Editorial · Nintendo · Video Game News · Video Games

Splatoon 2 Premiere

By James Daly

Splatoon 2 premiered today in a limited time demo for the Nintendo Switch. Running from 5PM to 9PM (UTC), the premiere focussed around a new Splatfest, an event pitting gamers against each other based on their preference of ice cream or cake. I chose Team Ice Cream, and then dived right in to the ink-filled, nightclub-inspired world of Splatoon 2 ready to see what Nintendo had to offer in their latest game.

The first thing you notice about this game is how similar it is to the previous one. There are a few changes, such as the newscaster characters having been replaced with two new, slightly more ostentatious individuals, and the player hub is now set at night time, giving the game a more mature look than the original title. Other then that the experience offered by Splatoon 2 is essentially the same as before.

The in-match gameplay is also pretty similar. The map is no longer always visible due to the hardware differences from the WiiU, but it can be displayed by toggling the X button any time during a match. One particularly positive new addition to the multiplayer maps is the inclusion of ink railings on one level. These railing have to be doused in paint in order to be made functional, but once soaked in the colour of your team they are a great way to get around and spring surprise attacks on your opponents.

h2x1_nswitch_splatoon2_splatfest_engb_image912w
The first of many Splatfests for Splatoon 2

In terms of combat, the weapons are largely the same, with only one new primary weapon unveiled so far, the Splatter Dualies, a pair of handguns designed to be used simultaneously, as the name suggests. These weapons are preferable to those players who like rapid-fire, but they do not differ too much from the original Tentatek Splattershot, essentially a submachine gun. The secondary weapons are fine, though none of them struck me as memorable except for the Ink Jet Pack, purely because it allows the player to fly around and rain deadly paint from above. Unfortunately, this experience does not last very long, but if it did then it would probably ruin the game for those on the receiving end of it.

The highlight of Splatoon 2 is playing it in handheld mode on the Switch. The game looks wonderful on the small screen, with no loss of quality despite the miniature size. So long as you don’t stray from your wi-fi source then playing in handheld mode is perfectly enjoyable. Chances are, you will find yourself playing predominantly through your TV if you prefer to play without motion controls, but other then that the handheld option really is exquisite.

Overall, Nintendo’s new rave-em-up offers seemingly little new from the first Splatoon except for subtle changes, both aesthetic and combat-based, and the fact that it is on a different console. However, video game previews like this usually do fail to convey the brilliance of a game, so when Splatoon 2 officially launches on July 21, hopefully it will give us more to be excited about.

 

Editorial · PS4 · Video Games

We Need a Final Fantasy VII Remake

By James Daly

Back in 1997, on January 31st, something very special happened in the world of video games: Square Enix released Final Fantasy VII.

FFVII follows the story of an introverted mercenary by the name of Cloud Strife, and his iconic Buster Sword, as he strives to save all of creation from the evil Sephiroth, and… that’s pretty much all I know.

I would like to mention now that I have never actually played Final Fantasy VII. Even though I owned a Sony PlayStation back in the day, I was only seven years old, so I wasn’t quite mentally developed enough to adequately communicate my video game desires to my parents.

However, that was back then, so I have since had 20 years to acquire a copy of FFVII through my own means, a task made even easier to complete now that the game is available to download on the App Store.

Cloud Strife
HD Cloud is going to break some hearts

The thing is, I want that magical experience so many people had back in 1997. I want to pick up a brand new copy of Final Fantasy VII, take it home and play it like my life depends on it. I want to be blown away by the cutting-edge visuals, industry-leading gameplay and enriching story, and I don’t think the original version of FFVII (or the App Store version) is going to deliver that in 2017.

The only option we have now, if we are to experience Final Fantasy VII in all the glory it was intended to possess, is to await the remake that Square Enix have been teasing for so long.

Square Enix were originally looking to remake FFVII for PS2 back in the early 2000s, but his never came to fruition due to concerns over the size of the project, coupled with the fact that Square Enix were focusing on developing Final Fantasy VIII.

