This week Paul takes over Zed Games. Together with Zahra they discuss the news and Firmware updates, then Zahra takes over the helm reviewing Black Skylands before Paul traps us with a review of Webbed.
Nintendo in the Headlines
On the 18th of August a Pokémon Presents by Nintendo revealed several updates to their mobile Pokémon franchise the most notable being that Pokemon Unite would be coming to mobile with crossplay available on September 22nd. The Present also announced two new Pokémon are slated to join in future updates; Marmoswine & Sylvion
Nintendo also confirmed the release of Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl for the 19th of November, and a surprise Switch lite Dialga & Palkia Edition available on November 5th. For this generation remake they showed off partner Pokémon, customising your pokeball with stickers to personalise the pokeball release effects, revitalised mini-games, outfit personalisation and that personalising your underground base with statues will gain you access to specific types of Pokémon hideaways new to this remake.
Lastly, Pokémon Legends: Arceus. It was confirmed this game will take place in Hisui, in an early age of the Hinoe region, and in it you will survey, observe and capture Pokémon. In new developments to this generation, you will be able to be attacked by Pokémon outside of combat, and there will be two new combat “styles” of strong and agile. This change puts a strategic edge to the move economy as they will allow for heavier but slower, or multiple attacks per round of combat. Nintendo also showed off new region-specific evolutions and type changes, as well as mounts available for fast travel within this open world game. Pokémon Legends: Arceus will be released on January 28th 2022.
Another feather in Nintendo’s cap is that for the week of August 2nd to 8th the Switch held every slot in Japan’s Top 30 Famitsu’s chart. No single console has held this title since November 1988 when Nintendo’s Famicom managed the same feat.
In other Nintendo news, earlier in the year the company was awarded $2.1 million in damages for copywrite and trademark infringements against Mattew Storman, owner of RomUniverse, a website hosting pirated ROM versions of Nintendo games. This week a Californian court has ordered Storman to keep RomUniverse offline and destroy all illegal Nintendo ROMs by August 17 after he threatened to continue to operate the site and failed to pay the first $US50 monthly instalment for damages to Nintendo.
Special Olympics “Gaming for Inclusion” hosted by Microsoft.
Microsoft has teamed up with Special Olympics to create the inaugural bracketed e-sport tournament named “Gaming for Inclusion”. The event has evolved from the Xbox Virtual Gaming Event of May 2020, which aimed to combat the effects of loneliness and isolation due to the pandemic. This time round, Special Olympians and Unified partners will participate in a bracket-style tournament over several days in September with the aim to “…showcase the power of inclusion through sport.” Each day of the event is dedicated to its own game;
Sunday 12th Rocket League,
Monday 13th Forza 7, and
Tuesday 14th Madden 22.
Participants are awarded the chance to play with celebrity supporters of the Special Olympics to be hosted on Saturday 18th.
The event will be organised by Microsoft’s online e-sports platform Smash.gg and live-streamed on Xbox’s Twitch channel and the Special Olympics YouTube channel.
And now for some Game Bytes;
Activision Blizzard let go of two of the employees seen in the 2013 picture of the infamous “Cosby Suit” following the lawsuit announcement last month. Jesse McCree and Jonathon LeCraft’s departure was announced internally without an official statement.
Journey to the Savage Planet’s developers have reformed under the title Raccoon Logic after being unceremonious dropped following the failure of Google Stadia. They retained the rights to Savage Planet and have received investment funding from Tencent to bankroll an unannounced future project.
Boyfriend Dungeon have promised to update their content warning after complaints from their player base that the warning doesn’t go far enough. Developer Kitfox Games quickly apologised via Twitter for any hurt caused and reassured players the warning would be updated shortly.
To learn more about these headlines head over to our Facebook page @zedgameau.
And finally, the upcoming game releases!
On Friday 20th the release of Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut is coming to PS4 and 5, Heart Chain Kitty is coming to Switch, and Madden 22 is coming to PC, PS 4 and 5 and Xbox One and Series X.
On Tuesday 24th, Alien franchised online team shooter Alien: Fireteam Elite comes to PC, PS4 and 5, and Xbox One and Series X. Turn-based tactical RPG King’s Bounty comes to PC, Switch, PS4 and Xbox One. And the long-awaited sequel Psychonauts 2 comes to PC, and Xbox One and Series X.
