** NOTE: During the time of writing the SNES Classic had yet to be announced, and as such Nenedamus was still awesome and ahead of the game **
Nostalgia is wasted on the young. So many things in gaming these days are sequels, or updates, or HD special editions, or whatever the hell most companies feel like repackaging to sell to the old folks like me. And thankfully for something refreshing from that formula, the NES Classic was released – a mini console that thanks to today’s technology was able to pack 30 classic games from Nintendo’s 8-bit era into one convenient unit. It opened for $59.99 and it sounded pretty good at the time. Classic Nintendo IP like the Mario and Zelda series along with Metroid were now plug and play, with many other popular titles rounding out the 30.
And those positive vibes lasted for roughly 38 seconds.
There was absolutely no way in the infinite 8-bit hells that this price was going to remain steady. Just like all other re-issued nostalgia it was going to be bought in bulk, stocked out, and sold to gouge the highest bidders for profit. I saw the device go as high as $600 on eBay (a 1000% price hike for those playing along at home) and people jumping at the opportunity to have one. 1.5 million units were sold in just a couple months on the market. Which turned out to be… well, all of them.
So now we come to the recent development in the NES Classic saga. Recently Nintendo, without any warning or heads up, stopped production on the mini console a couple weeks ago. They have since announced that they would cease production in not only the North American region but in Japan and Europe as well. What happened next, though, surprised the hell out of Old Man Nene though for such a simple thing – the gaming community, at least what I’ve seen on social media, lost its damn mind. But it didn’t make any sense to me. Most kid gamers my age still have our NES and games intact. Younger gamers have online emulators and ROMS. Why was this such a big thing in the gaming community that I simply couldn’t bring myself to care about? What was the draw? Well kids, to all you Aging Gamer faithful that listen to Old Man Nene in his rocking chair tell you how it used to be – I can only offer the immortal words of DJ Khaled:
Congratulations. You played yourself.
It’s basic economics and mindshare. Firstly, Nintendo never meant for this to be an ongoing product – why would they when the Switch was just around the corner? This was always going to be special edition and never a permanent offering. The number of units manufactured was set to reflect that. Look at any supply and demand scenario – the second the “super rare” tag gets slapped on an item the price spikes like a rocket, and people are willing to pay more for a scarce product. What Nintendo did was create an artificial demand and gamers responded precisely the way they were supposed to.
It’s like some small restaurants that have lines for blocks leading to their front door. Sure it’ll draw more people and generate more demand, but they don’t tell you that there’s only 10 seats inside and that’s what causing the line.
[Side note: that was an angry morning in Philadelphia for Old Man Nene. I just wanted some pancakes.]
Secondly, they created an environment where gamers would have Nintendo control every free thought in their brains for the foreseeable future. The NES Classic dropped in November 2016. The Switch hit shelves four months later in March 2017. Look at the timing of those events, including the NES Classic price gouge in the middle. This is not a coincidence. It could be argued that hands clamoring for the NES Classic could ultimately lead to a Switch sale. Bummed that the NES Classic is done for? That 8-bit longing, along with murky rumors about a virtual console on the Switch, could be enough mind control to have gamers shelling out fistfuls of cash in the future for games they bought already via the NES Classic. I mean it’s not really that far a stretch… I’m sure there’s a bunch of Square-Enix fans that have 7 different versions and releases of Final Fantasy IV.
In the end, my prediction is this: The NES Classic is dead, but I can see a SNES Classic in the not too distant future.
So go ahead and be mad that you couldn’t get an NES Classic. Celebrate and rejoice if you managed to snag one. But remember this kids – in the end we’re all just logic boards in the gaming machine.
[And while I cannot condone a workaround that theoretically involves easily constructing a Raspberry Pi powered RetroPie DIY unit, legend has it (seriously you guys) would only take an hour to get together, be ultra cheap and allow you to play your old 8 and 16 bit games. I can also neither confirm nor deny such things exists.]