Cloud Buster Sword
The Buster Sword is back

It took until 2015 for Square Enix to finally begin working on a remake of Final Fantasy VII, so when the developers officially announced this at E3 2015, resulting in ecstatic fans and more hype than you could shake a stick at. Following the announcement, FFVII character designer Tetsuya Nomura explained that the remake was being made by almost all of the original team so they wanted to act sooner rather than later, before the original staff were too old for such an intense project.

This remake is set to offer more than a contemporary version of the original Final Fantasy VII; it could deliver the very experience gamers like myself missed out on back then. This FFVII remake would be the closest thing to time travel we are likely to get, with players being transported to an alternate 1997 with better technology. This is why we need a remake of Final Fantasy VII.

I love Final Fantasy XV, and I am now on a mission to make up for all of the Final Fantasy games I have yet to play. Final Fantasy VII is the one that really matters to me most, and I am seriously going to buy a PS4 just so I can play this game.

 

 

Editorial · Video Games

Top 10 Favourite Video Games

By James Daly

Disclaimer: These article was originally published several years ago so some opinions may have changed by now. Number one spot if still the greatest game ever though. 

Speaking honestly, my favourite things change. There are a few constants, but they’re susceptible to changing position in my sub-conscious top ten lists. For instance, The Goonies is my favourite film, but sometimes I’m too smitten with a newer release, or an old movie I like that I recently saw again and so The Goonies drops a place or two. Bearing that in mind, I’m comfortable with the fact that this list may be outdated in a couple of months time, but for now here are my top 10 favourite video games.

Sonic Adventure 2 Battle
Rolling around at the speed of sound
  1. Sonic Adventure 2 Battle (Nintendo Gamecube)

The 00s were not a good decade for Sonic fans. But before Sonic Team ruined everything in 2006, there was this loveable title. As the sequel to Sonic Adventure on the Sega Dreamcast, it took the same format but ditched the story mode overworld, and added in a sweet multiplayer mode. The game also reinvented the Chao Garden feature, making it more open and immersive.

The best part of this game is the story mode. Players are able to act out the same version of events as both protagonists and antagonists, giving a more detailed view of the thrilling narrative, before combining these opposing forces for the final chapter of the game. The story mode is mainly so great due to the large variety of playable levels, some of which are so replayable that I bought the game on 360 just for them.

Overall, Sonic Adventure 2 Battle is a solid game that I just can’t get enough of.

Everybody's Golf 2 Sam
Pitching in the rough
  1. Everybody’s Golf 2 (Sony Playstation)

A zany golf game that took a more youthful, arcade approach to what a subject that has always seemed more mature and… well, dull. The game comprises a single-player mode that yielded a sizeable roster of unlockable characters, including cameos from Twisted Metal’s Sweet Tooth, Gex the Gecko, and my personal favourite Sir Daniel Fortesque from MediEvil, but this game had a great multiplayer mode too. Up to four players could go head-to-head over 9-18 holes on a variety of courses. My favourite course was my beloved Balata. It was the most balanced course, with the greatest potential for astounding scores. The more I talk about this game, the more I miss so I’ll stop here.

Bomberman '94
Happy memories
  1. Bomberman ‘94 (SNES)

Our favourite chibi dynamite enthusiast has been in many addictively fun games, and my favourite of all of these is Bomberman 94.

It’s the greatest competitive video game to play at a party that there has ever been. The sheer chaos of five players trying to ignite death traps around each other’s cute little avatars is the purest form of multiplayer combat available on the SNES, or the Wii Virtual Console for that matter. For this reason alone, I will always return to this game.

NFS Carbon
The thrill of the chase
  1. Need For Speed: Carbon (Nintendo Wii)

This multi-platform game was the last Need For Speed title before the series abandoned the exaggerative, cartoony image and fully embraced gaming realism. By saying I prefer this game, I’m happily defying that creative decision because if I wanted a realistic game I would buy Forza and bore myself to death over a forty-five minute race, with only engine noise for a soundtrack. But as I was saying, Need For Speed Carbon is a damn good game.

To progress through the game, the player has to win races in each of the games four territories and then challenge the head of the local crew for the ownership of the area. These races are initiated by travelling around the in-game open-world, tracking down targets or accepting challenges from racers who find you. Races would then involve travelling from point A to B or through circuits the fastest, though there were drift races and showdowns that differed from this. The variety of races was second only to roster of available automobiles, all of which were fully customisable. This feature was intended more for console use, and wasn’t so fun if you played the game in the arcade though.

