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Xbox One Kinect Issue Breakdown June 28, 2013

Posted by Maniac in Editorials.
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After Microsoft changed their official DRM policy with the Xbox One, as far as I was concerned, the major issues I personally had with the consoles were waved away, and I applaud Microsoft for changing their policy prior to the launch of the console. When I notified several of my peers about this changed course, instead of hearing excited responses that they could play many of the console’s exclusive releases without concern, I was surprisingly met with distrustful and angry responses about a wide range of other problems that they had with the Xbox One, and most of them were about the new Kinect.

The first issue I heard from my peers was that it increased the price point of the Xbox One, as it was a $100US premium over the Playstation 4, which wasn’t going to ship with the 3D camera Sony previewed when they announced the console. They were also concerned the impact the console would have on the environment or their electric bill from it always being in a standby mode because the Kinect needed to draw some power in order to process the “Xbox, on” command. They were also concerned, after all the information that came out in the news recently about government eavesdropping, that anyone who installed the Xbox One in their home theater would practically be inviting shady individuals to view and hear them while they’re at home 24/7. This was especially a problem for the Unknown Cameraperson, who prefers no record of their identity, voice, or appearance to exist in any form.

Well, I never understood the Kinect issues with the Xbox One, no I’ve HEARD the issues people have had with them, ALL of them, but I don’t legitimately think they’re problems. I was an original Kinect adopter some time after it was released, so I’ve played Kinect games, used Kinect compatible software (including the dashboard or video streaming software like EPIX) and played 360 games with Kinect features, so I’ve got Kinect experience, and personally I’m really excited to see what the Xbox One can do with the improved Kinect.

Microsoft has an official stated policy that they would NEVER under any circumstances record a user without their consent or transmit their voice or audio streams without the user’s consent in some kind of application (like Skype or game streaming). If the Kinect was snooping on people 24/7 don’t you think a computer pro with a packet sniffer on their network (quite reasonable to assume) would find out 2 seconds after the console’s launch? That would be a huge black eye to MS for violating their policy and perhaps even local laws, as they said they had no intention to do that.

And for those who may prefer to be a bit more green on power, the Xbox One and Kinect can be completely turned off, which will disable the “Kinect, On” feature, but it could be slightly better for the environment for those who wish to conserve energy. If I remember correctly, the ability to turn your Xbox off and on by voice command was a feature users wanted when the first Kinect launched on the Xbox 360! It was even something shown in the original promotional demo video. The official stated policy why MS couldn’t offer the on command from voice that was because of the 360’s power consumption and they wanted to keep the 360 a green device, and they felt without the ability to turn the console on by voice, there was no reason to turn the console off by voice as well. However it looks like they have listened to gamer’s pleas. They later changed their position on turning the 360 off by your voice with a dashboard update, and the Xbox One will allow on and off voice commands. My guess is the Xbox One must have fixed the power issue.

In the end, the actual issue boils down to the price point. Now, there’s not been any confirmed information that it’s the Kinect that forced the $499US price tag to the Xbox One, but since it is $100US more expensive than the Playstation 4 (which will not be bundled with the 3D motion camera they demoed when the console was announced), people have speculated the Kinect is what’s making the Xbox One the most expensive console this generation. Whether the Kinect is the culprit or not, a higher price point over a competitor is a legitimate argument, but one that I’m willing to accept. If the Kinect is indeed the reason for the $100US premium over a PS4, then Microsoft should justify that price in some way to give consumers a reason to choose the Xbox One over the PS4, and the features of the Kinect could be that justification.

I REALLY want to see what the new Xbox One exclusive games (including Quantum Break) will do with this technology now that it’s a feature of the console itself. I’m excited for all the prospects we could have and the possibility of new features in games like talking options in games, motion control for simple commands without needing to pick up a remote or controller, it can further immerse a player in the experience. There’s also the non-gaming applications as well as other features like I can Skype Princess Angel in 1080p or do a picture-in-picture (PIP) commentary on a live game stream without having to spend $2000+US on a MacBook and new editing software. I believe the Xbox One is at a fair price. You may disagree with that, and that’s fine, but I really think the Kinect brings exciting possibilities for gaming enhancements.

I can’t wait to try the new consoles out.

