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Final Fantasy Portal App Released August 21, 2015

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Final Fantasy Portal has been released as a free download on Android and iOS devices.  The app serves as a web portal to keep Square Enix fans in the loop on the latest Final Fantasy news, and offers a fun minigame, Triple Triad, a game you might remember when it originally appeared in Final Fantasy VIII.

As a great promotion, all users who download the app right now can purchase the original Final Fantasy through the app completely free of charge.

Final Fantasy Portal can be downloaded right now for iOS and Android platforms free of charge.

Until Dawn – Playstation Underground Video Preview August 20, 2015

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Until Dawn has had a long and interesting development period, but with its release date quickly approaching, this page in the history of Playstation exclusive titles is drawing to a close.

Earlier today, Playstation Underground did a 20 minute gameplay preview of an early section of the game. Since its been announced, very little of the game has been shown, and because of that I’m really happy to see Sony officially release this footage. Take a look but don’t forget, if you’re in a horror game, never take a bath.

Until Dawn is coming August 25th, 2015 exclusively on the Playstation 4.

The Best Downloads for the Nintendo 3DS August 20, 2015

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Nintendo released the New Nintendo 3DS XL earlier this year to much fanfare.  It’s a beautiful piece of hardware that can play any retail title from the Nintendo DS or Nintendo 3DS’s grand software library, and grants you access to a great digital marketplace called the Nintendo eShop.

With so much content being offered on the eShop, it can be overwhelming for new 3DS owners to know what they should download, so I’m going to give you some tips on what are the best downloads for the system.  It’s hard to break down a list of some of the best software that is being offered through the eShop since it has been in operation for several years.  With so much content being offered how is a new user going to know what to get?  Well, that’s what we’re here for, this article is going to detail some of the best content to download on the Nintendo 3DS platform.  Some of the content is free, some of it will cost money, but trust me, all of it is worth taking a look at.  Break out your Nintendo 3DS system, turn on your system’s WiFi, update your system software, and fire up the Nintendo eShop app because we are about to get started.

Before we get started I want to give a few points about the rules for this list.  We will be exclusively talking about titles available through the Nintendo 3DS system’s eShop, but DSi-compatible software can get mentioned as long as it will work on the Nintendo 3DS.  Since we’re only going to be talking about 3DS downloadable software, any games that have been released at retail in North America will not be counted here, so titles like Pokémon X, Fantasy Life, or The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds will not be listed, but game demos are perfectly acceptable.  We’re also not going to be mentioning any downloadable titles available through the Virtual Console, because if I did that this entire list would be populated with classic Game Boy, Game Boy Color and NES titles, and most players will already know which titles from those platforms are good or not.  With all that out of the way, let’s get started.

Demos

Here’s a section of demos which in my opinion go above and beyond what is expected of them.  While you can find demos for all sorts of retail titles you might be interested in playing on the Nintendo eShop, you should download these particular demos even if you were planning to get the game at retail anyway because they can either offer exclusive items or feature a section that is not included in the full version of the game.

Bravely Default Demo – All I can say is if you’re even the slightest fan of JRPGs, you need to get this demo right now.  Bravely Default has gone on to become one of the most essential titles for the Nintendo 3DS platform.  It was developed by Square Enix, and draws heavy inspiration from their earlier Final Fantasy titles, including Final Fantasy III.  The game’s demo serves as a prequel to the game and covers events which do not happen in the main title.  This does a great job of setting the stage for the player, and becomes a great use of the player’s time.  You can also unlock exclusive content and items you can transfer to the full game by completing certain goals during the demo, so make sure to keep playing it to its fullest if you want to buff up your party as much as you can once you start the full retail game.