All racing games are arcade games in essence, and Need For Speed Carbon is a fantastic arcade game. The controls are simple without being easy, and realistic without impeding gameplay. The Wii remote added another element to the game by allowing for more subtle turns, which would serve crucial in the later boss races.

animal-crossing-wild-world-winter-790x504
How to spend a perfect winter
  1. Animal Crossing: Wild World (Nintendo DS)

Get out of bed. See friends. Look for treasure. Go fishing. Renovate the house. Go shopping. Tend gardens all over the town. Going about these daily rituals is how one play Animal Crossing: Wild World. This game is the definitive relaxing experience. I’ve never felt more carefree then when I’m strolling around my town, engaging my neighbours in friendly chit-chat. This feeling of peaceful contentment is what the Animal Crossing franchise is all about. My main goals in the game were to have a cosy, little home, a meaningful friendship with my neighbour Wolfgang, and to design t-shirts that made me smile. No other game has given me so much enjoyment over such tame subject matter, and that is enough to demonstrate how special this game is.

The main reason I picked this title over the latest instalment, Animal Crossing: New Leaf, is because it’s a simpler player experience. In New Leaf I’m the mayor of my new town and I’m therefore always busy with some duty that I feel obliged to carry out. But in Wild World I’m not the mayor. I feel insignificant, so I can slack-off and just relax, and that’s more in-keeping with Animal Crossing’s ethos. That’s why I go back to Wild World now, despite New Leaf being a much better game in every other way.

Resi4
The stuff of nightmares
  1. Resident Evil 4 (Nintendo Gamecube)

When the Resident Evil series was revamped back in 2005, many had their doubts about the changes Capcom made to the franchise. These changes are what set this game aside from the previous titles, resulting in it game that felt more like a first-rate Hollywood Blockbuster (unlike the third-rate Resident evil movies).

Leon S. Kennedy returned to our consoles as an All-American Hero based on the icons of the past. He was the President’s bodyguard, tasked with the covert operation of single-handedly rescuing the President’s kidnapped daughter. This cheesy, 1980s-styled narrative was a risky move but it worked better than anyone could have expected.

The gameplay took a turn away from survival horror, and the result was a thrilling action game with plenty of replayability and a great story with a climactic, yet poignant ending. I’m still not sold on all of the quick-time events though.

Minecraft 360
Such a majestic creature
  1. Minecraft (Xbox 360 Edition)

When I played it for the first time, I was overwhelmed it. After an onslaught of mobs on hard mode, I built a light house to hide away from my enemies and gaze upon the stars. Looking back I realise that torch-laden structure was an unsubtle symbol of hope against the hostility of the dark night (poetry warning). I felt truly isolated, and this made me realise how happy I was to be alone in a video game for the first time in a long, long while. I was happy to be playing this game solo, without any chance of contact as I didn’t know anybody else who owned the game and at this point I genuinely didn’t want to. I was happy to be me, on my own, in Minecraft.

Eventually I told my friends about it so memorable multiplayer adventures ensued. We made our own mini-games, explored mysterious caves, shaped beautiful landscapes and erected monuments to our own ambitions, and usually without going on Xbox Live. Split-screening seemed more in keeping with retro-inspired ideal of Minecraft, and playing with friends on the same console added that level of joy that only socialising on the same console can give. A nostalgic point perhaps, but I stand by it.

To put it simply, Minecraft offers an authentic sense of freedom, numerous opportunities for creative innovative, and never stops being fun.

pokedaycare
Pokemon games offer endless happiness
  1. Pokemon X (Nintendo 3DS)

It’s the best Pokemon game yet. It is. Really. Nostalgia aside, and shrugging off that magical feeling that came with playing the first generation of handheld Pokemon games, it’s clear to see that Pokemon X and Y prove that a series can constantly reach new heights as it goes on.

