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Mario Warfare Part 4 August 29, 2013

Posted by Maniac in Game News.
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Beatdown Boogie has released the fourth part of their exceptionally well produced series Mario Warfare.  Welcome to Smash Club.

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Nintendo 2DS Announced August 28, 2013

Posted by Maniac in Game News.
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No, that headline is not a typo. Nintendo has just announced the newest member of the Nintendo 3DS handheld family, the Nintendo 2DS.

The Nintendo 2DS looks to be a cheaper alternative to a Nintendo 3DS.  It lacks Nintendo’s glasses-free 3D screen, but is able to play any Nintendo DS or Nintendo 3DS game in 2D, as well as content downloadable from Nintendo’s eShop.

For anyone who may already have a 3DS or 3DS XL, I would not consider this an upgrade.  The device doesn’t look like it can fold in half, making the device less portable than previous version DS systems.  This was probably intended to be released for more budget minded customers who were not interested in playing their 3D content in 3D.  This seems to be unneeded as the 3DS’s 3D screen can be completely disabled, and will not work on non-3DS native content like with DS or downloadable Virtual Console games.

The Nintendo 2DS is coming October 12th, 2013.

The Force Unleashed Podcast August 27, 2013

Posted by Maniac in Podcasts, Site Videos.
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In the latest site podcast, Maniac talks about The Force Unleashed, the highly anticipated video game property which could not live up to its expectations.  Over the course of an hour, Maniac talks about the history of the game’s development, what he thought of the two games in the series, and his thoughts on the Star Wars universe.

The Video Game Handheld War Part 5 August 26, 2013

Posted by Maniac in Histories, Video Game Handheld War.
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The Nokia N-Gage was by all intents and purposes a complete failure.  By the time the next generation of the Video Game Handheld War started to kick into gear, Nokia was nowhere to be found.  Instead, the cell phone company decided to incorporate N-Gage branding into several of their new cell phone models, offering customers the chance to download games through their carrier.  This new N-Gage store didn’t last very long, as by this point, more cell phone companies and providers were offering these services.

On the dedicated game handheld front, Nintendo was firing up development of the successor to the Game Boy Advance, which would be in a lot of ways, the first true successor to the Game Boy line that started fifteen years earlier.  Taking a page from Gunpai Yokoi’s original Game & Watch designs, Nintendo designed a truly revolutionary new type of handheld system that the West had never seen before, a dual screen system.  It would fold in two just like a Game Boy Advance SP would, but in a fit of genius, the new handheld would feature two backlit screens with one screen being touch capable.  You wouldn’t need a System Link cable anymore, as it would have internal wireless support that could connect the handheld to either another handheld locally or a wireless hotspot for online access.  Even with having to render two screens and touch inputs, the system’s graphics would be comparable to a Nintendo 64.  It would also have a Game Boy Advance slot so gamers would not need to choose between Nintendo’s systems when on the go.  The new system became known as the Nintendo DS, a fitting name as only something this completely different in design could put an end to the Game Boy’s lifecycle.

However, Nintendo would not be fighting this battle alone.  Technology company Sony had won the previous two console generations with the highly-successful Playstation and Playstation 2 gaming systems, and now Sony wanted to dominate the handheld market Nintendo had controlled unilaterally.  Sony believed the time was right to offer an alternative device to a market that was growing up.  Nintendo, and their properties like Super Mario Bros and Pokémon still had a kid-friendly image attached to them, and like the N-Gage before them, Sony believed that there was a market who had not decided to enter the handheld race quite yet, who had previously chosen to purchase Playstation systems.  Sony planned to manufacture a multi-purpose portable system which would have slightly more power than an original Playstation, but slightly less power than a PS2.  Like the DS, it would use WiFi for local and online multiplayer, but more than that, it could receive system updates with new features down the line.  As this device epitomized everything about Sony’s Playstation mantra on a handheld format, what better name for it than the Playstation Portable?

Sony developed a new proprietary disc format for the system’s games called UMD for Universal Media Disc, which was based on DVD technology and could offer much more storage than Nintendo’s previous game carts could.  In fact the UMD format could also store more than just games, it could hold movies or music in a pinch, and offered some interesting possibilities for the PSP down the road.  The problem was the UMD format was read-only memory, the PSP would need some other storage medium for save games and downloadable content.  To solve this problem, Sony included a slot for their Memory Stick Pro Duo storage device, the exact same popular storage used by Sony’s cameras, and if a customer had used the Memory Stick on multiple Sony devices, it would be able to display the photos on it.   The device’s screen would not be able to support touch controls, but it was pretty big and supported widescreen gameplay.  In all, this was a Sony branded device through and through.

The Nintendo DS launched first at a suggested price of $149 US and started to sell like mad.  The system’s graphical capabilities were ever apparent right off the bat as a launch title for the DS would be a port of Super Mario 64, one of the greatest games released for that platform.  A demo version of Metroid Prime: Hunters, the first handheld game of the highly successful Metroid Prime series, was bundled with every launch model of the Nintendo DS, and although the final version of Metroid Prime: Hunters would be delayed a bit the Nintendo DS sold like hotcakes.  Nintendo made some great decisions with the platform and people were totally loving the device’s touch capable second screen.  As the DS lacked any analog stick, some developers chose to use the second screen to simulate analog control, similar to how a game developer simulates a control stick on a touch-screen smartphone nowadays.