Pokémon Omega Ruby & Pokémon Alpha Sapphire Demo – Because this demo was so unlike any demo Nintendo had released previously on the Nintendo eShop, it was originally only offered exclusively to special players through special promotions.  Thankfully, Nintendo reversed that policy and now anyone can download this awesome demo from the Nintendo eShop, and I would recommend doing that even if you already have a copy of the full version of either game.  This demo, like the one for Bravely Default, takes place before the events of the Generation III remakes, and gives you a first look at one of the later areas in the game.  The demo might seem short at first, but just completing the demo once grants you a Mega Evolution capable Level 40 Glalie you can transfer to the full game.  After that, every time you fire the game back up you’ll be presented with another random challenge you’ll have to complete.  The more you play, the more you can unlock, and that content can be brought into the full version of either Generation III remake using Pokémon Link.  The best part is that unlike other Nintendo demos, there is no limit to how many times you can play this game so play as much as you want.

THEATRYTHEM: Final Fantasy Curtain Call – The 3DS demo for this delightfully fun rhythm game is a must-download for anyone who is a fan of Final Fantasy’s incredible music library.  While the demo does not offer any exclusive songs to play, anyone who plays the demo gets the chance to unlock a playable character early if they pick up the full version of the game.

Applications

That’s right, you can download more than just games for the Nintendo 3DS system, you can also find plenty of useful applications on the Nintendo eShop which can improve your system’s functionality and enable you to do more with your portable gaming system.  Let’s take a look.

Save Data Transfer Tool – This is a very useful tool to download as soon as you get your 3DS online.  It’s designed to take any save data from a retail 3DS game card and permanently transfer it to the 3DS’s internal SD memory.  This will enable retail owners who wish to trade in their games the ability to back up their save and wipe it from the game card before it is traded in.  After that, if the player chooses to purchase the game once again as a digital download off the eShop, they can restore their previous game progress and resume where they left off.  It is a really useful feature for anyone who wants to borrow a friend’s retail copy of a game or trade any retail titles, but just be aware that this is a one-way feature and any save data transferred to the 3DS’s SD Card can only be used by a digital copy of the game, and cannot be installed onto a different retail copy.  It’s still a really useful tool, its free to download, and it doesn’t take up that much storage, so I would still recommend getting it.  Never know when you might need it.

Pokémon Bank – This is the application many Pokémon Trainers have been wishing for since the first Pokémon titles were released in the late 90s.  Pokémon Bank can store any of the Pokémon you’ve captured from the Generation VI Pokémon games, and enable you to use them in other Pokémon titles.  In fact, if you download an extra special application called the Poké Transporter, you can even bring the Pokémon you’ve captured or stored in your Generation V Pokémon games into Generation VI.  While the application is free to download, it does have a $4.99 US a year fee to use the service.  As a safety feature, It will not work unless you have created a save in any Generation VI Pokémon title..

Games

Well, we’ve talked a lot about the 3DS’s downloadable demos and apps, let’s talk about the platform’s download-exclusive titles.  Let me tell you, there is an incredible amount of great games you can download on your 3DS right now, and here are just some of them.

Attack of the Friday Monsters – Are you a fan of Japanese culture, fighting monster movies like Godzilla, and superhero sentai shows like Kamen Rider?  If you are, you need to give this download-exclusive game from LEVEL-5 a look.  You play as a young boy who just moved to Tokyo during the booming popularity of sentai hero shows.  Every Friday, enormous monsters come to do battle, and all the children line up to watch the event and play a special card game.  But is everything exactly as it seems, and are you sure you know your own background?  This game features a great story, relatable characters, and a great art style.  Without a doubt you’ll get a few hours of enjoyment from this game, well worth the price.

Weapon Shop de OMASSE – Another LEVEL-5 exclusive downloadable game, but this one is heavily inspired by RPG games like Dragon Quest and adventure titles like The Legend of Zelda.  The game takes place in a time when warriors, knights, and adventurers of all sorts come together to complete quests all with the hope to defeat an ultimate evil.  However, you don’t play one of those heroes, you play the guy who makes weapons for those heroes to use, and oh boy you’re not going to believe all of the crazy and eccentric people who want to rent weapons from you, just make sure you give them the right one.  The best part is the game has some of the funniest writing I’ve ever heard, with lots of jokes poking fun at RPG clichés, and several attacks on the fourth wall.  If you enjoy parody, or just want to participate in a funny story, this is well worth a download.

