It’s like Skyrim meets Shadow of the Colossus with a dash of Ghibli-esque whimsy: Legend of Zelda: The Breath of the Wind E3 trailer

The annual E3 gaming show is once again upon with it’s usual bombast, hype & leaks. I usually avoid most of the reporting around E3 related stuff because it tends to be your typical hype-train fuelled by pre-rendered cinematic trailers, short teasers & really really awkward presentations.

Yet something happened with this year’s expo, where each company listened to the complaints of their consumers & gave live demonstrations of their games to much rapturous applause (for some demos at least).

I tend not to care for most company’s announcement but I tend to like what Nintendo does.

This year it appears that they broke all expectations when they showed this. The gameplay trailer for the long awaited Zelda Wii U game.

This is a whole new direction for the long running franchise, that gives the player almost absolute freedom to explore -which includes being able to climb the landscape & monsters. It also introduces the ability to sneak up upon both prey & enemies. From the trailer & hands on from various gaming websites it appears that Link (for once actually coming pre-named) has to hunt & eat to regain health & get status boosts.

The freedom to explore leads to being able to tackle which ever dungeon you want when you can access -which appears to be through a magical book. This new gimmick also extends to using the book to create blocks to climb upon so you can solve puzzles as well as create objects to drop on enemies to reduce their number before ambushing.

Being a Wii U title, it comes with Amiibo connections, which goes back to the Wolf Link figure that was released with Twilight Princess. As seen in the video below.

The game is still set to be released next year & supposedly will also be the launch title for Nintendo’s mystery new console, currently referred to as the NX.

How this will impact the end product & it’s reception is al for speculation.

In my very unhumble opinion Nintendo should release the game in time for Christmas & give the Wii U one last great hurrah.

Regardless of which system it will be dominant on, the game remains utterly beautiful to look upon. It’s vast living landscapes & reactive AI might reinvigorate many Sandbox games but, again, it’s only speculation of a very, very invested fan.

Nothing really more to say except that I wanted to show the trailer & make a quick post before the next article goes up.

Gaming – My first Stream Session: Dragon Age: Inquisition & PlayStation 4 hands on

After dealing with the useless parcel delivery contractor not bothering to walk up the stairs to my front door & having to walk 4 kilometres to the post office & back, I finally got my hands on my new 1TB PlayStation 4.

I finally bit the bullet on moving up to a current “current gen” console after Target Australia had an unbeatable 25% eBay only sale last week. Meaning that a new model 1TB PS4 with the Uncharted Collection (Uncharted 1-3 remastered for the PS4 with free Uncharted 4 multiplayer beta) only cost me $412AUSD. But I’ll be trading in that game for Fallout 4 next week because I have absolutely zero interested in the Uncharted franchise.

Naturally, I expected the PlayStation 4 to have to go through the usual rigmarole of updating data & patching the games that I had already brought (Metal Gear Solid 5 & Dragon Age: Inquisition) but I was genuinely surprised at how smooth a process it all was when compared to the PlayStation 3.

The major system update took less than half an hour & the individual game updates could be done in the background as you played the games. It seems like Sony borrowed another idea from Nintendo’s playbook but it is very much a welcome one as it means that you don’t have to waste time when you’re trying to waste time.

The interface is a lot smoother for the PS4 as well, with the downloads, notifications & other info tucked up into a top bar. The entire things is a galactic level of speed over the early model PS3s, with even the troublesome PlayStation Store being easier to navigate. Which is handy because of how the PS4 is now so reliant on apps to run small programmes.

The controller also feels very much different from the PS3 movel (which was almost exactly like the PS2 model but wireless). It has a lot more heft & body to it, feeling solid in your grip -missing that breakable sensation that the PS3 controller carried with it. The new buttons & touchpad are confusing at first but work well. The lack of the traditional “start” & “select” buttons is still off putting but the sunken nature of the “options” & “share” buttons means that you’re not catching your nails on them. The touch pad feels like a gimmick but having it as a clickable button is integrated well into the two games that I played.

Overall, the latest model of the PS4 is a welcome step up from the PS3 (which I still enjoy playing) but it’s lack of backwards compatibility will become an issue if anything happens to my PS3. Still, I think with the slowly growing catalogue of exclusive titles that Sony is gathering means that I climbed aboard at the right time. I’ll wait a little before getting an XBone though.

Now, it’s the streaming feature that I’m big on & so I recorded nearly an hour of gameplay from Dragon Age: Inquisition onto Twitch before exporting it to YouTube.

Now, I do want to get more into streaming, so I’d like people to follow me on Twitch but I still need support on my Patreon in order to buy more games, upgrade my headset to one with a better mic & eventually buy a PS4 camera.

Let us know what you think of the video.

