The week in gaming news, Paul & Zahra discuss Mobile Games worth playing and Ezie reviews Pokemon Shuffle.
The week in gaming news, Paul & Zahra discuss Mobile Games worth playing and Ezie reviews Pokemon Shuffle.
Netflix Making Moves into Games
In the early hours of Friday the 21st of May, The Information published an article claiming Netflix had approached “veteran game industry executives” over the past weeks looking to hire someone to “oversee an expansion into videogames.” Within 3 hours Netflix had informed several outlets that they were seeking to expand on the success of games like those based on Stranger Things and the interactive stories of Black Mirror: Bandersnatch and according to GamesRadar Netflix is looking towards a subscription based service akin to Apple Arcade. This confirms what Netflix’s COO and Chief Product Officer Greg Peters announced in April;
“There’s no doubt that games are going to be an important form of entertainment and important modality to deepen that fan experience…”
Switch Not Getting GamePass
In documents released in the Epic v Apple legal battle a discussion has been unearthed between Microsoft and Nintendo around the topic of bringing xCloud – the Game Pass streaming service – to the Switch. While the documents were heavily redacted it implies, according to gamesindustry.biz, that Microsoft was willing to compensate Nintendo to fulfill Microsoft’s Head of Gaming’s Phil Spencer’s ambition of “…bringing [sic] Game Pass to any device that somebody wants to play on.” from 2019. Sadly, at least for Spencer, according to the documents talks seem to have dissolved into corporate politeness with Nintendo declining Microsoft’s offer.
D&D Goes Bumper in 2020
In a bumper year for tabletop gaming Wizards of the Coast has boasted that 2020 was their best year ever and 7th consecutive year of growth. With more interest than ever in Dungeons and Dragons, and increased sales even after releasing free content for the “Stay at Home Play at Home” initiative the company has announced crossover content and more in the future. Demographics released show a fairly even split in age, and a 60:40 split between the sexes showing that while this hobby is perceived to be male dominated, the ratio is changing.
Research Released about Women’s Experience of Gaming
In response to an increase in women playing games, recent research by Lenovo and Reach3 Insights have revealed that while, on average, women play the same games as men, they receive a disproportionate amount of harassment based on their gender. Of the 900 women surveyed from China, America and Germany 70% faced judgement of their skills in game based on their gender, 65% experienced gatekeeping and 44% received unsolicited relationship asks while gaming. 59% of those surveyed also said they used non-gendered or male identifiers when playing online to avoid conflict. The research concludes with 71% of women agreeing that increasing the presence of women in gaming ads could foster more inclusive behaviours in gaming.
Upcoming Game Releases.
On May 27th, the psychedelic, genre-busting beat ’em up Kung Fu Jesus comes to PC. And the pixel art, Police Action RPG Pecaminosa come to PC, and Switch.
On May 28th, Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World comes to PS4, and Switch.
On June 1st, the co-operative espionage adventure game Operation: Tango is coming to PC, PlayStation, and Xbox. And Stonefly, a Ferntree Gully take on a mech adventure is coming to PC, PlayStation, Xbox, and Switch.
And the life sim, Hokko Life, is coming to PC on June 2nd.
Paul, Zahra, & Rani fill you in on our Facebook outage, the week in gaming news brought to you by Maylee, Paul reviews Super Mario 3D World + Bowsers Fury, AND Best and Worst Nintendo Consoles.
Earlier this week Nintendo Direct also showered us with announcements for upcoming games, updates, and events. The 2011 Legend of Zelda game, Skyward Sword, originally released on the Nintendo Wii, is being remastered for the Switch. It will release on July 16th this year, accompanied by new joy cons modelled after the Master Sword and Hylian Shield. Nintendo also announced the 3rd game in the Splatoon series, this time setting the bright colourful characters in a vast barren wasteland. The game will be released early 2022. As part of Super Mario’s 35th Anniversary Celebrations, a Mario-themed DLC is coming to Animal crossing, featuring costumes, decorations, and furniture. This free update can be downloaded from Feb 25th. Smash hit rogue-like Hades will get a physical release for the switch on March 19th. There are far too many announcements to list them all, but we can’t leave out a new title in everyone’s favourite Nintendo series, Miitopia. This title boasts an entire kingdom for your Miis to explore, after you’ve dressed them up with the new makeup and wig features that is!
Blizzard Entertainment Celebrates 30 years at this year’s BlizzConline.
With this came a slew of announcements of things we have to look forward to. More and more information is coming out about the development of Overwatch 2, like character updates, new maps and details of the leveling system. Diablo II is getting a remaster which will arrive later this year on both PC and Console. PC players interested in public testing for this game can sign up for the chance here. Word of Warcraft will be getting a huge content update for the recent Shadowlands expansion called Chains of Domination. And Hearthstone fans can expect a new expansion “Forged in the Barrens” and an entirely new mode of gameplay called Mercenaries coming later this year.