Shovel Knight – This 8-bit inspired platformer has won numerous game of the year awards and I’m ashamed to admit I haven’t played it yet…

Pokémon Shuffle – Imagine a puzzle game where you need to group together similar characters to win, only these similar characters happen to be Pokémon.  Each puzzle is devoted to a specific Pokémon, and if you can complete it, you will earn the chance to capture that puzzle’s Pokémon. Any Pokémon you capture can then be used in subsequent puzzles to help you capture more.  This free game is probably one of the hottest downloads on the entire Nintendo eShop and has been so successful on the 3DS the Pokémon Company plans to bring it to smartphones in the near future.  If you ask me it strikes the perfect formula to make for an enjoyable puzzle game.  The best part is new puzzles are added all the time, and special limited puzzles with unique parameters are brought in all the time.

The Starship Damery – Another great downloadable title from LEVEL-5, this one is a science fiction title where you play as a character trapped on a derelict spacecraft.  You’re stuck in a cryopod and your only hope to escape is by taking control of a small autonomous robot.  You’re going to want to play this game to the end, because this game’s got a big twist that I did not see coming.

Dr. Mario Miracle Cure – If you liked Dr. Mario on the original NES or the downloadable title Dr. Luigi on the Wii U, you must download this game.  This is without a doubt the definitive version of Dr. Mario, and not only offers tons of puzzles from either game, but a cool special mode with tons of exclusive puzzles you’ll have to wrap your brain around.  If that’s not enough for you, there’s always online multiplayer.

Honorable Mentions

Here’s a section of game titles and apps which were offered for download on the Nintendo eShop, but are not currently available anymore for one reason or another.  If the apps are ever re-released I would recommend downloading them immediately, but until then here’s some of my favorite apps that unfortunately you may never get to use.

Nintendo Video – Nintendo Video was a small video app which could automatically download as many as four short 3D films to your Nintendo 3DS.  Over the years it showcased popular web videos like the Dinosaur Office series, music videos from bands like Linkin Park, and clips from 3D-exclusive series like Meat or Die and Dream Defenders.  While the app could only hold four videos in memory at any given time and its content lineup at any given time was entirely decided by Nintendo’s programmers, I was charmed by the variety of the 3D videos showcased on the app.  Sadly, Nintendo Video was shut down a few weeks ago, and will no longer function even if you have already downloaded it.  Nintendo has promised that the incredible trove of content they offered on the app will be accessible on the Nintendo eShop from now on, but as of this writing only some of the content the app has showcased over the past three years is watchable in the eShop.  However, if you get the chance I would recommend checking out Shaun the Sheep shorts on the eShop, they’re great.

Pokédex 3DPokédex 3D was released as a free Nintendo 3DS download to coincide with the release of Pokémon Black 2 and Pokémon White 2 on the Nintendo DS back in 2012.  It is essentially a Pokédex for your Nintendo 3DS, and features information on Pokémon from the Generation V games.  While very little content is unlocked from the start, you could unlock new Pokédex entries by scanning AR codes or trading information with your friends. The app was later used as the groundwork for the Pokédex 3D Pro premium app, which added entries for all of the previous generation’s Pokémon and a cool trivia contest.  Sadly, when Pokédex 3D Pro was released, Nintendo discontinued offering the Pokédex 3D app on the eShop for download, and now you will have to pay $15 US to download the Pro version.

The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Anniversary – This DSi-downloadable title is an enhanced port of the original Four Swords bonus game included with all copies of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past on the Game Boy Advance.  In it, you and as many as three other Links have to work together to complete challenges and defeat enemies.  It may sound simple, but it was a lot of fun and inspired many future games in the Four Swords series including The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures.  Sadly, this free game was released for only a short period of time to celebrate The Legend of Zelda‘s anniversary, but it was briefly rereleased last year to celebrate the critical success of The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds.  I would be happy to recommend this game, but Nintendo is very hush-hush about if they plan to offer it for download again.  Regardless, if it ever goes back up for any amount of time I would recommend getting it as soon as possible.

