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Things to Do While Waiting for Pokémon Shuffle Hearts to Recharge February 26, 2015

Posted by Maniac in Editorials.
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Pokémon Shuffle released on the Nintendo eShop earlier this week and it can be downloaded right now on any model 3DS or 2DS free of charge.

While a full review of the game is in the works, we don’t plan to publish it before we finish it and because of how the game is designed, that’s been taking a while. While we’re enjoying the game a lot, every puzzle in the game requires a single heart to play (win or lose) and unless extra hearts are purchased it only keeps a maximum of five hearts in memory. Since Pokémon Shuffle requires its players to wait a half hour in real-time to recharge a single heart without having to pay for it, players could find themselves with a lot of downtime as they try to complete the game.

So here are a couple of fun things you can do in between sessions of Pokémon Shuffle as you wait for your hearts to recharge.

  • Check out the YouTube channel of TamashiiHiroka.  She has some of the best Pokémon review and analysis videos I’ve seen on the internet.
  • Download the Pokémon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire Demo from the Nintendo eShop and play through some missions. Even if you have the full version of either game, you can earn some goodies in the demo that you can bring to the full versions.
  • If you have a Netflix account you can stream the first two seasons of Pokémon the Animated Series as well as a few of the Pokémon Animated Movies on the service.  Set it to Season 1, Episode 1 and just keep the episodes going.
  • If you don’t have Netflix but have your own personal Android or iOS device you can still watch the Pokémon Animated series through the Pokémon TV app.  While not all of the episodes from each season are available, it does offer a smattering of episodes from each region and new episodes are added every week.   If you have an Apple TV, there is no native Pokémon TV app for it yet but if you have an iDevice with the app installed you can stream the episodes to your Apple TV using AirPlay.  You can also stream Pokémon TV episodes from your PC here.
  • Read some Pokémon fanfiction on Fanfiction.net.  It is by far the most written about game franchise on the entire site.  If you don’t like any of the stories, you can always just write your own.
  • Watch my Pokémon Memories video.
  • Try to fill up your daily allotment of steps for the 3DS’s internal step counter and the Pokéwalker.
  • Make plans to attend this year’s Pokémon World Championships. They’re taking place August 21-23, 2015 at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston, MA.
  • Play a Pokémon Generation title like Pokémon Diamond, Pokémon Black, or Pokémon X. The 3DS and 2DS can not only play all 3DS titles, it can also play any DS game which does not require use of a GBA slot. Play as much as you want, save your game and then boot up Pokémon Shuffle.  Once you run out of hearts you can go boot your generational title back up and resume your Pokémon journey.  Don’t worry if you plan to play a fourth or fifth generation title on your 3DS while also playing Pokémon Shuffle. Even though active DS games played on a 3DS will disable most of the 3DS’s background features while the DS game is running, this doesn’t seem to affect the Pokémon Shuffle’s heart recharge timer.

Pokémon Shuffle is out now on the Nintendo 3DS and 2DS through the Nintendo eShop.

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Final Fantasy Type-0 HD Gameplay Overview Trailer February 26, 2015

Posted by Maniac in Game News.
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We’re less than a month away from the release of Final Fantasy Type-0 HD in North America and developer Square Enix released a brand new trailer for the game just a few hours before they’re expected to speak at The Guildhall SMU.

The trailer focuses on the game’s world, story and the gameplay.  At over seven minutes in length its a pretty detailed video and perfect to watch if you are unfamiliar with the game.

Final Fantasy Type-0 HD is coming March 17th, 2015 to the PS4 and Xbox One.  Anyone who purchased one of the initial versions of the game to ship will guarantee themselves a copy of the Final a Fantasy XV demo on the same platform.

March 2015’s Xbox 360 Games With Gold Offering Two Major Games For Free February 25, 2015

Posted by Maniac in Game News.
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Major Nelson has just confirmed an earlier report that two major titles are going to be offered free of charge on the Xbox 360 to all active Xbox Live Gold Members starting next month.

On March 1st, 2015 all Xbox Live Gold Subscribers  will be able to download the recent title Tomb Raider to their Xbox 360 from Xbox Live’s Marketplace completely free of charge. The game will continue to remain free until March 15th, 2015 and anyone who downloads it in the period it is free will be able to keep it on their Xbox 360 forever, even after their gold membership expires.

