Tag: Nintendo

Support for Ukraine, Steam Deck, Pokemon and Gaming Bytes

Developers react to Russia’s war with Ukraine.
In the last week, as Russia invaded Ukraine, several studios, developers, and publishers from around the world have voiced their support for Ukraine and its plight.
International developers such as CD Projekt Red have tweeted

“We cannot remain indifferent in the face of such injustice and we ask everybody to join in and help in any way you can. Together we can make a huge difference.”

State of Play Games and Amanita Design have also joined in donating their earnings to the cause. In some cases, this support has resulted in backlashes from the gaming community. After 11 bit studios declared they would be donating profits from sales of This War of Mine to the Ukrainian Red Cross, they were review bombed by players from China and Russia, and Space Engineers received similar treatment after announcing their support for Ukraine.
Closer to Ukraine, indie developer Crytivo’s CEO Alex Koshelkov announced all profits from February and March, and 1 million Polish zloty, will be donated to the Ukrainian Red Cross, as well as support for Ukrainian employees while they search for safety. CEO of tiny build also voiced their support for their Ukrainian employees, tweeting “Nobody gets left behind.” Wargaming, developers of World of Tanks, supported their over 550 Ukrainian developers by assisting them to find alternative housing, early salary, and making sure relocation and evacuation efforts are paid for. They also donated a million USD to the Ukrainian Red Cross, and when their creative director posted support for the invasion of Ukraine on social media, they quickly acted “letting him go[sic]” the next day.
With Ukraine calling for support from developers, other companies such as EA Sport and The Chinese Room, developers of Little Orpheus, have joined with others in their support of Ukraine.

Steam Deck
In lighter news, with the limited release of the Steam Deck in the U.S., Gabe Newell, president of Valve Corp, has been spotted hand-delivering signed Steam Decks in Seattle. The Steam Deck released on the 25th of February along with the free game Aperture Desk Job to celebrate the console’s capabilities. Critiques on battery life and gaming power are rife, and some users are already reporting stick drift. Furthermore, while Destiny 2 can run on Linux, Bungie has issued a statement that those who hack Destiny 2 to work on the console will be met with game bans.
However, Gabe Newell has already talked about the future with Steam Deck 2 on the horizon as a possible VR running machine.

Ducks, Kittens and Apple Crocs Coming to Pokémon.
After the announcement earlier this week of a Pokémon Direct, fans were already getting their hopes up for a Gen 9 Pokémon game. And they were not disappointed. Right at the end of the Direct, they announced Pokémon Scarlet and Violet along with the three starters; an attention seeking grass cat called Sprigatito, a relaxed fire type crocodile named Fuecoco, and Quaxly, an earnest new water duck. Both the names and the release video have lead Pokémon fans to speculate that the Gen 9 region will be inspired by Spain, and the game will follow the open world style that has become so popular with the recent release of Pokémon Legends: Arceus.

Now for some quick Gaming Bytes:
● American and British Sign Language support coming to Forza Horizon 5 on March 1st.
● In the 25th annual D.I.C.E. awards show local Brisbane developer Witch Beam won the award for Outstanding Achievement for an Independent Game for Unpacking.
● Activision has ended a near 20 year tradition of annual releases of Call of Duty by delaying the next edition in the franchise until 2023.
● Nintendo may have joined the acquisition wars after acquiring long term partner SRD, after working with them for almost 40 years.
● Tokyo Game Show 2022 has revealed the theme of this year will be “Nothing Stops Gaming!!!” and will be a physical event taking place at Makuhari Messe from September 15 to 18.

And finally, some upcoming game releases.
On March 4, Gran Turismo 7 is coming to PlayStation. 80’s synth, arcade platformer, Gunborg: Dark Matter comes to PC, PlayStation, Xbox One and Switch. The upgraded Music Racer: Ultimate comes to next gen PlayStation and Xbox consoles. 2014’s Quest For Infamy gets a console release, releasing on PlayStation, Xbox and Switch. And finally, tactical RPG Triangle Strategy comes to Switch.
And March 10, real time space strategy Distant Worlds 2 comes to PC, and lastly, Submerged sequel Submerged: Hidden Depths, is a relaxing exploration game set in a ruined, water filled world and comes to PC, PlayStation, and Xbox.

