NES Classic Edition Announced By Nintendo

While we’ll be left waiting for the Codename NX until early 2017, Nintendo has a much more old-school system in the works for this year’s holiday season.  The NES Classic Edition was announced via the official Nintendo Twitter feed and will come preloaded with 30 beloved games of the 8-bit era.  The system has been shown on all of Nintendo’s official Twitter feeds, such as their Spanish, French, and Russian accounts, suggesting a global release.

While the new system is designed after the original Nintendo Entertainment System, it will not actually be able to play old NES cartridges.  Instead, the machine will have a selection of games preloaded onto it that can be readily played after plugging it in.  Many of the games included will be classic first-party games including the Super Mario trilogy, the first two Legend of Zelda games, Metroid, Excitebike, and StarTropics.

It will also feature a variety of third-party titles, including Pac-Man, Mega Man 2, Final Fantasy, Double Dragon II, the first two Castlevania games, and Tecmo Bowl.  You can check out the full list of games here.  The system isn’t designed for internet access or external media, so these 30 will be the only games you’ll be able to play with the system.

There have been plenty of preloaded consoles in the past, some with dubious legality, but rarely has a major developer like Nintendo delved into such a concept.  SNK Playmore released a handheld version of their Neo Geo console called the Neo Geo X in 2012, but infamously ran into trouble with their manufacturer.  While the Classic Mini seems like an easy ticket for printing money, but there is a fair share of potential mishaps that could harm it.  Given Nintendo’s recent problems with supplying hardware like amiibos and the Gamecube controller adapter, there’s a chance that Nintendo may see this as nothing more than a collector’s item and understock it.

The NES Classic Edition is set to release on November 11th later this year for $60.  It will include one NES Controller and will be compatible with the Wii Classic Controller and Wii Classic Controller Pro.  Will you be picking one up yourself?  What NES titles do you wish had been included?  Leave a comment below and let us know what you think.

Castlevania Statue Unveiled

“He who wields the whip, is not easily defeated”. Castlevania fans rejoice as high-end makers First4Figures have shown off their latest work. At a striking 20 inches, we have Simon Belmont in a replica pose of his his original outing in the first Castlevania game. Cast in high-quality polystone resin, Simon has never looked more ready for action. Extra detail has been put in to ensure every feature of the vampire-killer looks accurate. From his metal armor to his locks of hair, nothing has been missed out.

The description reads: “Simon Belmont was a member of the famed Belmont Clan of Vampire Hunters, whose valiant efforts and Vampire Killer whip had seen the world rid of the evil Dracula and his henchmen. But peace would not last, as 100 years later Dracula was reawakened. As the heir to the Vampire Killer, Simon was entrusted with the duty of killing Dracula as his ancestors had done before.” Available in exclusive and regular, you have the choice of more pieces that can be swapped out to your liking.

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Due for release in Q1 of 2016 the exclusive figure can be yours for $439.99 with the regular coming in at $399.99. Limited to 299 and 750 pieces respectively, you need to be quick if you want to grab one of these collectibles. The statue is delivered in full color packaging with an authenticity card and a individual numbered base. If you have already purchased the Dracula statue, then you are entitled to the same product number. This applies to all future releases in the Castlevania series.

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What do you think of the statue? Will you be buying one?

Head to www.first4figures.com to grab one of these beauty’s and leave us a comment below to tell us your thoughts.

Bloodstained Kickstarter Closes With Over $5.5 Million, All Stretch Goals Met

Bloodstained

Now reigning as the most heavily-funded video game on Kickstarter, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night has blown past Obsidian’s $3.9 million campaign for Pillars of Eternity (formerly Project Eternity) with a grand total of $5,545,991.  Bloodstained is a spiritual successor to the exploration-based Castlevania games, such as Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, and is being developed by an all-star team famous for their work with the franchise.  Leading the project is Koji Igarashi, who has been at the helm of the Castlevania franchise since the release of Symphony, but left Konami in 2014 to strike out on his own.  Right now, it certainly looks like he made the right decision.