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Batman vs Deadpool – Super Power Beat Down June 28, 2013

Posted by Maniac in Game News.
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Our friends over at Bat in the Sun have once again paired up two super powered giants, and in the newest episode of Super Power Beat Down we have The Dark Knight, Batman, battling Weapon XI himself, Deadpool.  These two characters are legends in the comics industry, and now the battle between these two iconic comic legends has an interesting video game twist. With the release of the Deadpool video game this week and the Batman: Arkham game series continuing to dominate, director Aaron Schoenke could not have picked a better time for this lineup.

If you ever asked yourself who would win in a fight, Batman or Deadpool, by the end of this video, you will know.

Big props to Bat in the Sun for another great video! Did anyone else notice that their new batsuit bore a very similar style to the one Batman wore in Batman: Arkham City?  What’s next for Super Power Beat Down? Wolverine vs Predator!  Visit their official website to vote on who should win!

The Last of Us E3 2013 Q&A June 27, 2013

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Sony and Naughty Dog held a pretty impressive Q&A at the Sony E3 booth with the principle designers and lead actors for this summer’s PS3 killer app The Last of Us.  The video of the event has been posted online and if you’re remotely interested about this game, you should give it a watch.  They give some behind the scenes information about the making of the game’s story, and the actors talk about the process they had to go through to get such a great performance into the game.

Don’t worry if you haven’t completed the game yet.  This Q&A was taped the day before The Last of Us released and had a strict NO SPOILERS policy.  Give it a watch.

The Last of Us is out now exclusive to the Playstation 3.

Game Series That Should Come to the iPhone June 26, 2013

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Lets face it, everyone is carrying around a cell phone with them nowadays.  They’re more than just phones, they’re a gamer’s dream.  They have fantastic hardware on par with current generation mobile devices, a flexible control system, and can offer internet access on the go regardless of being in range of WiFi hotspots.  Since smartphones can play games, that would make a device like Apple’s iPhone one of the biggest selling portable gaming platforms currently on the market.  With its laundry list of features, amazing software support, and unique design, it’s a juggernaut with a wide installation base.  With such a large installation base of active gamers, it’s sad that there are some great game series out there that practically seem perfect for the device and yet have not yet made the leap to the platform.  I think its time to rectify that.

In this article, I’m going to be talking about some game series which should come to the iPhone, and what makes them so perfect for the handheld device.  For the record, I’m going to only talk about game series that are not avalible on the iPhone.  That means that series which already have at least one game on the iPhone will not be brought up.  That includes series like Mass Effect, Mirror’s Edge, Dead Space, Batman: Arkham City, and Final Fantasy.  If you’re interested in playing any of those games, you can check out the app store and download them right now.

With all that out of the way, lets get started shall we?

Catherine – A young man is forced to climb a never ending tower every night in his dreams, and if he falls he will die.  Somehow, this curse has to do with the choices he’s made in life, as he doesn’t know if he’s ready to settle down with his long term girlfriend or move on.  To make things worse, a new woman enters his life which seems a perfect match for him, and against his better judgment, they start to have an affair.  With these nightmares and a major life decision on the horizon, can he survive long enough to decide who he should spend the rest of his life with?

The game’s story is told by lengthy cutscenes which occasionally present a simple choice for the player.  Those choices impact the game’s ending, and the possible survival of secondary characters.  During gameplay sections, you must push and pull blocks, trying to build your way to the exit of a never ending tower.  If this game’s design doesn’t at first seem like a perfect match for the iPhone’s interface, that’s because it is.  I must admit what really sold me was the design of the game’s Rapuzel minigame, which you can play every night at the Stray Sheep.  The gameplay seems perfectly suited to the iPhone’s touch and tilt capabilities.  Some of the game is handled through Vincent’s cell phone, which would make this kind of meta.  You could receive texts in-game and respond to them if you choose.  The game could offer the ability to unlock exclusive wallpapers and background images from the game or perhaps even ringtones.

Kingdom Hearts – One night, a young boy witnesses a horrible storm at his island home.  His best friend is swept away in the storm and he chases after him, only to find himself in an unfamiliar place.  Soon, he meets up with Donald Duck and Goofy who have been charged by King Mickey Mouse himself to protect the many Disney worlds with the help of a Key, the same Key that the boy seems to have a connection to since arriving in this strange place.  Together, the three must travel from world to world based on many of the most popular Disney movies to protect them from the darkness that is attacking them, all the while hoping that their friends are waiting for them in the next one.

