Final Fantasy XV

If you ever wanted to go on a coming of age adventure where you are going around with your friends just exploring the world, Final Fantasy XV the …

Final Fantasy XV

Secret of Mana – Why I’m excited about the remake.

In August 1993, the game was released initially as Seiken Densetsu 2 in Japan on the Super Famicom (SNES) but sold outside Japan as Secret of Mana. Now, as of 2017 Square Enix is has decided to remake the beloved series which will be released in North America on February 15, 2018.

Earlier this summer, a Mana collection containing three pillars of the Mana theme; Final Fantasy Adventure, Secret of Mana, and Seiken Densetsu 3.  This was Japanese exclusive for the Nintendo Switch. Now the second game in the series is headed to the PlayStation 4 and PS Vita as well as Steam.

According to Famitsu, this is a full remake with full voice-overs, a new musical arrangement, other new elements like upgraded gameplay and graphics. It will also have local multiplayer on all platforms. All sounds so far so good, right?

Well, with the launch of the SNES Classic launched at the end of this year I’m not too sure. If you were one of the lucky ones, who got these hands of one of these elusive mini consoles you will already have access to the legendary RPG. One of the charming things about the SNES Classic will find that, among other things, the most exciting inclusions was the inclusion of the range of JRPGS. One of the things about the SNES Classic that I love is that its entire library of games has lasted the test of time, so they’re still great today. There are very few games on the consoles roster that I wouldn’t play, which for me was a more enticing prospect than the original NES mini.

So, I’m reminded of how good Secret of Mana is with the SNES mini, but I was struck by how much it could benefit from an update. I’m, personally, not concerned about the new art direction that it’s taking. Chibi style is something that I’ve always had a soft spot for that style, and while there seem to be some odd texture choices, it’s not enough for me to be super concerned.

This is primarily because I’m so excited that there will be a new generation of players who will be able to experience this incredible game with no significant changes to its narrative other than its visual aesthetics. I have a similar feeling of optimism surrounding the remake of final fantasy 7 (although, I’m less pleased with it being episodic, but I digress). So, for now, I’m going to trust that we’re going to get the remake it so richly deserves.

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Animal Crossing : Pocket Camp Review

Animal Crossing has always had the same appeal to me as the Harvest Moon series. It’s like good comfort food; it’s regular, consistent and expected. There are no surprises and satisfies a need that I have of getting lost for a few hours doing meaningful tasks in a world that is not my own. This need for getting the comfort food I’m so used to is the reason why I’m so conflicted about Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp.

camping experience 2

I started with the Animal Crossing series late, as I never had a Nintendo 64 or a GameCube growing up (my family was a Playstation household growing up – bar handhelds). So I missed the original Animal Crossing, and my first fling with the series was with Animal Crossing: New Leaf for the Nintendo DS and it was love at first play. I loved the character style, the size of the map, how you interacted with the characters and the overall flow of the game. It has a Sims or Harvest Moon effect – where you tell yourself you’re only going to play an hour max of it and suddenly it’s 4 am.

So I was equal parts thrilled and concerned when Nintendo announced that they would be releasing a mobile version of Animal Crossing. The one thing that I didn’t want was it to be completely overrun with prompts to hand over my money to get apples from a tree. (You can find more about my thoughts on microtransactions over at Noobist.com http://noobist.com/gaming/microtransactions-questioning-noise/) It turns out that those fears are only half realised.

camp and chill

When you first start out in Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, you’re greeted by the regular faces. You’ll be first greeted by K.K. Slider, and then Isabelle, who’ll get you up and running in your campsite. From then on, everything goes mostly as expected; you’ll be befriending neighbourly animals, collecting fruit, hunting bugs, and customising your campsite & minivan. Most of these events are set up via timers, so you can only do a set amount of things in a certain amount of time. This means that there isn’t as much of a time commitment so its perfect for waiting for a bus or queuing for your shopping but it isn’t so suited for more extended play sessions.

There are things you can do to extend your time should you have extra time to kill. For instance, fishing can be completed in one of two ways. Firstly, is the traditional way where you go from area to area catching fish with a rod. Or you can skip the fishing for a net which catches multiple types of fish at once the catch is (ha!) that it costs leaf tickets. This is where the game begins to get a bit cash happy as this is the games premium currency.