Prisma & The Masquerade Menace
Prisma & The Masquerade Menace is in the early stages of development, so early in fact that it’s not even on Kickstarter yet. That didn’t stop the developer from having a fully playable level from the demo at PAX South.
It’s got some rough edges, but it’s already rather polished. At its core, it’s a platformer game in which you take control of Ray, a girl who can switch between different colored dimensions to make objects appear or disappear. Each of these dimensions also gives her abilities like high jumping, fast running, and block destroying. Once you get used to switching between dimensions, it becomes much more like a Sonic game in which you feel compelled to go as fast as possible, switching dimensions quickly and trying to think on your feet.
Prisma is still in its early stages, but give their Kickstarter a look when it goes live later this month!
Sundered is a game that leaps out at you from a sea of titles at a gaming convention. It’s art style has a way of pulling you in, making you want more.
Sundered is a Metroidvania style platformer/exploration game in which you take control of Eshe, a wanderer exploring seemingly endless, always changing caverns filled with eldritch horrors. The controls solid and responsive and the game’s difficulty is a little more than Super Metroid (we died 3 times in the demo), making it feel like a substantial single player experience. Details like the hand drawn art and pencil marks when the camera is really zoomed in all combine to make this a visual feast that also delivers on a tight experience.
Sundered is coming out to PS4 and PC in July but you can Kickstart it right now here!
In RiME, you play a boy exploring a strange island trying to work your way to a pillar in its center. Along the way, you’ll solve puzzles, meet a super cute fox, and try to figure out the mysteries of your surroundings and what could have happened to make it the way it is now.
RiME feels a lot like Zelda mixed with Journey in the best possible way. The art style is stark and gorgeous, varying dramatically for different areas in the game. The world is all laid out in a way that’s easy to understand visually, which is a good thing since the game features no dialog or text, so you’re relying on just trying things out and being observant to solve puzzles.
RiME is due out summer 2017 on PS4, Xbox One, PC, and Nintendo Switch.
Want more PAX South 2017 coverage? All you had to do was ask!
Monster Boy, Warlock’s Tower, and Has Been Heroes
Minit, Beat Cop, and Strikers Edge
Arms, Splatoon 2, and Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Monster Boy started as a Kickstarter project called “Flying Hamster.” Since then, the team welcomed Ryuichi Nishizawa and turned the game into Monster Boy, based off the Wonder Boy in Monster World, a mashup between the Wonder Boy and Monster World series. Please go look those up if you have no idea what we’re talking about.
The player takes control of Jin, a boy who can transform into five different monsters to solve puzzles and take down enemies with a variety of abilities. This platformer hearkens back to old school platformers in the 80s and 90s — simple gameplay, peppy music, bright visuals. Like a Saturday morning cartoon video game that you set your alarm for.
Monster Boy is simultaneously releasing on Nintendo Switch, PS4, and Xbox One later this year.
Some game developers try to emulate the style of classic pixel games and achieve something between nostalgia and amusement. Then you have a game like Warlock’s Tower, which just looks like it’s always been a Gameboy game and dares you to tell it otherwise.
The graphics of Warlock’s Tower look exactly like an original Gameboy game being played on the Super Gameboy player, complete with being able to change main color from green to orange yellow. All of that helps Warlock’s Tower in the charming area, but the underlying gameplay is really cool, too.
At it’s core, Warlock’s Tower is a puzzle game in which you take control of a mailman trying to avoid monsters and deliver a letter to the warlock of the titular tower. Each move you make takes away one life, but there are tokens on each floor to increase the number of lives you have. It’s a puzzle to be able to figure out which tokens to get at what time and using what directions. The game even has Twitch integration so you can interact with your chat while you play.
Warlock’s Tower is out now for PC.
Has Been Heroes
Has Been Heroes is a Roguelike inspired by Plants Vs. Zombies.
Oh, what, you need more?
In the game, you’ll take control of three characters, each with their own lane. Each character has a different number of attacks, attack power, and control of spells. It’s up to the player to time their attacks accurately, swap characters, and utilize spells cleverly to fight back hoards of enemies.
