrow underground which lets them avoid a quite lot of attacks. And that gives you a chance if you're maybe new to the series and you know, as we said one of the key features is you got to watch the monster and read its behavior, but if you're not used to it yet it might be a bit hard to stay alive while you're doing that! Prowler Mode really gives new players a chance to maybe hang back a little bit out of the main fight if they're in a group for example and just get a read on the monster before they want to make their attacks. It's a really great way for people to enjoy what makes Monster Hunter special and it's a different approach.

I love that it keeps it fun without, like you said, dumbing it down.

And they're using their character, it's still familiar.

Yes, exactly.

These are very extensive answers!

Sorry are we eating up all your time? (laughs)

I saw how crafting has been expanded as well. Can we talk a little more about that, what it's going to bring to the game?

So as you know when you're combining resources and items in monster hunter you have to get the original resources together and then you craft them together to make new things. As a continuation of what we did with Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate we're keeping it so that you've got options available to you, so you can gather the original resource items you need to combine outside of the regular quest gameplay. We've changed up how you do that, so in Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate for example you could do the Meownster Hunters and sort of set them up to do their own thing while you're out on a quest and you come back and they deliver resources to you. It's a similar system where you're able to set up various things to kind of run in the background for you and you can play the game to see exactly how that works. It's all designed to make it smoother than it has been maybe in the past where you don't have to be personally gathering every single item you need in order to combine and craft items. Also prowlers don't actually need a lot of the items hunters do. They don't need potions because they've got a healing horn they can blow, they don't need stamina items because they haven't got stamina, but that doesn't stop prowlers from gathering these items. That means you can go out as a prowler and gather a bunch of stuff and bring it back to your house, your box, and from there you can use it to create items you're gonna use whenever you're playing as a hunter, so even as a prowler even though you might not need a potion it doesn't stop you from using the time as a prowler to help your future hunter quests. It all ties together.

Are we going to see any significant differences between the western and eastern releases?

The fundamental game is the same. Think of Monster Hunter 4G versus Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, we want to bring that full experience to players in the west. One thing that has to change is that for licensing and rights reasons certain collaboration dlc items that we have got in the japanese version we're just unable to bring them over to the west. But of course we wouldn't want to just cut content and leave western players hanging with a less complete game so we've actually taken the time to create some exclusive new collaboration dlc only appearing in the western version of Monster Hunter Generations so even japanese players won't have their hands on this stuff. We've already announced Fire Emblem crossover equipment, we have the Okami wolf costume for the prowlers, for the cats. we also announced ghosts and goblins crossover content and we have even got further unannounced collaboration dlc that we're gonna be announcing in the coming months, so stay tuned for more news on that.

That actually ties into my next question, because I know, I think it was Street Fighter and Ghosts and Goblins, these are all referenced in the DLC?

Yeah exactly.

Last question, what's your favorite part of developing the game, what's the best part for you?

Not just Monster Hunter Generations but any game I develop I love that moment when we've been working on balancing a certain gameplay feature, whatever it is, and we kind of worked on it in the background and we get the game up and running on a testkit and then try out the feature and it feels just right. It's a great moment because we not only achieve what we set out to do but I get a great sense of confidence that "Oh players are gonna love this" and that feels really great to me.

It's not something that happens during the development process, but after the game comes out and I see videos and photos of people playing and enjoying the game that I feel so privileged that I've been able to work hard and create something for the players and it gets out there in their hands and they're loving it. Those moments of watching are, to actually get a chance to make people happy is so great and it gives me the motivation to move onto the next title and so thats what I love about game development.

One other thing I enjoy is that whenever we're making a new monster and we haven't fine-tuned it yet but it's just super strong I love the moment when we try it out and it just kicks all our asses because we've made it and it's the first version, 1.0 version of the monster. And it's a long road ahead to get it to the point where its gonna be a fair fight that you can win but in the moment we all grin at each other and we're like "This guy's a badass."

It's an actual monster at that point!

Yeah it's great, thank you guys so much!

TalkBack / Skylanders Imaginators Preview
« on: June 15, 2016, 11:45:00 AM »

Ever wish you could make your own Skylander?

