Sony may have to lower PS5 price in response to Xbox Series S’ surprise reveal

When Microsoft announced its budget next gen console, the Xbox Series S, it likely caught Sony off guard. The digital only version of the PS5 was expected to release in the region of $399 with the full version closer to $499. However, this the Japanese tech giant may have to completely rethink through its pricing strategy.

As announced on the official Xbox Twitter account, the Xbox Series S will cost just $299. This means that whilst the Series X’s $499 is as expected, the budget option is likely cheaper than Sony had anticipated. Given that many gamers will choose to opt for the cheapest product available, the PS5 could be in trouble.

How to save the PS5

Xbox Series S and X reveal

Earlier this week UK retailer GAME made a tweet suggesting the PS5’s price would be announced September 9. This tweet has since been deleted and we are still none the wiser regarding a price point or release date.

It’s clear then that Sony has gone back to the drawing board and delayed the PlayStation’s imminent announcement. Why? Because the Xbox Series S price completely caught them off guard. If Sony were to now launch the Digital PS5 at $399 it probably wouldn’t sell particularly well.

After all, the kinds of people who buy the cheaper consoles aren’t going to be your dedicated core gamers who play 40-50 plus hours a week. It’s going to be the more casual player base who just wants to get access to next-gen gaming for as little as possible.

Given all this, I don’t think Sony has much of a choice but to lower the PS5 digital edition’s price point. Even if that means selling your platform at a steep loss up front, it’s better than losing this generation’s sale wars before they even begin.

How the Series S pricing compares to past consoles

To be fair to Sony, this move from Microsoft really came out of nowhere. Hardly any mainstream consoles have been launched at such a cheap price. Even the Nintendo Switch, which has specs far weaker than either next-gen consoles, released at the same $299 as the Series S.

The Xbox One launched at $499 with less powerful consoles like the Wii U still costing $349. The last time a major console release undercut the Series S’ launch price was in 2006 with the launch of the Nintendo Wii.

The Wii cost just $249 at launch but was extremely underpowered even for 2006 standards. The more powerful consoles of the time cost $399 and $499, respectively. Truth be told, from an economic point of view we have to assume Microsoft is taking huge up front losses on every Xbox Series S sold.

Although risky, I’d assume Microsoft has decided it’s worth the early losses to build up a large player base. If enough of these players opt into services like Xbox Live and Xbox Game Pass, it will make its money back long-term.

Unfortunately, this puts Sony in a very awkward position. Simply put, if it doesn’t drop the PS5’s price point then both the long-term and short-term losses could be devastating. But unlike Microsoft, Sony doesn’t have a large variety of services to guarantee overtime revenue.

It’ll be interesting to see how Sony responds to the aggressive pricing of the Xbox Series S. I’ve made my stance clear but what do you guys think? Should Sony drop the price of the PS5 to stay competitive at launch or risk relying on brand loyalty and avoid up front losses? Let us know in the comments below.

Sony has purchased a $252 million stake in Epic Games

Epic Games

Japanese technology giant Sony has today confirmed it has purchased a $252 million stake in Epic Games. This decision was made so that it could work closer with Epic Games on the development of its upcoming game engine, Unreal Engine 5.

$252 million dollars might sound like a lot of money, because it is, but Epic is a huge company. That large sum of money is only enough for a mere 1.4% stake. Current estimations place Epic Games’ valuation at a staggering $18 billion. The North Carolina based studio has come a very long way since the days of developing Gears of War for Microsoft.

What this means for Sony

Epic Games Fortnite gameplayTruth be told, not all that much. Owning such a small percentage of Epic Games doesn’t give Sony much power. It’s unlikely it will be able to impact any major decisions made in-house. However, it could make collaborations between the two companies a little easier since they’re working towards the same goal.

We do know that the Unreal Engine 5 was rewritten to function on the PlayStation 5. Supposedly, the PS5’s SSD is so fast that the first instance of Epic’s new game engine wasn’t optimised to support it. Since then reworks have taken place to make the most out of next-gen technology.

From a financial point of view, it’s hard to find a fault in Sony’s logic. When it comes to game studio’s worth investing in, Epic Games is probably top of that list. Fortnite alone has become a global success on a level that I doubt anyone could have foresaw.

A report from last month showed that the popular battle royale was making Epic over $300 million every month. At the rate of growth Epic has seen as of late, even if this deal doesn’t work out Sony could easily flip its shares for a nice profit. This is a win-win for everyone involved.

Why Players Should Appreciate The Diversity In Horizon Zero Dawn

Horizon Aloy

The Diversity In Horizon Zero Dawn

I’m an African American woman and seeing a lead protagonist that fits in any of those categories is rare in the video game space. At this point in my life, I’m 30, it’s one of those things that I have come to accept. Note, not okay with, but accept as the norm for the genre.