With its incredibly successful crowdfunding campaign, Bloodstained is set to include all of its stretch goals.  The game will release on Playstation 4, Xbox One, Wii U, and Vita, and will release on PC, Mac, and Linex through Steam and GOG.com.  There will be both digital and physical retail copies of the game.  It will include three playable characters, local co-op, asynchronous online multiplayer, cheat codes, the largest castle that Igarashi has crafted yet, a roguelike dungeon, boss revenge mode, and much more.

If you’re still interested in contributing to the development of Bloodstained, there is a slacker backer option on the Kickstarter page that you can use to receive backer rewards between the $28-5oo tiers.  Here’s hoping that Igarashi doesn’t let all of funding go to his head and delivers a masterpiece his supporters can be proud of.

Why We’ll All Survive Without Silent Hills (Except for Konami)

Silent Hills

On April 1st, I wrote a fake interview regarding Hideo Kojima and Konami.  I stated that The Phantom Pain was the last title Kojima would develop with Konami, that he, Guillermo del Toro, and Norman Reedus had all been dropped from working on Silent Hills, and that Konami would be drastically down-sizing in the future to focus more on using their properties for developing mobile games and pachinko machines.  The article was one half practical joke and one half honest prediction for the future of this once legendary game company.  Sadly, my little prank is becoming more fact than fiction by the day.

Not only have Kojima, del Toro, and Reedus all been dropped from Silent Hills, Silent Hills itself has been dropped altogether with Konami officially confirming that the game has been cancelled.  On top of that, Konami has delisted itself from the New York Stock Exchange, suggesting a downsizing of the company.  Where Konami has been placing its interest is the possibility of gambling being legalized in Japan and hoping to partner with new casino resorts.  All signs point to The Phantom Pain being the last major game that Konami develops and that its iconic franchises will be relegated to promoting mobile apps and gambling devices.  Before you call that a ridiculous idea, I should point out that Konami has already announced a Neo Contra slot machine.  One anonymous source claims that much of the drama surrounding The Phantom Pain and Silent Hills has been the result of a feud between Kojima and Konami founder Kagemasa Kozuki and that many of the development teams have been facing mergers or have are being forced out through unethical means.  It seems that the Konami that we’ve known for the last thirty years is dying and series like Metal Gear, Silent Hill, and Castlevania will never be the same.  However, that doesn’t mean that their legacies can’t live on.

The name Konami isn’t what brought us countless classic games; it’s the people who have worked under that name.  Kojima may never work on another game titled Metal Gear, but he doesn’t need that title and cast of characters to craft intriguing games.  Intellectual properties are merely a canvas for developers to apply their craft upon.  Silent Hills may never be, but what’s to stop Kojima and del Toro from starting over from scratch and creating an original horror game?  Admittedly, it wouldn’t be nearly as easy as I’m making it out to be, but it’s far from impossible.  Even if Konami leaves its IPs to rot, there’s always room for spiritual successors to carry the torch.  We’ve already seen games like Mighty No. 9 and War for the Overworld step up on behalf of the neglected Mega Man and Dungeon Keeper franchises.  While the direction Konami appears to be taking is certainly a set-back for gamers everywhere, it’s not going to stop good games from ultimately being made.

Even if gambling isn’t legalized in Japan and Konami’s expected shift doesn’t work out, I don’t expect Konami to go under anytime soon.  Their development of slot machines for international markets has been making them a steady profit while their game sales have been steadily declining over the last few years.  Just look at this official financial report of theirs where, for the record, video games are listed under digital entertainment and slot machines are listed under gaming and systems and tell me you don’t see a trend.  To a degree, I can actually understand the transition they’re trying to make.  The main takeaway is that the possible end of Konami as a game developer does not necessarily mean the end of your favorite games.  Kojima is an industry legend and it won’t take him long to settle into a new, hopefully more comfortable situation.  Any franchises that end up woefully abandoned will see a revival in one way or another.  It’s a shame that Silent Hills had to be lost as a result of the internal strife, but it is far from being the end of great survival horror games.

