April 1st, 2019 by Vega Montanez

Standing Amongst Olympians

Sega has been a player in the video games business for quite a few decades. And yet, they still never really manage to get a strong grip. They almost had a huge run with Sonic, but he was quickly bested by the plumber in the red overalls. Enough with the past, Sega is back and ready to rise to the occasion. 

The 2020 Olympics will be taking place in Tokyo next year. Besides already holding the licenses, Sega is taking this opportunity to try to make waves. First headlines were made with eh announcement of “Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 – The Official Video Game”. Coming to Playstation 4 and Nintendo Switch worldwide. Sega has gone on the record calling this new title “A fun-filled sports action game where you create your avatar and compete in olympic events. That’s right, you too can go for the gold from the comfort of your living room!

https://youtu.be/YbC_L7dnWIU
Our original linked video was taken down so here’s some NHK program. -Chet

Next, they announced the release of a brand new Mario & Sonic at the Olympics. It’s been a long 4 years since the last time we’ve seen these athletes on the field. Mario & Sonic at the Olympics 2020 looks much like past iterations but this time will have mini-games for your Joy-Cons. The only real question here is; will this game feature the movie versions of our two cover stars?

For those of us who have become avid mobile gamers Sega’s got something for you too, because mobile gamers count. Mario & Sonic will be attending the Tokyo Olympics on iOS and Android as well. Assuming the game will borrow some Joy-Con features and optimize for touchscreens, this will most likely be super casual. I’m predicting for sure at least one Temple Run style track and field game. Actually, bets are open.

Not excited about the Olympics!? Fine.

Fear not friends who could careless about professional sports or sports simulations. Or emotionless monsters who can’t find the humor in the “world’s fastest hedgehog” racing against the “most hard-headed plumber of all time”. There is some retro based good news. Sega is bringing a new challenger to the mini console revolution. 

The Sega Genesis Mini will be available on September 19th, 2019. Retailing at the great price of $79.99 the mini console will feature 40 classic games including Sonic (of course), Castelvania, and Ecco the Dolphin. For the record, Ecco the Dolphin is the second most exciting part of this for me. What’s the first? Well I’m glad you asked. So far, 10 of the 40 games have been announced and one of those game is, Comix Zone. Need I say more?

The console itself is reportedly about 55% smaller than the original and comes with two usb powered replica three button controllers. Also packed into the box is a USB to Micro-B cable for power and an HDMI cable for graphic fidelity. Because as we all know, it’s not a retro remake unless it’s in HD. 

What are some of the found memories you hope to relive with the Sega Genesis Mini? And for those excited for the olympics, what’s your favorite thing to have Mario beat Sonic at? And for everyone else, sorry you stuck around for that Vanquish sequel reveal. Believe me, you are not alone.

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March 26th, 2019 by Vega Montanez

Back in the 90’s there were two prominent developers of fighting games coming out of Japan. In one corner we had the almighty Capcom, home of Ken, Ryu, and the rest of the Street Fight gang. And in the other corner was SNK. Although there library is extensive, with titles like Metal Slug and Fatal Fury, King of Fighters is likely the most recognized title. That is if you ignore them also being the masterminds behind the Neo Geo. 

In recent years their focus has been on repackaging their glory days in numerous SNK Collections and keeping the King of Fighters series alive. But it seems they are ready for more. And they are coming in blades drawn. After more than a decade, Samurai Shodown is back. 

Samurai Shodown (2019)
SNK

Samuria Shodown is a weapons based 2D fighting game. It’s like the Soul Caliber of 2D fighters. Anyway, the franchise is being rebooted for the modern era. SNK is even choosing to develop the game using Unreal Engine 4. The unexpected reboot is set to take place between the events of the original game and Samurai Shodown V. 

Promising 13 of the original playable characters joined by 3 new challengers, SNK is ready to reenter the world of competitive fighting. Samurai Shodown will release sometime in June 2019 on PS4 and Xbox One. And PC and Switch versions will be coming later this year. Does this release window sound a bit scary? Fear not as skeptics are welcome to try out the new entry sooner. 

