Light Fall

Developer: Bishop Games
Publisher:
Bishop Games
Music:
Peak Media & Jupiterion
Platforms:
PC & Nintendo Switch
Released:
26 April 2018
Genre:
2D side scrolling platformer

Light Fall is set in the world of Numbra which is a land that is perpetually stuck in night-time. Most of the nomadic inhabitants (called the Kamloops) live in the small villages and towns you come across however they’re all seemingly missing or displaced. You play as a pocket-sized creature made of shadow with big starry eyes and you’ve been blessed with powerful agility and the ability to summon blocks that you can use to help you manoeuvre through Numbra. As you start your journey you meet an Owl who narrates to you the universe that you are in and the fate that has come of the Kamloops including the lore of the land in which you travel. Early on in your adventure you discover different God like figures that represent different elements or cultures of Numbra and you as the little shadow gravitate towards one in pursuit of finding out who you are and your place in the world around you.

From a play style perspective everything moves smoothly and easily, the tutorial you are guided by the sometimes irritating voice of the Owl is super useful and makes the learning experience flow nicely. I reviewed Light Fall on the Nintendo Switch and found that there were no problems in handheld or docked modes. You use the buttons on your Switch to activate blocks that help you jump and land on when trying to over come obstacles. You can only summon the blocks 4 times before they need to recharge. I really liked this touch because it provided an element of strategy when facing new challenges as well as having multiple types of blocks to choose from it became very engaging and fulfilling when I finally reached a checkpoint. The only downside was that I wished for more checkpoints, at times I felt very agitated after achieving a certain distance then after failing for the 100th time to be put so far back in the stage. It was hard to remember so many different sequences in order to reach the next checkpoint. In saying that Light Fall feels so calming to play and really satisfying to use each mechanic. Applying the boxes in different ways makes for a great way to tackle new challenges, find new ways to complete levels and of course defeat bosses.

The composition of music is enchanting and mysterious, it compliments the Numbra universe beautifully. The music fully brings out the atmosphere of the world and adds to the purple blue neon world that you around surrounded by. The sound effects are subtle, ‘tingy’ and ‘wooshy’ which pay tribute to the mystical tribal rhythm of the music. There is a lot of appreciation to be had for the music as it holds you in right space of suspense and calm allowing you to focus on succeeding with the game play.

Overall Light Fall is a fantastic 2D platformer that offers back to back quality with its stunning colour palette, enthralling mechanics and its gently guiding musical score. Light Fall is well worth the time especially for those players who love a good speed run or enjoy the challenge of a well crafted 2D platformer. There is plenty to be pleased with for those who love a compelling story, the rich world of Numbra has so many tales to tell. Bishop Games have definitely not let me down and I would say it’s a worthy game to add to anyone’s Switch collection.

Red Dead Hackers, Gaming Brands and IEM Moves

IEM (Intel Extreme Masters) who host international esports tournaments are not hosting in Sydney this year.

IEM is the largest Australian esports event in the country and has been held in Sydney’s Olympic Park for the last few years. E-sports League has announced that it will be moving to Melbourne with it’s $250,000 event. The move is a huge loss for Sydney’s esports community and adding to Melbourne’s which isn’t just the centre of game development for Australia but also plays host to many other major gaming events such as PAX, Melbourne E-Sports Open and Game Connect Asia-Pacific. Martin Pakula the minister for Victorian Tourism, Sport and Major Events said, “that it’s fantastic for Victoria to be a leader in esports, given that the state already contributes so much to the video game industry.” Michal Blichars the vice president of pro gaming at ESL also said, “Australians have always generated atmospheres that could not be matched by anything else. Coming back for 2020 was a top priority, and the Melbourne Esports Open was a natural match.”

Red Dead Online is getting some unwanted visitors.