Nintendo Announcements, Surprising GTA News, and some Gaming Bytes

Nintendo News
This week Nintendo had several announcements with president Shuntaro Furukawa saying the Switch was in the middle of its lifecycle. With the Switch selling more units than all previous generations of Nintendo’s home consoles, with over 100 million units sold so far, the Switch, Switch Lite, and the new OLED version that released last year, it seems the Switch is closing in on Game Boy’s near 120 million console total. Despite this, year-to-year sales in 2021 dropped by 6% and profits were down 9.3% compared to 2020, after Animal Crossing: New Horizons’ exceptional release. Shuntaro Furukawa also announced they would not be participating in the consolidation wars of Microsoft and Sony, and are instead focussing on strengthening their own company. In better news for Nintendo, Pokémon Legends: Arceus has sold 6.5 million copies in its first week, outselling Sword and Shield which sold 6 million collectively in its release week.
The announcements of today’s Nintendo Direct was packed with sports and ports. In Sports, Mario Strikers Battle League, a Mario soccer game utilising items, skills, and strategy is coming June 10. Nintendo Switch Sport, a new Wii-like sports game including Bowling (with survival mode), Tennis, Chambara, Badminton, Volleyball, and Soccer complete with leg strap, as well as a future Golf game to come. This comes to Switch April 29 with a playtest for Switch Online members February 18 through 20. Baseball game The Show 22 announced cross play to take your game on the go. Disney Speedstorm, a free-to-play cross platform Disney and Pixar action racer to come midyear.
Taiko no Tatsujin: Rhythm Festival, a rhythm drum game with 76 songs and a future in-game subscription that will give access to over 500 songs is coming this year.

In DLC announcements, Mario Kart 8 is getting a paid DLC with 48 remastered courses to be released over time named Booster Course Pack. This will be included in the Online Expansion Pack or may be purchased separately. And Cuphead – The Delicious Last Course DLC will be available June 30.

In Ports, Star Wars: Force Unleashed is available from today in the online store, also EarthBound and Earthbound Beginnings have been added to Nintendo Switch Online. Assassin’s Creed Enzio Collection is coming Feb 17, Triangle Strategy March 4, Chrono Cross: The Radican Dreamers Addition, a remake with enhanced soundtrack, is coming April 7, Advance Wars 1 + 2: Re-Boot Camp April 8, Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series July 8, and Live A Live July 22. No Man’s Sky and Front Mission 1st: Remake are coming to the Switch midyear, and SD Gundam Battle Alliance, and Portal: Companion Collection have been announced for 2022.

Surprising Grand Theft Auto News
On February 4th Rockstar surprised fans by announcing in a blog post that they are “actively developing[sic] the next entry in the Grand Theft Auto series [and] is well underway.” This same post also confirmed the release date for GTA V and GTA Online coming to PS5 and Xbox series S & X on March 15.
In other surprising news, CEO Strauss Zelnick claimed GTA Trilogy, with a user score of 0.6 on metacritic, “significantly exceeded” expectations. In an investor presentation Take Two-claimed they have sold up to an estimated 10 million copies of the game.

Now in some Gaming Bytes:

Mobile Warcraft
In 2021’s financial report Activision Blizzard shared that they are planning the release of a Warcraft franchised mobile “content” to be released this year. There is no indication as to what form this may take.

Wordle Madness
With the popularity of Wordle and its sale to the New York Times last week, several spinoffs have started to pop-up online. There are both word based options for the Wordle connoisseur with Semantle – a word meaning match, Dordle – a double word match puzzle, Lewdle a humorous addition where only lewd words are allowed, and Gameboy Rom and Wordle Archive for those wanting to take it on the go or check it out historically. For those sick of the word based wordles, Globle has you guessing countries, Squirdle is all Pokémon, and Nerdle is for those math fans.
But for those OG Wordle fans… it seems everything is right there on the webpage. So, before the New York Times takes over, don’t forget to right click and save your way to years of offline Wordle.
If you have another Wordle spinoff we need to know about, leave a comment on our Facebook news post.