On March 16th, 2015, Xbox Live Gold Subscribers will be able to download 2013’s amazing game BioShock Infinite  to their Xbox 360s from the Xbox Live Marketplace completely free of charge until March 31st, 2015.  Just like with Tomb Raider (and other Xbox 360 titles offered through Games with Gold) as long as the game is downloaded during the period of time it is being offered for free it will remain redownloadable on your Xbox 360 account even after your Gold Subscription expires.

Batman: Arkham Knight “Gotham is Mine” Trailer February 25, 2015

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After producing two amazing titles which revolutionized how gamers envisioned superhero games, Rocksteady Studios is continuing to develop the most anticipated superhero title yet, Batman: Arkham Knight.

An all new trailer for the game was released earlier today, and here it is. It gives a new look at the game with some footage that has not been seen before, but I was most impressed by the writing.

Did you catch a good look at the beginning of the trailer, the trailer clearly states that this is going to be the first Batman video game to get an M-Rating.  I guess DC Comics lightened up their restrictions.

Batman: Arkham Knight is coming June 2nd, 2015 to the Xbox One, PC and PS4.

I Miss the Nintendo Zone Viewer February 24, 2015

Posted by Maniac in Editorials.
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Nintendo has just released an entirely new 3DS model, called the New Nintendo 3DS XL, and it has been selling like crazy to both new and current 3DS owners. Since I got an original Nintendo 3DS XL over two years ago, my first Nintendo handheld device in twenty years, I have not only enjoyed the catalog of DS, DSiware and 3DS games I can play on it tremendously, I’m still using its included features, like StreetPass Plaza, on a daily basis.

Like with all modern electronic devices, the 3DS is designed to use wireless internet for not just web browsing, but also online distribution for games, applications and other downloadable content. Setting up wireless internet for a personal electornic device intended to just be used in one or two places is not much of a big deal, but it can be really inconvenient if you plan to use a device that’s always on the go. It’s an even bigger issue when you take into account that Nintendo makes handhelds for all ages, and not all of their customers are technically inclined. For example, I cannot tell you how many Nintendo Wii owners I’ve met which had no idea the Wii even had online capabilities, and as such were still using the firmware the system came installed with.  However, unless you plan to play your Wii games online or buy digital games like Virtual Console or Wiiware titles, you don’t have to worry about bringing your Wii online.  However, unlike the Wii, you want to be able to bring your 3DS online. The 3DS has some great online games and some fun digital exclusives, but having to set it up every time you visit a new access point can be quite irritating, especially since the handheld can only hold a few WiFi profiles in memory.

To remedy this, Nintendo set up a Nintendo Zone network across the world and installed them in many popular businesses like McDonald’s, Starbucks, and Barnes & Noble. The beauty of a Nintendo Zone is that the 3DS will automatically connect to it as long as your WiFi is enabled without any need to set anything up, or take up any of the limited WiFi profiles in the 3DS. Some cell phone providers also offer a similar WiFi service for anyone who uses their phones but unlike 3DS owners who use the service, cell phone customers have to pay for their devices’ service every month and I’m sure the companies only do it to offset the stress on their cellular networks caused by heavy web surfing. The Nintendo Zone service on the other hand…is completely free. Heck I can use my 3DS almost anywhere when I’m on the go at no charge and I can use it to download game demos, browse miiverse, and play online multiplayer titles.

I tend not to do any web browsing in public, but I will use the Zones for doing 3DS specific tasks. When connected to a Nintendo Zone, the player could boot an app called the Nintendo Zone Viewer.  While the Nintendo Zone viewer worked in a lot of ways like a one stop shop for Wii U and 3DS game trailers, something that most players can already do through the Nintendo eShop, it had a lot of exclusive features that you could not do from home.  You could complete surveys, take part in a trivia contest, stream newer episodes of the Pokémon animated series, and more.  The app would only work at designated Nintendo Zone locations, and while I’m sure a lot of people would say most of those features should have been offered through any open online connection, I personally thought that giving 3DS owners an incentive to pilgrimage to designated Nintendo Zone locations strengthened the local community of 3DS players in my area by giving us a place to go to share of love of Nintendo products.  Nintendo upped the usefulness of the Nintendo Zone service even further by integrating a StreetPass relay into it, allowing users to collect the StreetPass data of the last six 3DS users who used the Nintendo Zone so they could be used in StreetPass compatible games.

