E3 2015, or Why I Can’t Stay Mad at Nintendo

Nintendo

Nintendo has received a huge backlash for their showing at this year’s E3. Fans were aware that the coolest stuff Nintendo had to offer was being held back for next year and Metroid fans in particular felt that Metroid Prime: Federation Force, the announced spin off was a far cry from the sequel that they had been waiting for.

I admit that I was underwhelmed myself and I really wasn’t expecting anything from Nintendo this year. However even though I am unimpressed by what Nintendo offered this year at E3 compared to other companies I retain a sense of fondness for the thought that went into those revelations.

Reggie Fils-Aime has stated that they only wanted to show games at E3 that people would be able to buy in the next six to nine months. All of the games were showcased through the Nintendo Direct format that has proven successful in the past, and none of them were overhyped cgi movies passing as trailers. While individual games may not have seemed as exciting as the long overdue introduction of backwards compatibility to the Xbox one, or the Final Fantasy VII remake (aka why you should always be careful not to create too many expectations with a tech demo) the mindset that lead to their reveals is one that should be applauded. E3 has come to represent an environment that creates unrealistic expectations of games to fuel hype for products that won’t be out for over a year. Nintendo continued the approach they have been taking in the last few years and instead decided to give Nintendo fans an E3 2015 they would truly show them what the company would be making between now and E3 2016. Personally speaking I would rather see that attitude continue, and have an off year from Nintendo than risk a returning to a time in which we Nintendo had more titles announced, only to accompany them with a lack of information and the dreaded phrase “thank you for your patience”.

Even if you were to take Nintendo’s E3 showing at face value I am not at all worried. This is a far cry from E3 2008 (in which Nintendo didn’t have much more to say for itself than Wii music) Nintendo have stated since the event that they are aware of certain fan concerns and that they have yet more games to announce. The Nintendo of today is a company that isn’t going to view an event like E3 as something that will determine their fate for the whole year but as one piece in a much larger strategy. We are going to get more information spread over time rather than crammed into one week, and as a gamer I think we will always be the better for it.

The Nintendo Problem

Nintendo

If you ask anyone what they thought of this years E3, most will tell you that it was one of the better shows of late. Surprise announcements made about games long-thought forgotten, old favourites being lovingly remade and a general sense that over the next 18-24 months, gamers can expect to see some great titles. And then there was Nintendo.

Nintendo started off at a bit of a disadvantage by not actually having a live presentation at E3, but rather a “Digital Event” similar to their Nintendo Direct videos. The Digital Event started off good enough, with the Nintendo Exec’s cutely portrayed by Jim Henson puppets, and the showing off of new game play from the upcoming Star Fox Zero for Wii-U.

WiiU1

However, that was it for Wii-U iterations of the classic Nintendo IP’s. No Zelda. No Metroid. And definitely no Mario.

Instead, the big focus of the show was Super Mario Maker for Wii-U, an extensive level creator that lets players make and share their own Super Mario levels. Players can create any combination of environments, traps, power ups and enemies, and it looks simple enough that anyone will be able to use it.  Super Mario Maker could potentially be a very big hit for Nintendo and I’m sure there will be many fans who will relish at the chance to make and share their Mario creations.

Many of the other titles announced during the event however were, to put it lightly, met with some hostility. Metroid Prime: Federation Force/Blast Ball attracted the most hate for being a Metroid game that didn’t star Samus and was four player co-op focused. Animal Crossing: Amiibo FestivalMario Tennis: Ultra Smash and Mario & Sonic At The Rio 2016 Olympic Games have also all received lukewarm receptions.

Mario3

Nintendo completely missed the mark with E3 this year. Fans had been eagerly awaiting to see their favourite Nintendo characters in glorious HD for two and a half years, and the fact that there wasn’t a glimpse of any of them must have felt like a slap in the face. I’m not saying that the classic IP’s should be the only games that Nintendo creates; I would love to see them create a whole slew of new characters, game worlds and stories. But the simple fact is that if they make next gen versions of their most beloved franchises, people will buy both them and the Wii-U’s needed to play them. And if people buy them, Nintendo gets to keep its doors open.

I don’t want to see console gaming turn into a two horse race. I want to see Nintendo remain relevant in the gaming world, and not because I’m a fan – I haven’t owned a Nintendo product since the GameCube. It’s because Nintendo have proven themselves to make interesting, innovative and incredibly fun games. They provide an alternative to Sony and Microsoft’s offerings that are often very similar to each other and can at times be predictable.

