Author: Louise Saul

Nintendo Direct E3 2018 Summary

Nintendo’s presentation focused mainly on Super Smash Bros Ultimate, but there was a lot of other information to digest. With many fast-paced trailers, release dates for known games were revealed, including lots of games that were available to download today. The presentation started with a trailer for the new robot action game Daemon X Machina, which will be available at some point in 2019. Next up was a trailer for the new DLC for Xenoblade Chronicles 2, and an announcement that it will be released in September this year.

Reggie was then introduced, and he talked a little more about the already announced Pokémon: Lets Go Pikachu and Pokémon: Lets Go Eevee, which will be available on November 16th this year. Reggie presented the Pokeball Plus, a new type of controller for the game that will come exclusively with Mew and will be compatible with the popular mobile game Pokémon Go. Super Mario Party was the next game to be showcased, with an announcement that it will be available on October 5thFire Emblems: Three Houses was then shown, with a release date of sometime next year. The big news was revealed that not only is Fortnite coming to Switch, but that it will also be available to download today.

Reggie appeared again to talk about the importance of indie games to Nintendo, including a trailer for Overcooked 2 (available August 7th), a Killer Queen Black remake (available later this year), and a game called Hollow Knight that is another game available today. Reggie continued by giving us a release date and a little more information on Octopath Traveler, by Square Enix, which is exclusive to Switch July 13th.  Next up were lots of very short, fast paced trailers and release date reveals. Some of the games were brand new exclusives to the Switch, whilst others included ports of older games that were previously available elsewhere. The extensive list included:

Starlink (available October 16th), Arena of Valor (coming this Autumn), Minecraft (available June 21st), Sushi Striker (available now), Mario and Rabbids Kingdom Battle: Donkey Kong Adventure (available June 26th), Pixark (coming this fall), Just Dance 2019 (available October 23rd), Dragon Ball Fighter Z (available later this year), Splatoon 2: Octo Expansion (available this summer), Captain Toad Treasure Tracker (available July 13th), Crash Bandicoot N Sane Triology (available on the Switch June 29th),  Ninjala (available spring next year), Carcassonne (available holiday 2018), FIFA 18 (available now), FIFA 19 (available September 28th), ARK: Survival Evolved (available on the Switch in the fall), Wasteland 2: Directors Cut (available on the Switch in the fall), Paladins: Champions of the Realm (free to download today), Fallout Shelter (free to download today), Dark Souls Remastered (available on the Switch in the summer this year), SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy (available September 7th), Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate (ported to the Switch for August 28th), Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus (available on the Switch June 29th), The World Ends With You: Final Remix (available on the Switch this fall), Megaman II (available October 2nd), and finally Mario Tennis Aces (available June 22nd).

Shinya Takahashi and Masahiro Sakurai then arrived to present the main event of the Nintendo Direct, which was more information on Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Sakurai announced that every single character that has ever been a part of the Smash Bros. franchise will be included in the new games, including Snake, who hasn’t been in a Smash game for ten years. Inklings, Princess Daisy and Ridley have also been added to the game to complete the roster. As well as new additions, you can now play as a female version of Pokémon Trainer or Pikachu. Sakurai mentioned how there would be a lot of new animations for the fighters and showed an expressive Donkey Kong as an example.

Although all the characters are returning, many of them have been tweaked or changed to fit in with the new game. Link and Mario have been redesigned to appeal to fans of Super Mario Odyssey and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and Zelda has also been given a different look for the game. Instead of going for the Twilight Princess variation of Zelda, designers chose her costume from The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds to tie in with her Triforce of Wisdom ability.

There will be more than 50 assist characters in the game, including the addition of the Squid Sisters to help out the Inklings. The multiple stages of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate will include:
Green Greens, Spear Pilar, Midgar, Kongo Falls, Lylat Cruise, Princess Peach’s Castle, Spirit Train, Frigate Orpheon, Green Hill Zone, New Pork City, Wrecking Crew, Tortimer Island, Moray Towers, and the introduction of Great Plateau Tower from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

News that delighted fans was that the game will be compatible with GameCube controllers and all previous amiibos. Player data from amiibos from the older Smash Bros. Wii U and 3DS games will carry over, as well as there being some yet to be announced new amiibos.

The Nintendo Direct then ended after the release date for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate was announced as December 7th this year, and the stream then went straight to Treehouse on the Show floor. Fans were disappointed that they didn’t get a glimpse Metroid Prime 4 or of more exclusive games, but that will have to wait until the next Nintendo Direct.