The targeted demographic for video games is normally white, straight men between the ages of 15 to 30. So imagine my surprise and joy that as more games have come out recently that conversation has begun to change. That is where Horizon Zero Dawn comes in and I would like to take a second to appreciate the strides with diversity taken in the game.

The Lead Protagonist In Horizon Is A Woman

Close up of Aloy
image credit: https://www.playstation.com/en-us/games/horizon-zero-dawn-ps4/

Aloy, our beautiful red haired wild girl, is the lead protagonist in Horizon. While a lot of games that feature a woman lead tend to focus on her “woman-ness” this game did the exact opposite. It needs to be said more often, but when it comes to diversity people that fit multiple minority groups don’t need it to be explicitly stated in the game or narrative.

Aloy could have easily been Alan and the story would not change that much if at all.

The fact that Aloy is a woman had literally nothing to do with the story. Aloy could have easily been Alan and the story would not change that much if at all. I appreciated that the game normalized Aloy being the lead and female without drawing attention to it in the narrative. Kudos Guerrilla for doing this despite Sony’s initial reservations about the choice.

The Population In Horizon Is Diverse

Horizon Nil
Image Credit: https://www.vg247.com/2017/02/22/horizon-zero-dawn-devs-discuss-lack-of-loading-screens-creating-high-quality-facial-animation-in-new-video/

I’m going to be frank, in a lot of dystopian games it appears like the only survivors of the apocalypse are white. It is rare that I see games take the time to flesh out the world to include other ethnic groups. I’m not going to sit here and say that these companies are racist or other extreme things. But I will say that it is an over sight that has not gone unnoticed.

I’m going to be frank, in a lot of dystopian games it appears like the only survivors of the apocalypse are white.

It may appear like in the years of “PC” culture and people becoming too “sensitive” that we are being inundated with these complaints. I am here to tell you that in the black community we have had these conversations among ourselves and we have them a lot. I am sure that other groups who feel under represented have done the same. So while it may be new to main stream it isn’t new to the rest of us who have to live with this reality every day.

In many of the mediums I consume, black people resemble white people dipped in brown paint.

To add further to this point, all of the character models look beautiful. In many of the mediums I consume, black people resemble white people dipped in brown paint. It’s obvious, it’s lazy and it makes me wish they didn’t bother. That wasn’t the case in Horizon where all of the NPCS Asian, Black, White etc each had a very polished and true to life look. I almost shed a tear when I saw the first black person and their hair. MY GOD THEIR HAIR! Hair, which they almost never get correct, looked as glorious as their skin. Thank you Guerrilla.

The Narrative Doesn’t Fall Into Familiar Stereotypes

Horizon Petra
Image Credit: https://se7en.ws/horizon-zero-dawn-guide-all-main-and-side-quests-where-to-initiate-them-and-how-to-get-the-best-ending/?lang=en

I mentioned it a bit earlier but it needs to be said again. I appreciate that the story did not focus on Aloy being a woman and the issues that women face. There was no talk of her being weaker than a man or even romance options. As a matter of fact I was a bit sad that Aloy didn’t get to choose someone to romance male or female. But that wasn’t the focus of the story to be told here so those aspects did not get any shine. Her sexuality was not on the table at all to the point where any advances made by other characters felt a bit out of place.

Horizon Vlad
image credit: http://n4g.com/news/2021616/horizon-zero-dawn-review-paste-magazine

I also appreciate that there were no separations of the tribes by race. There were things that separated each group to be sure but colorism was not one of them. If you follow the narrative [Spoiler] closely you will find that one of the researchers did a thing to make sure that mistake would not be able to be repeated again. Or at least not repeated in the same way come hell or high water.

It’s all the little thing’s that count with this game so while you might be off having Zelda adventures don’t forget to include Horizon too. Have you explored the world of Horizon? Do you have any thoughts about the diversity in the game? Let us know in the comments below.

Show, Don’t Tell: Horizon: Zero Dawn vs. Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Horizon Zero Dawn Logo

Zero Dawn vs. Zelda

I’m having a lot of fun with Horizon: Zero Dawn, and I am also a big fan of game narrative, but sometimes there are just too many words. Today I’m going to compare the design styles of the new Zelda: Breath of the Wild and the aforementioned Horizon. Specifically, how they use (or don’t use) voiced narration to lead the player.

In the first few minutes of Horizon: Zero Dawn’s gameplay, the protagonist, Aloy, points out what’s going on in the environment. Verbally. Even though there’s no one around to hear her. You could argue that you’re hearing her “thoughts,” or that she’s talking to herself because she’s scared, but neither case is a good excuse.