There was at least one Kingdom Hearts game brought to an earlier cell phone platform in Japan, I think it was redesigned as a game for the Nintendo DS, but as far as I know the mobile game was never brought to the iPhone.  With the recent announcement of Kingdom Hearts III and the continued success of the game series on handheld devices, as well as Square’s success on the iOS platform, a Kingdom Hearts smartphone game would be a great addition to the series.

Pokémon – A young boy comes of age and decides he wants to, *ahem* be the best like no one ever was.  To do that, he explores the entire land he lives in, traveling from town to town, capturing and training Pokémon.  With the Pokémon he’s trained in hand, he challenges each town’s best Pokémon Masters, in order to earn the right to battle the Elite Four and become the Grand Pokémon Master.

I didn’t bring this up during the most requested Pokémon games article and I apologize.  A Pokémon iPhone game would be fantastic!  There are so many users who want to try out this popular series but can’t due to the expense of buying a new Nintendo handheld.  Pokémon has always been a handheld game so being released to a mobile device would be a great fit.  It would be amazing to play a Pokémon game on a device which would always have internet access on the go due to the cellular network.  Pokémon is quickly starting to take over the iPhone app store with the Pokémon TV show app and interactive Pokédex, but we haven’t seen an actual Pokémon game come to the platform yet, and that is quite a shame.

Alan Wake – One night, a writer suffering from a major case of writer’s block is powerless to stop his wife’s abduction while they were on vacation in the Pacific Northwest.  After she’s been taken, he blacks out and loses over a week of time.  While trying to find her, he finds pages of a book he can’t remember writing and most amazing of all is the stuff he wrote is coming true.

We already know that Remedy has chosen to make a new IP for their first Triple A retail title since Alan Wake.  It’s called Quantum Break and it will be released for the Xbox One.  This has upset several Remedy fans who were hoping that Remedy would work on Alan Wake 2, since the first game ended on a cliffhanger, and neither the DLC missions or the Xbox Live Arcade game Alan Wake’s American Nightmare seemed to resolve much about Alan’s predicament.

Even though we now know what secret project Remedy was working on for the Xbox One, Remedy has not announced what the secret iOS game they are working on is.  Remedy REALLY is doing well with their iOS games and has already promised that another unannounced iOS exclusive game is in development. They did well bringing their Death Rally franchise back, why not bring back Alan Wake?

Dragon’s Lair 30th Anniversary Interview June 25, 2013

Posted by Maniac in Game News.
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This month marks the 30th anniversary of the game Dragon’s Lair.  A pioneering development in the arcade space, Dragon’s Lair used an interactive laserdisc to display content, and the player would have to use the controls to steer the scene to its proper resolution.  The game used traditional hand-drawn animation directed by famed animator Don Bluth, who has made his mark in animation with films like The Secret of NiMH and my personal favorite of his movies Titan A.E.

30 years later, the guys at Traditional Animation has posted up an interview with game director Don Bluth,  In it, they discuss the history of the project, the Dragon’s Lair games and why its taken so long for Hollywood to make a Dragon’s Lair movie!

Give it a read here!

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain E3 2013 Director’s Cut Trailer June 25, 2013

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Konami released an amazing trailer for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain at the Microsoft E3 Press Briefing, but shortly after the event ended, they revealed that wasn’t all they planned to show.  A 9-minute Director’s Cut of the E3 2013 trailer has been released on Konami’s YouTube Channel.  The new footage shows some pretty graphic content including scenes of battlefield surgery and even torture, and it could be possible that it was cut from the E3 broadcast because of content.  Regardless, Kojima’s team seems to once again be drawing inspiration from current events (even though this does look to be a period game) and these are very important subjects that should continue to be discussed.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is coming to multiple platforms including Xbox One.

Apple TV Unboxing June 25, 2013

Posted by Maniac in Site Videos.
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It’s Tuesday, time for our Tuesday unboxing!  Since Apple has changed their proprietary charging port with the release of the iPhone 5 and recent generation iPads, all of Maniac’s stock iPhone adapters and charge cables were no longer going to work if he chose to upgrade.  Instead of buying adapters, Maniac took a leap forward and decided to stream all his content instead of using direct cables, and bought an Apple TV.

The Apple TV retails for $99 US and enables you to stream content from iTunes and various Apple devices directly to your HDTV or Home Theater system.  What is included in the box, and is it worth the upgrade?  Lets find out!

Oh and if you have an Apple TV and would like to see how to hook it up to your equipment, here’s a handy video for you!

