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.

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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.

 

Nintendo · Video Games

Why You Should Switch to Nintendo for FIFA 18

By James Daly

With the announcement of EA’s latest footballing title came the news many gamers have been waiting; FIFA 18 will be on Nintendo Switch.

There are many reasons to love this, starting with the fact that this will be a portable FIFA game that will look and play as well as the home console editions. This feature means the addictive gameplay of the FIFA series is finally available for gaming ‘on the fly’, a perfect scenario for a game based on short, traditionally 12-minute long matches. Add in the multiplayer modes and Nintendo have a very promising product on the way.

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FUT finally debuts on a Nintendo console

FIFA 18 will mark the first time that the FIFA Ultimate Team game mode appears on Nintendo console, meaning players will be able to buy packs of players and various items, and then build their own teams.

FIFA18 on Switch will not use the same new Frostbite technology as the other console versions, but the Nintendo title will still look and feel excellent, and run at 60FPS.

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FIFA 18 on Switch will not include the latest Frostbite engine

Also, there will be no The Journey, FIFA’s original story mode first released in FIFA 17. However, The Journey divided opinion meaning many fans will not feel disappointed by the lack of its inclusion.

Overall, FIFA 18 looks set to be the first FIFA game actually worth buying on a Nintendo console, and perhaps may even go so far as to make the Nintendo Switch the superior platform for playing FIFA 18 in general. So, FIFA players, this is why you should switch to Nintendo.

 

Nintendo · Review · Video Games

Super Bomberman R is a Fun Game

By James Daly

After years of humble instalments that felt more like mini-games than full-fledged titles, the Bomberman series has finally attempted to deliver blockbuster again with the brand new Super Bomberman R for Nintendo Switch.

Bomberman has traditionally offered an arcade game experience where the player takes control of an adorable character and makes use of a variety of handheld explosives to win matches or progress the story of a game. In this regard, Super Bomberman R offers nothing new except for some cute, slightly-animated cutscenes that take place between levels and are more reminiscent of comic books or manga than cartoons or anime.

Characters range in colour and gender, but ultimately all serve the same purpose of marauding through different levels trying to blow enemies into tiny little pieces in order to save a world in turmoil, all the while revealing a plot that involves some sinister Bombermen-types trying to cause a generic brand of chaos. Super Bomberman R offers a completely new plot so no prior knowledge of the series is required to appreciate it. 

In short, the story is fine, but it is hardly the main selling point of this game.

Super Bomberman R Enemy
The main villain of the game
Bomberman games have almost always been about multiplayer battles, pitting friends against each other in arenas designed to house an endless amount of explosives and offer little in terms of shelter from the carnage. In this way, Super Bomberman R delivers exactly what it should, with customisable battle settings and plenty of items to add to the mayhem. 

The battles can feature up to eight players at once, either through local/wireless play or via online. This feature is what makes Super Bomberman R a brilliant party game, offering a simple concept that pleases audiences from novice players to hardcore gamers. It takes essentially no time to learn how to succeed, but mastering Super Bomberman R is almost impossible, meaning that everyone has a chance of winning.

The battle mode also offers the option of swapping out human-controlled characters for AI ones, allowing players to experience arguably the best mode of Super Bomberman R even when playing solo. The AI characters are by no means pushovers, making for challenging as well as exciting matches.

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Super Bomberman R has a great battle mode
Unfortunately, Super Bomberman R doesn’t really deliver on the blockbuster front, feeling more like a glorified mini-game at times. The story is short and generally disinteresting, despite the efforts to make it a tongue-in-cheek, cheesy but charming affair. Some may even wonder why Konami bothered to make a story for it at all, though the cynical point of view would say this was vital to Konami charging as much as they do for the game. The £44.99 price tag (about $59 in the USA) makes Super Bomberman R quite expensive for what really does feel like a small game, though free DLC has been announced so that will hopefully make the game more deserving of the price tag.

Overall, Super Bomberman R is a fun game for newcomers and a decent instalment in a long series recently plagued by inadequate instalments. Unfortunately, it doesn’t feel like the series is back to its former glory but that shouldn’t stop anyone from enjoying this game. 

Nintendo · Video Games · Video Games Industry

Satoru Iwata: Video Game Icon

By James Daly

In the wake of Satoru Iwata’s passing, people all over the world publicly expressed their sadness at such a loss, along with their appreciation for Iwata’s contributions to the video games industry. In fact, approximately 4,000 people attended Iwata’s funeral to pay their respects but, regrettably, I was not one of them. Instead, I offer this brief account of Satoru Iwata’s career and, dare I say, legacy.

Satoru Iwata began his career at HAL Laboratory as their Coordinator of Software Production. During this time, he helped develop a healthy relationship with Nintendo in order to produce games for the Famicom gaming console. During this time he worked on several games including Kirby and EarthBound, but his first game as a developer was Balloon Fight back in 1985, a game that is still revered for its simple but fun, arcade-styled action. Iwata rose to the position of President of HAL Laboratory just in time to save the company from bankruptcy, and further strengthen their relationship with Nintendo.

 

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Iwata showing the Nintendo 3DS

Iwata’s first official Nintendo project was Pokémon Gold and Silver for the Game Boy Color and, although he was not a Nintendo employee at this time, it was Iwata’s tinkering that allowed the games to be more expansive by including the Kanto region along with the new Johto region, thus increasing the game’s playtime exponentially. Iwata also worked on Pokémon Stadium for the Nintendo 64 around this period, and it was his contribution to this title that helped establish his talent. Iwata dissected Game Freak’s battle system from Pokémon Red and Blue and reverse engineered it before porting it over to Pokémon Stadium, amazing Shigeki Morimoto, the president of Game Freak and the man who originally developed the battle system, almost to the point of disbelief.

Inevitably, Iwata took a position at Nintendo in 2000 as the Head of Corporate Planning, although this position did not keep Iwata from personally working on games. Within two years, Iwata succeeded the esteemed Hiroshi Yamauchi as the new President of Nintendo in 2002.

As President of Nintendo, Satoru Iwata oversaw some of the best and worst periods in Nintendo’s history. With regard to the latter, Iwata essentially was the force that kept Nintendo going during difficult financial periods, even going so far as to reduce his own salary by 50% to reduce business spend. Actions like this demonstrated the selfless manner in which Iwata conducted himself, and made his success seem even more impressive as moral integrity doesn’t traditionally accompany accomplishment in the business world.

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Iwata and the WiiU

In terms of success, Satoru Iwata oversaw the production of the Nintendo DS and the Nintendo Wii, two consoles which changed the way video games were seen forever. The revolutionary move of bringing touchscreens and motion controls to home video gaming not only allowed new mechanics for game developers to explore and utilize, but also made video games accessible to new audiences outside of the typical 18-35 demographic. The practice of inputting complex sequences of key commands became irrelevant as games could be played using the more simple methods available on these pioneering consoles.

As a result, Iwata’s dream of changing the gaming industry for the better was now achievable, and many would argue that he did just that during his lifetime. Satoru Iwata was a visionary and a revolutionary within the video gaming industry, an industry that will be eternally grateful to him for his innovation and devotion. He didn’t shy away from a challenge, and was always ready to do what was right, including the odd line of code whenever necessary. His legacy is such that it seems impossible to imagine a successor now, but if any company could find one, it would be the Nintendo that Iwata so bravely redefined.

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.

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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.

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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.