Joining the Twitch Generation

Started a Twitch streaming account in preparation for the arrival of my PlayStation 4 next week (hands on critique of that also coming) but also so I can stream lectures & discussions on various Pop Culture things.

To follow me, simply go to : http://www.twitch.tv/andthegeekshall/

Would also like recommendations for people to follow as well as your own Twitch page so I can follow you back.

I won’t be streaming many PC games because of crappiness of laptop but might do some streams of classic games as well as record some Let’s Play stuff for the hell of it. But have to see if I can get things to stream from GOG (no idea how to set it all up yet).

Not sure whether to be joyous or offended – Anime Critique: No Game No Life

no-game-no-life_oTitle: No Game No Life (NGNL, Noge Nora)
Format: TV series
Genre: fantasy, satire/parody, comedy, ecchi
Series Creator: Yu Kamiya
Series Director: Atsuko Ishizuka
Studio: Madhouse
Series length: 12 episodes
Original Airing dates: April 9, 2014 – June 25, 2014
Reviewed format: high def download with fansubs

 

 


Synopsis:

“Siblings Sora and Shiro are inseparable, both in the real world and in the game world. Their individual skills combined make them an invincible team: Sora, with his astute intuition and penetrating insight; and Shiro, with her remarkable intellect that goes beyond prodigy-level genius. In the real world, they are hikikomori, reclusive and unsocial, but in the game world, the siblings together form [ ] (Blank), a mysterious group of undefeated online gamers who win every game they play with unbeatable scores. Because the account names of the players are always left empty, they become simply known as “Blank”. One fateful day, after beating a mysterious challenger in a game of online chess, the siblings receive an offer from their opponent to be reborn in his world, Disboard – a fantasy world where everything is determined by games. When they accept the proposal, Sora and Shiro are summoned to Disboard by that world’s God, Tet, who they discover to also be their former opponent. Together, Sora and Shiro begin their journey in redeeming the weak human race of Imanity and conquering the world to challenge Tet for his title of One True God.


Review:

There is a bad habit in many subcultures to lap up any mention from more mainstream forms -be it positive or negative- as well as lose one’s mind whenever a reference to something that we adore/worship/participate in is shown or mentioned within various media. Often such flashes are negatory in one’s favour yet one does love to have one’s passions & existence acknowledged by greater beings, do we not?

Visual media also loves throwing in as many references & acknowledgements as they can be they intentional or craftily snuck in & we consumers do love our little Easter egg hunts? Go on. Admit it. You look for them all of the time. As both a challenge & as a way to prove yourself superior in some petty fashion. There is no shame in such a thing –we all do it, after all.

Yet this is probably why, in the end, I felt myself a little ambivalent towards No Game No Life.

Because it praised us nerds, geeks & gamers with one hand -showing us as clever, resourceful & deep down well meaning people- & mocked us with the other -displaying us as socially dysfunctional perverts who cannot cope within a game in our hand or a pair of tits to stare all.

It attempts to pander too much to both sides, showering kudos & contempt equally.

Yet, it is not entirely without its merits.

Some reviewers have already praised it highly, even calling it “a must watch for any gamer” yet, as I said as a few lines above, it reeks to I more of pandering then any genuine affection for its greatest audience & consumers. Gamers & the socially inept have always been fair play for ridicule in media but at least NGNL attempts to be even handed.
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This is done through the stepsiblings, Sora & Shiro -who are collectively known in the gaming & online worlds as Blank. The undefeatable team who can destroy even the most skilful hacker or cheater with seamingly the greatest of ease. That is because they believe themselves to be a single unit, with super genesis Shiro masters games like chess & FPSs & all that comes with such intelligent or tactical games whilst the older sibling Sora uses his masterful understanding of people to use bluff, cheat or know when others are cheating. But they are both broken by their talents, scorned & ridiculed by their peers, so they locked themselves up in their room to play games all day. That is before the god Tet takes them from our world to the land of Disboard, where games rule & murder can never be committed.
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This is actually an interesting conceit because it establishes that Disboard is defined by 10 Commandments set forth by Tet that can’t be broken yet can be subverted. Such as the rule about cheating, where it doesn’t say you can’t cheat, just that you have to face the consequences if you’re caught doing it & it can proven. The Commandments hold everything in check & about Blank to push their plans forward by exploiting & obeying the rules as well as learning how others do the same.

Yet the trouble with this is that when they try to explain the rules for a wager or game & they flash by too fast or are stuck in a bunch of untranslated text (or the text is translated but that translation fucks with your video player something chronic!). It’s annoying that rules that are pretty bloody vital to the plot are rushed by; possibly so you don’t see any holes them or so you don’t try to guess how Blank will win.

My other major issue with the series is. . . Can you guess? Can ya? Can Ya? CAN YA?!