MetroidPrime1

In recent years Nintendo has lost its way, relying on nostalgia to sell titles rather than attempting to innovate and it has reached breaking point. And the cross-pollination of different characters and properties into each game has been so overdone that it’s now meaningless. Super Mario Maker lets you put Link into a Mario level for no adequate reason while Paper Mario and Mario & Luigi are teaming up in Paper Jam. And in Mario Tennis and Mario & Sonic At The Olympics we are promised the usual cavalcade of colourful cartoon characters that are meant to distract us from the fact that these games are just another retread of the same mechanics but with updated graphics.

I hope that Nintendo gets off the nostalgia train sooner rather than later, and looks at Splatoon as reassurance that they can make fun new IP’s with solid gameplay that people will buy. Because if they don’t, then very soon Nintendo may just be another name lost to gaming history as a company that was once loved but didn’t move with the times. And that would be a real loss.

E3 Gave Us a Lot of Final Fantasy, But no Final Fantasy XV – Is It Time to Start Worrying?

E3

Square Enix show up for the first time with a press conference this E3, and they had a bag of goodies with them. Among everything shown at the press conference were many different Final Fantasy titles, the franchise which made and built the company.

The biggest reveal of them all had to be a true remake of Final Fantasy VII. Whether the remake stands a chance of reaching the same greatness as the original, is something for another time. Which also would include questions on how different the gameplay would have to be to include the new audience and still keep the old fans. Aside from the remake, they also announced that the re-release of the FF VII we have on PC for PS4 will be delayed until Christmas, but will see its IOS release this summer instead.

We also got a new glimpse at Final Fantasy XIV Heavensward with a launch trailer for their first expansion to their newest MMORPG, which still is going pretty strong. Seeing how the game is released in a couple of days on the 23 June, which seemed like the wrong place to show something everyone who wants to see has already seen.

To top this of, Square Enix also gave us a preview on a completely new title: World of Final Fantasy. At first glance it didn’t look like a full priced title or maybe even a mobile title. But after learning more about this charming, colorful game where you play as small bobblehead characters with the ability to ride monsters. We learnt that it is a game focusing on the group of people wanting to play Final Fantasy, but for various reasons find the gameplay discouraging or the world a little too dark and gloomy. It is a Final Fantasy for everyone, and especially families and the younger ones.

But among all these Final Fantasy reveals and trailers, there was one missing, the one many gamers all over the world had hoped to both see more from but also get a release date on: Final Fantasy XV. Seeing on how people who bought Final Fantasy Type O, got their hands on a demo for Final Fantasy XV, one would think that the release of the full game would not be so far away. But after patiently waiting for an announcement both during Square Enix press conference, but also during the whole week of E3, we saw no sign of the game at all. So is it time to start worrying on how the production is going on the game?

To add on this, Square Enix gladly showed off some in-game from Kingdom hearts 3, which of course was great to finally see, and something which fans of the series have been waiting for very long. But it also makes the progress of Final Fantasy XV even more worrying since they last year clearly stated that the production of Kingdom Hearts 3 was prioritized under Final Fantasy XV, and they wouldn’t show anything from that until Final Fantasy XV was ready to launch. And still, no date on that game.

With E3 now over, I´m guessing we will have to wait until Gamescon before any news appear about Final Fantasy XV, and if they don’t give us something there, it may be that Square Enix is working on too much and have left the priority on the game behind. Until anything is official about the game, we have a lot of other Final Fantasy games to look forward to. But be aware and know where you read this first.

Youtube’s Gaming Channel Just Around the Corner!

YouTube

The Gaming market on Youtube is definitely a big one! It’s one of the biggest Niches out there and it claims that hundreds of millions of gamers are posting their content right on the site. People are spending billions of hours (total) watching these videos. Over half of the top 100 Youtube channels are gaming channels! Needless to say there is a big spot for this market.

Popular Youtuber ashens, best known for his series of comedy sketches focused on showing off various cheap and bootleg merchandise, made a strange discovery while browsing his local charity shop back in 2012.  What was clearly packaged in a fake Playstation 2 game box turned out to be an alpha build of a game that was never finished nor released.  It wasn’t until ashens had a recent conversation with the people behind fellow Youtube channel DidYouKnowGaming that he realized exactly what he had.

It has announced that they will be releasing a new gaming app and gaming website that will launch later this summer to cater to the needs of the millions of gamers out there. This was a great time to announce this project since E3 just happened and Youtube was on the floor live streaming the whole thing. They showed beta versions of their app on the floor at E3.

The Reason Google aims to do this is to engage more with gamers while boosting involvement and ad revenue. You can check it out and sign up for updates here.

Can there Be Winners and Losers at E3?