Two-headed skeletons are being released into online sessions thanks to hackers. These skeletons are aggressive and spawn in at random locations terrorizing players by surprise. Players have been capturing footage of these evil skeletons on Reddit, Twitter and Steam forums, they’ve been seen popping up throwing punches and kicks. These critters aren’t official parts of the game; however, people have been speculating whether this is part of a secret event put on by the developers Rockstar, but this is not the case. It turns out to be a weird and creative way hackers are trolling players. If you encounter a two-headed skeleton in Red Dead Online be sure to lasso and hogtie it, then drop it off a waterfall or into a lake. Or simply find a new session to play in until Rockstar can address the issue.

Brand Intimacy study shows that gaming brands rank favourably with both millennials and Gen Z.

MBLM an agency that looks at relationships between consumers and brands has conducted their annual study which ranks brands based on emotions across generations using emotional science. The top ten brands in order from 10 to 1 are: Nintendo, Xbox, YouTube, Apple, Jeep, Ford, Disney, Target, Amazon and in the top spot is PlayStation. The MBLM managing partner Mario Natarelli says, “Similar to our 2019 findings, millennials form strong connections with brands in the media and entertainment industry. The combination of the e-sports phenomenon and impact of hardware platforms has likely fuelled PlayStation to rise in the rankings. Many other brands have also risen from the previous year such as: Spotify and Netflix. Looks like the age of tech giants are bonding will with the younger generations.

Homage to Atari, Bushfire Aid and Flashpoint save Flash

Over 36,000 Flash games have been saved offline and are now downloadable

At the end of this year major web browsers will remove Flash support, however Flashpoint a project which has saved over 36,000 Flash games from disappearing forever. In 2017 Adobe announced that it would cease funding Flash by the end of 2020. Over the last 3 years Adobe have been working with companies such as; Facebook and Apple to help make the end of Flash as seamless as possible. So many games are now developed with HTML5 or Unity as the technology for game development has gotten better. Flashpoint uses open-source technology to allow people to download the full list of games and animations. Flashpoint has also stated that the games will be pulled if the copyright holder or original creator requests that. However, the combined size of all the games are over 290GB so make sure you’ve got the hard drive space. If you liked to look at the full list of games click here.

A book titled Atari 2600/7800 will showcase a visual compendium of Atari gaming history

The book will feature cover art of all Atari game consoles as well as the highs and lows of the company’s history. Bitmap Books the publisher who has also released Metal Slug: The Ultimate History and SNES Pixel Book is gearing up to release a massive 528-page volume of Atari history. There will be hardcover and softcover options for buyers as well as limited edition copies. Be expected to see the likes of Asteroids, Space Invaders and Pac-Man. With over 200 classic games and articles featuring third party development, interviews with leading industry veterans and of course prototypes of games and consoles. Prices depending on what you like will vary from $48 to $97 which seems like a fair price for an over 500-page book paying homage to a company that filled arcades and homes around the world with joy. If you are interested in purchasing the book click here.

Sony Foundation have pledged support streams to help the Australian bushfire efforts

Starting on the 1st of February until the 23rd you will see many PlayStation studios and teams from around the world taking part in supporting the effort. Sony Foundation Australia has kicked things off by pledging $200,000 to Gaming4Life charity streams on Twitch. Sony Foundation Australia has previously provided support back in 2009 Black Saturday Fires as well as the 2011 Queensland floods.

If you’d like to show your support and spare some coin check out the stream schedule for the SIE Worldwide Studios:

  • 15th February – Media Molecule from 3am – 5am AEDT (14th February, 4pm – 6pm GMT) and the Dreams Community through the day
  • 20th February – Naughty Dog from 5:30am – 7:30am AEDT (19th February 6:30pm – 8:30pm GMT)
  • 21st February – Insomniac Games’ President and Founder, Ted Price, from 8:00am – 9:30am AEDT (20th February 9pm – 10:30pm GMT)
  • 22nd February – Sid Shuman and Shuhei Yoshida team up for a joint stream

 

Twitch VS Mixer, Atari Hotels and Lawsuits

Twitch and Mixer streaming wars are spending the big bucks

A new report reveals the details of how much Twitch and Mixer are willing to spend to secure the world’s top video game streamers. Twitch which is owned by Amazon and Mixer backed by Microsoft are fighting for the top spot as the dominant streaming site. Last year Ninja also known as Tyler Blevins left Twitch for Mixer leaving behind 14 million followers which equates to over $A44 million. Soon after that Shroud was bought out of Twitch for the Mixer service with his site having the value of $A19 million. Twitch has over 15 million daily users with an estimated worth of a little under $A6 billion. Video game content generated close to $10 billion in revenue in 2019. Let’s see what this streaming war generates throughout 2020.