Top 10 Characters We Want To See Added To Super Smash Brothers

Smash

With Nintendo announcing the Smash Fighter Ballot, the gates have been open for the millions of Smash fans to have their say on who they want added as DLC. Nintendo has one of the richest libraries known to gaming, so our choices are almost endless. Here are our top picks that we think will make Smash even better. As a cheeky side note, it would also give Nintendo some extra brownie points with third party developers resulting in the ultimate win-win.

Banjo and Kazooie

Before Rare moved to Microsoft and made a string of questionable decisions, they made Banjo Kazbanjo-kazooie-introooie. As one of the pioneers of 3D Collect’em Ups, Banjo Kazooie is fondly remembered by those old enough to have owned an N64. They even made a brilliant sequel Banjo Tooie, before eventually breaking our hearts with the complete abandonment of Banjo Threeie. Ignoring all that however, Banjo and Kazooie have a number of sick moves at their disposal when platforming and fighting enemies making them ideal candidates.

Conker

Ok, ok this will be the last Rare character I throw into the pot, but not only was Conker an incredibly

controversial game on release, it was also bloody brilliant. Whilst its underlining gameplay was similar to Banjo, the games felt very different and Conker himself is quite the character. Another relic from the N64, it wouldn’t hurt too much to have a bit of juvenile humor thrown into an already ludicrous title such as Smash.

Monster Hunter’s Monster Hunter

Monster Hunter is a massively popular game, and games as massive and popular as Monster Hunter should make an monster-hunter-3-ultimate-wii-u-screenshot-2appearance. Whilst having roots on Nintendo consoles, recent titles have been outstanding, arguably the best in the series being the latest iteration of the series: Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate. What makes the idea even more mouth watering is the ways they could implement such a character into the game. Having such a wide variety of weapons, you could either go the “Link Route”, essentially being able to pull weapons out on the fly to suit certain situations or go the “Mii Fighter Route” whereby you can choose a weapon pre-match to suite your style. Probably the hardest character to implement,  but certainly one of the most interesting

Simon Belmont

Castlevania is one of those iconic titles in gaming, with Simon Belmont being up there as one of the most recognizable Vampire Hunters around. Brandishing a 10ft whip of darkness-destroying-holy-righteousness, that can be swung in 8 directions and attach to ledges gives Simon incredible range, coverage and manoeuvrability. Sub-weapons such as the boomerang cross, holy water and throwing axe would make him more of a item user like Link, or Pac-man with a leathery, leathery twist. Considering what they did with Mega Man, I can only imagine how true to form Simon will be when he makes his appearance.

Ryu Hayabusa

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Wielder of the fabled Dragon Sword, and slayer of demons, Ryu is probably King of the Ninjas. Another classic from the NES and long-time fighter in Dead or Alive, Ryu would fit right in with the current cast of characters. His mastery of sword play, acrobatics and martial arts as a whole make him a deadly opponent, and with a variety of special weapons at his disposal, there would be plenty of interesting combos to pull off.

Wonder Red + Friends

Wonderful 101 was an interesting game released on the Wii U by Platinum, and whilst it got some well deserved criticism (mostly directed at the controls), Wonder Red and his 100 Wonderful friends would give a sweet spin on the classic Olimar formula. Being able to morph into whips, fists and even the mighty Valiantium Blade, this is another character with heaps of potential. Whilst having 101 characters on screen at once might be a bit much, it is certainly an idea for their Final Smash, and having a handful of main characters on screen would certainly wet anybodies appetite.

Solid Snake

A solid character from Brawl, Snake was painfully missing in the latest iteration. Whilst his inclusion in the game might MetalGear_THUMB-1414797368613cause some minor heart ache for the Phantom Pain not being a Wii U title, but Metal Gear has appeared on Nintendo Consoles, and Solid Snake is already a proven brawler. A simple addition to the game, and one that should never have left.