Top 10 NES Characters

The Nintendo Entertainment System holds a special place in a lot of gamer’s hearts, as it was the first console a lot of gamers owned, as well as introducing us to some of Nintendo’s most popular characters. To celebrate the launch of the NES mini, here is a list of some of the top Nintendo characters that featured in NES games:

  1. Simon Belmont:

Simon Belmont was the first protagonist to appear in the popular Castlevania series. First released in 1986 in Japan and 1988 worldwide by Konami, Simon was sent on the quest of defeating the Vampire Dracula. Whilst the franchise is more known nowadays for appearing on Microsoft and Sony consoles, it was the original Castlevania game on the NES that started it all.cv

  1. The Ninja Turtles:

There have been many Ninja Turtle games over the years, but few have the legendary memories of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game that was released on the NES in 1989. Notoriously hard, it was a rare feat to find someone that had completed the game. You could play as any of the four turtles, and it sold over 4 million copies, becoming one of the NES’s most popular games.tur

  1. The Dog from Duck Hunt:

Never has there been a dog that we loved to hate more than the dog in Duck Hunt. Constantly mocking us whenever we missed a duck, you’d often be left wishing you could shoot the dog too. As one of the release games on the NES, and one that came with the NES Zapper, this game has fond memories for many. The unnamed dog comes as one of the characters available in Super Smash Bros for the 3DS and Wii U as part of the Duck Hunt group.dog

  1. Donkey Kong:

Donkey Kong is one of Nintendo’s first ever characters created by Shigeru Miyamoto. The character was introduced as a character in an arcade game, but has since featured in many console games. The original Donkey Kong game was one of the three launch titles available on the NES, and in 1994, the character was relaunched in an entire new series of games known as the Donkey Kong Country series.dk

  1. Kirby

This pink, round and adorable character is a fan favourite that has been around since 1992, and was one of characters created by the late Satoru Iwata. Kirby debuted on the Game Boy, but the character also featured in one of the NES’s last games produced known as Kirby’s Adventures. Inhaling his characters and absorbing their abilities, Kirby has featured in over 20 different games.kirby

  1. Princess Zelda:

Princess Zelda is one of the main characters in The Legend of Zelda series of games and another Shigeru Miyamoto creation. Often the damsel in distress that is rescued by the series protagonist Link, she has been in most of the Zelda games since the first one on the NES in 1986.zelda

  1. Bowser:

Bowser, or King Koopa as he was originally known, is Mario’s main enemy in the Mario Bros series of games. Leader of the Koopa race, his main aim in life is to kidnap Princess Peach and rule the Mushroom Kingdom. He first appeared on the NES in Super Mario Bros in 1995, and has featured in many Mario games as the main antagonist since. bowser

  1. Samus:

Samus is the main character in the Metroid series of games. An ex-soldier of the Galactic Federation, this well-liked character is one of the earliest female protagonists in the history of video games. Created for the NES game Metroid in 1986, Samus has since been the main character in a further 11 games in the Metroid series.samus

  1. Link:

Link is another Shigeru Miyamoto creation, and the main protagonist in one of the most successful video games series of all time. The Legend of Zelda series has 18 games in total and has sold over 62 million copies. Link appears in various incarnations over the series, and first appeared in the NES game The Legend of Zelda in 1986. Link is also a popular character in the Smash Bros series of games, and has proved to be a common character for people to cosplay at conventions.link

  1. Mario:

When people think Nintendo, the number one character that comes to mind is the Italian plumber Mario. First introduced in the arcade game Donkey Kong as ‘Jump Man’ by Shigeru Miyamoto, he was later renamed Mario. Mario is Nintendo’s mascot and has appeared in over 200 different video games. On the NES alone he appeared in the popular Mario Bro and Super Mario Bros series alongside his brother Luigi, and has since featured in solo games. Mario is part of the best-selling video game franchise of all time, and a character that Nintendo fans have loved since he was created many years ago.

MarioSMBW

Summary of E3

This year’s E3 was once again packed full of action and announcements. Sony and Microsoft went for their big press conferences as usual, whilst Nintendo had an entire day focused on the new Zelda game. Each company concentrated on something different. Microsoft talked a lot about their new technology, Sony focused on new games and game play, and Nintendo was a festival of all things Zelda. Nintendo were smart, and instead of concentrating on the NX and trying to rival the others, they gave fans what they have been waiting for  for years, a glimpse at the new Zelda game The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (see separate article for details on this).