YEEEEEEEEEEEEEES! IT’S HYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYPERSEEEEEEEEEEEEXUALIIIIIIIIIISAAAAAATION!!!

This time perving on a fucking 11 year old (Shiro, who isn’t actually fucking but I can never go past a chance to swear. . . prick).

I honestly don’t mind that she’s rendered painfully cute, with a mouth too small & eyes too big even for anime standards but there must ALWAYS be a line drawn when you draw an 11 year old semi-naked (& fingers should be broken for drawing a naked 8 year old with a fluffy tail!). All the major female characters other than the one time antagonist Clammy are hypersexualised & the reason Clammy isn’t is because she’s mocked for having no breasts & using magic to make it seem otherwise during on of the many bath scenes.

Both Shiro & Sora share a perverted natured, as does the violent angel (Flügel) Jebril. Their usual victim is Steph, the granddaughter of the former king of all Imanity (Disboard’s name for humans) who is depicted as clever in terms of running the day to day functions of a kingdom but terrible at games, losing to Clammy before Blank take the crown away from her. The sight of Shiro wearing Steph’s panties on her head whilst making her act like a dog is monstrously disturbing, more so because Shiro acts so cute & innocent most of the time.
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I could beat the Hate Drum a bit longer, but I won’t.

Visually, this series is stunning. Incredible use of light, colour & fantasy settings as well as interesting (yet hypersexualised) designs on many of the characters. Because there are 16 races (equal to pieces on a chessboard), they each have to have very individual designs & they do stand out well. The elves are generic with blonde hair & pointed ears but the Flügel with their wings & halos are pretty awesome; whilst the werebeasts are your standard anthro-beings, which is played up for laughs with Sora -the virgin- wanting to conquer them so he can have a harem of cat & bunny girls.

The relationship between Shiro & Sora is also exceptionally well rendered. With each having absolute faith in the other & going catatonic if they are out of visual range for too long (which is actually genuinely funny). They also back each other up in games & contests when the other is lacking & transfer this knowledge to real life activities -such as running a country based on pacifist route in Civilisation. Even when they are backed into a corner by an opponent, they always rely on & trust each other utterly; drawing upon that the strength to win.
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The series also ends on a vexing note of noncompletion story-wise. Just leaves things open to a possible sequel series, which I’m not sure has been announced (unlike other 12 episode series from this season).

Despite how much this series gives with one hand & takes with the other, it was genuinely entertaining & fairly original in its story. There were some exceptionally clever bits as well as well done reference gags (even more than a few quick obscure ones). It is designed for nerds & gamers, especially in its sexual pandering, but it still mocks the culture that supports it. If you can forgive it that trait, you will probably take a lot of joy in the Easter Egg hunts as well as the clever solutions to the games through the series. Although if you enjoy the sexualisation of Shiro & Izuna, I’ve got a couple of bricks that I want to introduce you to!

No-game-no-life-anime-screenshot

Article: Steph’s life as a Gamer

This is the 1st part of a new feature to And The Geek Shall,  articles/interviews with people across various realms of Geekdom -be they gamers, writers, genre fans or just generalist nerds. If you are interested in contributing, either leave a comment or PM me at Twitter: @andthegeekshall (follow me there anyway!) or via the Tumblr link above.

Today’s contributor is Steph, an old friend of mine. She’s a consummate gamer, especially in the PC arena. If you are up to the challenge, her Battle Net ID squidularmy#1683 & her Steam handle is squidularmy (both online ID’s posted with personal permission, so be respectful when asking to add her & no, she won’t be your girlfriend so don’t even fucking ask, twat!).


Steph:

steph pic

Bio:

    My name is Steph, I’m a 27 year old female & I spend far too much of my time in front of a screen; during the day I build software, & as soon as I’m home I’m PC gaming exclusively. I could be doing other things, productive things no doubt, but after doing two degrees while working full time I think I’m entitled to spend my leisure time doing whatever I bloody well want.

What made you start gaming?

My first memory of gaming was when I was probably about six years old. During school holidays my father would stay home with me, which meant I would spend all day sitting on a piano stool watching him play Warlords II. It was a good deal for Daddy Dearest, & a great deal for me too – I couldn’t get enough of seeing more & more of the game tactics (or the ganking). This kicked off my interest in top down strategy gaming & probably catalysed my later obsession with the Sid Meier’s Civilization series.

What types characters do you most often play?

I love casters. Mages. Wizards. There’s just something about this tiny unarmoured person acing the everloving shit out of monsters without even touching them that I find appealing. I generally play female wizards too – even though I know I could play a lady paladin, or a warrior or whatever, I feel like being a caster allows me to express femininity, whatever that means, while being a totally destructive badass. Armchair psychologists are welcome to read into this however they like.

boris the wizard

What features do you most enjoy in games?