So, for those who unwittingly spent their tickets early on in the game during setup – I’m afraid you’re out of luck. Leaf tickets are a strategy in themselves, a balance of what you want versus what you’re willing to wait for. You can acquire Leaf Tickets in-game at the beginning with relative ease given the stretch goal systems. They give you tickets readily and freely in the beginning just for getting simple tasks done. But the good times don’t last forever I’m afraid.

There become barriers to entry to specific areas like the ore mining camp without payment of some leaf tickets. Or having to pay for trees to regrow, fishing nets, upgrading your bays to purchase more than one piece of furniture at a time. The list gets long and endless, and as a result, loses its sweetness. It forgets that spark that made it go to comfort food, something that you can sit down and relax with to something that is more a convenience snack. Enough to keep you going, but not enough to fill the void.

That’s the best way of summing up what Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp is something to play when you’re just casually waiting for a bus or a way to pass a little bit of time. However, trying to get the full-bodied experience of Animal Crossing game will not be found here, or at least not without serious investment.

Xbox One X Revealed : E3 2017 [Noobist.com]

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Originally Posted on Noobist.com

What we learned from Microsofts E3 2017 presentation was the unveiling of the Xbox One X. Formerly known as Project Scorpio. Needless to say, Microsoft’s offering has them coming out of the gate swinging!

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The specs on this hardware are nothing short of impressive:

  •  8-core Custom AMD CPU  it is clocked at 2.3GHz
  • 12GB GDDR5
  • 6 Teraflop GPU enabled 4k
  • 326 GB/sec memory bandwidth

Video Capabilities

4K

  • UHD Blu-ray
  • Optical Disc Drive

HDMI

  • 2.0b (out),
  • 2160p @ 60Hz,
  • AMD FreeSync

HDR10

Support

Audio Components

DTS

5.1

DOLBY

  • Digital 5.1,
  • TrueHD with Atmos

PCM

2.0, 5.1, 7.1

Wireless capability

  • Bluetooth Enabled
  • Activation button on front

WiFi

  • Dual band wireless with Wi-Fi
  • Direct for home networks

IR

  • IR Blaster
  • Send and receive signals

Connectivity

  • Power Port
  • 2 HDMI Ports (1 HDMI 1.4b in, 1 HDMI 2.0b out)
  • 3 USB 3.0 Ports
  • IR Out
  • S/PDIF
  • Ethernet Port

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What you need to keep in mind about this hardware is that it is presently stronger than Sony’s offering the PS4 Pro. Microsoft claims it to be 40% more powerful than its competitor’s models, but it does beg the question that struck me when I first saw the specs. “Isn’t this super close to being a decently specced PC?”

 

Given that the exclusives for this console aren’t really unique (Given the fact that you can play the majority of these on Windows anyway) it begs the question as to why you would bother to the price point of $499?

 

The answer to that is relatively simple – you will not be able to get that true 4k resolution if it wasn’t priced that way. Given the graphical fidelity of it, it’s unsurprising to me that it is priced the way it is. However, I fear that the console may be a little bit before its time. HD TV’s have only become standardised in the last few years. 4k TVs are still very expensive, and I fear that most people may avoid getting it for this reason. Or even worse – that they don’t realise they will need a supporting monitor to get true 4k.

It’s down to the individual person as to if they’d notice a difference between Full HD or ULTRA HD and if making that leap to 4k would justify the price point for it.

E3 2017 – EA Press Conference [Noobist.com]

Courtesy of Noobist.com : Everything you need to know about EA at E3 2017

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Original Article to be found at Noobist.com

E3 2017

Ah, E3 2017. Gaming’s version of Christmas. Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3 for short) is an annual conference where all walks of life from the video games come together to discuss what’s coming up in the industry this year. Everyone attends: from software developers to retailers and everyone in between. A lot of hype happens around this conference as the big names in industry showcase what they have to offer for 2017.