StreetPass Plaza

Last off, I want to remind all of you not to forget to create a Mii and enable StreetPass Plaza.  There are currently six exclusive games available for purchase through that application and they can only be purchased through the application.  Take my advice, all six of the games are a lot of fun, so your best deal is to buy them as a bundle since Nintendo offers the bundle at a discounted price.  Trust me, once you start visiting Nintendo Zone hotspots you’ll be very happy you bought them.

A Remedy Fan’s Speculation on How Quantum Break’s TV Series Should Be Presented (Part 2: Presentation Options) August 18, 2015

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Welcome back everyone.  If you’re just joining us, we’ve been speculating about the incredible options and technical hurdles that are in store for Remedy Entertainment as they prepare for the release of the Xbox One exclusive title Quantum Break early next year.  In the last part of this editorial series, we spent some time talking about the technical complications that can come up if you’re planning to release a video game with an entire live-action television series integrated with it.  If you haven’t read it or would like to reread it, you can read that article here.  Today, we’re going to be talking about all of the different ways this game’s television series might be presented to us, and believe me there are actually a lot of options.  So, grab some popcorn and relax on the couch, we’re going to be talking about some pretty fun ways you might be able to watch Quantum Break’s live-action series when the game is released.

Since the game was announced alongside the Xbox One’s reveal back in 2013, I’ve heard a lot of theories about all of the ways the developers could present the game’s live-action television series, including some pretty fun ones.  Right now, I want to focus strictly on three possible options I can foresee being used to present the series to the game’s players.  Before we start talking about them, I just want to make a small disclaimer right here.  This is by no means a complete list, nor do I think that Remedy is under any obligation to construct their game using any of the options that I am speculating about.  This is just a fun thought exercise for me, and if you have any ideas of your own that you’d like to contribute, I want all of you to feel free to do so using the comments section at the bottom of the screen.

I cannot tell you how many games I’ve played through while I was growing up where simply finishing the game’s story was my sole motivation.  Many nights in my youth I would force myself to stay up late and complete a difficult level just so I could watch the next cutscene and discover what happens next in the story.  I’m sure avid book readers who find themselves reading something so interesting that they are unable to put their books down have had similar moments, but that’s how I feel when I’m playing a good game.  This has the side effect of making the FMV sequences feel like a bit of a mini-reward for your hard work in completing the previous section of the game.  Apparently I wasn’t alone with these feelings, I’ve heard similar comments from JRPG enthusiasts who felt the exact same way I did when playing through Final Fantasy games.

So how can Remedy best present their story to the player?  First off, let’s get the most obvious presentation option out of the way, and that is to simply launch specific episodes of the live-action series at predetermined interludes during the game.  Imagine it would play out like this: you would finish a level or accomplish a specific mission goal, the game would fade out and a specific episode of the live-action series would start.  During the episode you could be prompted to make several decisions until the episode concluded, and once the episode came to its end you would be brought back into the game.  I know that Remedy is planning to tell the TV series from a different character’s perspective, but I know for a fact that they are masterful at story organization so I trust them completely to best know which episodes to play at which points in the game.  The only downside of this option that I can think of is that we just don’t know how long Quantum Break’s episodes are going to be, and because of that we don’t know how long players could theoretically have to wait before the episode ended and brought the player back into the game.  Granted I’m sure anyone who played Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of the Patriots or Metal Gear Solid 4: Sons of Liberty probably wondered the same thing, but I’ll be talking about that more at a later time.  Personally I think this option, while simple and straightforward, has a lot of positives going for it and I totally welcome the option of taking a break from gameplay and grabbing some popcorn between levels to watch an episode.