I definitely enjoy breaking games. I love setting myself obscure meta objectives just to see if something can be done. Yes, occasionally I muck around with cheat codes, but only to stabilise certain aspects of the game while I try & achieve something ludicrous. Whether it be trying to create the ultimate mage tank in World of Warcraft, or trying to balance a five-way polyamorous household in The Sims 3 – chances are I’ll be chasing after something dumb at any given point in time. I’ve started having fun with some Steam based software development kits lately to build my own ridiculous scenarios that don’t make any sense.

Following on from that, I can be a bit of an achievement junkie at times. I mean actual achievements, the ones the game designers actually want you to pursue, rather than the “Can Poland successfully invade Germany” style campaigns I design in Civ V. Following the main storyline of a game has never felt too appealing to me, & I like that the achievement system allows me to venture off & obsessively grind at whatever I feel like doing with some kind of arbitrary motivation.

What I don’t enjoy is games that are completely based around a clear storyline or objective chain – I need to have the flexibility to do other stuff & some kind of end game motivation. Game structures like the Mass Effect series have never appealed to me for this reason.

Also I don’t do PvP because I need to be able to beat you or I won’t come to the party.

What are your current gaming activities?

I’ve recently decided to up my game in World of Warcraft & get really good at playing my main, rather than just mashing my mage bomb macro & crossing my fingers. I’ve been researching & experimenting with build, spell rotation & stats balancing. I do a few raids with pick-up-groups each week, which is always a gamble in itself to find a group that doesn’t aggro the whole room for shits & giggles, but I will probably look to join a raiding guild soon, once I’m more confident in my DPS consistency.

I’m also levelling a hardcore character in Diablo III, & determined to get her to the max level without being mortally wounded. So far this is going rather smoothly, however I am noting it’s a funny balance between being super resistant to all kinds of damage & actually being able to kill a boss within an hour of engaging combat – one trades off the other to some extent. I’m quite excited about the upcoming patch to Reaper of Souls & am looking forward to running through the new tiered rifts with my friends during our Saturday night Diablo LANs.

Devil’s Advocate – Defend: Nintendo Wii U

Wii_U_Console_and_Gamepad    I don’t tend to frame myself as a fanboy of things because I just don’t have that level of obsession or energy to argue that pathetically about something. Although, to be fair, I can get passionate over various preferences that I have but not to the drooling psychotic levels that others do that is lacking both Rhyme & Reason.

    Console fanboys are pretty particular to this.

    Zealously defending that which does not need to be defended whilst it sucks their wallets dry -like some hideous electronic leech.

    Personally, when it comes to the more recent console releases, I tend to -if & when I have the money- either buy the two paragon systems to get the greater range of games (because of all the cross-platform releases) or, in the case of the previous generation when I had a staff discount from a big retail chain- I brought all 3 major releases.

Being the Wii, Xbox 360 & the Playstation 3.

    Although, to be honest, that wasn’t all at once.

    I got the Wii 1st, then the 360 after the Red Ring of Death issue had been solved & the PS3 after I’d broken up with my then fiancee & brought a big LCD TV with the money I was going to spend on a holiday together, so needed to upgrade things so could watch my DVDs on the larger screen.

    That brings us to the current gen -which is still called “Next Gen” for some reason.

    A console generation that I haven’t really bothered to get excited about because of my experiences with the previous/current gen console releases.

    That being: lack of interesting games, no ability to actually take advantage of the hardware’s capabilities & high prices.

    That being said: I did make a single exception for a release day purchase & that was Nintendo’s Wii U.

    Nintendo consoles are the only ones that I get really interested in. Something I think stems from being denied an NES when I was a kid & being made by my father to call up every retailer in town to find a SNES just after it was released in Australia (finally managing to snag the last one that David Jones in Belconnen had after 3 days of phone calls to every retailer in the city). My younger brother & I also shared an original Gameboy from the days when you needed to play them under a lamp to see anything & they took so many bloody batteries! So, so many.

    At any rate, that all pretty much cemented my preference for Nintendo consoles & games & I have owned every major home release every since (& most of the handhelds other than the Gameboy Advance). To this day I maintain that the GameCube was a thoroughly underrated system that had the most comfy controller ever made!

nintendo-gamecube

    Yet, at the same time I was indulging in my Nintendo preferences, I always had other systems to compare it to.

    I played games on the old Apple Macintosh at home as well classic PC games at my next door neighbour’s house.

    At the same time I had my SNES, my best friend (who is still my best friend to this day) flitted between owning a SNES of his own & a Sega Mega Drive (known as a Genesis in the US). He also purchased a Mega-CD but that some massively awful FMV games outside of the (then) amazing Sonic CD. He also later got a Playstation http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PlayStation when I had a Nintendo 64, so I always had a balance with games. I also owned a GameCube & Playstation 2 simultaneously, because of the exclusive titles that both systems had.