At first, it takes a bit to get used with character switching and the concept of enemies having points with which to block your attacks, but very quickly, you’re pausing the game less, attacking with one character, swapping another in after the shield is broken to follow up with a health attack, and using spells on the fly. It’s satisfying to feel in control, but also like your heart is in your throat trying to figure out if your abilities will be off cooldown before the next enemy reaches you.
Has Been Heroes comes out March 28th for Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One, and PC.
Want more PAX South 2017 coverage? All you had to do was ask!
If you watched our live stream of the Nintendo Switch announcement, you will know that we did not have a kind word to say about Arms.
After having played the demo at PAX South, I may as well be Shrek – because now I’m a believer. For a game with such a strangely picked title and looking like the least fun game on Wii Sports, Arms has no business being as good as it is. The controls are responsive, the customizing of characters feels good, but isn’t overwhelming, and above all else, the game is really fun. I also have a feeling the developers knew it was kind of a goofy game. I mean, it’s called Arms and one of the characters is called Master Mummy. Someone is in on this joke.
The game is also surprisingly deep with strategy, given how much jumping, dashing, cancelling, and your special can really make or break a fight. Overall, it’s quite fun and actually gives you a bit of a work out if you’re competitive. The only downside is you need two pairs of Joycons to play it, and jeepers, those are expensive.
Arms will be out at launch for the Nintendo Switch on March 3rd.
Did you like the first Splatoon? Good, because Splatoon 2 is just like that, but slightly better.
Remember when Left 4 Dead came out, then a year later Left 4 Dead 2 came out and it was almost identical, but had better stuff in it? That’s exactly what’s happening here. Splatoon is a great game that just didn’t reach a wide enough audience because the Wii U’s sales were so poor, so it’s actually a great idea to add some stuff to it and release a sequel on the Switch where the user base will be, presumably, much larger.
There’s not much different between the two games, other than the addition of the Splat Dualies, dual pistols that focus more on PvP than painting the ground. They give you the ability to dodge roll, which is pretty powerful especially if your opponent is using the gyroscope and having to contort their torso just to see you.
Splatoon 2 is out this Summer for Nintendo Switch.
Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
It’s hard to say anything new about Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. That being said, videos don’t quite do it justice.
We’ve watched trailers and gameplay videos showing the opening scene of Link coming into the world for the first time. It was impressive seeing it the first few times, but actually experiencing it live, immersed by the sound, experiencing that transition into the cut scene is like the first time you realize Final Fantasy VII doesn’t just take place in Midgar. Seeing Death Mountain way in the distance and knowing you can go there is mind boggling.
The game isn’t without its faults — some button mapping could use some work and if we’re being nitpicky, the lines on the edges of textures can be a little jagged — but none of it even comes close to tainting the sense of adventure, freedom, and wonder felt from the first time you pick up the controller.
In the short demo, we only activated a tower, fought some bokoblins, and did part of the magnesis shrine, but the world felt alive. The concerns about it maybe being too open and sparse may still prove to be correct, but at the present, no Zelda game has given us this many goosebumps since Ocarina of Time.
You can play Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on either Nintendo Switch or Wii U March 3rd.
Want more PAX South 2017 coverage? All you had to do was ask!
Monster Boy, Warlock’s Tower, and Has Been Heroes
Prisma and The Masquerade Menace, Sundered, and RiME
Minit, Beat Cop, and Strikers Edge
Gamescom 2016 has come to and end and this year’s focus revolved around showcasing some amazing games previously announced at E3. The public convention in Cologne, Germany differs from E3 in that regular attendees can come in and get their hands on the hottest games that are coming out over the next year. For the price of a plane ticket.
After watching nearly 100 hours of gameplay demos and stage presentations, here are our Top Ten favorite showcases from Gamescom 2016. I will break down why I chose each entry in hopes to install some hype directly into your brain. Take a journey with me and let me know your favorites in the comments below!
