Weekly News Recap: Week of March 30, 2015

As March came to a close this week, we certainly got a fair bit of news. On Wednesday Nintendo had their monthly Nintendo Direct address – and as it has been lately, they weren’t skimping on news.

Super Smash Bros for Wii U

SUPER SMASH BROS DLC COMING
While not the biggest Nintendo news lately, anytime they announce new DLC characters for Super Smash Bros. it’s a big deal. This time it’s the arrival of Lucas later this year – returning from Brawl as a second option to Ness for a psychic character. The other really cool bit was that Nintendo opened up a page where fans can submit requests for characters to join the fight.

MARIO KART GETS DLC AS WELL
The other bit of DLC news was that Mario Kart 8 is also getting some DLC. In a somewhat surprising move, Nintendo will be adding in a 200cc mode, essentially amounting to a harder difficulty mode, as well as faster karts. I saw a number of people online wondering why they didn’t address battle mode instead, but I think when all is said and done, the 200cc is a good move.
Wooly Yoshi Amiibo
AMIIBOS CONTINUE TO SWEEP THE WORLD
When Nintendo announced the Amiibos back at E3 last year, I was a little skeptical. I thought it might end up being another Nintendo gimmick. But they’ve been embraced by players on a level I never saw coming. I think partially that’s due to how well they work with the games, as well as how cool they look. I don’t actually have a Wii U, and even I want to grab a couple of the Amiibos to have as desk decorations. With this week’s Nintendo Direct, they’ve announced the next wave to hit shelves. Among the highlights is the Wooly Yoshi, which looks super nice, and the new ones for Splatoon later this year.
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Weekly News Recap – Week of December 8, 2014

After what was a pretty busy news weekend last week, this week has been a bit slower. We did get a nice DLC release from Bungie, which has been taking up a good chunk of my play time, along with messing around in Minecraft again.

Destiny The Dark Below

DESTINY’S FIRST DLC LAUNCHES, BRINGS MORE DESTINY TO PLAYERS
I’ve talked a couple times this week about the new content in The Dark Below, Destiny‘s new DLC pack. The bottom line is really that the DLC is more Destiny, good and bad. The story is still sparse, but a bit more tangible this time around. There’s still a pretty solid focus on grinding your gear up – especially if you upgrade to the new Level 32 capped gear; or get the new Raid gear, which is awesome, but needs tons of Radiant Material to max out. The good part is that the core formula for Destiny – meaning the actual gameplay – is still really fun to play. The new missions have some pretty cool looking environments, the new strike has a really awesome feel to the ending section, and so far, the new raid has been just as good as the Vault of Glass. If you’ve been enjoying Destiny without the DLC, I think you’ll continue, and if you do decide to buy it, I think you’ll still enjoy playing the game for a while longer.

Advanced Warfare Cover

SALES FIGURES FOR 2014 SHOW ACTIVISION DOMINATES
In what should really not be a huge surprise, the sales numbers for the year are starting to come out, and so far it looks like 2014 was Activision’s year. Between Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare and Destiny, the publisher really cleaned up. Going into the end of the year here, it’s really not too hard to think why – EA didn’t put out a Battlefield game this year, and their two big names – Titanfall and Dragon Age: Inquisition are both pretty niche games. Titanfall I’m sure did well this year, but not being on all consoles may have hurt it. All things considered though, I think next year is already shaping up to be even bigger for both publishers.

Super Smash Bros for Wii U

SMASH BROS. NEW AMIIBO ITEMS SELL JUST AS WELL
One other bit of sales data that I saw is that currently, the new Amiibo figures that can be paired with Super Smash Bros. For Wii U have been selling at almost a rate of 1 figure per copy of the game. Not being super familiar with the actual behavior of the Amiibos and how exactly they translate to the game, I’m a little surprised at just how well they’re selling. On one hand, I can understand getting one along with the game, but I doubt that every copy is being sold with one, meaning people are buying multiples. From a collecting standpoint, sure, I can get it. In fact, I would go buy the Mega Man one right now, even without the game (or Wii U for that matter) just because Mega Man is that cool. I think it also speaks to not only the dedication of the Smash community, but also the Nintendo fanbase. The Amiibos aren’t something I think you’d see Microsoft or Sony try, but Nintendo does it, and fans eat it up, right or wrong.

Weekly News Recap – Week of October 20, 2014

As is pretty typical this time of year, a lot of the news lately has been based around the many games coming out this fall season. We’re right in the middle of a big chunk of releases – Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel last week, next week is Sunset Overdrive, the next two weeks following that, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare and Halo: The Master Chief Collection. I do have a couple stories that grabbed my attention though.