Unfinished Nintendo 64 Game
An online group of game preservationists Forest of Illusion have recently shared a leaked build of Dinosaur Planet. This game never made it to release but was repurposed for the GameCube as StarFox Adventures. This copy of Dinosaur Planet was obtained from a private game collector and dates back to December 2000. It is a late build of the game and fully playable but has a fair few bugs throughout and will need hacking to play all parts of it in an emulator. Strangely, this is not the first cancelled game from Rare to be released online this month. Earlier an unreleased build of the XBLA remake of Goldeneye was also shared.
Games this week:
The 25th of February sees the release of Ghost n’ Goblins Resurrection and Lawnmower Game: Racing, both on the switch.
Bravely Default 2, sequel to the popular JRPG, gets its worldwide release for the switch on February 26th.
Terraria port for Google Stadia Cancelled.
After backing down from a threat to leave Australia over new regulations, and pulling the plug on in-house Stadia game development, the last thing Google needed was more bad press. Well, Google has dug their own grave as Re-Logic, the creators of Terraria, have cancelled their planned Stadia port after Google disabled and removed access to the Re-Logic YouTube account and attached Gmail and Google Drive accounts due to an alleged Terms of Service violation.
After three weeks trying to resolve the issue, co-creator Andrew Spinks turned to Twitter, burning any bridges with the multinational company by publicly tweeting “Doing business with you is a liability.”
Re-Logic has confirmed that while they will continue to support all current purchases of Terraria on Android and Google Play, any future games by Re-Logic will not be supported on Google platforms.
Cyberpunk 2077 and CD Projekt; the Saga continues.
Since the PC release of Cyberpunk 2077, mods have been coming to the rescue to help with some of players’ issues and desires. Sadly, the way in which Cyberpunk 2077 utilised external DLL files allowed hackers to remotely execute code when malicious mods were installed on a player’s computer. This security vulnerability was quickly fixed by the Cyberpunk 2077 community before the 1.12 Hotfix was released by CD Projekt just three days later.
CD Projekt has also announced via twitter that they were recently the victims of a cyber-attack. The announcement included a copy of the ransom note with the attacker claiming to have copied the source code for their most popular games and an unreleased version of the Witcher 3 as well as other files. CD Projekt has stated that to the best of their knowledge, none of the compromised data contained any player or user data. The incident is currently under investigation by the relevant authorities. After the announcement, CD Projekt’s stock dropped by 5%.
Nemesis system patented.
After almost 6 years since the original application, Warner Brothers has finally had the patent approved for the Nemesis system. Originally utilised in Monolith Productions’ Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor, the Nemesis system is where hierarchical NPCs are physically and hierarchically effected by player interaction. The patent is already being criticised by developers for the vagueness of the patent’s wording and how this may stifle any similar games from being developed.
The patent is optioned for renewal till 2035.
And finally, some game releases:
On February 11th you can look forward to the console release date of 1bit minimalist RTS game Death Crown, the Switch Release of the action-adventure roguelike Undermine, and the PC and console release of the side scrolling adventure Little Nightmares 2.
We also have Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury coming to the Switch on February 12th. And the Mega Man X-inspired multiplayer roguelike 30XX (thirty ex-ex) is coming to PC on February 17th
Developer: Frolic Labs
Publisher: Frolic Labs
Music: Jake Butineau
Platforms: Steam, Switch
Released: 10 – 10 – 2019
Genre: Side-scroller, adventure
You are a goose, and it’s time to fly.
Perched on the edge of a cliff, you don’t know what’s ahead of you, but with a leap you spread your wings, embarking on a journey.
The destination isn’t important, the joy of Dune Sea is in the journey. The process. Watching the landscape go by, making your way through the air, finding and coaxing friends to join your ramshackle flock, avoiding obstacles, learning how to soar with acrobatic grace.
Dune Sea is a side-scrolling adventure game, if adventure meant a meditative zen-like experience with a little bit of a challenge. With a simple, low-poly art style, soothing music, and a steady pace, Dune Sea is exactly what I needed to play, when everything was too overwhelming, too noisy, or just took too much energy.
Gameplay is soothing, if that wasn’t clear already. It introduces controls simply and slowly. First, let’s figure out how to hop off the cliff and spread your wings. Next, figure out how to fly quickly, change directions, and how and where to land for a rest. A some of the controls are explained to you, but a lot you are left to figure out. You’ll pick up some little collectables and learn that it’ll give you a bit more stamina. You’ll also learn what happens when you do run out of stamina.
A lot of it is very straightforward, and what you’d expect from a game like this. But you have a few interesting tricks to learn. If you encounter a flock of birds, honk at them! One of them may decide to tag along for a little while. And with enough bird friends, you’ll be able to unlock new and interesting pathways, and move past difficult obstacles. Is it necessary? Not really! But who doesn’t want a ragtag flock who can help you blast rocks?
Sometimes, the lack of explanation can be frustrating. I had quite a lot of trouble at the very first launch, where I was told to press two buttons, but I didn’t really know how to, or how long, or in what order.