Sadly, the last major system update for the 3DS discontinued access to the Nintendo Zone Viewer.  The 3DS can still seamlessly log into Nintendo Zone hotspots and use them for internet access and StreetPass relay, but the Nintendo Zone Viewer app no longer functions and that means that 3DS owners can no longer access its exclusive content.  Quite a shame really, as I liked answering trivia questions with my friends while having coffee, but the content hadn’t been updated in a while and was getting pretty outdated.

I really would like to see what Nintendo plans to do next with this service.  If they want, I would be happy to give them some ideas.

PlayStation 3 Firmware 4.70 Released February 24, 2015

Posted by Maniac in Game News.
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A required system update for the PlayStation 3 has been released today. The new update, version 4.70, merely adds closed captioning options to DVD and Blu-Ray Disc playback.

The software update is required to log your PS3 into the Playstation Network but I have no idea why. No other updates or bug fixes were listed in the firmware’s official patch notes.

You can download the update right now through the PS3’s Network Update feature.

MK12 Announces Man of Action: The Terrible Cosmic Death’s Sequel February 21, 2015

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Fifteen years ago, Rockstar Games held their annual downloadathon. The winner was a short film produced by the company MK12, called Man of Action: The Terrible Cosmic Death. MK12 had become famous by producing television commercials with a unique look and style, and they brought their style front and center to showcase the exploits of Mr. President Doctor Steve Elvis America.

If you think the main character’s name alone is the craziest thing about this short, you would be wrong. The story was hilarious, the animation style was unique, and well…you know what, you’ll just have to see it for yourselves.

I’ve waited fifteen years for MK12 to produce a sequel. Today, when something inspired me to do a search, I came across this trailer…released less than a day ago.

Man of Action II is coming soon. You can check out the movie’s official website at WhoisSteveElvis.com.

TwitchCon 2015 Announced February 20, 2015

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The folks over at Twitch.TV have just announced TwitchCon 2015, their first official convention!

Twitch.TV is a superpower in the realm of live game streaming services and now with the newest gaming consoles offering integrated streaming capabilities, game streaming has become incredibly popular worldwide. Heck, we have our own official Twitch Channel here.

TwitchCon 2015 will be happening at the Moscone Center in San Fransisco, CA September 25th-26th, 2015. You can stay up to date with information about the event at its official website, TwitchCon.com.

Is There a Point to Digital Preorders Anymore? February 20, 2015

Posted by Maniac in Editorials.
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In 2004, Valve Software capitalized on the success of a digital distribution system that they created called Steam.  At the same time Valve was perfecting the Steam service, Valve was also working on Half-Life 2, a sequel to one of the greatest PC games of all time. When the time came to release the game, Valve decided to give their service the best chance of success, and offered all of its users the chance to preload Half-Life 2 before it was officially released. By choosing to download a game after you preordered it, anyone who purchased the game through Steam would be able to play it the second it was released. For PC users who had become accustomed to lengthy installations and day one patches, having a game ready to play the second it came out was too much of a good idea to pass on, and many people chose to purchase Half-Life 2 online instead of at retail. The Steam service took off.

Ten years later, game consoles like the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 are now offering online preloading for retail titles that have been digitally purchased. The capabilities of both consoles’ online marketplaces are really going to give traditional retail channels a run for their money.  Or, at least, it sounds like they will on paper. In reality there are three major problems with digitally preordering games and I’m going to talk about each one. Half-Life 2 went on to be considered one of the best games ever made, but there’s no guarantee the next game you’re going to buy is even going to be good, and a lot of games get released before reviews are allowed to be published. The second is that these online services are still in their infancy, and there are still serious technical problems that they need to work out before game publishers widely adopt them. Finally, the biggest issue, is unlike retail preorders, you have to pay them in full up front and can’t cancel them.

Now it seems like digital publishers, especially the ones on the consoles, are using the concept of the preorder to get potential players to buy unreleased games far longer in advance than I would have thought imaginable, and this may turn out to be terrible for consumers.  I don’t think I need to remind anyone of the absolute buggy travesties that were the Triple-A game lineup leading up to Christmas of last year.  Halo: The Master Chief Collection was basically unplayable online for at least a month after it was released, and some people are still having issues getting it to work four months later.  Assassin’s Creed: Unity had major problems, which were mentioned in several reviews of the game, however embargos prevented those reviews from helping anyone who happened to preorder it.  Now, I admit the risk of buying a buggy, rushed title can be a problem with retail preorders just as much as it can be a problem with digital ones, however, depending on the digital service you used to purchase your game, it is a lot more difficult to sell, refund or trade a digital game purchase than if you had purchased a retail game.