Atari themed hotels are coming to US cities

After Atari’s downfall in the 80’s they now hope to reinvigorate their company by entering the hospitality industry. Atari signed a contract that gives the license of it’s name and branding to a real estate developer which will build 8 hotels across the US. Firstly opening in Phoenix later in the year. Other cities to be graced with the new hotels are Austin, Chicago, Denver, Las Vegas, San Francisco, San Jose and Seattle. The hotels will feature Esports studios there is currently little information about the details however they will also have “Atari gaming playgrounds” which may contain lounges for pro players. The hotels are said to contain regular hotel facilities such as a pools, gyms, restaurants, bars, bakeries and movie theatres. Atari has received a $600,000 advance for licensing the brand hopefully the hotels are a success so more hotels can be built in the long run.

Amro Elansari a Runescape streamer sued developer Jagex after the company muted him in game last year

In a lengthy lawsuit Elansari said he’d spent over 2,000 hours in the game and claimed that Jagex muting him violated his free speech and human rights. U.S. Eastern District Judge Mark Kearney dismissed the case saying that “these allegations cannot state a plausible constitutional claim, the First Amendment and its constitutional free speech guarantees restrict government actors, not private entities.” As it turns out being muted in a video game doesn’t violate your civil rights in the U.S. The Eastern District Court has had 10 suits filed by Elansari in the last 18 months one of those suits claims that he was scammed by Tinder. There is now talk about investigating what goes on in online platforms and the mini governments they form. Where is the line drawn when it comes to free speech in a virtual space for game players?

Jotun: Valhalla Edition

Developer: Thunder Lotus Games
Publisher:
Thunder Lotus Games
Music:
Max LL (Maxime Lacoste-Lebuis)
Platforms:
PC, PS4, Wii U, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Released:
September 29th 2015
Genre:
Action, Adventure

Narrative

The story follows Thora, a dead Viking woman who died by drowning on the freezing Nordic seas. Odin was disappointed in her inglorious death and she is granted a second chance to redeem herself. She must travel through the realms of the Gods and defeat a series of different Jotun who are giant, powerful, Norse elemental beings of nature and chaos. She must defeat these Jotun in order to impress Odin so she may enter Valhalla. Jotun starts in an incredible forest landscape where you are carefully guided to a mountainous peak where a gorgeous cinematic view of the world beneath Thora unfolds. Through Thora’s journey she must find runes that unleash the Jotun and fight for her right of passage to Valhalla. Through out her journey she battles massive bosses, showcasing extraordinary animations that as exquisitely hand drawn.

There are nine stunning levels to explore where you as the player are guided by beautiful Icelandic voice acted dialog that impart detailed lore of Viking mythology. This coupled with a phenomenal musical composition will have you totally engrossed with her fate. There is much to love and learn about this story which educates you on the historical relevance of Norse mythology and experiences that lead Thora through epic battles for honour and glory. There is a lot of environmental story telling where the camera pans out so you can see from a bird’s eye view the surrounding land and words of lore delivered to you by the protagonist herself.

Gameplay

Jotun is a single player game where you play as Thora. She carries a huge axe that is your primary weapon which you can swing repetitively at large groups of enemies or take a huge swing with a longer build up that deals greater amount of damage with a single blow. I did find that the movement felt a bit staggered and jarring, I couldn’t move smoothly in battle or dodge enemies I always felt there was a slight delay with each mechanic I played out. I found this especially frustrating during boss battles when I was grinding my way through the challenge. Throughout game play you gain extra abilities granted to you by the Gods that you can cycle through and select which ones to use for specific situations, some of these abilities heal you or create diversions allowing you to attack from behind.