The player simply doesn’t need to hear it

Horizon Zero Dawn game
Image Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/32545636372/

Aloy will describe her surroundings, talk about what she should be doing next, talk about what she just did, and ultimately treats the player like a blind person with short-term memory loss. It’s as though the writer wrote a book and adapted it verbatim for the game, cutting out the he-saids and she-saids and leaving everything else.

Again, I love game narrative. I think games are a powerful storytelling medium. But just because a game can have more words written or lines spoken, certainly doesn’t mean it should. Ideally, the player should be able to play the game with the volume and subtitles off, using only art and design cues to figure out what to do next.

Look at Breath of the Wild. While it’s a longstanding tradition for Link to not speak, many Zelda games since Ocarina of Time gave the player a talking companion who points out everything you need to know. Navi, Midna, the… blue person from Skyward Sword whose name I forget. They all helped lead the player without needing Link to speak a word.

But in Breath of the Wild, like the original Zelda games of yore, has no quest-long companion jabbering in Link’s pointy ear. The game simply trusts the player to figure things out on their own.

This is the ideal design

Image retrieved from Nintendo.com

The ironic part is that Zelda is a game for kids and adults alike on a Nintendo platform that facilitates new gamers. Horizon: Zero Dawn is rated T for teen, and requires the player to use a PS4 controller and its dual-analog configuration that new gamers struggle with.

In essence, Horizon: Zero Dawn holds the player’s hand despite there being very little chance that the player is someone new at games, while Breath of the Wild trusts the player to figure things out without someone yapping at them the whole time.

It’s easy to look at games like Horizon: Zero Dawn as the way of the future and games like Zelda to be relics of the past. But with these two game releases, both at nearly the same time, the “relic” has shown itself to be much more comfortable as a game. And future designers—especially narrative designers—should take note.

Video Games That Tackle Social Issues

Ellie and Riley

Video Games – we all enjoy it. Whether you’re young or old, a student or an employee looking to pass the time with a little fun; we all enjoy video games. It is a means for us, an outlet, to do the things we can not do in real life; to experience the things that is not readily accessible to the most of us. Video games also help us understand different types of people by having diverse and – for some games – very realistic characters. But, not a lot of us see the underlying meanings behind the video games we play and enjoy. The implications hidden behind the realistic graphics, the heart-warming soundtrack, and the innovative gameplay. Here is a list of some of the video games that tackle different social issues. Sit back and let us dwell deeper into the meaning of these well-known video games.

War“This War of Mine” 

Video Games: This War of Mine is a video game about civilians surviving in a war-torn city.
https://wallpaperscraft.com/image/this_war_of_mine_the_little_ones_survival_stealth_shooter_105983_1280x720.jpg

Let’s start with a very well-known topic – war. We’ve all heard of different stories about war. And war has been a choice of topic or genre by a lot of video games. But, the creators of This War Of Mine, 11 Bit Studios, approached this genre in an innovative and immersive way. In this game, you don’t play as a well-trained-muscle-torn super soldier equipped with a planetary cannon. Here, you play as a civilian caught very deep in the war-devastated fictional city of Pogoren, Graznavia. You will struggle, because ‘gather’ is putting it lightly, for food. Scavenge for medicines or supplies and try your very best not to bump into soldiers or other hungry survivors.

The day and night cycle plays a significant role in the game mechanics. During the day, you’ll be managing your hideout in a very detailed manner; while keeping an eye on that sniper whose not letting you out. When darkness falls, you’ll be sneaking into buildings and areas for supplies; while avoiding being killed by other people seeking means for survival. You will also be making a lot of moral decisions; whether you’ll kill that one annoying person to save the whole group or watch as everyone slowly suffer. Add to that, the beautifully-made charcoal-style aesthetics; and you have a game that will leave you thinking and reflecting about war and its effect on the human soul.

 

Privacy“Watch Dogs 1 and  2″ 

Video Games: Marcus Holloway and the gang
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Have you ever felt like being watched? Like Big Brother is always around you, lurking in the dark, studying and recording your every move? We are living in the age and time of information and the improvement in technology is far from slowing down. Also, the number of people uploading all of their information in the internet is increasing. Which is why black hats are more eager to steal any sensitive information they can get their hands on.

Watch Dogs, is a video game about hackers waging war on the government for manipulating information and invading the privacy of their people. This video game does not really tackle or explain ‘hacking’ in detail; but it shows what hackers can do with the information that the people, themselves, gave out there in the internet. This game is a sweet reminder that internet privacy is sometimes just an illusion to make us feel safe. It also reminds us that the internet is a very dangerous place to be placing all of our information.