E3

The E3 week is now over, and as usual it came with a lot of new games, old games, fun games, less fun games, unexpected games and expected games. When nearing the end of the week, one thing we have learned to count on, is that almost all sites covering E3 will discuss who “won” E3. And this year marks the year where we have had the most press conferences before the actual expo ever. Aside from the usual big three that are Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo, we have also seen the now mandatory EA and Ubisoft conferences. But also going full throttle this years was Bethesda, Square Enix and one completely dedicated to PC gaming.

The press conferences this year came and went like always. They were held in great theaters hosting seats for a couple hundreds of reporters all eager to first break the news that where soon to be unrevealed. With the exception of the PC gaming conference which was more like a talkshow then anything, a show which lasted almost 2,5 hours, and that was not a good thing. All of them streamed all over the world to a huge number of players eagerly waiting for something new or a reveal of their favorite game, and like always, some people where very happy and some will probably not watch it again next year. But let us return to the question at hand, the big questions everyone seems to have an opinion about now, ironically even me: Which company won the E3 press conferences? and which game won on the show floor?

Talking about winners and even loser like most people tend to do when discussing E3, seems like the wrong thing to do here. Because, can someone really win at a press conference? And can someone lose after showing part of\ or the whole portfolio of games? Of course not, it is a very absurd thought. If we were talking about winners and losers, that discussion would instead focus on how well the company sell those games promoted, and most of them are not showing up for a long time, so everything can happened.  Even if we strictly view the economic side, and how well a game sells compared to how much money has poured into the project, it still would not really tell us if someone won or lost. Only that the market was focusing on this and that.

We could instead focus on what presentation we thought was best and liked the most, in the most subjective way, which of course could be a good reading or completely not agreeable with our own thoughts. Or we could discuss which game might be the biggest winner in the long run in term of player-base or how well it sells, but that stuff should not matter at all to us gamers. They will of course play a vital role for the companies behind them, but a good game is a good game no matter what, and that thought is extremely subjective. Still, there is no winner or loser to be found at E3. There are only some games which some people like better and some games which other people like better. And by saying that a company won the press conference, or that a game won on the floor, is like saying the other games lost. But we all know that a game does not lose, it only appears to a smaller audience then anticipated in the end.

The most common answer to these questions on the E3 winners I have seen floating around internet, is that we the gamers are the true winners. And while that might be true, and one of the biggest stereotypical clichés to say. I still cannot honestly say that it is we the gamers who won the E3 shows, because we where sadly not invited. We were given a small amount of teasers and in-game trailers compared to all the business talk in-between that only a few people actually care about. As for the game who won on the show floor, gamers didn’t win anything there at all. Because we have seen very little about what was actually shown on the floor, and with time we will, but we will surely not get our hands on it. Which of course is only natural, since it is the journalists job to provide us with that information at this stage, but we still did not win E3 only because a few games was shown to us.

Talking about winners and losers at a semi-public event only made to sell the ideas of products to the consumer via other people in the business, such as the journalists, but also through retailers and other marketing partners, is a completely ludicrous idea. I as many others, watched the press conferences through streaming services and watching a few of the in-game movies taken from the show floor. I have enjoyed some of it, and I did not enjoy some of it.  But neither game nor company won E3 for me, they all succeed I doing what they intended to do; showing us games, which in the end is a good thing for a gamer. So let us stop talking about the “winners and losers” of E3, and instead only focus on the games, follow the games you found interesting at E3 here at VgamerZ, and enjoy playing them when they arrive. But this is my opinion in the matter, and I would love to hear your thoughts on the matter, so please, write to your heart’s content about who won or lost this year E3, or if it is even possible at wining there.

Shenmue III Kickstarter Announced

Shenmue

The Shenmue series defines cult classic with its two beloved entries on the Dreamcast, but was unable to continue the series due to poor sales.  Players were enamored with the incredibly detailed world and heartfelt story and have been eagerly awaiting a continuation of the series for more than a decade.

In a surprising announcement at Sony’s E3 conference, a Kickstarter was revealed for Shenmue III.  Why Sony held this announcement at their conference when they have almost nothing to do with it is anyone’s guess.  The only concern is that the funding goal is a massive $2 million.

Shenmue III Kickstarter page just got updated today with something very interesting to fans of the series’ that want to back the game’s already incredible crowd funding run. Shenmue III has become one of the top 10 most funded Kickstarter campaigns ever.

The newest update added new rewards for certain amount of money donated which includes a guestbook that gives you the chance to “put your name and a 140 character message in the guestbook of a Choubu inn.” or even have a capsule figure made after you by non-other than Main Character Designer Kenji Miyawaki.

