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Nintendo Switch Software Update 9.2.0 Released March 20, 2020

Posted by Maniac in Game News.
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As I was preparing to download the Trials Of Mana demo, my games eventually stopped allowing me to access their Software Update functionality. It turns out a new software update for the Nintendo Switch, version 9.2.0, has been released to little fanfare.

It looks like this Software Update is required to play the latest version of Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield (version 1.1.1). You can download it right now through your Switch’s Software Update functions.

Console War VI Part 4 March 19, 2020

Posted by Maniac in Console War, Histories.
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As we entered 2017, the PS4 was dominating the sales charts over the Xbox One, but Microsoft was showing no sign they were throwing in the towel. Nintendo, on the other hand, was. Sales of the Wii U console were in the toilet, despite its incredible library of exclusive games and the imminent release of Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Nintendo was preparing to shift their focus to their next console, the NX. Due to the fact it would not be released in time for Christmas 2016, Nintendo took the unprecedented step to not reveal their console at E3 that year. Since E3’s foundation, no new console had ever missed an E3 showing and after the Wii U’s poor sales performance, many mainstream pundits wrote the NX off as Nintendo’s final product just as they had with the Wii nearly a decade earlier. We would find the answer very soon as Nintendo held a press event at the start of 2017. Their topic would be the NX.

Nintendo took the stage to announce the Nintendo NX was going to be coming to retail as the…Nintendo Switch. But what was the Nintendo Switch? Was it a console follow up to the Wii U or a handheld follow up to the 3DS? It was actually both. As the console was presented on stage, it appeared to be a fully functional tablet with detachable motion controllers. Then, it was placed into a charging dock where the game being played moved over to display on the adjacent HDTV. The Press dropped their jaws. There was no latency and no loading time in the transition between tablet and television, and Nintendo also showed the transition from television to tablet was just as seamless.

But what about the games? The Nintendo Switch would launch with a series of exclusive titles and ports of beloved games from the Wii U. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which had already been shown on the Wii U, would get a native Switch version at launch. Mario Kart 8 from the Wii U would also get ported to the Switch at launch as Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. This Deluxe version included all of the Wii U version’s DLC and some new features. This was good because the Switch was completely incompatible with the Wii and Wii U’s games and controllers. The Switch didn’t even have a disc drive, so retail games would ship on game cards, similar to the carts used for the DS and 3DS. It also had 32GB of internal memory, but its memory could be expanded if the user installed a microSD which had a transfer speed of 65-95Mb/s. The downside was the Nintendo Switch, even docked, could only produce a maximum 1080p image, making 4K UHD gaming out of reach for the Switch. Even after all that, the final price of the Nintendo Switch in box with controllers and a dock would be just $299 US.

The Nintendo Switch released in March 2017 and sold like hotcakes. Within no time it even surpassed the known sales of the Xbox One. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was a must-own launch title (as expected) but one of the games brought over from the Wii U, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, was a big system seller and became the de facto multiplayer title for the Switch at launch. Players like myself were impressed with the Switch, but we were looking forward to some of the later games that were announced for the system including Octopath Traveler, Splatoon 2 and (of course) Super Mario Odyssey. No new Pokémon game was announced for the Switch, but Pokémon’s arcade fighting game Pokkén Tournament would get a Switch port in the form of Pokkén Tournement DX, and it would include three new characters that until that point had only been seen in the arcade version.

E3 2017 came and Microsoft finally revealed the final specs of the 4K-native Xbox One console they had previously been teasing as Project Scorpio and its name, the Xbox One X. This 4K native X console would feature an improved GPU and CPU and promised superior performance over the PS4 Pro bundled into a console that would have the capability to play 4K Blu-Ray movies on disc. It would be coming in November 2017 for a price of $499 US, a $100 premium over the PS4 Pro. Not a single first-party title was released alongside the Xbox One X to show the possibilities of the increased horsepower, but Microsoft did release a free patch for Halo 5 near the X’s launch to bring the game 4K 60fps support on the X. Other third-party developers also took the time leading up to the X’s launch to prepare patches for multiplatform games they already enhanced for the PS4 Pro including Final Fantasy XV. Since the Xbox One X had an improved CPU as well as a GPU, Microsoft assured players their new console’s performance was just as good as the PS4 Pro, and in some cases might be a little better. That was good since it had a nearly $100 premium over the PS4 Pro.