The second option is to keep your game strictly a game the entire time you’re playing it and have the episodes unlock in the background after reaching certain levels or earning specific achievements in the game. In this case the episodes can unlock just as they would in the first option, but all you’d simply get is an on-screen notification about it in the same manor you would get an achievement or friend request, and you wouldn’t be taken out of the game or be required to watch it until later.  This could help make players who are solely interested in playing Quantum Break as an action game happy and keep an even tone throughout the game.  Episodes would still unlock as if they were a reward, but they would be watched completely by the player’s choice, since the player would have the option to continue progressing in the game until they decided to take a break and quit to a main menu.  I know there are a lot of players who would prefer this option, they’re the same players who push X every time a cutscene starts up just so they can skip it and get back to the action.  While this option has several positives, there are also several negatives as well.  The first downside of this option is that if a player ignores the game’s series, they won’t be able to make choices which could only come up during the show, and those choices will not affect the later portions of their game.  Remedy has mentioned that they will have specific set pieces during gameplay happen differently depending on the choices the player makes during the live-action show.  For example, in one scene you could have to fight your way across the bridge.  If you had been watching the series, there might be a protest on that bridge.  By making the show optional, you are depriving the player of fully experiencing their game and all of the different events that could happen.  To me personally, it would also break the game’s narrative flow if I constantly had to quit my game to the main menu every time I got a new episode notification.

The third option was inspired by information I read in various interviews that Remedy has done, and I think they’ve been seriously considering this option for a while as a secondary option for gamers.  It works like this: once an episode is unlocked during gameplay you could choose to either watch or skip it of your own free will, but if the reason why you’re skipping it is because you don’t have the time or ability to watch the show on your Xbox One, you could still watch the episode on the go by to streaming the show on a portable device like an iPhone or Droid.  This Quantum Break TV on the Go option would be possible through a specific app you would have to install on your mobile device, which could be either Xbox SmartGlass or some other dedicated app.  Theoretically this would probably also work on the PC as well if you were using Windows 10.  I  would consider this an alternate option for players to view the series, so I’m not going to really weigh in very heavily on the pros and cons of it.  I mean, first off it would be a really useful option for gamers constantly on the go, players who would like to rewatch the series, and people who can’t boot up their Xbox One because someone else is using the TV its connected to.  It’s also very possible for Remedy to create a dedicated mobile app for Quantum Break.  Since Death Rally was released on iOS a few years ago, Remedy created a huge smartphone presence.  They already employ dedicated phone programmers to work on games like Agents of Storm, so they certainly have the knowledge, experience and assets to create a dedicated Quantum Break app if they want.  There are a few downsides I can think about, and most of them revolve around added development time, but the game has an established release date, so if they were going to go that route, it wouldn’t add any more development time then they’ve already used.

So, those are some of my options for how Quantum Break’s live-action television series could be presented.  If it is presented right, the video portions of the game’s highly-anticipated television series could start a whole new movement for video games.  Obviously, Remedy is under no obligation to take any of the design routes that I have speculated over, but I do have one big request: Remedy, PLEASE INCLUDE A CUTSCENE VIEWER in the game’s main menu so players can rewatch previously unlocked episodes!  This would be a great feature that could be used to easily show off all of your hard work to gamers who haven’t played it yet.  Personally, I’d love to binge watch the series with Princess Angel.

Before we go, I have one last thought to bring up.  If I may be completely honest there is something that I’ve neglected to bring up until this point and that is control.  How do you best control these sequences?  At this point, there’s so little information available to us and very little precedent I can use for possible examples, that control may very well be the hardest thing for me to write about.  Because of that, I think we’re going to save it for next time.  Hope you’ll join us then!

Quantum Break is coming April 2016 exclusively to the Xbox One.

Playstation 4 Firmware 2.57 Released August 17, 2015

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Just a friendly reminder for PS4 owners out there to don’t forget to run your console’s Software Update feature, because Sony has officially released Firmware 2.57 for the PS4 and unlike other updates it is not currently required to access the PSN.

Software Update 2.57’s patch notes are very sparse and only list’s one major change, improved stability when using certain features. That sounds like a nice way of saying “general bug fixes” to me.

You can get the update right now directly through the PSN or from Sony’s Official Website.

Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection Story Trailer August 17, 2015

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Three of the finest games that were released on the Playstation 3 are going to be released on the PS4 this October.  So before we’ll be able to play Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End next year, here’s a chance to play the three games that preceded it, as if anyone would need another reason.

Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection is coming October 9th, 2015 exclusively on the PS4. You can buy the games separately right now on the Playstation 3.

Until Dawn – Choices Live Action Trailer August 17, 2015

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The PS4-exclusive survival horror title Until Dawn will be launching later this month, and to celebrate the pending launch of the game, Sony has released this live-action short film to show just what would be possible in this game.  Take a look.

Until Dawn is coming August 25th, 2015 exclusively on the Playstation 4.

A Remedy Fan’s Speculation on How Quantum Break’s TV Series Should Be Presented (Part 1: Technical Issues) August 17, 2015

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There is no game coming to the Xbox One that I’m looking forward to more than Quantum Break.  As you know, Quantum Break is going to have a live-action TV series included with the game, and we got to see a short preview of that series at this year’s Gamescom.  From the short preview we saw, the production values on this series looks incredible, perfect for viewing on the Xbox One.  The best part is its story is going to be fully incorporated into the game, and the choices you make while watching it will affect the game in lots of different ways.  The Xbox One can output video from a Blu-Ray Disc or streaming video service in native 1080p so it’s reasonable to assume that Quantum Break’s video content was theoretically produced at that resolution.  However, producing and delivering HD video content can still be a technical challenge due to a myriad of problems including disc storage capacities that I will elaborate on later.  Hypothetically, Remedy is going to need to deliver this HD video series to us in a package that is also going to include an entire Xbox One game. How are they going to pull this off, and what is the best way to present this series to the player?  Let’s talk about that shall we?

Now first off I want to preface this article with the fact that everything I’m going to be commenting on is sheer speculation.  With very few exceptions, we know very little about Quantum Break or its game length.  We only know for sure that the game is being developed by Remedy, who you may know from the hit games Alan Wake, Death Rally, and the first two Max Payne games.  They are one of the most driven and professional video game studios in the world, and I’m certain that their engineers have probably thought out all of the possibilities that I will be mentioning over the course of this article.  Most of what I’m going to be talking about here is heavily inspired by the work of other game developers who have already released titles on current consoles (Xbox One and PlayStation 4) and how they chose to present their titles given the rules and limitations of this new generation of hardware.  In a lot of cases, I think other studios have made the wrong decisions when designing their games for new hardware, and I will reference those titles and their bad decisions on a case by case basis.  My hope is that Remedy will learn from other’s mistakes and present the best possible game they can when Quantum Break launches in April.

Let me give a little background to explain what I mean when I say rules and limitations of the current consoles.  Xbox One and PS4 games require a game to be installed to your console’s Hard Drive before it played, even if you’re playing it off of a disc.  It’s really no different than what PC owners have had to go through over the past twenty years.  This installation requirement makes for improved load times and better overall game performance at a cost of your console’s total storage capacity and long wait times for the game’s initial installation and subsequent patches.  Since you can’t play a game on a modern console without installing it first, you can’t simply put in a game for the first time and start it without at least having to wait some time before you can play it.  Typically this installation time can range from a few minutes to an hour, and will eat up storage space on your console’s Hard Drive, something that you cannot upgrade on the Xbox One.

Without trying to rant too hard, I’ve noticed more recently that several games, especially ones on the PS4, will not perform a complete game installation when a game disc is first inserted.  Instead, the game installs a minimal amount of game content during the initial installation so it can get the player into the game as soon as possible.  The rest of the disc’s content would then install in the background during gameplay.  This might have been done as a response to a lot of people in the gaming media with either no patience or limited free time that complained they were unwilling to wait for their games to install, so in response some newer games have been designed to perform a small installation when the game disc is first inserted, and then perform the rest of the game’s installation during actual gameplay.  While this may sound like a great idea on paper it’s difficult for even the newest consoles, with all their processing power, to do a complete game installation and deliver a consistent game presentation at the same time.  What I’ve typically found is these forced background installations make for very poor gameplay performance, audio/video sync issues, and at worst, unforeseen errors and bugs.  Don’t believe me?  Try renting the disc version of The Order: 1886 and playing it on a PS4 that it has not been played on previously.  I remember hearing regular audio pops, seeing occasional lip-sync issues during cutscenes until finally I was hit with a pretty lengthy installation bar at the end of the first chapter.  It didn’t really make for a good initial impact on me.