While Bloodstained managed to raise well over $5 million and many other major projects like Yooka-Laylee and Broken Age easily passed $3 million each, they’re initial goals were more modest.  It’s certainly not impossible for Shenmue III to hit its goal, but don’t expect it to feature many stretch goals.

At the time of writing, the Kickstarter has already raised $960,996 and is continuing to climb every second.  It is set to release on Playstation 4 and PC if it’s successfully funded.

You can check out the Kickstarter campaign for Shenmue III here if you want to contribute.

South Park: The Fractured But Whole Revealed

South Park

South Park: The Stick of Truth was one of those rare few licensed games to garner critical acclaim, capturing the unique look and feel of the long-running animated series it was based on.  

In a surprising opening to Ubisoft’s E3 conference, a sequel was announced with a new take on the vulgar franchise.  South Park: The Fractured But Whole trades out the fantasy theme of the previous title for a focus on super heroics.  However, it will follow directly with the events of the first game as it’s all just the role-playing shenanigans of the childish protagonists.  

The creators of the show, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, will return to lend their creative minds to its development and promise to take everything they learned in the first game to make this one much better.  You can see the foul-mouthed reveal trailer here:

It has all the familiar role-playing trappings, but with the cheeky and bizarre twists you’d expect. You’ll be collecting a myriad of armor, weapons and equipment options, following your objective menu, talking to far too many NPCs, all of that good stuff. But you’ll also be equipping some very suspect things to your bows and spears to increase their ‘gross’ stat, and be put down by King Cartman every opportunity he gets.

In short, this much-anticipated release could be a lifeline for everyone tired of the disappointment of licensed games. 

SP: The Fractured But Whole will release on Playstation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

Xbox One Backwards Compatibility Officially Announced

Xbox

Microsoft is certainly making their presence known at E3 this year, and easily one of their most exciting announcements is that the Xbox One will become backwards compatible.  Work on bringing backwards compatibility to the system was discussed in April of last year, but we now have official confirmation that 360 games can be inserted into the One and run just fine.  The lack of backwards compatibility has been a major complaint with the Xbox One and Playstation 4 since their launch, and this is a massive step forward for the Xbox One.  Hopefully, Sony will follow suit at their press conference tonight.

Bethesda Wants A Piece Of The Hearthstone Pie

Hearthstone

It’s no surprise that with the massive success of Hearthstone, a lot of developers will want to cash in on such an easy yet brilliant idea.

Bethesda is clearly no exception, as they’ve formally announced The Elder Scrolls: Legends at E3 2015, a Free-To-Play card game coming out on the iPad and PC at some point in the future.

Warrior will also be taking a couple of big hits.  Execute, the class’ top removal option, will have its cost raised from 1 to 2.  Charge, the linchpin of all of Warrior’s combo decks, is being seriously reworked.  It will no longer give a minion +2 attack and the minion it is used on will not be able to attack the enemy hero for that turn, but it will also have its cost reduced from 3 to 1 to compensate.

Here is the teaser with absolutely nothing of value beyond announcing the game‘s existence.

Well, I’m not fond of teasers at all, I think we should just cut to the chase if you want anybody to care. That said, I must admit that I’m secretly hoping it will be even close to as good as Hearthstone, as The Elder Scrolls universe has tons of room for such projects.

We’ll see what’s up when it drops but until then, I need more to get me properly salivating.

A Return To Form In This Doom Gameplay Reveal

Doom

What made the original Doom an amazing experience? Was it the fast movement? The big guns? the demons that you’d make your personal target dummy? The music? The intensely polished visuals?

id Software believes it’s all of the above. At E3’s 2015 Bethesda press conference, they dropped the first ever gameplay reveal of the new reboot.

Here’s the trailer, I suggest a second pair of pants.

Well, that was quite the ride. With gorgeous visuals, visceral gunplay,  and a clear focus on frenetic action, I am absolutely stoked to jump back into the world of Doom. I didn’t pay much attention to the series growing up, but I can tell you that if there was ever a game in the franchise to convince me I need it in my life, it is definitely DOOM. 

And in case you didn’t get enough from that measly minute, here is the raw gameplay captured from the conference for your viewing pleasure, but be warned, it gets pixelated.

I think my favourite thing about the soundtrack beyond it’s otherworldly, hellish soundscapes and atmospheric droning and pulsing, is that Mick utilizes modern metal to help craft such a unique sound. From Djent to 9-string guitars to Russian synthesizers, he holds nothing back and it definitely shows.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xVaWl1GtDHU

https://youtu.be/AXhpg9Qx6l0

You can expect DOOM to drop spring 2016 on PC, PS4, and Xbox One.