While few PS4 owners chose to trade in their original PS4s for the newer Slim model, many of them were more impressed by the Pro and made the more expensive upgrade to the 4K console. Sony was even nice enough to add a data-transfer feature into the PS4’s operating system using the console’s Ethernet port. People who chose to upgrade to the Slim or Pro from an earlier PS4 found the transfer process painless if time consuming. At a base price of $399 for the Pro, which was still $100 cheaper than the Xbox One X, PS4 games across the board looked so much better on it. In fact, Sony partnered with companies like EA and UbiSoft to make sure that their third-party titles could take full advantage of the Pro’s improved GPU, so games like Battlefront II and Watch_Dogs 2 would launch with full 4K Pro support when they released. By E3 2017, Sony’s entire lineup of first-party titles including Detroit: Become Human, Marvel’s Spider-Man, and Uncharted: The Lost Legacy would all preview in 4K on the show floor. While The Last of Us Part II would need more development time, all of the other games I listed shipped with PS4 Pro native support, and those games looked fantastic.

After the Nintendo Switch launched, Nintendo allowed its early adopters the chance to play their multiplayer games online for free, but they needed to sign up for an online account because the fact it was free was merely temporary. However, games like Splatoon 2 and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe had great online functionality gamers enjoyed. However, even gamers who loved their Switch were getting more and more frustrated by the Switch’s limited features. Game saves could not be backed up, which for a handheld (that could be lost or dropped) was a serious issue. Downloadable classic games from Nintendo’s back catalog (which was a big reason why I bought a Wii and a 3DS back in the day) were not offered for sale on the Switch’s digital marketplaces. On top of all of that, The Pokémon Company had not yet announced if an all-new Pokémon game would be coming to the Switch. Pokémon games pushed Nintendo handheld sales unlike any other release, and since the Switch functioned as both a handheld and as a console, I could not imagine a better design for a platform a Pokémon game to be released on than the Switch.

Nintendo assured players this issue would be rectified when they launched their premium online service, Nintendo Switch Online. When it launched, it would allow subscribers to resume playing multiplayer games online, and offer them new features including cloud save sync for selected games and access to a select catalog of NES games. At merely $20 per year, the price Nintendo asked for put the $60 a year price for Xbox Live Gold and PlayStation Plus to shame. In 2019, The Pokémon Company finally announced an all-new Pokémon generation would be coming to the Nintendo Switch which would use Nintendo Network for online functionality, but that is a very long story that is not going to be addressed in this article.

As this generation’s console war comes to a close, the winners are clear. Sony’s PS4 is the winner, Nintendo Switch (despite being a late entry) receives the Silver, and the Xbox One comes in third with the Bronze. The Nintendo Wii U can be considered as coming in 4th place, and receives no medal.

So how did the PS4 come out on top? A few reasons, but I think it can be boiled down to price and superior first party offerings. Microsoft made a lot of mistakes this generation and it cost them deeply. At launch, the PS4 was $100 cheaper than the Xbox One and ran multiplaform games at better performance. The exclusive titles Microsoft hoped would help the Xbox One overcome that price premium were critical flops full of microtransactions gamers were not interested in playing. Great exclusive titles like Quantum Break and Sunset Overdrive were not considered enough to put an Xbox One in people’s homes. Those games would have to make up for lost sales when they released on the PC. After third parties looked over just how much they were losing in sales by being Xbox One exclusive and Microsoft did away with the Kinect, no third-party publishers were willing to make exclusive titles for the Xbox One by 2016. This was devastating for the console.

In 2019, Microsoft did their best to cut their losses by releasing a new version of the Xbox One S that lacked a disc drive. This was arguably one of the dumbest calls Microsoft has ever made for two reasons. One, the 4K Blu-Ray Disc player was a major reason why people bought the Xbox One S in the first place, and a disc-free console essentially removed what was the ONLY positive the console had over the PS4 Pro. On top of that, at the same time the disc-free Xbox One S reached retail at a price of $250 US…it had to compete with the thousands of Xbox One S consoles that were already on most retailers shelves…that were at the same time selling at discounted prices far below $250. The budget-minded gamers Microsoft was trying to attract with a disc-free Xbox One S would not pay for a $250 console when they could pay for a superior one that had a major feature they wanted for $50-100 less!