Now for some upcoming games:
Friday the 11th free-to-play MMORPG Lost Ark is coming to PC
Pixelated action RPG where your choices matter Infernax is coming to PC, Xbox, PS4 and Switch just in time for Valentine’s Day. On Thursday 17th, King of Fighters 15 comes to PC, Xbox Series S/X and PlayStation 4 & 5, and Total War: Warhammer 3 comes to PC and Game Pass.

And that’s all this week in gaming news.

 

LEGO Builder’s Journey

Developer: Light Brick Studio, Light Brick AS
Publisher: The Lego Group
Music: Hendrik Lindstrand
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X & S, iOS, PC (Windows & Mac)
Released: 20th December 2019
Genre: Puzzle, Adventure, Indie

Now you might be thinking, “Oh, a LEGO game similar to the likes of Harry Potter or Star Wars” well you’d be wrong this little gem is a small-time indie development that differs greatly from other games in the LEGO franchise. This story follows a father and son depicted in LEGO where they go on an adventure in a series of different stages using the ability of building LEGOs to reach their destinations. There are no subtitles or dialog to follow, simply the story is told throughout gameplay using its environment to illustrate each challenge and using beautiful level design to instruct the player how to overcome each stage.

There are many different levels with different themes, such as hoping along beaches, climbing mountains, navigating swamp lands as well as some dark industrial style levels. You play as both the parent and child using your third-party abilities to move LEGO pieces around the scene to help build bridges, steps, or make shift ramps to get each character to the end of the puzzle. Some levels are more difficult than others but overall, there is no incorrect way to solve them just the limit of you LEGO building imagination.

LEGO Builder’s Journey is a 3D puzzle platformer that is very kind on the player. LEGO is about building and creating solutions with your imagination and this block building brilliance allows you exactly that. With each puzzle you encounter you are free to move pieces where and how you like. With very intuitive block moving and placing mechanics the game feels smooth and intentional. As you progress through, levels can become a little more challenging with the introduction of sinking mud, larger gaps to cover, weight scales and not to mention some levels that involve making a skate track for your character to ride on.

I played LEGO Builder’s Journey on the Nintendo Switch and found the controls to feel really intuitive, you can even use the touch screen when in handheld mode, my only issue was that you have to use the A button to both rotate and place pieces. The UI is minimalistic and innocuous, I actually consider the UI to be my overall favourite aspect of the game it felt really kind on the user, it also felt totally natural when moving through the main menu as well as understanding narrative without any dialog. I found that the tutorial parts of the game where enhanced buy this seamless UI experience. The UI design is simply phenomenal.

There is exclusively one gameplay mode which is the story, with the PC version of LEGO Builder’s Journey has a couple more levels than the Nintendo Switch version if end up looking for more content, which could happen given that the gameplay time was roughly 2 hours in total. I must say that LEGO Builder’s Journey could definitely have benefited from being much longer as it was kind of sad that the moment, I was getting right into it, it came to an end. In saying that each moment that I did spend in game was well and truly worth it, don’t let the short run time deter you from this fantastic indie experience.

The sound design is calming and simple, using delicate sound effects for each object you interact with as well as nice clinks and clunks from placing blocks. The score of music that plays in the background is the best kind for unwinding after a long day. The composer Hendrik Lindstrand has provided a beautiful soundscape for you to drift away on, as you place LEGO blocks the music gently guides you on your journey and really adds to that feeling of imagination and wonder that we all know and love about LEGO.

I must say that LEGO Builder’s Journey is blocktacular and beautiful. With subtle and effective UI too delightfully calm music, it really is a short and sweet adventure. From around $20 on the Nintendo eShop and $30 on Steam it maybe a little steep so keep an eye out for when it goes on special. Despite how short the duration of play is I found the story captivating and each level I played I was spurred on by the beautifully directed relationship between child and parent. What is LEGO without a heart-warming family building relationship? At least this one you don’t accidentally step on any bricks in the middle of the night… OW!