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Let Us Play: 2016-02-29

2016-02-28

Ladies and Gentlemen, Sisters and Brothers, welcome back to the Congregation of the Game, I’m Andy Frogman, AKA The Priest of Gamers, and this is the all-new Let Us Play, where each week I bring you some of the top news for gaming from the past seven days, giving you my impressions of the events as they happen, with a slight bias towards Nintendo related news. If there are any news or events you want me to cover, you can Tweet to me or leave me a message on my Facebook Page.

This last week has been a bit of a pain, and that’s one of two reasons why this update is on Monday rather than Sunday, which I announced not too long ago was going to be my regular update day. My work schedule has changed, so it actually makes better sense for me to do my Let Us Play updates on Monday now, so it doesn’t clash with work or my weekend games nights, which were at one point just Saturdays, but have some how expanded over the full weekend…

Anyway, this week I’m looking at Pokémon, more Pokémon, Smash and politics?

So without further ado, dear siblings… LET US PLAY!

Our Smash prayers were heard…

sakuraiIn the world today, it often feels like games companies are ignorant of their fans wishes to expand on a game. So when you hear of a developer, who is not only listening to fans, but agrees with the general consensus, it can like you’ve just found gold dust. Despite the current controversy that is currently surrounding Nintendo of America, it’s fantastic to find out that Masahiro Sakurai, creator of Super Smash Brothers, in Nintendo Japan, is paying attention to voice of the fanbase.

From 2013 onwards there has been endless speculation about characters that would appear in the latest Smash Brothers title, that was released for the Wii U and 3DS. At first it was what characters would appear in the game, and then after release Nintendo kept the speculation flames alight with DLC characters, and it really wasn’t hard.  With such a wide and varied cast, being drawn from so many different game backgrounds, every fan wanted to know if their favourite character would make the cut.

Throughout it all one name kept popping up, on wish lists, top tens, and predictions, as well as a few younger gamers, wondering who the hell he was, and that character was Geno.

Geno was a character from Mario RPG for the SNES. Released in 1996, Mario RPG was a huge departure from the usual Mario game style. Platforming was all but eliminated, replaced with a top down, isometric, angle, with an emphasis on the story rather than the skill. A part of this story was the incredibly wide cast of characters, some we all knew, some new faces, and even a few cameos. One of the new faces was a Pinocchio-like wooden puppet, brought to life by a wish, and upgraded to fight crime. No seriously he’s like a fantasy version of Megaman, arm cannon included.

genoThere was no doubt that across the internet, people wanted to see Geno appear in Smash, and as it turns out, from an interview with Sakurai-san for Japan’s Nintendo Dream (translated by Nintendo Dream), he too is all for Geno making an appearance in Smash.

“To tell the truth… I wanted Geno to be a playable character. He has a gun for a hand, and I think he fits in really well with Smash. During Brawl, I thought it would be great if I could add him, but in the end it didn’t become a reality… He’s very popular. When talking about older characters, Geno always gets a lot of requests.”

Of course, this excellent news is entirely soured by the fact that there will be no more DLC for Super Smash Brothers. The roster is now set, and we won’t see any more character expansions. No clue is given as to why, if Geno had Sakurai-san’s support he wasn’t ultimately included, but the inclusion of the Geno costume was meant as a consolation prize, as Sakurai-san was determined to get him in somehow.

I would say that maybe he was lift out because of his similarity to Megaman… but then I look at the Fire Emblem roster, and while I am supportive of those characters (though they could have done with more of a diversifying update) it’s clear to see the similar characters have not been a problem in the past.

That was a Pokémon Direct?

pokemonsandmIt’s hard (and a little depressing) to imagine that Pokémon is TWENTY years old as of February 27th, this year. Looking back to its humble beginnings with Red and Green (or Red and Blue in the West), Pokémon has come a LONG way, from a quirky anime and game to the megafranchise it is today, and of course Nintendo and the Pokémon Company wanted to celebrate with the world, with an epic and in depth Pokémon themed Nintendo Direct.

…Or that’s what I would like to be able to say, but instead we got this six-and-a-half-minute trailer:

Is this really what we’re calling a Nintendo Direct now that Iwata-san is gone? Look, I know that it’s going to take some time before we find anyone who lives up to his immense character, but Nintendo Directs aren’t really something that’s hard to get right. You come forward and you talk about everything Pokémon related, revealing new information talk about release dates, and generally hype people up for coming games.

With games like Pokkén Tournament, Detective Pikachu, and the first foray into the mobile market with Pokémon GO!, just on the horizon, this short video which showed nothing but past footage, and scenes of people playing different Pokémon games, was a huge disappointment, and that’s without the leak that happened the day before revealing that the 7th Generation of Pokémon games; Sun and Moon, were going to be released this year.

That said, whether intentional or not, there were a lot of interesting hints in what few photos and clips we did see of the Pokémon Sun and Moon, development studio, that has already led to a lot of speculation as to the nature of the Gen7 games.

More info on this soon.