Ready? Fight!

Anyone attending PAX East this upcoming weekend in Boston will be able to get their hands on the game. SNK will also be hosting a panel, “Samurai Shodown: Resurrecting a Legend,” on March 30 from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. ET featuring producer Yasuyuki Oda, director Nobuyuki Kuroki, and original Samurai Shodown director Yasushi Adachi. 

Are you excited for a brand new Samurai Shodown? I know I am. 

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March 26th, 2019 by Vega Montanez

Yesterday, gamers across the internet gathered in excitement for a fiesta of Playstation announcements. Sony’s first official “State of Play”, a short form trailer filled livestream, debut was smooth as butter. A few surprise announcements here. A couple exclusives there. And a ton of confirmed release dates made the most of the roughly 20 minute event. Ignoring the awful voice of the digital announcer, it’s safe to say “State of Play” was a success.

But, was it the right move?

State of Play
PlayStation

Long time Playstation fans are accustomed to narrative driven experiences. A rule that holds true for announcement trailers as well. Looking back on past Playstation events, you’ll quickly find that most trailers ran 2-3 minutes with tons of narrative detail. Whether eluded to or directly presented, the trailers draw you in by presenting a full living world. Cinematic or in game footage, the announcements tend to deliver the beginning of your next gaming adventure. 

State of Play, Sony’s equivalent of a Nintendo Direct, took what felt like a very different approach. It crammed as many announcements as possible into 20 minutes with tons of gameplay footage. Gameplay footage that shows what you will be doing without intriguing us with the why we’re doing it. Sure with a game like the PSVR exclusive IronMan VR, coming fall 2019, you don’t need to necessarily know why he’s fighting the bad guys. He’s a superhero, that’s just what they do. 

IronMan VR
Camouflaj, PlayStation Worldwide Studios

However, with a game like Ready Set Heroes, as fun as the multiplayer action game looks, it’d be great to learn more about the world. Don’t get me wrong, I’m personally excited for the idea of 4 player party game. Especially one that looks like the Looney Tunes dungeon crawler i never knew i wanted. It just didn’t feel like Sony. It felt like Nintendo. 

It’s not about the violence or adulthood

And before you type “Eh look another guy to grown for fun games.” realize my complaint is not about the games. It’s about the presentation. Years of watching E3, Paris Games Week, Tokyo Games Show announcements have set a certain expectation. An expectation that I’ve quietly watch continue to become less and less important. I’d be lying if I said I knew this was coming. Looking back on the most recent E3 conferences though, I feel kind of foolish for not.

Since the release of the PS4, every Sony E3 conference has featured a short form sizzle reel announcing 10-15 games in a matter of minutes. It started off as just the Indie game reveal. Which was offensive for it’s own reasons we don’t have time to talk about now. And slowly it evolved to what we can now expect to be a regular occurrence called “State of Play”. That’s not the end though. Even during this short form experience Sony managed to pack in a video montage cramming release dates for 8 games into what felt like seconds. 

8 Games in 60 Seconds? Whoa.

Games like Falcon Age, Everybody’s Golf VR, Trover Saves the Universe were included in this short montage. Forget release dates, the spotlight on these games wasn’t long enough for me to write down all 8 names. And I write super fast because I have awful hand writing, so to me that says a lot. I want to go back to the good old days when gamers complained not enough games were shown. Ok maybe not that far back. Maybe go back to the short-lived time where the balance was almost perfect.

Regardless, I’m a diehard Playstation fan so I’m going to rock with the team no matter what. But, I’m no yes man. If I see something I’m not particularly excited about I’m going to say something. As of right now, I am not entirely excited for the next State of Play. And considering PlayStation will be absent from E3 2019, I’m concerned. Your move Sony. 

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March 26th, 2019 by Vega Montanez

Another spring, another spring Apple Keynote. Good old Tim Apple (if you don’t get that reference you are not adulting properly) took the stage today to do the usual announcing of new Apple products. Only this time Tim didn’t focus on products in the traditional sense. No, Apple delivered a two hour keynote on the brand new world of Apple Services. An updated news app, with an optional premium subscription. An updated Apple TV app, with an optional premium subscription. An Apple credit card, literally called Apple Card. And most importantly Apple Arcade, Apple’s first official step into the multibillion dollar games industry. 