I have not been overly impressed with Recore when I see it. Its vague trailers and extremely short gameplay videos never gave the game room to breathe and show us what it really is. That was all fixed at this year’s Gamescom. The game looks to be a mixture of Mega Man like combat and Metroid inspired world traversal. Team members from the Metroid Prime games are working on this game. So expect the game to be semi open world where getting to new areas are blocked off until you get the appropriate equipment to move forward. Plan to do plenty of backtracking!
Finally we see how the combat works, and the gameplay also seems to be littered with environmental puzzles which will give many of opportunity for exploring the beautiful areas in this game. You have 5 separate core machines each of which can help with combat and puzzle solving. I have been waiting for this game to wow me, and it finally has. Be sure to keep ReCore on your radar when it releases September 13,2016 on Xbox One and PC.
9. Final Fantasy XV
Sure the delay of Final Fantasy XV has taken some wind out of my sails, but ya know what, more time in the oven is always a good thing. Plus when you get a large 1 hour demo of the hotly anticipated experience…that helps as well. This video just reminded me why I have been so excited for this game, and I don’t think anything is killing this hype until launch.
The rumors swirling around the internet about this game being “in trouble,” seems like rampant speculation to me. I have read so many hands on impressions by so many trusted industry types that I am deciding to just be optimistic about it, instead of adding to the worry and negativity that seems to be minimal yet vocal about the development of this game. I’ve played both demos that were wide released and had an excellent time with Final Fantasy XV. The demo seems to show some stuff from the beginning of the game, and finally reveals the voice cast which to me, sound great. We get to see the characters exploring, hanging out in diners, chilling in the car, as well as get some exploration and combat on. Seeing such a large chunk of this game has assured me that this delay, while crappy to hear, is for the best. The new release date for this epic is, November 29, 2016 on the PS4 and Xbox One.
8. Sea of Thieves
Sea of Thieves may just be the jolliest game that is on the horizon. There was a lot of whiskey drinking, tavern occupying, instrument playing, and open sea sailing in the 10 minute gameplay video. The idea of gathering a crew, getting some instruments and then playing ‘Ride of the Valkyries” as you head towards a ship, the music growing louder and louder to them as they realize they are about to be attacked and boarded…it is the stuff dreams are made of. Cannonballs rip through the hull of the ships and begun to flood the lower cabins as you and your crew must run down there and board up the holes so the ship doesn’t capsize…you just aren’t finding an experience like this anywhere else. be sure to check it out next year in 2017 on the Xbox One and PC.
7. Get Even
Get Even is one of the newer games presented at the convention. I had known nothing about this game but now…welcome to the list of hype Get Even. The trailer sets a very weird and freaky tone, but doesn’t tell you much about the gameplay. However, I did follow up with some people who got the hands on treatment. What they described sounds unlike anything to have come out before. The themes are supposed to blend the idea of reality and virtual reality where you don’t know where one ends, and the other begins. It is far from a grounded game, but instead aims for a surreal experience that is just enriched by the awesome atmosphere the game creates. I cannot wait to learn and know more about this one. There is no official release date yet, but the developers have said to expect it sometimes next year, in 2017 on the PC, PS4, and Xbox One.
6. Little Nightmares
Little Nightmares is another recently revealed game. The trailer was very bizarre looking on its own, but all the gameplay I have seen just adds more to that tone. The character you play is always on the run from what seems to be very hungry monsters, and it plays like a Little Big Planet of a 2.5D style side-scroller. The environments are spooky and the traversal puzzles seem straight forward. Playing as a child in the game, expect for childhood fears to play a big role in what drives the scares and atmosphere. I don’t wait to say too much more because the hands on gameplay videos do a great job at really showcasing the moment to moment gameplay. This will be another 2017 release with no official release date at this time. It will be coming to the PC, PS4, and Xbox One!