Madden 18 Longshot

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This year’s E3 lineup starts out strong with a gripping introduction to the campaign mode of Madden 18 Longshot. If you’ve been following any of my work for long, you’ll know I’m not into sports games. They just don’t do it for me. However, I have to say, that the story mode of going through the drama of what it would be life to be an American Football Star had me engrossed. House of Cards engrossed. Hook. Line. And Sinker. Well done, Madden, well done. You can check out the trailer yourself and let me know what you think about it in the comments below.

Star Wars Battlefront 2

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Moving onto Star Wars Battlefront 2, you have to give credit where credit is due. CEO, Andrew Wilson admits from the get-go that they had a lot to learn from Star Wars Battlefront.

Two years ago we launched Star Wars Battlefront and we got a lot of feedback. A lot of it positive and a bunch of it constructive. That’s a uphamism for not as positive.

You know what? I respect that. I appreciate the fact that he can admit that there were a lot of frustrated fans and players from the rather hollow experience that Star Wars Battlefront was. Time will tell as to whether or not they have indeed learned their lessons from the first Battlefront and what will change in this iteration of the franchise.

While microtransactions are still a thing, there is a lot to be said for the studio electing to not have any paid DLC with Battlefront 2. They’re aware the goodwill they built up vanished when they charged what they did for what was essentially four maps. Let them try and earn it back I’d say. They’re aware the game will sell, but they will be under more pressure now to not take the mickey with it.

Battlefield 1

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It’s always reassuring to know that Battlefield 1 will not be left out of the E3 love this year. As Andrew Gulotta, Producer of Battlefield 1 talks through the success of the franchise so far. Though, it did give way to some of the most awkward montages of games live streaming/YouTube experiences of playing BattleField 1 that I’ve ever seen.

It illustrates the power and where the influence for games are going these days (to the players and influencers). It hit home to me at that moment two equally powerful things. 1): They’re paying attention to the movement of gaming and where the hubs are. This is good. 2): They’re taking streamers and YouTubers content to present at E3. Yikes.

The reason why I say Yikes is because it makes me very self-conscious about how young the industry is, and yes, these moments are crucial to a gamers life. I don’t know why, but it showcased this way felt invasive in a way I can’t describe. Communities are built around these things, and generally, it’s not for the benefit of the publication of these communities.

Not that I feel that showing these communities to a wider audience isn’t useful or beneficial – but my fear is for the larger audiences of these conferences that it may just perpetuate the stereotypes of what we face already as gamers. I think that’s what I’m the most uncomfortable with. That and the lack of diversity in that clip. Those who were talking about the engagement in their communities were predominantly white men. I only saw one female, and I know a lot of women who play Battlefield, so this made me feel uneasy.

In the name of Tsar is the latest expansion coming to Battlefield one and it will contain eight new maps all based around the Russian Army around World War 1. There will also be a new competitive battlefield experience, based on the feedback that they’ve received from fans. Patrick Söderlund talks through what to expect in this update.

Later this year we are going to give you a new competitive Battelfield experience. We’ve heard you. You want a smaller, tighter experience focused on teamplay.

We can look forward to hearing more about it at Gamescom later on this year.

FIFA 18

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FIFA is FIFA is FIFA. I know next to nothing about it, except that Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo (no not that one) is on the cover of it and contributed his data to the game to help it be more realistic. For those in the eSports world of FIFA,  you’ll be pleased to know that EA is heavily investing in the scene and that more championships and leagues will be coming to your monitors soon.

Need for Speed: Payback

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A bit of Burnout mixed in with some Horizon style open world with the regular additions of the Need for Speed franchise. So, what’s not to like? We’ll find out more about it soon in due time.

A Way Out

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A Way Out is probably EA’s most exciting new title for this year’s E3. From the Studio that did Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. This Prison breakout game is one that should interest the wider community, giving some Last of Us/Uncharted vibes. Lots to be excited about given how stellar Brothers was. I’d be cautiously optimistic about what comes next for this studio!

There is a lot to digest from this E3 2017 presentation from EA. It shows a different side of the company, one that is painfully aware of itself and the market. Yet, hasn’t really hit the nail on the head regarding tone and approach. That being said, there is a lot to be looking forward to in the next year with an impressive lineup of old and new titles.