    Anyway, bring on 2013 & the release of the much touted Wii U.

    I was a Day 1 Adopter, which was brought down by 2 factors.

    1: the mandatory update that took several hours to complete but could be done with the TV turned off due to the unique GamePad controller.

    & 2: a massive screw-up at my local JB HiFi where a good chunk of the staff weren’t there, so all consoles & games were stuck out back for ages (though the staff who were there did their best to get things sorted as quick as they could, so no blame on the good ones who did more than their job’s worth).

    But one HUGE bonus for being at Day 1 Adopter was that every game was only $40 for me. This was due to a screw up with JB head office where they offered all Wii U games for $40 with console purchase but then changed it to selected titles. Despite that, they never rescinded the original offer, leaving it open to staff, so: exploit achieved. Plus they ended up price matching with a rival store, which saved me about $100 on the console. Big score on that on too.

    I picked up New Super Mario Bros Wii U, ZombiU, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 & Assassin’s Creed 3 -the bonus mini-game compilation that game packed with the console Nintendo Land. Would’ve gotten a couple more but didn’t have the cash on me at the time & nothing interested me in what they had (some games were delayed due to shipping errors nation wide). Did order Tekken Tag 2 online when I had the cash but that arrived a while later.

    So, with two cross platform games & two exclusive titles (not including the mini game compilation), will do a quick review of each.

gaming_new_super_mario_bros_u_1_1New Super Mario Bros Wii U: not much can be said for this other then is your basic Mario Bros. Side-scrolling platformer but based more upon the Super Mario World vein. It’s fun & challenging but nothing really new if you played the 2 previous New Super Mario Bros. games. Still haven’t finished it because got a bit miffed by the sudden difficulty spike & having other titles across all my platforms to play.

zombiU coverZombiU: a 1st person zombie survival game with perma-death, meaning that if your character dies, they get turned into a zombie & you have to hunt them down to get back all the stuff you’ve collected. Still haven’t played much of it because not really my sort of game, just got it for something to play really. Will get back to is sometime soon.

blops 2 cover

COD: BLOPs 2: Mein Gott!! This is one of the worst games I’ve ever played! Nothing to do with the Wii U version (also had a go on the 360 one & pretty much the same). This game is the reason why I avoid the whole military shooter genre (or Spunk-gargle-wee-wee to give it its proper title). The only reason I got it was because it was cheap. Finished it in a couple of hours, without doing the annoying side missions (which turns out you have to do to get the good ending). The game’s story was pretty much stupid Americans fucking over poor countries with a team of white weaponised Übermensch; with only two non-white heroes, one of which gets killed, the other wounded. All other non-whites betray or attempt to murder our Übermensch protagonist. Funnelled, frustrating gunfights & completely shitty plot. Pretty much the perfect game for Seppo paranoid gun-wank enthusiasts.

Assassins-Creed-III-Wii-UAssCreed 3: Honestly don’t know why I bothered with this game. Was boring, frustrating, tediously long with terrible controls & worse characters. Not to mention the shitty missions. I almost broke the GamePad because of the last mission, where you have to chase the last Templar down but if you make the slightest mistake or get knocked back or distracted by an enemy, it’s an automatic fail. I wasn’t invested in the AssCreed franchise much after the frustration of the 1st game & the bad, cut ending of the 2nd (got both because were very cheap & never bothered with 2.5 or 2.75) but AssCreed 3 pretty much killed any chance of me playing the rest of the franchise -despite the praises that the 4th title has received.

    Anyway, that’s enough waxing lyric on the early days of the Wii U & my personally gaming history,  onto why I think it should be defended & why it’s worth the investment of your time & money.

    Here is where many other self-appointed internet critics & pundits would go all fanboi over Nintendo or rant about how the company is basically dead & producing the same thing over & over again.

    Which side you fall on has pretty much been decided by which consoles & companies raised you as a child. I grew up with Nintendo, so my Cognitive Bias sides more with them but is mitigated marginally by the fact I’ve pretty much played ever console ever released in my country (apart from the Atari Jaguar but, let’s be honest: no one really played that system).

    To start with: The Wii U isn’t a processing or graphical powerhouse like the Xbone or PS4 but does have better graphics then the PS3 & 360. Nintendo have a history of being able to produce exceptionally pretty games, which Mario Kart 8 (as reviewed here) has proved. I personally haven’t seen anything as spectacular on the new rival consoles, despite being early days & the boosts of power that both Sony * Microsoft throw about.