Finally, on Thursday 26th, the arcade party game Have a Blast comes to PC and Switch, and PCGamer’s 2013 Game of the Year and its sequel Spelunky and Spelunky 2 come out on the Switch.
This week Zahra’s locked in the studio for Lockdown and discussing the News, as well as reviewing Evolution. We also get Rani’s awaited review of Immortals Fenyx Rising, and a heartfelt sendoff from Zahra themselves.
This week in gaming news
The Electronic Entertainment Expo, commonly known as E3 has come and gone for another year and in its, and other non-official event’s wake we have a mountain of game news and announcements.
Summer Game Fest, Geoff Keighly’s alternative E3 program kicked off the major events of the week starting with an announcement of Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands, Gearbox’s High Fantasy Borderlands’ spinoff staring Tiny Tina. A splattering of other announcements followed including Jeff Goldblum introducing us to Jurassic World Evolution 2, Hideo Kojima announcing Death Stranding Director’s Cut for PS5 and finally the major reveal of footage from Elden Ring, the long-awaited new game by From Software in collaboration with the writer George R.R. Martin which will launch January 19 2022.
Ubisoft hit the ground running showing off gameplay for the latest Far Cry game starring Giancarlo Esposito as well as the upcoming DLC’s which will allow players to play as the antagonists from several of the other games in the series and includes a remastered copy of Blood Dragon. More details for the extreme sports game Rider s Republic were shown along with the PvE spin off of Rainbow Six Siege, Extraction which will pit the operators against an alien force. A new version of Rocksmith was announced called Rocksmith+, a guitar playing and teaching service that will allow player to use their real instruments and their phone or microphones to connect. The game supports electric, acoustic and bass guitar and you can currently sign up to a beta for the service online. A sequel to the 2017 hit Mario + Rabbids was announced subtitled Sparks of Hope with Mario and his strange collection of Rabbid dopplegangers going on a new cosmic scale adventure. The final announcement for Ubisoft was a reveal of Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora a game set in James Cameron’s Avatar universe made by Massive Entertainment who are most well-known for The Division.
Microsoft started their event with the first footage of Bethesda’s long-awaited RPG Starfield. While we are still yet to see gameplay from the title, we were given a glimpse at the universe we will be exploring and details that it is currently slated for release in late 2022 as an Xbox and PC exclusive. The Outer Worlds 2 was announced as early in development, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 was shown off with a release of next year along with sequels to Slime Rancher and A Plague Tale. Halo Infinite was confirmed to be release later this year with the multiplayer being made free to play for everyone to enjoy. Forza Horizon 5 was shown with its new Mexican location. Sea of Thieves has a story based cross over in the Pirates of the Caribbean universe coming very soon called A Pirates Life featuring Jack Sparrow and other characters from the film franchise. And the show finished on a reveal of Arcane’s new game Redfall an open world co-op shooter featuring magic, vampires and a lot of style.
Square Enix announced Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy a single player 3rd person adventure where the player controls Star-Lord leading his band of misfits across the universe. It is being developed by Eidos Montreal best known for the modern Deus Ex games and is set for release on October 26. There was also a look at Platinumgames’ new live-service game Babylon’s Fall, the new Life is Strange True Colors and a reveal of the Final Fantasy action spin off Stranger of Paradise Final Fantasy Origin.
Nintendo apologised that they had no details to share on Metroid Prime 4 but quickly followed up with a reveal of Metroid 5, which is also known as Metroid Dread a title originally in development for the DS 15 years ago which was cancelled due to technical limitations. Mario Party Superstars a collection of boards and minigames from the N64 era was announced along with a remake of Advance Wars 1 and 2 titled Re-Boot Camp. Wario is back with WarioWare: Get it Together a new take on the microgames format with a focus on 2 player games. We got a closer look at Shin Megami Tensei V’s hellish version of demonic otherworld Tokyo which will see release in November. The Nintendo show closed with a look at some Zelda announcements. DLC for Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, the remaster of Skyward Sword which releases in July and a new Game & Watch device that includes the original versions of The Legend of Zelda, Zelda II: The Adventures of Link and Link’s Awakening along with an altered version of Vermin that includes Link. We finally got a glimpse at Breath of the Wild 2 which will see Link adventuring into the sky above Hyrule and utilise a multitude of new powers and tools.