The PSP launched a few months after the Nintendo DS with what has been described as one of the best launch lineups since the launch of the Sega Dreamcast.  Sony did a mega marketing campaign featuring the latest hit from Franz Ferdinand, “Take Me Out”.  A brand new system would launch at the price of $249 US and include a whopping 32MB Memory Stick Pro Duo, a set of earbud headphones with remote control, and a protective sleeve.  Ridge Racer, Metal Gear Ac!d, and ports of popular EA Sports titles all launched alongside the platform, and other games like Mercury and Infected were in development and were promised to be coming later.  In North America, a UMD copy of Spider-Man 2, one of the highest rated movies of the year, was bundled with every launch model of the PSP.  The PSP may have come with only one analog stick, but the system’s games would make you forget you even needed one.

After launch, the PSP saw immediate sales to die-hard Sony fans, gamers who were looking for a more mature handheld than what Nintendo would offer, and gamers interested in the platform’s exclusive titles.  However, The PSP was still $100 US more than the Nintendo DS, and Nintendo’s flawless handheld track record spoke volumes about their experience.  While the PSP had its loyalists, the Nintendo DS continued to outsell the PSP.  Everything about the DS was designed from the ground up to be for games, wheras the PSP tried to be a multi-purpose device for portable electronic use that just so happened to be really good at playing games.  However, this was just the beginning of the story, and Sony wasn’t out for the count just yet.  On top of that, Nintendo wasn’t going to rest on their success as Sony started to gather momentum.  What happened next?  That is a story for next time.

Hyrule Historia Review August 25, 2013

Posted by Maniac in Princess Angel Reviews, Site Videos.
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Our resident graphic artist Princess Angel reviews the Hyrule Historia Art Book.  It includes a near encyclopedic history of the development of The Legend of Zelda franchise, a ton of artwork from each of the games, and a complete timeline of the games released up until that point.

inFAMOUS Second Son Behind the Scenes: Taking Control August 23, 2013

Posted by Maniac in Game News.
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A new behind the scenes video for the highly-anticipated PS4 exclusive inFAMOUS: Second Son has been released.  In this video, we take a closer look at the PS4’s Dual Shock 4 Controller.  Now, from far away the DS4 may look identical to the three Dual Shock controllers which had come before it, but upon a closer look you can see that Sony did a lot to change the Dual Shock’s form factor both to cater to gamer’s needs and to improve the product in a way that takes full advantage of the improved power of the PS4.

So how does this controller handle a game like inFAMOUS: Second Son?  Let’s find out.

inFAMOUS: Second Son is coming February 2014 exclusive to the Playstation 4.

rain Developer Diary Part 2: The Music of rain August 23, 2013

Posted by Maniac in Game News.
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I think that a huge part of the charm that rain’s trailers have had has been from the game’s music.  To me, the game’s music complements the visuals perfectly, and in the second Developer Diary for rain the game’s developers chose to focus on what went into the game’s musical production.

This video shows more than just musicians recording, it shows many of the decisions that the audio director had to make.  They chose to keep the famous song “Clair de Lune” as the game’s main theme (which is the song playing during the game’s trailers) but made the decision to add a female vocal track to the song.

Personally my favorite part of the video is a bit where you can also see some of the game’s early artwork rendered as a beautiful watercolor animatic.  That animatic was instrumental in assisting in setting the musical tone.  Take a look for yourselves!

rain is coming in October 2013 exclusive to the Playstation 3.

Xbox gamescom 2013 Showcase Briefing August 22, 2013

Posted by Maniac in Game News.
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Microsoft has posted up an abridged video of their Xbox gamescom 2013 Showcase Briefing, and you can take a look at it here.

I know It isn’t as long as the Sony gamescom Press Conference, but Microsoft chose to put many things front and center during this event that they did not cover during the E3 Media Briefing.  In particular, they chose to showcase Indie Games immediately, to counter the belief many players felt that the Xbox One was going to be unfair to independent developers.

Watch Dogs gamescom 2013 Trailer August 20, 2013

Posted by Maniac in Game News.
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The latest trailer for the highly anticipated multiplatform game Watch Dogs from Ubisoft has been released at Sony’s gamescom 2013 Press Conference, and along with this trailer came a few huge announcements.  Sony has promised that there will be an exclusive skin, a hacking boost, and four exclusive missions totaling 60 additional minutes of gameplay on the Playstation versions of the game.  If you were like me and hadn’t known yet which version of the game to pick up, the PS4 version will likely be your best bet.

Sony has promised that anyone who picks up the PS3 version of Watch Dogs will be able to upgrade to the PS4 version of the game through Sony’s Digital PS4 Marketplace at a heavily discounted rate for a limited time.

Watch Dogs is coming multiplatform November, 2013 and will launch on the Xbox One and PS4.

Dead Rising 3 gamescom 2013 Cinematic Trailer August 20, 2013

Posted by Maniac in Game News.
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Those damn wasps have spread to Southern California.  Take a look at this short CGI-rendered Cinematic Trailer to see how two survivors of the latest outbreak can survive driving on the 101 Freeway.

Dead Rising 3 is coming November 2013 as a launch title exclusive to the Xbox One.