Isaac

Making his debut on the GBA in 2002 as the main character of Golden Sun, and also making an appearance as an Assist Trophy in Brawl, Isaac would be an interesting, if somewhat “from the left field” pick

for a character. Being the lead in an RPG, he certainly has plenty of moves at his disposal, his most prominent ability being his use of Djinns and his Master Hand-like environmental control. Nintendo are not against obscure characters considering Ness has been around since the beginning…a character who only recently saw a European release.

Bayonetta

Bayonetta is probably one of the most controversial characters in gaming history. Despite beinbayonetta2g designed as every man’s dream lady, but proportioned in such a ludicrous way you cannot help but be amused, Bayonetta is probably the strongest female protagonist in history. Add to this, she is one of Nintendo’s newest IP’s, and comes from a series of games that excels at high flying brawler action, why was Bayonetta not included in the first place. I want to see Mario get shot in the face via heel-mounted shotguns and thrown across the stage only to be eaten by a demon dragon conjured from hair. Nintendo, make it happen.

So those are our top picks for the Smash Fighter Ballot, do you agree? Who would you want to join the roster, and why? Let us know in the comments. Happy Smashing.

2D-3D, Gaming’s Greatest Challenge

Gaming

We live in an age of gaming where we have near photo realistic graphics, gigantic open worlds modeled off of real, and fictional places, and for the most part we have conquered the third dimension. 3D gaming continues to improve, and we as gamers have evolved to the point where we can navigate a virtual 3D space relatively unhindered. The real challenge games developers face, and have always faced, is transitioning old 2D games, into new 3D ones.

This might seem like a cheap shot at an easy target, but look at Sonic. The moment Sonic stepped into the realms of 3D the quality of his games have dropped, heck some are unplayable. Needless to say, the transition has not been smooth for the hedgehog, but he is not the only one to have suffered. Megaman, Bomberman, Castlevania, they all tried to Tardis over, and they all failed. Megaman X7/8 were so bad, even the 2D sections suffered. Castlevania N64 titles were mind blowing in their shoddiness and continued to fester into the PS2 era. Bomberman failed so badly I am not even sure he exists anymore. The list of failed attempts to “innovate” is nearly endless.

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But then you have to insert the exception to the rule, or something I like to call: The Nintendo Factor. Where others failed, Nintendo somehow managed to make hit, after hit. Some of these newly 3D games are still considered masterpieces to this day. Mario, Link and Donkey Kong all made it through the rift during the N64 days. The gamecube brought Metroid through and pretty much created its own subgenre of FPS. Pit got his makeover into 3D on the 3DS after his last title was on the NES! Simply put, Nintendo know what they are doing. I don’t want to fan the fan-fires, but would it really be so bad if Nintendo took over the reigns for someone like Sonic? A few generations ago having Sonic on a Nintendo console would have been blasphemy, we now have  dozen games where both Mario and Sonic star. Would it be such a stretch nowadays? Lets face it, Sonic games are not going to get any better without some intervention.

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Of course Nintendo are not the only company able to bridge the gap. I mentioned Castlevania earlier, with the Lords of Shadow series we finally got a good 3D Castlevania. We even got a sequel, and a 2.5D prequel to said sequel! Metal Gear is another biggy. I might be pushing the boat a little far on this one, but even Bioware managed the transition. Baldurs Gate into Dragon Age was a technological leap I did not think possible. 2D-3D is achievable, proof is literally everywhere. It has just taken a fair amount of casualties to get to this point.

Gaming’s Greatest Gadgets: The “Vampire Killer”

Vampire Killer

Gaming is literally chocked full of awesome weapons, sweet gadgets and general bits and bobs designed to streamline your killing experience. But only the greatest weapons become iconic; synonymous with the game itself; two peas in a disk/cartridge/downloadable-doodad shaped pod.