Bioshock Podcast June 23, 2013

Posted by Maniac in Podcasts, Site Videos.
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It has been a long time coming, but the latest episode of the gamexcess.net podcast has been released, and just like promised, the subject is Bioshock!  For over an hour we discuss the history of the series, my personal experiences with the game, and what the future may hold.  Enjoy!

GameStop Confirms Xbox One DRM Policy Reversed June 19, 2013

Posted by Maniac in Game News.
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I have to admit, I was heavily concerned for the Xbox One after the Playstation 4’s E3 showing.  People have been worried for weeks now about the policies that Microsoft had officially chosen to implement with the Xbox One including a required online check every 24-hours, the inability for users to play used games without having to pay extra money, the inability for users to sell their games more than once (and they can only sell their games to people who have been on their friends list for a minimum of 30 days) or for users to share retail games with their friends.  While Microsoft chose not to talk about any of this during their E3 Media Briefing, and instead chose to highlight a spectacular amount of exclusive titles for the platform, Microsoft had outlined these plans to retailers and the media prior to the event, and gamers everywhere have been in a fury ever since.

After Sony explicitly announced during their E3 press event that the Playstation 4 would have none of these features that harmed legitimate owners, many users, including many die-hard Microsoft enthusiasts, announced they had no intention of purchasing the Xbox One.  It was quite a shame because Microsoft announced many great games were coming to the platform like Quantum Break, Titanfall, Halo, and Dead Rising 3.  Since E3, faith in Microsoft has plummeted online to levels I never could have imagined, and many have deemed the Xbox One would be dead on arrival when competing with the Playstation 4.

Thankfully, it looks like this is no longer the case.   Tonight, I received an e-mail from GameStop I never expected.  Microsoft has announced they have reversed their policies on the Xbox One prior to E3. The Xbox One will not have the policies that I outlined above.  Instead, the Xbox One will require a one-time activation the first time it is launched, and there will not be a 24-hour connection requirement.  After the one time online console activation, you will be able to take the Xbox One anywhere you want to play its games, including other countries who do not sell the Xbox One.  You will also not be required to have an online connection to play single-player Xbox One games.

While it is unclear if there is any change in policy to the Xbox One’s installation requirements, such as the requirement for each game to be installed into the Xbox One prior to playing, this was not an issue I had with the Xbox One.  There are plenty of platforms that require their games to be installed prior to playing them, including the Playstation 3 or PC, and I was not concerned the Xbox One would have this requirement.  If the Xbox One will require that games be installed, it will likely be a technical requirement, and you will need to have your game in the Xbox One’s disc drive to play.

GameStop has also confirmed that there will be no limitations to using or sharing retail games on the Xbox One, and emphasized that game trading and sharing will work exactly like they do with Xbox 360 games.  This means you will be able to trade or sell retail discs you purchased, or share them with your friends regardless of if they were on your Xbox Live friends list.

This is without a doubt the best news to come from Microsoft in quite a long time.  I don’t know if this complete change in policy was due to the tremendous negative feedback from gamers online following E3, pressure from competition like Sony or Nintendo who were clearly not implementing similar policies, or just plain common sense, but the Xbox One’s launch is now looking a lot brighter.

The Xbox One is launching November 2013 for a price of $499 US.

Nintendo 3DS Firmware Update Released, Adds Game Save Backup June 19, 2013

Posted by Maniac in Game News.
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Nintendo has released a new firmware update for the Nintendo 3DS and 3DS XL yesterday.  The update adds the ability to create a backup for any saves you may have created on any digital games you purchased from the Nintendo eShop and downloaded to your 3DS’s SD card.  This allows you to recover any game saves you may have made on digitally purchased games, even after you have deleted the game from your 3DS.

Once updated, the 3DS menu will offer a new option to select when you highlight a downloaded game.  Click the new arrow button on the lower left of the touch screen to bring up the backup menu, and from there you can perform a backup of the game’s save files.  By performing a backup, you will not lose any of your saves if you delete the game from your 3DS’s SD card.  You can read all the details on Nintendo’s Official Website.

This backup feature is only for games that have been downloaded through the Nintendo eShop.  Currently the backup does not support retail games or downloaded DSi games.

You can download the 3DS system update to your Nintendo 3DS or 3DS XL right now.  If you would like to know how to perform a manual update to your 3DS or 3DS XL, please watch this helpful video.