Meet Apple Arcade

You read that right. After years of rumors and speculations, Apple has officially jumped into the wonderful world of video games. Apple Arcade is an all new subscription based games service that will work across all of your apple devices. One subscription gives full access to the entire library of games, which will include exclusive, on your iPhone, iPad, AppleTV, and Mac. 

And that library of games is looking absolutely amazing. During the keynote Apple had a great video featuring some of the games and developers coming to their platform. Among those developers were Charles Cecil, Sam Rosenthal, Cedric Adams, and the legendary Hironobu Sakaguchi. That’s right the man behind Final Fantasy had a prominent guest spot in Apple Arcade’s world premiere.

Beyond a Steel Sky
Revolution Software

Alongside the incredible stream of games, Apple also took a direct shout at the competition. Apple Arcade will not be a streaming service, instead allowing you to download and play any games any time without the need to be tethered to an internet connection. But wait theres more. Apple also took a moment to proudly exclaim that no games on Apple Arcade will have Ads or in-app purchases. Couple that with the commitment to privacy and a subscription that can be accessed by up to 6 family members, via family sharing, theres plenty of reason for Apple to feel confident with their service. 

Although the Keynote was packed full of cool and exciting announcements, Apple continued the current tech trend of omitting details. As of right now we know Apple Arcade will be available Fall 2019. However, we don’t have answers to some of the more important questions. What is the price of an Apple Arcade subscription going to be? What titles can we expect to be available when it launches? Will there be any exclusives? 

The Pathless
Annapurna Interactive | Giant Squid

Questions? Well, of course!

Apple’s positioning as one of the top mobile device manufactures and the only true alternative to Windows computers gives it a ton of leverage. No Apple user will need to go out and make any additional purchases to enjoy the features of Apple Arcade. Cost of entry being low, Apple can expect huge subscriber counts very quickly much like they saw with the launch of Apple Music. 

Where storytelling and design are pushed further than ever before.

Apple

With Google and Apple entering the world of gaming while Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo are preparing to announce the next generation of consoles, this is going to be an interesting year. The one thing I can say for certain is, this gone be good for us gamers but real bad for our wallets. 




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March 24th, 2019 by Vega Montanez

The annual Game Developers Conference has long been prime real estate for developer focused major announcements. In past years we’ve had the pleasure of witnessing major announcements like Metal Gear Solid 5 but, it’s typically full of panels on super technical stuff. Cough Nerds Cough. This year However, Google took it upon themselves to overshadow all the other cool stuff happening by announcing their long rumored gaming console. Or rather the not gaming console. 

Google Stadia, the official name I can’t quite pronounce, is a cloud based streaming console promising up to 4K HDR resolutions, instant access with no update or download delays, and the ability to play on any device connected to the internet. Have we heard this before? Yea a few times but this is Google. You know the unofficial ruler of the world? Yea, exactly. So I’m pretty inclined to believe they have managed to get the technical stuff to work. And I’m sure everyone in the world is talking about the concerns behind internet speed inconsistencies but I think there are three bigger things to worry about. 

With that said, I have 1 question and 2 concerns, shaped in the form of questions. 

Will I be able to carry my control and play anywhere with WiFi?

Google announced Stadia with a super dope looking awesome remote. I’m not quite sure why the remote looks so familiar but, whatever right? The controller itself is not necessary to play as you can use any standard USB or Bluetooth remote but it does have it’s own perks. Those perks include a share button for streaming all your games you’re streaming (streamception?), and a button that calls for Developer directed help. That’s right friends strategy guides are what Google is aiming to kill with Stadia. 

There is no box associated with Google’s new console, rather platform, and the Stadia Control connects to the cloud via Wifi. So of course my big question at this point is; does this mean i can carry the control and game anywhere? I can just pop a squat anywhere with decent Wifi, cause the wizards at Google said they are optimizing for all internet speeds, and play Metal Gear Solid? Tekken? Devil May Cry? Oh my heart, it can’t handle the excitement. 