Best Cases for the Nintendo Switch!

With the new release of the Nintendo Switch on Friday the 3rd of March 2017. New owners revel in their new purchase! (Myself included) However, in the excitement, it is always likely to overlook one of the biggest features of the Switch. That is, its portability. If you have just spent €312 on a console that you intend on carrying with you on communities, you should really have a case to carry the thing in! So lets have a run down of the top Nintendo Cases that are available to purchase right now!

SF/Waterfield Design – Switch Case

SF/Waterfield Design are known for protecting they’re gaming kilt. Already having bags for mobile devices such as the 3DS and the Vita, it is no surprise that they’ve created a case for the Switch. Made from Leather, this bag has a stunning appeal in terms of its appearance. You would not mind carrying this pouch around with you in public. It just oozes of class. With room enough for cables, game cards, and headphones this pouch should definitely be a must see for those who are willing to spend a little bit more to get something exceptionally classy.

SF Nintendo Switch Bag
SF Nintendo Switch Bag

Pre-Order: $79

For those who are looking to move more than just their Switch and Joy-Con around. There is an option for a Multiplayer Pro Case. This can Carry everything from the dock to the Joy-Con Grips all in the typical classy design that you would expect!

Nintendo Switch Multiplayer Pro Case
Nintendo Switch Multiplayer Pro Case

Pre-Order: $149

Gamestop – Official Nintendo Switch Case

For those who are looking for the more official route. Gamestop Ireland are stocking the Official Nintendo Switch Accessory pack. This pack has the case itself, with the Nintendo Switch logo on the front and comes with a screen protector  and kickstand/stand for the Switch included in the bundle. At €20 if you’re looking for the Nintendo solution to your carrying problem, this is a good case to look at!

Official Nintendo Carry Case
Official Nintendo Switch Carry Case

HORI Switch Tough Case (Nintendo Switch)

For those who are looking for something a little bit more robust in terms of protection, but still are looking for something sleek. The Hori Switch Tough case will be a difficult one to beat. It’s hard shell, and focus on protection of the touchscreen built into the case itself makes this case a great alternative for those who don’t like the hassle of having to worry about screen protectors. (But please, put on screen protectors)

£29.99 at Amazon.co.uk

HORI Switch Tough Case (Nintendo Switch)
HORI Switch Tough Case (Nintendo Switch)

So what do you think? Are there any more cases I missed that you think should be on this list? What cases did you get for your Switch? Let me know in the comments below.

Remember to give this blog a share on your favourite social media, and don’t forget we have a Nintendo Switch Unboxing over at Should You Care? YouTube.

Without Iwata-san what now for Nintendo?

http://m.ie.ign.com/articles/2015/07/13/nintendo-ceo-satoru-iwata-has-passed-away

I’m devastated by the news that Mr Satoru Iwata has passed away at the age of 55 due to a bile duct growth.
Being someone who grew up with the original Gameboy, Nintendo has been a part of my life. Nintendo products have accompanied me through all states of my development – even well into my adulthood. I’ve always been very fond of Mr Iwata as a developer before he became president of Nintendo. I knew deep down that Iwata would have a lasting legacy that would continue well into the mid 2020’s. It’s such a tragedy that his life was cut so short.
Mr Iwata was known for his friendly attitude to fans along with his openness. As one of the first major corporations to peel back the curtain into the inner workings of the gaming industry, he became a much respected and loved figure of modern gaming.
Being such a force of good for Nintendo, bringing around new consoles and the revival of handhelds. Questions now appear as to what’s next for Nintendo at such a precarious time.
Nintendo have recently had a bit of controversy over their new partnership with Japanese mobile developers DNA, sparking debate and concern that the much loved franchises might in someway be diluted for the smartphone market.
It comes at a time where Wii U sales are still low & with the announcement of the NX and a new ecosystem of products that all connect – it’s hard to think of who is going to lead Nintendo through this transition.
I’ve no doubt that Nintendo have had some preparations in place, and some plans for the future. All eyes will be on Nintendo to see what is next. For us fans, it is now time to mourn the loss of a great leader in Video Gaming.
This world would be a much more lonely place without Nintendo, I hope that for a company over 100 years old that they will be able to maintain the course set for being around for another 100 years.