 

Social Difference – Multiple Video Games (Witcher SeriesLife is Strange, The Last of Us, other video games)

Video Games: The Witcher
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So what if you have white hair, feline eyes, sterile, and has high resistance, if not immune, to diseases? So what if you have pointy ears and lives longer than humans? We are all living things and we can co-exist if given the chance and consideration.

The Witcher series, which is set in the world of Temeria, is flooded with racism and discrimination. Elves and Dwarves are discriminated for not being human, despite the humans being the invaders of the land. Basically, humans are the foreigners and, yet, they are pushing away and abusing the original inhabitants of the land. Luckily, Geralt, despite being discriminated himself, acts as the median between the two worlds. That of humans and of ‘non-humans’. Geralt does not make any rush decisions when doing a job. He investigates first and looks for a way for both parties to work together. With an exception, there is no consideration to be given for evil-tainted individuals, human or non-human.

Video Games: Life is Strange
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Life is Strange is a video game that takes place in a small town called Arcadia Bay. A place where a lot of things happen. Including alcoholism, bullying, and child abuse. Child abuse being a social issue that’s very rampant nowadays; this video game shows the whole issue in a different perspective. You play the game and see the world through the eyes of a teenager with the ability to control time, Max Caulfield. The game also includes other issues like teenage pregnancy, social anxiety, and brats who think like they are on top of everyone. Max’s story is also a depiction of how it feels like to be bullied for being “not among the famous”. This is a game definitely worth checking out if you want a relaxing soundtrack and a story that is full of twists.

Video Games: Riley and Ellie
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The Last of Us: Left Behind, sparked a controversy when Ellie and Riley hinted quite a number of times about their feelings with each other. We all remember that photobooth scene, right? How about that scene where they dance to a tune and then unknowingly attracted a horde of infected? All of these hints led to one conclusion and a lot of people were shocked. Some related and found themselves in the position of the protagonists in terms of personal identity; some accepted the fact and were happy for the pair; but, for some…they just do not approve of the whole charade. The relationship they have and the characters themselves doesn’t actually raise an issue; but the different ways people responded to the writing of the game, present an issue on sexual discrimination.

There you go. Here are just some of the games that tackle some of the issues we are facing up to this day. There are still a lot of games that depicts issues not mentioned here. If you have played a game with an interesting theme, comment them down below and let’s have a talk. Looking forward to hearing from you!

The Final Fantasy 12 HD Remake Is Coming This Summer

Final Fantasy 12 HD Remake

Final Fantasy 12 HD Remake

Platform: PS4

Release Date: July 11th, 2017

FF12 Ashe
Image Credit:https://store.na.square-enix.com/product/404023/final-fantasy-xii-the-zodiac-age-ps4

Full disclosure, I did not finish Final Fantasy 12 (FF12). I can admit as a fan of the series, after Final Fantasy 10 (FF10) I was looking for a certain experience and this game did not do it. It was evident that the battle system and the over world were practice for their Final Fantasy 11 (FF11) MMORPG and I wasn’t trying to be a part of it. I got a healthy way into the story and while it was full of political intrigue something about it didn’t grab me.

This isn’t going to be a bash piece on FF12 but rather an invitation to players who may have missed this game during the PS2 era. Or if you were like me and didn’t give the game the chance it may have deserved and want to give it another try. Square Enix had their Fiinal Fantasy 30th Anniversary event that outlined the different games coming out this year including the release date of FF12. With that out of the way here is some information about the Final Fantasy 12 HD remake that is coming this summer.

Final Fantasy 12 Is An HD Remaster

Vaan and Penelo
Image Credit:https://store.na.square-enix.com/product/404023/final-fantasy-xii-the-zodiac-age-ps4

This is a remaster not a remake and that means that the game itself is relatively intact. There are no huge overhauls to the major systems in the game but they did decide to give it a lovely gloss of paint. If this doesn’t impress you check out the trailer they released that can show how the already beautiful game was made even more lovely. This update is also extended to the audio sounds to add more depth to the character’s performances. Some of the lines have been re-recorded to complete the package.

The Bad Ass Judges Are Still Here

FF12 Judges
Image Credit:https://store.na.square-enix.com/product/404023/final-fantasy-xii-the-zodiac-age-ps4

There has not been any major changes to the story but here is a brief synopsis. FF12 takes place in the world of Ivalice, (yes that one). The city of Dalmasca was recently occupied by the Archadian Empire leaving it in ruin. Princess Ashe, the heir to the throne who had her wedding crashed, has devoted her life since this take over to liberate her country. On the flip side of that players meet Vaan and Penelo, two street urchins with dreams of becoming sky pirates. Political intrigue complete with Judges ensue as players join these rag tag companions to free their homeland.