In this series, we look at these legendary gizmos from across gaming’s glorious past, and with the recent re-release of Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow on the Nintendo E-Shop it is only fitting that we take a look at:

The Vampire Killer

proxyCastlevania is one of the oldest series’ in gaming, and stands tall next to Metal Gear as one of Konami’s greatest achievements. In 1986 Castlevania bursted onto the scene, giving the world one of its first glimpses into the survival horror genre. Utilizing monsters from both myth and classic horror films, fused with clunky controls in a dark-fantasy setting, Konami pushed the NES to its breaking point. What made Castlevania so iconic however (soul crushing difficulty notwithstanding), was its weapon of choice: The Vampire Killer.

Unlike most weapons in gaming, then and now, the Vampire Killer is not a sword or a gun, it’s a whip. Being a whip gave the player surprising range when engaging enemies, although the trade was a whip that was heavy, cumbersome and hard to control. You could not move whilst attacking, so every swing had to mean something, as you rarely got a second chance. Nothing in gaming was, or has been, as satisfying to use. You cannot beat the sound of the Vampire Killers deadly crack as it connects with its enemies.

The Vampire Killer is typically depicted as a leather whip crafted by the alchemist Rinaldo Gandolfi, reaching 5-10ft in length, however seeing as it was made by alchemy, it has also taken on the form of a metal chain, as well as a morning star. Though bound to the Belmont family (a bond that can literally kill those not from the clan), each Belmont has been able to utilize the Vampire Killer in different ways. Richter could literally ignite the whip creating an inferno of extendable metal  death, whilst John was able to imbue it with lightning. Other Belmont’s have been able to channel magic energies through the whip, unleashing fireballs and earthquakes. Some have used it in conjunction with their incredible upper-body strength to pull off unimaginable acrobatics.

Whilst it bears the name Vampire Killer and designed to kill Count Dracula, the whip is blessed with the power to destroy all darkness, whether that be undead, demon or alchemical. In fact, such is the Vampire Killers power, it has slain Death himself on numerous occasions and  even banished Satan. Finally, the Vampire Killer, despite being a whip, can crush brick and mortar, enchanted or not, with ease. Its most interesting ability is that it can literally conjure food out of rubble to rejuvenate its bearer.

Modernization

combat-cross-and-whipWith the 3D overhaul Castlevania got with the Lords of Shadow series, the Vampire Killer took on a new lease of life. No longer a whip, the Vampire Killer became a Combat Cross, and although it was still designed by Rinaldo Gandolfi, it was also replicated meaning countless lesser Crosses exist. What is even more surprising is that it was not designed to slay Dracula, and was actually given its name by the village of Wygol after a vampire attack was thwarted.

This iteration of the Vampire Killer is a crucifix. The base of the cross is sharpened into a stake to allow for the quick disposal of vampires, whilst the main weapon is a blessed chain covered in spikes that ends with a hooked tip. Whilst not actually a whip, it is used much like a one, and similar to the old Vampire Killer, it can slay anything from lycanthropes to alchemical colossus. Additionally, the Combat Cross can also be infused with magic, allowing the bearer to drain the life from his enemies and, similar to the original, burst into flames. Finally, the Combat Cross’s greatest strength is its ability to permanently kill an immortal.

Unlike the Vampire Killer of old however, it is not passed down through the generations, and is in fact destroyed, reforged, and wielded by Dracula, making it the least effective Dracula killing Vampire Killer of all time.

The Hunter Whip

Whilst the Vampire Killer is the premiere tool when it comes to the slaying of dark minions, there are other, lesser whips in the series that have been used to banish Dracula and his minions. One such whip is aptly named the Hunter Whip. Unlike the Vampire Killer, the Hunter Whip is made entirely of leather, although this does not seem to hinder the bearer too much. What makes the Hunter Whip so interesting however is its ability to be infused with power of gods and mythical creatures, allowing the bearer to change the properties of the weapon, and even morph it into other weapons such as a sword or gun.

Whilst many people view whips as a tool used primarily within the realm of rugged, fedora wearing, temple delving explorers like Indiana Jones, we gamers see it as one of the coolest weapons ever conceived. Now if you excuse me, I have some more Dracula killing to do. WHOOPAH!