The era of free-to-play games is upon us, and really has been for a little while now. It’s mostly been relegated to the realm of mobile phones and PC, but not it’s begun its creep into the world of home video game consoles. Nintendo has even been experimenting with FTP style models now with a couple of titles. The first, Steel Diver: Sub Wars, gave you the multi-player portion of the game for free as well as a couple of single player missions. If you liked that and wanted access to more missions you could purchase the remaining single-player campaign for a small price. Then on top of that there were some historical submarine designs that could be purchased a la carte. Essentially it was just a demo of the game and not much else. Not really anything like more traditional free to play games. The second game, just released last week is Rusty’s Real Deal Baseball and that gives you a very different take on how to do a free-to-play game and I’m not sure it’s something I’d do very often.
The game is broken up into ten separate mini-games, each with a huge assortment of different challenges to complete. When you download the game you’re given access to about half a dozen different challenges in the first mini-game, Bat & Switch. It’s a good idea of just what to expect in the game as you get three different “modes” and a few variants of those modes. It’s enough to give you an idea of what to expect in the game, but not so much that you get your fill and can be done with it. After playing through the demo portion of the game you’re introduced to the free-to-play mechanic that this game has chosen to use, haggling.
I’ve been playing a lot of Assassin’s Creed lately (imagine that) with the release of Assassin’s Creed: Liberation HD on consoles, Assassin’s Creed: Freedom Cry as a standalone game and the acquisition of a copy of Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation on the Vita. One topic of conversation that always comes up is who my favorite playable character in the series is so I thought I’d take some time to write up my thoughts on the matter and list out my favorite characters, both playable and not of the franchise. This list comes from all the games in the series, with the exception of the portable games on PSP and DS as I’ve never played those. Since they starred Altair anyway they are at least represented by their main playable character.
Since the franchise first made its appearance back in 2007 there have been eight playable characters across the seven main franchise releases (counting Liberation), DLC packages and portable releases. Here is how I rank them in terms of my favorite characters in the series. Keep in mind I really do like all of these characters and this list was really hard to put them in any sort of order (outside of my favorite). It’s like choosing which is better between pancakes and waffles. They’re both great, but if forced to pick I would choose pancakes.
Be warned that if you haven’t played these games yet there will be spoilery type things being talked about. And if you haven’t played these games yet what are you waiting for, go do it now.
There are as many different battle systems out there as there are RPGs. You have the pure turn based style games like Dragon Quest, the Active Time Battle system of Final Fantasy and even purely action based combat systems where you fight in real time. I know that Bravely Default isn’t the first game that allows RPG characters to hold an action for later in a turn or has a way to take their turn early, but it’s the first game that I’ve seen that uses it as so much of a focus of the game’s battle system.
The Brave/Default system is one of the more complex systems out there and takes a little while to wrap your head around, but when you do you’ll find it to be incredibly flexible and quite frankly a lot of fun to use. If you haven’t played the demo available on the eShop or know anything about the battle system let me explain basically how it works.
EA hasn’t really been very secretive about the companies feelings on the Wii U. There were a few titles from EA available at the launch of the system. Since that time there has not been another game from EA to hit the system and nothing coming in the forseeable future. As far back as May of 2013 EA Spokesman Jeff Brown said that there were no games in development for Wii U.
Today an anonymous source talked about the companies thoughts on the Wii U and they weren’t good.
“Nintendo was dead to us very quickly,” said the source. “It became a kids IP platform and we don’t really make games for kids. That was pretty true across the other labels too. Even the Mass Effect title on Wii U, which was a solid effort, could never do big business, and EA like Activision is only focused on games that can be big franchises”.
COO Peter Moore took to Twitter quickly after those statements came out to refute them saying, “Don’t trust “anonymous sources”. Nintendo’s a great partner. They never have been, and never will be, ‘dead’ to EA…”
Well, let’s look at some of Peter Moore’s comments about the system and see just what he thinks about Wii U and EA games appearing on the system. Back in 2011, before the system released, Peter Moore was in Japan to talk to Nintendo executives about the system and seemed to be very enthusiastic.
“There are no indications that there’s anything that feels like it’s off target. Our teams are working on it around the world. Our key franchises will be there. We’ve made that commitment to Nintendo.”