The Licensing System Is Getting An Upgrade

final fantasy 12 remake, Zodiac Job system

It’s not a serious upgrade as the gambits and license board are still present. However, they have added the Zodiac Job system which has made the game more like FF10 and possibly harder to break. In the original game all of the license boards were identical while in the remaster each character’s board is different. They have even made it so that every character cannot obtain each Esper which is more traditional for the series.

However, they have added the Zodiac Job system which has made the game more like FF10 and possibly harder to break.

The other big change has to do with the characters limit breaks or Quickening in this game. The characters can only learn 3 of their Quickening licenses with the fourth one disappearing from other boards when achieved. This is something that I will need to explore but this is a different step for the game that could impact the game play in a major way.

There Are Quality Of Life Additions

final fantasy 12 remake, trial mode

The point about the licensing board is major but they have also added some quality of life changes that players will appreciate. They have added a “speed mode” which will quicken movement on the map. The new Trial Mode allows players to take saved characters into 100 battles that test their strategic prowess. This adds an extra element of challenge for players that take a break from the main story or when the adventure is complete. Finally they have added PlayStation trophies, auto saving and shortened load times for more fluidity. It’s apparent that PS2 limitations stopped these changes from happening so it’s good to see it added here.

Are you excited for Final Fantasy 12 HD Remake? Do you plan on picking up the remaster? Will the time that has passed make the game be received better? Let us know in the comments below.

Until Next Time Guys!

5 RPGs That We All Forgot But Are Still Awesome

Final Fantasy XII

RPGs

2016 has been a great year for Role-Playing Games (RPGs) and just to name a few, we have XCOM 2, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, The Witcher 3, Fallout 4, and Final Fantasy XV. Also, a tormenting torture device called Dark Souls III came out last 2016. While these games have their own share of glory and fame, some wonderful RPGs were forgotten in the box down in our basements. To give you a drop of that nostalgia potion, here are 5 RPGs that we all forgot but are still awesome.

Vagrant Story (also known as “The Phantom Pain”)

RPGs Gem: Vagrant Story
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Once upon a time, in the year 2000, the developers of Final Fantasy (Square Co., Ltd. which is now known as Square Enix after merging with Enix) decided to make a game with a lot of puzzles, a unique battle system, and a weapon and crafting system that is comparable to a lot of modern games like Fallout 3 and the Elder Scrolls Series. That game was Vagrant Story. Also known as “The Phantom Pain”, Vagrant story is an action role-playing game that has elements of a dungeon crawler game, a hack and slash game, and a rhythm game.

The game received high ratings from various video game critics. Knowing Final Fantasy developers, they sure hid a lot of gems in the game for you to discover. Go add Vagrant Story in your list of “to-play” games and enjoy the world of Valendia.

Valkyrie Profile Series

RPGs Gem: Valkyrie Profile
http://www.zerochan.net/295361

Valkyrie Profile is a series of RPGs based on the Norse mythology and follows the story of three Goddesses of Fate namely – Silmeria, Lenneth, and Hrist – as they (well, mostly Lenneth) venture into the world of mortals, in the realm of Midgard, in order to gather brave human souls to serve as ‘einherjar’ or warriors for the coming Ragnarok, the final battle which decides the fate of all creation.

The game has a unique battle mechanics wherein, you link or assign the characters to the buttons on the controller and when pressed, the respective character linked to that button performs an action. It’s a mechanic worth experiencing and the story is fine, especially it covers human behavior and honor. If you want to play this forgotten gem, it’s available on the PlayStation Portable. Enjoy and defeat those enemies, Nibelung Valesti!

Final Fantasy Tactics (Original and the “War of the Lions” version)

RPGs Gem: Final Fantasy Tactics
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Who doesn’t love Final Fantasy Tactics? Well, that is probably because you haven’t played it yet, young squire. This entry in the Final Fantasy franchise was made last 1997 and was re-released for the PSP in 2007 as “Final Fantasy Tactics: The war of the Lions”. Which added new movies, scenarios, jobs, and a lot of words that made me grab a dictionary. You can’t miss a single point in the wonderful story of greed, revenge, corruption, friendship, and betrayal that gave life to the world of Ivalice.

Oh and, various characters from the ‘main’ Final Fantasy franchise also appeared in FFT. Having trouble where to get it? Well, worry no more. The game was made available on the smartphone last 2011. Go on and visit your app store and grab a copy of this critically acclaimed entry in the Final Fantasy universe.

Breath of Fire III

RPGs Gem: Breath of Fire
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First off, I’ve also played Breath of Fire IV but I never finished it…and I apologize for that, my dear BOF IV fans out there. That being said, I chose Breath of Fire III, the first three-dimensional entry in the series. It offers a lot of mechanics that will make you play for hours and hours. Collecting all of Ryu’s Dragon Genes, fishing, and learning all the skills, are just some of the things that will make you come back and play some more. Battles occur quite similarly to another RPG – ehem, Final Fantasy – which is random. I won’t spoil the story, because there are a lot of plot twists in this game accompanied by a very gorgeous soundtrack. Plus, the diverse characters that will make you properly plan the composition of your party in order to defeat the myriad of enemies that will cross your path.