Now that the show is over you can check out many of the games on both Steam and Xbox live. The Steam Next fest will run until June 22nd and included hundreds of demos of unreleased games while Microsoft has released 40 game demos from its [email protected] lineup.
The Week in game releases
June 22 – Dark Alliance (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC), Ender Lilies: Quietus of the Knights (Switch, PC), Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 – The Official Video Game (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, Stadia, PC)
June 24 – Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX (PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC), Legend of Mana (PlayStation 4, Switch, PC), The Eternal Castle Remastered (PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4)
The week in gaming news, Paul & Zahra discuss Mobile Games worth playing and Ezie reviews Pokemon Shuffle.
Netflix Making Moves into Games
In the early hours of Friday the 21st of May, The Information published an article claiming Netflix had approached “veteran game industry executives” over the past weeks looking to hire someone to “oversee an expansion into videogames.” Within 3 hours Netflix had informed several outlets that they were seeking to expand on the success of games like those based on Stranger Things and the interactive stories of Black Mirror: Bandersnatch and according to GamesRadar Netflix is looking towards a subscription based service akin to Apple Arcade. This confirms what Netflix’s COO and Chief Product Officer Greg Peters announced in April;
“There’s no doubt that games are going to be an important form of entertainment and important modality to deepen that fan experience…”
Switch Not Getting GamePass
In documents released in the Epic v Apple legal battle a discussion has been unearthed between Microsoft and Nintendo around the topic of bringing xCloud – the Game Pass streaming service – to the Switch. While the documents were heavily redacted it implies, according to gamesindustry.biz, that Microsoft was willing to compensate Nintendo to fulfill Microsoft’s Head of Gaming’s Phil Spencer’s ambition of “…bringing [sic] Game Pass to any device that somebody wants to play on.” from 2019. Sadly, at least for Spencer, according to the documents talks seem to have dissolved into corporate politeness with Nintendo declining Microsoft’s offer.
D&D Goes Bumper in 2020
In a bumper year for tabletop gaming Wizards of the Coast has boasted that 2020 was their best year ever and 7th consecutive year of growth. With more interest than ever in Dungeons and Dragons, and increased sales even after releasing free content for the “Stay at Home Play at Home” initiative the company has announced crossover content and more in the future. Demographics released show a fairly even split in age, and a 60:40 split between the sexes showing that while this hobby is perceived to be male dominated, the ratio is changing.
Research Released about Women’s Experience of Gaming
In response to an increase in women playing games, recent research by Lenovo and Reach3 Insights have revealed that while, on average, women play the same games as men, they receive a disproportionate amount of harassment based on their gender. Of the 900 women surveyed from China, America and Germany 70% faced judgement of their skills in game based on their gender, 65% experienced gatekeeping and 44% received unsolicited relationship asks while gaming. 59% of those surveyed also said they used non-gendered or male identifiers when playing online to avoid conflict. The research concludes with 71% of women agreeing that increasing the presence of women in gaming ads could foster more inclusive behaviours in gaming.
Upcoming Game Releases.
On May 27th, the psychedelic, genre-busting beat ’em up Kung Fu Jesus comes to PC. And the pixel art, Police Action RPG Pecaminosa come to PC, and Switch.
On May 28th, Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World comes to PS4, and Switch.
On June 1st, the co-operative espionage adventure game Operation: Tango is coming to PC, PlayStation, and Xbox. And Stonefly, a Ferntree Gully take on a mech adventure is coming to PC, PlayStation, Xbox, and Switch.
And the life sim, Hokko Life, is coming to PC on June 2nd.
Paul, Zahra, & Rani fill you in on our Facebook outage, the week in gaming news brought to you by Maylee, Paul reviews Super Mario 3D World + Bowsers Fury, AND Best and Worst Nintendo Consoles.