Meanwhile, PS4’s own exclusive titles were considered some of the finest games of the entire generation and Sony refused to fill them with microtransactions. God of War (2016) and Marvel’s Spider-Man went on to critical acclaim and even though it is still too early to tell, could be considered games that will be talked about for years to come. Microsoft can’t say the same about the exclusive titles that were released on the Xbox One. Even Halo 5: Guardians, has been considered by Halo fans to be a disappointment and the worst game of the franchise. Even though the Xbox One X could deliver superior performance to the PS4 Pro on multiplatform titles, by the time it released in 2017 it was far too late in the console war for anyone to care. Now, you could probably find a Xbox One X at retail for $299, whereas the PS4 Pro still commands a full price of $399, and people are still buying it.

As for Nintendo, the success of the Switch was unprecedented in this generation, but its late entry and the already massive existing install base for the PS4 kept them out of contention for the Gold, Nintendo still needs to be commended. They have proven time and time again when they’re more interested in creating a product that can enter the console war at a unique angle, they will succeed. They did it with the DS and Wii to great success, and now the Nintendo Switch is doing it again. The failure of the Wii U will go down as a black mark against the company, but with the Switch it is clear they learned from each of the Wii U’s failures to release an incredible product.

In 2019, Nintendo released the Nintendo Switch Lite, a slimmer Nintendo Switch tablet with integrated controllers and a longer battery life. It was only $199 US but it had a lot of downsides. It had no TV-Out functionality, making the Switch feature of something called the Switch moot. Its integrated controllers lacked rumble, making it incompatible with some launch titles and putting some hurdles into players interested in couch gaming. However its price, size and battery life were major strengths and the Switch Lite sold as a popular alternative to the Switch. Nintendo didn’t care what their customers were buying they were making a profit on each Switch that was sold.

And that is where we will wrap this generation’s console war. As I type these words out Microsoft and Sony have already revealed their successors to the Playstation 4 and Xbox One, and if all goes according to plan we will find those consoles on shelves by this Christmas. There have also been rumors a 4K Switch might be in development, but those are unconfirmed at this time. Stay tuned, because in the next generation we will be pitting the Playstation 5 against the Xbox Series X, and the Nintendo Switch is still very much in the game. What will happen? Only time will tell.

Takeaways from the PS5 Reveal March 18, 2020

Posted by Maniac in Editorials.
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Mark Cerny took the digital stage to reveal the technical capabilities of the PS5 earlier today. No games were shown, and we still don’t know a lot about the system (including my brother-in-law’s most requested feature) but I wanted to break this down really quick for anyone who missed today’s stream.

What We Know

  • They’re using an AMD CPU and GPU. The console will support native ray-tracing.
  • The PS5 will be backwards compatible with the PS4 and PS4 Pro, but like with the Xbox One, this will likely be on a case by case basis. They do say they’re focused on testing BC for the 100 top selling games for the PS4, but plenty of PS4 games will likely work on the PS5 by the time it ships.
  • The PS5 will have a new type of custom 3D audio engine inspired by the 3D audio features in PSVR. It will be available for all PS5 games.
  • The PS5 will use 16 GB GDDR6.
  • The internal SSD will have a bandwidth of 5 GB/s. Cerny promises instant load times are possible with that kind of speed.
  • The PS5’s flash memory controller uses Kraken by Rad Game Tools, which should improve compression performance.

What We Still Don’t Know

  • Release Date
  • No games have been shown, but Marvel’s Spider-Man has been used for testing.
  • Storage Capacity of the SSD is unknown.
  • No mention was made of the console’s Disc Drive, or even if it will use discs.

PS5 Reveal Stream March 18, 2020

Posted by Maniac in Game News.
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Ladies and gentlemen, Mark Cerny.

The Lightsaber in Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is Incredible, Why Can’t I Buy It? March 18, 2020

Posted by Maniac in Editorials.
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After seeing the Star Wars Trilogy for the first time in 1994, I wanted to be a Jedi. After I got my first computer I played the hell out of Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II, but while I could play as a Jedi and learn the ways of the Force in that game, I felt detached from it due to the fact it was just that, a game. For decades, fans of Star Wars have wished there was a place they could go where they could feel like they were truly part of the Star Wars universe. Until this past year, the closest they ever got was the Star Tours ride found at Disneyland and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. While the ride was great, and certainly groundbreaking for its time, newer technology is available to recreate a film-quality interactive environment. In 2019, ordinary people finally got the chance to visit a part of the Star Wars universe when Disneyland and Walt Disney World opened Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.