    Also, despite what the many uber-fans of the other companies/consoles claim, Nintendo is still the market paradigm when it comes to home & handheld consoles. What they do, the other two companies are soon to try to copy. Whereas before it was the motion control of the Wii, now it’s the touch capacity of the GamePad. The instant that Nintendo announced that it would be making a system with an inbuilt touchscreen, the other Big 2 rushed out their versions. Being Xbox Glass & the PSVita remote play function -neither of which really worked due to the lack of 3rd party support or titles with which to use them with.

    Which does lead into Nintendo’s biggest failing: the lack of high end 3rd Party support from the big companies like Ubisoft, Capcom & EA. The former & the later have already stated that they won’t be producing more exclusives for the Wii U or porting other cross-platform titles. The main claim is that it is because of lack of sales of the system but it’s more to do with designing or altering something for the GamePad & its built-in screen.

    Bringing us to the Wii U’s biggest feature, draw back & selling point: the GamePad with touchscreen.

    FINALLY: we have a controller bigger & chunkier than the Dreamcast’s one.

SONY DSC

    The entire controller is about the size of an iPad but the screen itself is only 15.7 cm (diagonally across) & made from the same material as the DS/3DS touchscreens (about the same size as a DSi XL unit as well). So no Gorilla Glass or multi-gesture on it yet it still manages to produce a high quality image (nowhere near 1080p or even 720p unfortunately). The controller also features twin sticks which sit up high on the unit -which can be a little vexing for some games but feels natural with others. There are also 6 buttons: 4 configured like the SNES on the front & 4 shoulders buttons. Even with the spread of buttons & the width of the controller, it’s still fairly comfortable to hold & you don’t have to mess around much fiddling with the various buttons (unless, like me, you often get shit mixed up when doing Quick Time Events). The GamePad also features a NFC zone, which is & will be used with collectable figurines that unlock in game bonuses (more on that later), pseudo-surround sound (which actually does sound impressive) & a front facing camera used for the chat app (which I’m yet to use). There is also a DS-like stylus hidden in the top of the unit, each to get out one-handed when you need it for some games.

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    The GamePad is lighter than you expect but also feels cheap & fragile at times. The buttons tend to make plastic clicking noises. There is also a rattle when you shake it but that might be mine. Still, the lightness of the controller makes it surprisingly easy to use & you can play some games with it resting in its two cradles (the charging one or the display only one) or lie it flat on a table without any hassle. This is no GameCube controller mind (although an adaptor for them will be available with the release of Super Smash Bros. Wii U), so it does crick your wrists & fingers after a while. More so with how stiff the buttons can be; their lack of give hurting your thumb after too much use.

    The other major drawback of it is how quickly it chews through battery life but you can leave it plugged in without hassle because the charger cable is very long. You can also rest it in the charging cradle if you go for the Premium pack (which is black, means bigger. . . internal memory); which is handy if you are watching cut scene heavy games. You can also play some games with a Wii U Pro Controller, which looks like a 360 one, or your old Wiimote+ if you managed to keep hold of your Wii.

    The real strength & selling point of the GamePad is its ability for what Nintendo calls “Off-TV Play”. That is: the ability to play a full game on the controller rather than use the TV (if other family members are using it is the most touted example as to why it exists). Unfortunately, games like New Mario Bros. leaves this function on all the time, which becomes fairly distracting but games such as Rayman Legends use the touchscreen & remote play exceptionally well for some puzzles & levels. I also find the remote play function handy because my TV is pretty dodgy at the moment, so easier to play on the GamePad as I wait for the TV to come good. Best games for this so far have been Mario Kart 8, Wind Waker HD & Lego Batman 2 but it’s also great for the Virtual Console games that get over-pixilated on a screen as big as mine (46 inches of goodness, baby!). The distance that the remote play can go is pretty far as well; I could go to the kitchen in my old house without losing the signal but have heard tell of people who take it into the toilet like they did their old Gameboys.

    The OS is similar to the Wii & 3DS ones, with a tile/window based menu. Upon launch it was slow as fuck! Taking up to a minute to start up some titles but subsequent updates have seen that time cut down to under 20 seconds. The latest update brought a quick start function, which loads the game as the system boots, which saves a heap of time fiddling through the menus when you want to play your favourite titles ASAP. The menu is also divide across the GamePad & the TV; with the controller usually having the menu options & the TV projecting the current discourses within the Miiverse around popular games & apps.

    The Miiverse, which is Nintendo’s version of a combined social network, information system & promotional hub, is frankly one of the greatest things on the Wii U. It’s limited & highly monitored in what it can be posted (no rude or threatening language, et cetera) but has produced some amazing jokes as well as art. Because you can use the touchscreen to free hand message, so people use them to produce amazing little black & white artworks. You can also use it to capture in-game screenshots to ask the community for help (hidden behind spoiler posts). Games like Wind Waker HD also integrate it into the game, by allowing you to pick up bottles filled with random messages & pictographs taken by other players. It’s also very handy for Virtual Console games, where you find random silly things or get stuck because you’re too young to have played a game that doesn’t hold your hand for you all of the time.