If you really don’t want users to wait to play their games, you have a few options. I know the Xbox One’s OS allows a “Ready to Play” option, but at least it will continue to perform a game installation in the background of the operating system until the game is fully installed and patched to its latest version.  I thought the “Ready to Play” feature was used to an absolutely awesome level when I first used it on the game LocoCycle.   After the game downloaded a certain small percentage of the game’s total content, I was able to start the game and play the first levels while the rest of the game downloaded at a predictable pace.  At no point did I ever hit a wall where I had to stop playing because the game hadn’t finished downloading the rest of the next levels, and I thought that was really well planned out.  I was very happy with it because it allowed me to play this fun little title before it finished downloading from the Xbox Marketplace.

However, I’ve heard that “Ready to Play” isn’t used as well in other games. In Ryse, if you booted a game up when you were told it was “Ready to Play”, you were simply presented with a nice looking progress bar, nothing more.  Another downside was it would be nearly impossible to work well on a non-linear sandbox style game.  In Batman: Arkham Knight, a sandbox game, you cannot play certain missions until the mission’s content is installed off of the game’s disc.  Even if you want to play a specific mission you can’t until it is installed on your console, so you’ll just have to wait.  In the majority of titles that I’ve seen, even if you got the “Ready to Play” notification, at best you might be allowed to view the game’s menu, but all of the game’s options, including “Start Game”, would be grayed out.  You also don’t have the option to install the content you want in the order you want like you would in a PC game.  Games with lots of features would install exactly the way they were programmed to in the order the developers chose for them, so if you wanted to play a certain game mode first, you better hope that the specific mode you wanted to play was installed first, otherwise you would have to wait.

I guess I just want to say from all of this that I would rather wait however long it took to fully install Quantum Break on my Xbox One, than play a buggy game with poor performance for the duration it took for my Xbox One to install the rest of the game’s content. Even if it meant I could play my game sooner, I would rather wait until it would play perfectly. Trust me, I come from a PC background, I’m used to waiting to play my games.  Heck, it’s August 2015 when I’m writing this, I just installed Windows 10 on several PCs (which can take about 2-3 hours to download, install and tweak depending on your system’s hardware specifications) and I come from the age of dial-up, I have no issue popping my disc into the Xbox One and waiting. I can always just watch Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s “We’ll Always Have Paris” and have a few sodas while I wait.

If you want a poster boy in the case of what not to do, look no further than one of Microsoft’s major releases from last year. For those of you who may have picked up Halo: The Master Chief Collection, once you get past the game’s bugs you’ll see many other poor decisions at work. Owners of the game were given exclusive access to a five-part Halo TV series, called Halo: Nightfall. However, for some reason which escapes all logic, the series was not included on the game’s disc.  If you wanted to watch it, you would need to download an app called the Halo Channel, redeem a download code included in your game’s package (assuming someone hadn’t already copied or used it first), and then wait for the episode to be released before you could watch it.  Microsoft may have chosen to do this to save space on their game’s disc, but there was nothing stopping them from including the series on a second disc, especially since they would eventually release the entire series on separate Blu-Ray Disc just a few weeks later.

If you owned only The Master Chief Collection and wanted to actually watch Halo: Nightfall you had to stream it off the web on the Halo Channel. Typically this isn’t much of an issue, but when the game was released the Halo Channel suffered from severe performance and buffering issues even on users with good connectivity so video quality would frequently degrade.  I hate when my streaming quality degrades while I’m watching a file because when you’re sitting on a 105Mbit/s downstream service there simply should not be any buffering.  I don’t have these issues with other paid streaming services.  If I’m paying for a digital video service or using a digital service to rent something I expect consistent quality for streamed files.  If that can’t be guaranteed, the series should have been included on the game disc or a seperate Blu-Ray.  The worst part was you could not even binge watch the series until at least five weeks after the game was released, even though owners were promised the whole series and should have gotten all of it at the time of the game’s launch.