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

GRAND THEFT AUTO SAN ANDREAS ANNIVERSARY RELEASE
In a somewhat surprise announcement, Rockstar dropped the news that next week on last-gen consoles, they’ll release an anniversary version of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas to celebrate the 10 year mark. I can remember when they did the same with Grand Theft Auto 3, but I don’t think they ever did a similar release with Vice City, which is a shame, since I think that is the best of that trilogy of games. Still, San Andreas was a huge stepping stone in the series, showing that the formula would work with a much larger setting. There was a downloadable version on the Marketplace that mysteriously disappeared this week, and will be replaced on October 26 with an updated version, complete with achievements. As of now, this is only on the Xbox 360, not the One.

Sunset Overdrive Xbox Bundle

XBOX ONE SELLS WELL IN SEPTEMBER
I mentioned recently that the PlayStation 4 was the best selling console in September, but that was before we had the Xbox One numbers. What we see is that since we’re starting to really see big name titles coming out, both consoles are starting to really move units. The Xbox One’s sales increased in September by just over 100%, not quite matching the PS4, but still showing that the “next-gen” has finally truly started. I think we’ll see the sales figures continue to be strong, especially over the next few months, as the install base grows and more big titles come out. Now is really the best time to jump in, if you haven’t already.

Super Smash Bros for Wii U

SUPER SMASH BROS. Wii U DETAILS BLOW MINDS
Last night Nintendo had their usual Nintendo Direct, this week detailing the upcoming Super Smash Bros. Wii U, and boy did they bring out the big guns. There was a ton of info to digest, including the announcement that fan favorite Mewtwo is coming back as a DLC character, to both the Wii U and 3DS versions. Other big points include the new 8-man melee option, new story modes, and interactive environments. They showed a bit where fighting particularly well would make Ridley (from Metroid) fight alongside you. The hype for the Wii U version was already pretty high, but this Nintendo Direct really pumps it up to a whole new level. As a person who is a huge fan of the series, this flood of info really makes me want to go get a Wii U just for this game.

Weekly News Recap: September 12, 2014

As I do every Friday, let’s go through a couple of the big news stories from this past week. Obviously the big news is the release of Destiny but there were a couple other stories that dropped this week.

Destiny

DESTINY HAS THE BEST OPENING DAY EVER, OF ALL TIME
I think we all knew that Destiny was going to have a very strong opening week, but I don’t know if the numbers that Activision has reported were on the radar. According to Activision, Destiny shipped over $500 Million to retail, which would make it the best new gaming franchise launch ever. That day one opening total, should it be accurate reporting from Activision, would also put it right at second overall with Call of Duty: Black Ops II behind Grand Theft Auto V. With how much fun Destiny is, I would expect to see the numbers climb even higher, but I don’t know if they can match GTAV numbers.

Batman: Arkham Knight

BATMAN: ARKHAM KNIGHT HAS A RELEASE DATE
One of the trends of this past summer was major titles getting delayed until 2015. In my opinion, the biggest two games to be delayed were Evolve and Batman: Arkham Knight. We already knew the updated release date for Evolve: February 10, 2015. This week though we learned the new date of Arkham Knight’s release – June 2, 2015. This is a much different date that initial rumors suggested, which had the game pinned with a late February launch. Pushing it out till June may actually be a huge blessing, as it will be so far removed from any other major triple A title, giving it a pretty open market.

Super Smash Bros 3DS

SUPER SMASH BROS 3DS “LEAKS” IN JAPAN
The full roster for the upcoming Super Smash Bros. game on both 3DS and Wii U had already reportedly leaked a couple of weeks ago, but the validity and completeness had been in doubt. Well, the 3DS version launches in Japan on September 13, but gamers were able to break street date and began streaming the game on Twitch on Thursday. Over the course of the streams, the roster of secret characters was indeed confirmed, with players showing off characters like the Duck Hunt Dog, Ness, Dark Pit and Ganondorf. The unfortunate truth of the matter is that this sort of thing is pretty much par for the course these days, with people able to break street date easier and easier. That said, I’m excited for the game, solely for the ability to play as Mega Man.

E3 2014 – Nintendo Press Conference Impressions

E3 LogoNintendo this year continued their usual tradition of doing things their own way. Instead of renting out a theater and filling press into seats, Nintendo went with a longer version of the usual Nintendo Direct digital events. Of the three main conferences, this one was definitely the shortest, and certainly was 100% Nintendo from start to finish. Just like I did with Xbox and PlayStation, let’s go through Nintendo’s show, top to bottom.

Super Smash Bros.
Nintendo opened with what is probably their most anticipated Wii U title for this year, showing off some new gameplay footage, as well as announcing a new character – the Mii Fighter. I was pretty impressed with the fact that it isn’t just some stock fighter that is skinned with your Mii, there are three templates to choose from for fighting style, plus a number of individual move customization options. That customization extends to the other fighters as well I believe, which will add even more depth to the game. The 3DS version drops October 3, while the Wii U is a Holiday 2014 title.