Every year Skylanders tries to take it up a notch, but this year marks the biggest change for the franchise: customizable characters. For the first time, the power is in your hands with the Creation Crystal.

Skylanders Imaginators pits the imagination of players against Kaos. Long ago, the Ancients used the power of Mind Magic to create the worlds of Skylands. This power was so great that they sealed it away to protect it from evildoers. However, Kaos has succeeded in unleashing this power and created Doomlanders to take over the world. Players must harness this power for themselves to create heroes that can stop Kaos. Eon has also sent the masters of battle classes, Senseis, to help train these Imaginators and join the fight.

The amount of customization Toys for Bob put into the game is remarkable. There are five main categories: Body, Gear, Color, Powers, and Personality. In Body, players can change every aspect of a character’s appearance, even their ears. There were over 60 options just for the head alone. Players can also add an aura, which range from cute sprites that fly around to stinky waves that surround their body. The Gear category not only dresses a character up, but improves their stats. Only basic gear is available at first, but more quickly becomes available as you advance through the game in various ways, like unlocking chests. Color changes up skin, clothes, and hair and offers themes to choose from.

Powers are tied directly to a character’s class and elemental. When you buy a Creation Crystal, it will already be locked into one of ten elementals that players of the series will be familiar with. However, gamers can choose their battle class: Smasher, Knight, Ninja, Bazooker, Quickshot, Sorcerer, Brawler, Sentinel, Swashbuckler, and Bowslinger. Battle classes and elementals offer different abilities and advantages to the game, so it’s good to experiment to find what fits your style. When in the Power category, gamers can choose their special attacks and see their special Soul Gem ability. However, the Soul Gem must be unlocked by finding the rare item in the game.

Personality is easily the most fun option, and was added to further tie in Imaginators with the silliness and fun already associated with previous characters. Custom catchphrases, voices, and vocal effects can be selected, as well as theme music and sounds, and a name.

Everything about your character will be stored in the Creation Crystal and can be transported from console to console. However, only one can be stored at a time, but each can be upgraded and changed at any point in the game.All toys from previous games are compatible, and other elements like the Sky Stones and Troll Radio have come back in different ways too. For example, Troll Radio is now a mini game that can reward players with sound themes. Fan favorite Skylanders, like Eruptor, are scattered throughout as well to help move the story along and provide helpful information.

The new Sensei toys give gamers an edge. When placed on the portal for the first time, Imaginators’ level caps are raised and a new secret technique will be unlocked. On their own, they wield extremely high powered Sky Chi attacks, like a devastating firestorm that erupted from Ember, or a crazy skeleton crowd surf move from the ex-villain Wolfgang. These moves have the potential of being so powerful that we saw an early boss battle with Splatterpillar end in practically one move.

Another fun touch added to the game is the introduction of selfies. At any point players can take a picture of their character in a fully customizable pose and post it to Skylanders Academy. Special photo spots have also been added throughout levels to create interesting photos opportunities.

The last special addition to the game we were shown was the introduction of an old favorite: Crash Bandicoot. Crash will be available as a playable character just like all other Skylanders. Signature moves like Body Slam and Twirl were shown, as well as the ability to combine moves like creating explosive crates and uses Twirl to send them flying. Crash will be a Sensei of the Brawler battle class.

Actual gameplay didn’t seem to change from the rest of the series, it’s an energized beat-em-up game. It’s extremely colorful with a fun, animated look as you’d expect, and the movement and attacks were smooth and fun to watch.


Nintendo's booth was walled off this year, check out what they were hiding inside.

Attendees were ushered by Nintendo's Treehouse live and past an amiibo display into a replica of one of the game's hundred shrines. Once inside, gamers viewed an extended gameplay trailer before entering the booth where they could demo the game, take photos with character statues, and watch as the environment changed from day to night.

Watch both The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild gameplay demos.

And check out the shrine's full extended trailer.

TalkBack / The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Demo (E3 2016)
« on: June 14, 2016, 02:17:00 PM »

UPDATE: 46 minutes of direct feed footage has been added!

We try to explore as much as we can of the new, extensive open world.

Want to see where we played it? Check out our tour of Nintendo's amazing E3 booth, it was like walking through the game.

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