Unfortunately, outside of showing off the control design and talking about their cool exclusive buttons, there wasn’t much information around the control. I’m sure that Google has an incredible drip marketing plan for all things Stadia, but I don’t know if I have the patience for it. I just want to pull my Stadia Control out my pocket and scream Let’s Duel!

And now the concerns…

How do developers get paid?

The video game industry is a multibillion dollar business. The cost of producing video games is astronomically high at the Hollywood/mainstream level of gaming. Esports have created an entirely new field within the industry for gamers to work and build their lives around. Games have literally become a part of mainstream culture with movies, books, and even real news outlets frequently referencing their success. Intentionally and unintentionally. 

All of these incredible breakthroughs come together to create a thriving industry that breeds fair distribution of money in all directions. Enter Stadia. Well actually it’s more like enter Google. Arguably the most powerful company in the world. Undeniably the most powerful company on the internet. What will it mean for how developers and publisher negotiate their pay from games streaming on Stadia?

If the music industry is any example, developers will see significantly less money from streaming games than they do on game sales. Sure the games will be more accessible but if it’s anything like say Spotify, which pays about $0.006 per stream, it’s gonna take a lot of streaming to match sales. So how will streams be counted? If I launch Resident Evil 2 40 times, will it count as 40 different streams? How about the hours put into streaming? Will streaming The Witcher 3 one time for 80 hours only earn the handsome polish developers pay for one stream? 

And those are only the concerns around the meaning and value behind the term “stream”. The bigger concerns is how smaller developers will manage to negotiate streaming payouts with the Walmart of the internet. For those who are unaware, Walmart is such a large retailer that it had been documented telling suppliers how much it will pay for products it will sell in its stores. No negotiations, take it or leave it. Google is just as powerful in the internet land. And in order for this to be profitable for Google one of two things will happen.

How much will it Cost?

Which brings us here. How much will Google Stadia cost? Remember I said in order for this to be profitable for Google one of two things will happen? You should, I just said it. Anyway, there are two clear ways for Google to make Stadia profitable and sustainable. The first option is bad for developers but good for consumers. The price of Stadia stays relatively low for gamers, think subscription of $10-$25/ per month, and developers get a smaller pay per stream.

This could make it super easy for google to acquire subscribers but how would it impact games being streamed? At that price Stadia could end up being like a gym membership. Tons of people sign up but a small fraction of the people signed up actually stream games. That means Google makes boatloads of cash while having very little payout. 

Contrary, the cost of the service could put Stadia at a premium level, $50-$99/per month, and pay higher per stream to developers. A premium price point more people are likely to make use of their membership because it’s a significant monthly cost. With more people streaming Google has much more payouts to make impact the overall profit margin. Blah blah business blah blah number blah blah math, I know it’s boring but it’s important. 

Are you ready for Google Stadia?

In my opinion, Google Stadia marks the first time in over a decade where the video game industry is about to see a major shift. Much like the risky launch of the Nintendo Wii and it’s motion controls, Stadia represents an entirely new way to play. The question now is, are we ready for this? If Stadia succeeds, the industry may completely shift away from owning video games to streaming only (like the music industry). If Stadia fails, the industry may turn against the internet based ideas circulating since the botched Xbox One announcement. 

At the end of the day, we are gamers. We just want to play the best games all the time. Who ever makes that easiest gets to take all my monies. Any takers?




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super mario party can be played by anyone
January 10th, 2019 by Kurt "Chet" Christel

Mama Mini

You don’t actually need to be a hardcore gamer (or a hard mode gamer) to enjoy Super Mario Party. In fact, the level of skills you have may only affect some minigames, but even then, the board can still f*ck you over. But to play Super Mario Party, all you gotta do is hand off the controller and let them do a practice match before the real deal. Who did I play the game with when I found this out. It’s here in the video.

Super Mario can be played by anyone!
Also Peach is a cheating B*TCH.

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