The game was re-released for the PlayStation Portable for you, guys, to pick up and enjoy.

Xenogears

RPGs Gem: The Xenogears Title Screen
http://wallpapersafari.com/w/tyVioB

Have you ever heard of that game that has a long-haired main character? The one that fights with his fists and has a giant Gundam-like robot? Well, that is Fei Fong Wong. He is the protagonist of the gem that I think is lost in the back of the minds of most people, Xenogears. This game tackles a lot of social issues that makes it more appealing to more matured audiences. Issues include slavery, war, prejudice, and corruption. A lot of critics hailed Xenogears for its somewhat controversial take on religion, humanism, and psychology.

The gameplay involves the use of Action Points or AP in order to execute combos. The Triangle, Square, and X buttons on the controller are used to perform those combos. Then, there are gears. These are combat robots, fighting machines that bear a similar fighting style as the owner or pilot. For example, one character in the game, Bart, uses a whip when outside his whip-wielding Gear. Xenogears has anime-style cutscenes which are backed by gorgeous soundtracks composed by Yasunori Mitsuda, the composer for Chrono Trigger, Xenosaga, Soul Sacrifice Delta, and a lot more.

You can get it from the PlayStation Network and enjoy the brain-teasing world of Xenogears.

I hope you enjoyed my list of some of the top RPGs of the previous generations that seem to have been forgotten. If you are looking for games to play while waiting for that next-level role-playing game coming out in just a few months, you can try the games above. You will not regret it.

How about you? If you know any role-playing games, that made you feel like you live in another world, that seem to have been forgotten now? Let us know in the comments down below and happy gaming!

5 Reasons Sony Should Make Vita 2.0

5 Reasons Sony Should Make Vita 2.0

With the Nintendo Switch and next gen handheld gaming on the horizon, should Sony make Vita 2.0? It’s no secret that the PS Vita has been treated as the forgotten step child by Sony and the sun is starting to set on the aging system. Will the console’s legacy end quietly or does the Vita still have a chance for a comeback?

Full disclosure, I am a Vita enthusiast and have happily owned my system since it released. I dropped the full amount for the system, a little more for the memory cards, popped in Persona 4: Golden and haven’t looked back. As Colin and Greg from Kinda Funny Games would say, I am a card carrying residence of Vita Island. The PSP successor, ignoring the PS Go, PS Vita was ahead of its time and gone too soon.

Despite it’s slow decline and cult following, I’m here to talk about why Sony should make Vita 2.0.

Sony Knows Its Hardware

LCD V OLED
Image retrieved from Geek.com

Even with lukewarm reception, the Vita was a work of art. It had a sleek design, two analog sticks, pretty OLED display and could fit comfortably in your hands, pocket, bag etc. Since PS3 was the current gen system at the time, being able to produce PS2 level graphics on the go was no small feat. In comparison to the 3DS, which is a great system, it is surprising to see who ended up the ultimate victor.

If Sony changed some outdated features like removing the back touch controls and update the internal components, the current Vita design could still work. The Switch mobile screen looks very similar, minus the analog sticks, so the Vita 2.0 has a shot.

Momentum Is Strong for Mobile Gaming

Mobile GamingDespite many adults owning a PSP and/or Vita, in the US owning a handheld gaming device can be seen as childish. If you look at the many ads for handheld games they are dominated by 3DS cartoon-like games directed to children. Don’t get me wrong, those Pokemon Sun and Moon commercials were for me too. But if you are a grown up, not into Pokemon, Yokai Watch, Story of Seasons etc. then a handheld device may not appeal to you as a product.

The Switch has made it look “cool” to take your platform on the go. Nintendo may have dominated the handheld space but that doesn’t mean some healthy competition isn’t good for the consumer. Vita 2.0 could have a chance since the climate for mobile gaming has improved.

New Games Are Coming To Vita In Japan

 

Danganronpa
Image retrieved via Playstation Blog

Even though the Vita hardware sales stalled out in the states, it is doing pretty well in Japan. The Vita receives a steady stream of games which, through localization, have helped to retain its life despite Sony doing all it could to kill it. The Vita PSN store is littered with JRPGs and other niche games, like the Danganronpa Series, that would not otherwise make it to the states. Catering to this market has carved out a nice audience for current Vita supporters in the states.