    Like the Miiverse, you also control the eShop & options from the touchscreen, which is handy because it means that you can browse & buy titles without having to turn on the TV. Nintendo are releasing a lot of their SNES & GB Advance range on the system but the Australia eShop is sadly lacking many great SNES titles that other countries have -such as The Secret of Mana– but they have some good unexpected releases, like Breath of Fire II (a massive underrated & basically forgotten RPG from Capcom). Unfortunate all titles are subject to the dreaded Australia tax. Why? Because fuck you, that’s why! As an Aussie gamer, it’s something I should be used to be still annoys me monstrously. You can also store downloads on approved high capacity SD cards or external hard drives but it’s not something I’ve needed to do yet.

    The highlight of the Nintendo eShop has to be the release of the cult SNES J-RPG classic EarthBound. This never saw an official PAL region release, so it quickly became the most purchased title on the eShop. I got it as soon as I was able, after playing it on an Emulator years ago but screwed up, so have to start again. Which is the problem with old titles but also part of their charm -in that they can be as hard as a paedo near a preschool. Nintendo acknowledged this & included the official walkthrough with the game & online -all for free.

    The other biggest current drawback with the Wii U is the lack of titles at the moment; both 1st & 3rd party. There are some excellent games out, such as Lego City Undercover (which I enjoyed more than GTA V in certain aspects), Donkey Kong Tropic Freeze, Super Mario 3D World, Pikmin 3, Rayman Legends & the previously reviewed Mario Kart 8 to name a few.

    Unfortunately all the long awaited titles are either due later this year, like Super Smash Bros. Wii U, or next year with the new Legend of Zelda game -which is set to be more of a Skyrim style open world. You also have duel-company developed like Hyrule Warriors, which is made by Team Ninja, so expect massively amounts of hypersexualisation & copious jiggle-physics in all the female characters. There is also an entirely new IP called Splatoon, which is an online multiplayer shooter where players have to splatter as much of the map in goop as they can to win -so follows Nintendo’s limited violence ideology. Which is countered by the uber-hypersexualised release of Bayonetta 2, which brings a whole new level to the fetishisation of female characters within a video game; they’re also releasing it with the original game bundled in, so double the perversion. At least this is countered by Yoshi’s Woolly World, which I want because AWMYFUCKINGAWDITSOKOOOOOOOOOOTE!!!! There are more exclusive titles due but will talk about them in a later article.

    Unfortunately no news on any new Wii U only Pokémon titles, that you can use with your 3DS, because that is the long awaited dream. Either an open world MMORPG or another tournament style battle game where you can use your own pokémon on your own 3DS system. Fans have been chewing walls waiting for such a game & it could really move so many consoles in a tiny amount of time -especially with how Nintendo allow free online multiplayer on all their games.

    One interesting future release that Nintendo announced via their Direct video is their new line of amiibo figure which work with the NFC system in the GamePad to allow for the transfer of data as well as a limited form of DLC. They work in a similar way to Activision’s Skylanders game, where you buy figures to bring new characters into games. The amiibo are set to work as customisable fighters in Super Smash Bros. Wii U but Nintendo have hinted that it will bring non-Mario franchise characters (like Link or Samus) into games like Mario Kart 8 (which was a desire expressed in my Mario Kart 8 review; I wonder if Nintendo read it?). If they integrate it into a new Pokémon game or other such franchise & they’ll become a licence to print money. When Nintendo reveals what they’ll be used for, how & the cost, I’ll probably end up collecting a few of them because they do look really cool. Perfect design, if the promo versions are anything to go by.

    It’s truly unfortunately that Nintendo has taken so long to release so many top tier & highly demanded games but seems to be the trend with development cycles of late; always several steps behind rushed releases.

    At any rate, the brand recognition games from Nintendo as well as their bevy of exclusive titles will be on shelves before Sony & Microsoft’s ones; plus the Big N doesn’t have to worry about the cross-platform glut as much as the other two (with some exceptions on franchises such as the Lego games, which come out on EVERY console, home & handheld).

    Whether or not you decide to buy a Wii U &/or support Nintendo is ultimately up to you. There are some good deals going on with them & the price is sure to drop in the near future. You can afford to wait if you do want one & aren’t so much interested in the other new-current systems.