Pokkén Tournament Overview

pokkenNamco-Bandai are a great company when it comes to arcade fighting games, so when Nintendo and Namco-Bandai came together and announced Pokkén Tournament, it was like a gift from Arceus himself. There’s been a lot of chatter concerning Pokkén Tournament recently, but nothing that I would call particularly news worthy, talk about story continuity, character development, etc, stuff that I personally would rather find out about by playing the game when it comes out on the Wii U in just a month. Before it does come out though, I thought I would give a brief look at some important information that you should know about Pokkén before purchase.

If you were on the fence about buying the special Pokkén control pad to play the game, then I would honestly suggest that you didn’t. The pad will only be usable with Pokkén and seems it has not been designed to work correctly with other games, whereas the Wii U Pro Pads will work just fine in Pokkén Tournament. If you still want to buy one, I highly recommend that you only buy ONE per Wii U you own. The game pad will only work in single player mode, or for Player Two in local multiplayer, as Player One MUST use the Wii U touch screen pad, as the camera angles lock on to the individual players Pokémon, and the game does not support split screen.

nintendolanLocal multiplayer does also come with a horrendous handicap, as the game will be throttled from 60FPS to 30FPS to render on both screens, HOWEVER, and this is why I mentioned buying one controller per Wii U. The 30FPS reduction can be overcome with the games LAN multiplayer mode. If you have two Wii Us and two TVs you can connect the two Wii Us together using USB 2.0 to Ethernet adapters plugged into the two Wii U’s USB ports and an cable run between them.

Of course, there will also be an online option, and it is highly recommended that you use a wired connection to play. This is actually a pretty standard recommendation for modern fighters, as it reduces lag, and is less likely to drop out.

Excluding arcades, Pokkén Tournament will be a Wii U exclusive. There has been a bit of chatter and speculation about this, people have wanted to know if it’s getting a 3DS port, and it seems that the answer is a dead certain, no. Also considering Namco-Bandai also have a good relationship with Sony, people have wondered if this is going to be one of the games that Nintendo will licence for sale on other systems. Again, the answer is a categorical, no.

This game clearly has some issues that are obvious before purchase, so I want people to not just rush out and buy this game and be disappointed. I still think this will over all be a good game, if you can afford to LAN two Wii U’s together, perfect. Some TVs have game modes designed for this, my TV can use the 3D feature to run two full screen feeds at the same time, so if I can get my hands on a cheap second hand Wii U, I’ll be going for the LAN option.

Be a smart consumer, know what you are buying ahead of time!

Sword Art Online becomes a (Virtual) Reality…

nervegearOk… ok… I’ve had this conversation with a few of my friends who also like the anime Sword Art Online. (Yes I like it, bite me!) Despite all the dangers, and the way it turned out for the characters in the anime, if there ever was a game like Sword art online, with the same interface… yeah, I’d probably risk it for a full dive video game.

What can I say? It’s the ultimate RPG, you aren’t playing a character, you BECOME the character, and that entire concept is nothing short of wondrous to me.

Despite my obvious stupidity and willingness to throw my life away for the ultimate gaming experience, I never actually expected I’d see the day when companies would actually attempt to recreate Sword Art Online technology in real life, despite our accelerating technological growth, the idea of a full dive system, still felt pretty fantastical. So you can imagine my surprise when I learned IBM’s next project, was exactly that. I neural interface.

IBM Japan revealed through Japanese gaming and tech website GamesTalk that they are working on a way to create a new kind of game, for a next generation computer set up, that they call the “Cognitive System” that will use virtual reality, and a control scheme comprised of gestures and body movements, rather than traditional control pads or mouse/keyboard inputs in an attempt to create a believable, tactile, virtual world. But their aim isn’t to create a Sword Art Online like world, they will actually be recreating Sword Art Online’s Aincrad and other SAO experience in real life. Whether that experience includes an ultra hardcore mode, that will microwave our brain if our character dies, has yet to be revealed as a feature.

Sword Art Online: The Beginning is currently in development, and while no estimated release window has been given, their video for the project does include the date 2022, the same year that the events of the Sword Art Online anime take place. There is currently an open application for people to join the alpha of the game, of which only 208 people will be chosen, and seemingly only from Japan.

I will certainly be keeping an eye on this!

Ubisoft’s Uncharted Territory

A lot of people were excited on the 25th, to see the release of a new trailer for the PS4 exclusive title Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, the supposed final outing for protagonist Nathan Drake. The video titled the “Story Trailer” shows that the game will be expositing upon Nathan’s reasons for becoming a treasure hunter, and his life’s work coming full circle, for him to discover that which he’s been seeking from the start. However, people from Ubisoft uncovered another little treasure in the Uncharted 4 trailer that not even Naughty Dog themselves were aware of.

At around the 1 minute 35 second mark, Nathan looks up at a painting on the mantle above a fireplace, in the video as it is currently available, you will see this:

farcry01

However, when the video was originally released, the image in the frame was this:

farcry02

Which aside from a silhouette of a figure next to the boat that appears to have been edited out, is actually concept art from Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag. Which you can see here:

farcry03

However, the issue runs deeper than that, because the in the trailer it shows Nathan on a similar looking beach, shot at a very similar angle to the shot of the concept art, suggesting this Assassin’s Creed concept art has been in play for a long time, seemingly without anyone at Naughty Dog noticing that it wasn’t one of theirs.