Fallen London

Fallen London

It’s been a very long time since I’ve played any sort of free point and click/narrative game. I’d say its been as long as my Newgrounds & I Am Bored days. It’s a game thats very hard to explain, but I’ll give it a good go. 
 
First thing to know about Fallen London, and the very first thing that happened to me was that I died. Immediately. My gut reaction to this was “F this then.” But a friend of mine kept encouraging to persist with it, and its a game I fall very much in and out of love with. I ended up coming back from the dead and running around a very beautifully created world. 
 
Which is high praise for a soley text driven narrative. The writing in any game can often dictate involvement and engagement within the game. A game like this has to strike a balance between engagement and not being too text heavy. Which is a balance that 90% of the time the game gets right. 
 
Its a game you play the way you want to, in the missions you get, you choose how you want to play it. Watchful, Shadowy, Dangerous, Persuasive; these are the main points that you gain from completing missions certain ways. There is always choice in Fallen London for how you want to play the game, and at the minute I haven’t gotten myself into too much of a box.  
 

 

Traveling around Fallen London is easy with its intuitive fast travel opens, you will get notified where you can or cannot go in a certain story line or if you just want to go off exploring. There are certain places you can’t go at the very start of the game, as there are certain quests you have to complete, or you need to become a person of note to gain access to these levels.
How you interact with the game is a minamilistic screen and the icons for each task and deck has been revamped lately which gives a needed breath of fresh air to the stylistic challenges games like these face.
 
The games mechanics are fairly simple to explain. You have 20 actions that get refreshed every 10 minutes. There are some micro transactions, but they aren’t essential to playing the game and more importantly they’re not pushed in your face. They’re something there as an option to unlock something called Fates. Fates unlock items or specific story quests or options within a specific story line. You do get some at the start (or at least I did when I first started playing) which I’d advise keeping until you feel you really need it. There is also options in game to earn Fate without the expense. In my playing of the game I have only come across these a rare few times but I guess that is by design.
 
Please keep in mind this isn’t something you’re going to be sitting down and spending hours straight playing, the narrative is engaging and interesting enough for you to play in 10 minute stints and be able to walk away from the game without feeling like you’re missing anything. Its a great compromise for gamers on the move who want a fully engaging RPG like adventure but don’t have the time to sit down. The experience on mobile devices (I can only talk about iPad and iPhone 6) translate very well, and with the new edition of the Fallen London app that is due out this year it will make a very welcome addition to my gaming family.
 
I fully recommend this game if someone wants a casual gaming experience while they’re meant to be doing other things! 
 
 
 

Yoshi’s Wooly World

Without a Doubt Too Excited for this

This is going to be a game journal to tell you what I’ve been playing and how i’m getting on with it. What I like about the game play, design and what I don’t. I won’t be giving any scores or anything like that, this will just be a running update of my thoughts while playing the game and to see if it was worth the €59 I spent with the amiibo plushy! (Which is super cute, although I am sad I didn’t manage to get a blue one!)
 
Full coverage will probably start tomorrow so keep an eye on the blog!
Update 4pm on the 7th:

 

 
I have come to the conclusion that if you don’t like Yoshi’s Woolly World you don’t have a soul. 
 
In all seriousness, the game is beautifully crafted and stunning to play. The only gripe I’d have about it is the fact that I didn’t expect the amount of loading screens. While these aren’t very long, they are enough to take you out of the world in which they are trying to create for you. 
 
Otherwise, the level design I find challenges both the little ones who this product is aimed towards and veteran platformers. It reminds me of the old Kirby games from the SNES how there are multiple ways of progressing through a level and the more skills you master the different ways become available to get to things and explore the levels.
 
 I feel right now after playing up to 1-5 the pacing of the levels are well done. I don’t feel like they’re too long or too short and I don’t feel at the minute that the levels are too repetitive. That may change however, as the case with Super Mario World 3D, it became difficult late game to keep things fresh. I get bored easily.