Since the Japanese player base has continued to expand into mobile gaming on phones and handhelds why not tap back into that source? While it wasn’t planned, Vita 2.0 could market itself as a system that offers unique experiences to gamers.

Sony Learned From Past Mistakes

PS4Sony recognized that they made some missteps with their previous console, the PS3, and gave us the PS4 as an apology. The marketing push of the PS4 being “for gamers” allowed me to trust that they got their act together. The Vita, just like the PS3, had too much going on. It wanted to have gimmicks so it had screen touch controls, back touch controls, remote play possibilities, cross play possibilities etc. It also had two versions that offered different internet options at launch, Wifi and data plans. You name it and Sony tried to fit it on the Vita.

The other costly mistake were the memory cards. The price could go into the hundreds for the biggest size of 64gb via Play-Asia and was only available from Japan. Additionally, the internal memory space was trash, the original units didn’t come with a memory card or, if it did, it was only 4GB. Sony created a horrible bid for consumer dollars because the barrier to entry was too high. If they made Vita 2.0, judging from the PS4 marketing strategy, they wouldn’t do the same thing again.

It’s All About the Games

Uncharted: Golden Abyss
Image retrieved via Playstation.com

The Switch launch trailer shows that Nintendo has 3rd party support signing up. Their first party offerings, Mario, Smash Brothers, Zelda, etc, can make it a “must buy” for fans of those titles. It may even be fair to say those IPs are the main reason Nintendo is still in the console conversation. Nintendo had some tense moments with 3rd party developers over the years so it will be interesting to watch the company adapt to the times via the Nintendo Development ID program.

Sony has their own impressive stable of developers and a thriving Indie scene. The Vita started off strong with Killzone, Gravity Rush and Uncharted: Golden Abyss so it can be done. Thinking about how hard developing games for PS3 was rumored to be and the PS4 being the complete opposite, the “gamers and games first” logic should be passed down to the Vita 2.0.

Here’s the Bottom-line…

The Switch’s release opens the door for the Vita to be viable in the market. With the growth of mobile gaming in the West and the push toward a more mature handheld audience, Vita 2.0 could offer great competition. If Sony does not repeat the sins of the past and continues to support their peripherals, a new Vita could be just as successful as the PSP. The probability of this happening is slim but we can always dream right?

Let me know what you think in the comments below. Are you a Vita Island resident? Do you think Sony should let Nintendo keep the monopoly on the handheld market? Do you think a new Vita would pass or fail? All opinions are valid here.

 

Until Next Time guys

 

 

 

Sony Announces PS4 Adaptor to Allow Full Dualshock 4 Compatibility to PC & Mac

Dualshock

Sony is joining the PC Master Race… kind of. After announcing earlier this year that remote play will be possible on PCs and Macs all over the world, they’re now announcing that they have another surprise in store for PlayStation 4 fans. The PlayStation Adaptor is that surprise, a cute little new device that will allow full Dualshock 4 compatibility with your PC or Mac.

The upcoming gadget is expected to sell for around $25 when it hits stores next month and it’s basically a small dongle that connects to any computer via a USB port and brings access to all the great Dualshock 4 features and functionality including buttons, analogue sticks, touch pad, light bar, motion sensors, vibration, and stereo headset jack.

The Dualshock 4 wireless controller and the newly announced PlayStation Adaptor are also compatible with the PlayStation Now subscription service on Windows PC.

So, if you wanted your Dualshock controller to work on your PC or Mac, this will soon become reality and the price is not big either. Combine that with the remote play possibilities and you’ll soon be able to say that you’re a PlayStation fan who’s playing on a computer. Who thought that would be possible?

Ratchet And Clank (2016) Review

The Same Amazing Tale Through The Eyes Of Another.

Insomniac Game’s world renowned duo of the galaxy’s finest heroes have finally made their comeback and to say the very least, they have done so with an inter-galactic bang. Ratchet And Clank (2016) is jam-packed with a combination of the most profound characters from the series to date, oodles of outer-space adventure throughout the now revamped reaches of the the Solana galaxy and sprinkled with the famous Ratchet And Clank humour that fans of the series have grown to love and adore. For those who are yet to indulge in this blast from the past, I will be keeping spoilers under the hat, so don’t fret.

Developer of the series, Insomniac Games have recreated this heroic pair’s first adventure together which players first indulged in upon it’s Playstation 2 release in 2002. This recreation of the first Ratchet And Clank instalment is narrated from the perspective of Captain Quark, famous muscular antagonist, wannabe protagonist of almost each and every game in the series to date. In taking this approach with the games narrative, Insomniac have been able to collectively bring together numerous characters, races and tie in events of quite significant contextual value from the more recent instalments. With this, Ratchet And Clank (2016) is not only nostalgic gold for the die hard fans of the prior games but is also riddled with the very best content from the series as a whole, making it all that more appealing as a new game to first-time players.