Both companies are confused as to how this happened, and Naughty Dog quickly replaced the image in the trailer and reuploaded it to YouTube, and apologised for the mix up, saying that they were too excited for this new game, that they didn’t do their due diligence in vetting the finished trailer.

Over all I really don’t think that this was intentional, I can’t for the life of me imagine how they could have screwed up this badly, but non the less, I do believe it was a mistake. On the plus side, it’s a good job it was caught now, and the cut scene didn’t make it into the final product, and I’m sure Naughty Dog will be double checking all their assets before the game goes to shelves, to stop this from happening.

Oops.

Just Deserts

leleandyeeSargon of Akkad has a very popular quote which encapsulates this final story, it’s even become known as Sargon’s Law. Sargon’s Law states: “Whenever an ideologue makes a character judgement, that judgement is almost always true about themselves.” It’s an important thing to think about when criticising other people, groups or in this case video games, not to make the mistake of committing the crimes yourself in some fashion, that you are accusing others of.

Former California state senator and politician, Leland Yee became infamous among the video game community for holding an anti-video game stance, and sharing the vision of a video game free America with noted lobbyist, Jack Thompson. Thompson who destroyed his career after declaring war on video games and gamers, and presented unsubstantiated claims and false statistics and evidence, that violent video games, or video games that contain violent scenes, cause violent behaviour in the wake of the Columbine School shooting. Thompson was eventually disbarred for professional misconduct, and using his position to intimidate, harass and slander anyone who disagreed with his rhetoric.

Both claimed that violent video games, or video games that contain violent scenes, such as Grand Theft Auto, among others, encourage people to become criminals or join criminal organisations and gangs, and attributed school shootings to the influence of video games. All of these claims have been debunked in numerous studies.

Between the years of 2005 and 2009 day, Yee has authored and backed laws to criminalise certain video games. On three separate occasions attempting to write into law, legislation that would prevent the sale of games with an M rating to consumers under the age of 18, and even outright criminalising of games he deemed “ultraviolent”. All three of these attempts were deemed unconstitutional, and in 2009 he was even criticised for his focus on banning video games and wasting of resources, while the state was facing an economic downturn.

GTA4However, in a very practical example of Sargon’s Law, Yee’s attack on video games causing gun violence was actually reflected a lot closer to home. In 2014, Yee was caught and arrested for a slew of crimes, including taking bribes from criminal gangs and triads, arms dealing, conspiracy to import illegal firearms from the Philippines, and racketeering. This week was finally indicted for those charges, and sentenced to five years in prison, of which he will have to serve a minimum of four.

This guy blames video games for violent crimes, while selling guns to gangs on the side. For people like this monster, video games seem like the perfect scapegoat, you can scrub your conscience clean of any guilt for supplying arms to people who destroy lives, so long as you can convince yourself that the video games are more dangerous than the guns.

And Finally…

I want to address everyone out there. Whether you be a gamer or not, if you are a parent or a loved one of a gamer. If you are a teacher, youth worker, priest, activist. Whoever you may be. Video games are not the enemy, claims that video games are the cause of violent or sexist behaviour have been debunked time and time again. We live in a world where upwards of 100 million people worldwide play video games, probably more, and we are living in a world where the rate of violent crimes, sexual crimes, racism, sexism, and other forms of intolerance are in sever decline where these games receive the majority of sales. We are the most progressive, the most tolerant, and the most game playing generation that has ever existed. If video games caused violent and sexual crimes, these crime rates would be increasing with the proliferation of games, but that is not the case.

Do you know what can cause these sorts of crimes though? Bullying. Dehumanisation. If you treat people like they are criminals, if you treat them as the problem, then you are creating a self-fulfilling prophesy.

When Columbine happened, people talked about how the shooters were avid gamers, and fans of Marilyn Manson. Manson’s 1996 album “Antichrist Superstar” sold 1.9 million albums in the US alone. The 1998 follow up album “Mechanical Animals” sold 1.4 million albums in the US. How many of those people have committed crimes like Columbine? It’s the same for video games.

As of December 2015, the Wii U had sold 12.4 Million units, as of January 3rd Sony have sold 36 million PS4 units, and an estimate suggests that there are around 20 million sales of Microsoft’s Xbox One. That’s around SIXTY-EIGHT AND A HALF MILLION consoles sold in the current generation, so not including previous console generations, nor PC gaming. If video games CAUSE violence, and CAUSE misogyny and sexism. Where are the crimes!?

To all the Jack Thompson’s of the word, you have failed to prove your point. Stop dehumanising and vilifying gamers.

LET US PLAY!

Thank you all for reading my brothers and sisters, I’ll catch you next Monday with another Let Us Play, if you want to keep up to date with what’s happening with me and my updates, I post a lot of that over on my Facebook Page, and my Twitter page, however a word of warning my Twitter tends to get a little more political, so if you’re not interested in that, just follow me on Facebook. Also you can click this link, to check out the Badly.Network Facebook group.

Peace and High Scores!