So the real incentive to preorder digital content is so you can preload your content before its release and have your game ready to unlock the second it goes on sale. Sony alone has made it clear that they simply cannot do this well. I can think of at least two games on the PlayStation 4 which were only released on the PlayStation Store, Grim Fandango Remastered and inFAMOUS: First Light and in both cases the preorder process was extremely painful. While gamers were able to successfully preload inFAMOUS: First Light and play it at launch without much issue, getting Grim Fandango Remastered to download properly on a PS4 was a nightmare for anyone who had preordered it. Apparently the preloaded version of that game was so broken it would not work even after it unlocked. While you might assume it was a simple case of having to delete and redownload the game to fix the issue, the PS4’s PlayStation Store is so badly designed it could not tell that a purchased game that had been preloaded and deleted from a PS4’s hard drive was in fact deleted and this bad design prevented users who purchased the game from downloading a working version of it. Thankfully many users online found that by they could trick their PS4s into redownloading the game by forcing it to download through the iPhone’s PlayStation App, which was absolutely rediculous. It was without a doubt the most incompetent digital launch I have ever seen in my life.  If you had not preordered Grim Fandango Remastered, you would have been able to play it sooner. To postscript that story, the exclusive digital goodies that were promised to anyone who preordered either game also corrupted and had to be redownloaded or re-verified to run properly.  Given the fact that consoles are targeted hardware and the companies who made them are the ones hosting the online marketplaces that are selling these games, there is no excuse for these kinds of issues to happen. I mean, file corruption on a console is nearly unheard of. I’d have expected these kinds of technical issues on the PC.  On a side note, I don’t want people to assume this article was just a whipping boy for the PS4. There have been plenty of recent games have been released digitally through the PlayStation Store without incident, like the multiplatform adventure game Life is Strange.  It seems like Sony just can’t get their act together for games they are offering for prepurchase.  However, instead of giving these policies a second look, many digital publishers are doubling down on them, even though their services are clearly not ready.

PlayStation 4 games like Uncharted 4 and Until Dawn don’t even have a solid release date and yet you can preorder them right now on the Playstation Store at a full retail price of $59.99 US each. Why? Is there any concern Sony might run out of stock of either of those titles months before they even have a release date? Some of these games have been offered for preorder on the PlayStation Store since last year’s E3. That means anyone who purchased them when they were first offered for preorder may find themselves waiting over a year before their games finally unlock. And on top of that, Sony clearly states on their store that they are not going to issue refunds for digitally preordered content unless they are required to by law. That doesn’t sound very consumer friendly to me. Had you preordered your content at retail you would be eligible for a refund if you don’t pick up your game, or at the very least you would be able to transfer your preorder to buy a different game.

One last postscript to this story. As I was writing this editorial the highly anticipated PS4 title The Order: 1886 was released. Sony delayed the digital release of the game by three hours on the East Coast to launch the game at the same time across the US, 12 Midnight PST. However, retail copies of the game went on sale at 12 Midnight EST (three hours earlier), and they worked just fine. Ladies and gentlemen, that is the first time I can think of in gaming history that a simultaneous digital and retail launch actually ensured that retail customers would play their games first.  I appreciate companies giving consumers a choice in preordering their games digitally, but it has more often then not turned out to be a bad choice.  Hopefully these issues will be worked out over time.  Consumers, myself included, are already wary of the digital marketplace that has kept screwing up.  In the near future I plan to keep spending my money at retail.

UCON at UCONN 2015 This Weekend February 18, 2015

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Anyone near the University of Connecticut will be happy to know that an entirely free convention will be taking place at the UCONN Student Union in Storrs, Connecticut this weekend. The event is fittingly called the UCON at UCONN.

UCON at UCONN is a free convention that has been held for several years now. The convention focuses on many topics including video games, comics, Cosplay and animation. A full schedule of panels is available on their official website.

The UCON at UCONN is happening February 21st and 22nd, 2015. Special guests scheduled to attend include Uncle Yo and the voice of Raiden himself, Quinton Flynn.