Microsoft announced their ‘Play Anywhere’ scheme, which will allow players to cross-play their games on the Xbox One and Windows 10, with the saves and achievements all being included for one price. The first of the Xbox One and Windows 10 exclusive games shown off was a brutal Gears of War 4. Following the gruesome Gears game play, games including Forza Horizon 3, ReCore, Final Fantasy XV and Battlefield 1 were shown off to the crowds. The Minecraft guys then came on stage, with special guest John Cormack, to present Minecraft on the Oculus; there was no more information on the HoloLens, or even if that was still happening.

A tease of a game from the Limbo creators was shown, but not much else was known about it, before a bunch of indie games were listed. We Happy Few, which had a very Bioshock-like feeling about it that left me wanting to see more, was one of the only non-exclusive games shown. More games presented included Tekken 7, Dead Rising 4, Scalebound (a Final Fantasy-like game with dragons), Sea of Thieves, State of Decay 2 and a Halo Wars 2 trailer. An announcement that Halo Wars beta was available now was also made. The one thing missing from the Microsoft conference was no mention of Crackdown 3, except a brief logo at the end.

Then came the killer for Microsoft; they announced details on their next generation console, dubbed ‘Scorpio’. They had already talked about a new, slimmer version of the Xbox One called the ‘Xbox S’, confirmed to be coming out in August of this year, but unexpectedly they announced 2 consoles.  Microsoft claimed it will be the most powerful console ever, with 4K gaming and 6 teraflops of power. With no word from Sony about their next console, there is nothing yet to compare it to.

With that jam-packed conference Sony had a lot to live up to. Whilst Sony didn’t talk about next gen, they did wow people with the PlayStation VR and their exclusive games. The conference itself was impressive, with a big orchestra playing throughout. They showed off a trailer for a new God of War game, as well as a Zombie game called Days Gone that could be the rival to Dead Rising. There was more to be seen of The Last Guardian and an official release date was announced, 25th of October. A massive amount of game play was shown for the Horizon: Zero Dawn, with futuristic robot-like enemies being killed by the female protagonist; Horizon will not be released until February 2017. After that, a trailer for the futuristic game Detroit: Become Human was played.

The main focus of the Sony conference seemed to be the PlayStation VR. Sony claimed there will be 50 games available for the PS VR by the end of the year, and they listed off some big hitters. Resident Evil 7, Star Wars, Batman and Final Fantasy will all have VR games on the PlayStation, as well as others such as the Sci-Fi shooter Farpoint, and even a Call of Duty game. A surprise that left the audience feeling happy was another remake, this time of all three Crash Bandicoot games.

The biggest hit for Sony during their conference, was massive cheers and applause as Hideo Kojima arrived on stage to tell us about his new, PlayStation exclusive game Death Standing. He came onto the stage and said the words ‘I’m back’, before a trailer heavily featuring a character based on The Walking Dead star Norman Reedus was shown. The trailer didn’t give us much information and it left the audience confused, but wanting to know more. Finishing the conference was an announcement that a new Spider-man game is coming, and some more footage of Days Gone.

Like Microsoft, there were a few things missing from the conference, including no word on the PlayStation Neo, no more about the Final Fantasy remake, and no update on Shenmue. There was also no mention of the PS Vita, so it looks like that Sony may have finally given up on it.

Whilst a lot of people were apprehensive about E3 and how well it would do this year, it did not disappoint. A few of the bigger companies had decided not to have booths this year, which had people worried, but the show was action packed full of gaming fun to look forward to in the future.

Nintendo Presents a New and Very Different Zelda Game

This year at E3, it was all about the new Zelda game for Nintendo. Instead of a one hour Nintendo Direct, there was a full day of Zelda game play and announcements with Nintendo Treehouse live at E3. Fans have eagerly awaited more footage of the game, and what we were shown did not disappoint. With stunning graphics and a massive open world, this game is set to be the biggest and best Zelda game yet. No longer will we have to call the game Zelda Wii U, with the announcement of the official title ‘The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’.

The game play starts out with Link as we are traditionally used to him, sleeping. He wakes up to an unknown British voice that helps him progress into Hyrule, picking up clothes and other useful items on the way. Before going into Hyrule, the game has more of a futuristic feel, using technology rather than magic, and as Link progresses in the world he has to use natural resources to survive.