Amiibo
Tied in with the Smash Bros announcement was the reveal of Amiibo, a Skylanders-esque toy system that allows for the figures to come to life in certain games. What I thought was kinda cool is that the data transfer goes both ways, figure-to-game, and game-to-figure. Also nice is that Mario Kart 8 is compatible with the figures, which will launch later this year.

Yoshis Woolly World

Yoshi’s Woolly World
The first 2015 title Nintendo showed, Yoshi’s Woolly World is the next Nintendo series to get the yarn treatment. It looked a little more in-depth than Kirby’s Epic Yarn did, looking much more akin to a classic Yoshi game. Seeing the game in action, I was struck by just how beautiful the art style looks. And by adding in 2 player, the game should be a great living room game next year.

Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
Next up was a very short teaser trailer showing off a new 3D platformer starring everyone’s favorite living fungus – Toad. We didn’t get any real info about the game other than a Holiday release date, but based on the gameplay in the trailer, it looks like a 3D puzzle platformer.

The Legend of Zelda
We finally got the announcement of a Wii U Zelda game that we’ve been waiting for, and Nintendo did not disappoint. The footage they showed looked absolutely incredible, striking a visual balance between Wind Waker’s cel shading and the more classic look. The big news I think is that the game is being designed as an open world adventure – which should make the scope bigger than any Zelda game we’ve seen to date. I’m sure we’ll see a lot more, since it’s not coming until 2015, my guess would be Holiday season.

Pokemon Alpha Sapphire

Pokemon Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire
We next got a nice little trailer for the upcoming Ruby/Sapphire remakes, which really served to show off the mega-evolutions of the three starters as well as Groudon and Kyogre. I’m sure we’ll get a bit more info before they release November 21.

Bayonetta 2
One of the Wii U exclusives that isn’t a Nintendo property got a new trailer, showing a bunch of gameplay, as well as an October release date. Following the trailer, they showed a bit of footage with Bayonetta dressed up in Nintendo character costumes, as well as revealing that all copies of Bayonetta 2 will come with the original game as well.

Hyrule Warriors
Next we got a good look at Hyrule Warriors, the Dynasty Warriors/Legend of Zelda mash-up. The actual gameplay looks like pretty standard Dynasty Warriors style combat, with playable Zelda characters. They also announced three new playable characters, aside from Link – Impa, Midna and Zelda. Whether there are further playable characters will remain to be seen, but we have some time since the game doesn’t drop until September 26.

Kirby and the Rainbow Curse
We got a nice teaser trailer for the upcoming Wii U Kirby platformer, which looked like a pretty typical Kirby game – which isn’t a bad thing at all. Again, it’s another 2015 game though, so plenty of time for more to come out.

Xenoblade Chronicles X
Shifting tone a little bit we got a trailer for Xenoblade Chronicles X. The trailer was in Japanese, which makes me wonder if there are even plans to localize the game at this point – it’s another 2015 title. This might be one to keep tabs on if you’re into JRPG’s.

Mario Maker
One of the nice little surprises for me was the trailer for Mario Maker – I think anyone that grew up playing Mario games probably has some stage designs scribbled in notebooks from back in the day somewhere. With Mario Maker, we’ll be able to make those come to life. One nice touch was the ability to switch from the classic 8-bit look to the modern New Super Mario Bros look. Mario Maker comes out in 2015 as well.

Splatoon
The last game they announced during the actual Nintendo Direct was a new IP from Miyamoto’s junior team called Splatoon. My initial opinion changed 100% from the start of the segment to the end. It’s a pretty refreshing take on third person shooters – the goal is to use the ink guns to cover as much territory as possible, while stopping the enemy. But, since it’s a Japanese game, there’s a hard left turn in that each player can transform into a squid to swim through the ink faster and traverse the levels in unique ways. All things considered, I actually think Nintendo might have a really unique winner on their hands with it, but again, we won’t know until next year.

Smash Wii-U

Closing out the event, we got one last trailer for Super Smash Bros revealing a second new character, Palutena from Kid Icarus. I’m not exactly how high the demand was from the fanbase to include her, but her fighting style looked like it could be pretty fun. And one last Smash note, later on in the day Tuesday Nintendo also revealed that Pac-Man is also joining the fight, as well as confirming Mr. Game And Watch is back. The 7 year old version of me was beside myself as I watched Mega Man, Sonic, Pac-Man and Mario duke it out in the footage they showed last night.

The last thing we saw in the actual Nintendo Digital Event was Miyamoto talking to the camera with a blurred game behind him that was pretty easy to figure out that it was a new Star Fox title headed to the Wii U, which was confirmed later on in the day.

All in all, I think Nintendo had a strong show, but to me it seems like they’re really building more for next year, banking this year on Mario Kart, Super Smash Bros and Pokemon to get them through the year. The other big takeaway I had was just how much damage Metroid: Other M did to the Metroid franchise – it’s been four years and still no news on a new game. I think that enough time has passed to get Samus back out there, but we’ll just have to wait and see I guess.