Earlier this week Nintendo Direct also showered us with announcements for upcoming games, updates, and events. The 2011 Legend of Zelda game, Skyward Sword, originally released on the Nintendo Wii, is being remastered for the Switch. It will release on July 16th this year, accompanied by new joy cons modelled after the Master Sword and Hylian Shield. Nintendo also announced the 3rd game in the Splatoon series, this time setting the bright colourful characters in a vast barren wasteland. The game will be released early 2022. As part of Super Mario’s 35th Anniversary Celebrations, a Mario-themed DLC is coming to Animal crossing, featuring costumes, decorations, and furniture. This free update can be downloaded from Feb 25th. Smash hit rogue-like Hades will get a physical release for the switch on March 19th. There are far too many announcements to list them all, but we can’t leave out a new title in everyone’s favourite Nintendo series, Miitopia. This title boasts an entire kingdom for your Miis to explore, after you’ve dressed them up with the new makeup and wig features that is!
Blizzard Entertainment Celebrates 30 years at this year’s BlizzConline.
With this came a slew of announcements of things we have to look forward to. More and more information is coming out about the development of Overwatch 2, like character updates, new maps and details of the leveling system. Diablo II is getting a remaster which will arrive later this year on both PC and Console. PC players interested in public testing for this game can sign up for the chance here. Word of Warcraft will be getting a huge content update for the recent Shadowlands expansion called Chains of Domination. And Hearthstone fans can expect a new expansion “Forged in the Barrens” and an entirely new mode of gameplay called Mercenaries coming later this year.
Unfinished Nintendo 64 Game
An online group of game preservationists Forest of Illusion have recently shared a leaked build of Dinosaur Planet. This game never made it to release but was repurposed for the GameCube as StarFox Adventures. This copy of Dinosaur Planet was obtained from a private game collector and dates back to December 2000. It is a late build of the game and fully playable but has a fair few bugs throughout and will need hacking to play all parts of it in an emulator. Strangely, this is not the first cancelled game from Rare to be released online this month. Earlier an unreleased build of the XBLA remake of Goldeneye was also shared.
Games this week:
The 25th of February sees the release of Ghost n’ Goblins Resurrection and Lawnmower Game: Racing, both on the switch.
Bravely Default 2, sequel to the popular JRPG, gets its worldwide release for the switch on February 26th.
Terraria port for Google Stadia Cancelled.
After backing down from a threat to leave Australia over new regulations, and pulling the plug on in-house Stadia game development, the last thing Google needed was more bad press. Well, Google has dug their own grave as Re-Logic, the creators of Terraria, have cancelled their planned Stadia port after Google disabled and removed access to the Re-Logic YouTube account and attached Gmail and Google Drive accounts due to an alleged Terms of Service violation.
After three weeks trying to resolve the issue, co-creator Andrew Spinks turned to Twitter, burning any bridges with the multinational company by publicly tweeting “Doing business with you is a liability.”
Re-Logic has confirmed that while they will continue to support all current purchases of Terraria on Android and Google Play, any future games by Re-Logic will not be supported on Google platforms.
Cyberpunk 2077 and CD Projekt; the Saga continues.
Since the PC release of Cyberpunk 2077, mods have been coming to the rescue to help with some of players’ issues and desires. Sadly, the way in which Cyberpunk 2077 utilised external DLL files allowed hackers to remotely execute code when malicious mods were installed on a player’s computer. This security vulnerability was quickly fixed by the Cyberpunk 2077 community before the 1.12 Hotfix was released by CD Projekt just three days later.
CD Projekt has also announced via twitter that they were recently the victims of a cyber-attack. The announcement included a copy of the ransom note with the attacker claiming to have copied the source code for their most popular games and an unreleased version of the Witcher 3 as well as other files. CD Projekt has stated that to the best of their knowledge, none of the compromised data contained any player or user data. The incident is currently under investigation by the relevant authorities. After the announcement, CD Projekt’s stock dropped by 5%.
Nemesis system patented.
After almost 6 years since the original application, Warner Brothers has finally had the patent approved for the Nemesis system. Originally utilised in Monolith Productions’ Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor, the Nemesis system is where hierarchical NPCs are physically and hierarchically effected by player interaction. The patent is already being criticised by developers for the vagueness of the patent’s wording and how this may stifle any similar games from being developed.