We are given a glimpse of how big the world will be as  Link looks over a cliff, and a zoom out on the map shows us a vast expanse of undiscovered areas. There are hints at traditional areas of the Zelda games, when you can glance a giant volcano and big lake in the distance. Unlike previous games, Link really has to rely on his surroundings. He can jump, play with fire, climb walls and trees.  There are no hearts in the grass, with Link instead having to depend on any food he can find.

You don’t start out with many weapons, and they often break, but throughout the game you can steal enemies’ weapons and use them as your own. The game encourages exploration, with so many items lying around that you can use. Things like pot lids found in enemy camps can later be used as shields. A new feature to the Zelda games is that the weapons have stats, which is definitely useful when fighting different enemies. Throughout the game Link finds a bow, an axe and multiple other weapons, so exploring your surroundings is key in this game.

The music is also different and unique. There are no big ongoing themes in the background like previous games; instead there are piano notes and chords, but the well-known smaller jingles remain. The art in the game is absolutely stunning, with beautiful sunsets, shimmering snow, tumbling waterfalls and flowing rivers. When climbing up temples and mountains, you really get to see how much detail has gone into the game. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild definitely feels like Nintendo’s most advanced game to date, and has left fans really excited to see more.

The Evolution of Pokémon

Today Pokémon celebrated its 20th birthday. It has been a world-wide phenomenon since the 90s, and has gone from the original 150, to over 700 different types of Pokémon. Whilst hugely popular in both Japan and in the West, there are vast differences between the games, merchandise and availability in each country. Whilst the West is mainly games and television series orientated, Japan has its own ‘real-life’ Pokémon gym and giant Pokémon stores throughout the country.

Pokémon started out in Japan in 1996 as video games created for the Game Boy by Satoshi Tajiri and Game Freak. eThe idea came about due to the Game Boys ability to be able to link together, and the opportunity for people to be able to trade Pokémon via the link connection. However, it took so long to create the two games, known as Pokémon Red and Green in Japan, that the company Tajiri was a part of almost went bankrupt. When the games did eventually come out, they were not expected to do very well due to the decline in the Game Boy’s popularity and a lack of media interest. Luckily for Tajiri and Nintendo, the franchise was a huge success.

To create extra interest in the game a secret Pokémon known as Mew, was added in. Mew was only available originally at Nintendo events, so people travelled from all over the world to get the character installed onto their Game Boy cartridges. Later on, Mew was found to be a glitch in the game, making it then available to everyone who knew about it.

Whilst in Japan the first games were Red and Green, they were released as Red and Blue elsewhere in the world a few years later due to the games having to be re-programmed and updated. Pokémon Blue was also an updated game in Japan that came out one year after the release of Red and Green, but Pokémon Green was never released outside of Japan. A slightly different version of the game, Pokémon Yellow, also came out later that year.

aWith the success of the video games, next came the trading card game. It is no surprise that a game like Pokémon branched out into card games, as that is what Nintendo originally started out as. There are now major tournaments all over the world just for the top players in the Pokémon card game.

The Pokémon television series started out as a Japanese show and was adapted for international audiences. It was basced around the original games, but differed slightly in the fact that Pikachu was Ash’s first Pokémon, not the traditional choices of Charmander, Bulbasaur and Squirtle. For a while Pokémon in the UK was a prime time Saturday morning children’s TV show on SMTV live, with the presenters having various Pokémon themed games and competitions surrounding it. The various series have been aired across multiple channels around the world, and the new shows are still running today. As well as TV shows, there have been multiple successful Pokémon films, with the first being Pokémon: The First Movie – Mewtwo Strikes Back in 1998.

In October, Japan opened the world’s first ‘real-life’ Pokémon gym in Osaka as part of the new Expo City, and I was lucky enough to visit it. It features a range of paid games across two floors, where you DSCN0919can digitally interact with a wide variety of Pokémon, as well as there being a Pokémon themed café, multiple wall paintings and a giant Pokémon store.

Despite the differences within the Pokemon world around the globe, the popularity of the franchise still continues today.  New games are released every year, with the newly announced Sun and Moon being the seventh generation of the games. The older games are now available to digitally download, something fans have been waiting a long time for. Pokémon continues to be one of the best-selling video games franchises of all time, falling second only to Nintendo’s own Mario.