Taking place in mystical Kalos Region, the Pokemon universe’s equivalent to France, Pokemon X utilises the graphical capabilities of the 3DS to deliver the best looking Pokemon ever on a handheld console, as well as giving us some beautiful cities and landscapes to explore. The game takes further advantage of the imagery by incorporating customisable clothes and accessories into the game, adding more depth to individualising the player character. But by no means is it all about the graphics.

Pokemon X has that signature blend of action and adventure that is synonymous with the Pokemon franchise, but it takes it to a new level. The new in-game battle styles, Mega Evolution and Pokemon-Amie all help to make Pokemon X and Y standout from the rest of the series, but the new online features are what really make the difference. Trading and battling with other players is easier and more rewarding than ever before, and both of these activities can be done with people all over the world thanks to the new “Passerby” mechanic, which alerts players to all other players they can connect with online.

But the most important thing for me is raising my Pokemon and in Pokemon X that’s more fun than ever. There is so much to each individual Pokemon I’ve met in the game, and everyone has their own unique skills and bring a different advantage to my battle squad. This game feels like Pokemon are almost real.

Halo 4
Chief always seems to be outnumbered
  1. Halo 4 (Xbox 360)

Of all the games in The Halo series it does feel impossible to choose just one. Halo one started it all. Halo 2 was one of the first great online multiplayer FPS games. Halo 3 had it all, and Halo: Reach had everything you didn’t know you wanted until you played it. I even loved ODST. But Halo 4 has something else.

For the first time in the Halo series, I felt truly connected with the John and Cortana. I felt like I was stepping into the Master Chief’s suit each time a mission began, and I was bowled over by that feeling. The environments are mesmerising, with a perfect OST to accompany them. No game has looked better on Xbox 360 before or since. As for the playability, the gameplay is smooth and dynamic beyond compare. The matchmaking modes are an expert blend of balanced and chaotic.

But the campaign mode is what makes it for me. The sense of purpose behind every enemy neutralised made me feel positively electric when I first played it. And the ending is on a par with Resident Evil 4, particularly for those talented players who managed to complete the game on the Legendary setting.

ocarina-3d-sheik
The Greatest Game of All Time
  1. The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time (Nintendo 64)

I don’t think it’s too bold a statement to say that Ocarina Of Time is the definitive Zelda game. Probably every gamer is at least aware of this game, whether they’ve played it or have seen a reference to it. In fact, I know gamers who have never played Ocarina Of Time but still hate the how difficult the Water Temple is! But enough about them, let’s talk about me.

I was nine years old when I first played Ocarina Of Time, and although I struggled with it at the time, I knew it was an extraordinary game. I spend hours just playing around the Kokiri Forest, ignorant to the bigger world of Hyrule because I was so caught-up in the sweet, innocent innocent life of the Kokiri. When I encountered enemies on my way to the Deku Tree, I was honestly upset by the presence of danger, because it shattered my illusion of peace by reminding me that hostility was always a factor in any environment. After completing the game’s first dungeon, I was devastated when it was all seemingly for nothing when I couldn’t stop the ravages of Ganondorf’s curse taking the Deku Tree’s life. And so I played on, because that emotional roller coaster the game took me on made me want more, and that’s what I got. Ocarins Of Time was the first game that ever gave me more than I thought possible. There was so much to the story, and the side-quests were in abundance. Each new area took my breath away, particularly Zora’s Domain and the Gerudo Desert.

Having an aptitude for music, I couldn’t resist the importance of Link’s ocarina playing. Each melody has a place in my heart, but none more so than Zelda’s Lullaby. When I hear it I’m transported back to the first time I saw Zelda in the grounds of Hyrule Castle. I remember that look on her face, and the important words she spoke to me that made me feel like being a kid didn’t mean I couldn’t change anything.

Ocarina Of Time is full of great gaming moments. Drawing the Master Sword for the first time. Finding Saria in the Lost Woods. Liberating Epona. Thawing out Zora’s Domain. The unveiling of Sheik. Striking Ganondorf down and saving all of Hyrule from chaos. I could go on, but the best thing about Ocarina Of Time is that I can pick it up and play it again anytime on my N64, Gamecube, Wii, or 3DS.

The Legend Of Zelda of Ocarina Of Time is, without a doubt, my favourite video game of all time.