5. Blackwood Crossing
Blackwood Crossing was constantly on the verge of game of the show for me. It seems you play as a young boy who is being taken care of your older sister. That is about the only thing I can grab narratively from the trailer. It went on to show a very Alice in Wonderland looking adventure where the young boy either via his imagination or through grief (they have dead parents) go on a grand adventure between realities. It seems super narratively focused like many other recent first person experience like games. The real takeaway are the visuals, but what has me continuing to think of this game is the chance for a great story to be told. As somebody who has an older sister, I feel this one will land very heavily with me. The wait to 2017 for this game will be a long one. You will be able to nab it on PC, PS4, or Xbox One.
4. Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
The amount of mystery behind Resident Evil 7 Biohazard, is a good example of how you market a game. We are being told it will be a lot like the originals. Yet every time we see the game it looks to be a first person experience closer to games like Amnesia or Outlast. Yet the director assures us that there will be combat, weapons, limited ammo, and everything that used to make a Resident Evil game a Resident Evil game. I thought the little cat and mouse gameplay we saw from Gamescom was filled with dread though. The idea that something is hunting you (Nemesis style) really brings a tone that I can’t wait to live in. Keep the mystery strong Capcom, because for me it is totally working. I find myself more interested in the game every time somebody shows off something new. The wait wont be suffered too much longer, as RE7 releases January 27, 2017 on the PS4, Xbox One, and PC.
3. Space Hulk: Death Wing
Space Hulk Death Wing is the Warhammer 40k video game I have been waiting my entire life fore. As somebody who played the tactical table top game religiously for years, my ears always perk up when I hear about a new Warhammer entry. Space Hulks are the war ships in the lore of the game. The idea in this experience is that you and your team of Space Marines enter a series of derelict ships. Inside said vessels they will battle the hive minded alien race known as the Tyranids. This is an epic dungeon crawler style first person shooter. The gameplay I have seen looks intense, and the gore is off the charts. Trust me when I say that this is not your average Sci-Fi shooter. This game is still slated for 2016, but don’t be surprised if it gets pushed back into next year. either way you can grab it on, PC, Xbox One, and PS4.
A Don’t Nod is making a new game? Who is that? The people who did last year’s Game of the Year nominee, Life is Strange? Let’s talk about how all in we are for this.
Vampyr is another choice based adventure by the people who can out TellTale even TellTale. The plot is centered around a doctor turned vampire who is slowly submitting what he has turned into.
How does one stick to his own Hippocratic Oath when killing and feeding on the innocent comes first nature to the creature he has become? You choose when, if at all, to kill. You can choose whom you kill and how you do it. Beware though, as everybody in the town you occupy has relationships. Killing off one person could alert a friend of the deceased into something otherworldly taking place. Choose whom you kill wisely. Know that even if they seem like a bad person on the outside, perhaps they have a sick son whom he works day and night for to keep alive. This game delivers those moral quandaries around every turn and I for one cannot be more excited for this game. The wait to 2017 will be a long one, but your PC, PS4, and Xbox One will thank you for picking it up.
Prey had one of the best reveals at E3 in terms of great trailers. Sure it was all CG, but there was something every artistic about the narrative the trailer was telling. Skip forward to Gamescom and now we have full gameplay. With combat and aesthetics that dances between games like Dishonored and Bioshock, Prey really proved that this was a must for me. I loved these aliens that the trailer introduces. They look like a blob of black goop that can morph into different shapes and sizes. It seems your character gets new weapons and abilities to fight off aliens while a Sci-Fi heavy storyline unfolds.
While it won’t be completely open world, it will insist on exploration in the larger areas, much like the original Bioshock did. I am not a huge fan of either of the games this experience is being compared to. However, I respect the hell out of both of those franchises and eagerly away for the end product of Prey. It is a day one purchase for me next year in 2017 when it releases on the PC, Xbox One, and PS4.
That’s it! That is Gamescom all wrapped up in a nice Top Ten list. This list is just gauging my personal hype levels for the presentations I deemed the “coolest” at Gamescom 2016. Write out your top ten list in the comments below and let’s discuss all things you are hyped for!