    It all falls into the glut of gaming that we currently suffer, more so if you factor in all the more Indie PC games & mods out there. Yet I find again & again that my gaming time is spent more & more with Nintendo’s two current flagship consoles -the Wii U & 3DS- because they have the games that I want & the gimmicks that I prefer. You can spin it off as another example of Cognitive Bias but I am not preaching that the Wii U is in anyway the superior system. It is just the most preferable for me at the moment & it may become your’s if you give it half a chance.reggie & iwata

My Life as a Pokemaniac part 2: another’s experience & POV

1000px-English_Pokémon_logo.svgThis is an account of a life playing Pokemon from my friend David Rashwan, AKA Debido-san, AKA Ebb Flowe. If you’d like to see some of his artwork please check out his excellent tumblr http://ebbflowe.tumblr.com/


When Pokemon came out in the US in 1998 (about 9 years old and in 3rd grade), I had seen the commercials and the phrase “Gotta Catch ‘Em All!” was so darn catchy. But at that point I didn’t own any sort of Gameboy at all. My first contact with the actual game was on the way back from the airport with my mom, we were sitting next to a mom and her son, playing his own Gameboy on the bus. I peeked over and saw two monsters on the screen, and I just had to put it together and ask “Is that Pokemon?” And he responded “yeah”.

The next time I saw Pokemon was at my best friend’s house. He and his little brother were both playing their own copies, meanwhile I couldn’t join the fun. This had to be rectified! So after some begging, my mom took me to a department store with the intention of getting a Blue Gameboy Pocket and Pokemon Blue. They had the Gameboy, but they were completely sold out of Pokemon, so I had to settle for Donkey Kong Country 2 as my first Gameboy game.

Maybe a week or two later, we went to another department store. They had Pokemon, but only Red version. I couldn’t wait any longer!!!! So I said to hell with waiting on Blue, I’ll take this Red right here, right now! For some reason I like to believe some things are fate, so from that day forward, since I was forced to get Red despite wanting Blue, I’ve gone “Red version” ever since. The one exception being that I got Silver instead of Gold (forgive my lack of understanding on color theory at that point). I eventually did get a Blue version, which I used to mess around with hacking after trading myself all of the starter pokemon. (I had a team of 5 Mews and a Dugtrio…wtf?)

I absolutely played the hell out of that game. Playing through a Pokemon game now, I can’t even fathom how it took me what felt like forever to play through that game, even playing as ceaselessly as I was. I remember playing hours a day, saving the game, and looking forward to waking up because every day was a new adventure. I clocked in at least 120 hours on the game, and caught all 151 Pokemon legitimately. I was lucky enough to be traded a Mew on a class field trip, and on that same trip I finally caught a Tauros to complete my Pokedex (the Safari Zone wasn’t exactly easy back then!).

I was late to the party on R/B versions, so I wouldn’t let that happen again. I was the first kid in my school to get Pokemon Yellow, and I got both Gold and Silver on release day. Generation 2 was for me, like many people, a real Golden Age of Pokemon. The progression from the previous gen was incredible! And the day/night cycle…at this point I got a mini flashlight so I could catch those night only Pokemon in the wee hours of the night. Unfortunately, I’ve never again completely filled a Pokedex.

After playing a ton of gens 1 and 2, Ruby and Sapphire came out, and for some reason I was pretty dismissive of them at first. I was strangely in no hurry to jump on board. Eventually I did though, and I had an absolute blast. I’m really excited for Omega Ruby, because in my opinion Hoenn was the most fun region to explore. It had so much environmental diversity, and the colors on the Gameboy Advance captured the world beautifully like never before. At this point, I started to experiment with NetBattle, and I finally learned about the intricacies of true competitive battling, though I never actually got into it.

Playing Ruby, Emerald, and Fire Red rekindled my passion for Pokemon, so once again I was on board to get Pearl on release day. If Hoenn was my favorite region to explore, Gen 4 had my favorite features: The poketch was awesome in my opinion, and I wish they could bring something like it back. I also had a ton of fun with this generation, but I skipped on Platinum for a while.

In Generation 5, I went with White version. It was a fun game to some extent, but this marks the first time that I did not obsessively complete a Pokemon game upon picking it up. For some reason, Unova just didn’t grip me. Which is sad actually, because prior to X/Y coming out, I played through “Volt White 2″ (a rom hack which allows you to catch all of the existing Pokemon in the series in the wild or through events). And I found the story to be pretty fun, actually. I have to say that the Elite 4 in B/W had such an epic presentation, I really felt like I was taking on the best of the best.

Then comes Y, which I bought a 3DS XL for just a few weeks before release. The game was a lot of fun, and even though I’ve played every previous generation, the game felt completely revitalized. Kalos was a beautiful region to travel through, and the new Pokemon were a mixed bag of some awesome and some just weird redesigns of already existing monsters, but I liked it nonetheless. As great of a game as it is, my primary criticism is that the post game is nearly non existent; once I beat the game, there was almost no incentive for me to play it anymore.

That said, I’m greatly looking forward to grabbing Omega Ruby. I really can’t wait to see Hoenn brought to new life.

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