Last year, EA released the first Star Wars video game developed under their watch that was actually good, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. Set between the events of the original and the prequel trilogies, Fallen Order puts you in the shoes of Cal Kestis, a former Jedi Padawan now in hiding after the rise of the Galactic Empire. When his identity is exposed, he has to team up with a rag tag crew as they travel across the galaxy to stay one step ahead of the Imperial Inquisitors. Here’s the game’s reveal trailer.

Over the course of the game, Cal (and through him the player) must reconnect to the Force and relearn the teachings of his former Jedi Master. Cal’s path to relearn the ways of The Force ties directly into his path to repair the damaged lightsaber he has in his possession. While the player can find all sorts of new lightsaber parts (including emitters, switches, handles, and metallic finishes), the saber itself can only be repaired by certain workbenches scattered throughout the galaxy.

We’ve never seen a Jedi or Sith construct their own lightsabers in the Star Wars films. A scene was filmed for Return of The Jedi’s opening which showed Luke putting the last touches on the green lightsaber he used throughout that film, but it was not in the film’s final cut nor was it restored for any of the film’s Special Editions so I don’t consider it canon (Ed Note: The scene can be watched on Disney+). However, in Galaxy’s Edge, which is entirely canon, visitors are able to build their own custom lightsabers from scratch at a place called Savi’s Workshop. Here’s a video to show what building a custom saber is like courtesy of YouTube Channel Ordinary Adventures.

I know after seeing that you probably think Savi has access to some really cool stuff. Savi’s employees (who humbly call themselves The Gatherers) have admitted that like Cal, they sourced the parts people are using to create custom lightsabers from out of the way locations across the galaxy including old Jedi and Sith Temples. Many of the exact same lightsaber parts Cal can find in Fallen Order can be selected in when building custom lightsabers at Savi’s! In fact, YouTube Channel jackfrags has replicated building a custom lightsaber with some of same lightsaber parts they used in Fallen Order. However, there are limitations to what can be currently built. Unlike Cal, the Gatherers are not Force sensitive and because of that are reliant on technology, training and practice to assist their customers in constructing new lightsabers.

Just be aware this part of the article will include SPOILERS for the ending to Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order. You have been warned.

When the game begins, Cal only has access to a heavily damaged single-bladed lightsaber. We find out later in the game who it belonged to and how it was damaged, and it turns out the saber was originally constructed to be double-bladed, but the second blade no longer functioned. As the game progresses, Cal has the opportunity (if the player looks hard enough) to find special workbenches on worlds such as Dathomir that has the tools and components to repair the saber and restore its original double-bladed functionality. This makes perfect sense in the Star Wars canon as double-bladed lightsabers are incredibly rare. Since Darth Maul, one of the first characters we’ve ever seen wield a double-bladed saber, originally came from Dathomir it makes perfect sense his home planet had the tools to restore Cal’s saber to its double-bladed functionality.

Upon completing the penultimate planet in the game’s story, Cal’s fully restored double-bladed lightsaber is destroyed, this time wrecking all of its functionality. Only one planet was left in the galaxy with the supplies Cal needed to construct an entirely new lightsaber, Ilum, the home of the now disbanded Jedi Temple. Thankfully, the caverns underneath the Temple were mostly untouched, and an advanced workbench with a single Kyber Crystal were still in the cave.

That scene look cool to you? I want to buy that lightsaber right FREAKING NOW! Unfortunately, as of the time of writing, you cannot build a custom double-bladed lightsaber or custom saber with detachable ends like Cal was able to construct in Fallen Order at Savi’s workshop. Nor is a replica of any version of Cal’s lightsaber sold at the upscale gift shop, Dok Ondar’s Den of Antiquities. However, I believe I now understand the reason why. Did you notice Cal use the Force to give a little vibration to the saber just before igniting it for the first time? If Savi’s employees are correct, Cal is using the Force to perform the final alignment of the Kyber crystal, a very complex and dangerous task made easier by Cal’s use of the Force. If my theory is correct, the workbenches at Savi’s are currently inadequate to assemble more complex lightsabers and since the Gatherers are not Force sensitive, that would make it impossible for them to replicate a lightsaber of high complexity. It just emphasizes the danger that knowledge really can be lost and destroyed. Hopefully this will not remain a permanent issue for Savi’s people, but it is unlikely it is something they will be capable of in the foreseeable future.

I want to applaud the game’s artists took the time to offer players access to the exact same components currently used to build custom lightsabers at Galaxy’s Edge. I couldn’t tell you if the game took inspiration from the parks or vice versa (the parks did launch before the game did) but that attention to detail should be commended. If you haven’t picked up Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order yet (on your platform of choice) you totally should. It’s an incredible game I recommend to anyone who has a love of Star Wars and owns one of the platforms it’s currently available on.