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Where It All Began

Ratchet And Clank (2016) as mentioned prior is a slightly new take on the very first of Ratchet And Clank’s heroic endeavours. The Lombax and his robotic companion still have the same fateful meet and still spend the duration of the game trying to stop the infamous Blarg, Chairman Drek. The planets from the first Ratchet And Clank make a reappearance, looking as stunning and visually encapsulating as ever. Although initially some would consider it boring playing a recreation of game you’ve played numerous times before, this new addition to the Ratchet And Clank series holds no monotonous or tedious feel whilst playing through it’s beautifully remastered levels. Insomniac did a great job of  hurling in some different characters to mix up the general story line, consequently planting seeds of doubt causing you to question how the game would actually meet it’s conclusion. This feeling of unknowing gave the game good drive and definitely maintained the heart of my eagerness as I played.

Ratchet And Clank (2016) plays out almost as a movie, possessing all the typical twists that have been the ebb and flow of the series so far. I also found myself beset by the Ratchet-y humour the series is predominantly renowned for that by no means fell short in this instalment.

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Moving On Up 

Although the first game in The Ratchet And Clank series (2002) was the pinnacle of the greatness Insomniac Games has tried to maintain throughout the games over the years, it’s potential was far from utilized due to the platform it was made for. Now thanks to the ever-expanding capabilities of Playstation 4, Insomniac has been able to take the blocky, 2D graphics from the original game and transform them into being very smooth and pleasing to the eyes of the player. Vibrant colours and the smooth dynamics of the environment bring the game to life around you, making your playthrough that much more pleasurable. It also entices the more thorough level of exploration Insomniac like to draw out of players when it comes to Ratchet And Clank.

Not only are the planets scattered throughout the Solana galaxy rich with colour and overwhelmed with visual goodness – like seriously, don’t get me started on the water; so pretty, but the level of detail put into each and every character and NPC (non-playable character) in the game is phenomenal. We see these amazing characters that Insomniac has developed oozing with accentuated emotions and expressions, seriously Ratchet looks absolutely adorable. Even during a challenge playthrough I found myself re-watching each and every cut scene, mesmerised by just how great the characters looked. Furthermore, not only do the characters, planets and well EVERYTHING about the game look absolutely on point, they feel great too. Gameplay is joyously smooth and unlike it’s predecessor, Ratchet And Clank (2002) character manoeuvring isn’t at all clumsy and Ratchet will come to a halt when you demand so as opposed to running a marathon at the flick of an analog – I understand that’s some serious over-exaggeration there but back in the day, that was some frustrating stuff right there.

On another extremely positive note, in the time I spent trophy hunting and eventually picking up the platinum for this game I hadn’t encountered a single glitch that had effected my gameplay or that i’ve even noticed to be quite honest. Insomniac were seemingly efficient on tying up any glitchy loose ends as patches were swiftly introduced in order to address any issues other players may have encountered. Good on ‘ya Insomniac.

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Out With The Old, In With The…No Wait, keep the old 

The beauty of this Ratchet And Clank instalment above all others is Insomniac’s attempt to bring together the series as a whole. As you sift through the many planets of the Solana Galaxy, you come across countless references to various other instalments to date. Whether it be a reference to a seemingly cute, blue, menacing ball of fur (Protopet from Ratchet And Clank 2) or a certain space pirates treasure buried at the bottom of the ocean in a resort (Romulus Slag’s treasure from Ratchet And Clank Future Series). Not only are there physical signs of Insomniac’s attempt to reconcile the series but also in the general game dynamics it becomes evident that there is some means of combination of the weapons from the original trilogy and the graphics and visual style of the future series – I find it hard to believe it was unintentional.

However, Ratchet And Clank (2016) isn’t all just a reiteration of the prior games as there are also some pretty nifty new features that have been added. Although the gold bolts have maintained their position as the prime collectible throughout the game, skill points have sneakily found their way into becoming trophies as opposed to an in game collectible. Do not worry yourselves however as the replacement collectible although not as challenging, is just as fun and also gives you the opportunity to test yourself with a bit of Ratchet And Clank trivia – I’m trying not to spoil it too much here.

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We’re Glad You’re Back Ratchet

For me personally, the Ratchet And Clank series has always won me over with it’s prominent sense of humour, fantastically constructed planets and galaxies alike, and indescribably brilliant characters complete with on point voice acting. Insomniac have carefully filtered through and identified the greatest elements of the series as a whole and strung them together in order to successfully make a fan-orientated game that is also a fine addition to any first-time players collection. As a long term fan of the series I would hands-down say Ratchet And Clank (2016) met my expectations and furthermore, it exceeded them.