So what are the other options if streaming is a bad idea? Well, the series could be included on the game disc in its entirety. Quality would be GREAT and performance would remain consistent while you were watching it.  In fact, the experience watching it would be no different than if you were watching it off a pristine Blu-Ray Disc.   The downside is this option is that HD video files can take up a lot of space on both the game disc and Xbox One.  For those of you with first generation Xbox One consoles, you only have 500GB of storage for all of your content unless you plan to buy a USB 3.0 compatible external Hard Drive.  A large memory footprint could also increase the game’s initial installation times, making you wait a while before you could start playing it.

In the last generation, I remember a lot of people telling me that many Japanese game developers were adamant about using Blu-Ray Discs for their video games because the extra storage offered by the BD format allowed them to include high-quality uncompressed video files in their games.  DVD just didn’t have anywhere near the amount of storage capacity that a BD disc does, and that’s why several multiplatform games would ship on multiple discs for its Xbox 360 version, and only one disc for its PS3 version.  However, compression has gotten a lot better in the past decade.  Video files encoded in the MPEG4 format, the typical compression used by Blu-Ray Discs, take up much less space than DVD’s MPEG2 format did.  In this generation, it is fully possible for developers to compress their video files at the cost of some possible quality loss with the finished product, and this could be a good option for Remedy to cut down on Quantum Break’s overall storage requirements, but it might offend some video purists.  Of course this would all depend on which compression method Remedy chooses to use, but this might be a necessity.  As far as I’m concerned, as long as the game’s installation footprint can fit under 50GB and the live-action segments are visually on par with a Blu-Ray movie, I can live with it, but I know a lot of others might not be that generous.  As for installation times, I said earlier I can always watch some old episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation while I wait, so that isn’t as big a deal to me either.  Just to be safe, I would still recommend that anyone who hasn’t already picked up the Xbox One console yet and wants to play Quantum Break when it gets released next year take a serious look at the new Halo 5: Guardians version of the console, because at least that version of the console will come with a 1TB Hard Drive pre-installed inside it.

Okay we got some of the technicals out of the way when it comes to getting the series on your console, so in the next part of this featured article we’re going to speculate some possible options for the game to present its live-action series.  This is some really exciting stuff, and you would be surprised just how many options we may have to watch Shawn Ashmore kick some butt.  Stay tuned for that tomorrow, right here.  Thanks for reading and feel free to post a comment below on what your thoughts are about the current generation of consoles.

Quantum Break is coming April 2016 exclusively to the Xbox One.

iOS 8.4.1 Released August 13, 2015

Posted by Maniac in Game News.
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Apple handheld owners should start running their system’s software update feature right now because a small update has been released to iOS 8 devices today.

The new update, version 8.4.1, includes minor bug fixes and improvements to the Apple Music service introduced in iOS 8.4. If you already have 8.4 installed on your device, you’ll find this is a very minor update which should only clock in at around 55MB on an iPhone 5S.

Shiny Rayquaza Distriubtion for Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire Until September 14th August 12, 2015

Posted by Maniac in Game News.
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The Pokémon Company and Nintendo have announced their plans to distribute a Shiny Rayquaza through the Nintendo Network until September 14th, 2015.  The best part of this announcement is that Pokémon Trainers who have a copy of Pokémon Alpha Sapphire or Pokémon Omega Ruby and a Nintendo 3DS system with internet access can start getting their Rayquaza right now!  Just put your 3DS system online, and before loading your game’s save select gift from the game’s main menu, and choose gift by internet.  After it downloads onto your system, load your save and you can pick it up from any Pokémon Center in the game world.  Just make sure to save your game once you have it.

How powerful is this thing?  Take a look!

Pokémon Omega Ruby and Pokémon Alpha Sapphire are out now exclusively on the Nintendo 3DS systems.