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is out now for the PC, Xbox One and PS4.

Oh before we close out I want to give a shout out and special thanks to the YouTube Channel VincentVision who filmed one of the funniest videos I’ve seen at Savi’s and for letting us feature that video on this article as well.

Nintendo Indie World Showcase – March 17, 2020 March 17, 2020

Posted by Maniac in Game News.
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Nintendo has just released a look at some of the new and upcoming independent games that are coming to the Nintendo Switch through the eShop. You might notice some of the companies are making games for the Switch that we haven’t seen develop games for the console before.

So take a look at the video below and see for yourselves what Nintendo has in store for us!

All games shown are coming to the Nintendo Switch.

Gaming History You Should Know: The History of Final Fantasy VII March 17, 2020

Posted by Maniac in Gaming History You Should Know, Uncategorized.
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I know we typically do these on a Sunday, but right now the schedule is entirely up in the air and we’ve decided to adopt an “anything goes” mentality for the foreseeable future. So, that having been said, welcome back to Gaming History You Should Know, where we feature some of the best independently produced content from across the web focused on telling the story of gaming’s history.

When I was a kid in middle school there was nothing I looked forward to more than snow days. Snow days allowed a break from extremely stressful school time filled with dry lectures, constant bullying, and neverending homework. Let’s be honest, as an adult I can confirm it’s not like I was getting a useful education there anyway. Free from school’s time constraints, I could use the snow day to learn more about things that were actually going to be important to my current career, computers and gaming. On one of those snow days off, I found myself hanging out with my friend and their neighbor, playing a brand-new PlayStation game on their big screen TV, Final Fantasy VII.

I remember thinking Final Fantasy VII looked incredible, but I was a PC-only gamer at the time, and I didn’t have a PlayStation of my own. Because of that, I never started following the Final Fantasy games, but in the years since, I consider that a great regret of mine. Now, Final Fantasy games have seen an incredible resurgence in the past few years, with re-releases of the original games coming to modern systems like the PS4.

We are less than a month away from the release of what is likely the most fan-requested game in history, Final Fantasy VII Remake, a recreation of the original Final Fantasy VII designed to take advantage of the power of today’s consoles with Full HD graphics. But why is that game so beloved by gamers and what is the story of the original Final Fantasy VII?

Final Fantasy Union has been a channel I have been following for some time now. I admit my knowledge of the early history of JRPGs, particularly Final Fantasy games, are limited. Their channel produced incredible history documentaries on many of the classic Final Fantasy games, and even offers insight into developer Square’s history and business decisions. That’s why I’ve been so grateful to have this resource to learn more about this franchise that has been so beloved over the decades. Sit back and relax as they tell that story.

I want to thank Final Fantasy Union for letting me feature them on this website. Now that I can play the original games on today’s consoles, I’ve looked to this channel’s wealth of resources many times for essential information about FF’s history and I recommend everyone check them out.

Final Fantasy VII is out now for PC, PS1, PS3, PS4, iOS, Nintendo Switch, and PSP. Final Fantasy VII Remake is coming April 10th, 2020 to the PS4.

Pokemon: Twilight Wings Episode 3 March 17, 2020

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The third episode of Pokémon: Twilight Wings has been released. This original animated series follows the events of trainers in the Galar region made famous in Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield. Give it a watch!

Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield are out now for the Nintendo Switch.

The Making of Final Fantasy VII Remake Part 1 March 16, 2020

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Square Enix has announced they’re releasing a multi-part documentary series about the creation of Final Fantasy VII Remake. I know a lot of people have waited over two decades (ED Note: Has it been that long? God I’m old.) for this to be released. This should tide you over as that release gets ever closer. The video is in Japanese, so you may need to enable subtitles, they’re not enabled by default.

Final Fantasy VII Remake is coming April 2020 to the PS4.

Resident Evil 3 Demo and Multiplayer Beta Announced March 16, 2020

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Capcom has announced they will be releasing a playable demo for the highly anticipated Resident Evil 3 Remake on March 19th. But that’s not the only thing that’s coming to the consoles…

An open multiplayer beta for Resident Evil 3 Remake’s entirely original multiplayer component, REsistance, is coming to the Xbox One and PS4 on March 27th!

Resident Evil 3 Remake is coming to PS4, Xbox One and PC.