I’m not afraid to admit I crashed off that cliff at least half a dozen times. But once the mechanics of flight clicked, it clicked, and the rest just fell into place. It helps that it is a forgiving game, with plenty of checkpoints. You don’t get punished harshly for a mis-timed dive. Instead the game goes ‘hey, let’s give that another go’. So you spend less time struggling, and more time just enjoying the journey.
In addition, there is a Zen Mode, where you don’t even have to worry about obstacles or crashing. You can choose to only have to fly.
Like the simple art style, and soothing gameplay, the music just ties it all together. You don’t HAVE to listen to the music, but I think you need to. It’s so gentle, melodic, easy to allow into the background of your flight. It really ties it together, giving pace to your experience. Gentle guitar tones, violins in the background, an echo of the melody rings in the background. It feels open, and warm. I wouldn’t fall asleep to it, but I found it relaxing. I had a better meditation experience playing this game, than I did in my last yoga class. Everything just compliments each other so well, woven into one experience.
There’s no rush, no glaring need to keep flying, no overwhelming drive to DO things. It just lets you fly.
What is Dune Sea? It is a journey, an experience, that serves no other purpose than to just let you experience it. Your destination doesn’t matter. Your goals can be to just stay off the ground. You can build a giant mega-flock, or you can just see where the game takes you, for as long as you want. It’s not exciting, it’s not busy, it’s sort of boring. But in the way that paddling down a quiet river in a canoe, and you look up at the sky and watch the clouds drift by is boring. In the way that sitting by a stream, and tossing sticks into it and mentally betting on which stick will reach the big rock first is boring. In the way that sitting on the train and watching the landscape change and the buildings go by is boring.
It just felt like, for a few minutes at a time, I could just breath. And fly.
That is Dune sea.
Reviewed by Zahra Pending @Degari_rose on 2nd of December 2020
Getting the warm fuzzies from Animal Crossing.
Earlier this month, Professor Andrew Przybylski (@ShuhBillSkee), Director of Research at the Oxford Internet Institute, released a study on the effects of the amount of time playing games on reported well-being. He surveyed 3274 players of Plants vs Zombies: Battle for Neighbourville and Animal Crossing: New Horizons and found that players of Animal Crossing: New Horizons had a significant positive relationship between the two variables, showing that the amount of time played increased reported wellbeing. These results were particularly prominent in feelings of autonomy and belonging. In brief, more Animal Crossing game time equals more feelings of fulfillment and freedom. Thus, more feelings of happiness and connection.
The study concludes that while there is a significant positive correlation, this was an explorative study, indicating a need for further studies to expand our knowledge into how gaming affects our health and wellbeing.
Nintendo in the headlines
Nintendo is asking businesses to refrain from bringing politics into Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and as such has published guidelines. These guidelines focus primarily on keeping the game G rated, removing political content (for example, Joe Biden’s campaign created island), and indirect or direct advertising/ profiteering within the game. Disrespecting these guidelines will result in being “ask[ed] to stop” and possibly being prohibited from future access to the Game.
Nintendo has also ordered the cease and desist of the annual “The Big House” GameCube Smash Bros Melee tournament. The competition, which has run since 2011, had moved online due to the current covid-19 pandemic. This was only possible due to the help of the Wii and GameCube emulator Dolphin, and mods such as Slippi. These allowed for smooth online play, currently unavailable to the Nintendo GameCube.
The tournament was forced to cancel the competition to comply with Nintendo’s claim of “illegally copied versions of the game” and use of the mod Slippi. The cancelling of the competition has led to public outcries of unfair treatment by Nintendo towards the Smash community and the hashtag #SaveSmash trending on Twitter.
The Game Awards 2020
The Game Awards Nominees for 2020 have been announced with The Last of Us Part II, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Ghost of Tsushima, Doom Eternal, Hades, and Final Fantasy 7 Remake going up for Game of the Year.
The big hitters this year are The Last of Us Part II receiving 10 nominations, Hades with 8, and Ghosts of Tsushima with 7, all spanning over several categories from art, music, narration, and the new category “Innovation in Accessibility”.
The Livestream will be broadcast through YouTube at 10 am on December 11th Brisbane time. And don’t forget to place your vote, head over to The Game Awards, and make your click count!
In studio: Razor, Lee, Jody Macgregor & Candi Payne.
Alex Norton and Nathan Hall of Fluffy Knuckleduster join us for a chat about the origins of their brand new development studio and their first game, Wizzed Off.
Lee reviews Xenoblade Chronicles for the New 3DS.
Aired 12 August 2015.
In studio: Jody Macgregor, Lee May & Razor.
The team discuss the game reveals and announcements from E3 2015, held in Los Angeles California 16-18 June 2015 – including news about Fallout 4, Final Fantasy 7 Remake, The Last Guardian and more. Jody and Lee review You Must Build A Boat (PC/mobile)
Aired 17 June 2015.
In Studio: Lee May, Candi Payne, Jody Macgregor and Razor.
Lee braves a world full of adventure and danger to tell us all about Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate (3DS). We also chat about Hand of Fate(PC/Mac/PS/Xbox), the card game that comes to life!
Aired 4 March 2015.