That seems to be pretty good and there was some early support on the Wii U with the release of Mass Effect 3, FIFA 13, and Madden NFL 13. With the relationship still strong between the two companies you would expect more games to come, right? Since the launch of the system there has been one other game from EA and that’s Need For Speed: Most Wanted. That doesn’t seem to be unprecedented support does it?
More comments from Peter Moore might explain why there haven’t been more EA games on the system. In July of 2013 he told GamesIndustry International the following:
“The lack of online engagement that we see on Wii U [is troubling]. It’s so integral to what we do. They’re so small it’s hardly worth running the servers. It seems like a box that’s out of sync with the future of EA – which is one that gives a real social feel to our games. The Wii U feels like an offline experience right now.”
So which is it? Does EA really still believe that Nintendo is a strong partner? If so why haven’t they supported the system in any way? If they don’t really believe in Wii U why not just come out and say it? As it is he just sounds disingenuous.
You might not have heard the name of Canada-based developer Next Level Games, but if you own a Nintendo console there’s a good chance that you’ve played at least one of their games. The company was founded just over 10 years ago in 2002 and the first game they worked on was NHL Hitz Pro for Midway. Since then they’ve moved on to work almost exclusively with Nintendo on a number of their properties.
They are the lead developer of the Mario Strikers franchise. They also led the development of the 2009 reboot of the Punch-Out!! franchise. After that they worked on the Wii port of some third party games like Transformers: Cybertron Adventures and Captain America: Super Soldier. Most recently they completed development of the sequel to a game that came out not long before their creation; Luigi’s Mansion.
While they are not technically a Nintendo developer the company has stated, through co-founder Jason Carr, that they are working exclusively on Nintendo products now. The small 70 person team studio likes the stability and the fit that comes from working with Nintendo. When asked if they’d thought about working with another company he said there was no reason for them to venture outside of that relationship because Nintendo continues to give them bigger and better IP to work with they like the relationship they’ve built with the company.
Next Level Games has routinely been featured among Canada’s Top 100 Employers, most recently in 2012, and a big part of that is family and fun. In an interview with Gamasutra Carr and producer Ken Yeeloy talked about why they’d been successful. They can’t go toe to toe with companies like EA when it comes to employee benefits and incentives. Instead they have fostered a place where people have fun when they come to work, but they also put a focus on employees families. The company doesn’t incentivize people to stay in the office away from their families. They don’t push long hours on their employees because they think it would make them unhappy. They attempt to foster a nice balance between work life and family life so that people enjoy coming in to work every day.
It’s unclear what project the company is working on as they have not announced any new games since the release of Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon. This company has become one of my favorite developers over the last few years and you can bet that whatever comes next from that studio is going to be high quality and it will most likely be another Nintendo property.
Mount Rushmore is a monument to some of the greatest men in American history. It immediately brings to mind those four men’s contributions to making this country the way it is. That form could be used in any industry to remember the most respected figures in said industry’s history. There are a number of men and women in the video game industry that have contributed to making the world of video games the way it is; people who have created iconic characters or been the driving force behind the consoles that millions of people around the world have played. Having said that, “If you were to create a video game version of Mount Rushmore what four figures would you nominate to be immortalized for all time on the monument?”
2013 was a very good year for gaming. I expect 2014 to be as good or better than this year was. What do we have to look forward to in 2014? Well there’s quite a lot actually. A large number of high profile games have been announced and you know there are more on the way that we still don’t know about. I’m sure some exciting stuff will happen and the staff has put on their soothsayer robes and we’re going to give it a go to predict what we think might happen in the coming year. How close will we get? Well we’ll find out at this time next year. Until then here are some of our best guesses (or most fond wishes) for what will happen in 2014.
2013 had no shortage of big news stories. There were new consoles launched. Huge franchises like Mario and GTA saw some big name releases. Every year there are big stories that come from the world of video games and this year was definitely no different. What were some of the Biggest News Stories of 2014? Well, I suppose you’ll find out right now.
Everybody has that stack of games that we like to call our Pile of Shame. These are games that are just sitting on our shelves or in our digital menus just waiting to be played. Sometimes they’re the games from this year that we just haven’t had time to play. Other times they’re games that have been sitting there for years begging to be played only to continue to sit there for one reason or another. There are plenty of excuses to use for why those games continue to be unplayed. Here are some of the games that are still In Our Backlog.