At some points I found there to be an absence of enemies to engage with, sometimes being bored while traversing breathtaking landscapes, there was little to interact with while on my journey to each rune. In some cases, there was a lacking guidance about which areas are best to tackle first as there is no set order for each area and some of them can be much harder than others. In some instances, this can be good for the players that enjoy exploring and moving at their own pace however for me personally I do like a bit of hand holding and felt lost a times. In saying that the boss battles are outstanding both requiring patience and strategy to defeat which left victory feeling oh so sweet.

Music

The voice acting does a marvellous job of painting the harsh picture of the Viking world, setting wondrous atmospheric tension that transports you to the hostile and unforgiving universe of the Norse Gods. The music is cinematic and up roaring with intense orchestral builds that make you feel like you’re the centre piece of this legendary adventure. As you reach panicle moments of game play the music syncs perfectly which makes everything feel seamless and natural. All the sound effects are thick, chunky and appropriately wet when slicing giant vines which makes sense given that Thora is axe swinging Viking. This is an added extra for when you’re in a boss battle and the demonic like sounds of a Jotun come raging, then there’s the cranked-up bass for their attacks making every boss encounter feel tremendous.

The Experience

Jotun is a visually stunning game from the frozen waste lands to volcanic underground there is a unique design adding flavour with each endeavour. The music is epic, pairing nicely with the aesthetics of each realm and battle undertaken. I was truly mesmerised by this Viking world where the story transports you to a time when a bloody death was your path to eternal rest. The animations stole my heart and transfixed me, even when I had struggled to defeat a boss repeatedly, I still relished the moments I got to see them emerge from their place of slumber for the hundredth time. I highly recommend Jotun for those players that enjoy rich story and visual design these being my personal highlights. I was not disappointed playing my first Thunder Lotus game and it definitely won’t be my last.

Reviewed by Evie Gibbons @eviezgames on January 22nd 2020

Studio Ghibli comes to Netflix

Netflix Australia has picked up 21 Studio Ghibli films

From Princess Mononoke to My Neighbour Totoro starting in February through to April. Each film will be rolled out for Netflix subscribers in Europe, America, Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Until recently Studio Ghibli refused to have digital copies of its content however last month began selling downloadable copies. Warner Media announced that it had been granted US streaming rights for the launch of HBO Max later in the year. For now, Studio Ghibli films are exclusive to Netflix and Netflix is going to provide subtitles in 28 different languages as well as dubbed versions for 20. The first wave of releases drops on the 1st of February and includes: Castle in the Sky, My Neighbour Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Only Yesterday, Porco Rosso, Ocean Waves and Tales from Earthsea.

Almost every Triple A game set to release this year has been delayed

Doom Eternal has been delayed to the same date as Animal Crossing: New Horizons on March 20th and Resident Evil 3 Remake will be released in April. Final Fantasy VII Remake has been pushed from March to April, Square Enix have also delayed Marvel’s Avengers from May to September. The most heartbreaking of all Cyberpunk 2077 originally planned for April has now been pushed to September as well as Iron Man VR was set to release in February and is now moved into May. With many studios feeling the pressure to deliver there is speculation around the level of crunch these developers are going through to meet such strenuous back to back deadlines. Hopefully we don’t experience to many more delays and that developers are taking care of themselves as well as getting to play the most polished versions of these games later in the year.

The 2020 Global Game Jam

Which starts on the 31st of January and will run until the 2nd of February. The Global Game Jam is the world’s largest game jam event which takes place around the world at different physical locations. This is an opportunity for game developers and alike to be creative, share experiences and express themselves in a multitude of ways using the interactive medium of video games. The event runs for 48 hours and encourages all kinds of people with different backgrounds to get involved. In 2019 there was over 860 locations in 113 countries creating over 9,000 games. Australia has many different locations where you can participate such as Brisbane, Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne, Hobart, Launceston, Northbridge WA and Canberra. If you’d like to check out a location that suits you best, click on the link for more details here.