Editorial · PC · PS4 · Video Games · Xbox One

Genji is the Best Overwatch Character

By James Daly

There are many characters in Blizzard’s Overwatch to choose from. The characters range in class, either falling into attack, defence, tank or support. Each class offers a range of fun characters, but the attack class is usually the first choice for players who want to have the best Overwatch. It is in this class that you will find Genji, and Genji is the best Overwatch character.

How to Play as Genji

Genji, like the other attack class characters, is designed to strike the enemy directly, using  his basic shuriken and Swift Strike move to attack from distance. These attacks offer different advantages when playing as Genji, but his best attack is ironically his aptly names Defend move, a technique where Genji uses his wakizashi to temporarily become invulnerable and deflect almost any blow he receives toward wherever he aims, making for some heavy damage to opposition when they are least prepared for it. This move is vital for anybody playing as Genji as it is the only way to avoid certain death at the hands of physically stronger opponents, or indeed any opponent with a decent attack.

Genji Move List
Genji’s moves and abilities

Typically, Genji is seen to exist solely for the selfish players who would rather rack up eliminations than pursue the match objective, be it pushing the payload or securing a designated area. This is because Genji has a rather small amount of HP, meaning that he does not always do well when attacked directly as he becomes a sitting duck, so Genji players like to stay mobile and cover more ground to avoid being an easy target for their opponents. This is best done by using Genji’s wall-climbing and double-jump abilities, adding a slight parkour feel to the game. To successfully play as Genji you have to be prepared to abandon any point or risk certain death, so Genji often flees at the first sight of serious danger, allowing the objective to be compromised at the drop of a hat. For this reason, many Overwatch players see Genji as a hindrance more than a boon.

However, this is the big misconception behind Genji. The truth is, Genji is not meant to defend anything really, because he is an all-out attacker. His fluid combat style and ability to defend essentially anything for a few seconds is what makes him so adept at efficiently putting down opponents, so Genji simply can not stay still if he is to contribute to his team. His style may be frustrating to the unenlightened, but his destructive capability is why Genji is the best Overwatch character.

Genji Meditating
Genji meditates before a battle

Genji The Eliminator

With the release of the Elimination game mode, Genji has increased in popularity because Elimination matches are all about wiping out every member of the opposing side, instead of the usual objective mentioned above. Genji’s agility and speed make him a favourite for this game mode, as he can traverse the map with ease and usually emerge victorious from any one-on-one encounter. Genji’s selfish will to survive is actually an advantage in this mode, because in order to catch Genji and eliminate him, the opposing side must split-up to avoid losing him. This means that Genji’s team mates do not usually get outnumbered, making survival that much more likely.

Genji’s default survival style results in a default divide and conquer approach to Elimination matches, essentially making the game more even and more fun too. Naturally, this approach will not work in a 1v1 match, but Genji is still fairly strong here despite a lack of a healing ability. The trick is to constantly move and defend at key times, as the following video demonstrates:

To put it simply, if you want to play Overwatch in an attacking style, you have to pick Genji. He is the most fun attacking character to play as because he is quick and deadly, and everybody knows him but can barely do anything to resist him. Genji is designed to survive hostile situations and catch enemies off guard to deliver the final blow. All of this is why Genji is the best Overwatch character.

Editorial · Film

Is Ghost In The Shell too Real? 

There is a fear of humanity. Of losing it, of not understanding it. We want to be classified as human but we believe perfection demands more than what we are.

Ghost In The Shell (Sanders, 2017) is a film about this phenomenon, and that’s why you should see it.

Ghost In The Shell creates a world of technologically enabled fluidity, in terms of gender and identity, in order to explore what makes us a human. The world of Ghost In The Shell may seem radically different to what we know as reality, but how different is it really?

People paying large sums of money to have their bodies excessively enhanced in the pursuit of happiness. Advertisements dominating the cityscape. Corrupt politicians sacrificing lives in the name of corporate greed.

Ghost In The Shell doesn’t show us a life beyond our imagination; it holds a mirror up to us but uses our ignorance to get away with its critical agenda.