Nintendo Direct delivers once again

The November Nintendo Direct was the first since Satoru Iwata’s passing. It opened with Reggie paying tribute to him before they moved onto Bill and the news that Nintendo had to share. For the European broadcast there was also a tribute to Satoru Iwata from Satoru Shibata. They announced games to be released for both the Wii U and 3DS in 2016, as well as plans they had for the rest of the year. Below is a summary of the massive amount of announcements that Nintendo Direct had to offer us.

For the Wii U:

  • Twilight Princess HD remake and Wolf Link Amiibo – Out March 2016
  • New Zelda for the Wii U confirmed for next year, where it will mark 30 years of Zelda games
  • Continuing updates for Splatoon including new levels and content
  • Videos showcasing upcoming games Animal crossing Amiibo Festival, Mario Tennis Ultra Smash, and Xenoblade Chronicles X
  • Starfox Zero – A new trailer and April release date announced
  • Pokken Tournament – A Pokemon fighting game already popular in Japanese arcades will be coming to the Wii U in 2016

For the 3DS:

  • Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam trailer – Released January in America and December elsewhere
  • Tri-Force Heroes getting new free content, including a new area ‘Den of Trials’
  • Pokemon Red, Blue and Yellow are coming to the Virtual Console, with trading available via WiFi and available on February 27th
  • Fire Emblems Fate – Comes in various packages and will be out in February
  • Megaman Legacy Collection – Includes all 6 games, original art and sketches, challenges and special Megaman Amiibos
  • Hyrule Warriors Legends – Includes some extra Windwaker characters, Skull Kid and a new character known as Linkle aka female Link. Her specialties are having a dual crossbow and spinning kick. The game will be release march 25th
  • Dragon Quest VII and VIII both coming out in 2016 in the West

A big announcement available for both consoles:

  • Final Fantasy VII’s Cloud is coming to both the 3DS and Wii U Smash Brothers game as a playable character. There will be a Smash Bros specific Nintendo Direct in December.

The full video can be seen on their YouTube channel here

30 years since the NES was released world-wide

The Nintendo Entertainment System, or the NES as it is more commonly known, paved the way for the modern era of gaming. It was my first console, and for me, launched my love of gaming and Nintendo. This year the NES celebrates its 30th birthday, and if it wasn’t for the NES, consoles as we know them today might never have existed. It was hailed the saviour of gaming back when it first launched, as it helped revive the gaming industry after the video games crash of 1983.

NES-Console-Set

The video games crash is famously documented in Atari:Game Over, and it signaled an end to the second generation of video games. Many companies went bankrupt, but it wasn’t until the rise of the NES in America two years later that the industry started to take a turn for the better.

Whilst in Japan the NES was released in 1983 and better known as the Family Computer (Famicom), worldwide it wasn’t released until October 1985. Some polls state it is the best console of all time, with others placing it in the top five. Over its time, the NES has sold over 60 million units.

The NES controller design has become iconic, featuring on many t-shirt designs and accessories; some companies have even made NES soap designs. Apart from the controller, the NES has many other accessories. Possibly the most famous was the gun used for the game Duck Hunt known as the ‘NES Zapper’; other NES accessories included the R.O.B and the Power Pad.

220px-NES-controller220px-NES-zapper

 

The NES saw the launch of many games franchises that are still liked today, including The Legend of Zelda and Super Mario Bros. There were over 800 games released on the NES, including more than 100 unlicensed games. Super Mario Bros. was one of the 17 launch titles on the console, with games such as Megaman, Castlevania and The Legend of Zelda coming out later in 1987. Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 2 and Super Mario Bros. 3 were all released on the NES, with the first in the series having sold the most copies.

The popularity of NES games is further reflected by the release of the game NES Remix, and the downloads of original NES games from Nintendo’s virtual console; the virtual console is available on the Wii, Wii U and 3DS. The NES Remix was well received enough to warrant two more games, NES Remix 2 and Ultimate NEX Remix.  The NES Remix series included games such as Super Mario Bros., Zelda, Kirby and many others, as well as extra mini games and challenges.

Whilst the NES had been discontinued in 1995 in America and Europe, and in 2003 in Japan, the consoles can still be found in many retro games shops and conventions; you could still get your NES repaired in Japan until 2007. Many people still enjoy the NES games either through the virtual console, or on an original NES that still works.  Whilst the console may no longer be available, the admiration of the franchises created during its lifetime live on to tell the tale.