The patent is optioned for renewal till 2035.
And finally, some game releases:
On February 11th you can look forward to the console release date of 1bit minimalist RTS game Death Crown, the Switch Release of the action-adventure roguelike Undermine, and the PC and console release of the side scrolling adventure Little Nightmares 2.
We also have Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury coming to the Switch on February 12th. And the Mega Man X-inspired multiplayer roguelike 30XX (thirty ex-ex) is coming to PC on February 17th
Developer: Frolic Labs
Publisher: Frolic Labs
Music: Jake Butineau
Platforms: Steam, Switch
Released: 10 – 10 – 2019
Genre: Side-scroller, adventure
You are a goose, and it’s time to fly.
Perched on the edge of a cliff, you don’t know what’s ahead of you, but with a leap you spread your wings, embarking on a journey.
The destination isn’t important, the joy of Dune Sea is in the journey. The process. Watching the landscape go by, making your way through the air, finding and coaxing friends to join your ramshackle flock, avoiding obstacles, learning how to soar with acrobatic grace.
Dune Sea is a side-scrolling adventure game, if adventure meant a meditative zen-like experience with a little bit of a challenge. With a simple, low-poly art style, soothing music, and a steady pace, Dune Sea is exactly what I needed to play, when everything was too overwhelming, too noisy, or just took too much energy.
Gameplay is soothing, if that wasn’t clear already. It introduces controls simply and slowly. First, let’s figure out how to hop off the cliff and spread your wings. Next, figure out how to fly quickly, change directions, and how and where to land for a rest. A some of the controls are explained to you, but a lot you are left to figure out. You’ll pick up some little collectables and learn that it’ll give you a bit more stamina. You’ll also learn what happens when you do run out of stamina.
A lot of it is very straightforward, and what you’d expect from a game like this. But you have a few interesting tricks to learn. If you encounter a flock of birds, honk at them! One of them may decide to tag along for a little while. And with enough bird friends, you’ll be able to unlock new and interesting pathways, and move past difficult obstacles. Is it necessary? Not really! But who doesn’t want a ragtag flock who can help you blast rocks?
Sometimes, the lack of explanation can be frustrating. I had quite a lot of trouble at the very first launch, where I was told to press two buttons, but I didn’t really know how to, or how long, or in what order.
I’m not afraid to admit I crashed off that cliff at least half a dozen times. But once the mechanics of flight clicked, it clicked, and the rest just fell into place. It helps that it is a forgiving game, with plenty of checkpoints. You don’t get punished harshly for a mis-timed dive. Instead the game goes ‘hey, let’s give that another go’. So you spend less time struggling, and more time just enjoying the journey.
In addition, there is a Zen Mode, where you don’t even have to worry about obstacles or crashing. You can choose to only have to fly.
Like the simple art style, and soothing gameplay, the music just ties it all together. You don’t HAVE to listen to the music, but I think you need to. It’s so gentle, melodic, easy to allow into the background of your flight. It really ties it together, giving pace to your experience. Gentle guitar tones, violins in the background, an echo of the melody rings in the background. It feels open, and warm. I wouldn’t fall asleep to it, but I found it relaxing. I had a better meditation experience playing this game, than I did in my last yoga class. Everything just compliments each other so well, woven into one experience.
There’s no rush, no glaring need to keep flying, no overwhelming drive to DO things. It just lets you fly.
What is Dune Sea? It is a journey, an experience, that serves no other purpose than to just let you experience it. Your destination doesn’t matter. Your goals can be to just stay off the ground. You can build a giant mega-flock, or you can just see where the game takes you, for as long as you want. It’s not exciting, it’s not busy, it’s sort of boring. But in the way that paddling down a quiet river in a canoe, and you look up at the sky and watch the clouds drift by is boring. In the way that sitting by a stream, and tossing sticks into it and mentally betting on which stick will reach the big rock first is boring. In the way that sitting on the train and watching the landscape change and the buildings go by is boring.
It just felt like, for a few minutes at a time, I could just breath. And fly.
That is Dune sea.
Reviewed by Zahra Pending @Degari_rose on 2nd of December 2020