Major Surgery
Major gets some surgery

As Major looks at a copy of her synthetic body, studying the image she conveys to the rest of the world, she is acting no differently to any of us looking in a mirror to understand ourselves. The only difference is Major didn’t have a say in how she looks, but is that really different to most people?

Major doesn’t feel comfortable in her Shell, because she knows it is a body that was created for her by the world she was born into. Her Shell is a cultural construct, making Major an allegory for any person who doesn’t feel the apparent sex of their body truly conveys the gender they feel they belong to.

Major does not want to be defined by her shell, and she continually demonstrates her need to be more than an object, a struggle many people know too well. In this area Ghost In The Shell is more open about its feminist message, firmly hammering home the message that identity is about what is inside, not out.

Major Mira Killian’s shell also represents the way Hollywood corrupts identity, as Major possesses the appearance of a Caucasian woman despite the fact that her mind is actually that of a young Japanese woman by the name of Motoko Kusanagi.

GHOST IN THE SHELL
Major strolls through Tokyo

Ultimately, Ghost In The Shell is a film about being human. Major has a soul and, to some, that makes her human. Others throughout the story view has a commodity, and that type of dehumanisation is something many of us can identify with.

It is for this reason most of all that Ghost In The Shell is a film for you. You’re human. You may love your body and that’s ok. You may hate it and that’s ok too. What matters most is who you are on the inside, not what you’re wrapped in.

You are not defined by what you look like.

You are not defined by what you are told to be.

You are you, the only you. You have a soul.

You are human.

Editorial · Nintendo · Video Games · Video Games Industry

Nintendo Game Boy 25th Anniversary

By James Daly

The Nintendo Game Boy is the most iconic handheld gaming console. Famously strong enough to survive a bombing, the only thing more fortified is the legacy it left behind after it was discontinued in 2003. To my generation, the Game Boy represented where all video games began with its compact screen, minimalist command keys, and wealth of iconic titles.

Nintendo made their first big contribution to Video Gaming in 1983 when they released the Famicom in Japan, before releasing it to the rest of the world as the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1984. The NES brought the joy of arcade gaming into the home thanks to its user-friendly nature, and a string of memorable video gaming franchises that cemented the console’s iconic status.

Game Boy Games
Countless games graced the Game Boy

Though Nintendo had released handheld games in the past with Gunpei Yokoi’s Game & Watch series, the Game Boy was part of a generation of consoles that changed video games for the better. The Game Boy defined Nintendo’s business model when it outclassed its technologically superior rivals to become the most successful handheld console of its time through iconic mascots, and games that focused on replayability. This success continued, and now the Game Boy along with the Game Boy Color has sold over 118.69 million units worldwide.

As for the games, The Game Boy catered for a variety of tastes, ranging from Super Mario Land to Alleyway. The latter was essentially a copy of Breakout, but Super Mario Land was a stunning game that cleverly differed enough from the Mario games on the NES that it proved to be a console seller. The core strength of Game Boy games was that they offered the optimum level of immersion with the convenience of portability. Gamers could play state-of-the-art sports simulation games on public transport, in waiting rooms, or any other place that separated them from their home console. Bear in mind that this was a world before smartphones and laptops were ubiquitous.

Game Boy
The Nintendo Game Boy is a gaming icon

As the Game Boy was joined by the Game Boy Color, gaming changed forever again with the release of the first Pokemon games. The potential for unique gaming experiences had never been so big before, and yet ironically this series debuted on a handheld device! Pokemon took immersion to a magical level, and combined that with a new kind of replayability. Most importantly, Pokemon was the first video game titan to be exclusively handheld, which meant that Nintendo had yet another console seller on their hands. Though Pokemon games would feature on other consoles later, none of them were made in the same vain, thus assuring the importance of the Game Boy.

In short, the Nintendo Game Boy redefined video gaming by being the perfect digital companion. Having a durable console with battery life long enough to play anywhere at anytime opened up possibilities for game developers, and this resulted in a superb back catalogue of handheld video games. The Nintendo Game Boy is what really started the tradition of big games on a tiny screen, and this is why we have the Nintendo 3DS/2DS, and arguably the PlayStation Vita today.

Happy 25th Anniversary, Game Boy! We wouldn’t be here without you.